Keeping your pets safe over the festive period

Christmas may be a wonderful time for us, but there are hidden dangers around every corner for our pets.

In this video I offer some useful tips for keeping your pets safe over the festive period.

Keeping your pets safe in the sun

As the heat wave approaches please remember that pets dehydrate extremely quickly in hot weather.
We love to spend sunny days outside with friends and family enjoying outside activities, but some of our activities such as ball games etc. can be extremely dangerous for our dogs!

Here are some handy tips for pet owners:

1. Always ensure that your pets have access to fresh water .
2. NEVER leave your pets in your vehicle. On hot days your car will become a furnace and within a short time
this could lead to fatal heatstroke.
3. Take all outside pet homes/hutches into the shade and ensure that any indoor cages are moved to a shaded area
of your house.
3. Rabbits are particularly prone to maggot infestations, so ensure that their hutches are cleaned regularly and
their bottoms checked frequently.
4. NEVER walk your dog in the hot sun. Save your outdoor time for the early morning or evening when temperatures
fall. The air will be easier to breath and the pavements will be cooler on the pads of their paws.
5. Keep your dogs away from barbecues. The food and drink offered to your guests can be poisonous to dogs!
6. Food can go off very quickly in hot weather, so remove any leftovers quickly.
7. Ponds can evaporate in hot weather so check frequently and refill as required.
8. Always ensure that outdoor ponds have a shaded area.
9. Do not forget that pets can also suffer sunburn. Pets that are shaved, or pale. White nosed dogs and ears
are prone to sun induced tumours. In fact any area where the skin is thin and there is little or no hair
should be protected. There are specific sunscreens designed for pets, but sensitive skin or baby sunscreens
can be used as well.
10. Paddling pools are not only a great source of fun for your children, they can also provide an excellent way of
cooling down for your dog.

Be alert for the signs of heatstroke. Symptoms of overheating, are excessive panting, difficulty breathing, extreme thirst, thick saliva and increased heart rate and since our pets cannot speak , they rely on us for their well-being.
Studies have found small and large breeds of dog are particularly susceptible to heatstroke and a darker coated dog is more likely to soak up the heat quicker than a lighted coated dog.

Flatter faced dogs such as Boxers or Pugs are more likely to suffer over heating since their wind pipes are narrower and they are more prone to overheating, so outside time should be restricted to toilet breaks only.
If you think that your dog is suffering from heatstroke, it is imperative that you seek emergency veterinary treatment. In the meantime you can put him onto a wet towel to help reduce his temperature.

Faceless voter!

This is my letter to the politicians on why I will not be voting on May 7th.
Dear Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband & Mr Clegg,
I am the faceless voter. I am not a celebrity, a sportswomen, or royalty. I attended secondary school (probably the worst in the country) and left at the age of fifteen with no qualifications, just a love and passion for animals, which led me to where I am now, a pet sitter of seventeen years.
Perhaps however, since you are all desperate for votes, I now matter, for it could be my vote that puts one of you in Downing Street on Thursday 7th May.
Yes, I care about the Health service. Having my own business I worry about the future for small companies. I am also mindful about all those young people who cannot find work and for Mrs Jones down the road who could not afford to pay for heating last winter, but I also care about the welfare of our animals.
They do not have a vote. Every day up and down the country, kittens and puppies suffer the horrors of puppy farms or concentration camps as I like to call them. They suffer a life of neglect, abuse and torture and when they have outlived their usefulness they are left to die a slow and painful death. The lucky ones will be killed or abandoned.
Then there is Mr Smith, a 75 year old pensioner who’s only companion is little Rover. They eat, sleep and exercise together and Rover is often the reason that Mr Smith gets up each morning. The companionship and the attachment they feel towards each other is fundamental to Mr Smith’s well-being and when Rover is suddenly stolen the impact is devasting.
There are literally thousands of dogs stolen each year and many are taken by organised gangs and being sold on for breeding, dog bait in the fighting fraternity, or trafficked through the internet. Did you know that most dog thefts are unrecorded, since officers investigate only if there is evidence of a crime!
What of the Breed specific legislation, which will never work and is entirely unjust.
This law was rushed through parliament in response to media and public pressure following a speight of high profile dog attacks! It is legislation which will never work, is ill informed and has not prevented attacks on the general public.
Numerous family dogs have been murdered as a result of this act. Gentle, loving and affectionate creatures who are completely innocent of any crime, taken off the street as a suspected banned breed and leaving devastated owners behind.
And now to you Mr Cameron. As I understand it, you have been quoted as ‘having the countryside in your blood’ and that it is your firm belief that everyone should have the power to hunt.
Well Mr Cameron, I live in a small country village, surrounded by farmland. I too have the countryside in my blood and like 80% of voters in the U.K. I do NOT want to see this barbaric sport returned.
It is an ASSAULT on rural life. Pregnant livestock can abort their young because of the distress caused by hounds, they cause misery to wildlife, not to mention the damage hunts cause to Farmers lands!
I would also question the integrity of any man who would consider hunting with hounds to be a part of our national heritage. Well let me tell you Mr Cameron, every single part of a hunt is cruel. The chase, the dig out and the kill. If the fox is lucky enough to escape underground, he is forced to fight the hounds before being pulled out and if very lucky, shot!
Yes, I am the faceless voter, but I will always care, for animals should never be forgotten. They are the eyes for the blind, ears for the deaf and help for the disabled. They defend our troops, detect mines and fight crime. They are part of our society and as such they deserve to be represented.
In the U.K. we are purported to be a nation of animal lovers and accordingly their welfare should be an issue of political concern and that Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband is why I remain the faceless voter.

