All posts in The Pet Gal

10 Jan 2019

Did You Get A Puppy For Christmas? A Simple Guide To Puppy Parenting

Did You Get A Puppy For Christmas? A Simple Guide To Puppy Parenting

Getting a puppy as a gift during the holiday season can be a tremendous moment, especially if you’ve wanted one for a long time. However, becoming a pet parent is a huge commitment and can be an overwhelming experience once the excitement of the holidays has worn off.

In fact, shelter intakes have been shown to increase during the first few months of the new year. According to monthly reports in 2016, there was an average of 14% more owner-surrenders of puppies and dogs during the months of January to March than the rest of the year. In 2017, this number jumped to 22%.

Luckily, there are many things that owners can do to make the first months with their puppy as stress-free as possible. To ensure that life with your new puppy or dog goes smoothly, the key is to set them up for success by following these important steps.

Set Up Your Puppy’s Healthcare

Preventative veterinary care is the number one thing pet parents can do to avoid costly vet visits in the future. After adopting your puppy, arrange for a preliminary vet visit to establish a primary care doctor for your new family member.

The vet will do a check-up to see where your puppy’s health currently stands and go over important healthcare information such as immunization, de-worming, flea and tick prevention, spaying or neutering, heartworm prevention, and nutrition.

Your dog’s vet will also go over important health considerations for puppies, such as when it is safe for them to be around other dogs and what kind of behaviors pet parents should expect. These types of details are especially important for first-time puppy owners.

By setting up veterinary care early on in your dog’s life, you are protecting them from potentially dangerous (not to mention expensive) health conditions that could arise.

Christmas Puppy, Puppy-Proofing

Puppy-Proof Your Home

In the same way, parents must child-proof their homes to protect their young kids from hurting themselves or destroying valuable things, pet owners should prioritize puppy-proofing before bringing a new pet into the house.

Because puppies are in the early stages of their behavioral training, pet parents cannot expect them to stay out of the trash or know the difference between a favorite pair of shoes and a chew toy. Keeping things out of reach from puppies while working on their training is the best way to set them up for success.

Some helpful puppy-proofing steps include:

Put the trash in an inaccessible location and use a can with a secure lid.

Keep personal items such as purses, backpacks, shoes, clothes, toys, etc. up and out of reach of puppies.

Use cord covers or bitter, no-bite spray to keep puppies from chewing on power cords.

Be cautious about the location of food, medicine, and household cleaner storage to make sure puppies never have access to potentially dangerous materials.

Check that your houseplants are not poisonous to dogs. You can refer to the list of pet-toxic plants from the ASPCA.

Some pet parents may find it easier to simply keep puppies contained to the living space until they are older and more well-trained. While keeping doors closed is helpful, there is always the chance that someone in the home forgets to shut a door, so all rooms should be properly pet-proofed regardless. And, of course, your puppy should always have proper supervision to ensure they are safe.

Begin Potty Training

A top struggle for many pet parents is potty training. While accidents are to be expected, proper potty-training techniques can help new pet owners get their dog housetrained more quickly and easily.

According to the American Kennel Club, there are three primary potty training methods for puppies – crate training, paper training, and frequent trips outdoors. There are varying opinions on which method is best and, ultimately, the choice is up to you.

Crate training involves stimulating a dog’s instinctual nature as a den animal by making a crate their main resting space. Dogs will typically not go to the bathroom where they sleep and eat, so by utilizing a crate, pet parents gain a bit more control over where and when their puppy potties.

Paper training refers to teaching the puppy to go on potty pads in addition to outside. This method can be confusing for dogs as it gives them permission to potty indoors, but it is a helpful tool for people who work long hours or live in places with especially harsh winters.

The method of frequent trips outside is a top choice for many pet parents and can be used in conjunction with crate and/or paper training. The more a puppy is outside, the more likely they are to potty outdoors. When this happens, a ton of positive praise and training treats can be given to reinforce the habit of going to the bathroom outside.

Regardless of which method you choose to use, puppies should be on a schedule when it comes to feeding, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. Puppies should be taken out after they eat a meal after they wake up from a nap, and after they finish play time. Having a consistent schedule regarding their time spent outdoors will help encourage them to go potty when and where they’re supposed to.
The keys to potty training are to have patience, be diligent, and utilize positive reinforcement.

