Grooming your pet will not only help reduce this excess hair but is also important for the wellbeing of your pet.
As well as aerating the coat and ensuring healthy growth, brushing promotes good blood circulation. Grooming helps to keep grease levels down — a build-up of grease in a pet’s coat can block pores and cause sebaceous cysts.
Grooming is also the perfect opportunity for you to check your pet over to ensure they are healthy. Giving them a once-over also enables you to check for any balls of matted fur between paw pads, which can sometimes become hard with dirt and grease, causing discomfort.
On an emotional level, grooming reduces stress in both parties, helping dog and owner to relax and build up a close bond. When you groom your pet regularly — start when they are young to let them used to the procedure — you’ll get to know your pet better, both physically and mentally.
Feeling the need to get fit this year? Or have a race coming up soon?
Your dog may be the ultimate exercise partner! Depending on the breed of dog of course, I can’t imagine a pug or lap dog running that far! Consider your dog’s health, build, and breed. Dogs are always eager to spend more time with you, they have plenty of excess energy to burn, and temptation to skip a scheduled sweat session melts away when your furry friend stands at the front door, lead in mouth, ready to log a few miles with you.
Before you hitting the pavement you will need to make sure your dog is up to the challenge, are they fit enough? Dogs with short legs may not be able to keep up with the pace you’d like to maintain, while larger breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can lead to arthritis.
You will also need to give your dog some training to teach them to run with you. Here’s how to make your run enjoyable and rewarding for both you and your best (furry) friend.
• Give it a go: Just like humans, dogs need daily exercise for their health and happiness. Walking or running with your dog on a lead is one way to get you both moving more. Not all dogs are cut out to log multiple miles at once but many can learn to be great running partners
• Check with your vet: If you aren’t sure whether your dog’s fit to run, check with your veterinarian. A vet can let you know if there are any red flags, and can provide advice about what’s safe and healthy for your individual dog in your individual surroundings.
• Don’t start them too young. Running on hard surfaces can damage a puppy’s joints and bones that haven’t fully formed yet. Ideally wait until your dog is at least a year old.
• Start out slow. A sedentary person can’t just jump off the couch one day and run 5 miles, and neither can a sedentary dog. Too much too soon increases your dog’s risk of injury, just as it would a human’s. There are many apps available to try, for example the NHS Couch to 5k would be a perfect start!
• Don’t skip your warm up. Before you pick up your pace for any workout, be sure you’ve given yourself, and your dog, at least a few minutes of walking or slow jogging. Another warm-up ritual to make a habit: giving your dog a chance to sniff around and do his business. That means fewer stops for pee and poop breaks once you get moving.
• Head for the parks and woodlands. Running on dirt trails will be easier on your pup’s joins and paws than running on pavements. Be sure to check at the park entrance that dogs are allowed, either on- or off-lead.
• Teach basic commands. You want to teach them to walk nicely on leash, and break the behaviours of stopping to sniff or marking every tree, or racing ahead and pulling you.
A “Leave It” command might be handy so that your dog will ignore or walk away from tempting items they might come across on a path. As well as Sit and Stay for crossing roads too.
• Make sure you take water for you and your dog. Remember dogs can’t sweat so being hydrated is very important.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself and have fun! If you need any further help or advice such as purchasing a running lead or Hi-Viz products, or nutritional advice – pop to PetShed, it’s free and impartial.
Now that we are finally heading in to spring, it’s been a long winter hasn’t it?! Here is some advice for your favourite furry friends, from chocolate to allergies to the garden and cleaning.
Remember that chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a bit like caffeine) that is poisonous to dogs, and hot-cross buns contain raisins, which can cause renal failure in dogs and cats. Keep your treats out of reach, why not treat your pet to some Carob Easter eggs instead?
Spring plants and flowers
Watch out for poisonous plants. Species common at this time of year include lilies, daffodils, spring bulbs and azaleas. If you notice any signs of poisoning such as excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea, appearing ‘drunk’ or even collapsing – then contact your vet immediately.
Cats and dogs alike love spending time in the garden. Make sure that your garden is safe for your pet and be careful if you need to use any pellets, pesticides or other chemicals. Slug and snail pellets are a common poison.
Wasp and bee stings
Most cases of wasp or bee stings are not emergencies. With a bee sting, check and remove the sting if it is still in place, then bathe the area in bicarbonate of soda (one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to 300ml warm water). With wasp stings bathe the area with malt vinegar or lemon juice.
If your pet is stung in or near the mouth or neck then you may need to seek veterinary help. Animals, like humans, can be allergic or become allergic to stings. Signs include swellings, distress and breathing difficulties.
Make sure your pet is up to date with his vaccinations, flea and tick medications as this is the time of year fleas and ticks start to increase in number. Rabbits can be vaccinated too.
Just like people, dogs and cats can develop allergies to plants, pollens, grasses, and many other substances in springtime. Allergies in pets normally appear as itchy skin and ear problems, accompanied by hair loss or inflamed skin. Some pets will even change their behaviour due to irritation. Some will suffer respiratory symptoms or runny eyes.
As with people, dogs slow down with age. They may want to take less exercise and start to put on weight. Some dogs become friendlier, and want to spend more time with their owners while others become grumpier. Some become more anxious because they may not see or hear as well as they used to and are slower at getting away from danger.
What happens during ageing?
As the body slows down, it uses less energy, so the tendency to deposit fat is increased. It is the time of life when those little treats start to catch up! Some dogs lose weight due to poor digestion or illness (always consult your vet if your dog is losing weight). Other changes make your dog’s mouth drier and swallowing may become difficult.
