Healthy Pet Food: Get Your Pet To Eat Better

In the early days of our country, dogs and cats main source of nutrition was table from scraps (or the occasional rat or mouse caught outside). In the years after World War I, there was a need to dispose of a large number old horses from the military stables. With that, canned pet food was born!

Yea, you read that right. YUCK.

Pet FoodRemarkably, canned dog food was an instant success and soon, you could get it through any virtual veterinarian. By the end of World War II, dog food sales had skyrocketed to over $200 million a year. That’s 1940s money, folks!

Today, mass produced, brand name pet foods have a stronghold on the pet food market. To lower costs and maximize profits, big brands add all sorts of things to their pet food. Still, they are considered “complete” as set by the very low standards of the pet food industry.

Some researchers have found links to these poor food sources most people use and increases in pet mortality. Many vets and pet nutritionists agree that the astronomical increase in cancer related pet deaths can be related to the ingredients in most pet food. With little oversight and regulation, it’s up to you and me to ensure the food we provide our pets is the best we can provide them. But where do you start?

Make a Change

Look for the following terms on your pet food label and avoid those foods:

  • Meat and poultry bi-products: FYI: that’s not meat. That’s anything, and we mean ANYTHING else that may have come from that animal carcass
  • Meat and bone meal: Sounds like something that your pet needs. In fact, the basis of meat and bone meal is render down scraps, removing most of the water and leaving mostly protein. The reality is, using the word MEAT is too vague. This simple term allows manufacturers to use any one of the four D’s as a source of meat: Dead, Dying, Deformed and Diseased animals. They come in the forms of beef, poultry, slaughter animals determined too ill for human consumption, road kill (that’s no joke, folks), expired grocery store meats and euthanized shelter animals (again, not a joke).
  • Animal Fat: Filler…tasty and fattening. This can also include used restaurant fryer fat.
  • BHA/BHT: Food preservatives, known carcinogens banned in human food but not in pet food
  • Propyl gallate: Another food preservative that imitates estrogen causing issues and cancers in both male and female animals
  • Ethoxyquin: A preservative and pesticide, known to cause cancer in humans and animals
  • Corn, soy and wheat in all forms: In the wild, wolves diet would be 95-98% protein with the remaining portion made up by partially digested vegetation in the stomach contents of their prey in the form of fruit, vegetable or grasses. Modified filler crops like corn, soy and wheat were never part of any animals diet, including dogs.

Confused about Pet Food? Don’t be!

There are many options out there from commercial grade raw diets to high quality kibble. The most important thing is to feed your them the best pet food you can afford. Seek out specialty stores dedicated to providing consumers and pets with the best in high quality, pet foods. Most labels have very few, easy to read ingredients. Stop by or visit their websites for expert advice on your pet’s food needs and find a good product at an affordable price.

Top Tech Gifts For Dogs 2014

Christmas is right around the corner and you may be asking your self: What do I get my semi-geeky, tech loving pooch for Christmas? Well, we have some ideas below.

Big Paw’s Top Tech Gifts for Dogs Guide

PetziConnect from PetZilla – This amazing new device mounts in your home and connects to your WiFi network. From here you can view your pets, speak to them and even TOSS THEM A TREAT! It’s an amazing device that is managed through a simple app on your phone. How cool is that?


Fetch by GoPro: Everyone has a GoPro camera these days. The versatile and nearly indestructible cameras can be seen in hundreds of thousands of YouTube videos capturing surf board-views of surfers at play, perusing skyscrapers or mountains on a drone and now, from your dog’s point of view with Fetch. This simple to use, adjustable harness fits all sizes of dogs and gives you first hand perspective of a dogs world.

Halo Mini Dog Collar: Halo creates awesome LED safety bands to make sure runners, couriers and more get noticed. Now, for you early morning or late night dog walkers, the Halo Mini brings your pet the same “noticeability” on walks after dark. Be seen, be safe with he Halo Mini.


With these items your dog will definitely have something to bark about to his friends!