Christmas Puppy Training

Begin Behavioral Training

When your puppy is small and oh-so-adorable, the temptation to let them do whatever they want can be strong. However, it’s important to remember that puppies do not stay small forever and behaviors such as jumping, nipping, pulling on the leash, and chewing become more troublesome when your small puppy grows into a large dog. Begin training as early as possible to make life with your dog happier and easier.

The Pet Gal’s preferred training method is positive reinforcement. From learning basic commands such as “sit” or “stay” to learning not to chew on household items, positive reinforcement training is extremely effective.

Dogs are people pleasers who are eager for positive reactions from their owners. In positive reinforcement training, owners reward their dog for doing things correctly and as a result cultivate the behavior they want.

As with potty training, behavioral training requires dedication, consistency, and patience. Everyone in the home should be on the same page when it comes to training. All who interact with your puppy should use consistent commands and have the same standard of behavior to avoid confusing your little one.

Behavioral training classes, whether in a group environment or working one-on-one with a trainer, can be very helpful in training you how to train your dog. The Pet Gal often partners with Tara Stermer at K9 Workingmind to educate our pet sitters on dog and cat behavior as well as best practices for training. Tara offers group and individual training options that can be extremely helpful.

Christmas Puppy Socialization

Ensure Your Puppy Gets Plenty of Attention, Socialization, Play, & Exercise

Adopting a puppy is a big commitment – one that requires a lot of time and effort. But it should also be an exciting and fun time for the whole family. One of the best things new pet parents can do for their puppies is to spend as much time with them as possible.

Taking your new dog for walks, making time for play sessions, and allowing it ample opportunity to socialize with other dogs and humans will positively impact the puppy’s behavior.

Since socialization, exercise, and consistency with training are so key, parents should consider hiring a pet sitter or dog walker to step in at times when being with their pet isn’t an option. Whether you work during the day or are traveling, The Pet Gal’s team of experienced, trained sitters can ensure that your puppy stays on schedule, has fun, and learns positive behaviors while you’re away.

Christmas Puppy Owner Surrender

What To Do If Things Are Not Working Out

If for some reason you and your family are hitting roadblocks with your new dog or puppy that are making you reconsider your decision to adopt, contact others for support. Reach out to friends or family members for help. Contact veterinary offices, trainers, rescues, and shelters in your community. All are good resources for advice and most will always be happy to provide alternatives to rehoming, such as training and behavioral resources, low-cost healthcare options, support, and more.

The Pet Gal has aided many in puppy parents make the transition to keeping a happy puppy by offering puppy pet sitting and walking visits. Our sitters follow the same instructions given by your behavioralist so that we reinforce everything your puppy is learning while you are away. We can provide daily visits so your puppy is not left home alone for too long or help out if you need to leave town for a few days.

If the moment comes where you decide that giving the puppy up is the best option, be sure to surrender them to a reputable, no-kill shelter or rescue group. Luckily for Austin residents, the city has been no-kill since 2010, making it the largest no-kill city in the United States.

Organizations like the Austin Animal Center, Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, and Hawaii Island Humane Society serve as shelters for lost or stray animals and owner-surrendered pets. All these groups are committed to rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming pets regardless of age, breed, or health status.

While, of course, the preference is for you to have a long, happy relationship with your puppy, these organizations are great options.

article by Pet Gal Kirstie and infographics by Pet Guy Dan.

18 Dec 2018

These Naughty Holiday Foods Can Be Hazardous For Dogs

These Naughty Holiday Foods Can Be Hazardous For Dogs

The holiday season is all about spending quality time with loved ones and that, of course, includes our pets! Often, holiday celebrations also include a variety of traditional meals and special treats that help make get-togethers even more festive.

As delicious as some of these classic holiday foods are for us humans, many of them can be extremely dangerous for our dogs. Whether pets find a way to sneak some off the table, use their puppy dog eyes to convince guests to give them a taste, or manage to get into the trash when their parents aren’t looking, there are many ways in which dogs can get ahold of dangerous foods and drinks this time of year. Pet owners must be extra diligent during this busy time to keep their pet safe and healthy.

The following foods are harmful to pets and should be kept out of reach throughout both the holiday season and the rest of the year.

Naughty Holiday Foods That Can Be Hazardous To Dogs

Download Naughty Holiday Foods Can Be Hazardous For Dogs (PDF)

Meat Fat, Skin, and Bones

Perhaps the most likely food item to be given freely to pets during the holiday season is meat scraps. Pet parents often think that fatty pieces of beef, turkey or chicken skin, and ham or poultry bones are acceptable treats, however, these scraps can cause a variety of health issues for dogs.

