CRITTER CHATTER: Protect Your Pet During Warm Summer Months

Hot town summer in the city.
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty. – Joe Cocker

by Dr. Phil 

Amongst the showers and lightning strikes, warm humid weather has arrived with a vengeance in Vermont. Looking at the national weather, high temperatures are also affecting many other states. Below are a few important ways to protect our pets from sun, heat and humidity during warm summer months.

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ENTER 2 WIN! Share Your Halloween Pet Pictures


You Could Win!

Share a picture of your pet in their Halloween costume, or a Halloween-themed pet photo, with us for a chance to win!

What Will You Win?

One cat and one dog will be announced as the winners on Friday, October 21st

How to Enter

Post your original photo to our Facebook page: or tag us @21stCenturyPet. You will automatically be entered to win! 

Good luck and Happy Halloween! 

Pets a Work – Things to Consider

Kitten plays on a computer keyboard

Do you work a traditional job and wish there was the opportunity to bring your pet to work? Some people believe that having a pet at work is a prefect way to de-stress throughout the day – almost a therapeutic tool. Others say they couldn’t have their pet in the work place simply because it would be a distraction and perhaps have a negative effect on their work production level. What do you think? Do you wish you had a “bring your pet to work day”?

It’s hard not to love and miss our furry friends through the day, but there are a few things to consider before going full “pet friendly” at the office.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering bringing a pet to work or going to management with the idea:

  • Not all pets want to be around other pets (or people). You might think about this fact if there are other pets that will attend on the pet friendly day or days. Could your office limit the number of animals allowed at one time? This is a good idea if your offices have wide open spaces and less enclosed work areas. If everyone had an office with a door they can close, this might not be an issue.
  • Should there be a rule about what type of animals are allowed? Many people have rats, rabbits or guinea pigs as pets. Will your office allow those types of animals? Some people are scared of certain breeds of dog. Take all of this into consideration when thinking about having pets at work.
  • Pets have accidents. It’s going to happen. How can you prepare your work place for when it does? Consider having doggie poop bags easily accessible and urine eliminating spray handy. Even the best trained pets can have accidents when they are in unfamiliar or stressful situations.
  • Certain Pets (dogs in particular) will need to be taken for walks and let out to do their business. Does your work environment have open spaces or a park that the dogs can go to in order to take care of business?
  • Does your pet make a lot of noise? Will he or she disturb meetings or co-workers throughout the day? Prepare everyone for when the pets will be in the office so they can adequately prepare for the day.
  • Allergies are never fun! The sad truth is that many people are allergic to pets. It might be a good idea to have a list of those that are allergic, indicating what type of pet they have reactions to. When that type of pet is brought into the office, perhaps that particular person can be placed strategically in another area of the building.
  • How many visitors do you have throughout the week? If there are a lot of people that come in and out of your office regularly, it might be a good idea to let them know about the pet policy in advance. You could also consider having one specific day where the schedule limits outside meetings and implements a pet day instead! The pets will be your guests.

There are many things to consider when considering a new plan about pets at the office. It may sound like we are pointing out a lot of the negatives, but there are so many wonderful benefits to having a pet at work as well. For one, it makes people feel more like a “family”. it gives people something to smile about and commonalities to discuss. Sometimes having a pet at the office will build moral and make people feel motivated and inspired. Don’t let the above bullet points discourage you. Take this list and build upon it with many positive ideas as well. Make sure you have a balance of positive and negative to show your boss before presenting a plan. But remember that a pets at work policy is not for everyone.


Does your office allow pets? Share a picture (or more) will us on our Essential Pet Facebook page. We’d love to see your furry friends working hard throughout the day!

NEW! Essential Pet Salmon Oil Products

27822 Sleeve EPD Focus MCT Lqd 18oz_1215 copyEssential Pet has a new Salmon Oil product with a unique bottle and drip free cap valve. The bottle stands on its cap and is easy to hold to dispense the salmon oil. Simply hold vertically above your measuring spoon, squeeze and dispense. The oil flows out in a steady stream. The minute you stop squeezing the valve reseals and there are no drips and no sticky mess running down the bottle side to clean up. An added bonus for this cap and bottle is you can easily dispense down to the last drop of salmon oil, something traditional pump dispenser bottles have a hard time doing.

Essential Pet Salmon oil products come in three different supplement types:

Essential Pet Shine is pure Alaska Wild® salmon oil with high levels of the Omega 3 fatty Acids DHA and EPA. This tasty supplement, with a natural rich red color that shows its purity, helps promote healthy skin and coats that make your pet shine.

