Summer Safety Tips for Pets

Summer can be wonderful time for you and your dog to spend time outdoors exercising and having fun. However, it is important to understand that hot temperatures can be very dangerous, too. The most common warm weather hazards include heat stroke, dehydration and sunburn – all of which can be prevented. Watch your dog for signs of illness, and call your vet right away if any problems arise. In order to keep your dog safe, here are some important things you need to know about summer time hazards and prevention.


Never leave your dog in the car unattended. Despite the many warnings about this, each summer brings numerous accounts of dogs that become sick or even die of heat stroke because they were left in a car. Even if it does not seem that hot outside, the temperature inside the car can rise to dangerous levels within minutes. If you absolutely must bring your dog with you on errands, make sure you bring another person who can stay in the running, air-conditioned car with your dog. Otherwise, do your dog a favor – leave her at home.

Outdoor Play

Steer clear of long walks and strenuous exercise on hot, sunny days. Avoid prolonged sun exposure. Not only is there a risk of heat stroke – dogs can get sunburns, too. If you are planning to spend time outdoors with your dog, find a shady spot and provide plenty of fresh, cool water. Try to take leisurely walks during the cooler times of the day, like the morning or evening hours. Sunscreen for dogs can help protect your dog as well.


It might be best to leave your dog at home when going to large outdoor festivals or parties. A large crowd can be overwhelming and it increases the chances of injury, dehydration and exhaustion. Plus, there’s bound to be a lot of unhealthy or even toxic food and trash on the ground that your dog might try to eat. Also remember that fireworks and other loud noises can frighten dogs into running away or otherwise injuring themselves. If you do bring your dog to events, keep her close by and watch out for potential hazards.

Swimming and Water Activities

Stay near your dog while playing or swimming in a lake, river or the ocean. Contrary to common belief, not all dogs are skilled swimmers. Also remember that even the most experienced swimmer can become a victim of an undertow, jellyfish or other hazard. Also, prevent your dog from drinking the water. Salt water can cause dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea. Water in lakes, ponds and rivers may contain parasites and bacteria that can infect your dog. Always provide plenty of fresh, clean water for drinking.

If you bring your dog on a boat or canoe, a life jacket is just as important for your dog as it is for you. Falling or jumping overboard is always possible. Any dog that spends time near water should have her very own pet life vest.

Parasites and Pests

Spending time outdoors means more exposure to various parasites and pests. Always check your dog for ticks after spending time outside. Keep your dog on flea prevention to avoid flea-related issues. Because mosquitos carry heartworm disease, your dog must be on heartworm prevention if you live in an area where mosquitos are present. Also remember that an encounter with a skunk can be quite a hassle. More dangerous are snakebites, which commonly occur in spring and summer. Stings and bites from insects such as bees, wasps, scorpions and spiders are also risks.

Keeping Your Dog Safe

Bottom line: keep an eye on your dog. Don’t leave her unattended. It’s important to always exercise common sense and proceed with caution to help keep your dog safe, regardless of the season. Summertime comes with its own set of hazards, so make sure you are familiar with the risks. Learn what warning signs mean trouble. When in doubt, call your vet right away. When all is said and done, it will be much easier for you and your dog to enjoy the summer.


Pets in Millbrook deal with rough winters

Brrrr…it’s cold outside! Remember, when you are cold, your pet probably is too!
The following guidelines will help you protect your companion animals when the mercury dips.

