pet-health Archives - Hot Diggity! Dog Walking + Pet Sitting

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! 

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!

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!

Pets add so much joy to our lives and we want to reciprocate this unconditional love, however, daily responsibilities like work and school often mean that we can’t spend as much time with Buster as we’d like.

It’s hard to come home tired after a long day and work up the energy to take your energetic pup out for the exercise they need. Don’t sweat it – we’re here to support pet lovers so no one needs to forego pet parenthood because of work, family, travel or educational pursuits.

One of the most important ways we support pet lovers is with daily dog walks, which help reduce stress for both you and your pup; you don’t worry when you’re home late and Buster doesn’t become anxious, depressed, or unhealthy.

Healthy

With diabetes and obesity becoming increasingly common among dogs, daily exercise is a great preventative approach to keeping Buster healthy, happy, and agile for years to come. The amount of exercise needed varies by breed between 30 minutes to two hours per day and vets agree that regular walks promote digestive health, keep aging dogs limber, relieve joint pain, maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of heart disease, high-blood pressure and diabetes.

Happy

Walks also support emotional well-being, maintain routine and reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional and behavioral issues by allowing your pet to get exercise, explore, and enjoy company and love during the day. Dogs build up a lot of restless energy during the day and often have a hard time finding productive, nondestructive ways to keep themselves entertained. Release that energy in a healthy way by going on a midday walk instead of turning to shoes or couch cushions for entertainment.

Social

In addition to being a great form of exercise, walking can be an exciting part of your dog’s day. Daily walks help with socialization, allowing pups to explore new scents and sights in addition to meeting other dogs and humans. Walks are also a great way to practice walking on a leash and reinforcing training, reducing aggression and anxiety in the future.

Whether your 15-year old bulldog wants a slow 30-minute saunter around the neighborhood or your Shepherd puppy needs a two-hour forest pack hike to be worn out, our award-winning team is here to help you create the perfect walking experience for your family.

Get in touch to schedule weekly walks or talk to our admin team about your favorite four-legged walker or hiker.

Diabetes is one of the commonly known medical conditions that can affect humans and animals like cats, pigs, dogs, and horses. Just like humans, a big part of caring for a diabetic cat is at-home care and pet owners need to know as much about their pet’s condition as possible – from symptoms through the diagnosis process and treatment options. While there is no permanent cure for diabetes, it can be regulated and managed so your cat can continue live a quality life.  

Usually, diabetes is more common for older pets, but it can present in younger and pregnant pets as well. Obesity and a high carbohydrate diet are two of the most commonly known triggers that may lead to diabetes in cats, while for dogs genetics play a more dominating role.

Like humans, cats develop diabetes when the pancreas doesn’t produce an adequate amount of insulin or the production is inefficient, leading to unstable blood sugar level or diabetes in the cat. Insulin is a hormone that helps the glucose or sugar in the body travel to cells where it gets turned into energy.

Symptoms

Just like most other medical issues, the earlier you diagnose your cat’s condition, the easier it is for you to stabilize his or her sugar level.

Increased appetite is one of the most common signs of diabetes, especially if your cat is losing weight even when eating more, or while her diet remains the same as before. Excessive thirst is another symptom and this, naturally, leads to more frequent urination. With diabetic cats, dehydration is a real potential, even though they’re consuming more water than usual.  

Diagnosis

If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment with your vet right away for a physical exam and blood and urine tests to positively diagnose diabetes. Head’s up – before testing can be done, your vet may ask you to not feed anything for at least 12 hours before your appointment.  

Treatment

Cats need insulin to properly utilize glucose and metabolize protein and fats to produce energy for the body. With problems in the production of the insulin hormone, sugar or glucose may accumulate inside the blood vessels. This excess glucose can go to waste through the urine, which may starve the body for energy. One of the most commonly prescribed treatment options for diabetes is insulin therapy, which involves giving an insulin injection to meet the deficiency. (Hot Diggity! pet sitters can administer insulin shots while you’re at work or out of town – just let us know this is part of your pet care needs.)

Cats may need some medications along with the insulin injections and working with your vet on a treatment program is key. Besides the medical care, treatment often involves proper home care from healthy meal planning to getting some exercise on regular basis.

If you have more questions about your cat’s diabetes, make sure to consult your veterinarian for help and to provide the best care for your pet.


This guest post is from Mike Hutson, a blogger who believes you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat their pet. Being an animal lover and a pet owner himself, Mike uses his blog to create more awareness for how one can take better care of their pets, by talking about diabetic cat treatment options and other general precautions. You can follow him on Twitter here.

Summer is officially here and plants are on our minds!

Thanks to the miracle of chlorophyll, even during winter plants are fantastic at keeping our indoor air clean and fresh. They’re also great for supporting our mental health by reducing our stress levels. Unfortunately, many indoor horticulturists’ favorite plants are dangerous to the health of our four-legged family members.

Lilies, asparagus ferns, and even aloe vera can be dangerous for curious pets and cause discomfort, illness, or even endanger their lives. Unless you keep your plants high out of reach and are careful about picking up any fallen leaves, it’s best to proactively protect your family by making sure the plants you do bring home won’t pose any risk.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 6 beautiful and commonly available plants that are perfect for improving your home while keeping your pets safe.

