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Megan C.

Resident pets.

I currently don’t have any, though I look forward to getting a cat in the future. I did leave two cats with my parents: Misty and Smut. Misty is the oldest one; she’s timid and soft-hearted, preferring to stay out of trouble. She’ll often enter a room slowly and cautiously and tends to jump at the littlest noises. I’ve had her for her whole life, so I know this is just a nervous trait rather than anything traumatic happening. Smut’s definitely a leader, very much in charge and letting everyone, both Misty and her humans, know it. She hogs the food, so even though I’ve given my parents advice on how to fix it, she’s still become very fat and is quite happy with this. Misty was adopted from a factory cat who had kittens, while Smut was rescued from the side of a country road.

What can we learn from our animal friends?

Compassion, empathy, patience, how to take care of a life that isn’t our own.

What is the best part about being a pet sitter?

Getting to know the people who have these pets as their friends, and the animals as well! Plus, I love to take care of animals.

What is your ultimate goal in life?

To travel to at least one place outside of the USA.

April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month

By: Cate Burnett

Ticks and Canine Lyme Disease – What To Watch For With Our Pets

According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, 5686 dogs out of 34,545 tested positive for tick-borne diseases, including Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis, in the state of Texas in 2015. As of this publication date in 2016, 754 dogs have already shown as positive. With warmer weather now upon us, the tick population in the southern US is expanding. This increases the chances of our canine companions contracting these deadly diseases.

Because April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month, we want to place the focus on this chronic and painful disease and discuss what we as pet parents can do to keep our dogs healthy and happy year round.

History of Lyme Disease and Geographical Regions

Veterinarians first diagnosed canine Lyme disease in Connecticut in 1975, although scientific evidence indicates that the ailment has existed in wildlife for a number of years. Recent DNA testing to preserved tissue from a mouse that died in 1894 shows that the mouse was infected with the disease.

Dogs throughout the US can by affected by Lyme disease; however, it is only prevalent in wooded and rural areas where there is a high concentration of ticks. Eighty-five percent of all cases occur in the eastern coastal states from Maine to Virginia. The Northern Plains states and the Mid-West (Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan) account for the second highest incidence level of reported disease. The West Coast and the Southeastern states from Texas to Georgia and the Floridian peninsula rank next.

The reported increase of Lyme disease in the 20th Century is thought to be due to certain environmental factors. Prior to 1900, areas of this country were heavily settled and deforested, reducing native deer populations and the deer ticks that carry Lyme disease. Now that many of those same areas are being re-planted and restored, the numbers of deer are increasing. This coupled with increased awareness and testing capabilities has led to the greatly increased reporting of the disease.

Transmission of Lyme Disease and Life Cycle of the Tick

Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a type of bacteria call a ‘spirochete’ for its spiral shape. The primary carriers of this bacterium are the Eastern black-legged tick (also called the deer tick) and the Western black-legged tick. Extremely small, ranging in size from a grain of sand to a sesame seed, black-legged ticks live in shady, moist ground and can be found clinging to tall grasses, brush, shrubs, and low-hanging tree branches. They can also be found in gardens and lawns at the edges of wooded areas where deer and mice, the ticks’ preferred hosts, flourish.

Just about this time of year in the spring, tick larvae begin to emerge from eggs that were laid in the fall. The larvae feeds on small woodland mammals like mice and, if the mouse is infected, the larva enters the tick’s body through its saliva. This infected larva grows until the following spring where it molts into an adult tick. The infected adult tick then feeds on a larger mammal – namely your dog or you – and passes the B. burgdorferi into the bloodstream.

For the tick to transmit the bacteria, it must be attached to its victim for about 48 hours. If the tick dies or is removed before that time, transmission of the bacteria does not occur. Even if the tick is attached for more than 48 hours, your dog may not contract the disease.

