Facts on and Protecting Your pets from Coyotes

Although not native to Florida, the coyote has been tracked in all Florida counties. Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services would like to offer you some

Keeping your pets safe from coyotes

worthwhile information to consider if you encounter a coyote on or around your property or near public parkland.  

Coyote Facts

1,  Coyotes are found throughout the State of Florida, including Pinellas County. They have been in the state since the 1970’s.

2. Coyotes are in the same family (Canidea) as dogs, wolves and foxes. They are medium in size, approximately 2 ft. in height and 20 to 35 lbs. Their coat varies from gray to rusty brown and the tail is bushy.

3. Coyotes are very adaptable, living in virtually all terrestrial and marsh habitats. They have also adapted and thrive in urban and suburban areas

4. Coyotes are omnivores. They eat just about anything. Like turkey vultures, they are often seen scavenging on road kill and other animal carcasses. Their diverse diet is the reason they can adapt so easily to a variety of habitats and including urban and suburban areas.

5. Coyotes usually hunt alone, sometimes as a pair, but rarely, as a pack.

6. Coyotes are most active at dawn and or dusk but have been seen anytime of the day. Home ranges typically average 10 square miles.

7. Coyotes are generally shy and elusive. Like all wildlife, feeding of coyotes will result in eliminating their natural fear of humans.

Coyote Frequently Asked Questions

How can I protect my cat or dog from coyotes?

  • Keep pets indoors or in an outdoor cage from dusk until dawn. A fence may help deter coyotes, but is not foolproof.
  • Feed your pets indoors. If you must feed your pet outside, do so during the day. Never leave pet food out at night.
  • Make sure all trash is in a secure container.
  • Install motion sensitive lights in your backyard and around your house.
  • Clear brush and vegetation to remove habitat for small animals that may attract coyotes and to remove areas that coyotes can hide while stalking their prey.
  • Always keep pets on a leash when walking in parks, forested areas or residential areas.
  • NEVER feed coyotes.

What should I do if I see a coyote?

You want to make sure the coyote knows they are not welcome. You can do this by making loud noises, throw rocks, or spray them with a garden hose. It is important that coyotes retain their natural wariness of humans.

If the coyote is not fearful of humans, Animal Services should be contacted at 727-582-2600.

Do coyotes attack people?

Normally coyotes are timid and shy away from people. Although rare, coyotes have been known to attack humans. Most attacks resulted in minor bites and scratches to adults attempting to intervene in an attack upon a pet. Never leave unattended children in areas known or suspected to be frequented by coyotes.

What diseases or parasites do coyotes carry?

Distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus and mange. Coyotes can be infected with Rabies. Numerous parasites can live on a coyote including mites, ticks, fleas, worms, flukes and heartworm.

Where do coyotes take their kill to eat it?

Coyotes kill an animal because it is a food source and are very skilled hunters. They may attack fleeing animals from the rear, biting their legs or tail to slow them down. They most often kill by biting the throat, causing death by suffocation.

Coyotes usually take their prey with them to a safe place to eat. They may carry their prey up  to 1 mile before consuming it. They do not leave much behind and tend to eat whatever can fit  in their mouth. In some cases, they have even eaten the leather collar of a pet. For this reason,  not much evidence or waste is left behind.

Follow Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services on Facebook at

Private Cage Free Dog Boarding Versus Kennels

Private cage free dog boarding versus kennels….which is right for your dog?

When you’re traveling and are unable to bring your dog with you wouldn’t you like to know that your dog is in a healthy, comfortable and friendly environment? Paying a professional to watch your dog should put your mind at ease, knowing that she is being well taken care of. What are the benefits of private cage free dog boarding versus kennels for your dog?

