Friday, November 13, 2020

Why adopt a dog who is senior?

Veterinarians say that dogs start to fall into the category of “senior” around the age of 7. However, it depends on size. The smaller the dog, the later in life the dog becomes a senior. Nonetheless, a dog in a shelter can be as young as 5 and still have trouble finding a new home.  Technically speaking, many of these dogs aren’t “seniors” in the veterinary sense of the term, but to many prospective adopters they are already “over the hill.” Of course, that isn’t true. Dogs, when well cared for and given appropriate exercise, remain happy, active, playful and puppy-like well into their senior years

Older dogs lose their homes for many different reasons. Most of them having nothing to do with problems the dog has, but rather with those of the person or family surrendering the dog. Many folks think dogs who end up at shelters or in rescue are all genetically and behaviorally inferior. But, it is not uncommon for very expensive, well-bred, well-trained dogs to outlive their usefulness or novelty with folks who bought them on impulse and no longer want to take responsibility for them. Other reasons older dogs become homeless: death of a guardian….not enough time for the dog…… change in work schedule….. new baby…..need to move to a place where dogs are not allowed…. kids going off to college…. allergies…. change in “lifestyle”…. prospective spouse doesn’t like dogs. 

So what advantages are there to considering a senior dog for adoption?

  • Older dogs are housetrained.  You won’t have to go through the difficult stage(s) of teaching a puppy house manners and mopping up after accidents.
  • Older dogs are not teething puppies and won’t chew your shoes and furniture while growing up.
  • Older dogs can focus well because they’ve mellowed.  Therefore, they learn quickly.
  • Older dogs have learned what “NO” means.  If they hadn’t learned it, they wouldn’t have gotten to be older dogs.
  • Older dogs settle in easily because they’ve learned what it takes to get along with others and to be part of a pack.
  • Older dogs are good at giving love once they get into their new, loving home.  They’re grateful for the second chance they’ve been given.
  • What You See Is What You Get.  Unlike puppies, older dogs have grown into their shape and their personality.  Puppies can grow up to be quite different from what they seemed at first.
  • Older dogs are instant companions — ready for hiking, car trips, and other things you like to do.
  • Older dogs leave you time for yourself because they don’t make the kinds of demands for your time and attention that young dogs do.
  • Older dogs let you get a good night’s sleep because they’re accustomed to human schedules and don’t generally require night-time feedings, comforting, or bathroom breaks.

Finally, older dogs are a “known commodity.” They are easy to assess for temperament, and you also don’t have to guess how big they’ll grow or whether they’ll turn out to have serious behavior problems.

Interested in adopting a senior pet? Check out these:

  1. The Grey Muzzle Organization improves the lives of at-risk senior dogs by providing funding and resources to animal shelters, rescue organizations, sanctuaries, and other non-profit groups nationwide. 
  1. House with a Heart Pet Sanctuary is located in Gaithersburg, MD. “The Sanctuary’s Mission is to provide a ‘Helping Hand‘ for senior pets.  HWAH is a 501c(3) organization founded in 2006.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Attacked by off-leash dogs! Help!

On July 28 we received an alarming message from one of our clients at KSR Pet Care office.

 "Fin and I were attacked by two of the mastiffs on the street during our walk this afternoon. Fin is being cared for at the Hope Center in Vienna and will come home tonight. I don’t know if he’ll want to walk tomorrow but he’d love to see you. I just left the emergency room with a new tetanus shot and cleaned up cuts and puncture wounds. I’m just going to be bruised and sore.

We have known Finlay for several years and he is a sturdy medium-sized happy dog but the thought of him being attacked by two giant dogs gave us horrors. The following morning we received an update from the client: "Finlay stayed at the Hope Center for the night and I picked him up this morning. He has so many wounds and three drains. He is really out of it today and won’t walk. He’s laying on one of his beds right now and I’m laying next to him. I got him to drink out of the turkey baster like a rabbit. He also had peanut butter and took all his pills. My sister brought over some Pedialyte to give him too."