Infected dogs pose no risk of transmitting the Lyme disease to other canine or human members of the household. After a full meal (the allotted 48 hours), ticks detach and don’t feed again for several days. There is a risk from ticks that have not eaten fully and become detached in that they might seek out another mammal to feed and pass on the infection.

Symptoms of Canine Lyme Disease

The clinical signs of Lyme disease typically occur 2 to 5 months after a bite from an infected tick. Unlike humans, dogs do not develop the rash or circular red area commonly seen around the tick bite.

Your infected dog may present with…

•Lameness

•A high, persistent fever of between 103 and 105ºF

•Swollen lymph nodes

•Joint swelling and inflammation

•Lethargy

•Loss of appetite

•Stiff walk with an arched back

•Touch sensitivity

•Breathing difficulties

Additionally, some dogs develop chronic, progressive kidney disease as a result of the Lyme disease. Because this consequence is extremely difficult to treat, most veterinarians will recommend running additional blood work on your affected dog to check for continuing renal function. Chronic cardiac problems and nervous disorders have also been seen in some pets diagnosed with Lyme disease.

The clinical signs of Lyme disease may be ongoing and chronic. Some dogs can be perfectly fine one day and showing symptoms the next. A proper diagnosis and long-term veterinary treatment are typically necessary to clear your dog of the organism and prevent a relapse.

All breeds of dogs are equally susceptible to Lyme disease, though dogs used for hunting or other outdoor sporting activities are at higher risk for exposure to ticks.

Diagnosis

Lyme disease is usually diagnosed based on a medical history that includes the possibility of tick exposure, suspicious clinical signs, and results of diagnostic testing.

Several laboratory tests can identify the B. burgdorferi organism in blood or tissues. Additionally, a quantitative antibody test (QC6) can measure the level of antibodies in the bloodstream of your affected dog to determine whether treatment is recommended.

More commonly, veterinarians use an in-clinic SNAP test to check for all tick-borne diseases including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. Similar to the common heartworm test, this SNAP test is very accurate, uses only a tiny amount of blood and only takes a few minutes to show results.

Your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic tests if your dog shows signs that other organs may be affected by the bacteria causing the Lyme disease.

Treatment and Prognosis

Treatment of Lyme disease generally consists of administration of antibiotics and (if necessary) other medications to temporarily help control joint pain and other clinical signs. Doxycycline is the most common antibiotic that is prescribed for Lyme disease, but others are also available and effective.

Your dog will probably be treated as an outpatient unless other ailments relative to the Lyme disease (severe kidney and/or cardiac involvement) are detected.

Some dogs show dramatic improvement after only a few days of receiving antibiotics, but most veterinarians now recommend a 28- to 30-day course of treatment. Unfortunately, the antibiotic treatment does not always completely eliminate infection with B. burgdorferi bacteria. Relapses are not uncommon, so pet parents are advised to monitor their dogs carefully for signs of illness.

Protection from Lyme Disease

The best protection against Lyme disease is prevention. Prevention means:

•Give your pet a flea and tick preventative that can help ensure an infected tick that attaches itself dies before reaching the 48-hour mark, that time period necessary to transmit the disease. Be sure to discuss preventatives with your vet so they can recommend one that is suitable according to your dog’s risk.

•Keep your pets away from tall grass and wooded areas to decrease their exposure to ticks, thus decreasing the odds of getting bit.

•Vaccinations have been developed that help protect against Lyme disease. This is something you should discuss with your veterinarian to decide whether this method of prevention is right for you.

Please Note: If you suspect the tick found on your dog is a black-legged tick, save the tick in a sealed container of alcohol and take it, and your pet, directly to your veterinarian for diagnostic testing.

A quick diagnosis and early treatment can save your pet from a painful, and sometimes deadly, disease.

