April 2020 - Hot Diggity! Dog Walking + Pet Sitting

Steps to take if your dog goes missing & preventative tips to keep your pups safe

April 23rd is National Lost Dog Awareness Day, and here at Hot Diggity, we know just how much your dog means to you. In honor of this day, we’ve compiled a few tips and tricks to get your best friend home safe as quickly as possible should they ever become lost, as well as a few preventative measures you may take to avoid this heart-wrenching experience to begin with!

Prevention before panic!

In a perfect world, you’d never have to experience the panic of losing your dog to begin with. Thankfully there are steps we can take to protect our pups and prevent our potential heartache!

Spay & neuter your pets

Spaying and neutering has a plethora of benefits. Not only will you be helping to reduce pet homelessness, studies have shown that neutering will decrease sexual roaming in about 90 percent of cases! The sooner you spay or neuter your pup, the better – intact males may continue to roam after being neutered if they have established a prior pattern.

Pet-proof your home & yard

Outside, ensure that your fence is secure and there are no gaps that your dog can squeeze through. Fluffy dogs can be surprisingly small underneath all that floof – make sure there is nowhere they could wiggle through. However, even with a secure fence, it’s best to never leave your dog unsupervised. Dogs can frequently find a way to dig their way out even if security measures are taken – or they could eat something that could be potentially dangerous.

If your dog has a tendency to door dash when indoors, you can install baby gates to block them from bolting to the door when people are coming and going. Make sure to let people know that you have a pet before they arrive to your home and communicate with them how best to enter and exit without your pooch escaping.

Leash up your pup 

Keep your dog leashed when outside – even the most well behaved dog may get startled or decide to chase something unexpectedly.

Identification 

All of your pets should have identification that includes your contact information. A tag on their collar with your address or phone number works well, but microchipping is the ideal choice, because tags can be ripped off or become worn to the point of being illegible. Animal shelters and veterinary offices can scan microchips to get your pet’s ID and contact you immediately. 

If your pet is already microchipped, please be sure your microchip data is current. For example – did you change your phone number from the date of your pets’ chip implant? Move to a different address? Do you know where your pet is registered? Are they registered? Do you have to pay an annual fee to remain registered? 

Most microchip companies have an online system where you can update your contact information, and most veterinarians don’t update microchip information. Take the time to find out this information now and not when you’re in search mode – in an unexpected circumstance, it could save the day!

Get your pup a license!

Did you know most counties require your pup to be licensed? Many veterinarians also sell licenses for the convenience of their clients when your dog gets their rabies shot – ask your local veterinarian! Once you have one, make sure it’s kept current (typically, there is a yearly fee associated with them). The main benefit is that if an Animal Services Officer finds your dog loose and your dog is wearing his license tag, they can often return your dog directly to you without your pup ever going to the shelter. It will also save you money! Impound fees for a licensed dog are typically much lower than an unlicensed dog.

Addressing behavioral & emotional issues

Even the most well-behaved dogs may try to escape if they’re scared enough. This problem is especially common during summer thunderstorms or fireworks. These loud booms can send even mild-mannered dogs into a frenzy. In a desperate attempt to escape the terrifying sounds, dogs may leap through windows, bust through screen doors, or even scale high fences. Securing your dog during thunderstorms and fireworks will help keep her safe. We recommend soothing your pup’s fears of loud noises with calming treats, white noise, or calming shirts.

Maybe your dog is running away just because they’re bored? If you’re not providing your dog with something to do, there’s a good chance he’ll come up with his own ideas. In many cases, this means he’ll take himself on an adventure! Solve this by supervising your dog, giving him proper exercise, mental stimulation, and of course plenty of love!

So your pup is lost, what now?

Even with proper prevention, animals can go missing. While panicking is inevitable (this is your best friend after all), take heart in knowing the vast majority of lost pets come home! An ASPCA survey found that 74 percent of lost cats and 93 percent of lost dogs were recovered.

