Tips & Tricks

//Tips & Tricks

Best Wet Weather Walking Gear

Make no mistakes about it. The weather has been wet! As professional dog walkers we know the importance of dressing smart and there is no more important time to do this than when the weather is chucking it down.

What’s the saying .. there’s no bad weather, only poor dressing for it .. how true is this. And if you own a dog then it makes sense to stock up on some of these essentials to make your life easier. I’ve listed my top three items below in order of importance (to me). What’s your “go to” item for walking in the rain? We’d love to know so get commenting below or over on Facebook.

Shoes

Everyone will have their own opinion about the right shoes for walking in wet weather; some will go for a solid water proof walking boot, while others will stick to their trusty Duberry boots and look smart all year round. For me it’s got to be a quality welly! Don’t get me wrong, I love my Duberry’s but I see these as more of a city wander piece, something I wear when I have a nosy around town, perhaps stopping off in a pub for lunch with friends .. you get the point. I don’t see them as something I fancy wearing when trudging through mud! I’ve also tried the water proof walking shoes but found these were way too heavy and cumbersome, I felt I was walking around with a kilo weight around my heels, not for me.

Welly’s are just the perfect option in my opinion for wet weather dog walking. Of course if you’re going to go for a hike then this isn’t what you’d choose. Nor is it what you’d choose for hours and hours of walking anywhere. But for most average dog owners who get out for an hour or so a day they are perfect. But not just any welly. It’s important to invest in a good quality item which will not only fit well, but be comfortable to walk in (most cheap welly’s are not) and last you for a good year or two.

I have two which I love. The Aigle boot and a pair of Muck boots. The Aigle I find to be a bit more lightweight to wear. They are extremely comfy and breathable but I feel may not last as long as the Muck boots which are really sturdy and subsequently a bit of a heavier wear.

They are really comfortable and while I still wouldn’t recommend them for serious walking (talking a day out and about) they are the perfect option for professional dog walkers who need dry feet for a good 3 hours of walking in mud, snow or rain. They can be easily washed down at the end of the day and guarantee you will not be mid walk and find yourself in a puddle of mud which has not only ruined your running shoes but also the rest of your day.

I recommend having a small crate within the foot well of your car / van which you place the welly’s into after your walk; this will contain the mud and water to one place – leaving your vehicle nice and clean regardless of where you previously walked.

Parcours-2-Signature-by-Aigle-3309-p

Water Proofs

The next most important item you can own for walking in wet weather are water proofs. There’s no point in wearing your nice coat out when walking the dog as they always manage to get themselves full of mud and with a good ol’ shake post walk decorate your clothing in their mess! And for us dog walkers, there is also nothing worse than wearing tons of layers or a thick winter coat, only to find mid walk that we are overheating and miserable.

In my opinion, jeans are just too uncomfortable for a day out and about, they rise in all the wrong places and if wet become the most frustrating thing to wear. They don’t dry out quickly and will make your seat completely soaked which is most unpleasant to drive in but pretty smelly too! My go to time and again is a simple cotton long sleeve (if winter) with a thermal sweater on top. For bottoms I own 10+ leggings. These are so comfortable to just pull on at the start of the day and allow me to move without restriction. Before a walk all you do is pull your water proof jacket and trousers out of your bag and throw them on, tucking the trousers into your welly boots will ensure that no water trickles down your ankles making your feet wet. At the end of the walk you can peel away the soaking wet items and tuck in your bag which sits next to your welly container on the floor. You can then drive off as dry as when you set off and will have the added bonus of being clean enough to pick up the kids from school, go shopping, etc .. ! You can get water proofs just about anywhere, but do think about investing in something which will last. I bought my latest gear from Go Outdoors but you can also get good quality walking clothes at Cotswold Outdoors, John Lewis and other high street retailers.

water proofs

Head Wear

Some people love hats to keep their head and ears warm in the cold, damp weather. But not me. I find a hat a bit too restrictive and a “hoody” is even worse as you can’t see the dogs to the right and left of you without actually turning your head. Annoying. I love these hand bands from Cotswold Outdoors as they keep my ears warm and also my hair back off my face. In winter we not only face wet weather but also gusty wind so these are just the perfect thing for combating both.

headbands

Santa is Here! Gift Ideas for your Cat

Who doesn’t like to buy their kitty a present? I’m so guilty of this, I just love to spoil Pancake! If you’re the same then check out this list of useful presents you can wrap up and give to your feline friend on the big day.

