Winter Health Tips for Pets

* by Lannie 

Cold weather is notoriously bad for health. The winter months bring cold and flu season, and the lack of sunshine and fresh air can make even the happiest person a little depressed. Believe it or not, the same is true for pets. Dogs and cats have their own set of struggles through the coldest months of the year. Here are some tips to help keep your furry friends comfy, cozy and cold-free!

Get a Checkup

Your pet needs regular health checkups to make sure everything’s in tip-top shape. It’s best to schedule these checkups as the weather changes so your vet can give you the best wellness plan for the upcoming season.

Make Sure Your Pet Is Warm

Pets feel cold just like people do. While it’s true that they have a built-in fur coat, that doesn’t mean it’s safe to leave pets outdoors for extended periods of time during chilly weather. If you have outdoor pets, make sure they have a nice warm place to snuggle up during cold weather. If possible, the best advice is to keep pets indoors during winter (with frequent outdoor breaks for exercise and potty time, of course). If your pet is older, seems frail, or is otherwise more susceptible to the cold, you might consider adding a sweater to keep the cold at bay.

Don’t Shave Your Pet

Your pet’s coat of fur is there for a reason. In the wintertime, it helps keep Fido or Fluffy nice and warm. As the weather gets colder, you can keep up the grooming, but make sure you skip any shaving or clipping of your pet’s winter coat. Your animal will need it very soon. Again, if your pet has short hair, consider adding a sweater to protect against the cold.

Keep an Exercise Routine

Because they’re spending so much more time indoors, it’s imperative that you maintain a regular exercise routine for your pets. This could be as simple as a few walks per day, but you could also consider playing Frisbee or fetch with your dog so you both get some good exercise. Cats are harder to play with, but they usually love traipsing around the yard for a half hour or so – just make sure you bring them in when they get cold.

Stay on Top of the Meds

As the winter months roll in, it may be tempting to skip some of your pet’s medication, especially preventive ones like flea and tick medication. While you may see fewer bugs in the winter, fleas, ticks, and heartworms are still a problem. If you’ve experienced fleas in the summer, you’ll definitely want to keep up with the medication now; studies show year-round prevention is the best method to eradicate these pesky bugs for good. Try giving your pets chewable tablets, like Trifexis which is the perfect trifecta of parasite prevention for dogs.

Check the Heat in Your Home

There are lots of good reasons to get a heat inspection for your home each year. For one, it can help prevent huge repair bills down the road, but it can also keep your whole family safe. If you have a gas furnace, you’ll want a yearly inspection to check for carbon monoxide leaks and other issues. You should also change your filters at the start of every season (and at least once a month) to keep allergens and bacteria away.

Finally, remember to watch your pet around other heat sources, like your fireplace and space heaters. Pets will often flock to these areas, looking for warmth. It’s easy for a pet to get too near a fire or accidentally knock over a heater, so make sure you provide constant supervision when using these sources of heat.

 

**Lannie is a writer for Allivet. Allivet provides affordable pet supplies and pet medications, all of which can be purchased online.

12+ Homemade Edible Christmas Gifts

The festive season is almost upon us so why not make it even more special by making your own edible gifts to share with loved ones? Special chocolates, biscuits or even a hot sauce… everyone can find something they like.

With Christmas comes the yearly dilemma of what to buy for that special someone who is simply an impossible person to shop for. Their odd taste or the fact that they have everything they need makes this job a really hard one, so why not try something new this year? Instead of yet another reindeer tie or a gift box full of fragrant soaps why not try a homemade edible gift.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
Mother Teresa

Edible gifts can be a statement of love. Pick what the person likes and build on it. Sweet or savoury, soft or crunchy… the choices are endless but I am sure there is that little something which will put a smile on anyone’s face. Once you have made your choice as to the gift itself, think about a nice presentation – a festive box or maybe a nice ribbon and of course the name card. Finally pick a reliable courier company to deliver your creation. With all the festive work overload you need to pick a company you can trust to deliver your gift in one piece and most importantly who can deliver it on time. We speak from experience, last year in the middle of December my Mum decided to send us a last minute gift… according to the nice lady at the local courier company, who took the parcel and a lot of money, “It will be delivered within 3 days, maybe five at most as it December…” we finally received it in the middle of January after the non-delivery claim was already filed…

“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.”
Ben Carson

But back to gifts now.

