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?

Homework

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!

Dogs

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.

Cats

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

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

www.ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk

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 www.theopaphitissbs.com, 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.

straycat

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!

The Forgotten Rabit

During my eighteen years as a pet sitter, one animal in particular, seems to be the most forgotten – the humble rabbit.

You would think the film ‘Watership Down’, given its popularity, would have helped to educate people with regards to their living conditions and requirements, but sadly we continue to care for solitary rabbits, some living in cramped conditions and often overlooked in their garden hutches.

Rabbits are community animals that desperately need to live in groups.  In the wild a community can consist of up to a hundred individuals, living peacefully in their network of tunnels, so please do not deprive them from having company.

Hutches should incorporate outside space and be raised off the ground to allow air to circulate and prevent water logging.  It should also be secure and in the summer months, moved to shady position in your garden.

You should also be mindful that the winter can be perilously cold and your rabbits should be moved to a warmer area, where they will not be exposed to the elements.

A hutch can never be too big.  I have seen some ingenious living quarters, often designed and built by the owner.  Care should be taken however, to ensure that there are no sharp edges or escape routes and before attempting a ‘do it yourself hutch’, seek professional advice to ensure that the home is suitable, before the building commences.

It is essential that your hutch has both a living and sleeping area and large enough that your rabbits can hop around.  The outside space should be secure and safe from predators.

Frequent cleaning is an essential and a daily regime is extremely important. bunnies

Any soiled hay/paper should be removed, and the toilet area cleaned. Beware of harmful cleaning products, so ensure that any products are rabbit friendly.

Dirty hutches can result in illness, such as sore feet and dirty bottoms, which can result in fly strike.  This is caused when the eggs of the fly are laid and then hatch into maggots, which unless caught quickly can be a killer.

For full details regarding animal care you can visit their website:-

http://www.rspca.org.uk/allaboutanimals/pets/rabbits

Owning and caring for rabbits, requires exactly the same commitment as owning a kitten or puppy and they will delight their owners if you are well prepared.  So please do not allow yours, to be the forgotten rabbits!

Pet Theft

At Nina’s Nannies for Pets, pet and home security is paramount, therefore the increase in pet thefts are extremely worrying!

Contrary to popular belief, it is not just dogs that are at risk of being taken! Horses and cats are also vulnerable and while home thefts are widely reported, dogs are now also being taken from outside shops and even whilst being walked!

There have also been reports of gangs that prowl Britain’s streets, stealing dogs to order.  They are identifying their victims by daubing the letter ‘K’ on driveways. Police report that  so called ‘lookouts’ are leaving the ‘K’ code in crayon or spray paint after finding valuable dogs worth stealing and selling on from unwitting owners’ gardens, so is it vital that dog owners are continually vigilant.

It is not just the owners who are being targeted.  Having worked closely with local animal shelters it seems even they are not immune from the thieves, so what can we do to safe guard our pets!

Here are a few basic tips –

  • Microchip your pet, and keep their details up to date.
  • Keep your garden secure and padlock your gate.  Thieves are less likely to target a secured garden.
  • Keep your pets inside when you are not at home.
  • Supervise your dog even in the garden.
  • Do not exercise your dog in remote locations.
  • Spay and neuter your pet, for they are less likely to stray from home.
  • NEVER leave your dog unattended in a car, or outside of a shop.
  • Be vigilant. Thieves will take every opportunity to snatch dogs that are being exercised off leash.
  • Take a photograph of your pet and make a note of any distinguishing features.  It may be required should they go missing.
  • Keep photographs of yourself with your pet, since it will help to identify you as the owner.
  • Vary the times and route in which walk with your dog.  High value dogs such as gun dogs can be targeted and snatched by criminals!

Are you aware, that a dog collar and tag is a legal requirement in identifying your dog, if she/he goes missing?  Please refrain however, from including your dogs name, since this is an added bonus for anyone wishing to lure your dog away.

Lastly and importantly, please ensure that any company, or persons unknown to you, have been thoroughly vetted before leaving your pets in their care.  Are they registered and if so, with whom!  Do you carry public liability insurance and can they provide a police background check to verify that their details are correct.

If the worst does happen and you believe that your dog has been stolen, report it to the police and insist that it is recorded as stolen and not lost. There is no central database for lost or stolen pets, so report them to as many agencies as possible and alert your local dog warden.

Social networking sites can prove invaluable in reunited pets with their owners, so use them.  Put up posters and mail shot your neighbourhood and notify, veterinary establishments and local shelters.

Most importantly, keep your pets safe.

Interactive toys

At Nina’s Nannies for Pets we are always on the look out for interactive toys to recommend to our clients.  Like humans, pets need regular interaction and stimulation in order to be happy. They might not get bored in the same way that we can, but without toys or humans to play with, they can soon get grouchy and destructive.

Kong Toys are a must for any healthy and hungry dog, and when it comes to boredom busters, these bad boys are up there with the best of them. We have a large one for our German Shepherd Luika, which he adores when stuffed with his favourite food.  Do remember however, when using treats/food in Kongs, to adjust their diet accordingly, so as not to over feed!

