6 Foods you can share with your dog

With so many warnings about what NOT to feed your dog it can be worrying and hard to remember what might be dangerous. As with all treats, moderation is key but there are lots of human foods you can safely share with you furry baby!

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Apples

Take out the core because the seeds are poisonous but the rest of the apple is full of fibre and is a great sweet treat!

Cheese

Little cheese cubes are a perfect training treat and it’s packed with calcium and protein!

Eggs

Eggs are very easily digested so it’s a great treat for those with sensitive tummies! Eggs are also big in protein and calcium.

Green beans

Full of fibre, very filling but low on calories these are great for skimming some weight off of your dog. Raw or cooked is fine, just make sure they are not salted.

Sweet Potatoes

These are very good for digestion and loved by many!

Tinned Tuna

Make sure it’s in water, not oil and no salt added. This treat is a no brainer!

Tips for Owning a House Rabbit

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Neuter/Spay your bunny

Aside from the obvious benefit (no baby bunnies here, thanks!), you’ll find that neutered rabbits will have better litterbox habits as they are less inclined to mark their territory. Optimal time for this is between 3 and 6 months but consult your veterinarian to be sure.

Bunny-proofing

Rabbit’s are natural nibblers; anything they can chew, they will! Including your electrical cables! So for their own safety, and your sanity, make sure all cables are sufficiently hidden or tubed.

Give them plenty of chew toys.

Use a bitter spray, specifically designed for Bunny-Proofing, on chair legs etc. Block off any spots that seem to be favourite chewing spots.

Train them

You might laugh, but Rabbits can be trained too! So using gentle and positive reinforcement will encourage your House Rabbit into good habits. Just bear in mind it can take a little longer than your average cat or dog.

Don’t underestimate your Rabbit

You might think that a House Rabbit will be less maintenance than a dog or cat; FALSE. Rabbits care costs and time/attention/training needed can easily match a dog or cat but so does the joy from having one become part of your family!

Lots of Hay.

And then some more.

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Firework Fright Night

The 5th November (and New Year) can be a dreaded date on the pet owner’s calendar. Loud bangs and whistling noises from fireworks can be terrifying for some pets, whereas others will take it in their stride.

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Here are some tips to help you deal with your frightened animals, whether they’ve been upset by the noise for years, or if it’s their first Firework Night.

Distraction Techniques

Make Some Noise

Turn the TV up, put some music on, or create a noise that drowns out the banging of fireworks. Obviously you can’t do this all night, but it can cut down on stress throughout the evening.

Food Diversions

Try a stuffed Kong to distract your dog, hide treats around the room and let him have one every time a firework explodes. Give your cat a cat-nip toy, a big paper bag, or some crunchy cat treats. When you couple this with a loud television it can get them through the worst.

Keep Pets Indoors

Keep your cats and dogs inside when there are fireworks. They may be startled and run into the road, or escape from your garden to find a safer spot.  Provide a litter tray for your cat and put your dog on a lead for his night-time ablutions!

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Stay With Them

If your pets are scared of the bangs and whizzes, stay with them or find a sitter if you need to go out. If you leave a frightened animal in your home you might be faced with some destruction when you return.

Use Diffusers

Try a pheromone scent diffuser to calm your pets. The scent is based on pheromones their mother would release in the early days of kitten or puppyhood. Diffusers for cats and dog are available.

Outside pets

Make sure your outside pets are securely locked in their hutches. Wrap their hutch in a duvet to muffle noises, and ensure they are not in the direct line of your neighbour’s bonfire. If necessary bring them indoors.

Give your home bonfire a good poke before setting light to it, because they are perfect hedgehog nesting sites, especially if you have been building it up for a while. If you can, turn the pile over to double check.

Firework Dangers

The 5th November or New Year can be dangerous for pets, so don’t let them near bonfires or any firework displays. Dogs are usually banned from public displays for good reason.