The skin becomes less elastic, the coat loses its shine and white hairs may start to apear. Hearing and sight deteriorate, and your pet may become less efficient at remembering things. Sleep patterns often change, with some older pets becoming restless at night. The muscles and bones become weaker, and the immune system may not work as well, so your pet becomes less able to fight off infections, and there can be deterioration of the internal organs such as the heart, liver and kidney.
However, it is not all bad news. Improvements in medicine mean there are drugs available to help reduce some of the effects of old age. Age is not a reason to accept ill health, and even old dogs can lead happy, active lives.
You dog may become less agile and need help getting in and out of the car for example. You could invest in a ramp or set of steps to help larger dogs. PetShed have a range starting at £49.99
So when do dogs start to get old?
Middle age for most dogs is now generally considered to be above seven years of age. But there is considerable breed variation – bigger dogs age faster. Picking up changes in your pet quickly allows earlier treatment and may considerably improve your dog’s quality of life. Don’t forget that older dog still need regular boosters for vaccinations, plus flea and worming treatments too.
Feeding the older dog
It is probably better to feed one of the many senior diets, as they are lower in calories and reduce the likelihood of weight gain.
If you dog finds it hard to bend down to eat, try using an elevated food bowl. Starting at just £9.99.
Is your dog a bit stiff in the mornings? Surely that is to be expected at his age?
Certainly joint function deteriorates with age, and arthritis is common. Weight control is vital and an exercise plan may help to alleviate symptoms. There are a variety of ‘Joint Care’ products on the market now. Ranging from those in foods and treats or specially formulated tablets or granules. Pop to PetShed for some free and impartial advice.
Feeling the cold more?
Why not invest in a nice new coat for your dog. Perhaps a waterproof one too? We have a new range in at PetShed, feel free to bring your dog in and take advantage of our free fitting advice.
They pop up everywhere – in gardens, in the woods, in parks, alongside roads . . . and in salad bars. Some dogs, like some people, like to eat them. They can be a gourmet delicacy . . . or deadly poisonous. They are mushrooms.
Mushrooms Poisonous to Pets
Mushrooms are hard to identify. They can’t be differentiated by studying pictures in a text or on the Internet. Many species, both poisonous and non-poisonous, look very much alike, and they frequently grow side by side.
Although most mushrooms are known as LBMs (little brown mushrooms) and are generally nontoxic. If you suspect your dog has eaten a mushroom, we would always advise seeking medical attention from a Vet. Poisonous mushrooms can cause four distinct clinical syndromes:
Gastrointestinal irritation. This is the most common syndrome and is rarely fatal. Vomiting and diarrhoea generally develop within six hours of ingestion. The upset stomach lasts about 24 hours and requires minimal veterinary care.
Gastrointestinal upset plus muscarinic signs. Muscarinic effects – similar to those caused by organophosphate and carbamate insecticide poisoning – include excessive salivation and tear production. Pupils are often very small and constricted. The most serious clinical sign is bradycardia – a very slow heartbeat. In most cases, this clinical syndrome will develop within six hours post-ingestion and almost always requires veterinary care.
Gastrointestinal upset, muscarinic signs, plus depression and lethargy. Severe abdominal pains and signs of colic occur, as do severe bouts of vomiting. The mushrooms destroy the liver, causing the dog to develop jaundice (the whites of the eyes and mucous membranes turn yellow.) Because the liver produces blood-clotting factors, bleeding disorders can develop. Seizures occur due to the liver damage. The most deadly syndrome has a delayed onset of greater than six hours and up to 20 hours post-ingestion. Without prompt, aggressive treatment, this syndrome is often fatal. Humans may be given liver transplants, but this is not an option for dogs.
Hallucinogenic syndrome. Mushrooms that cause this syndrome are known as magic mushrooms, blue legs or liberty caps, and are considered illicit drugs in many places. “Street” mushrooms are generally edible mushrooms, like those found in supermarkets, laced with LSD or other illicit drugs. Whereas dogs ingest other poisonous mushrooms in woods or the back yard, they pull hallucinogenic mushrooms out of backpacks or other hiding places. Behaviour changes include restlessness and hallucinations. Dogs who are hallucinating frequently snap at invisible flies, may be extremely depressed, stagger when walking and become comatose. Muscle tremors and seizures also occur. Dogs who ingest hallucinogenic mushrooms always require rapid decontamination and monitoring by a veterinarian.
Bottom line: Mushrooms in yards should be removed promptly before the dog notices them. If your dog becomes ill, and you suspect mushroom ingestion, place the vomitus and any bowel movements in a plastic bag for identification, and refrigerate the bag. Try to have the contents identified within 24 hours. Notify your veterinarian that your dog may have ingested a mushroom, so that he or she can be alert to clinical signs that may require treatment
• Never leave your dog alone in a vehicle. You could run the risk of your pet being stolen, or getting heat stroke, which can be fatal. Many people still leave their dog in the car thinking that parking in the shade with the windows open is enough to keep them cool. What they don’t realise is if the outside temperature is 20*C, the temperature inside the car can be up to 40*C. Even in the shade with the windows open!
• When travelling with your dog always remember to have water available. If you take your dog to a beach or a day out, check in advance that your dog is permitted to be with you. Be extra careful with any dogs more prone to over-heating. This is usually dogs that are overweight, older or have lung or heart disease, as their respiratory system is already suppressed.
