Elise Pulbrook is an Australian chef, baker, Australian Masterchef 2021 semi finalist and, as of recently, – chicken keeper! She’s sharing one of her favorite ways of using those lovely fresh eggs on the Omlet blog, a scrumptious asparagus, leek and pea frittata!
My favorite egg recipe of all time is my Zia Maria’s asparagus frittata. I’ve changed her recipe slightly, adding leek and peas. Sometimes Zia Maria adds chopped boiled potato. At the start of Spring, there has never been a shortage of asparagus in my family. Koo Wee Rup is Victoria’s asparagus country and my large Italian family has roots there. Zio Frank would bring at least one large polystyrene box of asparagus down to Melbourne every year for his sisters to divide amongst themselves.
This is a recipe I make as soon as sweet stems of asparagus come into season. To make this with my own chicken’s eggs is deeply satisfying! This is a thin frittata that is flourless and it is often referred to as an omelet within my family.
- 200g chopped leek
- 200g chopped asparagus, woody ends removed
- 200g baby peas
- 10g chopped garlic, approximately 2 cloves
- 230g whisked egg, approximately 4 large eggs
- 30g fresh chopped parsley
- 2 -3 pinches of salt, or to taste (every salt is slightly different in its saltiness, know your salt!)
- 1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste (some chilli flakes are hotter than others!)
- 1-2 pinches dried oregano or zaatar
- 40g grated pecorino cheese, or enough to cover the surface of your omelet
- Light olive oil for frying (at least 100ml, remember to be generous with your olive oil and cook like an Italian!)
1 – Heat a large well-seasoned cast iron pan or non stick fry pan. If using a 30cm fry pan, the quantities in the ingredient list will allow you to make two omelets. I have used a 35cm cast iron skillet for the frittata pictured. A rule of thumb for the success of many recipes is to choose the appropriate pan for the task at hand.
2 – Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil to your pan and begin to sweat your leek over a medium heat. Add two pinches of salt to help extract moisture from your leek and accelerate its cooking time. When your leek has softened and tastes sweet, add your garlic. Allow the garlic to soften and perfume the oil. Next, add your asparagus. Allow the asparagus to fry by slightly increasing the heat of your pan and allowing it to sizzle. Stir occasionally, avoiding any browning. We are aiming for a tender ‘just cooked’ asparagus with a slight crunch and bright sweetness. Add the peas and allow them to blister into radiant green jewels. The peas will only need a moment or two. If using frozen peas, you’re essentially just defrosting them in the pan. Taste the vegetables and, if they are all beautifully tender, remove them from the heat and into a large bowl.
3 – Mix the vegetables with the whisked egg, parsley, chilli flakes, a pinch of oregano and a pinch of salt.
4 – Wipe out your pan, bring to a medium-high heat and then add a generous 5mm layer of olive oil. Don’t allow your oil to smoke but do allow it to be hot enough for your frittata to sizzle once poured into the pan. Once you do pour your frittata mixture into the pan, flatten it out quickly using a spatula, pushing the mixture completely and evenly cover the surface area of your pan. Sprinkle over the grated cheese and the remainder of your oregano.
5 – Turn on the grill function of your oven to preheat while you are waiting for the edges of your frittata to start to brown. Check the bottom of your frittata by using a spatula to peek underneath. Once it has begun to brown, transfer the pan to the oven and leave to grill until the cheese on top has melted and begun to brown. Remove from the grill.
6 – Serve cut into squares as part of an antipasti selection or wedged between buttered sliced bread for lunch. Enjoy!
This entry was posted in Chickens
Some animals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, are herbivores. Others, like hamsters, are omnivorous. Finally, there are also carnivores like cats that cannot survive without meat.
All animals need to have their nutritional needs satisfied. However, this does not mean you can’t have a vegan dog. Vegan cats, though, are a lot trickier.
Can my dog have a vegan diet?