It took a week for Finlay to get to a certain normal again. His front leg had been mangled.  On Aug 3 he needed surgery to have a lot of dead tissue removed. The photos were heartbreaking and our dog walker who visited daily was in tears each time she left. Finlay continued to smile as always, but you could see the tiredness in his eyes. It took 2 months for Finlay to be mostly healed. 

If you're unfortunate enough to have this happen to your own dog, there are a few critical things you need to try and keep in mind:

  • Do NOT pick up your dog in an effort to protect him. The attacking dog may leap at you instead (in a bid to get at your dog) and you may be seriously injured just for being in the way. If you are hurt, you won't be able to help your dog.
  • Soothe and comfort your dog as best you can afterwards - but be careful. Dogs that are fearful or in pain may bite - even if they're normally very gentle.
  • Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses - or if your dog is severely injured and in need of immediate vet care, consider giving them your address or phone number, and ask that they drop off their names and numbers there.
  • Note any details you can about the dogs, where they live, and their owner. If you heard the owners call them by name, write down the name or leave yourself a voice mail from your cell phone so that you don't forget. Likewise, note the breed, size, color of the dogs and anything you can about the owner (including license plate number and make of vehicle, if available). Snap a photo with your cell phone if it is safe to do so.
  • Sometimes the pet owner may be concerned about your dog and will be helpful and cooperative; other times they may try to simply disappear with their dog or will be uncooperative. Do not put yourself in danger; your dog needs you.
  • Note the day, the time, and the location. Snap a photo of the location if you can; your cell phone should record a date/time stamp.
  • Get your dog to the vet, even if he doesn't show any external signs of injury. Better to be safe than sorry.
  • File a complaint with the local animal control officers as soon as you can. Even if the owners apologize, pay the vet bill, and seem like nice people ... file a complaint. If the dog has a history of aggressiveness, animal control can make a decision on what additional steps they may need to take. For example, they may require the owner to securely fence their yard or make sure their dog is muzzled when out in public. If yours is the first complaint then it's on file should anything ever happen again.
  • Be aware that some dogs may need 'rehabilitation' after an attack. They may be afraid of other dogs and might even show signs of fear-aggression. If you notice this happening with your dog, consult with a dog behaviorist. He or she can teach you ways to help your dog to become more comfortable around other dogs again. Dogs also pick up cues from their people's body language ... if you stay relaxed, your dog will be more relaxed, too.

Dogs that are known to be aggressive should never be given the chance to exercise their aggressive tendencies. As an owner you need to understand your own pet (with teeth and all) and manage the safety of your dog as well as the community. It is the owner's responsibility to keep these pets securely leashed and under control at all times. In Finlay's ordeal the 2 mastiffs who bit both Finlay also bit Finlay's owner. The dogs escaped their house because the garage gate had been left open by accident. They saw Finlay and both dogs fed of each other's excitement to attack, making the incident even fiercer. If it's your dog that's the aggressive one, work with a behaviorist to learn ways to safely manage your dog around others.

Hopefully you will never be in a position where you have to figure out what to do when your dog is attacked by another dog. Above all, stay calm. Keep yourself safe and get your dog the help he or she needs. Don't feel guilty about reporting the incident, no matter how apologetic the owners are or how nice they seem. You're doing your part in helping to keep everyone safe.

-- Karen S Rosenberg

Owner at KSR Pet Care LLC

Friday, September 11, 2020

Do pets like variety in what they eat?


Humans like variety in food but have you ever thought about whether your cat or dog would like variety too? The answer is yes, yes, yes they do! You do not want to feed too little or feed too much, I get it. Many pets miss out on a healthy snack with a new variety taste. These treats however are minimally processed and so yummy.

These treats are available for both cats and dogs. Easy online and free shipping available, but not available in stores. And you get to buy from a trusted friend and petpro.