Kennels come with a harsh reputation. Steel and concrete surround the facility, a look that makes the animal shelter in come to mind with the concrete floors and

Dog Boarding

Private In Our Home Cage Free Dog Boarding

walls, small kennels and workers that put the dogs into dirty caged areas. Although kennels are not always as bad as a movie can make them out to be, they aren’t always an ideal place to put your dog while you’re enjoying a vacation. Kennels tend to be very loud and busy with multiple dogs, leaving very little time for the staff to play with the dogs and give them the attention that you’re paying for. They also tend to be environments susceptible to contagious diseases and improper diets.

Now, private in our home cage free dog boarding offers a whole new world to dogs and their owners. This option provides a disease free, clean, and supervised cage less solution. It’s more of a home-away-from-home where your dog will receive plenty of love and care, while remaining happy during your time away. Your dog will be able to keep their normal diet and exercise routine, surrounded by friendly and happy faces.

In a cage free setting, your dog is able to roam around freely in a supervised environment. At Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services I will ask you to bring your pet’s food, treats, toys and anything else that would make your dog feel as comfortable as possible. Your dog will be able to run around and play whereas in a kennel your dog would not get much, if any, time to play and get the exercise they want and need.

When it comes to private cage free dog boarding versus kennels, the option is clear if you want your dog to be as happy as you are while you are on vacation. Your dog will be happy and safe in a cage-free environment that is comfortable and offers supervision.

So in the battle of private cage free dog boarding versus kennels, which works best for you and your pet?

Read all about our private cage-free dog boarding here.

Be sure and follow us on Facebook at

Let’s celebrate National Walk Your Dog Month

Walking is not only healthy for your dog, but for you too. Not only is it physical activity, but it’s mental stimulation for your dog to smell, see and hear beyond the

National Dog Walking Month

Let’s celebrate National Walk Your Dog Month

limits of your yard. Walking helps preserve her muscle tone and joint movement, and if your pet is overweight or obese, walking can be a great way to shed those extra pounds.

The following tips can help you make a safe walking program for your dog

  • Train your dog to behave on a leash, and seek help to address any behavioral problems.  If you need basic obedience training, I highly recommend the Dog Training Club of St. Petersburg (
  • Begin with short, frequent walks, and take frequent rests as needed.
  • If your pet seems to just want to go back home, try driving to a nearby park or less familiar area for your walks.
  • Remember that walks are also a means for your dog to enjoy his/her environment; allow your dog to take “sniff breaks” within reason. 
  • Build gradually to one or more 15 minutes periods of brisk walking, then allow for cool-down time and recovery.
  • Avoid walks during the hottest parts of the day during warmer weather. Learn the signs of heat stress so you can recognize and address any problems that occur.
  • During warm, sunny weather, avoid hot surfaces such as asphalt that can burn your pet’s feet.
  • Avoid walks during the coldest parts of the day during cold weather, based on your pet’s cold tolerance. Learn to recognize signs of frostbite and hypothermia so you can address any problems that occur.
  • Walk on safe footing to avoid slips, falls or injuries.
  • If your pet shows signs of lameness, difficulty breathing, or seems to tire quickly, consult your veterinarian.
  • Obey leash laws, and always clean up after your dog.

So start off the new year on the right paw and walk your dog.  If you need help walking your dog, give Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services a call at

727-424-5341 and we’ll be glad to walk your dog for you.  

Dog Parks – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

What all dog parks have in common is the reason for their existence. Dogs and their owners need a place where they can run free, without leashes and do dog

dog  parks, yes or no

Dog Parks – the dog, the bad and the ugly

things. Many dog owners have no yards and the dogs would otherwise spend their entire outdoor lives on a leash.

Advantages of Dog Parks

Dog parks provide a safe space in which people can exercise their dogs, and watch them play.  Our culture is becoming less and less tolerant of our canine companions, and often they are not welcome elsewhere.

Dog parks can facilitate socialization with a variety of breeds and breed types. They can be a wonderful resource for adolescent dogs that have too much energy and no place to put it. Many also function as a social center, a place where people gather to chat, to exchange news, and to commiserate with one another’s problems.

