Pets Depots Pets Blog
Quick Health Check for your Pet
Keeping our furry friends happy and healthy is important to us but our pets can be good at not showing when they aren't in tip top condition. So here are a few things to check to help catch any ailments early. Many of them are easy to see but you know your own pet and if something doesn't seem right then a trip to the vet is always advisable.
Ideally your pets nose should be:
- Moist and soft
- Not have any snot or discharge
- Be clear so they are able to breathe freely
Nose shouldn't be dry or cracked, have snot and discharge and or sound congested.
Your pets eyes will tell you alot about your pet, but they should be:
- Bright, clear and open
- Have no tears or discharge and also no excessive tear staining
- The area around the eye should be a healthy pink
Seek medical advice if the eyes are being held closed/are squinting or are red, swollen and weeping.
For ears you are looking for:
- Not smelly
- Inside the ear is a healthy pink colour
- Free from wax and excessive hair
- Flat ear flap
It is advisable to go to the vet if the ears are smelly, have discharge or are swollen. Also watch out for excessive scratching, they look uncomfortable or they are holiding their ears flat or their head to one side as this is a sign of discomfort in your pet.
Teeth and Gums
Now these, especially the gums may be more difficult to check on your pet. But generally, if you can, you are looking for:
- Clean and white teeth free from staining although this may occur in older pets
- No cracked, chipped or missing teeth
- The gums should be a healthy pink colour although your pet may have some pigmentation
- Gums free from lumps or bumps around the teeth
You may have to leave the vet to check teeth and gums during your pets annual health check but take your pet to the vet if you find the following:
- Broken, missing or stained teeth
- Gums swollen around the teeth or
- Gums that appear dry not moist
For your pet's skin to be healthy it should be:
- Have no wounds or infections
- No rashes
- Not smell
- No bald patches - remember to check the underside of your pet too!
- No lumps and bumps anywhere
If you do find any of the above or your pet appears to find their skin itchy or sore or there are dry/moist patches then seek your vet's advice.
Of course related to their skin is your pet's lovely coat. This should look healthy and also:
- Be free of the dreaded fleas, ticks or parasites
- Be dandruff free
- Not have knots or be matted
Regularly brushing should help keep your pets coat in tip top condition but your vet can help with parasites and dandruff.
The tail should be:
- In its normal position and moving freely
- Have no sores, lumps or bumps
- Free of faeces underneath it
A cause for concern in your pet is if their tail isn't moving as it should or not being held in its normal postion, you find sores or lumps or a build up of faeces. Also look out for your pet rubbing its bottom on the ground or they are chewing their tail.
Finally your pets legs are worth checking for:
- No lumps, bumps or wounds
- Able to support your pet getting up and down
- That their paws are healthy and their nails are strong and not too long (in case they start to grow into the pad)
Take your pet to the vet if your pet is limping, appears stiff, is struggling to support their weight and is having difficulty getting up and down, has any wounds or lumps or you find the paws or nails are not healthy or the nails are too long.
Finally you know your own pet and if you feel that they are not their usual self then it is always worth asking your vet to give your pet a health check to rule out anything that cannot be seen. Trust your instincts!
Preparing for a new kitten
So you have decided to adopt a kitten, whether from a Rescue Centre or a breeder this is a big decision as you will need the time and energy to settle your new addtion in to your home. Please be aware not to bring a kitten home until they are at least 8 weeks old, some Rescue Centres and breeds may also wait until 12 weeks old before releasing their kittens.
In preparation for their arrival there are a few essential items you and your kitten will need:
- A cat carrier to bring your kitten home in. Your kitten may also use this as a secure place when you first bring them into your home. The carrier is also an essential item for vet visits so try to purchase one that has access through the top of the carrier or even one where the top half is removable allowing the vet access to your pet.
- A food and a water bowl. Cats prefer their water supply to be separate to their food so try placing their food and water in separate places.
- Kitten Food. Ask the Rescue Centre or breeder what they are currently feeding the kitten so you can continue feeding the kitten the same food. Then you can either gradually change their food to one you prefer of keep feeding them the same food. Please note that it is not advisable to suddenly change the food your kitten has been previously given.
- Litter tray and litter. The litter tray or box should be placed in a different area to the food and water bowls. If you have more than 1 cat then you should have more than 1 litter tray. The litter tray should be big enough for your feline to turn around in but initially a smaller one with smaller sides may be more suitable for your kitten and then move to a larger tray or box as they grow. There are various types of cat litter on the market from biogradable to scented but if you keep the litter tray as clean as possible then this will help reduce unpleasant smells.