♥ If you have an indoor kitty then the Mynwood Cat Jacket will be the ultimate Christmas present! These jackets are made to measure (bespoke) to suit your cats measurements and requirements. Each jacket is made from quality fabrics and fastens securely around the neck and chest with long strips of velcro. All jackets are reversible with black cotton or another choice. I have one of these for Pancake and can highly recommend them (a word of warning: be prepared for lots of meowing and whining to go out; make sure you are prepared to put the time in to ‘walk your cat’ just as you would a dog, as once they have been outside no indoor play can compare).

cat jacket

 

♥ Another one that’s a must for indoor cats: The Cazami Cat Exercise Wheel. This fabulous exercise wheel has been especially designed for cats and helps to keep those confined to the indoors happy, supple, and energetic. The wheels are lightweight making it easy to ship. It is also assemble and disassemble friendly. While I am aware most cat owners in the UK allow the to roam, it is becoming more and more common to keep them indoor only, or with supervised garden access. Cats can quite quickly become bored and lazy, with weight gain and poor health being a common result. High energy breeds like Bengals and Orientals seem to excel with these wheels, but any cat can be taught to use one with patience and adequate time put in (another word of warning: be sure you have the time to commit to training your cat to use his / her wheel; as they are far from cheap it is quite an investment into their long term health and happiness .. so simply buying the thing is not enough, you have to help them learn to love it!)

cat wheel

 

♥  Spoil your Cat with their very own personalised bowl. You can choose one of Hoobynoo’s unique cat illustrations to match the look of your cat; the marble bowl can then be personalised with your cats name. This is a little pricey at £25 but the quality should mean it lasts you a few years.

cat bowl

 

♥  Extra Strength Catnip Cat Mice Toys. These mice toys are the ‘Purr-fect’ gift for any cat. Each mouse is handmade from a delightful range of fabrics. Cats have hours of fun tossing their mice into the air with the string tail and using all those feline skills that make them great hunters.

cat nip

 

♥ Guisapet Cat Bed. This contemporary bed offers a pleasant sleep with privacy for your cats, suiting those weighing up to 8kgs. Retailing at £75 it’s certainly not a cheap steal,  but it’s quite cool and modern so will suit owners looking to blend, naturally, their pet gear within the home. It comes in several colours and designs .. although I prefer my guy sleeping in bed with me!

cat bed

Psss: if you like what you read then why not share this blog with family and friends .. and who knows, it may help them out if stuck with present ideas!

Santa Is Here! Gift Ideas for Your Dog

Who doesn’t like to buy their dog a present? I’m so guilty of this, I just love to spoil my pooch! If you’re the same as me then you will love this list of useful presents you can wrap up and give to your doggy on the big day.

Equafleece Dog Garments – these products are a bit more pricey than what you might find on the high street but they are well worth it! Equafleece stock a wide selection of jumpers, tankies, suits and coats in both fleece and t-shirt material and each item is made to fit your dog on a bespoke basis as you measure them up at point of order. I recommend these to all our dog walking clients as they keep dogs clean on walks along with warm and dry. They can also double up as a thundershirt – these are known to help many dogs stay calm during firework season and other stressful events.

dog jumper

 

♥ Baxter’s Boutique: Handmade Fashionable Dog Tags, Collars, Leads, Bandana’s and more! – now your trendsetting pooch can enjoy looking fashionable just like you. Each piece in the collection is unique and lovingly hand made. Fabrics are purchased in small quantities which means you’re unlikely to ever bump into another dog wearing the same piece. With a variety of styles, there is something for every dog.

baxters boutique

 

♥ Personalised Painted Dog Box – these toy storage boxes are made from solid pine wood with cut-out side handles and batten style feet. When ordering, simply enter your dog’s name and choose your colours and motif and you’ll have a personalised box that will help keep your dog’s toys organised and tidy whilst also looking great in your home on its way.

dog box

 

♥ Mango and Maud’s Doggy Grooming Parlour – help your pooch smell fantastic all year round by investing in a few key items from this extensive posh looking range. You will find everything you need from dog shampoo, body wipes, paw balm, towels, bags and more here; and while not the cheapest if you love to pamper your pup, and appreciate a fine product yourself, then these will be just the bits for you!

mungo

 

♥ Muddy Paws Dry Dog Bag – these are a great way of towelling down your pooch after a long walk in the country or by the seaside. Designed to easily dry and clean your dog when they’re wet and muddy, put them in, zip it up and this bag uses the heat of their body and their movement to dry and clean. They are made from top quality towelling material with a heavy duty zip. They come in 7 sizes and are machine washable. What’s not to love?

dry dog bag

 

Love these ideas? Why not share with family and friends as a sort of ‘hint hint’ if they are stuck on presents for the man furry man or woman in your life .. Have a happy Christmas!

