Keeping your pets and their homes clean and hygienic is one of the best ways to prevent illness or distress. It’s obvious when your Guinea Pig is happy and in good health, as they will be running, playing, chattering and acting as they usually do. However, if your Guinea Pig seems to be under the weather, but a trip to the vet has identified no underlying problems, this could be a sign that better hygiene in the hutch and run is required.
A healthy Guinea Pig is a relatively clean animal that relies heavily on the nature and safety of their habitat. The cage, hutch and enclosure are the best places to start when looking at ways to improve your pets’ environment. Depending on the the material your enclosure is made of, you will need specific products to clean it. Using the right sort of cleaner will ensure you get the most out of every home and piece of play equipment you buy for your Guinea Pig.
How should I clean Guinea Pig hutches?
If your Guinea Pigs live in a cage or caged hutch, a pet-safe liquid spray disinfectant is perfect for cleaning the cage and any plastic base or play equipment. It’s a good idea to soak the cage in water and let it dry before disinfecting, as this will loosen any large pieces of dirt and allow the spray to do its job! If regular disinfecting isn’t doing the trick and the hutch retains unpleasant odors, try using hutch cleaning granules, which have been specifically designed to eliminate smells from your pets home.
How should I clean wooden hutches?
If your Guinea Pigs lives in a wooden hutch, you need to disinfect it as you would with a regular cage, and it’s also a good idea to clean it every month or so with hot soapy water and scrub the wooden surfaces. Try to minimize soaking the wood by squeezing out most of the water from your sponge before cleaning. If the hutch contains any fleece liners, these are usually machine washable, and it’s good practice to give them a clean more regularly than you would the rest of the hutch. Regardless of which type of hutch you use, always let it dry thoroughly after cleaning before reintroducing the Guinea Pigs.
Does my Guinea Pig need a bath?
If your Guinea Pig’s coat is in need of a good clean, there are some important things to bear in mind. Bathing Guinea Pigs in water can actually be bad for their health – Guinea Pigs naturally maintain a good level of cleanliness through self-grooming or group-grooming. As a result, they can develop dry skin if they are bathed in water. Instead, you could invest in a grooming kit. This is a particularly good idea if your Guinea Pig lives alone, as you can take the place of their fellow Guinea Pigs in maintaining their lovely coats.
If a Guinea Pig coat becomes matted with dirt, you may need to use a chemical-free wipe to slightly wet the fur, enabling you to clean it thoroughly. If your Guinea Pig’s coat gets wet in the process of cleaning, make sure they have plenty of blankets and warm toys to surround themselves with afterwards.
How often should I replace Guinea Pig equipment?
Everything you buy for your Guinea Pigs has a different lifespan, but it is often a good idea to replace items before they deteriorate completely. A typical pet’s water bottle could last many years without breaking, but replacing it every year or so is a good idea. This is because repeated wear and tear of the plastic bottles can result in the animals ingesting plastic, in small pieces or as micro-plastics in the water itself.
Likewise, if you feel that any piece of equipment is no longer possible to fully clean, even after a thorough attempt, it is a good idea to replace it. Your pet would appreciate having something new to play with – although you might want to think twice before throwing out a favorite toy that the Guinea Pigs have had since they were very small, as sentiment is just as important to Guinea Pigs as it is to us!
Should Guinea Pig teeth be brushed?
Guinea Pig teeth are naturally either yellow or orange, so there is no need to worry about struggling to find the smallest possible toothbrush to get them white! However, if you notice that your Guinea Pig’s teeth have grown very long, or they’re having trouble eating, it’s a good idea to check with your vet if any action needs to be taken. Equally, you should consult the vet if you’re concerned about the length of the toenails on your Guinea Pigs.
Although there is no way to ensure your Guinea Pigs will always stay healthy, paying attention to their hygiene and nutrition will set your pets up for long and healthy lives. Doing plenty of research on your Guinea Pigs is one of the best things you can do as a pet owner. Guinea Pigs, for example, need lots of vitamin C, and they have been known to lack this essential nutrient in their diets. They will benefit from the occasional use of supplements.
Keeping up to date with the latest research and advice on Guinea Pig health has never been easier than on the Omlet Blog, so be sure to keep checking back in for new articles!
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs on June 28th, 2021 by alisa.deluca
Ever feel like your dog’s bed is just ‘plonked’ at the side of the room, standing out like a sore thumb? Do you put their bed out of sight so as to not ruin your home’s interior style?
This doesn’t need to be the case. It’s actually very easy to incorporate your dog’s bed into any room, like it’s part of the furniture.
Utilize the space above your dog’s bed
If your dog’s bed is positioned near a walkway they could be regularly disturbed by people walking past and even tripping over them. Building up around your dog’s bed can ensure they have an enclosed space which is safe and secure from knocks and spills, while also allowing you to make the most of the wasted space that is usually above a dog’s bed.
You can easily utilize the space above the bed better by installing shelves or coat hooks, however, this doesn’t protect your dog from passer’s by accidentally standing on the corner of their bed or knocking them with the hoover. Installing a complete unit which completely encloses your dog’s bed with walls like a den, while also raising the bed off the ground is much more effective and beneficial to your pet.
The Fido Nook Luxury Dog House does just that. The stylish piece of furniture complements your home while also providing a cozy space for your dog’s bed. The top of the Nook is an ideal surface for decorative or functional items such as plant pots, candles, photo frames and key bowls, and it is also available with an integrated wardrobe, perfect for storage of all your dog’s favorite things, including treats, toys, collars, leashes and more. You can even accessorize the wardrobe with a sweet clothes rail and mirror to really make your dog’s new home their own.
Match your dog’s bed to your soft furnishings
If it’s the look of your dog’s bed that is putting you off, it might be time to upgrade to a more stylish bed that matches your own sofa, bed sheets and cushions.
Plus, dog beds are naturally prone to getting very hairy, muddy and smelly. You can be forgiven for preferring to hide that from visitors to your home. A bed with a removable and washable cover allows you to keep the bed smelling fresh and looking as good as new, all the time.