  1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoors, felines can freeze, become lost or be stolen, injured or killed. Cats who are allowed to stray are exposed to infectious diseases, including rabies, from other cats, dogs and wildlife.
  2. During the winter, outdoor cats sometimes sleep under the hoods of cars. When the motor is started, the cat can be injured or killed by the fan belt. If there are outdoor cats in your area, bang loudly on the car hood before starting the engine to give the cat a chance to escape.
  3. Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm—dogs can lose their scent and easily become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season, so make sure yours always wears ID tags.
  4. Thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs and stomach when he comes in out of the sleet, snow or ice. He can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking his paws, and his paw pads may also bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
  5. Never shave your dog down to the skin in winter, as a longer coat will provide more warmth. When you bathe your dog in the colder months, be sure to completely dry him before taking him out for a walk. Own a short-haired breed? Consider getting him a coat or sweater with a high collar or turtleneck with coverage from the base of the tail to the belly. For many dogs, this is regulation winter wear.
  6. Never leave your dog or cat alone in a car during cold weather. A car can act as a refrigerator in the winter, holding in the cold and causing the animal to freeze to death.
  7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold as well as adult dogs, and may be difficult to housebreak during the winter. If your puppy appears to be sensitive to the weather, you may opt to paper-train him inside. If your dog is sensitive to the cold due to age, illness or breed type, take him outdoors only to relieve himself.
  8. Does your dog spend a lot of time engaged in outdoor activities? Increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him—and his fur—in tip-top shape.
  9. Like coolant, antifreeze is a lethal poison for dogs and cats. Be sure to thoroughly clean up any spills from your vehicle, and consider using products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centermore information.
  10. Make sure your companion animal has a warm place to sleep, off the floor and away from all drafts. A cozy dog or cat bed with a warm blanket or pillow is perfect.

The Gift of Animals

Ahh the holidays… family, food, drink, celebration, fun… Black Friday, crazed shopping, laying out cash, traveling, overindulging, stress! We take the good with the bad, and hopefully the former outweighs the latter. 🙂 But what about our critters? Our lives really are busy enough during the year, but when the holidays creep up on us, things start to get a bit insane! Does the craziness and stress overwhelm you? Well, our critters may not feel the same stress for the same reasons, but they do reflect what is going on with us. And though we may not realize it, they offer up very simple ways to redirect our energy and bring the crazy level down a notch.

Our beloved pets are very sensitive to our physical and emotional wellbeing. Think about how your dogs react to you. For example, my rat terriers can read me like a book. Rocco really does not like when my partner and I raise our voice in “discussion” lol or argue, or even if one of us is simply “venting” to the other. He physically trembles. He knows things are not sunny in OZ. If I’m upset about something, or feeling a little blue, he sticks his nose in my face and gives me kisses, usually with his tongue in my mouth – no matter how hard I try to prevent it, he finds the exact split second of opportunity. Ugh! But he makes me smile. He lowers my blood pressure. He enables me to take a step back and reevaluate the situation. Oliver, on the other hand, is not so intuitive. He is more of the “I’m so cute you just have to drop everything, forget all your problems, and love me”. Ollie just wants to soak up the love, and rightly so. He is a puppy mill rescue, and deserves every drop of love and attention he demands. They are different as night and day, but they both love unconditionally, and fill my days with joy.

My cats calm me on a different level. They are just there, being their wonderful selves. They greet me every time I walk in the room, offering up chatter and demanding attention, in a way only a cat can. I MUST drop everything and tend to them. Its in their contract. Some people are dog people, some are cat people. I am definitely both. But cats are kind of a higher being in the animal world. They rule the roost in my house (all my pets do, but the cats KNOW they do!). I must put aside my “stuff” and focus on them when they are present. If I come in from a long crazy day, they don’t run to me like the dogs do – Grace doesn’t jump from her perch in the window, and Telly won’t budge from his pillow on the table. Instead, they simply turn their heads in my direction, and offer a distinct “meow”. That is my direct order to drop everything, and come give them prompt attention and scratches. And I do. And I love it.

I have a horse as well. He has been in my life for almost 12 years. Its a huge commitment, and a huge expense, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Besides the joy of losing myself in feeling his strength and graceful movement when I ride, and the exhilaration of seeing him fly down the road in front of me when I hitch him to my carriage, I cherish the simple act of putting my arms around his strong soft neck and burying my face in his long mane. He knows when that’s what I need. He responds by lowering his head, and being still until my stress and worry slips away. Sometimes that is all I want to do, and its all I need. It calms me. It lowers my blood pressure measurably in an instant. Then I give him a carrot and a kiss on the velvety nose.

If I didn’t have animals, I honestly think I would be in the looney bin. (Or in jail for murder!) This is how important my fur babies are to me, and what they give me. I have been blessed with some amazing pets over the years. Each has enriched my life immeasurably, in ways nothing else can offer. Each has blessed me with cherished memories and unending love. Yes, there is also heartache in being owned by our pets. They cannot be with us forever. But that is the price of love. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in this life.