Check list for your pet sitter

So you have booked your holiday, engaged a pet sitter and are frantically completing your last minute tasks.
Your cases are packed and hidden, for fear of spooking kitty and Tom who are both looking suspiciously at the front door. Clutching your passport, frantically checking you remembered the foreign currency, and of course your mobile phone for which you have become emotionally attached!

One last look around, a quick ‘be good while I am away’, to the cats and your gone, but what about your pet sitter?
Last minute note

A last minute note is essential. While your pet sitter will have already taken extensive notes , it is vital to inform your pet sitter of any changes to your mobile telephone number, emergency contact number, travel arrangements, hotel details, departure and arrival times.


Nobody likes to arrive home to a full dustbin and since the black bin, the green bin, the glass bin (and any other bin that has been added to the fortnightly collection), are put out on alternate weeks, you must instruct your pet sitter, which colour bin will require emptying while you are away.
Behaviour changes

Each pet is an individual and as Kitty or Rover reach their twilight years, adjustments may need to be made.
Cats can be prolific hiders. So alert your pet sitter where to look. Should your sitter be worried if cats do not come out to feed, or in the case of house cats, will they be waiting at the door in the hope of a quick escape!
As they age, cats and dogs can often suffer a decline in memory loss and their senses, sight and hearing can deteriorate, so please remember to inform your pet sitter.

Favorite toys

Dogs especially, will usually have a favourite toy which they just cannot be without. Cats too can be extremely fond of a catnip mouse, or curling up on the client’s old jumper, so alert your pet sitter in order that they may use them to interact or accompanying dogs on their walks.

Medications and recurrent illness

Is Kitty or Rover on any medications and if so, how often should it be administered, and for what reason? Are there likely to be any side effects and if so what kind?
Has your vet been informed of your holiday dates and that a pet sitter will be caring for your pet during your absence? This is important information and although your sitter should have a veterinary release form, a note on your pets file with any special considerations.

harry in bed

harry in bed

The majority of vets will want to liaise with the owner should major surgery be required, so it is imperative that they have your contact details, or an appointed family member just in case important decisions need to be made.
Above are just a few things to remember for your sitter, in order that your pets will remain happy and healthy while you are away.

Emergencies may arise from time to time, such as a burst pipe in the winter, or a pond which needs topping up in the extreme heat, but a good pet sitter will take all this in their stride and whether you opt for a live in sitter, or just a pop in service, you should feel confident that your pets will be well cared for and safe on your return.

Meeting a real life dragon!

I would like to thank Theo and his wonderful team, for providing an inspirational and informative day at the SBS winners event on Friday 30 January.

It was my husband and business partner Doug Cole’s, first time attending a business event, and boy it did not disappoint.

Doug was diagnosed with MS at the age of 40 and I suffered a brain haemorrhageIMG_1682 some six months later, which is why we decided to follow our dream of working with animals. Our business, NINA’S NANNIES FOR PETS was founded soon after.

It was always our dream to work with animals, but I am the extrovert, who works front of house and Doug is the steady hand that guides the ship, while still actively involved with the day to day dog walking and visits. No mean feat with Multiple Sclerosis!

Choosing the right pet

Bringing a pet into your family is a big decision and it is extremely important that research is undertaken, in order that your pet will live a happy and healthy life.

These are just a few points to consider:-

  • Do you work and if so, how much time can you spend with your pet?
  • Are your children of an age to take any responsibility for your pet?
  • Can you deal with a high maintenance pet?
  • Do you have the time?
  • Have you enough outside space to accommodate their needs?
  • If you’re in rented accommodation, are pets allowed?
  • Can you afford the expense of a pet, such as vet fees, food allowance, and insurance?
  • Are you physically active enough to exercise your pet should you chose a dog?
  • Is there someone who can care for your pet during holidays and if not, can you afford a pet sitter?
  • What about your home. Do you have a garden and if so, is it large enough to accommodate a dog?