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Keep your wits about you when fireworks are scaring your pets because they may strike out under stress. Keep small children or strangers away, and pay attention to your pet’s body language. Your pet may just want to be left alone during the commotion, and you should respect that.

A Flying Start To Winter

As the nights draw in, it’s time to think about our wild bird population, who are bracing themselves for winter. During the summer months, there’s plenty of food and shelter about, but in autumn this begins to change.

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Here’s how you can help our wild bird population.

1. Food

As the weather gets chilly, birds need more protein and fat-rich foods on a regular basis including:

Fats: Pure fats, such as lard and suet, help build energy reserves, but butters and vegetable oils will smear onto feathers, which prevents insulation and waterproofing. Buy good quality fat-balls, half coconuts, and bird-cakes to be safe. Never offer desiccated coconut, as this can swell up inside a bird’s stomach.

Seeds and nuts: The smaller your mix, the smaller the birds you will attract. The better mixes contain flaked maize, sunflower seeds, and peanut granules. Sunflower seeds are a favourite with many British birds, but try black sunflower seeds, as they contain more oil. Mealworms are particularly loved by robins, and peanuts are always a favourite. Buy them from a reputable store, as they can be high in poisonous aflatoxin that can poison birds.

Insect-based: If you are looking to attract rarer birds, such as tree-creepers, then keep an eye out for ant-pupae and live insect-based foods.

2. Water

It’s getting cold, but birds still need to drink. In frosty conditions, break ice on your bird-bath and continue to fill it every day. If it snows, or there is heavy frost, brush greenery clear, so birds have somewhere to queue! Give birds an extra helping hand with several water sources, as larger birds intimidate the smaller. Hanging bird-baths are worth considering as they are popular with sparrows and tits.

3. Autumn Clean Up

In the autumn, clean your bird-houses with mild antiseptic water, and check them for rot. If the box was successful, return it to the same spot. If it wasn’t, consider moving it away from strong sunlight, areas under direct rain-fall, and cat-friendly garden fences or sturdy tree branches.

Also take the time to hose down your bird-table and feeders, and scrub out the bird-bath every week too, as this keeps it free from algae and toxins. Watch out for mice and rats if you put food on your grass for ground-feeders, such as thrushes or dunnocks, and avoid leaving out rotting food. If you find that food is leftover at the end of day, you are putting out too much!

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With our native species on the decline, it’s important to help our wild birds when we can. A helping hand of fresh water, peanuts or suet can make the difference between life and death for our feathered friends.

How To Occupy Anxious Pets

In their natural habitat animals usually live in groups, so when we leave them on their own they can become bored and anxious. Here are some ideas to keep your pet occupied.

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Reassuring Sounds

It can help to leave a low volume radio on. Make it a talk show rather than music, as chatter is more relaxing than ‘up and down’ sounds. You can leave the TV on instead if you prefer, your pet probably won’t watch it, but the sound may prove soothing.

Provide Some Toys

Toys can help keep your pet entertained. Cats enjoy cat nip, a look-out tower, or even a cardboard box to hide in.  Dogs appreciate chewy toys, but avoid squeaky toys when they are home alone as they can cause over-stimulation. Buy them something to get their teeth into instead.

A Safe Haven

A comfortable warm bed is a must too. Try leaving a piece of your old worn clothing in there, or try plug-in pheromone diffusers as the scent can calm anxious pets.

Kong Are Excellent

Kongs are available for cats or dogs, and they are great at keeping them occupied.

A Kong is a tough, non-toxic, dishwasher safe, rubber toy that you can stuff with treats. A dog or cat’s natural instinct is to forage for food, so a Kong will keep them entertained for hours, especially if you prepare it the night before and store it in the freezer. It will take them longer to retrieve all the treats when it’s frozen solid.

Dogs enjoy chewing a Kong, and because chewing is a stress reliever for them, you may find it prevents destructive habits in your home. Some cat Kongs have feathers attached and are easier to bat and chase rather than chew.

