Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Foods to avoid giving your dog over the festive season......and a seasons greeting!

Well, we are finally here - Hooman has been rushing around like a mad thing packing all her Christmas shopping into two days and leaving it as late as possible, but it is Christmas Eve, and tomorrow dogs noses will be a-twitching at the delicious smells coming from the kitchen.  Now I am sure that most responsible dog owners out there will be fully aware of the foods that could be toxic (and even fatal) for their dog, but there is no harm in a timely reminder.

Foods to avoid


One of the potentially most dangerous foods, it is not known why some (not all) dogs develop such a dreadful reaction to the ingestion of grapes, leading to acute renal failure.  We have heard stories from one extreme to the other: from a dog eating 12 grapes and ending up on a drip at the vets, to a dog who loves them with no apparent effect.  We don't think it's worth the risk to find out though! First symptoms of grape toxicity tend to be diarrhoea and/or vomiting (you may see pieces of grape), followed by weakness, not eating, drinking a lot and abdominal pain.  If you think your dog has ingested grapes, then call your veterinary surgeon for advice.

Mince pies / Christmas pudding / Christmas cake

Really carrying on from the above, the drying of the grapes into raisins and sultanas just increases the concentration of the fruit in whatever food they are in - make sure no well meaning relative is trying to give pooch a little bit of Christmas pud under the table.


Now we are not going to say avoid ALL turkey - a little bit of lean meat will probably be very much appreciated by your dog.  However, do avoid giving them any skin - it is far too fatty for them, and could lead to digestive upsets, and worse, pancreatitis.

Cooked bones

Cooked poultry bones in particular can be very dangerous to give to your dog.  We love raw chicken wings here - the bones are soft and flexible and can be digested.  A great toothbrush for your dog in fact!  However, a bones composition changes once cooked and they become brittle and splintery.  Giving these to your dog could lead to injury in their digestive tract.

Onions / garlic

Onions and to a lesser extent garlic is also toxic to those of a canine persuasion, causing damage to the dogs red blood cells, with a general rule of thumb being that the stronger it is, the more toxic it is. So if you dish up a little Chrimbo dinner for your dog, leave out the stuffing, and even the gravy if there is onion on it.


Again, another commonly known toxin to dogs, caused by the presence of theobromine and caffeine. Similar to the onion rule of thumb above, the darker it is, the more toxic it is.  If you think your dog has ingested chocolate, call your veterinary surgeon for advice, particularly if any of the following symptoms are being displayed: vomiting, increased thirst, restlessness, seizures, high temperature, tremors or irregular heart beat.

Macadamia nuts

A strange one, but yes, macadamia nuts can have quite a marked effect on your dog.  Although unlikely to be fatal, it can cause some distressing symptoms for a while, including hind quarter weakness, low grade tremors, appearance of being in pain and low grade fever.  Symptoms tend to abate after 48 hours.

Bacon and ham

Put those Pigs in Blankets down - ham and bacon is way too salty for your dog, and again these tend to be high in fat, so could lead to pancreatitis.


We all love a bit of avocado in our salad (or with some smoked salmon, yum!), but it doesn't go down so well with Fido - it can lead to tummy upsets and pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.

So a few simple rules to keep your doggy food-safe this Christmas:

  • Make a request that friends and relatives don't feed your dog any "human" treats.
  • If you give your dog some Christmas dinner, keep it restricted to some lean meat and some veggies. They will love it as much without all the trimmings, and it will be much healthier for them! 
  • Keep plates, glasses and cups off the floor - Lottie loves a drop of tea, but keep them out of coffee mugs, and any glasses containing alcoholic drinks.

And above all else, we wish you a wonderful and merry Christmas!! 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Applaws: The truth about pet food labels

More and more (and rightly so), people are getting more concerned about what actually is in their pets food.  Hooman has always been very careful with mine, and one food that she has always considered very highly is Applaws, particularly as they manufacture grain and cereal free food. and their kibble being high in meat content.  It is very similar to the food we currently use, which is free from cereals such as rice, grains, cereals and potato, and it is a food we have used and would use again.

Particularly of late there have been some documentaries, certainly on UK television about the horrors hidden behind the ingredients labels on pet foods.  So often we have heard in forums and groups that people have fed an inferior food because they think they can't afford better food, but sadly this isn't often the case.  Because the superior food is more nutritionally dense, your pet needs less of it, and although the initial outlay may be higher, it actually works out more friendly on your purse over time - the food we use costs just 44 pence a day! 

Applaws have been running a campaign to highlight the truth about pet food labels, and recently sent us a Facebook quiz to try, to see how well we know about food, and also this fantastic infographic below regarding the truth about pet food labels.   

You can find the quiz at - we are pleased to say we got 100%!   The infographic is also very interesting, and we hope you enjoy the quiz! 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Winter Series: Top Ten cold weather tips for your pets

Winter is upon us, and here in the UK over the last week, temperatures have plummeted to zero or under.   In the summer, we looked at ways of keeping our pets cool and how to deal with emergencies such as heatstroke - we need to also take precautions in the winter to keep our beloved pets happy, comfortable and healthy.  Here are our top tips for a toasty winter!

We love cosy Christmas jumpers!