3 Reasons To Avoid Rawhide

In our Pet Tech First Aid and CPR course we cover many aspects of your pets daily life to promote a safe, healthy environment for your pet. During our section on choking management, the discussion inevitably turns to chew toys and treats. As pet sitters, we encounter all types of products visiting our clients at their homes. Some are relatively safe when used with supervision, others are dangerous from the outset and should be avoided. 
The one item that always falls into the danger category, even under close supervision, is rawhide. 
What Exactly Is Rawhide? 

pet sitter“Rawhide treats come from the inner layer of cow or horse hides. During manufacturing, the hides are cleaned and cut or ground. Then they’re pressed into chewable dog treats of different shapes and sizes. To make them more appealing for dogs, some rawhide treats contain beef, chicken, or liver flavorings.” (Source: Pet WebMD:

Why Avoid Rawhide? 
1. Choking: Chunks of soggy, yet firm hunks of rawhide can easily be swallowed by your dog. These flat pieces of semi-rigid, processed flesh can swell when they become wet with saliva. They can lodge in your dogs throat, blocking airways and cause choking. In most instances of choking by a dog, the cause most often is rawhide (more than handballs, small tennis balls and other chew toys).
2. Turn Stomachs Into Knots: Some dogs, especially puppies, cannot digest rawhide. Being a processed form of animal skin, it doesn’t remotely resemble the organic nature of prey food that a dogs body is able to digest. Moreover, some dogs are allergic to rawhide and may vomit or have loose stools after consuming it. And going back to point one, if your dog is able to swallow a piece of rawhide, but vomits, it doesn’t mean it won’t become a choking hazard on the way back up. 
3. There Is WHAT In Rawhide?: Rawhide is not a food, but a highly produced byproduct of the food industry. And the details can be downright gruesome: 
Removing the hair from hides often involves a highly toxic recipe: sodium sulphide liming. A standard practice is to procure rawhide in the “split lime state” as by-products from tanneries, facilities that top the list of U.S. Superfund sites. In the post-tannery stage, hides are washed and whitened using a solution of hydrogen peroxide. And that’s just one step.
Other poisonous residues that may show up in rawhide include arsenic and formaldehyde. Even dog skin is a possibility. [sic] Manufacturers told investigators that these chew toys are regularly exported to and sold in U.S. stores.” (Source:
A Better Chew “Toy”
The fact is for dog owners, you need to supply your pet with something to chew or else you’ll end up with chewed furniture and chewed shoes. Unfortunately there’s not one perfect solution for all pets and pet owners. So we recommend several items for dogs who need to satisfy the need for chewing: 
pet sitter1. KONG brand chew products (unstuffed) 
2. Nylabone brand chew products can be safe as long as you select the size appropriate for your dog and they are not consuming pieces bigger than a grain of rice
3. Deer/Elk Antlers or Raw Beef Bones: Depending on your comfort level with raw bones, both beef bones or antlers can be a long-lasting product for your dogs to chew. However, some dogs have been known to break teeth on these types of products, so check with your vet on your dogs dental condition before offering these to him. 
4. Bully Sticks are an all natural, safe alternative to rawhides. 
It’s important that you never leave your dog by themselves when chewing a chew toy or bone. Supervision is always required. Additionally, after each chew session you should wash the item with hot water, and a mild soap, as you would your pet’s food dishes, to avoid bacterial growth and contamination. 
For more advice on safe pet products or advice, feel free to call us anytime at 321-345-PETS (7387)

Hurricane Preparation for Pets

Why Plan?

Hurricane Preparation For PetsEvery June 1st we are reminded of the possibility of nature’s fury with the start of Hurricane Season in the US. We check and double-check our stockpiles of water and canned foods. (Or, in my house, bags and bags of beef jerky are stocked up. YUM!)

But have you considered a hurricane preparation for pets? There’s nothing worse than trying to fight your way through a grocery store a few hours before the storms landfall to find aisles of water, canned foods and the like empty. But what if you found no pet food?

