marketing, Author at Hot Diggity! Dog Walking + Pet Sitting

In his younger years, my Australian Shepherd Koda and I enjoyed our fair share of long beautiful trails together. At his prime he’d happily climb mountains all day long – I was always the one trying to keep up with him! Even at 13 years old, Koda is still convinced he’s up for the task, but his heart and legs just can’t keep up anymore. He still begs to get outside and go exploring with me, and I’m never one to say no to my baby boy. Over the years I’ve learned some useful ‘hiking with dogs’ tips and tricks, and learned to adjust based on Koda’s skill and needs. If you’re thinking of taking a four-legged pal on a hike, here are some things to keep in mind that will keep you, your dog, and other hikers happier.

Is hiking right for YOUR dog? 

First things first is to make sure your pup is even up for the task! Most dogs, regardless of size, make excellent hiking companions as long as they are physically fit for the level of hiking that you plan to do, if they are obedient, if they are socialized among people and other dogs, and if the weather is not too hot. These are important “ifs”! There are adjustments that can be made however, to make sure pups of all sizes and ages can enjoy the outdoors!

Fitness Level

Hiking is more strenuous than walking. The terrain is uneven and usually involves vertical gain. If you spend more time lounging around than exercising, chances are good that your dog does too. Likewise, if you’ve mapped out a 10-mile hike but your daily dog walk consists of a casual stroll around the block, you may be carrying your pooch for the second half of the hiking route. Before you load up your dog in the car, make an honest assessment of your dog’s fitness level to be sure it can comfortably go the distance.

Health

In addition to its fitness level, your dog may have other health considerations that affect its ability to hike. Take these seriously! For example, brachycephalic (flat faced) breeds can have trouble breathing, so the temperature and length of the hike need to be taken into serious consideration. Koda now has a little arthritis, as well as heart disease so ANY kind of strenuous exercise or hot weather is strictly off the table for him. In order to compensate, we may simply drive to a trail I know is short with no elevation gain at all, on a cloudy and cooler day. Otherwise if i’m feeling up for something longer, I’ll load up his all-terrain stroller or grab my dog-carrying backpack! There are so many products on the market that make getting your dog outside possible, despite whatever health concerns they may have. These are our favorites: Dogger Stroller & K9 Sport Sack Backpack

Behavior 

If you feel your dog is fit enough, then ask yourself whether they are sufficiently well-behaved. Hiking may take place in the wild, but that does not mean you will be alone. Be sure they can heel, sit, stay, and come at your verbal command. Your dog should also be comfortable on a leash with polite leash manners. As importantly, your dog should be completely socialized among other dogs and humans. Trails are narrow, often with dense undergrowth on either side. You will be close to others when you pass on the trail or at the top of a popular mountain. If your dog is aggressive or overly protective, it will not be a good hiker-dog. Ditto if it’s prone to barking, which disturbs the quiet that so many people value on their hikes.

Size & Age

Assuming your dog is in shape and well-mannered, most dogs over 30lbs will make a great hiking companion, which is not to say that small dogs cannot trot down the trail just fine. An energetic Pomeranian can out race a lazy Labrador if the trail is relatively smooth and short. However, small dogs have to take a lot more steps to cover the same piece of ground, and they cannot jump as far up or down a rock, so they may need a lift where a larger dog would not. For my little Pomeranian, I always bring along my K9 Sport Sack backpack for when he gets tired!

Personally I feel like age is actually more of a factor than size. Old dogs, like old people, have stiffer joints, arthritis, and other ailments that reduce their physical abilities. Be gentle with puppies too. Lack of obedience training aside, hiking up and down steep, uneven trails can adversely affect the development of a growing puppy’s hips, shoulders, and other joints, which are not fully formed.

Keeping Your Dog Safe

So you’ve determined your pooch is up for the task! Even though they may be physically capable, it is still up to you to keep them safe. Not every hike is dog-friendly, and those that are might still have elements that seem attractive to you but that could pose a danger to your dog. 

