Dog Teeth: Your ultimutt guide

Dog Teeth: Your ultimutt guide

With so much to think about when caring for your pooch, dog teeth might not be top of the list. That said, dental health is extremely important to keep your dog happy and healthy. Just like us humans, poor dental health for dogs can lead to more serious problems like tooth loss, painful eating and a poor quality of life.

In our comprehensive guide to dog teeth, we’ll discuss puppy teeth, how many teeth dogs have and how to care for them throughout their life.

How many teeth does your dog have?

It’s pretty tricky trying to make sure your dog’s teeth are in order if you don’t know how many they’re supposed to have in the first place. Is it a standard 32 like humans? Or perhaps over 100 like the giant armadillo?

As you may already know, our dogs have more teeth than we do. Fortunately, they have far less than the armadillo, saving us plenty of time on tooth brushing!

Mature dogs, on average, have 42 teeth. As for the layout of their teeth, 20 of them are found at the top of their mouth, and the remaining 22 are on the bottom. If your dog is fully grown and doesn’t have 42 teeth, you may want to give the vet a visit to make sure they have no unerupted teeth.

Generally, if your pooch is missing a tooth or two, it’s due to carrying heavy or tough items in their mouth, such as sticks or rocks.

Dog teeth pattern

Similar to us humans, dogs have four types of teeth, all performing different functions.

Incisors

These are the small teeth at the front of your dog’s mouth – and yours for that matter. Incisors are primarily used to scrape – helping your pooch get every last bit of meat off their bone. Incisors also come in handy for grooming. If your dog seems to be biting or nipping at themselves with their incisors, it may be a sign of fleas and ticks on their coat.

Canine

Perhaps the most recognisable teeth in your pooch’s mouth are their canines. They are long and pointed, found on either side of their incisors. Your pooch uses these teeth to tear food apart. They are also used to lock onto items in your dog’s mouth like their toys, making them even better at a tug of war.

Pre-molar

Pre-molars are found behind your pooch’s canines. They’re used for chewing tough food and clamping onto their toys. With sharper edges than molars, these teeth are the main tool for shredding food before grinding it into bitesize pieces. If you spot your pooch with a toy in the side of their mouth, chances are the toy’s lifespan is about to get much shorter.

Molars

As with most mammals, molars are used to break down tough or hard foods into bitesize pieces to make it easier and safer to swallow. The majority of dogs gain most of their nutrients from a combination of dry and wet foods. Dog biscuits can easily be broken down using their molars, with the pre-molars taking care of any tougher treats. Their molars – all eight of them – are found behind the pre-molars, right at the back of your pooch’s mouth.

What about the carnassial?

If you’ve ever looked inside your pooch’s mouth or brushed their teeth, you may be wondering what the large tooth in the middle of their upper jaw is. This is known as the carnassial tooth, which pairs with another carnassial on the bottom. The two are specially shaped to pass by one another, helping dogs to crush, shear and hold. That’s why you may spot your pooch gripping on to chew toys – or your socks – with the side of their mouth.

Taking care of your puppy’s teeth

We teach children from a young age to look after their teeth and promote good dental health. Even though their puppy teeth will come and go, it’s an important time for you to get them used to you playing with their teeth and introducing them to a good dog dental routine.

When do puppies get teeth?

Like babies, puppies are born without teeth. That’s why they’re fed on milk until they reach a certain age. When puppies are around two weeks old, their puppy teeth start to erupt – expect to see around 28 sharp puppy teeth emerge. As they teeth, your pup will experience some discomfort. Also, worth noting, during this time expect full blown puppy breath. It’s a smell you’ll get used to and is normal during the teething process. If it drives you insane, you can rub a small amount of coconut oil around their gums – they’ll love this!

Slight discomfort is normal so you may notice your pup acting a little differently during this time. They should still be engaging in normal, everyday activities, such as grooming, eating, drinking and playing. If your pooch isn’t doing these things, and their quality of life is affected by their discomfort, then you may need to take them to a vet.

When do puppy teeth fall out?

Puppy teeth are only temporary which you’ll be thankful for as they’re particularly sharp – so watch those fingers. It’s widely believed that puppy teeth are sharp to help them learn how hard to bite. It’s crucial that you avoid rough play and make a mini yelp when they bite you, so your puppy understands that it hurts and learns to play gently. They’ll lose their puppy teeth gradually but expect to see their adult dog teeth emerge fully when they’re four months old.

When your pup starts to lose their teeth, it can be a stressful time for some pawrents. But most vets recommend letting your puppy’s teeth fall out naturally. Even if you notice a loose tooth, it’s important not to pull at it as this could cause an infection. Your pup’s teeth are embedded deep in their gums, with long roots holding them in place. These roots are fragile and can break if pulled too hard, being left behind to rot in their gums.

The only exception to this rule comes if an adult tooth is starting to come through before your pup has lost their original tooth. If that’s the case, you should arrange an appointment with your vet to have their baby tooth removed.

Dental care for puppies

Introducing your puppy to a good dental care routine is important and will save you and your pooch lots of stress in the long term. They may even grow to look forward to getting their teeth brushed.

As well as investing in natural chew toys that help them with the discomfort of teething, you should regularly get your fingers in his or her mouth, rubbing their teeth and gum to help them get used to the process. Whilst they don’t need to have their teeth brushed until they have adult teeth, it won’t hurt to introduce them to toothpaste and rub this on their teeth. Always use a toothpaste that is formulated for dogs and check that it’s OK for puppies.

What’s the difference between puppy and dog teeth?

As your puppy grows and develops into an adult pooch, their body goes through a number of changes. Their teeth are no different. The most obvious difference between puppy and adult teeth is that pups don’t have molars. As their diet doesn’t consist of large, hard particles, they don’t need as much chewing power.

Teeth can also indicate how far along the weaning process your pup is. Typically, as their teeth get too sharp, their mother will no longer feed them as their teeth can pinch and nip at her delicate skin. Your puppy will then seek other sources of food.

If you have your puppy and its mother in your care, the baby will start to look for food alternatives at around eight weeks. Once you notice this, you should introduce your pooch to puppy food.

Puppies showing teeth

Can you tell the age of a dog by looking at its teeth?

As mentioned, there are a few milestones for dog teeth that can be used to roughly determine their age. They get all their baby teeth by around eight weeks, with permanent teeth showing up at around four months of age. However, there are a few other signs to look out for later in life if you want to tell how old a dog is:

  • Permanent dog teeth should all be in by seven months of age
  • Dogs teeth stay white until they are around one year old
  • Their back teeth become slightly dull between the ages of 1-3 years
  • From 3-5 years all teeth will become slightly discoloured
  • If a dog’s teeth show noticeable build-up and wear, they’re probably more than five years old

Recognising their individual needs

Dogs come in all different shapes and sizes. From large, working dogs to small teacup breeds, no two pets are the same. Their needs reflect this. A dog’s size doesn’t affect their likelihood of developing dental disease. But it can impact the type of issues they are more likely to suffer with.

Small dogs tend to suffer from plaque and dental calculus issues, especially those with short noses and cramped facial features, such as pugs. Lhasa Apsos are renowned for wonky teeth – we love Smudge to bits but her tiny mouth and wonky teeth make brushing her teeth a nightmare. If it isn’t monitored and taken care of effectively, this build up can lead to periodontal and gum disease.

Without caring for your dog’s teeth, you may end up having to send your pooch for an annual teeth clean at your vet. This will involve anaesthetic, which carries risks and considerable costs so it’s worth getting a good dental care routine in place for your dog to avoid needing to go to the vet.

Dog dental chews, chew toys and teeth brushing all form part of the perfect dog dental care routine. Remember, small breeds also have smaller teeth. If allowed to chew on toys or bones that are too hard, they may chip these delicate teeth, leaving them in pain and without the proper tools to eat effectively.

Larger dog teeth

On the other hand, larger breeds are more prone to severe dental injuries. As pawrents, we tend to allow larger dogs to play with bigger, tougher toys and may enjoy playing tug of war. This can increase their risk of damaging their teeth surfaces and tips and could even result in broken jaws.

Take care not to be too rough with your pooch, however big they may be. It’s fine to enjoy a game of fetch or two. Just avoid anything that may damage their teeth or dental health.

Dog showing its teeth

How to properly care for your dog’s teeth

Keeping your pooch’s teeth clean is as important as daily walks and healthy eating. Without proper care for your dog’s dental health, they can suffer from disease and poor wellbeing. Remember, if a dog loses an adult tooth, they can’t simply regrow it like a shark. But how can you make sure your pooch is healthy as can be?

Brushing your dog’s teeth

Just like you wouldn’t go a day without brushing your teeth, your pooch shouldn’t either. We have previously written about the importance of brushing your dog’s teeth. Of course, it takes some getting used to. But with persistent brushing and the right equipment, tooth brushing can become a regular feature in your dog’s daily routine.

Look out for signs of disease

Gum disease can develop over time or take your pooch – and you – by surprise suddenly. It’s important to be on the lookout for clear signs so you can get your pooch help for their ill-health sooner rather than later.

