Keeping your pets cool in hot weather

Exercise

There is a simple trick to help determine if it is too hot to exercise your dog and that is to remove your shoes and walk on the pavement barefoot.  If it is too hot for you, it is too hot for your dog.

Dogs can suffer heatstroke within minutes and the signs include excessive panting and collapse.  It is important to remember that once a dog shows signs like these, the damage can be already done, which is why we must prevent it.

Keeping a dog cool

  • Keep a cold damp towel under your dog if possible and keep replenishing it as it dries.
  • Ensure that he has access to cold water throughout the day, keeping it topped up at all times.
  • Only walk your dog first thing in the morning and last thing at night
  • Remember that flat-faced breeds really suffer in the heat, so be vigilant and ensure that there breathing is not affected.
  • Try making cooling treats by putting their favorite food in ice-cubes.
  • NEVER leave your dog in a car during hot days.  Open windows will not prevent them from overheating.
  • A paddling pool will help your dog cool down and what dog doesn’t enjoy a good splash
  • Provide a cooling mat, but ensure that it is purchased from a reputable store and follow instructions for use.

Hutches

It isn’t just your dog that can suffer heatstroke.  Outdoor hutches should be moved inside if possible, to a cool part of the house.  Free running on cold tiles will help them to keep cool and if this isn’t possible, move them to a shaded part of the garden and use a cold damp towel to drape over their hutch/cage.

Also, be sure to keep replenishing their bottles with cold water and check on them regularly throughout the day.

Horses and livestock

It is important that your horses and livestock have access to shade and freshwater, which can evaporate during hot weather.

Fans can be provided to cool livestock, ensuring that they receive adequate ventilation.  Sprinklers will also as a coolant during extreme temperatures.

Wildlife

Wildlife can also struggle during severe heat, so leaving water in your garden will help to quench their thirst and keep them cool.

Birdbaths are a welcome attraction for birds and will help them to clean their feathers, before finding a sunny space to dry.

Finding regular food can be a struggle for wildlife during hot periods and some wildlife trusts recommend leaving food for the hedgehogs, such as tinned cat or dog food (not fish).  Specialised food can be purchased from wildlife food suppliers, but NEVER feed them milk, since this can cause severe tummy upset.

Cats

As with dogs, cats should have access to fresh cool water.  While they love the warmth,  intense heat can see them can suffer so keep them out of conservatories.

White cats are particularly susceptible to sunburn, so apply suncream to their ears and faces and when the sun is at its strongest, keep them indoors.  They can also benefit from a cooling mat and if they do show signs of heatstroke :

  • excessive panting
  • increased heartbeat
  • lethargy
  • panting

If you are worried about any animal, please seek veterinary treatment immediately.

 

5 Benefits of adopting a pet

Please take me home

There are so many benefits of adopting a rescue pet, not least because you will be saving lives and also have a friend for life.

When you adopt a shelter pet, it really can be a life changing moment. Nothing can beat the excited wag of dogs tail, a happy purr, or a long cuddle at the end of your working day.

There is a serious pet overpopulation in the U.K and not every pet is lucky enough to find a new home, which results in healthy cats and dogs being put to sleep. The following are five good reasons to adopt from a rescue group, or shelter.

Save money

Did you know that the majority of rescue centres will microchip, and neuter your pet before they are rehomed?  They will also worm and vaccinate and some shelters will even test cats for  FeLV and in some cases, dogs are checked for heartworm.  They also receive a veterinary check and will hand out advisory sheets, outlining the best care.

Saving lives

Pets in shelter are all deserving of a second chance and contrary to some beliefs are not there through bad behaviour.

They can be lost, abandoned, the result of a divorce, or their owners could have died.  Whatever the reason, it is rarely the result of unwanted behaviour.

By adopting a pet, not only are you rehoming an animal, you are also not supporting puppy mills, which is an industry that thrives on making money, by churning out endless puppies and kittens.  These poor animals are often inbred and suffer hideous health defects and illness.  Not to mention mothers and fathers who are kept in confined spaces, with little food, proper housing and human companionship.

