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Twin Cities Pets

Green Dog Walking and Pet Sitting 


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Is it safe for my dog to walk on ice melt chemicals? Limping, Lifting and Paw Licking

Posted by twincitiespets on January 22, 2018 at 3:05 PM

The weather is finally warm enough to take a dog walk, so you get yourself and your furry walking companion all bundled up ready to stretch those paws. However as you walk outside your own sidewalk you see a clear change in the color of pavement and wonder to yourself. “I didn’t realize my neighbor painted his or hers sidewalk white for winter? Then you notice your poor dog is lifting his paws one by one and he has a look of “WHY!?!?!? I’m used to walking here and it usually doesn’t hurt like this”

Ice melting chemicals or salt, in most forms, may be harming your dogs feet. The irritation, pain, and hurt to his paw pads can halt dog walks altogether. Unfortunately with how dangerous ice can be, salt and ice melt are regularly used on sidewalks in residential neighborhoods and in front of any places of business. Being a dog walker from northern Minnesota I’ve seen sidewalks salted so thick the concrete was actually breaking up into pieces. Instead of shoveling and removing snow some sidewalks will literally be covered in ice melt.

Braving the cold weather

How bad is salt for my dog?

The answer is very bad. The main ingredient in a lot of ice melt products is sodium or calcium chloride along with additional chemicals potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate and calcium magnesium acetate or a mixture of them. The chemicals can damage a dogs paws or even be fatal to them if they get it in their mouth. 

When ice or water reacts with rock salt a chemical reaction occurs creating heat. This in turn will melt any ice that its reacting with. The problem is this chemical reaction will occur with everything. So any dog walking on sidewalks will have their poor paws taking the full force of that reaction. It hurts, it's irritating, and uncomfortable so this is when most dogs will start to limp or attempt to lick their paw pads. Additionally, rock salt and its chemical components are toxic. If your pet eats a small amount of the salt either directly off the ground or by licking their paws, it will most likely upset their stomachs and could cause vomiting. If a large amount is eaten it has been known to cause diarrhea, excessive salivation, depression, anorexia, tremors, disorientation, increased thirst, seizures, or in some cases death. If you think your dog has ingested large amounts of melting salt contact your vet immediately!

The snow doesn't bother Arthur

So what you're saying then is no dog walking until Spring?

Of course not! We can go out dog walking but need to do a few things in order to protect our furry friends feet. Fortunately for us we have a few options available to help get back out and walking with all four paws on the ground.

Protection - Prepping your dogs paws to keep them from becoming irritated and dried out in the first place. A good dense, barrier wax (Mushers) works great at forming a breathable barrier between your dog's paws and the ground. The wax works really well at soaking into your dogs paw pads keeping them moisturized and protected. Musher's is fairly inexpensive and relatively easy to apply. An added benefit is that it protects against the ice and snow build-up that can form between a dog's paw pads. If you are looking for an immediate solution and can not make the trip to the pet store, Vaseline or cooking spray will work as well to provide that barrier between your pup's paws and the chemicals on the ground.

Avoidance - Find an alternate route that doesn’t go near any houses that have heavily salted sidewalks. Also if you notice they have pet dogs themselves they most likely are using a pet safe and friendly salt ice melt. Dog walking on the boulevard for a short time in order to get around badly salted spots. Lifting smaller dogs as well and carrying them over the thick layers of chemical ice melt that people sometimes use works as well.

Prevention - The best thing to do in order to prevent salt burns and irritation is to wrap your dogs feet or paws with boots. Dog booties thoroughly protect and prevent any liquids or solids from harming delicate puppy paws like ordinary snow boots would. They usually come in either a latex rubber slip on that covers and goes over their paws altogether or a fleece fabric one. We have found the flexible, fleece boots are the best option for most dogs. They provide a barrier, are easy to get on and off, and are not as imposing to the dog as the plastic shoes are. Also, keep in mind that if you choose to use booties your dog must be comfortable with letting you, or the dog walker, touch their paws while putting them on.

Donald playing off leash in the snow

We Can Walk Longer

Chemical ice melt can cause your poor dog to lift, lick, and kick their paws as a result of irritated and dried out pads. Fret not though, by either wrapping dog paws with boots, using mushers wax, or finding an alternate route altogether you and your furry friend can complete your daily dog walks without being bothered by irritating salt paw pad pain.

