All about eco-friendly packaging

All about eco-friendly packaging

Like an unwelcome guest, packaging can hang around long after the party’s over and the food is eaten. Even worse than a loitering neighbour, packaging can have a devastating effect on wildlife. Scientists estimate that a flabbergasting 8 million tons of the stuff end up in our beautiful oceans each year!

Thanks to legends like Sir David Attenborough, we’re all more woke. This has seen protests and commitments by businesses and governments across the board. For example as a result of campaigning by Friends of the Earth, a new EU law has been introduced which will ban certain plastic products in every EU country by mid 2021. For this week’s blog, we thought we’d talk you through our pet food packaging and our efforts to tread more lightly on the planet.

Our natural dog treats packaging

scrumbles natural dog treats

Our latest addition to the family is our lowest carbon footprint yet. They’re baked in eco ovens powered by woody biomass and then packed lovingly by hand into plastic free, compostable and recyclable paper bags. Did we mention both the treats and packaging are manufactured here in the UK? Our treats are also delicious making them the ultimutt guilt-free treat for dogs and puppies (4 months+).

The range consists of our daily dog dental chews Gnashers designed to freshen breath and attack plaque. Scrumbles turkey Nibbles are perfect for use as dog training treats or a healthy dog treats for any occasion. Smudge has a couple before bed – the calming ingredients chamomile and lemon balm are perfect for getting ready for bedtime.

Our treats are kept fresh and tasty for pooches with a specially designed vegetable substrate moisture barrier. True, the packaging might look a little crumpled, but as the saying goes beauty lies within. 🙃 It’s all part of the beauty of eco packaging and we love it. P.S. they’re also going down a treat with pooches! If you’ve not tried our natural dog treats yet – what are you waiting for?

Our dry dog and cat food packaging

hypoallergenic pet food

We serve cats and dogs and that means designing our recipes to deliver against taste AND health.

Our complete dry dog food and dry cat food products are high in meat – up to 77%. A lot of meat requires a strong moisture barrier. Currently the amazing moisture barrier for our dog treats isn’t able to deliver for this level of meat content. We’ve therefore opted for a paper based bag with a thin plastic lining.

We’ve explored existing options for compostable packaging but the moisture barrier limitations can turn the meat rancid. Additionally as the packaging degrades over time it can cause other issues impacting on product quality. For example we’ve spotted ink leakage/seepage on other products in the market. Packaging suppliers are working hard to develop more eco options and Terracycle now allows recycling for certain plastics. We’re in the process of transitioning to these bags which let us retain taste and freshness AND ensure we’re not contributing to landfill. Watch this space!

Our wet dog food packaging

grain free wet dog food

Like the packaging of our treats, the sleeve of our wet food is fully recyclable. We use responsible FSC certified paper, helping keep forests alive for future generations. Just pop it in with your normal paper for recycling. The tray itself is made from PP5 – as it’s white rather than black this allows it to be recyclable. Did you know black trays can’t be detected by recycling sorters? That’s why our trays are white. Whilst PP5 is accepted by most councils for curbside recycling, it’s always best to check with your local council.

Why don’t we use tins?

When we consider our impact, we look at the full supply chain – packaging plays just one part. That’s why we make everything in the UK to minimise our carbon footprint and where possible source our ingredients locally.

So why don’t we use tins and avoid plastic fully for our trays? Yes tins are more readily recyclable BUT there are two issues which make them less eco friendly than trays. Firstly due to the size and shape, significantly fewer can’s fit in vehicles than trays so you can transport a lot more trays than tins. More efficient logistics = fewer travels = better for the planet! 💪 Secondly, one of our biggest bug bears is that the machinery required to make small cat and dog tins, trays and pouches isn’t available in the UK. So most of those tins you’re buying for your kitty or single trays/pouches for your pooch travels hundreds if not thousands of miles across the globe from Eastern Europe or sadly a huge volume come as far as Thailand.

A broader view of the supply chain

With the tin example in mind, it’s important not to consider packaging in isolation but to view the overall supply chain. Working closely with the University of Bath we’re conducting a life cycle assessment to determine which areas of the chain hold the biggest impact. The allows us to make informed decisions to minimise our environmental impact and we’re hoping to challenge some much needed conversations in the industry.

The future of packaging

We’ve recently heard that in 10 years, sugar beet and potato starch will be used for packaging. We can’t wait to hear about more exciting sustainability discoveries and want to make sure we’re always acting as ambassadors within our industry. 

We’re always on the lookout for ways to be innovative and sustainable. Have you come across anything exciting that you think we should consider?   Let us know in the comments or pop an email to hello@scrumbles.co.uk.

And finally, for ideas about how you can do your bit and be a conscious consumer, check out our earth day tips


10 Earth Day Tips

10 Earth Day Tips

for our conscious consumers

With Earth Day fast approaching (Monday the 22ndof April), we thought we’d share 10 Earth Day tips to help us consume more responsibly and tread that little bit lighter on the planet, making sure that future people and pets can enjoy it as much we do.

It’s probably fair to say that most of us have been guilty of occasionally favouring price or convenience over the planet when shopping for both ourselves and our pets. However, with a whole host of ethically and sustainably-minded businesses, products and services emerging, it’s now easier than ever to be a conscious consumer. Yay! 

But first, what is Earth Day?

Founded in 1970 and run by Earth Day Network, Earth Day takes place each year and aims to show widespread support for environmental protection and raise awareness of the ecological challenges that we face as a planet. Earth Day Network works throughout the year to combat climate change, plastic pollution and the extinction of species. Although Earth Day started in the US, events are now held globally in nearly 192 countries, with around 1 billion people taking part- pretty impressive right! This year, the focus is protecting the Earth’s species. 

