Pickett Home Watch & Pet Sitting Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries about Pets and Pet Care! 

Dental Care for Kitty – Myths and Practicalities

Posted by Melissa for PetTest on Jan 30th 2020

I am not a fan of dental work or anything related including my own dentist who I called “evil” the last time I had major dental work done – sedatives were involved but still, I have been admittedly an on-and-off girl when it comes to dental visits my entire life. However, when I had a cavity and then saw a video on root canals, I have not missed a cleaning appointment since. This is very motivating for a human anyway.


Kitty does not brush regularly – unless you start doing it when they are kittens and get them used to it, chances are very good that Kitty has developed some sort of periodontal issues which can range from a little bit of plaque and tarter to loose/missing teeth or even infection. I have never been able to brush any of my pets’ teeth younger or older. Young kittens and puppies think it is play or snack time, but I have heard this technique is actually possible and can prevent issues down the road. (Good luck with that, and if you have been successful, please share!)


Myth: My kitty eats low-carb dry food and treats so their teeth are getting some cleaning. I always though this too; however, consider how your human teeth feel after having a crunchy food item like crackers, chips, or something like hard granola. Do they feel clean? Also consider all the little crunched bits hanging out between the so-called clean teeth. Granted, food with friction is going to preserve the bone and muscle structure of tooth and jaw to a point from the sheer exercise of crunching. Dry food and treats will not, however, prevent plaque, tarter, or cavities in Kitty any better than it would for humans (I’d be living on solely crunchy foods myself if this were the case!)


Myth: If pets needed dentists, there would be regular pet dentists. Another trip to a separate chamber of horrors just for kitty’s teeth! I honestly believe if I did that, my cats would team up - probably with the dogs - ambush me, get me down, and find creative ways to torture me for revenge. Your regular vet should be checking oral health at every well visit. There ARE specialty pet dentists for animals with severe periodontal disease or high risk animals such as uncontrolled diabetes, geriatric animals, and other more complicated oral health issues that your dentist may not feel qualified for. The American Veterinary Dental College has a great page on animal-owner resources, veterinary lists, and a lot of information should you find Kitty needs referred to a dental specialist.


Myth: Since brushing was not possible and the crunchy food claim is wrong, there is nothing I can do to prevent kitty having severe dental problems. There are products considered “plaque retardant.” There are foods and many other products that can help prevent and sometimes correct some periodontal issues. There is a council that certifies products for dental care for both cats and dogs, Veterinary Oral Health Council. They have a quite strict list of requirements to receive the use of their approved label, which means a short list.


Practicalities: Talking to your vet about regular dental care is a good first step. If Kitty is not going to put up with brushing, there are sprays and other alternatives. You will need to study the ingredients as you do their food to check for hidden carbs and sugars. There are a host of supplements and essential oils that make claims to reverse plaque and tartar buildup. It is extremely important to discuss any considerations with your vet. What may be a wonderful homeopathic tooth care regimen for a normal cat, may have naturally occurring sugars or other elements that will cause other problems. If you want to look into homeopathic remedies for kitty, AnimalEO has a lot of research. The owner is an actual vet, and you can ask questions (and actually get an answer), as well as get sample sizes to try. You can read about experiences, creative dental care ideas, and get practical help on the Feline Diabetic Support Group on FB.


While pearly whites do not seem to be high on the priority list when you are testing, dosing insulin, trying to get Kitty into remission, and, frankly, just get through the day, it is a good idea to take a look for signs of dental problems. I can usually lift up their lips to inspect the outside of their teeth and gums if they are sound asleep. Yellow is usually plaque if on the tooth. Tartar is the hard stuff the dentist has to scrape off and can be dark yellow to brown in color. Bleeding or swelling gums care an indication of inflammation of the gums and periodontal disease. If you can get a sniff, and smell any type of garbage scent or rot, it is time to see your vet for treatment as soon as possible.


Even with the best dental care regimen from kitten-hood, it is almost inevitable that a cavity will develop, a tooth will be lost, or tarter and plaque will build up somewhere. The same is true for us humans. The difference is Kitty gets lovely sedation for a thorough dental cleaning, while we humans are forced to tough it out.

#Feline diabetes #feline diabetes diagnosis #feline diabetes facts #dental hygiene #dental care #periodontal disease #dental cleaning #dental infection #blood glucose

​​Bone Broth and Your Diabetic Dog

Posted by Nancy For PetTest AAHA Certified Diabetes Educator on Nov 25th 2019

Today we talk about a “superfood”, bone broth. We have all heard about how good it is for us humans; well the good news is that it’s really good for our pups too! For those of you that have a picky eater or one that just isn’t “feeling their food” in the morning, this may be the miracle for you! Let’s talk about the benefits for both you and your pup.


