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Lovin’ The Senior Life!

If you are like me, you never want your pet(s) to age. Couldn’t they just stay young and spry and with us forever?! Sadly, no. Like us, the process of aging affects our wonderful four-legged family members. Throughout your dog’s entire life, he/she will go through many physical changes and stages. Learning to identify, understand, and respect the changes that are taking place will make the aging process easier for both of you.

Senior Changes

Senior changes are often slow to develop, and because of this, you may not even notice them until they are more severe. It is important to be aware of any changes, small or overt, in your dog’s behavior, physical health, emotions, and approach to life. Addressing age-related changes early is beneficial in slowing down or even preventing the issues from escalating or becoming chronic over time.

Some signs your senior dog may display include: slowing down, limping, developing arthritis or other degenerative conditions, yelping when playing, not being able to walk as far or play as long, sleeping more, having trouble with stairs, getting up, and getting into / out of the car. However, just like for us, there is much you can do to help ease the aging process for you and your dog.

 

 

 

Tips For Helping Your Senior

My number one recommendation of course, is massage!
Keep in mind that most of our pets’ number one goal in life is to please us and keep us happy. That being said, many pets will not show obvious signs of pain until that pain is severe. To avoid the pain reaching this severe stage, be mindful of your pet’s age and subtle signs of change.

As your pet ages, massage is a great tool for assessing any physical issues your pet may be experiencing. Massage is also a valuable preventative tool. As a massage therapist, I can detect areas in your pet’s body that are tight or stiff, have muscle tension, knots or muscle spasms, issues with mobility, areas of inflammation, areas of restricted movement, and reduced range-of-motion. Any one of these conditions can cause pain.

Some key benefits of massage include:

  • Reduces pain caused by muscle tension, stiffness, spasms, and inflammation
  • Improves muscle tone, flexibility and range-of-motion
  • Increases the release of endorphins
  • Improves circulation of blood and movement of lymphatic fluids
  • Stimulates the immune system
  • Decrease anxiety and stress
  • Encourages relaxation
  • Promotes deeper and easier breathing

More Help For Seniors

As a canine massage therapist, I often talk with clients about adaptations that can be made to help their senior pet. Adaptations can be as simple as keeping your pet’s nails short, or as extensive as a wheelchair. Some adaptations are:

