Normal puppy behaviours that don’t mean they’re untrainable

Welcoming a puppy into your family is always an exciting experience and one that never loses its appeal. The temptation to adopt a puppy as a Christmas gift may be appealing, but with countless numbers of dogs appearing in shelters after the festive period due to certain behavioural issues that many deem them “untrainable”.

Puppies are prone to mischievous behaviour and can take time to gel with a family. This doesn’t always mean that they’re not the right fit for a family. When your furry friend is first introduced, they are often extremely reserved and sleepy for the first few days.

With shelter admissions always increasing year upon year, adopting, or purchasing a puppy around Christmas time is a decision that needs to be taken with great care and consideration, as it is a lifelong commitment. It’s hard to relate to a dog, but as an owner, you must remember to see things from their perspective. They will think and behave differently to not only humans but even other dogs of the same breed – for better and for worse.

The Kennel Store share some things to look out for and advice if you are struggling:

Crying at night

On a puppy’s first days at a new home, it is extremely common for them to cry throughout the night. This usually goes on for a night or two, but it’s dependent on each dog. Bringing home your new family member on a Friday or Saturday morning is a good option as then you have a few days to allow your puppy to settle with you over the weekend.

When a puppy cries at night, this isn’t always an immediate indicator of a behavioural concern. It could be anxiety from being away from their mum and littermates, and in an environment, they aren’t immediately familiar with. If you are worried your puppy is experiencing separation anxiety, there are remedies and solutions to help your new family member fit in, from herbal remedies to techniques that can be found online or through veterinary advice.

– What is regular behaviour: 

Crying for the first night or two is considered typical.

– What is irregular behaviour:

Continuous crying that goes on for extended periods and your new family member isn’t settling.

– Advice you can follow:

Ruling out any medical issues, there are a variety of comfort items you can purchase for your puppy. There are sprays with calming scents and soft blankets they can snuggle with. There are also teddies that can replicate heartbeats which remind young pups of being with their mums, providing comfort.

Biting

According to the PDSA Paw Report, “11% of dogs obtained after March 2020 reportedly growl, snap or bite unfamiliar dogs and 3% of their owners and carers”. There is a difference between a teething puppy and a puppy that has issues with constant mouthing and aggression. Puppies purchased during the lockdown are suggested to have more behavioural issues, due to lack of early socialisation attributed to subsequent lockdowns.

Puppies do teeth much like a human baby, and so this is to be expected when bringing home, a new pet. Around the 6-month mark, puppies will lose their baby teeth so biting and nipping will lessen as they age, providing that appropriate training and toys are in place. Puppies explore with their mouths and experience day to day life this way, and so it is the owner’s responsibility to train their new pet to understand what is appropriate to chew (a chew toy, treats etc) and what isn’t (hands, feet, furniture etc). Dogs need to be redirected to chew in the right places so that these habits don’t impede upon your household.

– What is regular behaviour: Mouthing is extremely normal and last 2-3 months, as they explore and experience the world with their mouths.

– What is irregular behaviour: Growling, snapping, or biting when a person comes near food, a toy etc. Also, worth looking out for biting that is breaking the skin or consistent nipping.

– Advice you can follow: This behaviour may not be fully resolved until 5-6 months, so patience and consistency are key. Consult your vet and a pet behaviourist if the behaviour does not improve with dedicated training.

Scratching

Pawing and scratching for attention can be a cute behaviour to garner your attention, but it can turn into a serious problem as the size of the dog increases. This can be addressed with training, and teaching commands such as ‘paw’ with care. Whilst this does display obedience, you are also teaching that the act of using paws will result in getting treats and rewarded for an action that could result in someone becoming injured as the dog ages and paws get thicker and longer. If you are struggling with constant pawing from your new puppy, you may find our ULTIMATE GUIDE TO TRAINING YOUR DOG  helpful, which offers practical advice for training dogs of all ages.

– What is regular behaviour: Pawing you can show submission or demand attention.

– What is irregular behaviour: Continued patterns of behaviour and jumping as you walk through the door. When this begins to become a daily occurrence, it’s time to address it.

– Advice you can follow: Correct the behaviour and encourage your pooch to sit instead. This communicates you acknowledge they need you but using pushy behaviours is not the way to go about it.

Barking

Dogs barking is extremely common, and almost every dog barks and it is to be expected. But when a puppy barking begins to impact your household, this is when it may require some attention. If it’s affecting the members of your family or neighbours, it’s time to address this.

If you’re able to, determine why your puppy is barking so frequently. It could be due to feeling insecure and is attempting to gain attention from you. If your puppy is erupting into barking as soon as someone comes to the door or enters your property, this could suggest territorial behaviour. If your dog begins barking as soon as you come through the door, ask your dog to sit and wait until they are calm before playing. This way you won’t be indirectly rewarding the excessive barking with playtime.

By rewarding your puppy when they are quiet, they will learn that quieter moments are positive behaviours and what you are looking for. Shouting over your dog will only encourage the barking, so speaking in a low reassuring volume can rectify this with consistent training.

– What is regular behaviour: Puppies bark when they’re trying to communicate or greet somebody, or during playtime to express enjoyment

– What is irregular behaviour: Excessive barking and growling at members of your home or visitors. Constant barking that doesn’t seem to settle no matter how many times you try to correct or manage the behaviour.

– Advice you can follow: Speak in a low firm tone, as shouting may be perceived as barking back by your pup. Ensure your dog isn’t bored and has plenty of mental stimulation. Regularly address the situation, dogs need consistency so make sure you’re always correcting the behaviour.

Aggression

Identifying the source of your puppy’s aggression is important. It’s vital you rule out the aggression isn’t caused by any kind of health issue or histories such as a previous home that may have had running themes of abuse or neglect. If your household has small children living or visiting regularly, it’s advised to limit their interaction with the puppy until the behaviour is corrected. If this isn’t possible, seeking additional help from an expert would be recommended.

It’s worth noting that aggressive puppies are not bad dogs, but you must be prepared to put in a lot of time and dedication to guide your puppy through this and train them to understand how to appropriately behave. Aggression often isn’t directed at you specifically and can be caused by an outside source or health concern that needs addressing.

– What is regular behaviour: Puppies can exhibit growling, pouncing, barking, and biting when it comes to playing. These are all standard traits of play.

– What is irregular behaviour: If your puppy is exhibiting a lot of biting and constant barking, this would be considered irregular. Dominant behaviour and territorial traits are also things to look out for.

– Advice you can follow: Get your pup examined by a vet to ensure the behaviour isn’t being exhibited due to a medical concern. Make sure your dog has a consistent exercise routine and isn’t left idlelly in the home for hours alone. Sourcing a dog trainer for additional support is also a good idea to ensure the aggression doesn’t get too far and result in injury.

Handling a new puppy is a commitment that isn’t to be taken lightly but certain behaviours that your new dog displays don’t automatically deem them a “bad dog”. Giving up a puppy that is displaying normal behaviour is an experience that can be avoided with proper training and education for both prospective owners and dogs themselves.

We hope this can provide insight and guidance as we near Christmas and prevent more dogs from entering shelters needlessly. Whilst sometimes overwhelming, adopting a puppy is a rewarding experience and allows you to gain companionship for years to come.

For further information and extra tips, please see our website.

 

 

 

 

 

Top tips for puppy training

Puppy training can be extremely beneficial if started as soon as you bring them home. It not only helps to introduce good behaviour, but also allows you to spend quality time with your new pet.

Most dogs will love learning new tricks as they get lots of praise and attention.  Whether you decide to do the puppy training yourself or through classes, there are still positive things you can do to help your puppy get used to their new routine.

To help new pet owners, here are some top tips to help get your puppy training under way:

Be prepared

Make sure that you have everything you need for your puppy training, for example, toys and treats. You may use a crate for them to sleep in, or where they go whilst you are out of the house.

Be consistent

Make sure that all family members understand the rules and do not deviate from the puppy training. It will confuse your puppy if the routine is broken. Be sure to decide the rules before your puppy comes home.

Be patient

If you stay calm, then your puppy will stay calm and be less excitable. Don’t let your puppy get bored – keep training sessions positive and short.

Set up a den

Give your puppy a den to sleep in which is not used by another pet. This will help to develop a routine for sleeping and any short periods that they are on their own. Use rewards to encourage your puppy to use the den, as well as when they are relaxed and quiet.

You could also use stair gates to keep your puppy out of rooms you don’t want them in. These also help to prevent them going up or down the stairs without your supervision to prevent injury.

Don’t punish your puppy

They are still learning and it’s important to be patient with your puppy. Don’t shout at them if they get something wrong. Instead, show them how they should behave with rewards and give extra attention for good behaviour. Your puppy does not know what they should or shouldn’t do until they are told.

Sign up for puppy classes

These can be a great way to socialise your new puppy to help get them used to other dogs and people. It will also help them to learn certain attributes and how to behave around other dogs.

Walks

When your puppy has had their vaccinations and is allowed to venture outside, make sure you take your puppy on plenty of short mild walks to release extra energy. In their early stages, long walks or runs should be avoided.  During walks ensure that your puppy always walks by your side or behind you, as his pack leader you should always be ahead.

House training

Be consistent when house-training your puppy. Take your puppy out first thing in the morning and then once every thirty minutes to an hour. Always be sure to take them out after meals and when they wake from a nap. Reward your puppy when they go outside to help them understand that is where they should relieve themselves and stay outside with them until they have been. Take your puppy to the same spot each time to do their business, as their scent will help to prompt them to go.

Speak to your vet

Your vet is best placed to monitor your new puppy’s health. They will be able to offer training advice and discuss your puppy’s vaccination schedule. Your vet will also be able to suggest when your puppy is able to go outside. Regular health checks with your local vet are important to ensure your puppy is receiving the best possible care.

 

 

Advice from the expert: Winter care for rabbits

By Emma Purnell, RVN Cert.Nut.

Rabbits are often a species kept outside, but in extreme temperature they can be more severely affected.

Wild rabbits are naturally able to regulate their temperature well if they can stay active and seek shelter if they need it. Making sure your rabbit’s environment allows them to do this, will help it to be able to stay warm and all activity should be encouraged. Encouraging foraging behaviour including scatter feeding and hiding hay within boxes can help to encourage activity, as well as providing plenty of fun toys and puzzle feeders.

One thing to consider is the positioning of the accommodation, both the hutch and the run. If they can be placed in sheltered spots, possibly close to walls or foliage, this can provide some insulation. It should also be ensured they are away from cold winds and draughts which can dramatically affect the temperature in terms of wind chill. Still allow access to their full run though, being active will always help to raise body temperatures!

Ensuring your pet is in good health before winter will make a big difference to the care needed. If a rabbit is ill or underweight, moving them indoors before the cooler weather starts would be advised. Keeping rabbits in pairs is recommended for many reasons but helping to prevent them getting cold in winter by making sure they have a friend to cuddle up to can make a big difference!

Insulation in the form of covers can not only trap heat but they can be great protection from drafts. Some hutches have specific covers that you can buy for them, but you must always ensure they still have proper ventilation when covered and that the covers cannot be chewed. Tarpaulins, with old blankets underneath can be enough to make a significant difference to the temperature. Converted sheds and summer houses should ideally be insulated when being converted as using insulation within the walls can protect from both extremes of heat and cold. The insulating materials will need to be covered over, again to avoid it being chewed and the risks of ingestion.

The bedding that you use within the bedding area is vital in winter. Straw is of very little nutritional value when eaten but is good at trapping in the heat when used as bedding material. It is important that any bedding material is kept clean and dry so it will need changing regularly and adding it to a cardboard box to allow them to snuggle in a smaller area. Regular checks must be made when using straw, particularly of the eyes, as it can occasionally cause hay pokes, damage or infection. Ensuring there are no leaks and the housing is water tight is also vital. Fluffy bedding and ‘snuggle sack’ type beds can help to trap air next to the pet and raise the temperature a little but monitoring them chewing it is important.

Providing heat sources can be useful but which sources we use are very important. Things like hot water bottles are not recommended as they can cause scalding if chewed. Microwave, pet specific heat pads with material covers are recommended instead but should be used under supervision and discarded if there is any damage or wear. Fan heaters and similar can be used to heat areas but should never be placed directly pointed at a pet, always under strict supervision and never where rabbits can chew them or their cables as this is an electrocution risk. Any heat source should be provided with care and the rabbits given the opportunity to sit near them or to stay away from them if they get too warm.

In cold weather, if in either a bottle or a bowl, fresh water can rapidly freeze. Checking regularly to make sure the pet has access to clean, fresh, unfrozen water is vital and covers can be purchased to insulate the water bottles to try to avoid that happening – although still check as in very cold temperatures it can still freeze!

In real extremes people can be tempted to move their outdoor pets indoor to help to keep them warm. While the intention is good, the dramatic shift in temperature can cause more problems than it solves. A better idea is to move them into a protected but unheated environment such as a garage or shed, ensuring they still have natural light. This protects them from draughts but will also raise the temperature a few degrees from the outside space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 2008 and works for Nutravet (UK) Ltd. She has a BSc in Zoology with Animal Ecology and an MSc in Ecology, helping to fuel her interest in more exotic species. She has a particular love of small furries and has a grade A distinction in Canine and Feline Clinical Nutrition (CertNut).

 

Q&A with Ele Hacheme, lead nutritionist at Republic of Cats

Republic of Cats is a revolutionary new ‘concierge’ cat food service created by a team of entrepreneurial renegades who have ‘feline obsessive’ running through their DNA.

The brand is the upstart younger sibling of tails.com, which successfully pioneered tailored nutrition for dogs.

Ele Hacheme is lead nutritionist at Republic of Cats and here she answers our questions about all things cat nutrition:

What effect does bad nutrition have on our cats?

It’s so important to get the right nutrition for your cat.

Every one of them is different, so they therefore require individually tailored levels of nutrients. Choosing a ‘complete’ cat food covers the basics needed for a healthy cat, but it’s tailoring that really helps them to excel, taking into account their age, lifestyle and how much they exercise (and of course their tastes too).

A simple example is older cats; they need extra help to maintain good mobility – so at Republic of Cats we balance a different level of vitamins and minerals for them to do so.

Kittens on the other hand need specific levels of calcium and phosphorous in order to grow to the right size and strength – and give them a great start in life. Adult cats don’t need the same level as they’re already fully grown.

It’s not just about the nutrients themselves, but dishing them up in the right portion. It’s this that makes sure your cat gets enough of those vital vitamins and minerals, but also keeps them in shape. With 44% of the UK’s cat population deemed overweight or obese, it’s something we take incredibly seriously.

As cat humans, we understand how wonderful it feels to treat your cat.  And how unhealthy can a sliver of cheese really be for our little ones? Imagine this: 10g of cheddar is 2% of our human daily calorie requirement… but it’s 16% of our cats’! That’s EIGHT TIMES more!

So watch out when feeding them titbits. Human scraps and some treats are higher in calories than you’d imagine, often without the nutritional benefit we’re looking for – so use high quality, lean meaty treats such as Cat Charcuterie by Republic of Cats and even then, feed sparingly.

Finally, cats are prone to kidney issues so it’s essential to keep checking that your pet drinks water every day. Adding some wet food to your cat’s feeding plan ensures that they get the extra moisture too. As well as hydration, it’s essential to feed him or her the right nutrition as the salt coming from too many titbits could contribute to kidney issues in the future.

What are the common mistakes that owners make when choosing the right food for their cat?

There are so many cat food choices on the market nowadays it’s hard to choose and know which is the right one. Look past the pretty packaging, check that it’s complete, right for your cat’s life stage and has the right ingredients to keep your cat happy and healthy. And remember to measure out the right portions to get those nutrients in the right quantities.

Now onto common mistakes.

Mistake 1 : Mixing up ‘complete’ with ‘complementary’

Something that can trip people up is the difference between ‘complete’ and ‘complementary’ food. ‘Complementary’ means it should be fed alongside a ‘complete’ food. ‘Complementary’ foods simply don’t contain all the nutrients your cat needs to be fit and healthy (but could be tasty as a treat).

Mistake 2 : Prioritising ‘nice to haves’ over the fundamentals

For the majority of cats, choosing a food based on the guidelines set out above is far more important than finding something that’s ‘grain-free’ for instance. Focus on complete, balanced and how tailored it is to your cat.

Mistake 3 : Zoning in on meat content alone

It can be tempting to select a food based on meat content alone – years of marketing has trained cat owners to do so! Cats need a high protein diet that provides a variety of ingredients – but these should come from different meats, some vegetables, vitamins and minerals, definitely not meat content alone.

And there’s another side to this too. As animal-lovers, we take our commitment to the environment seriously at Republic of Cats. We designed everything to do our best by it – from sending your cat’s box of meaty meals in 100% recyclable packaging, to the ingredients we use. To us, using only the fancy cuts of meats you’ll be used to seeing on restaurant menus doesn’t make sense. Our recipes feature a full range of nutritious, meaty cuts you’d find at a real butchers as well as the parts less popular with humans but still full of nutrients for our cats; that’s summarised as ‘meat and animal derivatives’.

The most important thing is to find what works for your cat; we all know our furry friends can be very particular!

Overweight cats are a big problem in the UK, why do you think this is?

The PFMA’s (Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association) latest obesity report (2019) states that 44% of cats are overweight compared to 40% in 2015. Some reports have shown that since COVID, this number of overweight cats might even have increased.

As we bring our cats further into our families, it’s possible we’re changing their lifestyles fundamentally too.

We might well be killing them with our kindness… The PDSA PAW report 2020 states that since March 2020 (the start of the COVID pandemic), 6% of cat owners have reported that their cats have gained weight. Since spending more time at home they’ve noticed some new behaviours in their cats such as being more vocal and asking for food more. It’s easy to feed a few too many treats, especially when our cats are miaowing at the food cupboard.

How we help our customers with this:

Tip 1 : Less is more with treats

Being mindful about what treats we feed and the amount is key. With our Cat Charcuterie, it’s great to tear one meaty slice into a few smaller pieces to extend the chomps and purrs, while keeping your kitty trim.

Tip 2 : Get them off the couch

Cats are now spending more time inside, meaning they’re doing less exercise.  When outside, they tend to roam around their territories and hunt, but inside they’ll burn fewer calories.  If you have a cat who likes to snuggle up inside most or all of the time, try introducing 5-10 minutes of play to work up an appetite before teatime. Toys such as the dangly sticks, balls or fluffy mice are a great way to interact with them, keeping their mental and physical agility high, all whilst working up an appetite for dinner too.

Tip 3 : Give them only what they need (despite the protests)

It’s really easy to misjudge the amount of food cats need as some pet food labels can be hard to decode into each cat’s own bowl. Cat food, especially dry food, can be very dense in nutrients and they therefore don’t need as much as the heaped bowl on the box might suggest. We designed our feeding plans at Republic of Cats to take the guesswork out of it and support each cat and their human by calculating exactly the right portion for them.

Tip 4 : Learn what a healthy cat looks like

It’s likely you’ve never heard of a ‘body condition score’ – and less likely still that you’re familiar with the precise markers of an ‘ideal’ vs an overweight cat. So we don’t realise they’re piling on the pounds. Ask your vet about it next time you’re there and get them to show you how to keep an eye on your cat’s weight.

Which option would you consider best for cats? Wet or dry food?

For the majority of cats I recommend a mix of wet and dry food. Both have extraordinary benefits that the other simply can’t provide.

Wet food adds variety to a cat’s diet and plays a vital role in keeping him or her hydrated (it’s really no wonder they prefer delicious gravies to drinking plain old tap water). Cats can be fussy eaters, so it’s great to be able to mix up the recipes at dinner time.

Our dry food is a real nutritional hero; it’s where we can balance very specific mixes of nutrients, vitamins and minerals to deliver on health goals that our cat humans choose. You can pick from all sorts – from working towards a healthier coat and less itchy skin, to helping reduce hairballs and a smelly litter tray, or even supporting sensitive tummies – this is the ultimate in personalised food. All dry foods also have that crunchy texture to help keep their teeth clean and strong too.

As always, we know that cat humans know their kitties best, so we support their choices. We’ll create each cat a complete and balanced plan, in the right portions, from wet and dry food, or just one or the other if that’s more appropriate for them.

How does Republic of Cats’ tailored service ensure cats get all the nutrition they need?

At Republic of Cats we celebrate each cat as an individual.  In order to do that, we have created a special quiz that owners complete.  It allows us to get to know each one so we can collect all the information needed to design his or her perfect feeding plan.  It takes their life stage, weight, body condition, how much they exercise and so on into consideration.

Each cat’s plan is then fully tailored for them and focused on the health goals selected such as helping to improve skin and coat, aiding sensitive digestion etc. Managing their weight is front and centre too – If a cat needs to lose weight, their plan will have specific portions to take them on that journey whilst the food supports them too.

We receive amazing feedback from people saying that they’ve noticed a difference in just days. Not only do we hear reports of formerly fussy cats licking their bowl clean, but also the standoffish become cuddlier, their eyes a little brighter and an all-round improvement in their energy. A little longer than that, and we hear that coats are thicker and shinier, their litter trays aren’t clearing the room any more (you know what I mean), and hairballs are reduced to next to nothing. That’s truly the power of tailored feeding.

We’ve assembled a team of cat lovers to help our customers out with anything from helping a fussy cat dig into their Republic recipe for the first time, to nutritional questions (and between you and me, they love receiving your cat pictures too!) With support from me, the Republic of Cats nutritionist, we answer thousands of questions each week over email and WhatsApp (which we know makes it that little bit easier to chat).

Cats can be tricky customers when it comes to food – how can owners tackle fussy pets?

Cats are wonderful, independent beings, but if they don’t like what is offered, they will go elsewhere.

Over the course of each day, dishing up both wet and dry food can definitely help, keeping dinnertime as varied as possible as well as making the most sense nutritionally. With such a huge availability of textures – pâtés, gravies, jellies, soups, chunks, shreds and so many more – you’re bound to find something your cat loves.

At Republic of Cats, we’ve designed eight different wet food recipes alone, across three different textures. Some cats delight in them all, whereas other cats and their humans undergo more trial and error to find out what works for their more discerning palate. For example, Maine Coons have a rougher than average tongue, so they naturally experience teatime somewhat differently.

If you’ve got a pernickety eater, we’ve gone far beyond our delicious recipes to help; here are some other ways our incredible team of cat lovers help our customers with some very simple tips:

  • Create a routine so your cat knows when to expect food (2-3 mealtimes is a practical solution).
  • A clean bowl for a clean bowl! Use a fresh dish each time for the best results.
  • Build up an appetite – a little exercise is great, and keep the treats on hold until your kitty’s back to loving their main meals.
  • Keep things zen – we’d have less of an appetite if the dog was running back and forth, if a toddler threatened to pull our hair or if our biggest competition was giving us the side eye! Serve dinner up away from these guys.
  • Take storage seriously. Cats are very sensitive to food quality – make sure their dry food bag is properly sealed every time you put it away – and, if their wet food has been in the fridge, let it adjust to room temperature before serving it.

I could (and do) go on – there’s lots we can try – and largely have success with former fusspots up and down the country. Getting off to a great start with a new food is the most important thing – we include a guide in every Republic of Cats box to make sure cat people take their time, switching the new food in for the old over a period of a minimum of 10 days.

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not just cats who like things just so. For fussy pups, tails.com – our sibling company – can help with how to get your dog to love their personalised feeding plans as much as your cat does.

If you would like to try Republic of Cats for your kitty, Companion Life readers have an exclusive offer of 80% off the taster box. That gives you a two week taster box for £3!! To take advantage of this visit https://www.republicofcats.com/box80/?pc=COMPANION – where the promo code COMPANION is automatically added to your order!

 

Life with your new puppy

Getting a new puppy can be a full-time commitment and one that needs careful consideration and research. It’s important to understand what kind of dog will fit into your lifestyle and if you can dedicate enough time to looking after your new pet.

Dogs are for life, with the average lifespan of a dog being 13 years. So, you need to be sure that you are ready for that much commitment, from puppy love to the retirement years. Bringing your new puppy home is an exciting time, but from their first day in your life you’ll need to sacrifice time and energy into helping them settle into their new home.

Different dogs will have different needs, but it’s important to ensure your new pup has everything they need to start their new life with you. We share some essential things you’ll need to consider for life with your new pet…

Home comforts

To help your puppy become used to their new home, create designated eating and sleeping areas for them. Choose an appropriate sleeping area, which is safe and has suitable bedding and still in view of the family, so that they feel safe. Make sure your puppy has a warm comfy bed, crates can be used to give your pet a secure base to explore from, as well as help with toilet training. If you chose to let your new puppy sleep in the same room as you, make sure they have their own designated area in that room. Make sure your garden is secure and safe for them to play outside. Always make sure that your puppy has a fresh supply of water.

Puppy diet

Your new puppy will probably eat three to four times a day, but you could reduce this to two to fit with your daily routine. If unsure, you should consult your vet to find out what is best for your particular breed of dog. Puppy food is higher in protein and enriched with vitamins, minerals and fats, which are essential for the growth of your new puppy. You can usually switch to adult food at around six months, but your vet will be able to advise on this as certain breeds mature quicker than others.

If you are unsure about the best food for your puppy, speak to your vet who can offer advice based on your new pet’s breed.

Pet proof your home

You’ll need to pet-proof your home in order to keep your puppy and your furniture safe. Make sure any toxic foods are kept out of reach from your dog and things such as hanging cords or wires are tidied away to prevent accidents. If you have expensive furniture, a cover or throw is a good idea to protect your sofa, while you train your dog not to jump up on the furniture.

Stair gates can be a great addition to prevent your puppy from climbing the stairs and injuring themselves, as well as keeping them away from ‘out of bounds’ areas around the home.

Training

Your new puppy will need lots of training to get them used to their new life with you and prevent any bad habits from developing. It’s important to start your puppy training as soon as you bring your new pet home, whether it’s toilet or behavioural training. Building up a routine with your puppy will help them to get used to associating the garden with going to the toilet. Be sure to take your puppy outside frequently during the day as soon as they wake-up and after meals. Always go outside with your puppy and don’t leave them on their own in the garden in case they escape or eat something that might make them ill.

Socialising can be an important part of puppy training. This can include, introducing your new puppy to other people, as well as other dogs. Taking your new dog to puppy classes can help get them used to other dogs to reduce unruly behaviour whilst out walking.

Puppy essentials

Your new dog will need some essential items. Most of these you’ll need to get before you bring your puppy home, but as your dog grows, they may need replacing as their needs change.

  • Food bowl
  • Water bowl
  • Collar
  • Lead
  • Dog bed (a crate/cage may help with training)
  • Puppy food
  • Toys for training & exercise
  • Poo bags
  • Grooming equipment, shampoo etc

Exercise

It is recommended that you wait one to two weeks before starting to walk your puppy. This ensures that they have had their last vaccination booster. In the early stages, long walks or runs should be avoided. Mild exercise routines together with a balanced healthy diet are part of a sensible and responsible way to care for your dog as they begin their lives with you.

As your puppy grows they will need regular exercise. As a general rule it is recommended to exercise your puppy for 5 minutes per month of age, twice a day. So, for example if your puppy is three months old, exercise them for 15 minutes twice a day. If they are six months old, they’ll need 30 minutes of exercise, twice a day.

Over exercising your puppy could impact their joints. Avoid intense exercise and don’t take your puppy running with you and try to limit how far you throw a toy for ‘fetch’ until they are fully grown.

Consider using natural supplements

These can be given alongside your pet’s healthy diet to support their health as they grow. Giving your puppy supplements, can support areas of their health such as joints and mobility, skin and coat health and oral health. These can be continued throughout their life to support your pet as they age.

A guide to winter hazards for pets

Winter can impact a pet’s health in several ways. Despite their fur, cats, dogs and even small furries can feel the cold just as much as we do.

As temperatures drop it’s important to understand the impact these hazards can have on your four-legged friends health to ensure they remain happy and healthy throughout the season.

Keep an eye out for these hazards during winter

Throughout the winter months, it’s important to ensure your pet receives extra care to prevent any trips to the vets.

Winter brings with it several hazards for both cats and dogs, which include:

Hypothermia

In dogs’ hypothermia is low body temperature caused by exposure to the cold. The combination of wet and cold weather is also very dangerous to pets. To prevent hypothermia, avoid extended periods in cold temperatures. Bring outdoor pets inside in low temperatures and use a dog jacket or jumper when on walks. Never leave pets alone in a car in cold weather, as they can act as refrigerators that hold the cold in and can cause animals to freeze to death.

Symptoms of hypothermia include lethargy and listlessness. Try to raise their body temperature using warm blankets, a towel, or a wrapped hot water bottle. If you suspect your pet has hypothermia, get them to the vet asap.

Antifreeze poisoning

The chemical ethylene glycol, an additive in antifreeze gives the substance its sweet taste. Pets often lick the liquid off garage floors, pathways or roads or their own paws if they’ve been outside. To prevent this from happening, store all household chemicals and antifreeze out of paws reach and make sure you clean up any spills. You can protect your dog or cats’ paws by giving them a wipe when they have been outside.

Coughs and sniffles

Just like humans, dogs and cats can catch a little cold during the winter months. These are usually not serious, and a slight cough, wetter nose or a little fatigue or lethargy can all indicate a minor upper respiratory infection. If you are worried about your pet, or if the symptoms don’t improve after a few days, take them to your vet, especially if they have any pre-existing health conditions.

Frostbite

In very cold weather, if you’re walking your dog, it’s important to keep a close eye on their paws. Ice and snow can stick to the fur between their pads and ball-up. Not only could this be uncomfortable, it also increases the risk of frostbite. If your dog lifts their paws, stops walking or whines, it could be a sign that their paws are too cold. When cold, a dog’s body limits blood flow to their extremities (paws, tail, ears etc) and instead, uses it to keep their vital organs safe and warm.

Frozen lakes

If you take your dog for walks near a frozen lake, take care when letting them off their lead and keep them close to you. Frozen ponds or lakes can be dangerous. Sharp ice could cut their paws, they could slip over and hurt themselves or they could fall through the ice and drown or develop hypothermia.

Arthritis

Signs of arthritis can seem worse in colder temperatures. If your pet suffers from joint stiffness, it could appear more prominent in winter months. This can be more common in the morning before they’ve warmed up. Joint stiffness can affect your pet’s mobility and can make it particularly difficult for them to perform everyday tasks, such as going on walks or jumping up to their favourite sleeping place on furniture.

Winter weight gain

In cold weather, pets can be less active, with many dogs and cats preferring to stay in the warmth indoors. Getting less exercise in winter means it’s easy for your pet to gain weight. It’s important to keep an eye on their weight and make sure they are not getting more food than they need. Many owners think that pets need extra food in winter months to stay warm, but if they are moving less this is not the case. To prevent your pet from piling on the pounds, make sure they still get plenty of exercise through winter. Take your dog for shorter walks more often if they don’t like the cold. Keep them warm with a dog jumper or coat.

If you are unable to get outside for exercise, you can keep your pet active by playing indoor games with them.

Road grit and salt

Winter brings ice, snow, and rain, which can cause surfaces to become slippery for both you and your dog. Be sure to take extra care when out on walks in colder temperatures. Recently gritted surfaces can be harmful to dogs too. Grit can get stuck in their paws, which causes soreness, redness and may contain salt or other chemicals that can cause irritation. If licked in large enough amounts, the salt found in road grit can be harmful for your dog, so make sure you wipe their paws after walks. You could also use protective booties for your dog in winter months. If you think your dog has eaten rock salt, contact your vet immediately.

Skin and coat health

It’s important to look after pet’s skin and coat health all year around, even in colder months. Regularly brushing your pet will help remove loose hairs, keep your pet’s coat free from dirt and distribute natural skin oils, which help to keep their coat shiny. Regular grooming will also help to reduce hairballs for your cat. Try not to groom them more than once a week to prevent irritation. Over bathing your pet can also lead to dry skin, which can be irritating and cause your pet to itch and scratch more.

If you’re worried about your pet’s health in cold temperatures, contact your vet immediately.

Tips to keep pets safe during Christmas

The festive season is an exciting time and one that many pet owners love to share with their four-legged friends.

However, Christmas can also bring some challenges for many pet owners with many hazards around the home and during the big day itself. To help pet owners during the festive season, we share some tips to keep pets safe.

Christmas visitors

Christmas can be a busy time at home, with friends and family visiting. For some pets this can be stressful due to new faces and sounds. To help pets, provide them with a safe space or room that they can escape too if they become anxious. Leave your pet to come and go as they please but be sure to check on them every now and then. Make your visitors aware so they don’t leave doors open resulting in your pet escaping.

Decorations

Keep wires from the Christmas tree lights and any festive decorations away from your pet to prevent them from being chewed. Make sure all decorations, including ones on the tree are well out of reach. Consider using non-toxic and unbreakable decorations to prevent them getting stuck in paws or swallowed.

Tinsel can be dangerous to your pet if swallowed. Keep it out of reach on the tree or around your home. If swallowed it can wrap around the base of their tongue or cause choking, vomiting and intestinal obstruction.

Chocolate

It may be tempting to treat pets at Christmas but don’t give your dog chocolate as it contains theobromine, which is poisonous. If you have sweet treats like chocolate decorations hanging on the tree, be sure to keep them out of reach, as they will be able to sniff them out.

Buying treats made specially for your pet means you’ll be able to give them a treat this Christmas, while reducing the risk of stomach problems.

Rich food

Don’t feed your pet rich turkey dinners that we like to enjoy over Christmas. High fat, festive foods could irritate your pet’s digestive system and can make them poorly. Certain foods that are popular at this time of year are poisonous to dogs, such as raisins, used for making Christmas cake, nuts, onions and mince pies. Keep these out of reach from your dog to prevent a festive trip to the vets.

Festive plants

Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia plants, which are popular during the festive season can be poisonous to pets. The toxicity can depend on how much of the plant is consumed, so try to limit the amount of these around the house at Christmas and display out of reach.

Christmas trees can also be troublesome for pets. The oils in fir Christmas trees can be mildly toxic to pets and could cause upset tummies. Regularly sweep up any loose pine needles that drop into the floor as these could get stuck in your pet’s paws or throat.

Christmas wrapping

When wrapping presents, keep wrapping paper and decorations such as bows or ribbon out of reach of curious pets. They can be easily chewed and swallowed which could cause problems for your pet.

Routines

Stick to your pet’s routine as much as possible during the festive period. Christmas can be a busy time but keeping your pet’s usual feeding times and exercise routine can help to reduce any stress they may feel. Disturbed routines can cause anxiety in pets.

Antifreeze

At this time of year, when the weather turns wintry, antifreeze is commonly used in cars. The sweet smell can be alluring for cats and dogs, but it’s hugely toxic and if swallowed can be fatal. If you are using it, be careful not to spill any on the ground and keep all bottles out of reach of your four-legged friends.

Fireworks

These can be a common occurrence during Christmas and on New Year’s Eve. Loud bangs can cause stress and anxiety for many pets, prepare in advance if you know your dog or cat will become anxious. Read our firework tips here.

Cold weather

During the Christmas period, the weather can be colder, make sure your pet keeps warm. Use warm bedding in the house and coats for dogs can also be used during walks. Be sure to keep up exercise routines with your dog, although the weather might not be as nice and cold, it’s still important to ensure your dog gets some exercise – even if it’s a shorter walk.

If you are worried about your pet at this time of year, contact your vet right away, as they are best placed to offer advice and treatment.

Review – Republic of Cats monthly food service

Republic of Cats is a ‘revolutionary’ new cat concierge service that tailors food to your cats needs and taste preferences. To see if it holds up to the feline test – we reviewed their sample packs via Snoopy and Pippy.

Our two tasters are senior cats aged 11 and 12 with varying likes and dislikes when it comes to food. We we’re sent a taster pack for each kitty, which lasts around 30 days and includes tins of wet food and a sample pack of dry food.

Getting started

The sign-up process to the service is easy. They go through a series of questions about your pet, including their name, age, weight, and any ‘health goals’ you’d like to achieve. Both Pippy and Snoopy are very different cats – in terms of their personality and habits. For Pippy we chose to help reduce her weight slightly (she’s very much a house cat and not as energetic as Snoopy). However, for Snoopy we were looking to maintain his weight, as he goes out a lot more than his furry friend.

We only had to wait a few days for the boxes arrive, both labelled specifically for each cat. In each box along with many tins of food, there were documents – a ‘Passport’ – which details the food included in the box, flavours, ingredients etc and benefits to your pet.

Included in the Passport you get with the food are some fun stickers and an emergency WhatsApp number to contact if things don’t go entirely smoothly with the new food. Each box is personal to your cat and that just adds to the bespoke feel of the service.

We even received some fishy treats for both cats and a fun castle, which Snoopy really enjoyed testing out.

The taste test

Both cats have always had a varied diet, wet and dry food. Pippy suffers with stress induced cystitis so we try not to give her too much dry food to encourage water intake. They can both be fussy, so I was expecting a bit of resistance when first introduced to mealtimes.

The menu on offer came in a selection of shredded pieces, gravies and stews and pate, of all different flavours, including chicken and pork, fish and beef and tomato.

I was pleasantly surprised as both cats took to the new menu really well and they definitely had firm favourites, which included the shredded pieces and the pate choices. I alternated between the new food and their old wet food until they were used to the tasty tins. Pippy has always loved her food and pretty much hoovered up what was put in front of her. Snoopy was a little more cautious and took a few days before finishing a full tin.

The great thing about the tailored service of Republic of Cats is, if your kitty isn’t fond of one flavour or a type of food, you can choose to not include that in your next box.

All in all, the Republic of Cats taster pack was a success with both cats. As well as nutritional tasty food for your pet, it also gives you flexibility when choosing their food. For example, if one month they still have some left, you can change your delivery date and delay your next box.

It’s something that I’d certainly consider carrying on with as knowing what is best for your cat can be hard with so much choice out there.

I wouldn’t say it was a low budget option for cat owners as with two cats the monthly cost can add up. However, it does offer a personalised service that is conveniently delivered to your door – all in one box.

To sign up or for more information visit www.republicofcats.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Grass: A treat for your cat and your houseplants

Cat grass has been taking the nation by storm – but what is it, why do you need it, and what does it do for your houseplants?

James Cook, Owner of Purr Paw shares more below.

If you have never heard of cat grass before, we don’t blame you. It’s the kind of product that is extremely specific. If you don’t have a cat, and even if you do have a cat but it doesn’t chew up the shrubbery, then you may never have heard of it. Those who have cats that continuously take bites out of their bougainvillea, however, should probably listen up.

What is Cat Grass?

Cat grass is a type of plant that grows wild in many countries. It’s native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, where it provides the feline population with nutrients. It is loved by cats, dogs, and other animals alike. Cat grass is the name given to a collective of grasses, which include all the types they like to chew and that are healthy for them.

Cat grass is often rye, barley, or wheat grass. These types of wild grass do grow out in the streets, but not all cats are outdoor cats. Similarly, the grass that grows in the street has been peed on, sniffed, and chewed by other animals, so many pet owners prefer to buy their own that they can grow indoors.

The Benefits of Cat Grass

What’s so great about it? Contrary to popular belief, cats don’t eat grass to make themselves sick. That’s part of it, but scientists think that the regurgitation of grass actually helps them fight back against infections. Cat grass is full of nutrients, allowing a better balance of diet for your feline friend. It also helps them bring up their furballs in a natural, safe way.

Let’s not forget about those houseplants, either. If you have a cat that attacks your houseplants, it may be that they are looking for the nutrition cat grass provides. You should supplement some of your plants with cat grass and see if they prefer to chew it. Some types of houseplants are toxic to cats, so this is a far safer option.

Benefits of Cat Grass Include:

  • Protects the houseplants from damage
  • Stops your cat eating a toxic plant by mistake
  • Has lots of nutrients
  • Helps them avoid parasites
  • Helps them regurgitate hair balls
  • It’s cleaner and healthier for the cat to grow your own

One thing we haven’t talked about yet is what nutrients cat grass contains. Of course, the nutrient level changes depending on the type of cat grass you have bought. For the sake of clarity, we are talking about Wheatgrass.

What’s in Cat Grass?

Cat grass gives your cat the nutrition it doesn’t get elsewhere, which is why they nibble on wild grasses. It is low calorie and is shown to lower oxidative stress in human studies. It is anti-inflammatory, soothing, and packed full of vitamins. Cat grass contains iron, calcium, vitamin K, fibre, protein, and numerous B vitamins.

Cat grass contains only great things that your cat will love. There’s no reason not to give it a try – especially if you are dealing with a house plant killer.

For more information visit www.purrpaw.co.uk

9 most effective ways to get rid of fleas in your house

Fleas are one of the most irritating pests to deal with – they’re stubborn, resilient and can frustratingly survive (and multiply) without a pet as a host.

If you have a four-legged companion, you will likely have come across fleas – but what can you do when a common case of fleas turns into a fully-fledged infestation?

Debbie Woodliffe, Head of Content & Outreach at Affinity Agency shares how to eradicate the little pests for good and get back in control of your home:

How to tell if you have a flea infestation in your home

One of the most common misconceptions about fleas is that they need an animal host to survive – they can actually survive for a significant amount of time on their own. Some variables affect this period, such as whether your home is carpeted or not, how often you clean and how many animals you have.

Do fleas live on humans? 

Thankfully – they do not. Animals are the ideal hosts for fleas providing lots of fur and hair mass to hide within. So, whilst you may suffer some bites, fleas need blood and dense hairy areas to thrive! If you haven’t got an animal in your home, fleas can survive on the organic matter in carpets and rugs.

Do fleas bite humans? 

Yes, fleas can bite humans – especially in the absence of an animal/pet host – and the bites are usually found on your lower legs and feet. Flea bites look like small, red bumps and will probably be itchy.

Flea bites on their own don’t normally cause harm, but they can become infected, so avoid itching if you can to prevent bacterial infections and scarring. Instead, wash the bite with warm soapy water. If the itching gets worse, you might want to consult your doctor for further advice.

What do fleas look like? 

The easiest way to identify a flea is by whether they jump around or not. Fleas are very small insects, measuring just 2.5mm. They’re wingless, with a red-or brown tinge, and can easily be mistaken for specks of dirt. If you have a pet, you’ll likely notice them hopping around in their fur first. Otherwise, they’ll be found close to the ground – you might notice them hopping around near your feet!

Effective ways to get rid of fleas

Identify the scale of the problem

If you have a flea infestation, it’s important to act fast. If you have any areas you think your pet hasn’t been into, quarantine the space ASAP. If you are unsure which rooms are affected, it’s best to err on the side of caution and treat the entire house.

Understand the life cycle of a flea

Skipping this step is one of the biggest reasons people struggle to get on top of a flea infestation. Treatment needs to be timed and monitored, as one round of treatment may not affect some larvae and leaving treatment just a few days too late can allow a whole generation to breed again!

The key to getting rid of fleas is interrupting these life cycles, so pay close attention to this step!

  • Stage 1 – eggs. Adult fleas lay on average 20 eggs a day, typically whilst still attached to their host. These eggs will then begin to fall wherever your pet goes, mostly dropping into the deeper fibres of your carpet and in the crevices of pet bedding. Remember, fleas will still lay eggs without a host.
  • Stage 2 – larvae. Larvae prefer hidden, dark areas and will feed off organic matter – even waste from adult fleas. You can help interrupt larvae survival by minimising the amount of flea waste they have to consume by regular vacuuming.
  • Stage 3 – pupae. This is the final stage of development before becoming an adult flea, now in a cocoon for protection while it develops. In this cocoon state, pupae can survive from months to over a year if the hatching conditions aren’t right.
  • Stage 4 – flea. Once a flea emerges from its cocoon, it will immediately seek a host to feed off and will not survive without blood to sustain it. Females will only start laying eggs once they’ve fed and can lay successfully within a few days. Then, even with a host, adult fleas don’t survive for more than 21 days.

So, adult fleas aren’t the main issue, it’s the earlier stages of development (eggs and larvae) since they can be resistant to regular intervention.

Vacuum, vacuum, and then vacuum again! 

Adult fleas at the end of the cycle make up the smallest percentage of the flea population in your home, so taking steps to combat the eggs, larvae and pupae is crucial. The main aim of vacuuming is to remove the eggs and pupae whilst eliminating food sources for the larvae.

So, consistently, and diligently vacuum, paying extra attention to certain areas of the home:

  • Crevices of furniture such as underneath cushions or material seams.
  • Hidden areas like cracks between skirting boards or anything else positioned on the floor.
  • Corners of the room.
  • Carpeted areas, rugs, and mats.

If your vacuum has an adjustable height to the head, make it as low as possible to penetrate down to where the eggs, larvae and pupae are. Be sure to lift and vacuum underneath anything that sits on the floor (like sofas, beds, and storage units) as this will be an ideal place for them to hide.

Empty the vacuum regularly and away from the house, disposing of the contents directly in the outside bin.

 

Treat your pets 

Most people with homes suffering from flea infestations have dogs or cats, both of which are ideal hosts for fleas. Treatments for pets work by creating an environment on your pet that isn’t conducive to flea survival – some treatments include:

  • Anti-flea and tick drops
  • Chewy tablets or treats
  • Flea collars
  • Topical creams or sprays

You should also groom your pets regularly using a flea comb, focusing on the neck, head and back. The correct solution for your pet will depend on several different factors including age, weight, and breed – so you should consult your vet before beginning any new treatments.

Remember that no amount of treatment will be effective for your pet if they are getting re-infected by fleas in your home.

Minimise hidey-holes 

The ideal environment for fleas at any stage in the lifecycle is one with plenty of opportunities to burrow and hide. So, try and minimise:

  • Clutter on surfaces (magazines, books, food waste)
  • Objects on the floor
  • Soft furnishings like pillows and blankets
  • Floor rugs and mats

This will also help to reduce the number of objects that you’ll have to clean and disinfect.

Use a home flea treatment 

Thankfully, there are lots of effective commercial flea treatments for your home:

  • Repellent sprays
  • Room foggers
  • Flea bombs

Many of these products are particularly harsh and might be difficult if you have several animals or younger children. Always practice caution whilst using these products and carefully follow the instructions provided.

Clean or store soft furnishings

This step is especially important for homes that have an infestation with no pets. All soft furnishings are inviting environments for fleas, especially things like sofas and armchairs as they will catch small bits of food and dust that can feed larvae.

Get into a habit of cleaning and washing everything regularly – including curtains, cushions, furniture, rugs, and carpets. Make sure you either treat, wash, or vacuum your sofa and armchairs several times a week to take care of any larvae and eggs.

If you have any non-essential soft furnishings, it may be easier to store them instead of repeatedly washing them. Be sure to transfer clean items straight from the dryer into a safe storage area. And use a hot wash where possible to ensure proper disinfection.

Try home remedies

Whilst home remedies have less of a scientific basis, it’s safe to say that fleas have been an issue long before commercial flea treatments became available. Here are some tried and tested home remedies for you to try:

  • Baking soda. Try sprinkling baking soda all over the affected area (such as a carpet) and use a broom to push it deep down into the fibres. Leave the baking soda on the carpet for at least 12 hours and vacuum it thoroughly afterwards.
  • Salt. You can use salt on its own or alongside the baking soda method as it works similarly and aims to dehydrate and kill any bugs in the carpet.
  • Buy anti-flea plants. Some plants can repel fleas but be careful to ensure they are not hazardous to your pet before purchasing. Plants include lavender, rosemary, basil, catnip, chrysanthemum, and sage.
  • Diatomaceous earth is a powdered substance that comes from soft sedimentary rock and can effectively kill fleas when used correctly. Make sure you purchase food-grade instead of filter grade as it’s less hazardous. Sprinkle it throughout your home, leave for 2-3 days and then thoroughly vacuum.

Above all, keep your efforts consistent

The key to the effectiveness of any flea treatment is being consistent and adopting a new hygiene regime in your home. It can be exhausting – from constant vacuuming, laundry, pet treatments and bites, but for your efforts to be fruitful they need to be regular.

Even if it seems like you’re on top of the problem, you might have just come to the end of the adult flea life cycle with hundreds of hidden eggs, larvae, and pupae ready to turn into a new generation of annoying insects.

Here’s how to stop fleas from coming back

Unfortunately, there is no way to 100% ensure that fleas won’t find their way into your home, even if you don’t have a pet! However, you can reduce the likelihood of another infestation by keeping the following in mind:

  • Vacuum as often as possible and pay special attention to carpets and rugs
  • Don’t leave food lying around, especially not at floor level
  • Keep on top of regular pet flea treatments
  • Don’t give up on flea treatments too early – it’s probably just a dormant stage of the cycle

Remember that the perfect environment for a flea to thrive is a host and a warm cosy environment. Consistently interrupting this environment at all stages of a flea’s life cycle until all the generations of fleas are gone is the best way to make sure the annoying bugs are gone for good!