If you are having a hard time getting your dog out for walks in this cold, snowy weather contact us! We can help. We can walk your dog in your neighborhood or take them for a romp at the dog park (where I can guarantee there are no ice melting chemicals to walk on.)

How Much Does a Pet Sitter Cost in St Paul, MN?

Posted by twincitiespets on February 18, 2015 at 8:05 AM

You just booked an amazing vacation to Hawaii or Florida or really anywhere warm because winter is so dang long in Minnesota. Good for you! The warm sun and lazy beach days lay ahead for you, but you feel guilty about leaving behind your beloved furry companion behind. Where will he stay while you are gone? Will he get all the love and attention he would have if you were home?

In St Paul. you have a few different options. A friend or neighbor can watch your pets, you could board them or you could have an insured professional come to your home and care for your pets. Every pet is different so let me help you decide how much to pay for pet care next time you take a trip.

The Friend or Neighbor

Having a neighbor or friend check on your pets could be a good option if your pet is very low maintenance and you have a neighbor you trust to be in your home while you are not there. Generally this is the most inexpensive option. It especially works well if you can trade pet care for pet care. When one of you is gone the other watches the pets and vice versa.

One downside of this option is the lack of insurance. If something happens to your pet while you are away you will most likely get an apology and that is it. Accidents and messes sometimes happen with pets. There is no guarantee the neighbor will be willing to take care of the mess for you so you can come home to a clean house. Finally, the lack of experience could end up with mistakes being made. Will your neighbor do a full check of the house to make sure the cats are not locked in a room or have not made a mess? Do you trust a neighbor to safely walk Fido while he is flailing around and pulling like the lead dog in the Iditarod? These are things to consider when deciding on a caregiver.

Daily Pricing – $0 - $20 for one cat, $0 - $50 for one or two dogs

Boarding your Pets

There are many different kinds of boarding kennels in St Paul depending on what level of pet care you are looking for. From high end boarding where your pup gets his own suite, TV and other dogs to play with to lower priced boarding at vet offices where your pet will stay in their kennel most of the time with occasional potty breaks.

Boarding can be a great option for young, high energy dogs that are well socialized. It gives them an opportunity to play with other dogs during the day then relax and recuperate at night.

However, there can be downsides to boarding your dog in a facility. Sometimes there can be a change in your pet's personality or they have anxiety during and after boarding due to the stress of being around other anxious dogs. They can also pick up a bad habits like barking, or even worse accidents in the house.

We strongly recommend against boarding cats. They generally do not do well in new, unfamiliar situations and transporting them to the boarding facility can be very stressful for your kitty because most cats do not enjoy car rides.

Daily Pricing - $15 - $40 for one cat, $35 - $55 for one dog, $50 - $100 for two dogs

Professional In Home Pet Sitter

Having a professional, insured St Paul pet sitter come to your house to care for your pets can be a great option for cats, dogs and other types of pets. Your dog or cat gets to stay in her own home which is a lot more relaxed environment than boarding. We will keep your pet on a feeding and exercise schedule she is used to so there isn't a huge change in routine for her to deal with in addition to your absence.

Your pet sitter will also clean up any messes that might happen so you come home to a clean house and happy pets. All sitters are trained to watch for signs of illness so your pet will stay healthy and happy. In addition, your house will be more secure because we can bring in newspapers/mail and rotate lights during our visits so it looks like someone is home. If there is a home emergency, like a broken pipe or a gas leak, someone will be there to catch it before any major damage occurs.

For young, active dogs I do not recommend in home pet sitting services if you will be gone longer than two days. Any more than that is a long time for your dog to be by herself without companionship. Cats and older, mellow dogs can handle the time alone a lot better.

Daily Pricing – $15 - $35 for one or two cats, $36 - $65 for one or two dogs


As you can see the cost of pet care can vary. Next time you take a trip, consider your different options for pet care based on the age, energy level, and preferences of your pets. We realize every situation is different so contact us and we can help you figure out what would be the best care situation for your pets.

Contact us now to find out how we can help you with your pets while you are away. 

Discover 3 Fun Dog Walks in Woodbury, MN

Posted by twincitiespets on September 29, 2014 at 11:30 PM

Carver Lake Park, A beautiful place for a dog walk in Woodbury, MN.

