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Pet Center

Advice and Information on your Pet’s General Health and Welfare

There is a huge choice of products out there but it is perfectly possible to find the food that is exactly right for your pet. Sort out minor digestive troubles, enhance your puppy or kitten’s learning skills, put weight on a thin pet and slim down a plump one. It’s our mission in these pages to explain how nutrition matters and by doing so, enrich and lengthen the special relationship that exists between people and their pets.
As a general guide feeding amounts are given on packs of dog food. However, they are just that - a guide. Every dog is an individual and some need more calories than others. Life stage and lifestyle will have an impact on the amount of food an individual dog would need to eat to maintain their body weight.
As long as you are feeding a food that is nutritionally complete, feeding dry only is fine. Looking on the label will tell you if the food is complete. Complementary foods are usually things like mixers and biscuits and they have to be given with a canned food in order to make a nutritionally complete meal.
As well as exercise (while your puppy is young) it is important to get into the habit of healthy feeding. Dogs, like humans, are getting fatter. If your dog becomes overweight, they are at greater risk of illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. To stop your puppy becoming overweight, follow some simple guidelines.
When you first bring your puppy home, continue to feed whatever food it has been used to at the breeders to reduce the risk of stomach upsets. Only once your puppy is settled should you consider weaning onto a different diet.
If your cat is a fussy eater, then don’t worry, because they have a reputation for being extremely finicky. In truth, this behaviour is generally learned and not bred into them.
You may think your cat wants or requires variety in their diet but in actual fact, she will happily eat the same food everyday for all of her life provided it is a nutritious meal.
What may seem like finicky eating may just be your cat taking her time. Many cats are nibblers and prefer to have a mouthful of food now and again. Just because she doesn’t eat the whole bowl right away doesn’t mean she doesn’t like the cat food you offer.
Common pet food protein sources include meat, fish, and some plant ingredients, such as corn gluten and soybean meal.
Protein has many functions in the body, but is best known for supplying amino acids, or protein subunits, to build hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Protein also plays a main role in hormone production.
Dogs, best fed as carnivores, and cats, true carnivores, require essential amino acids, such as taurine for cats, that are not all found in single plant protein sources such as soybean meal.
There are strict rules about naming pet foods that tell you about the ingredients they contain: 'Rich in chicken' means at least 14% chicken; 'With chicken' means 4% or more chicken; and 'Chicken flavour' means less than 4% chicken. Read the product name carefully.
The goal of a good weight management program should be gradual weight loss. This is especially important in cats, because severe nutrient restriction can result in hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver).
Per week, cats should lose 1 to 1.5% of their initial weight. A good way to begin a weight-loss program in cats is to reduce caloric intake by 30% of their individual maintenance intake, then decrease intake by 10% increments every 2-3 weeks until a 1% weight loss per week is achieved. Cats who do not respond quickly should see their veterinarian for a special weight-loss program.
Foul breath, or halitosis, is a common problem in dogs and can become so horrendous in its smell that it is unpleasant to be in the same room as the dog. It is important to get your vet to check your dog over if you think your dog has bad breath. There are all sorts of causes of bad breath from dental disease to kidney failure and ulcers in the mouth. The smell may be coming from somewhere other than the mouth e.g. ear infections, an ulcer, problem anal glands.
The most common cause of halitosis is dental disease i.e. a build up of tartar and bacteria in the mouth causing gingivitis and gum disease. Another possible cause is a foreign body in the mouth – check the roof of the mouth for anything being lodged there e.g. sticks or bones. Once dental disease has been diagnosed, your vet may need to carry out dental work to get the teeth and mouth back to being as healthy as possible. Once this has been done, or to prevent the mouth from getting worse, there are some things you can do at home to help keep the mouth healthy and smell free:
  • Encourage your dog to chew. Rawhide chews, dog biscuits, (safe) bones, and chew toys can all be great for encouraging chewing and keeping the teeth clean. However, remember that rawhide chews and dog biscuits can be fattening. You might want to avoid these chew treats, particularly if your dog is already struggling with its weight. If you do give your dog chews then take these into account as part of your dog’s daily calorie intake. Feed less dog food at meal time to compensate for the calories given during the day. Speak to your vet about healthy alternatives if your dog is on a calorie-controlled diet. Click here to view our dental care range.
    ome people feed bones to help their dog’s teeth but these can be a risk because cooked bones or bones fed to older dogs can cause constipation. There is also a risk that bones can splinter or be swallowed whole causing a blockage in the intestines. We would generally recommend chew toys as the best choice for encouraging chewing. These toys are made to endure being chewed by your dog without causing it harm. In addition, some are made especially for use with doggie dental toothpaste.
  • It is good practice to get into the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth. Ideally this should be a daily thing but at least once a week. As with anything that you need to get your dog used to, it is best to start this process when your dog is still young so that it will get used to the routine. Make the tooth brushing a fun activity and give plenty of praise and reward for letting you brush the teeth.
  • Speak to your vet about other things that can be done to encourage a healthy mouth – there are specific foods that may be better for your dogs teeth post dental work such as Hills t/d food. Also, if you struggle with brushing your dog’s teeth then a mouth wash such as Hexarinse may be a suitable alternative.