Beginning the search

Start your search right away! Search nearby by car and foot first to see if you can spot your dog before he gets too far. Call your pet’s name in a happy tone, shake a box of treats, or squeak their favorite toy. Ask neighbors, delivery workers, and letter carriers if they have seen your pet. Generally, dogs are found within a two-mile radius of their home. Remember, you know your dog best! Outgoing dogs may seek out other dogs and friendly humans likely to comfort, feed, and shelter them. Search neighbors’ yards and public spaces where your dog may like to roam. Dogs that are shy, older, or untrusting of strangers may hide in places like bushes or under cars.

Spam social media

Post a lost-pet notice on your Facebook page and ask friends to share! Then post on local lost pet Facebook pages, and sites like Craigslist and Nextdoor. Facebook groups for lost pets tend to be extremely friendly and helpful – may of them have moderators passionate about reuniting people and their pets and will offer to help you search in person or begin searching known online databases for found dogs that match your pups description.

Contact your local animal shelters & animal control

Checking with your local shelters and animal control is critical, as that’s most likely the first place someone who has found your dog will go. Going to the shelter in-person is best, as no one knows your pet better than you do! Many shelters have a holding period of less than a week so it’s crucial to check if your pet is there daily. Be sure to contact animal control agencies and file a report at shelters within a 50-mile radius of your home. Don’t trust the shelter to call you if an animal comes in that looks like your lost pet; they are extremely busy, and you wouldn’t want to chance them missing the connection.

Scour the internet

There are many online databases that you can use to post lost and found pets. PawBoost, Fido Finder, and Finding Rover are popular ones. Be sure not to restrict your searches to a specific breed, as others may describe your pet differently.

Flyers, flyers, flyers!

Post flyers in your neighborhood and public places like grocery stores, veterinary offices, and traffic intersections. Describe your pet by age, sex, weight, breed, and color – adding a photo if possible. Be sure to include your contact information, when & where the dog went missing, and what you want people to do if they see your dog (call you, try to catch him, etc.) Consider using neon posters instead of standard paper which can be easily overlooked.

Considering adding a rabbit to your family? You’re not alone! Bunnies are quiet and clean creatures who form close bonds with their families, are easily trained to use litter boxes, and can even learn tricks such as jumping through hoops – just like dogs! Bunnies are also absolutely adorable, and purr when they’re happy – just like kitties!  

However, these wonderful animals are among the most frequently surrendered to shelters due to their unique set of needs. If you’re thinking of getting a pet bunny, here are some essential pieces of information to know. This list is by no means exhaustive – but it does include some solid information to get your life with your bunny off on a right foot – and on a budget! 

Bunnies Need Space 

(I bought my bunny a fancy hutch, but he doesn’t seem to carrot all)

Cages typically found in standard pet stores are quite small – and expensive! Your best bet for your new bunny friend is a simple x-pen, which is a fraction of the cost of your typical rabbit cage, simple to put together, and easily expandable!  

Rabbits also need at least two hours of free roaming time a day to exercise, so if you have the space, consider giving them some supervised playtime outside of their pen!

Pro-Tip: A simple and inexpensive solution to nosy dogs and curious cats, you can use hardware cloth to cover the top of your rabbit’s enclosure to keep them safe and secure when you’re not home!

Litter Box Training  

(Many, many, little poops) 

Bunnies learn quickly, and most adapt to litter box training quickly! A rabbit-specific litter box is unnecessary – a regular litter box for cats will do just fine!

Paper bedding and natural wood bedding are both excellent options for your bunny. Clumping clay litter can cause respiratory damage from the dust, and is not a recommended type of bedding. Arrange your litter box so that the bottom is lined with a layer of bedding, and place a pile of hay on one side. Bunnies enjoy pooping and eating at the same time, and will be more likely to adapt quickly to training in this kind of setup! 

Pro-Tip: use puppy training pads to line the bottom of your bunny litter box for fast and easy cleanup! 

Let’s Start With Water 

Many setups include a water bottle mounted on the side of the enclosure, which has a propensity to grow bacteria and typically holds less water than is necessary to keep your bunny healthy and happy. Remember, a bunny can drink as much water as a large dog! 