Bleeding gums is a clear sign. But you should try to avoid it getting that far. With daily tooth brushing, you may notice deposit build up on their teeth. If this doesn’t come off easily within a few days of gentle brushing, this could be a sign of dental disease.

Gum disease also makes it much harder to eat. So, your pooch may avoid meals, appear uncomfortable while eating or even leave specks of blood behind in their bowl. If you notice any of these, be sure to book an appointment with your vet as soon as you can to get their gums and teeth looked at.

Mouth cancer is another thing you should look out for with your pooch. Any swelling, lumps or unusual eating and playing behaviour should be noted and checked out.

Avoiding cavities

Unlike us humans, dogs aren’t prone to cavities, likely due to their low-sugar diet and teeth shape. Like all things, prevention is better than cure. Employing a good oral care routine and sticking to healthy dog food and natural dog treats that avoid added nonsense like sugars will prevent your dog from getting a cavity. Should you spot a build-up of tartar or a cavity, you will need to take your pooch to the vet.

Maintaining a healthy diet

Diet is one of the most important aspects of your pooch’s life – keeping them at a healthy weight, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and preventing dangerous dental health issues. Choosing a dog food with natural ingredients and no unnecessary additives is the best way to ensure your pooch gets all the nutrients they need.

Dog dental sticks and chews

Dog dental sticks, like Gnashers, contain active ingredients clinically proven to reduce plaque. Be sure to check what else is in your dental chew though. We recently wrote about what’s in dentastix, and the answer is a lot of unnecessary additives.

Beyond dental chews, we recommend choosing a dog food with natural ingredients and no unnecessary additives. Always double-check the full ingredients list to avoid giving them any hidden nonsense. Watch out for ingredients like “vegetable stock” which typically contain added sugars and salts.

At Scrumbles, we recognise dogs’ individuality and design our dog and puppy food to meet their exact needs. Our recipes include everything your pooch needs to stay happy and healthy, and nothing more. Give our dog food a try with a personalised subscription box and be sure to let us know what you and your pooch think over on our Facebook page!

What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

Small, spiky and adorable. Of course, we’re talking about hedgehogs. Next week (5th-11th May) is Hedgehog Awareness Week and to celebrate, we’re dedicating this post to the unique, loveable creatures.

One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to hedgehogs is their diet. Malnutrition, a lack of education and improper care has led to a severe decline in the number of hedgehogs in Britain. Read on as we discuss how to help prevent the extinction of this beautiful animal by feeding them the right nutrients all year-round…

What can you feed hedgehogs?

With less than a million hedgehogs currently residing in Britain, it’s more important than ever to do your bit for these national treasures. Helping hedgehogs get the essential nutrients they need is just one way we can help keep them safe and healthy. But what exactly can hedgehogs eat?

What do hedgehogs eat in the wild?

It’s not generally recommended to keep hedgehogs as pets. They’re wild creatures that won’t thrive in captivity. Rather than trying to domesticate them, it’s best to simply help them in their natural habitat.

Naturally, hedgehogs are insectivores, taking over 70% of their key nutrients from insects and beetles in the wild. Occasionally, they may also dine on worms, slugs or snails, which could help to keep your garden pest- free.

That said, there’s little point leaving insects out for a hedgehog as they can get all they need for themselves. So, what should you put outside out for a hedgehog in your garden?

High protein pet food

Just like many of our other furry friends, hedgehogs need a diet that is high in animal protein. High protein cat food is packed with the essential nutrients to keep your garden visitors happy and healthy, and has a smaller kibble vs dog food, that’s perfect for hedgehogs.

Of course, not all pet foods are made the same and some are low in animal protein so be sure to check the ingredients. Those with added sugars, salts or artificial nonsense won’t be great for your furry companion, nor your prickly visitor. So, it’s important to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best you can. Pet food with natural ingredients and no funny business is best for both your pets and roaming hedgehogs.

You can find hedgehog specific food or if you have cats and feed a high protein cat food, there’s no need to spend more as this will have a similar make up. You can simply use the food you already give to your cats or buy an extra bag or two to keep your garden topped up.

Just like with our cats and dogs, no one wants an overweight hedgehog! Hedgehogs are only small creatures, so don’t overfeed them. Dry cat food is great to leave out in a small dish – but we’d recommend avoiding wet cat food as this can spoil if left out for a long period of time.

How can you stop cats and foxes from stealing the food

To prevent other animals from getting to the hedgehog food first, keep food under a low platform or ridge tile.

You can also buy or build a feeding station. Essentially this is a box with a small entrance that lets hedgehogs in while keeping larger animals out. The hole should be around 4 to 5 inches in diameter, and will need tape around edges if you’re making one yourself – to stop hedgehogs hurting themselves.

Hedgehog eating

Can you feed hedgehogs fruit & vegetables

Hedgehogs thrive on animal protein and this should form the majority of their diet.  You can add some fruit and vegetables like beans, peas, corn, apples and carrots. Simply chop into bite-sized pieces and leave them on a shallow dish or tray in your garden.

What not to feed hedgehogs

One of the key issues when it comes to hedgehog preservation is a lack of awareness in terms of foods to avoid. Often, we’ll see or hear of people leaving out leftover bread and morsels of cheese for hungry mouths outdoors. Unfortunately, hedgehogs will hoover up anything up they can get their paws on, but that doesn’t mean it’s at all good for their sensitive stomachs.

Hedgehog in the wild

Just like cats, hedgehogs are lactose intolerant. Their digestive system isn’t fully capable of digesting lactose, so cows’ milk and cheeses can cause severe sickness and diarrhoea. Unfortunately, these health issues can be fatal in the wild, making dairy more of a hindrance than a help to the vulnerable creatures. In terms of drinks, a bowl of water is all they need to stay healthy and hydrated.

Bread is another common leftover fed to hedgehogs. Sadly, the hogs simply aren’t capable of digesting it. Any excessive consumption can fill their small stomachs and leave them incapable of absorbing other essential nutrients.

How to help hedgehogs thrive

Between 2002 and 2017, hedgehog numbers in the UK fell by around a half. Unpredictable weather has made their outdoor lives difficult. There are some simple ways for us to help hedgehogs.

Access to food is an easy way to help – make sure you’re leave food that’s high in animal protein, like our dry kitten food which has the perfect kibble size for tinier mouths.

Beyond food, there are other ways to help protect hedgehogs. Whether you have a familiar face popping up each summer or you want to transform your garden into a hedgehog haven, here are a few simple steps you can take…

  • Cover all drains and holes that could trap the tiny creatures
  • Leave at least a 4-inch gap underneath fences to allow easy entry
  • Check for hedgehogs before strimming or mowing your garden
  • Thoroughly check all bonfires before lighting
  • Avoid laying slug pellets as these are poisonous to hedgehogs
  • Build a hedgehog home for nesting and hibernation – a cardboard box filled with paper and other nesting supplies make a great spot for hedgehogs to sleep

Keep in touch

Are you a hedgehog hero, with a garden full of tiny eyes and full bellies? Or are you just getting started building your first hedgehog home? Whatever the case, we want to hear all about it.

Let us know about your animal adventures over on our Twitter or Facebook pages, and be sure to comment below with your top tips for protecting one of Britain’s best loved animals.

Can Cats Eat Cheese?

Can Cats Eat Cheese?

Whether it’s Tom and Jerry drinking from the same bowl of milk or Garfield going crazy for a slice of lasagne, we’ve grown up seeing furry felines enjoying dairy in their diet. But can cats eat cheese? Or, more specifically, should you be feeding them cheese?

As we learn more about the digestion of our furry friends, it has become clear that, while they may enjoy a slice of cheese or a bowl of milk, they’re not designed to dine on dairy. In this post, we’ll bust one of the most common feline myths and discuss all there is to know about feeding cheese to your cats…

Is cheese bad for cats?

Dairy isn’t a natural part of any cat’s diet. All cats and their ancestors are natural carnivores, meaning they survive and thrive on meat products. The high fat and protein content – and its delicious taste! – leaves most cats craving the dairy treat. But, despite what we’ve seen in TV programmes, cheese can actually upset your cat’s digestive system. That includes everything from cream cheese and cottage cheese to feta, parmesan, blue cheese and even mac and cheese!

Why? While humans and other omnivores naturally produce a lactase enzyme to help break down lactose and other nutrients from dairy products, cats simply don’t have these enzymes. This makes it a lot harder for them to process dairy. As a result, the majority of cats are actually lactose intolerant, meaning cows’ milk and cheese can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

Some pawrents may be tempted to treat their kitty to a chunk of cheese of two if they’re well behaved. After all, they do love the taste of the treat. But, while small amounts of cheese are safe for cats, it will pose an unnecessary risk of digestive issues for your furry friend.

What about non-dairy cheese?

Cats can’t eat cheese because they’re lactose intolerant, which raises the question – can they eat non-dairy cheese? Some products, designed for lactose-intolerant humans, will have their lactose removed or be supplemented with the right enzymes to help lactose-intolerant stomachs break it down.