  • First of all, in case the weather should make it hard to get to shops (here in the UK, this seems to be at about half an inch of snow!), make sure you have an adequate supply of the essentials - food, medications, cat litter.  
  • When walking your dog, particularly if you are a water fiend like me, keep your dogs away from any lakes / ponds / pools that have frozen over, to avoid falling through ice.  If necessary, keep them on a lead when near these places
  • I know some people think coats and jumpers are unnecessary, but for some pets they can be a lifesaver. Small and/or thin dogs can really feel the cold, not to mention puppies and the elderly.  Just like hoomans!  We wouldn't recommend any drastic haircuts either - keeping the fur a little longer in the winter can really help keep them warmer.  Additionally, a waterproof coat can really help any dog in wet and freezing conditions - I get really cold and shaky after getting wet in winter!  This is my waterproof suit from Zooplus, not often worn, but invaluable when needed.   Plus Hooman thinks I look like a cool little paratrooper when I have it on...
Zooplus waterproof winter coat.....or paratrooper?

  • My Hooman is a bit of a pariah when it comes to putting the heating on - she would rather cover up in blankets and layers before whacking the thermostat up.  But whether you are like her, or if you turn your house into the tropics in the winter, make sure your pet has a warm, draught free place to sleep. Personally, I think hooman beds are perfect.....
  • Don't forget your outdoor pets.  Make sure they are sheltered from the elements, have plenty of bedding that they can snuggle cosily into, and importantly, check their water bowl a few times a day. In freezing weather, it doesn't take long for water to freeze over, and they could get dehydrated quickly.
  • I am very much hoping it snows this year - my first winter last year it didn't, and we were very disappointed!  Keep an eye on your pets in the snow though - the snow can ball up into very hard lumps of ice in long fur, ends of ears, and most painfully between pads of the feet.  To get rid of them quickly, warm water can dissolve them away.  Keeping the fur between footpads trimmed can also prevent the build up of these iceballs.
  • Salt and grit on the pavements needs to be watched - it can be very irritating to pets when they get it on their paws, particularly if they have any abrasions.  If they then try to lick the salt or grit off their paws, it can lead to a very upset tummy.  After a walk in icy weather, we would recommend wiping their feet off with a warm wet flannel or towel.
  • Anti freeze is LETHAL to cats and dogs.  Make sure any spillages are cleaned up as it tastes sweet to them, and keep an eye on them when out and about.
  • Just like we advise you not to leave your dogs in the car in the summer, it is equally important in winter.  Just like a car in summer can turn into an oven, in the winter it turns into a refrigerator! Leaving your dog in the car could lead to hypothermia. 
  • Days are shorter, which invariably means you may be walking your dog in the dark.  There are precautions you can take both for you and your dogs safety.  Wear bright or reflective clothing, and if possible put a reflective collar / lead on your dog (there is a large range at Collars & Tags to choose from), and make sure someone knows where you are walking.  As always, make sure your dog is wearing their ID - you can also get some handy clip on flashing lights to attach to your dogs collar, for a couple of quid.  Again, Collars & Tags also sell a variety of tags and pet safety lights for your dog.

We hope these tips help you and your pets enjoy the winter - don't forget to comment below if you have any more useful tips to get through the icy, wet or snowy months!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Black Friday & Cyber Monday offers with PetShopBowl

If you are a regular reader of A Spaniel's Tail, you may remember we have featured PetShopBowl a couple of times, first with a review (which you can find here), and later with a special promotion and giveaway.  PetShopBowl are a nationwide delivery subscription service (although subscribing is not mandatory, you can do one off orders too like any other pet shop site), run by a team of friendly, helpful staff dedicated to helping you save time and money.

This time, they have let us know about some special promotions they currently have on, starting from midnight tonight - we may not have Thanksgiving here in the UK (Happy Thanksgiving to all our American friends!), but Black Friday and Cyber Monday has certainly made its way over to us!

Details of the offers PetShopBowl are running are as follows:

  1. Their main deal of the weekend: Free £5 Voucher when you spend £50 OR Free £10 Voucher when you spend £100.
  2. Extra 5% Off Royal Canin (excludes vet diets): Use code - ROYAL
  3. Extra 5% Off Selected Hills (excludes vet diets & nature's best): Use code - HILLSOFFER
  4. 20% Off Selected Almo Nature dog & cat food

You can find all their Black Friday / Cyber Monday deals by clicking here - all offers will go live at midnight tonight!  

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Product Review: Pawsome Box.....and a Giveaway!!!

We were recently very delighted to receive a trial subscription box from Pawsome Box to try out - we also have a fab giveaway at the end of this post, so read on!

Who are Pawsome Box?

Pawsome Box is a pet subscription service, run by a team of experienced pet parents, constantly on the look out for the highest quality, most innovative products they can find, from around the world.  Their aim is to surprise you each month, with the best toys, treats and goodies that they can find - Pawsome Box' ethos is to help customers discover exciting new products that they wouldn't find in the local supermarkets or pet shops - again, with the emphasis being on 'surprise'.  They are also aware of those less fortunate animals, and provide financial support to a number of UK associations that provide shelter, protection and care for maltreated and homeless animals. 

Customers set up the profile of their dog which will determine age, breed, size and fur type and boxes will be customised towards your pet.  There are three plans available - either a one-off monthly box for £19.90, a half year plan with one box a month for £17.90 a box, or a yearly plan with one box a month for £15.90 (all including a £1 per box Royal Mail delivery charge).   Plans also renew automatically so your dog doesn't miss out! 