• Playing and walks with your dog are best in the early morning or in the evening when the weather is cooler. Remember not to exercise straight after a meal. Do not over exercise dogs with longer coats or those who are prone to heatstroke such as those mentioned above. Make sure shady spots and drinking water is available. If you have children, teach them to leave the dog alone when it’s warm.
• Keep longer haired dogs cooler by grooming them to get rid of excess hair, and clip long haired coats for this season. Do not shave the hair as this leaves the skin prone to sunburn.
• If you are having a barbecue keep items such as matches, lighter fluid, candles and left over bones out of harm’s way.
• Be careful of letting your dog stand on tarmac. This heats up very quickly in high temperatures and if your dog stays still on it his paws can be burnt.
• If you do keep your dog outside provide plenty of fresh water and shade. Make sure any housing for your dog is of the appropriate materials to prevent temperature build up and is well ventilated. Bring your dog inside to a cooler spot, at least during the hottest part of the day.
It has become very apparent that stress affects our mental and physical health and, sadly, our world has become more stressful than ever. We live in a face-paced world that demands our attention and can easily wear us out. There are certain methods to reduce stress, but one of the best is to own a pet. Pets provide support like a best friend because they are always available to listen (without judgement), which can help you unload after a hectic day. Talking out issues can help you see the situation differently, let out some steam, and feel more relaxed. Moreover, when you are feeling stressed, there is nothing like a sweet pair of eyes that instantly attract your focus and help you get your mind off the thoughts and emotions that are causing the stress. Pets need to be handled, fed, and loved, so you don’t have time to sit and stew in a negative place; you have better things to do.
People are not always around when you need them, but pets are. They are constantly giving off love and gratitude, and they are happy to be in your presence. You can be yourself around pets. You can dance silly or talk silly, and they will not judge you. In fact, depending on the pet they will love the silliness and get silly themselves. Of course, unconditional love like that is a good stress reliever, but constant companionship with a loving being has been shown to improve health in many other ways. Studies have shown that it boosts your immune system, improves heart health, reduces physical pain, and improves mental health as well.
Pets are a great source of entertainment. They are living creatures that have habits, quirks, and personalities that can keep you laughing for hours. The best part is that pet’s personalities can distract you from issues you are having, cause you to engage in more heart-healthy laughter, and keep boredom away.
No matter what type of pet you get, it will require you to take care of it. Being responsible for another living being can help you be more responsible in the rest of your life too. This is especially true for kids who are learning the value of routine and good habits. However, adults can benefit from the consistent responsibility as well.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” Dalai Lama . We need more compassion in our lives, both self-compassion and compassion towards others. Owning a pet who depends on you for survival, good health, and happiness, can definitely cause you to become a more compassionate person. You have to look outside of your own wants and needs, and look into their wants and needs. And, more importantly, you have to take action on their wants and needs!
We all know that dogs will bark when they sense someone near the house, and that can be very good for home security; however, pets can sense far more than just a stranger.
If Christmas is all about eating and drinking, then New Year has all that and a jolly big party as well! However, taking reasonable steps to help those pets, who might find some of the revelry more challenging, should be considered. Here at Hill’s Pet UK, we thought to share some good advice from our dear friends at Medivet Coventry, courtesy of Simon Pudsey, Veterinary Surgeon.
We would all do well to look at how our pets behave when their world is ‘normal’, and this will give us some clues as to how we might help them over the New Year party season. It may well be that your pet will take all this in their stride and not be at all bothered, but for the rest of us, a few pointers could help.
How to make New Year’s Eve a happy one for your pets
Noise is a very big issue for some pets and if your dog or cat is easily startled, runs away, hides or cowers when there is a sudden noise. Then you should be prepared to think about them when the volume gets turned up and the fireworks are being let off. As a pet parent, you’ll already have seen your pet’s behaviour on other noisy, festive nights, such as Bonfire Night and Diwali. This should have given you some idea of how they react and what worked to help them. A viable option, is to create a safe hideaway place for your pet with some favourite toys and maybe some food treats. This ought to be in a quieter part of the house and your guests should be encouraged to leave the pets alone. An endless stream of those going to say hello and see “how they are” could actually be quite stressful for them.
How to help your pets when you have crowds
Some pets do not respond well to social events and do not necessarily enjoy the company of others, particularly if they come to the party bearing the scent of their own pets. The stimulation may just be too much and you might want to consider how they normally respond to strangers coming up to them. If your pet is the sort that “loves a crowd” and will happily interact with anybody in the park, then they may well be OK. However, we must remember that we might push their limits slightly too far and they could react badly. A little thought might save an unfortunate nip from a pet that has just had way too much.
Why feeding your pet before the party can help?
We might want to consider feeding them a little earlier than usual to give them time to settle before the evening when guests are arriving. They are more likely to eat if their environment is relatively normal and this may well not be the case once the party is under way. A high quality easily digestible food may well be a good idea for this meal, as this might prevent unexpected vomiting, due to excitement.
Whilst much of the above is aimed at thinking about cats and dogs, we must not forget the bunnies, guinea pigs, birds and other small furry friends. These guys, by their very nature are naturally quite afraid and thinking about how you might reduce their stress would help them very much. This might mean moving a hutch into a shed or garage or making sure a cage is in a quieter room.
For some pets, particular treatments and remedies can be helpful. It is probably out of scope for this article to go into these in depth. They can include diets which are specifically formulated to help calm your pet and your vet can advise you on these. It is my opinion you should avoid sedative drugs as these can act as a chemical “straightjacket” where the pet has all the sights and sounds but is unable to act to get away from them. Quite often the desire to ask for sedative drugs suggests that the planning has been left a little late and everyone will be much happier if these matters are thought of in advance.