Christmas Gift Ideas for Cat Lovers

Know someone that just loves spoiling their cat? It’s that time of year so a good time as any to buy your loved ones some of these cool and slightly ‘kooky’ cat gifts. I’d want ALL OF THEM!!

Mini Cat Bracelet – This handmade bracelet is part of C A T + C O M P A S S cat jewelry collection that offers a subtle and unique statement for feline lovers. Each piece is made-to-order in Luckeeluv’s Studio workshop and can be layered with any of their classic gold filled or sterling silver items. This will set you back £25.60 + shipping.

 

♥  Art Prints – This black cat wall art print is a cool gift for the cat lady or man in your life (or even yourself!). Made with archival paper and ink, along with a matte finish, this print will last a long time and look good in the process. A bargain at only £4.50 + shipping.

cats are cool

 

♥  Cat Coffee Mug – This affordable ceramic mug makes the perfect secret santa gift for that crazy cat lady in the office, or your wacky aunt! Available in a range of sizes, with the smallest only setting you back £11.21 + shipping.

cat mug

 

♥  Personalized Cat Bowl – Have your cats name put on her own handmade ceramic bowl. This makes an adorable little stocking filler for a friend or family member and looks a quality finish and unique. A bit more pricey than your standard food/water bowl, but I think worth the £29.63 + shipping. Love it!

cat bowl

 

♥  Silver Necklace Personalized with Your Cat Photo – Made with premium 925 Sterling Silver, this  necklace can be shaped based on a picture of your precious cat. Not the cheapest item with the RRP at approx £154; however, at the time of writing there is a fabulous discount making this just £54 + shipping. This is from a U.S. seller but they ship to the U.K. (allow 2-6 weeks and just bear in mind possible custom taxes/charges along with peak season delays).

cat necklace

Christmas Gift Ideas for Dog Lovers

It’s that time of year when we all start trying to think of fun yet useful Christmas gift ideas for friends and family who love their doggies. Here’s my helpful list to get you started!

♥  Dog Hogger Pillowcase – These pillowcases which come in four different configurations show the reality of where we humans end up sleeping, we all know that even the smallest dog can be a bed hogger (Grizzle certainly is!). High quality, 100% Egyptian cotton pillowcases are silk screen printed in the UK and come in just one size – 55cm x 75cm.

dog pillowcase

 

Your Doggies Paw Print on a Keyring – This is not cheap but adorable! You can either order a paw print kit or simply upload a jpg of one you already have. Each keyring is handmade and totally unique to your dog, creating the perfect gift or keepsake. These keyrings are quality 99.9% pure polished silver with optional 24ct gold inlay. It will take at least 4 weeks to process your order so make sure you don’t leave it to the last minute ..

key ring

 

 

♥  Sweet Shop Dog Treat Jars – These wonderfully traditional sweet shop style treat jars have been given the doggy treatment. The white vinyl label says “Treats” and is personalised with your dog’s name and a cute paw print cut out. While the seller stuffs them full of grain based treats, I would go further with the personalisation by making some tasty and healthy home made treats, some examples being: dried liver or heart, sprats, tuna & oat biscuits. Yummy!

dog treats

 

♥  Dog Selfie Stick Clip with Ball – Do you know someone who loves taking photos with their dog? If so then this is the cheap and cheerful gift for them! All you have to do is clip onto your smartphone and get snapping! What’s more, when the dog gets bored of all the photo taking (and they will!) the ball can be thrown for a good old school game of fetch ..

 

selfie stick

 

Breed Identification DNA Kit – Do you have a doggy (rescue or otherwise) with an unknown original? The Wisdom Panel 3.0 will, with a simple cheek swab,  uncover DNA-based insights that may help you understand their unique appearance, behaviors, and welfare needs. Covering 250+ breeds, types and varieties (including 99 percent of breeds recognized by the AKC), it can be run for mixed-breed, designer, or purebred dogs.

