Summer vacation season is in full swing. Many people hire a pet sitter to take care of their dog in their own home while they are away.

When choosing a pet sitter, most people know that they should interview them, check their references, make sure that the sitter loves pets, and make sure that the sitter is licensed, bonded and insured.

Fetch! Pet Care shares eight additional tips for preparing your pet and home when using a professional pet sitter:

1. Summer is a busy season for pet sitters. Make your reservations as early as possible to guarantee a spot for your pet’s care.

2. Make sure to introduce your pet to the sitter before your vacation. Use this time to give your sitter a feeding schedule, medication schedule if needed, and let them play with your pet so they can start bonding.

3. Place everything your sitter will need in one specific place. This includes medications, food (including measuring cup), treats, leash and collar/harness, pet waste bags, and cleaning supplies in case of accidents.

4. Summers can be hot. Remember that your pet will be in a locked, sealed home. Make sure the thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature for your pet.

5. Pets can be more inquisitive, and get bored, when left home alone for long periods. Pet proof your home by closing doors to rooms where they could find trouble, close cupboards and closets, and place tempting things to chew out of reach (like medications, perfumes, shoes, pens and pencils, and phone charger cords).

6. Use timers to control indoor lights so your pet’s day/night schedule is similar to when you are at home. Also make sure that outside gates are closed and locked.

7. If you live in an apartment, or gated community, let security know that the pet sitter has permission to enter your unit. Also, let your neighbors know that someone will be coming and going from your home while you are away. If friends or family will be visiting your home during your absence, leave a list with your sitter so they know to expect them.

8. Leave your pet sitter emergency information. Leave them your vet’s address and phone number and notify your veterinarian in writing that they have permission to provide medical care during your absence, if necessary. Also leave the names and phone numbers of any friends or family to contact in the case of an emergency.

Preparation is the key to making sure your pet sitter has all of the information they need to properly care for your pet while you are away and make sure that your pet stays safe and comfortable.

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Looking for something to do with your pooch this sunny weekend? How about a dog friendly cruise to a beautiful island or a walk to benefit animal rescue?

Saturday, July 26

2014 Dog-a-thon; Fort Steilacoom Park, Lakewood, WA. 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Cost: $30 and up to benefit the Humane Society of Tacoma and Pierce County. Join more than 1,000 other animal advocates and their four-legged friends for Washington’s biggest dog walk — the 24th annual Dog-A-Thon! Come stroll the one-mile path with your dog or hike a course along four miles of trails. The event also includes a costume contest, demonstrations and pet-related booths. For more information, see the Humane Society website.

Sunday, July 27

CityDog Summer Muttmixer: Dog Day on Elliott Bay; Seattle, Wash. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Cost: $89 per person (dogs are free) . It’s time for CityDog’s annual Dog Day on Elliott Bay! You and your furry friend are invited to join us for a scenic cruise along Seattle’s waterfront to Blake Island, a 475-acre state park located with miles of uninhabited beaches and trails for pooches and people to explore. You will be treated to a salmon bake at Tillicum Village and your dog will be treated to a box lunch of turkey loaf, veggies and treats provided by The Dining Dog Cafe & Bakery. For more details, click here.

For more events in Seattle, Portland and San Francisco, check out our CityDog Social Calendar.

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Portland area residents have banded together to create one of the safest communities for shelter pets in the US. Portland animal shelters saved 91% of homeless cats and dogs in 2013. That’s nearly double the national average according to the Humane Society of the United States.

One key to this unprecedented success was the formation of the Animal Shelter Alliance of Portland (ASAP) in 2006. Since the alliance formed, participating shelters have decreased euthanasia by 76%.

ASAP says this couldn’t have happened without their unwavering league of volunteers, veterinarians and partners. PetSmart Charities, the largest funder of animal welfare efforts in North America, funds a large part of ASAP’s highly successful low-cost spay/neuter program “Spay & Save.” Volunteers and residents from the community work on solutions with the shelters such as helping to keep pets in the family by connecting them with behavior training specialists, helping families spay and neuter their pets. They also show strong support for their shelters through adoption, fostering, volunteering or donations.