I’ve put together a selection of edible Christmas gifts which should cater for any taste. Some have a short use by date, others will last for months; some are sweet, others savoury or spicy; some are pure indulgence whilst others fall into the diet friendly category… I hope this round up will give you the answer you were looking for or at the very least spark an idea for what is perfect.

Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares

Candied PecansCashew Chocolate Spread

Cheddar Cheese CoinsChocolate Cranberry Amaretti CookiesCitrus Salts

Coconut and Almond TrufflesCranberry Crunch Dark Chocolate Truffles

Gingerbread Glazed AlmondsHot Chocolate Mix

Hot SauceMaple GranolaSmoked Chocolate Christmas Bark

Swiss Jam Sandwich Cookies

So, what do you think?

Any chance you will be making any of these edible gifts this year?

I know I will.

 

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings

Crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings Crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.When you type into Google “jerk chicken” you will get hit with thousands of different recipes, they all vary yet they will all have something in common – allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers. Our version of this popular dish is yet another twist developed to bring back memories of summer and holidays. Did you know that Barbados is one of the hottest December holiday destinations?  Wouldn’t it be lovely to chill on the beach right now, listen to some reggae music, sip tasty cocktails and eat delicious food? Indeed it would. But if you are like us, surrounded by grey clouds and almost freezing temperatures then you can at least get the taste of that wonderful experience right here at home by creating some delicious food. Nothing stopping you adding the music and cocktails as well if you’re so inclined!

Our recipe offers a mix of sweet and spice, moist and crispy with a smoky underlining. I call for an overnight marinating but the longer you leave it, the more intense the flavour, so if you plan well in advance you can marinate your chicken for up to 24h.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings Crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.

Serves: 4 as a starter or 2 as a main

Total Time: 24h

Active cooking time: 20min

 

Ingredients:

  • 1kg chicken wings / 12 wings
  • 75ml red wine vinegar
  • 25ml fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 4tbsp raw organic honey
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 3cm piece of fresh ginger; finely chopped
  • 2 hot red chillies; finely chopped, seeds included
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1tsp ground allspice
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 6 spring onions (green part only); finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh coriander; finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh thyme; leaves only

Method:

In a bowl mix the vinegar, olive oil, orange juice and honey; stir well until all ingredients are well combined.

Add the ginger, chillies, thyme leaves, spring onion, coriander plus all the spices stated above (paprika, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and pepper) and mix well.

Pour over the chicken wings, turning them over several times so that they are well coated.

Leave to marinate overnight in the fridge, ideally tossing them over a few times.

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings Crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.

When ready to cook simply barbeque the wings, turning them over every few minutes until cooked through; until the juices at the thickest point will run clear. It should take 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings - crispy, both sweet and spicy and full of flavours – the perfect recipe to bring back memories of hot summer days.

 

*Recipe commissioned by Thomas Cook Airlines

Three Hot Meals to Warm That Winter Cold

When you’re down in the dumps, the thought of cooking anything at all can be a daunting prospect. Believe it or not, however, a warm meal will do wonders when compared to dry cereal from the box or leftovers from last night’s takeout. Whether it’s man-flu, a head cold, or a bunged-up nose that plagues your daylight hours, these quick and easy recipes can help you get back on your feet before you know it. So, put away that box of tissues and get out the spatula – we’re cooking away our colds this winter.

Chicken Soup – The Humble Classic

It’s hearty. It’s delicious. It’s the sick man’s go-to meal. Chicken soup can heat you right through to the bone and, whether you’re making it from scratch or warming up a tin, it’s packed with great benefits to bolster the immune system and clear out that cold. The broth steams your nose for clearance, provides much-needed hydration to the body, and soothes even the scratchiest of throats on its way down to a hungry tum. High levels of protein mean chicken soup is great fuel for your system to grow and repair, and a base of noodles provides a yummy foundation for the meal to work on. Any added veg – common ingredients include carrots, onions, and celery – means an additional punch of vitamin and mineral goodness, which is always welcome. Remember to serve with a side of buttered bread, if only to mop up the delicious end result with gusto.

