May 2020 - Hot Diggity! Dog Walking + Pet Sitting

Many cat owners eventually desire to add a new feline family member to their existing solo cat resident (and sometimes, multiple cats!) and are often faced with the difficult question: how do I integrate a new member into the family as smoothly as possible? 

Luckily, we at Hot Diggity have put together a handy guide for new kitty integration, to make your new family member feel right at home in no time! 

Give Your New Friend A Comfy Space! 

Cats usually take a bit of time to adjust to new surroundings, especially with the scent of other animals near! Give your new friend a chance to get settled into a secure location in their new home. In a small room or bathroom, set up your friend with a litter-box, a bed, food and water, and a few creature comforts – toys, soft blankets, etc. – to help them to feel secure. 

When visiting your new family member, keep your voice calm and speak softly. If your kitty is particularly shy, we recommend that you sit on the floor close to your new kitty, and allow him to approach you. You may also set a couple treats on the floor in front of him to allow him to assess that you are not a threat. 

If you have small children, please be sure that they are supervised around your new kitty! Help them to place their hands to gently pet your new kitty’s head, and reiterate the importance of leaving tails and paws alone – both for the safety of the kitty, and the safety of your child. 

Introduce Smells! 

It’s important that your existing cat(s) begin to become accustomed to the smell of your new cat. We recommend that you take as many clean towels as there are cats, and rub the cats with the towels, particularly around their cheeks – then place the towels on the other side and allow your pets to explore the new scents! 

We recommend that you keep the routine of rubbing towels on your cats and moving them across the door for three to four days. This will give your pets an opportunity to settle in and become accustomed to the new scent, simplifying the integration process.

Start Small, Stay Home! 

After three to four days of scent integration, you may give your pets an opportunity to meet one another. Crack the door of your new kitty’s personal space a couple inches and allow them to approach the door on their own, supervising closely. Likely, it’s your existing pets that will be more curious to meet the companion they’ve been smelling for the past few days! 

When you notice your cats noticing each other, say their names and offer each cat a treat – they will begin to associate one another’s names with a tasty morsel. It is easier to do this if you have a friend or family member to help. If your fuzzy family is hesitant, or positioned far apart from one another, having a human with each of your animals makes it simpler to offer all treats and individual attention as they adjust to one another’s presence.

Don’t be alarmed if you hear an occasional hiss, or a bit of a low growl – this isn’t necessarily indicative of an approaching fight, but simply a show of dominance as your cats establish new systems of hierarchy in your home. 

We recommend that you keep these interactions short at first, over the course of several days, and only while you are at home. Start with twenty minutes, then an hour, then two, and so forth. Allow your new kitty to have their own space while you are away from home or sleeping. 

Speaking of Helpers! 

If you have a friend or family member that knows your existing kitty well, supplement your kitties’ interactions by having a friend hang out and play with each of your pets while they’re out and being adjusted! If one kitty is particularly shy, set a little can of wet food next to them, and give them lots of pets and attention while they’re eating. They’ll quickly begin to realize that the others’ presence is not indicative of a negative sign, and build pleasant associations with one another. 

Patience, Patience, Patience! 

Most cats will be adjusted enough to their new homes to be integrated over the course of a couple weeks.

However, we recommend that you continue to keep your new kitty’s area available to them as they adjust, including their own facilities, food bowls, and bed, separate from your other pets, and if you notice any distress from your other kitty, or kitties, give them a little space and try again. Don’t be discouraged – love takes time to grow! 

Above all else, remember that patience is the key to success; if you give your pets the necessary adjustment period early on, you will be the most likely to set a stage for a harmonious household for years to come. And if all else fails, please consult your veterinarian – they are always there to help you!

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and all pet owners know that this holiday sparks the beginning of the celebratory fireworks season. While there are many wonderful experiences to enjoy with your pups during the warmer summer month, there is one experience that dogs (and other pets) do not enjoy: the dreaded cacophony of celebratory fireworks. 

Luckily, there are some steps you can take to help your pup make it through a noisy evening without incident, and we are here to help with some tried and true recommendations! 