However, cheese also contains high levels of salt and fat, which can hinder your kitty’s development and growth. As well as adding further complications to feeding your cat cheese, this makes it inadvisable to feed your cat non-dairy cheese as well. Whatever the case, be sure to check the ingredients of any product you’re considering for your furry friend.

Can kittens eat cheese?

We know what you’re thinking. Kittens can clearly digest milk, as they feed from their mother. So, they can digest cheese too, right? Not exactly…

Can kittens eat cheese

Kittens do produce a larger amount of the lactase enzyme which allows them to consume and digest their mother’s milk. However, this production significantly slows down as soon as weaning starts. So, by the time your kitty is able to eat solids without a risk of choking, their ability to digest dairy is long gone.

On top of this, kittens have very specific dietary requirements. As they grow and develop, they need plenty of the right nutrients to keep them strong and healthy. Feeding them something that may cause poor digestion and loose stools could permanently damage their intestines.

You may also be unknowingly masking signs of more complex health issues. For example, if you’re feeding your kitten cheese and they’re experiencing stomach problems, you may just put that down to the dairy. In reality, they may be suffering with a parasitic infection or another serious condition which will only worsen the longer it goes unnoticed.

Other ‘human food’ cats can’t eat

You should always consult your vet before giving your cat any form of cheese, even as a treat, to make sure they don’t have any other health issues that prevent proper digestion. However, cheese isn’t the only ‘human food’ that could cause harm to your furry friend…

Tuna

Cats and tuna go together like fish and chips, right? Think again. You should avoid feeding your cat too much tuna, whether it’s been made for cats or humans. Cats can very easily become addicted to the fish, which could lead them to eating it in excess. Just as it can for humans, too much seafood can give cats mercury poisoning. So, it’s best to save tuna and other fish as an occasional treat rather than a diet staple.

Onions & garlic

All forms of onion – powdered, raw, cooked – can be dangerous for your kitty. While an occasional small dose shouldn’t hurt, you should avoid giving your cat anything containing onion – it can break down a cat’s red blood cells, leading to anaemia. Garlic can be even more dangerous. The popular clove is around 5 times more toxic for cats than onions, so even if they ingest a small amount, garlic can cause severe digestional issues.

Grapes & raisins

For years, grapes and raisins have been given to cats as a treat. However, grapes and raisins can actually cause kidney failure – and the same goes for dogs too. Even a small amount can make your cat ill, causing vomiting and hyperactivity.

What to do if your cat eats something they shouldn’t?

Of course, we can’t have eyes on our kitty at every moment. Sometimes, even the most diligent pawrents can be faced with the scary realisation that their pet has eaten something they shouldn’t. If your cat starts to behave unnaturally – vomiting, experiencing diarrhoea or suffering from respiratory problems – its important not to panic.

First off, you should seek your vet’s advice as soon as you can to determine what your next steps should be. If you know what your cat has eaten, let your vet know. If not, you may have to take them in for further testing. Its important not to try to intervene yourself, giving them medication or attempting to make them vomit as you could make the situation worse.

What can you feed your cat?

The best cat foods for your precious kitty are those that offer a complete diet and have been tailor-made for them. Natural recipes with limited, hypoallergenic ingredients are perfect for your cat as they are packed with all the nutrients they need, without all the harmful additives that are often found in cheaper pet food recipes.

What can you feed your cat

As natural carnivores, cats gain the majority of their nutrients from meat. But that doesn’t mean they can’t eat anything else. Instead of treating your cat to some cheese, here are some friendly “human foods” cats can eat instead:

Fruit & Vegetables

Despite being obligate carnivores, vegetables should form a part of your kitty’s diet. Most complete cat food recipes will incorporate some healthy vegetables like carrots, asparagus, broccoli, green beans or chopped greens which are healthy and nutritious sources of fibre for your kitty. If you like to feed cat treats, let your kitty gnaw on these vegetables instead to avoid all the unnecessary sugars and salt in cat treats. You can explore treating with some fruits but be sure to make sure they’re free of pips and seeds first. Apples, apricots, bananas, oranges and pears are all healthy treat options for your cat.

Cooked fish

Cats and fish go hand in hand supposedly. In reality a lot of cats steer clear from fishy flavours but there are always exceptions like our Boo who adores fishy things. If your cat likes the taste of fish be cautious on which fish they eat and how much of it. Too much fish, particularly carnivorous fish (tuna, swordfish, salmon) can lead to mercury poisoning, as touched upon earlier. Be sure to avoid raw fish too, as uncooked fish contains high levels of thiaminase, which leads to the deteriation of thiamine – an essential vitamin for your kitty. Tinned salmon or sardines are options for natural cat treats to give your feline a tasty treat, without the negative health impacts.

Eggs

Eggs are a great addition to both human and cat diets, because they’re so rich in protein. They’re especially useful for pregnant cats, who need plenty of protein. While most vets agree that cooked eggs, including scrambled or hard-boiled, are a great treat for cats, raw eggs should be avoided. Although there is little research into the digestion of raw eggs, the risk of serious bacterial infections, such as salmonella or e-coli is too high.

Keep cats away from cheese

Cats can be inquisitive animals that will taste anything and everything they can get their paws on. That said, some can also be very fussy when it comes to their diet. Whether you’ve got a prima donna kitty or an all-they-can-eat feline, choosing the right diet for them is important.

At Scrumbles, we’ve spent years researching and experimenting with our cat foods to produce a nutritious, affordable and natural recipe that all kitties will love. Want to know more about feeding your cat? Follow our Instagram page for regular updates on our blogs and sneak peaks of upcoming products.

What to Do When You Can’t Walk Your Dog

What to Do When You Can’t Walk Your Dog

It’s important for any dog pawrent to know what to do when you can’t walk your dog. Why? Dogs are pretty much reliant on us to live a happy, healthy life. After all, they can’t walk themselves. But sometimes, you just can’t give your dog the attention they need.

A hefty 39% of British dog parents admit that a lack of time stops them from getting out with their pooch. In many cases this is down to work commitments, with others missing out because of illness or injury – or even just having time away when they need someone else to walk their dog.

Whether you’re injured, going away or just can’t find the time, we’re here to fill you in on what to do when you can’t walk your dog.

Benefits of walking your dog

First of all, every pawrent should understand how important regular walks are for our pups. After all, they’re the reason it’s so important to know what to do when you can’t walk your dog. Here are some of the biggest benefits.

Physical health

Just like us humans, dogs need exercise to keep fit and maintain a healthy weight. Pet obesity is an alarming trend in the UK, with 81% of vets reporting an increase in the number of overweight animals. Not only will regular walks help your pooch shed those extra pounds, it can also strengthen respiratory and circulation systems, as well as aiding digestion.

Mental health

Regular walks don’t just have an abundance of physical benefits, there are plenty of psychological benefits too. Dogs are naturally curious beings. With so many smells, sights and sounds in the great outdoors, a walk provides plenty of mental stimulation. It’s also a great opportunity to give your pooch some positive love and attention, while spending time doing what they love most – running, walking and exploring.

Woman walking her dog

Training

Walks are the perfect chance to check that your pooch is sticking to their training. There will be plenty of times when their obedience will be tested, whether it’s calling them back or interacting with other dogs. Take a few small treats with you when they’re still learning and reward them constantly with praise and cuddles whenever they behave appropriately.

Behaviour

Just like us humans, most dogs have a calm state of mind after a walk. As the common saying goes, a tired dog is a happy dog. Most pooches are extremely active by nature and being cooped up in a house all day is detrimental to their health. Without enough exercise, you may notice your pup starting to act up for extra attention.

To learn more about the importance of daily dog walks, be sure to check out our post on how much exercise your dog needs every day.

What to do when you can’t walk your dog

As loving, responsible pooch parents, we all want to make sure our dogs are living happy and healthy lives. And getting out for regular walks is just one part of that. But sometimes life can be unexpected, and things can come between your quality walking time with your pooch. Whether you’re off on holiday, working long hours or have a chronic injury there are lots of options to ensure your pooch is getting the mental and physical stimulation they need, from dog walkers to doggy day care.

Dog walkers

If you’re at work or away on the weekends, a local dog walker is a great way to make sure your pooch is getting the attention they need. Even if you’re not working long hours, but you cannot get out of the house as often as you’d like because you’re ill or injured, a dog walker can be a life saver for you and your pup.

How much do dog walkers charge?

The cost of hiring a dog walker is dependent on a number of factors. Do you have multiple dogs that need walking? Are they travelling from out of your local area? How many walks per day or week do you require? All of these factors will impact how much your dog walker will charge.

Doggy day care

If you’re out of the house for long periods of time each day, a doggy day care service may be the best option for you. They provide your pooch with the company, walks and daily affection they need. From local dog sitters to a dedicated day care centre, you have a number of options when it comes to choosing a day care for your doggy.

How much is doggy day care?

Similar to dog walking, doggy day care costs can vary significantly anywhere from £15 a day to upwards of £30 per day. The cost depends on a number of factors, primarily the services they provide and how many dogs you are enrolling. Some doggy day care centres may even offer multi-dog discounts, so be sure to shop around. In some cases, it can work out cheaper than dog walking and will involve 1-2 walks as part of the service, so it’s well worth doing a full review of what’s best for your dog.

