Friday, 28 July 2017

Pet Food Storage And Serving Tips For Cat And Dog Owners

Many of us are much more informed and interested in our pet's dietary needs these days and I'm often asked for tips regarding pet food storage. Below are some good practices that will help pet owners keep their pet's food and water in a good condition.

Make sure that your pet's dry food is sealed after opening.  

Exposing food to air leaves it vulnerable to airborne bacteria such as Salmonella and also leads to rapid degradation of the food itself.

A good tip is to store kibble in its original packaging in a food safe air-tight container which ensures a lower risk of your pet's food degrading. Another good reason to keep the kibble in its original packing is in the unlikely event of a recall you have the batch number available.

Be mindful of how long your pet's food is left out at feeding time.

Although many dry foods are mixed with natural and artificial preservatives to delay degradation, if the food becomes damp there can be an increased risk of degradation and exposure to airborne contaminants. 

A regular feeding time with a planned exposure time can decrease this risk.Wet food should be left out no longer than four hours when the temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and above. The unused food should be sealed and placed in a refrigerator.

Which type of bowl should I use?

As a rule, the 'harder' the bowl that you use the safer it is. Plastic bowls can get scratched and harbour germs more easily than ceramic ones. I personally advocate using stainless steel bowls when feeding and watering cats and dogs as ceramic ones can crack and go on to harbour bacteria that can be dangerous to pets.

How often should bowls be cleaned?

Unless there is a more obvious reason to clean a bowl, daily washing of food bowls in hot soapy water and a weekly disinfect with a bleach solution followed by thorough rinsing and drying is a good routine.

Water bowls washed every couple of days in hot soapy water unless containing an obvious contaminate such as food or insects is quite adequate. Weekly disinfecting followed by a thorough rinse and dry as above is a good idea.

Don't overlook the simple act of washing your hands before and after feeding a pet to minimise cross-infection.

You may be surprised to learn that soap and those inexpensive antibacterial hand sanitizers that seem to be sold everywhere are designed to kill only mild to moderate bacteria that live on the surface of our skin. Sanitizers like this are only effective for a short period and do not target the more major bacteria and viruses that can exist within our bodies therefore it's a great idea to wash your hands literally just before and just after feeding pets.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

An Interesting Way To Assess Your Dog's Personality

Many dog owners that I meet often enthuse as to why they like or chose a particular breed and the words temperament and personality are very commonly used terms when describing their choices.

Whilst it is certainly true that dogs do have breed-related qualities that can contribute to their personalities, I just wanted to highlight a factor that often strongly influences a dog's personality - the owner!

As with people, the full potential of a dog's character and personality can only truly be judged when the dog is provided with the right environment and conditions that actually match their real personality.

Fearful, stressed and aggressive dogs are nearly always created and often mask the true personality of the dog involved.

A good owner will choose an appropriate dog for their lifestyle and educate themselves about their particular dog as well as the dog's breed.

The first part of the word personality is personal which literally means pertaining to that particular person, or in the context of this post, particular dog.

An interesting tool was developed by the Department of Psychology at The University of Texas. It gives owners, who give honest answer, an objective view of their dog's personality traits. You can try it out here

The Dog Solution

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Own A Cat? You Could Be Luckier Than You Think!

The most enjoyable part of writing about cats and dogs is being able to promote the positive aspects of pet ownership. It saddens me greatly to read about animal abuse and I often think how lucky we are that our pets offer us a never changing face in an ever changing world.

Much has been written about 'man's best friend' and to redress the balance I thought I might share with you some of the less commonly heard of benefits of owning a cat.

Lucky in love

A UK survey asking women about potential partners showed that although both cat and dog owners scored highly in the desirability stakes a huge 90% of ladies polled said that men who own cats are 'nicer'.