What can bone broth do for you and your pup?


Provides nutrients – Bone broth is a great source of protein and minerals and can bolster the immune system not just in pups that aren’t feeling well, but in all pups. If your pup has been sick or is just a picky eater, you may want to try adding some bone broth to his/her meals to entice them to eat. It is packed with great flavor and I haven’t heard of too many pups that turn their noses up at it.


Good for joint support – In the book Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan, she writes “The health of your joints depends upon the health of the collagen in your ligaments, tendons, and on the ends of our bones. Collagens are a large family of biomolecules, which include the glycosaminoglycan; very special molecules that help keep our joints healthy.” Bone broth is packed with glycosaminoglycans. Many of us give our pups supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin for just this purpose; so adding bone broth to your pup’s meals is a natural addition for joint support. Not only does it contain glucosamine, it also contains other joint compounds like chondroitin and hyaluronic acid. Two other things that you likely have heard of. The beauty of glycosaminoglycans from bone broth is that they are resistant to digestion and are absorbed in their intact form.


Liver Detox – The liver is the organ in our bodies (our pups too) that is responsible for detoxification. Our pups’ livers are bombarded daily from toxins everywhere, from the rugs that they lay on, walking on grass that has been sprayed with chemicals, de-wormers, flea and tick meds, vaccines, etc. You get the picture. Glycine boosts the liver’s ability to deal with all of these toxins. Bone broth is very rich in glycine.


Healthy gut – Here is a little physiology lesson on gut health. The lining of the intestine contains millions of tiny hole that allow digested nutrients to enter the body. Stress, poor diet and bacterial overgrowth can cause those millions of tiny holes to increase in size and allow things to pass through that really shouldn’t. The body will recognize those things as intruders and attack them. This is how allergies and food sensitivities develop. It is called “leaky gut”. So somehow we need to plug up those holes to prevent those nasty things from entering our pups’ bodies. How about some gelatin… yup, you guessed it; bone broth is full of gelatin.


Now you have some information on what it does, how do we go about getting some for ourselves and our pups? There are options!!! I make my own bone broth, but I’m not going to lie and tell you that you can just throw a pot on the stove and in 30 minutes it’s done and ready to eat. The reason that it is so good for us is that it takes a long time to make. I cook mine in a crock pot for 24 hours or more. It is very easy to make that way; it just seems to take forever. Some people cook theirs for 48 hours; let’s just say that I’m not that patient.


I use a combination of cooked (from a roaster chicken that I have made for dinner) and raw bones. When I cook a small roaster chicken for soup or dinner, I will either use the carcass immediately or throw it in a Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer until I’m ready to make some broth. I also add some chicken wings that I buy in the grocery store in bulk (these are the raw bones). The more joint bones, the better because you want all of that cartilage to give up all the goodies that we need in our broth. It is often recommended that you can use the chicken feet (ewwwwww) and thankfully, I don’t often see packages of chicken feet in the meat aisle at the grocery store.


I throw all of the bones in the crock pot, (I have a 10 quart crock pot for this purpose) cover them with filtered water (about 2 inches over the bones) and add the organic apple cider vinegar, about ¼ cup for my large pot and set the pot on high for about an hour until the crock pot gets hot. Then I turn it down and slow cook those bones for about 24 hours.


When the time has come, I strain the bones out and anything else that is in the bottom of the pot (do NOT feed the bones to your dog), put the broth in the fridge to cool. Once it is cool, you’ll want to skim the fat off of the top because we all know that fat and diabetic dogs don’t mix. I put my broth in mason jars of various sizes to either freeze or keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. You may notice that your “broth” is more like Jell-O than broth. If that’s the case, you did it perfectly!!! Every batch is different for me. Some are very much like the consistency of Jell-O and some are just like a thick broth. Either way, I just heat it up in the microwave when I’m ready to have a cup. You can even freeze it in ice cube trays and heat it up for your pup’s meals.


There are tons and tons of bone broth recipes on line that you can choose from, just be sure that you aren’t adding anything to it that your pup can’t have. If you are going to buy it in the grocery store, check the ingredients and make sure that there are no onions and no potato type veggies in it. There are some very good alternatives that we can buy for our pups. The Honest Kitchen makes a very good one; it may have turmeric in it so you will need to test your pup to see if his/her numbers are affected by that. You can make beef bone broth also and likely your butcher can save you some bones for that purpose.


As you already know about me, I am a huge fan of going the natural route and having control of what goes into the pot, so I prefer to make it myself so that I know exactly what is in it. Keep in mind that this is not a complete meal but is great to use as a broth if your pup isn’t feeling well or as a “topper” to encourage them to eat.

