Bling & Sparkle
If you are looking for a little bit of bling and sparkle for your dog/cat this Christmas, look no further than these beautiful rhinestone collars/pet jewellery that will certainly not break the bank.
The large size start at £9.00, with the small costing as little as £7.00 and can be purchased from our very own store at Nina’s Nannies for Pets.
It is wise to remember however, that these collars are not to be used with a lead.
Ruffle Snuffle Treat Ball
We love this treat ball, since it has been created to provide enough of a challenge, but deliver rewards quickly to your dog.
It is made entirely from fleece so no rubber to chew in the middle.
It is also machine washable for easy cleaning.
Again, very reasonably priced at £5.50 and can be purchased from Ruffle Snuffle
Tetford Chesterfield in Heather Tweed
This is one of the most expensive Christmas offerings, but it has been hand crafted and made of the finest Heather Tweed. They really are a quality dog bed, that will fit into anyroom.
Retailing at between £350 – £528.00 this is a product to last and can be found at Lords and Labradors.
This is a must toy for everyone with larger breeds, such as Staffordshire Terriers and German Shepherds.
These are the best bouncing and most durable balls on the market and perfect for the dog that loves to fetch and chew.
Made from Kong’s classic durable rubber they come in various sizes, small, medium and large and retail at approximately £10.49 for the small, depending on where you buy them. We found some on Amazon that start at £6.00
Last but not least comes the classic dog coat and if you really want to splash the cash on your pooch this year, what about this quilted little number straight from Harrods!
As you would expect from a high end retailer, these are quilted Barbour coats which come in all sizes, from the tiniest, to the giant breeds. As you would expect, they do not come cheap and start from £44.94 for the tiny size.
It boasts a slick quilted design, classic corduroy collar and adjustable buckle, with a Velcro closure for easy fastening.
You can find them on Harrods main site.
We hope you have enjoyed our five suggested dog gifts for Christmas and whatever the size of your budget, there is something for every purse.
Anyone who has ever lived with a cat knows that they have a certain amount of magical energy and people often refer to them as having ‘psychic powers,’ in their ability to understand our emotions.
Of our three cats, one in particular, Edna, who is our eldest rescue, has a really strong connection to my husband, who has Multiple Sclerosis and this manifests itself, when he is having an attack, or is feeling particularly poorly. For the most part she is welded to his side and her loyalty to my husband is steadfast.
There is an old saying, that when a cat rubs against us, it is because they are sharing their magic and not only do they protect us from evil spirits, but also the negative energies that some houses harbour from previous owners.
Cat Burglars & Invisibility Cloak
Have you ever wondered why some people are referred to as cat burglars? Maybe its because they are adept thieves stealing at every opportunity. From the scraps on your plate, to the milk in your fridge and then they disappear, just like magic!
How many times have you watched your cat as they constantly return to the same space in your house, staring at something that just is not there!
We know that cats have amazing senses and will often see things that you miss, so perhaps our cats really do see something that we miss and since they seem more curious than dogs, this could explain their sometimes erratic behaviour.
Just stroking a cat can release people from their mental and emotional stress and in the winter, they make the most wonderful hot water bottles.
Petting has been proven to lower blood pressure and this can reduce the risk of heart disease. A recent study also shows us that cat owners have a 40% less risk of having a heart attack. Even a cats purr has proven to be therapeutic and has also shown, that owning a cat lowers your cholesterol and cuts the risk of having a stroke by 33%.
Cats have the capability to squeeze into any small space, however small. They almost defy the law of physics as they twist and contort in the air, falling from great heights with no problem at all.
Have you ever tried shutting the windows and doors, to prevent your cat escaping outside. Within minutes and without any explanation, they miraculously appear in the garden!
Well, they can predict earthquakes, know what you are thinking and even comfort the dying and is it just a coincidence, that cats are never to be found when a vet trip has been arranged!
Our vet appointments just do not work and it is not because their carrier suddenly appears from the garage. They seem to sense that I have just made the appointment, so does this really mean that there is a telepathic bond between us and that they are indeed clairvoyant?
