Winter dog walks

Dog walks, every pooches daily highlight. This week our friends from Canine cottages have pulled together a helpful guide to inspire new adventures for winter holidays with your fur friend. Read on for a helpful guide on the best the UK has to offer for dog walks.

Why winter walkies are the best walkies…

Want to get your dog’s tail wagging extra this winter? Not a difficult feat with the amazing selection of dog-friendly places to visit and walking destinations on offer across the UK, ready to welcome winter wanderers with both two legs and four. 

As the remains of summer and autumn fade away, the British landscape becomes a winter wonderland for our canine friends – mud is brought in by the truckload, puddles get deeper (and much more fun) and the first sprinklings of frost appears underpaw, ready for the festive season ahead. So, dust off Fido’s best winter coat and check out our top destinations for pet-friendly holidays with your best pal.

Best place for country winter dog walks – Devon

dog walks Devon

Woofers with walkies on their minds will be thrilled to find the car heading in the direction of Devon. With not one but two spectacular coastlines at their disposal for bracing winter walks with the human, beach-loving hounds will get the best of both coast and country, with many of the county’s stretches of sand backing onto fabulous country parks and muddy forests. The windswept wilds of Dartmoor and Exmoor offer some of the best winter walks around too – deep wooded valleys, pretty rivers and rugged moors to explore, not to mention the odd wild pony for company.

Best place for watery dog walks – Lake District

Esthwaite lake, cumbria, Lake District

Canines looking for a more tranquil way to spend their holiday will love a trip to the Lakes. Sixteen glacial expanses of water to stroll around at their leisure, multiple forest trails for squirrel stare-outs and quaint villages with dog-friendly pubs to warm the old paws are all on offer in this delightful region. Best of all are the tranquil boat trips across the water, so lazy pups can see the sights without so much as having to lift a paw.

Best place for mountain winter dog walks – Wales

Brecon Beacons, Wales, dog walks

Grab your rucksacks (note from the dog: add extra dog treats for energy) and head up to the magnificent mountain ranges of Wales. Fit dogs with a whole heap of stamina can join their willing owners for a trek up the snowy summits of Snowdonia for the best scenery around, while wobbly woofers should sniff out the lower lakeside trails. Those looking for waterfalls, nature reserves, castles and caves should head to the Brecon Beacons where you will find them in abundance.

Best place for forest dog walks – New Forest

dog running free, Rhodesian ridgeback dog

You may need your waggy one’s wellies for this one as it gets M-U-D-D-Y. There’ll be no complaints from the canine department, however, as the 140 miles of trails and forest walks of the New Forest are pretty much what winter is all about. Let them run free across unspoilt pastureland, heath and ancient woodland (being wildlife and pony aware of course), then stop off in one of the picturesque village pubs or cafés to refuel, before treating them to an afternoon out at one of the dog-friendly places to visit nearby.

Best place for coastal dog walks – Cornwall

land's end, Cornwall, walks

Hounds with water on their minds should head to Cornwall – its fabulous selection of over 130 pup-friendly beaches (50 of which welcome sea dogs all year round) have great stretches of sand to scamper across and turquoise waters for premium wave dodging. There are also lots of places to make new walking buds such as Land’s End and the Lizard Heritage Coast and best of all, it has a sub-tropical climate so winter doesn’t get too chilly here – great for those older dogs who suffer from the cold.

Best place for off-grid winter walkies – Scotland

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Step it up a gear with a walk in the remote wilds of Scotland. Wrap up warm and explore the Orkney and Shetland Islands, the Trossachs National Park and Loch Lomond, or the Cairngorms National Park – all simply made for bracing winter walks. For something remote, take scenery-loving four paws to the dreamy Luskentyre Beach in the Outer Hebrides where creamy white sands and green hills studded with pink rock create a breathtaking backdrop to a walk at any time of year. We can’t even begin to describe its beauty – it has to be seen to be believed.

dog friendly accommodation

For busy puppers, walkies are really what winter is all about. But all that splashing through puddles, scaling snowy summits and sliding down muddy banks needs a cosy cottage to return to at night. So why not let them stretch out in front of a roaring wood burner and snuggle up with their favourite human on fabulous pet-friendly holidays with Canine Cottages and their range of dog-friendly cottages

Holidays with dogs have never been such fun!

A Mini Guide to the Miniature Schnauzer

A Mini Guide to the Miniature Schnauzer

Friendly – Faithful – Lively

Introducing the Miniature Schnauzer

From an adorable ball of fluff that can literally fit in one hand, to the revered, majestic breed oozing sophistication. The miniature schnauzer grows into such distinguished looks that grown men can only envy its facial hair. But don’t let their appearance fool you, they are still just silly puppies at heart.

Join us in looking at this special German breed in more detail…

Breed Basics

Average Lifespan: 10 – 13 years

Average Weight: Female = 5kg – 8kg, Male = 5kg – 9kg

Trainability: Very Easy

Shedding: None

Colours: Black, White, Salt & Pepper, Black & Silver, Parti (This is a brown and white variant, not as well known)

Job/Type: Terrier/Companion

History of The Miniature Schnauzer

Originally bred from a combination of standard schnauzers, affenpinschers, and poodles. The miniature schnauzer was bred to be a ratting dog as opposed to the all-round farm dog of the standard variation. Now however, miniature schnauzers are more of a companion dog or a show dog (depending on lineage). The first miniature schnauzer was officially recorded into the kennel club in 1888.

Did you know? The miniature schnauzer is the only terrier that has no British blood.

Miniature Schnauzer Temperament & Personality

Miniature schnauzers are extremely affectionate little dogs, often regarded as a spirited, obedient and willing to please. For this reason, training is very enjoyable with them. They are highly motivated by food and the opportunity for praise. Although they are not used for ratting now, they do still retain some ratting behaviours. Miniature Schnauzers are very vocal by nature, you shouldn’t mistake their noise for aggression.

How Big Is A Miniature Schnauzer?

The miniature schnauzer is a small breed dog. Some are taller and may weigh more than others, but usually they are small.

  • Height = 30cm – 36cm

Grooming A Miniature Schnauzer

Schnauzers don’t shed their fur so are often referred to as hypoallergenic. They need to be groomed regularly, in some cases as often as a 6-weekly basis.

There are a few variations on a miniature schnauzer look: the natural, the teddy bear/puppy, the show, the traditional/standard and shaved.

The Natural

  • This is just leaving the coat to do its own thing. It needs a brush and comb (in that order) of the coat each day, focusing on; the skirt (the long hair that falls from their body between their front and back legs), legs/feet, and beard.

The Teddy Bear (Puppy)

  • This cut strips away more hair than that of the show or traditional, keeping the overall shape of the features but minimalizing them.
  • Maintenance is lower for this type of cut and is best for those that either have less time for grooming, or for dogs that are often re-living their ratting days in the mud.

The Show

  • As the name implies, this cut is what you would use if you were to enter your furfriend into a show of any kind. Although the hair is left a little longer than the traditional, it can take longer to finish as it requires a lot of hand stripping which is more precise than clippers.
  • This cut would require daily maintenance with a brush and comb.