How to find a dog walker?

Your dog means everything to you (and you to them!), so it’s important you’re happy with your dog walker or sitter. You may be tempted to opt with your local dog walker and simply go for their pricing out of convenience. But you can find a much better deal by shopping around. Using sites like Tailster, you can find a local, reliable professional dog walker, or dog sitter in no time. On Tailster, all featured dog walkers have been thoroughly vetted, so you can have complete peace of mind that your pooch is in good hands.

And if you want to know what your pup is up to without you, Tailster offers GPS tracking, photos and maps so you can see exactly where your dog has been, how long they’ve been out for and how much they are enjoying themselves.

If you fancy giving these guys a try, we’ve asked for a cheeky discount. Use this link to get £10 off your first walk. You’re welcome!

Free options for dog care

Dog walkers are a great way to make sure your pups are getting their daily dose of exercise. However, the solution could be closer to home than you think. Friendly neighbours can be life savers when it comes to looking after your pooch. Whether they spend the whole day with them, pop in every hour or so or take them for a couple of long walks each day, your pup will benefit tremendously from the company.

In any case, choose someone you’re comfortable with, that your pooch likes and who you trust to go in and out of your home. Many of us may feel reluctant to hand over the lead to someone else and miss out on valuable bonding time with our dogs. But if they can enjoy being outdoors, live a happier and healthier life and still make the most of the time you do spend together, your job as a pawrent is complete.

What about holidays?

We’ve covered what to do if you can’t walk your dog regularly, but what about those one-off trips? If you’re heading off on your jollies and can’t take your pooch with you, the last thing you want to do is spend your holiday worrying about their safety. While your dog sitter may be willing to take care of your pooch for a few days, you may occasionally need to look elsewhere.

Luxury kennels and dog hotels offer you the peace of mind you need when enjoying a trip away. With the right kennel or dog hotel, your dog will be able to roam free in spacious gardens, get plenty of rest at night and even be pampered during the day with “doggy spas”.

If you have to be away from your pooch for a few days, or even a couple of weeks, make sure they’re somewhere safe, fun and trusted. They’ll have the time of their life, while you can make the most of your holiday without concerns of your dog’s safety.

Or, if the holiday permits, you could even consider taking your dog abroad.

Keeping your dog entertained at home

There’s lots of ways for you to bond with you dog when you get home. If they’re still full of beans at the end of a long, here are some fun ways to keep your dog happy and healthy at home…

Feeding time = play time

Putting some of your pooch’s favourite food in a feeding toy instead of a bowl is a great way to get them to burn off a few calories. It can also make feeding time more exciting, or work as a great way to reward your dog with treats while still giving them a mini workout.

Hide and seek

Hide and seek isn’t just for children. Your dogs will love playing too. Have someone keep hold of your pooch while you go off and hide. Then call their name and your beloved pup will start to search the house for you. Once they find you, be sure to reward them with cuddles, treats or toys.

Take the stairs

One of the best ways to tire out an over excited puppy is to make the most of what you already have. Walking up the stairs can be a tiring activity for both humans and dogs. But, for your pooch, it can also be exciting. Send a friend up the stairs and take it in turns shouting your dog. They’ll soon have burnt off some excess energy.

If you live alone and struggle to reach the top of the stairs, try throwing a ball or toy to the top and turning it into a game of fetch.

Indoors fetch or tug of war

This is something we do every evening with Smudge to keep him entertained. Occasionally even Boo will get involved too! The back-and-forth, fast-paced nature of the same will tire your pooch out in no time. You can sit back and relax after a long day at work, while enjoying the special bonding time it brings with your dog.

Remember, make sure you’re in a safe space and opt for an indoor-safe ball or a dog-friendly rope chew. Or you may have to explain your way out of a broken TV or window!

Dog tugging on a toy

Stay healthy with Scrumbles

Walking your dog regularly is one of the fundamental responsibilities we have as pawrents. Not only can you help to maintain their health and keep them happy, you will increase your own quality of life with fresh air, friendly faces and quality bonding time with your pooch.

At Scrumbles, as well as knowing what to do when you can’t walk your dog, we think it’s vitally important to give your dog the right food. All our recipes are tailored to dogs’ nutritional needs, with healthy, natural ingredients, giving them all the energy they need to tackle big daily walks.

The Truth About Grain-Free Dog Food: What’s Best for Your Pooch?

The Truth About Grain-Free Dog Food: What’s Best for Your Pooch?

Grain-free dog food is everywhere right now so it must be the best food for our dogs, right? Not exactly. In this post, we’ll examine the pros and cons of grain free dog food to help you determine which dog food is best for your furry friend.

The rise of clean eating

As human eating trends change and evolve, so too do our pets’. In recent years, we’ve seen a huge increase in gluten-free and paleo diets among humans. Typically, it follows that these trends flow through to our perceptions to what’s right for cats and dogs, and some pet food companies have certainly placed big bets on this being the case. The trend of gluten-free has evolved in pet food to exclude all grains with entire aisles now dedicated to grain-free options for our pets. That’s not to say that grain-free pet food is simply a marketing ploy.

Grain-free dog foods play a role for dogs who have grain intolerances and those that use high quality, natural ingredients offer additional choice as every dog is different and has their own taste preferences. A number of grain-free dog foods are packed with high-quality ingredients that can work wonders for your pooch’s digestion. However, it is the use of good ingredients at appropriate ratios that make these good dog foods, rather than the exclusion of grains.

The elimination of an ingredient often leads people to believe that that ingredient is bad. In turn, they think that all recipes excluding that ingredient are good for you – or your dog. This simply isn’t the case. If you’re considering feeding grain-free dog food (or cat food) here are some considerations to help you make the right decision by your pet.

Are dogs carnivores or omnivores?

While most agree that cats are carnivores, dogs are an area of contention with debate around whether dogs are omnivores or carnivores. If our dogs have evolved hunting and eating meat, they must be carnivores, right? Not quite…

Arguments for dogs being omnivores include their ability and evolution to digest carbohydrates including grains, the length of their intestine compared to what’s observed in carnivores and the fact that they produce amylase in their salivary glands – the digestive enzymes that allow them to digest plant-based sources.

Those that argue that dogs are carnivores, refer to their wolf ancestors being carnivores and their carnivorous teeth. They argue that grains therefore are an unnatural source of nutrition for dogs given that their ancestors certainly didn’t consume grains. However, most mammals, including herbivores, have canine teeth – just look at the very scary herbivore that is a hippo. Essentially, this argument doesn’t have any teeth (I couldn’t resist!).

are dogs carnivores

On top of that, wolves have been observed to both graze on grass and regularly consume non-meat content from their prey’s stomachs, so they are not strictly carnivorous, but – probably most importantly – dogs and wolves are not the same.

So that settles it right? Dogs are omnivores. I’m afraid the jury is still out on this one. The evidence is not clear cut either way, although what is clear is that dogs are fully capable of drawing nutrients from grains and that they benefit from meat in their diets.

Dog eating dry food

So, are grains bad for dogs?

Now that we’ve established that dogs can digest grains, should they? And do grains offer any benefits for dogs?

As we’ve seen, grain-free dog food arose from the gluten-free trend in human food. A lot of people believe that grain causes allergies for dogs, but this isn’t supported with evidence. The more common food intolerances for dogs are reported to be beef, dairy, wheat, chicken and egg.

So, opting for a grain-free dog food is unlikely to protect against allergies unless your dog is specifically intolerant to grains. It’s more common for a dog to be gluten intolerant than intolerant to grains and these words are not interchangeable.

What’s the difference between gluten-free and grain-free?

One misconception is that grain-free means the same thing as gluten-free. Some grains – wheat, barley and rye – do indeed contain gluten and if your dog (or cat) has a wheat intolerance, which as we’ve discussed is one of the more common food intolerances, opting for a gluten-free dog food will help you avoid this.

Dogs requiring a gluten-free diet don’t need a grain-free diet. There are grains which don’t contain gluten and offer various benefits for your dog. It’s always best to check the full ingredient list on the back of pack, rather than simply shopping by labels such as gluten-free or grain-free to ensure that the food delivers on the nutrition that your dog needs.

What are the health benefits of whole grains for your dog?

Dogs can enjoy the taste and nutritional benefit of a number of grains, just like us. But, like everything else we feed our dogs, it’s important to make healthy choices and not just opt for the same grains you or I would enjoy. Dogs are different. For example human toothpaste is a no no when it comes to brushing your dogs teeth.

Whole grains are our favourite type of grain for your pooch, providing the most nutrients and goodness. By definition, these are grains that are 100% of the natural kernel, meaning nothing has been removed during production. Whole grains that avoid gluten include brown rice and oats and offer an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Whole grains are high in fibre

Whole grains, particularly brown rice, are full of fibre and a great source of magnesium and selenium, helping to ease digestion and keep your dog’s gut healthy.