- A cosy bed and blankets. In time your cat will probably sleep in all sorts of places around the house, from under and on beds to chairs and sofas. At first though, to to help your new lodger settle in to their new home, a cosy place to sleep where they feel secure would be purrfect!
- Toys. Whilst your new kitten would be happy playing with anything - a piece of string will more than do! - to help them settle in and become used to you then a few toys will help to do this. Cats love to play and toys will keep them entertained and provide mental stimulation as well. A bored kitten is more likely to get into mischief plus you will love playing with your kitten and getting to know them.
- A brush. A good cat brush is particularly important if you have a long haired feline as without daily brushing their fur will become matted and uncomfortable. Even short haired cats though benefit from a weekly groom as it helps with shedding and keeping their fur in tip top condition. If you start grooming your kitten early this will help them to learn to enjoy it and help you bond with your kitten. Make sure you have the right type of brush to suit your kitten's fur though.
- Cat Collar and ID Tag. Whilst it is not recommended that your kitten venture outside until at least 5 months old, or even a little later after they have been neutered, then its worth letting them get used to wearing a collar early on. Together with an ID Tag this will also give you peace of mind in finding your cat if the do manage to escape outside. Its worth noting though that an ID tag should not be used instead of but as well as Microchipping. A bell on the collar is not essential but would help you locate your kitten if they are hiding in your home or even help prevent them from catching prey once they are allowed outside. Kittens do grow very fast so keep an eye on whether they have outgrown their collar.
- Microchipping. This will soon be mandatory for your cat, so when you take your kitten to the vet for an initial check up and first vaccinations make sure you ask fory your kitten to be microchipped as well. A microchipped cat is much easier to re-unite with its owners if they are lost, stolen or injured.
- Catnip. Whilst this isn't an essential item catnip is useful to help your cat adjust to you, its new home, toys, bed and scratching post so it is definately worth adding to your shopping list.
Kittens are playful, cute and full of mischief, they will certainly keep you on your toes in the first few weeks in their new home and if you are prepared for that then they will also bring you hours of fun, entertainment and affection. So relax and enjoy!
Keeping your dog safe at Christmas
We can all over indulge at Christmas and this includes our pets as well as their humans. However, some of the festive items, food and non food can be toxic for our animal companions. The Blue Cross organisation have some useful advice about what can be dangerous for our pets and the link to the full article can be found here.
In summary the key dangers to be mindful of are:
Christmas foods including chocolate, grapes and some nuts are toxic
Foods like Christmas pudding and mince pies are toxic
Plants such as poinsettia, mistletoe and holly can cause upset stomachs
Cigarettes and alcohol left lying around are dangerous
Other festive goods such as decorations, wrapping paper and potpourri also pose risks if ingested
Have a very happy Christmas but please keep an eye on your pet.
Are Conkers Poisonous to my dog?
As the end of the summer approaches and we look forward to those beautiful Autumn days with long walks down leafy lanes it is worth keeping an eye on your dog whenever you are near Conker trees (Horse Chestnut Trees). This is especially relevant if your dog particularly likes picking things up while you are out and about.
Once they have left their green spiky shells the round shiny conkers are dangerous to your dog if ingested. The size and shape of the conker alone can cause blockages in the stomach and intestines if swallowed, resulting with a visit to the vet and maybe a surgical procedure to remove them.
The conkers themselves also contain a chemical called aesculin which are toxic to your pet if ingested and your dog can be very unwell as a result. If your dog starts vomiting and or has diarrhoea, and perhaps show signs of abdominal pain and look really uncomfortable then take them to your Vet immediately. In some cases your pet can become dehydrated and go into shock and in some cases, may result in death so it is vital that you seek medical attention quickly. Try to remain calm and give your vet all the relevant information about how many conkers were ingested and the symptoms your dog is displaying.
Tips for Summer Dog Care
When the temperature starts to rise its worth keeping in mind the following to ensure your dog remains happy and healthy and avoids the dangers of suffering from heatstroke.
- Never leave your dog in the car this is at number one because it can prove to be fatal. Even left in a car in the shade with the windows open your dog can become uncomfortable very quickly let alone prey to any passing dog thieves.
