Why I Love Being Your Sidehill Sitter

Being a pet sitter is the best job in the world! I have worked many other jobs in the pet care industry, but working for Sidehill as a pet sitter is my favorite job I have ever had. Here are three reasons I love being your pet sitter and love being a Sidehill sitter.

1. At Sidehill we strive to give the best care to your pet. 

We know that leaving your pets at home can be scary! As a pet parent I feel the same way, but I trust Sidehill 100% to keep my animals happy and safe.I know that all of our sitters do everything we can to keep your animals content. We love to give extra belly rubs, extra play time and sometimes extra treats. Additionally, all of our sitters go thought lots of training, including pet first aid and CPR, to keep your pet safe.

2. We get to form relationships with the pets we take care of.

 Many of our clients at Sidehill book regularly, so we get to develop relationships with pets. One of my favorite experiences as a pet sitter was developing a relationship with a shy dog. I have watched this dog and his brother and sister multiple times. Each time he barked at me and did not want anything to do with me. This went on for a few visits, then slowly he started warming up to me. Finally he wanted to hang out with me, I know soon I will be able to pet him. This experience was very fulfilling and why I know forming relationships with pets is so important.


3. We get to make clients feel safe.

Another cool part of my job is forming relationships with my clients. Our clients are really cool people and really care about their pets. Leaving your pet in the care of a stranger is so hard. For this reason, we do client meetings. During a client meeting your sitter gets to learn about your home and pets. The other benefit to client meetings is that you get to put a face to your pet sitter. Knowing who your pet sitter is really helps make our clients feel safer about leaving their pets at home. Additionally, we always offer to text or email our clients each day. This allows the client to check up on their pet and helps them feel safer.


Being a pet sitter is a really amazing job. I get to work with awesome pets and learn new things every day. We love getting to work with you and your pets and can’t wait to meet you (or see your pets again)!


Clicker Training Tips


There are many different positive reinforcement training methods available to both cat and dog owners. One of my favorite methods is clicker training, it is a good way to quickly train your pet with less treats than traditional training.

Clicker training is used by thousands of animal trainers to teach all types of animals. It can be used to teach dogs obedience, leash manners, agility and many other things. It can also be used to teach tricks and other positive behaviors to cats.

What is clicker training?

Clicker training is using a sound (generally a clicker) to positively reinforce your pet for a behavior he or she is doing. In clicker training, a click is used every time a good behavior happens and treats are given later (which means fewer treats).


Why should I clicker train my pet? 

Clicker training has a couple of cool benefits. Clicker training allows you to reward positive behavior more quickly than giving your pet a treat. Depending on your reaction time, you could be clicking 10-15 seconds after your pet does the positive behavior. Giving a treat to your pet generally takes a longer time, which may cause your pet to forget the positive behavior he or she did. This helps your pet learn what the behavior you want to see, and learn it more quickly.

Because you click for each behavior rather than give your pet a treat, you feed less treats per training session. This is really helpful if you are working with an overweight pet or do not want your pet to gain weight.


How do I get started clicker training? 

Clicker training is all about associating a sound with a reward, so start by picking a sound. Pick a sound that is easy to make and distinct (will not be heard outside of training). For example, it is not recommended you use a clap because your pet will hear clapping outside of the training session and may get confused. This is the reason many people use the clicker. It is a very distinct sound, and it may be quicker to make than any sound you can make on your own. Clickers are easy to find at pet stores and generally cost around $2.


Next get started with your first sessions of training. These sessions will be very treat heavy, so pick a treat that your dog likes. Because clicker training is all about associating a sound with a reward (like a treat) you will be clicking and giving your dog a treat per click. Start by getting your dog’s attention, and simply clicking the clicker. After each click, quickly give your dog a treat. Do this for a few 5-10 minute sessions. After a few sessions, start mixing in simple behaviors with clicking. For example, have your dog sit, then click and treat. Do this for a few sessions and slowly wean down to only treating for every 10 clicks. Be sure to give your pet some treats after each session to tell him that he did a good job.