The Traditional

  • Very similar to the show cut, but instead of hand stripping the fur, clippers would be used. You would still need to brush and comb daily but as the fur will be slightly shorter there is a little more breathing room for working out matts.

The Shaved

  • Not what it may seem; the shaved look doesn’t shave the dog entirely. The head and legs are usually left to their natural fluffiness, with the tail and skirt being trimmed.
A happy miniature schnauzer

Are Miniature Schnauzers Good Family Dogs?

Miniature schnauzers are extremely friendly, loyal dogs that are more people oriented than dog friendly. They make great family dogs, however, will often single someone out as their ‘soul-mate’, this doesn’t mean they disregard everyone else; they just like to pick favourites.

Are Miniature Schnauzers Aggressive?

Miniature schnauzers are vocal, but most wouldn’t hurt a fly, they just let you know they are there. When schnauzers play together you really begin to understand them as they have a unique play style; beards flaring, teeth showing, lots of noise. It’s all completely harmless. Any dog can be aggressive, but miniature schnauzers aren’t known for it.

Are Miniature Schnauzers Intelligent?

Miniature schnauzers are extremely intelligent dogs; combine that with their loves of food and eagerness to please, they are amazing for training

Miniature Schnauzer Puppy

Miniature Schnauzer Health Watch-outs 

Miniature schnauzers are quite a sensitive breed with a few common health watch-outs:

Allergies: Miniature schnauzers have sensitive skin and stomachs which are prone to allergies relating to both areas.

Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a brain disorder that causes seizures and fitting; sadly, dogs as young as 6 months can be affected. Visit your vet if you fear your dog might be affected.

Diabetes: any dog can be diabetic; however, some breeds are more susceptible than others. Miniature schnauzers being one of those breeds.

Cushings disease: miniature schnauzers have a genetic predisposition to cushings disease and unfortunately, 10% of diabetic dogs, also have cushings disease.

Gastrointestinal: miniature schnauzers have sensitive digestive systems, making them prone to gastroenteritis or obstructions due to eating things they shouldn’t. Miniature schnauzers are also prone to pancreatitis which is the 4th most common illness in miniature schnauzers.

Liver: liver disease is 3 times more common in miniature schnauzers than in any other breed of dog.

Urinary (bladder stones): bladder stones are more common in smaller and toy breeds, especially miniature schnauzers who are more likely to contract them than any other breed. Male dogs and overweight dogs are even more at risk of bladder stones.

Nutritional Requirements of A Miniature Schnauzer

Allergies: Miniature schnauzers are more prone to allergies than most, feeding a hypoallergenic dog food with limited ingredients can be a good baseline for avoiding any complications.

Diabetes: there are 2 types of diabetes, the simplest way to help avoid both; is to limit the sugar intake, in particular foods with unnecessary added sugars and to limit the amount of food the dog eats. Watch out for ingredients like “stock” which can be a covert way of getting added sugar and salt into a recipe.

Liver: To avoid liver problems, look for foods with a high-quality protein source. Adding omega-3 fatty acids can also aid in liver health.

Urinary: as miniature schnauzers are prone to bladder stones, ensuring they have access to plenty of fresh water at all times is critical. A healthy active lifestyle and good diet both help reduce instances of stones.

How Can Scrumbles Help?

Our dog food uses only single source, high quality proteins which aid in liver health. Our food is hypoallergenic and a limited ingredient list which is great for dogs that are prone to allergies. We add salmon oil as a source of omega-3 fatty acids which are great for overall health. We use pro-biotics in our dry food to aid in digestive health and sensitive tums. As well as this, our wet food and treats contain slippery elm which has been proven to line the digestive tract, improving digestive efficiency.

Finally, for those dogs unfortunate to be diagnosed with pancreatitis, finding treats they can still safely enjoy can be very tricky. Thankfully our Gnashers, which are a vegan product and therefore naturally low in fat are suitable.

Conclusion

Miniature schnauzers are a faithfully affectionate breed that are eager to please. Although they were originally bred for ratting, they find more comfort on a lap these days. Still, be careful of what they catch (if anything) as their sensitive tums may not tolerate it very well; be aware of the few health risks miniature schnauzers are susceptible to and they will live a long and happy life with you as their centre of attention.

Sphynking about a Sphynx Cat?

Sphynking about a Sphynx Cat?

Affectionate – Intelligent – Sociable

Sphynx cats are known for their striking looks. Their furless coats and piercing eyes are unlike any other breed of cat. Their unorthodox appearance makes them some what of a marmite cat, but as we all know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder; and what we be-holding is a wrinkly bag of Sphynx affection.

Below we will indulge in the wrinkly world of weird, that is the highly inquisitive Sphynx cat.

Breed Basics

Average Lifespan: 10-15

Average Weight: Female = 2.7 – 3.6kg, Male = 3.6 – 5kg

Colours: Tabby, black & white, cream, red, chocolate, lavender, tortoiseshell, calico.

History Of The Sphynx Cat

Sphynx cats were a happy little accident that began with the birth of Prune, The hairless mutated kitten of Elizabeth, the Canadian short hair in 1966. Prune was then bred with his mother to produce a few more hairless kittens that were later exported to Europe in order to spread the hairless gene into a healthier pool. 

The first Sphynx cat to arrive in the UK was Tulip, a 4-year-old from Holland who was shown in several exhibits and becoming a great ambassador to the Sphynx breed community.

These days, breeders outcross with Russian Blue’s and Domestic Shorthairs to maintain healthy kittens.

Did you know? Tulip lived to the ripe old age of 15 years old!

Sphynx Cat Temperament & Personality

Sphynx cats are often personified as being very ‘dog-like’ or even ‘child-like’ in behaviour/personality. Sphynx’s are highly intelligent and sociable cats that constantly crave your attention. Despite their rather unorthodox and arguably not so cuddly appearance, Sphynx cats are extremely affectionate and playful cats so keeping them entertained is essential. They are very inquisitive, which is why they are often likened to children, as well as the fact that they hate being on their own; they are very ‘people’ focused and like to be in your face 24/7. Ideally, Sphynx cats should be kept with another animal, preferably another Sphynx, but they also love children, anyone that will give them the attention they crave is welcome in the home of a Sphynx. Sphynx’s are also very chatty, so much so that most owners can often have full 2-way conversations with their Sphynx’s.

Did you know? Sphynx cats can be trained to play fetch!

2 Sphynx cats chilling together

How Big Does A Sphynx Cat Get?

Sphynx cats are classed as a medium sized cat;

Average height = 20-25cm

Average Length = 33-38cm

Do I Need To Groom My Sphynx Cat?

Although Sphynx cats are hairless, they still require a good level of grooming. Outside of copious amounts of self-grooming that Sphynx’ partake in, they will also require regular ear cleaning, nail clipping, teeth brushing, acne care, and baths.

Nail Clipping is supplemental to cat scratchers and walking on hard surfaces; it is important to keep an eye on the length of your kitty’s claws in case they start growing inward or catching on things, as this can be painful. 