As well as tuning into their owners thoughts, they also seem to know when an owner is expected home, regardless of them returning at unpredictable times. In my early days of pet sitting I had no set time of my arrival and yet just before I was due home, all three would be dutifully waiting on the window ledge mewing as I walked through the door.
So cats have improved our lives in so many different ways. We have fewer medical visits and live longer by owning a cat. The psychic powers of cats may yet still to be proven, but for all of us owning and sharing our life with these creatures, is any further proof really necessary!
The fountain is made of ABS plastic which is safe for your cats and the charcoal filter promises to keep the water clean and healthy.
It is extremely quiet and the automatic circulating water and 1.6 capacity helps to ensure that your pet drinks regularly.
1 x Pet Water Fountain
1 x Flower Mat
1 x AC Adaptor with a UK Plug
1 x Charcoal Filter
There are numerous water fountains on the UK market, each providing a continuous stream of fresh water. Since all three of my cats are used to drinking water on a high surface (away from our dog), I wanted something that was not bulky and would fit onto our kitchen ledge.
It has has a steady trickle of water which our cats love, it is easy to assemble and takes up little room. It also ensures that the water is clean and there is a maximum line which helps to prevent overfill.
The silicone mat is easily foldable for smaller spaces and brilliant for spillages and its little yellow petal makes it quirky looking and attractive to look at.
Pedy is easy to take apart and clean and you can buy the filters separately, which are available online. It has three different settings which are ideal for picky drinkers and offers maximum oxygenation for fresher, better tasting water.
This fountain retails at £18.99 on Amazon with free UK delivery, which compared to other similar fountains of the same specification, is extremely reasonable.
I would definitely recommend this product which can be purchased from any reputable pet store, or online.
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
- 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.
The view of cats being murdering menaces, is shared by people who continually call for cat owners to keep their animals inside, or at least ensure that they are fitted with bell – collars to help prevent them from hunting and killing wildlife.
Dr Peter Marra, a world bird expert was recently interviewed on on radio 4’s Today programme and stated that cats were killing billions of birds each day. For this reason, he stated that cats should be banned from going outside. He also stated that all free roaming/stray cats, should be euthanised if homes could not be found!
There are thought to be approximately 8 million cats in the United Kingdom and it is thought that they kill around 55m birds a year, but they mainly predate on the sick, the weak and the young.
As a cat owner, I cannot dispute that of all three of my rescue cats, the eldest, will take any opportunity to desimate our local wildlife. Predation is an inherant trait but it is their purrs and snuggles, which is a side that makes cats the perfect companian.
So aside from keeping our cats indoors, what other measures can we take to give our wildlife a fighting chance. Well, you could fit a bell to a quick release collar. Theoretically, the sound of an approaching cat will alert their pray and help them to ellude capture, however, in practise it makes little difference. Cats are too clever!
In short I see little evidence that our cats are responsible for driving our wildlife to extinction. The RSPCA also state that they see little evidence to suggest that cats are responsible for our declining bird population.
How can you help
Many of our cat clients are turning to cat proofing their gardens. The solves the dilemma of keeping cats in a safe environment and allowing them to enjoy the outdoors. Outdoor cats are also at risk from traffic dangers and sadistic people who relish the opportunity to injure and kill domestic pets. It will also prevent other cats from entering your garden, which can be a source of stress for many cats.
Cat proofing your garden will limit your cats access and you will need to work harder to enrich their surroundings and keep them entertained.
A bored cat will be tempted to nibble your plants, so you will need to ensure that there are no toxic plants in that area. Slug bait and poisons used to control pests are extremely hazardous and should never be used near your cats. Planting some cat nip and erecting a few platforms, will ensure that your cats remain happy and content while outdoors.
Health implications for overweight dogs
There is an old saying with regard to overfeeding your dog and that is quite simply, ‘killing your pet with kindness’, or what you perceive to be kindness.