Karen Rosenberg
Owner at KSR Pet Care LLC

Monday, August 10, 2020

Tragedy - When a Flower Kills your Pet.

As a pet care business owner, I have an article with a Top 10 Most Toxic on our company website but how many website visitors truly read the resource articles? There is too much text out there all over the www and our human brain is tired of reading it all. Hence the result of life-threatening situations happening to our beloved pets... Below follows a true story.

This is Willow, a female kitten, playful and full of life. 

One day Willow was playing with lilies in her mom's home office while she is online zooming with her colleagues at work. Willow batted at the lilies and got the pollen all over. How cute, how fun! Mom and her colleagues laughed and mom took a photo of Willow who is now black and white with yellow. Willow moved on to other mischief after her mom shooed her away and save the pretty flowers.

But wait a minute, aren't lilies poisonous? Willow's mom paused. Something told Willow's mom to do a quick online search. What follows is mom's story...

"While Willow was rolling next to me on the floor I googled and read, "All parts of the lily - including the stem, leaves, petals, stamens and pollen - are poisonous to cats. Even minor exposures (cat chewing on a leaf or getting pollen on his or her haircoat or whiskers) can be fatal."

I also read: "Cats typically do not survive, even with aggressive therapy (such as dialysis)."

I freaked out. Threw her in the shower (that wasn't fun) and immediately took her up to the closest vet emergency hospital. Due to Covid-19, they came and took her from my car and after her exam the ER doctor called me.  She said her prognosis was very poor because they found the pollen around her mouth and on her tongue. She even said, "in my experience I've never seen a cat survive lily poisoning. Most owners only realize there's an issue when the cat is sick and by that point it's just too late"

Insert hysterical crying here. She said that her only saving grace may be that we sought treatment quickly but realistically she might not make it through the night. They made her throw up, gave her activated charcoal and aggressively treated her with fluid therapy and other meds. I went home a mental wreck. This is my fault!

Two days later -good news! Finally, she pulled through! We will go for a recheck soon but her doctors are confident her organs didn't suffer any long term damage from the poisoning.

I can't tell you the intense guilt I felt and still feel for buying those stupid flowers. I felt like a murderer, terrible fur mom, terrible person. I've had cats my entire life and have never heard of lily poisoning. The vets response to that was "most people only find out the hard way". I would hate to see anyone go through this, so share our story! 

And so we are sharing. Willow's story ended well but 95% of lily poisoning patients do not survive. Imagine all these wonderful pet owners who are living with the guilt. As much as friends tell you "it is not your fault" or "it happens, do not blame yourself", it will always linger and hurt. 

If only I had known. 

With this post we want to set prevention through education in motion. Just like we go through a learning phase when preparing for a first human child, please educate yourself about all the do's and don'ts before getting a pet. 

* Want to learn what a dog can and cannot eat? Click here 

* Want to learn what a cat can and cannot eat? Click here 

* What are the 10 top toxins and poisons for pets? Click here 

* Are you aware of other dangers such as heat stroke and frostbite? Find more resource articles here

Easter lily
Easter lily
Asiatic lily
Asiatic lily 

Tiger lily

Monday, July 20, 2020

Abrupt changes have a bad effect on pets. Prepare now to avoid anxiety later.

1. What is separation anxiety.

Do you have a “velcro” dog? Your dog follows you around everywhere in the house, bathroom included… When family members leave, do you notice: whining, scratching at the door or other damage usually near doors or windows? Or perhaps pacing, panting, trying to escape, barking/howling? Suddenly having accidents in the house? If yes, something is amiss. Your pet is confused about the change of being left alone. These are the basic steps to help your pet:

Treating Separation Anxiety:

  • Do not make a big deal out of arrivals and departures. Ignore your pet until he/she is calm.
  • Look into using a dog appeasing pheromone or pet calming sprays. These products are also available for cats.
  • Make sure your dog is getting enough exercise. Schedule a mid-day walk to break the day. A tired dog is a good dog.
  • Use high value treats that encourage chewing or licking for at least 20 minutes. A kong with a lick of peanut butter and frozen works for many dogs. Make sure you have the correct size kong for your dog.