Disadvantages of Dog Parks

The disadvantages are not so simple, but can be even more powerful, depending on the dog and its owner. The real problems, both short and long-term, are behavioral.

Often, owners unwittingly contribute to these problems because they don’t recognize, or don’t interpret correctly, what their dogs are actually doing and learning. Some of the problems cause difficulties only when dogs are meeting and interacting with other dogs. Others can cause future behavior to deteriorate. And still others directly impact dog/owner relationships.

The Power of Knowledge

Owners play an important role in dog parks, and often don’t accept the responsibility they should. Many don’t pay attention to their dog, and many have no idea what constitutes proper behavior, or what a dog may be signaling to another dog. Some defend their dogs when the animal exhibits poor or inappropriate behavior. Some overreact to a normal interaction, in which one dog discourages the attention of another. Occasionally, some owners use parks as babysitters, even leaving their dogs unattended while they shop. And most owners have far less control over their dogs than they believe!

Educating owners is a tough job. Many believe firmly that they are socializing their dogs in the proper way, and don’t like suggestions that they limit dog park time or monitor their dog and others. Teaching them what good play looks like is a first step, and empowering them to actually interrupt poor interactions is a necessary second step. Often, people don’t want to offend other dog owners, so they allow poor behavior to continue.

Trainers can help them learn by describing what appropriate interactions look like, possibly by narrating what the dogs are doing as two dogs play. I’ve found that owners really enjoy learning what good play manners are like and they appreciate the same kinds of descriptions that they hear from sports announcers during games.

Finally, some dogs should not go to dog parks. They can be too shy, too bold, too defensive, or have tendencies to guard toys and balls. Often, when consulting with clients, I ask them to consider giving parks a pass and concentrating on walks or runs, either alone or maybe with some special friends. I’m occasionally surprised by the relief these people feel when they find out dog park play is not mandatory! They thought they had to do it.

Behavioral Tips For Dog Park Attendees


  • Check out the entrance before entering to make sure dogs aren’t congregating there.
  • Pay close attention to their dog’s play style, interrupting play if necessary to calm their dog down.
  • Remove their dog if the dog appears afraid.
  • Remove their dog if it is bullying others.
  • Respect their dog’s wish to leave.
  • Leave special toys at home to avoid resource guarding problems.


  • Allow your dog to enter the park if there is a pack of dogs right next to the entrance.
  • Believe that dogs can work it out if you just let them do so.
  • Congregate at a picnic table or other area and chat with dog owners without watching their own dog.
  • Let their frightened dog remain in the park and hope things get better.
  • Assume a dog is aggressive when it is only trying to communicate its discomfort.

Keeping Your Dog Safe on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is a night of celebration, new beginnings and parties. But to make sure your 2019 starts on a good note please make sure your dog is happy and


Keep Your Dog Safe on New Year’s Eve

secure at home before you head out to share in the fun. Here in my neighborhood all my neighbors shoot off fireworks all night and my dogs are definitely not big fans. While the fireworks are not overhead they can be clearly heard by me so I imagine they are very loud for the dogs.

So here are a few tips to help your dog get through New Year’s Eve safe and sound.

Dog-friendly NYE tips:

  • Take your dog out for some vigorous exercise during the day, so she is tired and does not have a lot of pent up energy.
  • Before the fireworks and parties begin give your dog her evening meal.  A full tummy also makes her happy and more sleepy!
  • The best place for your dog on a night filled with loud noises from fireworks and parties is indoors in a quiet place. If you must leave your dog outside make sure your yard is completely secure. Based on the number of dogs that end up at local shelters I suggest that this is the one night you make an exception and leave your dog in the relative peace and quiet of your home, even if it is the garage, or bathroom with their bed and some towels.
  • Let your dogs hide if they want to. My dogs often like to get under my bed when feeling anxious.
  • Distract your pet with their favorite toys and games, but don’t reward any anxious behavior by fussing, giving treats or hugging them. Staying happy and in control lets your dog know everything is okay.
  • Leave the television or radio on as it can drown out some of the loud noises.
  • Just to be safe make sure your dog has all its ID tags on just in case it somehow does escape so they can be identified and returned quickly.