Ear Cleaning is not always essential, but you should keep an eye on them in case there is wax build up or sign of infections etc.

Teeth Cleaning is not always an easy task with cats, but still very important. Cat dental health is just as important as our own, so brushing their teeth like we would our own is decisive in dental upkeep.

Acne Care is something unique to Sphynx cats, because they are hairless, the oils in their skin can produce blackheads on their chins. You should scrub their skins lightly with warm water and a vet recommended antibacterial soap, then wipe with a cotton ball soaked in witch hazel. Make sure you to rinse off with cool water.

Bathing a Sphynx cat is important to keep on top of regularly, due to their hairlessness, if left too long in one place, a Sphynx cat can leave marks due to their oily skin.

Sphynx cat in a bath

Are Sphynx Cats Good House Cats?

Sphynx cats make very good house cats due to their sociable and affectionate nature. They get along with most other animals and are fantastic with children. Their inquisitiveness also makes them very entertaining and interactive.

Are Sphynx Cats Aggressive?

Sphynx cats are renowned in the cat community as being very social and affectionate; they are not known for being aggressive cats, on the contrary it is quite the opposite as Sphynx cats are commonly used as Therapy Cats.

Are Sphynx Cats Intelligent?

Sphynx cats are highly intelligent and curious cats, they are the only cat breed to receive a 10/10 rating on Animal Planet’s Smartest Cat Breeds.

Did you know? Cat brain structure is found to be 90% similar to human brain structure.

Intelligent sphynx cat with Albert Einstein

Sphynx Cats Health Watch-outs

Early in the life of the Sphynx cat breed, they were considered unhealthy due to the limited gene pool, however today they are quite a healthy breed, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any health-related problems.

Heart Problems

The most commonly diagnosed heart problem in cats is Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) which results in a reduction in the volume of blood that is pumped during each contraction of the heart; this can cause fainting and tiredness.

Muscle Problems

Hereditary Myopathy is a condition which weakens the muscles, causing difficulties walking, affected kitty’s can still live a normal life with the right type of specialist guidance.

Digestive Problems

Sphynx cats are unfortunately prone to gastrointestinal problems, so best to keep an eye on what they are eating.

Eye Problems

Eye infections are very common in Sphynx cats, you shouldn’t worry too much as they usually clear up quite quickly with some drop from the vets.

Hairlessness

There are a few conditions that result from the lack of hair on the Sphynx cats; Urticaria Pigmentosa is a skin condition that causes sores on the body, unfortunately as it is poorly documented, preventative measures are relatively scarce, but the sores are treatable. Due to the lack of hair, Sphinx kittens are prone to lung infections, its best to spot these early by keeping an eye on their breathing so you can treat it as soon as possible should it affect your kitten. Unlike other cats, Sphinx cats have no hair to help regulate their body temperature; so, depending on the season, you would have to either supply clothing or extra heating to keep them warm, or turn the air con on etc to cool them down.

Cosy sphynx cat in jumper

Nutritional Requirements Of A Sphynx Cat

Omega 3 fatty acids (O3FA)

Skin care is incredibly important for Sphynx cats, so providing O3FA will help keep the skin clear and smooth; other benefits of O3FA include; reducing inflammation and supporting heart health, which will help in reducing the risk of hypertrophic myopathy. High quality complete cat foods, should include a natural source of O3FA

Higher fat & Calorie content

Sphynx cats have a very fast metabolism, so to help prevent them from being under weight and malnourished, it is better to feed a food that has a higher fat & calorie content than most foods. Cat foods with a high meat content will be naturally higher in protein

Sensitive tums

Sphynx cats are a breed known to have sensitive tummies, so it is best to look for a food that is easy on the digestive system or includes ingredients that aid in digestion like probiotics.

How Can Scrumbles Help?

Our Salmon Dry Cat Food includes salmon oil which is a source of omega 3 fatty acid to aid in skin and heart health. It also contains 20% fat, which is higher than most, but isn’t unhealthy as cats are able to metabolise more fat than you may think. All our food contains pro and pre-biotics to aid in digestion, as we believe gut health is extremely impawtant to all our fur/hairless friends, you find out more on this in our previous blog post about probiotics for cats. Our Salmon Dry Cat Food also contains rice and carrot which provide essential dietary fibre to aid the digestion of cats.

In Sphynx-clusion

Sphynx cats are a uniquely enticing breed to a lot of people; their 1 of a kind looks and extremely friendly and childlike personality make them a loving part of the family. Sure, they have a few health hiccups to watch out for, but who doesn’t. They’re not as easy to come by as other breeds but why not try your local rescue to see if they have any. You never know, the Sphynx might be for you… If not, here is a cat with slightly more hair!

French Bulldog Breed Guide

French Bulldog Breed Guide

Chunky – Playful – Smart

They may be small in stature, but their character is enormous! The French Bulldog is a playfully charming little breed, eager to please their human.

French Bulldogs are the most popular breed in the UK with over 36,000 registered with the Kennel Club in 2018.

French Bulldog Breed Basics:

Average Lifespan: 10 – 12 years

Average Weight: Male = 10 – 12kg, Female = 9 – 11kg

Colours: The most common colours include white, cream, fawn, brindle, piebald, and black

Trainability: Moderate; Frenchies can be quite stubborn by nature but are very intelligent and always eager to please, so training early on to cut out some stubbornness is advisable.

Shedding: Seasonal, Frenchies don’t moult much but will shed their undercoat twice a year

A History Of The French Bulldog

Despite what you may think, French Bulldogs originate from England, more specifically, Nottingham. During the 1800’s lace makers in Nottingham bred English Bulldogs down in size to create a “mini bulldog” more suited to being a lapdog. During the industrial revolution, the lace makers emigrated to France, taking their dogs with them. This is where they grew in popularity among the wealthy French and Americans. The new breed was officially registered by the Kennel Club in 1906.

Did you know: Frenchies cannot swim. Because of their short stature with a disproportionately large head, they will sink. If you’re keen on swimming with your French bulldog, they must be supervised and wear a life jacket at all times.

fawn French bulldog close up

French Bulldog Temperament & Personality

Frenchies have a lot of character; they can be very strong willed and stubborn, but naturally they just want to please their humans. They are a highly intelligent breed capable of working their stubbornness out and adapting to most situations and environmental changes. Frenchies are super playful with other dogs and people alike. Frenchies are a talkative breed. They don’t really bark, but share a range of alternative noises with wailing, whining, crying and lots of gargles.

French bulldog lying down

How Much Exercise Do French Bulldogs Need?

Frenchies don’t require much exercise. Unfortunately, due to their skull structure, they are prone to breathing issues, so long strenuous exercise is not advisable. A short walk twice a day is enough for most Frenchies along with indoor play and cuddles.

How To Groom A French Bulldog

Frenchies, unlike most short coated breeds, don’t shed much. A weekly brush with a soft bristle brush will be enough to keep their coat soft and shiny. You may also want to use a short coat specific brush, but it’s not always necessary. Frenchies shed their undercoat twice a year seasonally, so be aware of this and don’t panic if they suddenly start shedding all their fur, it may just be their time of the year. With regards to bathing, it depends on the dog. Other than the obvious times e.g. right after rolling in some fox poop, a wash once a month should suffice.

