Pet Obesity Rates Rise During the Pandemic

by trueproductions on February 26, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on the pet industry.  With most people working from home, the number of dogs and cats purchased and adopted saw a huge surge in the last ten months.  While that was a ray of sunshine in the otherwise dismal news, pet owners have showered their pets with extra love and treats which has increased pet obesity rates.

It is certainly understandable.  It’s hard to get work done when a hungry cat or interfering dog gets in your way on Zoom meetings!

A new study reveals that pets have gained weight during Covid-19

Since many pet parents are feeding their pets extra treats, veterinarians say this can be a cause for concern as pet obesity rates rise. A recent study from Hill’s Pet Nutrition  says that one-third of pet owners report that their animals have gained weight during the pandemic.

Obesity isn’t merely about their pets’ weight but having an overweight pet can lead to other health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and pancreatitis.

Too many treats during these trying times are the main culprit for pet obesity

The study also revealed that while anxious parents are eating more, they are feeding their fur kids extra treats as well.  It can be hard to deprive our pets that have provided us with so much comfort during this time.

And with the holidays just behind us, six in ten veterinarians anticipate the dogs and cats they see in February are more likely to be overweight or obese.

It can be difficult to manage a pet’s weight

According to the study, most pet parents (52%) think it is easy to help their dogs or cats lose weight, but veterinarians disagree, with 91% saying it’s harder than owners think. 

However, those with overweight pets (31% with overweight dogs and 24% with overweight cats) feel it’s harder to help their pet lose weight compared to before Covid-19, and 49% of veterinarians agree it’s harder for pet parents to keep their pets at a healthy weight during the pandemic than before. 

Pet obesity has been a problem for years

While overweight pets have been a persistent problem for years, the pandemic certainly hasn’t made things any easier.

Lindsey E. Bullen, DVM, Diplomate ACVN, a veterinary nutritionist with BluePearl, says overfeeding and lack of exercise is to blame.

“People are spending more time at home with their pets, which makes overfeeding and overtreating a greater possibility,” she says. 

“On the other hand, owners who are more likely to get up and move may be taking on more of an active role regarding their pet’s activity levels. This means more walks and playtime.”

Further, Dr. Bullen adds, those having a tough time finding suitable work-life balance may be spending less time with their pets and compensating for this by giving them more treats.

“Unfortunately, these modern-day realities can and likely will negatively impact pet weight.”

Pet parents have a hard time with getting their pets to lose weight

As easy as it is for pets to put on weight, it’s harder for them to take it off.  Even with pet parents being strict and monitoring their pets’ food, it can be hard for pets to lose weight. 

Some tips that pet owners can try to help control their pets’ weight:

  • Be mindful when giving pets human food.  Even when given in small quantities, it can add up to a pet’s daily caloric intake and could cause digestive issues.
  • When your dog or cat begs for food, try playing with your dog or cat to see if they just want your attention. 
  • For dogs, make sure that they get their walks in daily or even better, add an extra walk.  For cats, play time is essential.  Use toys and pointed laser toys to get your cats to run around rather than sleeping all day long.
  • Weigh your pets once a week if you are trying to get them to lose weight.  Sometimes measuring your dog or cat’s food isn’t enough and is not the true indicator.
  • Choose healthy treats.  Treats should be less than 10 percent of a pet’s total daily caloric intake.
  • Include the whole family. Make sure everyone in your home is aware of the dog or cat’s eating schedule and portion amount.

Source: https://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/obesity-epidemic-swells-with-pandemic/

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trueproductionsPet Obesity Rates Rise During the Pandemic

The Importance of a Dog and Cat’s Dental Health and Hygiene

by Lisa Fimberg on February 11, 2021

February is officially designated as dental health month in the pet ecosystem.  The idea is to create awareness of the importance of dental health for both dogs and cats.  Proper dental health is not only about maintaining a pet’s teeth, but can also help to prevent other health issues.

Most veterinarians will have a look at a pet’s teeth during an annual visit, but pet parents can take a proactive approach to improve and monitor their pets’ dental health.  In addition, your store can capitalize on this month by not only educating pet parents on its importance, but having dental health and hygiene items highlighted and throughout the month.

There are many ways pet parents can check their dog and cats’ overall dental health:

Pet parents can take a quick smell of their dog or cat’s breath for anything unusual

While most pet owners might not find it fun or appealing, a dog or cat’s breath is indicative of a pet’s health.  Their breath should not be offensive or have any type of abnormally strong odor.   It likely won’t smell like roses, but should not smell like “decay.”