Our top 10 Earth Day tips

1. Buy a reusable water bottle

As David showed us, plastic’s clogging up our oceans- if we’re not careful, there could be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 (we’re not sure how battered plastic would go down at our local chippy!) Buying a reusable water bottle is an easy change that’s guaranteed to save you money in the long run whilst also saving the planet. Check out S’well for some lovely designs that are guaranteed to make you the talk of the office.

swell bottle

2. Invest in a reusable coffee cup

Still paying that extra 50p for a disposable cup when picking up your morning flat white? If so, it’s time to take a small step to help the planet and your purse. Many people assume that takeaway coffee cups can be recycled alongside card and paper. However, most actually contain a pesky plastic lining, making recycling virtually impossible. A whopping 2.5 billion coffee cups are thrown away each year in the UK, with less than 1 in 4 recycled. So get your paws on a more permanent eco-friendly vessel. If you’re not sure where to look, we’d recommend a Keep Cup. Alternatively, go for a collapsible cup if you’re after an easy portable solution.

reusable coffee cup

3. Shop local

Shopping locally is a great way to protect the planet and support your community, making it one of the key Earth Day tips for 2019. Transporting goods over long distances uses truckloads of energy and pumps out Co2 emissions. Buying from local companies means a lower carbon footprint- a step in the right direction in terms of tackling global warming. Why not buy straight from a nearby farm to get your hands on fresh local produce? Even if you live in the heart of a big city like us, you’ll never be too far away from a local farmers’ market and the guys at farm drop deliver from independent producers straight to your doors.

farmers' market

4. Make a b line for B Corps

If you already know what a B corp is – top marks! For those of you that don’t B Corporations are a new type of business committed to making a positive impact on the world through the highest social and environmental standards. Over 2778 companies globally are currently certified, ranging from huge multi-nationals to start-ups like ourselves. If you like to crack open a cold one after a long week, Toast Ale is definitely one to try. Brewed from fresh surplus bread, their beers taste delicious and tackle the huge problem of food waste- raising a toast has never felt so good! If your pet’s feeling left out, just fill up their bowl with some natural pet food from us.

certified B Corp

5. Clean without chemicals

Many cleaning products contain cocktails of nasty chemicals that are toxic to humans and furry friends. What’s more, most take a long time to degrade, allowing them to pollute water supplies and reap havoc on wildlife. Laundry detergents are a major culprit- they often contain phosphates which can clog up waterways, killing fish and plants. Next time your pet puts their muddy paws somewhere they shouldn’t, why not use a natural product to make it squeaky clean? If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even try making your own.

chemical free cleaning

6. Wash away plastic waste

Aside from the chemicals, cleaning products normally come in plastic containers, adding to the planet’s problems. For an eco-alternative, try Splosh. Just order the cleaning products you need and get them delivered straight to your door. When they run out, use the handy app to order a refill and pour it into your existing bottle. Don’t sweat, if your bottle ever breaks, they’ll replace it for free.

Splosh

7. Rethink food packaging

Strolling through the supermarket aisles, it’s shocking to see the amount of unnecessary packaging- there’s really no need for tomatoes to be tucked up warm in a plastic blanket. Go for loose items where possible and lug them home in your favourite tote bag. After you’ve cooked up a treat, boycott clingfilm and stash any leftovers in a Tupperware container that can be used again and again and again… With food for fur-babies in mind, you can sleep easy knowing that the new packaging for our dog treats is 100% plastic-free, compostable and recycles with your normal paper- result!

dog dental chews

8. Transform your beauty regime

Some of us spend quite a bit of time applying various lotions and potions each day. Lush make an effort to sell their products ‘naked’ (without packaging) wherever possible. For products that do need packaging, they run a closed loop recycling scheme using simple black pots. Just return 5 clean pots to a store and they’ll be recycled into gleaming new ones. You even get a free face mask. Boom!

reduce single use plastic

9. Plan ahead to avoid food waste

We’ve all done that mad dash to the supermarket, without working out what we actually need. Many of us panic and buy far more than we can eat, causing lots of food to go to waste. Scheduling in a bit of time to plan out your meals for the week makes sure food goes in your mouth rather than in the bin. If you’re pushed for time, why not opt for a subscription service that delivers food to your door?

avoid food waste

10. Scrap the poo bags

If you’re a dog owner, one of your daily joys is picking up your pooch’s poop. After a whiff of the fresh goods, most people focus on getting the turds off their hands ASAP. Just like a lingering bad small, poo bags can hang around for quite some time – thousands of years in fact. Thankfully, biodegradable poo bags are now on the market so it’s easy to make the switch. However, if you’re throwing these away in park bins, most end up in landfill which doesn’t solve the problem. Dicky bags are an option if you don’t want to parade your poop- chuck your full biodegradable poo bag inside and enjoy the rest of your walk. You can then dispose of the bag in your own back garden/compost area, saving it from going to landfill.

dog walk

As well as these handy Earth Day tips, make sure to join Earth Day’s campaigns to protect our speciesand end plastic pollution

How many of these do you already do? Got more great tips to share with us? Let us know in the comments.

Street Vets our charity pawtner

Street Vets our charity pawtner

It’s World Strays Animals Day on April the 4th raising awareness of the many cats and dogs that do not have a home, struggling by living on the street. One charity we particularly admire is Street Vets who help the homeless and their dogs. Keep on reading to understand the wonderful work they do and why we’ve chosen them as one of four key charities we support.

StreetVet started with a simple premise: two back packs, two stethoscopes, some basic medical supplies and two vets who saw that they were needed beyond the surgery door.  Driven by the extraordinary bond she had witnessed between one homeless man and his dog, co-founder Jade Statt hit the streets of London seeking out rough sleepers with dogs and hoping to make a small difference.  Jade was completely unaware that another vet, Sam Joseph, was doing exactly the same just a few miles away.  Soon enough they joined forces and the ripple effect through the veterinary world was immense.  Hundreds of vets and veterinary nurses across the UK now volunteer to assist Jade and Sam in their vision to provide free veterinary care to people who are homeless.