The New Year party should be fun and safe for you and your guests and stress free for your pets. With a little thought this is quite achievable.
On that note, I hope you have a Happy New Year!
A Cambridge University graduate and keen blogger, Simon is a Veterinary Surgeon at Coventry Upper York Street branch of Medivet http://www.medivet.co.uk/practice-finder/west-midlands/coventry/. Simon’s ultimate aim is to help pet owners, make decisions that ensure their pets are as healthy as they can possibly be. You can read more about pet health on his blog: earlsdonvettalk.wordpress.com.
Published 29th December 2014, by Hill’s Pet Nutrition UK www.hillspet.co.uk
Thank goodness you have a pet.
We are (according to most experts) a nation of pet lovers. I have to say that with some of the things we see and hear, that can be questioned. However, latest research tells us that responsible pet ownership can be more rewarding, than we ever imagined. In fact, for nearly 25 years, research has shown that living with pets provides certain health benefits…..
In one particular study, stockbrokers with high blood pressure who adopted a cat or dog had lower blood pressure readings in stressful situations than people without pets did. Like any enjoyable activity, playing with a dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine — nerve transmitters that are known to have pleasurable and calming properties.
Traditional thinking was that if your family had a pet, the children were more likely to become allergic to the pet. And if you came from an allergy-prone family, pets should be avoided,
However, a growing number of studies have suggested that kids growing up in a home with “furred animals” — whether it’s a pet cat or dog, or on a farm and exposed to large animals — will have less risk of allergies or asthma.
Dogs for the Aged
“Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home,” says Lynette Hart, PhD, associate professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
“Their caregivers also feel less burdened when there is a pet, particularly if it is a cat, which generally requires less care than a dog,” says Hart.
Walking a dog or just caring for a pet — for elderly people who are able — can provide exercise and companionship. Heart attack patients who have pets survive longer than those without, according to several studies. Male pet owners have less sign of heart disease — lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels — than non-owners.
Improve Mental Health
Playing with, chatting to or just holding a pet is believed to increase our brain activity and improve our mood. If you live alone, it’s easy to feel down, especially if you used to have a busy household and a large family. Your animal companion can give you that lift you need and we all know there’s nothing better after a difficult day than coming home to a purring cat or a wagging tail.
It has always been our belief that pet owners are generally nicer people than non-pet owners, and this is now an accepted truth. Children who own or help to look after a pet are often less self-centred than those who do not, as they learn to care about something other than themselves.
Children with learning difficulties can also benefit from interaction with pets. One study found that the presence of a dog helped to channel the children’s attention and responsiveness towards the therapist’s suggestion. In effect, the dog helped increase the attention span of the children.
And now the advertising bit. PetShed has everything you need to give your pet everything he or she needs. If you visit our website petshedonline.co.uk, you can see our latest offers, and sign up to receive our newsletter, which will keep you informed about everything we are doing, as well as our latest deals.
Unlike most other Pet Stores, we do not have our own brands of pet food, so if we recommend something, you can be sure that it’s because it’s right for you and your pet, not for us and our profits.
The same is true for our pets. Many People will justify feeding a cheaper dog food by saying ‘I’ve fed this food for a while, and my dog looks fine’.
Firstly unless you try feeding a better diet, then you don’t know how much better the pet can look.
Secondly as anyone who has seen the various television programmes that talk about human nutrition, it is possible to feed a child on junk food until teenage years, and not see any real difference externally, although bone density, heart and lung condition, amongst other things will be poorer than those fed on a good balanced diet. As the child becomes an adult, the effects of poor diet become more noticeable, and the risk of illness and disease become higher. It is exactly the same with cats and dogs, except that they are unable to communicate any feelings of lethargy or lack of wellbeing, and so symptoms may not be noticeable until later, when it is either too late, or expensive to rectify.
Having said that, it is not only the ‘cheaper’ brands that can be misleading, but also the influx of the new ‘premium’ products, championing their ‘fresh meat’ content, and that they don’t use ‘meat meal’.
Compare two foods; one containing 26% dried chicken meal, the other 30% ‘Fresh’ chicken. At first glance the fresh food looks a better product. However, to be used in any kibble type dog food, this chicken will need to be dried first, taking out the water that exists in all fresh foods. What starts out as 30%, can be reduced to only 10-12% when dried. Not quite the same now is it?
The most crucial factor when selecting a pet food is to remember that all dogs are individuals. Each has his or her own genetic build, digestion and rate of metabolism. Take these into account as well as variants such as breed size, weight, activity level and temperament mean that what be the perfect diet for one, may not be ideal for another This is why sometimes trial and error are necessary in order to establish what diet is truly optimal for your pet.
This is why at PetShed, all our staff are nutritionally trained, and are on hand to give free impartial advice on many brands.
No Scaredy Cats This Halloween: Top Safety Tips to keep you and your pet saying “trick or treat!” all the way to November 1.
Did you know 80% of pet owners have owned a pet afraid of fireworks? Do you constantly worry about your pets during firework displays close to your home? Here are the ways to keep your pet safe and cared for during fireworks.
With the clocks changing at the end of October bringing with it the inevitable long nights. It can be dark by 5.30pm (even earlier on a grey day) and for those dog owners who take their pets for a quick walk before settling down for the evening knowing how to stay safe is imperative. Here are our top tips for you this season:
• Dark can fall quickly at this time of year – if you are leaving home in the light will it still be so half way through your walk? Think ahead, dress accordingly and plan your route with sun-set in mind.