Each box contains 5-6 high quality items, ranging from treats, to hygiene products, to toys and other goodies.   Each box has a theme - the Summer Box was filled with travel goodies, and the World Cup box was based around toys and games!

So what was in our Pawsome Box? 

I was very excited to receive my Pawsome Box and couldn't wait to see what was inside it!

Trying to get in my Pawsome box!

There was quite the array of goodies - described clockwise from left:

Look at all these pawsome goodies!

Flamingo Petcare Toothpaste and Brush

Perhaps not the most glamorous of products, but essential for good dental hygiene for your dog. Having used a malty toothpaste previously, this left my breath lovely and fresh according to Hooman, and I quite enjoyed licking it! Not so sure about the toothbrush, yet..... (Hooman's only ever used a finger brush before)

Marc & Chappell Creamy Centers (with yogurt and real banana)

These were very interesting little treats, with a crunchy cereal shell and filled with a creamy yogurt and banana filling.  Liked these!

Karlie Latex pop-up egg

Made with a soft latex, squeeze these little eggs and the top pops up revealing a chick, along with all the required squeakies a dog could want!  Lots of fun, and bounces all over the place when thrown.

8 in 1 Pro Dental chew

Stop taking photos and let me CHEW!

Hooman doesn't often let me have rawhide but occasionally she relents, and this was a good one to try out!  This has dried chicken (think jerky) wrapped in good quality rawhide, with a blend of minerals that help attain whiter teeth and a fresher breath.  I liked it so much, after chewing it for a while, I carried it around whimpering trying to find somewhere to hide it, which is very unusual for me!

Rubba-Guma Dental Toy

Ingenious design with lots of knobbly bits to clean your dogs teeth, described as "the natural rubber toothbrush" and with a spearmint flavour.  I'm not a dog big into chewing rubber, but it's a very clever design and we think this would appeal to big chewers.

Karlie High Frequency Whistle 

Finally, one for the Hooman - she always finds whistles useful, especially if I've found a particularly fresh cowpat that needs investigating and suddenly develop selective hearing (not often we must add!).  This is a good quality metal whistle (her existing one is plastic) so we will be trying it out (Hooman hopes we don't NEED to!) soon on a walk.

What did we think? 

We have reviewed a couple of of subscription box services, and Pawsome Box is very favourable with high quality items and a nice range of chews, health products, treats and toys.   We totted up the cost of the box if you were to buy the items through places like Amazon and Argos, and it came it over £27 excluding delivery, so definitely good value, particularly if you decide to subscribe to the longer term plans, but even as a one off order, it is always fun to be sent new stuff to try. Overall, we give Pawsome Box the paws up!

For more information, check out their website at
For the feline owners among you, they have an equivalent service for cats, at Purrfectbox!

Product was provided for review.
Prices were correct at time of publication. 


Pawsome Box are also sponsoring a giveaway for us - there are FIVE opportunities to win your own Pawsome Box!  The giveaway will run until 29th November 2014, and the winners will receive a box in time for Christmas. 

In addition, Pawsome Box are offering 20% discount on the Christmas Edition Pawsome Box for all who enter the giveaway (providing your email is a mandatory entry requirement) so get entering!  This is only open to UK residents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 17 November 2014

Woofs With.... A Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog owner

We were delighted recently to catch up with Leisl, and her two gorgeous orange roan cocker spaniels Muppet & Krumble.  We wanted to find out all the ins and outs of PAT work - Muppet has been a registered PAT dog since 2006, and in 2011, won PAT dog of the year!

So first of all, for those who don't know, what is Pets As Therapy?

Pets As Therapy is a national charity founded in 1983. It is a community based charity  providing therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other establishments from volunteers with their pet dogs and cats.

Since its beginning over 28,000 dogs have become registered PAT dogs. Every year some of these wonderful dogs need to retire and new dogs, having first passed a health, temperament, and suitably assessment, join Pets As Therapy.

Tell us about your gorgeous dogs, Muppet & Krumble

Leisl with Muppet & Krumble

You can read all about Muppet and Krumble on our website - Muppet is bomb proof and perfect, Krumble is super intelligent and possessed by the devil! 

Muppet has been a registered PAT (Pets As Therapy) Dog since January 2006. She regularly visits the children’s wards at both the Royal United Hospital in Bath and The Barbara Russell Children’s Unit at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. She brings joy and happiness to over 100 people a week.

Krumble came to live with us in March 2010 and has been keeping us on our toes ever since. She is a bit of a "work in progress!"  Full of beans, she is very savvy and wilful.  This abundance of energy needs to be channelled into agility or Rally-O I think.

Why did you want to join PAT?

Like everyone else I firmly believed I had the best dog in the world and wanted to share her with everyone.  Muppet came with me and did everything, she had a fantastic temperament and was really well socialised as a puppy, nothing phased her.  I am a medical rep and spend my life in hospitals.   I had vaguely heard of Pets As Therapy and the work it did and I thought I would find out more.   We contacted the office and were sent the details of an assessor.  

What does the PAT assessment involve?