  • Runners with Rubber Backing – great for any area with a slick floor, such as hallways, areas where your pet likes to lie, in front of food dishes, etc. I bought many inexpensive runners for my senior lab. Because the runners gave her traction she felt much safer and more secure, and thus her anxiety was greatly reduced. I could also throw them in the washing machine when needed.
  • Shorter & More Frequent Walks – exercise is good for our senior dogs–it keeps their joints moving and their spirits young. Walks also give our seniors a sense of normality.
    When walking with your senior, keep the pace a bit slower so as not to tire him/her out too soon. It is also important to do shorter, but more frequent walks. Often our dogs want to walk and walk and walk, but then the next day they are exhausted and sore. Another consideration is that your dog may not tell you when he/she is tired because of wanting to keep up with you.
    Don’t be in a rush when walking your senior, enjoy the stroll and the time together!
  • Heating Pad – a warm (not hot!) heating pad can be placed over your dog’s low back and hips after a walk to help soothe and relax the muscles.
  • PAWZ – I used these for my lab and we both loved them! PAWZ are disposable booties that look like latex balloons. I used them for two reasons:
    1. She dragged her back leg and the PAWZ protected her nails and paws from getting abrasions
    2. She wore them in the house because they stopped her from slipping on the wood floors
    If you do use these in the house, be sure it is only for short periods as dogs sweat through their paw pads.
    I know there are many other types of booties out there, but this is the one I had great results with.
  • Ramps – great for pets who are no longer safe waking up/down stairs, or need help getting into/out of the car. Things to consider when purchasing a ramp: it’s walking surface and traction, the amount of weight it holds, it’s stability, and the length, steepness, and incline of both the ramp and the area you need to cover.
  • Stairs – great for pets who need some extra help getting on and off his/her favorite piece of furniture. Stairs come in a large variety of designs, heights, number of stairs, step depths, and weight bearing ability. Steps are usually very easy to move around as well.
  • Keep Nails Short – long nails can be very painful for dogs to walk on. Long nails can also affect a dog’s gait, and the last thing you want is for something that can be easily avoided to impede your senior dogs gait.
  • Brush Teeth – it is especially important to keep your senior dogs teeth clean so as to avoid having to knock him/her out for a teeth cleaning, or worse, teeth pulled. It is also important to brush your senior dogs teeth to avoid any type of mouth or gum infection.
  • Elevated Food Bowls – great for taller dogs so they don’t have to bend down to eat. This is even true for smaller dogs who may not have needed a raised dish when younger. It’s all about making your senior dog more comfortable and safe.
  • Sleep & Bed Situation – every dog is different, but many love an orthopedic (memory foam or egg-crate foam) bed. These beds provide support and extra cushioning for senior dogs’ achy joints.
    However, I discovered that my senior girl did not prefer an orthopedic bed. I am not sure why, but I think the bed was too challenging for her to get off. After trying a number of different beds, I discovered her favorite place to sleep was on two stacked soft bathroom rugs (with rubber backings so they did not move).
    I also know that many seniors prefer to lay on the cool floor. The firm coolness of the floor may feel good on achy joints.
  • Sling – typically used with larger dogs that need help standing up or need support for the hind limbs when walking. The store-bought slings usually have handles at each end, making them easy to hold on to. However, a towel or piece of very strong fabric can be substituted.
  • Bracesj, Splints, & Wraps – great for dogs with “wrist” and “ankle” issues. I often see dogs with arthritis in these weight-bearing joints. Braces, splints and wraps all provide extra support for these important joints, and help to both relieve pain and assist the dog in walking more “normally.” There are both custom made and premade ones available.
  • Harnesses – in general I feel that dog harnesses are a much better choice, especially for dogs with arthritis in the neck or back.  There is a wide variety of harnesses designed specifically for senior dogs. Typically these harnesses are very supportive and comfortable. The harnesses designed for seniors typically have 1 – 2 handles on the top to give owners an easy way to assist their dog in getting up and moving around.
  • Dog Strollers – often used for smaller dogs who may tire easily or are no longer walking comfortably. Owners may use a stroller to get their dog places, or even just to take them outside for a walk.
  • Dog Wheelchairs & Carts – deciding to use a wheelchair or cart can be a very difficult decision. However, it does not have to equate the end. Wheelchairs and carts are typically used with dogs that have limited hind end mobility and strength. Depending on your pet’s condition, using a wheelchair or cart can help the rehab process by allowing your dog to achieve greater mobility.
    There are many factors to consider when buying a wheelchair or cart for your dog. Although many companies sell directly to the consumer, it is beneficial to work with a vet or canine rehab therapist.

I hope you have found the above information beneficial! Regardless of your dog’s age, they remain our babies to the end of time.

MehrKatLovin’ The Senior Life!
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Let’s Celebrate National Dog Day!

Hooray! It’s National Dog Day!

Hang on – What is National Dog Day?

National Dog Day is celebrated annually on August 26th. It was founded in 2004 by Pet & Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Advocate Colleen Paige, who has also founded many other philanthropic pet days. The goal of NDD and the other pet days is to bring attention to the plight of animals and encourage adoption.

National Dog Day celebrates all dogs, mixed breed and pure. The mission of NDD is to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year. NDD also acknowledges family dogs and dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe, and bring comfort.

Dogs put their lives on the line every day…
for personal protection
for law enforcement
forpeope with a disability
for our freedom
for our safety
and now dogs are even detecting cancer and seizures in people–things even humans cannot do.

National Dog Day is against any kind of “breed ban”. Dogs should not have to lose their lives because of the atrocities they have been forced to endure at the hands of man. And while we feel that American’s have the constitutional right to purchase a pure breed dog, we strongly discourage buying dogs from pet stores supplied by puppy mills, backyard breeders, the internet, and newspaper ads. Rather, we encourage those seeking new canine companions to consider choosing adoption first.

If you’d like a pure breed dog, look into a breed rescue group in your city to see if they might have some little furry soul just waiting to make your life complete. Another great place to find a new best friend is at pet stores that host adoption drives for local shelters and rescues.