Do you love walking your dog in Woodbury but frustrated with the lack of sidewalks? Have you ever been enjoying a fun walk with your pup, enjoying each others company, and then suddenly BAM the sidewalk abruptly ends and you are forced to walk on the street? Well worry no more! There are a few dog friendly places in Woodbury that you can take your dog to where there are sidewalks and it is safe to walk your dog. Even though most Minnesota drivers are courteous, it is still dangerous to walk in the street especially during the winter when roads become smaller as a result of plowing. If you don't have a safe street to walk on, or even if you are just looking for somewhere new to walk, here are three ideas for fun dog walks in Woodbury.


Carver Lake Park


Carver Lake Park is located off the Lake Road exit on interstate 494. Wind through a hilly neighborhood to find this park in the south side of Woodbury. About half of the park is wooded and the other half is open meadow overlooking the lake. Dogs are not allowed on the beach, but there are plenty of trails to make up for the lack of beach access. Summer weekends can be very busy, but during any other time you can find a peaceful retreat with plenty of grass and trees for your pup to explore.

 Go for a dog walk at Carver Lake Park, Woodbury, MN

Colby Lake


Two different parks cap the north and south of Colby Lake. You can park at either Edgewater Park off of Lake Road, or Colby Lake Park on the north side off of Valley Creek Road. There is a path all the way around the lake. The path is a little over two miles, so you can cover a good distance during your dog walk. You can even head north and explore a bit more of Colby Lake Park to extend your walk. Edgewater park has a fishing dock if that is something you might enjoy with your furry buddy.


Picture Perfect Colby Lake, Woodbury, MN

Battle Creek Dog Park


This gem of a Woodbury park offers several different dog walks. Battle Creek Regional Park features acres and acres of leashed hiking and a 35 acre off leash dog park.

On-leash dog walking is permitted on the east side of the park. Additionally, on the north side of Upper Afton Road there are paved trails for more on-leash walks in an open groomed area. There is also a playground there and a water park. The 35 acre off-leash dog park has a variety of terrain and a few ponds that are great for some doggie swimming.

Beware of trail restrictions during cross country skiing season and the dog park closing for part of hunting season.

Roxie sniffing at Battle Creek Dog Park, Woodbury, MN


Despite the lack of continuous sidewalks in Woodbury there are some fantastic parks and open areas to walk with your dog. Whether you choose it Carver Lake with it's beautiful on-leash wooded walking trails, Colby Lake and it's entertaining parks, or the spacious Battle Creek park with a vast recreation area for both on and off leash fun, we are sure both you and your pup will have a great time!


Don't have time to explore these parks on your own? Call us! We can walk your dog in both leashed and off leash settings. We pet sit too!

To flush or not to flush. The kitty litter question.

Posted by twincitiespets on September 18, 2014 at 8:35 AM

Cat Sitting on a Toilet by Shutterstock

Here at Twin Cities Pets we try to be as eco friendly as possible. So when the question of flushing cat feces came up I figured it was something I should look into. It makes sense. Why bag up litter and dispose of it in a landfill when you can just flush the waste? We flush human waste. People teach their cats to use the toilet, so there shouldn't be any issues flushing kitty litter right?

Flushing kitty litter sounds like a good idea, but it's not as easy as it sounds. If you are considering this more environmentally friendly method of disposal, it is possible, but a few steps must be taken before your kitty litter will be flushable.

Switch to an Environmentally Friendly Litter

A few problems can pop up when you are debating flushing kitty litter. The first issue is the kitty litter you use. Most kitty litter is made of non-sustainable bentonite clay. DO NOT EVER flush clay kitty litter. Your cat will need to make the switch to a flushable litter. World's Best, Swheat Scoop, and Nature's Miracle all claim to be flushable and are more environmentally friendly options than clay based litter. All three are made from agricultural products such as corn and wheat. It may take some time for your cat to accept the new litter, but once kitty has made the switch you are on your way to flushing some kitty litter!

Toxoplasma Gondii

The second, and probably biggest issue with flushing cat litter is Taxoplasmosis. Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite cats can contract from mice and birds. It is present in cat's feces and is such a tough parasite sewage treatment procedures do not even kill it. Toxoplasma has been known to harm sea otters and has been found in other sea life such as whales and dolphins. It can also cause brain disease in humans with compromised immune systems. So, if your cat is indoors only, and never eats raw meat or dead animals you can have your vet screen your cat for toxoplasma antibodies. If the test comes back negative you should be ok to flush your kitty's litter.