Six Tips for Keeping your Dog Safe this Christmas

Christmas is right around the corner!  A busy house full of guests and noise can be very stressful for your dog, and all those holiday decorations and foods can pose risks.

Holiday Tree

Six Tips for Keeping your Dog Safe this Christmas

Help your dog have a healthy and happy Christmas by following these six tips:

1.       If you’re hosting celebrations, exercise your dog before your guests arrive. This will help her de-stress and make her more likely to nap once the festivities are underway.

2.       Create a safe, quiet place for your dog to relax away from the party. Even the most social creatures need a break sometimes. It’s also help to play music or leave the TV on.

3.       Don’t give in to those looks. Christmas food includes some of the most dangerous foods for dogs to consume. Festive foods can be fatal, so don’t give in to those pleading looks!  Particularly, do not let your dog anywhere near alcohol, avocado, chocolate, Christmas pudding, coffee, cooked bones, currants, fruit cake, grapes, gravy, ham, macadamia nuts, marinades, onion, pork, raisins or anything with artificial sweeteners.  Your dog can be very crafty when it comes to figuring out ways to obtain special treats, so keep an eye out for any changes in appearance or behavior, including poor breathing, excessive panting, muscle twitching, vomiting and diarrhea. If you think your dog has eaten something she shouldn’t have, please take her to the vet as soon as possible.

4.       Keep Christmas decorations out of reach. Your dog may think the balls hanging from the tree look like toys or tennis balls, but if a plastic or glass ornament breaks in her mouth, it could cause serious damage. Edible decorations like candy canes also pose a risk. It’s best to hang anything risky near the top of the tree.

5.       Clean up wrapping paper quickly after presents have been opened. If chewed, wrapping paper and ribbons can prove dangerous for your dog’s intestines.

6.       Don’t forget to give your dog a special Christmas treat! She shouldn’t miss out on all the holiday cheer.  You can have some fun with this one. You could create a treasure hunt of dry food or treats around the house or yard, make her favorite stuffed kong, or take some time to play her favorite games with her.  

As an added bonus, here is Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services’ delicious and quick recipe to make some holiday cookies your dog will love.  I know my Pookie and Pepper love them!

Pumpkin Almond Cookies


1/4 cup coconut our
1 egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 Tbsp. almond butter
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
Dash of cinnamon, ginger, or clove (optional) 


Mix all the ingredients together, form into small 1 to 2-inch cookies.  Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325°F for 30 minutes.   Store extra portions in the freezer or refrigerator and consume within one week. If stored in the freezer, this can stay fresh for up to three months. 

Company Issues Voluntary Recall of Some 9Lives Cat Food

The J.M. Smucker Company Issues Voluntary Recall of Specific Lots of 9Lives® Protein Plus® Wet, Canned Cat Food Due to Low Levels of Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

9Lives Recall

9Lives Protein Plus Cat Food Recall

The J.M. Smucker Company today announced a voluntary recall of specific lots of 9Lives® Protein Plus® wet, canned cat food due to possible low levels of thiamine (Vitamin B1). No illnesses related to this issue have been reported to date and the product is being recalled out of an abundance of caution.

The impacted products are as follows:

Product Name UPC Code Product Size Best if Used By Date
9Lives® Protein Plus® With Tuna & Chicken 7910021549 4 pack of cans,

5.5 oz each

Mar. 27, 2020- Nov.14, 2020
9Lives® Protein Plus® With Tuna & Liver 7910021748 4 pack of cans,

5.5 oz each

Apr. 17, 2020 – Sept.14, 2020

The Best if Used By information can be found on the bottom of each can.