Of course dogs relish the opportunity of a cooked sausage or two and look at those eyes when they see you reach for their treat jar. Sadly the reality of too many sausages and treats, can be an overweight dog causing lasting damage to your pets organs, bones and joints, leading to heart disease and high blood pressure.
Less calories – weight management
You can start by consulting your vet, who will advise the best diet for your dog and work with you to ensure that weight reducing and management, will be controlled and done in the correct manner.
They will also take into account your dogs exercise regime and calorie intake. It could be that just cutting treats altogether is all that your dog needs to shed those extra pounds. If this is the case and once your dog reaches their ideal weight, a slightly longer exercise regime, is all that is required to maintain a healthy weight.
Don’t give in
It is so important that you hold firm when Fido offers those pleading eyes. Remember it is for their own good and if you are serving the correct portions, giving more food/treats will only add to more weight issues.
Begging is a trick that they will quickly learn to exploit, so put them away while you are eating.
Increasing their exercise alone, is not enough to reduce a dogs weight, although it is very helpful. You will need to start gradually, little and often, being mindful of older pets, especially in hot weather.
If your dog enjoys playing, outdoor activities such as hiding a favourite toy, will also stimulate their mind, as well as reducing their waistline.
Treats do not have to be like those found in a local supermarket packet. Pieces of carrot, small slices of cooked liver, or chicken can be ideal, but remember to adjust their main meal accordingly.
Neither are treats essential and should always be given in small quantities such as the size of a fingernail.
Be patient with any weight loss/weight management program. It may take a few months before your dog reaches his/her target weight and be sure to seek veterinary advice and guidance before a diet is agreed.
Having more than one dog
The best solution for someone who has more than one dog, is to feed them separately.
Do not leave food out when you are away from the home, since you cannot control who eats what when you are not around.
Weight loss success
For the majority of overweight dogs the key to weight loss success is commitment from their owners.
Dogs do not understand the implications of being overweight and rely on us for their well-being and safety. By overfeeding our canine companions we are inadvertently contributing to a premature death or developing a debilitating disease.
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.
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
- 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Living the dream! A day in the life of!
As house and pet sitters working with Nina’s Nannies for Pets, we have been told we are living the dream, staying in numerous beautiful homes across the south of England. I suppose to a point that is true, well at least as far as the lovely homes we get to stay in, but people who make these comments, forget that pet sitting, can be extremely hard work.
My wife Jacky and I, come from a background of years of animal rescue and rehabilitation in Spain: often caring for large numbers of furry friends at any one time (up to 20 puppies at one time from birth, to rehoming them across Europe).
For this reason, we are known for taking on the larger and more intensive pet sits, ranging from cats and dogs to poultry, horses and occasionally sheep or cattle.
So what does an average day in a pet sitter’s life consist of, for one of this larger multiple animal sits? The answer is, that every pet sit is different. Needing to be mindful of the requirements not only for the animals but looking after the home you are in temporary control off. It doesn’t matter if the homeowner says” just “Make yourself at home”, you never do, just in case, if you know what I mean!
We have been on sits where the owner is so organised that there is a detailed set of instructions for every day and possible situation we could think of, ranging from meal times to bedtimes. Recommended walks for the family pet and yes, you can take a cat for a walk on a lead!
A working day
Perhaps an example of one day at one of our busier regular sits may show you that sitting is not the high life but can be intensive and still very rewarding.
Four dogs ranging in age from one-year-old terrier, with bundles of energy, 2 older terriers and a fourteen year Great Dane Labrador looking cross (no one is really sure), who likes to do his own thing on walks. One Burmese cat who brings you presents, some are even alive (fun chasing them around), several ducks and chickens, a new forest pony and not to mention a large herd of prize cattle that varies depending on the time of year.