Pink Jasmine (Jasminum polyanthum): This beautiful plant (pictured above) will bloom nearly all year long starting in February, filling your home with it’s wonderful scent and providing you with beautiful star-shaped white and pink blossoms. In the summer months it loves lots of indirect sunlight, and during the winter it doesn’t need as much, making it perfect for those Pacific Northwest grey days. During the summer the soil should be moist, though you can let it dry between waterings. Water it less through the fall, and let it be slightly dry in the winter and spring seasons. The blossoms require a humid atmosphere which isn’t too hard to achieve in the Portland area, but if you’re finding it’s dropping it’s blossoms too quickly you can set the pot on top of a pan filled with pebbles and add a small layer of water to the pebbles that will evaporate and add moisture to the air.

Note that not all varieties of Jasmine plants can withstand living indoors. Some can grow up to 15’ tall and while that would definitely provide you with a huge wall of gorgeous flowers, it would probably be a little difficult to care for. Make sure that when purchasing a Jasmine plant you find one that can thrive in the indoors. It will also want to trail, so it’s best to set it up on a high shelf, put it in a hanging basket, or give it some scaffolding to climb.

For more information about growing Pink Jasmine indoors, check out this blog post from Dave’s Garden.

 

Madagascar Jasmine (Stephanotis floribunda): Despite being called “Madagascar Jasmine” this plant is not part of the Jasmine family. Unlike Jasmine which is native to China, Stephanotis floribunda is native to Madagascar. It too has beautiful star-shaped white flowers and smells wonderful, but you’ll find it’s leaves are larger and darker than that of Pink Jasmine. Madagascar Jasmine is a bit more sensitive than Pink Jasmine, but you’ll never have to worry about them when you leave for vacations (maybe to Madagascar!) because here at Hot Diggity! we’re always careful to follow all your household care notes.

Madagascar Jasmine requires strong, but indirect sunlight. They need loamy soil that drains well but maintains moisture. Don’t worry about creating your own mix, just be sure to buy high quality potting soil when going plant shopping. They too need to have humid air, so also consider putting their pot on top of a rock plate with a small layer of water that can evaporate over the day for them. Misting with a spray bottle can also be effective.

 

Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

Spider plants are classic, easy to care for, and they sprout lots of new shoots so it’s easy to share them with your pet (or plant) loving friends! They grow well in low-light conditions so they can bring some color to our grey winter days without the need for a grow light. They need a fair amount of water and like to dry out between watering. They’re hearty so even if you’re notoriously bad at keeping houseplants alive (we get it) this is a great starter option!

Spider plants can be grown in pots or hanging baskets, so keep in mind that their stems and grass-like leaves have a tendency to dangle. It might be a good idea to place them high up to avoid any cat-induced accidents – those little tufts can look a lot like feather toys to some – though this is more for the plant’s sake since they’re safe for any curious cat or dog.

 

African Violets (Saintpaulia)

African violets can bring a beautiful pop of purple, pink, blue, or white to your home (depending on the variety). This generally low-maintenance plant can thrive without bright light and bloom throughout the year, though just like many cats we know, they do enjoy warmth and a sunny spot as much as possible.

Added bonus – they also bring air purifying goodness to your indoor spaces!

 

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata bostoniensis)

Thanks to Garfield, we know that ferns are not harmful to cats (and the ASPCA confirms that Boston ferns are safe for both cats and dogs). It’s like bringing a little bit of the beautiful Pacific Northwest forest indoors, and just like in their forest homes, they do well with high humidity and indirect light.

If you need to have the fern in a dryer environment (like when we’re all blasting the heat mid-January) you may want to mist it once or twice a week or set it in a tray of pebbles and water. Placing your fern in the bathroom where it naturally gets a steam bath is a great hands-off option!

The Boston fern is one of the easiest to care for, but all true ferns such as the maidenhair are great for pet-friendly households. However, beware some so-called “ferns” such as the asparagus fern, which is in fact part of the lily family.

 

Palms (Chamaedora)

There are many types of palms that are safe for the furry members of the household, including areca, bamboo, parlor, and ponytail palms, and they’re all relatively easy to care for as well! Despite the sunny beach association the name inspires, palms don’t need a lot of light and do well in just about any room in the house.

The parlor palm (pictured) is a charming houseplant grows in clusters. The areca is a more quintessential tree-like version that can grow to seven feet, while the ponytail palm grows to around three feet, and the bamboo palm really makes a statement at up to 12 feet tall and five feet wide. Keep the size in mind when selecting the location and the pot!

Palms like their soil to dry out between waterings, so you will only need to water once a week (or less). Test the soil before you water and make sure they’re draining well and not sitting in water. Ponytail palms are in fact succulents so their trunks store water and only require minimal watering in the winter. The ponytail palm likes bright light, so in Oregon it could do well being outdoors in the summer and indoors in the colder months.  

Keep in mind that (like the “fern”) seeing “palm” in a plant’s common name isn’t a guarantee that it’s safe for pets. The sago palm, for example, is not true palm but rather a cycad and is toxic to pets.

There are many options for pet-friendly indoor plants depending on your style and space and all of these listed are relatively easy to find at the local garden center or nursery. They range in size, color, and shape, and are fairly easy to care for in an indoor setting in the greater Pacific Northwest region so feel free to bring that green indoors!