If a dog or cat’s beath does smell bad, it could be indicative of a gum condition called gingivitis.  Or even a digestive issue or problem.   If this is the case, pet parents should take their dog or cat to the vet for a thorough exam.

A dog or cat’s gums should be examined for issues

With their dog or cat facing them, pet parents should push back the dog or cat’s lips and take a quick look.  A pets’ gums should be pink and firm, not red or white and should not show any signs of swelling.  They should look very close to our human gums.  Their dog or cat’s teeth should be clean and none of their teeth should be loose.

Pet owners should look out for tooth decay (discoloring) in their dog or cat’s mouth

There are different forms of bacteria and plaque-forming food that can build up on a dog or cat’s teeth.  This can become tartar which can potentially cause gingivitis or tooth loss.  If a dog or cat’s teeth are discolored, pet parents are encouraged to start brushing their pets’ teeth with to help get rid of the decay.

Does anything look unusual in their dog and cat’s mouths?

If pet parents see anything unusual in their dog and cat’s mouths such as the following, they should take their pets to the vet: dark red lines along the pet’s gums, pus or extreme amount of saliva, loose teeth, or any discoloration.  The same should occur if their pets are pawing at their mouths, have difficulty chewing or are drooling excessively.

Supplies that stores can have on display this month

As pet parents are much more aware of the importance of dental health, your store can also have a special dental display section with the following items this month:

Have toothbrushes and pet toothpaste on display

While not all pets love it, it is recommended that pet owners brush their cat or dog’s teeth.  By providing them with a small pet toothbrush and pet toothpaste, they can brush their dogs’ teeth quickly and efficiently.  Most cats aren’t a big fan of brushing, but some pet retailers have kitty dental floss that can help.

Chew toys are great to keep a dog and cat’s teeth strong

As many pet parents know, chew toys are a great way to keep their dog and cats occupied.  Chew toys can also help strengthen a pet’s teeth, massage their gums and scrape away the soft tartar.  A win-win for both you and the pet parents.

Dog, cat food and dental chews can help prevent tartar build up

If your store doesn’t carry any, you might consider having pet food that helps prevent tartar build up.  There are many different types on the market now due to the awareness of dental health for pets.  When pet parents implement this kind of food or even a daily pet wipe to remove the dog or cat’s tartar, it can help prevent dental issues for their pets.

While February is dental health month, it is always helpful to have some dental products, chew toys and toothbrushes on hand all year round.

If you need help with answering your customers’ questions about the importance of pet dental health or any other pet related matter, our solutions.pet agents can help.  Make sure to contact our success team (successteam@solutions.pet) to learn more about this service.

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Lisa FimbergThe Importance of a Dog and Cat’s Dental Health and Hygiene

How Pet Parents Can Care for Their Pets After Spaying or Neutering

by Lisa Fimberg on January 26, 2021

When a pet owner purchases a new puppy or kitten, there are many things to consider.   From naming the puppy or kitten to purchasing the right food, there are a lot of decisions for pet parents to make.   One easy decision is whether they should spay or neuter their pets.

The answer is yes!  Spaying or neutering their puppy or kitten is beneficial for their pets’ overall health as well as to control the overpopulation of unwanted pets.  While their veterinarian is always the best resource whether they should spay or neuter their pets, the consensus is to have either procedure done.

Most puppies should be neutered around six months of age with kittens spayed or neutered between 8 to 10 weeks old.  While some pet parents will need to keep their puppies or kittens overnight where the procedure has taken place, most pet owners can bring their pets home the same day.

What pet parents can expect after spaying or neutering

While both surgeries are very safe and done routinely, there is still some special care that should take place.   Their veterinarian will put a protective e-collar on their pet to prevent the puppy or kitten from licking the incision.  They should try to keep the collar on as long as possible (particularly with puppies).

Both kittens and puppies will have stiches that will either be removed or just dissolve on their own.

Below are some tips for pet parents to consider after spaying or neutering:

Activity is generally restricted for seven to ten days

Most pet parents should restrict activity for a week to ten days depending on how the puppy or kitten is healing.  Pet parents should avoid strenuous playing with their pets for the first few days after the surgery, so the puppy or kitten doesn’t tear out the stitches.

Puppies can be taken on short walks after a few days, but nothing vigorous.