Large pieces of fat can be difficult for some dogs to digest, so it’s best to avoid giving meat trimmings to pets.

The fat content of turkey skin can potentially cause pancreatitis and the seasonings which are typically used to season the skin of poultry (onion, garlic, spices, and herbs) can cause upset stomachs.

One of the most common meat scraps people tend to give their pets are bones. However, veterinarians advise against the practice. Cooked bones are lower in nutrients than raw bones and can splinter in a dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive system, causing pets to choke or experience serious internal damage.


Between punch bowls and seasonal cocktails at holiday parties, alcohol tends to be more within a pet’s reach throughout the holiday season. Since a dog’s system is not designed to process alcohol in the same way a human’s is, consumption of alcohol – even in minor doses – can be potentially dangerous.

Pet parents should keep all sources of alcohol away from their dogs, including unsuspecting sources such as alcohol-based cakes and flavored extracts. Used for baking, extracts such as vanilla and almond have high alcohol content and may contain essential oils which can be very harsh on a dog’s digestive system.

Chocolate & Sweets

Everyone enjoys a delicious festive dessert, so homes are often filled with high-sugar treats and chocolate of all varieties during the holidays. Its very important to keep pets away from sugar and chocolate, as they can upset a dog’s stomach and even cause serious illness.

Chocolate contains theobromine, a component which is easily digested by humans but toxic to dogs. While a small quantity of chocolate may only produce an upset stomach, large amounts of theobromine can cause seizures, internal bleeding, heartbeat irregularity, and even heart attack.

Various types of chocolate – baking cocoa, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate – all have different amounts of theobromine. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous to dogs, with merely 1 ounce being enough to poison a 44lb dog. It is best to be safe and keep all chocolate out of reach of your pet.

Certain Herbs & Spices

While some herbs and spices (basil, cinnamon, ginger, parsley, and turmeric) can be healthy additions to your dog’s diet when used in moderation with a vet’s approval, other common holiday spices can be dangerous to your pet’s system.

Nutmeg contains a component called myristicin which is toxic to dogs. In large quantities, it can cause nervous system damage, seizures, stomach upset, and even death.

Black pepper, while alone is not necessarily damaging to pets, can affect the way a dog’s system absorbs the medication. This increases the chance of accidentally overdosing on prescription medications, so it is best to keep black pepper out of reach.

High amounts of salt can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also cause dehydration, as it increases thirst and urination.

Onions and garlic (as well as leeks) are a part of the Allium family, which is poisonous to dogs and cats in the right dose. Onions contain a compound called thiosulphate, which can cause hemolytic anemia in dogs.


Although humans often love how caffeine helps get them through the busy holiday season, it’s important to remember that pets are much more sensitive to caffeine’s effects. Ingesting sources of highly concentrated caffeine such as coffee grounds, espresso flavored desserts, or used tea bags can cause caffeine poisoning in pets in merely 30 minutes.


A commonly used artificial sweetener, xylitol is most often found in peanut butter, sugar-free candies, sugar-free desserts, and chewing gum. When absorbed into a dog’s bloodstream, it causes a quick release of insulin that results in decreased blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can be life-threatening if not treated quickly.

Grapes & Raisins

Commonly used in seasonal stuffing, desserts, and snack mixes, grapes and raisins are highly toxic to dogs and should be kept out of reach. Small quantities can result in severe consequences, including kidney failure, digestion issues, and sudden renal failure.
Grape toxicity and its causes are still being studied. Although some breeds are more susceptible to experience it, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid consumption by all breeds.


Whether served in holiday desserts and meals or alone as a snack, nuts are common in homes throughout the season. Many nuts are very high in fat, particularly pecans and walnuts, and should be kept away from pets. The high fat content can cause digestive upset.

Macadamia nuts are highly toxic to dogs, even in small quantities, causing neurological damage such as tremors, disorientation, and even short-term paralysis.

Bread Dough

While baking holiday rolls or desserts, be sure to keep uncooked bread dough away from dogs. If ingested raw, the yeast in the dough can activate with the moist, warm environment of your pet’s stomach, causing the stomach to distend. This can escalate to an even more dangerous, often fatal, condition called GDV, or bloat.