Muppet was put through her paces.  There were no surprises as all of the assessments are clearly stated on the website but there are several key elements to the test.  The dogs have to be able to sit / wait quietly for long periods of time.  This perhaps is one of the harder things.  I meet a lot of people now who say “my dog would be a great PAT dog” but their dog has just spend the last 10 minutes jumping up, barking and pestering them!  Also the dogs have to be bomb proof, and I mean bomb proof.  Sadly in society there is still little education about how to interact with dogs, their body language etc. and often someone will run up from behind and throw their arms around the PAT Dogs or there may be an overzealous ear tug and the dogs cannot react.  We do a noise test to make sure the dogs are not fazed by loud bangs, squealing children etc..

The volunteers (i.e. me) also have to be referenced too, after all, although you are never left alone with a patient / resident etc. it is really important that we are who we say we are and have no skeletons in the closet!

Describe a typical PAT day

Muppet winning HiLife PAT Dog of the Year in 2011 at Crufts

When we first started visiting, we used to go to a residential home (this was after all why Pets As Therapy was formed, for those people who had to leave their homes and their pets behind). It was good fun; residents who never usually interacted with anyone or anything would suddenly become animated, look forward to Muppet's weekly visit and recite stories of the dog that lived on the farm when they were growing up!  Unfortunately we had to stop visiting there as everyone kept trying to feed Muppet biscuits and I don’t mean just one biscuit but custard crèmes, jammy dodgers etc. and it got crazy.  They then got two visiting Labradors and we moved on to the Children’s Ward in Bath where access to food was more limited (although Muppet does like visiting after lunch when one of the kids may have dropped the odd chip or pea on the floor).

We have been at Bath for 7 years now and they have totally embraced the concept of Pets As Therapy.  She is often talked to, read to, dressed up, etc. and she actively takes part in examinations as a distraction.

Muppet also used to visit the Barbara Russell Children’s Ward at Frenchay in Bristol but it was very different to Bath.  On the whole the children in Bath are well, they are there for elective surgery, knees, teeth, tonsils etc. but Frenchay was a specialist unit for very sick kids.  There was a lot of burns and neuro patients.  Often we were there just to stimulate eye movement and focus rather than to be physically interacted with but the kids would make much more effort to interact with Muppet than they would with a toy or a person.

Sadly not every child we meet gets well and we have said goodbye to some cracking, courageous and humble children over the past 8 years.  In March 2011 Muppet’s work was recognised and she was awarded PAT Dog of the Year in front of nearly 10,000 people at Crufts.  The hospitals, doctors and patients all nominated her and I was absolutely thrilled.  In September this year I attended a collection with Pets As Therapy at Bristol Temple Meads Station and we were greeted by one of our former long term patients who has made great progress.

Being greeted at Bristol Temple Meads Station by an old friend

On the whole we try and visit every 2-3 weeks now as I have to try and fit it in around work. My Dad recently had a stroke and the Matron of the Stroke Unit agreed for Mupps to visit “Grandpa”! We hardly got to see him as we were mobbed by patients and staff but I am pleased to say that dad has made an excellent recovery and is now back at home.  The Charity, Pets As Therapy, have approx. 100 PAT Cats too!  They are particularly good for stroke rehabilitation work as they can easily sit on someone’s lap.  Sadly there are not more cats, not because they won’t make excellent visitors but because a) they have to walk on a harness and b) they have to travel to the venues in cars and on the whole the cats hate that part!

What do you love most about owning two PAT dogs?

Muppet at work

Although Krumble is also a PAT Dog, in the main I tend to let Muppet fly the PAT flag. Krumble is great for charity collection work, she is gorgeous and draws the crowds in but she is still a completely bag of beans and although she has a fantastic temperament she wants to visit everyone at 100 miles an hour. I let Muppet do the PAT work and Krumble is my Super Sniffing Search Dog!  We are only ever allowed to use one dog at a time, so at Crufts it is handy that I can work one while the other rests. Its normally a full on 4 days for us so down time is really important.

What would be your best piece of advice for someone thinking about joining PAT?

Please, please, please do not be disappointed if your dog does not get through the assessment. As an assessor (I became a temperament assessor for the charity about 9 years ago) I have to be 110% sure that dog is bomb proof.  I cannot have it on my conscious if they growl or react in a negative way.  It could be something minor which can be easily worked on.  Often is down to the handler not reading the situation / dog correctly and with practice this can be overcome.

Also I would encourage people to have a think about the sort of place they want to visit.  There are hundreds of places wanting a PAT Dog and if you become a successful visiting team then your area co-ordinator may suggest some establishments but not all people want to work with children, disables, mental health etc. and that is fine.  We would far rather you said no than going somewhere that you and your dog are both miserable visiting.  If you pass a residential home every day and think, I’d like to go there, then make contact as see if you can visit.  Also, as volunteers we work with establishments on the frequency of our visits.  If you can only visit once a month then that is fine but don’t say you will go every week and turn up 1 week out of 4.

A huge thank you to Leisl, Muppet and Krumble for the opportunity to find out about more about PAT!  We really enjoyed this interview and hope you did too!

To find out more about Pets As Therapy, click here for the website
To see more lovely pics of Muppet and Krumble, click here!

