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The Barking Blog

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Contributing to Cape May County - Pet First Aid and CPR

11111111.jpgWe are so very proud to announce that Vanessa, the owner of Zoo Sitters, has wrapped up her Instructor certification in Pet First Aid and CPR through Pet Tech this past week!

Pet Tech is the first international training center dedicated to CPR, First Aid and Care for dogs and cats. Their program is extremely comprehensive and we are thrilled to now be able to offer these informative classes to our community. We travel as well, so if you are located out of our service area and would like for us to schedule a class near you, let us know!

               Preventable Accidents Are The Leading
Cause of Death & Disability Among Pre-Senior Dogs and Cats."

Thom Somes, "The Pet Safety Guy™"

The Pet Tech training has helped save the lives of thousands of pets that have been in emergency situations with their pet parent or Pet Care Professional. You can help your pet or pets under your care by being prepared to handle any potential emergency as well as recognize the signs of potential dangers thereby preventing the incident from ever happening in the first place.

Our PetSaver™ Training is a one-day course designed for pet owners as well as Pet Care Professionals. Check out our First Aid and CPR page for more details. We'd love to help you be the best pet parent you can be!

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Friday, June 14, 2013

How Do I Choose a Professional Pet Sitter or Dog Walker?
professional pet sitters resized 600

Anyone can print up business cards and call themself a pet sitter. There are no actual licenses that a pet sitter needs to acquire before attaching the title to their name. In fact, as pet ownership grows and the pet-care industry remains one of the most booming segments of the pet industry, more individuals are doing just that.

Is this influx of newcomers to the industry a bad thing? Not necessarily. For pet owners, the growth of the pet-sitting industry means more options for pet-care services. With this increase in options, however, comes an even greater responsibility for pet owners to do their due diligence to ensure that they are selecting a quality pet sitter. For fellow pet sitters, the growing marketplace offers more networking opportunities, greater referral options and increased pet-sitting resources. On the other hand, as more individuals enter the pet-sitting industry, professional pet sitters have to handle increased competition often from fly-by-night pet sitters who offer pet-sitting services at unrealistically low prices to be an actual professional, legitimate business. With the number of
online pet-sitter directories that have popped up in the last few years, this competition increases even more as pet owners can access listings of fly-by-night pet sitters at the click of a mouse.

So, what makes a pet sitter a professional?
As the pet-sitting industry continues to grow, the mission of Pet Sitters International is to foster excellence and continuous learning in the pet-sitting profession by providing the best education and tools of the trade. With increased competition, professional pet sitters must separate themselves from non-professional pet sitters and educate pet owners about what to look for in a pet-care service. PSI recommends quality standards that establish the benchmark for professional pet sitters and serve as a set of guidelines for every PSI member to use in decisions that affect business ethics, procedures and professionalism. Professionals earn the pet-owning public’s trust and loyalty by consistently using these practices:

A professional pet sitter:
  • maintains current and adequate bonding and liability insurance.
  • visits the client’s home before the first pet-sitting assignment to meet the pets and obtain and record detailed information about specific needs.
  • provides materials or online access to descriptions of services and fees.
  • utilizes a legally compliant, written service contract to clarify services, fees, visit schedule, time allocated per visit and all other agreements, thereby establishing clear expectations in advance for both parties.
  • takes precautions to make sure a client’s absence from home is not detectable because of careless actions or disclosures by the sitter.
  • has systems in place to ensure the security of home keys in his or her possession.
  • has a contingency plan for pet care in case of inclement weather or sitter's personal illness (does your pet sitter have backup?).
  • solicits service feedback from clients and responds appropriately.
  • responds to client inquiries and complaints promptly.
  • has a veterinarian on call for emergency service.
  • is courteous, interested and well-educated in the disciplines of pet sitting.
 A professional pet sitter:
  • learns as much as possible about the routines, behaviors and needs of your pet.
  • has adequate experience in caring for pets and is knowledgeable in pet first aid to best protect their safety and well-being.
  • understands and upholds local ordinances and laws applicable to animals in their service areas.
A professional pet sitter:
  • exhibits courtesy and professionalism in all dealings with customers, staff and industry colleagues to positively represent the pet sitter and the pet-sitting industry.
  • conducts business with honesty and integrity and observes all federal, state and local laws pertaining to business operations.
  • refrains from criticizing competitors and voices concerns to industry associates in a respectful manner.
  • demonstrates ethical standards in all business transactions.
In addition, a professional pet-sitting business:
  • provides references, screens pet sitters adequately, and, upon request, provides proof of insurance and clean criminal history of all they assign to enter the homes of pet owners.
  • provides initial and ongoing training for its sitters and/or establishes standards that its employees must meet to qualify for pet-sitting assignments. 

The Fly-By-Night Pet Sitter

While an extremely low pet-sitting fee may be attractive, pet owners who love their pets usually want the best care available. Many pet owners, especially those using a pet sitter for the first time, may not understand what they should look for in a potential pet-care provider.