Just two years after it all began in London, StreetVet has spread to eleven other cities across the UK: Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Gloucester & Cheltenham, Cornwall, Glasgow, Lincoln, Peterborough, Plymouth, and Southampton.  Teaming up with the cities’ soup kitchens they hold regular open-air drop in clinics for the local homeless pets.  StreetVet are a registered charity and are also proud to be an accredited veterinary practice recognized by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.  They depend entirely on donations from the veterinary and pet industries and the good will of the general public through fundraising and purchases on their Amazon Wish Lists.  Besides the routine microchipping, worming, flea treatments and vaccines, they have treated allergies, skin rashes, arthritis, gastroenteritis, fractures, tumours and ear disease – all the things you would come across in any other practice. During their outreach sessions they clip claws, take blood samples and clean wounds all out on the street.  StreetVet recognise that the problem goes way beyond just giving a wormer and fixing a broken leg. They also do whatever they can to assist owners to access shelters, hostel facilities and their own medical treatment.  But mainly they try to just be there to listen and to give advice and reassurance.  

Studies have shown that pets provide great benefits to their owners through companionship, affection, security and warmth.  They also provide purpose, routine, responsibility, self identity and a connection with others which can be extremely important to StreetVet clients. Homelessness is borne through a multitude of complex issues which in some cases can lead to depression and addiction, but pet ownership can improve mental health and feelings of wellbeing, whilst decreasing drug dependency and suicidal thoughts.  Incredibly many of StreetVet’s patients also act as assistance dogs for owners with disabilities, anxiety, epilepsy and post-traumatic stress disorder. The dogs often provide a link to a happier time or an important person who is no longer around.  Life on the streets is tough but the dogs are active, stimulated, cared for and loved unconditionally. 

Unsurprisingly owning a dog on the streets brings about many challenges.  Dog owners face difficulties accessing facilities such as housing and hostels, doctor surgeries, hospitals, community centres and shops for basic essentials.  They become extremely concerned about who will look after their pet when they enter hospital or rehabilitation care and will often prioritise their dog’s needs over their own.  It can be a real struggle for homeless dog owners to undertake day to day activities when mobility is limited to what their dog is able to do; particularly when their dog is injured or elderly and arthritic.  In addition, the owners often face hostility and stigma from people who believe that they should not have a pet which can exacerbate feelings of isolation and loneliness.  StreetVet volunteers often have to take all these factors into account when creating treatment plans; resourcefulness and lateral thinking is a necessity! They also recognise the importance of supporting their clients through all aspects of their pet’s veterinary treatment as many owners describe feelings of extreme anxiety when their dog is ill and overwhelming loss when they experience pet bereavement.

Help us spread the word

StreetVet are extremely grateful for all the support they receive, which is essential in order for them continue the important work that they do.  For more information on StreetVet and what they do, Please take a look at their website: www.streetvet.co.uk or find them on facebook, twitter or instagram. And tell, tweet, share this wonderful cause to help those who need us most.

Alarming Pet Obesity Statistics in the UK & What You Can Do

Alarming Pet Obesity Statistics in the UK & What You Can Do

Just like humans, pets can suffer if they are overweight or obese. Pet obesity can lead to a number of health issues like arthritis so it’s important to keep your pet’s weight in check. Read on for our guide on pet obesity and how to reduce it so you can help your pets live long and healthy lives.

Obese pets typically have a lower quality of life too – and can die younger than those with healthy weights. A recent study by the University of Liverpool and published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine showed how overweight dogs could lose over 2 years lifespan. That’s why it’s so important to know the facts.

Pet obesity impact on lifespan

The extent of the problem

In the UK alone, it’s estimated that 40% of dogs and 53% of cats are overweight or obese, which is only set to get worse. Pet obesity is on the rise in the UK. 81% of vets and nurses report seeing an increase in the number of overweight animals. PDSA recently published their 2018 animal well-being report, and it has some shocking statistics:

  • 33% of dog owners walk their dog just once a day
  • 45% of dogs are only getting up to 30 minutes of exercise when they are walked
  • 1% of dogs are never walked at all 😲
  • 65% of cat owners don’t know their pet’s current weight
  • Just 19% of owners described their cat as overweight or obese

Overweight animals are less energetic, less willing to play and generally get less enjoyment out of life. Whether it’s due to a lack of exercise or being uninformed when it comes to portion sizes, there are lots of drivers for pet obesity.

Quite often, pet obesity is simply caused by a lack of knowledge, rather than intentional actions. One of the main issues when it comes to pet obesity is the lack of awareness surrounding the problem. Many of us don’t know what to look out for and our pets could be suffering unknowingly. 

Identifying the problem

It can be difficult to recognise if your pet is overweight, particularly if it happens slowly or if they have always been overweight. Of course, the best way to check is to take them to the vet and get them properly weighed.

There are some home tricks you can try first, however, to judge if a trip to the vet is necessary. PDSA have a series of images to help you determine if your pet is a healthy weight. Ranging from very thin to obese, you can check which image most closely resembles your pet.

Here are some signs to look out for in both cats and dogs: 

  • Ribs – Overweight pets have a layer of fat covering their ribs, which makes them difficult to see or even feel.
  • Back – A ‘fat pad’ will cover their back
  • Tummy – Your pet’s tummy will bulge out and sag downwards, which may wobble or sway when they move
  • Face, legs and neck – Obese cats and dogs can get fat pads in these areas

In contrast, underweight cats and dogs will have highly visible ribs, hipbones and backbone. There will be a complete absence of fat around these areas, with an exaggerated waistline and non-existent tummy.

