Author Archive for Shamika Pandit

Consider the Pet Sitter

Are you hesitant about planning a vacation because of your dog? Are you stopped by images of your cherished family companion baying mournfully in a boarding kennel run by well-meaning strangers?

Consider another possibility: your dog, safe and snug at home, cared for by someone who’s qualified and experienced.

Consider a pet sitter.

Pet sitters are paid professionals who come to your home and spend quality time with your pet. The best ones are those who not only feed and play with them, but hold certificates in First Aid and CPR.

Consider the benefits.

Your dog remains at home, with the same diet and daily routine, and receives both attention and exercise while you’re away.

You can feel more secure knowing that, not only is your dog safe, but your home is too. Pet sitters can take in your newspapers and mail, water your plants and provide your place with that lived-in look.

To start, ask your vet for recommendations. Ask your family, friends and neighbors for the names of their own pet sitter if they have one. If not, research pet sitters in your area.

Interview each candidate over the phone, then in person, and ask the following questions: Can they provide written proof that they’re bonded and carry commercial liability insurance? What formal training have they received? Are contingency plans in place if an accident or emergency prevents them from fulfilling their duties? Will they provide extra services like grooming, dog walking or playtime with other dogs? If they provide live-in services, what are the specific times they agree to be with your dog? Will they give you a written contract listing their services and fees? Will they provide you with the phone numbers of clients who have agreed to be references?

If you’re satisfied with the person’s answers and if the references have checked out, it’s imperative that your dog first meet and interact with prospective sitter. Monitor them closely. Does your dog seem comfortable with the person? Are they a good fit? Are there any issues that need addressing?

Once your decision has been made and you, yourself, are comfortable, you can begin to plan that long-delayed vacation: whether for a weekend, a week or longer. Then, before your date of departure: Walk the sitter through your home, pointing out all the essentials needed to make the agreed-upon routine run smoothly and well. Give a trust worthy neighbor copies of your keys and have that neighbor and the pet sitter exchange phone numbers. Show the pet sitter any important safety features, such as fuse boxes, circuit breakers and security systems.

Prepare a comprehensive list of emergency contact information, including how to reach you, your vet, and the closest emergency clinic. Store all of your dog’s food and water bowls, treats, toys, and other supplies in one place, along with extra food in case you’re away longer than expected. Tape a list of feeding instructions and a photo of your dog (should your pet pull a “Houdini” and escape) to the door of your refrigerator.

With everything firmly in place, all you have to do now is leave. Secure in the knowledge that your precious dog is in good hands and is, after all, a mere phone call away.    


Article by Nomi Berger

Meet and Greet with Stamford’s Elite: The K9 Unit of the Stamford Police Department


We’re back with another Doggy Day Pawlooza update this week!

We are SO excited to have the Stamford K-9 Unit join us for a meet and greet from 10am-11am at our Doggy Day Pawlooza event. Not only are these guys brave, they’re the best looking ones on the force (at least we think so ;)).

The K9 Unit works hard at helping keep you, and the town safe. These dogs have to go through special training to assist police and other law enforcement officers in carrying out their duties. Now that is impressive. Looks like Stamford has a pretty great team helping to keep us safe.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for June 3rd from 10am-3pm and come meet some these awesome dogs! Make sure to stay up to date on all event updates by liking our Doggy Day Pawlooza Facebook Page and following us on Instagram @stareliefpets.

The Vet Is In: Doggy Day Pawlooza

STARelief’s mission since the start has always been to be a resource to all pet owners. Proper pet care is such an important topic. We work to make sure that resources and information are readily available to all pet owners. This year we wanted to expand Doggy Day Pawlooza and pack more fun and activities for all those attending.

At this year’s Doggy Day Pawlooza, we are so excited to welcome our friends from VCA Davis Animal Hospital in Stamford!

They will be hosting a Rabies and Microchip clinic from 11am-12pm and “The Vet Is In”  from 12-1pm.

Mark your calendar and join us along with our friends at VCA Davis Animal Hospital. They will be there to answer some questions about proper pet care and conduct a rabies and microchip clinic.


We are so thankful for VCA Davis Animal Hospital and all their support.

Forever Home: Now What?

Be an informed adopter and make your new dog’s entry into your world as pleasurable as possible.

