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Category Archives: Dogs

Why Do Some Animals Have Paws?

Have you ever looked at your pets’ paws and wondered why? Why don’t they have hands and fingers like us? The answer dates back thousands of years and is the result of our pets’ ancestors adapting to the independent and wild lives they once lived in an environment which was very different to your safe, warm home. 

The History of the Paw

Before our pets were domesticated, they had to defend themselves to stay alive while hunting for their own food. Many of the traits that helped them do that haven’t changed, staying with the species’ throughout evolution. This includes the paw

Dogs and cats are the main paw-ed animals that may come to mind. But before we had house cats and dogs, there were generations of wild cats and wolves. The purpose of the paw is largely related to sound and shock absorption. The fatty tissue inside the pads helps animals jump and land without pain or noise, especially helpful for silently hunting prey in the wild while protecting limbs from impact. 

A dog's paw pad

The paw pads are also much rougher when the animal is subject to extreme surfaces day in, day out. This assists with grip in treacherous or slippery conditions, working in a similar way to human shoes. For our domestic pets, the paw pads are often much smoother as conditions are easier underfoot. Some dog breeds still have webbed feet to help them swim, an adaptation that wolves passed on and still benefit from.

While paws are well adapted for walking and jumping around, debris can sometimes get stuck in the paw pads and cause pain. If you spot your pet chewing at their paw or limping and lifting it off the ground, carefully check their paw pad for any stones or splinters that may need removing. If your rabbit or guinea pigs paws look sore it could be a sign that their bedding is too scratchy. 

What can the paw tell us?

Did you know, that some animals use their paw pads to keep cool and release sweat? So damp paw prints could mean your pet needs some help cooling down.

Pet’s paws can sometimes tell us a little bit about how they are feeling, too. For example, cats will knead blankets, beds, pillows and even humans with their paws when they are feeling happy and content. There’s lots of reasons why this may be; it might remind them of nursing from their Mother, they could be trying to create a cosy spot to sleep, or they could be using the scent glands in their paw pads to mark their territory. 

Have you also noticed your cat doesn’t like their paws to be touched? This is because the pads are extremely sensitive to touch, but some cats can be trained to tolerate their paws being touched, often easier if done from a young age, so if your cat does let you touch their paws it could be a sign of trust. 

More info here and here.

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This entry was posted in Cats


How to Decorate your Nook for Christmas

Incorporate your dog’s Fido Nook into your Christmas homeware and transform your pet’s den into a festive haven with these seasonal decoration ideas…

Fairy lights

Everyone loves the sparkle of lights at Christmas time so why not beautifully frame your Nook with battery powered fairy lights. If using with a puppy, place the lights across the top of the Nook so you still have a lovely glow, without the chewing risk! 

Mini wreath

Stick a Fido Hook to the outside of the Nook’s wardrobe door for a mini Christmas wreath. You could even make one yourself so it matches your festive decor perfectly, and add subtle puppy touches, like some decorative bones or a paw print ribbon.

Christmas curtains 

If you have added a curtain pole and Fido curtains to your pet’s Nook, why not try your hand at sewing your own Christmas curtains with a festive fabric.

Christmas tree

No need to sacrifice your Christmas tree, for puppies and frequent chewers use shatter-proof or soft baubles and keep any that are fragile or precious near the top! 

Fake candles 

Battery-powered candles give the same warming glow as real ones, without the risk to pets! If you are concerned about chewing, keep the candles on top of the Nook. 

Stocking

Get your dog a cute dog themed stocking, perfect for hanging up in the wardrobe ready for Santa Paws!

 

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This entry was posted in Christmas


Involve Your Dog in the Christmas Celebrations

Take Photos Together

Set the timer on your phone, get a friend to help, or hire a photographer to take a family portrait with your doggy. The sky is your limit when it comes to ideas for this shoot. Maybe you want to get a photo of you all out on a walk, or posing in front of the tree. Matching Christmas jumpers are not mandatory, but definitely encouraged!

Send Out Christmas Cards

Print some copies of your family portrait to send out to family and friends. If you have children, get them to decorate the cards with glitter and stickers, and the dog to sign them with a cute paw print. This will no doubt get the best spot on the mantelpiece at anyone who receives one!

Dress Them Up in Holiday Outfits

If your dog is happy to get dressed up, there are few things cuter than a pup in a bow tie or some antlers, or a festive jumper that can add some extra warmth on the darkest nights of the year. Make sure the dog is comfortable and that nothing is too tight or might hurt them.

Go For a Walk to Look at the Lights

There is always someone in the neighbourhood who goes crazy with the Christmas lights. Take your dog for a long walk and check out the decorations. Most dogs will be fascinated by all the bright blinking lights, but keep an eye on them and take them home if it gets too much.

Visit a Christmas Market

Most Christmas Markets will be outdoors, perfect for when you want to bring the dog along to drink some mulled wine and listen to carol singers. Dogs will love the smells from the food stalls, but you’re probably best of bringing some dog friendly treats from home to distract them if they get too excited. 

Watch a Christmas Movie

There are few things better than curling up in front of the fire and watch those Christmas movies you’ve already seen about a million times. Make yourself and the dog comfy on the sofa and nap your way through a festive favourite. We suggest choosing something featuring a dog, like The Grinch, or The Holiday.

Bake Dog Treats

We all allow ourselves some extra treats over the holidays, and even though you should not change the way you’re feeding your dog just because it’s Christmas, it might be nice to give them a special homemade treat. Why not make these healthy Apple and Cinnamon Dog Cookies, perfect for the stocking!

Buy Gifts

If your dog has been a good boy or girl all year, they deserve a present or two under the tree. We have plenty of fun toys and delicious treats for dogs in our Christmas shop!

Make sure they stay safe

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, but it does involve some things that can pose a danger to dogs. Read our blog post about how to keep your pets safe during the holidays, to make sure you can celebrate without any accidents. 

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This entry was posted in Christmas


10 Common Dog Training Mistakes

It’s a fantastic achievement to transform that over-excited, jumping, weak-bladdered puppy into a trained and trusted friend and companion. The transformation isn’t automatic, but comes about through persistence, organisation, and a few simple dog training tools.

You can find several training tips on our Omlet Dog Guide. Here, we’ll highlight a few things that can slow down the training process.

1 – The training sessions are too long.

This is definitely rule number one. Training takes a lot of canine concentration, and if you overdo it, the dog will become bored and/or impatient. And, frankly, so will you. A training session should be between five and ten minutes. After that, it’s time out. You can resume the training with another 10-minute session an hour or so later.

2 – You’re getting impatient.

You might think your dog is the cleverest pet you’ve ever met. But he’s still a dog, and not a human, so you shouldn’t expect miracles. A dog has to concentrate to learn new commands, especially ones that go against his natural instincts to run, bark, eat, and jump up to greet people. Many owners lose patience when, for the umpteenth time, the dog fails to respond to a command, lies down instead of sitting, forgets to wait when you tell him, and so on.

As soon as you lose your temper, your dog will sense the hostility and begin associating training with human anger. Understandably, he’ll not be too keen on taking part in future sessions.

3 – You’re on auto-repeat.

If your dog fails to get the hang of a new command or trick on the third attempt, let it go. The mystified mutt will have made three incorrect guesses, and getting it right after ten attempts will not make the training stick. Revisit these ‘fails’ in later training sessions. Review your approach – was it too vague, too similar to another command, or have you fallen into the traps mentioned in points 1 and 2 above?

Similarly, if your dog fails to lie down when you say “lie down”, don’t repeat the command endlessly. It will tell the dog he doesn’t need to respond immediately, or it might make him think that the command for ‘lie down’ is actually “Lie down! Lie down!  Lie down! Lie down! Lie down!…etc.”

4 – Everyone’s moody.

If a dog is tired, grumpy, hungry, or expecting his regular walk, a training session isn’t going to go down well. The same applies to the human trainer – if you’re not in the best of moods, the dog will know, and neither of you will be in the best frame of mind for a training session.

5 – The default approach is punishment.

There are two ways of training a dog – the old-fashioned correction-based method, and the much better ‘positive reinforcement’ method. The old way involved punishing a dog for getting things wrong, while the modern way is to reward him when he gets it right. Some owners mix and match the two methods, which can be confusing. The poor dog doesn’t know what’s coming next – a tasty treat or an angry gesture.

You should never shout your dog’s name in anger or as part of verbal punishment either, or he will come to associate his name with negative things.

6 – The training is inconsistent.

Always use the same command words for each action, and make sure the dog performs the required action once he’s learned it. If you give the command and then let it slide if the dog doesn’t bother responding, you’re undermining the process. When training a dog you’re establishing sets of rules, and consistency is the only thing that’s going to make them stick.

If using a dog clicker, make sure the clock is reinforced with a treat. And don’t click loads of times for a single training action or behaviour, or the click will lose its meaning for the dog.

7 – The training is tailing off.

If a dog learns new tricks and performs well in early training sessions, it doesn’t mean the behaviours will stick in his head forever. They need reinforcing every day over the dog’s early months, otherwise he will get rusty (a bit like you trying to recall those school French lessons 20 years later). Some owners make the mistake of thinking a paid-for training session can replace a year of regular and patient training. It can’t.

8 – Bad behaviour is being rewarded.

If a dog is misbehaving, it can be tempting to shout his name angrily, and then reward him with a treat or attention when he comes. To the dog this means bad behaviour = reward. Ignore the bad behaviour as much as you can, and draw a line by distracting the dog by asking him to sit or lie down (without using his name). You can then reward the good behaviour.

9 – You’re overdoing the treats.

If dog treats are given too frequently or the portions are too large, the dog may decide, later, that he will only listen if there is food involved. There are also health issues involved with overdoing the snacks too. Praise, play and affection are just as important as food treats when training.

10 – A bull terrier can’t be a sheepdog!

There’s no single ‘best way’ to train a dog. It depends on breed and temperament. So, don’t rely on previous experience or the advice of another dog owner, if the dogs in question were completely different characters. 

No dog is born pre-trained. But by avoiding these 10 common mistakes you’ll make the training much more effective, ensuring that everyone involved – human and dog – has a great time during the process.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


How to Keep Your Pets Safe This Thanksgiving

TURKEY

Let’s start with the most important thing – the turkey. The smell of the bird is going to be irresistible to pets, and they will try anything to get their paws on some meat. Never give your pet raw turkey, due to the high risk of salmonella from raw poultry. If you want to give your pet something, limit the treat to small amounts of cooked meat, but it’s best avoided completely. 

The carcass will be almost as tempting, especially when it comes to dogs, but the bones could cause serious injuries to their digestive system. Never leave the carcass out on the kitchen counter or in a trash bag on the floor where your determined dog or cat can get to it. To minimise the risk of illness and injuries, it’s best to dispose of the carcass in a secure trash bag and take it out as soon as you’ve finished with it. Remember to add any wrapping or string that the bird came with or that you have used while cooking it. Don’t underestimate how nice that smell is to your pets, and how hard they will try to get to it!

OTHER HUMAN FOOD

Too much people food can cause stomach problems, and in bad cases inflammation of the pancreas. Our festive food is often too fatty, too salty and too sugary for pets (not to mention poisonous in some cases), and they are better off not having any of it. 

If you want to spoil your pet for Thanksgiving, why not give them a new toy or a nutritious treat that has been especially designed for their species?

TRAVELS

If you’re crossing state lines or international borders, your pet will need an updated health certificate from your vet. Read up on the requirements for the states you will be visiting or passing through, and make sure your pet is good to go. Ideally this should be done a few weeks in advance so you have time to get an appointment with your vet. 

While traveling, take regular breaks and make sure that you’re pet is safe and comfortable while you’re on the move. Depending on how long you’re going to be away for and what pet you have, it might be more convenient for both you and your pet to leave them behind and ask a neighbor or a friend to check in on them while you’re away. 

UPDATED TAGS AND MICROCHIPS

Whether you’re travelling somewhere your pet hasn’t been before or you have guests going in and out of your home over the holidays, the risk of them getting lost or running away is much greater than normal. Make sure your pet is chipped and that the information is up to date.

SAFE SPACE

While some absolutely love it, a lot of pets can get nervous when lots of new, unfamiliar people visit. If your pet is on the nervous side you might want to make sure they have somewhere set aside for them where they can go if they’re feeling stressed or need a break from all the hustle and bustle. 

A crate is a perfect place of safety for a dog, but a cat will also love a cosy den to curl up in. Give them their favourite toy and some water, and let them relax in their pet haven for a while.

RULES

If you have people coming over, make sure they are aware of the rules concerning the pets. Show them which doors and windows need to be shut, tell them when they should leave your pet alone and when it’s okay to approach, and let them know that they should not feed the pets leftovers. 

Lots of plants and flowers that we use for decorations around Thanksgiving can be harmful to pets. Cats are often more at risk as they can reach most decorations, and are more likely to try to nibble a centrepiece, or that bouquet you put on the side table, but dogs and smaller animals like rabbits and hamsters can also suffer.

Try to choose flowers that are not poisonous, or that don’t cause gastrointestinal upset. When it comes to decorations such as pine cones, cornucopias, candles and flameless lights, be sure to keep them out of pets’ reach as much as possible. Never  leave your pets unsupervised in a room with candles or an open fire.

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This entry was posted in Cats


Health Benefits of Pumpkin for Dogs

You might be aware that pumpkin is really good for us humans, but did you know that your pets will also benefit from having some on a regular basis? Most dogs love the taste of this autumnal squash, and it can help with everything from getting rid of nasty worms to making the coat super glossy. 

It is important to mention that if you think that your dog is ill, you should take him or her to the vet before you try treating them at home. Pumpkin has amazing health benefits, but you will need to get your dog checked by a professional. If they’re all clear, here are some reasons to spoil your pup with some pumpkin:

DIGESTIVE HEALTH

Pumpkin is an amazing source of fiber, as well as essential vitamins and minerals that your dog’s health depend on. Fiber adds bulk to the dog’s stool, which slows down digestion. Canned pumpkin is therefore great as a natural diarrhea remedy. 

You might find it a bit odd, but as well as helping when your dog has diarrhea, pumpkin can also be used for the exact opposite problem – to ease constipation. In this case the fiber in the pumpkin makes things in the intestines move along nicely, and the high water content helps lubricate the stool, making it easier to pass.

DEWORMER

Unlike pits and seeds from most fruits, which are normally a big no-no for all pets, raw pumpkin seeds do not contain cyanide, and can therefore be fed to your dog as a treat. Give them whole, or grind them up and mix with the dog’s normal food. Not only do most dogs love the nutty taste of the seeds, but they can also work as an effective natural deworming agent, and have the ability to eliminate intestinal parasites. 

URINARY HEALTH

Apart from their deworming properties, pumpkin seeds also contain plenty of antioxidants and fatty acids that help promote a healthy urinary function. If your dog struggles from recurring and painful urinary tract infections, you can feed them pumpkin to ease symptoms and prevent future problems.

Aging dogs who struggle with incontinence, overactive bladder and kidney stones can also benefit from pumpkin seeds. 

OTHER GENERAL HEALTH BENEFITS

Canned pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A, C, E, potassium and iron, which all have great range of health benefits. Among other things, vitamin A helps with vision, and vitamin C boosts the immune system. Additionally, vitamin C protects joints, which is especially important as dogs get older. 

As if that wasn’t enough, the healthy fats in pumpkin seeds have inflammatory properties, and gives your pup a healthy, shiny coat. 

While we see pumpkin as an autumnal treat, the fact is that you can feed your dog pumpkin all year around, as long as you get the right type. Buy plain, canned pumpkin (preferably organic), with no added salt, sugar or spices. If you want to give your dog pumpkin seeds, make sure you buy them unsalted. If they haven’t yet been roasted and shelled, it’s a good idea to do this before feeding them to your dog. 

To start with, give your dog 1-4 tablespoons of pureed pumpkin, mixed in with their normal food. Most dogs will love the taste. If you want to you can slowly increase the amount over approximately two weeks, depending on the size of your dog. Don’t overdo it or increase the amount too quickly, as changes in food can lead to an upset stomach, and that’s the last thing you want. 

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This entry was posted in Dogs


10 Top Tips For Camping With Dogs

Hitting the great outdoors on a doggie camping trip is a great idea… in theory! But what if the dog keeps everyone awake all night, barks endlessly at a field full of strangers, and runs off at the first whiff of someone else’s barbecue?

The fact is, some dogs are born campers, while others tend to get frustrated or freaked out. Our ten dog camping tips should help you find the right pitch for you and your canine companions.

1. Think about your dog’s personality.

A chilled-out dog who enjoys lying down after a walk just as much as he enjoys the walk itself will probably love camping. So will a sociable hound who likes meeting other dogs and new people. On the other hand, a skittish, nervous or aggressive hound will find it all a bit stressful. That doesn’t mean you can’t go camping with a less sociable dog. If he’s always aggressive to strangers, it’s best to forget it; but otherwise you just need to do your campsite homework. Somewhere small and quiet might work better than a busy camping village at the height of the season.

Having said that, many well-trained dogs are able to tolerate the hustle and bustle, as long as they also have the opportunity to get away from it all on regular walks.

2. Research the camp sites before setting out.

Lots of places do not allow dogs on site, and many more have a ‘Dogs on leads at all times’ policy. The ones that do encourage dogs tend to be very proud of the fact, boasting of their dog-friendly facilities. The non-dog-friendly ones outnumber the others, so do your homework.

3. Take all the dog accessories with you.

You’ll need food and water bowls – including light, portable dog bowls and water bottles for hikes and day trips – food, leads, harnesses and muzzles, poo bags, beds, towels, favourite toys, tick- and flea-collars, tick-removers, and anything else that will ensure a trouble-free trip. You might want to consider a light-up dog collar too, for those dark nights.

4. Don’t forget the dog ID.

In case of emergencies, or AWOL dogs, you should have all your pet’s details on a dog ID tag, or printed out (and laminated, ideally – wet camping trips can soon make slips of paper illegible). This includes vet’s notes and vaccination record, and contact info. Your dog’s microchip records need to be up-to-date too.

5. Settle in.

After the journey, before doing anything else, let your dog acclimatise. He’ll need a wee and will enjoy a good, long walk around the immediate area to get used to the sights, sounds and smells of his new surroundings.

6. Keep your dog under control.

You don’t want to be looking over your shoulder every other second to make sure your dog isn’t making a nuisance of himself in the shower block or attacking the neighbours’ sandwiches. Unless your pet is very well-trained indeed you’ll need to put him on a lead – a long one, if space allows – tied to a ground spike or tree. That way he can nose around without sneaking off while you’re not looking. You could also take a travel dog crate with you, if your pet has been crate-trained. Doggie tents are available too.

7. Clean up.

Take poo bags to dispose of your dog’s trips to the toilet. Remove all food bowls and dog toys after they’ve been used, to prevent other dogs sniffing around and potentially leading to doggie disagreements.

8. Discourage the woofing.

If your dog is barking, distract him or move him somewhere else to take his mind off whatever has been winding him up. A walk is ideal. Remember that children and many other people on campsites go to bed early, so impose an 8 o’clock woofing curfew. This may involve taking the dog into the tent or crate and encouraging him to settle down for the night.

9. Go easy on the snacks.

It can be tempting to feed your dog lots of picnic and barbecue leftovers, or to overdo the treats due to his good behaviour in strange surroundings. Too much food can upset a dog’s stomach, which means nasty doggy smells at best, and runny poos at worst. Limit Fido to his usual food, with just the occasional treat – and make sure he doesn’t make lots of new ‘best friends’ on the campsite based on the fact that they feed him their leftovers!

10. Enjoy yourselves!

A simple but vital point. Treat the trip as a holiday rather than a trial. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your dog will be.

Once your dog has caught the camping bug, he’ll relish the trips every bit as much as you do. And those happy family holidays with the dog become cherished memories when you look back over days gone by. 

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This entry was posted in Dogs


How to Make a Cosy Den for your Pet

Have you ever found your dog or cat curled up in some tiny, enclosed places around the house when the weather gets cold? Perhaps under the bed, behind the sofa, or even in an empty box? This is because when the temperature drops, most of their usual snoozing spots become very cold and are exposed to chilly drafts. You can help your pet find a more comfortable and warm space for naps in winter by creating a snuggly den that they can call their own. Read on to find out how…

Find a cosy corner of your home

Keep an eye on your pet’s favourite places to curl up for naps, they will probably be showing you their preferred spot for feeling secure so they can completely relax without keeping one eye open. This should be in a warm room in your house where they will have some company, but not so much that they will be kept awake or interrupted frequently. If you have young children in the house, you might want to consider a room that the little ones have little access to. 

Find the perfect bed

Sleeping on your bed or sofa might be your dog or cat’s usual spot for comfort and cosiness, but unless they sneak under the covers, they will likely still be exposed to those pesky drafts, never mind the fact your bed will be victim to muddy paw prints! Placing their bed within something else to create a ‘den’ is an ideal solution.

The Fido Nook Dog House and Maya Nook Cat House offer just that. Designed like a piece of furniture, the Nook offers a much more secure space where your pet’s bed can be slightly raised off the ground and concealed further by the roof to limit drafts and maximize comfort. The Nook is also available with curtains which can be attached to the front and back for further warmth and cosiness. For more anxious pet’s who may get worried by loud noises and fireworks, the curtains provide extra security and the feeling of being hidden, without your pet needing to get stuck behind the sofa!

To complete your pet’s new den, you need to carefully pick the perfect cosy bed for them. You probably already have some idea of what your pet does and doesn’t like to sleep on. The Classic Fido bed offers a simple, mattress-like bed for your pet to relax into without feeling enclosed or overheating. 

Add the finishing touches

A cosy den isn’t complete without blankets and cushions. Finally, pop your pet’s favorite cuddly toy inside to make the new den really feel like home!

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This entry was posted in Cats


The Best Pets For Older People

Elderly pet-owners will need a little help looking after their furry or feathered friends. Shopping for pet food, training, grooming, and cleaning out cages and litter trays are all factors to be considered.

If a pet falls ill, it will need taking to a vet, or medication may have to be given. Lack of transport and shaky hands can suddenly become problems in these circumstances.

The level of assistance needed will, of course, depend very much on the physical and mental health of the pet owner.

But in spite of these considerations, pets and older people are a perfect match – as long as you get the right pet!

Pets to Avoid

For many older people, owning a pet is all about companionship. So, although an iguana, goldfish or tarantula may be low maintenance, they don’t exactly exude personality and friendship. Reptiles, fish and insects can therefore be placed in the category ‘Dedicated Enthusiasts Only’.

Rodents are not ideal choices, either. They are fast moving, and can easily escape from an open cage. Some, such as the hamster, are largely nocturnal too, losing several points on the ‘companionship’ scale.

The Best Bird Companions

Small cage birds make good pets for seniors. Larger species such as parrots are long-lived, and this can present mounting problems if an owner becomes increasingly frail with the passing years.

A budgie is a good option. These birds are intelligent, easily hand-tamed, and once trained they will return to their cage unassisted after playing and flying indoors. Some also learn to talk, which reinforces the companionship enormously. Add to this the fact that their cages can be kept on holders at shoulder-height, with easy access for cleaning and feeding, and you have the perfect pet for older people.

Canaries and other pet finches can be good choices too, but it has to be said that they lack the big personality, trainability and talkativeness of budgies. There are other plus points, though, notably the beautiful song of the canary.

The Best Cat Companions

In many ways the cat is an ideal pet for seniors. But it isn’t just a question of arriving at Gran’s door with a kitten and expecting everything to be fine!

A kitten will need to be house-trained, and won’t instantly be the placid lap-loving cat that many elderly owners will be looking for. An older cat, on the other hand, will have ‘grown in’ to its personality. You could choose a placid, indoor-loving coach-potato breed such as the Persian, Russian Blue or Ragdoll if laps and cuddles are the priority.

Ideally the cat should still be given access to the outdoors to prevent the chore of cleaning a litter tray every day. In this respect one of the ideal breeds is the Abyssinian. Super-friendly and incredibly tame, they are also lovers of the great outdoors, mixing and matching house and garden perfectly.

If a cat is being adopted from a previous home, you will be able to find out all about its personality. Many ‘moggies’ of a non-specific breed turn out to be the perfect pet for seniors, after a little investigation into the animal’s background.

Bear in mind, though, that cats can live up to 20 years – a big time commitment if someone is already worrying about health and mobility in later life. But once again, this is where the animal’s independence becomes a great asset. Most cats, even though they love their owners, can pretty much look after themselves.

The Best Dog Companions

For an elderly person with mobility, dogs are a great pet choice. Several breeds thrive with just a little daily exercise. Many of these are at the smaller end of the scale – dogs such as the Miniature Poodle, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Bichon Frise, and good-natured individuals from the West Highland and Yorkshire Terrier families. Smaller dogs have smaller appetites too – a major consideration if money is an issue.

However, some smaller dogs can be very yappy or snappy – not a great combination. Breeds to beware of for these reasons include Chihuahua, Jack Russell, and Dachshund.

If the owner is still able to walk a mile or two a day, a Golden Retriever makes a great choice. But with all breeds you need to bear in mind longevity – a dog that needs walking at six months old may still be demanding walkies at 15.

Pets For Therapy

It’s a well known fact that pets are therapeutic. Some care homes hold regular pet therapy sessions in which residents spend quality time with cats, dogs, and other tame animals.

Pets bring positive benefits for mental health across all age groups, and can also prevent loneliness becoming a problem. We all need affection, and pets deliver it with no questions asked!

However, having a pet-handling session in a care home is a different proposition to an elderly person keeping a pet in their own home. All animals need a certain amount of looking after, and if mobility is an issue, even a simple chore such as cleaning a cage can become difficult. In these circumstances, seniors will need a little assistance.

But if you get it right, a pet can bring so many positives into an elderly person’s life – companionship, stimulation, stress relief, and that most important human need of all: love.

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This entry was posted in Cats


How Old Is Your Dog Actually in Human Years?

Curly Coated Retriever

As a dog owner you’ve probably wondered how old your dog would be in human years. And you’ve probably came across the rule that one year for your dog equals seven human years. But this rule is actually far from accurate and the math is not that simple. Dogs mature at a different rate to humans and also the size and breed have to be taken into consideration. Smaller dogs generally mature faster and live longer than larger breeds, and cross and mix breeds tend to live longer than purebreds. The exact reason why small dogs live longer than large dogs is still unknown (generally speaking, large mammals tend to live longer than small ones). Scientists did conclude that every 4.4 pounds of body mass reduced a dog’s life expectancy by about a month.

Compared to humans, dogs age more quickly during the first years of their lives and slower toward the end. Calculating your dog’s age relative to humans is a bit tricky, but more or less possible with this figure:

The four stages of a dog’s life

Emotional and physical maturity occurs over an extended period of time and in stages, although every dog develops at his or her own rate depending on their size, breed and personality. Here’s an overview of what you can expect during the different phases.

PUPPYHOODUsually ends between 6 and 18 months of age

Puppies of smaller breeds develop into adults clearly faster than puppies from larger breeds. Small dogs are fully grown at the age of 10 – 12 months, while larger dogs can still be considered puppies for eighteen months, even up to two years. All puppies are born deaf, blind and unable to regulate their own body temperature. After four weeks, puppies are weaned from their mother’s milk gradually over a period of 2 – 3 weeks and start to eat puppy food. When their senses develop, puppies gets to know the right way to interact with humans, other dogs, and other pets. Socializing and the socialization process are extremely important during this period. A puppy should spend the first eight to ten weeks of its life with his mother and siblings.

ADOLESCENCEStarts between 6 and 18 months of age 

Adolescence is probably the most challenging period in a dog’s life. In this stage of the life cycle hormones start to kick in. If not spayed/neutered, your dog may begin to act like a teenager, reluctant to pay attention and more likely to exhibit undesirable behavior. Your dog will start to grow in his second set of teeth at between six and eight months of age. His teeth will be sore and he will do anything to help ease the discomfort. This means chewing on… everything! Make sure you give your dog suitable chew toys at this stage. Your dog will also lose his puppy fur and experience significant growth spurts. Adolescence is the perfect time to start with obedience training.

ADULTHOODStarts between 12 and 36 months of age 

Generally speaking, small dogs hit adulthood in about a year, large breeds in two and giant dogs in three. Adulthood usually marks the end of a dog’s growth and your dog’s height and size have reached a point that’s typical for an adult of his or her breed and sex. Visible signs of adulthood in male dogs is when they starts to lift their leg while urinating and in a females when they go into heat for the first time. During adulthood dogs are usually in the best shape of their lives and they will need plenty of exercise and stimulating activities to keep them engaged. An adult dog is emotionally and physically mature and behavior will be more difficult to change.

SENIORITYBetween 6 and 10 years of age

At this point in your dog’s life, you most likely have noticed signs of him getting older. Your dog may still enjoy a long walk, but he is not quite as bouncy as he used to be and it may take him a bit longer to respond to your commands. Just like us, dogs get older gradually and the aging process affects dogs in the same way that it affects humans. Older dogs may need more rest and it’s important they have their own quiet place with a soft, comfortable bed away from draughts where they won’t be disturbed. It is important to know when your dog reaches this stage of life because of the changes needed to, amongst other things, its diet and exercise. Your veterinarian can help you identify when it’s time to make these adjustments.

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This entry was posted in Dogs


Introducing A New Baby To Pet Cats And Dogs

The arrival of a baby in a household turns things upside down. That’s certainly how it can seem to your pets. A dog may find there’s less time for walks and playing, and a cat may suddenly be ousted from her favorite sleeping places in the bedroom or on your lap, due to the presence of the baby.

It’s important to get your pets used to the idea of having the newcomer around, along with the changes in routine that go with it. And ideally the preparation needs to start before the baby is born.

Prenatal Pet Training

In the months leading up to the birth, spend slightly less time with your cat or dog – particularly if they are used to lazing in your lap or sitting by your feet demanding attention.

If your dog is not fully trained at this point, fill in the gaps with some training sessions. Get an expert in to help out, if necessary. Your dog needs to know the basic ‘Sit’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Leave it’ commands, at the very least. It’s essential that the humans in the house reinforce their roles as Alphas in the pack.

A new baby will bring new sounds and smells to the house. You can get your pets ready for this by inviting mums and dads with babies or toddlers to call in for coffee. Play a recording of a crying baby to acclimatize pets’ ears, and switch on any noisy new toys, mobiles, swings or other baby-related apparatus. Let your pets sniff a nappy and a cloth with a few drops of baby oil on it. Familiarity is half the battle.

Get Your Pet Vet-Ready

A neutered pet is a calmer pet, and less likely to bite. This is especially true with males. When neutered, they are less likely to view the baby as a rival. Arrange for a vet to perform the operation, if the pet is not yet neutered. And while you’re there, make sure Puss and Fido are up to date with their vaccinations, worm-free, and generally in tip top health.

Reset Schedules

Babies bring lots of unpredictability to a household, and old routines soon break down. There’s nothing wrong with this, but a pet who’s set in his ways may not take kindly to sudden change. Break him in by varying feeding times, blocking off no-go areas with a baby gate, or perhaps hiring a dog walker.

If the human mum-to-be has always been the pet’s chief companion, it’s handy if you can introduce another ‘favourite’ into its life. This could be a partner, older child or friend – anyone able to spend quality time with the animal.

Introducing the Baby

Before letting a dog or cat see the baby, let them sniff a blanket and a soiled nappy. Try not to show any nervousness when bringing the baby into the house for the first time, as pets will pick up on the bad vibes.

To make the first introduction, sit with the baby in your arms – ideally in a ‘neutral’ room, one where the pet doesn’t usually go – and let the dog or cat approach in its own good time (and one at a time, if you have multiple pets). Don’t force the issue. Have some treats ready to reward good behavior.

You can reinforce the positive associations by treating a dog whenever it’s around you and the baby. That way your pet will come to associate the baby with good things (i.e. food!) A cat will need less fuss in this respect, and will simply equate the baby with you, logging it as something not to worry about.

Whenever there’s any interaction between baby/toddler and pet, make sure there’s an adult around to keep an eye on the situation.

Special Notes For Cats

A docile cat needs to get used to the new baby, and to keep away when it’s asleep. A more flighty cat should simply be kept away. Toddlers seem to have an instinct for grabbing handfuls of pet fur, and a nervous cat may react by scratching. A cat flap with a lock can be handy in the early days, to keep puss outdoors at key times.

Many cats dislike a baby’s crying, and will disappear when the screaming begins. This is very handy! Make sure there’s a quiet, safe spot for them, away from the mayhem. The Maya Nook is a perfect solution to give your cat some privacy. 

Cats feel exposed and nervous when they eat, so you should keep a toddler away from the place where your pet is feeding. It should also go without saying that you should prevent young ‘uns from rummaging in the litter tray too!

Special Notes For Dogs

All dogs will need to be well-trained, in a situation where trust is so fundamental. Some dog breeds are very rarely going to be friendly with children, though. A dog bred over hundreds of years for aggression is NOT a dog you should have in the family home. ‘Snappy’ breeds such as Jack Russel, Dachshund or Chihuahua can be problematic too, but you probably know your dog best.

A treat-based puzzle toy such as a Kong ball is a useful distraction. You can give it to your dog while you spend time tending to the baby, to divert the pet’s attention.

It’s important not to abandon dog walks, as that will lead to doggy stress and frustration. It’s a case of ‘business as usual’, where ‘usual’ has simply undergone a few changes.

The dog/child relationship is a two-way process, and youngsters need training too. Teach them to be gentle with the dog, and they will have the basis for a good relationship.

And the importance of that relationship shouldn’t be underestimated. Children learn lots about friendship, respect and responsibility from interacting with animals. There is also evidence that allergies are less of an issue in kids who have been brought up with pets.

So – you’ve replaced your ‘pet baby’ with the real thing. That means big change. But when handled properly it’s a positive change, the beginning of a new chapter in the happy family home.

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This entry was posted in Cats


How to Deal with the Loss of a Pet

Those who have lost a beloved pet will know the pain can be as heart wrenching as the loss of a family member or friend. For many couples, the family pet becomes another child, just one with four legs and a tail who doesn’t answer back. Many of us also find comfort and friendship in our pets throughout the highs and lows of day to day life, so the passing of a pet can be extremely painful.

It’s okay to be sad

Take the time to process what has happened and allow yourself to be sad. This is especially important if you have children who may be experiencing this kind of loss for the first time and might struggle to understand.

Pet owners often have to make the difficult decision to have their pets put to sleep when their health deteriorates too far to be helped. This adds another aspect to the grief as some may feel guilty for having to make that decision, or as though they could have done things differently. Discuss the events with your vet, as they will be able to reassure you that you did the right thing.

Don’t feel ashamed for any sadness you feel. Many people may not understand or be sympathetic towards the sadness when we lose a pet, but that doesn’t mean you are not allowed to feel upset. If you think it would help you to take a couple of days off work to grieve, do so. Pets who have been in your home for years leave a big hole, and feelings of loneliness and emptiness are completely normal.

Confide in your family and friends about how you feel, but if you do not think they understand, seek the support of grief support helplines.

If they were your only pet, consider moving your pet’s bed, food bowls, toys and other belongings into a garage or shed so they are out of sight. Throwing these in the bin straight away can be difficult so don’t rush, just put them away so there is one less reminder in the home.

If you have another pet, keep a close eye on them for signs of depression and loneliness. Consult a vet if you believe your pet’s behavior has changed drastically and shows no sign of improvement.

What next?

Some people choose to rescue or adopt another pet soon after the loss, as the home can feel empty without them. However, others find this feels too much like attempting to replace them. Consider rescuing a different type of pet, e.g. if you have lost a dog, why not rescue a cat instead. That way you are not at all replacing your previous pet, but you are offering a cat in need a happy home.

We are all guilty of taking lots of photos of our pets, and this is the time to put those photos to use. Find your favorites and prepare a photo album, or get a canvas printed, so they can still be a part of your home. Other things you could do in memory of your pet are plant a tree or flower in their favorite garden spot, read or write a poem, make a donation to a pet charity which means a lot to you, or volunteer at a local rescue shelter.

 

Pawprints Left By You – By Vayda Venue

You no longer greet me
As I walk through the door,
You’re not there to make me smile,
To make me laugh anymore,
Life seems quiet without you,
You were far more than a pet,
You were a family member, a friend,
A loving soul i’ll never forget.

It will take time to heal,
For the silence to go away,
I still listen for you ,
And miss you everyday,
You were such a great companion,
Constant, loyal, and true,
My heart will always wear,
The pawprints left by you.

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This entry was posted in Dogs