If you were to meet a species of animal for the first time and had to make an accurate guess about its diet, you would get lots of clues by looking at its teeth. The teeth of a dog, like the teeth of a bear, proclaim loud and clear that this animal is an omnivore – that is, one that eats both meat and vegetables. If you think of your dog as a domesticated wolf, you get a good idea of its natural diet.
However, as the panda proves, a supposed meat-eater can sometimes get by perfectly well on a vegan diet. A panda’s teeth are similar to any other bear’s – long canines for meat-eating and molars for grinding vegetation. And yet pandas don’t eat anything other than bamboo. So, if a bear can be vegan, does that mean you can have a vegan dog?
The answer is yes – but it’s a yes with lots of small print! A dog requires a diet that contains the fats and proteins it would get from meat. It is dangerous to ignore this basic need and simply feed your pet with whatever you please. Some dogs have delicate stomachs. Also, a low-fat/high-fibre diet can cause potentially life-threatening problems. A diet that excludes meat should never be fed to a dog without the advice of a professional pet dietician.
The collagen, elastin and keratin found in meat diets are not easily replaced by veggie equivalents. Your dog will also need the ‘long chain’ omega-3 fats found in animal products such as egg, fish and some meats. Vegan omega-3 fats are not the same as animal-derived ones.
All of which presents a headache for the vegan dog owner. There are, however, products available that claim to let your dog live a healthy, meat-free life. Before you take the plunge, it is essential to seek professional, scientific advice and guidance. Compromise is usually the best choice here – a vegan diet supplemented by some of the animal-derived essentials. Crickets, for example, can provide lots of the amino acids and keratin a vegan diet lacks, and they’re 65% protein.
Can my cat have a vegan diet?
The compromise approach is even more important for cats. These are amongst the planet’s true carnivores, obtaining all their dietary requirements from other animals.
The main challenge with minimizing the meat in a cat’s diet is that, unlike many mammals (including dogs), cats cannot produce certain proteins. They have to absorb these from the meat and fish in their diet. Amino acids are another issue – cats deficient in the animal-derived amino acid taurine, for example, usually succumb to a specific type of heart problem.
Even a fortified vegan cat food cannot be confidently recommended. Turn the situation on its head, and try to imagine weaning a rabbit onto a meat-only diet, and you will get some idea of the challenge – and the ethics – involved.
There are some lab-grown ‘meat’ products in development, with vegan and vegetarian cat owners in mind. However, whether these will arrive – and remain – on the market any time soon is hard to guess.
For many vegan pet owners, there is a huge ethical issue involved in feeding the animals they share a space with. Ethics, however, include the animal’s needs too, and it’s an almost impossible issue to resolve when it comes to cats. If you are able to reduce but not eliminate the meat in your cat’s diet, that’s the safer option.
Top 10 pets for vegan households
There are, of course, plenty of other pets that don’t eat meat, or that eat some meat but can still thrive on a meat-free diet. Here are our ten favorites.
1. Rabbits. No problems here – rabbits are happy vegans, with diets based on hay and vegetables. You could argue that the soft pellets they eject and then eat are animal products of a sort, but they are simply semi-digested vegetation.
2. Guinea pigs. Like rabbits, these wonderful little characters thrive on a 100% vegan diet.
3. Hamsters. Most hamster owners give them store food, you don’t always know what’s in it. However, hamsters, like rats and mice, can do without meat.
4. Gerbils. Like hamsters, gerbils are omnivorous. They have sensitive stomachs and need a quality pellet mixture. Too much fresh produce can harm their digestive system.
5. Mice. Although they will eat pretty much anything in the wild, mice can thrive on vegan diets; but it is still best to use a food mix prepared specifically for them. This ensures that they will not be deficient in any of the vitamins and minerals they need.
6. Rats. These are the most omnivorous of rodents, but as long as you feed them a vegan mix that has been fortified with all the nutrients they need, they will thrive. Be careful, rats who eat too much animal fat tend to become fat and die prematurely.
7. Chickens. If you watch a free-range hen, it soon becomes clear that she will eat anything – grass, beetles, worms, and everything in your vegetable patch if you’re not careful! Most chicken feed emulates this mix of plant and animal products. However, it is possible to buy vegan chicken feed, and circumstantial evidence suggests that hens can thrive on it. However, they are likely to produce fewer eggs, and you will not be able to stop them scratching for worms and bugs, no matter how vegan the layers pellets are!
8. Parakeets and parrots. Vegans will have no obstacles to face with budgies and parrots, unless the birds are being bred. Egg-brooding female birds need a protein boost, normally delivered via an egg-based food or cooked meat. Vegan alternatives are available, though.
9. Finches. Many finch species enjoy bugs and mealworms as treats, but these are not an essential part of an adult finch’s diet. These birds thrive on a mixture of seeds and fresh vegetables.
10. One for reptile fans. When you think of pet snakes and lizards, you probably have an image of dead mice or doomed crickets. However, there are a few commonly kept pet reptiles that eat a 100% vegan diet, the most popular being the Green iguana. Getting the balance of vegetables just right is very important for the animal’s health, but meat is certainly something you won’t have to worry about.
There is no shortage of choice when it comes to vegan pets. Keeping a vegan cat or dog is a much trickier proposition, though. And with all these animals, a balanced diet that matches the pet’s nutritional requirements should be your primary goal.
This entry was posted in Birds
Eggs can be consumed in lots of different ways, and are used in lots of wonderful, delicious recipes we all know and love. But do you know fact from fiction when it comes to the health benefits of eggs? Read on to crack the case…
Let’s break down the myths first
“Eating eggs causes bad cholesterol and can lead to cardiovascular problems…” – A prejudice from the 1980s, before scientists demonstrated the benefits of eggs.
Eggs do not cause bad cholesterol in your body. The egg yolk contains about 200mg of cholesterol, making it one of the foods with the highest amount of cholesterol. However, once ingested, this cholesterol does not remain in the body. About 25% of the cholesterol in the food we eat is absorbed by the intestine.
About 75% of the cholesterol in the blood, as shown on your blood test, is produced by the liver. Cholesterol is the result of an unbalanced diet, made up of foods rich in saturated fats (butter, cheese, cold cuts, etc.), which will cause your body to over-produce “bad cholesterol”. Once again, the egg is not responsible for this. Your body is simply out of balance, notably by an inadequate diet, and ends up producing more cholesterol than it needs. However, avoid eating fried eggs or eggs with toast and butter every morning. If you combine eggs with fatty acids, you are likely to increase your “bad cholesterol” levels.
Eggs are not responsible for clogged arteries or cardiovascular problems. It’s all a question of balance. A healthy person can eat up to 6 eggs a week.
Eggs: a fabulous source of micro and macro nutrients
First of all, it’s interesting to know that an egg contains only 90 calories!
Whether it’s the yolk or the white, eggs are full of nutrients and vitamins that are useful for your body to function properly. Eggs contain carotenoids, antioxidants that help to fight against age-related diseases, especially eyesight. But not only that!
Eggs are rich in protein (2 eggs are equivalent to 100g of meat), vitamins A, D, E, K, B2 and N12, as well as phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and minerals, all of which keep your body in perfect working order. Two eggs at 90 calories each and you can make an omelette! Its appetite-suppressant effect makes it a food to include in your meals if you want to feel fuller for longer. Proteins are also involved in the proper functioning and maintenance of muscle tissues.
The vitamin B present in eggs helps your brain to function properly: memory and concentration.
Eggs can be consumed by pregnant women, as the nutrients present in eggs, including vitamin B9, help the growth and proper development of the fetus.
Eggs contain Zinc (for hormone regulation) and with the proteins and vitamins they provide, eggs are a real ally for your hair! There are many recipes on the internet for caring for your hair with the eggs you have on hand.
Top tip: one egg, a few drops of sweet almond oil (no more than 4) and a spoonful of honey and your hair will thank you! Leave on for 10 minutes and rinse thoroughly.
And don’t forget the joy of delicious eggs, after all it’s good for your health but it’s also tasty! Eggs can be used in many different ways, allowing us to vary our meals, to vary our recipes, to vary between sweet and salty. Whether you like eggs fried, boiled, scrambled, in quiche, in cake or in pancakes, there is something for everyone.
You can find our latest cake recipes here or do you want to try out a delicious banana bread? For the perfect pancake recipe click here.
How to choose your eggs
The nutrient content may vary slightly depending on the origin of the eggs you consume. The Omega 3 content may be lower if you buy your eggs from a cage farm instead of an organic farm.
What is the difference between AA, A, and B Grade Eggs?
AA= The Egg whites are thick and firm. The yolk is high raised and free from defects. The shell is clean and unbroken
A = Egg whites are less firm, yolk reasonably high, and shell is free of cracks
B = Egg white is thin, yolk is flatter, and is used in in frozen or dried products
Have you considered keeping chickens yourself to benefit from the joy of collecting fresh eggs in the morning? As you have seen, eggs are useful for your body and delicious! Having them on hand, without worrying about going shopping, is a real pleasure.
Omlet’s egg skelter and Egg Ramp keep your eggs neatly arranged and stored in order of laying. This ensures that you always use the oldest eggs first, so there is no waste.
Pro tip: to tell if an egg is still fresh, take a glass of water and put the egg inside. If it sinks, the egg is still good, if it floats, the egg is no longer fresh and should not be eaten.
Eggs have many benefits and it is good to eat them every week. The rule of everything in moderation is essential to have a balanced and healthy diet while enjoying delicious recipes.
This entry was posted in Chickens
-The Best Things In Life Are Sweet-
The OMLET (Omelette) Cake
Ingredients for the cake batter (for a 9 inch round cake tin):
- 900 ml milk*
- 250 g sugar
- 250 g butter/margarine
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 5 eggs*
- 250 g flour
- 1 packet baking powder
- a pinch of salt
- 1 package of clear cake glaze*
- 1 can apricots halves (850 g drained net weight)
- 1 can apricots halves (425 g drained net weight)
Ingredients for pudding cream:
- 100 ml milk*
- 2 packets vanilla pudding powder
- 80 g sugar
- 1 packet vanilla sugar
- 2 cups sour cream*
*For a plant-based or vegan option:
As a milk substitute you can use any non-dairy milk (e.g. almond or oat milk). As 1 egg substitute use 1/2 mashed banana (5 eggs = 2.5 bananas) or 70 g apple puree (5 eggs = 350 g). You can buy vegan sour cream or soy yogurt. Instead of the clear cake glaze you can use agar-agar powder.
- Grease a cake tin (9 in). Preheat oven to 340 degrees Fahrenheit (convection oven).
- Boil 900 ml milk in a saucepan. Mix in a bowl the remaining milk, 80 g sugar and vanilla pudding powder until smooth, stir into the boiling milk and cook well for 1 minute while stirring. Pour into a bowl and let cool, stirring several times.
- Mix butter/margarine, 200 g sugar, 1 pinch of salt with the mixer until you reach a creamy texture. Mix in eggs one at a time. Mix flour and baking powder and stir in 2 tsp of lemon juice. Put the batter in a greased cake tin and bake on the middle shelf for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, drain the apricots well and collect the juice. Stir the pudding again, and now stir in the sour cream with a whisk. After the 20 minutes baking time, spread the pudding cream evenly on the batter. Cover the cake with apricots and bake for another 20-30 minutes. Let cool down.
- Mix the icing powder, remaining sugar, 1/4 liter of apricot juice and remaining 2 tsp of lemon juice in a saucepan and bring to the boil while stirring. Now spread the glaze with a tablespoon over the apricot halves so that it looks like egg white. Allow to become firm.
*You can use peaches instead of apricots as well.
If you want to bake the ultimate “Omlet”-cake with a 4 inch cake tin, use 1/2 of the ingredients and only one apricot halve on top of it.