2. Going back to work. 

If you know you will be going back to work, help your dog transition so it is not a sudden event going from a full house to a quiet house where your dog is all alone for several hours. If there is no other way and there is a sudden change, then do this:

  • leave your dog in a secure spot where he / she cannot get into trouble and be destructive. 

  • If your dog is crated trained that may be a safe place. Leave kong and treats

  • Hire a dog walker once but preferably twice a day. 

The best thing is to help your dog over a duration of several weeks in preparation before then. Leave your dog alone for short and then longer times. Build in nap time or down time in a separate room.

3. Confidence Building.

Daily training sessions will help to build your dog’s confidence.  Have at least one or two five-minute training sessions every day where you work on basic commands (sit, down, come, stay) and/or tricks (spin, shake, speak, roll-over).  Remember – training should ALWAYS be positive, especially with anxious dogs.  Use food treats as rewards (not as bribes).  Performing behaviors on cue for food treats is a great way to build self-confidence in your dog.

Afterwards, build in some down time or nap time. Physical exercise can be as challenging as mental exercise. When your dog behaves well (meaning is calm and not pushy or whining for attention), make a point of going over and rewarding your dog for this wonderful calm behavior.

If your dog is not calm and is whining for attention, it means you need more practice in confidence building. Rome was also not built in one day: take a break and try again later or the following day. Never get frustrated or angry about it around your dog. It will not have the desired effect at all, so let it go and try again another time. Remember to resist giving your dog attention whenever he/she demands it.  Ignore you dog when he/she comes to you and nudges your hand to be petted.  Give attention on your terms, not your' dog's.

4. Comfort Place 

Your dog needs to have a place to go when you leave where he/she feels safe and secure.  This could be a crate, a dog bed, or den-like room with a gate or closed door.

Start teaching your dog a “go to your bed” or "Place" command and praise + reward you dog when he/she does. Give your dog lots of attention and love when he/she is lying in his/her bed or place. In fact, you should make this the only place where your dog gets this kind of attention (at least while going through this program). Your dog will soon find it very reassuring to be in that place.

To have such a safe place in the house is soothing on a dog's mind. Especially if your dog has free roam of the house. Please keep in mind though that a dog has a different take on freedom than humans. When you give your dog a large space or free roam of the house, you are actually giving your dog a large space to look after while you are gone. Perhaps too large? Some dogs can handle it. Others get very nervous and will run from window to window, door to door to make sure no intruders are approaching. Poor mailman! He gets barked at so many times. For a nervous and anxious dog, the mailman is an intruder. The dog panics, gets upset and keeps running and barking. For these dogs the job to guard the house while you are out or to protect you while you are home is not a small thing. It is a responsibility that makes their mind anxious.

In other words, what you see as more freedom for your dog actually has the opposite effect on your dog's mind. They find it terrifying to be a/ left alone and b/ a huge space to look after. To give a dog a smaller space to look after is more comforting. That's why leaving your dog inside a crate is fine as long as the dog knows it as his/her place.

5. Independence Training.

Confidence building also means to teach your dog to be more independent. Dogs with separation anxiety are often referred to as “velcro dogs” because they follow their owners everywhere.  The first step is to break this bond a bit.  This is hard for some people to do, but remember, you are trying to reduce the anxiety your dog feels when he/she is left alone and this is the first step. You cannot expect your dog to be able to feel okay about being left alone in the house if he/she can’t even be alone in another room when you are home. Discourage your dog from following you around the house by teaching her a solid down/stay and making her stay in one room while you are in another. That room can be the dog's safe or comfort place as we discussed in the previous chapter.