• When dog-walking at night, avoid unlit, empty parks or trails for the safety of both you and your pet. Not only is it smart to walk within hearing range of other walkers, houses or traffic
• If at all possible walk with a friend or neighbour.
• Wear light, bright or reflective clothing – both you and your dog should follow this rule. Think hi-visibility jackets, belts or armbands for you and leads, coats or harnesses for your dog. Flashing collars or flashing lights on leads are also a good idea.
• Always walk towards the flow of traffic – this will help you to be aware of what the traffic is doing and will also allow headlights to shine on your high-visibility accessories.
• Whatever you choose, be sure that you (and other drivers and pedestrians) can easily spot your dog after-hours.
• Try to walk in well lit, busy areas – as a general rule we would advise you stick to pathways beside roads that have a gentle flow of traffic.
• Keep your dog on a shorter lead when walking at night and stick to the centre of the pavement. Extending leads aren’t the best way of controlling your dog when walking beside the road, especially not at night.
• Don’t walk with headphones in or chat on your phone– it’s really important to be aware of your surroundings especially after dark!
• Always tell someone where you are going to be walking and how long you expect to be.
• Take a mobile phone with you in case of emergency.
• If the temperature is really low you might encounter some icy pathways – wear suitable shoes and always clean your dog’s paw’s when home from a walk to remove grit that may have been spread on paths to melt ice.
• Take a torch.
• Remember to respect other members of the public who may be on their way home – keep your dog from jumping up at other people and maintain control of your dog at all times.
• No matter what the time of day always clean up after your dog!
Looking at the labels on our own food is something we have all become used to, in an effort to eat healthier. But how many of us pay the same attention to our pet’s diet. As with humans, feeding a decent food to your pet can help to prevent many of the ailments that can cost a lot of money in vets fees. And a decent food does not have to cost a fortune
Cereals as a stated ingredient can cover a number of different products. Generally most suppliers will use wheat in part at least, as it is generally the cheapest and is ideal for forming biscuits and kibbles. It is, however, regularly linked with dietary intolerance in some
Dogs. And the supplier can use a variety of different items, dependent on cost and availability. Soy is often used as a protein source, but is an incomplete protein, and can cause flatulence.
Meat and Animal derivatives this is a generic term for animal proteins which can sourced from any animal. Generally they are derived from the undesirable parts such as the heads, feet and guts.
Derivatives of Vegetable origin another loose term used to disguise hidden ingredients such as vegetable residues. A vague term used to describe by-products of vegetable origin. This can include anything that has been derived from a vegetable, including stalks.
Choosing a complete Dog food
It’s important to remember that although dogs are classed as omnivores, they are chiefly geared up for digesting animal proteins and fats rather than large volumes of carbohydrate-rich ingredients such as cereals and grains. You can see this from their teeth! Look for a food that contains high levels of good quality named meat or fish sources.
All meat that goes into pet food must be declared fit for human consumption. It is also a requirement that meat from a species not normally eaten in a particular country cannot go into pet food. So, for example, there will be no horse meat in pet food sold in the UK. Whilst it may not be prime fillet steak in pet food, it will be food that is perfectly safe for us to eat
Rice is largely used as the carbohydrate source in many Dog foods and is a highly digestible and valuable source of energy. It should not however, be the main component. Beware of products guilty of “splitting ingredients” – which is a sneaky way of making the food label look better. An example is rice, rice flour and rice bran all listed separately. This means that rice can appear lower on the ingredient list, than if all the rice ingredients were grouped together. Brown rice is typically thought of as of being higher quality than white. The truth is brown rice is simply white rice with the husks on. These husks are indigestible fibre, and can irritate a sensitive digestion.
Eggs are a good source of low-cost, high-quality protein, fat and various minerals and micronutrients. Some of the fat is however cholesterol which should be kept to a minimum if your dog has high blood pressure or a history of heart problems.
Animal Fats and Oil Once again, the problem with ambiguous terms like ‘animal fats’ or ‘animal oils’ is that they can refer to literally any fat of any quality from any animal. This allows the manufacturer to alter the recipe between batches depending on which fats are cheaper at the time. Where possible; we recommend looking for foods where the sources of the fats and oils are clearly stated.
Dogs, like all animals, need fats to survive and as carnivores, they are best suited to animal fats. Specified animal fats (ones where the animal species is named – for example, chicken fat, duck oil etc.) are particularly good as they ensure the recipe remains the same from batch to batch.
Dogs also really like the taste of fat so it is tempting for manufacturers to add a little more than is strictly needed to make their foods that little bit more appealing. Unfortunately, as we all know, too much fat can cause all sorts of problems so if you notice your dog is starting to put on a little too much weight, you may want to consider a food with a lower fat content.
EC permitted additives
The EU has listed over 4000 artificial additives which may be added to foods and ‘EU permitted additives’ covers them all. Although many are harmless or even beneficial, it also includes chemical flavourings and colourings (many of which have been linked to behavioural problems and other health concerns) and artificial preservatives like BHA and BHT which have been identified as possible (though not proven) causes of cancer.
As we often say, just because something is permitted, does not mean it should be used.
As many parents will testify, certain foods can have a dramatic effect on a child’s behaviour. As early as the 1950’s, artificial colourings were being linked with behavioural issues amongst other health problems in people and several recent scientific trials have shown a clear link between food additives and ADD (attention deficit disorder) and hyperactivity in children. Unfortunately, the effects of these ingredients seem to be exactly the same for our pets with reduced attention spans and hyperactivity, nervousness or even aggression regularly reported.