Your dog’s mouth is an important part of them and should not be neglected; take the time and effort to keep the mouth clean and smell free and this will benefit both you and your dog.
Your dogs’ skin is the largest organ in his body and, as a result, time should be taken to take good care of it. To help keep your pet healthy there are regular things you should do, one of which is grooming. This is essential not only for long haired dogs but also for short haired ones. This helps reduce the amount of hair shed in the house as well as removing dead hairs and encouraging a shiny coat.
Long haired dogs need grooming more frequently than short haired ones but for either type starting from a puppy is ideal to ensure they become used to it, making the grooming process much more pleasant for both you and your dog. Frequent praise for standing quietly and allowing you to groom them is important.
Bathing - Unless your dog has a specific condition a normal healthy dog should only be bathed every few months. Use a good quality dog shampoo and colloidal oatmeal based ones are particularly good for sensitive skin. When you bathe your dog, avoid getting water in their eyes and ears. As a hint, while bathing your dog, if you wash the head as the very last thing this will help prevent them shaking and getting you soaking wet. Once a dogs’ head is wet this is a real trigger factor to wanting your dog to shake. Ensure you rinse your dog thoroughly, getting right down to the skin. If you leave any shampoo on the dog this can cause irritation, towel dry your dog and keep him warm until completely dry. While damp, brush the coat gently to remove any knots.
Flea Control - As well as regular brushing and occasional bathing of your dog, regular flea control with a veterinary recommended product such as Frontline will help keep your dogs’ coat healthy. If your dog has fleas then they will scratch and can cause sores and irritation to their skin. You should also get into a routine of regularly checking your dog for cuts and sore patches that you may not notice otherwise. If you do find a sore on your dog then contact your vet and, in the meantime, prevent licking and scratching of the sore by the use of an Elizabethan Collar and/or socks on the dog’s feet. Bathe the area with cool salt water to keep it clean (teaspoon of salt to a pint of water) until you get your pet seen.
Foods for a good coat - For most healthy dogs a complete, high quality commercial dog food is usually adequate to maintain a healthy coat. If your dog has a sensitive skin then a more sensitive skin diet can be fed e.g. James Wellbeloved. If your dog suffers from a skin condition or allergy then your vet may recommend a specific food such as Royal Canin Skin Support. Hypoallergenic dog foods and veterinary diets contain proteins that your dog is unlikely to have been exposed to previously and so they should not have an allergy to this food. If your dog is on a food trial to diagnose a food allergy then your dog will be fed this food as its sole diet for at least 6 weeks. It is important you feed just this food and water, nothing else, as this can jeopardise the food trial.
Supplements - If your dog is fed a commercially prepared dog food then supplements with vitamins and minerals are not usually necessary. However, if your dog has dry or sensitive skin then adding protectant essential fatty acids into the food can help maintain a healthy coat and skin.
Itchy dogs - Some dogs develop allergies as the immune system over-reacts to harmless substances e.g. pollens, house dust mites or food proteins. The result is an itchy dog. The only way to diagnose a food allergy is via a food trial. If a food trial does not stop the itching then further allergy tests can be used to find whether the dog is allergic to a mite or similar. It can be very difficult to manage the itchy dog at home and can require a combination of treatments. Sometimes, simple therapies, such as regular bathing with a medicated shampoo can help. Good quality flea control is also essential. Causes of itching add up so a dog with an allergy to moulds or pollens will itch much more if there are also fleas present.
If your dog is allergic then your vet can help by suggesting ways to reduce exposure to allergens i.e. minimising soft furnishings around a dog that is allergic to house dust mites and avoiding dog-walking on grass if they are allergic to pollens.
Several drugs may also be used in the treatment of your pet. Scratching and licking causes skin damage, which then leads to infection that then results in further increase in the itch. This is called the ‘itch-scratch cycle’. Treating the infection often helps. Antihistamines work for some dogs, but steroids are necessary for others. Steroids have their own side effects and your vet will tailor treatment to minimise these. Newer drugs are becoming available to suppress the body’s immune response and your vet may suggest these if appropriate.
Remember, your dog’s coat and skin is a good indicator of their general health and well-being. If you are at all concerned about your dogs’ coat then you should speak to your veterinary surgeon.
Ear disease is a common condition in dogs and varies greatly in its severity. A dog’s ear is shaped in such a way which can encourage bacteria to multiply thereby making the ear disease worse. The outside opening of the canal is high on the dogs’ head; it then runs vertically down and then makes a sharp bend to run horizontally toward the middle ear.
As well as this, many dogs have an ear flap that at least partly covers the opening of the ear canal. All of these things can lead to a warm, moist environment that is ideal for bacteria to multiply. If foreign material, mites or bacteria occur in the ear this causes irritation that in turn can cause the dog to irritate his ear making the infection worse.
Clinical Signs of Ear Disease - Mild ear disease can go unnoticed so it is important to check your dog’s ears regularly for signs of soreness, excess wax or heat. If ear disease (otitis) is more severe it is difficult to miss the signs - Head shaking, Scratching at the ear, Rubbing head on the ground, Swelling of the ear flap, Smelly discharge from the ear canal, Head tilt.