Consider your Toilet

Finally, remember that toilets and sewage systems are only designed to handle human waste. If you decide to flush your cat's waste you are taking a chance. Especially if your house and pipes are older, your toilet may not be able to handle it. Consider yourself warned!!!

While flushing litter reduces the amount of bags and waste that goes into landfills you could be contaminating sea life with Toxoplasma gondii. My conclusion...go ahead and flush litter if your cats are indoors only. If your cat is an outdoor cat the best option is to switch your cat to an environmentally friendly litter, and cut back on the amount of plastic going into the landfill by using small biodegradable bags or recycled plastic bags, then just throw the waste in the trash. While flushing litter might seem like the most eco-friendly idea, it isn't if you are helping spread a harmful parasite.

Need your kitty litter scooped while you are away? One of our our great pet sitters at Twin Cities Pets can help. Contact us now!

Tips to Tire Out Your Crazy Puppy

Posted by twincitiespets on May 19, 2014 at 11:30 AM

High energy breeds (border collies, retrievers, setters, huskies, all puppies) can be wonderful pets, but the amount of exercise it takes to wear them out can be too much for a busy family to handle. Outdoor exercise is ideal for tiring your dog out, but sometimes it isn't possible to find the time for a trip to the dog park or for taking two long walks a day. Even if you do get your dog outside for several walks it may not be enough to calm him. Here are five ideas to wear out your hyper dog.

Food Games For Hyper or Anxious Dogs

Food games are great mental exercise for your dog and because food is involved your dog will be excited to play. One way is to hide treats or kibble around the house and encourage your dog to find the food. Hide and seek with food will exercise your pup's mind as well as her body.

Interactive food toys are another great food-oriented way to engage your dog. There are many different types of food toys on the market. My lab loves the Kong Wobbler and the Busy Buddy Tug-a-Jug. Other toys that we haven’t tried but that look interesting are the Northmate Green Modern Interactive Dog Feeder and the Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Dog Puzzle.

Marty playing with his Tug-a-Jug.

Set Up an Obstacle Course to Burn Off Your Dog's Excess Energy

Make an obstacle course in your yard or even in your living room. You can construct a simple jumping or weaving obstacle course from PVC pipe. You can also use materials you have around the house to construct obstacles for free. Try making a tunnel out of couch cushions or borrow the kid's hula hoop for Fido to jump through. Obstacles will tire your dog out mentally and physically and can help build your bond as you teach your dog to navigate the obstacles. Running your dog through an obstacle course has the added benefit of increasing your pet's agility, health and intelligence as well.

Teach Your Dog a New Trick

Training is a great way to tire out your dog. It also helps to build your dog's confidence as well as your bond with her. Your pup will learn to look to you for direction. Start with basic obedience commands such as sit, down, and stay. If your dog already knows basic obedience commands, how about trying out a new trick? Check out this website for cool dog tricks or the book 101 Dog Tricks for some fun tricks to try out.

Get Your Puppy a New Toy

There is something exciting about new toys, for both humans and dogs. A new toy or bone can keep a pup entertained for the entire afternoon. There is such a huge variety of dog toys available you will definitely be able to find something to fit your dogs tastes - whether he likes stuffed squeaky toys, chew toys, balls, or tug toys. Some neat new toys I would love to buy for my pups are the Kygen Hide-a-Squirrel Toy and the West Paw Zogoflex Hurley Toy.

Koda loves a new squeak toy.

Schedule a Play Date With Another Dog

One of the best ways to wear out your dog is to set up a doggie play date. Invite a friend with a dog over for the afternoon and the dogs will entertain each other while you and your friend catch up. Make sure the dogs are both friendly and have compatible play styles. Pairing a bully breed with a Chihuahua probably won't work out very well, although sometimes it is okay. It really depends on the dogs involved.

If your friends aren't dog people try finding a friend at the local dog park. This way you will already know the dogs get along well by observing their play at the park. If neither of these is an option try out this website that helps you find dog play groups in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. Dog Play Date is a neat site where puppy parents can find other parents looking for a fun time for their dog.


Next time your dog is driving you nuts try one or more of these ideas. It will help calm your dog and make her more manageable so you both can enjoy the time you spend together. What do you do to calm your hyper dog?

Does your pup need more than a training session to wear him out? Contact us at Twin Cities Pets to set up some walks or a trip to the dog park.