- Keep you dog cool. With a bit of preparation and aforethought you can help your dog to avoid suffering ill affects from those long hot sunny days. Encourage your dog to stay in the shade and avoid long periods in the sun. Give them a hot water bottle filled with cold water. Always keep an eye on your pet though in case they start to chew the hot water bottle, remove immediately if they do! Another useful idea is to put damp towels down for them to lie on and place a paddling pool in a shady spot so your dog (and you if like!) can cool down it. If you have a garden sprinkler you could use it cool your dog down as well as water your garden!
- Access to Water. Always remember to ensure your dog has access to clean drinking water what ever the season but particularly important in the summer months. When you go out for a walk take a bowl and bottle of water to refresh your dog when they are hot and thirsty. Don't forget a drink for yourself!
- Early morning or evening walks rather than mid day sun walks. This may take a little planning on when you are going to take your dog a walk but avoiding the times when it is hottest will be far better for your dog.
- Protect their paws. This tip goes hand in hand with planning the timing of your walks as hot tarmac or sand can hurt your dog's paws. If you would find the surfaces hot without your shoes then so will your pet. Try and plan your walks to avoid these surfaces as much as possible when its hot or go at the cooler times of the day.
- Play games which involve less running. Try playing games with your dog that involves less exertion. Perhaps hiding treats or toys for them to find, especially useful for encouraging them to stay in the shade or venture into the paddling pool. Freeze food or treats and use food puzzles to keep them stimulated but cool.
- Keep an eye on their weight. With less exertion and different walk and exercise patterns your dog may gain weight. Additional weight can make it harder for them to cope in the heat. If you think your pet is gaining weight then adjust their food accordingly and always ensure they have a constant supply of clean drinking water.
- Grooming. Regular grooming of your dog will remove excess fur, avoid matting and help keep them cooler. Breeds that require visits to the Dog Groomers to trim their coats may need to go more regularly in the summer months to help keep them cooler.
- Microchipped and collar has an ID Tag. Finally this one isn't going to help your dog feel cool but with warmer weather comes being outdoors more often. Make sure your dog is microchipped and is wearing a collar with an ID tag whenever outside, in that way if they get lost they are easily identifiable when found.
- Oh Yes, final tip, ENJOY THE LOVELY WEATHER while it lasts!
What to do if you dog is stolen
So if you are unfortunate enough to have your dog stolen What should you do? The following is a guide to what you can do. There is no particular order to the steps below but you should try to do the first 3 steps as soon as possible:
- Contact the police and report the theft as soon as you realise your dog has been stolen. Dog theft is not a crime in its own right. Dogs are considered to be a possession so, like the theft or a mobile phone or a laptop should be reported to the police in the same way. Try to give as much information as you can, description of your pet, any photos, microchip number, time and place stolen and any other details of the theft including if there were any witnesses to the theft.
- Ask for a crime reference number from the police. This will insure that the theft has been recorded as a crime and not treated as an ‘incident’. The reference number will also help with any future calls to the police about the theft.
- Inform your pet’s microchip company so they can record your dog as stolen. Give them the crime reference number the police have allocated to the theft. If your dog is found and scanned then that person will immediately know that they have a stolen pet and contact the police accordingly. If you do not know the name of your microchip company then go to a Check my chip website and input your pet’s chip number.
- Contact your local dog warden and inform them of the theft. Dog warden services are run by your local authority and specialise in lost dogs. It is worth contacting them though in case they find your pet.
- Local vets and rescue centres are also worth contacting for the same reason. Give them details of your dog together with your contact details.
- You could put an appeal/alert out on any local Facebook pages that can be shared locally, remember to include photographs of your dog.
- Put up posters locally around where your pet was stolen appealing for information and the return of your pet if found. Again include a clear photograph and a contact number.
- You could also try Doglost. It is free to register here and whilst it is for owners of missing pets it will send email alerts out to those in your area to let them know of the theft and help locate your lost pet.
Having your pet stolen is extremely upsetting and dog theft is on the increase. However as the incidents of dog theft increases so does awareness of the issue. This will lead in the future to more attention and more resources being dedicated to the problem. Indeed only recently the first police Dog Theft Officer was appointed in Nottinghamshire. Other forces will surely follow. With more attention and resources then the problem of dog theft should begin to be tackled in a much more effective way. This does not seem much consolation when you have lost a much loved pet but it should increase the chances of your dog being found and you being reunited.