If you prefer a more traditional Easter cake, here is a super delicious yet easy recipe:
Ingredients for the cake batter:
- 350 g wheat or spelt flour
- 4 eggs*
- 400 g carrots
- 100 g ground hazelnuts
- 100 g ground almonds
- 200 g sugar
- 1 packet vanilla sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 packet baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 200g marzipan
- 200 ml rapeseed or sunflower oil
- 200 ml milk*
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- extra portion love
- 70 g icing sugar
- 200 g coconut yogurt
- 30 g coconut paste
- shot of lemon juice
optional: food coloring, e.g. green color
Decoration: e.g. Marzipan carrots, chopped pistachios, dried flowers, grated coconut
*For a plant-based or vegan option:
Use 2 tsp baking soda and 2 tsp cider vinegar or alternatively banana/apple puree as egg substitute (1/2 mashed banana per egg; 70 g apple puree per egg).
As a milk substitute you can use e.g. almond milk or oat milk, or any other non-dairy milk you prefer.
1. Grease a cake tin (about 9 in) or use baking paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit (convection oven).
2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, hazelnuts/almonds, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon) and the eggs in a bowl with a mixer. In a separate bowl, peel and grate carrots and mix them with the wet ingredients (vanilla extract, oil, milk, lemon juice).
3. Now slowly heat the marzipan in a saucepan, stirring repeatedly until it becomes a liquid mass. Mix the dry and wet ingredients together and gradually add the marzipan to the batter, mix well.
4. Pour the batter into the cake tin, smoothen it and bake it for about 50 minutes (use the tooth-pick test to make sure it is fully cooked).
5. Let the cake cool down and prepare the frosting in the meantime. Mix the sifted icing sugar with yogurt and coconut puree and season with more icing sugar and a shot of lemon juice. You can add food coloring to the frosting if you wish. Now spread the frosting on the cooled cake and decorate as desired, e.g. with marzipan carrots, chopped pistachios or dried flowers.
Happy Easter from the Omlet Team!
Tag us on social media (Instagram: @omletusa) with an image of your cake!
This entry was posted in Food
Not a fan of Pumpkin Spice? Fancy trying something simple, yet seasonal you can make with your girls’ eggs? Try out these delicious ginger cupcakes, with a nod to Fall on top!
To make 12 delicious ginger cupcakes, you will need…
- 12 cupcake liners (we have gone for orange to stay on theme!)
- 2/3 cup margarine or unsalted butter (softened)
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2/3 cup self raising flour
- 1 – 2 tsp ground ginger (to suit your taste)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp golden syrup
For the buttercream, you will need…
- 1 cup margarine of unsalted butter (softened)
- 2 cups icing sugar
- ½ – 1 tsp ground ginger (to your taste)
For the pumpkin decoration, you will need…
- Ready to roll fondant icing sugar-paste – orange
- Ready to roll fondant icing sugar-paste – green
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.
- To make your ginger cake mix, start by creaming together the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl. Sieve the self raising flour into the mixture with the ginger. We used 2 tsp of ground ginger but you can use less if you prefer a more subtle taste.
- Lightly whisk the eggs in a bowl and add them to the mixture. Mix everything together carefully.
- Once mixed add the golden syrup and give a final stir.
- Fill the 12 cupcake cases with the ginger cake mixture as evenly as possible.
- Place in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Leave to cool on a cooling rack before making the buttercream icing.
- For the buttercream icing, add a small amount of icing sugar to the butter at a time and cream together. Once smooth, add up to a tsp of ground ginger to the icing.
- Put the icing in a piping bag. We used a large, star shape nozzle for the piping. Start in the middle and circle around leaving some space at the edge of the cake. Then spiral up on top and pull away to leave a peak.
- Once you have iced all 12 cupcakes, you can decorate however you wish! We decided to make little pumpkins out of ready to roll icing. Simply roll the orange icing into small balls, no more than a cm in diameter. Then use a sharp knife to carefully draw lines down the pumpkin.
- Roll a small amount of green icing a long strip then cut into tiny pieces to create the stalks. Press the stalk down lightly onto the pumpkin, and place on top of your cakes.
This entry was posted in Food
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:
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.
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.
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.
This entry was posted in Dogs
Try out these delicious homemade frozen treats that dogs will go crazy for! These are super quick and easy to make, and kids will love getting involved with different fruity creations…
You will need…
An ice cube tray – (moulds to make larger ice cubes are available on Amazon)
500g Greek Yogurt
200ml of water
A selection of dog-safe fruits, such as apples, bananas, blueberries, mango, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelon.
We used an ice cube tray which makes large 2 inch square ice cubes. This quantity made approximately 8 at this size ice cube.
Prepare the fruit and cut up into smaller bite size pieces.
Depending on the size of ice cube tray, fill the molds up to a third high with yogurt, followed by a small splash of water. Pop a few small pieces of fruit into the moulds, before continuing to fill the molds with yogurt, splashes of water up and pieces of fruit up to the top.
Pop in the freezer for at least 4 hours depending on the size of the ice cube moulds.
Allow the treats to thaw for 5-10 minutes before feeding to your dog.
Other Frozen Treats…
If your fruit bowl contents are on their way out and unlikely to be eaten by the humans in the house, you can also freeze cut up pieces of the fruit, like apples and bananas, to give to your four-legged friends directly.
Remember to give your dog treats in moderation, alongside a healthy diet. Supervise your dog when eating these frozen treats and remove at any sign of distress. These frozen fruit cubes should be given to your dog as a treat, with other solutions in place to keep your dog cool, such as access to shade in the garden and the coolest room in the house, fresh water, walks at the coolest time of day etc. Consult your vet if your dog is showing signs of distress or potential heatstroke.
This entry was posted in Dogs
For most pet dogs meal time isn’t very challenging time of the day. Typically owners only put the food bowl down and leave them to it. If this suits you and your dog that’s absolutely fine, but they would without a doubt not have been served food in this way in the wild. Instead they would have had to scavenge and hunt for their meals, keeping both mind and body active. If you feel like you would like to challenge your dog and enrich their daily routine, then making some changes to their meal times can be a good start.
Adding more mental stimulation to your dog’s life can have several benefits. It keeps them busy and tires them out in a similar way to a long walk. Many dog owners forget about challenging their dogs mentally, and when they encounter problems with boredom and linked behavioral issues like chewing, pacing, jumping and barking, they just presume they need to increase the physical exercise. This helps, but it doesn’t satisfy your dog’s hunger for mental stimulation.
Mentally stimulated dogs are not as hyperactive, and they tend to adapt more easily to stress. This is useful if you’ve got a very worried pup who shows aggression towards other dogs walking past the house, struggles with separation anxiety or gets stressed during thunderstorms or fireworks.
Brain games are therefore a brilliant way of tiring your dog out for the evening, or before you leave for work in the morning. By combining this with their normal feeding time, it won’t take much longer than normal, and your dog will love the extra challenge. Additionally you don’t have to worry about giving your dog too many treats as they are rewarded with food they would have eaten anyway.
So what are some fun ways of mentally stimulating your dog during meal times?
The aim is that it should take your dog 10-15 minutes to finish their food. Make sure you supervise your dog the first few times you’re trying a new way of feeding.
Our first tip is nose work. Using their nose comes naturally to dogs, and searching for their food will definitely add stimulation to their daily routine. Scatter the food in the garden so that your dog will have to sniff around to find it. You can also do this indoors, but it might be good to choose a room that’s easy to clean and where the pieces of food won’t get stuck under furniture. If you want to make it even more challenging you can hide little heaps of food under a bush, on a window sill or behind some flower pots. If your dog doesn’t get the game, start with something that smells a bit more than their normal dry food.
Our second suggestion is puzzles and food dispensing toys. The Classic Kong is the most well known food dispensing toy, but you can also find treat balls and complicated puzzles that provide your dog with a harder challenge before they are rewarded with food. The idea with most of these is that your dog will have to move the toy around the floor or press certain parts of the toy to make the food fall out. Dogs absolutely love this, and as they get rewarded again and again it can keep them entertained for hours.
