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!