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When your dog runs away – first steps to take

lost dogThe other day, a friend called in a panic…her sweet lab had escaped from his yard and she couldn’t find him anywhere.  That is every pet parent’s worst fear…your 4-Legged Kid disappears.  Well, my friend didn’t know what to do.  Fortunately for her, her “baby” was microchipped and wearing an identification collar.  Animal Control found him and called the next morning…a happy reunion occurred a bit later.   I thought this would be a perfect time to share suggestions on what to do when your dog runs away.


Before It Happens To You
  • Make sure he has a collar with identification on it…his name, your address, your home phone number and a cell phone number.
  • Make sure his rabies tag is attached to his collar.  The number on his rabies tag is linked directly to your veterinarian, who has all your contact information.
  • Make sure to microchip your pet.  This is used as a backup identification, in case your pet loses his collar.   Veterinarians, Animal Control, and all animal shelters have scanners and check all found pets, so that they can contact pet parents.
When It Happens To You or Someone You Know
  • Social media can be useful…if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, make sure to immediately post a picture of your 4-Legged Kid.  The picture can be quickly forwarded and shared across town.
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/stlouispets is a good local resource to post your pet information
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/STLMOlostfoundpaws is another very active Facebook group to post your pet information
  • Make lots of posters…put these all over your neighborhood. Typically a dog will be found within 2 miles of your home.
  • Call neighbors…most likely your pet is still nearby.
  • Call local veterinarians, animal control and animal shelters and leave word with them.  If someone finds a lost pet, these are typically places they will bring the pet.


St. Louis has a wonderful resource to help reunite Pet Parents and their 4-Legged Kids. www.stllostpets.org was created as a collaboration of the APA, St. Louis Animal Control and the Human Society.   Residents can list lost and found pets.  These three organizations take in 90% of lost pets in the St. Louis area, so this is a great resource to try.


Hopefully these tips will help you be prepared, just in case your 4-Legged Kid wanders off.

Spring Break travel – how to prepare your pets

Like most Pet Parents, as you begin to plan your Spring Break travel you wonder how to prepare your pets.  4-Legged Kids offers two great options to help you.  Your dog can stay in one of our Caregiver’s homes or one of our Team can come to your home to care for your pets (pretty much any species!).


Learn more about our options when you travel READ MORE.


If you wish to keep your 4-Legged Kid in your home while you travel we can help you make it a successful experience.  Having a Caregiver come to your home can be an ideal situation for households with multiple pets, elderly pets, or pets who become stressed when placed in a new situations.  Our Caregivers will work with you to find the ideal situation for your 4-Legged Kid.


Services Our Team Can Provide
  • Walks
  • Feeding
  • Any medical care necessary
  • Cleaning litter boxes
  • Collecting mail and papers
  • Watering plants
  • A security check around your home


You can have a Caregiver come multiple times throughout the day, or even stay at your home overnight.


Things to Do Before You Travel
  • Provide our Team with a telephone number where you can be reached.
  • Update your Customer Portal with all feeding and medication schedules.
  • Ensure 4-Legged Kids has the most up-to-date information for access (did you change keys? door codes? garage codes?
  • Gather everything for your Caregiver (including extra food, treats, cleaning supplies, medications, leash, litter scoop, trash bags, and towels (for rainy day walks).
  • Set your thermostat for a comfortable temperature for your pets.
  • Send a message through your Customer Portal with any last-minute changes to your pets care. Your entire team will receive it.
  • Update your veterinarian in your profile and notify them that 4-Legged Kids will be caring for your pets in case of emergency.


A few more tips
  • Ensure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations, flea and tick treatment, and heartworm treatment.
  • Notify us of anything you might have forgotten to mention through your Customer Portal, which will be delivered instantly to your care team.


Finally, your Team does this because they love pets!  As a personal service industry, your Caregivers always appreciate tips, but they are not required.


We don’t just take care of Spring Break travel! For more information or to book a vacation, please call the office at (636) 405-0400 or BOOK HERE. 


If you are already established with 4-Legged Kids you can ACCESS YOUR PORTAL to make your reservation.

Neat facts about cats you might not have known

curious catsI love all things cats. Neat facts about cats are all over google and there are memes galore if you know where to look.