Preventing pet obesity

There are lots of ways for your cat or dog to lose weight if they are obese or overweight. Food reduction, increased exercise and less treats can help. But the best way to reduce pet obesity is to work to prevent it in the first place.

Here are our top 5 ways to prevent pet obesity: 

1. Plenty of exercise

Husky playing outside

There are so many benefits of regular exercise for your pets. Not only will exercise help your pet shed extra pounds, it will strengthen respiratory and circulation systems and aid digestion. Find out how much exercise your dogs needs.

Cats don’t tend to go on long walks the same way dogs will, making increasing exercise a bit trickier. Try playing interactive games with your cat, with a feather or toy mouse for instance. Keep these bonding sessions regular to keep your kitty entertained and trim.

2. Food and portion control

A lot of pet owners out there don’t know the correct portion sizes for their cats and dogs. Pets need different amounts of food during their life stages, just like we do. Puppies and kittens need more energy, protein and minerals, so food specifically tailored for this lifestage is best. Different breed sizes have different needs. Large breed puppies can take up to 24 months to mature to adulthood and need tailored nutrition to manage the growth carefully. That’s why we have a large breed specific puppy food.

Some dogs, particularly, can’t regulate their intake well and will just eat everything in sight. To avoid this, it’s best to regulate meal times rather than having food available at all times.

Every complete pet food in the UK must have feeding guidelines. These are based on an assumed activity level, typically above the level of exercise the average cat or dog gets. To avoid your pet putting on weight, start with the feeding guideline closely monitoring any weight changes over the first few weeks. Adjust feeding amounts accordingly to maintain a healthy physique. If you’re feeding Scrumbles, we include a guide based on various activity levels.

3. Weight monitoring

Without regular weigh-ins and body checks, your pet can very quickly become overweight without you realising. One extra pound may not seem like much for your cat or dog, but it doesn’t take much weight to push them into the overweight or obese category. That’s especially the case for smaller breeds.

Check with your vet what the recommended weight is for your pet. Keep on top of things weighing your pet regularly to make sure they stay inside the healthy range. Feeding habits change across seasons and as cats and dogs age they will be more prone to putting on weight.

4. Step away from the treat bowl

Many of us feed our pets leftovers from our own meals. According to the PDSA, 27% of pet owners surveyed said they regularly give their dog leftovers. The additional calories and decreased nutritional value of table scraps is often the biggest offender. Crucially it can lead to pancreatitis, which can be fatal.

Healthy tasty treats exist and are better than leftovers for your dog. They also prove useful in training exercises. Although you may feel good for rewarding your dog and giving them what they ‘want’, too many treats can have serious consequences.

When it comes down to it, most dogs would prefer extra attention to more treats. Spend more time with your pooch will give you both more satisfaction than a treat which is inhaled in an instant and quickly forgotten.

5. Look for diseases and get them treated

Although the majority of the weight gain in cats and dogs is caused by over-feeding and not enough exercise, there are some medical conditions that can contribute to obesity in pets. Fortunately, most of these diseases and illnesses can be treated by a vet, so it’s important to keep an eye on your pet for any changes.

An unexplained increase or decrease in appetite or weight could be a sign of something more sinister. So, be sure to get them checked out by a registered vet to keep on the safe side.

Keep your pets happy with Scrumbles

Diet plays a huge role in the health of your cat or dog. To keep them healthy, introduce a natural pet food, with no added sugar or salt. See the difference it can make.

Scrumbles stocks a selection of natural pet foods for cats and dogs, specifically tailored to suit the needs of different ages and breeds. Check out our range of cat food and dog food – and don’t forget to comment below with your own pets’ health tips and stories. 

Are Afghan Hounds the right dog for you?

Are Afghan Hounds the right dog for you?

Aloof – Independent – Clownish

Trying to determine if the Afghan Hound is the right dog for you? Or maybe you just want to brush up on some dog trivia just in case the moment comes for you to shine. Keep reading for our breed guide on Afghan Hounds. All you need to know to officially deem yourself an aficionado.

Afghan Hound Breed Basics:

Average lifespan: 11 to 14 years

Average weight: Male: 27 kg, Female: 22.5 kg

Colours: A wide range from cream to black. There are also many brindle coats as well as red coats.

Trainability: Challenging. Afghan Hounds are stubborn with selective hearing.

Shedding: Low

A history of the Afghan Hound

Unsurprisingly, Afghan hounds find their origins in the course terrain of Afghanistan and neighboroughing regions. The Afghan Hound’s unique coat offers an insight into their ancient past. Their long hair and thick fur helped keep them warm when used in the colder climates of Afghanistan.

Afghan Hounds were introduced to the UK in the 19th century. Originally brought over as a gift from the Afghan royal family, the breed remains a popular large breed companion. Afghan Hounds are members of the sight hound family. Due to their typical nature and impressive speed, they were used for hunting. Rumours have it, they could and have taken down leopards.

Afghan Hound temperament

Afghan Hounds have a regal appearance with silky long coats and a tall stature. Described as “high-maintenance” by some with an almost clownish personality. They love to play and have fun but they are also fiercely independent. Sometimes described as aloof, they can be wary around strangers and a little standoffish. Early socialisation is key.

Their independent nature has seen them likened to the cat of the dog world. They can either be your best friend, or not care at all that you’re in the room.

Are you looking for a breed that is easily trained or used for show? Keep on looking… the Afghan Hound is not for you my friend. However, if you fancy a challenge, with some patience and perseverance, basic commands like sit, stay and heel are possible. Just keep in mind Afghan Hounds are temperamental suffering from selective hearing, much like our Smudge, so they’ll never ace the recall test. And potentially look at rehoming rather than training an Afghan Hound puppy from scratch.

