Pet Health Diary – The Importance of the Right Nutrition

There is no question about the importance of the right nutrition, we all know that the right food is a pillar for everything else that follows; it is especially important when it comes to our pets as they aren’t able to make the right choices for themselves.The food, the right food, the healthy food… no matter how much you know about it, there is always something new to learn.

There is no question about the importance of the right nutrition, we all know that the right food is a pillar for everything else that follows; it is especially important when it comes to our pets as they aren’t able to make the right choices for themselves.

I am fairly well educated when it comes to dog… and cat food for that matter… but lately I’ve missed something really obvious…

Just after summer I’ve made a change and started feeding my dogs raw. It’s not a full raw diet, I wish it was but maybe one day in the future we will get it… I’ve replaced the wet portion of my dogs dinner with raw. In addition I put Lilly on new kibbles, which at the time I thought would be a much better choice for her, the ingredients list seemed to be friendlier and it was more in line with the nutritional need for senior pets. All was good until we started to notice that Lilly is putting weight back on. Since last year and our “Nutrition challenge with Pets at Home” she was doing great, she lost all the weight she should lose and she was keeping in great form… well until a few months back.

I couldn’t work out why she was putting weight on, the measurements of the food were right, she wasn’t getting anything on top of what I wanted her to eat, she wasn’t “stealing” food (or at least no more than usual) yet there it was, she was putting weight on…

It was time yet again to seek advice from someone who might have more answers than me. We booked a new dog nutrition consultation at Pets at Home, they helped us last year, so it was a logical step to take…. as it ended up it was the right step… after the initial “interview” about Lilly and her feeding routine, any changes in behaviour, and changes in food, the answer was pretty clear… the new “improved” food I put Lilly on had way too high a fat content when compared to her old one. The solution was simple – find new, low fat food… with the advice of the consultant, we settled on James Wellbeloved Senior Complete Dog Food with Turkey & Rice, which has the lowest fat content and meets all the other requirements we expect from the food.

So you see, sometimes our “good deeds” might not be so good after all. No matter how much we know, there is always something new to learn. No matter how clever we think we are, there is no harm in getting a second opinion from someone with even greater knowledge. I should actually have picked up on the fat content myself but I didn’t 🙂

I am glad Pets at Home offer nutrition consultation and I really can’t recommend it enough. We have used it 4 times already and they were always of great help to us.

Weight check and nutrition consultation at Pets at Home are free of charge and you can book your slot via their website. You will need between 30 minutes to 1 hour of free time and your pet… oh and at the end of it, together with your recommendation you will receive a 25% discount voucher to buy your recommended food… double win, wouldn’t you agree?

Have you ever used a nutrition consultation for your pet?

Who is your “go to” person when it comes to pet nutrition?

Pet Health Diary – Ticks and Fleas

Pet Health Diary - Ticks and FleasOk, so some of you may have spotted that I have had a small break with my Pet Health Diary series but you will be pleased to note I am back. Despite the fact that I haven’t written a new part for the series for a while… well 2 months to be exactly… trust me when I say I would not neglect my pets in reality and skip their monthly health check, you have to believe me. Time to write about it later however is far less certain.

According to the plan we should talk about skin, coat and nails in this post but instead I have decided to cover ticks and fleas… again. I am saying again as last year I posted a detailed post about these creatures – All you need to know about Ticks and Fleas. This post covers a lot of information and underlined the main difference between ticks and fleas.

Today’s post was actually prompted by our recent trip to Europe.

I have to admit I have never had any serious tick problems whilst being in the UK despite regular trips to our local woodlands and of course countless fields and ponds but once we hit Europe it was a different story… within days I started to notice ticks on both Lilly and Bunk… they were ever so small… first time I notice one it was on Bunks head, the tick was tiny yet we attempted to remove it… the next day we called at the local vet. As we use FRONTLINE® Spot On regularly I was surprised to see any ticks at all… the vet set us straight. First of all the vet was very surprised that we only found few ticks as apparently there are 1000s of them around and hardly any prevention works; she also told us that if our dogs are protected we should simple leave the ticks alone as they will die. Well, as hard as it was for me to accept this new information we decided to bow down to her expert opinion and listen. Of course she was right, it worked as intended as next ticks I found where all dead and dry – just like this:

Pet Health Diary – Ticks and FleasTicks can be extremely dangerous, they can cause irritation, lead to an abscess and transmit diseases such as Lyme disease. Part of being a responsible pet owner is our duty to care for our furry babies, so don’t ignore the flea and ticks problem, protect your pet. Using FRONTLINE® Spot On on a regular basis will ensure that your dog or cat is cared for and will significant reduce any chances of them becoming more seriously ill through complications.