“Did you know?” facts about cats.
  • Cats don’t have sweat glands.
  • A cat can jump as high as seven times its height.
  • Cats have five toes on each front paw, but only four toes on each back paw.
  • Some cats have a genetic mutation called polydactyly which is extra toes on their front or back feet.
  • Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten.
  • A pack of kittens is called a kindle, while a pack of adult cats is called a clowder.
  • An adult cat can run about 12 miles per hour, and can sprint at nearly 30 miles per hour.
  • A cat’s tongue is scratchy because it’s lined with papillae-tiny elevated backwards hooks that help to hold prey in place.
  • The nose pad of each cat has ridges in a unique pattern, not unlike a person’s fingerprints.
  • Cat’s bodies are extremely flexible; the cat skeleton contains more than 230 bones (a human has about 206), and the pelvis and shoulders loosely attach to the spine.  This adds to their flexibility and allows them to fit through very small spaces.
  • Cats have better memories than dogs.  Tests conducted by the University of Michigan concluded that while a dog’s memory lasts no more than 5 minutes, a cat’s can last as long as 16 hours—exceeding even that of monkeys and orangutans.
  • Cats spend about 3/4 of their day sleeping. Certainly mine do!
  • Cats also purr when they are stressed or hurt
  • If you love cats you are an ailurophile. If you dislike cats you are an ailurophobe. 
  • If you are an ailurophobe you are like catnip to a cat. Imagine being a cat chilling on the couch taking a nap. A cat lover sees you as the most interesting thing in the room and they beeline towards you for a greeting. Ailurophobes generally avoid eye contact and any interaction with a cat. That makes you the most interesting and least threatening person in the room!
  • The musical Cats is based on T.S. Eliot’s poem collection called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Counter Surfing and Garbage Gut in dogs

counter surfing dogWhen I think about counter surfing and garbage gut in dogs I think about Kensington (Kensie). She was a beautiful golden retriever that we cared for with our Family Boarding for years until the family moved to Florida. She was like my golden retriever’s kid sister.  They adored each other. I am pretty sure Kensie loved it when her parents traveled and she could move in with Louie.


Kensie had a super bad habit. She was a counter surfer. Like no other. She was super sneaky about it. I can’t tell you how many sticks of butter she snagged in the middle of cooking before I realized it.


That was when we were first getting to know each other. I realize quickly I had a pro counter surfer in the house and had to adjust the way I did things. Counter surfers are happy to forage in trash cans and that can quickly lead to a situation known fondly in the veterinary field as “garbage gut”.


Dogs have pretty sturdy digestive systems. Over-consumption and access to table scraps, trash, spoiled foods, and raw meat can lead to some unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea, lethargy, vomiting. In many cases these dogs need a visit to the veterinarian for treatment.


Ways to Prevent Counter Surfing and Garbage Gut in Dogs


  • Keep food and other items out of reach.  Prevention is always the best option.  Keep counters clear of food, so there’s nothing to steal.  Problem solved!  Sounds easy, right? It can be more challenging with multiple people in the house (especially kids as I have personally noticed)
  • Make sure to supervise your dog when food is out.  Providing instant feedback will teach your dog that stealing food is not the right thing to do.  If you’re not going to be home, make sure your dog can’t get into the kitchen.  Once he gets rewarded positively for stealing food, it will be even more challenging to get him to stop.
  • Never give your dog scraps from your dinner plate or when you are preparing dinner.  Always put all food for your dog in his or her bowl.  That way, he learns the only place food comes from is his bowl.
  • Never chase or give attention to your dog when he counter surfs…many times he’s just looking for attention and a game of chase is a positive reward for stealing food.
  • Teach your dog the command, “Leave It.”    This can be taught in various ways, but your dog simply learns that when you say “leave it,” that means he should leave whatever he’s trying to get.
  • Since most counter surfing happens in the kitchen, provide a place for your dog to lay while in the kitchen…a bed or pillow off to the side can be ideal.  Whenever your dog starts sniffing around, send him to his “spot” and away from the counter.   This can be a good time to reward your dog with a treat.  That way he associates his “spot” as a positive place to be.
  • Many people will choose to kennel during meal prep and meal times. There is also an option to baby gate your dog outside the food area.


Hopefully, one or more of these ideas can help you train your pet to stop counter surfing.  Counter surfing and the possibility of garbage gut is preventable with supervision and persistence.

New Kitten Care – how to prepare your home

new kitten careI have spent decades hosting mamas and their babies as a foster for local rescues including Open Door Animal Sanctuary.  I get the privilege of loving on those little scraps and preparing them for their happy future with a new family. YES it is tough to let them go sometimes! It is important to prepare yourself and learn about new kitten care and how to prepare your home.


Bringing Your New Kitten Home


  • Within a couple of days of a kitten arriving at your home, take her to the veterinarian for an exam, parent education and vaccinations.  Make sure to use a cat carrier for transporting her, both for her safety and sense of security.  This carrier should be used at all times when your kitten leaves your home.
  • Set up a “kitten room.”  This should be a small room with an easily cleaned floor.  Provide a bed, litter box, food and water (not near the litter box), something to scratch on, and a few safe toys. Remove exposed wiring or other dangerous objects. String, ribbon, and rubber bands are all easily overlooked but dangerous to a kitten! Remember they can climb!
  • Initiate a schedule of feeding, playing and handling to provide the kitten with the structure of regular activities.  You can turn on a small nightlight for your kitten at nighttime (she will learn this is the cue for bed, plus the light will help her navigate the room in the dark).  Be aware of the sleep needs of your kitten and allow her plenty of time to sleep when she is tired.
  • Handle your kitten gently and frequently for short periods of time.  Practice touching her near her eyes, ears, paws, etc.  This will be good practice for veterinarian exams.