This holiday season, take a step back and really see your pets for what they are, and for what they bring to your life. Take advantage of the love they give, and the quiet serenity you can get when you let all else go, and just be in the moment with them, in whatever way that may be. Its a gift you can give yourself that will change your life.

MIllbrook Pet Sitting for Special Needs Animals

As pet owners, sooner or later you will have a pet that will need special care at home. As our pets grow older, their health needs change, and with advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer happy lives, even with medical issues. We all should be familiar with the heath issues our pets may encounter, and educate ourselves as well as we can so we are able to provide the best care for our pets at home.

A good relationship with your veterinarian is the first step in keeping your pets happy and healthy at home. Regular yearly wellness visits should be standard for all your pets. Talk to your vet and ask questions! Become an involved owner! I can’t imagine any vet or vet tech that would not take the time to answer any and all questions, and talk to you about your pets, and address whatever concerns you have. Discuss your pets’ health, and future health. Is your pet getting older? Ask what should you look for as clues to possible health issues with your animals. Is your breed of dog prone to specific health problems? Does your cat show signs of urinary infection or kidney disease?

Many common pet health issues include allergies, gastrointestinal issues (vomiting/diarrhea) , ear infections, hot spots, joint problems like arthritis or hip dysplasia, separation anxiety, seizures, lameness, back or disc problems, and respiratory problems.

A few more serious issues include cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes.

Today lets take a closer look at ear infections, which are very common in both dogs and cats. An educated pet owner can easily identify and often treat ear infections in their pets. It is recommended of course to always talk to or visit your veterinarian before treating your pet at home. But there are some things you can do until you get to the vet.

Infection of the external ear canal (outer ear) is common. It is called otitis externa. Some breeds, particularly those with large or hairy ears like Cocker Spaniels, are more prone to ear infections, but they may occur in any pet.

Ear infections are painful. Most dogs and cats will rub or shake their head and scratch their ears trying to get the debris and fluid out. The ears often become red and inflamed and develop a bad smell. A black or yellowish discharge is often seen.

Ear mites are infectious parasites primarily found in young cats. They are spread from direct contact from cat to cat.

Ear infections are most typical in dogs. Most ear infections are caused by an underlying allergy, such as to food or environment.

Some are caused by water in the ear after bathing or swimming. Dogs with large floppy ears, such as Basset hounds, are prone to infections as their ear canals have poor air circulation, trapping moisture and allowing bacteria and yeast to grow.

What can you do?
Clean your pet’s ears. White vinegar is very effective at removing debris from the ears and killing the yeast and bacteria responsible for ear infections. Grab the ear where it attaches to the head (at the ear base), gently squeeze your thumb and forefinger together, rubbing the solution deep into the ear canals. Wipe the inside of the ear well with cotton balls to remove debris coming from the ear canal.

For dogs that get recurring ear infections it often helps to change the diet. It should include a completely different protein with minimal added ingredients, no by-products or fillers. Organic and/or holistic diets often help a great deal. One example commercial diet is made of fish and sweet potato. There are many high-end commercial brands that address allergy issues. It may take a few tries to find the best one for your pet.

Administering medication:
Your veterinarian will most likely supply you with ear cleaning solutions and/or medication to use at home. They should always show you how to clean your pet’s ears and administer any meds during your vet visit. Most vets also provide home care instructions and information sheets for you. If you have any concerns, ask them to go over it or show you again.

It is important to get the medication into the horizontal part of the ear canal. Unlike our ear canal, the dog’s external ear canal is “L” shaped. The vertical canal connects with the outside of the ear and is the upper part of the “L”.

The horizontal canal lies deeper in the ear canal, ending at the eardrum. The goal is to get the medication deep into the lower part of the “L” – the horizontal ear canal.

Try these steps:
1. Gently pull the earflap straight up and hold it with one hand.

2. Place a small amount of medication into the vertical part of the ear canal while continuing to keep the earflap elevated.

3. Put one finger in front of and at the base of the earflap, and put your thumb behind and at the base.

4. Gently massage the ear canal between your finger and thumb. A squishing sound tells you that the medication has gone into the ear canal.

5. Clean the outer part of the ear canal and the inside of the earflap with a cotton ball soaked in some of the medication.

Usually this will need to be done daily. Remember, ear infections, especially in dogs, often recur. Don’t get discouraged! Keep some cleaning solution and medication at home if your dog is a chronic sufferer. Once a week preventative cleanings once the infection is cleared up can help prevent recurrences.