Using FRONTLINE® Spot On  is easy but if you have never used it, you might want to watch this video:

I am working with FRONTLINE® Spot On to spread the word about the necessity of tick and flea protection for pets but I wasn’t paid to write this post; I have however been using FRONTLINE® Spot On on all our pets for several years, way before I even started blogging and I truly believe that this is the best protection I can offer for all my furry friends.

Have you ever experienced a flea or tick infestation?

What do you use as a preventive measure?

Pet Health Diary – Worming

Pet Health Diary – Worming VeloxAA new month can only mean one thing, yes a new chapter on pet health. I am supposed to write this month’s post about skin, coat and nails but instead I have decided to talk about the importance of worming; it kind of ties together with my previous posts about body mass.

We all know about worming but what a lot of people simply don’t understand is why we should worm our pets. It might sound like a bold statement but I have talked to many dog owners and hardly anyone understands the need of worming.

So should you or shouldn’t you worm your pets?

Of course you should.

Even a healthy looking, well cared for pet can get infected with worms.

There are many different ways for your pet to get infected: from an infected nursing mother (this is why puppies have to be wormed more often than adult dogs), through contaminated drinking water or contact with infected animals or their faeces, by eating infected meat (aka road kill) or accidently swallowing an infected flea (yes, fleas can carry worms too this is why it is extremely important to regularly use a flea preventing treatment like Frontline).

There are two main types of worm that can affect dogs: roundworms and tapeworms.

Roundworm is the most common worm and most puppies are born with it. This is also the one that can easily pass to humans. They look like strands of spaghetti and can reach up to 20cm in length.

Tapeworms have distinctive, flat segments and are found in the dog’s intestines. They can cause irritation around the anal region causing dogs to ‘scoot’ along the ground. Tapeworm eggs need to be eaten by an intermediate host, such as a flea, and when a dog swallows the host he becomes infected. Tapeworm can pose a risk to humans too.

In addition to these two specimens pets can also get infected with hookworm or whipworm as well as heartworms or ringworms (this actually isn’t a worm but a fungus which effects the skin).

All worms cause health risks, not only to your dog, but to other dogs, cats and pets in general and to people too — this is why it is so important to worm your dog regularly.

Main symptoms of your pet being infected by worms include:

  • Worms in faeces or vomit
  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Bottom scooting
  • Hunger
  • Flaky skin and dull looking coat

When untreated this can cause breathing difficulties, recurring infections as well as general weakness and swelling of limbs.

When it comes to worms it is much easier to prevent them than end up combating the worms later on. Worming is easy, pain free and in most cases hassle free for both you and your pet.

It is recommended to treat adult dogs every three months. The frequency may have to be amended if your dog “hunts” a lot or meets a lot of “shady” characters on your daily walks 😉

There are a lot of worming tablets on the market. Pick one from a recommended source, which will match your dog requirements and when in doubt consult your vet. Try to buy them from the vet or a pet store and avoid auction sites. (Don’t get me wrong I love eBay, Gumtree etc but when it comes to meds I would rather be on the safe side than saving a few pennies).

We used to use Drontal but lately I was introduced to VeloxA. Drontal XL are great but having a giant breed means I need two large pills and “serving” tablets to pets isn’t always an easy and straightforward job. VeloxA resolved this problem by offering chewable and flavoured tablets. Now worming couldn’t be easier! They literally eat it out of your hand.

Was your pet ever infected by worms?

Do you worm your pet regularly?

Pet Health Diary – Body Mass

Pet Health Diary – Body Mass

Well it is the start of the month again so pups in a line and health check time. Whilst checking Lilly’s backbone and ribs for coverage it occurred to me that although I have resolved her problem that it still exists for many people around. In case you’re unsure what I am referring to let me be clear….

Pet obesity is a huge problem and not only in this country. It may be hard to admit but we are actually killing our pets with kindness.

One treat here, one treat there seems innocent enough at the time but all that extra food adds up and the result it’s making our pets fat!

I am not saying that treats are bad, far from it, but we should take them into consideration when planning the daily meal for our pets.