You will also be making room for another poor unwanted animal, thereby giving them the chance of a loving home.

Help break the cycle of overpopulation

Sadly, there are just not enough homes for animals who are born each year and adopting from a rescue centre helps to lesson this cycle.

An estimated 47,000 dogs alone were abandoned last year.  Some found their way into rescue, while more than 5,000 were put to sleep.  Across Britain, it has become so desperate that both dogs and cats are now being euthanised at a rate of one every couple of hours and the situation is now in crises.

Every day, rescue centres are struggling to cope and the ‘throw away’, mentality is being blamed.  Charities are hoping that this number will start to reduce, following the legal requirement to microchip your dog, which came into force in 2015.

Health benefits

Having a dog is a wonderful motivation to go out walking.  A dog that relies on its owner for their daily walk, with help you to get moving.

Owning a dog will also reduce isolation and help making new friends. They also provide a sense of purpose as well as a faithful companion.

Research also shows that pet owning victims of heart attacks, are far more likely to make a speedy recovery.  They are also instrumental in reducing anxiety and relieving stress.  Stroking a cat can also give warmth in the winter and reduce blood pressure and playing with them can increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine, helping you to relax and reduce stress and depression.

Improve your social life

Owning a dog, can especially be beneficial at facilitating interactions with other people that you meet on your walks.  Often talking with other dog owners or people, may even help you find love, since they can instigate confidence when approaching someone you are attracted to and even cat ownership, can be more appealing to those of the opposite, or same sex.

Seriously though, owning a dog will at least help you to make friends and they can often act as an ice-breaker at your side.

 

I have just covered a few benefits here of adopting a pet, since there are too many to mention, like returning home from a hard days work to find an excited dog or cat that can provide the companionship and support that we desperately seek.

Other pets also have positive effects, so consider your lifestyle and be sure that your chosen pet will fit into your routine.

 

 

 

Does your dog belt up!

Keeping within the law!

Did you know that rule  57 of the Highway Code, stipulates that your dog must be restrained when travelling in a vehicle?  In fact not only could you be fined £2,500, but you can also receive penalty points on your licence and in some cases,  a ban and even a compulsory re-test!

Insurance companies may not even approve a claim, if you are found to have an unrestrained dog in your car and are involved in an accident.

Tips for securing your dog

In order to keep your dog safe while travelling in your car, consider the following:

  • Fit a dog harness to your seatbelt
  • Attach a zipline harness
  • Fit a dog guard in the boot
  • Provide a dog crate

Making the journey comfortable

It is not just good old Fido, who may be using your car.  Even small furries and cats may require securing, for example, if you are moving and need to transport them to a new location, or more commonly, when visiting the vets.

  • Start young: Animals are far more inclined to tolerate and even enjoy car trips, if your start from a young age.  Have them sit in your vehicle while it is stationary and then start the engine.  Later once they are acclimatised to the running engine, try taking them on short trips.
  • Regular breaks:  If you are making long journeys, ensure that you take regular breaks in order that they may enjoy a short walk, where they can have a toilet break and a drink.
  • Remember to keep them cool in hot days.  If you do not have air conditioning, invest in a cooling mat and keep a good stock of cold water.

Dont!

  • Allow your dog to sit on your lap.  IT IS AGAINST THE LAW AND CAN BE DANGEROUS.
  • Allow your dog to lean out of an open window.  This is distracting for other drivers and a dog could easily bang their head, or in worse case scenarios, fall out and suffer serious injury or even death.

Keeping dogs safe

You would not allow your baby or young child to travel unsecured, so please be mindful of your pets.  They, like your children, can suffer injury and can also affect any passenger travelling with them, if they are not safely restrained.

5 Ways To Spend Valentines Day With Your Dog

1. Enjoy a break together

Dogs love interaction with their owners, so a weekend away would be a fun treat for both. Whether it’s a leisurely stroll on the beach, or an amble through leafy forests, dogs are a wonderful ice-breaker and taking a cute dog on a weekend break, could also land you the perfect mate!