Essential Pet Flex Glucosamine with Alaska Wild® salmon oil has the added benefit of 250mg of Glucosamine Hydrochloride per serving to support premium mobility of your pet. Combined with the Omega 3 fatty acids from the salmon oil this tasty liquid supplement is a great way to put bounce back into your pet’s step and let their skin and coat shine with health.

Our latest and most innovative product in the salmon oil collection features MCT (Medium Chain Triglycerides) from Coconut oil for brain function and energy support. MCT helps support premium Mind Health by supplying an energy boost directly to the brain that can have your pet thinking and acting like they were many years younger than their true age. This product is especially suited to aging pets that need that additional boost of energy to feel their best. With the base of Alaska Wild® salmon oil this truly unique product can help your pet shine with health and energy and get back to the important task of playing with you the pet parent.

Going on vacation? Who will take care of your pet?

Your pet depends on you to take good care of him or her even when you have to be out of town. Friends and neighbors may not have the experience or time to properly look after your pet, particularly for longer trips. So, the next time you have to leave your pet behind for a while, you may want to consider a professional pet sitter or boarding kennel.

What are the pros and cons of using a boarding kennel?
A facility specializing in care and overnight boarding allows your pet to:
• Avoid the stress of a long car or airplane ride to your destination.
• Stay where he’s welcome (unlike in many hotels).
• Receive more attention and supervision than he would if home alone most of the day.
• Be monitored by staff trained to spot health problems.
• Be secure in a kennel designed to foil canine and feline escape artists.

Potential drawbacks to using a boarding kennel include:
• The stress related to staying in an unfamiliar environment.
• The proximity to other pets who may expose your pet to health problems.
• The difficulty in finding a kennel that accepts pets other than dogs and cats.
• The inconvenience of the drive over, which can be especially hard on a pet easily stressed by car travel.

How do I find a good kennel?
Ask a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, animal shelter, or dog trainer for a recommendation. You can also check the Yellow Pages under “Kennels & Pet Boarding.” Once you have names, even ones you got from reliable sources, it’s important to do a little background check. First, find out whether your state requires boarding kennel inspections. If it does, make sure the kennel you are considering displays a license or certificate showing that the kennel meets mandated standards. Also ask whether the prospective kennel belongs to the American Boarding Kennels Association (ABKA, 719-667-1600;, a trade association founded by kennel operators to promote professional standards of pet care. Besides requiring members to subscribe to a code of ethics, ABKA offers voluntary facility accreditation that indicates the facility has been inspected and meets ABKA standards of professionalism, safety, and quality of care. Check, too, with your Better Business Bureau to see whether any complaints have been lodged against a kennel you are considering.

Now that I’ve found a kennel I like, then what?
After selecting a few kennels, confirm that they can accommodate your pet for specific dates and can address your pet’s special needs (if any). If you’re satisfied, schedule a visit.

What should I look for?
On your visit, ask to see all the places your pet may be taken. Pay particular attention to the following:
• Does the facility look and smell clean?
• Is there sufficient ventilation and light?
• Is a comfortable temperature maintained?
• Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?
• Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations, including the vaccine for canine kennel cough (Bordetella)? (Such a requirement helps protect your animal and others.)
• Does each dog have an adequately sized indoor-outdoor run, or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise?
• Are outdoor runs and exercise areas protected from wind, rain, and snow?
• Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor?
• Are cats housed away from dogs?
• Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably? • Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls?
• How often are pets fed?
• Can the owner bring a pet’s special food?
• What veterinary services are available?
• Are other services available such as grooming, training, bathing?
• How are rates calculated?

How do I prepare my pet?
Be sure your pet knows basic commands and is well socialized around other people and pets; if your pet has an aggression problem or is otherwise unruly, he may not be a good candidate for boarding. Before taking your animal to the kennel, make sure she is current on vaccinations. It’s also a good idea to accustom your pet to longer kennel stays by first boarding her during a short trip, such as a weekend excursion. This allows you to work out any problems before boarding your pet for an extended period. Before you head for the kennel, double-check that you have your pet’s medications and special food (if any), your veterinarian’s phone number, and contact information for you and a local backup. When you arrive with your pet at the boarding facility, remind the staff about any medical or behavior problems your pet has, such as a history of epilepsy or fear of thunder. After the check-in process, hand your pet to a staff member, say good-bye, and leave. Avoid long, emotional partings, which may upset your pet. Finally, have a good trip, knowing that your pet is in good hands and will be happy to see you when you return!