 

dna

 

10 Ways to Keep Your Dog Cool This Summer

Summer is definitely ON and with temperatures expected to rise it’s important to remember that these extremely warm days can have a major effect on your dog’s health. Doggies can easily overheat because the only ways they release heat is by panting and through a limited number of sweat glands between their toes. Here is our top 10 list of ways to keep your dog cool and hydrated throughout the summer months ahead.

1. Supply lots of fresh, clean water. This is an obvious one but a biggie. Make sure you leave your dogs with big bowls of water if you’re going out for the day, ideally left out of the direct sun.

2. Don’t overexercise. Our dogs don’t always know their limits and may push themselves too far, especially when playing their favourite games such as fetch or ball. Instead of letting them run to the point of exhaustion why not mix the walk up with a bit of everything, some ideas being: sitting and having a fuss and cuddle in the shade, playing ‘Find It’ (scentwork) games under a cool tree, going for a swim, paddling in a shallow stream looking for sticks, a gentle stroll through the dark woods …

3. Walk during the cooler times of day. Simple adjustments to your usual routine can make all the difference to your dogs health. If you usually go out at mid-day then try walking an hour or two earlier. 10am feels a lot cooler then 12pm and certainly we’ve found that the hottest time of the day is between 1pm and 4pm so avoid walking during these times if you can. If your dog needs to get out to do his business mid-day then follow some of the ideas in point 2 above to keep them cool.

4. Provide outdoor shelter from the sun. Most dogs enjoy being outside even in the scorching heat! If you’ve got one like this then it’s important to do the thinking for him and provide outdoor shelter – ideally somewhere dark and cool – for him to lounge about. The options are endless and if you think outside the box you can create your own little outdoor ‘den’ for your dog on a budget. Ideas include: cutting open a barrel or tub, using old pallets and a bit of plastic, re-purposing a coffee table, etc !

dog care milton keynes

5. Make ice lollies with their favourite treats. If you’ve got time then you can make some chicken or bone broth and freeze in molds; or use tuna, bits of meat and vege and freeze in ramekins. Get as creative as you like (just check the food/treat is dog friendly first!). Last year I made a really yummy lolly for the dogs in day care by mixing natural yogurt with banana and dropping blueberries inside before freezing. They loved it!

6. Find walks with lots of shade and water points for them to drink or swim in. The dogs of Milton Keynes are lucky in that there are lots of fantastic walking locations which are shaded and we are also blessed with rivers, steams and lakes all over town. If your dog doesn’t like swimming you might still be able to coax him into the water if you also go in! Cooling their paws and lower legs down will make a difference to their body temperature so go on get in there with them and make getting wet fun!!

7. Invest in a cooling mat or wet some towels for him to lie on. There are all sorts of cooling mats available on the internet or in your local pet store; however, saying that it’s important to note that not all dogs like lying on them (Grizzle hates the ‘crunchy’ noise and won’t use one). So before shelling out the cash why not try a free alternative which is wetting an old towel and lying it on the ground near an open window or below a fan, this is a surprisingly easy way of cooling them down and my boy certainly prefers it to a mat.

8. Proper grooming is essential. Frequent brushing helps remove any “dead” fur and will help to keep his coat healthy and comfortable. Dogs with really long, thick fur might enjoy a tidy up before the summer and this may also make swimming opportunities less of a ‘chore’ for you and something you allow your dog to indulge in at will. Some dogs have double-coats so the idea of clipping them to keep them cool is a bit flawed (the top “guard hairs” actually act as insulation against the heat and sunburn). The undercoat is actually part of a dog’s natural cooling system, but if not properly maintained it can become matted and prevent air flow across your dogs skin. Grizzle is a Border Terrier and has an undercoat, we noticed a massive difference to how hot he was getting after a really good home strip session and a long brush with a Zoom Groom so get those doggies of yours to the grooming palour! We recommend Divine Dog Groomers in Crownhill or Rachel’s Dog Grooming in Wolverton.

9. Let your dog dig! In nature, one of the reasons dogs dig is to keep cool. So if your dog is showing an interest in a patch of the garden it might be worth your while to let them crack on 🙂 or better yet, allocate a specific spot for digging as this provides them with fantastic mental stimulation and is a space you can use all year long.