If this is your first dog, establish yourself with a vet or register your new dog with your established vet. Then apply for the appropriate licenses, etc., required in your area.

Remember that a dog’s true personality may not reveal itself for several weeks. Therefore, these first few weeks require an atmosphere of calm and patience, not anger or punishment.

Knowing your new dog’s established schedules for meals, pottying, walking and exercise beforehand are essential to maintaining his/her sense of continuity.

Once you arrive home, bring your new dog to his/her designated pottying place.

Spend time letting your new dog get accustomed to the place, and if he/she potties, reward him/her with praise and a treat.

Repeat this (whether your dog potties or not) to reinforce it, but be prepared for accidents. Even a housebroken dog will be nervous in, and curious about, new surroundings.

Your new dog may also pant or pace excessively, suffer from stomach upsets or have no appetite at all due to the sudden changes in his/her life.

Give your new dog the same food that he/she ate before.

After 30 minutes, remove the food whether it’s been eaten or not. Do not allow your new dog to “graze.”

(If you want to switch brands, wait a week. Begin by adding one part new food to three parts of the old for several days. Then add half new to half old for several more days, followed by one part old to three parts new until it’s all new food and the transition is complete).

Learn the commands your new dog already knows and don’t attempt to teach him/her any new ones for awhile.

Walk your new dog slowly through your home allowing him/her plenty of time to sniff around and become familiar with all of its sights and smells. 

If needed, teach your new dog proper house manners from the start — calmly and patiently. Reward good behavior with praise and treats for positive reinforcement.

Introduce your new dog to the other members of your household one by one. Unless you know that the dog enjoys approaching new people, instruct everyone to sit, silent and still, on a couch or chair and ignore him/her.

Allow your new dog to approach them, sniffing, whether it takes several seconds or several minutes. Only when he/she is relaxed should they begin to pet him/her lightly and gently.

Children in particular should be closely supervised to ensure that they follow these same guidelines.

Show your new dog his/her place to sleep and place a few treats around the area as added incentives.

Give your new dog some quiet, alone time to get used to his/her space while you remain in the room for reassurance.

For the first few days, remain calm and quiet around your new dog, allowing him/her to settle in comfortably while you become familiar with his/her likes and dislikes, quirks and habits.

Begin the routine you want to establish (according to your own lifestyle) for your new dog’s pottying, eating, walking, playing and alone times, and maintain it — calmly but firmly.

Initial resistance is to be expected, but remain firm – without impatience or anger – while your new dog gradually becomes accustomed to his/her new schedule.

To make the process as pleasant and reassuring as possible, spend quality time with your new dog, stroking him/her or brushing his/her coat, while talking gently and soothingly to strengthen the bond and trust between you.

If you want to change your new dog’s name, begin by saying his/her new name and giving him/her an especially good treat (chicken works well) or a belly rub. This will teach your new dog to love the sound and respond to it. Repeating this numerous times a day will speed up the process.

Limit your new dog’s activities to your home, potty and exercise areas, keeping away from neighbors and other dogs, public places and dog parks.

Invite a relative or friend over to meet your new dog. Hand them treats and tell them to be calm and gentle in their approach unless your new dog calmly approaches them first.

Gradually accustom your new dog to being alone by leaving your home briefly then returning, repeating this several times over a period of a day or two and gradually increasing the alone time from a few minutes to a half hour to an hour. This way he/she won’t feel abandoned. When you return, walk in calmly and don’t fuss over your dog until he/she has settled down.

If your new dog whines or cries, don’t cuddle or console him/her. It only reinforces this behavior. Instead give him/her attention and praise for good behavior, such as resting quietly or chewing on a toy instead. And treats always work wonders.

Slowly begin introducing your new dog to your neighbors and other dogs, closely monitoring his/her reactions, especially towards the dogs.

Bring your new dog to the vet to introduce them to each other, address any health or behavioral concerns, and get a new rabies certificate. For any behavioral issues you can’t resolve on your own, ask your vet for the name of a professional.

Remember that making your new dog the newest member of your family is a process, and that consistency is the key.

Your reward? A loving and happy companion, and the satisfaction of knowing that you have saved his/her life.

Article by Nomi Berger.