“It takes a village,” notes Stacy Graham, executive director of The Humane Society for SW Washington. “The people of the Portland/Vancouver area have truly stepped up to help animal shelters save as many homeless cats and dogs as possible. In order for us to continue to lead the nation, we need to stay dedicated to sustaining this huge community accomplishment.”

This certainly is quite an accomplishment. If they keep the momentum going, other cities around the country may start looking at them as a model of success. Seattle, are you one of them?

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Recent data from Best Friends Animal Society alarmingly reveals that 43 percent of Americans still don’t know most pet store dogs come from puppy mills (and a quarter of Americans haven’t even heard of a puppy mill).

This could be why 17% of people looking for a new pet still choose to purchase at a local pet store rather than saving a life and adopting from a shelter or rescue organization. Puppy mills take a toll on both the pets in the mills, and on innocent shelter animals.

Check out this PSA about puppy mills and adoptable dogs from Best Friends Animal Society (don’t worry, it’s not a tear jerker like most videos on this topic):

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Protect your pets and family from summer bugs with this simple blanket. The blankets can be used for camping, picnics at the park, a day at the beach, or in your back yard.

The Insect Shield Blanket has odorless insect repellent built right into the fabric. They come in two sizes: a large blanket that measures 56 X 74 inches and a mini version that measures 28 X 36 inches. These lightweight blankets don’t require any special care and are machine washable.

Insect Shield Technology is also available in clothing and a bandanna that you or your dog can wear.

Protecting your family and pets from bugs is important because they can transmit diseases. Ticks can spread Lyme disease and mosquitoes can spread West Nile virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the incidence of these diseases is on the rise.

You can purchase the Insect Shield Blanket, and other Insect Shield products, here.

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Looking for something fun to do with your pooch this weekend? Check out these events.

Saturday, July 19

Pet First Aid Class; Seattle, Wash. July 19 & 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (10 hours total). Cost: $150 per person. This training, provided by Metro Dog staff, is the one of the most complete pet first aid training classes you will find anywhere in North America. Their classes are geared for pet care professionals, trainers, rescue workers, first responders, and vigilant pet parents. The class offers continuing education credits for IAABC, CPDT-KA and CBCC-KA members. To register contact Metro Dog at PetFirstAid@MetroDogSeattle.com or call us at 206.284.3647 (DOGS).

Sunday, July 20

CityDog Cover Model Search; Kirkland, Wash. 12 p.m. (please arrive at least 30 minutes prior to register your pooch) at Marina Park, 25 Lakeshore Plaza . Cost: $10 per dog. Kirkland Uncorked is a regional showcase of art, food and wine on the picturesque shores of Lake Washington at Marina Park. Your dog can unleash their inner supermodel by taking a turn on the catwalk in a contest to grace the cover of CityDog Magazine. For more information about the CityDog Cover Dog Model Search, click here.

Walk for Old Dogs; Bellevue, Wash. 12 p.m. at the Bellevue Downtown Park, 10201 Northeast 4th Street. Cost: $25 to benefit Old Dog Haven. The walk (this is not a race) is a fun half-mile promenade to celebrate with our senior dogs! It’s a beautiful walk along a water feature with lawns and shady trees. Walk as much (or as little) as you and your dog can do! An old dog pageant will follow the walk with contests for best costume, best trick contest, and and dog-owner look alike. For more information, click here.

For more events in Washington, Oregon, and California, check out our CityDog Social Calendar.