How to groom an Afghan Hound

One of the Afghan Hounds most distinguishable features is its glorious, flowing coat and it’s up to Afghan Hound owners to keep it in tip top shape.

How to groom an Afghan Hound

When it comes to clipping the coat, it’s advised to let it grow out naturally for as long as possible. This ensures the thickness of the coat is kept even, which is great for your hound.

It’s not surprising that you’ll need to set aside a good hour plus per week to keep this coat in great condition. Owning an Afghan Hound means you’ll have to brush up on your grooming skills. You need to be able to spend time bathing and grooming your hound, particularly in the first 14 months, as this ensures your puppies coat grows out in the healthiest way possible.

The easiest way to keep an Afghan Hound’s coat clean and healthy, is with weekly baths and brushing with a pin comb. A little dog conditioner will go a long way with this breed and make sure that it is super easy to brush through the long thick coat.

How much exercise do Afghan Hounds need?

The Afghan Hound is an agile, high energy breed, and cover distances quickly. They may look delicate and elegant, but these hounds love to run and play.

Afghan Hound sprinting

Afghan Hounds are known for their speed and in some countries are even classed as racing dogs. With this in mind, it’s advised to keep them on the lead, particularly in unenclosed spaces or unfamiliar territory, as they have a tendency to speed off without warning! Try to find somewhere that’s safe and enclosed to let them gallop around to their heart’s content.

Despite their killer speed, they are described as low exercise dogs. They can burn off energy quicker than your average pooch. 1-2 hours a day incorporating a leisurely walk and a couple of short sprints is enough to satisfy their instinctual desire to chase will keep your Afghan Hound happy and healthy.

Afghan Hound health

On the whole, Afghan Hounds live healthy lives and are not susceptible to major health issues.

As mentioned above, their long, silky coats do need a lot of tender love and care. Without weekly baths and grooming, their coat can become matted and dirty causing discomfort and infection. It’s also important to keep the coat trimmed, particularly around the eye area so as not to obstruct their vision.

Afghan hounds are large breed dogs. Although less common vs other large breeds, they can suffer from skeletal development problems like elbow deformity and hip dysplasia so it’s important to feed the right nutrition. As puppies, they can take up to 24 months to mature to adulthood so keep them on a large breed appropriate puppy food until they have matured to adulthood, where you can then transition to a large breed appropriate adult food.

A study by the Kennel club found cancer was the most common cause of death. The next most common cause of death was old age. The same study found that laryngeal paralysis, a respiratory condition, which is a progressively developing paralysis of the larynx, that can be found in large breed dogs as a whole impacted 4% of the dogs studied.

Other health issues occasionally seen in afghan hounds:

  • Medial canthal pocket syndrome caused by the shape and angle of the eye which can lead to eye issues like conjunctivitis
  • Afghan Hound myelopathy is a degenerative disease affecting the spinal cord that can lead to paralysis
  • Cataracts and Glaucoma in senior years

Are Afghan Hounds good family dogs?

Afghan Hounds make great family dogs as they have a friendly and loving nature. Despite their independence, they can be extremely loyal and they love to have fun and play all day long.

Afghan Hound Puppies can be socialised with children of all ages. If you’re introducing an older dog to your family, older children is preferable.

Unless your Afghan Hound has grown up around other family pets from a young age, they’re best to be the only family pet or surrounded by similarly sized pets. As sight hounds, they have a pretty strong prey drive and as they are not great at recall it’s best to keep smaller animals at a distance when you’re out and about and keep your hound on the lead, particularly when walking anywhere that may have small wildlife.

Are Afghan Hounds aggressive?

Afghan Hounds are not known for being aggressive. They have a laid back character although do like their own space, so it’s best to let them be when they clearly want some me time.

Given their high prey drive and hunting instincts, it’s best to keep an eye on them when around smaller animals.

Are Afghan Hounds intelligent?

These hounds are by no means the brightest bulb, but it just adds to their clownish charm. In fact, they came in at number 10 in a list of some of the less intelligent breeds.

They may not be able to learn the latest tricks all too quickly, but Afghan Hounds make excellent companions and we think that’s the most important thing for our four legged friends!

How much does an Afghan Hound cost?

So you’ve decided the Afghan Hound is the perfect dog for you, or maybe you’re the perfect human for them. The cost to acquire an Afghan Hound can be quite steep, up to £1000 for a pedigree Afghan Hound puppy. You’ll also need to consider the cost of insurance, regular grooming and food.

There are a number of rescue organisations where you can rehome an Afghan Hound. There are 13 registered with the kennel club along with 4 breeders. Beware of websites selling Afghan Hound puppies or dogs at cheap prices. There’s a risk of poor dog and puppy welfare as increasingly puppies are farmed for quick money. If you do come across anyone that appears to not neglecting the animals’ welfare, report it to the RSPCA.

Conclusion

Afghan Hounds are the perfect dog for you if you enjoy grooming, are ready to take on the challenge of training this independent beauty and enjoy the outdoors. Healthy, loyal and with buckets of character we’re confident you’ll have lots of tails of adventures.

The Importance of Environmental Enrichment for House Cats

The Importance of Environmental Enrichment for House Cats

This week we have a guest blog about environmental enrichment for house cats. Brought to you by our pal from Katzenworld – the lovely Marc-Andre Runcie-Unger. If you’ve not heard of these guys and are as cat mad as we are, check them out!

In today’s blog post we would like to look at how to keep your cat happy. While this is especially important for those of our cats that are indoor only, this can also apply to cats with access to the outside!

Many new cat guardians go by the misconception that cats simply like to sleep all day! But cats do need a lot of stimulation. For a few tips on enriching your felines life, we’ve put together this handy list of suggestions.