Whole grains are antioxidant rich

Many whole grains are packed with antioxidants – the superhero of nutrients! They can help your dog in a number of ways, including aiding weight loss, stabilising blood sugar and promoting good heart health.

Happy dog running through a field

Does grain-free dog food help with allergies?

If your dog is suffering from allergy symptoms, it might be tempting to immediately rush out to buy a variety of new dog foods including grain-free options. Before you rush off to the nearest shop it’s worth first assessing whether food is the culprit.

First things first, it’s important to consult with your vet before making any changes at home. Environmental triggers are far more common than food intolerances. Shampoos, washing powders, dust and cleaning products are all common dog allergies that will display similar symptoms to food allergies. Consult with your vet to make sure your dog’s symptoms aren’t due to environmental causes before you make any unnecessary changes to your dog’s diet.

If you do find that your dog’s allergies are food related, it’s a process of elimination to discover the true culprit. We’ve already discussed that it’s much more likely that your pooch will have an allergy to beef, eggs, chicken, dairy or wheat rather than grains so opting for a grain-free food which contains the ingredient your dog is sensitive to isn’t going to help. Whilst it can be tempting to opt for a fast saliva or blood test, rather than going down the lengthy elimination diet process, we’d recommend avoiding these tests. They not only put your dog under stress but also yield inaccurate results as high as 50-60% false positives

In short, grain-free dog food will help your dog’s allergies if they’re intolerant to grains but for other food sensitivities, it’s not going to offer anything to help ease their symptoms. So, instead of heading straight to the local shops and stocking up on grain-free dog food, take the time to figure out exactly what’s causing your pooch problems.

Is grain-free dog food bad?

We’ve established that gluten free doesn’t mean grain-free. Equally grain-free doesn’t mean healthy dog food. Quality is beyond the grain with some grain-free foods substituting grains for potatoes or legumes potentially causing more problems…

Does grain free dog food cause weight gain?

Grain-free doesn’t mean low carb. Some pawrents decide to make the switch from standard to grain-free dog food as they want to put their pooch on a low-carb or carb-free diet. Whether it’s for weight management, health concerns or simply their own preference, reduced carb diets are popular for both pets and humans nowadays.

Dry food needs a binding ingredient to create the kibble. In a lot of grain-free dog foods, the grains are substituted out with alternative starchy ingredients including legumes and potatoes. So, in reality, you’re not actually cutting carbs at all and could actually be increasing it. As always, it’s important to look at the full ingredient make up to assess the quality of the food and ensure you’re delivering on what your dog needs.

Grain free pet food cancer risk

As well as an obesity epidemic, the media report an increase in cancer rates for pets (and humans). We know from our own diets that food can either protect against or make us vulnerable to cancer. One watch-out ingredient is potato, commonly found in grain-free dry dog food. Potatoes are incredibly starchy, which as well as being difficult to digest for some dogs, also means it has a significantly high acrylamide risk. Studies in rodents have linked acrylamide exposure to cancer. Acrylamide forms during high temperatures, above 120 degrees. To be safe opt for foods that are gently cooked and have low levels of potato or avoid it completely.

Does grain free dog food cause heart disease?

Recent news stories report a link between legume and potato levels in dog food and heart disease. As a result, some pet parents are choosing to avoid grain-free recipes. Once again, grain-free doesn’t mean a food necessarily has legume or potato levels – look at the ingredient make up to determine if it’s a food you’re comfortable feeding.

Is grain-free dog food right for you?

So, there you have it, lots of myths debunked and considerations to help you assess if grain-free dog food is best for your dog. Not all grains are equal and hopefully we’ve drummed in the mantra of “check the ingredients” as your go to for assessing pet food.

If you have consulted a vet, gone through the process of elimination and discovered that your pooch is one of the unfortunate few with a grain intolerance, grain-free dog food is certainly what you need. If, however, you’re looking for the best dog food for your pooch, assess the ingredients fully, and most importantly see how your dog gets along with the food of your choice.

When making any changes to your pooch’s diet, it’s important to remember that all dogs are different, and their nutritional needs differ throughout their lives. It’s best to take things slowly and make the change gradually for your dog’s digestive system.

Our top tip on what to look for is a dog food that’s gut friendly.

Good health begins with the gut

When it comes to choosing a diet for your dog, the health of their gut should be at the forefront of every decision. They only get one digestive system in their lives, and any damage can unfortunately be long lasting and irreversible. Do your research, understand your pooch and make choices based on their preferences and health.

Of course, all dogs need a healthy supply of animal protein to get all essential amino acids. Meat should be the number one ingredient on every dog food recipe. Percentages are important, but they can also be misleading as some brands may include fresh and dried meat in the same category, so be sure to take a closer look at the ingredients list. And for those that have vague terms and are not transparent – run a mile!

Our philosophy at Scrumbles is to focus on gut health. We include probiotics in our range of dry dog food and dry cat food, to aid digestion, improve stool quality and boost their immune system.

Can we help?

If your dog has multiple food sensitivities and you’re struggling to find something, we might be able to help. Our latest range of wet dog food contains single source protein, a limited ingredient recipe with one meat protein source, two vegetables and gut friendly slippery elm. Made in the UK with British meat, choose from 70% chicken, salmon or turkey.

All our natural pet food products are made from gut-friendly, natural ingredients, which are clearly listed on our packaging. However, if you have any questions about our products and ingredients – and what’s best for your dog – be sure to get in touch with our team on hello@scrumbles.co.uk

When Can Puppies Go Outside?

When Can Puppies Go Outside?

Bringing your new puppy home is an exciting time for the whole family – but when can puppies go outside? You’ll no doubt be excited to show them off to friends and family and head out for adventures with your new best friend. After all, you want everyone to love your new pooch as much as you.

While it’s important to socialise your dog and get them used to their environment, you don’t want to put their health at risk. By taking the right precautions, you can ensure that your pup stays happy and healthy while not putting the vital puppy socialisation time at risk.

In this post, we discuss when it’s safe for your puppies to go outside, when can you take your new pup for a walk and why it’s important to take it slow.

Medical restraints

Typically, it’s not recommended to take your dog for walks until they are fully vaccinated. Vaccinations help protect your dog against diseases, making them essential when puppies go outside. Pups in particular are vulnerable to serious diseases, such as parvovirus and canine distemper.

Puppy vaccinations start from around 8 weeks old and they will need two sets of injections before they are fully protected. The second set is usually administered around 2-4 weeks after the first, when your pup is around 11-12 weeks old. Some vets may recommend a third set of injections for high-risk puppies or those without a clear medical background.

Depending where your bundle of joy comes from, they may have had a head start on injections. Some breeders and rehoming centres will give puppies at least their first set of vaccinations, perhaps even the second depending how long they have been there. Be sure to ask whoever you’re getting the pup from for complete paperwork for you to pass on to your vet.

Puppy socialisation

It can be tricky to find the right balance between teaching your pup to be a well-rounded, happy adult and keeping them safe from disease. If you wrap your pooch up in cotton wool for the first few months of their life, they may grow into an anxious, frightened adult with a low quality of life. That’s why it’s important to introduce puppies to new experiences in a safe, risk-free manner.

Here’s how to manage some of the key aspects when puppies go outside:

Getting out & about

While it isn’t recommended to take your puppy out for walks in a public area before they have been vaccinated, you can carry him or her on trips out to your local area, introducing them to the outside world without risking their health. Whether you go for a walk to your local park or wander around the town, getting your puppy used to its environment early in life will help them later on.

Puppy being carried

Making friends

It’s also useful to interact with other people and dogs early on when they are curious and fearless puppies. The more social interactions they can have as youngsters, the happier they’ll be as adults. Some experts suggest that your pup should meet 100 people by the time they’re 16 weeks old. Of course, unless you’ve got an extraordinarily large family or are throwing parties every week, this number may be slightly ambitious.

However, by getting out with your pup, you’re allowing them the chance to meet new people and animals. Just make sure that any dogs they meet have also had their vaccinations.

Toilet training

Those first few weeks and months of your puppy’s life are essential for gaining new skills and forming lifelong habits. Yes, we’re talking about toilet training. But how do you train them to ‘go’ outside if they can’t actually go outside? Waiting for their injections would mean cleaning up messes for 10-12 weeks – and nobody wants that.

Fortunately, there’s no need to wait around that long. Even before the first round of injections, your pup can go in your own private garden, as long as you don’t have other dogs without vaccinations out there. So, you can get started toilet training as soon as you bring your new best friend home.

For more tips on socialising your puppy, take a look at our puppy socialisation checklist to make sure you’re covering all the necessary bases.

When can puppies go outside for walks?

The main reason people ask when can puppies go outside, is because they want to take their precious pooch on a walk. Before you start heading on walks with your puppy, you need to wait until they have had their complete set of vaccinations. Even then, you may find that your pooch isn’t as keen on walkies as you expected. Just like babies, puppies are doing a lot of growing in those first few precious months. So, they need a lot of sleep, with some even sleeping for up to 20 hours a day!

