Keeping Your Fur-Baby Safe in Heat

As it starts to warm up, I wanted to share a quick article on keeping your pet safe in hot weather.

Whiskers, Why do Cats Have Them?


Everyone knows that whiskers are one the of cutest features on cats, but did you know that they serve a very specific function in your cat’s well-being?
Whiskers are unlike human hair or even the rest of your cat’s fur. They are especially thick and embedded deeply in the cat’s body. They connect directly to muscular and nervous system, which makes them extremely sensitive, sending a signal throughout the cat’s body to alert them of even slight changes in air currents.
Whiskers are used to sense distance between the cat and objects surrounding them, helping to prevents head bumps on the wall, etc. They’re also used to help the cat know if he can fit in to small spaces. The whiskers are usually as broad as the cat is wide, so if the whiskers can fit into a small space without being pushed down then the cat should fit. The whisker check doesn’t necessarily work if the cat is overweight. Of course, when it comes to cardboard boxes cat’s don’t seem to have any qualms about whether they can fit, they will make it happen.

The whiskers above the cat’s eyes, kind of like eyebrows, help your cat especially when hunting. Touching these whiskers will trigger a blink reaction which protects kitty’s eyes from branches, leaves, or other animals.

There are also whiskers on the backside of cat’s wrist which aid in hunting. The whiskers tell the cat if their prey is moving. And using these senses, the cat can adjust his hold on prey until he’s able to deliver a swift kill.

Observing whisker movement is one of the indicators to understand your cat’s mood. Since the whiskers detect changes in air currents, forward facing whiskers indicate your cat is hunting or sensing the environment. If whiskers are pushed back against their face it indicates your cat is preparing for battle and doesn’t want their whiskers to get damaged. Whiskers hanging loosely down means your cat is comfortable and relaxed. My cats like to be unpredictable, so remember whisker position is not the only indicator of kitty’s mood, look for all signs if you want to know what your cat’s thinking.
Children should be told from a very young age to not mess with cat whiskers. The whiskers are very sensitive and if damaged it could cause pain and trauma for your cat. Children are much more likely to cut a cat’s whiskers if curious and given the chance. If your cat’s whiskers are cut, you can expect to see scared and disoriented behavior. Your cat may also bump into things a lot. Don’t expect a lot of play, most will spend their time laying until the whiskers grow back to a normal length. Even if the whiskers aren’t cut, cats do not like their whiskers played with because it confuses their senses. If cat’s whiskers are disturbed regularly your cat may start to behave aggressively when people are near his face, which is definitely undesirable behavior. Just remember, even if it’s funny to play with your cat’s whiskers while he’s asleep, whiskers aren’t toys.

If your cat’s whiskers become damaged naturally and are only slightly bent you need not worry. They may not straighten back out, but whiskers fall out over time and regrow. As long as they’re still wider than your cat’s face you should still see normal behavior. You may find whiskers around the house as they fall out, they’re very sharp and may feel needle-like if stepped on. Giving your cat exclusive places for him to scratch his face should help contain the whisker-needles, as cats will aid the natural process by scratching their faces on objects. Cats also have a large number of sensory receptors in the cheeks so it’s a real treat for them to rub their faces on everything.
Cat are wonderful pets and if you have one or intend to get one it’s best to know everything you can about your furry buddy.

Michelle Falk-Nixon

Does Your Dog Eat Poop? Nasty, Right?


Coprophagia is the ingestion of feces by an animal and is quite common in dogs.
Some eat their own stool, some eat the stool of other dogs, and some eat the stool of other animals such as cats.

Do you have a dog that does this?
While disgusting to humans, fresh stool from healthy, domesticated animals is generally safe to eat.

According to the ASPCA the motivations your dog may have for eating its own feces include perfectly natural doggie instincts, but may also indicate some form of malnourishment.

Health risks are possible when dogs eat the feces of wild animals who are infested with internal parasites or of free-roaming cats who are infected with Toxoplasma gondii. Unvaccinated dogs are at particular risk for contracting parvovirus or hepatitis if they eat the stool of infected dogs.

Vaccinate your dogs!