2. Donate to your local rescue centre

Valentine’s Day is all about caring for those you love, so why not donate to your local rescue centre and spread some love to those animals who need it most.

3. Bake your dog a home made treat

 

 

Dogs adore food and what better way to say ‘I love you’, than a homemade treat.

4. Play their favorite game

What dog doesn’t enjoy playing a good game of ‘fetch’ and exercise is also great for reducing your waistline!

Playing and interacting with your dog is a wonderful way to keep them stimulated and you physically fit and they thrive when they are able to engage in these types of activities.

5. Watch a film together

Dogs simply love affection and snuggling with their owner is a delight shared by both. Put some popcorn in the microwave, open a bottle of Prosecco and snuggle down with your dog with Marley and Me, but don’t forget the hankies!

Calling Retired Animal Lovers!

Caring for your senior dog

Caring for your senior dog

Caring for your senior dog

Just as with humans, our senior dogs suffer from age related problems and senility.  The problem is however, is that they cannot always show us what is wrong.

Common health problems in senior dogs

  • Deteriorating eyesight and hearing
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Senility/Dementia
  • Kidney disease
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Dental problems

How do I know if my dog is in pain

There are certain breeds like German Shepherd Dogs, who are extremely stoic and will often hide their pain, so it is important to look for signs of discomfort and agitation. Senior dogs with arthritis, can be sensitive to touch and resent normal handling.

Sudden snappiness or aggressive behaviour is a sure sign that your dog is feeling out of sorts, or hiding away instead of coming to greet you.  Changes in their eating pattern, excessive drinking and sleeping throughout the day are all indications that your dog is unwell.

Our eleven year old German Shepherd is now heavily panting, even though is had no exercise and is noticeably stiff when he awakes from a nap.

When to get treatment

Senior dogs do not have the reserves of a younger dog, hence time is crucial. It is far better to err on the side of caution and get your dog checked out as soon as you can.

You may also want to take more frequent trips to the vet, based on your dogs symptoms and be careful to administer the correct dosage of medication when prescribed.

Adjust their living conditions

For senior dogs with joint problems such as hip dysplasia or joint issues, you may want to consider giving your dog a ramp, to enable them easier access to the stairs or your car. Keep their foot and water bowls within easy reach and provide non slip mats on wooden floorboards or slippery floors.  Heat pads can relieve a senior dogs achy joints, but check them regularly, to ensure that they are not too hot and follow the instructions carefully.

It is extremely difficult to see your once playful puppy turn into a senior dog with health problems and know that their time with you may be limited. They may have their ailments but they still feel as much love and loyalty as they did in their younger years.

The final goodbye

Sudden death is a rarity and it is more likely that they will give clues that they are nearing the end of their lives. There is a strong possibility that you may be faced with a heart wrenching decision about when to say your final goodbye.

Dogs that have been ill for sometime may fall peacefully to sleep, but it is more likely that their quality of life will diminish rapidly, forcing you to make a painful decision.  It is important to remember that the rapid advances in veterinary technology may prolong your dogs life, but it is not always in their best interest to do so.

Your last loving act may be that of euthanasia, setting your dog free from their pain and suffering.  Only you know what decision to take.  When you see the suffering in your dogs eyes and their inability to cope with the smallest things, like eating and drinking and when their quality of life has completely diminished.

The final breath

Having your dog put to sleep is the most difficult decision you will make for your dog and I would implore you to stay with him until his very last breath. Try to stay calm, remain strong and if possible, hold them until they quietly slip away.

Take time to grieve

Just like losing a human family member, you must take the time to grieve.  The loss of your pet can have a severe impact on your health so consider counselling or a support group.  Dogs are with us through tears and our happiness and often are there when our family are not and their passing can leave a huge void in our lives.  Acknowledge your grief, since it is an essential part of your healing.  Take as long as you need and cry when you feel the need.

 

 

 

Rescue Dogs / Bringing a Rescue Dog Home

Bringing a Rescue Dog Home

There is nothing quite so rewarding as rehoming a shelter dog and with  thousands in rescue centres up and down the country, not only are you offering them a loving home, but you are also making room for another dog who is equally deserving.