Are French Bulldogs Aggressive?

Any dog can be aggressive, but Frenchies are not known as being an aggressive breed, in fact they are quite the opposite, usually they are considered as being ‘too friendly’ if such a thing exists.

Are French Bulldogs Intelligent?

Frenchies are very intelligent dogs, however they can also be quite stubborn so we would highly recommend training from a young age. They can be slower with house training than other dog breeds.

Are French Bulldogs Good Family Dogs?

YES! Frenchies make fabulous family dogs; they are good with both children and other dogs. Obviously, this also depends on the individual Frenchie and their background.

black and white French bulldogs sleeping

How Big Does a French Bulldog Get?

Based on weight charts, Frenchies are considered a medium breed dog, even though they are quite short at around 11-13 inches in height.

How Much is a French Bulldog?

These popular pooches can be pricey! The price tag varies between breeders and family line, but on average, a French bulldog will cost anywhere between £1,200 and £2,000. If you’re looking to rescue and re home a frenchie, you should expect to pay a few hundred pounds to cover the costs.

French Bulldog Health Watchouts

Frenchies are renowned for suffering from a high number of health conditions, some avoidable, and some not.

Breathing problems: French bull dogs are a brachycephalic dog breed with flat faces and a short skull. This can cause breathing problems which also makes them suffer in hot and humid conditions by a lack of ability to pant effectively. This also makes Frenchies sensitive to anaesthesia, so be sure to keep their teeth in good order to avoid them going under for an annual clean. (Check out our blog on dog teeth cleaning and if you’re looking for a dog dental chew that’ll help, why not try our Gnashers?)

Eye conditions: Frenchies are known for their big eyes. Unfortunately their flatter face provides little protection for their eyes leading to some serious eye problems.

  • Dry eye – Various factors can lead to your franchise eyes not producing enough tears and causing dryness, which can cause inflammation of their cornea. This can be painful so get it resolved quickly – treatment is typically a daily eye drop.
  • Corneal Ulcers – ulcers can be serious and lead to loss of an eye as well as a lot of pain for your pooch. Dry eye can develop into ulcers or ulcers can result from injury.
  • Cherry eye – One that looks worse than it is, with cherry eye, you’ll see a red bulge in your dog’s eye. Its caused by a gland in the third eyelid swelling up and covering part of the eye. You can sometimes press the bulge gently back into place but if in doubt, consult with your vet. If you’ve dealt with this once, it’s likely to reoccur and your vet may suggest removing the gland.
  • Entropion – This is where the eyelid rolls inwards toward the eye, it is very painful for the dog as the eyelashes rub against the eyeball. This can also cause conjunctivitis.

Skin allergies: Like most dogs, French bull dogs can suffer with allergies, both environmental and food based. Environmental allergies are permanent with no cure but can be controlled with medication. If you find your franchise scratching, rubbing and licking themselves a lot it’s likely they have an environmental allergy. You may notice symptoms are worse seasonally. Your vet can prescribe topical ointments and antihistamines to help manage symptoms and for extreme reactions, steroids. Food based allergies are less common than environmental and as every dog is different, it’s important to determine the cause. You can only do this via an elimination diet. We recommend avoiding allergy tests as false positives are common.

Bladder stones: More common than kidney stones, bladder stones form from minerals collecting. Genetics mean our franchise are susceptible to dealing with these throughout their life but you can help prevent them forming by ensuring your pooch is hydrated as they’re less likely to form in dilute urine. If your French bull dog isn’t a keen drinker, we recommend opting for wet dog food over dry food or as the main component to increase their water consumption.

Bone and joint problems: 1 in 4 french bulldogs suffer with bone or joint related issues, with the most common being intervertebral disk disease. A smaller but still significant number can suffer with hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and luxating patella.

  • Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD) – Hansen Type 1 is more common for French bulldogs, along with other short legged dog breeds like dachshunds and corgis. It can be excruciatingly painful and in some cases require surgery and sometimes lead to paralysis. With type 1, the discs which cushion between vertebrae can slip or rupture and press on the spinal cord.
  • Luxating Patella (Dislocated Kneecap) – This causes an inability to properly extend the knee joint, resulting in lameness or pain. Luxating patella is primarily genetic, so responsible breeders should test for it, and when locating a puppy, make sure that you check whether there is any history of the luxating patella in the breeding pair.
French bulldog chewing

French Bulldog Nutritional Requirements

Obesity: Frenchies are prone to obesity, which means it is advisable to feed a lower carb diet and to monitor calorie intake. Obesity in Frenchies can cause damage to their physical structure, putting a higher risk on increasing their breathing problems.

Sensitive Skin: Ingredients like salmon oil are perfect for Frenchies, they contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which help keep the skin and coat healthy and shiny among other benefits.

Sensitive Stomachs: Frenchies have very sensitive stomachs; although they will try to eat almost anything they see, it doesn’t always sit well with them. Their sensitive stomach is attributed to their proneness to allergies. Limited ingredient recipes designed to be gentle on tummies are recommended.

How Can Scrumbles Help? 

Our range of complete Dry dog food and single source protein wet dog food include gut friendly ingredients like added probiotics (good bacteria) and slippery elm to help keep tummies happy and healthy. Our salmon dog food recipe is particularly popular with frenchies.

salmon dog food, French bull dog, fish for dogs

So are French bull dogs the right breed for you?

With a loveable, clownish personality these pooches are certain to bring a lot of joy but be mindful and prepared to deal with a host of health problems. Frenchies make fantastic family dogs and even though they are not particularly active, they are still really playful and loving.

Dog tear stains – causes, myths and remedies

Dog tear stains – causes, myths and remedies

You lock eyes with your dog giving you those longing puppy eyes whilst you eat that last mouthful of food. Yet you can’t help but notice those rusty coloured marks that plague the corners of your furiend’s eyes. Any attempt to just wipe away this residue fails miserably resulting in a very sad looking pooch. Read on to find out causes, natural remedies and misconceptions about dog tear stains as well as pictures showing Smudge’s journey to becoming stain free.

Why do dogs cry?

Crying, Tears, Dog Tears, Stains, Iron

Fun fact: your dog has three eyelids. The third eyelid is used to spread a film across the outer most layer of the eye. There are three layers comprised of this film which mix together to form a precorneal tear film. It’s job is to form protection from bacteria and keep the eye clean. When the glands secrete too much precorneal fluid, this leads to an overflow which leaks out of the eye in the form of a tear. A build-up of this may look like a dog is crying but rest assured there is no evidence that it is from a negative emotional state. 

What are tear stains?

Epiphora, Damp Tears, Dark red, Eyes, Crying

The medical term for excessive tear production is known as Epiphora. Epiphora is the inability to properly drain tears. Some dog breeds with shorter snouts (brachycephalic) and more prominent eyes suffer from this. Often the canal (tear duct) which is supposed to carry the fluid away from the eye is congested and blocked resulting in an overflow of tears escaping from the lower eyelid. As the area is constantly wet, stains result.