Make a Hurricane Preparation for Pets List

Start preparing now for your pets disaster with this simple list and be ready if the big one comes.

  1. Food and Bowls: Maybe you remembered to stock up on your pets’s favorite brand, but did you remember the food bowls? Keep a set of bowls near your pet’s food for quick and easy access.
  2. Medication: If your dog is high strung like mine, you need plenty of Chlomicalm to make it through a storm. If not, maybe insulin and other life saving medications are top of the list, read more about cbd medication to battle stress and anxiety cause by the dissaster. Make a short list of medications you need to take with you in the event of evacuation and be sure to keep prescriptions full so you don’t find yourself without.
  3. Blankets and Toys: Your pet’s comfort is key to your sanity during a lockdown in a storm. Make sure you have a bag of chew toys, bones and other comfort items to keep your pet’s mind occupied.
  4. Pet Photo: Keep a printout photo of your pet near your stockpile of pet supplies. In the event of a catastrophe where you pet escapes, you’ll want to be able to have a photo handy to track them down once it’s safe. Of course you say “I have plenty of photos on my phone”. Consider power outages and you may not be able to charge your phone to pull up your pet pictures.
  5. Attach Tags and Update Microchips: A sure sign of a pet-animal versus a stray-animal is a collar and tags. Make sure your pet’s tags are updated with your phone number and possibly your home address. Microchips also need to be updated in the case of a lost collar. Contact your pet microchip provider to be sure your pet’s information is accurate.

Who Do You Trust With Your Pet Care Services?

Everyday we receive phone calls from potential clients who are looking for pet care services for their dogs and cats. Many times they explain they’ve used friends and neighbors in the past to watch their pets. The story always ends up the same: “I’m not sure if they even came.”

Pet Watching or Pet Care?

pet careThere is a major difference between a pet care company like Big Paw Pet Care and using a friend or family member to watch your pet. And that difference is care. When we visit with your pet, we are there not to just check in and make sure they’re “ok”. We’re there to check the well being of your pet from feeding, to companionship, exercise and mental stimulation.

Pet Care Takes a Backseat

pet careFriends and family may have the best of intentions to care for your pet. But many times life impacts those good intentions. Whether its a sick kid at home or a last minute trip to the movies, life just happens and your pet’s visits may become an afterthought for those you hoped would watch your pets.

With a professional pet care provider like Big Paw Pet Care, you never have to worry about other plans impacting your pet’s care. We utilize a team of professional pet care providers, with backups in place in the event your primary care provider is unable to make a visit with your pet. Our pet care staff utilizes the profile you’ve created in our system to complete all the steps you requested to keep your pet’s routine as normal as possible.

To us, pet care means more than just a quick check. We’re your eyes and ears on the health and well being of your pet. We’re there to ensure your pets are happy, comfortable and stress free as possible. We’re trained in pet CPR and first aid to handle any minor or major medical emergency that may arise for your pet. We provide medication and food as you describe to keep your pets routine on schedule, find more info about the cbd medicine we use to treat anxiety here.

Your Pet’s Care and More

pet careOur best service to you is peace of mind. From our Daily Scoop reports, which are left after every visit, to text and email updates – we’re always in touch with you about your pets. We perform home security checks to ensure your home and property are safe. We bring in the mail, water the plants and wash your pet’s dishes, give them their cbd for pets so there’s just “one less thing” to worry about when you get home.

Next time you’re planning a vacation or weekend getaway, give yourself one less thing to worry about by hiring a professional pet care provider from Big Paw Pet Care.

3 Steps For Treating Pet Seizures

Pet SeizuresMany of us that have pets who suffer from seizures or epilepsy.  They can be common in certain breeds and the seizures can also present themselves in many different forms.  However, most of them can be characterized as a jerky motion involving paddling of the legs and fully body spasms.