The First Few Weeks
  • Once your kitten is used to using her litter box, you can gradually expand her territory to exploring nearby rooms under your watchful eye.
  • Be prepared for your kittens sense of adventure and curiosity.  Watch for dangerous objects and direct the kitten to acceptable play and scratch items.  Kittens under 3 months of age should have close supervision when away from their “kitten room.”
  • Provide your kitten with stimulating and safe toys to play with. Sometimes this can be as simple as a wad of paper to bat around! There are many fun wands and toys on the market that will provide hours of enjoyment for both of you.
  • Most importantly, always treat your kitten with love and kindness.  Help them grow to be a loving, gentle cat.


Hopefully these tips on new kitten care and preparing your home will help your kitten acclimate to her new space as easily as possible.


If you are new to pet ownership and are needing care when you travel, 4-Legged Kids is the place to come for your new kitten care! READ MORE

Bordetella vaccinations – are they necessary?

Time for some vet talk.  Bordetella vaccinations – are they necessary?  We get this question frequently when we private board dogs in our homes.


Bordetella vaccinations are to protect against several different bacteria and virus, the most common being the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica (named after, of course). The true name for the resulting contagious virus is Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD). Unfortunately for the dog boarding industry, the resulting illness is referred to as “Kennel Cough”. SO UNTRUE. Your dog can literally pick this up anywhere. Why don’t we just relabel a child’s cold “DAYCARE DISEASE”? CIRD is environmental and can be picked up anywhere dogs cross paths (visit to the vet, walking your dog in Home Depot, the local pet store, the groomer, a playdate with your neighbor’s dog). It can be passed from dog to dog like a cold with Kindergarteners.


The Symptoms of CIRD
  • A harsh and persistent barking cough that sounds a little like a sick seal
  • Fits of coughing that can cause them to retch (maybe spitting up a bit of fluid, but not vomiting)
  • Nasal discharge


Most dogs get a mild case within 3-10 days of exposure and can clear it on their own given some time. You don’t notice any significant changes in their activity level or eating. Severe cases can progress to a bacterial infection in the respiratory system that develops into pneumonia. Your veterinarian will likely prescribe a cough suppressant and an antibiotic to prevent a bacterial infection.


Bordetella vaccinations are similar to the flu vaccine – they certainly aren’t 100% effective and your dog may still develop CIRD, but it will likely be less severe than if they had not been vaccinated.


MOST of all – isolate your dog to prevent any spread until all symptoms are gone! Notify the potential source so they can review their sanitation protocols. Be kind. No one wants a CIRD outbreak. The majority of facilities have excellent protocols that there are careful to follow, but this is one of the inconvenient risks to dog socialization.


It is a required vaccine at all dog facilities in the state of Missouri and commonly required throughout the US. So yes, to answer the initial question, it is necessary for the health of your dog!


For more information you can review Kennel Cough in Dogs

Lessons we can learn from our canine friends

Any Pet Parent knows we can learn so much from our 4-Legged Kids.


This week, we thought we’d look at some of the lessons we can learn from our canine friends (of course sourced from the Big G – I am not this creative!):


  1. Embrace diversity…dogs will play with anyone and any dog, no matter their size, shape, color, or breed.
  2. There is nothing more important than food to eat, shelter from the weather and being with those who love you.
  3. Protect and guard your loved ones at all costs.
  4. When you need a nap, take one.
  5. There is nothing more comforting than sleeping next to someone you love.
  6. When a loved one comes home, even if only at the end of the day, it is cause for celebration.
  7. Enjoy the little things…a pat on the head, a car ride, or a surprise treat can make your day.
  8. Smile (and wag your tail)…when you great someone like that, how can they not smile.
  9. Pleasing others is good motivation for anything.
  10. Life is amazing…enjoy every minute.  Don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow…just live in the moment.

Lessons we can learn from our feline friends

As Pet Parents, we all know that our 4-Legged Kids can teach us so much about life.  Here are a few lessons sourced from the big G (Google) we can learn from our feline friends:


1…When life gets hard, take a nap.

2…Curiosity never killed anything except maybe a few hours.

3…Variety is the spice of life–one day ignore people, the next day annoy them.

4…Climb your way to the top–that’s why the drapes are there.

5…Never sleep alone when you can snuggle with someone.

6…Make your mark on the world–or at least spray in each corner.