How to prevent your dog from being stolen
Dog theft has always been around but with Covid 19 and the increase in demand and prices for dogs and puppies it seems as though we are always hearing on social media about dog thefts. Whilst pedigree dogs have always been the preferred choice of thieves certain cross breeds have also become popular e.g cockapoo. Many dog thieves are opportunists who will seize the moment to steal your pet if they see an opportunity.
These simple steps will help try and prevent your dog being targeted by thieves:
- Make sure your pet is microchipped. In the UK it is law for puppies to be microchipped by 8 weeks old. Once microchipped make sure your contact details remain current (if you move to a new house or change your phone number).
- Your pet wears a collar and id tag with your name and address and perhaps a mobile phone number on. Again this is a legal requirement for your dog to wear in a public place. It is advisable though to avoid including your pet’s name on the tag.
- Ensure your garden or outdoor space is secure. You don’t want your pet taking themselves for a walk nor do you want unwanted visitors taking your dog from your garden. Try not to leave your pet unsupervised.
- If your pets have outdoor kennels then it might be worth installing CCTV to act as a deterrent and also to keep an eye on them.
- Try to avoid leaving your dog tied up outside a shop alone. This is too tempting for an opportunist thief.
- Like the above avoid leaving your pet alone in your car (this is inadvisable on warm or hot days because it is dangerous for your pet). Again a thief could easily break into your car to steal your dog.
- Try to vary the times and places you take your dog for walks.
- When you let your dog off the lead try and keep an eye on them at all times this is especially important if you are in a busy park.
- Be wary of strangers being overly friendly with your dog and asking you too many questions.
- Ensure your pet is trained to recall when you call them.
- Be mindful of what you post on social media and the use of location tags. For example if your dog is due to give birth to puppies be careful about what you are posting. You don’t want to be targeted by thieves who will steal your dog and her puppies in one go!
Choosing the right food for my pet
Eating the right food and in the right amounts is essential for keeping you pet healthy and the correct weight. Feeding too much or too little will lead to your pet either being obsese or underweight, both have health implications for your beloved pet. A diet full of all the nutrients they need will keep them happy and healthy.
There are certainly lots of choices on the market and there may be some trial and error involved with finding the right food for your pet. All our pets are individuals and even after much research you may think you have found the right food for your pet only for your pet to not like it!
The following points may help you in deciding which food to choose for your pet:
- Age - the age of your pet. This will influence the type of food to buy. For example puppies and kittens require different nutrients to older animals They require more calories whilst their older counterparts require less
- Activity - this can vary greatly. Dogs are generally more active than cats so they burn more calories. However the level of activity will also differ between breeds and even your own particular pet’s characteristics. Is your companion a couch potato or energetic and lively? Older pets will be slower and less active than younger.
- Allergies and food sensitivities - like their human companions pets can suffer from these. More and more research has been done in this area which has meant an increase in the choice and variety of food available to you if you find your pet does suffer from allergies and sensitivity to certain ingredients.
- Health - this can be related to allergies and food sensitivities. If your pet has a health condition then the food they eat can affect this. Your vet can advise on diet and provide details of any recommendations to follow with regards to eating the correct food health-wise and indeed help keep your pet on the right track.
- Weight - this is all important in keeping your pet healthy. Underfeeding or overfeeding can seriously impact on their health. Keep an eye on how much, how often and what you are feeding your pet. It is worth bearing in mind that different foods and even different brands contain different calories.
There is plenty of information and choice out there so do your research on types of food available. Check the ingredients labels as this will help you to choose the right food for your pet. One final thing to bear in mind is your budget. Pet food comes in lots of different forms with many different ingredients and varying prices. Choose the food which fulfils all of your requirements, including price!
Buying Advice during Covid 19 Pandemic
There is no doubt that buying a puppy is exciting and could be one of your better decisions. However owning a dog is a long term commitment and especially at first can be hard work. Before making a purchase do your research from the general information about owning and caring for a dog to the specific responsibilities of looking after a puppy. Once you have made the decision to bring a dog into your life then again do as much research as you can about the type of dog that will be most compatible with you.
More of us are now at home for longer periods of time and have more time on our hands to care and train a dog. So demand for puppies has sharply increased during the Covid 19 pandemic with prices rising sharply as well. Unscrupulous breeders and smugglers are selling dogs and puppies for extortionate prices. Be extremely wary when looking for your new companion, take your time, ask lots of questions and walk away if something does not seem right. Puppies bred by unscrupulous breeders or smuggled into the country can not only be very expensive but often have serious health conditions.