Common artificial colourings found in certain dog foods include sunset yellow, tartrazine, ponceau 4r, patent blue V and titanium dioxide, although they may also be listed by their E numbers or even simply as ‘colourings’. It is also worth mentioning that most studies indicate that dogs are largely colour-blind so the only role of these colourings is to appeal to the owner and not to the dog.
Salt, or sodium chloride as it is often listed, is commonly added to pet foods as a flavour enhancer. While salt is a necessary mineral, it is generally present in sufficient quantities in the raw ingredients of pet foods. However, since dogs, like humans, enjoy the taste of salt, extra is regularly added to dog foods by some suppliers to make them more appealing. Unfortunately, excessive salt has the same health implications for dogs as for us and should be avoided. This is particularly important if your dog has a history of heart problems or high blood pressure.
Sugars are added to dog foods because dogs, like humans, like them. They can come be listed in a number of ways (sugar, caramel, syrup, sucrose etc.) and can come from a wide range of sources (corn/maize, wheat, sugar cane, sugar beet etc.). Unfortunately, too much sugar can have the same effects in dogs as it does in people. High sugar diets have been linked to hyperactivity, hypoglycaemia, obesity and tooth decay amongst other conditions, and should therefore be avoided.
Vegetables, herbs, fruits, beans and seeds. We see many more of these type of ingredients if some of the newer Pet foods. No problem at all here, as a lot of these are good sources of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The only reservation we have concerns the levels present in the foods, particularly if these are not stated. There is certainly evidence of some suppliers adding minimal ‘trace’ levels in their foods to make them appear more natural than they are.
For more help and information, call in and talk to one of our trained advisors
There are many possible causes include mineral deficiencies in the diet, as Dogs do seem to be able to sense when they are lacking in certain minerals such as iron and compensate by eating soil. However, this is only likely to be an issue if you are giving him a low-quality food, or if he has problems absorbing all the nutrients from the food.
It could be an example of a behavioural problem called pica which is when Dogs (or people) eat inappropriate things. Check his diet and make sure it is a really good quality food. If this doesn’t solve things, enlist the help of a qualified behaviourist to evaluate his mental state.
Also, if this begins to happen as you Pet gets older, sadly it could just be down to senility.
Copraphagia (poop eating) is usually a nasty habit and not a medical problem. There are a number of reasons why Dogs eat poo and what you can do to curb their appetite!
Oral fixation habit. Puppies (like human children) go through a phase where they put anything and everything in their mouths in order to investigate. Unfortunately, this often includes faeces. As Dogs mature, usually this habit goes away…but not always. Try to encourage oral investigation of toys and other objects. Do not punish or give excessive attention if your puppy does eat faeces—this will just reinforce the behaviour.
Attention getting behaviour—many Dog owners get very upset when their Dog eats poop…which means he is getting the attention he desires. Although it is negative attention, it is attention nonetheless. Try not to react so negatively when you know your Dog has been snacking on his poo. Pretty soon it will lose its novelty and without your attention, many times they drop the behaviour.
Housekeeping—Dogs that are crated, or even kept in one room within the house will learn to function as their own housekeeper. In other words, if they poo in their space, they will “clean up” the only way they can. Clean any faeces up immediately. If your Dog is crated throughout the day, consider asking a friend or hiring a Dog walker or someone to come in during the day to clean up.
Hiding the evidence—if your Dog is reprimanded for pooping (for example, in his crate or other space), he may eat the poop to stop you from finding it and getting angry. Try not to react negatively if your Dog poops in the cage. Don’t punish the Dog or you may have a nasty habit to deal with.
Genetics/Instinct—there are some breeds that are “carriers”…they carry poop around and may or may not eat it. Also, if your Dog has puppies, she is likely to eat their poop. This is an instinct to hide the poop from predators. This instinct usually goes away in a mother Dog. Otherwise, the best you can do is to teach the “leave it” command and be a meticulous cleaner!
Food problems Not very likely these days, but still thought by many to be the main problem. If a Dog is not getting a nutritionally balanced diet (rare, these days), or eating a poor quality food, they may be eating their poop because of a deficiency. If your Dog is eating too little or eating too much, they can also engage in poop-eating. Always feed a high quality, nutritionally balanced diet in the correct quantities to maintain your Dog’s ideal weight.
Medical problems—this is the least likely reason for your Dog to eat poop. If a Dog is plagued with parasites or problems that cause maldigestion or malabsorption, they may eat poop. If you are really unsure, have your vet check your Dog for parasites and perform a general health check. Remember, if your Dog eats poop routinely, they are more likely to acquire parasites and you always worm 4 times a year anyway.
As well as using any of the above methods, you can use products such as Stoll Repell-um, which contain active ingredients that are ingested by your Dog and then become activated in the small intestine and may help to produce a stool which is unpalatable to your Dog.
There are two main types of canine grass eating.
The first is simple grazing where your Dog happily munches on grass and suffers no ill effects. Some vets suggest Dogs eat grass to make up for a nutritional deficiency but even Dogs that eat well balanced diets will eat grass so It’s possible that they simply like the taste. It can be like salad to them, so even if you’re feeding your Dog well, he just might fancy some greens!
Instinctive behaviour the other type of grass eating is when a Dog eats some grass and throws it up. This is thought to be a deliberate instinctive attempt to induce vomiting after they’ve swallowed something that makes them feel ill. Dogs that eat to make themselves vomit usually swallow grass as quickly as possible, barely even chewing it. It is believed that the long, un-chewed pieces of grass tickle their throats to bring on the vomiting reaction. If your Dog eats grass then vomits and seems fine, he’s probably taken care of whatever was bothering him. If he keeps retching and is unable to throw up or keeps eating grass and carries on vomiting, you should take him to see the vet.