ACHOO! Cat Breeds for Allergy Sufferers

Are you for cats but your allergies are against them? Don’t despair. There ARE solutions. Although not purr-fect, they are certainly more paws-itive. 

But first: Allergies 101.

What is the culprit behind your sneezing and itching, coughing or wheezing?

The protein Fel D1 in cat saliva. When cats lick their coats, the allergen-laden saliva dries, becomes airborne, and like a warmth-seeking missile, will head straight for your sinuses.

Low allergen or “hypoallergenic” (NOT to be confused with “non-allergenic”) cats produce fewer allergens than other cats. Note the word “fewer”. But, saliva aside, all of these cats must be groomed frequently, which includes brushing and wiping them down, to keep their dander (like dandruff, dander is composed of skin cells and can cause allergies in people) to a minimum.

Listed below are seven breeds best suited to allergy sufferers:


Often referred to as the “long-haired Siamese”, they are intelligent, inquisitive and very social. Despite their appearance, they produce less of the notorious Fel D1 protein, causing fewer allergy symptoms. 


Playful, devoted, and “chatty”, they, like the Balinese, sport a medium-long, single coat that doesn’t mat. And because they have no undercoat, they have less fur, meaning fewer allergens.

Oriental Shorthair

As members of the Siamese family, with their distinctive wedge-shaped heads and almond-shaped eyes, they are active, outgoing and happy, with coats that produce fewer allergens.

Devon Rex

Active, curious and people oriented, they have both shorter fur and less fur. And while their paw pads and ears need frequent cleaning due to oily buildups, they require fewer full baths than either the Cornish Rex or the Sphynx.

Cornish Rex

Curious and friendly, they get along easily with people and other pets and have no fur except for a fine undercoat. Like the Sphynx, they need frequent full baths due to the oily buildup on their skin.


Fearless, energetic and friendly, they may be hairless, but they require frequent full baths to remove the gummy buildup on their skin. Their nails and overly large ears also require frequent cleanings.


Loyal, energetic and playful, they have thick triple coats with a surprisingly low concentration of Fel D1 in their saliva.

BUT before you consider inviting any of these breeds into your life, you MUST spend time with them to test your reaction to them. If your allergies should flare with one, remember that you still have another six from which to choose. 

Article by Nomi Berger

Allergy Alert! Itch That Time Again.

Has your dog suddenly started scratching herself or biting certain areas of her body? Chewing on her feet? Rubbing her face back and forth across the carpet?

If so, she may be suffering from seasonal allergies. These reactions to an obvious, but invisible, itch is her body’s way of responding to molecules called “allergens.”

The major culprits: trees, grasses, pollens, molds and ragweed. The main cause: inhaling these irritants through the nose and mouth.

Unlike humans, most dogs’ allergies manifest themselves as skin irritations or inflammations known as allergic dermatitis. Left untreated, your dog’s constant scratching can lead to open sores and scabs, hair loss and hot spots. Ear infections, running noses, watery eyes, coughing and sneezing may also occur.

To determine the source of your dog’s allergy, ask your vet to conduct a series of tests: intradermal, blood or both.

Once a specific allergen has been identified, you can try the following:

Avoidance: for pollens, keep your dog away from fields; keep lawns short; keep her indoors when pollen counts are high; vacuum and wash floors with non-toxic agents instead of regular household cleaners containing chemicals.

Topical therapies: frequent baths with an oatmeal-free shampoo; foot soaks to reduce tracking allergens into the house; topical solutions containing hydrocortisone to ease the itching.

Diet: one low in carbohydrates like grain, or low in fat; put omega-3 fatty acids and/or coconut oil in her food; add a combination of the naturopathic supplements quercetin, bromelain and papain to her meals.

Drugs: antihistamines, cyclosporine or steroids.

As always, consult your vet before starting any form of treatment. Monitor your dog’s behaviour closely and report any improvement or worsening in her condition.

It may take several attempts before the proper treatment is found. But when it is, your dog will be much more comfortable — and so will you.

Article by Nomi Berger. Nomi is the best selling author of seven novels, one work of non-fiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her adopted Maltese, Mini, and volunteers her writing skills to animal rescue groups in Canada and the USA.


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STARelief and Pet Assistance
P.O. Box 3035
Stamford, CT 06905
Phone: 203-636-0971
Fax: 203-883-0325
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