Dog tear stains tend to be dark in colour ranging from red and brown marks. Permeating a dog’s face, they originate from the inner corner of the eye. With the aid of gravity, these tears run down their face leaving behind a rusty pigmented trail. As well as genetics, there are numerous other factors that can cause tear stains;

Causes of tear stains

Tears, Overflow, Stains, Dog Tear Stains

There are many different reasons which factor into why dog tear stains are so prevalent amongst most dogs inclusive of gender, breed and age. Causes can be acute and chronic and some a cause for concern e.g. infections that need to be remedied. Factors include:

Genetics

Certain breeds of dogs like Shih Tzus, Lhasa Apso’s and Maltese dogs are more susceptible to developing tear stains than others. Stains are more noticeable on lighter coloured fur.

Irritation and infection

Your dog’s eyes are sensitive to certain irritants and being exposed to smoke or even some shampoo can lead to an irritation. When a dog has irritated eyes, they will tend to use their (dirty) paws to rub them or find objects to rub their face against to satisfy their ‘itch’. If these objects are contaminated, this can lead to bacterial or fungal infections. If the skin directly beneath the eye is exposed to tear accumulation, this can lead to a yeast infection due to permanent moisture.  

Allergies

Changes of season can trigger an immune response from your dog such as hay fever. However, if tear stains are a year-round problem, it’s more likely linked to food intolerances. The immune response cause your dog’s eyes to produce an excessive amount of tears. Swelling from the allergy can cause the tear duct to become blocked and lead to dog tear stains. 

Dog, Eating Fruits, Improper Diet

For a happy healthy pooch, you need to feed them proper food tailored to their needs. Some dog foods may have lower quality ingredients or things that can trigger food intolerances. Ignore the pretty design on the front of pack or call outs like grain free and instead turn that bag, tin or tray around to check the full ingredient list. Whether it’s a dry dog food or wet dog food, we recommend opting for a food that contains natural ingredients and a good level of meat content. Added functional ingredients like probiotics can further help your dog’s daily wellbeing and certain ingredients like whole grains have added benefits including reducing inflammation, which can aid the healing from an allergy or irritation. 

Teething

Teething, puppy, chewing, Gnashers

A potentially stressful time for you and your puppy is the teething period (that and toilet training). Over production of tears can happen at this stage of your dog’s life as their facial structure and features are still developing. Mouth disease and tooth decay can lead to ulceration which has been linked to an increase of dog tears resulting in stains. Puppy chews can help stop prevent this and help keep those pearly whites, white all at the same time! If you’ve not already, check out our earlier blog on dog dental care.

Long lashes

Big beautiful lashes can also rub and irritate eyes leading to the tear gland producing more tear fluid than the tear duct can handle.

Common misconceptions about tear stains 

Fake news, we can hardly escape it and the internet is rife with it. Lots of pet pawrents take to the internet to find ways to tackle their dog’s tear stains but get facts and myths confused. Below are three common misconceptions about dog tear stains:

Red tear stains mean there is an infection 

Red tears, Stains, Epiphora

The redness from tear stains is caused by a compound called porphyrin found in the precorneal fluid. When red blood cells are broken down, some left over iron seeps into this fluid which is exactly what causes that rusty coloured stain.

Trimming eyelashes and fur around the eye will reduce dog tear stains

Eyelashes, Reducing Tear Stains, Dog Tear Stains

This is treating a symptom not the root cause. Ingrown eyelashes that are unable to be groomed could still be the cause of an increase in dog tears but the staining can be reduced and even prevented.

The dog food’s to blame

Myths include avoiding beet pulp or switching to a raw diet. Neither of these things will ensure your dog’s tear stains disappear. Food intolerances have an impact on the level of tearing but the reality is that multiple factors are likely to be driving the problem. We’ve met dogs that feed all types of foods but continue to struggle with tear stains.

So what can you do?

How to remove and prevent dog tear stains naturally

There are methods on the internet that include bleaching the red tear stains and using special wipes. We recommend avoiding doing this as not only are these procedures dangerous for your dog and the environment, these are treating the symptom and not the cause. If in doubt always consult with your vet.

Below, is a list of helpful, natural ways you can prevent dog tear stains:

Determine the root cause

As there are so many factors at play, it’s important to first establish the cause of your dog’s tear stain. Is it down to genetics or does your dog suffer with an environmental or food allergy? If you notice that stains worsen during Spring this could be down to hay fever. Does a windy day make the condition worse? It could be a mixture of a few different causes.

Keep your dog’s face clean naturally 

Hygiene, Dog bath, groom, tear stains

Day to day hygiene is important when dealing with dog tear stains. If you notice a spike in the amount of tears, you can ask your groomer to check for ingrown hairs and keep the hair around the eyes a little shorter. If excessive fur is not an issue, you can use a clean, warm and damp cloth to wipe the area. Ensure that you dry the area too otherwise prolonged dampness can lead to a potential yeast infection.

There are a lot of commercial tear stain cleaners on the market. Be wary and stick to natural solutions. Coconut oil as well as healthy dog treats are other things you can use to help which is an anti inflammatory and has a host of other benefits for your dog’s skin and coat.

Avoid tap water

Living in an area where the water is heavily treated with harsh chemicals. Iron and magnesium levels that give off an orange colour alongside limescale can contribute to a dog’s tear stains. Switching to a filtered water source can help tackle tear stains.

Say no to plastic bowls!

Drinking water, Ceramic bowl, Healthy, no tear stains

Plastic is everyone’s enemy right now and plastic bowls are no friend to your dog’s eyes. Consider using a stainless-steel or ceramic bowl as plastic bowls develop cracks which harbour bacteria.

Are probiotics the answer?

No Tears, healthy eyes, dog tear stain prevention

Rather than using controversial antibiotics, have you considered probiotics? We previously wrote a blog on the benefits of probiotics for your dog’s wellbeing but did you know they can also help minimise if not completely eliminate tear stains. We know this first hand from our experience with Smudge – throughout her life she had had varying levels of stains and we had tried all of the above but it’s only fully eliminated once she started her daily dose of probiotics from her Scrumbles.

There are a range of supplements available in pill, powder and paste form but we believe it’s easier plus better value to feed a probiotic dog food which your furriend likes the taste of like our range of our dry dog food.

The low down on gluten free dog food

The low down on gluten free dog food

Today, gluten free dominates our shopping aisles with an estimated 8.5 million people going “gluten-free”. Just as clean eating has trickled into how we feed our dogs, gluten free dog food is a thing and it seems its here to stay. But what’s all the fuss about and are these restrictions beneficial to our dogs? Keep on reading to understand the benefits of gluten free dog food, the disadvantages and common misconceptions.

The difference between gluten-free, wheat-free, cereal-free and grain-free?

It’s easy to get confused and we often hear these terms used interchangeably but they are not the same. If your dog has a gluten intolerance, it’s worth understanding the difference as chances are you’ve unnecessarily restricted your options. For a definitive guide on what is and isn’t gluten free, click here.