A Daily Visitor

If you work all day then it might help to have a friend pop in to break up your pet’s lonely hours. If there is no-one you can ask, look for a dog walker or cat-sitter to help you. It might seem like an unnecessary expense, but it’s cheaper than replacing the carpets, curtains and furniture.

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Two’s Company

You may find that your bird, rabbit, hamster or other caged animal is lot happier with company. Few animals live in solitary conditions and all of them pair up to mate. Imagine life without a friend for company.

Be careful when you introduce pets though, start off with separate cages and place them close to one another, so they can become used to smells and sounds without thinking an intruder has arrived.

And make sure you’ve neutered!

If you need any advice, pop into the store and chat with our staff. We have plenty of experience to share with you.

Responsible Pet Ownership

Welcoming a pet into your family is a big step, you’re responsible for them legally, financially and morally, but it’s not hard to be a responsible pet owner.
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Just follow these steps:

Obey the law
It’s illegal to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal through cruelty or neglect, so it’s important to ensure you understand your pet’s needs. Alongside this there are some specific points of law relating to dogs:

  • You can be prosecuted, jailed and your dog destroyed if it is out of control. Take your dog to training classes to make sure you can control them at all times.
  • You must also pick up poo. It’s not top of a dog owner’s wish list, but it must be done! Use a poop-scoop if it makes you feel unwell.

Microchips
These are an excellent life-long way to ensure you’re reunited with your pet should they get lost. Dogs must be micro-chipped by law from April 2016 but cats, rabbits, and most other pets can be chipped too.

Health
Regular worming and flea treatment is a must. Worms can affect your health as well as making your pet underweight and miserable. Fleas will drive them crazy and will infest your house all year round.

Vaccinations can save your pet from deadly diseases. Speak to a vet about what you need for your pet. Many vets have ‘fit clubs’ which enables you to spread the cost.

Think about pet insurance too – it can save you from a large unexpected vet bills.

Neuter
Rescue centres are full of unwanted pets. Always neuter yours to avoid unwanted litters.

Exercise
Pets need exercise everyday otherwise behavioural issues may occur. Walk your dog every day, and provide toys and stimulation for all other pets.

Food and Water
Every pet must be fed according to their specific needs. Rabbits need more than carrots! You shouldn’t give any pet human food particularly not chocolate which can be fatal. If you’re not sure what to feed your pet come and ask us in store – we’ve plenty of experience to share.

Appropriate Housing
Outdoor pets must be kept safe and dry. A damp hutch is unfair on a guinea pig who may develop fungal infections or respiratory problems. Foxes will prey on outdoor caged pets so hutches, runs and coops must be secure.

Indoors pets should have their own comfortable, safe sleeping area. Old, young or ill pets need comfortable bedding. The floor isn’t enough!

Reptiles can be tricky because they need heat and will die without it. Again, come and ask us if you need help.

A pet should enrich your life.  If you follow these responsible pet owner guidelines you’ll have years of happy companionship to come.

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A Little Taste Of ‘The Good Life’

The increasing popularity of keeping chicken, ducks and geese as pets is a rewarding hobby, especially when they become friendly and provide you with fresh eggs! Here are some tips for the aspiring pet poultry-keeper.

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Safe Shelters and Pens

Our feathered pets need space to forage and wander, but they must be kept in a secure pen. This is to prevent them escaping, and also to keep foxes out.  Dig chicken wire into the ground and curve it outwards to prevent foxes digging beneath. Always shut poultry safely inside when they begin to roost at sundown, don’t wait until it gets dark. Ensure that the pen is kept clean and free from rotting food too, otherwise rodents will move in.

Keeping Chickens

A couple of hens scratching around your garden may lead to fat yellow eggs for breakfast, but you need to put in some work first. Their main diet should consist of a good quality laying pellet, with the right minerals and vitamins. You can buy these in pet stores or farmer’s merchants. Supplement pellets with fresh greens, and let them forage as far as possible. Chickens need insoluble grit too, such as calcium rich oyster-shell; otherwise you’ll get soft eggshells that fall apart in your hands.