If You Notices Changes In Your Dogs Behavior

It’s important to be aware of any unusual changes in your dog’s health or behavior during the holidays. If there are signs or symptoms that your dog has consumed harmful foods or drinks, contact an emergency vet immediately so they can be properly treated.

Stay Off The Naughty List With Healthy Treats

If you are in the mood to share some yummy holiday treats with your dog, feel free to give them lean, cooked turkey that is free of flavorings and spices. Or opt for healthy fruits and seasoning-free vegetables such as peeled apples, blueberries, carrots, dehydrated sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, green beans, and celery.
They will not only love the food but will also love you for keeping them happy and healthy!

article by Pet Gal Kirstie and infographics by Pet Guy Dan.

03 Dec 2018

Surprising Way to Treat Your Dog’s Pain Without Medication

Surprising Way to Treat Your Dog’s Pain Without Medication

Interest in holistic health care for pets is on the rise. Now more than ever, people are searching for safe, natural ways to ensure pet wellness in the form of non-traditional therapies and holistic approaches. Pet parents are finding that when paired with proper veterinary care, holistic methods are extremely effective for everything from chronic conditions to injury treatment.

Some of these holistic treatments include acupuncture, natural and/or raw diets, natural supplements, and perhaps most surprising… pet massage!

We spoke with our very own Pet Gal Laura, owner of Heart Hound Massage, to learn about her pet massage business and find out what pet massage is all about.

Heart Hound Dog Massage

About Heart Hound Massage

Laura Riley, Ph.D. has always had a passion for helping pets, and while she loves caring for pets as a sitter through The Pet Gal, she knew she wanted to make an even bigger difference in the lives of animals. Her passion for holistic treatment began when she witnessed the benefits it provided for her basset hound, Yeager.

At 8 years of age, Yeager was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia. The vet recommended daily doses of Rimadyl – an anti-inflammatory drug which can potentially cause liver damage if taken long-term. Laura was hesitant to expose Yeager to the risky side effects and decided instead to turn to acupuncture. She says the benefits of the treatment were amazing and Yeager was able to stay off medication for 4 years. Though he passed away last year, Laura has no doubt that holistic treatment increased his quality of life.

Afterward, Laura decided to make it her mission to study various holistic methods and eventually open a business that offered great holistic care to animals.

Laura’s dream came true when she recently launched her pet massage business, Heart Hound Massage. Named after her beloved Yaeger’s heart of gold, the business’ mission is to honor of Yeager’s memory by providing effective, holistic care to pets. Laura says she’d dedicated to using her therapeutic massage abilities to “help other amazing dogs live a longer, quality life to spend with their owners.”

She says the best part of her job is when clients tell her the positive effects her massage treatment has on their pets. She told us, “It’s rewarding when someone goes, ‘Oh my gosh! My dog’s been walking longer than they were before!’ It makes you feel really good.”

What is pet massage?

Laura explained that animal massage is actually very similar to human massage. In the same way humans use massages – for relaxation, as a preparation and recovery step for athletes, or as part of holistic treatment for health conditions – pet parents can utilize massages similarly to benefit their dog.

During a massage, the therapist manipulates the muscles and soft tissues in a specific, intentional way that gets the blood circulating, reduces lactic acid, and stimulates the cells, resulting in a variety of positive health and wellness benefits.

What are the benefits of pet massage?

The National Board of Certification for Animal Acupressure and Massage (NBCAAM) states that animal massage, “promotes various physiological, neurological, and psychological effects in the animal’s body supporting both physical and emotional wellness.”
Laura told us that pet massage offers benefits such as increased circulation, reduced lactic acid, increased lymph node function (which aids the immune system), and decreased muscle soreness, tension, and weakness.
Although massage is never a replacement for veterinary care, it can be used to help treat chronic conditions such as arthritis. Laura says that alongside glucosamine supplements, massage can be an excellent choice for arthritic dogs who cannot take anti-inflammatories due to negative side effects.
Like human massage, different types of massages offer different benefits. Laura is certified to perform three varieties:

Basic Massage

This type of massage is good for general holistic care for dogs of all sizes and breeds. It helps the pet’s immune and lymphatic systems and promotes a sense of calm and wellbeing.

In fact, basic massage is a great option for pets who are chronically anxious or tense. The Pet Gal’s owner, Susan Anderson, used Laura’s massage services for her dog, Jake, to help reduce his generalized anxiety prior to flying. Laura said that Jake’s tendency to be jittery and anxious was reduced, and he was better able to handle the stress of the flight.