Next move on to the first behavior you want to teach, do so slowly. Because your dog is new to training, still give treats pretty frequently during the sessions. If you are teaching a complicated behavior, like how to walk nicely on a leash, use multiple steps to teach this. For simple behaviors you can use one step. An example I am going to use is teaching a pet how to come. Have someone hold your pet at the other end of the room and use your come signal. Only when your pet comes to you, give a click and give a treat. Repeat this behavior, give a click and treat the second and third times. The next time your pet comes, give only a click. Repeat this for the remainder of your session, mixing in a few treats with clicks. At the end of the session give your pet treats to tell him he did a good job. At each training session, reduce the amount of treats given during the session to only treating at the end. Do this until your pet masters the behavior.


Clicker training is a great way to teach pets positive behaviors. Be sure to use treats your pet likes and keep training sessions short for success!


5 Tips on Feeding and Medicating Pets


All of our sitters at Sidehill have lots of experience working with animals in various settings. Over the years we have picked up some tips for a variety of pet care topics such as feeding, medicating, walking and playing. This article will focus on feeding and medicating pets.


Your Sidehill sitter will always follow the feeding directions you give us, but here are some tips we have picked up over the years.

Wash out food and water bowls at least once a week.

After about a week a slimly layer of germs will build up in your pets water bowl, not only is this gross but it could make your pet sick. If you feed wet food, food bowls can end up with a lot of dried food stuck in them. All this dried food gives bacteria a good place to hide. Washing out food bowls removes these bacteria.

If you feed wet food, add water.

This tip has two positives, the first in cleaning and the other in pet health care. Adding about a tablespoon of water to wet food makes it much easier to clean. The food does not dry our as much so you can simply rinse the bowl rather than having to scrub dried food off. The other positive is that it tricks your pet into drinking some extra water.

Add water to an older pet’s dry food.

Dental disease is very common in pets, particularly older pets. This can cause their teeth to be sore and make it hard to eat dry kibble. By adding about a tablespoon of water and letting it sit you will soften the food and make it easier to eat. Many people find that this makes a huge difference in that amount of dry food their dog will eat.


Your Sidehill Sitter is a pro at medicating dogs and cats, here are some tips on how we do it.

Hide the pill.

The easiest way to medicate a dog or cat is to hide the pill. There are a million different ways to hide the pill and what you choose depends of what food your dog or cat likes to eat. Choose a food that your pet loves and will gobble up without a second thought. Many people sneak pills into their dogs food and mix it up with wet food, this works really well for dogs who love their food. What I have found to be the most effective method for dogs is hiding the pill in a teaspoon of peanut butter. Most dogs LOVE peanut butter and its sticky texture will keep the pill from falling it. Be sure the peanut butter you use is dog safe (see our article on Xylitol in a previous blog). Cats can be a littler trickier to trick into eating a pill. Many pet owners have found success using pill pockets or placing the pill in a soft treat. Another good option is mixing the pill in a tiny bit of canned tuna.

Tickle your pet.

This one sounds really odd but it is a good option for pilling dogs and cats. This method involves putting the pill in your pet’s mouth then making your pet swallow it. For dogs and cats who do not run away when you try to pill them, walk over and open your pet’s mouth. Put the pill of the as far back on your pet’s tongue as possible. Close your pet’s mouth and hold it closed. Now for the tickling part; while holding your pet’s head tilted up, stroke his or her throat with your finger. This will cause your pet to swallow, and swallow the pill. Be sure to watch your pet for a minute after to make sure he or she did swallow the pill and did not spit it out. For pets who are prone to running away as soon as they see a pill bottle do the same steps, but start by straddling your pet between your legs.

Hopefully these tips will help make pet care easier for you and leave more time for having fun with your pet. Tips on other pet care topics will be in future blogs.

Do you have any helpful advice for feeding, medicating pets or other pet care tips? Write them on our Facebook page or email them to us! We would love to hear your tips.






Why Some People Don’t Own Pets


I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t imagine an existence without pets. I’ve shared my life with a pet for as long as I can remember, loving them, losing them, and welcoming new ones over the years. So for me, and probably many of you, it’s hard to understand why some people choose to not have pets. I mean, don’t they know what they’re missing?