Before the Fireworks Begin 

Be Sure Your Pet’s Tags are Current

July 5th is one of the busiest days for shelters across the country, as shelter employees scramble to reunite pets who bolted during noisy festivities with their owners. You can expedite the process by ensuring your pet’s identification tags are current and the phone number on the tag is accurate. If your pet is microchipped, check if the registration and contact information on the microchip is current as well – most require yearly renewal and a small fee to continue serving their purpose. A GPS tracker attached to your pet’s collar could be a helpful addition as well; even dogs that aren’t usually inclined to bolt may do so under stress. 

Allow Your Pet To Experience Fireworks in Advance 

To desensitize your pet to the fireworks experience, we suggest putting on the sounds of fireworks before the day the real thing is scheduled to take place. Luckily, YouTube offers a video that offers ten straight hours of varying fireworks sounds to get your pup more accustomed to the noise of fireworks, and – hopefully – when the big day comes around, they’ll be less reactive to the noise. A video featuring ten whole hours of firework sounds may be found here. 

Go on a Long Stroll During Daylight Hours 

A pup that has had the opportunity to be tired out in advance is a pup that may be calmer once dusk arrives to bring both neighborhood and distant fireworks noise. The day fireworks are typically common, try to take your pup for a longer stroll around the neighborhood. And even if it is earlier in the day, do keep your pups on a leash – a zealous neighbor may begin celebrations early, and could startle your pup and make him run.

To ensure your pup is as comfortable as possible, try to walk your pups closer to dusk, giving them an opportunity to potty as close as possible to the beginning of the fireworks. 

Create Some Hiding Places Around Your Home

Fireworks can startle any one of your fuzzy friends. One way to soften the sound is to create a few hiding areas around your home. Perhaps you can open your closet just a little bit, and put a soft blanket on the floor right inside; if you have desks, or a dining room table, drape them in a large sheet to create a makeshift fort for your pets. Be sure that your bathtub is clean, and leave the doors open to give your pets access to the room – tubs are usually hidden within homes, and may be a good location for your frightened pet to get away in a relatively insulated space. 

If you have little pets such as bunnies, hamsters, or ferrets, we recommend providing a cover for their hutches/enclosures that still allow them to have a good view, and adding extra blankets for them to burrow in for added security. Don’t forget to close your windows and draw your curtains, if possible, to provide added sound insulation against the outdoors. 

Turn on Some Music

Some research shows that classical music can help to calm distressed pups, so pick your favorite piece, set it to a mix, and settle in for a night of calm among the outdoor noise. Just be sure to keep the volume low – while canines have been shown to experience a calming effect from certain classical pieces, the effect is notably less effective if the music is overly loud. 

Additionally, research indicates that while canines respond best to lower frequencies to lower their heart rates and agitation, cats tend to respond better to higher frequencies, such as harp music and songs set in higher keys. 

Hot Diggity Tip: Some of our pets absolutely adore Tchaikovsky’s symphonies in particular! 

Television Options

With the advent of HDTV, dogs, who were previously unable to see television shows as continuous images (they would simply see flickering light) – are now able to enjoy the activity on their screen just like humans!

Currently, there are increasing reports of both dogs and cats being able to enjoy nature shows that feature the kind of movements that their wild counterparts experience in the great outdoors. If you happen to have Netflix, there are a variety of nature documentaries that may be of interest to both canine and feline spirits – such as the aptly titled Dogs, the Our Planet series, and for our feline friends, we’d like to suggest The Lion in Your Living Room, to both distract your pets from the outdoor noise – and perhaps even give you and your pet a bit of bonding time with something cute you can enjoy together! 

Adjust Your Pets’ Feeding Schedule

Pets that are anxious or agitated may not want to eat once outdoor noise begins. On these holidays, we recommend feeding your pets earlier in the day to ensure they get the nutrition they need. However, pets may actually drink more water than usual if they’re feeling anxious; therefore, make sure to provide your pet with extra bowls of fresh cool water around your home in places where your pet is likely to find refuge during the noise. 

Pro-tip for kitties: Many cats enjoy drinking water out of coffee mugs, which are easy to strategically place around the house, simple to clean, and even if knocked over by a startled cat, involve less spillage overall. 

Invest in a Calming Diffuser System 

If your pet struggles with anxiety issues in general, calming diffusers are a simple and drug-free way in which you can keep calm throughout the summer months.

For cats: Feliway diffusers are an excellent calming option but please keep in mind that they take a couple weeks to begin working in the home. You may purchase a Feliway diffuser multi-cat starter kit here

For dogs: Adaptil pheromone sprays can be used to control and prevent feelings of stress by sending calming messages to your pup’s emotional centers and can also be sprayed on bedding and around your home where your pup may prefer to hide. You may purchase a small travel spray online for only $18. 