7…Always give generously–a small bird or rodent left on the bed tells them, “I’m thinking of you.”

8…Speak up when you want something, or anytime you just feel like speaking up.l

9…Use your claws when you need them, but put them away when you don’t.

10…Choose wisely who you let get close to you, let alone put their hands on you.  You don’t have to let somebody touch you if you don’t want them to.

Dear Dogs – an open letter from your human

Dear Dogs,


-The dishes with the paw prints painted on them are yours and contain your food.  The other dishes are mine and contain my food.  Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.


-The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack.  Racing me to the bottom is not the objective.  Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.


-I cannot buy anything bigger than a king-sized bed.  I am very sorry about this.  Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort.  Dogs can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep.  It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible.  I also know that sticking tails straight out, and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space, is nothing but sarcasm.


-For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom!  If by some miracle I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, bark, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door.  I must exit through the same door I entered.  Also, I have been using the bathroom for years – canine attendance is not required.


-The proper order for kissing is:  kiss me first, then go smell the other dog’s butt.  I cannot stress this enough.



Finally, in all fairness to dogs, I have posted the following message on the front door:


To All Non – Dog Owners Who Visit and Like to Complain About our Pets:


1)  They live here.  You Don’t.


2)  If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.  That’s why they call it “fur” niture.


3)  I like my dog a lot better than I like most people.


4)  To you, they are animals.  To me, they are adopted sons and daughters, who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don’t speak clearly.


(borrowed from all over the internet and shared here for your amusement LOL)

Winterize your dog with these safety tips

How to properly winterize your dog…makes me laugh, like we are talking about an engine. Of course both need to operate at their prime!


We have to be prepared for winter not only for ourselves, but for our pets.  There are many safety concerns during the winter in the care of our pets that might not be present during other seasons.  See if any of these are new for you:


General Pet Care Tips

  • You might need to feed your pets a bit more, depending on the length of time they spend outside.  They can burn more calories in the cold, both to keep warm and because running and playtime can be more strenuous in the snow.
  • If your pet has long fur you need to keep them groomed and free of mats.  Matted fur will create areas of exposure and decrease the insulating ability of long fur and undercoats.
  • I always giggle at a dog with a sweater on, but we put on layers, don’t we?  Short haired dogs don’t have fur to keep them insulated so an extra layer in the cold will make them a much happier pup….and they can pee faster if they aren’t shaking all over the place.
  • Dogs can’t get enough water from eating snow or licking the ice cube in their water bowl.  They need to have access to fresh water even during cold times and snow.  Plastic bowls are the best during the winter months…heard the term “I triple-dog-dare you!”?  Imagine your dog’s warm, wet tongue and a frozen stainless steel bowl…..hmmm, might be a thought.  Even better, for those dogs that love the cold weather make sure they have a heated water bowl…but make sure there is always an adequate level of fresh, clean water in it.


 Specific Outdoor Tips

  • POISON POISON POISON  Do you take the dangers of antifreeze seriously?  Ever had a leak and not really pay attention to it…just keep adding more as needed?  Did you know that for dogs and cats it is like an open Hershey’s bar to a chocoholic?   A cat walking through the drips and then licking its’ paws clean could possibly die?  A medium-sized dog can die from just 5 tablespoons?  It completely destroys the kidneys and there can be a narrow window for successful treatment.  Call the vet, Call the vet, CALL THE VET!  This is not one to just sit around and see if the dog gets sick.  The dog has to be induced to vomit and needs medication to prevent damage.  Did I say call the vet?  Or better yet, keep the driveway and garage floor clean and keep containers out of the reach of curious noses.
  • SO, unless you are one of those people that has purchased doggie snow boots (I giggle at those also) your dog’s PAW-dicure needs to be paid special attention after snowy playtime (or even walking).  When they are out they can pick up little icy balls, packed snow, rock salt, calcium chloride, etc., which can chap and crack their paws and some of the chemicals can even make them sick if they lick.  Make sure you wipe their paws clean when they come in.  There are even products on the market now that you insert each foot into for a bit of a “foot bath” to make sure all the nasties are out. There is a product called Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax that can keep them protected and relieve any soreness.
  • And yes, your pet can get frostbite….with long or short fur.  The most susceptible areas are the nose, tail, and toes because of exposure.  Signs would be discoloration of the skin….it might be pale or even bluish in color.  The area might have a lack of sensation initially, but as it warms up it can begin to be painful…frequently a sign something is wrong is during this time of warming.  Apply a warm compress (warm only).  Do not rub or you can cause additional damage.  The vet is the best to assess damage and determine treatment.


MOST of all….if you see any animal left out in the cold with out adequate shelter, please speak to its owner or notify your local animal welfare agency! KSDK graciously provided this list for the St. Louis area.