Keeping your pets healthy and safe over Easter

Easter is always a lovely break to welcome spring and enjoy some extra time with our family (four-legged members included!). But as with lots of holiday celebrations, the traditions involved can be hazardous for pets, so make sure you have a hassle free, happy holiday period by being aware of these and keeping your cats and dogs away from any dangers. If at any point you suspect your pet might have consumed any of the following, then you should always contact your vet immediately for advice.

Spring flowers

Spring brings with it lots of seasonal blooms that add a pop of colour and fragrant smells around the house, but some aren’t so friendly when it comes to your cat! A popular Easter flower, lilies are one of the biggest potential dangers for felines and can be highly toxic on contact or ingestion of any part of the plant (leaf, pollen, and petals). Lily poisoning can be fatal for cats due to kidney failure. Lily pollen deposited on cats’ coats as they brush past the flowers may subsequently become ingested when they groom themselves, resulting in poisoning. This risk of lily poisoning can be reduced by removing the pollen producing anthers from the stalk of the stamen using a vacuum cleaner with a nozzle attachment. For cat owners, lilies are probably one to stay clear of altogether if possible, or in any situations where this can’t be avoided make sure your cat is kept in a different room so they’re not tempted by their inviting appearance.

Daffodils are another flower widely associated with Easter that can also be poisonous for pets as they contain lycorine, an alkaloid with strong emetic properties that can trigger vomiting. It’s therefore best to be cautious with most flowers when it comes to your pet, and in particular any with a strong tendency to shed pollen.

Decorations and wrapping

We all know cats love anything string related, which can mean gift wrapping and ribbons are an all too tempting hazard for our feline friends. Be careful not to leave these sorts of objects lying around or within easy reach of curious paws. Easter seasonal decorations can include the artificial colourful grass often used to decorate baskets. As cats instinctively eat grass to help them regurgitate undigested material in their stomach, this artificial version can appear like the real thing to cats; however, its string like consistency means it can become trapped in their intestines and cause a blockage. Again, the best solution is prevention, so ensure any artificial plants are kept out of sight of your pet.

Edible treats

We all know by now the dangers of chocolate for pets, and most of the holidays mean plentiful amounts given as gifts. Easter is probably the time most associated with the sweet treat with various eggs available in all shapes, sizes and flavours of chocolate. But human chocolate is not suitable for cats or dogs, so it may seem like a nice gesture but you should always resist the temptation to treat pets with even just a small amount. Due to its high cocoa content, dark chocolate in particular is the most dangerous and can be fatal if ingested, with visible symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea. If you have kids who are lucky enough to have lots of Easter eggs to munch their way through, then make sure they don’t leave any unfinished pieces lying around for sneaky paws to get hold of. It’s a good idea to make sure your pet doesn’t feel left out by getting them some dog friendly chocolate treats to enjoy over Easter instead, that way they don’t have to miss out on all the fun!

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Tips for taking your pet along on a trip this Easter

The Easter holidays are a great time to get away with the family and spend some quality time together, and more and more dog owners are choosing to include their pets by taking them along on trips too. With lots of companies offering dog-friendly breaks and accommodation, it’s becoming easier than ever to arrange holidays with pets, meaning your furry friend doesn’t miss out on the fun and saving you the worry, hassle and expense that kennels can bring!

Accommodation

It’s important to research where to stay properly to make sure it’s going to be suitable and enjoyable for you and your pet, bearing in mind their age and necessary comfort levels. There are lots of great websites designed to help you achieve this. Once you know where you’ll be staying, planning ahead as much as possible will make your holiday more stress free for everyone. It’s a good idea to check out what’s nearby – any local walks, tourist spots or pubs to see which are dog-friendly for you to plan into your activities. With any trip that involves your dog being away from home, you should locate the nearest vet to your accommodation and have an idea of directions to there in case of any emergencies. Likewise, it’s advisable to have their medical information with you should it be required.