While we cannot guarantee that each of these strategies will be 100% effective, ensuring that your pets’ tags are current, that they have been well fed and have access to water prior to noise, and that they have lots of hiding locations around the home will at least guarantee a smoother celebratory evening. Remember that, if these strategies do not work the first time, you may always turn to your veterinarian for additional advice and a medication, if absolutely necessary. 

Have an excellent holiday season! 

Saturday, May 11, is National Dog Mom Day. Founded in 2018 by Dig, a dating app specifically designed to connect matches who love dogs, and intentionally placed right before Mother’s Day, it is a day to celebrate the special bond between women and their precious pups. Here are some special ways you can celebrate this day with Fido, even if you’re currently quarantined and can’t stray too far from home!

“Picnic in the Park” 

Pack a picnic that both you and your pup can enjoy together, and spend time together in a local park! There are a variety of recipes that both you and your pup can enjoy for a sense of camaraderie and togetherness. Some fun ideas:

  • Sweet potato jerky: simple and easy, and nutritious for humans and pups alike! Simply cut ½ inch strips, line on a parchment sheet, and bake in oven preheated to 225 for 3-4 hours or until desired tenderness is achieved. Store in airtight container for 2-3 weeks if tender, and up to 3 months if crisp! 
  • Pupsicles: puree berries and banana in a blender (add some peanut butter if desired), place into an ice cube tray, and freeze. For an easy-to-eat human version, you may add a toothpick to create a mini-popsicle!
  • Pasta Marinara: while we don’t recommend rich sauces for your pup, a little rice or pasta (preferably whole grain) is perfectly fine! Pasta tossed in a healthful, whole-ingredient tomato sauce provides both you and your pup with vitamin C and deliciousness to boot! 
  • Roasted butternut squash: easy peasy! Just cut butternut squash into 1” chunks, toss with a little olive oil, kosher salt, and a dash of pepper, place on a sheet pan, and roast for 25 minutes at 400 degrees or until the squash is tender, turning once with a spatula.
  • Salmon cakes: Take one 6 oz can salmon, ½ cup bread crumbs, and gently mix together. Mix in one beaten egg, ¼ cup bell pepper, and a tsp. of fresh dill. Form into patties. Heat in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, 3-4 minutes on each side.

You’ve got yourself a lunch to share with your pup! 

Pedicure Party with Penny! 

There are a variety of pup-safe nail polishes on the market! Not only will your pup look absolutely adorable, but you can use these polishes on yourself as well. Of course, don’t forget to do a doggie photo shoot with your favorite friend to show off your new look! 

Here are some products that we recommend: 

  • Warren London Pedicure Polish Pen: Simple and easy to use, with a wide variety of bright colors, this pen works on pup and human nails, and dries in less than forty seconds, making it a good choice for even more impatient pups! Review summary: reviewers recommend the bright pink and bright purple as their favorites! 
  • Color Paw Fast-Drying Premium Nail Polish: This polish comes in a traditional nail polish bottle, offers full coverage, and dries within about 30 seconds – and is easy to use for humans as well! Review Summary: Most people recommend two coats, highly prefer the baby blue, and report that the polish stays on for 2+ weeks! 

A Stroll in a Stroller

Dogs who are older, or who struggle with mobility issues, still need time in the fresh air for optimal health. If you have an older pup, or a pup with mobility issues, who misses the days when they were able to run unencumbered by the limitations of age or illness, or even if you are just looking to get in shape without exhausting your puppy, consider purchasing a quality stroller to maximize both your pup’s time outdoors and time spent with your aging pup. 

In addition to providing your pup, who may otherwise be limited on their outdoor experience, essential time in fresh air, using a stroller over a pet carrier means that you can go for a lengthy run and give your pup a break when they get tired, give your back and shoulders a break if you’re headed to the vet, and provide your pup a safe space if you take them to the office or an event where their anxiety may otherwise be elevated. Even if your pup does not struggle with mobility, a stroller can provide your pup with a safe environment to nap if you’re heading to a dog-friendly restaurant with friends, or if you’re outdoors on a hot day where the ground can become too much for his delicate feet! Just pack your pup’s stroller with his favorite toys or a cuddly blanket, and head out without worry! 