Safe to eat? With all grass-eating behaviour, keep a careful eye on the sort of grass your Dog is consuming. Don’t let him eat anything that has been treated with pesticides or fertilisers. Most lawn-care products will indicate whether or not they’re safe for Pets.
If your Pet suffers from these problems, then chewing or biting paws may just be a result of a form of compulsive behaviour. Many people associate hyperactive behaviour with High protein foods, and change to a lower protein food to try to cure the problem. No matter what you are told, there is NO proven link between high protein and hyperactivity. Changing to a low protein food may ‘slow’ you Pet down, but probably only because his general energy levels are lowered, because he is not getting the nutrients he needs. This may seem like a solution, but the probability is that he may not then be getting enough nutrients to keep him in good condition, which can lead to other more expensive problems in the future.
Once again, look at your Pets diet. If you are feeding a food that is brightly coloured, it is possible that it contains some artificial colourants that can affect its temperament or behaviour. Another time to consider changing your Pet Food brand to one containing a proper meat or fish as its first ingredient, and try to avoid ‘open’ recipes that simply state cereals, or meat and animal derivatives. If you are happy that you are feeding a suitable food, then you could consider using one of the many products available which can help to de-stress your Pet, either a home ‘plug-in’ or spray product, a calming collar, or herbal tablets.
Does your Pet limp or appear stiff in his movements? Dogs that have difficulty getting around spend more time licking and grooming. So Dogs that are overweight, and Dogs that have joint and mobility problems are more likely to injure their skin and paws in the process. If it is a mobility problem, then consider adding a supplement to his food. If it is a weight issue (and weight can cause a problem with joints anyway) then ensure firstly that you are not overfeeding, and if not, change to a lighter food and make sure that your Pet gets enough exercise.
Firstly, is this a regular or occasional habit?
If it is an occasional and random occurrence, it could simply be boredom, particularly if it occurs when you are away from your Pet Try to ensure that your Pet has plenty of toys (particularly interactive ones) to keep them interested and occupied.
If it is regular, is it all paws, or only one. Licking or chewing only one paw could be an indication of a problem with that paw alone, such as a cut, or other irritation such as a thorn or toenail problem.
If your Pet regularly licks or chews all paws, then there are a few things to ask yourself.
Is this a seasonal problem? If you notice this happening in the summer months, then it could be hay fever. Dogs can inhale pollen granules in exactly the same way as we do, but the resulting responses are different. While we tend to react with a runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing, a Dog allergy will generally show on his skin. This is because the histamines released by the body in response to pollen in animals are mostly released in the skin rather than in the nose and eyes.
It’s not just by inhaling pollen that a Dog can suffer hay fever either. Direct contact with the skin can also trigger these responses so frolicking in a grassy meadow this summer could leave your Pet with a persistent itch.
If suffering from Dog skin allergies like hay fever he is likely to scratch and bite his body, possibly to the extent that he will pull some of his coat out. He may also lick his paws, shake his head and rub his face on the floor or furniture. He is likely to be more sensitive to being touched and generally miserable in his demeanour.
In more severe cases, the skin may well appear pink, red or inflamed, and if they have scratched so much that they have broken the surface of the skin, the scratch may well have become infected with bacteria.
If your Dog is sensitive to seasonal allergies, it is likely that they will start showing these symptoms from April onwards as Dogs are particularly sensitive to tree pollen, which is about much earlier than grass pollen and the early days of spring are when we usually see it.
If this is the case, consider either changing your Pet’s diet to a food that contains high levels of fish or fish oils, or if you are already feeding a good quality food, you may wish to add some salmon oils to it, or consider an oil treatment, such as Yumega.
If it appears not to be linked to the seasons, then it may be a food intolerance.
Many food brands (even some of the more expensive and well-known names) will contain high levels of cereals, and Dogs have problems digesting cereals easily, and this can lead to skin and coat problems. Once again, consider changing your Pet Food brand to one containing a proper meat or fish as its first ingredient, and try to avoid ‘open’ recipes that simply state cereals, or meat and animal derivatives. This may cost you more initially, but can save money on expensive vet bills.
Most Dogs are fairly uncomplicated creatures.
However, some do develop unusual habits or behavioural issues which can cause concerns or distresses to themselves or their owners. Or sometimes we just want to know what, if anything, they are trying to communicate.
Here are some of the most frequent questions about these issues, and the most likely reasons for them.
Cooked eggs are an excellent source of protein, but raw eggs should not be fed, as they can cause bacterial contamination. Egg whites can also cause a vitamin B deficiency, leading to scaly skin, hair loss or diarrhoea.
Not true. Both items may make the dog’s breath smell, bit will have no effect on fleas.
Any product that claims to “cure, kill, or prevent” is considered to be a medicine, and has to be licensed by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) which is a Government regulatory authority.
All licensed products must carry a VM (veterinary medicine) number and, in pet shops the AVM-GSL symbol on their packaging. So all you have to do is pick any product off the shelf, and look for the symbol. You can also go on the VMD website, and check the product, and see the level of testing it has gone through.
Household Flea Products are not considered to be pesticides, and not medicines, and are therefore licensed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Once again it is easy to spot a licensed product, as it will have an HSE number on the packaging.
Products licensed in this way must be proven to be safe, efficacious, and produced to a consistently high standard. This basically means, you can be sure it does what it says on the label.