The American Humane Association (AHA) and PetSmart Charities conducted a study to learn more about pet companions -specifically why some people don’t have pets -in an effort to develop more effective strategies for helping homeless pets get adopted and find their forever homes. The AHA believes the first step in minimizing the number of homeless dogs and cats is to understand why some people don’t have pets. Here’s what the study found:


Data was collected from 1,500 people without pets who either had a dog or cat once in their lives, or never at all. Some reasons for not having a pet were predictable, including: “Pets cost too much money,” or “I don’t have the time,” or “I’m allergic.” But researchers were shocked to learn nearly 20 percent of the study participants who did have a dog or cat at one time (and only one time) never welcomed another pet to their home because they were still suffering from the loss of their previous pet. This finding made it clear to the AHA that they need to better appreciate the human-animal bond and celebrate a person’s prior pet, which will hopefully allow then to take the next step of caring for another pet.


Cats vs. Dogs


Some of the non-pet participants admitted they simply don’t like companion animals, and over one-third expressed their dislike of cats. 45 percent who had a dog at one time said they would consider having another pet, while only 34 percent who had a cat said the same. Of the participants who never had a pet before, 25 percent would consider a canine companion, but only 10 percent would bring home a feline friend. These results helped identify a need for feline-friendly education and training for both pet parents and veterinary staff at the AHA to increase the level of care kitties receive.


Additional Findings


  • The longer a pet parent waits after the loss of a pet, the less likely he or she is to welcome a new dog or cat to the home.
  • 10 percent of previous dog parents and 12 percent of previous cat parents said they gave away or sold their pet for reasons such as housing restrictions, behavioral issues, allergies, lack of time, death in the family, or divorce.
  • Less than 23 percent of previous pet parents adopted their pet from a shelter or rescue agency.
  • Nearly 65 percent of study participants said they would adopt their next pet.
  • Of the participants over the age of 65, over 90 percent of them said they had no intention of having a canine or kitty companion.



What the AHA and PetSmart Charities Learned


  • A plan of action is needed to help address negative attitudes toward cats, and cat adoption strategies would have improved results if targeted toward younger prospective pet parents.
  • They need to better understand barriers to pet adoption, such as the grief over a lost pet, and work to reduce existing obstacles such as housing restrictions and financial constraints.


Hopefully, with this information in hand, both the AHA and PetSmart Charities will develop a strategy to attract new adoptees, reduce the shelter populations, and match potential pet parents with their forever friends. However, as all pet parents know, pets are a big responsibility.You should never push a pet on someone who is not ready. The best thing you can do for your non-pet owning friends is educate them on the upsides and downsides of being a pet parent and try and ease their concerns about pet ownership.


Does My Dog Lick Excessively?


Do you ever catch your pooch in the act of licking his feet, forearms, or other extremity so ferociously you think to yourself, “wow, that must really feel good”? While his licking may seem a non-issue, and one that provides him joy, that doesn’t mean it might not be his response to an underlying issue if they lick excessively.

Canine acral lick dermatitis (ALD) – also known as lick granulomas – is a lesion to the skin caused by chronic licking, resulting in skin inflammation. Over time, the skin thickens and the area can’t heal because they lick excessively. The licking and the inflammation cause itching, which causes your dog to lick even more, creating a vicious cycle of itching, licking, inflammation, and the inability to heal.

ALD can also result in secondary issues including bacterial infection, ruptured hair follicles and ruptured sweat glands. These issues just add fuel to the cycle, making the itching even worse which increases your dog’s need to lick.

The most common location for ALD is on the front side of a front leg between the elbow joint and paw, though they are often found on the ankle and between the toes. The condition is most often seen in middle-aged, large-breed dogs. Many veterinarians believe itchy skin triggers the excessive licking, although it is thought it can also be set off by a painful condition, such as trauma to the leg, a fracture, post-surgical discomfort, arthritis, or nerve damage. A fungal or bacterial infection, as well as skin mites, can also trigger itching in your pooch.

Not only is ALD rooted in health conditions, incessant licking is also a common obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs – yes, dogs can have OCD, too! Rover’s licking may trigger the release of endorphins (a chemical in the brain that leads to feelings of happiness) and once he learns licking brings about a pleasant feeling, he’ll likely continue to do it. As well, psychological factors such as boredom, stress and separation anxiety can result in excessive licking. To best determine how to treat the issue, it is important to determine the cause.