10. Watch for signs of dehydration. The helpful guide below will help you spot the signs of dehydration so take a moment to study it.

dehydrated dog

You’ll  note that I haven’t included the most obvious point of all which is to not leave your dog in your car while doing the shop. I’m going to assume that readers of the blog love their fur-babies enough not to do something as silly as this 😉

Cat Peeing Outside Litter Box

Litter box avoidance is one of the most common reason cats are abandoned, surrendered to shelters or euthanized. My Pancake went through a phase of peeing on our bedding when he was a kitten, so I fully appreciate how frustrating and expensive it can be. However, the solutions are actually quite simple and the starting point for any owner is to understand that their cat is not ‘misbehaving’ or being ‘naughty’ – they are in fact either unwell or suffering from stress (external or internal).

Because I went through this with Pancake a few years back I’ve written the below tips for you to try with your own cat. It goes without saying that I am not a feline behaviourist or a vet so if the problem is persistent and ongoing then do seek the advice of a fully qualified professional using the links I note at the end of the blog as your starting point.

Help! My cat isn’t using her litter box

Firstly, it’s important to get your cat checked by your vet to rule out a urine infection, kidney disease or some other illness, as a cat who is in pain will often not use their litter box as they associate it with the pain they feel whilst trying “to go”.

If your cat suddenly stops using the tray then the vet should be your first port of call and once you get the all clear then you need to look at your environment as a possible cause. Remember, there is always a legitimate reason for cats to avoid using their litter boxes. Small changes to us can be absolutely monumental to a cat; so look at the layout of the house, has anything changed? New furniture or a swap of rooms? Has anyone moved in or moved out? Do you have a new (noisy) baby or dog? Have you brought another cat into the house?

If you genuinely have not made any changes within your home setting – and remember, it’s important to ‘dig deep’ and think like a cat before dismissing something – then you need to look at the next closest environment to you which is the garden and surrounding area outside your house. Could there be a cat in the neighborhood who is bullying yours? Do you have visiting cats in your garden or hanging outside the house? If so, could these cats be entering the house via the cat flap when you’re not there? If so, this could be stressing your cat out which might explain the toileting.

If there are cats hanging around one of them very well might be the source of stress so you could try:

  • Blocking any lower panels of glass windows with opaque film or some other covering, this may help your cat feel more secure in her indoor home as she won’t be able to see the bully cat
  • If the bully is sitting high up on fences or a shed he may be intimidating your cat from this high position even if you have blocked the lower panes. If budget allows you could consider cat proofing your garden which stops cats coming in and yours getting out (something I did using Katzecure – best money I ever spent!)
  • Change the layout of the cat flap so that your cat can get out of the house safely without worrying about getting pounced on (if this is indeed an issue)If the stress is potentially coming from inside the house then you will need to review your feeding and litter tray set up. Resources are important to a cat and they include things such as water bowls, feeding areas, sleeping positions, high vantage points, quiet areas to watch the world go by, scratching posts, litter trays, etc.

milton keynes cat care

Other ideas to reduce incorrect toileting in the house

  • If you have two cats then you need a litter tray per cat plus one extra located in different parts of your house. Many cats don’t like weeing in the tray they poop in. Could your other cat be hogging the essential resource that is the toilet which could be causing her stress? This is worth considering even if your cats have lived together for years and seem to get along …
  • Your cat could have a negative association with her litter tray for peeing due to any number of reasons (a painful toilet trip over a year ago, something scary happening whilst going pee in her tray, a loud noise whilst going toilet … the possibilities are endless).
  • You could try changing her litter tray type, litter and position to see if this helps change the association she previously made. Some cats prefer a litter tray which is covered, while others like the open type. Remember, your tray needs to be large enough to accommodate your cat standing up and turning around comfortably, she should be able to squat without her bottom hanging over the side.
  • Litter trays need to be cleaned daily, sometimes twice a day if there are multiple cats within a household (and especially so if they are indoor cats only). I always recommend Oko Gold Litter to my clients, it is a bit more expensive than the standard litter available in the supermarket but is well worth it! This type of litter clumps beautifully which makes scooping pee and poop a breeze. The bag lasts ages as you are not having to empty the contents of the litter tray each time your cat goes toilet, instead you scoop the clumps of pee and poop leaving an otherwise clean tray. You can buy Oko Gold Litter online and most decent pet stores (like Walnut Pet Supplies in Milton Keynes) now sell it too.
  • Clean the mess with Urine-Off and Odour Remover. If it’s very soiled you may be best to remove it entirely (taking away the smell and association with the space).
  • Placing food bowls near the location your cats toileting on can change the perception of the area from ‘dangerous’ to ‘safe’, although this does not always work it is certainly worth a try.

Remember cats don’t vocalize the same way dogs do so it is so very easy to miss the subtle clues re what’s going on and see their behavior as a problem when it’s actually a cry for help.