Treatment - Ear problems can be very frustrating to treat and some dogs require surgery for chronic ear problems. With routine ear infections, your vet will thoroughly examine the ears. If there is a foreign body such as a grass seed, your vet may need to anaesthetise your dog to be able to remove it. Any infection and irritation is likely to require medication to treat, this may be either in the form of ear drops or oral medication. Your vet may need to take swabs to decide the best treatment.
Some dogs are prone to ear infections due to either the conformation of the ear (e.g. spaniels with long ears) or due to an underlying allergy. Either way, if you have left over treatment from a previous ear infection, you should not use this on a current ear problem as you may make the problem worse. You should always get the ears checked by a vet. Ignoring mild ear disease is not to be recommended as, in the vast majority of cases, the problem does not resolve itself and only gets worse.
Prevention of Ear Disease - Dogs that are prone to ear problems can be very frustrating for all concerned. If your dog is prone to ear problems, check your dogs ears regularly and get them checked if they look red or sore as the sooner the problem is treated, the better. Regular ear cleaning with a veterinary recommended product such as otoclean can help remove debris and wax. Speak to your vet about the best way to clean your dogs’ ears to ensure you do it properly and especially before cleaning more than once a week. View our ear cleaning products range.
As a rule of thumb, prevention is better than cure and, if your dog suffers from ear problems, regular cleaning and monitoring of your pets ears, gives you the best chance of keeping the disease under control.
It is important to ensure that your home is well-prepared for the arrival of your new puppy.
To ensure that you have all the items you need, see our Essential Puppy Checklist below.
  • Bed
  • Blanket
  • Puppy food
  • Non-slip food & water bowls
  • Feeding mat
  • Collar
  • Lead
  • ID tag
  • Toys & chews
  • Treats
  • Poo bags
  • Puppy training pads
  • Training/coaching aids
  • Long training lead
  • Chew stops
  • Grooming brush
  • Puppy shampoo
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Crate/pen in home for puppy's own space
  • Crate for travelling in the car
Feeding your puppy - Your new puppy will eat anything you put down for him, so it is important to ensure that you only give him the right puppy food to provide the specific nutritional requirements for him to grow. Your puppy will grow up to 12 times faster than a human child, so filling them with all the nutrients they need for early development is really important.
However, your puppy cannot eat his entire daily requirement in one or two large meals, as an adult dog would. He has a small and delicate stomach so requires smaller, more frequent feeds. Your breeders should advise on measurements. We stock a full range of wet and dry puppy foods, so there is always something to suit the taste of your puppy. View our full range of puppy food for all the options available.
In addition to ensuring your puppy is being fed all the essential nutrients, always have fresh drinking water available.
Your puppy’s health - Registering your puppy with a local vet clinic is essential, and one of the first things you should do. Check out where the nearest clinics are, and feel free to call or pop in to your new vet with any questions you may have. Your breeder or rescue centre will provide information of previous vaccinations, and if any are due, they will advise of the dates. It is important to stick to the guidelines given by your breeder or rescue centre as your puppy will be susceptible to infections during the early stage of his life, and before all injections have been given.
Playing and Learning - It is important to exercise and play with your new puppy as much to keep him happy and healthy. Help him learn with puppy toys and puppy treats, there are many specifically designed for puppies that will encourage positive behaviour when used as a reward.
Chewing - Whether it’s your favourite shoe, new sofa or an old cushion your puppy will chew it given half the chance. Provide something healthy and non-harmful for your puppy to chew – if you don’t he will always find an alternative! See our selection of healthy chews. Many dental chews are also available and are ideal to help keep your puppy’s teeth and gums healthy.
From Birth to Adulthood - When a puppy is born, the first weeks and months it is vital that they are cared properly, and that you,as a new puppy owner know what to expect!
Our step-by-step guide will take you through the important facts to ensure you are doing all you can to make the journey into our world the best possible experience - for you both.
Birth & Neonatal - Puppies will mainly be sleeping and feeding during this time
1 Week - Puppies are completely dependant on their mothers
2 Weeks - Puppies should open their eyes
2-3 Weeks - Puppies really start to grow in this period and there are many changes (Puppies ears open, Puppies can now crawl backwards, as well as forward, The litter may begin play fighting, Social signs are shown, such as wagging the tail and growling, Puppies will begin to respond to light and movement, There should be an interest in semi-solid foods, and the ability to lap up milk or water from a bowl)
7-8 Weeks - By now you should have weaned your puppy onto 4 or 5 small meals per day
7 - 12 Weeks - This is the most important period for socialisation of your puppy. Your puppy should experience all the things they will have to encounter in their adult life - such as people, other animals, objects, noises, etc. Exposing your puppy to situations that may become common as they grow is also a good idea.
16+ Weeks - Puppies have milk teeth until roughly this age when they will begin to be replaced by adult teeth.
5 Months - At this age a puppy should be approximately 50% of its adult body weight. This means that the number of meals fed each day can be reduced to two.
6 Months - Many small and toy breeds will be at their full adult size by this age, however they are still developing. It is important to continue feeding puppy food to ensure that they receive the correct diet and balance of nutrients and minerals.