Wood-shavings and loose straw should be placed on their shelter’s flooring, so they can occupy themselves if it’s wet outside.  Don’t forget to provide plenty of fresh water every day.

Keeping Ducks

Ducks also require a good quality pellet diet as a base, but they should also be able to forage around water. A paddling pool or pond deep enough for them to swim in will make two or three ducks very happy, so make sure you can provide the right environment for them.

Bear in mind that unless you have runner ducks, they may fly off unless their wings are clipped!

Keeping Geese

Some geese are a deal bigger than chicken and ducks, so their pens should reflect their size. Again, pellets are their staple diet, alongside green vegetables and fruit supplements. Given room to graze, geese will keep your lawn short for you. They also make noisy ‘guard-dogs’ as they can show aggression towards strangers.

Three Tops Tips!

  1. Our feathered friends are flock animals, so it’s best to keep two or three together.
  2. Chickens, ducks and geese will try most foods, but keep bread to a minimum, or they will become overweight or stop laying.
  3. Poultry can be smelly, so keep them away from your house, and clear up mess every day.

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Enjoy your new pets, but don’t forget to consider your neighbours. A cockerel crow at sunrise is only romantic in the movies!

Considering a Puppy or Kitten?

Nothing has more ‘awww’ factor than a litter of pups or kittens. With their big eyes, playful games, and tiny tails few can resist picking one up for a cuddle.

Although they are endlessly cute, there are some points to consider before you pick up your new friend.

Puppies

It’s important to think about how large a pup will get when he’s fully grown. Choose a breed that suits your lifestyle. Small dogs don’t necessarily need less exercise than larger dogs, so read up on the breed traits before you choose.
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Bedding
Puppy safe bedding is important. Pups love to chew, so their beds need to be made from safe material.

Collar
They will need a puppy collar that doesn’t slip off and a suitable lead when you venture outside.

Puppy Food
Talk to your breeder or pop into our shop for advice about good quality puppy food. Make sure you don’t over-feed them, especially when it comes to treats – overweight pets have a host of expensive medical issues!

Parasite Control
Puppy specific flea, tick and worm control is a must. Don’t use leftover dog treatments as the chemicals are too strong for pups.

Vaccinations
It’s best not to take your pup outside until their vaccinations are complete.

 

Kittens

Thoroughly naughty in every way, kittens are great fun to be around because they think they are fearless lions on the Serengeti plains. Here are some considerations for young Tiddles.
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Bedding
Put cosy bedding in a place that’s accessible to your kitten, but away from children and other pets.

Kitten Food
It’s best to continue with your kitten’s current diet to avoid an upset tummy. Change it gradually if you want to feed them something different.
Kittens can’t tolerate cow’s milk, so try specific kitten milk instead, although once weaned from mum they don’t need it as part of their diet.

Parasite Control
Flea, tick, and worm control is very important. If a kitten is overrun with fleas she may become anaemic and need urgent vet treatment.

Neutering
A female kitten can breed from the age of 4 months. Unless you want three litters of kittens every year get a neutering appointment booked! Some people are caught out by assuming brothers and sister kittens won’t mate – they will! 

 

Rescue Pups and Kittens

There are many puppies and kittens in rescue care. It’s worth considering a second hand pet as many are homeless through no fault of their own. Beware private advertisements online because they may be farms that unscrupulously breed for profit.

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Overall, enjoy your bundle of fluff! They grow and learn rapidly, so set training and rules in place from the first night home. You might even succeed with a puppy!

 

 

Exercising Pets

Run Rabbit Run!

We all know that exercise is good for us, but it’s important to remember that it’s good for our pets too. Obesity leads to illness, and illness leads to vet bills.

Unless they are ill, all pets need to move around, stretch their legs, and exercise every day. Some are enthusiastic about the prospect, whereas others need encouragement! Let’s take a look at methods of pet exercise now that autumn is on its way.