Finally, if these tips and tricks don’t solve your problem then I suggest finding a qualified behaviorist who is experienced with cats using the APBC and ABTC websites to find one in your local area.

House Sitting – Grizzle’s tips and tricks

I know something’s up a week before they go. This big black object gets brought into the house (I have since learned this is a suitcase). Clothes, shoes and other nick naks I try to put in my mouth are being moved around constantly and there’s talk of passports, whatever that is.

My owners are going away on a holiday. Without me. Did you hear that?

This is my first time  I won’t be with either mum or dad since I came to live here at 8 weeks old. But please, my name is Grizzle and I’m not afraid of anything. Because I live in what humans call a multi pet household, mum booked the fabulous Ellie from Haines Hounds to house sit instead of splitting up our care. Let’s just say kennels were never on the agenda, however it is common for dogs like me to go to other people’s houses for home boarding. But Pancake the cat could never leave the house, he’d die of fright, and the hens also need their usual garden for free ranging, so it actually works out much cheaper for someone to come stay in your own home and also means your house looks lived in too (sorry thieves!!!).

dog boarding milton keynes

Since I’m such a clever dog I’m going to share with you below some of my top tips that you can pass on to your owners next time they decide to be cruel and leave you alone as they jet off on fancy holidays like mine have just done (shhhh don’t tell them we really don’t care they’re gone) 🙂

  • Meet the pet sitter in your home and go through all of the particulars about the house, the pets, feeding routines, likes/dislikes and general home info (don’t forget alarm codes, checking the spare key works correctly and explaining how the telly and internet work)
  • Type up all the same info and print out for the pet sitter. This gives you time to remember all the things you may have forgot to cover in the meeting and also means the pet sitter doesn’t have to take loads of notes at the meeting and can instead spend their time listening. Mum actually divided this up into different sections so the info was easy to find: Food, Walks, Sleeping, Insurance, Home, Other
  • Sign a contract and an Off Lead Disclaimer Form (if you are happy for your dog to be walked off lead in your absence) or include a letter if you want them kept on lead
  • Provide an emergency contact telephone number – one that the pet sitter can reach you on when you are gone
  • Make sure your pets’ registration, ID tags etc are up to date and secure
  • Buy plenty of food for the entire trip, plus some extra. If any pets are on special diets make sure to discuss this with the pet sitter in advance, and also leave further instructions in your printed notes. If food is awkward to prepare then leave bags of pre-prepped food so that feeding is a straight forward job
  • Set aside all your favourite treats on one shelf in the fridge or cupboard. Don’t leave it to your pet sitter to search for things hidden deep within the kitchen
  • Leave out your dogs collar, leads, poo bags, harnesses and any other dog walking items
  • If you have a cat or other small furries then don’t forget to cover their particulars and leave out all their care items (for instance, my brother Pancake has little cotton swabs for his eyes, special raw meat baggies and a brush as he’s a short hair Persian cat)
  • Ensure there’s plenty of household essentials in the cupboards along with pet safe cleaning product should anyone have a little “accident”
  • Collect up possibly injurious articles and substances, and either dispose of them or put them out of your pets’ reach. Also prevent your pets from getting into and out of areas which could lead to harm
  • Before you go away make sure to clean the house top to bottom ready for your pet sitter. There is nothing more gross than leaving a house dirty for a guest and I can’t underestimate how long a proper clean may take you. Set aside a good half day for this task and do it properly (this includes dusting all surfaces, light fixtures, bed edges, etc)
  • Make up the bed for your pet sitter and close the door to their bedroom so it stays nice and fresh, free from pet hairs and other nasties
  • Shut any doors that the pets should not have access to while you’re on holiday and give the house a final vacuum before departing

In summary, I think the most important thing to consider when booking a holiday where pets are not allowed is that you find someone you really trust to look after them. Once you find a super reliable, knowledgeable and friendly pet sitter then you need to make their life easy by leaving comprehensive details about your pets and the house they are staying in so that they can just crack on with looking after your furries.

I hope you found this blog helpful, if you did then go on and share it with your friends and family, not everyone is as clever as me….

And P.S. I did miss mum and dad …. I just put on a brave face!