When considering buying from a breeder, verify that you’re buying from a reputable breeder by checking out their licensing, internet reviews and ask for local references, such as from a veterinarian. It’s vital to educate yourself about the breed you’re considering parenting. “Millions of dogs are killed each year because they’re simply unwanted,” says Colleen Paige, founder of National Dog Day. They’re unwanted because no one realized how to properly care for the demands of the breed. They’re unwanted because they were bought as a Christmas gift for a child that didn’t keep their promises about caring for the dog…unwanted because they shed too much…unwanted because they bark too much. UNWANTED…simply because someone changed their mind. All a dog wants to do is love you and be loved by you. Dogs are amazing, courageous, sensitive and sentient beings that deserve compassion and respect. Please consider bringing what was once considered “unwanted love”, into your heart and home on National Dog Day!”(taken from www.nationaldogday.com)

The Right Spot wants in on the celebration!

Hope to see you soon!!

MehrKatLet’s Celebrate National Dog Day!
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Massage Tips To Help Reduce Anxiety

I posted this video on Facebook and Instagram on July 3rd to give folks a couple of massage tips to help reduce anxiety in their pets before the fireworks started.

So,even though the Fourth of July has come and gone, and the fireworks are be over, I thought I’d post the video in a blog so people could access it at any time.
After all, anxiety in our pets is not limited to fireworks.
Try these massage techniques before a thunderstorm, at the vet, at the groomer….any place that induces fear/anxiety in your pet.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • RELAX – If you are tense, your pet will sense that and have a harder time calming down
  • BREATH – When we are nervous or tense, we tend to hold our breath. Try to breath normally, even takoing a slow, deep breath occasionally
  • PET STRUGGLES – If your pet is trying to get away, or seems to be getting more anxious, stop! Some pets may not be ready to relax. Never force your pet to do this.
  • BEGIN BEFOE THE EVENT – If possible, use these strokes before the actual event starts.

I hope you enjoy and get some useful info from this video!

BTW – if you like this video, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube page to see more pet massage videos! 🙂

 

MehrKatMassage Tips To Help Reduce Anxiety
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Massage and Pooping – A Fabulous Relationship

WHAT?!
Yes, seriously.

The next time your pet gets into the poop position, look at his/her body and stance. This poop posture requires balance, strength, flexibility of the spine and the muscles surrounding it, the ability of the limbs to support the body in this position, and even tail movement. Much of the stance is related to the mid-and-lower back regions, although the front legs must bear weight and the neck must keep the head upright and stable. Don’t believe me? Try getting into that position and back up again.

A pet with a stiff and/or weak back and leg muscles will have a much harder time getting into and maintaining the poop posture. Muscle tightness, a rigid spine, arthritic joints, and muscle weakness and wasting can all add to the challenge of our pets having a bowel movement. Aging pets can have weak muscle tone and arthritis in the joints, which can affect not only their walking and standing, but also their ability to get into and maintain the poop posture.

And while we’re on the topic, Dr. Randy Kidd, DVM PhD makes another point. He states, “…it seems that dogs need to periodically refresh their memory of who they really are by turning head to tail to sniff their own butts. In the process they are able to lick themselves clean and thus keep the glandular openings unclogged.” FYi, glandular openings is referring to the anal sacs.

Massage and How It Can Help

Therapeutic massage is an excellent tool when trying to get muscles to relax, improve flexibility and range of motion, and help improve muscle tone. During a massage, gentle stretching can especially help the large muscles surrounding the entire spine. If the muscles along the spine are tense and/or rigid, your pet will have a difficult time arching his/her back, which is necessary to get into the poop position.

Having a relaxed body is also very beneficial to both the digestive and elimination processes. Massage aids in the poop process by keeping the fluids in the body moving, and since fluids aid in digestion, this all helps to keep things running smoothly. If the body is tense and tight, metabolism slows down and can cause some digestive issues.

Massage can also help with both constipation and diarrhea. When constipated, processes in the body are stuck and tight, including the muscles. The relaxation and movement massage provides allows the body to get things moving. When diarrhea occurs, the muscles of the intestines are in spasm, and massage can help relax them.

