Read tips, guidelines and advice about caring for and training your pets, plus all the latest news from Very Important Pets

How to Prepare Your Dog for Winter

2nd November 2019Dog CareLeave a comment

Winters can be a lot of fun for pet owners and their dogs if they prepare for it. Most dogs have ample fur coats but these might not provide foolproof protection against extremely low temperatures.

How to Prepare Your Dog for Winter

The common winter issues that affect dogs include:

  • Frostbite on paws.
  • Injury due to icy slippery surfaces.
  • Breathing difficulties for dogs with short noses.

When the temperature dips in winter don’t leave your pet dog unattended. Pet dogs often spend a lot of time indoors and are not used to extreme cold.

If the pet owner is prepared before winter comes, they will be able to keep the dogs warm and safe. Here are some easy tips that will help pet owners prepare for winter.

  • Regulating Your Pet Dog’s Temperature

If you are feeling cold and uncomfortable, then your pet dog will also be feeling the same way. Specially designed pet coats are available for all sizes of dogs. This will provide them with an extra layer of warmth in winter.

Ensure that the room or the bed that your pet dog sleeps is adequately heated. If there are any damp patches on the bed, it is best to change the bedding.

  • Protect Your Dog’s Paws

Extreme temperatures in winter can take a toll on your pet’s paws. Check your dog paws for cuts, cracks, and any kind of sore patches. Dry their paws completely after coming back from a walk. Avoid long walks on rough terrain and hard ground.

  • Food and Supplements

Body fat is essential to keep your dog warm and protected. Increase the calories consumed by your dog as the temperature drops. The increase in calories will help make up for the lost heat.

Even though the vet might advise you to increase calories in winter, you should avoid overfeeding your dog. Keep the dog hydrated even in winter. Ensure that they have access to fresh and clean water at all times.

  • Be Careful During Playtime

Take care of your pet when playing outdoors. Remember that it takes longer to warm up during winter. Exercise gently when running around or when playing catch. The cold air will take a toll on the muscles and joints of the dog.

Stay close to your pet as they walk and play on ice and snow. Lakes and ponds that are iced over may look normal but are often unable to support the weight of your dog. Keep your pet away from walking on them. This will help prevent potentially dangerous accidents.

  • Grooming Your Pet’s Coat

Dogs develop heavy and thick coats to withstand the cold during winter. The thick coat is most likely to be knotted or matted and this can harbour fleas. Use a brush or comb to groom the dog at regular intervals. This will help keep their coat shining and beautiful.

If the temperature dips below normal in winter, it is best to keep your pet dog indoors. Old dogs with health issues and small puppies should not be allowed outside. Stock up on food and medication and call the vet in an emergency.

Christmas Dangers for Cats

2nd November 2019Cat CareLeave a comment

Christmas can be a dangerous time for your pet cat. There are many tempting but hazardous treats that adorn every known surface of the house. This means many pet owners will experience an emergency during Christmas.

Christmas Dangers for Cats

With so many new smells and visitors, Christmas can be a stressful time for pet cats.  Knowledge about the different types of hazards will help pet owners avoid them.

  • Christmas Trees

Cats love to climb trees. They are often intrigued by anything bright, new, and sparkly. This means they will be attracted to a Christmas tree with all its decorations.

Christmas trees (artificial or real) are toxic. If consumed it will cause irritation to the pet’s stomach and mouth. Pet owners should also be wary about fertilizers if the tree is potted.

The sharp pine needles of the Christmas tree will cause considerable damage if they get into the ears and eyes. If the pine needles are swallowed, it can cause internal damage to the throat and stomach.

  • Tinsel and Other Hanging Decorations

Hanging decorations like tinsel look like cat toys. There is always the danger that the cat might swallow it. Tinsel if ingested has the potential to cause serious damage. It can cause blockages and this can be fatal in some cases.

Christmas lights that are hanged around the tree are also dangerous to cats. If the cat chews on the electrical wiring it can cause injuries like burns. In some cases, it will also cause unconsciousness and sudden death.

Snow globes are hanging decorations. They contain ethylene glycol (anti-freeze) and this can be highly toxic to cats. If the ornaments break and the liquid spills out it poses a lot of risk to your pet cat. The cat could lick the liquid chemical and this is harmful to its health.