Notice that for most of the products or groups that I mention, the text is linked to a website that you can purchase that item or a link to join the group mentioned. Just click on the colored text (red or blue, depending what device you are on) and it should take you right to the item or group. If you have any thoughts or ideas for topics that you’d like to see covered here, please feel free to comment below or send me an email at [email protected] As always, please “like” this blog post or any of the others that have helped you or just refreshed your memory. Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday!

Until next time…

#CanineDiabetes #DiabeticDogs #CanineDiabetesManagement #CanineDiabetesBlog #LivingWithCanineDiabetes #MyDogIsDiabetic #MyDogHasDiabetes #NancyForPetTest #ShopPetTest

How To Prepare for a Pet Sitter

May 31, 2017  by Kathleen Irulanne Boucher

Your flights and hotels are booked and you can’t wait to leave for that long-awaited vacation…Here’s what your professional pet sitter wants you to do before you board the plane or hit the road!


1. Make sure your pets are healthy and up to date in their shots.

It is very important to update your pet sitter about your pets’ current and past health issues and concerns. Has your cat recently started to vomit after a meal? Was your dog diagnosed with kidney stones a few months ago? What about these allergies you suspected last year? 


If your pet sitter knows, they will be better prepared to react in case these symptoms reappear. In case of an emergency visit to the vet clinic, the vet will want to know about the recent history of your pets and if their vaccines are up to date.


2. Contact your veterinary clinic so they have your pet sitter info on file, and add a credit card to your account to cover for emergency vet fees.

Keep in mind that your regular vet clinic may not be able to accommodate a medical emergency or a visit after hours. For those situations, our best option is often the 24hr vet hospital which may not have your pet's file and credit card on record. Make sure you have a Vet Release agreement signed with your Veterinarian naming your pet sitter along with details and information about care and responsibilities. Maybe have a current copy of your pet's records on hand so the sitter can bring them along for the Emergency visit or have your regular vet send them over before you leave.  


3. Make sure you have enough food, medication and pet supplies for the entire duration of your absence, with a little more just in case.

It is important to make sure your pet sitter will have enough food for your pets for the entire duration of your absence, plus a few extra days in case of a delay or an emergency. Furthermore, stocking up is important for medications, and specialty brands of food and vet prescribed diets which can be challenging for your pet sitter to get while you are away (especially if you order online!). Remember that if your pet sitter needs to do some shopping for your pets on your behalf, you will be invoiced for the purchases, the time and extra fuel.


4. The same applies for cleaning supplies.

Make sure you have an healthy supply of paper towels, rags and wipes. The  products you use to clean your floors and carpets should be well labeled and easy to find for your pet sitter. Although house-cleaning is not usually part of the scope of work of your pet sitter, pet sitters will gladly clean up little messes and accidents provided they have access to adequate cleaning supplies.


5. Don’t hesitate to leave additional pet care notes for your pet sitter!

If the pet care routine of your pets has changed recently, don’t hesitate to let your pet sitter know! Have you changed the amount of wet food for your cat lately? Do you wish us to compost your dog’s waste using special biodegradable bags? Did you add a second litter box in the basement? Did your cat find a new place to hide when visitors come? Let your pet sitter know!


6. Clean the dog waste in your yard and the cat litter box before leaving!

Professional pet sitters carefully monitor their pets’ urination and bowel movements. After all, when an animal is ill or isn’t feeling well, one of the first symptoms indicating a potential medical problem is an increase or a reduction of urination and bowel movements. For a pet sitter to be able to fully assess the elimination schedule of a pet is to start with a clean yard or a clean litter box on Day One.


7. Pets ID, tags and microchips.

Make sure your dogs have their ID and a valid city license tag on them. When was the last time you checked your cat's or dog’s microchip? If you have moved or if your pet was adopted, make sure the microchip is registered to the correct owner and address! Having the chip in place is not enough, it needs to be activated with your current contact and emergency contact information. Note that your pet sitter is not responsible for any bylaw assessments or fines related to an expired license or tag, or the absence of one.


8. Have carriers and transportation crates easily accessible.

If you have crates and carriers for your pets, make sure they are easy to find and accessible in case of an emergency.


9. Make sure all doors and windows are in proper working order.

It is very unsettling for a pet sitter to realize that a door or a window cannot be locked or is broken while the client is away. Although no home owner is fully protected from an home invasion or a break-in, we can significantly limit the risks by making sure all windows and doors can be properly secured, closed and locked. This is for the safety of your pets, and the safety of your pet sitter.