Environmentally friendly compared to dogs

The more environmentally aware amongst you may be interested to know that a study in 2009 highlighted that the resources needed to feed a cat over its lifetime left a significantly lower carbon footprint than that of our canine friends. Interestingly,over a lifetime, dogs were described as creating the same carbon footprint as a Land Cruiser and our feline friends created the same carbon footprint as a small hatchback car.

Keeping us healthy

A study showed that cat owners, over a 10 year period were 30% less likely to die of a heart attack or a stroke than people that didn't own a cat.

In 2002 a study was released by NIH in Maryland, USA that showed that children under a year old that were exposed to a cat were not only less likely to develop pet allergies but also a host of other allergies such as dust mites and grass.

So there we have it, our feline friends are not just cats, they're love-bringing, environmentally-friendly little creatures that are good for our health!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Number One Reason That Dogs Pull On The Lead/Leash.

One of the most common queries I have received when talking to dog owners is "How do I stop my dog from pulling me on a walk?"

I have found with our canine friends that a good step in dealing with any behavioural issue is to understand why it is happening before trying to solve the problem.

The number one reason why your dog is pulling is less technical than many owners realise. If we replace 'He/she is difficult to walk!' with 'He/she is excited and full of pent up energy', then the answer may become more apparent. Stick with me on this one.......

When we walk our dogs we are giving them exercise at our pace. Our pace may suit the little dog or more senior dog but with a significant amount of dogs is simply not enough. Add to that the pure excitement of getting outside into  a world full of sights and smells that dogs love and you have the ingredients for a lively encounter!

Simply put, walking on a lead is not exercise for all dogs all of the time. Walking for all dogs is great for their mental well-being. So what do we do about the majority of the more lively hounds that really aren't misbehaving but are simply more excited or under-exercised.

Having given you the reason why some of our four-legged friends pull the answer lies with the dog and the owner.

Some dogs will pull less on a walk if they are exercised pre-walk. Maybe throw a stick in the garden/yard and potentially feel the benefits of a dog that is calmer, less pent-up and more amenable to walking at our pace.

Some dogs show improvement with a little impulse control training. Teaching a dog to perform functions such as sit and wait are great ways to give a dog a little self control and this method is often used on dogs that run and jump at visitors or at the sound of a doorbell.

My preferred method when I ran a dog-walking business when dealing with a livelier dog was to use a comfortable dog-friendly training collar. There are some great training collars out there that are very well designed, kind to dogs and extremely effective in encouraging a dog to walk well on a lead.

In the majority of cases my advice to owners with a dog that pulls is to first understand the reason he/she is pulling and use a comfortable and well-constructed training collar to overcome the walking difficulties. This may be all an owner needs to do and if not a little impulse control training and pre-walk exercise can be added to aid the walking routine.

A little understanding of and working with 'mans best friend' helps both owner and dog and promotes the view that I've always held...there are less 'difficult' dogs than some people believe but sadly more misunderstood ones.

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Saturday, 1 July 2017

A Quirky Food Factor That May Interest Cat Owners....

I often read that cats can be finicky eaters and whilst this may be true of some of our feline friends anybody who has spent time observing the feeding habits of feral cats may beg to differ.

Cats left to their own devices are known to scavenge and live on a less regal diet than their more spoilt family-owned cousins but you may be surprised to know that a study has shown that cats actually have an in-built sense of the nutritional value of the food they eat.

A study conducted at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition threw up some interesting findings that concluded that although cats are initially drawn to food by its aroma and flavour they tended to consume the more nutritional foods if the option was available.

Fish was shown to be the subject cats favourite flavour but believe it or not the cats gravitated toward consuming the more nutritional food regardless of flavour.

Interestingly Orange flavoured food was a popular choice for the cats in the study because of it's nutritional composition.

Should you be changing your cat's diet? Well no, many commercial cat foods today are composed with the nutritional content catered for but there is some great advice on what to consider when feeding your cat on at the bottom of a well written summary article of the pet nutrition study mentioned above here