If you suspect your pooch has an ALD lesion, there will typically be a raised area of ulceration, hair loss, and thickened skin around the lesion. Your veterinarian should first rule out any potential allergies first, as a dog with recurrent skin or ear infections, hot spots, or itching in other areas may have an allergic condition that needs treatment. Several tests are needed to diagnose ALD, including skin scrapings and fungal cultures, and to look for infection.

If it is determined that your pooch is indeed suffering from ALD, once treated effectively, you’ll likely need to address any psychological or emotional factors that may have contributed to your pet’s obsessive licking. Try to refocus his energy with frequent walks, playtime, and other methods of physical activity. Make sure you and everyone in your family pays extra attention to Rover, stimulating his brain and keeping him happy and secure.

The best way to prevent ALD is to talk to your vet as soon as you notice you dog start to lick excessively. Make a habit of running your hands over Rover regularly to check for damp fur or sensitivity. If you notice him licking a particular spot but there’s no injury to the skin, wrap the area with an Ace bandage to discourage further licking. Anything you can do to prevent Rover from self-injury will be extremely beneficial.

While we associate licking with a dog’s natural instinct, sometimes it can serve as a sign of an underlying issue and, when done excessively, should never be ignored.

6 Common Myths About Your Dog


If you’re a pet parent to a canine, you’ve likely heard the old wives tales that have trickled down through the ages regarding our pooch’s health. Is your dog sick? “Check to see if his nose is dry!” Is Rover licking a wound? “Licking speeds up the healing process!” While there may be some truth behind statements like these, most are completely unfounded.

1. Dogs only eat grass when they’re sick.

While there is some truth to this claim, many scientists insist it’s normal for a dog to eat some grass from time to time as it’s in their genetics. There’s no need to worry if your dog enjoys a grass snack on occasion, however, if gulped down in large amounts it may indicate Rover has an upset stomach. If you find him chowing down on mouthfuls of grass and vomiting them up, it may be best to visit your vet.

2. Dogs eat non-food items because of a nutritional deficiency.

No one can say exactly why some dogs eat rocks, feces, lick carpet, and ingest things that are not meant to be ingested. Most vets believe dogs eat these things out of sheer boredom or as a method to gain attention. To prevent Rover from noshing on the non-edible, provide adequate exercise for him, along with ample outlets for his excess energy.

3. Garlic kills fleas.

Many pet parents claim garlic works to keep fleas at bay, but there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. While it is very possible that the smell acts as a deterrent, garlic does not kill them.

4. If Rover’s nose is warm, he is sick.

Not true! Your dog’s nose temperature cannot indicate illness or health. It also can’t verify whether or not Rover has a fever. The only way to accurately determine your dog’s temperature is by measuring it with a thermometer, with normal readings ranging between 101.5 to 102.5°F.


5. If your dog licks his wounds, it will help them heal faster.

Dogs naturally lick their wounds in an effort to clean them, but it actually slows down the healing process and can lead to serious infections. To prevent your pooch from licking his wound excessively, block access to the area with an Elizabethan collar (you know, the lampshade looking contraptions that go around Rover’s neck) or by applying a bandage. To aid in the healing process, clean the wound thoroughly and apply a dog-safe antiseptic.

6. Your pooch will let you know when he’s sick or in pain.

Definitely not true! In general, dogs are adept at hiding the signs that indicate they are sick or feeling pain. Behaviorists speculate this is instinctual, a behavior inherited from their ancestors who, in their drive to survive, hid any weakness. More often than not, by the time you notice your dog is sick, his condition has already progressed. Keep an eye on Rover’s typical behavior and make note of any differences you notice in the time he spends sleeping, if he’s slower in his movements (especially when getting up and lying down), if his appetite shrinks, if he seems more distant, or, on the contrary, becomes more clingy. It’s also a good idea to take a quick look at Rover’s poop every time he goes to identify any differences in its appearance.


It’s our mission as pet parents to provide the best possible care for our canine companions, and it can sometimes get confusing with the countless theories out there on dogs and their care. If you’re uncertain or just looking for advice, consult with Rover’s veterinarian.

Can a Pet Help with My Kid’s Autism?