Most coprophagics are simply healthy dogs who need a program that combines obedience training, careful management, environmental enrichment, and, possibly, a dietary adjustment to achieve success.

The treatment plan may vary depending on whether the dog is consuming his own feces or the feces of others.

For the autocoprophagic, leash walks for elimination are mandatory.

You have to clean up the stool quicker than the dog can eat it.

Use of a head halter will give you control of the dog’s head.

Teach the dog to hold a sit and stay a few steps away from the pile so you can clean up.

After you pick up, reward the dog with a high-value treat before releasing him from the stay.

We recommend Sally Said So Dog Training if  you are looking for help with ending this nasty habit.

We at Four Paws Pet Sitting Services, will make sure your dog is not doing this while we are on walks.

We also will always pick up after your pet.

What Pet Supplies Do You Need For a New Dog?

New Dog Shopping List created by FIGO Pet Insurance

How to Turn Your Rescue into a Well-Behaved Pet

DogBlogPhoto by PublicDomainPicture

There’s no greater gift you can give to a rescue than a loving home. And while you can rest assured your new furry family member appreciates every ounce of love you send their way, that doesn’t always mean they’re going to be a perfect fur angel.

As you know, rescues come from all walks of life. Some may be needing a new home after their elderly caregiver has passed away. Some may have been abandoned or neglected by their previous owners. Some may have already spent a good deal of time in a rescue facility or foster home. Whatever your rescue’s background, you may not truly get a feel for their level of training until you’ve brought them home. So, what can you do to turn a rescue with no training into a well-behaved pet? Here are a few tips:

Set them up for success. Moving to your home will be a big transition for your new pooch, so do what you can ahead of time to make the change as easy as possible for them. First, do a sweep of your home with an eye out for hazardous materials, such as cleaning supplies or small objects that could end up being choking hazards. Make sure these are safely stored away before your pet arrives. Then, do a sweep of your home looking for factors that might get your pooch into trouble. For example, if there’s an antique chair and you’d be devastated if it were chewed on, move it to an area of your home that will be off limits to your pet. If you have a fenced-in backyard, make sure there are no escape routes and keep a close eye on whether your pet is a digger. Taking precautions early on can make the whole transition go a lot more smoothly.

Make training a family affair. Your kids are probably even more excited than you to bring home your new four-legged family member. They’ll want to show your pooch affection and get as much affection back as possible, so they may shower your pet with treats and encourage bad behavior, especially if it’s funny–what’s more hilarious than watching dad’s slipper get ripped to shreds! So, from day one, make sure your kids are on board with training. Be sure they’re aware of what behaviors to look out for and know how to handle them. Make sure they help your new dog avoid problems by picking up toys, shoes, socks, etc., that a not-yet-trained pooch might mistake for a toy. Keep in mind that it will be helpful for your kids to know basic commands, like sit and stay, so if possible have them come with you to your pet’s obedience classes.


Get them on a schedule. Right away, get your rescue on an eating and potty schedule. This routine will make life easier on both of you. If you’re lucky the rescue facility that previously housed your pet, already had them on a good schedule. Check with them to see what time your pet will expect to eat, how often your pet typically needs to potty, and so on. The structure a schedule provides will help you both get settled into your new life together. This is also another great way to involve your children. If you have an older, responsible child, assign them to fill up your dog’s water and/or food bowl each morning before school. Younger kids can be in charge of alerting you any time they see your pooch waiting by the door to go outside. Of course, you’ll still need to keep an eye on these things yourself, but assigning these chores to your kids keeps them involved in the training process and can help create consistency with the whole family.

Socialize your pooch. One great way to help your pooch get used to being around other dogs is an obedience class. Many pet stores offer them. Just check with one in your area or ask your vet for a recommendation. If you’re confident your rescue can handle being around other dogs, you can help them further socialize and get out some energy at your local dog park. Dog parks are also great places for your kids to practice using commands they’ve learned on your dog. Most cities and towns, regardless of size, have at least one bark park for their local dog owners.