Pet parents should find a quiet place for both puppies and kittens to recover

Pet parents should prepare a special place for their pets to recover.   Due to the anesthesia used during surgery, both kittens and puppies will be groggy and might have difficulty walking.

They should choose a warm, quiet place in their home with a bed or blanket and water bowl.  Most puppies and kittens will want to sleep for several hours after returning home from the surgery.

The incision needs to be monitored

Pet parents should keep an eye on the incision of their kittens or puppies to make sure it doesn’t become infected.  If there is redness or bleeding, they should call their veterinarian.

If their puppy or kittens is licking or chewing the incision, then the protective collar will need to be kept on longer.   If the incision is clean and the puppy or kitten isn’t licking it, the collar can be removed based on their veterinarian’s recommendation.

Vitamin E oil can be placed on the incision to help healing.

Pet parents should take note of any symptoms such as discharge or discoloration that might indicate an infection.  They should call their veterinarian if they find anything unusual or it looks as if the incision isn’t healing properly.

Puppies or kittens should be fed when they are ready

Pet owners should wait to feed their puppies or kittens until they are hungry.  Most pets get their normal appetite back after a day.   If not, pet owners should try to entice their pets with their favorite wet food in small amounts until they are ready to eat normally.

Most puppies and kittens recover very quickly after being spayed or neutered.  Some vets will want to see their puppy or kitten after a week to see how the incision is healing or to remove the stitches if necessary.

If your customers have any questions about spaying and neutering, or any other puppy or kitten related question, our Solutions.pet agent are here to help.  Our trained agents can answer all your customers questions so your store employees can focus on your store.

Contact our Success Team (successteam@thirdpartypet.com) to learn more about all our services.

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Lisa FimbergHow Pet Parents Can Care for Their Pets After Spaying or Neutering

Tips to Train Pet Store Employees to Improve Their Customer Service Skills

by Lisa Fimberg on January 25, 2021

One of the most important aspects in any business is training and guiding your employees to succeed.  By taking the time to ensure that your employees are given the proper support and training, it can be beneficial to them and your store.

Whether you are selling cars, pet supplies or even services, the best way to gain the sale is for your employees to have the necessary sales skillset.   However, before you start to train them on selling, your employees should first know how to greet, communicate, and help your customers.

There are many ways your store managers can help your employees hone their customer service and selling techniques by a method of training called skill practice (some might think of it as role playing).

There are essentially six steps that employers or managers can use to train their employees to master a specific task or behavior with skill practice exercises:

Tell Me

The manager/trainer should articulate the goal and value of their skill practice session.  For example, what exact behavior do they want to practice?  What is the result they should get from this?  Why is this important for your employee to master?

It could be as simple as how you want your pet store counselors to greet in-coming customers.  What is the preferred timing to greet them and dialog to try?

Show Me

The next step would be to show the trainee how to perform the behavior.  In this case, when a new customer walks in the store, you can show them your preferred greeting.

For example, you like them to wait fifteen seconds and then walk up to the customer and greet them by saying “Welcome to ABC Store.  Are you here to meet one of our puppies?”

By showing them the preferred greeting, it can be very effective and make the next step that much easier.

Let Me Try

You should let your employee try the behavior or in this case, greeting.  You can expect that it won’t be perfect on the first try (or maybe it will!) and try to practice in a safe place where the employee feels comfortable.

Let him or her try a couple times until they feel they got it right.

Give Feedback

Provide specific feedback by first asking the employee how they think they executed the skill practice.

“How did that feel? How comfortable was that for you?   I really liked how you said your greeting, but how do you think the customer would feel if you said it this way?  What impact do you think that would make on the customer?

If you had a chance to do it again, what would you do differently?”

Then, if necessary, make a few positive recommendations as well as any improvements you deem necessary or even just a minor tweak or adjustment.

Let Me Try Again

Now let your trainee try the greeting again with the new suggestions and/or recommendations.  Let them try it a few times until they feel they nailed it and are happy with their performance.

Give Me Feedback

Make sure to provide feedback on the second attempt as well.  Always try to find something positive to say even if the second attempt is not that much of an improvement on the first.

“I really appreciate your efforts and I can see you are getting much more comfortable in greeting the customer.   Next time, why don’t you try it this way?”

And, so on goes the practice.   You keep trying until both you and your employee/trainee feels as if they mastered the attempted skill or behavior.

By really taking the time with your employees and showing them that you want them to succeed, it can give them the confidence to own their roles.  It would make for not only a better and more effective employee but a happier one that will stay and grow within your organization.