Luckily, there are several companies that have taken your pup’s limitations into consideration and created strollers specifically designed to allow your pup to enjoy the great outdoors without tiring him out!

Our favorite all-purpose stroller is the Dogger Stroller. With 12” air-filled tires, this stroller can navigate any terrain, and has an extra-high basket which allows your pup to get a better view of their surroundings. Featuring hundreds of 5-star reviews, this stroller is a bit of an investment at $269.95, but is well worth the cost! 

If you’re looking for something a little simpler, the Pet Gear Ultra Light Travel Stroller is a good starter stroller for your pup. Easily collapsible for travel, featuring over 1000 promising reviews, and only $39.99, this is a good choice for folks whose wallets are not quite ready for a larger investment, but who still want the opportunity to meander in the sunshine with their more delicate pups. 

Cute Dinner Date!

While Oregon is currently under a stay-at-home order, restaurant openings are just around the corner! Thankfully, Portland has many restaurants with patios that are more than happy to accommodate you and your favorite date!

If you and your pup are fans of sports, The Bucket Brigade Sports Bar has a large enclosed dog-friendly patio where you can kick back with a beer while your pup runs around with his friends! The stone walls surrounding the patio are high, making it safe for even the largest dog to safely play! And if it’s a cold or rainy day, the patio has a covered section with heaters to keep you and Fido nice and toasty!

If coffee is your beverage of choice, and you enjoy a good happy hour with your furry friend, visit the Java Hound Coffee Bar in NW Portland. In addition to offering local teas, coffees, and pastries, and a special goat-milk puppacino topped with doggy treats, the third Thursday of every month features a pup-friendly happy hour from 5-7 p.m., where you and your pup can try human and pup-friendly beer and wine. 

Featuring all-day happy hour every Monday, and dog friendly front and back patios, The Rambler Bar has delicious hearty fare such as turkey pot pie dumplings and a brisket french dip, features a wide variety of unique cocktails (and mocktails!), and is open late into the night on weekdays and weekends alike. 

Looking for some extra-fancy vegan or gluten free fare to share with your pup? Victoria Bar features an elegant setting, complex and delicious cocktails (notably named with many Princess Bride references!), and a sunny patio for you to relax with an array of small plates easily customizable to any dietary requirements. Pro-tip: the buffalo cauliflower can satisfy even the most voracious meat eater! 

If you’d like a little menu for your pup in addition to some tasty fare for yourself, Portland’s staple breakfast joint, The Tin Shed, has a responsibly-sourced and frequently local menu to accommodate most palates, and even has a little doggy menu so that Fido can feel just as included! House-made peanut butter banana ice cream with a dog biscuit, anyone? 

If you’re looking for a friendly place that can accommodate all dietary requirements, and is welcoming to both human and pup children, look no further than Pizza Jerk. Simple checkered tablecloths and a patio with lots of umbrellas make this location a fun go-to for the whole family! On a hot summer day, you can also enjoy an adult slushie to keep you cool as you munch away on your slice of vegan sausage pizza!

Even if you’re living in Beaverton, you can still enjoy some time on a friendly patio with your pup. The Fireside Grill has a large friendly dog patio and features a large menu with American fare, including burgers, sandwiches, and several cuts of steak – and it does have a couple vegan options for your plant-based friends! 

Support Shelters with Wine

If you’re looking for a simple way to support your community shelters, consider buying a bottle of wine from a company whose proceeds go towards such support! Rescue Dog Wine features red and white wines galore, as well as several club options for various budgets, including a once-a-year holiday wine club which ships twelve bottles directly to your door during the holiday season. Prices per bottle range from $18.99 to $39.00, and 50% of your purchase goes to rescue dog and charitable organizations and supporting dog foster parents. Employees for Rescue Dog Wine also regularly volunteer their time to pups in need! 

Chateau La Paws rotates affordable, easy drinking wines for all palates, with proceeds going to no-kill shelters and individual bottles featuring previously sponsored pups with happy adoption endings! This wine company has donated over $100,000 to North Shore Animal League America, which is involved in everything from elevating the status of mixed-breed pups, to supporting foster and adoption programs throughout the U.S. At $14 per bottle, these wines accommodate most wallets!