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Guy Fawkes Night Special: Top 10 Tips for animal safety

We hope everyone had a spooktacular Halloween last night!  Hot on the heels of Halloween, we have our next big evening in the UK - Guy Fawkes Night on the 5th November.  As the 5th falls right in the middle of the week, this year we can typically expect fireworks to be going off now for the next 9-10 days, with big displays at the weekends, and local people setting them off and as when!  In fact, it is the 1st November and the first ones have just started going off as I write this.   And unlike the 4th July (a similarly massive firework night for our American friends), Guy Fawkes Night also typically includes bonfires.

I am an unusual dog in that I spent last years Guy Fawkes Night flat on my back, snoring my head off while Hooman watched on amused (I'm just faking it in the Sepia Saturday photo below!), but not all my furry friends are so lucky.  Here are our top tips for keeping pets safe and stress free over this period:

Guy Fawkes bonfire fireworks night animal pet safety top tips spaniels tail

  • First of all, keep pets indoors at times when fireworks seem likely to be set off - make sure your pets also have their collars and ID on, in case the worse should happen and they escape.  
  • Don't forget your outdoor pets (such as guinea pigs and rabbits) if you have them. If you can move them to a garage or shed, then do so - otherwise provide some extra bedding for them to burrow into, and cover their hutches to protect them from flashing lights and to muffle the sounds a little - please ensure that you do leave a small gap for ventilation though! 
  • For indoor pets, particularly those that are prone to stress, make sure they have a quiet, safe and dark area they can retreat to - for example, a covered crate or a bed tucked away somewhere.  If they want to hide, then leave them to do so - coaxing them out may scare them more.
  • For nervous dogs and cats, DAP (dog appeasing pheromone) sprays such as Adaptil (or the feline equivalent Feliway) can help calm them down - these can come in a plug-in form, or as I had as a pup when I hated being left alone in my crate, a spray form which can be sprayed over blankets 10 minutes before use.  You can even get aromatherapy sprays for your pets made with lavender, known already in hoomans for its relaxing and calming effect, such as this Chill-Out spray for dogs which we were recently sent a sample of and smells gorgeous! 
  • Close all windows, draw the curtains and shut doors to muffle sound as much as possible, and put the TV or a radio on to provide a familiar sound
  • Common sense - but don't walk your dog(s) while fireworks are being let off, or take them anywhere near a fireworks display.  We would advise walking, toiletting and feeding them all before fireworks begin, as it could put them off their food.
  • Provide pets with toys, treats and games while fireworks are going off, as it will distract them from the noise.  We would recommend a big bone or chew, as the act of chewing has been found to be a great outlet for stress and anxiety in dogs.
  • Too late for this year, but if your pet has a serious aversion to fireworks, it would be worth thinking about sound therapy - you can download sounds off the internet (or buy on a CD) and start playing them quietly, gradually increasing volume, until they are comfortable with that particular sound.  Take a look at the SoundsTherapy4Pets website where you can download different sounds through iTunes.
  • If your pet does react to the noise (and they can react in a myriad of ways including making noise, hiding or pacing around), don't reward their reaction with lots of attention, and conversely don't reprimand them for fearful reaction, both of which could intensify their fear. Stay with them throughout, and be calm and relaxed.  If you are on edge, your pet will be on edge too. 
  • Lastly, don't forget the wildlife - if you are having your own Guy Fawkes Night party with a bonfire, remember that hedgehogs and other small critters are looking for places to hibernate, so build your bonfire as close as possible to being lit, and one fab tip we heard was to put your building materials just next to where you will light it, and re-stack it just before lighting.  

We hope you enjoy the fireworks wherever you are, and we wish your pets a happy and stress-free Guy Fawkes time!  Please share any more top tips you have in the comments below.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Halloween Special: 8 Top Tips for pet safety

I will shortly be doing a post on Fireworks Night for pets, which, due to November 5th falling right in the middle of the week is going to span the whole week with various displays, but we have another spooky evening happening first to think about!

Halloween is very popular with our transatlantic cousins and increasingly popular in the UK, with a love of trick or treating, costumes and all things ghostie and ghoulie.  Some of us take our pets trick or treating with us (this is me in my costume, ready to go!), but there are some things we can do, particularly if we have a pet of a nervous disposition, to make the evening less stressful for them.

  • First of all, even if you are not doing anything yourself, pets can find strangers coming to the door (especially when in strange costumes) unsettling and stressful.  Give them a quiet safe place they can go to, and make sure if you DO answer the front door, that they don't dash out.
  • Following on from that, if they were to dash out of the front door, or if you are taking your dog trick or treating with you, ensure they have their tags on (remember, in the UK it is a legal requirement - remind yourself of what is required here).
  • Putting pets in costumes is a very emotive topic that isn't for discussion here, but certainly don't force the issue if your pet is uncomfortable or stressed by it.  Any costumes you do use, make sure they are comfortable, non-restrictive, and are of strong construction and safe materials.  The bat costume I am wearing in the photo is just like my waterproof suit from Zooplus in cut, it just happens to have wings and googly eyes on it!
  • Even the most confident of dogs can be a little unnerved by strange Hoomans dressed in weird and wonderful costumes.  Don't let little children take control of the  lead when walking house to house, but keep the lead under the custody of a responsible adult!
  • NO HALLOWEEN CANDY!  We should all know that chocolate can be toxic to dogs, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and xylitol are also not good for them - make sure that children or well meaning strangers are not trying to slip your dog a Halloween treat, which turns out to be more of a trick.
  • Be careful with those Halloween decorations - lit candles can be knocked over, wires and cables can be chewed.  Make sure your Halloween decor is pet safe!
  • Be careful with the pumpkin - some pets find it difficult to digest when raw which can lead to stomach upsets.   Intestinal blockage when large pieces have been consumed has been known.
  • Lastly, keep all pets supervised.  Cats (black cats especially due to superstitious association) have been known to be targeted by Halloween pranksters, in some very horrible ways - better to keep them safe and make them indoor cats for a while.  This has also happened to other pets, so we would extend this to not leaving dogs unsupervised in your garden until Halloween is over.