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Oh boy, has it been hot in Seattle this week! If you, like many of your fellow dog lovers, plan to visit the nearest beach, lake or river to cool off with your canine, here are some safety tips to keep in mind.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

Also, keep in mind that while most dogs can swim, not all are good at it. If your dog is not a strong swimmer, you may want to consider getting them a life jacket. Some of our favorite brands include the K-9 Float Coat by Ruffwear, the PFD (Pet Flotation Device) by Body Glove, and the Doggy Floatation Device by EzyDog.

Also, dogs can ingest a lot of water while swimming. Did you know that ingesting too much water can be dangerous? Excessive water intake can result in diluted electrolytes that can cause muscle and nerve control issues.

Enjoying the water with your four-legged friend is a highlight of summer, so keep in mind these common sense safety tips and remember, no dogs in hot cars! Woof!

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Looking for something to do this weekend with your furry best friend? Check out these events.

Saturday, July 12

Low-cost Dog and Cat Vaccination Clinic to Benefit Animal Rescue; Seattle, Wash. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Rex Seattle 1402 12th Avenue. Cost: $25 for one vaccination and $40 for two. A minimum of $15 per customer benefits Motley Zoo Animal Rescue from Redmond, Wash. Update your pet’s vaccinations while doing good for others. VetPronto is offering Bordetella and DHPP vaccinations for dogs, and FVCRP for cats, plus rabies vaccines. You will also be able to purchase raffle tickets to win a goody basket for your dog or cat. For more information, click here.

Poochapalooza; Marysville, Wash. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Strawberry Fields Athletic Park, 6100 152nd St. Cost: Free. There will be Wiener Dog Races (winners get to participate in the Seahawks halftime show in September), a  pie eating contest for dogs, various demonstrations, vendors and “wag bags” for the first 500 guests.

Kitsap Humane’s Annual PetsWALK; Poulsbo, Wash. 9 a.m. at 6th Avenue and NE Harrison. Cost: $30 minimum donation. Get some fresh air and have fun while helping the animals of the Kitsap Humane Society. There are 5K and 1K routes available.

Sunday, July 13

Rock Star Talent Agency Meet and Greet; Redmond, Wash. 6:30 p.m. at Motley Zoo’s Studio, 16715 Cleveland Street. Cost: Free. Have you ever thought your dog would be great in print ads, commercials–maybe even movies or TV? Motley Zoo Animal Rescue is starting a Rock Star Talent Agency–a service designed to match your pets up with gigs that help save more animals’ lives. For more information email info@motleyzoo.org

For more events in Washington, Oregon, and California, check out our CityDog Social Calendar.

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The technology available today to help owners take care of their pets is sometimes mind-blowing. Imagine uploading a snapshot of your lost pet and instantly finding them.

The technology is still being improved, but today, this is a reality.

San Diego County Animal Services became the first shelter in the nation to use a facial recognition app to reunite lost dogs with their owners. They joined forces with Finding Rover, a free facial recognition app, to match the faces of lost dogs with those that have been found or admitted to one of the three county shelters. Finding Rover allows pet owners to look for their animals via smartphone or computer, where the facial recognition technology shows possible matches within seconds.

The PiP (positive identification of pet) app for iPhone and Android uses facial recognition technology to reunite lost pets with their owners. The app allows you to register your pet for a monthly fee and upload a photo. If your pet is ever lost, you can activate an Amber Alert System which broadcasts an immediate notification of your lost pet to veterinarians, animal control and rescue agencies, PiP subscribers, and social media users within your local area. Also, your pet’s photo is analyzed and matched with photos of pets identified as lost.

Losing a pet is often one of the worst fears of a pet owner. It will be an exciting day when posting lost posters around your neighborhood will be obsolete and your pet can be found within minutes.

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Summer is here and barbecue season is in full swing. That means you’ll have a lot of friends over to hang out on your deck or patio.

Why not show off your pooch pride with some super cute deck pillows featuring your beloved pup? Better yet, you can make these custom pillows yourself.

Don’t worry, these pillows are really easy to make and inexpensive. For instructions on how to make your own pillow, click here.

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