The new Bolster Beds from Omlet are available in 3 stylish colors, with a subtle, woven, diamond geometric pattern, to match all homes. The grey is the most simple and classic of the colors, while still being super stylish, guaranteed to fit in any home interior. The rich, forest green is perfect if you like a subtle color, in your warm toned interior, while the vibrant, rose pink will be a hit with any lover of color!
Add the new Luxury Super Soft Blanket for extra comfort for your dog.
The one thing that is most important when it comes to your dog bed is that you feel confident in your purchase. By following these tips above, you will have peace of mind knowing that your canine companion in comfortable but also that you have a beautiful and functional piece of furniture for your pet.
This entry was posted in Dogs on June 21st, 2021 by alisa.deluca
If you share your home with a dog, it’s important to make sure the space is just as comfortable, hygienic and safe for them as it is for you. These 5 simple tips are a good first step to a dog-friendly home…
Choose strong, easy clean materials
This is a simple idea but one that will save you a lot of cleaning time and expense in the long run. Opt for washable sofa covers wherever possible and steer clear of materials that can easily be scratched or will likely attract loose fur. The same goes for flooring – choose something easy to mop or wipe after a muddy walk! A machine washable dog bed like Bolster Beds will also help to minimize dirt and fur in your home, as you can quickly unzip and machine wash the topper, making maintaining hygiene much easier.
Most owners of excitable dogs will be well practiced in drink-saving reactions to prevent a whipping tail causing carnage. It’s important to keep breakable or potentially harmful items up high, like candles and glasses, not just for your sake but also your dog’s safety. Opt for higher side tables rather than low coffee tables for tea and snacks to move the temptation out of sight!
Built in, discreet crates
Crates aren’t the most attractive pet item but puppies, rescues and anxious dogs often really appreciate the calm, safe space to relax. Consider a built-in crate or pen under the stairs or in a side unit with surface above to better utilize the space in your home, like the Fido Studio – the optional wardrobe is also handy storage for their dog toys and treats.
Match their bed to your other home furnishings
Your dog’s bed doesn’t have to stand out awkwardly in your home, and matching the color of the dog bed to an accent color in the room can be a great way to integrate their bed with your interior style, and really make it part of the home. Plus, why not raise your dog’s bed with designer feet for an impressive, stylish touch? Check out the bolster bed.
Safe house plants out of reach
You can still enjoy house plants, but make sure they’re a safe species for dogs, for example, spider plants or boston ferns. If your dog loves mud, you might also prefer to keep houseplants up out of reach of digging paws!
What are your top dog-friendly interior tips? Tag us in your home pet pics on Instagram!
This entry was posted in Dogs on June 20th, 2021 by alisa.deluca
Before introducing new birds to an established flock, they should be quarantined. You will also have to quarantine chickens that have fallen ill or shows signs of illness.
The reason for separating new birds from the established flock is eight parts sensible to two parts paranoia. If you source the new chickens from a reputable supplier or have hatched the birds yourself, there is little chance of the birds harboring illnesses. However, the potential problems you are guarding against are not easy to spot. Chickens may have internal or external parasites, or the bacteria and viruses that cause disease may be lurking out of sight.
Quarantine significantly lowers the risk of the new chickens spreading parasites or infection in your established flock. In the age of Covid-19, the idea of quarantining has negative associations with isolation and inconvenience. With new chickens, all you’re doing is giving them some space away from the main flock. Other than that, it’s chicken business as usual!
What is quarantine, and when should I quarantine my flock?
Quarantine simply means separating one or more chickens from the rest of the flock. The aim is to minimize the danger of illness spreading between ill and/or new chickens and the existing flock.
All new birds should be put into quarantine. Chickens bought at a show or fair will have been in close proximity with lots of other birds. Chickens from reputable suppliers are not immune to disease either, and even a new-hatched chick may harbor illness, as certain bacteria can penetrate eggshells and infect unhatched birds.
Why do chickens need quarantining?
Bird diseases and parasites spread quickly, and by the time you spot the symptoms, it’s often too late to prevent the other chickens from falling ill. Stressed birds are particularly prone to illness, and a new hen will always be a stressed hen. There’s nothing you can do about this, as it’s a symptom of moving from the world she knew previously to the world of your backyard chickens.
A bird that falls ill needs isolating from the rest of the flock to minimize the risk of the illness spreading. If the issue is parasites – lice, fleas or worms – by the time you spot the problem it will probably be present in every bird, so in these cases, you need to buy the appropriate parasite treatment rather than quarantining single birds.
How long do new chickens need to be quarantined?
New birds should be quarantined for at least four weeks. If there are any illnesses, they will show in the first week, following the stress associated with the move. Give the new birds a thorough health check every few days.
In the final week of quarantine, keepers with a larger existing flock often introduce an older bird – perhaps one that has stopped laying – into the quarantine shed. If at the end of this week the introduced hen is healthy, all is well. If there is any disease lurking unseen, the older bird will begin to look unwell. This is the so-called ‘Canary in the mine’ method, and not everyone will be happy putting an older bird at risk. However, the main point is that you are 90% sure that there is no problem in the quarantined flock by this stage.
Note: bird flu, or avian influenza, has an incubation period of around 21 days, so a hen that was infected on the day you brought her home will not show symptoms for three weeks. This is one of the reasons why the quarantine period is so long.
Setting up a quarantine area for new chickens
There is a simple checklist that gives the quarantine the best chance of being successful:
1. Give the new birds a physical check, looking for signs of lice or fleas. Check the consistency of their droppings and their general posture, referring to our guide to healthy chickens for reference.
2. Make sure the enclosure and coop have everything the new birds need, including a roosting perch, an egg-laying box, fresh food and water, and shelter from the elements.
3. Ensure that no feathers, sawdust, dander, food or water from the quarantined new birds enter the main flock’s enclosure.
4. Don’t wear the same shoes and clothes when tending the healthy and the ill birds. Infection can spread quickly, especially on your hands and the soles of your shoes.
5. The new birds should be kept as far from the other chickens as possible. Ideally, they should be at least 10 metres (33 feet) from the main flock, and downwind as much as possible. However, this will not always be practical, and simply keeping the new chickens in a separate enclosure will be as far as many owners can go. If there is an enclosed building to keep them in, that’s perfect. Keeping the new birds upwind of the existing flock is even more important in these close-proximity set-ups.
What to do if the quarantined chickens fall ill
If any of the new birds become ill, you will need to identify the illness. If you are uncertain, call in expert help to assist with the diagnosis. Depending on the problem, the new chickens will need to be treated and isolated for another month or so. If the illness turns out to be avian flu or another lethal disease, the birds will have to be culled. In the case of the bird flu, check out our bird flu article for the latest advice.
Quarantine of new hens is a better-safe-than-sorry routine that ensures health and happiness in your ever-changing flock of chickens. It also has the advantage of acclimating newcomers to the sights and sounds of your garden before they mingle with the existing flock.
This entry was posted in Chickens on June 16th, 2021 by alisa.deluca
Exercise is not always easy. You have to motivate yourself, find time and keep the pace. This is why it can be necessary for some people to be accompanied in this process. And who better to be your sports coach than your dog!
In a previous article we saw that it is possible to do yoga with your dog. Today we would like to show you why your dog is your best partner to reach your exercise goals.
In the current climate, where working from home has taken over from office work, finding the time and motivation to exercise and go outside has become a real challenge, and as a result many see a decline in their physical and mental health.
Lack of exercise motivation is harming our pets too. Various studies on pet health have found anywhere from 25% – 50% of dogs are considered overweight.
It has never been more important to get your daily exercise to feel good mentally and physically.
Resolutions and intentions are good, but actions are better. Deciding to turn off the TV and put on a pair of running sneakers is much more complicated than it sounds. Being accompanied in your training can be the ideal way to find the necessary motivation! Here’s why your dog is the best workout partner you could have…
5 reasons to get out and do some exercise with your dog
1- Dogs are very energetic and will always be happy to go out
Most dog breeds are happy to go for a walk and are excited to have a run around, so will always be in a good mood to go outside. It’s not like calling a friend to go for a workout and having them be unmotivated or in a bad mood, which will eventually demotivate you.
Dogs are habit-forming animals. If you regularly repeat the action at the same time for several days, it will become a natural ritual for your dog. This is ideal if you are demotivated but don’t want to disappoint your dog. You will still put on your sneakers to please your little companion, imposing a certain regularity on you.
2- They have a regular pace
As mentioned above, they are consistent pets and function very much by habit. But beyond that, apart from when they are ill, they keep a certain pace and will always have a maximum of energy to expend.
Having an active pace allows you to optimize your training and get great results. It is much more fun to follow your dog’s pace than to watch your watch! If you are too slow, your dog will tend to stop. So don’t hesitate to find a pace that suits you both!
3- You will always be safe with them
Running or walking alone is not always ideal in terms of safety! Sometimes it’s late in the day and the simple fact of being alone and feeling vulnerable, can be demotivating. The presence of your dog can therefore be a real comfort for your daily outings. A dog has extra senses that will make them react if you are ever in some sort of danger. You should trust your dog’s senses, while also keeping an eye on him so that your dog doesn’t get hurt either.
4- They are always available, there is no need to wait for them
The most complicated thing about daily physical activity with someone is finding the right time and agreeing on schedules. There is always someone who can’t or would rather be an hour earlier or an hour later than the right time for you! With your dog this is not an issue. Your dog will always be available, happy and motivated to come and roam around with you!
5- They don’t ask for anything in return, only love and good times by your side!
Dogs will never ask for anything in return for doing sports with you. On the contrary, they will be happy to have spent some quality time with you! They are the best coaches you can have. They don’t yell at you (maybe a couple of barks) and you don’t spend money like you would with an experienced athletic trainer.
What discipline should I do with my dog?
There are many ways to exercise with your dog. It can be anything from walking to fitness training!
Have you ever heard of canicross? This discipline is an athletic sport where the owner is attached to his dog by a harness. The dog’s traction allows for long strides. It is a bonding moment between the dog and its owner through intense physical effort. This activity is open to all dogs!
Riding a bike with your dog is also possible! There is equipment that allows you to practice this activity safely with your pet.
Lewis Hamilton’s best training partner is his dog!
Multiple F1 champion Lewis Hamilton has released a video of himself training with Roscoe, his dog:
Every time you go out with your dog, higher energy and good vibes are guaranteed!
This entry was posted in Dogs on June 10th, 2021 by alisa.deluca
Whether in our backyards or in our homes, plants not only enhance the overall appearance of a space, but they can also help boost moods, increase creativity and reduce stress. Although we don’t always consider the dangerous side of plants, it’s important to know that some plants can be toxic to your cat if ingested. If you decide to add a touch of greenery to your home, make sure you pay particular attention to the choice of plants and ensure they’re safe for your feline friend.
In order to help you decide which plant will sit proudly on your coffee table, we’ve compiled a list of 10 plants that you can add to your home without hesitation.
Why is the choice of plant important for your pet?
Cats tend to eat plants. This behavior is quite common in cats for a number of different reasons such as boredom, enjoying the texture, the need for certain fibers, and more.
By ingesting certain plants into his/her body, your cat may also try to eliminate and get rid of the hairballs swallowed during his daily grooming by vomiting.
It is therefore essential to choose suitable plants, and if you do not want your cat to touch some of your decorative plants, why not dedicate a corner just for them?
10 non-toxic plants for cats
Whether it’s wheat, oats, barley or rye, grasses are not toxic to your cat. It is safe to approach them. Your cat can therefore play with Deschampsia cespitosa, Briza media, Pennisetum villosum or Stipa tenuifolia.
If you observe cats in the wild, you can see that they easily go for natural grasses.
You can leave your thyme, sage, lemon balm or valerian lying around without worrying about your cat’s health. Valerian is often prescribed by vets for stressed cats. However, if you want to keep them for cooking in the evening for your lunch, don’t leave them lying around for too long, you might find them in your pet’s tummy. You can, however, have fun hiding them in your cat’s toys to stimulate your furry friend’s senses.
Don’t forget mint, which you can place in your cat’s litter box to reduce odors.
This plant has different names but it is the same plant: Catnip (Nepeta cataria). This plant has a euphoric effect on cats due to the smell it gives off. In the presence of this plant, cats tend to rub it, roll around in it… If they meow, purr, lick it, it’s perfectly normal! No need to worry yet, as this is still a plant that is harmless to your pet despite the effects it has on him. 2 out of 3 cats are attracted to this irresistible plant.
As well as decorating your home, papyrus is a plant that will entertain and amuse your cat with its drooping leaves. It is also extremely effective in cleansing your cat’s body.
Contrary to what some people think, heather is not a harmful plant for cats.
Lavender is a plant that tends to calm your cat. In addition to smelling good and being able to mask odors (especially litter), lavender is said to have soothing properties.
Germander is a very popular plant with our cats. They tend to chew and rub themselves on it.
This plant is harmless to cats. If cats do eat it, don’t worry, it is full of nutrients. Callisia turtle is rich in minerals and calcium.
Similar to humans, chamomile is recommended for managing your pet’s stress. It can therefore be interesting to give your cat chamomile when traveling by car or train, which can be very stressful for your cat. The various properties of chamomile will soothe, relax and calm your cat.
Used as a disinfectant for wounds and other sores, goldenseal is an interesting plant to have on hand to treat everyday ailments. It is known for its soothing, disinfecting and healing properties. Moreover, it is not toxic for your pet.
Plants to avoid for your cat
There are many plants that are toxic to animals and therefore to cats. If you have a cat in your home, you should be aware of which plants are toxic to furry friend.
Indoor and outdoor plants to avoid are dieffenbachia, lily of the valley, lily, ficus, azalea, anthurium, daffodil, oleander, holly and mistletoe, poinsettia, yuccas, amaryllis… This list is not exhaustive and if you have any doubts before buying a plant do not hesitate to search on the internet, ask your vet for advice or ask the seller.
If your cat ingests or comes into contact with any of these plants, do not hesitate to call or take your cat directly to the vet. The consequences can be severe.
This entry was posted in Cats on June 9th, 2021 by alisa.deluca
Keeping chickens is a wonderful way to educate children about the lifecycle of animals and show them the many benefits of keeping any farm animal. It’s not just the never-ending supply of eggs on toast that children will enjoy – keeping chickens is a rewarding experience that will teach children of all ages the value of animal life and companionship.
Learning to handle your chickens
If you choose to buy your chickens when they are still chicks, there’s a better chance of children forming bonds with them. Handling chicks regularly is easy and great fun for children, a surefire way to make them feel comfortable and confident around the hens. Some chicken breeds – the Silkie and Sussex, for example – actually enjoy being occasionally pet, not unlike cats! Always remind your kids to be gentle with the birds, though, whether chicks or adults. Even a ‘tame’ hen should be approached slowly and with caution and respect – sudden moves trigger a chicken’s instinct to flap, squawk and panic!
It’s important that children learn to wash their hands whenever they’ve been touching the chickens, or after washing and cleaning the coop or feeding the hens. Chickens, just like us, have all kinds of bacteria which are healthy for them, but not necessarily for us!
Daily chicken activities
Chickens need tending every day, but they are very undemanding as pets. This is a great combination for kids, as it teaches them about routine and allows them to enjoy time with the chickens without feeling it’s too much of a chore.
Getting kids involved in the daily activities that keep chickens happy and healthy is fun and beneficial in giving children a sense of responsibility. The first job of the day is opening up the coop. Children love getting out into the garden after breakfast, and once they’ve refilled the feed and water bowls, it’s time to open the coop and let the chickens into the enclosure. Again, these are simple but meaningful tasks that children will enjoy.
Healthy chickens eat and drink lots in a day, so ask your children to check out our guide on Feeding and Watering Your Chickens to turn them into instant experts!
Cleaning out the chicken coop is probably a job for children of 11+, but consider asking a young child to help out too. They can certainly assist with putting new bedding and toys into the coop once the cleaning is complete. It can be fun setting up your chickens’ coop in new and different ways, and you can really tell when they love their homes!
Children love going into the chicken coop to find freshly laid eggs, and if it’s in time for breakfast, that’s even better! You could teach your child to collect and (if necessary) gently clean the egg, and if they are yet to learn any cooking skills, a boiled egg is a great place to start! Perhaps soon you’ll be getting breakfast in bed…
Teaching your children responsibility
Owning chickens is a great way to teach children responsibility. By looking after hens, a child can learn that a little hard work and reliability puts food on the table – literally, in this case!
Having a pet is sometimes people’s only reason to go outside first thing in the morning, and any pet owner would tell you that this improves their lives in countless ways. Just like walking a dog, going out into the backyard to feed the chickens can be a fun way to introduce routine, responsibility and regular fresh air into your kids’ lives.
Get your kids involved in choosing the chicken breed
If you want a friendly hen for your kids, Silkies are an excellent choice, as they are known for their affectionate nature. Other child-friendly breeds include Australorp, Cochin, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Sussex and Wyandotte.
For more information on how to get children involved with chicken-keeping, including which breeds to choose, check out our article Chicken Breeds for kids.
Tameness isn’t guaranteed in any hen, though, and the most important thing is ‘socializing’ them from – i.e. handling them – from a young age. If children spend time with the hens as soon as they arrive in the coop, they’ll be well on the way to making a feathered friend for life.
Whichever breed you choose, getting your children involved in the decision will help them feel responsible and connected with their chickens from day one. And then there’s all the fun of choosing names for the hens!
Having fun with your chickens at Easter
There are many Easter traditions that involve chicken eggs, the ever-popular egg hunt being the most obvious example. Try hiding eggs that your chickens have laid themselves – it’s lots of fun and a good way of working up an appetite before an egg-based breakfast!
Another Easter tradition is the painting of boiled eggs, which is a great way to introduce children to the weirder world of traditional art. And why not go a step further and go egg-rolling – another fine old British tradition! Find a hill and roll your painted eggs down the hill – the last one to crack and release its hard-boiled yolk wins! You’ll sometimes find an egg that seems unbreakable, no matter how many times it’s rolled – the challenge then becomes trying to break it, by throwing it as high as possible!
So, whether it’s using eggs for cakes or quiches, rolling hard-boiled eggs down a hill, or just spending meaningful social time with the chickens, there are loads of reasons why hens make great pets for children!
This entry was posted in Chickens on June 8th, 2021 by alisa.deluca
As we head into Summer and the weather begins to warm up, you might be wondering how you can help your chickens keep cool in the hotter months. Get prepared now and catch up with our previous blog posts on keeping happy and healthy hens during summer below…
7 Ways to Help Your Chickens Stay Cool This Summer
Did you know, that chickens can’t sweat? Instead, chickens use their legs, combs and wattles to lead heat away from their bodies. They also pant and spread their wings in order to get some air through their feathers. But what can you do to help?
From water to dust baths, here’s 7 simple but effective tips to help your chickens stay cool in the hot weather…
10 Things Not to Do in Summer if You’re a Chicken Keeper
From 7 things you should do, to 10 things you shouldn’t do this summer if you’re a chicken keeper! This advice is just as important as the tips above for ensuring a comfortable environment in the warmer weather, and also preventing your chickens from overheating.
How to Protect Your Chickens from Red Mite
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.
Learn how to treat and prevent red mite infestations in your coop to keep your chickens happy this summer.
How the Eglu Keeps Chickens Cool
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 customizable 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.
If you’re using a wooden coop, it might be a good time to consider upgrading to a better insulated and ventilated house before the worst of the hot weather hits. Learn how an Eglu keeps chickens cool in this blog post.
This entry was posted in Chickens on June 8th, 2021 by alisa.deluca
Dogtor™ Adem, Dog behaviorist & trainer, discusses everything you need to know about dog beds, which types may fit which breed and age of dog, and why we might see our four-legged best friends exhibit certain behaviors in and around their beds. Read on to learn more!
What should I look for in a dog bed?
A dog bed should be comfortable for the breed type, age and size of your dog. If you have an older dog, they might benefit from an orthopedic or memory foam bed, such as the Omlet Bolster Bed with premium memory foam mattress, which gives support by gently molding around your dog. A puppy, on the other hand, might benefit from a bed that can absorb water if, for example, a bowl of water is accidentally knocked over by them or they ‘pee’ on their bed area while still being house trained. For puppies, you may also want to consider a type of bedding that is comfortable for them but not too precious or expensive due to the higher risk of this bedding being chewed or damaged as they play and explore. For me, it is also important to choose a bed that is robust and can be easily washed. Again the Omlet Bolster bed is a great choice with this feature! This not only helps the environment by limiting the need to frequently replace a smelly or very worn dog bed with a new version, but also ensures any accidents or dirt brought into their dog bed area can be easily cleaned away, keeping their bed area hygienic and inviting. You could also consider covering your dog’s bed with a removable and washable cover, particularly in the Winter months.
What type of bed might fit my breed of dog?
Certain breeds might need more cushioning than others to stay comfortable and limit their potential for developing sores or sore patches, for example greyhounds who are considered more ‘boney’ than many other breeds. Some breeds might also like to curl up, for example a husky or some of the smaller breeds, while others prefer to lay on their side and stretch out, for example hounds such as deer hounds, greyhounds, and lurchers. An owner should consider how their individual dog likes to lay and relax and choose a suitable bed with this in mind.
The time of year can also have an effect on where your dog chooses to sleep. To ensure your dog remains comfortable, you can adapt their bed to suit the season by adding extra blankets or even cool mats to your dog’s bed. If you’re looking for a cozy blanket, Omlet’s Super Soft Dog Blanket is definitely a winner for those cooler months where some dogs might like to ‘snuggle up’. For the warmer months of the year, you could try a cool mat instead of their usual bed if it is particularly hot!
I have observed my dog ‘digging’ their bed, why is this?
This is a natural instinct derived from the need to ‘clear the ground’ or an area of insects and potentially small rodents and reptiles. Ancestors of our pet dogs might need to do this in order to make the area they are choosing to reside in safe for them to lay down in. Some dogs, such as those in tropical climates that predominantly live outside or live as ‘street dogs’, still use this instinctive behavior to keep themselves from being bitten and stung. This act of ‘clearing the ground’ may even have benefits in preventing parasite infestation. While in Mauritius last year, I witnessed a young street dog clearing an area and while watching I noticed that she stopped in her tracks and became very observant as she had disturbed a small scorpion in some leaves. Without this act of digging and clearing, this dog would have undoubtedly been stung by this scorpion.
Dogs may also dig because they sweat through their paws, making the act of digging and ‘circling’ in an area another way of spreading and leaving their scent. This is something we commonly know as ‘marking’ and usually associate with the image of dogs urinating up lamp posts!
Finally, dogs may also dig naturally on hot days and in hot climates in an attempt to try to remove hot surfaces (e.g. baked earth). This helps them to reveal a cooler surface to reside in. In addition, wild canids such as arctic foxes and wolves, may dig to avoid extreme weather such as high wind, the cold (e.g. snow), and storms. Again, this act helps to keep them safe as well as assists in regulating their body temperature. Although seldom needed in the pet dog world today, this instinctive behavior still remains in part in our domesticated dogs.
How can I train my dog to sleep in their bed?
A good training instructor or behaviorist will have this on their training syllabus, helping owners to teach the ‘go to bed’ command.
If, however, your dog is reluctant to sleep in their own bed you should investigate why. Firstly consider, is the bed area provided the most attractive sleeping area available to your dog? Positive reinforcement such as offering treats in this area can help to make their bed area a more positive and inviting place to reside, as can ensuring the bed is comfortable for their breed type and age (as discussed above!) Secondly, you might want to evaluate if your dog potentially has a behavioral issue such as separation anxiety that is preventing them from wanting to sleep in their own bed. If you believe this to be the case, you should seek help from a certified behaviorist to address this issue and help to build your dog’s confidence in being physically away from you.
How can I stop my dog destroying their bed?
Think about your dog’s life stage. A young puppy may chew a bed as they explore with their mouth and enjoy the texture on their teething gums. In this instance, it would be advisable to buy a bed that does not contain lots of small parts or stuffing that can be ingested. Similarly, you could pick bedding made of material that can not easily be broken down through the act of chewing. You can always buy a ‘nicer’ bed for your dog to use under your direct supervision until they have passed this life stage and have lost their baby teeth and gained all of their adult teeth.
If your dog is older and destroying their bed, perhaps when they are left alone for example, this could potentially signal that your dog is feeling stressed and is suffering from separation anxiety, for which behavioral advice should be sought to enable your dog to recover from this issue.