Luckily on this old Mc Donald’s farm, there is a herdsman who works on site during the week and visits twice on Saturday and Sunday. Thank god for him as can you imagine having to walk 40 plus cows every day even if there are two of us. Throw into the mix that the farmhouse is over 400 years old and heated by up to three wood burning fires that in the winter have to be kept going 24/7 to keep the house warm for both us and the animals and you start to get the picture. Did I mention the cat is allowed anywhere in the house but not allowed upstairs just in case?
The dogs (all of them have different characters) sleep downstairs but are always there to greet you in the morning waiting for the first bathroom walk of the day, a good 20 minutes later it is food time all have different dietary requirements, by the way is the cat still in by the fire I ask, he needs to go out.
Whilst I watch the dogs feeding and checking out each other’s bowl if given the opportunity to have someone else’s food Jacky checks the fires are still lit and any ash removed.
Ten minutes later pony who we have spoken to earlier lets us know she wants to be moved to the grazing field, that done the very vocal ducks let us know they want to be let loose, in a blur of feathers as we open the pen whilst ensuring the chickens stay put. I swear the ducks are laughing at chickens stuck in the pen as they make their escape into the garden for the day.
That done its back indoors for a well-deserved cup of tea and shower before taking the dogs out again. We are lucky that with many fields to walk them we do not have any traffic or roads to contend with only the odd curious cow.
On our return, the herdsman is in attendance and we check with him that all is well. By now the animals have been fed and are now resting and happy and we can have breakfast and still only 10 am. Check the fires are still okay before ensuring the house is still tidy and other cleaning chores such as our washing.
Now nearly midday the postman has been which woke the dogs, so they need to go out again after the excitement of his visit. The dogs love the cleaner who comes twice a week, so mayhem ensures on her arrival until she has spoken and fussed them before getting on with her work. Mayhem again when she leaves. The dogs then need to have a short walk before we can go out to run our errands. We are allowed a maximum of 3 hours away from the sit but we do not like to be away from out charges for very long as we never know if they are behaving.
We return to the welcoming chorus of dog barks and excitement, anyone would think we have been gone for all day. After the excitement settles down all will need a toilet break again after first making sure the house and the fires are still lit and in order.
As it is winter and just starting to get dark its round-up time for the ducks, checking the chickens are fed and the water trough is not frozen. Collect any eggs; pick up a carrot for the pony before returning her across the farmyard to her stable. Say goodbye to the herdsman having ensured everything is in order with the cattle. Although there is a herdsman in attendance during the day once he leaves the safety and security of the cattle and the farm now becomes our total responsibility. Luckily, I am happy to take on this responsibility.
Now dark but not yet 5 pm and the dogs require their evening meal again, under supervision. The fires are checked again and the woodpile supply for them has to be replenished.
That sorted we can get our evening meal before taking out the dogs once again. All the dogs are very eager to be taken out so often as being on a farm it is both unsafe and unwise just to let them out on their own for many reasons. About 8 pm we can all sit down to watch a little TV, joined of course by three of the four dogs as the big old boy has his own resting place. The only disagreement between the dogs is who can get on whose lap for fuss. The third dog usually the youngest purchases himself on the back of the settee usually also on a human shoulder whichever one is free.
This makes the daily animal and human love in on the settee all worthwhile; we get our animal fix and is also a testament to the care we always endeavour to give having the animals except us so well that they are happy to snuggle up with us.
Bedtime arrives with a final walk by torchlight for the dogs; ensure the cat is also in. Stoke up the fires for the night, a security check of the house, making sure the dogs are safe and settled down and then we can retire: another day is done and another to follow.
Both Jacky and I started pet and house sitting not only for our animal fix, having returned from Spain, but also because we believe in what Nina’s Nannies for Pets are trying to do. We have now just about completed 2 years as sitters and love it. We have a lot of repeat clients who are happy to put their pets and homes in our charge. All of our clients are lovely to work with and there is not a single pet we do not enjoy looking after.
Do we have our favourite houses and pets to look after? The answer is we love all our charges; all are different and keep us on our toes.
As to a favourite client, the answer is the same and that would be telling anyway!
For information about pet/dog/home sitting as a profession, Become a pet sitter