One of my favorite parts of being a pet parent is the comfort I receive from my animals. Many people feel similarly, in fact animal assisted therapy has become significantly more common in the past five years.This positive effect is seen and well studied in children with autism.With the rate of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) among children increasing worldwide, it’s comforting to know your family’s fuzzy friend can be of service to your diagnosed child.

A recent Purdue University study monitored the impact of Guinea pigs in classrooms. The new study took it a step further and studied the impact of interacting animals with ASD children; they wanted to prove playing with Guinea pigs would reduce the children’s social stress. Study groups included a mix of “typical” kids and ASD kids and monitored their reactions to multiple conditions, both with and without the Guinea pigs. The researchers believed the ASD kids would show high levels of anxiety when the Guinea pigs were not included in their activity, and they were right on! Activities that incorporated the pigs resulted in lower levels of stress and produced a remarkable calming effect.

Previous studies showed children with ASD demonstrated improved social skills after only a few months of interacting with Guinea pigs. And a separate study found the children talk, laugh and smile more and cry, whine and frown less in the presence of the playful pigs.

Any animal can have positive emotional affects on you and your child, but furry animals tend to work best.

If you are the parent of an ASD child as well as a furry one, be sure to give the furry one an extra treat and a nice cuddle as a “thank you” for his fortuitous friendship.

5 Tips to Stop Cat Scratching


Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, such as scent marking, excitement, boredom or simply stretching. However, this natural behavior can turn destructive if another outlet for scratching behavior is not provided. The following are 5 tips for help stop cat scratching at your house.

1. Buy a scratching post

There are many types of scratching posts on the market. Some are upright and others are on the ground. There are also a variety of materials, such cardboard and twine. Try different options to see what your cat likes to try and stop cat scratching on your furniture.

2. Make your scratching post interesting

Cats have scent glands in their claws, which is why scratching is used to mark territory. Often times cats will be attracted to scratch something that smells like their pheromones. Catnip mimics the pheromone cats release, so it attracts your cat to the scratching post. Rubbing some into the part your cat scratches can help get your cat started. There are also some artificial pheromone sprays that work very well, such as Feliway. With the spays follow the same procedure as the cat nip.

3. Provide entertainment

Scratching can be related to boredom or anxiety, so providing other outlets can minimize scratching. Provide a cat window (see our article on cat enrichment), or give interactive toys.

4. Discourage scratching

Scratching can be discouraged on certain things (like your $1000 dollar couch), but it still needs to be redirected. There are some common and simple methods for discouraging scratching. One of the more popular methods is putting tin foil on the surface being scratched. If your cat likes to scratch the couch arms, tape tin foil on the couch arm to stop cat scratching. The cats generally don’t like the feel and sound scratching the foil makes, so they will find something better to scratch. Double sided tape can also be used to discourage scratching.These methods are good at discouraging scratching but be sure to provide a scratching post to redirect your cat to.

5. Give your cat a paw-decure

Cats often turn to scratching to shorten their nails, like using a nail file. Often this can be solved by simply trimming your cat’s nails. Chat with your vet about the proper length for your cat’s nails and how to trim them. If you do not want to do frequent nail trims check out soft claws. These are plastic tips you place on your cat’s nails.With the tips on your cat cannot destructively scratch. These tips are glued on, and last about 3-6 weeks. Many people have their vet put the soft claws on, but they are fairly easy to apply at home.


If scratching has become a problem you can’t solve, talk to your vet. There may be a medical condition underlying this behavior. Declawing is never a good option to deal with scratching. Declawing is an invasive and painful procedure for your cat, and causes medical issues later in life.

While scratching can become a problem behavior, with these tips you should be able to solve most destructive scratching behaviors.

How to Find the Best Price for Pet Medications


Owning a pet is a rewarding but costly commitment. Veterinary care can be expensive and the medications used for treatments can really add up. In most cases buying the medication directly from your vet (if they carry it) is the most expensive option. However there are some good options to cut pet medication costs while getting the same quality medication.These options include human pharmacies, online pharmacies and compounding pharmacies.  Check out these tips on how to find the best price for pet medications.