Puppies can also benefit from basic massage, as it helps their growth, immune system development, and bone development.

Sporting Massage

Good for dogs who participate in agility or sporting competitions, sporting massage is tailored for the athletic animal. Often used before or after events, this style of massage helps to loosen up the muscles, improve gait, and helps limit injury.

Senior Massage

For aging dogs, a senior massage can help increase circulation, reduce muscle tightness and soreness, improve digestion, and help alleviate aches and pains caused by arthritis. Laura explained that massage is an excellent choice for older dogs who cannot handle the harsh effects of medication.

What kind of certification/training do pet massage therapists get?

As with any treatment your pet receives, it is important to research the provider and know that they are properly certified to provide care for your animal. When it comes to pet massage, the International Association of Animal Massage and Bodywork provides information and education to promote, advance, and grow the field. They offer a list of accredited schools at which therapists can earn their certification.

Laura studied at the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Massage in Colorado where she learned physiology, anatomy, ethics, and massage technique. After class work and a written exam, she was required to do various massage case studies before earning her certification.

She is dedicated to continuing her education by taking classes that will enable her to incorporate more holistic techniques into her massage services. For instance, Laura is actively studying Linda Tellington Jones’ TTouch technique, which is a holistic method used similarly to massage to enhance the quality of animals’ lives and to help them recover from injury or chronic conditions.

What does a typical pet massage treatment plan look like?

If you’re interested in getting your dog set up with a massage treatment plan, begin by consulting your vet. While massage can be highly beneficial, it may not be suitable for all pets and each state’s laws differ regarding animal massage.
For those located in Texas, the law requires a vet approval before treatment can begin. Start by visiting the Heart Hound Massage website to download the veterinary release form and submit a contact form to schedule your initial consultation with Laura.

Ideal for all sizes and breeds, Heart Hound Massage treatments are personalized for the specific needs of your pet. During consultations, Laura works one on one with her clients to get to know the dog’s temperament and health history. Then she establishes the pet parent’s goals and creates a unique treatment plan.

Typically, massages are scheduled weekly. Laura suggests scheduling massages during the time of day at which your pet is most relaxed. The massage itself is performed the same way one would expect a human massage to. Soft music is played, gentle touches called Effleurage Strokes are used along the dog’s calming points to get them into a relaxed state, and once the dog feels comfortable, Laura begins the massage.

For most dogs, the Effleurage Strokes get them into a calm enough state to receive massage. For anxious pets or those who are more energetic, Laura explained that she will break the massage into sections, giving the dog time in between to get their energy out. In her experience, she says the dogs often return to her quickly because the massage feels good. After the massage is complete, Laura provides the client with a full report on how the massage went.

For those interested in pursuing holistic pet massage, Laura is offering a special 10% discount for Pet Gal clients! Visit her website to schedule a consultation for your pet.

article by Pet Gal Kirstie and infographics by Pet Guy Dan.

02 Aug 2018

Is Your Dog At Risk Of Getting Heat Stroke? Everything You Need To Know

Is Your Dog At Risk Of Getting Heat Stroke?

Everything You Need To Know

When Spring and Summer arrive, we look forward to heading outdoors with our furry companions to enjoy hiking, swimming, picnics, family vacations, and more. To keep dogs happy, healthy, and cool, pet parents should be aware of the potential risks warmer weather can bring. With proper knowledge of precautions, prevention, and treatment, pet parents can safely enjoy the warm seasons with their fur babies.

Heat Health Risks

Animals’ bodies work differently than ours, so even if it doesn’t feel hot to us pets can still be at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. As the temperature climbs, pet parents must be extra diligent about keeping their dogs safe and cool.

Canine heat stroke symptoms and prevention

Before heading out to enjoy time in the sun, refer to our Summer Heat Risks infographic above to help determine the potential risk of outdoor situations for your dog. Of course, you know your dog better than anyone, so use common sense and your best judgment to avoid possibly dangerous situations.

Heat Stroke

Although we typically associate heat stroke with dogs who are left in vehicles, it can be experienced in any situation which leaves them vulnerable to overheating. Without an abundance of sweat glands to help regulate body temperature, dogs are more prone to heat stroke than humans. Whether playing in the backyard, going for a long walk, or enjoying a family vacation, it is important to closely monitor your dog’s behavior and symptoms to ensure they are cool and comfortable.