  • Gluten is a protein commonly found in cereals, barley, wheat and rye.
  • Wheat is a type of grain containing wheat gluten which is the most common associated with food intolerances.
  • Cereals and grains are umbrella terms that relate to any product of cereals including oats, barley, maize, rice and wheat

Do dogs need carbohydrates?

There’s a lot of misleading information on the internet suggesting that you should avoid all grains and that they have no nutritional value. Another common myth is that feeding a grain free diet means you’re feeding a low carbohydrate diet. This simply is not true. Dog foods include a carbohydrate source for both nutritional and technical reasons. Technically for example with dry food, a binding carbohydrate source is needed to form the kibble or biscuit. Nutritionally, carbohydrates provide a source of energy and dietary fibre that’s essential in maintaining a healthy digestive system. We previously wrote a blog tackling common misconceptions about grain free dog food and highlighting the benefits of whole grains in keeping your dogs gut happy and healthy.

Not all dog foods are created equally. Some manufacturers use lower quality cheaper ingredients or vary the ratios to have a carb heavy more cost effective food. Always check the composition! You can then compare the nutrient density of the food. A nutrient dense food like our dry dog food recipes, requires less to deliver your dogs daily requirement. Most manufacturers should have this information on their packaging – if it doesn’t, ask them. If they’re unwilling to share, I’d recommend avoiding that particular product so that you know exactly what you’re feeding your dog.

Scrumbles gluten free dog food

Is gluten bad for dogs?

The majority of humans and dogs tolerate gluten just fine. Gluten intolerance or coeliac disease affects just 1% of the UK human population. And with the exception of the Irish setter, the only reported dog breed to suffer from “Gluten-sensitive enteropathy”, it’s incredibly rare for dogs to have any issues with gluten.

It’s far more common for your dog to suffer with an environmental allergy including reactions to parasites like fleas. Smudge has a terrible problem with grass seeds and during the summer it’s something we take measures to minimise the impact on her. Food allergies (or intolerances), are less common and it’s more typical for your dog to have an intolerance to an animal protein like beef, chicken or pork than to gluten.

French bulldog scratching

Why go gluten free?

If you have an Irish Setter, then you must feed a gluten free dog food. But for other breeds, it’s not necessary to avoid gluten nor grains. The majority of dogs have no issue with gluten (or indeed any grain). Where gluten is problematic for dogs, it can wreak havoc on dog’s digestive health causing reactions such as itching and infections.

So why do we make gluten free dog food and how can it help your dog?

Even if your dog doesn’t suffer with a gluten intolerance, you may want to consider a gluten free dog food recipe for digestive health benefits. As we say good health starts in the gut and along with other gut friendly ingredients, we choose to use rice and oats as our carbohydrate source which are nutritious, tasty and kind to sensitive tummies.

Many dog owners opt for gluten or grain free dog food because they’re looking for a quality dog food, seeking better palatability or looking to limit carbohydrates. Most premium dog foods avoid gluten or grains and do meet these criteria but it doesn’t always hold true. For example grain free doesn’t necessarily mean carb free. As always, it’s important to check the ingredient breakdown to truly determine if the food is good quality and right for your dog.

There is no one size fits all approach for dogs. We’ve met dogs that can’t tolerate potato, dogs that can’t handle too much animal protein, dogs that require a low purine diet…the list goes on. Dogs are individuals and the most important thing to do is to feed them a quality dog food that meets their specific needs.

Looking for gluten free dog food?

If you’re looking for gluten free dog food, we can help. At Scrumbles, Our range of dog food (and cat food) is designed to be good for the gut, including ingredients like Slippery Elm and probiotics and are all gluten free. We also offer single source protein and grain free dog food options. If you’d like to know more and understand if we’re suitable for your dog or have any other questions, drop us a line at hello@scrumbles.co.uk

Get to know the Lykoi Cat – a.k.a. the Werewolf Cat

Get to know the Lykoi Cat – a.k.a. the Werewolf Cat
Lykoi cat

Striking – Playful – Loyal

A fearsome name and striking looks are tell-tail traits of the Lykoi cat, otherwise known as werewolf cats. Derived from the Greek name for werewolf, Lykoi cats earned their name due to the mask like appearance on their faces where they grow little to no fur and the fact they are known to “transform” throughout their life. However, these unusual, but adorable felines share little else with their namesake and are known to be affectionate, playful souls and loyal companions.

Lykoi Cat Breed Basics:

Average Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

Average Weight: 4 to 6kg

Colours: Roan, Partially hairless

A history of the Lykoi cat

Although only recently recognised as a breed in 2011, the Lykoi has been observed amongst feral cat populations for many years. When first discovered, it was feared that their unusual appearance may indicate a health problem but on examination it was found that the cats are healthy, and their curious coat is simply a result of natural genetic mutation.

Despite being partially hairless, they are not related to the Sphynx as appearance may suggest and are actually descended from domestic shorthairs.

Lykoi cat personality

Lykoi cats have wonderful playful temperaments. Inquisitive and intelligent by nature they are keen hunters and even known to play fetch. They are found of company and bond well with their owns, although they may be wary of new people and pets until they get to know them. These affectionate kitties make for loving companions.

How big are Lykoi cats

Lykoi are a medium sized cat, with lean but muscular bodies and slender limbs. Males are typically much larger than their female counterparts.

Lykoi cat coats, grooming and do Lykoi cats shed?

The Lykoi’s signature “roan” coat is truly unique and not known to any other breed. Made up of a mix of black and amelanistic (colourless) hairs and without an undercoat their unusual coat is soft to the touch. The absence of hair around their eyes, ears and muzzle gives them the distinctive wolf-like look they are famed for.

As kittens they are born with full fluffy black coats, and they typically “transform” at around five days old (no full moon required 😉)

lykoi kitten

Despite being partially hairless, Lykoi cats moult typically twice yearly and can even shed their entire coat occasionally leaving them completely bald but this varies amongst the breed and can grow back. During the period of shedding and regrowth the Lykoi can transform their appearance as their coat regrows in different shades.

Their lack of coat means they don’t require huge amount of grooming, although being partially hairless does make them more vulnerable to the cold and sunlight. Their pink skin will darken or tan in the sun and owners should take care to protect them from the extreme sunlight and keep them warm at winter.

Are Lykoi cats hypoallergenic?

Sadly due to their tendency to shed, these kitties are not classed as hypoallergenic.

Special thanks to Mrs Alexander who helped us get to know these rare, loveable cats. The owner of Shalnavazz Teddy Lupin, photographed below, the first Lykoi born in the UK.

Shalnavazz Teddy Lupin Lykoi cat

Probiotics for Cats: What are they and what are the benefits?

Probiotics for Cats: What are they and what are the benefits?

Probiotics are hot right now with kombuchas and kefirs a plenty. Substantial studies have and are currently being conducted on the impact for humans with evidence showing links to multiple conditions such as allergy, pancreatitis and obesity as well as brain health. To date relatively little research has been conducted on the benefits of probiotics for cats (and dogs) but the recent surge in interest for humans should see this change to benefit our pets and our own health. From our own experience with our pets, we strongly believe that good health begins in the gut for cats, dogs and humans alike, and probiotics can be helpful tools to keep the gut in check. 