1. Get your cat a scratch tree!

Scratch trees or wall mounted walking platforms are a great opportunity to give your cat exercise and environmental enrichment. Cats simply love it if you can give them a bit of a “3-Dimensional” space! This can be especially useful if your cat wants to see guests on their terms as they can get away from the ground and sit on their safe perch of a scratch tree instead.

Wall mounted climbing areas can also be a great way to create a space if you don’t have the room for a big free standing scratch tree or are simply looking for something a little more unique for you and your cat.

Either way providing these areas for your cats will ensure that they can play to their hearts content and get the exercise and enrichment they need. You may even find that your favorite sofa will be less of a target with a nice and interesting area for your feline friend around 😉

Of course this doesn’t just apply to your indoor cats! There are plenty of weather proof scratch trees around that you can use in your garden or outdoor climbing frames to make it easier for your cat to get back inside.

Enriching your garden can help keep your cat happy in their own area and thus often reduces the distance they will roam during the day and night. And who wouldn’t want their cat to have access to the outside while being safe!

2. The toys!

I have lost count of the times someone has told me that their cat doesn’t like to play with toys or that their cat is too old to play with toys. If you are one of the people thinking in that way think about how you’d feel if you had to watch an episode of Friends for 10,000 times or more!

Many cats simply get bored with the toys we have given them as they like a challenge and try something new. That doesn’t mean that you have to go out and purchase new toys every other day but simply means you have to be smarter in the way you use the toys.

If your cat has a few favorite toys do NOT leave them out all the time. Put them away in a cupboard so that they are out of sight. Once you get these toys back out most cats will naturally get excited as they think it’s something brand new.

Different cats of course also like to play with different toys. There are interactive toys such as electronic mice or laser toys, dangler toys and of course catnip and valerian toys.

When it comes to catnip & valerian toys make sure that you don’t go for the cheapest toys on offer. Research the brand and find out where their catnip comes from, how long it’s stored for if the toys are not in a sealed bag.

During my daytime I work for 4cats Heimtierbedarf GmbH, which is a German manufacturer of catnip & valerian toys and we often have to deal with people telling us that their cats don’t react to cat attract but when asked what brands they tried it often turns out to be cheap imports from abroad that were purchased on eBay.

A good catnip / valerian toy will be using a high quality organic blend of catnip or pure valerian root but sadly many of the imports will be using something that looks more like dust.

Once you’ve found the brand of choice for your cats catnip  / valerian toys it’s important to understand that the affect of actinidine will only last up to 30 minutes! If your cat reacts to it you’ll see your little friend exhibit behaviors such as licking, rolling over their toy or kicking it. They are a great way to have fun and enrich your cats general routine.

Once the playtime is offer I would highly suggest to take the toy away and put it out of reach to dry. Yes your cat will most likely have slobbered all over it! Once dry stick the toys in a zip lock back to ensure that they will last quite some time. Most high quality cat attract material should outlast the life of its containing fabric!

Valerian toys can also be a great choice to destress your companion. While both catnip and valerian make your cat initially go “crazy” they will be much more mellow and calm using the valerian filling. This is because valerian has a calming affect on most animals and is for example often used in tea bags to help us humans sleep.

If you’d like to get yourself some of these cat toys they are available over at Katzenworld from a variety of brands.

3. Puzzle feeders!

I am sure in agreement that we all like to have an occasional snack from crips to chocolates whichever is our favourite! Cats are no different when it comes to that but we shouldn’t just throw them in their bowl. Have your cat work for them.

There are many cool puzzle feeders out there which can be used to hide snacks in them. This means your cat has to work just that little bit extra to find the treat but also provides them with a fun little game with the ultimate reward at the end.

Conclusion: No cat is the same so remember to take different approaches with your own feline companion and let your cat lead you into finding their favorite environmental enrichment.

I hope you like Marc’s top three tips! Let us know which of these you’re doing already and if you have anything extra to share that makes your kitty purr.

Probiotics for dogs aka the journey to the perfect poop!

Probiotics for dogs aka the journey to the perfect poop!

At Scrumbles, we have first-hand experience of the power of probiotics for dogs. After on and off problems, our vet prescribed us a probiotic paste to calm down our pets’ sensitive stomachs. And to our amazement it worked!

We spent a long time reading up on gut health and probiotics. Our research highlighted how probiotics for dogs are hugely beneficial as part of their daily diet. Read on to uncover the benefits of probiotics and how they impact your pooch.

According to a recent survey, 95% pet owners are primarily concerned with the digestive health benefits of the dog food they choose. Pet pawrents are right to prioritise dog food designed to aid digestion. Your dog’s gut and your own play a huge role in overall health and quality of life.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said, “bad digestion is at the root of all evil”. Unbalanced gut flora can have negative effects on every dog’s immune and digestive system, which is why we advocate living the gut life.

So, what are probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms found in your dog’s body. You might have heard of probiotics referred to as “good” and “friendly” bacteria. Probiotics promote gut health aiding digestion and balancing your dog’s gut flora.

The origins of probiotics for dogs

Wild canines would hunt for their food, so their diet consisted of mainly meat. However when they ate their catch they also ate the vegetables inside their bellies. These vegetables were fermented by their prey’s digestive system containing probiotics. Some modern-day pooches have even been known to eat soil when craving probiotics that they aren’t getting in their diet. Clever dogs!

Probiotics were discovered for humans back in 1907. High in the Caucasus Mountains of Bulgaria, a scientist named Elie Metchnikoff was baffled by the long lives enjoyed by the villagers – many of them in their 100s! Metchnikoff found villagers would drink a fermented yoghurt drink daily. This drink was brimming with a probiotic known as Lactobacillus bulgaricus.