Love Grizzle

pet sitting mk

The Joy of Keeping Hens: the signs of sickness

I’m feeling poorly … 

Keeping hens can either be a straight forward easy thing or fraught with illness and death. Is it luck of the draw, the environment they live in or where they were bought? I think a bit of each to be honest. Our original flock of hens were purchased in 2010 and we had one for only three years, she died from what most hens do: an internal infection which weakens the body to the point where they die from lack of nutrition (a sick hen will not eat or drink) and exhaustion.

The second one made it a good six years but sadly passed away in August this year after a very hot spell. She had been on and off for many years and we often thought we would lose her but managed to bring her back from the brink time and again with additional supplements to her diet and extra care.

We still have one from the original batch of hens and she is going strong. She’s an ‘unusual’ hen, a speckled long plumed sort who doesn’t lay many eggs. This is good in the hen world as it means their bodies are not constantly being overworked to produce the eggs that we take so much for granted. When her buddy died in August I got her a new companion from Hula Animal Rescue. Martha is only three years old and should have been free from issues for awhile yet.

However, for the last couple weeks she started laying dodgy eggs. Super soft shells which crack as you try to pick them up, or shells which are not formed at all and simply slip out of the hen in a messy yolk’y blob. If you see this in your hen it is a clear sign of something internally not right and it shouldn’t be ignored. When an egg doesn’t pass properly out of the hen what is left inside her body will get infected and, if continued to be left untreated, weaken the hen to the point of death.

Signs of a sick hen

  • Staying in the nest box or continually entering it and leaving without producing an egg
  • Hunched posture (seen in pictures below)
  • Lack of interest in food, including favourite treats
  • Reduced water intake
  • Standing in one corner of the coop or garden with little movement
  • Pale colored comb
  • Liquid poo
  • Yellow colored poop which looks a bit like wet scrabbled egg

Luckily we seem to have caught it in time with Martha!

Hens need careful monitoring and observation to ensure they stay in tip top shape. Yes they are an easy pet to own as they don’t require much in the way of faffing or attention; yet a few daily checks will see to it that your hens live long and healthy lives. I had observed that Martha wasn’t coming down out of her nest box in the morning, nor showing much interest in her food. Having seen this in countless hens before I didn’t waste any time in ringing the vets.

If you are based in Milton Keynes or the surrounding villages and keep hens then the vet I would recommend every time is Beech House Vets in Towcester (just off the A5 near the garden centre). Charles Castle is the principle of the practice and has been maintaining and breeding his own large flock of hens for more than twenty years. This vet, and the practice in general, have such a caring manner about them and nothing feels too small. Charles will ‘fix’ your hen if he is able to and provides a wealth of information along with explanations about what he is doing and why. I have trusted Beech House Vets for years with my hens, both in terms of trying to make them better to putting them to sleep when it did not work. I’ve never felt silly for crying (well balling my eyes out) over the passing of one of my chickens and it’s down to Charles I have to say. Lovely lovely man.

Back to Martha. Having noticed she didn’t eat much on Saturday or Sunday, when Monday morning came around I decided to ring the vets who were able to squeeze us in first thing. My worry was egg peritonitis which is a common condition seen in backyard hens of all ages, from the point of lay onwards. It is an infection established within the coelomic cavity of hens, caused by the presence of an ectopic yolk within the coelom (main body cavity).

Charles gloved up and popped his fingers inside Martha feeling around for any remnants of shell within her body. He felt confident that there was none but confirmed that those ‘dodgy’ eggs we noticed previously would have caused the infection we were seeing and if left untreated would have ended in her demise. Her comb was still a deep red which was a good sign and she hadn’t suffered too much weight loss as yet.

We were given a course of antibiotics and advised to try to get her to eat as much as possible over the next few days, along with bathing her backside in warm water (this stimulates any egg potentially trapped within the hen and helps it pass easily).

Important Tips for Maintaining Healthy Hens

  • Reduce snacks and ‘extra’s in the summer months when hens tend to eat less as it is
  • Feed high quality layer pellets and other rich sources of protein such as mealworms
  • Monitor their behaviour so you can catch any signs of illness early on
  • Clean out their coop and run regularly. A dirty environment invites disease
  • Provide fresh water. Every month you may want to splash some apple cider vinegar or hen supplement in with the water to help boost their internal system
  • Worm regularly. You can get wormer already mixed in with their layer pellets so it’s one less thing to remember. Worms weaken hens and they are a fragile creature as it is

Anger Management: 7 Day Challenge (day 1)