Also known as hyperthermia, heat stroke begins in both dogs when their temperature reaches 104°F and higher. While a dogs age, breed, weight, and medical history all play a part in their susceptibility to heat stroke, all dogs are at risk in warm, humid environments. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

Extreme panting and/or drooling
Bright red gums, tongue, ears, and skin
Thick, sticky saliva
Vomiting and/or diarrhea with or without blood
Unresponsiveness and/or lethargy
Rapid/irregular heart and respiratory rate
Decreased urination
Loss of consciousness

Heat Stroke Prevention

Luckily there are many preventative measures that pet parents can take during Spring and Summer to help keep their dogs safe. NEVER leave a dog in a parked vehicle. Try to limit outdoor play to cooler parts of the day (early morning and late evening) and beware of over exercising dogs on hot or humid days. Ensure dogs always have unlimited access to shade and fresh water. Access to A/C or fans is preferable whenever possible. If your dog loves the water, a little playtime with the garden hose or time swimming never hurts!

Heat Stroke First Aid

At the first sight of symptoms, get the dog out of the heat and into a cool, well-ventilated area. Using a rectal thermometer, take the dog’s temperature. Heat stroke begins at 104°F with potentially fatal damage beginning at 106°F. If the dog is overheated, pet parents should immediately begin cooling their pet off.

Lay the dog on a cool surface and, if possible, point a fan directly towards them. Apply towels soaked in water to their head, neck, belly, and feet or use a hose or bucket to gently apply the water. Regardless of which method is used, be sure the water is cool or tepid – not cold or ice-cold. NEVER submerge the dog completely in water, as this quick shift in temperature that can cause the animal to go into shock.

The goal is to assist your dog’s natural cooling system in a quick and efficient – but not extreme – way. Offer them small, frequent drinks of water, but do not force them to drink. Continue taking the temperature every 30-60 seconds, as it is very important to stop the cooling process once body temperature has reached 103°F. Once their temperature has reached normal levels, take your pet to the vet for additional treatment and monitoring.

Of course, always use your best judgment when it comes to emergency situations. If you don’t have access to the items needed to treat your pet or if they are already showing extreme signs of heat stroke (106°F or higher temperature, vomiting/diarrhea with bleeding, collapsing, unresponsive) travel immediately to the nearest emergency veterinary office, doing your best to keep the pet cool on the way.

Warm Weather Precautions

Heat stroke is not the only concern pet parents should have during Spring and Summer. To help keep dogs safe and comfortable, keep the following warm weather safety tips in mind:

Always closely monitor dogs while swimming.
Ask your vet if your dog would benefit from a Summer haircut, but NEVER shave your dog, as their multi-layered coats help protect them from sunburn and heat stroke.
Ask your vet if your dog would benefit from animal-approved sunscreen or insect repellent.
Keep hazardous foods and materials that are more common during warmer weather away from dogs.
Keep pets safe and indoors during Fourth of July celebrations. If your pet has firework anxiety, do not leave them alone.
If traveling with your pet, discuss your pet’s needs and create a plan of action with your vet.

Paw Protection

We would never walk barefoot on searing hot surfaces, so why would we expect our dogs to do so? Pet parents may be surprised to know that surfaces of all types – concrete, sand, asphalt, wood, and metal – can cause painful burns to dog paws, even on days that only moderately warm. For instance, asphalt temperature can exceed 140°F if the weather is 87°F. A good way to test the temperature of a surface is to place the back of your hand on it for 7 seconds. If it’s too hot for you to handle, it is too hot for your pet.

To avoid paw burns, walk your dog early in the day or late in the evening and keep their mid-day potty breaks limited to grassy or shaded areas. If you must walk during the hottest part of the day, utilize paw protection such as booties.

Pest Prevention

Pet parents should be on heightened awareness during warm weather months for parasites that thrive in higher temperatures. Check your pets regularly for fleas and ticks after outdoor activity and continue using your year-round flea, tick, and heartworm prevention. If pets are not on year-round heartworm prevention, they should be tested for heartworm in Spring or early Summer.

Pets & Cars

Before hopping in the car to travel to fun, seasonal events or embark on family vacations, pet parents should be aware that vehicles can be dangerous places for pets if the proper precautions aren’t taken.