Do you remember our 30 Day Pet Nutrition Challenge with Pets at Home? During our initial consultation I was given a detailed round up on how much food reduction I should practice to make room for all the additional bits and pieces I feed to my dogs. As it ended up I had to reduce their kibble intake by 1/3 – that’s a big cut down from the general recommendations but it paid off. I am sticking to what I was told and three months down the line our Lilly still keeps her ideal weight; she is no longer overweight; she has much more energy and generally seems to be happier.

Keeping our dogs slim is very important. Overweight dogs have a much greater risk of health issues including arthritis or heart problems and their life span is greatly reduced.

It is really important to stay on top of any weight problem when it comes to our pets. A friend of mine has a lovely Beagle type girl called Hopey; she is really sweet little thing but she is huge… when I met her for the first time I honestly thought she was pregnant and about to have a litter. I was wrong. She is simply obese and the owner doesn’t seem to see it as a big problem… 3kg overweight is not a big deal in his opinion… in my opinion yes it is! When you consider that at her ideal weight she should weigh around 10kg, an additional 3kg is a huuuuge deal; that’s an additional 30% of mass. Can you imagine a human with an additional 30% of his or hers body mass. Just a few kilos might sound innocent (if we discount the significant increase to medical issues) when we think about humans as we tend to start off with a large mass. This doesn’t apply to dogs as they start off with such a small mass so it is not innocent when it comes to dogs.

If you are a pet owner please make sure that you check your dogs or cats weight at least once a month. This is really important. Look at this body condition tool on the Purina website, visit your vet if you are in doubt or book yourself a nutrition visit at Pets at Home.

And as we are talking about monthly health routine don’t forget to check everything else we covered last month; don’t forget to Frontline and de-worm your dogs. By the way very recently I’ve came across some new worming tablets for dogs – Veloxa, which is a tasty beef flavoured chewable tablet so no need to hide it in food in order to persuade your dog to eat it 🙂 This should make things easier for most of us. Has anyone used it?

How is your dogs’ weight?

Is it increasing, declining or stable?

Are they at risk of falling into the category of being overweight?

Pet Health Diary – Monthly Check-Up

Pet Health Diary – Monthly Check-Up

First of every month marks my monthly pet check-up. Why the first you might ask? Well, it is easy for me to remember. I do my monthly invoices on the first, I pay my credit card bill, the month changes and it is one of those tasks I always do on the first of each month.

All pet owners know that even a low maintenance pets need some care. When it comes to cats and dog they need much more attention than a fish or a turtle for example. There is quite a lot of things which need monitoring and checking up on, on a regular basis.

I have a list (kept safe in my head) which I run through during my monthly pet check-up.

Body mass

This is related mainly to Lilly. She has a weight problem, so my monthly check-up on how she is doing is a must. There is a great body condition tool on the Purina website, which can be a tremendous help for any dog owner.

Skin, coat and nails

This one is especially important for Bunk. He gets hot spots and despite petting him daily sometimes they get missed. A full body check-over of the skin is a necessity for me. This also applies to our cats. They aren’t happy with the check-ups but I simply need to know if they are all ok.
As for nails – I don’t trim nails myself but I monitor them monthly and take the dogs to the groomer or vet if needed.
This is also the best time for some preventing treatments. I treat all my pets with Frontline in order to keep them tick and flea free. The treatment is easy and as long as you have the correct product from your vet, you can easily do it at home. You can read more about fleas and ticks here.

Ears

The first of the month is also the time when my dogs get their ears cleaned. No matter if they are dirty (they shouldn’t be) or not, they get cleaned. Keeping your dogs ears clean is very important as an untreated infection can lead to a hearing loss 🙁

Eyes

I buy an eye cleaner for my dogs. In most cases it is used if / when needed. Bunk is a very messy pup and from time to time things get into his eyes, things like his dinner for example. Then he rubs his eyes with his paw, making the irritation even worst. A few drops of eye cleaner and a cotton wool pad and done, shiny healthy eyes.

Mouth

Smelly breath isn’t nice. We have a no kisses policy anyway as standard behaviour in the house but as bad breath can suggest something more serious is going on with your pets health I like to check if their breath is still acceptable. At the same time I have an opportunity to check their teeth and gums; this is how I know that Lilly needs a trip to the vet dentist for some fang cleaning.

This is our standard monthly routine. Every three months I am adding some worming tablets to the mix just to keep things on the safe side.

Do you perform any health check-ups on your pets?