9 Months - Toy, small and medium breeds are now considered adult as they have reached their full adult weight. Feeding can now be reduced to once/twice daily depending upon your preference and you can change their diet to an adult food.
10 Months - The chews and toys that you give to your puppy should not be too hard to chew until now, so it's time to buy adult dog toys. When a puppy reaches the age of 10 months the roots of their "permanent" or adult teeth become fully developed.
12 Months - Large breed and some small giant breeds will be their full adult size by this age, however they are still developing. It is important to continue feeding puppy food to ensure that they receive the correct diet and balance of nutrients and minerals. Feeding can be reduced to once/twice daily depending upon your preference now.
18 Months - Large breed dogs are now considered adult as they have reached their full adult weight. You can now change their diet to an adult dog food.
24 Months - Giant breed dogs are now considered adult as they have reached their full adult weight. You can now change their diet to an adult dog food.
Changing your puppy from puppy food to adult dog food - when it is best to make the change? - The age at which a puppy reaches adult-hood depends on their breed. Toy and small breeds can reach their adult size within their first year; however large breed and giant breeds can take up to 12, or even 24 months.
It is important to have the correct information about when you can change your dog's food from puppy to adult. If you change it too soon your puppy will no longer be receiving the balance of nutrients and minerals to aid development and growth.
To find out this information, you can speak to the breeder or contact your local vet. The reason behind there being different types of food for your dog as he grows is because at different stages in his life he will have different dietary requirements. As a puppy for example he will need more protein and calcium to help growth.
Your cats’ skin is the largest organ in her body and, as a result, time should be taken to take good care of it. To help keep your pet healthy there are regular things you should do, one of which is grooming. This is especially essential in long haired cats to prevent matt’s and reduce the risk of your cat getting fur balls. This will also help reduce the amount of hair shed in the house as well as removing dead hairs and encouraging a shiny coat. Starting getting your cat used to being groomed regularly is ideal to ensure they become used to it, making the grooming process much more pleasant for both you and your cat. Frequent praise for allowing you to groom them is important.
Flea Control - As well as regular brushing, regular flea control with a veterinary recommended product such as Frontline will help keep your cats’ coat healthy. If your cat has fleas then they will scratch and can cause sores and irritation to their skin. You should also get into a routine of regularly checking your cat for bites and sore patches that you may not notice otherwise. If you do find a bite or sore on your cat then contact your vet and, in the meantime, prevent licking and scratching of the sore by the use of an Elizabethan Collar. Bathe the area with cool salt water to keep it clean (teaspoon of salt to a pint of water) until you get your pet seen.
Foods for a good coat - For most healthy cats a complete, high quality commercial cat food is usually adequate to maintain a healthy coat. Feeding a premium cat food such as Hills Science Plan, James Wellbeloved or Royal Canin will usually be enough to maintain your cats coat.
If your cat has sensitive skin then a more sensitive skin diet can be fed. If your cat suffers from a skin condition or allergy then your vet may recommend a specific food such as Hills Prescription Diet z/d. Hypoallergenic cat foods and veterinary diets contain proteins that your cat is unlikely to have been exposed to previously and so they should not have an allergy to this food. If your cat is on a food trial to diagnose a food allergy then your cat will be fed this food as its sole diet for at least 6 weeks. It is important you feed just this food and water, nothing else, as this can jeopardise the food trial.
Supplements - If your cat is fed a commercially prepared cat food then supplements with vitamins and minerals are not usually necessary. However, if your cat has dry or sensitive skin then adding protectant essential fatty acids into the food can help maintain a healthy coat and skin. Vetzyme Dry Skin supplement, added daily to your cats feed can help.
Itchy cats - Some cats develop allergies as the immune system over-reacts to harmless substances e.g. pollens, house dust mites or food proteins. The result is an itchy cat. The only way to diagnose a food allergy is via a food trial such as Hills Prescription Diet z/d. If a food trial does not stop the itching then further allergy tests can be used to find whether the cat is allergic to fleas or similar.
It can be very difficult to manage the itchy cat at home and can require a combination of treatments. Good quality, regular flea control is essential with a veterinary recommended product such as Frontline. Causes of itching add up so a cat with an allergy to moulds or pollens will itch much more if there are also fleas present.
Scratching and licking causes skin damage which then leads to infection. This then results in a further increase in the itch. This is called the ‘itch-scratch cycle’. The self-trauma a cat can cause to itself when it is itchy can be astonishing. Treating the infection often helps but steroids are necessary in some cases to break the itch-scratch cycle. Steroids have their own side effects and your vet will tailor treatment to minimise these.
Remember, your cats’ coat and skin is a good indicator of their general health and well-being. If you are at all concerned about your cats’ coat then you should speak to your veterinary surgeon.
If you have decided that a cat is for you and a kitten is what you are looking for, there are some fundamental rules you should adhere to and these are listed out below to try to help you in your quest. Bear in mind a cat can live up to 20 years so you want to take your time choosing your new friend.
Whether you want to have a pedigree kitten or a moggy is up to individual choice. If you choose a pure breed this can help you know exactly what you are getting but it is important to research the breed characteristics to try to get a breed that suits your family and lifestyle. As a general rule a moggy is generally a hardier animal but it is still important to consider all the points below.