Know how to handle disobedience. There’s a good chance your rescue had a hard life before coming to live with you. Keep that in mind the first time they chew on something they shouldn’t have or have an accident on your new rug. Do not ever yell at or threaten to hit your rescue. Instead, ignore bad behavior while rewarding the good. When your dog does something right, give them a treat. That way they’ll associate the behavior with something good. Make sure your kids know how to handle bad behavior. If for example, their favorite shoe gets chewed, tell them they should let you know rather than scold or yell at the dog. At the same time, they shouldn’t hide a pooch’s bad behavior either. Make it clear that the dog won’t be “punished” for bad behavior, but you still need to know about it in order to plan the dog’s training properly. And by all means, be patient. Despite the old saying, old dogs can learn new tricks; it may just take them a little longer.

While getting a rescue is certainly exciting, it usually doesn’t take long for reality to set in once you get them home. But not to worry, while rescue dogs need a lot of love and attention, they’ll give it back to you in bundles.


Dog Scooting, What’s Behind It?

scootHave you ever seen your dog scoot his butt across the ground and wondered what the heck that’s all about?
This will teach you what you never thought you wanted to know, but what is very important to your pet’s health.

You may have heard the words anal glands associated with this behavior.
Technically they are anal sacs which contain glands, but I won’t go into detail yet because I don’t want to scare you all away before the important stuff.
There is some question about the purpose of the fluid emitted by the sacs.
Some believe it is saturated with “scent-formation” that provides essentially the same information your dog gets by sniffing butts.
Some believe it contains territory marking scent and others believe it is released to lubricate the anus during defecation.
Whatever the reason for its existence, it is a fluid that needs be expelled from the body regularly, like urine, because it contains toxins.

The sacs contain copious amounts of sweat and oil produced by the respective glands contained within.
These make up a very stinky brownish fluid that is released through very small ducts which lead to the inner edge of the anus. gland
If the fluid builds up it becomes more and more solid until it cannot pass through the ducts anymore, which is called impaction.
If the impacted sacs are not corrected quickly it can lead to infection and eventually abscess.

For most dogs the oily-like fluid is expelled naturally during defecation. However for approximately 12% of dogs, especially small breeds, this process does not occur naturally and requires intervention.
Some dogs have unusually small ducts and it makes it difficult for even the normal fluid to move.
Your veterinarian has the knowledge to manually express the sacs of fluid by gently pressing on them, an altogether unpleasant experience for everyone involved.
Frequent trips to the vet can become quite expensive.
If you’re looking for a way to help your buddy without dropping all your dough, you can start by increasing the fiber in your pet’s diet.
It is commonly believed that if your pup has to pass a large stool, large enough to expand the anus, the stool will push against the sacs releasing the fluid naturally.

Because some of you may be concerned about your pet’s comfortability during the big-poo process, let me calm your fears and tell you that dogs cannot get hemorrhoids. Also, in comparison to having icky anus toxins stuck in their body, a large poo has to feel quite pleasant.
A consistently high-fiber diet may be the solution to an occasional booty-scoot, but if your dog has had the scooting issue for a while it could be too late for just a diet change. Impaction often presents itself through inflammation and pain, and sometimes the impacted sacs are pushed to the surface and become visible. So if your dog has pain passing stool and his butt doesn’t look normal, it’s time to visit the vet.
In severe cases your vet may recommend surgery to drain the sacs. Or if the issue occurs frequently your vet may recommend surgically removing the sacs to avoid future complications.
If you’re a very brave soul you can ask your vet (and some groomers) how to express the anal sacs yourself.
If your vet thinks home care will be enough to keep your pet healthy then don’t forget to buy gloves!

Help your buddy stay healthy by watching his bowel movements (it’s not gross because you love him!) If his droppings seem small or mushy, start with diet change, including reducing or removing soft food.
Watch for sore-butt behavior. It’s not always scooting, it could be biting at the anus or base of the tail, pain or discomfort sitting on rear end, or inflammation.
This article focuses on dogs, but cats and other mammals also have anal sacs. When in doubt, seek professional help!

As pet sitters, we will let you know if we see this behavior.