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Dogs

A walk is the obvious option. Come rain or shine, no matter the size of your pooch, they need some exercise. To help them get into the spirit, try a ball thrower. They are inexpensive and will save your arms. Ball throwers are safer than sticks, which can stab your dog if they run into them. Another option is an extending lead, as this opens up the space they have to run. Extenders are a good option if your dog is not good at returning.

Autumn can be chilly. If your dog is uncomfortable they won’t want to move around, so try a fleece or waterproof coat to keep them happy. Use small, healthy treats to get that doggy running. A splash in the lake is great exercise too, but make sure there are no running currents, and the banks are not steep.

Cats

Cats are notoriously lazy. Unless your puss is an avid hunter, they may spend all day just eating and sleeping. This inactivity can lead to obesity. Try playing with toys such as laser pens, fishing poles, towers, or anything with catnip as it stimulates playfulness. A cardboard box is a good option too. You can even buy swimming fish apps created especially for your cat to pounce on. Cut down on your cat’s food if they just won’t move.

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Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and Hamsters

All caged animals are susceptible to obesity, so make sure you are not over-feeding them. Bunnies and other outdoor animals should have enough room to run and stand on their hind legs. If you have a small run, consider bringing them indoors to run safely. Hamsters and other small pets should have spinning wheels. It’s a great idea to let them run around in your empty bath.

Birds

Birds can be let out to fly around if safe, but it goes without saying – shut all windows and doors first! Confine them to one room, and drape sheets on anything that won’t agree with bird poop – just in case!

Exercise is an essential part of a healthy pet’s lifestyle. You might also find that sharing this time with your pet is a great de-stressor for you too!

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Flea & Tick Control – Jump To It!

Fleas and ticks are mini vampires that feed on our pets. Given the chance they will breed uncontrollably. Thankfully these days it’s simple to control these parasites.

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Fleas
Fleas live in your carpets and in your pet’s fur. Their lifecycle can be anywhere from a couple of weeks to many months, so a few fleas can rapidly over-run your house. You‘ll notice your pets scratching if they are infested. Simply running a comb through their coat may reveal specks of blood, or even live fleas. Fleas spread easily because they can jump up to 10cm.

Ticks
Ticks on the other hand live in long grass. They transfer to you or your pet for a meal, and then drop off. They can spread Lyme disease so remove them safely with a cheap and simple tick twister. Never pull off ticks with your fingers, because the head may stay buried, and this can cause infections.

How To Control Them!

Dogs
Dogs will scratch themselves raw if they are infested with fleas. Regularly use a spot-on treatment that kills fleas and ticks. Brush your dog and treat his bedding. Just washing it isn’t enough if fleas are present. You’ll need to spray it with a flea treatment.

Cats
Cats generally loathe any kind of spray or powder. If your moggie does, use a spot-on treatment. A flea comb or tick twister will help tease any out whilst you wait for it to work. Keep a glass of water beside you to put live fleas in. You’ll have to be quick though!

Rabbits / Guinea Pigs
Use a spot-on treatment to keep them flea free. Because rabbits and guinea pigs don’t usually mix with others, or catch fleas from wild animal by hunting them, they may not pick up parasites. Be watchful though, and if in doubt treat them. Remember that house rabbits can catch fleas from cats and dogs.

Caged Birds
It isn’t likely your bird will have fleas, but they can catch mites and lice. An anti-mite spray is usually enough if you spot any scratching.

Take Care

Dog flea products poison many cats each year as a result of accidental application, or close contact to a treated dog. Symptoms include drooling, tremors and seizures. It’s not safe to swap your flea and tick treatments between pets.

If you are thinking about flea and tick control it’s worth worming your pet too, as fleas carry tapeworm larvae.

Parasites will harm your pets and they may spread to your family too. With simple low cost treatment available there’s no time like the present to de-flea your pet

Confused? Questions? Pop into the shop and we’ll gladly assist you!