Leash your dog

There are many tempting smells and critters out in the wilderness. Squirrels are all too fun to chase, but we are also sharing the world with other animals who could prove to be a dangerous advisory to your pup. There are also cliffs and other rough terrain you wouldn’t want your dog to fall down. Even if your dog is impeccably obedient at following commands and friendly with other people and pets, you can’t always trust OTHER people’s dogs if you’re on a busy trail. To avoid any scares—or worse—be sure to put your dog on a leash. 

Water

Always bring fresh water for your dog. Yes, your dog will want to drink lake or river water but he’s safer drinking water that you bring from home. Do all you can to discourage drinking any water you encounter on your hike. You’ll not only reduce his risk of running into potentially bad bacteria and parasites like giardia but also reduce the chance of minor tummy troubles.

Watch out for blue-green algae. Hot weather also means a bloom of blue-green algae on many lakes and ponds. This algae is toxic for dogs and can be fatal. If you suspect that your dog has swallowed blue-green algae, it’s important to get him to the veterinarian immediately. No antidote for the toxins exists, but supportive care may help your dog survive.

Essential Items for Hiking with Dogs

Leash: Avoid long leashes. A better choice is either a short heeling leash or a moderate leash under 10 feet long that you can quickly shorten to heeling length. There are even nice hiking specific leashes that are completely hands free! 

Tick Removal Tool: Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to tick-borne diseases. I always make sure to carry my handy “tick key” for easy removal for my pup or myself.

Collar and Identification: Make sure your dog has a well-fitting collar or harness with your telephone number and your dog’s name, rabies tag, and license on it.

Water: Always make sure to bring enough water for yourself and your dog. I’d recommend about 8oz per 10lbs of pooch. 

Collapsible water/food dish: Make sure to bring your pup his own water dish. Drinking straight out of the bottle can be incredibly messy and wasteful. I like the lightweight, collapsible kind that can hook right to my backpack. Like these!

Dog food/snacks: Bring actual dog food and/or dog treats, which are nutritionally balanced and easier for dogs to digest than human food.

Poop bags, plus extras: “Leave no trace” is the name of the game. It’s no fun carrying poop for an entire hike, but you need to pack it out. I bring extra so I can double bag them! 

Dog first-aid kit: Basic components should include the following, but you can also purchase pre-made kits for convenience! 

  • Bandage scissors
  • Dog toenail clippers
  • Tweezers
  • Cleansers and disinfectants such as hydrogen peroxide and Betadine
  • Topical antibiotic ointments such as Bacitracin or Neomycin
  • Gauze pads 
  • Gauze roll
  • Non-stick bandages
  • Adhesive tape (1- and 2-inch rolls)
  • Muzzle: Even the most passive dog can get snappy when stressed due to injury

Non-essential Item Suggestions

K9 Sport Sack – If your pup may not be physically up for hiking, but still wants to enjoy the fresh air. I can’t recommend these backpacks enough! At 30lbs, Koda is a little heavy to carry in one of these for long distances, but I use one for my 8lb pomeranian ALL the time! He absolutely loves it. 

Hiking Boots – If you’re worried about your pups feet – hiking boots might be the solution! Koda once had a small cut on his foot, and I had him wear just one to keep it clean while we went for our hike. It worked wonders! Folks seem to love the RuffWear brand booties. 

Cooling Vests – These are magic! On hot days, you can really do your dog a favor by bringing along a cooling vest for them. RuffWear makes my personal favorite.

Packable Dog Bed – Since both of my pups are now “seniors” I always bring along a packable dog bed so we can stop and rest along the way. Bonus points if the bed is weather resistant and machine washable like these Kurgo brand ones!

Every cat and dog owner has a list of go-to items that they would recommend to their fellow fuzzy-loving friends – and this week, two of us – with two pups and four kitties between us – decided to combine efforts to put together five recommended items each based on our experiences raising floofs. While we don’t (necessarily) claim that these items are absolutely required for a better woofer or meower experience overall, we do think that their presence may improve at least a small element of your experience being owned by a cat or dog. 