Under resourced

Rescue centres are under resourced and often overcrowded and some shelters only have a limited time before euthanasia is considered.  Older dogs and those will health issues are often overlooked and it is they that are most likely put to sleep if homes cannot be found.

What to consider before adopting

Taking on any dog is a huge commitment and taking on a rescue dog can be a little more challenging.

The majority of dogs end up in rescue through no fault of their own.  Breakdown of marriages, moving overseas, ill health of their owners or in some cases, they just may not go with the furniture.  Yes it can be as heartbreaking as that!, but in some cases dogs can have been left alone for long periods of time and have therefore developed some issues, but nothing can cannot be overcome.

Things to consider

If you live in rented accommodation, you should first check the terms and conditions of your lease.

  • Does your landlord allow pets
  • Is your home pet friendly
  • Do you have an adequate exercise area
  • Are you at work each day and if so, can you afford the expense of a dog walker each day
  • Vet fees.  Veterinary care can be expensive, but necessary when your pet(s) become ill

A good rescue center will undertake a home visit to check that your house is a suitable environment and you will need to consider that some dogs may not have been house trained meaning that your carpets may become soiled and your furniture may be at risk until they are fully trained.

Which rescue centre to choose

There are rescue centres up and down the country, but it is important to choose the right one.

Reputable shelters will:

  • Give each dog a health check before being collected
  • Be neutered or spayed
  • Vacinanted
  • Evaluate your circumstances and suitability
  • Match you to a suitable dog
  • Provide guidance and support if required

The decision to take on any dog should be considered carefully and the whole family should be in agreement.  By rehoming a rescue dog you are taking on their history and they must be given time to adjust.

Dog ownership in an enormous responsibility.  You are also offering the dog a second change at happiness and deserve to be rehomed in an environment where they will be loved and cared for and they will reward you a thousand fold.

 

 

 

Summer safety tips for your pets – Must read guide

 

Summer is a wonderful time to be out and about for your pets and here’s some summer safety tips for your pets, when the temperature rises.

Symptoms of overheating in pets

These can include excessive panting and difficulty breathing.  Pets with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are extremely susceptible to overheating as they struggle to pant effectively, so these types of dogs and the elderly should be kept cool whenever possible.

Always ensure that water bowls are topped up with fresh clean water and hutches are either brought in out of the hot sun or moved to the shade.

Swimming Pools & Salt Water

Do not leave pets unsupervised around a swimming pool – contrary to popular belief, not all dogs are good swimmers and do not forget to remove the chlorine/salt from their fur, so rinse well after a swim.

Sunscreen

Just like us, dogs and cats require protection too and sunscreen is especially important for dogs/cats with white/thin fur.

Pet owners should remember to avoid any sunscreen that contains para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), since this can be toxic if ingested.  Quite simply, never use sunscreen with zinc oxide on your pet.

If you are unsure what products to use, please contact your vets who will be only too happy to advise.

Cars

Have you ever sat inside your vehicle on a summer day in the searing heat, with the windows and doors closed?  Try it!  I doubt you will last for five minutes with feeling unwell, so PLEASE do not leave your dogs to swelter.

Walking

Dogs should never be walked in hot temperatures, so avoid the hottest times of the day.

Make sure your walks are done in shaded areas and take plenty of water with you.

Snakes

Don’t forget that even the UK has snakes, most of which are harmless. However, Adders are poisonous and should be avoided where possible.

Adders are primarily found in heathland, dune grasslands and other naturally grassy areas, so do not allow your dog off leash in these areas.

Try to keep to designated trails and if your dog does get bitten, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Summer insects

Ticks are a common problem during the warm summer months, so check your dog regularly, especially when walking through wooded areas.

A good groom following walks, checking for any lumps and bumps. If one is found, they can be a bit tricky to remove, so twisting them off with a tick remover should do the trick, making sure that its head does not get stuck to your dog.  If you are unsure, contact your vet for advice.