Do We Choose Our Pets or Do They Choose Us?

I have been thinking about my animals and how they came to be in my life. We as humans tend to think we are superior beings. We are confident, sometimes arrogant, about our position in the evolutionary chain. Well, I’m beginning to think that we aren’t so smart. That we aren’t as superior as we think we are. I am beginning to think my animals are sometimes smarter than I am.
My female cat Grace absolutely without a doubt chose me. She appeared on my doorstep one cold afternoon in December several years ago. I wasn’t sure if she was a stray, but judging from her good condition I tended to doubt it. So I thought she was just outside for the day while her owners were at work, and I spent a few minutes scratching her head and went back inside. Later that evening there she was again, causing a scene on my doorstep. Again I scratched a bit, and this time gave her a bit of food. Well, that was it. At this point it was about 12 degrees out, and she wasn’t going anywhere. I tried to go back in and let her be, but she wasn’t having any part of it, meowing and sounding quite pitiful actually. So I did it… I let her in.
Well, my 85 pound hound mix was NOT pleased. The cat however, didn’t care, wasn’t phased, and actually caused him to retreat to the bathroom in apprehension. Then she made herself comfortable on my couch and never left. Oh at the time I said “Just for the night, its cold.” And stuck to it, letting her out in the morning. When I got home from work, of course, there she was again, waiting to be let in, fed, and catered to. And I did. I still do.
She is Grace, Queen of the Universe. At least Queen of Her Universe. Master of all others, whether cat, dog, or human. She is a most loving and sweet Queen, but a Queen nonetheless, demanding, in her own subtle way, that she gets the best spot on the bed, whichever bed she chooses; that she sleeps the afternoon away on the computer chair, no matter who might want to use the computer – after all, that is what the six dining chairs are for, right? ; that you turn the water on for her in the bathtub so she can drink out of the faucet… until she decides she prefers the vanity sink… no… bathtub again – just leave both on I will let you know when I am finished.

Whoever coined the phrase dumb beast is a fool. This cat is a genius. And I adore her.

Welcome to Happy Tails, Your Professional Dutchess County Pet Sitter!

Hi, my name is Melanie Michon, and I own/operate Happy Tails Animal Care in Millbrook, NY. I focus on pet sitting for dogs/cats/housepets, and private horse care at your home/farm. I am a lifelong animal lover and owner who decided, at 34 and after working in marketing for 10+ years, to give it all up and move to the middle of nowhere to work with animals – mainly horses. Working with horses is great, but its a tough job – physical, long hours, low pay, work weekends, holidays, nights if there are sick horses…. you get the picture. I didn’t see much in the way of job security or advancement potential! So I went back to graphic design. Then I remembered why I left. Then I went back to horses. Then I remembered why I left LOL. Then I went to school to get my Veterinary Technology degree. Then I decided I couldn’t live on the pay. Then I went back to graphic design. Then I hated it. Then I got a bartending job (my lifelong fallback occupation!!). Then I missed working with horses (sort of, mucking stalls still stinks!).

See a pattern here?

I thought about how I could incorporate my education and experience and not have to work as a slave for someone else… pet sitting? I had already done some private horse care for friends and others locally. I thought it might be worth a shot. So I got all gung ho and made my self a website, business cards and postcards. I did all the Googling and Yahooing and site listing I could figure. And waited. I got a few clients, and liked it. Got a couple horse clients, and loved it. So now a little over a year later, I’m still Googling and Yahooing and trying to market my business and build a client base. I’m not sitting full time. I’m still bartending. But thats fine because I enjoy it, and it keeps my days free to blog. ;-D

So this is a new venture for me, I hope you will join me in it! I hope to talk about animals. What are your passions regarding your pets? What have you done to improve the lives, health, wellbeing of your animals? Are you holistic? Organic? Raw diet? Natural horsekeeping? Barefoot hoofcare? I welcome all comments and if you have something you are interested in talking about, lets talk about it!

BTW, I my own pets include a cat, a Hound/Boxer mix, two Rat Terriers, and a Morgan horse. I have the best animals in the world. I have a passion for my animals, and keeping them healthy and happy. Lets see where it leads me this time!