  • Festive Plants and Floral Arrangements

Most homes have festive plants and floral arrangements as part of the Christmas celebrations. There are many plants and flowers that are harmful to cats. Poinsettia, amaryllis plants, lily leaf, Lilium, and Hemerocallis are plants that are toxic to pets.

  • Food Items

Onions, chives, and garlic are found in food items (sausages, stuffing, gravy) used during Christmas. These food items are poisonous to cats. Thiosulphate is an ingredient found in onions and is toxic to cats.

Alcohol can cause brain and liver damage to the cat. Spillages should be immediately cleaned and leftover alcohol should be removed. Currants, raisins, and grapes are also food items that are harmful to cats.

Chocolates contain stimulants known as theobromine. They can cause severe poisoning in cats. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in cakes. If ingested it is known to cause dangerous side effects in cats.

If you suspect your pet cat has eaten anything that is shouldn’t, look for signs and symptoms of poisoning such as vomiting or diarrhoea. Avoid trying to fix the problem on your own.

If you think your pet cat has eaten anything toxic, you should contact the vet immediately. The vet will be able to get rid of the toxic substance that the cat has ingested.

Are Conkers Poisonous to Dogs? Signs, Symptoms and What to Do!

2nd November 2019Dog CareLeave a comment

Horse chestnut trees drop hard conkers (dark brown nuts) from September onwards. In autumn you will find a large number of conkers in the woods and streets. If you are a dog owner you should keep a close watch on what your dog eats when you take it walking.
A chemical named aesculin is found in conkers. At present, there is no antidote to the toxin found in the nut.

Are Conkers Poisonous to Dogs? Signs, Symptoms and What to Do!

When ingested conkers are toxic to dogs but your pet dog will need to ingest several of these nuts to cause severe poisoning.

Signs of Conker Poisoning

The signs and symptoms of poisoning usually occur after a couple of days. In some cases, the dogs will show signs of illness within 5 – 6 hours of consuming the brown nut. Delay in treatment can also result in death.

– Difficulty breathing
– Restless with pain and discomfort
– Vomiting
– Diarrhoea
– Collapse
– Excessive drooling
– Lack of coordination
– Loss of appetite
– Seizures
– Dilated pupils
– Muscle twitching
– Sudden death

The additional complications that occur when your pet dog ingests conkers include:
– Bowel Obstruction

The hard nuts may prevent the movement of food through the intestines. If the condition worsens it will decrease blood flow to the bowels. This often leads to necrosis of tissues.

– Choking Hazard

The hard nut can cause an obstruction in the throat of your dog. It is advisable to contact your vet for emergency instructions in such a case.

If your pet is choking on the nut take all steps to ensure that the situation doesn’t turn life-threatening. Take the pet to the vet immediately. Avoid doing anything that may complicate the situation.

What to Do?

If you fear that your pet dog has eaten a conker, it is best to immediately contact the vet. Don’t panic and go to the vet as soon as possible.

Consult the vet irrespective of the quantity of conkers the dog has ingested. Most pet owners make the mistake of not consulting the vet if the dog had eaten only a small amount of the toxic nut.

The vet will examine the dog and prescribe treatment depending on the severity of the problem. The pet will need to be medicated and rehydrated.

If there are any conker remains in the stomach, the vet will remove it. Medication is given to the dog. This makes them vomit. Gastric lavage (washing of the stomach) is also done to remove any trace of the toxic nut.

In some rare cases, your pet dog will need surgery to remove any remaining trace of conkers. The large nuts can also block the stomach. Surgery is necessary to remove the blockage in the stomach.

A quick visit to the vet will reduce symptoms and speed up the recovery process. Quick treatment will also prevent death.

How to Stop Your Dog Eating Conkers?

Keep an eye on your pet dog when you go walking. If you see conkers on the ground, ensure that your dog doesn’t play or bite them. Encourage your pet to play with toys instead of conkers. Never throw these nuts at your dog to fetch them.

Why You Should Consider A Rescue As Your Next Pet

23rd August 2019Cat Care, Dog Care, Pet CareLeave a comment

Bringing home your next pet is often an exhilarating experience. When you adopt a pet from a rescue, you not just feel excited but also feel good. You will not be surprised to know that there are hundreds of pets at rescue centres waiting to be adopted.

Top Reasons to Adopt Your Next Pet from A Rescue

  • Save a Life

Pets at rescue centres are in need of a second chance. Most pets at shelters are those that have been abandoned, lost or given up.  When you adopt a pet from a rescue and make it part of your family, you are actually saving a life.