Gut bacteria and your dog’s microbiome

Bacteria is everywhere. However, before you reach for the bleach, some bacteria are friendly. Inside every dog is their gut microbiome. This is made up of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi that directly affect their immune system. Good bacteria aid digestion and absorb the nutrients and vitamins from your dog’s breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Gut bacteria really are a dog’s best friend and have a big part to play in your dog’s overall health. If they’re out of balance your dog can suffer from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diarrhoea and other digestive problems.

Unbalanced gut bacteria can contribute to animals and humans developing allergies, diabetes. Recent studies show how poor gut health can lead to mental health and mood disorders like anxiety. This is because microbiomes play a big role in the production of serotonin, the happy hormone built in our gut.

Fur Fact: Unlike their pet pawrents, a dog’s slobbery saliva doesn’t contain any digestive enzymes. 

Benefits of probiotics for dogs?

Your dog’s gut affects almost every other function in their body. Ensuring it is running smoothly has a far-reaching impact on their physical and even mental health.

  1. Digestion aid: Probiotics are pawsome for aiding your dog’s digestion. Probiotics can help poor pooches who suffer from allergies or who have regularly upset tummies including vomiting, gas and bloating.
  2. Stool quality: The poo picking pet parents among us will have experienced “events” we would rather forget. For dogs who are suffering diarrhoea or loose stools, probiotics can help treat the symptoms and improve stool quality. Similarly if your dog suffers from constipation, probiotics can help.
  3. Immune Boosting: Probiotics provide an essential role in keeping your dog happy and healthy. Boosting their immune, probiotics can help reduce the frequency and length of illnesses. They’re particularly helpful post a course of antibiotics to rebalance their gut.
  4. Improve skin and coat: It’s thought that probiotics can help improve skin and coat condition through synthesising essential vitamins e.g. B group vitamins

Environmental factors like stress can also impact stool quality and these can be tricky to avoid even with probiotics. Just as we can all get a dicky tummy in a stressful situation, so can your pooch. You may notice tummy upsets or loose stools during stressful situations. These include anxiety during firework season, moving house or if they suffer from separation anxiety. A lack of appetite is a common symptom of stress and this further reduces the nutrients your dog gets. In these situations, keeping things consistent is important so before changing diets, help appease your dog first.

What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?

A lot of people confuse the two, but they are not the same thing and each play different roles for your pet’s digestive system. Prebiotics are complex sugars that fuel probiotics. Common prebiotics in pet food include FOS (Fructo-oligosaccharide), MOS (Mannan oligosaccharides), chicory root and beet pulp. Prebiotics can be helpful in fuelling the microbiome. But, as they can also feed harmful bacteria they should be used with caution, particularly if a pet has a pre-existing issue like IBD.

Probiotics and your dog’s immune system

As well as the skin and other organs, a key part of your dog’s immune system is known as the circulating immune system, which involves the blood and lymph liquid. Lymphocytic cells recognise antigens which are the bacteria, parasites and viruses that cause an immune response.

There are two types of lymphocytic cells which synchronise or stimulate the immune system. These are called T-cells and B-cells. They either destroy and remove the antigens themselves or produce antibodies which activate this response in other cells. 

T-cells activate white blood cells in the blood as well as influencing the good bacteria that exists inside a dog’s gut. B-cells produce immunoglobulins, or antibodies, like Immunoglobulin A (IgA) which plays a role in protecting the dog from local infections in its secretion from the mucous membranes, such as in saliva or tears. B-cells have long lives and are responsible for remembering the antigens, so they can fight them if ever exposed again. When your pooch has a vaccination, it is targeting these B-cells to produce antibodies. 

Lymphocytes flow around the dog’s body to where they are needed but the majority of them are based in the gut, where dendritic cells assist in identifying antigens. As well as these cells there is a normal level of bacteria called gut flora and the gut is acidic for extra defence against nasty antigens.

Between 70-80% of your pooch’s immune system is in their digestive tract. Feeding a gut-friendly diet with probiotics helps keep your dog’s immune system in check.

When should you give your dog probiotics?

Probiotics are gut-friendly and offer a number of benefits for your pooch which is why we recommend daily probiotics for dogs. However, if that’s not already the case there are number of occasion where you might want to explore probiotics for dogs.

  • Following the use of antibiotics which can cause diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach-aches for your dog as they destroy both good and bad bacteria. The addition of probiotics will help get their gut back to a happy state.
  • Leaky gut syndrome in dogs, where toxins enter the bloodstream through the intestinal wall, can be caused by unbalanced gut bacteria. This condition results in gas, diarrhoea and abdominal pain. Probiotics in a healthy dog form a layer over the inside of the intestine, and a strong barrier helps ensure only nutrients are absorbed into the blood.
  • Some cheeky canines always find a way to eat things they’re not supposed to from bins or the street. These dietary indiscretions can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in otherwise healthy pooches. Dog breeds like the Basenji can inherit digestive problems and some dogs just suffer from regular upset tummies. These symptoms can be eased with the inclusion of probiotics for dogs into their daily diet.

Probiotics for dogs: are these the same as those for humans?

Most human probiotics are unlikely to cause your pet any harm. However, given your dog’s digestive system is made up of a different bacterium, it’s best to introduce a probiotic specifically designed for their digestive system.

Many human probiotics are available from special yoghurts and milk drinks like Yakult and Activia. As dairy is a known allergen for dogs (and cats) that can cause upset to their tummies we’d recommend against feeding it for your dog.

Many foods have naturally occurring probiotics but aren’t suitable for you to include in your dog’s diet, like onions which contain thiosulphateand are toxic to dogs. You might not have the time to make batches of fermented vegetables and there’s no guarantee your choosy canine would eat them. Thankfully there are a wide number of probiotics for dogs that you can choose from.  