Rule 1. NEVER buy a kitten from a pet shop or similar outlet. Ensure you see your kitten in a home environment with the mum present.
Rule 2. Never buy on impulse or because you feel sorry for a frightened or timid kitten. A timid kitten may have poor socialisation skills that could lead to behavioural problems in the future.
Rule 3. Make sure you assess the environment you buy your kitten from. If you are not experienced then take a friend or family member along with you for a second opinion. Be wary of getting a kitten if it has had little human contact as the early weeks of a kitten’s life are important for socialisation.
Rule 4. Never take a kitten home too early, as a rule of thumb a kitten should stay with its’ mother until at least 7 weeks of age. It is vitally important they are with their mother and siblings up to this age and good breeders should warn against a kitten going home with you before this age.
Rule 5. Check the appearance of the mother and kittens. Do they appear healthy; eyes clear and bright, free of any discharge? Are their coats shiny? Check that the mum looks content and happy, taking into account that she has just had kittens and will be naturally protective of them.
As long as you go to choose a kitten with a ‘sensible head’ on and clearly decide before hand what you are looking for you should end up with a kitten that you are happy with. Once you have got your kitten home and it has had the chance to settle in for a couple of days, get it examined by a veterinary surgeon to ensure they are physically well. This is also a great opportunity to discuss vaccinations, worming, flea treatment etc.
Cats and Kittens are naturally very clean animals and most kittens will be more or less litter trained when you get them. As long as you show your kitten where the litter tray is and put her in there after meals or if you see her sniffing around then the number of accidents she has should be reasonably few.
Place your kittens litter box away from her bed and food, as she would naturally want to toilet away from these areas. Ensure you empty the litter pan regularly as cats do not like to mess in an area already dirty. Wash the litter tray using hot water and a pet friendly detergent. If you are pregnant you should wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after handling litter pans.
What if the kitten has an ‘accident’ when toileting
Even a toilet trained kitten is likely to have the odd accident. Do not punish a kitten if she makes a mistake. Animals learn by ignoring inappropriate behaviour and praising the good. If she has an accident, ignore it, clean up and praise her when she does use the litter tray.
When cleaning up the urine, make sure you use a product free of ammonia and chlorine. Both of these are found in cat urine and using such products can encourage a cat to urinate in the area again. Use warm water and a biological washing powder to clean the area.
As long as you are persistent with training your kitten and keep the litter tray clean then you should very quickly have a properly house trained kitten and a happy household!
After you have chosen your new kitten, there is likely to be a few weeks before they are ready to come home. In this time it is important to prepare yourselves and the house for the arrival of the kitten.
When your kitten arrives home, choose a time when it is quiet and calm and do not rush into introducing your kitten to other animals in the household. Give the kitten time to settle in before doing this.
Make sure you have a snug bedding area that your kitten can escape to if things become overwhelming. Teach all members of the family that if the kitten is in its bed, they are left alone and not harassed. Ensure your kitten knows exactly where the food and water bowls are as well as the litter tray.
Before you bring your kitten home, check with the breeder or cattery what kitten food they’ve been using. Ensure you stick with the same diet to begin with to try to reduce the risk of your kitten getting an upset stomach. Your kitten should be fed a complete kitten food.
If you want to change the food your kitten is eating, you should take 5 to 7 days to gradually change your kitten onto her new food – mix the new food in with the old, gradually increasing the amount of the new food and reducing the quantity of the old food until the change over is complete. You should feed a kitten four meals a day until they are 12 weeks old and then three meals a day until they are 6 months old, at which stage you can reduce their meals to 2.
Indoor hazards to make safe from inquisitive kittens
  • Keep all doors and windows shut
  • Remove all ornaments
  • Cover any chimney openings
  • Hide any trailing cables and remove or pull up all hanging items such as tablecloths, floor length curtains, curtain or blind pulls, hanging plants or other items that dangle temptingly in the kittens' reach.
  • Place all houseplants out of the way as it is natural for a kitten to chew. Many houseplants are poisonous or can cause upset tummies. Common ones to watch out for include: Philodendron, Mistletoe, Poinsettia. Plants belonging to the lily family are particularly poisonous to kittens and any lilies should be kept well out of the reach of kittens and cats.
  • Place child locks on low cupboards especially those containing cleaning materials and ensure doors to kitchen appliances (fridges, washing machines etc) are kept closed.
  • Keep counter tops in kitchens clear to prevent your kitten jumping up to investigate them. Jumping on surfaces should be discouraged for hygienic reasons.
  • Fitting a baby gate to the top of a stairwell can help prevent accidental falls.
Outdoor hazards to make safe from inquisitive kittens
Gardens are great places for your kitten to explore once they are old enough and fully vaccinated. Make sure the garden is as safe as possible and supervise your kitten when outside to prevent accidents and to prevent them straying and becoming lost.
Place child locks on low cupboards especially those containing cleaning materials and ensure doors to kitchen appliances (fridges, washing machines etc) are kept closed.
Keep counter tops in kitchens clear to prevent your kitten jumping up to investigate them. Jumping on surfaces should be discouraged for hygienic reasons.