Grizzle’s 7 Day Challenge started on Thursday 4th August. I picked this day as the first one where my partner was away … and you know what they say: there’s nothing like taking responsibility when there’s simply no one else around to blame. As I may have mentioned in a previous post, so much about our pets behaviour starts with us – their owners, carers and dog walkers. It’s easy to blame the dog for what they’re doing wrong, yet in their mind it isn’t wrong at all, just normal behaviour that they feel is appropriate in relation to the threat they are encountering at the time (by threat I also mean just the given situation, it may not seem “scary” or “threatening” to us as humans but in a dogs world it may well could be). Important to remember as well, when dealing with a reactive dog, is Trigger Stacking. Put one stressful situation on top of another, on top of another and then BAM you have a dog who suddenly explodes for no reason at all. Well there is a reason (in fact it’s many little reasons) but the final straw may have been nothing at all, and under different circumstances would have caused no reaction whatsoever, however in culmination with all the other events results in a dog who is taken way over his comfortable stress levels and reacts defensively (or aggressively).

For more info on Trigger Stacking check out this great article available here >  https://woofliketomeet.com/2016/03/trigger-stacking-how-we-set-our-dogs-up-to-fail/

trigger stacking

 

The schedule for day 1 was pretty quiet which was great. We had just two dogs in day care and one walk mid-day. One of the dogs in day care is Molly (a puppy who Grizzle has always been fond of), we also had Del (a young female dog who is reactive but very friendly with Grizzle), finally our walk was with little Boycie a teeny tiny Dachi who is scared of his own shadow. Walks with Boycie are no issue whatsoever, he wouldn’t hurt a fly! 🙂

I decided to pick Del up early so we could do a woodland walk before picking up Molly – as a puppy she can’t really walk far yet and play time sessions don’t give a dog who likes to walk everything he needs. So we were up at the crack of dawn and over to Woburn Sands for young Del. You’d thick there wouldn’t be many people in the woods at 7am but we did bump into one just as were entered the wood. I saw her and the dog in the distance before Del or Grizzle did so brought them to one side and tossed some cheese onto the ground and asked them to “Find It” (this is their queue to put noses to the ground and search out the morsels of cheese). What a result, they didn’t even spot the dog or owner and we were able to carry on our merry way. I felt on top of the moon with how I handled the situation and kept fussing over Grizzle as we walked back to the van and drove home.

The next step was getting out of the van and back into the house. Waiting for the bridge to be shut and crossing the canal with a few dogs is always a bit tricky, most of them love to react to all the people sauntering about and there are usually a few dogs on boats or waiting for their owners so it can be chaos. Had I taken Grizzle and Del out into the house together would have meant we failed the no outburst challenge on day one so I’m glad I made the decision to bring Del across first and then go back for Grizzle. Having just one dog means you can focus on distracting them (the Mark and Move training being used here!) and get them into the house without much fuss. It was worth the extra trip, Grizzle stayed focused on me and was able to settle down for a nice long nap.

Once they woke we did the same but in reverse to get them back into the van and over to Brogborough. Though Del is reactive I chose to bring her with us as the location we walk is so remote we never see a soul. We picked up Boycie and headed out for another hours walk; however, typically someone was coming up the lane as we were headed back and they had a dog with them. I used the same tactic of distracting them with cheese scattered on the ground but this time Del wasn’t buying it and lunged barking at the dog and person. Not necessarily aggressive but loud and a bit over the top nonetheless. I’m proud to say that Grizzle didn’t react at all, he was very keen on finding that cheese and didn’t seem to notice what was going on. We’re lucky I guess in how food motivated Grizzle is, he’s obsessed with treats – especially sausage and cheese – so will do pretty much anything for some.

That was our day over with, he settled down for a snooze while I brought the doggies home. I couldn’t believe how well he did and how focused I seemed to be too. Was it the fact I had called it our 7 Day Challenge or did I finally see just how important this all was to him? Either way … I was excited to see how we’d do on Day 2 .. !

 

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Jog My Dog is a small, friendly and professional company offering home boarding, puppy visits, doggy day care, cat visits and dog walking services in Milton Keynes and the surrounding villages of Bow Brickhill, Brickhill Sands, Little Brickhill, Great Brickhill, Aspley Guise, Woburn, Woburn Sands, Brogborough, Linslade, Stoke Hammond and Soulbury.

Registered, Insured, Knowledgeable and Experienced, we take the job of pet care seriously. So whether you’re looking for a cat sitter for your weekend away or regular runs for your dog while you’re at work, we can help! Get in touch to book your pet sitter and dog walker in Milton Keynes today.