Instead, opt for a large ceramic bowl that is difficult to flip over to provide your bun with optimal hydration. 

All the Hay, All the Time 

Natural grass hay should be 80% of your rabbit’s diet and made available 24/7 for your bunny to keep their digestive system and teeth in peak condition. Opt for alfalfa hay for bunnies under eight months, and timothy hay or orchard grass for older rabbits. 

Many bunny parents also choose to combine alfalfa and timothy hays to make the transition away from alfalfa in adulthood easier!  

Pro-tip: Check your local feed store & farm supply for better prices and bulk purchasing options!

Read Pellet Ingredient Labels 

Most commercial rabbit food mixes contain junk ingredients – such as dried fruit and even yogurt drops – that are harmful for your rabbit. Stay away from anything labeled “muesli” or “fiesta” and stick to simple, hay-based pellets without additional ingredients and a minimum 18% fiber. 

Rabbits between seven weeks – seven months of age may have unlimited pellets – after that, 1/2 cup pellets per 6 lbs body weight is recommended. 

Pro-Tip: Oxbow and MannaPro are excellent brands with the recommended protein/fiber mixes. 

Veggies & Fruit

(Romaine Calm and Be Careful!)

Many folks grew up watching Bugs Bunny munching on carrot after carrot. Carrots, however, are high in sugar and should only be given as an occasional treat – and never for very young rabbits. 

General guidelines for veggie consumption are to wait to introduce any veggies until a minimum of 12 weeks in age, and after that, only a very small amount at a time (1/2” by 1/2’ bite) no more than once a week.

Pro-Tip: Basil, cilantro, kale (sparingly), and dark leafy greens are a popular choice – but *never* feed your bunny iceberg lettuce or cabbage (which can cause diarrhea and intestinal distress). For a complete list of rabbit-safe foods, visit the House Rabbit Society website!

Toys, Toys, and More Toys!

(Unless you just don’t like your laptop chargers)

Bunnies are naturally curious and easily bored, so be sure to provide your long-eared friend with plenty of toys to keep him occupied. Look for toys made with natural ingredients and organic dyes that your bunny can safely enjoy. Willow and applewood bundles are a popular choice, as are willow balls. If you’re on a budget, you may also stuff your empty toilet paper rolls with tightly-packed hay, and let your bunny fish it out! 

Pro-Tip 2: If you only have one bunny, a bunny-sized stuffed animal can be a welcome cuddle companion. 

Love and Connection

(Less carrying, more scritching!)

Bunnies are sensitive creatures who thrive on human companionship – but most don’t like being picked up, as they are prey animals, and are developed to think you might just be a hawk about to carry them away! 

To build trust with your bunny, lay down with them in their pen or on the floor and allow them to come to you! A handful of pellets or a treat (such as kale) torn into tiny pieces can help. Give your bunny some treats while scratching their forehead or rubbing their head in front of their ears and behind their eyes. A happy bunny will close his eyes once you’ve hit a good scratching spot, and don’t forget, they purr!

As many non-essential businesses are being temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you may have found your pups groomer to be among them! While we don’t recommend going all out and giving your pup a whole new hairdo – we’ve got some basic at home grooming tips to keep your pup looking fresh until you can visit the doggy salon again. If you’ve got a short haired breed, or one that doesn’t need regular haircuts, these basics will keep your pup looking and feeling their best year round, too!

The most important thing to remember is that you want your dog to enjoy (or at least not hate) the grooming process. Some pups might not mind at all, while others may find the whole soapy situation incredibly stressful. This may mean breaking up the grooming process into small steps, only a couple minutes a day, instead of making a whole day out of the process. Of course, be sure to give your dog plenty of treats along the way!

 

Nails

Tools of the trade:


As a general rule, you should plan on trimming your dog’s nails once a month. Some dogs will need more or less frequent nail trimming depending on a couple different factors. For example, larger and more active dogs that spend a lot of time outside on pavement will wear down their nails naturally and will need to be trimmed less often than a smaller pup that spends most of his day napping on a comfy bed.