Boredom toys are great for maintaining healthy teeth and gums and will have your dog catching, jumping, and chewing  their little hearts out. Many products from the Kong range also allow you to place treats inside, keeping your eager pet busy for hours until they satisfy their canine cravings.

We are also a huge fan of Nina Ottosson Dog Games.  These toys prove that board  games are not just for people!  The Dog Magic game allows you to keep your dog at their sharpest while they use their sense of smell to track down treats hidden under a choice of hiding places. While the Plastic Training Brick is ideal for helping to develop your dog’s intelligence and reasoning skills, it will also keep them amused for hours on end. You might want to go easy on the treats though or else you might need to up their exercise regime even more.

Both the Kongs and Nina Ottosson Dog Games can be purchased from : http://www.swellpets.co.uk/dog.html They are a great company to deal with and are very reasonably priced.  For this reason we are happy to recommend them to our clients.

 

A Jackdaws tail!

In September of last year I was busy working in the office, when I was alerted to the distressed call of a Jackdaw.  We have rescued all manner of animals over the years, including wildlife, so I am particularly attuned to distress calls!

IMG_1022

Upon closer inspection I could a little black figure huddled under our ivy in the garden, trying desperately to defend himself from a mob of Blackbirds and Starlings.  His injuries were horrific.  His head was sore and bleeding from an open wound which looked as though it had been there for some time. His eyes were shut tightly and he was barely moving.  So appalling were his injuries that I wondered if this poor little fellow was beyond help, however it was obvious that he would die without immediate treatment and he was extremely vulnerable to further attacks, so I knew that his only chance would be to seek immediate help.

We are extremely lucky to have the Bedfordshire Wildlife centre on our doorstep, so I gathered the bird in a towel and popped him into our cat basket, hoping to cause the least stress as possible.   I had previously driven wildlife casualties to Tiggywinkles in Buckinghamshire, but had since been alerted to Sam in Houghton Regis, who has been involved in animal welfare for many years and runs the charity from a small set of treatment rooms at her home in Houghton Regis.  When we first met, it was obvious that if anyone could pull this little fellow through Sam could!

She shared my concern but her optimism was contagious and having made a donation for his care, I returned home feeling cautiously optimistic.

We kept in touch via twitter and as the days turned into weeks his progress albeit slow, seemed ongoing and some five months later and armed with a boot full of old newspapers, I returned to find a completely different bird.  Sam informed me that he was blind in one eye, but he was completely unrecognisable from the forlorn little creature I found huddled at the foot of our ivy.

Sam felt sure that he had previously been a pet that someone had become fed up with and decided to release!  The reason being that he had first been so tame and relaxed with her presence.  She also went on to explain that this was becoming less and less the more time he spends with other Jackdaws. He also had a pre-existing long term injury to a wing which was not as a result of this attack by the other birds!

He now shared an aviary with another two Jackdaws and a Magpie, whom Sam is hoping to release in the coming weeks.  Our bird however, could never be released since his is partially sighted and the injury to one of his wings, meant he could no longer survive in the wild.  After watching him interact with the other birds, Sam showed me around the centre.IMG_1034

There were two young squirrels that were awaiting release, several recovering pigeons and a baby dove that was handed in while I was there.  This was placed carefully into an incubator with a fully grown dove, who immediately cuddled up to the youngster as if knowing  it was desperately in need of their care.

Sam truly is an inspirational lady and her devotion is plain to see.  I left the centre with a couple of hens clucking around my ankles, safe in the knowledge that injured or orphaned wildlife would always have a place in Sam’s centre and heart.

 

So you want to engage a pet sitter!

So you are going away and Great Aunt Maude, who promised to come in and care for Kitty each day, has suddenly discovered that she is due to have her hip operation on the first day of your holiday!

The neighbour has already expressed their dislike of cats and is forever chasing him out of their garden, so what do you do?

You have exhausted your contact book and someone suggests that you try a pet sitter.

Your first thought is shock horror. A stranger in your home is not what you had anticipated when you had booked your dream holiday to Barbados, but since you do not wish to expose little Kitty to the confines of a cattery, the option of a pet sitter suddenly seems very attractive.

Following your research you discover that not only do they provide extra home security, but they also take in the post, water the plants and even put bins out for collection. Perhaps the idea of a pet sitting service is quite attractive after all!

So now to the nitty gritty.

1. Is your pet sitter insured

2. Are they registered
3. Do they have a CRB check
4. Can they provide testimonials
5. Can you speak with their clients

If the answer is ‘Yes’ to all of the above, the chances are that you are employing a good, professional pet sitter to care for your pet(s) and provide home security while you are away.

With bags packed and passport in hand, you are now able to enjoy that well earned holiday, content in the knowledge that you will have happy pets, a well watered garden and secured home while you are away.

We are now able to cover the following areas for our live in service:-

http://cambridge.ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk/

http://surrey.ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk/

http://westsussex.ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk/

http://hampshire.ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk/