Sunday, 14 January 2018

Test Your Cat/Dog 'Human' Food Safety Knowledge Out Here!

Ever noticed how the internet seems to be awash with articles about which 'human foods' are safe to share with our pets?

Advances in the study of pet nutrition has shown us that some of the things people have traditionally shared with their canine or feline friends may not be so good for them.

In 2016 I published a different quiz on canine nutrition and was surprised to 'only' score 7 out of 10 myself, and this from someone who spends a lot of time researching it! The average score was only 4 out of 10 which highlighted the fact that we can all increase our knowledge and be potentially better 'pet parents'. That 2016 canine quiz can be found here

Onto the point of this post....I wanted to share a test I found that may highlight gaps in knowledge for the average cat or dog owner when it comes to sharing their 'human food'. It's pitched at a reasonable level and gives some handy information after each answer is submitted.

Please feel free to share this post after completing the quiz as the aim of my site is to help people become more informed pet owners and if you could help me do this I would be very greatful.

Try the 'sharing your treats with your cat or dog' quiz out here

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Tuesday, 9 January 2018

How Your Dog Can Help You Beat The January Blues!

This year, Blue Monday falls on 15/01/18. The most depressing day of the year gets people down for different reasons but there’s also reason to be optimistic! Read on to find out how your dog can help keep life rosy!

1.So it’s January and you promised yourself you’d get fit but, frankly, you don’t want to. No worries! Get your trainers on before your dog walk and see if you fancy a short sprint while you’re out - no pressure! If you take your dog to the park for a race this could also be a great game. Even if you don’t become a marathon runner, a little bit of cardio each day releases endorphin's or “happy hormones”.

2.The revelry’s over and you’re feeling lonely. If your dog’s friendly, consider joining a local dog training group. This can do wonders for your social life (who knows, you might even meet someone special) or try approaching other dog walkers in the park. Watching dogs play together is an easy ice breaker and you’ll soon be on first name terms like “Dolly’s Dad” and “Popeye’s Mum”.

3.If your dog isn’t friendly and this is making you feel isolated, make your veterinary nurse your best friend! Book free “Happy Visits” where you take your dog in when the clinic is quiet. Your dog gets a treat and you get a friendly chat. This can help reduce your dog’s stress at the vets, and improve their general social skills.

4.No-one’s bank balance looks great in January and with the dark weather it can feel like there’s nothing to do for fun. Try making dog toys at home - a bit of crafting is good for the soul and you could do it with a friend/friends. Your dog will love you for it and even if they don’t play nice with others, you get to have fun with mates without spending a fortune. For some great home-made dog toy ideas go to or search #BeyondTheBowl

5.Petting your dog for up to 20 minutes can help with blood pressure, depression, anxiety and even heart disease. They give our lives structure, improve our self-esteem and with everything they get into they keep our immune system on its toes! Yet they’re the ones who seem to feel infinitely lucky to be our companions. If you’re feeling low, try listing each day what you’re grateful for. Think of at least 5 things, starting with your dog. They can include the nice view you had on your dog walk, the nice cuddle you had, a tasty meal, your health (maybe you’re over that cold, or “at least it’s just a cold”) - look for the positives. It’s easy to spiral into negativity but there are always silver linings if you look hard enough and one of them is covered in fur.

Marianne Thomas is a registered member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. In 2017 Marianne started Dog First Aid Oxfordshire, Berkshire & Buckinghamshire, teaching life-saving skills to pet parents & canine professionals. The course has been taught to over 3000 people UK wide, and has saved the lives of dogs. You can find out more at

Monday, 1 January 2018

Pay Attention Human - Learn What Your Cat Wants From You

Wondering if your cat is hungry, needs its own space or wants your attention? “But I don’t speak cat? How am I supposed to know? It says, “meow” to everything.” Is that what you are thinking? 

Worry no more, as we bring to you the ultimate guide to knowing what your cat is demanding, so better pay attention human because you don’t want to end up getting scratched or facing that cat-titude. Be the purr-fect human for your cat and earn the love that you desire from this fuzzy creature.

If you are facing some trouble with understanding what your cat might want, don't worry because it's only natural. Focus instead on your cat’s responses to know better of these feline requirements.

Meows And Meanings

Despite the fact that a cat’s only response to everything is “meow”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it always wants food. Every sound of a cat has a different meaning and here is how you can differentiate between them.

Chirps And Trills

This is usually meant for a commandment to follow the animal. If your cat chirps or trills at you, it means it wants you to follow them to their food bowl maybe. If you own more than one cat then you might experience listening to this sound often as cats might use it to converse with each other. A mother cat also uses this sound for her little ones to follow her.


Purring is usually a sign of contentment. Cats mostly purr when they are happy. Sometimes, a cat purring may be reflective of the fact that the animal is sick or in pain and is purring to comfort itself.

Growling, Hissing Or Spitting

This usually conveys that the cat is irritated, frightened, angry or aggressive.

Yowls Or Howls

These sound like prolonged and loud “meows”. Yowls or howls suggest that your cat is in some kind of distress, stuck somewhere or needs you to find something. Find your cat immediately. In case you have an unneutered and unspayed cat, the sounds are referred to mating behaviour. If your cat is elderly, it might be suffering from dementia, which makes them annoyed and results in such sounds.

Chattering Or Twittering

It is a sound that your cat makes when sitting at the window or at play outside the house. The sound is in response to watching other creatures like birds and squirrels.

Body Language Basics
In addition to the sounds, you can understand your cat better by paying attention to these physical displays:

  • ·      Arched back, standing fur: shows anger or fright.
  •         Arched back, flat fur: Demands or welcomes your touch.
  •          Lying on back purring: shows relaxation.
  •          Lying on back growling: shows dissatisfaction or anger.
  •          Erected tail, flat fur: shows happiness, curiosity or attentiveness.
  •          Tail straight up, quivering: shows excitement or signs of mating behavior.
  •          Tail held low and tucked between legs: shows insecurity

Cats display these responses to let you know of their conditions. It's now your job to focus on how your cat is acting and fulfil its needs respectively.

Paul Haines is the author of “My Life With Pets Blog” where he shares his life experiences involving his family and pets.  In addition to his blog, he is the creator and owner of the website is an educational and fun site dedicated to all types of Pets. You can visit the site at  

Friday, 15 December 2017

How Do You Find A Puppy Without Supporting A Puppy Mill?

So, you want to buy a puppy, but you want to do it right. That’s cool. Support good breeders all the way!.

First, a question. Is the puppy a gift? If so, remember, pets should NEVER be given as gifts, and decent breeders will not sell a dog for someone to give as a gift 

How do you find a puppy without supporting a puppy mill?

Sometimes that’s harder than it seems. Aside from avoiding those pet store pups and any that can be purchased over the internet, how do you know? 

Some mills are smaller, harder to see, but are still putting profit above the welfare of their animals. On top of that, finding a good breeder with a litter of puppies can take more than a year.

Not all breeders are great. Even some of those listed on sites like the AKC breeder recommendation list don’t fall into the category of a “good breeder.” The AKC doesn’t have the capacity to inspect every breeder they certify and have acknowledged such.                                                                    

Puppy Mill run out of a house

 Some breeders might look good from the outside but be running small puppy mill operations out of their home or another location.

 Some breeders may not have that many dogs, but if they don’t care for the health of their females, and breed them repeatedly for several litters, the breeder still fits in the category of using the animal for profit.

Some breeders think they are doing everything right but don’t health test. These breeders aren’t contributing to the future health of their breed and therefore do not care about the welfare of the dogs.

Some breeders don’t want you to visit, or don’t want you to see any of their other dogs aside from the mother. This is a big red flag. 

Some breeders don’t want to offer you any guidance after you purchase the dog. This is not necessarily a sign of a puppy mill but just a sign of a breeder worth avoiding.

Ok, all these no’s probably aren’t helping you figure out how to tell what a GOOD breeder looks like and how to find one.

A breeder you found online is neither a good or a bad one although their website may give you some information about them.

The first sign that you have found a good breeder is if you feel a little interrogated, politely of course. Questions you should be asked include:

·         Why do you want a dog and this breed in particular?

·         Who in your family will be responsible for the pup’s daily care and training?

·         Where the dog will spend most of his or her time?

·         How often will the dog be left alone?

·         Can you provide both veterinarian and personal references?

·         Will you sign a contract to spay/neuter the dog?

·         Are you willing to sign a contract agreeing to return the dog should anything change in your situation? 

A breeder is going to want to know all these answers in depth. They are also going to want to hear you ask questions. Some things you need to ask are,

·         How old are the mother, father, and their parents? The mother and father should be 2 or older and the parents preferably 5+.

·         Do you health test? Will you provide me with the results of these parents/grandparents?

·         Can I come visit?

·         When is your next litter of puppies planned?

·         Do you have a waiting list?

·         Can you provide me with references?

·         Do you breed any other dogs? Breeders with multiple kinds of dogs are not likely to be good breeders.

·         Are you willing to answer my questions after a puppy comes home with me? 

·         Do you have a contract?
Molly O’Hara is the author of Callie’s Wag, a blog dedicated to her puppy mill rescues and others like them. In addition to her blog, she has regular bylines in two local newspapers regarding animal topics, and often can be found under a pile of cats and dogs, trying to reach her computer. 

Friday, 8 December 2017

Avoid Calamities at Christmas for your Cat

Now that the festive season is upon us there will be lots of preparations for Christmas. Whilst this is a happy time for most of us, it can bring about additional stress and potential problems for our feline family members.

Here is the lowdown on some of the common hazards along with some hints on how to prevent feline foes during the festive period.

Festive Plants
Mistletoe contains toxic compounds and, although considered to be fairly low in toxicity, some cats develop drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal discomfort within a few hours after eating it.  The toxic part of the plant is the leaves and stems rather than the berries. In rare cases tremors or convulsions have been reported so it makes sense to keep them well away from your cats.
Poinsettia is a Euphorbia species of plant. Although it does contain a toxin it is less toxic than most other Euphorbia.  Almost half of the cases reported to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service remained well after eating Poinsettia.  However, it can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach with drooling, vomiting and in-appetence.  Occasionally, animals may develop a high temperature and have more severe stomach irritation with bloody vomiting or stools. Keeping plants out of harms reach is therefore a good idea.
Lilies are often included in Christmas bouquets. Many varieties are dangerous as they are highly toxic to cats. Ingestion of any part of the plant, including drinking the water they have been stood in, poses a high risk. Kidney failure and fatalities are a strong possibility. Prevention is very much the advice for this particular plant. Don’t wait for symptoms to arise. Immediate veterinary attention should be sought if you suspect ingestion.

Christmas Trees & Decorations
Christmas tree species include spruce, fir and pine.  These trees are considered to be of low toxicity but if eaten may cause mild stomach upset such as vomiting and diarrhoea, and they could cause gut obstruction if eaten or injury to the G.I tract if needles are sharp.
Loose needles can drop in to ears too.  Signs of this include sudden onset ear irritation and head shaking.
Lametta - Cats and kittens tend to be curious about most decorations but lametta is one of their favourites. It catches the light and oddly some cats like to chew and swallow it. If enough is consumed a tight ball in the gut could cause an obstruction.

Salt Dough Decorations pose the hazard of salt poisoning in dogs and cats. A decoration may contain around 8g of salt per tablespoon which is very high. As well as vomiting and diarrhoea, symptoms can include a raised heart rate, high blood pressure and kidney failure. Consequently prompt veterinary attention is important.
Chocolate: Although it tends to be more common in dogs, chocolate poisoning can affect cats too. Advent calendars and christmas tree decorations are a particular risk. Theobromine is the toxin responsible, with the higher percentage cocoa being the most toxic. Signs include vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst and in some cases convulsions. Keeping chocolate away from cats is therefore just as important as it is for dogs.

Feline Stress at Christmas
Scent profile is important for making a cat feel safe and secure. Christmas paraphernalia brought in to the home brings in new and strange smells. This can be very stressful for a cat. In an attempt to restore their own scent, some use urine to mark the house. Rather than scold them, which is likely to make the problem worse, it’s important to help them feel secure again. However prevention is better than cure.

What can we do?
  1. Think about making sure their core territory is not disrupted. This is where they eat and sleep. Avoid bringing any different scents into this area. Also don’t wash their bedding too much at this time of year as this will help retain their own scent in the home.
  2. Prepare for parties by making sure your cats can retreat somewhere safe and secure. Having lots of boxes to hide in away from the noise as well as providing places to climb up on will help too.
  3. Make sure that the cat’s litter tray remains in a quiet place and avoid lots of foot traffic in that location.
  4. Provide house-cats with mental activities. This may help to take their minds off all the comings and goings.
  5. Feliway is a feline pheromone that is said to help promote security. It’s available in a spray or diffuser and can help keep make the environment feel safer. Click here for some useful information on cat behaviour and how to ensure the home is a safe haven for them at Christmas and throughout the rest of the year.
Caroline Clark is a consultant in animal behaviour counselling and you can find more information at

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Canine Food Processor

How we digest our food is very different from the way dogs complete the same task.  Even the food itself is very different.  Some of our food is processed to make it easier to digest.

We gather around the dinner table and between moments of witty repartee, demurely introduce a modest fork or spoonful of food into our mouths, chew it anywhere from 10 to 30 times, and let it slide down the hatch.

A pack of dogs, on the other hand, would gather around the carcass and between moments of fierce competition, rip off a huge chunk of something, chew it once or twice, and as its going down the hatch, be clamping their jaws on another chunk of something.

We’re designed to eat several small meals each day.  Dogs are designed to eat one big meal because, in the old days, they never knew when they’d get their next meal.  It could be a day or two, or even longer, before they’d eat again.

We have relatively small stomachs (for some of us, in our dreams) that accept food which has already been partially broken down; by chewing and mixing with our saliva, which contains powerful enzymes that begin to break the food down. 

The dog has a relatively large stomach with an extremely acidic environment; loaded with powerful digestive enzymes and up to three times as much hydrochloric acid as we have.  Those huge chunks of food are lubricated with saliva and slide down the hatch into a stomach that grinds and liquefies the food.  The saliva itself contains no enzymes.

The liquefied food, called chyme, then passes into the small intestine where absorption of nutrients into the blood stream takes place, aided by digestive juices from the pancreas and gallbladder.  Although the intestinal tract is about 4 times the length of the dog’s body, it’s still shorter than that of a human. 

That’s because carnivores need the food to move quickly through their system because they’ve got work to do and can’t be lying around waiting for their food to digest.  As nomads, they need to patrol and defend a territory, protect mates, offspring and other pack members, and they’re already hunting for their next meal. 

 In the large intestine, or colon, most of the water and minerals from the chyme are absorbed and the last hard-to-digest material is broken down by powerful digestive bacteria.  As it exits the dog, the anal glands coat the waste with pheromones that are the animal’s signature scent.

Most domestic dogs gulp their food the same way their wild counterparts do, barely chewing it.  Nor do they pause to savor the flavor; since they have practically no sense of taste.  Satiated, the next time they think of food will be when they’re hungry, or when you open or cook something and the aromas get their attention. 

We and our dogs look at food very differently.  To us it’s an art form and a focal point of our culture.  We take great pains to optimize how it looks, smells and tastes, and when company comes over, we bring out food. 

To dogs, food is strictly utilitarian.  They eat to live (while many of us live to eat).

Bob Bamberg has been in the pet supply industry for more than a quarter century, including owning his own feed and grain store in South-eastern Massachusetts, USA. He writes a weekly newspaper column on pet health, nutrition and behaviour and his articles appear at

Thursday, 30 November 2017

It's Cool For Men To Love Cats Too!

Pretty much all of us have encountered the term 'Crazy Cat Lady', it's so famous now it's almost a brand and gift ranges have sprung up celebrating it.

What many perhaps don't realise is the popularity of cats amongst men. Many male celebrities openly celebrate their feline love and surveys such as this show that a rise in cat ownership is being driven by males.

Famous men that own cats include:

Ricky Gervais - UK animal lover Ricky has a cat called Ollie who has his own Facebook fan page here
Ed Sheeran - We came across Ed's love of cats accidentally....a tiny Japanese 'cat island' sent out a plea for Ed to visit them after discovering he was a cat lover. Ed's instagram feed is full of kitten pictures and he is the proud owner of a beautiful cat that he adopted as a kitten who goes by the name of Graham.
Norman Reedus - The Walking Dead star not only owns a cat called 'Eye in the Dark' who joins him everywhere but Norman's feline friend even has his own 'fan run' twitter account here

Other famous males that are cat lovers and owners include George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Nicholas Cage and John Travolta.

A famous historical figure who was well documented as a 'cat fan' was...

Mark Twain - The famous American writer was so infatuated by cats that he owned 19 of them! Twain's love of cats has him credited with some pretty feline friendly quotes such as...

'When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction' and
'If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat'

An interesting cat related tale about Mark Twain states that when one of his 19 cats went missing he took out a newspaper ad that offered a $5 dollar reward. After the cat returned home on it's own a steady flow of people came to Twain's door with feline impostors so that they could meet the great man!

The term 'Crazy Cat Men' may not be as well publicised as it's female counterpart but the above maybe helps to show that men are not too macho to show their love and adoration for our feline friends.

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