Knowing your pets health and understanding their diagnosis if they do suffer from seizures is also important.  If your pet has a seizure for the first time or, it lasts longer or, looks different are very important factors that should not be dismissed and are also sure reasons to take your pet to an animal hospital or your veterinarian for further evaluation. Seizures can also be a result from head trauma, poisonings, heat injuries such as hyperthermia as well as many other causes.

If your pet does suffer a seizure, there are 3 Steps to keep in mind to help them through it.

  1. NEVER put anything in the pet’s mouth!  You don’t want to compromise their airway and may now have made the situation worse.  On top of that, if you cherish your fingers, it may also be a good idea to keep them out of your pet’s mouth.  With that said, the good news is that it’s a lesson you have many times to learn, namely 10…
  2. During the seizure, reduce external stimuli such as lights or sound.  Make sure they don’t injure themselves on nearby furniture or if they are in close proximity to a staircase, make sure the don’t fall down the stairs.
  3. Like in any other emergency, keep calm and don’t panic.  Your pet is very much in tune with your energy level so if you stay calm, it will help reduce you pet’s stress too.

Stay safe until the pet seizures to run their course and have a plan before you take action once they have passed. Most importantly, be prepared to contact your vet as soon as you and your pet are safe.

How To Prevent Pet Poisoning

Preventing Pet PoisoningAccidental poisoning is one of the more common reasons pets visit an animal hospital. Often, people tend to forget that like kids, pets are inquisitive especially in the younger years.  Careless handling and storage of cleaning supplies, pool chemicals and other household items can lead to very bad consequences. If you’re a pet owner, it’s a good idea to think about safety proofing your home to prevent pet poisoning. Below are some ideas to consider when going through your home.

When saftey-proofing your home for a pet, think about all the different types of ways poisons can enter your pet through a few different routs.  Many poisons can be injected, absorbed, ingested or inhaled. If you’re a cat owner, it may not be enough just placing dangerous items on a higher shelf or cabinet.

Also consider the geographical environment in which you live.  Different regions have different flora and critters that could be dangerous for the pets.  Animals such as snakes, frogs, black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders, fire ants and wasps are to name a few. Pest management is very important to ensure your pooch doesn’t go sniffing around the home of one of these animals.

If you’re a cat owner, you may want to check regularly to see that webs and spiders have been removed from your shed. Living in Florida, you may come across black widows spider. Cats are especially sensitive to the bite from a black widow and can loose 30% of their body weight in the first 24 hours after a bite.

Always be aware of your surroundings and know the different resources you have at hand in case of an emergency.  Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect a poisoning and induce vomiting only if you are advised to do so by your vet. If you can, get a sample of the vomit for analysis to determine the exact type of poisoning.

Signs and symptoms of a poisoning may not appear instantly as in an anaphylactic reaction, where the body swells and constricts breathing. So keep monitoring your pet as you safely transport them to an animal hospital or your veterinarian. Keep in mind that in an emergency, making a call to the vet and asking them for advise is the absolute best thing to do.

Windermere Pet Sitter Compares: Board or Hire A Pet Sitter?

Dog Boarding Versus Pet Sitting

Big Paw Pet Care is an in-home pet care service. We come to your home while you’re away at work or on vacation and keep your pets routine as normal as possible. We feed your pet according to their schedule, in familiar surroundings and smells. But that doesn’t mean every pet needs a pet sitter.

Many times pet owners ask us which is better, boarding or pet sitters. There is no right answer for every pet owner.

Before you decide on boarding versus pet sitting ask your self these questions:

1) How old is my pet? – Will the stress of a new environment and surrounding upset your pet? Older pets and cats are easily stressed by environmental changes. You know your pet best – do they run and hide at the first sign of a visitor to your home? Do they freak out on a car trip? These are signs that your pet will not handle boarding very well.