 

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Cate Burnette is a semi-retired registered veterinary technician with clinical experience in small and large animal medicine. With 30-plus years of journalism experience, she went back to school Cateafter 9/11 to work with her first love: animals. The pet parent of four cats, three dogs and one ex-racehorse, Cate is a certified rescue volunteer with the American Humane Association’s Red Star Emergency Services and served with the group in New Orleans doing animal search and rescue after Hurricane Katrina. She is also a horse safety and horse management expert, and has volunteered with US Pony Clubs as a district commissioner and horse management judge.

Spring Is Here! Where to Take Your Dog in Austin and Dallas

Spring is a great time to take advantage of all the fun, dog-friendly places to visit in the Austin and Dallas areas! To enjoy the warm and sunny (but not yet scorching) days, check out:

Area dog parks: Dallas and Austin both boast a large number of off-leash dog parks where your furry friend can run, jump, and play to his heart’s content. In Dallas, check out Bark Park Central, Meadows Dog Park, and Mutts Canine Cantina; in Austin, you can try Red Bud Isle or West Austin Dog Park – and that’s just scratching the surface!

Katy Trail: Three and a half miles of beautiful trail for walking or running with your pup – what could be better when the Dallas weather is perfect?

Zilker Botanical Gardens: Your leashed dog is welcome to explore the unusual plant life and themed areas of this beautiful Austin attraction.

Half Price Books: With locations in Austin and Dallas, Half Price Books is the perfect escape for a rainy spring day when you need to get out of the house. Leashed, well-mannered dogs are welcome to peruse the shelves along with their owners and find something new to read.

2nd Street District: You simply have to visit 2nd Street District in Austin, where leashed dogs are welcome on all restaurant patios and inside many of the shops.

Dallas and Austin are both highly dog-friendly cities. Besides the above-listed options, a little digging of your own will reveal lots more choices.  Where’s your favorite spot?  Let us know in the comments.

Enjoy spring with your pup!

Terra

Resident Pets

Delta is a chocolate lab who had a rough start in life. We rescued her and she has been the sweetest dog ever since. She loves to play fetch, play in the water, and run her back in the grass, and give kisses. Lobo is a yellow lab who is also a rescue dog and he and Delta love each other and play and play together. Lobo is such a sweet boy who enjoys running, playing in the water and laying in the sun. Finley is a black cat who showed up on our doorstep one evening and we fed her. Needless to say, she has been a part of our family since that day. Tiger is a calico colored cat and loves our son.

What can we learn from our animal friends?

Patience, friendship, love, loyalty, humbleness, caring for someone else.

What is the best part about being a pet sitter?

Interacting with the animals and making sure they are all okay, fed, and given water and plenty of attention.

What is your ultimate goal in life?

To live a life where I truly love and live to the fullest. That means all of life’s ups and downs. That means serving others, giving to others, loving others. Traveling. Living simply yet fully. Traveling with my family. Always learning and growing. Ever evolving.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Your Dog in Dallas and Austin!

It is finally upon us. You’ve dreamt of it for months. Time to lick the salt off the side of your margarita glass and CHEERS. Cinco de Mayo, the long standing excuse for Americans to whoop it up, all while donning authentic sombreros and shaking their rumbas. But for some of us, the mere mention of Cinco de Mayo brings on visions of sunshine, patios, and our pups on a leash.

How lucky our little canine buddies are that we live in the day and age of pet—friendly EVERYTHING! Dallas and Austin have more than just a handful of restaurant and bar patios that quite literally cater to our furry friends. So this Cinco de Mayo, don’t leave your 4 legged buddy at home. Leash him up, throw on your walkin’ shoes and head on down to one of these reputable and inviting “places with a patio” to soak up the sun and sip on sangria.  We’ll also be celebrating the 14th anniversary of VIP Pets on this special day!

DALLAS

Iron Cactus Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar
1520 Main St
Dallas, TX, US 75201
(214) 749-4766

If you want to take the holiday-appropriate route, visit Iron Cactus Mexican Grill and Margarita Bar, where the drinks are served refreshingly cold and patrons with dogs can dine on the lower patio.