For Our Kitties 

Corrugated Cardboard Scratchers

Cats have a natural need to exercise their claws; however, many cat towers are quite expensive for an item that will ultimately have a somewhat short life. For a household with multiple cats, corrugated cardboard floor scratchers are an inexpensive way to ensure that cats’ paws get the exercise they need, at an affordable price. Corrugated cardboard pieces are easy to flip over, maximizing their lifespan, and are easy to move in order to clean. Once both sides of a corrugated cardboard scratcher are exhausted, simply order a replacement pack. I highly recommend the extra-wide version of these scratchers, as they have more longevity than regular-sized pieces. 

https://www.chewy.com/fat-cat-big-mamas-cat-scratcher-toy/dp/40040

Sturdy Teaser Toys 

There are so many teaser toys on the market, the process to find the best is a bit overwhelming. Having a household full of cats has given me a little bit of clarity in terms of which toys are the most effective to play with, and the most fun to use. I generally recommend you stay away from teasers that only have feathers at the end – one good play session will usually be all it takes to bring their life to an untimely end. Similarly, teasers with hard toys at the end are a little less recommended – part of the fun for kitties is to be able to dig their claws into the soft toys as they play, and especially if a big human is tossing the toys, hard plastic can make injury more likely! My recommendation is to pick a longer wand with a sturdy stuffed toy at the end, and feathers attached to the stuffed toy, for the best of both worlds.
https://www.chewy.com/pet-fit-life-2-fish-feather-wand-cat/dp/136706

Travel-Ready Shoulder Cat Carrier

After many years of travel with cats using bulky plastic carriers, I made the switch to an easier-to-use shoulder carrier (that has the added benefit of being travel-ready for airport carry-on requirements). In addition to easier transport, these carriers still feature sturdy bases, and can be solidly secured in a vehicle for trips to the vet. Pro-tip: line the carrier with a towel lightly sprayed with Feliway on-the-go to help your kitty reduce stress during travel!

https://www.chewy.com/frisco-basic-dog-cat-carrier-bag/dp/171841

A Well-Designed Play Tunnel 

Play tunnels are an entertaining way to give your kitties a playspace and hideaway, without taking up much space in your home or making a significant cost investment. I suggest investing in a crinkle tunnel, as cats are attracted to this sound, and ensuring that your tunnel is extra-wide for maximum play capabilities as your kitties grow, or if you have a multi-cat household. My personal favorite is the Frisco 47-inch Crinkle Play Tunnel, which features two observation windows, the crinkling sound that kitties love, and a comfortable suede fabric, good for a secluded nap.
https://www.chewy.com/frisco-47-in-foldable-crinkle-play/dp/167104

Safe Hair Tie Toys 

Anyone who has spent much of their life in the company of a cat with a long hair situation knows that even when your home is a vast landscape of cat-specific toys, your hair ties will invariably vanish from wherever you last set them down, only to reappear in a stash under the couch a few months later. However, hair ties themselves are not recommended to be used as toys, as they can be dangerous if accidentally swallowed. However, through rigorous research for a toy that can replace hair ties, I finally stumbled upon an excellent one – the Fat Cat Crazies Playrings Cat Toy, which bounces in entertaining ways during play, and is easy to toss around for fun.  

https://www.chewy.com/fat-cat-crazies-playrings-cat-toy/dp/53473

For Our Pups 

Puzzle Feeders and Treat Dispensers

Puzzle treat dispensers are amazing tools to keep your pup entertained and their brain occupied! Personally, I like to take some yogurt or peanut butter, put it in a kong, and freeze it overnight. Not only is it a nice summer treat, but being frozen keeps your pup occupied for a super long time. Puzzle feeders are amazingly helpful for dogs who gobble their food too fast and make themselves sick. You can even make your own puzzle treat dispenser at home: take a tennis ball and make a 1 to 2 inch slice in it, fill the ball with treats, and that’s it! Endless entertainment for your pup.