Dogs really are man’s best friend, giving affection unconditionally. They can give you a healthier lifestyle, by talking you walking on a regular basis, and introduce you to many new friends, who are also Dog owners.
It is essential that you ask yourself the following questions before getting a puppy or dog:
Don’t consider getting a big pet, if you live in a flat. It is just not right for either of you.
If the answer is yes to all of these questions, there are still many steps to go through, before finding your ideal pup.
Be careful where you buy from. Many people advertising puppies get them from a puppy farm. Try local rescue centres. Most of the major breeds will (sadly) have their own rescue clubs.
Contact a reputable breeder via the Breed society. Look at the specialist Breed and Show magazines for other contacts. Make sure you see the Puppy with its mother, and don’t accept excuses as to why this is not possible. Look for signs that there is a genuine relationship between them. It is not unknown for unscrupulous breeders to use ‘substitute’ mothers, to get a sale. Puppies should not be separated from their mother until at least 8 weeks old. Beware of anyone that can supply a pet immediately, or someone who offers a choice of breeds.
Ask lots of questions. Your breeder should also. A good breeder will ensure that the puppy is going to a good home.
Check any paperwork, such as vaccination records, and breed certificates. If you are not sure, ring the Vet on the form, or the Kennel Club, to check.
Never accept a puppy that looks unwell, no matter how appealing it looks, or how sorry you feel for it. Be careful of ‘bargains’. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.
Finally, ask about options if you find that you cannot cope. Some breeders may allow you to return the dog, rather than stressing the pup, and to avoid the possibility of it becoming another rescue statistic.
There are many reasons why Dogs bark, and you need to determine why your Dog is doing this.
Initially, make sure you Pet is not fed on anything, such as a food or treats containing any artificial colours or other additives, which can affect behaviour or temperament.
Dogs bark for all sorts of reasons such as frustration, excitement and fear or when they are seeking attention or trying to be threatening. How you tackle problem barking depends to a large extent on the cause. In some cases there may be a quite simple and obvious solution but with others it may be more complicated. In such instances it may take time, effort and much patience before you begin to make progress and you may also need the help of a behavioural trainer. Remember to try to work out why your Dog is barking so you can address the cause and not just the symptom. Reward him for being quiet and never punish him for barking.
Dogs often bark when they want something, whether it’s a toy, game, some food, or simply attention of any sort, and this is often a behaviour learned in puppyhood. This type of barking can be very insistent and difficult to ignore but ignore it you must since, from a Dog’s point of view, any attention is better than none. Make your Dog’s barking counter-productive by turning your back on him or leaving the room until he’s quiet. When he does quieten down you can reward him with a pat and word of praise. Teaching a “Hush” command may also work, as can asking your Dog to do something – this will interrupt the barking and show him he has to earn your attention rather than demand it.
Some Dogs are reactive towards people or other Dogs walking past ‘their’ house. Drawing curtains when you’re not around and using a “Hush” command when you are should help. If your Dog tends to bark at passers-by through the garden gate or fence create a screen of some kind or confine him to a different area. There may well be other issues, such as fear, territorial feelings or lack of socialization, at work which will need to be worked on to resolve the barking problem successfully.
If your Dog barks a lot during training sessions try breaking down the actions you want him to learn into a series of steps you can progress along in easy stages. Check your verbal and physical cues are consistent and clear and, if necessary, go back to the last step he understood. Also, make sure he is physically able to perform the task you are asking him to do.
Some noises may startle your Dog into barking and, again, teaching and using a “Hush” command can help. Where a particular sound consistently triggers barking you could try desensitizing your Dog to the noise by using recordings of it in the same way as when helping a Dog to overcome a fear of fireworks and thunder.
Alarm barking alerting you to a stranger calling at the door isn’t necessarily something you want to discourage but you should certainly be able to control the duration by teaching a “Hush” command.
Separation anxiety may be the cause of the barking and your Dog may exhibit other signs of distress too, such as panting, pacing and destructive behaviour. You’ll need to spend time working on increasing your Dog’s ability to cope without you – maybe by putting him in an adjoining room and using a door gate so he can still see you initially. You could also change your habits when you leave the house. Try acting as if you’re preparing to leave the house but don’t actually go out as this may also help to reduce your Dog’s anxiety levels. If you’re unsure about devising a programme for reducing separation anxiety contact a behavioural trainer for advice.
Your Dog may give short, sharp barks at times when he is keyed up, such as when you arrive home, when playing, or perhaps on seeing another Dog he wants to play with. If this happens when you are playing a game, put the toy away until your Dog is calm. If he’s spotted another Dog, walk away with him in another direction. When you arrive home don’t greet your Dog until he is quiet.
Many Dogs are both under-exercised and lacking in mental stimulation. Increasing the amount and quality of exercise you give your Dog may mean he’ll be happy to snooze while you’re out rather than bark. When you do go out, provide him with activity toys.
The causes of barking are multiple – this is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few common causes. If you’re having trouble working out the cause or finding a successful solution seek expert advice as the longer a behaviour continues, the more established it becomes, taking longer and being more difficult to remedy.
Whatever you do …try to stay calm, even though the noise makes you feel like screaming yourself. Reward quiet behaviour, keep on top of obedience training, as this can make it easier to resolve some barking issues. Seek help if you’re having trouble remedying the problem.
And try not to shout yourself – your Dog will simply think you are joining in and bark even more. Be consistent – choose a single-word command such as “Hush”, “Quiet” or “Enough” and make sure you always use it when you want your Dog to stop barking, speaking in a low-pitched tone.