In my pet massage career, I am proud to say that I have helped dogs with poop posture difficulties, as well as helped dogs with constipation poop following a massage.

Ah the reward of a good massage!  

MehrKatMassage and Pooping – A Fabulous Relationship
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Upcoming Fun Dog Events

Summer is almost here and that means FUN DOG EVENTS!

The Right Spot Pet Massage loves to support local animal rescues! I go to lotw of events to offer mini-massages to the participants (4-legged only:)) It is a wonderful opplortunity to meet great sogs and their people, as well as support some wonderful organizations.

All of these wonderful events are fundraisers for local dog / cat not-for-profits. These events are a fantastic way to get involved and help raise awareness and much needed funds for these dedicated and hard working organizations! The events are also a fun way to participate, meet other pet-loving folks, get out with your dog and family, and enjoy a summer day! It is my privilege to be a part of them!

K-9 Pup Strut and Expo

Benefiting K-9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore
Click here for the event page 
When: May 5, 2018 — 9:00 am – 2:00 pm
Where: Sunset Woods Park, 1801 Sunset Rd, Highland Park, IL

Come for a 1-mile walk, with or without a dog, and attend FREE Expo. The Expo will feature 25+ dog-related businesses, great food, raffles, prizes and much more! Also in attendance will be WGN Radio Host and Pet Blogger, Steve Dale; Internationally Recognized Dog Behaviorist and Trainer, Dennis Hill; and Children’s Author Nancy Gee and Robin’s Dog Stars
K-9 Reading Buddies of the North Shore likes to say we partner with kids from pre-school to college because the bookends of our program are literacy and stress relief. Our therapy dog teams make reading fun for 3 to 4-year-olds, partner with at-risk readers in grades 1 through 8, and provide stress relief for high school students throughout the school year. Our monthly library program motivates kids to want to come to the library to experience reading to a K-9 Reading Buddy. Over 200 children register to read to our teams annually at multiple suburban libraries. We conduct community outreach in an animal-assisted therapy capacity at various facilities that include the Naval Station at Great Lakes where we receive up to 200 visitors per session.

23rd Annual Strut for Strays

Benefiting Community Animal Rescue Effort (C.A.R.E.)
 When: Saturday, May 19, 2018 — 9:30 am – 11:00 am
Where: Evanston Subaru in Skokie, 3340 Oakton St, Skokie

Come and join other fun-loving people, with or without your dog, at Evanston Subaru in Skokie for the Community Animal Rescue Effort’s annual Strut for Strays. Although cats and other pets are not allowed, you can run or walk in honor of a favorite animal friend. Hundreds of paws and feet will hit the ground walking (or running) for the 2.5-mile event. Help us raise money to care for the many animals that C.A.R.E. finds homes for each year. Community Animal Rescue Effort is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization with a mission to serve the communities of Chicago’s North Shore by fostering and supporting healthy, positive relationships between people and companion animals. C.A.R.E. rehomes companion pets into safe, healthy, lifelong homes; serves as an educational and counseling resource; and works to r educe pet overpopulation.

Pajama Party and Mutt Mosey!

Benefiting Young At Heart Senior Rescue
When: Sunday May 20, 2018 — 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Where: Fox River Preserve and Marina, 28500 W Roberts Rd, Barrington

Approximately 200 pet lovers join in to help us save senior pets by spending an afternoon with their dog or walking to make a difference for senior pets in need. This year’s theme is a Pajama Party! This fun one-mile Mosey around the Fox River Preserve and Marina raises the much-needed funds to save the lives of senior dogs and cats in area shelters. This year, we’ll be opening our adoption center and sanctuary for senior pets, so we need to raise more funds than ever before to be able to help up to FOUR TIMES the number of senior pets than previous years! Be a part of this fun community event and come party to help homeless senior dogs and cats! ng at Heart Pet Rescue is a 100% non-profit, no-kill organization dedicated to the rescue and rehoming of senior dogs and cats. Young at Heart Pet Rescue is run by like-minded professionals who volunteer their time and resources to help save the lives of these animals.