10. Take a tour of your house before leaving.

On top of making sure your windows and doors are closed and locked, walk around the house to secure your gates, lock your garage and shed doors, and secure anything that could be blown down by the winds or damaged by storms. Can you find anything representing a hazard for your pets, like poisonous plants, candies, strings or elastics? What about those electric extension cords? If your pets are restricted to a specific part of the house or a crate or a cage, make sure they can’t escape or chew their way out! Do you have an appliance with an history of leaks? Turn the water off during your absence and tell your pet sitter as they will need access to water.


11. Put your digital thermostat and your lights on a schedule.

Make sure you update your thermostat schedule to ensure your pets and pet sitter are comfortable in the house while being energy efficient. Timers on lights are always a clever idea to give the house a “lived-in” feel.


12. Expecting house guests? Beware.

It is not uncommon for pet and home owners to ask a neighbor or a family member to come and check on their pets and property while they are away, even though a pet sitter has been hired and is expected to stop by daily. Some well-intentioned clients will offer their home to a friend or a grown-up child to sleep over for a night or two.


 So why do most pet sitters cringe when they learn that they may share the house or the care of the pets with someone else? Why do some even flat-out refuse to proceed with the contract and return the house keys?


Professional pet sitters who have accepted to job-share with visitors have seen it all. From surprising your guests “being intimate” on the couch, to walking into a missing dog situation or an over-medicated cat, the possibilities for things to go wrong are endless and not without consequences for your pet sitter. 


Job-sharing carries a real risk of voiding your pet sitter’s insurance coverage if your pets would end up injured, sick or lost, and your property damaged. 


Most professional pet sitters prefer to avoid situations where there could be some miscommunication and drama involved, for the sake of their relationship with the clients and their own reputation.


This doesn’t mean that your pet sitter will not accept to care for your pets alongside other people, but job-sharing should be thoroughly discussed with your pet sitter and the other parties involved. You may be asked to agree to sign a job-sharing waiver or agreement, relieving your pet sitter from all claims. 


And don’t forget that if you do not let your pet sitter know you will be receiving house guests in your absence, your pet sitter will most likely call the police to report any suspicious activity around your house.


13. Emergency Contacts, neighbors and your landlord.

When you originally signed up with your pet sitter, you most likely provided them with a list of emergency contacts. Before leaving, don’t forget to review and update this list with your pet sitter.


 If you have a landlord, make sure they know you are away and a pet sitter has been hired to watch over your pets, as this can have serious repercussions on the renter and the landlord home insurance policies. Make sure your pet sitter has his or her contact info on file!


If you have a good relationship with your neighbors, you can always let them know a pet sitter will be visiting your pets daily so they don’t call the police.


14. Travel plans and flight information.

It is always a clever idea to update your pet sitter with your itinerary, destination as well as flight times and numbers. In the event of a delay, severe weather or emergency situations, your pet sitter should be able to check your flight status and assess if you might require additional visits.


15. Smoke Alarms and CO2 Detectors.

Before you leave, make sure to check and/or change the batteries of your smoke and CO2 detectors. The high pitch beeping sound can be very stressful for pets left at home.


16. Jewelry, cash, keys and electronic devices.

Before you leave, place all your valuables in well-hidden, secured locations. Professional pet sitters do not steal cash, engagement rings and laptop computers from their clients, but a burglar will if given the chance. Don’t make it easy for them!


17. Notify your Alarm System Provider about your pet sitter.

All pet sitters do eventually trigger a security alarm at one time or another. Therefore, it is important to update your provider of your travelling dates and plans and to give them the contact information for your pet sitter so they can reach them directly if an alarm is tripped.


18. Discard food and empty trash cans and bins.

Food going bad can cause bad smells but also damage surfaces and attract unwanted pests. You should discard (or eat!) all the food that may go bad during your absence, as well as empty the garbage bins.


19. Lawn care and maintenance

If you are going away for a significant amount of time, make sure to have someone take care of your lawn and yard. Nothing screams “no one’s home!” more than un-manicured lawns.


20. Camera Surveillance Systems

If you have cameras around your property, or recently installed a new surveillance system, don’t forget to mention it to your pet sitter.  Most pet sitters will welcome such system as added security for themselves and their clients’ pets.


It is common courtesy, and sometimes mandatory by law, to let your pet sitter know the whereabouts of the cameras and that actions are being monitored and recorded. This way, your pet sitter may avoid changing clothing in a monitored area of the house or will refrain from having a private conversation on their cell phone while inside. 


Please, keep in mind that camera systems are not accurate 100% of the time. There have been reports of pet sitters accused of not showing up to their visits because their arrival was not recorded on cameras. Several times, it was proven that the surveillance system was at fault, after the pet sitter showed proof of their visits, like a photo, a written journal or a GPS tag.


21. Label tips and gifts!

If you are one of those clients who loves to leave “a little something” for their pet sitter, make sure to label any gifts, gift cards and cash as such – and thank you!