PetSmart® PetsHotel®
For quality boarding services for your dog, PetSmart PetsHotel offers safe, comfortable overnight lodging. And Doggie Day Camp is a play-packed dog day care where your dog will play with other dogs and get plenty of exercise under the careful supervision of our trained associates. Trust both of these PetSmart services to offer you a safe, comfortable place for your dog to stay while you’re out of town or at work. For more information on PetSmart’s PetsHotel or Doggie Day Camp, check out this link:

How Much Food Should I Be Feeding My Dog?

When determining how much dry food to feed your puppy each day, take into account any additional foods you are giving him. For example, if you give him any canned food, factor the calories from those meals into his daily allowance and feed him less dry food. Remember, treats count too, so keep these to a minimum. They won’t give him the proper nutrition contained in his dry food.

Because dry food doesn’t spoil when left out, you might be tempted to leave out a feeder full of it for your pup. Unfortunately, he may take this as a cue to stuff himself silly all day. Prevent problems with obesity by regulating his portions instead.

Daily Calories
The amount of calories your pup needs each day is primarily based upon his size, age and activity level. The National Research Council of the National Academies recommends that the average active pooch needs around 25 to 30 calories per pound of weight each day. A less active or older dog needs approximately 25 percent fewer calories each day than an active one. For example, an active 30-pound adult dog needs approximately 922 calories each day, but an inactive one needs only about 674 calories. Puppies and pregnant and nursing dogs need around twice as many calories as adults.

Dry Food Amounts
To find out the amount of calories contained in the dry kibble you are feeding your furry buddy, check the package. This information should be listed there along with the feeding recommendations of the manufacturer. The calories contained in dry food varies according to what it contains, usually averaging around 350 to 375 calories per cup, according to VetInfo. Note that some brands of food can contain over 500 calories per cup, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Before feeding your pup, measure out his daily portion using a measuring cup to ensure the proper amount. Divide this amount in two and feed half the portion in the morning and half in the evening. This way your pup won’t stuff himself in one feeding, becoming hungry later in the day.

What Amount is Right for Your Dog
The recommendations of the manufacturer of your pup’s food, and those of the NRC, are simply guidelines. Your pup may differ in his nutritional needs based on his activity level and health. If your pooch participates in dog shows, she may need 20 percent more than the recommended amount for her weight, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Hardworking pups like police, rescue, service or cattle dogs can even require up to 70 percent more calories than their civilian counterparts. To determine what is right for your particular dog, consult with your vet regarding your pooch’s body type and activity level for recommendations specific to your furry buddy.

Monitor Your Puppy’s Body Shape
If you can clearly see his bones and he seems hungry, he likely needs more food. If he is rotund and you can’t feel his ribs through his skin, he may be overweight and need his portions reduced. Before making any changes to your pup’s diet, always consult with your veterinarian – especially if your pooch needs to be on a weight-loss diet.

The Very Basic Breakdown
In general, you can think of food in terms of the size of your dog. Small dogs tend to take between ½ and ¾ of a cup of food twice per day. Medium dogs take a cup to a cup and a half twice per day. Large dogs often take up to two cups of food twice per day. Reading the label of your dog food is important as it can give you a breakdown specific to the caloric value of the dog food you are feeding your pet.

It is important that you look into the ingredients of the dog food you are giving your animal. Many of the foods that recommend larger amounts are cheaper foods that are filled with corn. While dogs are omnivores and can eat both plant and animal proteins, they are not meant to exist on plants and grains solely for sustenance. The main or first ingredient in any food you feed your dog should be a meat product; this is how you know it is a quality food and will provide proper nutrition to your pet.

Activity Level
Basically a dog that sits at home most of the time and does not get much exercise is not going to require the same amount of food as a dog that is running all the time. You should feed a less active dog the lower levels of food and a more active dog the increased rations. Beyond that, monitor the treats you give your dog as well as these contain additional calories that can end in a weight problem. Once the dog gets overweight, they tend to be less active and it becomes a problem that persists. Try to get your dog out more so that they stay healthy and active.

Don’t be surprised that your pet’s activity level goes down as they age. Sore joints and various aches and pains tend to keep the dog from moving around as much. What you can do for them is feed them less. The lighter they are on their frame, the less pain they will be in. It will help them stay as active and energetic as possible and it is better for their overall health.

For more information on proper (and improper) foods to feed your animals, please visit this LINK.

The Persian Cat

The Persian cat is probably the most popular of all cat breeds. Purebred Persians are common all over the world as pets, and are prominent participants in every cat show. In Britain, these cats are called Longhairs, and each coat color is classed as a different breed. Accordingly, a cat that is considered to be a Black Longhair in Great Britain is simply a black Persian in the United States.