The most important thing to remember when cutting a dog’s nails is that pups have a vein in their nails called a quick that will bleed (and hurt!) if you cut it too short. In dogs that don’t get their nails cut frequently enough, the vein can grow very long, so you can only take a little bit off at a time. If that’s the case, you should trim a little bit off your dog’s nails every week to encourage the vein to shrink back into the nail.

If you use dog nail clippers, the easiest way to cut your dog’s nails is to position your dog in a way where you can flip their paw back and look at the underside. Once you’ve got your dog comfortably situated, begin to trim. In dogs with white nails, the quick is visible, and thus, it’s easier to trim the nail to avoid coming near the quick. If your pup has black nails, however, only cut off a little bit at a time. You will see a tiny black dot surrounded by white when you get close to the quick. That’s how you know to stop.

Nail grinders are a great way to get your dog’s nails short and smooth with less risk of cutting the quick. Nail grinders can be loud however, so you may need to introduce it to your dog slowly. Use the same process to take off a little bit at a time until you see the dot in the middle of the nail showing that you’ve gone short enough.

It’s a good idea to keep styptic powder handy to stop bleeding if you trim a nail too short!

 

Brushing

Tools of the trade:
 

Most dogs benefit from being brushed a couple times a week. Even if you have a pup whose breed requires less frequent brushing, all pups can benefit from a regular brushing routine: it helps dogs to remain calm during grooming appointments, keeps their skin healthy and prevents a buildup of dander, and it’s an excellent way to bond with your best buddy! But which of the many grooming tools do you actually need for regular coat maintenance?

SMOOTH AND SHORT COATS: 

For our “bully” breeds and hounds, a bristle brush works well. A gentle rub-down with a rubber brush or grooming mitt to loosen dead hair and dirt should be sufficient, but if your dog has a long enough coat to get some small knots, a pinhead brush will sort them out.

LONG COATS:

Old English Sheepdogs and other shaggy breeds are prone to tangles and matting. Use a slicker brush or wide-toothed comb to gently work through any mats – don’t cut them out. An undercoat rake is needed to get through all the layers of hair and reach the roots after the tangles have been removed. 

DOUBLE COATS:

Most retrievers and shepherds have a double coat – meaning they have a soft, seasonal undercoat that sheds twice a year, and a coarser outer coat that sheds only once a year. Double-coated dogs can have both long and short coats. For either coat length, start with a slicker brush to remove loose hair from the outer coat and any debris trapped in the coat. Then, use an undercoat rake, which is a specialized tool to get through the double coat and gently remove any dead hair or tangles from the inner coat.

SILKY COATS:

Yorkies and other soft lap dogs typically have long and fine hair, with no undercoat. Use a comb to remove tangles, and a bristle brush to keep it nice and shiny.

WIRE COATS:

Many terriers have wiry coats that are rough and do not shed. Use a curved-wire slicker brush and a stripping comb to thin out an overgrown coat and brush away mats.

CURLY COATS:

Doodles and Poodles and Schnoodles, oh my! These coats are soft, thick, and puffy. They may shed less than other breeds, but they can be hard to maintain. To remove tangles from curly coats, use a metal comb or dematting tool and work slowly, exercising patience.

 

Teeth

Tools of the trade:

80% of dogs have periodontal disease or other dental problems by the time they’re 3 years old – that’s a staggering percentage! Gum disease is no small matter either: it can lead to lost teeth, abscesses, a broken jaw, heart disease, or even death. That’s right – the bacteria from your dog’s bad teeth can get into their bloodstream and cause a myriad of problems. 

You should aim to brush your dog’s teeth every day, but a couple times a week at a minimum will suffice. If you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth before, you need to start slowly. Always use a dog specific toothpaste – not your own! They come in an array of pup-friendly flavors too! Let them sniff and lick the dog toothpaste first, then put the toothpaste on your finger and rub it on the outside of your dog’s teeth. Work your way up to a finger toothbrush and then a dog toothbrush.

