Are you living with a Pet Hero?

This year, we’re running a UK nationwide search to find an extra special dog or cat to take the title of our PetSafe® Pet Hero 2015. Perhaps you have a super dog or courageous cat, or simply a pet that’s there for you no matter what; we want to hear your stories and how your furry friend has made a difference to your life.

We’re pleased to say the campaign has now officially been launched and will be rolled out regionally, starting with the North West, running until the end of November this year.* We think such amazing pets deserve to be rewarded, so a huge prize pack including a year’s worth of pet toys and a pet friendly holiday worth £500, courtesy of Sykes Cottages, is up for grabs for the national winner! That’s not all as there’ll also be a £250 goody bag for our four lucky regional winners too.

We want to celebrate pet heroes from all walks of life – from service animals, therapy and assistance pets, to simply a much loved pet that’s brought joy in to your life – there’s no deed too big or small to qualify as a Pet Hero.

To kick-start our search, we discovered the inspirational story of Lucie from Chorley, Lancashire, who was trained by Support Dogs, a national charity dedicated to increasing independence and quality of life for people affected by various disabilities. Her owner Alice’s son Alex was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and getting Lucie has made a real impact to their everyday family life: “Alex and Lucie’s first hour together was simply magical. He engaged with her immediately and deep down I knew something special was taking place. She is more than a dog to us; she is the key to a better life.”

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So if you, or a friend or family member, think your pet deserves the chance to be recognised as one of our chosen Pet Heroes then all you have to do is simply send us your pet’s name, along with a photo and brief description of what makes them special to you to: PetSafe® Pet Hero, Hattrick PR 6a Framingham Road, Sale, Cheshire, M33 3SH, Tel: 0161 660 0993. Full details of how to enter can also be found here, along with more of our incredible Pet Hero feature stories.

*The deadline for entries is 20th November 2015 (North West entries 15th May 2015) and the national final will be held on 3rd December 2015.

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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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