Rescue shelters are often overcrowded. Adopting a pet from a rescue helps prevent pet overpopulation. When you adopt one pet you give another pet at the rescue a chance to live and get adopted.

  • Get Your Choice of Pets

You will find different breeds of dogs, cats, and other animals at the rescue centre. You can choose any pet you want as per your individual choice. Decide on the type of companion you want for you and your family.

Choose from a wide variety of animals at the rescue. You can choose by age, breed, and size. Adopt a puppy, kitten or older pet that fits your lifestyle. When you visit the rescue, you will be able to find a pet that is compatible with you.

No matter what breed of pet you want to adopt you are most likely to find them at a rescue centre. This is because people tend to abandon even the most expensive breed of pets when they become old.

  • The Pet is Health Screened and Healthy

Rescued pets receive basic health screening. The pets are neutered and spayed and up to date on shots. This means you will be able to adopt pets that are health screened and healthy. It doesn’t mean that your adopted pet will stay healthy throughout but at least you will be able to start on a clean slate.

  • Save Money

Pet adoption fees are less compared to the cost of buying a pet from a breeder. The money that is saved can be used to fulfil the pet’s needs like food and medical care.

  • Rescued Pets are Often Trained and Are More Mature

Older pets that are rescued from streets are often trained as they have been part of a family. They understand basic commands and are more mature. When you adopt an older pet, you save yourself the trouble of puppy training.

A mature pet with less energy will be an ideal choice if you just want to relax and have fun with your pet.

  • No Surprises

What you see is what you get. The pet on display is the pet you will get. This means there are no surprises when you choose to adopt a pet from a rescue.

Pets bring joy to our lives. When you adopt a pet from a rescue and provide unconditional love, you bring joy to their lives too. Visit a local rescue centre as the right pet is waiting just for you.

5 Ways to Challenge and Enrich Your Dog’s Mind

23rd August 2019Dog CareLeave a comment

Pet owners know the importance of providing physical activity or exercise to dogs. Most often they forget that dogs need mental stimulation too. When you provide your pet dog mental activities, it will engage their brain and keep it sharp.

Challenging mental exercise and brain games will keep your pet mentally active. You will be surprised to know that your pet dog is capable of recognising puzzles and solving problems. Mental exercises will also help strengthen the bond with your pet.

sheltie-dog-everything-need-for-new-dog1

  1. Food Puzzle Toys

Food puzzle toys will make your pet dog work for their treat. The puzzle toys require creative thinking and problem solving to release the food. The toys provide mental stimulation to the dog’s mind. The food treat is a bonus.

Your pet dog will have to paw, shake, nibble, roll, or lick the toy to get access to the food. The puzzle toys encourage licking and chewing. This will also have a calming effect on your pet dog.

  1. Pet Puzzles

Dog puzzles are available in many shapes and sizes. You can choose a basic or challenging puzzle depending on the age of the dog.

Gauge your pet’s interest in puzzles and determine the level of difficulty that is ideal for them. The puzzles help relieve boredom and provide plenty of mental stimulation.

As dogs spend a lot of time searching for food, they are receptive to the idea of having to work to get their treat.

  1. Stuffed Kong

A stuffed Kong game is a simple way to keep your pet dog mentally stimulated for a long period. All that you need to do is to put all your pet dog’s favorite treat inside the Kong.

If you want to make the game more challenging you can choose to freeze the treats overnight. Stuffed Kong’s are mentally stimulating and challenge your dog’s ability to get to the treat. It is also a great way to keep your pet busy when you are at work.

  1. Hide and Seek Game

The hide and seek game are a fun and interactive game that will challenge and enrich your dog’s mind. Distract your dog and find a good hiding spot to hide. Call your dog. They will use their natural scent tracking abilities to track you.

Keeping changing the hiding spot so that your pet dog is challenged to find you. Reward your dog when they do manage to track your hiding spot. You can also choose to hide the favorite toy of your dog and encourage it to find it.

  1. Muffin Tin and Tennis Ball Game

The tennis ball game will keep your pet entertained and challenged. Place small treats in a muffin tin and cover them with tennis balls. Your pet will have to remove the ball to gain access to the treat. This simple game is ideal for young dogs and puppies.

Use a little innovation and creativity when choosing games for your pet dog. Encourage and praise your dog when they try new puzzle games. The interactive games will help the dog have fun and keep them engaged.