If you don’t want to buy toys you can make some yourself. Try putting the food in a cereal box and taping it shut, in a toilet roll with folded sides, or in a plastic bottle with some holes cut out where the food can fall out. This can get a bit messy, and definitely noisy, but it’s worth it when you see your dog running around trying to get into the box, tail wagging with excitement.
You can also use mealtime as an opportunity to practice tricks and teach your dog new ones. Don’t ask your dog to do the same tricks every meal time, as it will just become a part of the routine, and not challenging or mentally stimulating. By using this time for training you are able to give your dog more than just the one treat at a time, as it’s the food he or she is supposed to eat anyway. This will form a stronger positive association, and your dog might learn faster.
Another thing you can do to change the daily routine is to change the texture of the food. If your dog normally gets wet food, try freezing it into little discs or cubes that they will love crunching on. If your dog gets dry food you can mush it up with a bit of yogurt or water. It’s all about novelty and enriching your dog’s daily routine!
This entry was posted in Dogs
Christmas is a time that all members of the family should enjoy, including your pet pooch. The problem is that if you are not careful, the festivities can turn out to be not so great for your dog. Giving them the wrong food, or inviting them into a busy kitchen, can cause things to take a turn for the worse, very quickly.
Foods that your dog should not eat
Starting with the basics, your furry friend should never be encouraged to join in with Christmas drinking. Even a small amount of alcohol is bad for them. There are also several traditional festive food goodies that you should not share with your pet:
- The bones and skin from the turkey.
Bones from any bird can be dangerous. They are delicate and can break into small pieces making them a serious choking hazard. The skin of turkeys and chickens is full of fat which can cause problems with your dog’s pancreas.
- The gravy you have with dinner.
You may think that gravy is delicious and completely harmless. However, it’s high in salt and fat; both of which can be dangerous to dogs.
- Onions and other bulb vegetables.
Onions are the main cause for concern when it comes to bulb vegetables. They are poisonous to dogs, so your pet should be kept away from them. It’s also a good idea to not feed them other bulb vegetables like garlic. They are not as immediately toxic but a build-up of them can cause serious problems.
- Christmas cake ingredients, raisins, currants and sultanas.
All of these items, together with grapes, are poisonous to dogs. In fact, if your pet does eat even a small amount, you should seek help from a vet as soon as possible. For this reason, Christmas treats such as Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies should never be fed to dogs.
- Chocolate in any form.
Chocolate is a favourite in most homes over the holidays. This is fine for humans, in moderation, but it’s not good for dogs. The theobromine that is present in chocolate can be deadly to your furry friend, so do not let them have any,, no matter how much they give you the sad eyes treatment.
These are a few of the festive food treats that you should not share with your dog at Christmas, or any other time of year. However, it’s not all bad news, there are some favourites that your pet can enjoy.
Christmas food that your dog can eat
Before you start feeling mean about depriving your pooch of all the food that they want, but is really bad for them, there are several favourites that pets and people can all enjoy. It’s important to remember that all of these foods should be given to dogs in moderation; keep portions small.
- A few slices of turkey.
You can give your pet some white turkey meat, as long as the skin has all been removed.
- Boiled and mashed potatoes.
Dogs enjoy a little potato that can be boiled or mashed. Remember that you should only ever feed your pet plain potato with no salt or butter added.
- Mixed and green vegetables.
As with any other food items, do not give your dog a pile of vegetables, but it’s fine to let them have a few selected items such as carrot and swede mash, sprouts, parsnip and green beans. Do not add any seasoning or sauces before you give the vegetables to your pet.
- Fruit with pips or stones removed.
Aside from rhubarb, which is poisonous to dogs, you can share fruit bowl items with your pet. However, you need to make sure that pips and stones are removed. You should also remember that fruit is acidic and contains sugar so can cause stomach problems in dogs if they have too much.
Making sure your furry friend has a great Christmas is important. Keeping your dog out of the kitchen, and making sure they eat and drink the right things, can help make this happen.
Written by Ella Hendrix.
Image Credit: Stonehouse Furniture
This entry was posted in Dogs