Breed History
As the dusty desert caravans wound their way westward from Persia and Iran, it is supposed that secreted among the rare spices and jewels on the basket-laden camels was an even more precious cargo, an occasional longhair cat. They were called Persian for their “country of origin,” but hieroglyphic references as early as 1684 B.C. shroud forever their exact beginnings

Breed Description
Persian cats have a short and broad body type, often referred to as “cobby.” The body should be powerfully built and well balanced, with a massive short neck and thick legs. The head should also be of a heavy broad type. All Persians share large round eyes, short broad noses, and small rounded ears. However, there is a distinction between two face types:

• The modern flat-faced Persian (the cat commonly seen in shows)
• The traditional doll-faced Persian, which has a more proportioned face, with the mouth and nose located well in front of the eyes, while retaining the basic broad, round, and flat look.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Persian cat is its full, long coat. This unique look is created by a combination of long undercoat and long topcoat. Persians come in many coat colors. The variety of possible colors and the fact that so many Persian cats participate in cat shows have led to the creation of seven color categories for Persians: Solid Color, Silver and Golden (silvers are also known as Chinchillas), Shaded and Smoke, Tabby, Particolor (tortoiseshell varieties), Bicolor, and Himalayan (also known as Colorpoint Longhair).

Persians are very affectionate, but relatively quiet. They are more inclined to a sedate lifestyle and feel most comfortable in calm, quiet surroundings.

Special Needs
The long, beautiful coat demands constant grooming. Persians need daily brushing and regular baths (preferably monthly). If you fail to provide the necessary grooming, the coat is likely to mat and tangle, and professional help may be required.

The special form of the face may sometimes cause eye drainage problems, which can create a build-up of residue. Owners should clean the eyes of such cats on a daily basis. If you plan to show a Persian cat, seek advice from an experienced breeder who can teach you the tricks of the trade. Alternatively, buy one of the many professional books on the breed (seen to the right of this article).

Adopting a Persian
It’s hard to believe, but there are Persians out there who do not have a loving home. Even this beautiful, distinctive cat sometimes finds itself in need of adoption for one reason or another and there are rescue centers scattered throughout the country that have Persians available for adoption. If you think you might be a loving adoptive parent to one of these beautiful animals, contact your nearest Persian cat shelter and find out if you’re a good fit for one of these exotic creatures.

The Shih Tsu – Tibet’s Gift to the World

Although the Shih Tzu is the youngest of the Tibetan breeds, it has become the most popular in many countries. In the United Kingdom the breed was long classified together with the Lhasa Apso, and the American Kennel Club did not recognize the Shih Tzu until 1969. While this breed is often confused with its big cousin, the Lhasa Apso, one distinguishing characteristic is the Shih Tzu’s denser, slightly wavy coat. This robust breed’s distinctive abundant long coat and proud carriage have really caught people’s imagination.

While their character offers plenty to delight their owners, the Shih Tzu’s most evocative feature is its head, which is tousled, with the hair falling in the dog’s eyes, an abundant moustache and beard, and hair on the muzzle growing upwards. These features give it a distinctly chrysanthemum-like effect. Character is as important as morphology in Shih Tzu breeding. Intelligent, active and lively, these little dogs are cheerful, good-natured companions that, nevertheless, like to retain a little bit of independence.

These small, shaggy-coated dogs were first brought out of the Tibetan mountains and into the royal court of China, as gifts, where they were prized as earthly representations of the sacred Buddhist lion. In fact, the name “Shih Tzu” means “lion” in Mandarin Chinese. Living in the palace among the other favored breeds, such as the Pekingese, Lhasa Apso, Tibetan Spaniel, and Pug, Shih Tzus were pampered by their own cadre of servants and slaves, and they were jealously guarded. With the fall of the Chinese empire, the royal dogs were killed or carried off by invaders and locals, which is how the Lion Dog breeds, including the Shih Tzu, came to the attention of the outside world. During the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, various dog-lovers visiting China adopted Shih Tzus and exported them to their home countries.

Today, the Shih Tzu is the cheerful companion of commoners and celebrities alike. Nicole Richie’s “Honeychild” sleeps on a replica of her owner’s bed, complete with designer linens. Honeychild has been known to visit her coiffeur to have colored hair extensions done to match Richie’s own locks. The Shih Tzu’s natural coat color can be any shade or combination of shades.

Not to be outdone, former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell reportedly dotes on her “Harry,” taking him to film sets, photo shoots, restaurants, posh shops, and even to visit the British prime minister (where Harry showed his opinion of politics by messing on the rug). Harry has the honor of having his image stand beside Halliwell’s in the famed Madame Tussaud’s wax museum in London.