These products were distributed by The J.M. Smucker Company to a variety of retailers nationwide.

No other 9Lives® products or products of The J.M. Smucker Company are impacted by this recall.

Cats fed diets low in thiamine for several weeks may be at risk for developing a thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is essential for cats. Symptoms of deficiency displayed by an affected cat can be gastrointestinal or neurological in nature. Early signs of thiamine deficiency may include decreased appetite, salivation, vomiting, failure to grow, and weight loss. In advanced cases, neurological signs can develop, which include ventroflexion (bending towards the floor) of the neck, mental dullness, blindness, wobbly walking, circling, falling, seizures, and sudden death. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your cat is displaying any of these symptoms. If treated promptly, thiamine deficiency is typically reversible.

Pet parents who have impacted product should stop feeding it to their cats and dispose of the product. If pet parents have questions or would like to receive a refund or coupon for replacement product, they should call 1-888-569-6828, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM ET.

The potential for low thiamine levels was identified internally by finished product testing.

The recall is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services doesn’t understand why pet food companies can’t get it right and why we prepare our own food for our pets.

Tips for Traveling this Holiday with your Dog

Just like how you are expected to be a bit careful while traveling with your kids, it’s the same for your dog. Almost all types of dogs welcome long trips but before

Holiday traveling with your dog

Coddled Critters Pet Services’ Tips for traveling with your dog this holiday

you decide to travel with them, it’s important to understand their personality inside out.

Here are some tips from Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services that you need to consider when going for a holiday trip with your dog.

1.  Vaccination

It’s important to update your dog’s vaccines before you go on a vacation with them. It comes as one of the biggest dog safety tips out there. It especially depends on where you are traveling, whether your pet will come in contact with other animals or not, what kind of environment will be there, etc.

2.  Get a standard pet carrier

Ensure your pet carrier is approved by the airline or railway, whichever route you are opting for. You can just check out the website of the particular airways or railways to figure out their requirements. If not done so, it can create a lot of hassle at the last moment. 

3.  Keeping a feeding schedule

Always make sure that you are feeding your dog at the same time of the day as you would usually do at home. It is one of the best dog safety tips to keep in mind. When they are on their routine then they feel secure.

4.  Look for dog-friendly accommodations

When it comes to dog-friendly hotels do some prior research on the internet. You’ll probably end up having many options. Just because a Marriott in one city allows dogs, it doesn’t mean that all of them out there will do the same.

5.  Microchip

Your dog might get lost while you stroll down unknown streets. Therefore, it’s always smart to have your dog microchipped to avoid missing any chance of a reunion.  A microchip has a unique number which has the pet owner’s information that is being maintained in a national database and can prove to be helpful in bing reunited with your dog.

These tips are worth remembering while you travel with your dog. When you are up for your next vacation with your dog, keep it in mind to remember all of these tips from Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services. You will end up coming back with a lot of unforgettable memories;

When Do You Need to Hire a Professional Pet Sitter


When you’re miles away from home, the last thing you want is to be worried about is whether your pet is okay back home. If you’re lucky enough to have reliable family members who can take


Pookie the Pomeranian

your pet while you’re gone, great. If not, or they aren’t available, you may be considering options like or a friend or neighbor.

Here are some drawbacks of using just anyone when it comes to pet sitting.

Pet Sitting Horror Stories

It happens all the time. People come home after a few days away to find their dog’s water bowl dry, the carpet soiled, and your pet stressed out.  And this isn’t even a worst case scenario.

A local family recently arrived home after a week-long vacation only to find two of their beloved pets dead. They had hired a college student to visit their pets every day. She only showed up on the first day, leaving four pets without food and water for a whole week. The story didn’t say how the family found this particular person, but it’s clear she wasn’t a reputable, professional pet sitter.

The moral of the story is never cut corners when it comes to investing in quality, professional pet care.