Walk for the Animals – Summer of Love

Benefiting The Red Door Shelter
When: June 3, 2018 –10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Where: Indian Boundary Park 2500 W. Lunt Ave,, Chicago

Don’t miss this year’s exciting Summer of Love-themed walk and fair. Rain or shine, it’s a fun event for all ages and it raises money for all the shelter animals at The Red Door Shelter. Dogs are welcome, but not necessary. The low key 2k walk through Indian Boundary Park in Rogers Park starts at 10 a.m. Feeling Groovy? Join us! The Red Door Shelter is known for their rabbit rescue, but they also rescue cats and some small dogs. Red Door Shelter’s mission is to promote respect for all animals through education, rescue, sheltering and adoption.

I HOPE TO SEE YOU ALL THERE!

MehrKatUpcoming Fun Dog Events
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The Event Was Fantastic Fun!

The Red Door Shelter held it’s K-9 Eggstravaganza on March 24, 2018 at Rex’s Place in Evanston. The event was a whole lotta fun – for both dogs and their people! Oh wait, there were even two cat’s there!

There were eggs to be found, pictures to be taken, gifts to receive and FREE mini-massages from The Right Spot! All proceeds benefited The Red Door Animal Shelter in Rogers Park, Chicago.

There were dogs ranging in size from 3 lbs all the way up to 110 lbs! There were senior dogs, puppies, rescue dogs, pure-breeds, therapy dogs  and everything in-between.

The photos below show some of the awesome dogs I was able to meet and massage.

                               

                  

Such a fun day full of dog (and cat!) love!

 

MehrKatThe Event Was Fantastic Fun!
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K-9 Egg-stravenganza! Dog Easter Egg Hunt!

Come On Out For A Fun Dog Themed Egg-stravaganza
All Proceeds To Benefit The Red Door Animal Shelter

So, get your pooch and come on out for this great event!

AND – The Right Spot will be offering FREE mini-massages to all K-9 participants!

When: March 24, 2018 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: Rex’s Place/Dog Obedience Group, 2120 Ashland, Evanston. IL
General Info: This egg hunt will be so much fun for your dog! Every egg contains a treat–all of them for k-9s and humans. Treats include restaurant gift certificates, dog toys, dog biscuits, and chocolate bars for people. Also, a photo opportunity for your dog to pose in a spring background with owner. Participating dogs must be socialized, leashed and well-behaved. $10 per dog for egg hunt. Spring photos are $10 each.  All money raised goes directly to the homeless rabbits at Red Door.

Hope to see you all there!

MehrKatK-9 Egg-stravenganza! Dog Easter Egg Hunt!
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Are You Talking To Me?!

Communication is an extraordinary thing. We use it so often that we probably don’t even think about it much. However, communication between animals and people is different. Although our pets don’t communicate like we do using spoken words, sign language, the written word, etc, they definitely communicate! Our pets vocalize in a variety of ways, some pets point, others may pull on their leash, some may hide when scared, just to name a few communication efforts.

Communication During A Massage

There are numerous ways your pet may communicate during his/her massage session. Communication may be as obvious as moving away or toward me, a vocalization, and/or moving the body position; or it may be as subtle as a look, a slight body shift, a slight he     ad movement. or a sigh. I also watch your pet for communication signals such as yawning, scratching the ground, looking away, and others. As a pet massage therapist, I am trained to look for any type of communication effort your pet may display.

The Amazing Body

Your pet’s body itself is another type of communication I rely upon. I look at and feel your pets body itself to tell me what is going on. Is your pet favoring a certain leg or side? Are there areas of heat or cold on the body? Are there any areas of tightness? Are there any muscle twitches or spasms? All of these physical qualities  give me clues as to what may be occurring with your pet, and since your pet cannot tell me, it is up to me to figure it out.

YOUR Pet!

All of the above are great examples of how pets may communicate during a session. The next step for me is to learn each individual animal’s communication meaning(s). A bit more tricky! For example, some dogs are talkers so it could be completely normal for one dog to make a vocalization (growly sound) as I massage, vs. the vocalization being a warning from another dog. My own dog is a big talker, so what might sound scary to someone else I know to be just him. Another example is your pet getting up and walking around during the massage. Often this is simply your pet assimilating the massage into his/her body. However. it may be because he/she is guarding an area, or it could simply be your pet wanting to change position.