Looking for a Pet Sitter?
Four Paws Pet Sitting Services serves Raleigh, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Garner and Wake Forest NC.

Thanks to Michelle Falk-Nixon for this important article.

Guide and Service Dogs

Guide Dogs

What are guide dogs?

Guide DogGuide dogs are trained to lead the blind or vision impaired. The dog acts as a pilot to direct its owner in a straight line unless directed to turn, while avoiding obstacles in all directions.

How do I get a guide dog?

Blind Veterans are assessed and trained for orientation and mobility. If a guide dog is preferred, information on how to contact guide dog schools is provided. Partnership with the guide dog is provided through non-VA affiliated guide dog schools.

What benefits does VA provide?

Blind Veterans with working dogs are provided veterinary care and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids. VA does not pay for boarding, grooming, food, or any other routine expense associated with owning a dog.

Service Dogs

What are service dogs?

Service DogA service dog is a dog trained to do specific tasks for a person that he or she cannot do because of a disability. Service dogs can pick things up, guide a person with vision problems, or help someone who falls or loses balance easily. For example, a service dog can help a blind person walk down the street or get dangerous things out of the way when someone is having a seizure.

Protecting someone, giving emotional support, or being a companion do not qualify a dog to be a service animal. To be a service dog, a dog must go through training. Usually the dog is trained to:

  • Do things that are different from natural dog behavior
  • Do things that the handler (dog owner) cannot do because of a disability
  • Learn to work with the new handler in ways that help manage the owner’s disability

Because the handler depends on the service dog’s help, service dogs are allowed to go to most public places the handler goes. This is the case even if it is somewhere pet dogs usually cannot go, like restaurants or on airplanes. But there are a few exceptions. For example, service dogs can be asked to leave if they are not behaving well.

How do I get a service dog?

Each Veteran’s case is reviewed and evaluated by a prescribing clinician for the following:

  • Ability and means, including family or caregiver, to care for the dog currently and in the future
  • Goals that are to accomplished through the use of the dog
  • Goals that are to be accomplished through other assistive technology or therapy

The Veteran will be informed of an approval or disapproval of their service dog request. Veterans approved for service dogs are referred to Assistance Dogs International-accredited agencies. There is no charge for the dog or the associated training.

What benefits does VA provide?

Veterans with working service dogs are provided veterinary care and equipment through VA Prosthetics and Sensory Aids. VA does not pay for boarding, grooming, food, or any other routine expense associated with owning a dog.

Additional Resources

Non-VA Related Resources

*The links above will take you outside of the Department of Veterans Affairs Website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked websites. The link will open in a new window.

Do You Know The Symptoms of Diabetes in a Dog?

dog_insulinWhat Are the Symptoms of Diabetes in Dogs?

The following symptoms should be investigated as they could be indicators that your dog has diabetes:


Change in appetite
Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption
Weight loss
Increased urination
Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath
Urinary tract infections
Cataract formation, blindness
Chronic skin infections

This information is from : WebMD for pets

If you need pet sitting and are worried about leaving your pet because he/she has diabetes, no worries!

We will be glad to administer insulin.

Give us a call for your pet sitting and dog walking needs.

Four Paws Pet Sitting Services  919-388-PAWS (7297)

Positive Reinforcement Training Tips

They don’t call them “man’s best friend” for nothing!  Domestic dogs have for thousands of years lived with humans in various capacities, from aiding in hunting to protecting livestock. In order to perform these functions, dogs learned to communicate with people and perform as their owners wished.

Dogs are highly sensitive and responsive animals. They can tell when their owners are happy, sad, or nervous, and they may express these emotions themselves.

Because dogs do have feelings, and intelligence that may be compared to that of a toddler (some breeds are as smart as a human seven-year-old!), it’s important that you refrain from treating your pet negatively. Continually shouting at a small child may scare him into submission, but it probably won’t make for a happy or healthy young person in the long run, even if he does obey.

Your dog does not understand that you’re angry he got into the garbage bin; for one, dogs get into things because they’re dogs, and for two, his brain just isn’t going to connect your harsh tones and loud movements with all the fun he had with leftovers this afternoon. Just as with small children, dogs need to be coerced into behaving well with smiles and cheer.