We will be follwoing up soon with a Fireworks Night special - in the meantime, we wish everyone a happy and safe Halloween! 

And don't forget, take a wander over to our Facebook page, where we will be holding a little photo contest for the best Halloween photo, starting at 16:00 GMT today and running through to Sunday!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Product Review: Wag 'n' Go travel bag

All dog owners will know what I am talking about, when I say that it can be astounding the sheer amount of STUFF that you need to take when you travel with your dog.  Poo bags, food and food bowls, water bowls, treats, somewhere for them to sleep . . . doesn't sound like much, but actually is!

Well, a company called Wag 'n' Go have come up with an innovative solution to this - a rather nifty little duffel bag design that cleverly includes all of those things in one functional design!

About Wag 'n' Go

Wag 'n' Go was originally the brainchild of Trina, who had a new puppy she was travelling with. As she tried to get everything together that she needed to take with her for the pup, she realised she had more luggage for the dog than herself! So she went about designing a solution, which had to meet three simple criteria:
  • It had to give her dog the comforts of home
  • It had to all be packaged in an easy an stylish travel bag
  • It would have to work in a number of situations - a holiday, a day trip, a day at the office or when left with friends
And the Wag 'n' Go travel bag was born....

So what's in the Wag 'n' Go travel bag?

We were very excited to try this out - Hooman doesn't have a car, plus occasionally when she goes away for a business trip, I stay with friends of ours, often accompanied by various plastic bags containing food, bowls, bedding etc.  This goes a LONG way towards solving lots of problems!

The best way to see what is packed inside this little bag is in pictures!

Nice bag!  What's in it?

Mesh pockets to stash treats and a handy poo bag dispenser!

This looks like a very snuggly fleecy blankie!

Hooman, all these bowls and you have forgotten to fill them?!

What did we think?

All this stuff in such a little bag! 

We love this bag - it is such a useful thing to have.  Trina told Hooman that owners use it for all sorts of things - holidays, day trips, staying with friends, and even as an emergency doggy bag in earthquake prone regions!  As the bowls are water tight and have a date indicator on the top, they will keep kibble fresh for quite a while - chuck an unopened tray of wet food (as I have mixed with my kibble) in there, and just keep to one side until needed! The blanket is thick and soft - great for a picnic in the summer, or as an impromptu bed or sofa cover if visiting friends or holiday accommodation, and even extra pockets and an all important poo bag dispenser thrown in!  Lastly, it has a comfortable padded handle, to keep things comfy for your owners.

We think this is a fantastic design - the only thing we thought we would like to add is a water bottle - Hooman doesn't much like using bought water (waste of plastic), and would rather have the option of filling a bottle at home, but you can buy reusable bottles fairly cheaply - one with a attachment to hang it off the handle would be great!  The pop out silicon water bowl is fantastic though and just folds up flat when not in use.

Overall top barks Wag 'n' Go - anything that makes travelling with your furry friend a little easier, gets the paws up from us!

The Wag 'n' Go bag can be bought from their website here, for £45 in the UK.
Click here to find stockists in other countries.

This product was provided for review.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Question of the Month: Norty Pets!

First of all, I must apologise for the low number of posts this month.  It's not that we don't have anything to write about (quite the opposite!), but sometimes other things get in the way!  As a sneaky preview of what is coming up, forthcoming posts include Fireworks/Bonfire Night safety, about six items to review (including a subscription service where we will have FIVE boxes for a giveaway!), a couple of upcoming Woofs With... interviews, including a veterinary surgeon, and a PAT (Pets as Therapy) dog owner, Christmas hazards, a look at Christmas gifts for the dogs and dog lovers in your life, some recipes we are trying out, and (because the Hooman has just got a lovely shiny new iPhone 6) lots of gratuitous shots of me, starting with my Halloween costume next week!

Spaniels Tail Question of the  Month Naughty Pets
Me?  Norty?  Never.....

But first of all, it is time for this months Question of the Month from our Facebook page.  This month, we asked "What is the naughtiest thing your pet has ever done?".   Have fun reading them!