Fitting a baby gate to the top of a stairwell can help prevent accidental falls. Swimming pools and ponds should be fenced off or covered with a hard cover.
Remove ladders and other hazards your kitten can climb on / knock over
Be well prepared and enjoy your new addition to the family!
Before you take on a new pet it is important to ensure you are ready to take on the commitment and responsibility that comes with owning a pet. Pet Supermarket® believe the bond between people and pets is very special but we believe that getting a pet is a lifelong commitment and should be considered at great length before making any commitment to welcoming home a new member of your family.
Before taking on a pet think about the most suitable pet for you. A rescue centre will be able to help you weigh up the options available to you. If you have children, ensure the pet you choose is well socialized and is used to children. Think about the time you would have available. Owning a dog requires time and patience in order to train them, make them comfortable in different situations and with new people and animals in the family.
If the adults in your family work full time and cannot get home during the day then a dog is not for you. A dog will need regular walks and exercise as well as social interaction. Leaving them all day in the garden where they can toilet if necessary does not take into account their need to socialism and interact.
If you cannot devote the time to a dog then you may be better to consider a cat as a pet. They are naturally more independent than a dog and can cope with being left alone for longer periods during the day. Kittens should not be left alone for any length of time. Although cats are more independent than dogs they are very sensitive to their environment and changes that occur around them. As a result they deserve and need the stability and security of a permanent home.
Time is not the only thing to consider when getting a pet; there is also the cost to consider. On average it costs £10 a week to feed a dog (not including treats!). As well as feeding, there are other costs as well, such as vaccinations and medications when problems occur.
Remember that a fit, healthy dog or cat can easily live for up to 16 years (and often more). As a result, no pet should be bought on a whim. Take the time to decide what type of pet will suit your family’s lifestyle. Consider how experienced a pet owner you are, the time and money you have available and the level of commitment owning a pet requires. Once you have decided on the best type of pet for you, stick to the decision, as it can be far too easy to be tempted by a cute and cuddly puppy when you really should not take one on. If you do obtain a pet from a rescue centre, the staff should be able to discuss your situation and help you make the decision of what pet would suit you best. This will hopefully lead to you finding a fantastic friend and companion.
Taking in a rescue animal is a win-win option: you will be saving it from an uncertain future, and you will almost certainly pay less for your new pet than if you go to a pet shop or breeder. Many charities just request a donation when you agree to home an animal, and some will even arrange subsidized vaccinations and neutering where necessary before you pick up your new friend.
If you re-home an animal from a rescue centre, this can be really rewarding but remember, they have, for whatever reason, already lost at least one home so you have a responsibility to ensure they won’t be abandoned again if they come home with you.
If you have decided that a cat is for you and a kitten is what you are looking for, there are some fundamental rules you should adhere to and these are listed out below to try to help you in your quest. Bear in mind a cat can live up to 20 years so you want to take your time choosing your new friend.
Whether you want to have a pedigree kitten or a moggy is up to individual choice. If you choose a pure breed this can help you know exactly what you are getting but it is important to research the breed characteristics to try to get a breed that suits your family and lifestyle. As a general rule a moggy is generally a hardier animal but it is still important to consider all the points below.
  • NEVER buy a kitten from a pet shop or similar outlet. Ensure you see your kitten in a home environment with the mum present.
  • Never buy on impulse or because you feel sorry for a frightened or timid kitten. A timid kitten may have poor socialisation skills that could lead to behavioural problems in the future.
  • Make sure you assess the environment you buy your kitten from. If you are not experienced then take a friend or family member along with you for a second opinion. Be wary of getting a kitten if it has had little human contact as the early weeks of a kitten’s life are important for socialisation.
  • Never take a kitten home too early, as a rule of thumb a kitten should stay with its’ mother until at least 7 weeks of age. It is vitally important they are with their mother and siblings up to this age and good breeders should warn against a kitten going home with you before this age.
  • Check the appearance of the mother and kittens. Do they appear healthy; eyes clear and bright, free of any discharge? Are their coats shiny? Check that the mum looks content and happy, taking into account that she has just had kittens and will be naturally protective of them.

As long as you go to choose a kitten with a ‘sensible head’ on and clearly decide before hand what you are looking for you should end up with a kitten that you are happy with. Once you have got your kitten home and it has had the chance to settle in for a couple of days, get it examined by a veterinary surgeon to ensure they are physically well. This is also a great opportunity to discuss vaccinations, worming, flea treatment etc.
Size - The size of your home and garden should dictate the size of your chosen pet – a large dog in a one bedroom flat with no garden is not sensible. However, size is often less important than a dog’s energy levels – large dogs do not necessarily need more exercise than small dogs, but almost always require more space. You also need to consider what size of dog you are physically able to handle – for example, a dog that you can take for a walk, not one that walks you! Be realistic about the size of dog that will suit your home and lifestyle.