If you need more help with getting your employees to focus on the floor and not having to answer customer service calls, let us help you.  Our suite of services are designed to help you succeed! Contact out Success Team: successteam@thirdpartypet.com to learn more about our services.

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Lisa FimbergTips to Train Pet Store Employees to Improve Their Customer Service Skills

Third Party Pet Updates – 2021

by Newsbites Staff on January 20, 2021

While 2020 was a challenging year for everyone, TPP managed to have an amazingly productive year.  After moving our entire office and call center to a work from home environment, we continued to work diligently to provide our clients with the best service possible.

In fact, because the pandemic resulted in a surge of pet ownership, we were able to help our clients keep up with the increased demand.

In 2021, we have many exciting plans in place for our clients and our employees:

Joining Forces with Pet Key:

In late 2020, Third Party Pet joined forces with PetKey, a leading pet kennel management integrations solution. This new partnership will help our clients to reach unparalleled levels of success.

Third Party Pet and PetKey will continue to provide our current and prospective clients with the same great services and support.  Bringing PetKey into the TPP Suite of Service offerings will help us to provide even more effective and streamlined options to better serve our clients today and in the future.

New Website

We are putting the finishing touches on our new and improved website.  A much needed upgrade is on the way to being completed!

Our services, employment page and everything we offer is now front and center on the TPP site.

We also created a TPP Updates & News section where we will publish informative articles about the state of the pet retail industry as well as other noteworthy news.   New format is coming soon!

Monthly newsletter

We switched form a quarterly newsletter to a monthly one.

With the additional content on our site, we decided to create a monthly newsletter for both our employees and clients to enjoy.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee – Call to Action.

TPP has always valued ourselves as being on the forefront of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for our employees as well as the community.

However, like any other organization, we want to continue to educate our employees on the importance of DE & I and to further improve our vision and knowledge.  TPP has organized a committee to foster thought and action to keep DE & I top of mind as we grow and develop our organization.

Our TPP team is ready to help

In the last year, TPP increased our marketing resources to assist with any marketing requests for our stores and to bring new content, ideas, and vision for TPP.

Our Success Team added two new key members to ensure we provide our clients with the ultimate attention to personalized service.  With the additional talent, we can offer even better service for new as well as our current clients.

Our call center has added additional reps to guarantee that we have the capacity to answer all our calls quickly and efficiently.   We continue to guide, educate, and improve our call center staff to ensure they are knowledgeable, thoughtful, and thorough.

We look forward to 2021 as we continue to streamline our services to provide our clients with even more support and updated technology.

More updates to come as they happen!

TPP looks forward to 2021 and the exciting changes ahead.   As always, if you need help or support with any of our services, feel free to contact the Success Team: successteam@thirdpartypet.com.

 

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Newsbites StaffThird Party Pet Updates – 2021

Alert: FDA Recalls Dog Food With Fatal Aflatoxin Levels After 70+ Dogs Die

by American Kennel Club on January 18, 2021

Certain lots of Sportmix pet food products are now on recall after the FDA was alerted about very high levels of aflatoxinsin the food and multiple dog deaths.

On January 11, 2021, Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. expanded this recall further. The recall now includes all pet foods containing corn and manufactured in the company’s Oklahoma plant that have an expiration date on or before July 9, 2022. At this time, the FDA was aware of more than 70 dogs that have died and more than 80 who were sick after eating Sportmix pet food. The FDA was able to take immediate action thanks to research by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and University of Mizzou.

Dog owners who have been feeding their dog one of the affected Sportmix pet foods should top feeding the food immediately and contact their veterinarian. Here’s how to know if your dog’s food was impacted and what steps to take.

What Are Aflatoxins?

Aflatoxins are toxins produced by the mold Aspergillus flavus. At high levels, Anfaltoxins can cause death and serious illness in pets. Aflatoxin can be produced by mold in grains, especially drought-stressed corn. Even if there is no visible mold, these toxins can be present in dog food.

What Are the Symptoms of Aflatoxin Poisoning?

Unlike humans, pets generally eat the same diet continuously. Because of this, if the food contains aflatoxins, the toxins can accumulate in your pet’s system. Here’s what to look for:

  • Vomiting
  • Sluggishness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice (yellow tint to eyes, gums, or skin)
  • Diarrhea

In some cases, pets with aflatoxin will suffer long-term liver issues or death. If your dog has been eating the recalled product, contact your veterinarian immediately, and monitor your dog for symptoms. Even pets without symptoms may have suffered liver damage.