  • Sam chewed up the library book his hooman was reading but he was very sorry!
  • When she was little she chewed one of my bestest favourite shoes
  • My Charlie was so upset at being left at the boarding kennels for 3 weeks while my husband and I were overseas visiting family, that he chewed through a metal fence and let all the other dogs out!! (Fortunately, they had another fence a few metres away in case of such escape artists…)
  • After completing her 6 week puppy training, Roxy got hold of her certificate and rosette and destroyed it
  • I wrecked the car seats jumping on them.  £700….
  • Daisy chewed up slippers and shoes
  • Bailey destroyed my expensive D&G prescription glasses. I wasn't there at the time.  I was sitting with my partner later in the evening and went to put them on, and they didn't seem to sit right, all cockeyed and bent and I said, what's the hecks the matter with my glasses. It turned out he'd found Bailey with them in his mouth, and put them back away, he wasn't going to tell me! Who is the naughtiest?!
  • A friend had popped in to see me and put her bag of shopping down in the hall. Bertie came into the living room with a cellophane wrapper which had contained 6 fruit scones!!! Margaret just laughed as she had a boxer. Enough said....
  • Daisy eats plants. But only the good ones.... "DAISY - DESTROYER OF PLANTS!"
  • While my Hooman was in the shower I went exploring and decided to try digging through the lounge (cushions on sofa destroyed).. My Hooman didn't understand.. A week later I decided to match things up so now the 'arm' looks the same! I is so cleverer!
  • Bernie may have enjoyed chewing my Blackberry, or maybe he was trying to take a selfie
  • Misty isn't really naughty. Except on walks in the park and if she smells a squirrel or sees one she is off like a bolt of lightning oblivious to our calls. She can be mischievous though. She always comes upstairs for lie in on our bed in the morning while we drink our tea and then shower. Then when I try to move her to make the bed she starts rolling on her back refusing to move. The more I pull the quilt the more she thinks I am playing and bites the quilt growling. I usually give up and go downstairs!
  • She ate a copy of the New Testament.
  • Howard's favourite chew toy when he was a puppy was his daddy's prescription glasses - three pairs down within 2 months!
  • Dukey ate through daddy's new flip flops on his birthday while they were on the floor in front of him
  • In a week my first spangle chewed through the brand new Dyson cable, then the cable for the internet and lastly the power cable for a laptop! Think he didn't like electrics. Then when I got my second spangle he chewed through the cable for the blast drier, the internet cable (sure the other one put him up to it) and then lastly the cable for an extension lead! I'm not getting a third!
  • I had a good chew at hooman brothers passport, plus digging everywhere in the garden, luv Poppy
  • Teddy has thing for slippers
  • Peed on the babies favourite toy
  • Our 2 Rotty X's destroyed our sofa totally when we went out for the day. Total devastation.
  • Chewed through one of the phone lines at work (a vets!). To be fair, he was only a few months old at the time - he wouldn't do anything that naughty now!
  • I once stole a cupcake. It might not sound naughty but they were not impressed. Both mummy and daddy had gone upstairs and daddy had put half his cupcake back in the box on the table. I jumped up on the sofa so I could reach the table. Got the cupcake out of the box and ate it. Closed the box again and quietly left the room
  • Veggie destroyed my Montblanc Smartphone case... mistaken it as a bone?!
  • My beautiful gold spaniel was always full of mischief. Aside from being the biggest escape artist, one of the (cutest) naughtiest things I remember was him stealing a container of chocolate coated ginger, sucking the chocolate off and carefully placing all the ginger neatly in a row on the floor.
  • I'm Bella and I stole my hooman's new cookery book off the table and chewed it up when she went out and left me - the food looked so good I wanted to try it but she was cross and said I was naughty!
  • Widget ran away for a whole hour! We had 12 people looking for her at 7.30 in the morning. She was finally found, after lots of stress and tears, back on my doorstep. She'd run 2 miles home and crossed a busy road! Naughty Widget!
  • Mr. Moose likes to take all the tasty smelling garbage out of the garbage can and move it to the living room (while Mommy is sleeping) then chew MOST of it up, leaving evidence as to his naughtiness.
  • My name is Loki & I am a cat poo eating addict

And we always like to find our favourite….
  • Oscar stole some of my knickers and was throwing them around when they landed on the fire, went up in a ball of flames and set my new rug on fire!!

As always, thank you to everyone who contributed their story - we would love to hear any others in the comments below, and if you would like to be involved in our next Question of the Month, make sure you come and follow our Facebook page!  

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Product Review: Loving Pets Robusto and Bella bowls..... and a giveaway!

We recently received a whole bevy of feeding goodies from Loving Pets to try - here is what we found, and a giveaway to boot!

Who are Loving Pets?

Loving Pets are originally a US company, now branching out into Canada, UK and other international markets.  Founded in 2005, they offer an expanding collection of pet bowls, all natural dog and cat treats, and slow-feeding accessories.  They aim to maintain high standards in the ingredients and materials, products and affordability.

What did they send us?

Loving Pets Robusto and Bella Classic bowls

They sent us two types of products to review - first was a number of models from their range of bowls, which we are reviewing today, and secondly was their Gobblestopper, which is designed to slow down feeding, which we will write about in a future review.

The first type of bowl is the Robusto - built for extreme durability, they are manufactured from solid, heavy gauge aluminium, paired with bright and attractive patterns on a ceramic interior.   Built to be tough, apparently these are SO tough, they passed the durability test of being run over by a 6000lb truck, with no dents or cracks!  Available in four sizes, these are suitable for both cats and dogs.

Robusto bowls in Large and X Small sizes

The second type of bowl they sent us to try was the Bella Bowl Classic.  An altogether lighter affair, these are claimed to be the best selling bowl in the pet industry - made from veterinarian recommended stainless steel, these come equipped with a removable rubber ring on the base to stop them skidding across the floor, plus come in an expanding range of decorative colours and designs. Again, these are available in four sizes, to suit most pets.