When traveling in the car with your pets, always restrain them using a safety harness. Be sure they have access to water and monitor their behavior closely for signs of heatstroke. On long car rides, plan regular stops for potty breaks and walks to help reduce stress. If your pet has car anxiety discuss with your vet if there are supplements or medications that they might benefit from while traveling.

The golden rule regarding pets and cars is to NEVER leave pets unattended in parked vehicles. Even on days that are simply warm, temperatures can rise inside a car by nearly 20°F in just 10 minutes – even with windows cracked or air conditioning on. Serious illness, irreversible damage, and even death can result from a pet being left in a vehicle, so always make sure car trips with pets are planned accordingly to avoid leaving them alone.

Educated Pet Sitters

Spring and Summer months are a popular time for traveling. If you’re not bringing your pets with you on your family vacation, priceless peace of mind can be found by leaving your pets in the hands of trained, knowledgeable professionals who know how to provide top-of-the-line pet care.

In addition to being avid pet lovers, the Pet Gal’s sitters are trained in pet first aid and behavior. Whether simply providing daily dog walks while you’re at work or pet sitting services while you’re on a long vacation, our Pet Gals know the best practices for safe outdoor activity on hot days and are trained on the prevention and treatment of heat stroke and other warm weather-related incidents.

article by Pet Gal Kirstie and infographics by Pet Guy Dan.

28 Jun 2018

Dante Moves Down-Unda!


Although The Pet Gal is known for our high-quality pet sitting and dog walking, we also offer a variety of unique and personalized services – including pet taxi, concierge services, and more.

In early May, The Pet Gal was contacted by a client who’d recently relocated to Australia and needed help getting her cat prepared to travel from Austin to Los Angeles and then on to Melbourne, Australia.

Since the client had already moved, the cat’s international journey was being coordinated entirely from overseas. The Pet Gal was able to step in and provide a customized selection of services to help the client be reunited with her cat, including:

Pet taxis to and from vet appointments
Concierge services to acquire international travel documentation and pick up online orders of pet supplies
In-home boarding
Pet sitting
Unique pet taxi during which a Pet Gal flew with the cat to Los Angeles!

By getting to know the client, her pet, and their specific needs, The Pet Gal assisted in everything required to get her fur baby safely from Austin to her new home in Australia.

Dante The Cat Goes To Australia


A four-year-old tortoiseshell female, Dante the cat was sweet-natured but timid. Her owner described a pattern of behavioral problems and distrust when she was first adopted, signaling that her life prior to finding her forever home was not a good one. Luckily, she found an amazing family, learned to trust again, and formed a wonderful attachment to her owner – eventually even seeking out attention and affection.

Despite her comfort with her new owner, Dante still showed signs of anxiety – including panic attacks –when traveling. The client described Dante’s demeanor during car travel as “content in her crate but distressed by loud noises and movement.” She was concerned that this anxiety would only worsen during airplane travel.

Dante’s emotional and physical health was our number one priority, so throughout the entire process, we relied on our top cat behavior specialists to ensure she was as comfortable and prepared she could be before and during travel.

Dante The Cat Trip Preparation


Moving an animal internationally is a highly involved process. Not only is there a mountain of paperwork to handle prior to departure, but the pet must also be emotionally and physically prepared to handle car rides, noisy airports, and long hours in a crate or carrier. Our goal was to do everything possible to offer peace of mind to the client and loving support to Dante while navigating this complicated journey.

Dante The Cat Pet Sitting And Pet Taxi


When The Pet Gal was first contacted by the client, her main concern was helping Dante acclimate to the strange sounds and new environments of travel. We got to know the client’s needs and concerns via a Skype call and met in person with Dante’s Austin-based caretaker before scheduling a few preliminary pet sitting appointments and pet taxi rides.

During the initial pet sitting appointments, Pet Gals Debbie and Siobhan took care of Dante and helped her get used to new people. Throughout the car rides, our sitters helped the kitty adjust to her new travel crate by driving her around in a car and carefully monitoring her behavior to ensure she was calm and happy. Each ride, they would take different routes to help Dante get used to bumps, noises, and turns.

Pet Gal Tabitha, our resident cat expert, suggested a few additional methods to acclimate Dante – including playing a soundtrack of airplane noises during the car rides. Throughout this process, we communicated with the client extensively to keep her updated on Dante’s progress.