To teach a solid down/stay you must start slowly. Practice for 15 min daily. It's actually fun. I do recommend using your dog's kibble or tiny treats. You begin by putting your dog in a ‘down’ and then start slowly increasing the time. Tell your dog to stay there before you give a treat. In the beginning, that means just stepping back one or two steps.


Gradually increase the distance until you are out of sight. Just like with distance you increase the time in down gradually. Add time in seconds, not minutes. Let your dog be in a  down/ stay for 2 or 3 seconds and build up before you add distance. Once your dog can stay in a down for 30 seconds, start adding distance. Move one step away, then two etc. Each time they stay when you have stepped back, say "Good boy!" or "Good girl!" and step forward to offer a reward. Eventually you will be able to leave the room. The key is to return BEFORE your dog gets upset or walks towards you instead of staying put. That's why we first gradually work on seconds and then start adding distance. 

Important: If your dog gets upset and you return to him/her and say “it's okay”, then you are reinforcing anxious behavior. If your dog gets upset or gets up and walks away at 10 steps back, ignore and simply go back to nine steps away for a few more trials.

6. Alone Time

Put your dog in a room or crate (only if your dog loves the crate as a comfort place), shut the door, and leave the room for short bits of time. Slowly increase the time you are out of the room, starting with a few seconds and building up to 15-30 minutes.

Give a stuffed Kong toy, or other chewy that takes time to consume, before you leave.

If you give treats regularly when you are home, you want to scale back on this. Use treats and the kong for the exercises. Later, you will be giving this treat or the kong when you leave for real, but for now ONLY give it to your dog during the exercises or he/she will start to associate it with his/ her anxiety. Meaning if you only give the treat or the kong toy when you leave, then your dog will associate the kong with being alone = I am scared. Just like dogs will associate you picking up your keys at the door as "she is going to leave me, help, no, I am scared." If we can get your dog to start enjoying the stuffed toy, treat or kong when you leave, he/she will be less anxious while you are gone.

7. Low-Key Departures and Arrivals.

Usually when people have a dog with separation anxiety they often make a big deal before they leave the house. Maybe you recognize this: “don’t worry fluffy, mommy will be home soon”, kiss and hug, another series of petting... Then when you return you again make a big deal coming home with exclaiming a warm welcome with lots of hugs and kisses again. This does not help your dog with his/her anxiety, in fact it is feeding into it. When you do these things you are creating a huge disparity between the time you are home and the time you are away. Therefore I recommend that you do not have long good-byes or greetings.  Keep them calm, controlled and short. In fact, it would help your dog if you ignore him/her for 15 minutes before you leave and for 15 minutes after you get home. It sounds cold but while your dog is adjusting to the new ways, it is tough love which will make a difference longterm.

It is also advisable that you learn the signs of your dog’s anxiety (whining, trembling, not eating, panting, pacing, ears back etc.). They usually begin before you actually leave the house.  As cold as it seems, resist reassuring your dog before you leave.

8. Habituate to departure cues.

The following is another good exercise to help establish low-key departures or arrivals. List all the things you do preparing to leave the house that make your dog anxious. Examples include: picking up your purse, briefcase and/or keys, putting on your coat or taking lunch out of the fridge. Begin to perform these tasks in repetitions of 5, several times a day but without leaving the house. Work on one at a time and when your dog no longer reacts to the task, move on to the next one that triggers anxious behavior.

9. Counter-conditioning and Desensitizing to your absence.

After you can leave the room for 10-15 minutes and your dog does not become upset, begin leaving the house. Again, go slowly. Leave by a different door if possible during training and desensitization. Tell your “go to your bed” or "Place", give her the food stuffed toy/ kong/treat, and walk out. Close the door and walk to your car or down the walkway. Come back after 3 or 5 seconds (before your dog starts to get upset), take the toy away, and go about your business (don’t say a word). You can also turn on a radio or TV before you leave. This will become another sign that you will not be gone long.