Chuy’s
4544 Mckinney Ave
Dallas, TX, US 75205
214-559-2489

Indulge in some delectable Tex-Mex and if you go during happy hour, you can take advantage of the FREE nacho bar! With 2 patios, there is plenty of room for you and your dog!

Bolsa
614 W Davis St
Dallas, TX, US 75208
214-943-1883

If organic and local fare is what you desire, check out this New American-style restaurant which offers dog-friendly outdoor seating.

Gloria’s
3715 Greenville Ave
Dallas, TX, US
(214) 874-0088

You can’t beat FREE warm black bean dip! Not only that, upon arrival your pooch will be treated to a cool dish of water. This Tex-Mex option is second to none and receives rave reviews.

Cafe Madrid
4501 Travis St
Dallas, TX, US
(214) 528-1731

If it’s authentic Spanish tapas and sangria you are in the mood for, you have got to do yourself a favor and head over to Café Madrid. They encourage pets to join their owners on the sunny (weather permitting) patio.

The Pooch Patio
3811 Fairmount Street
Dallas, TX 75219
214-252-1550

If you’re looking for an alternative to margaritas and Mexican food, be sure you and your dog stop by this java haus and beer wine bistro. As the name implies, they love dogs!

AUSTIN

Moonshine Patio Bar & Grill
303 Red River St
Austin, TX, US 78701
(512) 236-9599

Dogs are ALWAYS welcome at the Moonshine. Head on over to satiate your palette trying cutting-edge twists on Southern classics in an ambiance relatable to your own backyard patio. Added bonus: they feature a renowned Sunday buffet!

Doc’s Motorworks
1123 S. Congress Ave.
Austin, TX, US 78745
(512) 448-9181

If it’s a big juicy burger you are searching for to satisfy your hunger, enjoy one on the dog-friendly patio beneath an array of colorful umbrellas.

Ski Shores Waterfront Cafe
2905 Pearce Rd
Austin, TX, US 78730
512-394-7511

For scenic and painting-worthy views of Lake Austin, you must visit Ski Shores Waterfront Café. Serving wings, tacos, chicken tenders, and burgers, dogs are welcome on the patio. Best of luck keeping your little buddy from taking a dip in the inviting water!

Freddie’s Place
1703 S 1st St
Austin, TX, US 78704
(512) 445-9197

Once you hear the items on this menu, you will find your mouth oddly salivating at the mere thought of Freddie’s Place. Located in South Central Austin, Freddie’s serves American Comfort food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Enjoy Freddie’s S#!t on a Shingle for Breakfast, a Triple Decker DE-luxe Grilled Cheese for lunch, or devour the Fredelvis (burger with meat, peanut butter, bacon, and bananas) for dinner. Your pooch is welcome to join you at the outdoor seating.

Guero’s Taco Bar
1412 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX, US 78704
(512) 447-7688

Pets are welcome to accompany you to Guero’s where the salsa is always flowing and the Tex-Mex food is second to none. This is one of the livelier spots around, so pop in and join the fun next time you are strolling by.

If you are in Dallas, be sure to check out the historic Big Parade & Festival Dallas Cinco de Mayo en la calle Jefferson, May 7, 2016 from 10am to 4pm.  This is expected to be the largest celebration in Dallas showcasing a parade, festival, main stage, tailgating, car show & more.  Learn more at http://www.dallascincodemayo.net.

And if you’re in Austin, make your way over to the Cinco de Mayo Austin Fiesta May 7-8, 2016 at the Fiesta Garden Park.  This fun event includes music from the best artists in Texas and a Polka Dance Contest.  Learn more at http://www.cincodemayoaustin.com.

Want to leave your dog at home on Cinco de Mayo? No problem!  A VIP Pet Sitter is the solution! Contact us today.