Are Humans at Risk of Aflatoxin Poisoning?

There is no evidence that people who have handled Sportmix dog food are at risk of aflatoxin poisoning. As a general rule, always wash your hands after handling pet food.

What Sportmix Pet Food is Recalled?

The list of recalled dry pet food products announced by Midwestern Pet Foods, Inc. on December 30, 2020:

  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 50 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/02/22/05/L2
    • Exp 03/02/22/05/L3
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L2
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 44 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/02/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Premium High Energy, 50 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Premium High Energy, 44 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 31 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L3
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 15 lb. bag
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L2
    • Exp 03/03/22/05/L3

Lots of the following pet food products have been recalled if the date/lot code includes an expiration date on or before “07/09/22” and includes “05” in the date/lot code, which identifies products made in the Oklahoma plant:

  • Pro Pac Adult Mini Chunk, 40 lb. bag
  • Pro Pac Performance Puppy, 40 lb. bag
  • Splash Fat Cat 32%, 50 lb. bag
  • Nunn Better Maintenance, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 15 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Original Cat, 31 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Maintenance, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Maintenance, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Protein, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Energy Plus, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Stamina, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Stamina, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Bite Size, 40 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Bite Size, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Energy, 44 lb. bag
  • Sportmix High Energy, 50 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Premium Puppy, 16.5 lb. bag
  • Sportmix Premium Puppy, 33 lb. bag

Lot code information may be found on the back of bag and will appear in a three-line code, with the top line in format “EXP 03/03/22/05/L#/B###/HH:MM”

What To Do if Your Dog’s Food Is Recalled?

If your dog’s food has been recalled, stop feeding the food immediately. The food should be returned to the store where it was purchased, and you may be able to obtain a refund. Or, you may properly dispose of the food in a manner that prevents other animals from gaining access to it.

If your dog has already been eating the recalled food, consult with your veterinarian to determine what actions, if any, you should take. Even if your dog is not showing any signs of illness, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian as quickly as possible. Depending upon the reason the food was recalled, your veterinarian will be able to determine what, if any, action should be taken.

If you believe your dog has become ill or has died because of eating a recalled food product, you should file a complaint with the FDA. You can file a report online or contact the FDA consumer complaint coordinator in your state.

If you can no longer feed your dog his usual diet due to a recall, try to find a similar food to replace it or ask your veterinarian for suggestions. Keep in mind that sudden changes in diet can lead to dietary distress for dogs.

Tips to Keep Your Dog’s Food Safe

  • Clean your dog’s food and water bowls daily with dish soap and hot water
  • Use stainless steel bowls
  • Keep opened canned food covered and refrigerated
  • Keep dry food in an enclosed container to prevent exposure to rodents and pests
  • Wash your hands with soap and water before, and especially after, handling pet food
  • Feed your pet a healthy diet, as recommended by your veterinarian

Source:  https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/news/fda-recalls-dog-food-fatal-aflatoxin-levels-70-dogs-die/

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American Kennel ClubAlert: FDA Recalls Dog Food With Fatal Aflatoxin Levels After 70+ Dogs Die

How Dogs and Cats’ Physical Touch Have Helped Pet Parents Get Through Covid-19

by Lisa Fimberg on January 13, 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a boom of pets being bought, adopted, and brought into many homes during 2020.  It really isn’t surprising because of the joy, comfort and love that puppies and kittens bring to the lives of many pet parents.

There have been numerous studies about how pets provide the emotional support needed when pet owners are feeling down, stressed or as in Covid isolated.  With the lockdowns, stay-at-home orders, and social distancing guidelines in place, many have lost the most basic human interaction and that is touch.

While having virtual Zoom meetings and drive by visits have given many a social outlet, many people have missed out on the basic human interactions – a pat on the back, hug or even high-five. Without any real physical contact outside our immediately family, many people experience a sense of loss.

A new study shows how both cats and dogs have provided the much needed physical and emotional support – a cuddle or snuggle.  Even just their mere presence can help both emotionally and physically while pet owners work at home.

The benefits of a pet’s touch

The use of animal–therapy to help with mental and emotional health issues isn’t anything new, but is often overlooked.  There have been many studies that show how dogs and cats can help pet owners cope with anxiety, emotional disorders and even PTSD.