Bella Classic bowls in Large and Small sizes

What did we think?

First up was the Bella Bowl.   Now, my usual bowl is quite a heavy, handmade pottery spaniel bowl, and I am quite adept at pushing this halfway across the kitchen floor, so Hooman was curious to see how this one with the removable ring would fare.  Do you know, it hardly budged? With all these bowls, we like the fact that these bowls are dishwasher safe, the rubber ring is removable and we love the bright coloured designs on them.


Second up was the Robusto Bowl - these don't have the rubber ring on the base, but they are incredibly heavy, being made of the heavy gauge alumunium.  Lookswise, we love this with the bright shiny ceramic interior, but it must be noted that these are handwash only.  Regardless, we probably preferred these bowls of the two, because we like heavier bowls!

Obviously anything like feeding bowls are very much down the preference of the pet eating from them (some don't like high sides, some don't like metal, some need higher sides like myself otherwise our ears droop in our food!), but these bowls are all very attractive, well made and a good staple bowl. Our preference would be the Robusto bowl with the lovely ceramic interior and heavy feel, but we liked the Bella bowls too with the funky paw and bone patterns on the outside and non-slip base.   Who says stainless steel / aluminium bowls have to be boring!!

Loving Pets products are available from Amazon UK, A Star Pets, and will soon be available widely across the UK.

These products were provided for review

Giveaway time!

Now, as Loving Pets were so kind as to send us such a selection of their range, we thought this would be great for a giveaway!  After thinking about how to do it, we are actually doing it as two - one for the two large bowls (one Robusto and one Bella), and one for the two littlest bowls (again, one of each type).  Make sure you enter the right one and if you want to enter both giveaways, that is absolutely fine!  We are also happy for readers from overseas to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Woofs With..... A Groomer

Today's Woofs With.... interview is with a lady very close to our hearts, Katie Smith, who is an excellent groomer, plus runs the doggy daycare business that I go to!  Katie's website can be found here.  We wanted to ask Katie how she got started as a groomer, and exactly what that entails.  If you have ever thought about pursuing a career in grooming, or are just interested what they do, read on for some in depth insights...

Katie at work in Rascals grooming salon

What inspired you to become a groomer?

I moved to Orlando, Florida with my partner and decided to volunteer in an animal shelter (Orange County Animal Services) as I missed my dog who had recently passed away at home. I loved working there and interacting with the dogs on a daily basis. It had never crossed my mind that I could have a career working with dogs, i thought it was just something I enjoyed doing in my spare time. I later realised that the pet industry was huge and full of opportunities! After attending the Global Pet Expo the April before, I came home full of ideas to open my own pet business.

Tell me about the pets in your life?

As a child I had two pets: a rabbit called Loopy (who became a house rabbit) and a dog called Charlie (a Bichon Frisé). I now have a Tibetan Terrier called Maggie, who I adopted two years ago from a grooming customer. I also know hundreds of other dogs who I love to play with on a daily basis at work.
Katie with Maggie, her Tibetan Terrier

Describe a typical day for us?

A typical day would involve getting up, walking my dog, picking up the daycare dogs and going to the shop. We then walk the daycare dogs, while the other member of staff gets started on the first grooming dog. Throughout the day we bath and hand dry the dogs, brush them through with a slicker brush and then a fine comb (to check for knots) and then we hand scissor them to make them look beautiful!
Throughout the day I also have to take bookings, check the stock for the pet boutique and place orders, check the stock levels for the products for the grooming room, and keep on top of daily cleaning jobs!

How did you get your business up and running?

After returning from America, I went to see a business adviser who advised me to complete a business plan, do a competitor analysis and budget for the project. After I had gathered all this information, I felt more comfortable going ahead with my grooming course (City and Guild Certified Grooming Academy for Professionals). After I completed my course I started renting a small building in the local area at a low rent in order to build but my business and not accrue any debt.

What do you love most about running Rascals?

I love how every day is different, I initially chose to change my career as a marketeer to a dog groomer because I loved dogs, but over time I have seen how rewarding working with animals can be. Every day you either make a dogs life better or more comfortable. You teach them to be well behaved and responsive. I love how creative my job is, I get to experiment all day making dogs look beautiful. And I love the boutique as it enables me to browse one of a kind pet products from small hand made businesses, and offer them to my customers.

And what do you find most difficult?

It is hard but on the rare occasion a dog comes into to see you with their coat in such a poor condition.  This could mean mats, knots, sores, rashes, grass seeds, ticks, fleas. You want to do everything you can for the dog, but you know that in the long term you cannot guarantee that the owner will bring them back before their coat gets into a bad condition again. We try to help the dog as much as we can, and 9 times out of 10 you know the dog leaves feeling much better and happier than when it came in.

What would your top advice be for someone interested in pursuing a career in the pet business?

Do your research, check what competition you have and how you can be different and stand out from the crowd. Be the best qualified person for the job, and get lots of hands on experience. Always do a business plan and budget. There is not much room for error in dog grooming, you're only as good as your last customers reviews, so remember that you have to keep the customers happy, as well as their dog!

Thank you so much Katie for taking out some time from your busy schedule to answer some of our questions.  We hope our readers find it as interesting as we did!