Packing

Holidays mean a change of scenery for your dog, and lots of different environmental factors for them to adjust to, so where you can keep other parts of their routine just as normal. This means taking their usual food and enough for the duration of your whole stay; it’s not always easy to find the exact same type somewhere new and an upset pet tummy is this last thing you want when away! Dry food can be packed in individual bags for daily portions to save you time for other activities together. If your dog has a favourite blanket or toy then be sure to take this along to provide a sense of familiar comfort in an unfamiliar environment. Choose a good variety of toys to pack, so you have some to keep your furry pal occupied, such as treat-dispensing toys, and also some for playing outside together for that all-important holiday bonding. Our Busy Buddy® range has a great selection ideal for this. Whenever away, you should respect the area and locals just as you would back home which means taking plenty of poop bags for the trip to make sure you’re not caught out empty-handed!

Travelling

Before long car journeys with your pet, it’s a good idea to take your dog with you on short trips to gradually get them used to journeys and help you both become familiar with driving together. You should be sure to place your dog in a secure rear area for safety so they can’t distract the driver or disrupt passengers. Always use a harness for restraining them and not their collar, as this could result in injury to their neck if there was a sudden jerk due to firm breaking or an accident. Never allow your dog to have its head out of the window while you’re driving as this can pose a number of dangers; however dogs do like fresh air during journeys so cracking the window a little or using the air con can help. Don’t feed them during the journey, instead take regular stops for a chance to give them a small snack and some water. Breaks should also be used to encourage movement by playing or taking them for a quick walk to release pent-up energy and let them go to the toilet.  For in the car, chew toys are good to help occupy your dog and keep their mind off how long it is until you get there!

Doing thorough planning for a trip and making sure you’re prepared and have all the essentials should mean taking your dog along for half term holidays is simply an added bonus of having your furbaby there with you when making holiday memories.

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Can you help train your dog to be more affectionate?

Lots of people get a puppy with the vision of a little fluff ball that constantly follows you around; a furry best pal to be on hand for 24/7 cuddles. For some, the reality can be different to these expectations. This is simply because, just like us, all dogs are different which means each and every one varies in personality and tendency towards physical affection. If your dog is the more independent type, and you crave some extra four-legged love, then there are ways that you can help to encourage your dog to be more affectionate towards you. This is best achieved by working to strengthen the bond between you as this is at the heart of all aspects of your everyday relationship.

Dogs are eager to please their owners, so by leading them into affectionate behaviour and then making it clear that their affectionate behaviour makes you happy your are creating a positive association with such actions which means they are likely to repeat such behaviour. Any training is a great way of improving the bond between you and your dog. For puppies especially, training together and using positive reinforcement from early on can have a significant impact on shaping how they act towards you, therefore it is a good way to establish affectionate behaviour from the beginning. Just as you would use food treats in reward-based training to teach your dog to respond to commands, you can use your own affection to praise physical acts of love.

Trust is vital for a strong and healthy bond between dog and owner, and will affect how they behave towards you. Being trustworthy in dogs’ eyes is achieved through meeting all of their basic needs such as regular food, water and exercise, a safe and comfortable environment, and plenty of care and attention. Make it clear that you are there for your pet and will be no matter what, and they will learn to feel content and secure in your ownership. This in itself will help your dog to be more loving and also leaves you with the knowledge you’re doing everything required to be a good and responsible owner.

It works both ways, so if you want your dog to be eager to shower you with affection then be sure to do the same in return. This means making a point to have regular one-on-one time where they have your full attention; interactive play, grooming such as brushing, or simply relaxed, quiet time together are ideal for this. Be physical – we’re all guilty of talking to our dogs and rightly so as this is important for showing that you’re directing attention to them only. Likewise, it’s good to make yourself on the same physical level as your pet often for some more equal face time. Just remember, the more loving and affectionate you are, the more attentive and affectionate your pet will be!

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