Furry family members can prevent many pet owners from becoming depressed or lonely as they keep us busy, engaged and loved. The act of petting a dog or cat releases an endorphin to alleviate the stress.  The importance of touch can sometimes be forgotten or disregarded.

A new study illustrates how pets have helped us during Covid

A recent study published by researchers at the University of South Australia points to the role that pets have played in 2020. The research team interviewed 32 people and found that simply touching their dogs and cats can assist in promoting health and well-being when human contact has been limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Over 90% of the respondents said that just touching their pets both comforted and relaxed them, and the pets seemed to need it as well. They also provided examples of dogs and cats touching their owners when they were distressed, sad or traumatized. Many people referenced their pets’ natural ability to be able to sense when their pet parents were not feeling well and wanted their pets to get physically close to them.  It was interesting to note that it wasn’t only dogs and cats that provided emotional support but sheep birds, horses and even reptiles that can reciprocate touch.

According to an interview with Dr. Janet Young, lead researcher, physical touch is a sense that has been taken for granted until Covid-19. “In a year when human contact has been so limited and people have been deprived of touch, the health impacts on our quality of life have been enormous,” Dr Young said. “To fill the void of loneliness and provide a buffer against stress, there has been a global upsurge in people adopting dogs and cats from animal shelters during lock downs. Breeders have also been inundated with demands for puppies quadrupling some waiting lists.”

It is estimated that more than half the world shares their lives with one or more pets. The health benefits of pet ownership have been widely reported, but few studies have been done regarding the specific benefits that pets bring to humans in terms of touch.

Dr. Young explained. “Touch is an understudied sense, but existing evidence indicates it is crucial for growth, development and health, as well as reducing the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body. It is also thought that touch may be particularly important for older people as other senses decline.”

She further believes that having pets in aging residential care could have helped tremendously during Covid. With family or even friends being restricted from visiting, many had felt emotionally deprived.

Once this pandemic is over, it might be beneficial for some offices to allow dogs.  Based on all the research we have, most of the employees would feel less lonely, or even stressed out.   Social interactions would increase which could help with team building and productivity.

Source:

University of South Australia. “Pets, touch and COVID-19: Why our furry friends are lifesavers.” ScienceDaily, 1 December 2020.  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/12/201201091831.htm

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Lisa FimbergHow Dogs and Cats’ Physical Touch Have Helped Pet Parents Get Through Covid-19

How Much Staffing Does Your Pet Store Really Need?

by Lisa Fimberg on January 11, 2021

Whether you have a small or large pet store, one of the most important factors to the success of your store, is your staff.  Without the proper employees to run the store, it is unable to run smoothly and can be detrimental to your bottom line.   So, the question begs “How much staffing does your pet store really need?”

Staffing Your Store

Due to Covid-19, pet store staffing may look very different than in prior years.   With social distancing guidelines in place and fewer people in the store, many pet stores overall staffing has been reduced.

The most important thing to consider is that you have enough staff to ensure that you are getting the supplies you need, have an appealing floor display as well as knowledgeable employees to help your in-store customers.

Of course, the size of your store and how much traffic you get can also be an indicator of how much staff you need.

Pet Store Managers

Most stores have an on-site manager who is responsible for managing all the daily duties to ensure that your store runs smoothly.

Most managers help with hiring new staff and provide the training to the sales staff.   A manager will also merchandise the products as well as oversee and maintain the inventory.

Pet store managers must also ensure that all the puppies and animals in their stores (including fish, reptiles, birds, and small mammals) are in accordance with local regulations and animal care guidelines.

Most of these duties are operational oversight.   The bigger corporate chains, or larger independent pet stores will need more managers to oversee the individual managers that might run grooming or even veterinary service.

The smaller stores will usually have the store manager cover all the department duties and even perform some of the more hands on duties such as customer service or running the cash register.

Pet Floor Staff

Your store needs to have enough staff to cover your in-store customer needs as well as to help the manager with any of their daily tasks.   Because of Covid-19 and very few drop-by visits, you should have a better gauge of how much foot traffic you will have and accordingly how many sales associates necessary.

For the most part, usually one manager as well as one to two sales associates that rotate shifts and fill in the week should be sufficient for a smaller pet store.  The larger stores might even have supply staff, additional managers and even kennel staff.

The Right Staff

The biggest complaint among most pet store owners is the ability to find quality employees.  While finding the right employee who will stay with your store can provide a challenge, it is up to you or your management to provide the employee with the right training to lead them to success.