Similarly, chewing and destroying of beds can also sometimes indicate that your dog is bored. To combat this, you could look to try to tire your dog more effectively before leaving them alone, which will encourage them to rest more in your absence. You should also ensure that your dog is not left for long periods of time by themselves. Just like us, dogs are social mammals and need company. As well as ensuring your dog is appropriately exercised and is not being left for too long, you can also offer your dog something to do for some of the time you are away from them. For example, you could leave them something else to chew that is safe and made for this purpose. Consider leaving them with a hard chew toy or bone item or a food dispensing toy filled with tasty treats for them to try to get to!
I hope you have found the above information useful. Wishing your beautiful pooches the most restful of snoozes!
Dog Behaviourist & Trainer
This entry was posted in Dogs on June 7th, 2021 by alisa.deluca
A dog who has been taught positive behavior will be your best friend – fun, affectionate and reliable. It’s straightforward teaching your dog this canine version of positive thinking, but it won’t happen unless you lead the way.
There are many ways of teaching a dog the rights and wrongs of living in the human world, and that extends to how they interact with other dogs and the world around them. In this article, we reveal the five rules of thumb for all dog owners – whether you’re training an adult dog or a puppy.
Encouraging Positive Behavior in Puppies
Puppies recognize when we’re pleased or displeased. It’s all part of their instincts, and in the wild this instinct helped their wolf ancestors find their place in the pack very quickly. Learning their place in the big wide world is all about positive reinforcement.
1. Puppy Treats. Dogs of all ages love food and will put lots of effort into doing what you want them to do as long a there’s a yummy treat at the end of it! This means treat-based training can be used for everything from toilet training to basic obedience training and that all-important early socialization. The message here is simple and timeless – do this right, and you’ll get a treat!
2. Affection. This is arguably even better than a food treat! Bonding with a puppy involves physical contact in the form of belly-rubs, back stroking and lots of gentle words of affection and encouragement.
3. Fun and games. Tug-of-war, fetch and simply running around the backyard with you are games that puppies love. What’s more, they strengthen the bond and love between you and your pet, and that’s the perfect groundwork for training and encouraging positive behavior.
4. A trip to a favorite place. This is a great treat for dogs, and can be as simple as a trip to the park, or perhaps to a favorite street for an on-leash walk, or maybe a shop that sells some of those yummy treats! If this is being done as a reward for good behavior, make sure your puppy knows it by telling them what a good boy/girl they are as you put the lead on or get into the car!
5. Puppy playdates. Starting these early is a great way to socialize your puppy, and that provides the basis for all the positive behavior training. Young dogs love meeting each other – it’s not going to be a quiet morning out with your furry friend, but it’s one that will give him or her essential social skills.
Encouraging Positive Behavior in Adult Dogs
The basics are simple. Positive reinforcement rewards a dog for good behavior and ignores, rather than punishes, undesirable behavior. Punishment will only lead to confusion and fear in your dog, reducing your chances of achieving the full benefits of positive-behavior training.
Here are the five ways to make everything go smoothly, no matter which dog breed you have.
1. Keep it simple. One-word commands are better than complex ones. We’re talking here about sit, come, etc. Save the long-winded exchanges for praise and affection! A training session based on simple commands and treats is a great start for encouraging positive behavior. Which brings us to…
2. Treats. Just like puppies, adult dogs will be well and truly ‘reinforced’ if treats are involved. Some breeds are more food-obsessed than others, but all types of dog will quickly learn that good behavior results – at least in the early days of training – in a yummy treat.
3. Quality time. Dogs are social animals by instinct, and they will thrive in human company. Once you and your pet are the best of friends, the positive behavior training will be much easier. If there’s any nervousness or standoffishness in your dog, they will be less able to take on board the things you’re trying to teach them. So, keep up the contact, and play with them every day.
4. Make it fun. A long session of ‘sit, lie down, stay, come’, etc. will soon become boring for a dog. A short session of command-based training followed by a bit of fun, however, will make your dog look forward to the sessions every time. After five or ten minutes (depending on your dog’s stamina), round off the proceedings with a game or a walk. The dog will soon realize that “If I do this tricky part, I get that fun reward afterwards!” It’s a trick that works just as well with young children – “Finish your homework, and then we’ll go out on a bike ride!”, that kind of thing.
5. Get everyone involved. Once your dog has grasped some of the basics, other members of the family, or friends, can reinforce the good behavior by running through some of the training with your dog. Your pet will then learn that positive behavior is part of their general lives and applies in all situations with all people.
This latter point is the ‘quantum leap’ for a dog – the idea that positive behavior extends beyond their immediate owner to the big wide world around them. Getting them to this point takes time, there’s no doubt about that, and some breeds are a lot easier to train than others. However, once the work has paid off, you’ll have a doggy best friend you can be truly proud of!
This entry was posted in Dogs on June 7th, 2021 by alisa.deluca
Chickens pretty much take care of themselves from an early age. However, there are certain things you need to avoid if you want your baby chickens to get the very best start in life.
In this article, we present six easily preventable pitfalls.
1. Not Having The Brooder Ready Before The Chicks Arrive
You need to figure out the chicks’ housing – known as a brooder – before the birds arrive. Otherwise, there will be nowhere to put them, and that would be disastrous.
You can buy brooder boxes made specifically to keep chicks in, or you can make a DIY brooder using a cardboard box or plastic bin with holes in the side. Only choose the DIY avenue if you’re 100% confident you know what you’re doing.
The important thing is to keep the birds in a warm and well-ventilated space, but protected from drafts. As a rule of thumb, allow two square feet per chick – this is more than enough space for fluffy newcomers, but remember you will also need to make sure they have enough room when they get bigger – which they will do very quickly!
A chicken wire covering for the top of the brooder is advisable. Chicks can easily ‘fly the nest’ if the sides of the brooder are less than 45cm high. Older chicks need roosting poles for perching when they sleep, and will appreciate the inclusion of these in the brooder.
2. Not Getting The Temperature Right
Too much or too little heat can kill chicks, so this is another life-or-death issue. The chicks need to be kept in a temperature of 35 ∞C (95 degrees F) in their first week. The heat should then be reduced slightly every five days or so until you’ve reached room temperature.
The source of heat is an important detail too. A heater designed explicitly for coops and aviaries is the best option, or a red heat bulb. You should not use a white heat bulb, as these produce glare that keeps chicks awake at night. This will make them irritable, as a result of which they may start pecking each other. Standard light bulbs are not suitable either.
Even the correct type of heater or bulb will need some adjusting in terms of where it hangs, and how high it is from the ground. Watch how the chicks behave in relation to the heat source. If they crowd together directly under the bulb or in front of the heater, it means they’re too cold. Lower the heat source or add an additional one, depending on the situation.
If the chicks cluster away from the heat source, they’re probably too hot. In this case, the heater or bulb will need to be moved further away, or its temperature reduced slightly. The chicks’ behavior may change as they grow larger and the space becomes more crowded, so watch them carefully each day.
3. Using The Wrong Type Of Bedding
With chicks, it’s not a case of “any old bedding will do”. Use wood shavings or other non-toxic, absorbent material recommended for baby chickens. Avoid newspaper or shredded magazines, and don’t use aromatic, oily woods such as cedar. A 2.5cm layer of this bedding will be enough. If you omit the bedding, the chicks are in danger of slipping and sliding on the surface, which can lead to an injury called “splayed leg”, which is a life-threatening condition. The bedding should be changed at least once a week to prevent sticky droppings from accumulating.
4. Getting The Wrong Type Of Feed
Starter feed – in the form of either ‘crumble’ or ‘mash’ – is the essential basis of a chick’s diet. If your chicks have been vaccinated against coccidiosis, you will need to buy an unmedicated feed. The starter feed will double as a ‘grower’ feed, intended for chicks for up to 16 weeks. Some varieties, however, are for the first four weeks only, after which you can switch to a ‘grower’ feed.
Chicks will also enjoy a bit of fresh food as a treat, either vegetables or worms and bugs. These should never replace the starter feed mix, however. Chicks only eat as much as they need, and there’s no danger of them over-eating. So all you have to do is make sure the feeders are topped off at all times.
Like adult birds, chicks require grit to grind up their food. It needs to be sand grain-sized rather than the small pebbles and shell fragments that grown birds require.
The chicks will need food and water dispensers. Buy custom-made ones rather than improvising with dishes and trays: these inevitably end up fouled and/or spilt. Very young chicks will need to have their water changed at least twice a day, as they very quickly dirty it.
5. Forgetting To Perform Daily Health Checks
A chick health check is a simple case of looking at the young birds and making sure they look as lively and alert as usual. A chick that sits alone and looks lethargic or fluffed-up when the others are active may be unwell. An ill chick will deteriorate very quickly and die.
The most frequent health issue encountered in young chicks is ‘pasting up’. This is when their droppings become encrusted on their bodies, preventing them from pooping. An affected bird can be cured by wetting the pasted-up area with warm water and wiping it clean. You may occasionally have to use tweezers to remove a bit of poo from the vent. The chick will need holding securely during this rather delicate procedure. If left blocked, a pasted-up chick could quickly die.
Note: if there is a thin dark strand hanging from a chick’s rear end, this is NOT pasting up. It’s the dried up umbilical cord that attaches the bird to its yolk inside the egg. It will fall off in a few days.
6. Moving Chicks Outdoors Too Quickly
Chicks can spend up to three hours a day outdoors once they’ve reached two weeks, as long as there is someone to supervise them. A large wire cage or portable run will do the job. The birds should only be placed outside if it’s at least 18 ∞C (65degrees F), dry and not too windy. They will need food, water and shade.
Note: If you take the chicks outdoors before two weeks old, or if you leave them for more than three hours, they may catch a chill or sunstroke (depending on the prevailing weather). These shocks to the system can kill a small bird.
By 12 weeks, the young hens are old enough to move into an Eglu coop and run. They will still be too small to navigate the roosting bars, so these should be removed until the chicks are big enough to perch and walk across them safely. If you have an Eglu Cube, the chicks may have to be lifted in and out of the roosting and laying area, as they often struggle with the ladder. This can be converted into a ramp during these early weeks, to make things easier for the hens.
The roosting area of the Eglu – or any other walk-in coop and run set up – should have lots of bedding to ensure the hens stay warm at night. The bedding should also be replaced at least twice a week.
Chicks soon pick up the dos and don’ts of life from their fellow hens. A lot of their behavior, remember, is based on instinct, so as long as you give them the right environment, nature will take care of the rest.
This entry was posted in Chickens on June 2nd, 2021 by alisa.deluca
Pride of Omlet series is a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.
We have been lucky enough to collect some wonderful stories of your extraordinary pets and share them with you for 10 weeks! Here is a summary of the stories that you can read again and find directly on our Blog.
Pride of Omlet: Stand Up for Disabled Animals
Jerry’s a cheeky, playful and boisterous rescue dog from Romania who can do a handstand! He landed on his feet when Shena gave him a home and inspired her to start a rescue centre specializing in disabled animals. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: The Constant Companion
Martha’s humans Nicola and Ben bought chickens to bring joy to Julia, their mother who they cared for at home. The family could never have imagined that a chicken would become a caring companion to Julia in the advanced stages of dementia. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Free Support
Once caged battery hens, Hennifer Marge and Sybil now work free-range with their human Jonathan, transforming lives for offenders at the Rosemead Project. Jonathan (support worker and chicken champion) believes the hens have the power to unscramble tricky social situations. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: A Perfect Match
On paper, Kipper wasn’t exactly what Angela wanted. After years of behavioral challenges, he’s become the best-behaved blood donor and saved over forty dog’s lives. Kipper’s turned out to be Angela’s perfect match. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Teachers Pet
Henni Hen is a teaching assistant by trade. A cute and cuddly chicken who loves children. She follows in the footsteps of her bubbly humans, Hamish and Verity. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Mipit Makes Sense
Mipit is a Mental Health Assistance Dog for his human, Henley. Mipit keeps Henly alive and independent. Who wouldn’t love a dog that can put out your recycling, answer your phone, and be your best friend, come rain or shine? Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Perfect Peaky
At the tender age of one, Peaky is already a retired filmstar. He had lived in a cage his whole life, released only to perform. When Joana and Fergus took him home, he was a fluffy, yellow bundle of nerves. But they are determined to help Peaky, their cute little canary companion, to come out of his shell. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Saving Sophia’s Life
When you’ve grown up with animals, home isn’t home without a pet. Bringing Harry home was lifesaving for both him and his humans, Sarah and daughter Sophia. Harry has a special gift. He’s a unique epilepsy monitor, and he’s saved Sophia’s life countless times. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Buster’s Beard
Buster was destined to chase balls on the beaches of Barry Island. He’s a lovable labradoodle with big brown eyes and a long beard. A thinker with a playful nature, he’s co-authored a children’s book with his human Natalie to bring Autism Awareness to all. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Brave Bunnies
It’s hard to describe how frightened Pixie the rabbit was when the RSPCA rehomed her with an experienced rabbit owner. Eighteen months on, cheeky little Pixie lives in the lap of luxury and is learning to be loved by her adoring human, Wendy. Read the story here!