Be very wary of online ads, they may not be what they seem. Pictures can be misleading and descriptions can be copied and pasted from another online advert. Covid 19 has meant restrictions on travelling and visiting the homes of breeders to view your litters. This makes it harder to verify whether the breeder is reputable or not. In the absence of an actual visit then a virtual tour is recommended.
It is vitally important to ask lots of questions. Speak to the breeder as much as possible. If they are reputable then they will not mind this,indeed they will want to ask you lots of questions as well. If they are reputable then they will really care about what kind of home their puppies are going to be living, so be prepared to answer lots of questions as well!
Ask to see the mother, siblings and if the father is not present then some photographs at least. Even if you only ‘visit’ virtually then try to get as much information about the puppy and their surroundings. Key points to bear in mind are:
• What do the surroundings look like?
• What kind of environment are the puppies being raised in? Are there other adults, children or other animals? It is important that puppies are socialised and accustomed to everyday noises and hustle and bustle. Preferably there should be only 1 litter at a time.
• Where are the puppies kept? - preferably in the house
• Do the puppies seem happy and healthy?
• Is the breeder handling the puppies confidently and can they tell you about the characteristics and temperament of the parents and each of the puppies?
It is useful to have a list of questions to ask the breeder with regards to the health of the puppy and its parents. You cannot ask too many questions, remember this is a long term commitment you are entering in. Make sure you do not pay for anything until you are entirely satisfied and do not be pressured into a sale.
Please remember that if you are at all uncomfortable or have any suspicions that they are a puppy farm, smuggler or unscrupulous breeder then please walk away, no matter how cute the puppy is! You should also contact your local authority or the local authority of where the breeder is based and share your concerns. In this way we can try and reduce the trade of puppies from puppy farmers, smugglers and unscrupulous breeders.
Preparing for a Puppy
Getting a puppy is a very exciting time. There is however, much to consider when deciding to adopt a puppy., preparing for its arrival and then when your puppy comes home. The following are key points to think about when making your decision on whether to get a puppy
- Cost. Do not underestimate how much your new pet is going to cost. A pet is not a short term investment and on top of the purchase price of your new pet you also need to bear in mind insurance, vet bills, food and ongoing costs (e.g leads, poo bags, toys). Also worth thinking about at this stage is where will your pet stay if you go on holiday, the cost of boarding kennels can be costly.
- Lifestyle. Is there room in your life for a puppy? Puppies need plenty of your time and training. If you work fulltime, who will look after your puppy whilst you are working? Puppies cannot be left alone for long periods of time.
- Your home. Do you have a secure garden for your puppy to run and play in? Is there enough space for them to eat and sleep? Where are they going to eat and sleep - it is also worth bearing in mind how big your puppy is going to be fully grown. A big dog needs more space and a big bed!
- Vets. Where is your nearest vet? A vet can also give you advice on looking after a puppy, where to find one and help you with other research and maybe recommend a good puppy training class.
- Research. Researching the breed of dog is invaluable and will help you decide whether they are the right type for you and your family, any common health issues with a particular breed, grooming and exercise needs. It is also really important to research where you will find your chosen breed and make you aware of what to look for in determining whether you are buying from a genuine seller and not a puppy farm. Please be mindful that getting a puppy is a big, long term commitment of both your time and money and the more prepared you are the better.
How do I choose the right size dog bed?
Like the dogs they provide comfort for, there are all sorts of shapes, sizes and styles of dog beds available. A bed that is too small can be uncomfortable and put strain on joints and muscles leading to hip and back problems. Generally the guidance is to measure your dog from tail to nose and shoulder to shoulder and then add on 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 inches) to both these measurements to allow your dog plenty of wiggle room.
Once you have decided the size of bed you are looking for then the following is also worth bearing in mind:
- If you are buying for a puppy, consider how much your pet will grow
- For older dogs you might want to consider a bed that provides more warmth and support for joints
- Your dog’s personality and sleeping style - do they like to spread out or curl up and do they like to rest their head?
An important point to consider is how easy it is to keep clean and whether the fabric is flea and mite resistant. Waterproof, wipeable beds or those with removable washable covers will help save you time and ensure the bed remains looking good and lengthen the life of the bed. Finally beds now come in all shades and patterns to coordinate with your own decor, if you wish to. There are dog beds to suit all budgets and needs, from travelling in the car to lining a dog crate but if your beloved pooch is going to be sleeping in this bed for a few years then perhaps it is worth spending just a little bit more? Please click here to look at our range of dog beds.