Who Needs Uber? Use a VIP Pet Taxi at South by Southwest

Yep! It’s that time of year, again: SXSW is coming up soon and whether you’re enjoying the festivities or escaping them, it’s time to make arrangements for your pets to move around Austin in style. Your pets need consistency to be comfortable and that’s one thing in short supply during Austin’s big entertainment blowout. Who needs Uber? Use a VIP Pet Taxi at South by Southwest.

Try to maintain your pet’s routine as much as possible during all the chaos. You may be rocking out at Stubb’s, but your pet is more interested in making it to the groomer, being fed and walked on time. He doesn’t want to hear about that great new band and how they played an extra set – not when it means his supper was late!

If it’s time for a grooming or vet visit, don’t make your pet wait because the traffic is just too crazy. Schedule a VIP pet taxi and we’ll wade through the traffic for you. We can even pick up and deliver your furry friend’s favorite food! We can also take your pal to pet camp if you’re not going to be home much, so she doesn’t miss out on walks and playtime.

Maybe you just want to dodge the chaos altogether but can’t take your pets with you; call us and you’ll be trusting your four-legged pals to the best pet sitters in Austin for South by Southwest. We’ll make sure that things stay as normal as possible for your dog or cat: meals and walks in the right places at the right times; snacks, cuddles and lots of love. You and your pet will both rest easier when things are running smoothly at home while you escape the madness.

Contact us for rave reviews from satisfied customers and then trust your pets to our caring professionals during South by Southwest!

Be the Top Dog! How to Find the Best Dog Trainers in Dallas and Austin


Following up on our recent blog post “VIP New Puppy & Kitten Care: Best Practices for Your Newest Family Member”http://vippets.net/blog/vip-new-puppy-kitten/, this week’s blog post will cover another extremely important subject: dog training- specifically dog trainers in Dallas and Austin.

January is National Dog Training Month and The Association of Professional Dog Trainers wants you to make training a part of everyday life with your dog. Any dog, regardless of age, can benefit from training.  Visitors to the APDT website www.trainyourdogmonth.com and apdt.com will find helpful resources for pet parents and professionals alike. The site features suggestions for activities to do with your dog as well as a dog trainer search tool. APDT has a membership of over 5,000 dog training professionals worldwide. In October, the APDT will hold their annual conference and trade show in Dallas, TX.

Both Dallas and Austin boast a wide variety of top dog trainers with different styles and approaches. Take a look at some of these Yelp favorites: http://www.yelp.com/c/austin/pet_training for Austin (check out all the 5 star reviews!) and in Dallas http://www.yelp.com/c/dallas/pet_training.  Not everyone can be the famed “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan, but do some research and you’ll find a trainer that fits well with your lifestyle.

Pet parents have more options than ever before to meet their dog training and obedience needs. A professional trainer can come to your home for private instructions or hold group classes at a local park. Some pet supply shops, like national chain PetSmart, offer classes right in their store. There are also numerous books, DVDs and websites showcasing products for DIY dog training. Speaking of Cesar Millan, he shares loads of tips, tools and training DVDs on his website http://www.cesarsway.com/. Also, if you are not yet ready to buy, YouTube features over 800,000 videos on dog training for free.

Dog agility classes are another great idea to get you and your pet moving! What is dog agility? Agility training is a dog sport that is ever-increasing in popularity. It is fun for dogs of any age or any size.  Agility training helps pet parents deepen the bond with their dogs. Participants develop mutual respect and communication skills while negotiating obstacles for praise and tasty treats. Competitions are routinely held in many areas of the country. For more information about dog agility resources in your area, check out the United States Dog Agility Association at www.usdaa.com.

Remember, VIP Sitters are available to stop by as needed while you are away to reinforce training or just give your precious pooch a little extra TLC! Check out vippets.net/services/dog-walking for more information.

Need a word-of-mouth recommendation for professional trainers or classes in your neighborhood? We can help with that too!

Have a dog training tip or story to share? Tell us in the comments below or over on our Facebook page.

