13 articles Articles posted in Pets

How to Pet-Proof Your Home

Having an elderly dog is not wholly unlike having a puppy in the challenges that it throws up. Chuck is now 14, which is the equivalent of being 85 in human years, and much like an 85 year old human, his faculties aren’t what they used to be. We were told at the beginning of the year that his heart was starting to fail and this week we’ve discovered that, thanks to a few years of strong anti-inflammatories because of his arthritis, his kidneys are now struggling too, which means he’s starting to forget his house training.

Chuck

His quality of life is of the utmost importance, but adapting our home so that we can all exist peacefully is important too, so we’ve been thinking about ways to pet-proof our home for an elderly dog. Here’s some the things we’ve come up with:

Laminate Flooring

When a pet starts to lose continence, it’s usually a sign that they’re nearing the last portion of their lives, but if their quality of life is otherwise high, it needn’t be a reason to say goodbye. We’ve got laminate flooring in the downstairs of our house, so keeping Chuck confined to these areas when we’re out minimises the risk of coming home to find a puddle on the carpet and makes it significantly easier to clean up.

Stair Gates

As I mentioned earlier, Chuck has arthritis, and has actually had it since he was 7, but his mobility is more limited now as the disease advances, so stopping him from going up and down the stairs unnecessarily is important. We’ve installed a stair gate at the top and bottom and Husband tends to carry him up to bed in the evenings to minimise the impact on his joints.

Warm Sleeping Area

When he was younger, Chuck was more than happy to sleep in his bed in the living room, or flop down on the end of our bed! These days, he gets far too cold because he’s going bald in places, so we’ve actually made him a dog-cave! We have a huge cupboard on our landing which is about 8ft deep and 3ft high and wide, so we’ve put a doorless crate in there and insulated the whole cupboard by putting duvets and padding around his crate, as well as soft, warm bedding inside it for him to burrow into. He actually loves his bedroom and sleeps sounder in there than anywhere he’s ever slept. It’s also important for elderly dogs to have a space to retreat to if they feel like they need it, so this is perfect for him.

Raised Food Bowls

Raising a dog’s food bowls is important even before they’re elderly as it will reduce the strain put on their neck when they eat, and if they’re a deep-chested breed can reduce the risk of bloat. However, older dogs usually need even more help in this department, so making sure that both their food and water bowls are at a good height for them to eat and drink from without too much of a stoop is really important and can improve their quality of life by quite a lot.

Do you have an elderly dog? Have you adapted your home in some way to make their lives easier? Do leave me a comment below, and more more information about laminate flooring, head to Posh Flooring.

Best Locations to Have a Holiday with Your Dog

Many pet owners don’t want to leave their pets behind when they go on holiday, whether that is somewhere close to home, or a little bit farther. Dog friendly holidays are becoming increasingly more popular, and even if you want to get some sun in a hotter climate, there are some great options for places to go, as well as reasonably priced companies offering all the help you need to ship dogs to your holiday destination, safely and happily. Here are some of the best holiday locations for you and your dog:

England

England’s quarantine laws have recently been lifted, allowing for free travel for dogs from most countries. This is ideal as England is one of the most dog-friendly places, with plenty to see for humans and their furry friends. The country and the cities are great for walking- something your dog is sure to enjoy. And it is not often that you can take your dog to see truly historical features like those on offer in England.

Greece

What dog doesn’t want to spend all day at the beach? In fact, you might argue that dogs usually have more fun than their human counterparts. Greece offers plenty of beaches, where you and your dog can enjoy in equal parts. If you go in the spring, your dog will be most happy as temperatures won’t be too high for them, and if they are, most places have air conditioning, so you are set!

Switzerland

The rules for dog travel to Switzerland are indeed lax, allowing easy entry for you and your dog. This spans to their use of public transportation as well, making it easy for you and your dog to catch a plan, train, or boat. Small dogs can even travel for free! As an added bonus, most restaurants in Switzerland even let your dog dine with you! A true dog haven!

Spain

Spain can be an extremely relaxing trip for you and your pup. Laying by the pool, catching some sun rays, all of this is extremely appealing when traveling with your puppy. Spain in general is pretty laid back. This makes taking your dog with you anywhere very easy. The largest cities in Spain even have specialized dog exercise and toilet areas. This is ideal when spending the day sight seeing. Just make sure you don’t let your dog get overheated in the Spanish sunshine!

It is important for dog owners to do all the necessary research before going on the holiday of their dreams. This includes checking what your pet needs to have (passport, vaccinations, etc.), talking to your vet for advice, and ensuring that not just the place you are sleeping is dog friendly, but that there are also local things to do with your dog that you can both enjoy and that you are both welcome in.

Taking Care of an Elderly Pet

One thing that we’ve come to realise now that Chuck is older is that taking care of an elderly dog is vastly different to caring for a younger one. His drives have completely changed now that he’s an old man (he’s the equivalent of around 80 years old in human years) and we’ve had to make some changes to accomodate him and keep him healthy for as long as possible. Here’s some of the things you might want to consider if you have an elderly pet:

Mobility

Just like with old people, old pets can struggle with mobility. Chuck used to race up and down the stairs with ease, walk for hours and think nothing of jumping up and down onto the bed or sofa to snuggle with us. Now, he’s a lot less mobile, so we’ve placed water bowls both up and downstairs so that he never has to go too far for a drink and we’re also looking into getting some pet steps so that he can get up onto the bed without having to jump.

Diet

This one is a double-edge sword. Now that he’s less mobile, he doesn’t exercise as much and therefore doesn’t need to eat as much. However, since his drives have turned away from procreation, they’ve turned firmly towards food so he acts like he’s hungry MOST of the time! We’re careful to limit table scraps and have moved him onto a senior diet which gives him the nutrients he needs with fewer calories so that he doesn’t get fat!

Exercise

We know for a fact that he’s suffering with heart problems and suspect that he had a heart attack sometime last year. This means that the dog who used to walk for literally hours now barely makes it 800m. We’ve decided that we allow him to completely dictate how far he wants to go; on days when he’s not feeling it, we leave him be or let him have a little plod to the end of the road and back, but if he seems pretty spritely we let him dictate the pace and distance and it seems to be working pretty well.

Vet Care

Some pet owners are lucky to rarely ever need to take their pet to the vet, but once they get older it’s vital to get at least a check-up. Chuck takes a variety of medications for his heart and an anti-inflammatory for his joints which means that he gets to live out his old age with minimum pain or discomfort. If you’re worried about vets bills, the PDSA offers treatment if you’re in receipt of benefits, so it might be worth having a look if you have an elderly pet.

Temperament

We’re incredibly lucky in the respect that Chuck is an amazingly wellbehaved dog with our kids and is soft and loving with them. However, now that he’s old and struggling with stiffness etc. we make a point to make sure that the kids aren’t too rough with him and give him plenty of space. We trust him completely but it would be heartbreaking for him to get hurt or feel overwhelmed and lose his cool with one of them. We don’t think for a second it would happen but it protects ALL THREE OF THEM if we remove the risk altogether.

Do you have an elderly pet? Have you found any new challenges have arisen since they’ve got older? I’d love to hear from you.

Gifts for Dog Lovers

Everyone has that one friend who is a little bit too bonkers about their dog, referring to it as their first-born child, allowing it to sleep in their bed and feeding it food which costs more than their own. Given the fact that I’m basically describing MYSELF here, and I’m the crazy dog lady in my friends lives, I thought I’d be a good person to put together a list of great gifts to buy the dogs (or dog lovers) in your life for Christmas. Here are my suggestions:

A Doggy iPad Cover

If your dog-lover has an iPad, then this dog print iPad cover would make a great gift, It’s made from natural materials and protects screens whilst looking cute and well made, and I’m convinced that any dog-lover would get a real kick out of putting their iPad in it!

A Doggy Cushion

I’m not sure if I’d like this one for myself or for Chuck…or maybe one for each! Chuck has his own selection of cushions that we put in his beds for a bit of soft support now that he’s getting old and I think these would look really stylish around the home.

Dog Christmas Jumpers

It’s not often that we see dog clothes which are big enough for Chuck because he’s a medium sized breed (although I think that’s discrimination personally, as he’d look SO AMAZING in a fair-isle jumper!) but if your dog-loving friend or relative does have a smaller breed then a Christmas jumper would be such a cute gift. You can even get Santa outfits!

Dog Beds

One thing on which we never scrimp is the beds that we buy for Chuck, especially now he’s old as he needs the warmth and comfort, especially at night when the temperature drops. Buying a dog bed for a human might not be the best idea but if you’re a dog-lover yourself then investing in a decent beg for your dog, with lots of padding and a good, strong material like tweed which will provide a good outer layer for the bed which still looks great in your home.

Are you a dog lover? What’s on YOUR Christmas list for either you or your pooch?

Caring For an Older Dog

FullSizeRender (3)Having an older dogs brings with it added responsibilities. When Sausage was born, Chuck was a spritely boy of just 4, whereas when Burrito Baby came along, he was getting on slightly, closer to the age of ten, which meant that we made sure we gave him extra space and also a little extra love when the girls weren’t around as our attentions were so divided during the day that he sometimes missed out.

Nutrition is extra important, now that he’s older, as his joints are feeling the wear of age so we tend to opt for food which has added glucosamine, chondroitin and green-lipped mussel as it helps to bolster his joint health. He also has issues with a sensitive gut, which means that hypoallergenic food is better and gentler on his tummy. Luckily, there are some great brands out there which cater for all of these aspects.

Exercise is equally important as he needs to remain mobile whilst maintaining a healthy weight – it’s so common to see older dogs getting fat, which just adds extra pressure to their joints. Instead of taking him on long walks, which potentially cause him pain, we tend to take him on shorter walks but more often to give him the level of exercise he requires, with plenty of rest in between.

Sleep and rest is also all-important and we ensure that he has a bed which provides him with adequate padding and warmth. We also place his bed on a large memory foam pad, which we also add a heat pad to in the winter to ensure that he doesn’t get too cold as he’s short haired and his joints also seize up when he’s too cold.

In time, we’re also planning to build a set of steps for our old boy – he’s never been the sort of dog who isn’t allowed on the bed or sofa and we don’t want to stop him as he gets older, so a set of steps will enable him to get up onto high things without jumping and causing himself harm.

Keeping stress to a minimum is something we also find hugely important as he gets older. He’s never left alone for long as Husband works from home and I’m always in and out, but if we know we’re going to be away for a few hours, we’ll also ask my MIL to check in on him to make sure he has plenty of water.

Lastly, the most important thing to give them is plenty of patience and understanding. He’s not able to walk quite as fast any more so we make sure we allow plenty of time even for shorter walks and on the VERY rare occasion that he’s had an accident in the house, we remember that it’s not a behavioural issue, just that he can’t cross his paws for quite as long these days!

Hopefully if we carry on with all these things, we’ll have many years to come with our lovely fur baby and see him grow old in health and happiness.

Which horse rug is right for your horse during Winter?

Shires Winter Highlander ComboSelecting the correct rug for ones horse during the winter can be very important. A horse rug will allow the horse to stay warm in the winter as well as provide other protection that he may need. You may be asking yourself which horse rug is right for your horse during winter? Choosing the correct size is one of the most important details to keep in mind. A properly fitting horse rug will cover the horse from his chest to his tail. A rug with straps around the girth as well as the back legs will help to keep the rug securely in place as well as still allow freedom of movement for him.

A Shivering Horse Is A Cold Horse 

If a horse is shivering during the winter months, it means that he is cold and a quality horse rug will allow him to stay warmer and more comfortable. Horses get cold and shiver just as people do so this is a great sign to watch for. If a horse spends time in the pasture or field during winter months a warm rug can be a great way to help protect him.

Older or Weaker Horses May Require A Rug

Horses again can be like people and the older they get the colder they get. Making sure that they have access to a warm rug can provide a great deal of protection to them. Horses that are experiencing illness should also be fitted with a rug for winter. Protecting him with a warm rug can help to prevent illness or keep him warm while he is recovering from an illness.

More Reasons For Warm Rugs

Wondering which horse rug is right for your horse during winter? Consider the age of the horse, a young horse can also find cold winter months difficult and a good rug can help him to experience a more comfortable winter. A horse that has been clipped can also enjoy the benefits of a warm rug as well. A horse that is lacking in a good winter coat can also be protected with a rug. Perhaps a warm rug for a show horse is a great idea as well, not only will it keep him warm but it can also provide a great deal of protection to his coat while helping to keep him clean.

Consider All Winter Elements

There is more to winter than just cold, with the cold comes snow and freezing rain and having a good rug for a horse can help him to be healthier during these types of extreme weather. If the days are warm but the nights are cold the rug can be used during the night and removed during the day for his comfort. Cheap Horse Rugs

Which horse rug is right for your horse during winter? The rug that fits, provides protection from the elements and is comfortable for the horse to wear. Ride 4 Less offers a great selection of horse rugs that are not only affordable but that also protect the horse during the long cold winter months. A large variety of styles as well as thicknesses will allow all horse owners to care for their horses in the best way possible. Shopping is easy and convenient and winter can be more bearable for the horses. Rugs that fit a bit more loosely will provide the maximum comfort for the horse. Protect horses for the harsh winter weather in your area with the most quality rugs available for them.

Feeding horses in Winter & Keeping Costs Down

Summer is coming to an end and as a horse owner, you will have to take care of your horse’s health and nutritional requirements in the winter months. Horses require more food in winter and this can easily drive up the feeding costs. Thankfully, with a little bit of foresight and planning you can feed your horse without incurring high costs.

Make Plans Early

Rather than waiting for the first frost to decide what to feed your horse, you should plan it well in advance. Have the hay tested for its nutrient value and while the results come in, find out what are your horse’s nutritional needs. You can do this by referring to nutritional tables for horses. Nutritional requirement of a horse is dependent on several factors, such as age, amount of work the horse does, size and in case of a mare the reproductive stage she is in.

Comparing Nutrient Value to Nutrient Requirement

Once you know the nutrient value of the hay, it is time to compare it with the horse’s nutrient requirement. Good quality hay should suffice and meet your horse’s nutrient requirement along with a mineralised salt block. You should give adequate time for your horse to acclimatise to the new feed and that is why you should start introducing hay into your horse’s diet well before winter sets in.horse winter clothing

Understanding Your Horse’s Body

Hay is digested in the colon and caecum and this causes production of heat by bacterial fermentation. If you opt for grain, not only is it more expensive, it also gets digested in the small intestine within no time and without producing a lot of heat. Hence, the horse is unable to keep itself warm and its condition will deteriorate. Hence, it makes sense to give your horse good quality hay that can produce more heat and also not cost you a lot.

You only need to supplement the hay with grain if your horse is unable to maintain his body condition. In which case, go for cheaper hay and more grain but expensive grain. You need to think about this if the weather is very cold and the horse does not have adequate shelter. The hay and grain combination will meet the horse’s energy requirements in this situation.

Feed your horse hay that has more legume compared to grass. The protein present in legume offers your horse more nutrition and energy, making it perfect feed when temperatures dip.

How Much to Feed Your Horse

When you switch to hay, give your horse one or two extra flakes for each meal. Check how much your horse consumes and how well he can maintain his weight. At the same time, remember horses are wasteful and tend to trample hay. So set aside 25 percent as waste. Make sure the hay is kept away, so that the horse can eat it but not kick it.

Water Needs

When winter sets in, most horses reduce their water consumption and this can lead to frequent colic attacks. Horses require water for digestion. Water should be warm, around 45 degrees Fahrenheit. You can bring down your feeding costs and other expenses (vet and medicine costs) by ensuring your horse drinks lots of water during winter. Place a football in the water trough to prevent it from freezing. Also, make sure it is warm. You can add apple juice to get the horse to drink its daily water requirement and keep itself hydrated. Water and feeding go hand-in-hand and if you really want to reduce your feeding costs, this is something you should not forget.horse clothing

If you are looking for affordable and high quality equestrian products to keep your horse comfortable and healthy regardless of the weather, look no further than Robinsons, the UK’s number one equestrian provider.

Why You Should Choose an Adult Dog Over a Puppy for Your Family

This guest post was provided to Mum’s the Word but is a subject that is very close to my heart. 

ChuckMy very own adopted dog, Chuck, who came to us when he was 2.

Giving a dog a second chance at happiness can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. At the very least, we should be able to provide our pets with a safe and loving home, but sometimes that isn’t possible, and animals find themselves unwanted and uncared for.

The financial crisis has meant that many people have had to face the stark reality that they can no longer afford to keep their pets. This means that there are so many dogs for rehoming in the care of institutions such as the RSPCA that whatever breed, size or even colour that you’re looking for, there’s something for everyone.

Less training

Puppies are so cute and adorable that it’s easy to forget that they’re not going to stay that size forever. A puppy needs a great deal of training and attention in order to become the faithful obedient friend that you’re hoping for, so if you have a busy life and family it may be better to consider choosing an adult rescue dog that has been trained, neutered and is ready for family life. You can do some research to find the breed and personality that best suits your family’s lifestyle. An adult dog is far more likely to have a calming effect on your household whilst also being a playmate for your children.

It’s rewarding

Rehoming a rescue dog from the RSPCA’s programme will not only give you a sense of doing something worthwhile, it will also provide you and your family with a loyal friend. The rehoming programme makes sure that all the dogs in their care are fully assessed in temperament and health before they are rehomed. The care assistants take their time to get know all the dogs properly so that they can find the right owner and home environment for them.