If cost is the deciding factor of an owner's pet care, considering what that owner is giving up can truly make a world of difference. To run any legitimate business comes with overhead. Not only should pet sitting companies pay their employees a decent rate to ensure a level of job satisfaction, but they also have to cover worker's compensation, taxes, liability insurance, bonding insurance, background checks, and any certifications in Pet First Aid as well as continuing education for their sitters. With a certain level of attrition, pet sitting companies must advertise to continue to bring in new clients to assure their sitters have continued work as well.  The fly-by-night pet sitter's overhead is simply the cost of the paper their business cards were printed on.

By following the guidelines above set by Pet Sitters International, pet owners can be sure they are hiring someone they can trust to take care of their pets. After all, this person is going to have access to a client's home and is being given the charge of caring for one of a pet owners most beloved family members. With that in mind, a pet sitter is only as good as their credentials coupled with their reputation within your community. While it's not a decision to take lightly, by educating pet owners on the differences that exist, owners can choose a pet sitter best suited to their needs.

-source PSI Blog Feb 20, 2013

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Great Pet Food Brands Fly The Coop
Back in 2010, we published a blog regarding Proctor & Gambles' purchase of a number of popular dog food brands and thought the blog was worth publishing again.

It has been announced that Natura is being bought out by Procter and Gamble.

Natura currently produces brands such as Innova, Evo, California Natural, Healthwise, Mother Nature and Karma. These foods will all now be produced by this large company.

While P&G has assured Natura that nothing will change, keep in mind that both Iams and Eukanuba who are also owned by P&G.

Something to think about....

Keep in mind what kind of company Procter and Gamble is.. Below is a list of their top selling items, considered their "Billion Dollar Brands"

Do I want these folks in charge of my pet's food!? No way.

Can you ask your vet what's best? Sure! Just keep the following in mind, (from Kerns, Nancy. “Choose the Best Dry Food”. Whole Dog Journal Feb. 2002: 3-7 & Smith, Dr. Ronald D. UI-CVM Professional Curriculum. 16 April 2002): Another resource many people turn to for help in choosing a pet food is their veterinarian. People assume that their veterinarian has had training or taken courses in animal nutrition. In reality, veterinarians may not know any more about nutrition than the average consumer. Some vet schools only offer one or two courses in pet nutrition, and the courses they do offer are mainly focused on nutritional problems, not on feeding for health, as is the case at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine. Courses in animal nutrition that are offered are often sponsored by Hill’s or other large pet food manufacturers. According to a Wall Street Journal article by reporter Tara Parker-Pope, “Hill’s now funds a nutrition professorship in nearly half of the nation’s veterinary schools. Hill’s employees wrote a widely used textbook on animal nutrition that is distributed free to students” (qtd. in Protect Your Pet 15). Martin reveals that several large pet food manufacturers also give free pet food to veterinary colleges and offer discounted food to veterinary students and faculty members (Protect Your Pet 15). These factors may make veterinarians more likely to recommend the pet foods owned by these companies, whether or not these are the best foods for their patients. As Kerns remarks, "when they’ve [veterinarians] been given free Hill’s dog food in vet school, their veterinary nutrition textbooks have been underwritten by Hill’s, and written by Hill’s researchers, its no wonder they have really good feelings about Hill’s products".

The morale of the story - ask lots of questions and make informed decisions. For those of you currently feeding a brand you'd like to move from, head into The Wagging Tail down in Erma (337 Route 9, Erma - 609.886.5999) and talk to the staff there. They will be happy to counsel you on the changes taking place and help you find a comparable diet for your babies. In my opinion, they KNOW pet nutrition and they take it very seriously.

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Am I Feeding My Pet Quality Pet Food?
With so many great pet foods being bought out by large corporations who quietly and systematically change the ingredients while keeping the product's name and packaging, we thought it would be helpful to show folks how to Grade Your Pet Food.  

How to grade your pet's food:

Start with a grade of 100:

1) For every listing of "by-product", subtract 10 points

2) For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat, meal or fat) reference, subtract 10 points

3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points

4) For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract 5 points

5) If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first five ingredients (i.e. "ground brown rice", "brewers rice", "rice flour" are all the same grain), subtract 5 points

6) If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2 meats in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points

7) If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points

8 ) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3 points

9) If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points

10) If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil, subtract 2 points

11) If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your pet is allergic to other protein sources), subtract 2 points

12) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points

13) If it contains wheat (unless your pet is allergic to wheat), subtract 2 points

14) If it contains beef (unless your dog is allergic to beef), subtract 1 point

15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point

Extra Credit:

1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points

2) If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist, add 5 points

3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points

4) If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points

5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points

6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3 points

7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2 points

8 ) If the food contains barley, add 2 points

9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2 points

10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point

11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point

12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than the first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point

13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point

14) If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are pesticide-free, add 1 point

Pet Food Scores:
94-100+ = A
86-93     = B
78-85     = C
70-77     = D

online source from Rocky Mountain Accupressure, playdogexcellent.com,
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