Paws

When the sun is at its hottest, surfaces such as sand and paving get extremely hot.  Not can it only burn your pet’s paws, it can also increase body temperature.  If it is too hot for bare feet, it is also too hot for your pet’s paws.

Hopefully, these tips will help both you and your pets to stay safe and enjoyable summer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Pet Sitter’s Diary

October 2017

A Pet Sitter’s Diary

Magic the puppy

So peaceful.    And then  ….  the baby alarm sounded.  Moses the poodle pup (4 months old) had started to stir.  I dashed from the bed throwing my dressing gown around my shoulders as I ran into the kitchen and opened the cage door to extract the most adorable puppy ever born.    As I picked him up he started to pee, and continued to pee down my dressing gown until I reached the back door and then he stopped!

It was so difficult to put him down onto the cold garden slabs.  He was adorable and like a living teddy bear.  His pleasure at seeing me was so touching but his pleasure at suddenly seeing his partially sighted brother was indescribable.   Poor Magic was subjected to repeated attacks from this little ball of ginger fur, huge eyes and a never-ending licking tongue.

The days were filled with regular play times in order to tire out the puppy and lots of cuddles for Magic so he wouldn’t feel left out.   Moses slept regularly in his cage as he needed his sleep for his development.  Watching Moses was a constant job when he was out of the cage as any lack of movement in his legs usually meant he wanted “out” but didn’t quite get the message to wait. Making sure Magic was cuddled and soothed and placated was also a necessity.

Walks were an experience.  Magic being elderly was slow and meticulous in his smelling of every corner and paving slab.   Moses, on the other hand, spent most of the walk standing on his two back legs and waving his front paws trying to win the attention of all passing walkers.  Which he did.

This pet sit was such a pleasure.  During the week I noticed Moses’s improvement in toilet training and routine.

January 2017

Moses – partially blind poodle

Three months later and the gorgeous poodles are even more gorgeous. Magic is still partially blind but may be considered a suitable candidate for eye surgery very soon.  Moses is now seven months old, still as adorable and a lot cheekier.  Night time cage is no longer needed and both dogs like to lie on their own blanket, on the floor, at the base of my bed.   Their gentle snoring is actually comforting and soothing.

Walks were determined by Moses whose furry face, huge brown eyes and wet nose would suddenly appear over the edge of the bed.  Whilst putting on Moses’ harness and Magic’s lead, Moses would grab the lead and excitedly pull Magic towards to door to hurry things along. Magic put up with a great deal of bullying from Moses but the playfulness will decrease in time.   Or will it?

My meals were taken in the kitchen whilst the dogs were eating.  This worked very well as they didn’t hurry their food in order to follow me around the house.

Evenings were spent sitting on the sofa with a poodle lying across each foot…

Pet sitting is an adorable hobby and job.  Why on earth didn’t I do it sooner?

Maggie with another furry client

Maggie Lennie

Why do dogs eat grass?

Dog sitting on grass

There are many theories as to why cats and dogs eat grass, the most common being that it is medicinal to help them vomit. However, statistics show that less than 25% of cats and dogs that eat grass are actually sick!

Most cat and dog owners have regularly witnessed them eating grass, especially in the summertime, although it is much more common in dogs than cats, here are a few theories as to why are canine and feline friends chomp on the green stuff:

Digestion

There does not appear to be any nutritional value.

Cats can regurgitate when they eat grass since they lack the enzymes which break down vegetation. This could be a way of eliminating indigestible matter from their stomachs.

Natural laxative

It is thought that grass could act as a laxative, helping your cat with regular bowel movements.

Toxic

Cat in long grass

While researchers find that grass eating is relatively common in cats and dogs, it is rarely associated to illness. However, it is extremely important that dog and cat owners are particularly careful about using pesticides or fertilisers on or near your garden plants since they can be extremely toxic.

Diet deficiency

To conclude, research has found that grass eating is extremely common that usually occurs in healthy animals and is not necessarily associated with illness or dietary deficiency.

So, these are just a few reasons why our feline and canine friends may eat grass, but there is another.  Perhaps they both just enjoy the taste!