Gail – Pet Camp

Resident Pets

My current pets are Chewbacca, a Shih-Poo who is 18 months old, Miss Cleopatra a 9 year old Maine Coon cat, King Tut – American short hair, orange tabby, who is 9 years old and Hansel an American long hair, black cat also 9 years old.

What I Enjoy Most About My Job

The no stress effort of being with animals!

Funniest Pet Experience

Coming out of a pet store a gentleman stopped, looked at me with my gray hair and them my dog Chewbacca who is gray and commented…you really do look like your dog!

What Our Pet Friends Teach Us

Patience & unconditional love, my doggy and cats love me no matter what!

VIP Pet Sitter Karen with brown chihuahua and black and white pit mix

Karen C

Resident Pets

We have two awesome dogs: Arthur is our sweet, snuggly, dignified chihuahua, and Petey is our sweet, snuggly, goofy, playful pit bull. We also have four wonderful cats: Maggie, who lives for my son; Oliver, who may have the softest kitty belly in the world, and Gus and Max, the foster failures.

What I Enjoy Most About My Job

I love spending time with my animal friends and taking care of them! I get to build relationships with so many wonderful pets. I really think it’s a special kind of honor to be entrusted with their care… but it’s also a treat!

Funniest Pet Experience

I couldn’t narrow it down to one! Animals are inherently funny and fun creatures and they make me laugh every day. I especially love watching Petey toss his toys around for himself. He gets the most ridiculously silly looks on his face!

What Our Pet Friends Teach Us

To not let hardships from the past define us negatively, but to move forward with love and an open heart.

A Message From Karen’s Clients…

“I’m calling to thank Karen Clark. Karen did great. Everything is just as we left it if not better. Thank you for taking care of the pets and for keeping everything clean, picked up, bringing in all the mail, putting away the food that came in the mail and also the flowers, putting them in a safe spot. I just really appreciate your intelligence and care.”

Janet in Austin

“I could not be more satisfied with the service. I trust that our cat is being well-cared for in our absence and never worry about what is happening. You are always very responsive and I appreciate the notes.”

Carolyn in Austin

“Bucket is always so happy when I arrive home. I can tell she has been loved and cared for very well.”

Kendella in Pflugerville

“Karen has cared for our cats for years and she does a great job every time. We often go on long trips (3-4 weeks) and she has taken care of the house and yard wonderfully while we are gone. There are litterboxes to clean, plants to water, bird feeders and birdbaths to fill, and often other specific ‘chores’ that need to be done. All have been handled perfectly every time. Karen always leaves daily notes about how the cats are doing. If requested, she sends emails on progress or with questions. We even discussed the snake and his shedding one time.
I have complete confidence in Karen to take care of everything while we are gone.
Thanks a million for such a wonderful, long-term care-taker.”

Sue in Austin

“I always know my doggies are in good hands when they’re in yours. Thank you!”

Kathy in Round Rock

VIP Pet Sitter Tamatha with 2 Dogs

Tamatha

Resident Pets

I have a sweet rescue dog named Alex who is 13. He comes with me everywhere he is allowed. Then we have 4 cats. Chito is an adorable white and orange kitty who walks with Alex and me. If we get too far ahead he “yells” at us to slow down. I had a stray who had kittens under my rose bush. Then mama kitty moved them and the kittens became feral. But now, three of those little kitties are my cats. They love me and play and come when I call them but are still timid around other people. Little Louise can catch a bird in mid flight. Jackie-o is very sweet and silky with a quiet meow. Oliver is a big orange lover kitty. He is friendly to every one like most orange kitties.

What I Enjoy Most About My Job

Playing and cuddling with pets!

Funniest Pet Experience

Chito “yelling” at Alex and me when we walk too far ahead. It’s funny and my neighbors love it.

What Our Pet Friends Teach Us

Patience (except when it comes to feeding time) and unconditional love.