2) Is my dog spayed or neutered? – This is a common oversight by some pet owners, especially dog owners. If your dog is not spayed or neutered  they very well may not be welcome at a boarding facility. (Cats and other animals rarely interact with other pets while boarding so this question is not usually applicable – but always check the boarding facilities rules first just to be sure.) Furthermore puppies may not be welcome at a boarding facility due to lack of vaccinations.

pet sitter3) Is my pet high energy or low energy? – For high energy pets or those that require constant human interaction, pet sitting my not be the best option. A boarding facility with all day play yards and lots of socializing may be the right choice for your pet. But make sure that your boarding facility includes this playtime interaction. Many do not, those who do charge extra for it. Lower energy pets may become stressed by the constant noise and movement at a boarding facility. If their idea of a perfect day is sleeping on the couch while you’re at work – pet sitting may be the answer.

The long and the short of it is if your pet is older, slower and not accustom to change, a pet sitter will be a much better option for you. If your pet is used to lots of activity and interaction, a boarding facility may be a better option. But every pet sitter and boarding facility is different. Visit and/or interview all service providers first and make an informed decision.

Orlando Pet CPR Trainer: Keep Summer Fun For Pets

Now that the weather is warmer many of us are looking forward to going to the beach, basking in the sun and wearing lighter clothing.

It’s an awesome time of year and one of the reasons I love Florida.  Many of our pets enjoy basking in the sun, in a sunspot just inside those sliding glass doors or lay next to a window were the sun shines through. However, they can’t dress for the occasion like us, so instead, they’ll move away when it becomes too hot for them.

My girl Sookie checking out some tastey waves at the beach.

My girl Sookie checking out some tastey waves at the beach.

Some pets are less fortunate and end up in a backyard without shade or inside a vehicle with nowhere to go.  Even with completely open windows a vehicle can reach extremely hot temperatures, ultimately sending a pet into a heat stroke very quickly. It’s important to never put your pet in this type of situation during the summer months.

Some breeds are much more susceptible to heat stroke than others without preparation you could inadvertently put your pet in a situation just as dangerous as leaving them in a backyard. So if you do take your pet to the beach, make sure it’s not drinking the ocean water, as it may lead to hypernatremia,  a type of dehydration, which could result in kidney failure. Keep plenty of water on hand at all times and make sure you understand your pet’s limitations during walks or activities in the sun.

And keep an eye out for these signs of a overheated pet:

  1. Uncontrollable panting
  2. Excessive drooling
  3. Gums that are red in color

Knowing the normal temperature of your pet is another great tool as the temperature range is large depending on the pet. Have a digital thermometer handy in your pet first aid kit!

Enjoy the summer and sun with your pets, but as my mother always said, “be sensible about it”!

3 Places Pet Sitters Take Their Dogs In Orlando

Weekend fun isn’t just for humans. Dogs love to get out and enjoy some time away from the day-to-day grind. But where can you take your dogs on weekends?

Here’s the top three places according to Big Paw Pet Care pet sitters:

#3: Farmers Markets – Orlando boasts many dog friendly farmers markets every weekend. From Windermere’s Friday Farmers Market to the big Saturday markets in Winter Garden and Winter Park – you are hard pressed to find a locale without a marketplace of fresh produce. Dogs at these events have become so prominent that many vendors now cater exclusively to dogs selling homemade biscuits and treats just for your pooch.

#2: The beach – Contrary to popular belief there ARE several dog friendly beaches within a short drive of Orlando. The closest is the Smyrna Dunes Park. Dogs can romp and play in the sun alongside your family.

Be sure to take poop bags and keep the beach as nice as you found it!

#1: The dog park – What better place to spend some time outdoors and close to home than in the dog park. Central Florida can boast one of the nations best dog friendly parks in Winter Park. Fleet Peeples Park alongside the shores of Lake Baldwin has to be the nicest, most popular and respected dog parks around. It’s huge trees supply lots of shade and dogs love to run in the surf of the lakes sandy shores. There’s even a bathing area for our dog once they’ve had enough fun in the sun.

Well, there you have it. The things pet sitters in Orlando like to do with their dogs. Did we miss any? Tell us in the comments.