Taking your puppy for long walks before they’re ready can actually hinder their development. You may create a negative association with walking and could even physically harm your pup. The growth plates in puppy’s bones don’t develop fully until they are around 1 year old (longer for large breed puppies), so over-exercising could damage their skeletal structure.

A good rule of thumb for your pup is to aim for around 5 minutes of exercise per month of age until they are fully grown. So, if you bring them home at 8 weeks, you want to limit play time to 20 minutes – ideally 10 minutes, twice a day.

Puppy on a walk

Remember, you want to make sure the first walks you take your pup on are as fun and stress-free as possible. Let them lead the way and don’t drag them along with you, if they want to stop to smell everything along the way, let them do so.

Keep in touch

With the right preparation and all the necessary information, bringing your new bundle of joy home and getting them ready for the great outdoors can be an easy and enjoyable time for everyone.

Whether you’re an experienced pawrent with plenty of tips, or you’re awaiting your furry arrival and want some much-needed advice, we want to hear all about it. Be sure to take plenty of pictures when your puppy goes outside and share them with us on Instagram or Twitter.

Healthy Dog Poop Chart: In Search of the Perfect Poop

A healthy dog poop chart can be highly useful for pet parents. Whether you like it or not, you’ll have to deal with your fair share of poop in your pooch’s lifetime. However, you might want to slow down as you reach for the pooper scooper and take a second to learn more about your dog’s digestive health.

Your pup’s poops can reveal a great deal about their health, so it’s important to know what to look out for. When we were perfecting our natural pet food recipes, we spent a lot of time – a little too much if you ask me! – inspecting poop to gain an insight into how different ingredients affect digestion.

We’re sure most people agree – the less time you spend inspecting your dog’s poops, the better, right? That’s why we’ve created a healthy dog poop chart, complete with a dog poop colour chart and checklist for healthy poos.

The perfect poop

Just like us humans, all dogs are different. Their toilet habits are different too. With that in mind, it’s important to get to know your pup right away and understand what is normal for them. That way, you will be able to recognise any changes in their stools.

While there can be slight differences depending on the pooch, our healthy dog poop chart covers a few things to look out for that are a sign of a healthy dog poop…

Consistency

When cleaning up after your pooch, many of us don’t like to think too much about what’s inside the plastic bag we’re holding. But it’s important to consider the consistency of your dog’s poo as you pick it up, as this can be a sign of other issues.

Healthy dog poop should be compact, moist and hold its shape when picked up. If the poo is runny or watery, this could be a sign of intestinal upset – maybe your pup has eaten something they shouldn’t. Similarly, if the poop feels too hard or dry, your pooch may be suffering from dehydration or constipation. If you notice a change in your dog’s poo consistency, make sure to discuss it with your vet. If you’ve recently changed food, it’s normal to expect some stool variation in the first few days so don’t panic. If things haven’t settled down after 2 weeks then review. Often it’s a case of feeding too much. Feeding guidelines are just guidelines after all, so try reducing the amount you feed and see if that helps.

Size

It goes without saying that the size of your pooch’s poop depends on the size of the dog itself. There’s no way a Yorkshire Terrier will produce as much poo as a Great Dane! But generally speaking, your pooch should produce poops around the same size as the food portions they are eating.

Happy Dog In Field

The key thing to look out for when it comes to poop size is any noticeable changes. Larger than normal poos may mean that your pup’s food isn’t being digested as it should, and they are not getting the necessary nutrients out of it. On the other hand, smaller poops may be a sign of a loss of appetite due to an illness or a blockage in their digestive process.

Frequency

The number of times your dog poops each day should be consistent – whether that’s once or four times per day. As long as it is the same every day, there’s no need to worry. Typically, most pups will go once or twice a day – although some may go four or more times! Our Smudge loves to go three times and spreads it out during her walkies. If we’re lucky she occasionally plans it right next to the poo bin.

It’s important to pay attention to how many poops you’re scooping each day to understand how your pooch is doing. If they go from being a regular once-a-day-er to needing to go four or five times, they could be having some digestion problems and need to see the vet.

Shape

Typically, your pup’s poop should be shaped like a log and maintain its shape when picked up or moved. Look out for pebble-like or rounded poops as this could be a sign of dehydration or stiff joints.

If your pooch is a little older or suffers with joint issues, they may not be able to stay in the right position for long enough to produce a perfect poop. In this case, you may want to consult a vet and give them something to soften their stools to make things a little easier.

quizzical dog

Colour

The main tell-tale sign that something is wrong when it comes to dog poop is its colour. You may not need to look too closely to spot a colour difference, so there’s less inspection necessary. Take a look at our infographic below for a healthy dog poop colour chart, so you know exactly what to look out for.

Anything other than light or dark brown – ideally a milk chocolate colour – may be cause for concern. Your dog food of choice may contain some food colourings too (if so we’d advise to change foods as this is unnecessary nonsense in pet food), so be sure to check the ingredients list as this may affect the colour of your pooch’s poop.

  • Green – Could be a sign of a gall-bladder issue, or that your pup has been over-eating grass, which could indicate stress or intestine troubles.
  • Orange / yellow – This could be a sign of an issue with the liver or pancreas, both of which will require veterinary attention.
  • Red – Red streaks generally mean there is blood in your dog’s poop, which could be due to a cut near your pup’s anus so its worth having a quick look.
  • Black / tarry – Could be a sign of internal bleeding in the stomach or small intestines, which requires urgent attention.
  • Grey / greasy – May mean a pancreas or biliary issue, so get your pooch checked out by your vet.
  • White spots – White, rice-like grains in your pup’s poop could be a sign of tapeworms, which will require treatment.
  • White / chalky – This is usually due to an excess of calcium and other minerals and is typically observed in dogs with a raw diet.

Keeping your pooch happy & healthy

The main thing to bear in mind when it comes to your puppy’s poop is that it is directly influenced by their diet. Prioritise dog food that is designed to promote good digestion. Our range of dog food (and cat food) is designed to be good for the gut, including ingredients like Slippery Elm and probiotics – the key to the perfect poop!

Regular exercise, a stress-free environment and the right diet should keep your pooch’s digestion running smoothly and save you from cleaning up even messier messes!

For more tips and guidance on being the best pawrent, head over to our Facebook page and share your favourite pet stories with us!

Healthy dog poop chart

In Search of the Perfect Poop

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Dentastix: Are They Good or Bad for My Dog?

Dentastix: Are They Good or Bad for My Dog?

Are Dentastix good or bad? It’s a question asked by so many proud pawrents. After all, we all want what is best for our pup. Alongside showers of daily affection and long walks in the countryside, dental care is vital for your furry friend.

Brushing your pooch’s teeth is just as important as brushing your own, and should be part of every pet parent’s daily routine. While there is no substitute to an old-fashioned toothbrush and paste (dog specific toothpaste not human toothpaste!), a lot of people use oral care chews and sticks like Dentastix, which claim to keep your pup’s teeth clean and healthy.

Read on as we discuss whether or not these chews and sticks are beneficial for your dog’s teeth.

What is in Dentastix?

We wouldn’t eat or chew on something if we had no idea what was it in, right? So, why expect your pup to do just that? Here in the UK, pet food and treat companies aren’t legally obliged to list individual ingredients in their product. Instead, they can simply list them by category.

As a result, a lot of ingredients may be hidden, and you may not be fully aware of what you’re giving to your beloved dog. Fortunately, we’ve broken down the categories to give you a clearer idea of what nutrients your pooch is getting.

Cereals

Some dog food companies use the term ‘cereals’ to describe all different types of grains. With this blanket term, it is impossible to know what type of grains are in Dentastix or the quality of the grains. If you have a dog who has a sensitive stomach or any food intolerances, not knowing what’s in the food can make it hard to identify the problem ingredient.

Derivatives of vegetable origin

The vagueness of this term means you simply do not know what you’re getting in each chew. One batch could be different to another depending on the vegetable products that are available at the pad.

Meat & animal derivatives

Meat and animal derivatives could be any part of any animal, from heads and brains to hair and feathers. This means manufacturers could change the recipe of their chews depending on the animal products that are available or cheapest at any given time.

Minerals

While ‘minerals’ is used as an attractive selling point, it’s actually impossible to know what they are. It can include Sodium Tripolyphosphate (E451) – an artificial preservative that is a common component of detergents, antifreeze and flame retardants.

Oils & fats

This refers to all fats and oils from plants or animals, whether that’s beneficial oils and high-quality animal fats or potentially harmful, highly processed oils. It’s impossible to know just by looking at the label.

Dog chewing on a stick

Do Dentastix clean your dog’s teeth?

Despite the confusion when it comes to the Dentastix recipe, they are used around the world to keep dogs’ teeth clean and healthy. According to their advertisements, they are even recommended by vets. So, they mustn’t be all bad, right?

Yes, Dentastix do contain specific ingredients designed to clean your pooch’s teeth. The question is whether or not you think feeding these dental chews are good for your dog’s health overall.