Quality employees that are keepers can answer all headaches.  You need to reward them and let them own their position.  Give them incentive to stay and grow with your store with bonuses and encouragement.

If you find a willing and able new employee with little experience, the most important thing to remember is that the training part is easy.   A good attitude and willingness to learn and stay with your store can go a long way for employee retention and the success of your store.

How Third Party Pet Can Help 

With fewer staff on the floor as well as less customers in the store, let us help you with your staffing headaches.  You might even find that due to the Covid-19 unemployment stipend, it is even harder to find employees.

Our services from lead management to registrations can help your store tremendously.  We can answer the phones, set up leads and help with registering your customers pets.   This way your staff can focus only on the in-store customers without manning the phones.

Be sure to contact our Success Team (successteam@thirdpartypet.com) to see how we can help your store and make your staffing headaches disappear!

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Lisa FimbergHow Much Staffing Does Your Pet Store Really Need?

The Importance of Socializing Puppies for New Pet Owners

by Lisa Fimberg on January 6, 2021

When your customers bring a new puppy home, their new furry family member is exposed to many new sights and sounds.  Each new person they meet, object they touch and place they encounter is exciting and new to them.

Socialization is the learning process through which puppies become accustomed to being near various people, animals, and environments.  By socializing a puppy early in his or her life, the puppy will be better adjusted, less aggressive and ultimately happier in life.

Proper socialization can help eliminate behavioral problems in the future and create a better bond between the puppy and their family.  It can also help puppies become more tolerant of changes in their environment and help prevent common behavioral problems in the future.

When should new puppy owners start to socialize their puppies?

New puppy owners should socialize their puppies in their first four months of their lives.  Introductions to different sights, sounds and textures should start as soon as the pet parents take their puppy home.

The process starts at the puppy owner’s home and eventually leads to outside outings.

Your customer’s veterinarian is always the best resource to ask when new pet parents can take their puppies out to public places.  Most recommend waiting until the puppy is at least 7 to 8 weeks old and has completed their series of vaccinations.

Some tips to help new puppy owners socialize their puppies at home:

New puppy owners should touch and handle their puppies to make their pup more comfortable

New puppy owners should familiarize their puppies with their touch. Whenever possible, they should touch or pet their puppy’s paws, ears, mouth, and body. Once their puppy is comfortable with being handled, it is easier for pet parents to trim their nails, brush their teeth, clean their ears, and give them medication when necessary.

Introduce their puppies to various sights, sounds and people

Puppy parents should introduce their puppies to different floors, textures, areas of their home, and expose their puppy to as many different types of scenarios to make the pup feel comfortable.

After the puppy feels comfortable with all the existing stimuli, puppy owners can then introduce their puppy to people of different ages and sexes. If their puppy allows it, they should let other people touch their paws, ears, mouth, and bodies.  This can help their puppy become more comfortable with being handled by other people as well as their veterinarian and even groomers.

Take this whole process slowly

It is important for pet parents to avoid going too fast with each of these steps. For instance, if they want their puppy to get accustomed to being handled by multiple people. they can start with a family member and then add someone new to the process. Once the puppy is comfortable, they can move to other people and places.

If pet parents move too quickly and the puppy becomes overwhelmed, this can lead to a fearful response to new people and places in the future.

Pet owners should make this a positive experience

Each time they introduce their puppy to something new, they need to make it positive.  Treats, praise, petting can all work wonders to help the puppy associate each new experience positively.  Owners need to try to be positive and not nervous or fearful because the puppy will pick up on this and could act out.  Some puppies adjust immediately while others take a little more time.

Pet parents can then set up play dates in a safe, controlled environment

Once the puppy seems comfortable, pet parents can invite safe, friendly dogs to their homes.  Or they can take their puppy to a friends’ house and see how he or she does.

Meetings with other puppies shouldn’t start until most of their vaccinations are started (which is usually seven to eight weeks).   Puppies can be taken to the dog park after their full series of vaccinations have been completed and again this should be a slow, controlled process.

Puppy training classes are great for socialization

Even in the time of Covid-19, there are still puppy training classes (socially distanced) led by training specialists that give the puppy the opportunity to socialize with other puppies and with children and adults.  Puppy kindergarten is a safe place for pet parents to take their puppies because vaccinations are usually required for all participants.

Puppy kindergarten classes are offered by some veterinary clinics, dog training facilities, and pet supply stores.

A socialized puppy is a happier one which can make it easier on the puppy as well as the pet parents.