Start to stay away for longer periods of time. Leave for one minute and come back, and then two minutes, etc., then longer and longer.  Use a variable schedule for how long you stay away – 1, 2, 5, 11, 7, 2, 12, 1, 14 minutes – so that your dog will never be able to predict when you will return.

Once you can go outside and stay there for 5-10 minutes you will have to start adding other cues, like the car.  Start by simply opening and closing the car door, before you return to the house. Do this several times. Next start the car, then pull out of driveway, then go around block, etc. Go slowly. Do each step until you know your dog is not getting upset.  Use a video or audio tape if you have one so you will be able to see your dog's reaction inside.  If he/she ever becomes upset at a certain time away, simply back up and stay away for a shorter time period.

When you have gotten to the point that you can be away for 30 minutes and your dog is no longer getting upset, you should be okay.  At this point you should leave your dog with the stuffed Kong and the radio or TV on for all real absences.


Depending on how severe your dog's anxiety is it could take a month or longer to curb the anxiety. Separation anxiety is a serious and unfortunately common behavior issue that cannot be fixed overnight. This is why we want you to take care and observe how your dog behaves when left alone. During COVI-19, your dog has become accustomed to you and your family members being home most of the time. If you are preparing to go back to work and school, the time is now to do some exercises and find out how your dog will react to that change. Even if it is a slight form of anxiety, do some of the exercises in the chapters above and nip it in the butt. If you ignore the issue it will only get worse.

As a professional dog walking company we know first hand how upset dogs can be when their family leaves them home alone for the first time during a trip or to return to school/work. A midday dog walk definitely helps but does not the only fix. Make sure your dogs are in a safe room where they cannot hurt themselves, chew up a whole couch, scratch doors or eat through walls. That sounds extreme? Think again...

If the exercises above sound too much for your family to handle or when your dog's anxiety is severe, please hire a certified dog trainer and consult with your veterinarian. 

Next time you see a funny meme or an online photo of dog destructive behavior, remember it may seem funny now, but a lot of anxiety and danger is involved in the making of that photo. The one below is staged so I am happy to share:


Karen S Rosenberg/ July 20, 2020

Owner at KSR Pet Care LLC

Disclaimer: I am not a vet, a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist. I based myself on online vet and certified trainer information out there to bring together the elements of training when a dog has separation anxiety. In my capacity as a professional dog walker I have witnessed anxiety in dogs first-hand and observed separation anxiety training sessions which led to successful results.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

KSR Pet Care

Our company KSR Pet Care opened its doors in 2008 offering dog walking, cat sitting, and other in-your-home pet care services. 
So much has happened... A new website at , 25+ quality employees, services in Mclean/ Tyson's, Falls Church and Vienna. 

Our former KSR Pet Care blog can still be viewed at:

Friday, June 12, 2020

When you should and should not rescue baby birds. . .

When you should and should not rescue baby birds. . . 

With everyone home these days working or distance learning, we see lots of people walking more, enjoying the warmer weather. 


If you see a baby bird while walking or in your yard, please remember this baby may be safe where it is and the parents are feeding it. Remember, a fledgling (baby bird, fully feathered on the ground) may not need help. Landing on the ground as they leave the nest and hanging out there for a couple of days until they really start flying is normal


It's a vulnerable time, but their parents feed them on the ground  so it is not good to "rescue" them in that situation. Experts call it "kidnapping"! Only rescue if clearly not well! The feathers might be wet though it’s not raining, indicating discharge or an illness that inhibits the production of preening oils. Or maybe it’s surrounded by flies, which might signal an open wound. When in doubt, call a rehabber, state wildlife agency or veterinarian. and describe the situation before doing anything.  


Of course, a non-feathered bird always needs help. Ideally, put it back in the nest if you can find it -- it's a myth that birds reject babies after humans touch them, they have NO sense of smell! -- otherwise get help.