Eddy

Recently one of my regular clients, Eddy, came to see me. Eddy, an 11 year-old large muscular guy, came jogging in to his session wagging his tail. Typically, Eddy will lie down once he has greeted me. On this day, he did not. Hmmmm….interesting. His owner asked Eddy to lie down a number of times, but he would not. Good communication, but now I had to figure out why. As I ran my hands down Eddy’s back, I felt a raised tight area. After I worked on this area to loosen and relax it, I expected Eddy to lie down, but he still would not. Again, hmmm….As I ran my hand over his right shoulder blade (scapula), Eddy whimpered. Aha! I gently palpated this area and the muscles around it, but did not feel anything unusual. Eddy continued to whimper, but stayed by me, so I continued to gently palpate and massage the area. Finally a knot emerged. The knot must have been deeply embedded in the muscles and took a bit of coaxing to come to the surface. Eddy allowed my to work on it to loosen it, and then he laid down! Tada! Thank you Eddy!

I never cease to be amazed at how effectively our pets communicate with us! And while all pets are different, they all communicate. It’s just up to us to figure out what they are saying!

MehrKatAre You Talking To Me?!
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Hooray For The Holidays!

I love the holidays! I start getting all excited just before Halloween until after the New Year has begun. I love all of it – the decorations, the music, the food, and especially shopping for gifts for my favorite beings – including MY DOGS!

With all of that said, as excited as I am, the holidays can bring about stress, including for our pets. Their routine can be messed up, different people are coming in and out of the house, all kinds of boxes and decorations are filling the house, furniture (and dog beds) may get moved, and for me, a great big tree is in the corner!

This stress can often produce anxiety, and anxiety can lead to one very unhappy pet, and of course an unhappy owner! You know what helps with stress and anxiety? MASSAGE!

Massage and Anxiety

It is well documented that massage helps to calm the nervous system, thus reducing stress and anxiety. The gentle, slow strokes of (Swedish) massage work directly with the central nervous system to calm our entire being. Our breathing slows and deepens, our blood pressure reduces, our muscles relax, and thus our entire being relaxes. The effects of massager, especially for our pets, often last longer than the length of a session. A massage session also gives our pets a break. It brings them out of their own anxiety to a time of relaxation – a time just for them to settle. I know that is one of the reasons why I love getting a massage myself!

A Few Holiday Tips

As we move into the holiday season, below are a few simple reminders and tips. You know your pet best, so some of these tips may apply, and others not so much.

  • Have a separate, quiet space available for pets during busy holiday festivities
  • Place possibly toxic plants out of reach (holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia)
  • Keep all dangerous / poisonous foods away from pets (cooked bones, meat-soaked strings, chocolate, grapes, raisins, alcohol, sugary foods, artificial sweeteners, macadamia nuts, coffee, tobacco products)
  • Keep an eye on the holiday table and secure leftovers and garbage to prevent your pet from foraging among them
  • Avoid edible tree decorations – cookies, popcorn, cranberries, etc.
  • Keep an eye on the holiday table and secure leftovers and garbage to prevent your dog from foraging among the holiday foods
  • Tree needles, both fresh and artificial, can cause problems if ingested
  • Read about tree preservatives as they are often sugar-based (and inviting to dogs). Also, change the tree water often so it does not become stagnant and harbor potentially harmful bacteria
  • Be cautious with lights on lower tree branches, especially if you have a curious pet
  • Wires leading to tree lights or other decorations should be safely taped so they cannot be chewed
  • Watch the electrical cords – pets may chew them and get shocked
  • Be cautious with glass ornaments, which break easily and may cut a dog’s feet or mouth
  • Place candles up high so they are not accessible, or use battery operated candles
  • Keep wrapping paper, ribbons, strings and scissors off floors and low tables
  • Your dog may want to investigate wrapped packages; keep them out of reach
  • Always try to use chemical free cleaning products

I wish everyone a very joyous and festive holiday season! Give your pet (and yourself :)) the gift of massage! It will surely be a time of relaxation and calm for the both of you!

MehrKatHooray For The Holidays!
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