It is essential that a potential pet owner does their research before taking the first steps into pet ownership.  For example, rabbits, guinea pigs and rats are all social creatures and need company to lead a happy existence.  All too often these social animals are kept alone and therefore lead a solidarity existence.  Contrary to popular belief Guinea Pigs are not always happy to share their living quarters with a rabbit!


If a dog is your preferred choice, you should firstly consider their needs.  Different breeds each have their own characteristics, so it is vital to research which dog would best suit your environment and family.

All dogs need exercise and some require at least two good walks a day.  For example, if you are a fairy sedentary person, you may wish to choose an older dog, which does not need a huge amount of exercise.

Dogs are also very social animals and need to be part of your family and are a long term commitment.


Contrary to popular belief, cats are not aloof creatures who fend for themselves.  They may not require the attention of dogs, but they still enjoy the interaction and stimulus of family life.

Cats can live up to fifteen and beyond so you must be able to provide long term commitment should a kitten be you’re preferred choice.


Rabbits live in large social groups and two will ensure that they have company.

They need a large hutch (the larger the better), an outside run and daily care.  Handling them each day will ensure that they are comfortable being held and cuddled and can easily adapt to living in your home (house rabbits).

They have a delicate digestive system, so it is vital that they be fed a varied and appropriate diet.bunnies

When keep your rabbit outside, you must ensure that they are safe from predators and that the hutch is not exposed to extreme cold or heat.  It is essential that hutches are moved inside during extreme cold and enjoy shade when it is hot.

Sadly rabbits can be the ‘forgotten’, pets, so please ensure that you have the time and love to afford them should you decide to bring one into your home.

Please be mindful that animals in whatever form are a life long commitment. Your new pet could live for anything from two to twenty years and an impulse buy may not be what you expect further down the line.

Rescue pets

There a thousands of abandoned and unwanted pets up and down the country, all desperately seeking a new home.

They will be health checked, microchipped, vaccinated and in the case of dogs, temperament tested, to establish the type of home/family they will best suit.

If however, you decide that you want a particular breed of dog/cat and you still want to help rescue, please contact the breed specific organisations and they will be able to help.  Mixed breeds are not the only animals desperate to be rehomed, so please give them a chance first.

Should you decide that you want to purchase a pedigree dog or cat, PLEASE seek the advise of a veterinary practice or contact the Kennel Club.  Remember to ask the breeder if you can see the mother/father and ask for their registration papers and health certificate which should include worming and vaccinations.

Watch how your puppy, kitten interacts with their siblings and avoid those who have been reared in outdoor kennels/catteries.  Most importantly, do NOT buy from an online ads, pet shops, or dealers who have multiple breeds. They may well be from puppy farms who take little or no interest in your puppy/kittens wellbeing.

The RSPCA and Blue Cross have a wealth of information and free booklets to help you may the right choice.  There are rescue centres throughout the country, who will be delighted to help you select a pet who will fit right into your family.

Where’s Mum!

She has never felt a loving hand,

Nor grass beneath her feet

She lives alone and has never known,

A life that was complete.


She cowers at the man who passes by,

She’s hungry tired & cold,

Her life is brief and spent in grief,

For the puppies she has never known.


She has never lazed by a comfy fire,

Nor felt a summer breeze,

Or seen the sun as her days began,

Nor rummaged through the autumn leaves.


She has never had a special friend,

Or seen an owners loving smile,

It is today her pups are taken away,

She only nursed them for a while.


For her life is spent producing litters,

And is therefore very brief

He doesn’t care, to see her lying there,

He doesn’t feel her grief.


She has no choice but to endure a life,

Of solitude, filth & pain,

Even her babies die, as he passes by,

She doesn’t even have a name.


This is the plight of a puppy farmed dog,

Hidden from society,

Where cruelty reigns until the end of their days,

But it doesn’t have to be.


Next time that you are looking for puppy,

Please remember this poem,

Please try and adopt, but if you really want to shop,

Remember to ask ‘Where is mum’


By Nina Cole – Inspired by our ‘Adopt Don’t Shop’, campaign

We LOVE To Care

2014 has been an extremely busy year and we have welcomed new Pet Sitters from the DorsetBedfordshireBristolSussexSurrey & Essex areas.  We are still recruiting for live in pet sitters, so anyone who may be interested please visit our Become a Petsitter page.  