Here is a helpful article: https://www.preventivevet.com/dogs/the-best-interactive-toys-and-food-puzzles-for-your-dog

Soft Vest Harnesses

Having experience with nearly every harness contraption out there, the soft vest types are my ALL time favorite. They’re super easy to get on, really secure, don’t pull harshly on the dogs neck, and are comfy for the doggos too! The “Plush” brand ones are my favorite – while not available online they’re usually at your local boutique dog store. But Puppia makes good ones too, that are more widely available:

https://www.chewy.com/puppia-soft-vest-dog-harness/dp/132260

Dog Beds for the Car

Bolster seats are great for tiny dogs, and keeps them safely in place instead of running all over your car! But for larger dogs, a bed that simply stays securely and safely in place can be incredibly helpful. One of our pups is an anxious boy in the car, and without a secure place to lay down he can get incredibly stressed out. We’ve tried simply laying a dog bed on the seat, but it slips around and makes things worse. His personal favorite is this PetSafe Happy Ride Car Dog Bed:

https://store.petsafe.net/happy-ride-car-dog-bed-bucket-seat

Pet Hair Removal Rollers 

I am obsessed with these “ChomChom” hair removers! They work like MAGIC to remove hair from any fabric, even those pesky embedded short hairs. They’re much more environmentally friendly and work better then sticky rollers, too. I’ve had mine for 2 years, between 2 fluffy dogs and a wildly furry cat, and it’s still going strong!

https://www.chewy.com/chomchom-roller-pet-hair-remover/dp/163270

Hide and Seek Toys

Whether young or old, all pups need mental stimulation! Both of my dogs are 13yrs old and they aren’t able to exercise as much, these kinds of toys have been invaluable. Plus, even if your pup destroys the “large” part of the toy, the mini toys are great for playing fetch! 

https://www.chewy.com/frisco-hide-seek-plush-volcano-puzzle/dp/179588

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.

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!

We can hardly believe Hot Diggity! started in Portland 18 years ago to fill the gaps for pet owners who wanted walkers more reliable than the kid next door, and sitters that could offer in-home care for sensitive pets. Professional “best friends” were in demand and life-long Portlander Hunter Sunrise saw an opportunity to serve his hometown.

We’ ve grown over the next 18 years to our current count of 130 go-to pet care providers, covering Portland, Vancouver and Seattle. All are experienced animal lovers first and foremost, fully vetted by are awesome administrative team, and active community members outside of work.

“We’ve been around the block a few times in the last two decades and there’s nothing your pet can throw at us (figuratively or literally) that we haven’t handled before.” – Hunter Sunrise, Founder and Owner

Still active in the day to day run of show, Hunter makes sure the business stays true to its core values of kindness, dependability, honesty, love and care for your furry friends.

Reach out today if you’re interested in dog walks, in-home pet sitting, group or solo hikes and more! 

Dental health is important for animals just like it is for people – be sure to get Buster’s teeth looked at regularly and check out the American Veterinary Medical Association’s website for important tips and a quiz to test how much you know about pet dental health!

Pet Life Hack:

You can also make your own toothpaste with this simple recipe!

2 tablespoons of baking soda (gets rid of plaque)

2 tablespoons of cinnamon (makes your pup’s breath smell nice)

1/3 cup of coconut oil (holds the ingredients together)

1 beef bouillon cube (makes the toothpaste yummy!)

 

Combine 2 tablespoons of cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of baking soda into a bowl and mix. Add ⅓ cup coconut oil and stir again. Put the beef bouillon cube into a separate bowl and use the back of a spoon to chop the cube up. Add the chopped cube to the rest of the mixture and blend until everything is one uniform color. (Yes, it will look like refried beans…or poo…but it will be a tasty treat for Buster!)

Use a regular toothbrush or wrap your pointer finger in gauze and brush your dog’s teeth in a circular motion, aiming at the areas with the most plaque, and calmly talking them through the process. Rinse off any excess toothpaste in their water dish and enjoy that healthy pearly white smile!