Read on to understand the benefits of adding probiotics for cats.

What are probiotics?

probiotics for cats

Probiotics, not to be confused with prebiotics, are live bacteria and yeasts which maintain the balance of microflora in the gut. Prebiotics feed probiotics promoting their growth or activity. 

Benefits of probiotics for cats

When your cat suffers with an illness, or has medical treatment for a condition, the natural balance of their gut can become disrupted. You may experience bouts of diarrhoea and sickness. Probiotics will often be prescribed post problems like this to help restore your cat’s gut to its natural balance. 

Daily use of probiotics helps to support a healthy gut microbiota which helps keep your kitty happy and healthy in a number of ways. Here are some of the benefits of probiotics for cats…

Management of acute and stress diarrhoea 

Let’s face it in the pet world, sh*t matters! One of the most recent studies on the benefits of probiotics for cats and dogs shows changes in stool quality, with firmer and fewer stools for both cats and dogs. In addition to improving stool quality, when added to the diets of dogs, there was a notable increase in the concentration of the IgA antibody, which functions to protect against intestinal pathogens. Clinical trials on cats with IBD have also shown improved stool quality. 

Immune booster

Your cat’s immune system is the first line of defence when it comes to fighting off infections and bacteria – just like yours is for you. And most of your cat’s immune system lies in the gut. A study of 12 cats with the FHV-1 (Feline Herpevirus) infection were administered either a probiotic or a placebo with their food. Those that received the probiotic showed a statistically significant difference in reduced levels of conjunctivitis. Through boosting the immune system and fighting off pathogens, probiotics are thought to also help defend against allergies. 

Aids digestion

It all happens in the gut, and through keeping your gut healthy, probiotics aid digestion, helping to breakdown food and absorb nutrients. Probiotics can help to settle sensitive stomachs and help regulate bowel movements, reducing transit time and improving stool consistency. 

Weight management

probiotics for cats

The gut microbiota differs among obese kitties versus their healthier counterparts.  While probiotics won’t reduce your kitty’s weight alone, they can work wonders in conjunction with a healthy diet and regular exercise, to keep your cats gut healthy and ensure they absorb all essential nutrients from their food. Probiotics can also boost your kitty’s energy levels, encouraging them to get out and about more helping burn off some of those excessive calories. 

Can I give my cat human probiotics?

We know human toothpaste is toxic for our pets and that cats cannot eat cheese, but a probiotic is a probiotic right? Not quite, not all probiotics are the same and will impact differently. Similarly, our digestive system is very different to a cat’s digestive system, which differs again to that of a dog. Most vets agree that giving your cat human probiotics is unlikely to cause any harm but it’s unlikely to do any good either, so stick to a probiotic that’s specifically designed for cats. 

What are the best probiotics for cats?

Enteroccocus faecium is the probiotic strain that has been tested to demonstrate the above benefits in cats (and dogs). It’s important that probiotics are live so steer clear from any wet cat foods that claim to have probiotics as these will likely be killed during the cooking process.

dry cat food

Any questions? If you want to learn more about what we put in our food (and what we don’t put in), don’t hesitate to contact us at hello@scrumbles.co.uk.

Reducing your dogs’ paw print

Reducing your dogs’ paw print

It’s fair to say most of the world has declared war with plastic. But plastic isn’t necessarily the enemy we’ve made it out to be. A controversial statement I know, particularly given the current climate, but it’s worth highlighting that plastic can be beneficial for example plastic packaging has helped reduce food waste through prolonging the shelf life of many goods. The true enemy is single use plastic particularly where easy, affordable, sustainable options exist like reusable tote bags.

Some scary single use plastic stats

  1. Packaging makes up the largest proportion of global plastic production and a whopping 40% is used just once.
  2. Less than a fifth of all plastic is recycled globally.
  3. A third of plastic produced flows into our oceans.
Plastic free tips

Once plastic leaves your life, it doesn’t biodegrade. It can either be recycled, goes to landfill or is left discarded in our oceans or elsewhere where it breaks down into micro plastics. Recyclable plastic is better than single use plastic. Unfortunately, plastic can’t be recycled infinitely and will ultimately end up in discarded or in landfill so it’s best to curb our addiction to single use plastic if we want to protect our planet.

From plastic consumption to food choices, our pooches have their own paw print. There are almost 1 billion dogs globally and 8 million in the UK alone, which collectively leaves a sizeable footprint. In our Earth Day blog we suggested small changes that you can make to tread a little lighter on the planet. In this blog, we explore five tips to help your pooch leave a lighter paw print.

1. Steer clear of poo bins

Estimated at well over 1000 tonnes A DAY in the UK alone, a lot of single use plastic poo bags are used daily and dumped into poo bins or litter bins. More environmentally conscious pet parents opt for compostable or biodegradable bags but if dumped in the same spot, these ultimately end up in landfill. Biodegradable bags require certain conditions to trigger biodegradation which landfill doesn’t offer, so this doesn’t end up any greener.

biodegradable poo bags

We have to pick up after our dogs, not only as its illegal not to and anti-social plus if everyone stopped picking up after their dog that would literally be too much poo to deal with. So what can we do?

There isn’t a perfect solution quite yet for disposing dog poo and we’re still holding out for Envy’s vaPOOriser but to avoid adding to the landfill problem, opt for a dicki bag to compost at home (not with your normal compost) or if your local water centre permits, flush it down the loo. You can buy flushable bags and use a dicky bag to comfortably and odourlessly transport your dogs poop home to flush.

2. Feed a healthy dog food

Junk free dog food not only benefits your dog’s health but what goes in must come out. Lots of dog foods are full of added sugars, salt and lots of carbohydrates plus difficult to digest ingredients. Opting for a high quality dog food that’s easy to digest will result in better poos and less of it. Fewer poos means fewer poos bags.

Pound for pound, a high quality dog food is more nutrient rich. Less is more, which means a bag of food will last you longer. Explore our range of healthy dog food.

Healthy dog food

3. Opt for lighter meats

Animal agriculture leaves a hefty carbon footprint. You don’t need to subscribe your dog to a vegetarian diet to save the planet. By making conscious decisions on which meats are in your dog food, you can reduce your dog’s carbon footprint substantially. Beef is a popular meat used in pet food but it leaves a huge footprint behind. A simple choice of chicken over beef, can cut your dog’s footprint in half!

carbon footprint of meat

4. Choosing green packaging

Packaging accounts for the majority of plastic production and a lot of it isn’t recycled. Packaging suppliers are focused on improving the ease of recycling newly produced plastics and exploring greener alternatives. We’re delighted that our natural dog treats are not only baked in carbon neutral ovens but are packed into plastic free, vegetable lined paper bags. The vegetable lining acts as a moisture barrier and the bags can be recycled with your normal paper or composted at home. Healthy, tasty and with clinically proven active ingredients, our Gnasher dog dental sticks are tough on plaque and kind to the planet.

green dog food

5. Skip the plane

Walking and cycling isn’t always an option and there are no true green alternatives quite yet. So should you plane, train or travel by car? Flying has one of the heftiest environmental impacts and flying with your dog brings a lot of stress and challenges. You’ll either need a private plane from the UK to have your dog in the cabin by your side, or have to drive across the channel first. You can help reduce your pawprints opting for public transport to get to the airport instead of travelling by car. For short distances like crossing the channel, drive instead of fly and for your next trip, why not explore a staycation.