Christmas is almost upon us!  Yes, is currently only ten weeks away and we have decided to have Christmas Day afternoon with our family, so we will be informing our visiting clients this week to ensure that they book early this year.  For all new enquiries, PLEASE be aware that this year we will be unable to take last minute bookings!  Our Visiting page is awash with information, so when Aunty Betty has decided to spend the festive period in the Maldives and Nigel from next door is going to relatives 90 miles away, remember your cats, bunnies and little furries and PLEASE book early.Nina & Tim

This year has been very exciting for us.  As huge supporters of Pupaid, we were delighted to see the petition we had been promoting surpass 100,000 signatures and forcing a debate in Parliament last week. So congratulations to Marc Abraham for bringing this to the public’s attention and forcing the Government to listen. 

In our seventeen years working in the pet care industry, we have seen too many puppies who have been unwittingly purchased from Puppy Farms and back yard breeders.  The lucky ones have survived, but can carry hereditary and acquired diseases, often as a result of inbreeding.  The parents of these poor pups live in the most unim,aginable cruelty, deprived of human contact and living in the most squalid of conditions and are often killed when they are no longer able to breed!

Breeding MUST be regulated and these barbaric puppy/kitten concentration camps, banned, so PLEASE stop buy responsibly, or better still adopt. 

As part of our ’Adopt Don’t Shop’ campaign, we offer 5% discounts.  We ask only for a copy of your pets adoption certificate and our 5% discount will be implemented to our visiting and agency fee.

This year also saw us win the Theo Paphitis small business award and we cannot wait to meet the man himself.  Our badge is proudly displayed on our home page, with our certificate of registration and our insurance badge.  Hence our motto, at Nina’s Nannies for Pets, WE LOVE TO CARE.

Nina’s Nannies for Pets gets a Twitter Boost from Theo Paphitis

On Sunday 29 June, I tweeted Theo about our pet sitting business during ‘Small Business Sunday’, an initiative set up by Theo that runs weekly.

To my utter delight, Theo re-tweeted my message to his 260,000 followers and as a result we are now profiled on a new website, that is exclusive to Small Business Sunday winners! Nina & Tim

I really hope that this recognition will help to promote animal welfare and encourage more people to adopt their pets, rather than buy. This is also why we now offer discounts to people who have re-homed their pets, along with senior citizens who would rather keep their pets at home while they are on holiday .

It is wonderful to have support from Theo and Doug (my business partner), and  I are ‘over the moon’, to be recognised  for our hard work and to help spread the word about what we do.

We cannot wait to meet Theo personally to collect our Small Business Award and a may even cheekily ask him to give his backing to Pupaid, a petition started by Marc Abraham to help ban the sale of young puppies and kittens unless their mother are present.

Why microchipping your pet is so important

Tim’s story is a wonderful example of why microchipping your pet is so important.

We stumbled upon Tim, late last year when a client had warned us that she had been feeding a stray cat. She already had three cats of her own and despite her best efforts was unable to integrate the stray, so she asked if we could continue feeding the stray in her absence, which we did without charge.


Tim living rough!

Despite leafleting her area in an attempt to discover Tim’s owners, no one had come forward, so on the first day of our client’s holiday, I decided to take Tim to Barton Lodge Veterinary centre in Hemel Hempstead, in the hope that the stray had been micro chipped and his owners could be traced.

I sat in the waiting room full of trepidation and when Lorna, one of the veterinary nurses returned beaming, I knew that a microchip had been found.

Following a nervous wait the owner had been traced, who was dumbfounded to discover after a three year absence, their beloved cat had been traced and a reunion was planned that evening.

This is when we discovered that the stray was called Tim, who had disappeared from their London address during the winter months.  Despite weeks of searching, they abandoned hope of ever seeing Tim again and during the following year, they moved to Stevenage in Hertfordshire.  So how Tim was discovered in Hemel Hempstead remains a mystery!

Without a microchip, it would have been highly unlikely that he would ever have been reunited with his owners. Many people find stray cats and do not always attempt to find the owner.  Some are taken in by the people who fin them, while others are surrendered to a shelter.  Owners that have their pets microchipped are far more likely to be reunited with their pets should they get lost.

Thankfully Tim enjoyed a happy ending and I was lucky enough to meet his owners, who were absolutely delighted to have him home again.

Nina & Tim

One last hug before saying goodbye!

If a cat collar is too loose, a cat can get its paw underneath it and a paw caught in a cat collar can easily lead to serious injuries if not released quickly. I have seen cats suffer deep wounds and if not treated quickly can lead to surgery and a long convalescence period. Microchips however, are a permanent way of identifying your pets and they link back to the owner once it has been registered.

It is important however, to ensure that your details are kept up to date.  When Tim’s owners moved from London to Stevenage, they had the foresight to update their address and contact numbers and I am reliably informed that he is back home and ruling the roost once more!