Fewer costs

Caring for any animal means being responsible for their health and wellbeing so the spiralling costs of vet bills can put many people off. When you choose an adult dog from the RSPCA’s programme you can be assured that they will already have had all their vaccinations; they will be micro-chipped and neutered so that all you need to concentrate on is giving them a good home with lots of love.

Pet Benefits

When Husband and I adopted our beloved dog Chuck, back in 2006, we had no idea just how must he’d do for us, as part of our little family. When Husband was sent home from the hospital after Sausage’s horrible, traumatic birth, not knowing whether his wife and child would pull through, it was Chuck who was there to offer a comforting lick on the hand in his hour of need.

When Husband started working nights and I was at home with Sausage as a young baby, it was Chuck who sat guard by the bedroom door and acted like an early warning system when anyone so much as walked near the house. He gave me an element of peace of mind that I would never have had, had I been alone with a newborn.

When I decided to go on a health-kick a couple of years ago, it was Chuck who ran alongside me while I did my couch-to-5k and Husband has often said how having a dog has really given him a great incentive to stay active, despite doing a sedentary job.

Sunrise Care have put together an infographic to show just how beneficial it can be to elderly people to have a pet, from improving our physical health, mental health and overall sense of wellbeing, having a pet is so much more than just a companion on lonely evenings. Pet infographic

I know for a fact that Chuck had helped with our health, as a family, and I completely agree that he makes me more sociable; I’ve often stopped to chat to other dog walkers when I take him out, and I’ve found that other people are more likely to throw a cheery “Good Morning!” in my direction when I’m walking the mutt.

Chuck is officially a senior dog now – he was around 2 when we got him from the rescue centre, which was eight years ago this October, so he’s not quite as able to go on the super long walks that he enjoyed when he was a younger dog, but he still very much enjoys a yomp around the local fields and now that we’ve got an estate car, he can jump into the boot and be driven somewhere to walk if his legs can’t quite keep up.

Having a dog is one of the best decisions that Husband and I ever made and I never imagined that he’d make our lives as rich as he has. I can wholeheartedly recommend being a dog owner, if not for the reasons stated above but also for the fact that he gives the best hugs you could possibly imagine – and who doesn’t love hugs?!

Feeding a Senior – Growling Tums Dog Food review

If you’ve read any of my older posts about our dog, Chuck, you’ll know that he didn’t have the best start in life. He came to us covered in scars from untold abuse, riddled with worms and a haunted look in his eye. We vowed that we’d always do our best to give him the best life we could, and his nutrition has always been a big part of that. He’s a bull terrier cross, with heavy musculature and a short coat, so he needs plenty of protein and exercise, as well as the right nutrients to keep him shiny and bright-eyed. 

He’s also a complicated beast, suffering with bouts of colitis and bloating, as well as having joint issues, so his food has to be both hypoallergenic and contain some sort of joint care, which is why when Growling Tums got in touch as asked if we’d like to try some of their dog food we were more than happy to give it a go. You see, their Golden Oldies senior dog food is both gentle on the tummies of older dogs and contains high-quality protein and Glucosamine, MSM and Chondroitin, all of which are essential for keeping Chuck’s joints well-cared for. 

Growling Tums Golden Oldies Senior Dog Food

The other thing we like about this food is that it’s calorie-controlled – when Chuck was a younger pooch Husband would take him on a five mile walk every day. As his joints gave him more issues, it became every other day and now, we’re only really able to take him a mile or so at a time, but once or twice a day. This means that he’s more prone to weight gain because he’s not exercising as much, but the Growling Tums Senior food helps us to control this – let’s face it, a fat dog is not good and more weight will ultimately put more strain on his joints.

Chuck’s been having the Growling Tums for a couple of weeks now and he’s absolutely loving it! He wolfs his dinner down when its put down for him (with other brands of dry food, he turns his nose up until he’s so hungry that he forces himself to eat!) and his coat is looking fantastic. Best of all, we’ve not had to give him any of his anti-inflammatories since he’s been on the new food either; occasionally, after a walk, he’ll develop a limp and his vet had given us some medicine to give him when he’s in pain, but we’ve been medicine-free for ages now!

photo

Another great benefit of Growling Tums is the price – we were sent a 12kg bag for the purposes of review, which would ordinarily cost £34.99, which works out at £2.91 per kilo. The food we were giving Chuck previously (which matches up in terms of nutrition) would cost £3.57 per kilo, giving us a saving of around 66p per kilo. That might not seem like much but over the course of the year we’ll save over £70 by switching to Growling Tums.

Which, I think I can safely say, is something we’ll definitely be doing!