If your customers have questions about socializing puppies or any other behavioral questions, our Solutions.pet agents can help.  Make sure to contact our Success Team (successteam@thirdpartypet.com) to learn more about this service.

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Lisa FimbergThe Importance of Socializing Puppies for New Pet Owners

How Pet Retailers Can Capitalize on Social Media This Year

by Lisa Fimberg on January 4, 2021

Whether you are a big box retailer or a local community pet store, it is important to have at least some social media presence.  After all, that is where your customers tend to visit daily.  If your store uses Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any of the emerging platforms, it can be beneficial to take some time to plan out the best strategy for your store.

And what better time of year to map out how you can budget your social media campaigns or to start creating some new posts, blogs, or pictures to share.  You can either pay for directed ads or just post daily pictures, articles, or content to help engage your customers.

While maintaining a social media presence can take some time each day, it can be beneficial for your store in the long run.   It can help keep your current customers connected as well as bring new customers to your site or store.

Focus on your most relevant and engaged platforms:

If you do not have the time to spend on all the platforms, pick one or two that are the most relevant or where your customers are most engaged.  It is better to spend time building a real and consistent presence on either Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and not a scattered one on all three.   Choose the platforms where you find you have the most captive audience.

Some ideas of what your store can post to increase awareness on your social media platforms:

It is important that you don’t just sell or promote your store or products on your social media profiles.  The goal is to engage your customers and promote your brand which will ultimately bring them back to your store or site.  Photos, videos, and relevant content is a great way to engage your audience.

Some ideas to try:

Offer tips on puppy, kitten, or any pet care related advice

Your customers would love puppy, kitten, or basic pet care tips.  For example, how to help your puppy sleep through the night. You can mention that having the right crate or the right blanket can do wonders for a puppy’s sleeping habits (you might even get an additional sale from this as an added benefit!).

Get your followers to talk about their pets

Everyone loves to talk about their furry family members.  You can get conversations started with topics that ask your followers about their pets.   For example, “What are four things that you love the most about your puppy or kitten?” “What toy does your pet love the most”?  “How did you come up with your pets name?”

You will be surprised by how many people love to talk and share pictures of their pets to a captive audience.

Create contests

Contests are a great way to create engagement and can be very effective on any of the platforms.  It can be a fun puppy photo contest, a caption-the-photo contest or even a video contest to engage your customers.  Contests are shareable and can generate some buzz around your store.

For example, you can run a photo contest on your Facebook page of the cutest puppy and owner duo and use a customer voting system to choose the winner of a new bed, blanket, or jacket.  Who doesn’t love to share their picture of themselves and their puppy?

Even better, if you get permission from the winner or even the contestants, you could use the photos later for promotional purposes.

Post images of your customers with puppies and/or products

If you can post photos of your customers with your products and/or new puppies, that can be a big win.   You can ask your followers to share photos on your page of their puppies or kittens as well as different products they buy from you.  This can be a great way to create engagement and you can link the product photos to your site to gain traffic and traction.

Offer exclusive deals that are only on social media

By offering different deals on either Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter that are exclusive to your fans and followers, it can be a great way to get people to like and follow your store.   It also shows your customer and fan base that you appreciate their loyalty.

Include hashtags in your daily posts

Hashtags are not only just for Twitter, but for Facebook and Instagram as well.  By using hashtags, it can help ensure that your daily posts are seen by a greater audience than just your followers or fans.  The more specific the hashtag, the better to make your product, brand, or store to stand out.

Share or retweet other articles that are relevant

When you come across an interesting or relevant article about puppies, kittens, or anything topical about pets, it can be beneficial to share them on your Facebook page, or retweet them on Twitter.  Sharing content can be a great way to engage with your customer base and the content source will appreciate your recognizing and sharing their posts.  They might even share something of yours as a thank you.

Be consistent about posting

It is very important to be consistent about posting on your most relevant platforms.  Whether it is every day or four to five times a week, having posts and content that is fresh can make your store stay top of mind to your followers.   If you keep the posts relevant and engaging, your customers will return to the platform and even share some of your content which can help attract new customers.

Having a social media presence can take some time and effort, but the result can be worth it.

If you need help with any pictures, graphics, or product photos to share on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, our marketing team can help.  Contact our Success Team to learn more about how our marketing service works: successteam@thirdpartypet.com.

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Lisa FimbergHow Pet Retailers Can Capitalize on Social Media This Year