If your dog refuses to let you brush their teeth, you may also use dental sprays, water additives, and tooth wipes that are still a better choice than no dental care at all! 

 

Bath Time!

Tools of the trade:

Some people never wash their pups, while others bathe their pups every weekend. You should aim somewhere in the middle. Most dogs should be bathed every 1-3 months, but no more than once a month. If you absolutely must bathe your pup more frequently, be sure to use a very gentle shampoo made specifically for dogs – such as a hypoallergenic or oatmeal shampoo. As overwashing can dry out your dog’s skin and coat, following shampoo with a dog-specific conditioner can help to retain necessary coat moisture. Never use human shampoos to wash your pups, as humans’ skin pH is different than dogs, and even gentle baby shampoos are too harsh for your pup’s skin. 

Pro-tip: Be sure you’ve gathered all necessary supplies before you start the bath – there is nothing worse than chasing a slippery dog around the house who got loose while you went to grab a towel! 

Bathing Instructions:

Prepare the tub with a bath mat or towel to give your pup some traction; dogs don’t like the feel of slippery sink or bathtub surfaces underneath their feet. 

Make sure to use lukewarm water – the temperature you would use for a baby’s bath is perfect! If you have a flexible sprayer attachment, this is WAY easier and time effective than trying to rinse a dog with a cup, but you can make do either way.

First things first: Get your dog wet! Start at their back end and work your way forward toward their head. Then it’s time to soap them up. Be careful NOT to get shampoo in your pups’ eyes – nobody likes that! Using a rubber scrubby brush (as shown in the “brushes” section above) can help you get the shampoo thoroughly through their coat and loosen up dead skin/fur as well! 

Once they’re all sudsy, rinse thoroughly to remove all shampoo! When you think you have all the shampoo out, rinse an additional time (and then once more, for good measure)! It’s easy to accidentally leave a little shampoo in your dog’s thick coat.

Use a towel (or two, or three) before your pup escapes the tub to get them mostly dry then it’s up to you whether you want to use a blow dryer or not. If you do use a hair dryer, make sure to use a cool setting. Dogs can overheat very easily. Otherwise, enjoy watching your dog bolt around the house overjoyed to be out of the tub!

 

Ears

Tools of the trade:

Your dog’s ears should be cleaned at least once a month. You can use an ear cleaner specifically made for dogs or witch hazel on a cotton ball. It’s normal to see a little bit of dirt on the cotton ball after swiping the inside of your dog’s ear, but if the cotton ball comes out gunky or stinky, your dog likely has an ear infection and needs a trip to the vet.

Out of dog treats and reluctant to run to the store for just one item? Running low on supplies due to panic-buyers clearing the shelves? It’s a stressful time for humans and pups alike, and we all deserve a treat or two to keep our spirits high! With this in mind, here are a couple simple recipes for dog treats you can make at home with short ingredient lists that won’t tax your pantry.

These recipes are also simple enough for little humans to be able to help in the preparation process, and will keep in the fridge for one week in an airtight container – that is, if Fido doesn’t get ‘em first!

Also featuring our official Taste-Tester, Mia!
 

Peanut Butter Treats

*1 cup oats
*1 ripe banana
*1 egg
*3 Tbsp peanut butter

Mash up the banana with the egg and peanut butter. Stir in the oats. Place spoonfuls of batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and smoosh them a little with a fork. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Mia’s Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“What’s that? Is it for me? GIMME!”

Chewy Cheesy Puffs*
 
*1 cup flour
*1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
*1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
*1/2 cup evaporated lowfat milk
*1 egg

Mix everything together thoroughly. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 9-12 minutes.
*Some dogs have trouble digesting dairy – don’t overdo it on these treats until you know how you pup reacts.

Mia’s Rating: 4/5 stars
“Mmmmm, cheesey!”
Have fun baking! And remember, Hot Diggity is currently offering Grocery Shopping Services if you’d like to add these ingredients to your next grocery delivery (these are Large Shopping Trip and Large Shopping Trip in your Client Portal!)