This entry was posted in Pets on June 1st, 2021 by alisa.deluca
Evidence suggests that rabbits who bond with their owners live longer and happier lives. Sometimes it can feel like our furry friends are in a world of their own – but it only takes time and patience to start bonding with your bunny.
This article looks at ten fun and exciting ways to deepen your connection to your pet, whether the rabbit is already part of the family or you’ve just brought a new bunny home.
1. Learn Your Pet’s Personality
Like people, all rabbits have distinctive personalities and unique habits. If you have decided to buy a baby rabbit, you may find that they’re very shy at first, but over time they will come out of their shell and begin to reveal their personality. We have a very useful article about Learning to Read your Rabbit’s Body Language, a great resource for identifying what makes rabbit tick. The article outlines the many different sounds your rabbit can make, as well as how its posture can give you clues to what your pet is thinking.
2. Create A Shared Space
It’s natural for your rabbit to feel nervous or even defensive if you interact with them by reaching into their hutch – after all, this space is their home, and all of their instincts tell them to protect it from potential predators. If you want to spend time bonding with your rabbit, try setting up a play area or run large enough for you to sit inside with the rabbit. This way, you can start interacting with your pet on neutral ground.
Rabbits feel comfortable when they have something over their heads, so don’t feel bad if the first few times they hide under any covered area you have set up.
3. Fill Your Shared Space With Toys
There are many fun things you can place around your rabbit’s play area or run, including Zippi tubes and tunnels, chew treats, a covered area, hanging toys and a hay basket.
Once you have a shared space set up with toys and other gear, try sitting in there with your rabbit for half an hour every day without reaching out to touch your pet. This way, your rabbit will learn to feel comfortable in your company and begin to trust you. It is likely that after a few days of this close contact, your rabbit will approach you without fear and begin to show some curiosity. It’s natural for your rabbit to have a gentle nibble when you first meet – don’t worry, it’s not a bite!
4. Give Your Rabbit New Experiences
Although rabbits are creatures of habit, it’s still good for them if new things are introduced into their lives now and then. Your rabbit will learn to associate you with these new fun experiences, which will deepen your bond. Try occasionally changing the layout of their hutch or investing in a fun new toy for them to play with – you could even make toys for them out of simple household objects like empty kitchen rolls.
5. Offer Healthy Treats
Rabbits can teach us a lot when it comes to healthy treats. They don’t like sweet things or junk food, and the most unhealthy thing you can give them is actually carrot or apple (as these are relatively high in sugar)! It helps you bond with your pet if you offer tempting greens, celery sticks or other yummy things. The rabbit will cautiously approach and take a nibble, and you’re a step closer to breaking down those barriers and properly bonding.
6. Pet your Rabbit
Once your rabbit is comfortable around you, and doesn’t run away when you approach with your hand extended, it’s time to start petting them. Physical contact with your pet is one of the most natural ways to form a bond, and although you may find at first that the rabbit doesn’t seem too keen to be pet, this is totally normal, and nothing to worry about. It may take a few weeks before you have your rabbit sitting comfortably in your lap.
The most considerate way to approach your rabbit is to reach with your hand low down, just to the side of their head. This way, they can see that it’s you who is petting them. Rabbits are naturally terrified of birds attacking from above and often run away when approached from a height (and a human standing on two legs is, as far as the rabbit is concerned, a height!). Rabbits also have a blind spot right in front of their noses – something common to most plant-eating animals – so you should also avoid approaching nervous rabbits directly from the front.
7. Teaching Rabbit Tricks
Once your rabbit is playing with you regularly, you can start teaching them some simple tricks! This can begin with reinforcing natural behavior such as walking through a tunnel, with a treat waiting for them at the far end. Or, it could be something more complex such as teaching your rabbit to spin or do a roll. We have an article all about teaching your rabbit tricks if you want to go deeper down this fascinating rabbit hole!
8. Copying Your Rabbit
One slightly more unusual way of bonding with your rabbit is to behave in ways they would expect to see in other rabbits. This could include pretending to clean yourself the way a rabbit does, or having a little bit of your own food when you see them nibbling at theirs. Just make sure your rabbit sees you doing this, as the whole point is to make them see you as more rabbit-like! This may not be necessary if you already have a trusting relationship with your rabbit.
9. Choosing The Right Time To Play With Your Rabbit
As you begin to get to know your rabbit well, you will see that they have certain times of day when they are more or less active. It is natural for your rabbit to spend large amounts of time sleeping, and they are very habit-forming animals. Try taking note of when they are most active so that you can choose that as the optimum time to play – this avoids frustrating your rabbit by interrupting their nap with a trip to the playpen!
10. Learning To Hold Your Rabbit Safely
When your rabbit is fully bonded with you, they might let you pick them up and carry them around. If you are lucky enough to have a docile rabbit that lets you do this, always remember to hold them in the way that is most comfortable for them. Support your rabbit’s hindquarters in the same way you would support a human baby’s head. Hold them only firmly enough to keep them in your grasp – there is no need to hold them tight, as they are unlikely to jump to the floor.
Rabbits are gentle souls, so you need to be gentle in return. Be patient, give them time, and they’ll soon come to look on you as a true friend and companion.
This entry was posted in Pets on June 1st, 2021 by alisa.deluca