Human Pharmacies 

Many pet medications are human medications in different doses. I have had good luck with the King Soopers pharmacy, Walmart pharmacy and Costco pharmacy for pet medications. As a bonus Costco pharmacies usually carry pet specific medications like Frontline and Heartguard. When trying to find a medication at a human pharmacy make sure that they can give you a dose small enough for your pet. Check out GoodRx(, this is a site that compares prices of a certian medication at pharmaices in your area.


  • Prescriptions can be filled the same day (usually)
  • They are generally cheaper than the vet’s office
  • Some have membership deals


  • The dose you need may not be available
  • Only human medications are carried


Online Pet Pharmacies 

There are over 20 online pet pharmacies that you can order from today, but not all are safe. Many of these fake or non-accredited pharmacies will provide expired medication, incorrect doses or the incorrect medication. These can all have negative consequences on your pet’s health. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has a list of certified and trusted online pharmacies to use ( Most of the time your vet will have you fill out a liability form before they will send prescriptions to an online pharmacy. This works if you have a pet with a chronic condition (like hypothyroidism) and are good at planning ahead.


  • Usually the cheapest option
  • Medication is made specifically for pets


  • Medication needs to be shipped after it is ordered ( there is a delay)
  • Requires planning ahead
  • Temperature sensitive medications could go bad in the mail



Compounding is done at special pharmacies called compounding pharmacies. They create medications at specific doses and in specific mediums. Many pet parents need drugs compounded when the dose they need is smaller than what is commonly offered.


  • Specific dose to what your pet needs
  • More limited ingredients


  • More expensive
  • Compounding pharmacies can be hard to find

Finding inexpensive, effective and safe pet medications can be a challenge, but with the help of these tips it should be a breeze. Once you have gotten the medication you get to move on to the fun part, administering the medication to your pet. Don’t worry though, your Sidehill Sitter is a pro at giving medication to pets!


10 Plants to Avoid With Your Pets


Many people have homes filled with plants toxic to dogs and cats.  Because these plants commonly sold at the garden center, they are assumed to be safe. Many people never have an issue with a toxic plant and their pets. These issues tend to occur if the animal is bored or stressed and finds the plants to chew on. Here is a list of ten plants to avoid with your pets, or put out of reach of your pet.

  1. Aloe: aloe and its sap are both toxic to dogs and cats
  2. Lilies: they are very toxic even in small doses and can cause kidney problems
  3. Marijuana: this is pretty intuitive but Colorado has seen a rise in marijuana related pet poisoning in the recent years
  4. Amaryllis: ingestion can cause vomiting,GI distress and tremors
  5. Sago Plant: all parts of the prickly tree are poisonous but the seeds are the most toxic
  6. Tulip: the bulb is the most toxic portion of the plant, this poison can cause cardiac issues
  7. English Ivy: all parts of this plant are poisonous, and can cause GI issues
  8. Pathos: this common houseplant causes swelling on the mouth and tongue
  9. Chrysanthemum: these pretty flowers can skin issues if your pet comes in contact with it and its sap, and can cause vomiting if eaten
  10. Fruit trees: some part of the fruit tree can harm your pet (this includes citrus, apple seeds, and grapes)


What to do if you suspect poisoning?

Most toxic plants cause gastrointestinal issues when ingested. Be on the look out for any vomiting, diarrhea or not wanting to eat in your pet. Also check to see if your pet has chewed the plant or there is other evidence your pet got into the plant.

The ASPCA has a free pet poison control line.This line is open 24/7 and can advise on any type of poison. They will generally direct you to the vet once you figure out if what your pet ate is poisonous. Get to the vet as quickly as possible.

Poison control line (888) 426-4435 

What can I do to prevent pet poisoning? 

The best thing you can do is be aware. Be on the look out for signs your pet is interested in the plant, like sniffing and licking it. Also be aware of your pet’s mood. Many poisoning issues occur when your pet is bored or stressed.

If you have a particularly adventurous pet who likes to eat new things, try to avoid these plants in general.Choose plants that are pet safe, like most mint plants.


Pet poisoning turns fatally when treatment is not received quickly. Unfortunately it takes many owners too long to notice the symptoms and suspect poisoning, so it is too late by the time they seek treatment for their pet. Always be aware of the poison risks in your house and look for signs of plant ingestion if your animal is acting odd.