Active ingredients

The main Dentastix ingredient that cleans your dog’s teeth is Sodium Tripolyphosphate, a chemical which can break down plaque and tartar. However, the chemical only accounts for around 2.3% of each Dentastix stick, so you want to be comfortable that the other 97.7% is good for your dog…

Hidden ingredients

The majority of the ingredients in a Dentastix stick are not actually doing much by way of teeth cleaning. Extra additives are used to improve flavour, add texture and to appeal to the mass market. However, these additional ingredients could actually be doing more harm than good. Cereals, for instance, are turned into sugars when ingested, which can actually lead to cavities and bad breath – the very things you’re trying to prevent!

Only the best for man’s best friend

We believe clean ingredients are best for your pooch’s health, making Dentastix a no no. But at the same time, no pawrent wants to be dealing with smelly breath and poor dental health. While it can be tricky to maintain a healthy companion while navigating the pet food market, there are a few simple things to look out for to ensure your beloved pup is full of the good stuff.

Named ingredients

First things first, when choosing the perfect chew for your pooch, named sources are best. Look for simple, natural ingredients that you recognise. That way, you know what you’re giving to your dog (and what you’re not giving to your dog) so are at less risk of any harmful additives making their way into your pup’s system.

No substitute for the real thing

Of course, dental chews are a great way to keep on top of your dog’s hygiene and health. But there’s simply no substitute for good old-fashioned tooth brushing. Getting a hyper, excited dog to sit still for a few minutes every day for a tooth clean can be difficult – we get it, we’ve been through it with Smudge! – but its definitely worth it in the long run. And don’t forget human toothpaste is a no no for dogs (and cats!). Choose a toothpaste formulated for dogs.

Dog with a brush in its mouth

Tough chews

If you’re in the market for a dental chew for your dog, look for something hard so they have to work really hard to eat them. The chewing and scraping motions are what does the trick when it comes to cleaning, so a soft or flimsy chew simply won’t cut it.

Supervise your pup

Once you’ve found the perfect chew for your pooch, it’s important to always keep an eye on them when they’ve got it. Even with the hardest of chews, your dog could break them apart and may choke on smaller pieces without proper supervision.

Keep in touch

Exciting news! Scrumbles have our own healthy alternative to Dentastix with ingredients that are designed to keep those gnashers clean and benefit your dogs overall well being. Hand baked here in the UK, our dental chews are super yummy and perfect for keeping your beloved pooch’s teeth clean. Follow us on our Instagram and Twitter pages for more pupdates.

Be sure to comment below with your handy tricks for keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. And stay up to date with our blog to learn new things about our favourite topic – pets!

Cat Teeth Cleaning: A Guide to Your Kitty’s Dental Health

Cat Teeth Cleaning: A Guide to Your Kitty’s Dental Health

Do you clean your cat’s teeth? Despite the popular proverb about having nine lives, cats only get two sets of teeth in their lifetime. That means, just like human teeth, cat teeth cleaning is an important part of caring for your kitty.

Considering our furry friends can’t do much themselves to maintain good dental health, it’s up to the pawrents to take control and make sure our precious cat’s teeth last a lifetime.

Of course, unless you’re a vet or experienced pet parent, it can be difficult to know how to clean your cat’s teeth. In this post we discuss why clean teeth are important for a happy, healthy cat and how exactly to clean your cat’s teeth.

Why cat teeth cleaning is important

In a previous blog post on the importance of cleaning your dog’s teeth, we discussed how a whopping 80% of our pets will show signs of poor dental health as they grow. Cats in particular are susceptible to periodontal disease, making it hugely important to keep your kitty happy and healthy with regular check-ups and teeth cleans.

Cat teeth cleaning

Without regular cleaning, cats can get a build-up of plaque on their teeth, just like we do. If left to fester, this plaque can harden and form tartar, which can be very irritating on the gums and could result in tooth loss. Not only that, poor dental health could cause your kitty to have heart or kidney complications, so it’s best to be strict with toothbrush time.

Looking out for warning signs

In order to prevent these devastating complications, its important to look out for signs of dental decay or disease. Cats are quiet warriors and often suffer in silence, so you may not notice right away that there are any issues. Fortunately, there are a few key signs to look out for, including:

Bad breath

One of the most obvious and hard to ignore signs of poor dental health is bad breath. While you may not want to get up close and personal with your kitty’s mouth, foul-smelling breath can be hard to miss!

Physical signs

Getting into a habit of regularly checking your cat’s gums and teeth can be great when it comes to spotting dental disease early on. If their gums start to look red or their teeth are a yellowish-brown, it could be a sign of something more sinister.

Change in eating habits

If your cat starts to drop food from their mouth, chew only on one side or simply becomes unable to eat, they could have a nasty case of gingivitis – a dental disease that causes severe inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis is easy to spot. You’ll notice a dark red line along your cats tongue and if it’s been left for a while, you might also come across ulcers. If you suspect your cat has gingivitis, get a check up with the vet to avoid it developing into periodontitis and causing more harm for your kitty.

Reluctance to play

Whether you’ve got a sociable kitty or they prefer time to themselves, any change in their playtime could be a sign of dental pain. If they are suffering with tooth problems, they may turn away if you try to play or engage them in any way.

ginger cat with paws over its face

How to clean your cat’s teeth

If you’ve noticed any signs of dental disease or pain in your cat, you should always get them checked out by a vet to make sure there are no long-lasting problems. However, it’s important to prevent issues and reduce the chances of your kitty developing dental diseases by establishing a regular cat teeth cleaning routine.

Cat teeth cleaning essentials

First things first, you will need to buy some pet toothpaste. Don’t be tempted to use your own – human toothpaste is harmful for both cats and dogs. You’ll also need to get a cat finger brush – a small attachment with bristles for you to place on your finger – or a pet toothbrush. Pet toothbrushes are a little different to the ones we know and love, with small rounded bristles that helps to remove plaque and prevent tartar.

Start slowly

Taking it one step at a time is the best way to get your kitty used to the toothbrushing routine. Ideally you’ll have introduced your cat to getting their teeth cleaned at a young age. If you have an older cat fear not, with a little patience and a consistent routine you’ll be able to get their pearly whites sparkling. Put a little toothpaste onto their lips or gums to get them used to the flavour initially. Once your cat allows it, place a small amount of toothpaste on your chosen brush and use gentle circular movements on the sides of their teeth. It should take less than a minute to brush your cat’s teeth.

Keep up this routine for a few weeks, using a little paste and gentle movements every day until your cat becomes used to it and will allow you to brush their teeth regularly, ideally daily.

More than just the teeth

Taking care of your kitty’s dental health is about more than just teeth. Tooth decay is usually the final stage of dental disease, so it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of irritated or inflamed gums. To improve gum health, give your cat a little gum massage after brushing their teeth each day. This will accelerate healing and strengthen their gums. Your vet can also recommend specialist products to keep your precious kitty happy and healthy.

Using the right products

Another way to prevent dental health issues is by choosing the right products for your cat. You need to ensure that, from being a kitten, the food you choose for your little one is beneficial for their growth, happiness and dental health. Specialist chews and treats will also benefit your kitty’s gum health. Be sure to check the ingredients as some treats and food contain ingredients like added sugars which can worsen their teeth. Look out for “vegetable stock” in the ingredient list which is added for palatability and can include added sugars and salt.

In the wild, cats maintain good dental health by chewing on grass, leaves and bones. House cats are a little different. Without the availability of these items, house cats may search for suitable replacements. Getting them a chewy toy or two to sink their teeth into can help them to keep their gums and teeth clean.

Keep your cat comfortable and secure

It’s not fun to have people playing around with your teeth and if your cats anything like our Boo, brushing teeth is not something they’ll look forward to. You can help make your cat happier by establishing a routine somewhere comfortable – we put Boo on the sofa. If your kitty is likely to scratch you can place a blanket over their paws or swaddle them.

Calling on the experts

If your cat has heavy tartar build up or red gums, they might require a professional clean. Your vet will be able to advise if this is necessary. Plaque can be removed with regular brushing but if tartar has established, you’ll need the experts to remove it. A professional dental clean can be costly so it’s best to establish a teeth cleaning routine to avoid this. As it also involves putting your cat under with anaesthetic, it can cause stress for both you and your kitty.

Even if you’ve established a good teeth cleaning routine, it’s important to have regular checks with the vet to ensure your cat is fighting fit.

Keep in touch

At Scrumbles, we’re passionate about all things pets. Whether you’re a new cat pawrent or an experienced pet owner, we want to hear all about your exciting journey – cat teeth cleaning and beyond. Keep up to date on all our furry friends’ adventures on our Instagram page and share your cat teeth cleaning tips in the comments below.

Pregnant Cat Checklist

Pregnant Cat Checklist

A pregnant cat brings about lots of excitement. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to cat pregnancy, our checklist will help keep your cat and future kittens happy and healthy. With your home needing to be prepared, vet appointments to be booked and extra TLC to be given, its important to be able to spot the signs that your cat may be expecting as soon as possible.

How to tell if a cat is pregnant

First things first, is your cat pregnant?