Male or Female? - This is really based on your own personal choice. However, you may want to consider meeting both the dog and the bitch of your chosen breed. This will give you an idea of the differences between them; for example, male dogs are generally bigger than females. The only other time this issue is worth considering is when you have another dog at home. Dogs of the opposite sex do tend to get on better in the same household than two of the same sex, depending on individual characters. Another important factor to consider if you have two or more dogs is to get either one or all of them neutered. This will prevent any unwanted puppies, can prevent mammary and testicular cancer and can help behaviour problems, especially in male dogs.
Coat type - Every different type of dog (and there are many) has a different amount of hair, of varying length. Consider what type you would like and can care for. Would you prefer a long-haired dog that would require daily grooming to prevent unwanted matting and to get rid of loose hair, or would you find it easier to cope with a short-haired dog that will only require grooming once a week? Even if you have an allergy to dog hair there are certain breeds (such as the poodle) that are non-shedding.
Age - Consider very carefully whether you want a puppy or an older dog. The younger the dog is, the more active it is likely to be. A young dog is also more likely to have less than perfect manners; people often take on puppies without doing the proper research. Once the ’cute’ stage has worn off, or the puppy has become too big or too boisterous, it is often neglected or handed in to a rescue centre. While a younger dog will be less set in its ways, dogs of all ages are very adaptable and most will fit in eventually. You can teach old dog new tricks, but it may take slightly longer. Older dogs tend to be calmer and require less exercise, which may be an advantage if you are elderly yourself. They will be more likely to tolerate being left at home for short periods of time while you are at work and they should be used to living as a pet dog.
Owning a pet can be very expensive so as well as saving money shopping online at Pet Supermarket® for your pet supplies we have some great suggestions on how to reduce the cost of owning a pet.
Shop around for the right pet insurance - Pet insurance premiums are based on the type of pet you have, its age, where you live and other factors that will determine how likely it is to get lost or fall ill. The best way to compare deals is to use the Pet Supermarket pet insurance comparison page. But make sure you read the small print as the cheapest policy might not offer the best deal. As with other types of insurance, you could be able to cut your premiums by taking on a bigger excess on your policy. And remember that you might not be able to get cover at all for an elderly animal.
Don't skimp on cover - Some cheap pet insurance policies will cover an ailment for 12 months only, or limit the amount they will pay out. If your pet is prescribed medication or a prescription pet food for the rest of its life, you could be picking up the tab when the cover runs out - and Fido could last a lot longer than you expected, too! So it may be worth paying slightly more for a policy that offers ongoing cover.
Choose a mongrel - If you haven't yet got a pet but want one, choose one that won't cost a fortune to feed and look after. A pedigree animal will not only cost more up front than one of "less certain heritage", it will cost up to 34% more a year to care for, according to research done last year by Sainsbury's Bank.
Don't be too quick to go to the vet - You probably wouldn't visit the doctor at the first sign of a runny nose, so why seek expensive help as soon as your dog sneezes? Research done last year by More Than suggested unnecessary emergency vet appointments are costing UK pet owners £118m a year, made up of vets' fees, travel costs and lost annual leave.
But don't skip jabs - Paying to get your pet vaccinated against nasty illnesses means a hit on your wallet every year, but not doing so could prove a false economy. As an extra incentive, the insurer Direct Line was offering £20 towards vaccinations to any dog owners who take out cover for their pet before the end of June 2010 - so clearly it is cheaper to vaccinate than to pay the vet's bills for an animal that falls sick.
Form a cat-sitting circle, or get a house-sitter - The cost of getting someone in to feed your pet while you're away can be sky-high, with some cat-sitters charging £15 a day to feed and spend "quality time" with your pet. Instead, find friends and neighbours who also have pets and help each other out.
Buy toys from the charity shop - You don't need to buy expensive toys for your pet. Unwanted toys on the shelves of charity shops that look too sad to ever be picked up by a child are a cheap alternative to expensive pet toys.
And finally ... - Find out about subsidised neutering. If you are on a low income, you might be able to get help looking after your pet from an animal charity. Cats Protection offers financial assistance with neutering to cat owners who are full-time students or on means-tested benefits, while Blue Cross offers subsidised treatment for pets whose owners are on benefits or a low income.
The following articles are designed to give you a better understanding of what fleas are, the effects they can have on your pet and most importantly, how to prevent infestation or treat your pet should you suspect fleas are present.
Fleas are probably the most common parasite caught by both Cats and Dogs and it is likely that your pet will suffer at least one infestation throughout its life. However, fleas are more than just an inconvenience and should not be ignored. They can cause discomfort to your pet and if infestation is severe, it can lead to severe health problems. Common diseases caused by fleas are Flea Allergy Dermatitis, Anaemia and Tapeworm.
Fleas go through what is called a complete metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupae, adult. It is important to have an understanding of this life cycle in order for treatment of pet and home to be successful.
Let’s take a look at the first stage- the Flea Egg.
This is the smallest stage of the flea’s life cycle and is rarely seen due to its small size – about 0.5mm! Flea eggs are smooth and transparent and unlike some other parasites flea eggs lack any sort of sticky substance which would allow the eggs to stick to the host animals hair or fur. Therefore flea eggs fall off the host as it moves around the home.
A typical female flea can lay 200 eggs over a 5 day period and they will hatch in a further 2-10 days depending on temperature and humidity. In other words, for every flea you see on your cat or dog there may be another 200 eggs spread around your home!! For this reasons it’s essential that flea eggs are considered in your flea treatment program.