Your pet will understand when you’re unhappy with him, but he won’t understand why so well as the fact that you just are. That’s why it’s important to work on refining your dog’s behavior in a different way, with positivity.

Positive reinforcement is one of the best methods of training your dog. It’s easier for your dog to understand what he did right, rather than grasping the concept of some arbitrary human rule he didn’t follow (such as resisting sticking his muzzle into the appealing-smelling trash bin). When you’re happy, your dog is happy as well.

As such, two of the best ways to train your dog are with enthusiasm and with puppy treats. Both of these need to be awarded to your pet immediately after he performs the desirable action, so that he understands and repeats it again.

Because dogs understand human emotions so well, it’s key to praise him when he does something correctly, even if it’s by accident. Use upbeat vocal tones, and repeated phrases like “Good dog!” Respond in this way when your dog completes commands, and pair it with petting and physical affection when you’re really proud.

Treats are a great idea for training. Your pet gets a treat for sitting instead of jumping on visitor, for not barking when the doorbell rings, when he fetches an item, and so on.  As long as they don’t trigger a food allergy, treats are a safe and effective way for modifying behavior and completing training. Be patient at first, since your dog probably won’t understand right away.

It doesn’t take much to make dogs happy–pets and treats, please! Check out the infographic below for more on how to get your pet to please you with positive reinforcement.

Positive Training small

by Amber Kingsley, Guest Author

Caring For Your Best Friend’s Feet

pawsA friend of mine, a veteran of the military, shared this mantra with me, “Take care of your feet, because your feet take you everywhere.” I always remembered that fact and for us humans, it can often be associated with many types of medical issues, particularly those that are connected with a number of conditions like diabetes and circulation problems, since our lower extremities are the furthest from both our hearts and brains.

In another chapter from my personal adventures associated with my beloved canine companions, during the dog days of summer, in the quiet suburb neighborhood where I live, I always walk my dog with bare feet during the hotter months. Although my neighbors tease me about this relentlessly, my mind tells me that, if the sidewalk or asphalt is too hot for MY FEET, it must most certainly torture my dog’s sensitive little paws. Anyone who has ran quickly across a hot beach with no shoes can certainly relate to this circumstance. OUCH!

The same is true for our pets, especially dogs, whose paws propel them everywhere in life. Taking care of these delicate extremities is vitally important for their mobility, health and overall welfare. When they have issues with these tissues, sometimes they can chew, lick and irritate these sensitive areas, which only makes the matter worse. Here’s some ways to watch and protect the paws of our beloved four-legged pets:

Paws Don’t Come With A Preventative Care Manual

Although there’s no such thing as “perfect” when it comes to preventative care, there are some steps that we can take to help our pets with better paw protection:

Trimming their nails is a daunting task at best, but taking some preventative measures when you’re a DYI kind of pet owner is essential. Consider taking some of these steps to prevent excessive bleeding from cutting too close to the quick.

Check your dog’s footsies regularly for signs of irregular abuse, cracking, peeling, redness, swollen areas and other areas of possible irritation and infection. Consult your veterinarian if these problems look serious or you see limping and excessive licking, chewing or favoritism, which can complicate matters.

Some dogs that have anxiety problems, or they are particularly stressed for some
reason, others are aging with arthritis and other muscular conditions can be more prone to issues with their legs and paws. Again, see your veterinarian for solutions and relief that go beyond the “cone of shame.”


In extreme climate conditions, both hot and cold, pet owners should resort to protective devices such as booties, to protect their pets from unnecessary harm from the elements.

Younger dogs that are more fast moving and are therefore particularly vulnerable to paw injury and abuse, especially on rough surfaces. They should be monitored more closely and watched for signs of increased wear-and-tear that can occur with higher incidences with these more active individuals.

There’s another idiom for the care of feet and delicate paws that that goes along with our human endeavors that goes, “Take care of your feet because they’ll carry you for life.” Extend the years you spend with your pet by ensuring their paws, legs, heart and soul, will be with you for life. Both yours and theirs.

Written by Amber Kingsley