Simple and Snuggly 

There are many other simple ways that you can celebrate this day with your best pal. Snuggle up on the couch with a blanket for you and Rover to marathon a favorite show (or a David Attenborough nature special!), and take the opportunity to pamper yourself with a face mask or other mini-spa experience. If you’re feeling photogenic after a little self-pampering, set a timer on your phone and have a mini photoshoot with your pup – and finish the day with a living room campout!

If you wouldn’t mind being featured in one of our social media campaigns, please don’t hesitate to send us an email at info@hotdiggitypetsitting.com and let us know how you’re celebrating National Dog Mom Day! We’d love to feature you and your pup in a celebratory post down the line!

April 30th was National Shelter Pets Day, and in honor of this holiday, we wanted to list some of the many reasons why choosing to adopt rather than purchase an animal is a choice more kind to your heart, your community, and your wallet.

You Are Saving Multiple Lives

You are giving an animal, who may have come from a situation of neglect or cruelty, or who may simply have been abandoned when its owners became incapable of caring for it, another chance at life in a happy home. 

Additionally, as animal overpopulation has led to the euthanization of millions of healthy animals each year, your adoption also opens a shelter bed for another animal, who will now have the same opportunity as your new companion.

You Can Improve Your Health

Dozens of studies have demonstrated that pet ownership contributes to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, lowers muscle tension, and has a myriad of positive effects on one’s mental health. 

A 2015 study by the CDC found that children who were raised with pet dogs had significantly lower rates of childhood anxiety, and a 2014 study on community-dwelling elderly people determined that caring for a pet improved cognitive function and feelings of isolation and depression.

You Are Helping to Abolish Puppy Mills

Commercial breeding facilities are legal in most states, and are inherently designed to maximize profit over animal health and welfare. Approximately 10,000 puppy mills are currently operating in the U.S., and only approximately 3,000 have any regulation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

In these facilities, animals typically have no access to veterinary care or protection from extreme weather; female dogs are bred continuously, without adequate recovery time, and often killed when they can no longer reproduce; animals frequently struggle with health problems, including bleeding or swollen paws, severe tooth decay, ear infections, dehydration, and lesions on their eyes, which often lead to blindness.

Each year, over 2 million puppy mill puppies are sold to often unsuspecting owners, encouraging the ongoing operation of mills, while over 3 million dogs are killed in shelters. By choosing to adopt, you are also helping to discourage ongoing operation of these substandard facilities, which will improve the lives of many animals over time.

Choosing a Breed is Not Impossible!

Many people choose to buy because they think they won’t be able to find the breed they’re looking for in a shelter pet – and this is not true! Shelters frequently have specific breeds that have been surrendered due to lack of original owner preparedness – and there are even many breed-specific rescue organizations throughout the country. PetFinder and Dogster both have handy search tools for breed-specific rescues. 

While you wait, you may always volunteer your time as a foster parent to a pet in need. By fostering, you will meet pets of various breeds, and your rescue may acquire a breed you’re looking for in the meanwhile. Or, you may find that breed is less relevant than personality and end up with a completely unexpected family member!

You Are Saving Significant Money for Your Pet’s Startup Costs

Your pet’s initial exam, flea/heartworm treatment, vaccinations, microchipping & registration, and spay/neuter surgery can run upwards of $1000 out of pocket. On the other hand, your shelter pet will come health checked, with current vaccinations, and usually already spayed or neutered – ready to settle in at home with you without an immediate need for medical care! 

Frequently, shelters also develop partnerships with select local veterinarians that will allow you to acquire reduced-cost services for the duration of your pet’s life.

Your Pet’s Personality May Already Be Known

Many shelter pets spend some time in foster homes where they are prepared for adoption. Foster parents take the time to get to know their pets’ personalities and prepare them for adoption – so you have a much better chance of knowing what your new friend is like – their likes and dislikes, favorite things, and so much more!

Older Pets Can Be Easier to Adopt

If you’ve ever raised a puppy, kitten, or other young animal, you know that they require a lot of additional time to raise! Puppies need to be potty-trained and may have accidents as they grow; kittens are bundles of energy that will tear through your house at ten million miles an hour, knocking everything down as they go! You have to take the time to teach your new fur baby how to walk, what not to scratch or eat, and so much more.

Adopting an older pet from a shelter means that not only will their personalities be more developed, but they will also be calmer, and likely already arrive potty trained. Plus, you can leave an older pet alone a little longer than a young animal, which may be more suited to someone with a busy career.