Spotting a pregnant cat is easier said than done for most pet owners. But it’s always a good idea to check whether your cat is expecting, rather than leaving it to chance. While there are worse things to come home to than a litter of adorable kittens, a surprise pregnancy can be stressful and emotional for both sets of pawrents.

If you’ve welcomed your own baby into the world, you know how much your body and mind change during pregnancy. Your cat is no different. Spotting these changes early on is best for ensuring a healthy pregnancy for both the mother and their kittens. Fortunately, with all the physical and mental changes occurring, there are a number of signs to look out for:

Changes in appearance

The most obvious and easily noticeable signs of a pregnant cat are the changes to her appearance. Her nipples may become darker and more enlarged as she prepares to nurse her babies. This typically takes place 2-3 weeks during her pregnancy. You may also become aware of weight gain, specifically around her tummy, which is otherwise unexplained.

Pregnant cats can gain around 1-2kg, depending on how many kittens they are carrying, which should be noticeable if you look at her body shape from above. You may be tempted to touch her belly to feel for signs of life, but you should avoid doing this too much as you could risk hurting the new mum or her babies.

If your cats tummy has swelled but you don’t think she could be pregnant, take her to the vet as this could signal an illness.

Changes in behaviour

Pregnant or nursing cats are known as ‘queens’, and they can certainly live up to their title! She will start to sleep more during the day, appearing to have less energy or desire to move. Your queen may also start to act more maternal and needier, seeking extra attention from you – when she’s awake that is! If you notice your cat rolling around on the floor and being highly vocal, chances are, you have a pregnant cat!

Cat playing on the floor

If you are an experienced pawrent and have had your kitty for a while, you might be able to recognise when your cat is in heat. Just like humans, female cats have periods of peak fertility, which happen once every three weeks or so. Typically, you’ll notice her being more affectionate to others and walking a little differently. However, if her heat cycle suddenly comes to a halt or she displays different behaviours, this could be a sign of cat pregnancy.

Changes in eating habits

Another sign of a pregnant is a change in their appetite. This depends on the individual cat. Your queen could suddenly go off her food and refuse to eat, or she may begin to eat everything and anything in sight. Either way, any drastic change to her eating habits could be a sign of pregnancy, so it’s important to be aware of how much, how often and what food your cat is eating.

Just like a human pregnancy, pregnant cats can get morning sickness and cravings. She may start to be sick on a regular basis as soon as 3-4 weeks into the pregnancy. Don’t panic. Sickness is normal for a pregnant cat. However, it’s a good idea to get her checked out by the vet if:

  • She doesn’t eat for more than 3 days
  • She is being excessively sick
  • She is eating anything other than her food in abundance

How long is a cat pregnant?

Cat pregnancies typically last around 65-69 days, so there’s no time to waste! Once you know for sure if your furry family is growing, you can start planning and preparing for the big day.

While it’s important to look out for physical, behavioural or nutritional changes in your kitty, the only way to know if your cat is pregnant for sure is by booking her in with the vet. They can carry out an ultrasound to confirm whether she is expecting and can usually determine how many kittens she is carrying. So, as soon as you start to notice any of the above changes, book her an appointment to get a pregnancy confirmation.

Caring for your pregnant cat

A little extra TLC

With her body beginning to go through drastic changes, it’s understandable that your queen will require some extra love and care. She may not want to leave the house as often and you might notice that she seeks out some alone time in a quiet place. If so, it’s best to leave her to it. Chances are, she’s starting to nest and is searching for the ideal peaceful spot to bring her kittens into the world.

Feeding your pregnant cat

Your queen won’t just be ‘eating for two’ – each litter tends to have an average of 4-6 kittens. With so many mouths to feed, it goes without saying that she may need a little extra in her bowl each day – food intake can quadruple in this time. She’ll need to be fed small meals several times throughout the day and should have access to fresh water at all times. During her pregnancy you can leave dry kitten food out for her to graze on.

Pregnant cat being fed a kibble

Pregnant cats dietary requirements differ to their non pregnant diet. Your pregnant cat will need extra protein and energy. As soon as you’ve confirmed your cat is pregnant, switch them from their normal adult cat food to a kitten food. Kitten food is packed with extra calories and the nutrients your queen needs to keep herself and her kittens healthy. If you’ve not tried Scrumbles, our high quality natural kitten food also includes a probiotic to keep their digestive system happy and boost their immune system. And most importantly keep those poos in check.

As with any food change, make sure you transition over a period of 7-10 days to keep her sensitive stomach happy. You should continue feeding a kitten formula until her kittens have been weaned off her milk.

Cleaning up

You worked tirelessly to house train your cat and now she’s started to leave messes on the floor again. Frustrating, right? However, the latter stages of pregnancy are not the time to scold your queen for having an accident or two. She simply can’t help it. The extra pressure on her bladder can make it harder to reach the litter box in time.

During those final precious few weeks, her nipples may also begin to swell and leak milk. Keeping your queen, and yourself, as calm as possible during those later stages is important for a healthy pregnancy and birth, so make sure you’re regularly changing her bed blankets to provide a warm, clean and cosy safe space.

Keeping your pregnant cat safe

If your cat is an outdoor cat, you’ll want to keep them safe and secure indoors from around the 6th week of pregnancy.

Preparing for the big day

In what feels like no time at all, your beloved kitty will be becoming a mother herself. You may have spent weeks, even months, preparing for delivery. But it can still come as a surprise for some. There are a few key signs that your queen is in or about to go into labour:

  • Restlessness – Around 24-48 hours before the birth, your pregnant cat may appear restless or anxious, pacing around her nesting area
  • Vocalisation – She might begin to meow and cry out more than usual. Don’t worry. She’s just letting you know the kittens are coming
  • Temperature changes – Around 24 hours before giving birth, her body temperature will drop below 38°C, so be sure to have a thermometer handy
  • Loss of appetite – In the run up to giving birth, your cat may lose her appetite and stop eating altogether.

If the time has come and your cat is displaying signs of labour, now is the time to put all your research to good use and help her bring her new kittens into the world safely.

Let her lead the way

Whether you want to call for a vet or you feel confident doing things yourself, make sure your queen is in a safe and comfortable space when the time comes. A number of pet pawrents have delivered their kittens successfully. But we recommend having a vet on call, just in case something doesn’t go as expected.  

The mum-to-be will probably start wandering around the house, looking for a good nesting space to give birth in. While you can create a quiet corner with a paper lined box, it’s important to let her lead you on this one and don’t try to move her from her comfortable spot. If a pregnant cat feels threatened or stressed at all, her labour could halt entirely which can be dangerous for both her and her kittens. Cats will typically seek an enclosed space for giving birth – choose an option with low sides for her to get in and out easily.

Create a peaceful environment

We understand this is an exciting time for the whole family. Every auntie, sister, brother and friend wants to be there to witness this miraculous experience. But your queen’s needs come first, and she needs a quiet, peaceful environment in which she feels safe.

So, whether they like it or not, the kids and other pets need to stay out of the room during the birth and you need to make sure your home is as quiet and calm as possible. You should delay the introduction of your new family members until they have had chance to settle in and relax to avoid causing stress to the newborn kittens.

Take a step back

With all the excitement and nerves surrounding the birth, it’s easy to get carried away and think that you need to help your cat out. However, there is no need for you to get involved with the birth at all. Mum always knows best. Nature will kick in, allowing her to safely deliver her babies alone.

Your cat will first experience a number of strong abdominal contractions and then you’ll notice some vaginal discharge. After this, the kittens should start to appear. The amount of time to deliver each kitten can vary from as little as 5 minutes to up to half an hour per kitten.

Kittens will appear with an amniotic sac surrounding them that your cat will typically open. If she doesn’t you’ll need to step in here and gently open the membrane using a towel to allow the kittens to breathe. Once all the kittens are out, your cat should bite through the umbilical cord, but again if she doesn’t you’ll need to help here.

If you’re worried about any of these steps, check with your vet ahead of the big day and on the big day if you suspect something has gone wrong, for example the discharge is bloody or particularly heavy call the vet immediately. Preparation will help you ensure your pregnant cat is safe and comfortable throughout and beyond her pregnancy.

Congratulations – you are now a proud new pawrent! Although it’s tempting to dive straight in with cuddles for these new bundles of joy, the new mum may become fiercely protective if anyone goes too near her kitties, so give them all time to settle first. Only when all kittens have arrived and mum is calm and relaxed should you move all the cats to a clean and comfortable area.

Pregnant after-care

Whether you’re planning to keep all the kittens, or send them off to loving new homes, you’re responsible for these new bundles of joy for at least the first few weeks of life. Bringing home a new kitten can be a scary time for any new pawrent, but the new mum will have all the instincts and nutrients needed to allow her babies to grow.

It’s not until around 4 weeks has passed that kittens will be ready to wean onto solid food. Check out our post on feeding kittens to read more about this little milestone in their lives. 

Keep in touch

If your beloved queen has just delivered her first litter or you’re still wondering if she’s expecting, we want to hear all about it. Comment below with any tips of your own for cat pregnancy along with stories about your own pregnant cat.

For more information about all things pets, be sure to check out our blog.