After the success of the first few rides, the client asked if we could provide additional pet taxi services to vet appointments. International transport of live animals requires verification that the pet is healthy, up to date on all vaccination requirements, and parasite-free. Pet Gals Joy and Debbie assisted in taking Dante to the vet multiple times throughout the month and helped the client get documentation of Dante’s good health.

Dante The Cat Concierge and Cosigner Services

Concierge & Consigner Services

Coordinating a live animal’s travel from across the world is no easy feat, but our client was able to be hands-on in the process by utilizing The Pet Gal as a local, in-person resource for a variety of important errands. From picking up online orders for pet necessities at HEB and Petsmart to dropping off essential paperwork for Dante’s travel at the USDA, The Pet Gal was able to offer unparalleled personalized services that were essential to making Dante’s trip possible.

Dante The Cat Boarding


Not long before Dante’s scheduled flight, the client learned that Dante’s caretaker was moving. She was concerned that the hectic environment of a home in transition would exacerbate her kitty’s anxiety, so she contacted us for a pet taxi service from the caretaker’s home to a pet-friendly hotel.

Pet Gal Tabitha stepped in and offered to board Dante in her home instead. Not only would this put less stress on Dante, but Tabitha could offer more one on one time to further prepare her for travel. As the founder of Pawsitive Karma Rescue, Tabitha was the perfect person to board Dante. Though she was fostering kittens at the time, her vast experience in “quarantining” cats helped ensure there was no cross contamination of illness or viruses that would affect Dante’s approval to travel internationally.

Pet Gal Tabitha even set up her pet cam in Dante’s room so the client could see and communicate with her!

Dante Takesoff For Australia


By the end of May, The Pet Gal family had been an essential part of Dante’s travel preparation. So much so, our client asked if any of our pet sitters would be able to provide a pet taxi service to fly with Dante from Austin to Los Angeles! Once in LA, Dante would need to be safely transferred from the plane to Qantas Airlines, where she would be flown to Melbourne, Australia. By having a Pet Gal along for the ride, Dante would have support and the client would be able to be kept in the loop every step of the way.

We found a Pet Gal willing to accompany Dante on the trip and worked closely with the client to book the right flight that would work best for Dante’s transport. Prior to the trip, our Pet Gal was scheduled for a few pet sitting and pet taxi visits to get to know Dante and build a relationship with her.

Our Pet Gal did her due diligence in communicating with the airline and rental car company to ensure that all the details were ironed out. In doing so, she learned from the airline that even though the client had booked a live animal reservation for the cargo hold, the high temperatures of Austin meant no live animals would be placed in cargo for safety reasons. Our team acted swiftly and efficiently in solving this last-minute crisis. We were able to coordinate Dante as a carry-on instead and as a result, Dante’s crate needed upgrading. Pet Gal Tabitha offered the client use of her personal, airline-approved, soft carrier.

The flight departed on a Tuesday in early June. Our Pet Gal coordinated Dante’s travel from Tabitha’s home to the airport and kept Dante calm through security and during the flight – all while keeping the client up to date via messages and photos!

Once safely in LA, our Pet Gal and Dante hopped in a rental car and headed to Qantas airlines. Once our Pet Gal ensured all the necessary paperwork was in line, Qantas took over transporting Dante from LAX to Melbourne.

Dante Arrives In Australia


After Dante landed in Australia she was moved to a quarantine facility where her health was monitored closely for 10 days. According to the Australian government website, “The 10-day quarantine period, in addition to testing conducted offshore prior to import, allows biosecurity and veterinary officers sufficient time to assess that the animals are healthy and are not carrying diseases or parasites.”

A couple of weeks after Dante’s big adventure we were notified by the client that Dante had passed the quarantine requirements and was ready to be brought to her new home.

Our team was ecstatic to hear about the reunion between Dante and her human and very grateful to have been a part of making it happen! In a recent update, the client let us know that “Dante has made an excellent debut in the Southern Hemisphere!” and had this to say about her experience with our team during this important journey:

“I hope you know how much it means to me to have this help while I can’t be there with Dante. It’s been really hard to try to get help with her, and it’s such a relief to know that if I ask for help from y’all it actually gets done, properly and on time. I know that Dante is getting loved and looked after when she sees you, and that is such a relief. I wish I’d found you guys sooner, so much love and gratitude to everyone who is being a part of getting my little girl Dante through this time and ready to come to Australia, you are the best.” – XX Sarah M.

Pet Gal Kirstie.