The breed standard allows them to weigh between 9 and 16 pounds and does not recognize ultra-tiny variations sometimes touted as “Imperial” or “teacup” Shih Tzu. If you choose to own one of these miniature types, be aware that the smaller the size, the higher the likelihood of health problems.

The Shih Tzu’s double coat requires daily brushing and combing, and the long hair around the top of the head should be put up in a topknot to keep it out of the eyes in order to prevent eye ulcers. The hair around the eyes should also be kept clean and tangle-free. A full show coat requires extensive grooming, but pet Shih Tzus can be groomed in a puppy clip.

If you are thinking of adding a Shih Tzu to your household, consider having blood and urine tests done by a veterinarian, which will provide some information on the dog’s health. Many of these little dogs have a “dry eye” problem (their tears aren’t wet enough to properly lubricate the eye) and, in addition, since they’re brachycephalic (flat-faced) an eye can easily pop out if they run into something while playing. When buying a Shih Tzu, always ask to see health records and ask the breeder for a health guarantee to a reasonable age. Since their faces are flat, heat will bother them more than cold, so if it’s a hot day, don’t put your Shih Tzu outside to play or encourage him to exercise vigorously.

Like all dogs, Shih Tzus need gentle, positive obedience training, and they respond well to either lure training or clicker training. Although small, these dogs do require exercise and enjoy working with their humans, so owners should consider getting involved in a fun dog sport like rally obedience or canine musical freestyle.

Above all, however, the charming little dogs from the Far East are born to be loved and give love in return as the centerpiece of some lucky human’s life. Thank you, Tibet, for a lovely gift!

Does Your Dog Have Fleas?

Dogs become infested with fleas when they live in an area that is conducive to the flea life cycle and appropriate flea preventative steps are not taken. Fleas thrive in warm, damp climates. An average temperature in the range of 70° to 85°F, in a moist environment, is optimal for these parasites. From a flea’s perspective, the hotter and damper, the better. Accordingly, dogs living in hot, humid areas tend to develop more severe complications from flea infestation than do dogs living in cold, dry climates. Dogs can also get fleas by coming into contact with other animals that have a flea problem.

Fleas only spend a small part of their lives on the skin of a host animal. Adult fleas mate after they eat a large blood meal. Females lay their eggs within 1 to 2 days; they can produce upwards of 2000 eggs during their short 4-month lifespan. Fleas tend to like deep pile and shag carpeting, floor cracks, furniture and bedding.

Behavioral Signs
In severe infestations, it’s easy to spot fleas jumping and moving on and off your dog’s body. In less obvious situations, you may notice that your dog is restless and is scratching, licking, or chewing more than normal on certain areas of her body. Shaking the head often and scratching at the ears is another indication of a possible flea infestation in your dog.

Check the Skin and Haircoat
In order to see actual fleas on your dog, you may have to look fast. Fleas can jump very fast and very high, and even at their adult size they are very small (1/16-1/8 in.). They are flat-bodied and dark brown, almost black, in color. The more blood they ingest the lighter in color they may appear.

To inspect your dog, turn her onto her back and check the areas that allow fleas to hide best. The armpits and groin are two areas that tend to be warm and protected, making them preferred spots for large flea populations. Check the ears carefully for signs of scratching, redness, blood, or dirt. These can all be signs of fleas. The skin on the belly, groin, or base of the tail may appear red and bumpy, especially if your dog is doing a lot of scratching. Hair loss may occur in certain areas that are being scratched excessively, and there may be black spots on the skin along with scabbing.

Get a flea comb (a specially-made comb with closely set teeth) and run it through the hair on your dog’s back and legs. The comb’s teeth are designed to catch and pull fleas out from under the haircoat where they are hiding. Make sure you get close to the skin when running the comb through the hair so you have a greater chance of getting to where the fleas are hiding out. Have a bowl of soapy water on hand to throw any live fleas into as you comb.

One trick that may help you if the fleas are hard to see is to place a white piece of paper (or paper towel) on the floor next to or beneath your dog while combing through her hair. Flea dirt (flea feces) will fall off of the dog’s skin and land on the paper.

Check the Environment
Fleas don’t just stay on your dog. They can also be found all through your house, and especially in areas where your dog spends a lot of her time. Closely examine your dog’s feeding area, bedding, and her favorite locations for signs of flea dirt (black specks), or for the fleas themselves.

Get a Veterinarian’s Advice
If you can’t find any signs of actual fleas on your dog or in your living environment, or if you have done the full flea eradication treatment on your dog and home but your dog is still scratching excessively, it’s time to ask your veterinarian for advice. He or she will help you determine the cause of your dog’s discomfort and suggest treatment options. For more information on checking your animal for fleas, visit this link: