Summertime… Beach stays, trips abroad, hikes in a National Park… It is a great opportunity to take a break with your family and keep daily stress at bay. You book a lovely hotel with your other half, you read a map with your children asking them where they want to go, you pack your suitcases, you… Wait! Aren’t you forgetting someone? “Babe, what about the cat? Is he coming with us?!”
Most pet owners tend to forget about it: having a pet means new responsibilities and taking care of them when you go on holidays is one of them. Unfortunately, too many people still ignore it. The months of June, July and August are critical since many people seem to struggle when it comes to taking care of their pets while also going on holiday. Read our tips below to make sure your pets will have a great time this summer, just like you!
You might be an adventurous Frenchman aiming to sail around the world with your hen (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36475672). However, in all other cases, we recommend that you do not take your chickens on holidays with you. The best thing to do is to ask some friends or neighbors to take care of them while you are away, offering them to help themselves to eggs. If you are lucky enough to have an Eglu Cube on wheels, you can even move your coop directly into your neighbor’s backyard!
HAMSTERS, GUINEA PIGS AND RABBITS
Just like with chickens, it is better to leave your hamster, rabbit or guinea pig at home and ask a friend, ideally someone they already know, to come and look after them. If you still decide to take them with you, or if you don’t have any other choice, be very careful with temperature change. These smaller pets are extremely sensitive to it and a sudden temperature change could be fatal. While in the car, make sure that they are neither too hot (do not leave them next to a window or in a parked car) or too cold (do not put them in front of the air con). You also want to check that nothing is at risk of falling and hurting them in the cage: take away the bottle and the feeder and stop regularly to give them some water and food. Remember that rodents and rabbits are very shy animals that like to have their own routine and tend to struggle with change.
You can definitely take them with you, but in most cases you don’t have to: cats are independent animals that can take care of themselves for a few days. Fill their bowls with food and water before leaving. If you are away for less than 10 days, ask a friend to come and check on them (one or two short visits a day should do).
If you are away for more than 10 days, it is better to leave your cat with some relatives, preferably people who already know your cat and who don’t have any animals that the cat won’t get along with. You can also put your cat in a boarding kennel. However, keep in mind that this can be risky since your cat could feel abandoned (new place, new faces…) and get depressed. Before taking them to the cattery you can give them some soft and natural tranquillizer, like Bach flower, to help them adjust.
Dogs are probably the most complicated animal to deal with when going on holidays. You can’t just leave them at home with food and water. This is not only bad for your dog, but could also lead you to be accused of animal cruelty, as abandoning a pet is a serious crime in most states. The best option is definitely to book a seat for your dog in your car and help them pack their suitcase!
Why should I take my dog with me?
Of course you can leave your dog with your friends or family (preferably someone they already know). However, keep in mind that dogs are very social animals and thrive on their owner’s company. For them, holidays will be a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time with their favorite humans. Moreover, since you are on holidays, you will have more free time and will be able to spend entire days with your dog, which will make them extremely happy. No more long and boring days waiting for you at home! No doubt that you and your family will also be delighted to spend the whole day playing and exercising with your dog. They can also help you to interact with fellow holiday makers: many people won’t be able to resist giving them some attention!
How to organize a trip with a dog
Here is a list of what you can do to make sure your dog is ready for the holidays and everything goes fine while you two are away from home:
Before going, make sure your dog is used to traveling in a car. Some dogs can be car sick and it is good to prepare them, especially if you’re planning on a road trip and are spending a lot of time in the car!
Make sure your dog knows some basic commands such as heel and sit. If they are able to go on a walk without pulling on the lead, it is even better!
Check that their jabs are up to date, and if you’re going abroad, double check what the requirements are far in advance.
Bring everything they may need: food, of course, but also a first-aid kit, their health record book, the lead, the food and water bowls, the crate, their favorite toys, some poo bags… It is very important to take your dog’s food with you if you are going abroad since you can’t make sure you’ll find their favorite brand in the country you’re visiting.
While traveling, put your dog in their cage in the trunk of the car.
Before visiting a place, make sure they accept pets. Never go to a hotel before checking it. Likewise, you will easily lists of dog friendly beaches on the internet.
Check that your dog is not too hot. If you’re going on a walk, don’t forget to bring a bowl and a good amount of water.
When settling your dog somewhere, do it properly: make sure they have some food, some water, some shadow… Even if it is just for an hour!
If you think it is necessary, you can fit your dog with a GPS collar. This can be useful when you go hiking in the wild. You can also download various apps on your mobile to help you locate a lost dog, find a vets near you or keep record of your dog’s health.
http://www.fleatickrisk.com/ is a very helpful website that will tell you if your dog is at risk of pest infections in the city you’re visiting. Check the website before going and take the necessary equipment with you.
In the US, you can travel for free with your pet on most public transport: buses, taxis, trains and ferries. However, to make sure everything goes smoothly, always check that that is the case before you board. Be aware that coach companies generally do not accept pets except for assistance dogs. Remember that passengers can complain about your animal’s behavior so try and make sure your pet will be able to behave themselves while traveling.
When traveling abroad, make sure you can go on public transport with your pet since this can vary according to the country (in some places you will have to book a ticket for your animal).
If you’re traveling by plane, mention that you have an animal when booking and check that your animal’s vaccination is up to date. On the day of the departure, make sure to arrive early. Cats and small dogs will generally be allowed to fly with you in the cabin. However, bigger dogs will have to travel in a heated and pressurized part of the cargo hold. Birds, rabbits and hamsters are often forbidden but some airlines may accept them.
A rainy day is the perfect time to stay in the kitchen and make a treat for your pets to enjoy. How about these dog friendly pancakes? Or these homemade hamster treats? Make sure that the recipe you choose is pet friendly, and remember to not feed your pet too many treats.
FIND NEW GAMES TO PLAY WITH YOUR CAT
Take advantage of all your free time and spend a few hours playing with your cat. Most older cats will have developed their own games to keep them entertained, but that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy your company, and together you might find some new fun games. Hunting games are normally a big hit. Objects with quick and unpredictable movement will without a doubt catch your pet’s attention, so try waving feathers or floaty fabric in front of your cat and drag them across the floor to get your pet moving.
TEACH YOUR DOG A NEW TRICK
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but that’s just not true. With the right encouragement your dog can learn new things throughout their lives, and it will be a great way for you to spend some quality time together.
How about teaching your dog to bark on command, or to play dead? Or why not take them to the park for some fetch training? There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube, so get your strategy in place and fill your pockets with treats. When the summer break is over you’ll have a great party trick to show friends and family.
Why not get the kids to clean out the chicken coop for you for a bit of extra pocket money? The Eglu Chicken Coops are so easy to clean that anyone tall enough to reach in will be able to get it spotless in no time. Get them to bring in the new eggs and you can all have lunch together!
HOMEMADE TOYS FOR RABBITS
You can find fun toys for your rabbits in our shop, but if you want to make something together with the kids you can find plenty of toy material in the garden or around the house.
Locate a willow tree and collect some twigs to weave into a ball or a wreath. Your rabbits will love playing with their new toys as well as nibble on the nutritious wood.
If you’ve got an old towel or a pair of jeans you’re getting rid off you can make a rag doll for your rabbits. Use your creativity to make something beautiful, or just tie a knot in the middle of a strip of sturdy fabric that the rabbits can throw around on their run and rip to shreds. Make sure to take it away before they’ve ruined it completely though, as you don’t want them to ingest too much fabric.
BUILD AN OBSTACLE COURSE FOR YOUR HAMSTER
Hamsters love running, jumping and climbing, and you will have fun creating a challenging obstacle course for your pet. Start by finding a safe area in your house where the hamster can be let out, away from open doors and other pets. You might want to build the course inside a play pen, or create a barrier of books or other heavy objects. Just make sure they can’t fall over and hurt the hamster.
You can use lego to create the outline of the obstacle course. Lego pieces will also make great jumps and steps. Use lolly sticks to build a ladder or a ramp for the hamster to climb up on. Make sure the lolly sticks are clean, and that you use a non-toxic glue. You can also build tunnels and hiding places with loo rolls and cardboard boxes. Glue them together to create a maze within the obstacle course.
Hide treats in different places to encourage your hamster to explore! Start small and see which parts your hamster enjoys the most, and then you can extend the course as you go along.
Experiment with taking photos of your pet in different locations. Put them against a white wall in the house for a nice studio shoot, or try getting action shots in the garden. If your pet will accept any type of clothing you can dress him or her up in different outfits and funny hats, and make them pose for the camera. Why not start an instagram account for your pet to show the world how cute he or she is? Here are our best tips for taking better photos of your pets.
Why limit the egg fun to Easter? Boil some eggs and let them cool, then get the art supplies out and decorate to your heart’s content. You can decide on a theme that everyone has to follow, or if you’re feeling competitive you can get friends and family to judge the eggs in different categories – ”Most Creative”, ”Most Colourful”, ”Best Egg Pun” etc.
ABSTRACT PAW ART
Let your dog’s creative juices flow and let him or her create a beautiful piece of art. Get some toxic-free, water based paint and put your dog’s paws in it. With some treats, guide the dog to a blank canvas and let them walk all over it, creating an abstract paw-print painting. Have water at hand to clean the paws as soon as you’re happy with the result. This might be best as an outdoor activity to avoid the risk of paw prints on carpets and furniture.
Summer is the greatest time of the year, but when the temperature rises it’s important to make sure your rabbits, and their home, are ready for the warmer weather. Rabbits are generally very hardy animals, but they actually tend to deal better with cold spells than with extreme heat.
It might be tempting to move your outdoor rabbits inside your air-conditioned house to help them stay cool, but sudden changes in temperature can actually be worse for them than staying outside in the heat. It is, however, important to know that rabbits can die from heat stroke, so make sure that you’re doing everything you can to prevent your rabbits from getting ill.
The easiest thing to do to make sure your rabbits are comfortable is to get them a hutch that stays cool even in the height of summer. The Eglu Go hutch has twin-wall insulation that keeps the heat out, and makes the temperature in the hutch stay relatively stable throughout the day. It also has a draught-free ventilation system that encourages air to flow through the hutch without creating a nasty draft.
Another important thing is shade. If possible, place the rabbits’ hutch and play area in a shady part of the garden, ideally under a tree or next to a building that blocks the sun. If different parts of the garden are shaded at different times of the day you might be able to move the play area as the day goes on. This is very easy with Omlet’s Zippi runs and tunnel system. If you don’t have any natural shade you will need to add covers and sun shades to the run to make sure that your rabbits can be outside without having to be in direct sunlight.
Food and Water
Make sure that your rabbits have plenty of fresh water at all times. Consider changing the water several times a day when it’s very hot; rabbits are much more likely to drink more if the water is nice and cool, just as you would. Speaking of water, fill a few plastic bottles and put them in the freezer for a few hours. You can then place them on the run or in the hutch for your rabbits to lean against when they’re feeling warm. Prepare a few bottles so you can swap them around when the first ones have melted.
Your bunnies will also love to eat cool and refreshing things when the sun is out. Try washing the vegetables you are giving to your rabbits with cold water before you bring them out to the hutch.
Other things you can do if you think your rabbits are finding the summer a bit sweaty is to remove all their excess fur. Brush your pets more regularly in summer to make sure they’re not carrying around unnecessary layers. If you think your pets are looking particularly hot you can mist their ears with cool (but not ice cold) water from a spray bottle. Do however make sure the water doesn’t get into the ear canal. Another important thing to think about is the rabbits probably won’t appreciate getting handled during the hottest hours of the day, so leave play time to later in the evening.
It is also very important to know that the risk of fly strike is much higher during the summer months. Fly strike is caused by flies getting attracted to damp fur, urine and faeces and laying their eggs in the rabbit’s bottom. When the maggots are born after a few hours they eat the rabbit’s flesh and release toxins into the body. Fly strike can kill a healthy rabbit who just happens to have loose stools for a day or two, but if you know that your rabbit sometimes struggles to clean itself it is extra important that you check their bottoms daily. If you see any signs of fly strike, contact your vet immediately. The same goes for heat stroke. Don’t panic and dip your rabbit in cold water, instead take your rabbit to a cool room inside to try to lower their body temperature while you phone the vet.
Red mites, or Dermanyssus gallinae, are without a doubt backyard chicken keepers’ worst enemies! They are nocturnal creatures living in cracks and crevices of the coop, and they only come out at night to feed on chicken blood. Most long term chicken keepers will have encountered these parasites, and can confirm that they are more destructive and difficult to get rid of than all other pests combined.
Getting Rid of Red Mites
If you have diagnosed a red mite infestation in your wooden coop, there are a few things you can do to try to get rid of them. Start off by giving your coop a really deep clean. Strip the house down as much as possible to get into all corners, nooks and crannies, and scrub with warm water. You will need to replace any felt or fabric parts and carefully clean perches, feeders and drinkers and other loose objects in the coop. Make sure that you get rid of all bedding that might have been infested.
If you can still see mites crawling out of crevices in the wood when the coop is drying, try hosing the coop and all loose parts down with a pressure washer. Leave to dry for 10-15 minutes and blast it over again to get rid of even more mites. Repeat until there are very few mites emerging after every wash.
Still not completely clear of mites? Time for the anti-mite products. Mix a mite specific concentrate with water using the manufacturer’s guidelines and apply this to the coop. Go heavy on areas where it is likely that the mites are hiding (corners and end of perches are particularly affected areas), but it is important that you treat the whole coop. When the wood is completely dry, apply plenty of red mite powder on your chickens, their bedding and their dust bath before you let them back into the coop.
In summer you will need to re-apply the powder every few days, and it in many cases getting ahead of the mites will mean deep cleaning the coop with detergents on several occasions over a period of two weeks. When autumn comes the mites become dormant and will not feed on your chickens, but they are unfortunately likely to reappear when the temperature rises again in spring.
Preventing Red Mite Infestations
When it comes to red mites, prevention will always be better than cure, and one of the few things you can actually do to keep these little creatures from hurting your chickens is to have a coop that doesn’t make life easy for them.
The smooth plastic surfaces of the Eglu chicken coop leaves very little space for the mites to hide. There are no corners or gaps that you won’t be able to reach with a hose or a pressure washer, which means that one deep clean of the Eglu should get rid of all dust, dirt and possible pests. By cleaning your Eglu on a regular basis you prevent red mites from ever becoming a problem for you and your hens, and you won’t have to spend all that time and money cleaning and disinfecting that you would if you had a more traditional coop.
The Eglu chicken coops have over the last 15 years been the solution for a lot of people who have tired of constantly trying to get rid of red mites from their wooden coops. Here are some of the things current Eglu owners have told us about battling red mites:
“I’ve thought about having an Eglu for two years but this summer’s red mite infestation was too much. I hate using chemicals/insecticides around my hens so I took the plunge and I’m really pleased.”Sue
“After having some terrible experiences with mites we decided enough is enough and time to buy a “mite free eglu” as advertised. We have been slightly put off by the price previously but now I wish I had one from the start! I couldn’t rate the omlet eglu cube any higher! What used to take 2 hours to clean and scrub a chicken coop now takes 10 minutes! We have not had any lice infestations since having the cube I absolutely love it and so do our chickens, just wish we had bought one sooner!”Amie
“The most important feature to me is the hygienic, easy clean & wash nature of all the surfaces. I would never buy a wooden house again having struggled with mites which hid in all the joints and gaps of the boards. There is nowhere for the mites to hide on the Eglu and cleaning is quick and easy. I’m certain that there isn’t a better house available for healthy hens.”Neil
Does the thought of mites make you itch? Watch our video about two neighbours having very different chicken keeping experiences this summer, showing some of the struggles that chicken owners with mite-infested coops are faced with:
Keeping your pets warm in winter and cool in summer is one of the best ways you can help them stay healthy. But this is often easier said than done. Traditionally chicken coops and rabbit hutches have been made from wood. This has its advantages: it’s an easy material to work with, it’s customisable and it looks attractive. However, when it comes to coping with the weather, it can leave a lot to be desired. Wood is not a very good thermal insulator, meaning if it’s hot outside the temperature will transfer through to the inside quickly.
Perhaps surprisingly, a much better thermal insulator is air. But how can something so thin that you can’t even see keep our pets comfortably insulated from the elements? It’s precisely because it’s so thin that it’s so effective. Heat is conducted between an area of more heat to an area of less heat by one of three processes: conduction, radiation or convection. In conduction warmer molecules vibrate rapidly and collide with other nearby molecules passing on that energy. If the material that the heat is trying to pass through has few molecules in it then it will be harder for the heat to transfer through it. This is precisely what happens if you have a warm surface separated from another surface by a layer of air.
Because air is not a good conductor it is commonly used as an insulator in everything from buildings (double glazing, cavity walls) to cooking utensils, drinking flasks and even the high tech chicken coops.
Eglu chicken coops have a unique twin wall system that takes full advantage of air’s great insulating property to keep your pets comfortable all year round. Within the walls of the Eglu is an air pocket which acts as a barrier, stopping hot and cold temperatures penetrating into the inside of the house, so your chickens can stay warm in winter, and cool in summer.
The Eglus also feature a draft-free ventilation system designed to increase the air flow throughout the coops, keeping chickens at a comfortable temperature. These air vents are discretely located around the coop, and specifically designed so they do not allow drafts over the nesting box. A well ventilated coop is not only beneficial for keeping chickens cool, but it is also extremely important for preventing your hens from suffering with respiratory issues.
For evidence of the Eglu’s cooling properties, take a look at this video showing how much slower an ice lolly melts when inside the coop…
When we got our Miniature Schnauzer, we had already had a catflap in the back door for years. We soon realised that our little dog would easily also fit through the cat flap, and this would allow her to go in and out of the yard whenever she liked. We decided to pin it open to see if she would even use it at all, and it turned out to be a hit. It worked perfectly and in the summer it was nice to have a light steady breeze from the door. But we all know, summer must come to an end one day. And it did.
Winter came and with that freezing air blowing through the cat flap every day, all day. Unpinning the door meant having a sad little furry dog staring at it in disbelief “This used to be open all the time! Why is it locked now? And since when can the cat walk through walls?” The surprised look on our dogs face every time the cat appeared and vanished in the door was adorable and yet a little upsetting. How she wished to have the cats ability of passing through closed doors. And I wished that too. The comfort of going in and out whenever she wanted proved to make for a demanding dog, that needed help to open and close the door. Countless times a day.
Something had to change. As she didn’t understand how the door worked, we would have to show her and help her a little. I had used clicker training with other dogs before, and it was not only fun for me but also for the dog. Somehow we had never started training our newcomer with it, but now I dug out the clicker from the ominous corner drawer in the kitchen that hardly ever gets opened these days and made a plan.
Teaching my dog to use the cat flap!
My dog got the concept in a matter of hours and used the door by herself on the next day. Now she is young and very intelligent, but older dogs should also be able to learn this trick in no more than a few days.
Dog Clicker Training for flap doors – let’s get started.
Four essential things you need:
Small dog treats or favorite toys
A cat flap
A dog (any dog will do…)
If you’ve never heard about clicker training, then I will try to quickly introduce you to it. In short, clicker training conditions the dog through positive reinforcement to repeat certain behaviors. There is no such thing as active punishment in this training – “punishment” is shown in a passive manner by ignoring the dog. Dogs thrive on attention, they mostly don’t mind if it’s positive or negative attention – they often might not even be able to tell them apart. As long as their favorite humans interacts with them, that’s great news. Nothing is worse for a dog than being ignored. This is very useful when it comes to training.
A click tells the dog “That’s exactly what I wanted you to do!”, then a treat follows. Click means treat – that is very important. Never click without it being followed by a treat – even if you click by accident. Click and treat go hand in hand. For most dogs, food treats work great, it is possible though to offer toys as a reward instead. Depending on the dog or the situation – I don’t take the clicker on walks for example, but I use the same method of “Do well and something good happens” to train my dog to, for example, stay sitting while I walk away. If she waits for my release command and comes running, we play with her toy. If she runs towards me without the command, we don’t play. That way she realizes that, even though staying put might not be the most fun thing to do right now, but when that’s done, there are better things to come!
But let’s go back to the cat flap. If your dog already works with clickers, then great, skip this paragraph and read the next. For everyone who has never used a clicker with their dog, you will want to get your dog accustomed to the clicker, what it does, how it works and how he/she can actually “make it click” to get to that tasty treat.
I admit, I am very impatient and extremely lucky with my dog. I have done all this in fast forward mode, but generally it is best to take some time and be patient… Start with teaching your dog what the noise means. With your dog in the same room, click the Clicker. Your dog will most likely look up at the noise, but even if he doesn’t, make sure to click and immediately offer him a tasty, small treat.
Click again, give the treat.
Click again, give the treat. Repeat.
Click again – does your dog already look a little excited about the noise? Good, he is starting to realise that a treat follows the click every time he hears it.
This stage shouldn’t take long at all, and it’s soon time for the next step.
I thought about what skills the dog would need to open the door. To go through the door she would have to push it with her nose. So my next goal was to get her to touch the cat flap with her nose. The direct approach didn’t seem to be very successful, so I got a colorful Post-It note out of the cupboard. Maybe this isn’t necessary if you manage to make your dog touch the door with its nose. However, I wiggled the bright pink piece of paper in front of her nose and the first thing she does is give it a quick sniff. As soon as her nose touches the paper – CLICK! and treat.
Move a few steps away and show the paper, have the dog follow you, trying to touch the paper with its nose.
When the dog touches the paper reliably, you can now introduce a command such as “Touch” every time the dog does the action. Your dog will soon connect the motion of touching the paper with the word.
Keep this up until she touches the paper with her nose every time she sees the paper. Once this works well, phase three can begin – stick the Post-It on the flap door.
With the Post-It on the flap and the dog knowing the “touch” command, the next step was quite easy.
Ask your dog to touch the paper. Click when they do. Your dog might not push the door yet, so start to encourage him to touch it harder. Stop clicking if the nose only just touches it, instead click only when the dog put enough pressure on the door and the door slightly wiggles.
Does the door wiggle a little every time now? Great, then take away the click again until your dog starts to push the door harder.
This is a gradual process and encourages the dog to think about what you want it to do. When he figures it out himself, he learns a lot faster. Teach him gradually to not just make the door wiggle but to push so hard, that he has to stick his head through – at this point he will usually have realized that he can walk through as the door actually reveals what’s behind, and eventually you will be able to gradually change the slight door touching to actually walking through. Like magic!
My dog was finally able to make her way in and out of the house whenever she wanted – and we could finally take off the second layer of socks.
From Eugene: Take I-5 N. to Albany, getting off at exit 234. Turn right onto Knox Butte Road E. Take another right onto Expo Parkway NE. Continue to the Expo parking lot.
From Portland: Take I-5 S to Airport Road SE in Albany. From I-5 S, take exit 234A. Merge onto Airport Road SE. Turn right onto Pacific Boulevard SE. Keep right to continue on Knox Butte Road E. Turn right onto Expo Parkway NE. Continue to the Expo parking lot.