Bolognese – Homemade, Simple and Filling

Spag Bol – pasta, mince, carrots, and onion. Everything you need to make it through the winter in one piece – if eaten in moderation. This hardy recipe is a childhood nostalgia trip for many and can be a great comfort food option when energy is low and hunger is high. It’s simple, really. Follow a recipe if unsure, such as this one from BBC Good Food – otherwise, work from memory. On the one hand, you have your starchy, fork-wrapping pasta noodles and, on the other, a meaty, homemade sauce primed and ready to fill you up. This meal ticks all the food group boxes you could wish for and provides your body with everything it needs to get right as rain again. Serve spaghetti bolognese as artistically (or messily) as you like on a big plate, grate over parmesan cheese, and then get yourself stuck in. Keep any leftovers in the fridge for later and enjoy the fruits of a short thirty-minute labour at the stove. Dig out Grandma’s old cookbook for some old-time tips or, for a more modern take, Deliveroo has tips from restaurant chefs if you feel your end result is lacking.

Oatmeal – Crunchy, Fruity, Delicious

It doesn’t get any simpler than this. A stovetop breakfast; oats, milk, water and fruit. Optional toppings of sugar and cinnamon can add a dash of flavour and variable bowl sizes are available. Homemade oatmeal will take all of 5 minutes to prepare and you’ll be thanking yourself for it all day thereafter. Slow-burn carbs to keep you going and a selection of your favourite chopped fruit to keep Vitamin C levels high – which is vital! Soothe your throat, please your appetite, and push through that cold.

So there we have it. Three cold-busting recipes to get you back in shape. Mix and match, alternate, and be sure to vary your diet as much as your appetite will allow for the best results.

* Creamy Chicken Soup picture courtesy of Myra from Delicious On a Dime

Rich Chocolate and Pear Cake

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!

This recipe came to be as an experiment after trying a simple apple and walnut cake at my friend’s house a few weeks back. The cake was perfect but as we have 100s of pears from our tree at this moment I wanted to create a pear version of it. Simple swapping the apples for pears and losing the nuts wasn’t going to cut it as the pears are so juicy, so I baked and baked until I achieved the perfect chocolate and pear cake, which is quick and super easy to make.

The cake is very chocolaty and indulgent. I used both dark chocolate and raw unsweetened cocoa powder. The taste of your cake will depend on the quality of these two ingredients, so please have it in mind whilst out shopping. I have found through my baking that some cakes are much more forgiving about swaps than others are. I tried to bake it with drinking chocolate instead of the raw cocoa but it simply doesn’t work, you can taste that something is off… also, I found using milk chocolate instead of a dark one is also a no go… the cake really becomes way too sweet.

Total time: 1h

Baking time: 35min

Serves: arguably 9 large portions

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!

Ingredients:

  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 3 medium-size ripe pears
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tbsp raw unsweetened cocoa
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Line with baking paper one 8”x8” brownie baking tray.

In a small saucepan over very low heat melt the butter. Once melted add the chocolate and stir making sure it is totally melted and combined then set aside to cool.

Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; add a pinch of salt and mix well.

Wash, peel, core and then chop the pears into 1cm x 1cm cubes, then pop them into the bowl of dry ingredients mix and gently stir so that all the pear pieces are coated evenly.

In another small bowl beat the eggs; then add the vanilla essence and beat some more. Add this mixture to the cooled down butter and chocolate mixture and stir well until fully combined.

Finally, add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and with a silicone spatula gently mix until everything is combined and forms an even mass. You are after the texture of your cake being similar to a cookie dough – firm and pliable.

Move your mixture into the earlier prepared baking tray and again using a silicon spatula spread out the mix till it is even and flat then pop into the oven.

Bake at 180C for around 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tray to cool completely.

Enjoy!

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!

The perfect fusion between a brownie and a cake – crisp, crumbly outside meets moist, yet fudgy and gooey middle; deep rich chocolate meets sweet aromatic pear… a match made in heaven!