The second stage of flea development is a worm like larvae which emerges from the egg.
The Larvae break from their shell using a small egg tooth on the head of the worm and newly hatched they are about 6mm long. Larvae have no eyes but can still locate the adult flea faeces (containing partially digested blood from your pet!) which they feed on for survival.
Larvae’s natural instinct is to move away from light and downwards so they tend to be found deep in the carpet pile and where pets rest. After 2-3 weeks when they are fully grown the larvae spin a cocoon and pupate, which leads to the third stage of the life cycle – the Pupal stage.
This water tight cocoon is made up of a special silk produced by the larvae and debris from around the home. These materials are usually pet and human hair, lint, dust and fabric. The cocoon is almost invisible – totally camouflaged by its surroundings. Inside the cocoon the flea is almost impervious to insecticides meaning it is nigh on impossible to kill the flea during this period in the life cycle.
It takes between 5-14 days for the flea to develop inside the cocoon, after which they are triggered to hatch in response to vibrations, carbon dioxide exhaled by a passing host or an increase in temperature. However the flea can survive inside the cocoon for up to 9 months.
The flea really is designed for its lifestyle. It can hatch from its cocoon and be feeding on a passing pet within 7 seconds. It has large hind legs which enable it to jump to heights of 16cm while hairs on its body and claw like feet help it cling to your pet. The body of a flea is compressed from side to side meaning it can move through hair and fur with ease. This is why you cannot squash a flea – they are already squashed!
Once a host has been located and the flea has landed, it begins to bite and feed. A single flea can bite its host numerous times per hour, searching for a suitable area of skin for feeding. If animals could immediately detect the fleas bite, the animal would respond before the flea could feed. To prevent this, the flea’s saliva desensitises the area long enough for it to feed. It is this saliva that causes an allergic reaction in many animals, causing them to itch and scratch.
The most important thing to learn about the flea is that it is not the adults that present the main problem. Research has shown that, in an average household, adult fleas only represent about 5% of the total flea population. Flea pupae account for around 10%, flea larvae around 35% with eggs making up 50%. With this in mind, simply treating your pet with an adulticide to kill the adult fleas means that 95%of the flea population are unaffected and are simply left to develop into new adults all around your home.
Usually your pet will display signs of discomfort, either biting or scratching at its coat. Run a flea comb through the coat making sure you touch the skin below. You may see fleas crawling around the comb afterwards or the comb may gather black specks of dirt – this is likely to be flea faeces.
If you are unsure carry out a simple flea check. Place your pet on a large sheet of white paper or paper towel. Rub its back vigorously for a minute or so and as you rub any flea faeces will fall onto the paper below. This can sometimes be mistaken for dead skin or dirt so to be sure transfer the rubbings that have fell off your pet onto some damp cotton wool or white paper towel and leave to stand for a minute or so. As mentioned earlier, flea faeces is made up of dried blood and once transferred to the moist cotton wool it will dissolve and turn a light shade of red. If you now see red spots on the cotton wool you can be certain your pet has been in recent contact with fleas and treatment is required.
If you suspect you pet has an infestation, the following 3 step plan will successfully get rid of the problem.
  • Step 1 – Treat your pet with a Spot on treatment like Frontline – this will kill any fleas on your pet within 24 hours and provide ongoing protection against newly arriving fleas. It is important to keep your pet’s flea treatment up to date - Frontline spot on flea treatments offer a reminder service to help you do just that. Please follow the link to register here.
  • Step 2 - You must now treat your home in order to kill any flea eggs or larvae. There are a number of effective products on the market that will do this and the most common are household sprays and flea foggers.The most popular and effective household sprays in our range are Virbac Indorex, and Ceva Skoosh. Although perfectly safe to use around pets these products are designed for use around the home only and should never be used directly on your pet.
    Flea Foggers or “Bombs” as they are sometime known attack adult fleas, eggs and larvae in much the same way as flea sprays do. These devices are handy for treating large spaces and for getting to hard to reach areas. It is important to read the instructions on these products as some require you to turn off your central heating system and vacate the home for a few hours. Also ensure you purchase enough flea bombs to treat all the rooms in your home.
    For best results we recommend you use both methods. The flea bomb will reach most areas of the home while the flea spray can be used to treat smaller nooks and crannies that the flea bomb may not reach. A flea spray should also be used to treat pet bedding, pet clothing and to target other areas of the home where your pet spends long periods of time. Don’t forget to treat the car too.
  • Step 3 – Although there are no products on the market that can kill flea pupae, you can encourage them to hatch by turning up your central heating, vacuuming often and washing your pets bedding. Once hatched from the pupae the fleas will jump onto your pet and be killed by the Frontline spont on flea treatment applied in step 1.
    It is a misconception that fleas are only a problem in the summer. Your pet needs all year round treatment to prevent infestation.
    In spring fleas start to breed quicker as the weather warms up and in summer your pet is at most risk due to the temperature and humidity. In autumn you may see the re-emergence of fleas in the home as the central heating is turned back on and the home heats up while in winter your warm home is the ideal breeding ground for fleas.