Drawbacks of Using Websites

Websites like Rover or Wag have become popular. There are lots of service options. Probably the most attractive thing about these sites is you can basically shop online for a pet sitter.

However tempting it may be to try and save a few bucks, you may not actually save anything in the end. You may end up spending many times more. It’s like getting super cheap dental work, you may end up having to see a professional anyway to fix a botched job. And you don’t want your dog to be the botched job!

The so-called pet sitters on these websites aren’t vetted in any way. Anyone can sign up and call themselves a “pet sitter.” You wouldn’t hire your doctor  that way, would you?

The moral of the story, these websites don’t have your back when it comes to dealing with their sitters. Make sure you do your homework if you decide to go this route.

Are Friends and Neighbors Reliable?

The main drawback of using friends or neighbors is the legal issues that could arise. For example, what if your friend slips and falls in your backyard? Or what if your dog bit them? You’re responsible for everything that happens when someone is on your property.

Of course, you may think, “my friends would never sue me.” Maybe not, but it is wise not to test their loyalty. And your friend may not be the one to come after you—it could be their spouse or parents, you just don’t know.

Bottom Line

You and your pet deserve the best when it comes to pet care while you’re away. You may get lucky and find a pet sitter you like and trust in your circle of friends, but be careful. It’s always best to hire a reputable pet sitter who is insured and bonded, and one that communicates regularly with you, every time you go out of town.

Give us a call at Coddled Critters Professional Pet Services to care for your pets the next you’re going to be away. 727-424-5341.

The Importance of Walking Your Dog

Walking your dog is so much more than just a way of exercising.  It stops her from getting bored; it’s a behavior training opportunity; and it teaches your dog how to behave in canine company. On

Dog Walking

Walking your dog

top of all this, it gets both of you out and about while helping to grow the bond you have with your dog.

A sedentary pooch can quickly become an overweight one, and that brings all sorts of potential health problems with it. Even if your dog is active inside the home, they still need another outlet for pent-up energy. Young dogs need around an hour of daily exercise, but some dogs bred for sports or herding activities may need much more. You’ll benefit from having a well-exercised dog, as tired dogs tend to behave better, and you’ll help your pet avoid unnecessary weight gain!

If your dog has a yard to play in, walking isn’t the only form of exercise available. However, don’t expect your dog to create their own exercise routine just because you’ve put them outside. Dogs don’t self-entertain, so if you want to tire your pet out, play catch or fetch! If you’re at work all day, Coddled Critters Pet Services is happy to take your dog out during those hours. Your pet will enjoy the company, and you’ll come home to a happier dog waiting to greet you.

When walking your dog, consider it a training opportunity! Dogs aren’t born knowing how to walk on a leash, so you’ll have to teach your dog how to follow your lead. On these walks, you can begin teaching commands like, “sit,” “stay,” and “heel,” especially if you take treats along to use during the process.

While out walking, your dog is likely going to meet other dogs. This is a great opportunity to help your dog learn acceptable ways of socially interacting with new animals! It will also help build doggy confidence so your pet will be less afraid to make friends. If your dog does show fear, taking them to a training class is a great way of removing that anxiety in a more controlled environment. Well-socialized dogs still like a bit of rough-and-tumble play with other dogs when out for a walk, but they’ll know when to stop and will come away without any battle scars.

Like a child, your dog wants to know the world. If they are confined to the house for too long, pets get bored, and boredom can lead to destructive behavior. Wild animals learn about their environment through mothers and members of the clan, and a domesticated animal only has that opportunity for a few weeks while with their mothers and siblings. Your dog is dependent on you to take them out to explore the sights, smells, and sounds of the world, and it’s recommended to vary the places you take your pet as much as possible. You’ve probably noticed how busy (and excited!) your dog gets when he’s walking, so let them enjoy every opportunity to discover!

Coddled Critters Pet Services has a few openings for mid-day dog walks.  Give us a call today – 727-424-5341.