Travelling abroad with pets

We previously wrote a blog for tips on travelling aboard with pets. More and more hotels, lodges and other types of accommodation are becoming dog friendly. Check out Pets Pyjamas who specialise in dog friendly getaways for some staycation inspo.

Sources and Further reading

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/05/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution/

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/how-plastic-is-harming-animals-the-planet-and-us/

https://www.keepbritaintidy.org/faqs/advice/dog-fouling-and-law

https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment/2019/06/choosing-chicken-over-beef-cuts-our-carbon-footprints-surprising-amount

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46459714

How to Pet a Cat: A Guide to Stroking Your Feline Friend

How to Pet a Cat: A Guide to Stroking Your Feline Friend

As pawrents, there’s nothing we love more than cosying up with our furry felines for a cuddle on the sofa. But is your adorable kitty enjoying the cuddle as much as you are – or as much as you thought they were?

Despite what many non-pet parents think, cats are actually very social and affectionate creatures. They’ve developed a reputation for being quite aloof and independent. But rather than this being their natural behaviour, some cats may develop a disliking for cuddles because their pawrents simply aren’t petting them right.

To ensure you’re hitting the sweet spots and avoiding getting scratched, keep reading for our simple guide on how to pet a cat.

Why do cats like being stroked?

First things first, what is it about being petted that cats – and dogs – love so much? There are a number of things that contribute to our kitty’s love of cuddles. The most common theory is that, when being stroked, the motion reminds cats of their mother grooming and licking them as a kitten.

This helps your cat to relax and feel safe, reminding them of a special bonding time with their mother. By stroking your cat from a young age, you can help to form a bond with them that is unlikely to be broken.

Another theory that’s popular amongst pawrents and pet psychologists is that we leave an individual scent on our cat’s coat when petting them, giving them a sense of comfort and safety, especially once we have formed a bond with them.

When socialising with other kitties, cats show their affection by grooming each other. A group or family of cats will do that to help build a shared smell, useful for identifying one another. And, of course, they might simply enjoy the feeling of a good massage, just as we would.

Petting a Cat's Head

How to pet a cat

Petting a cat correctly takes a bit of prep. There are a number of things to consider when stroking a cat in order to keep your kitten happy and healthy.

Understand their body language

You may feel like you know your kitty better than anyone. But even the most devoted pawrents can sometimes misinterpret their cat’s behaviour. Approaching you and meowing could be a sign of affection or, more likely, could be a request for food, playtime or to get outside. A more common, readable sign that your kitty wants affection is if they rub up against your leg or lean into you as you sit down.

Give them space

Respect your cat’s personal space. As much as your cat might enjoy cuddles, there are times your kitty simply just wants to be left alone so it’s important to respect cats’ own space. This is not a reflection of you as a pawrent. Most cats just enjoy a little alone time every now and then.

All cats will have different spaces and spots they go to when they want to be alone, so you should pay attention to your kitty to learn their favourite spots. Boo likes to sit atop the wardrobe in the guestroom for her me time, so we leave her be. Whether they’re sat alone at the window or hiding under the table, you’re at risk of an unfriendly interaction with your kitty if you disturb their alone time.

If you’re attempting to stroke a new cat, earn their trust first. Cats are wary of strangers (as they should be) so it may take some time for them to feel at ease and welcome a stroke.

Know when to stop

Although cats do enjoy a cuddle with their pawrents, they can also grow easily tired of being petted and want you to back off. It’s best to look out for these signs that your cat has had enough and know when to leave them alone for a while.

Your kitty may fidget, growl, hiss, flatten their ears on their head or even snap at your hand if you don’t back away quickly enough. If you notice any of these behaviours, simply give your cat a little alone time. That way, you’ll avoid putting them off cuddles altogether.

A light touch

There’s no one set way to pet a cat. Every cat is different, and while some may prefer a firmer rub than others, it’s best to err on the side of caution. If in doubt, stick to a light touch and avoid rubbing their fur the wrong way.

Overexcitement

When we first rescued Boo, she wasn’t used to interacting with lots of people and could get a little overexcited when someone pet her. Watch out for signs that a cat is overexcited to avoid scratches and bites. Signs include thumping tail action, growling, and dilated pupils. Again, every cat is different so take your time to learn how long is long enough for a petting session. Let the cat rule the way.

Where to pet your cat

Unlike dogs, who generally enjoy being stroked wherever you choose, cats are a little pickier. If you’re wondering how to pet a cat, there are certain spots to focus on, and some to avoid altogether…

Avoid the belly rub

Belly rubs are what most dogs take delight in but when it comes to cats, steer clear! As much as it looks like an invitation when a cute cat is rolling on its back, it’s not. Cats can feel vulnerable when placed in certain positions. If they are lay on their back, relaxing, they may get a fright or feel unsafe if you start to stroke their open belly. Generally, you should avoid rubbing their belly, unless your kitty makes it clear that they don’t mind.

If your cat hasn’t yet learned that you don’t mean them any harm and that you’re simply showing affection, they may react aggressively to any unwanted touch, so be sure to take it slow and build up to petting. Also, if your cat is pregnant or in heat, they may respond differently to petting, so be sure to take all things into consideration.

Focus on the scent glands

Typically, the spots your cat enjoy being petted the most are those where their scent glands are located. As we know, cats are territorial creatures. Spreading their scent around their environment, on their loved ones and other animals, makes them feel safe, secure and content. Stick to the below areas and you’ll have one happy kitty!

Under their chin

The point where your cat’s jawbone meets their skull is a sensitive, pleasurable spot for them. Gently rub along this spot for a relaxing, enjoyable cuddle with your cat.

Stroking a Cat

Behind their ears

Behind the ears is a great spot for your cat to spread their scent. If they are bumping their head against you when petting – known as ‘bunting’ – they are effectively marking you as their own.

Base of their tail

Gently stroking your cat’s spine, adding pressure at the base of the tail will help your kitty to feel safe and secure. Typically, this is the most natural way of petting an animal, so you may find yourself doing this without much thought.

A full body stroke

Now that you know the sweet spots, go for a full-on body stroke. Use an open palm and gently stroke from the crown down to the base of the tail. But remember to watch out for signs of overexcitement and understand when petting time is over.

Keeping your kitty happy & healthy

Understanding your cat’s needs and restrictions is important to keep them happy and healthy throughout their life. As well as knowing how to pet them effectively, it’s essential to know what they can and cannot eat and give them the best cat food for them.

At Scrumbles, we’re passionate about all things pets. From bringing your new kitten home to environmental enrichment, our blog can guide you through each stage of being a pawrent. Subscribe to our pet blog to stay up to date with the latest news, information and exclusive offers.

Image credit: Buzzfeed