Picking the right probiotic for dogs

If you’ve decided you’d like to include probiotics in your dog’s diet, then where do you possibly start? It might be tempting to load your doggy with as many as possible. However, this isn’t recommended as the probiotics can compete for space with existing bacteria and ultimately not achieve the benefit you were looking for. Instead look for a probiotic and dosage that is proven to aid digestion.

Enterococcus faecium is found naturally in the flora of animals. It’s known to be beneficial to dogs and is the probiotic we add to Scrumbles at a dosage of one billion CFU (colony forming units). This colony forming unit count tells you how many live probiotic bacteria are in the dog food and we’ve chosen one billion, not simply because it’s a fun number, but because it is shown to see health benefits. Studies show that Enterococcus faecium increases the presence of the antibody IgA in dogs. IgA helps protect against pathogens and improves the overall health of dog’s skin, digestive tract and respiratory system. 

How to get probiotics into your dog’s daily diet 

You have two main choices. Use supplements that have probiotics for dogs, or feed a diet that includes probiotics.

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

Whichever choice you make, do make sure that the probiotics are live in order to get the benefits. Probiotics can be rendered inefficient if subjected to heat and moisture so need to be prepared and packaged carefully. Once Scrumbles is cooked we let the food cool fully. Only then do we add our gut-friendly probiotic and pack it into resealable bags with a moisture barrier. This carefully planned process is totally worth it for the wiggle of approval from our doggy consumers. 

What to expect when changing your dog’s food

When switching any dog food, we recommend you introduce it to your doggy gradually over 7-10 days. Keep your feeding routine the same but add in some of the new dog food with each meal, eventually phasing the old food out altogether. 

As with any transition, you may notice a change in your dog’s poo and it isn’t uncommon to see some loose stools during this period. This can be a sign that you are transitioning too quickly or overfeeding so take it slow and watch how your dog responds. These symptoms should go away after a couple of weeks. Be sure to keep an eye out and if the problem persists it may be worth reverting or consulting with your vet.

Are you considering introducing living the gut life? Do you already feed Scrumbles? Let us know in the comments!

References for further reading

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324605537_Similarity_of_the_dog_and_human_gut_microbiomes_in_gene_content_and_response_to_diet
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120509123657.htm
  3. https://www.intechopen.com/books/probiotics-and-prebiotics-in-human-nutrition-and-health/biosynthesis-of-vitamins-by-probiotic-bacteria
  4. https://animalpharm.agribusinessintelligence.informa.com/AP015006/BENEO-Consumer-trends-drive-pet-food-sector-development-globally
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12672936

How much exercise does a dog need every day?

How much exercise does a dog need every day?

New year, new you! Do you love making new years resolutions or think they’re a waste of time? We’re here to talk to you about something amazing your dog will love that can make them happier, healthier and live longer. Plus, this miracle process is completely free! That’s right: daily exercise.

When everyone else is regretting their gym membership in February, you and your fluffy companion will still be going strong on your plan for 365 days of walkies. The question is – how much exercise does a dog need every day? Read on to discover the benefits, exercise recommendation, handy tips and more!

The benefits of exercise for dogs

Regular exercise is important for a happy, healthy pooch. It’s key to fighting obesity, which can shorten your pet’s lifespan by up to two and half years according to researchers at the University of Liverpool. On top of helping your dog keep physically fit, exercise provides much needed mental stimulation. A bored pooch can be a destructive one. Exercise helps to ward off poor mental health and negative behaviours like chewing, digging and excessive barking. Not forgetting, it’s a great way to bond with your dog and is fun too.

But how much exercise does a dog need every day? Is there such a thing as too much exercise? And isn’t every dog’s need different? If you’ve warmed up properly and raring to go, read on to find out more.

How much exercise does a dog need every day?

Don’t forget each pooch is an individual with their own needs and nuances to considers. Exercise needs for dogs differ dependent on their breed, personality , lifestage and health.

Exercise needs by breed type

  • Low activity dogs include toy dogs such as the Chihuahua and giant breeds like Newfoundlands. Less than an hour of exercise a day which includes indoor fun should suffice to meet their physical needs.
  • Medium activity dogs like utility dogs who were bred for a purpose other than sporting or hunting such as the Boston Terrier need 1-2 hours a day. You can split into 2 walks a day and indoor fun.
  • Working dogs and gun dogs need the most exercise. At least 30 minutes of hard core activity in addition to their 2-3 hours a day.
  • Don’t forget our non-sporting dogs! Originally bred to work but now more commonly found as family pets. These include the Lhasa Apso, Bulldog and Shiba Inu. These dogs can be either low, medium or high activity. Our Smudge loves the outdoors and will happily go for a 2-3 hour trek with us and still have bursts of energy in the morning and evening for our playtime sessions.

Exercise needs for puppies and seniors

  • Puppies need a lot of sleep for all of that growing. Puppies quickly tire, so short bursts of activity is best. Consider their breed needs and if you’re in the middle of toilet training or about to start, check our crate training guide for a useful routine of eat, play and sleep.
  • As your dog grows older you might notice they slow down slightly. It’s still important to exercise senior dogs to keep them healthy but go at their pace, slower, shorter walks are best.
How much exercise does a dog need everyday

Exercise to help your dog lose weight

Weight gain is common in certain breeds and senior dogs. Older dogs often adopt more leisurely lifestyles but don’t lose their taste for mealtimes and treats. Estimates have over half of pets in the UK overweight or obese.

If your dog is overweight, it’s not usually necessary to change to a diet food. Start by reviewing portion size, treat count and exercise regime. Often the reasons behind overweight dogs are due to overfeeding and/or not enough exercise.

Kick off getting them to a healthy weight by ensuring you’re feeding them the right amount of food. A measuring scoop will help – and your pooch will thank you for it. Our Scrumbles packs have multiple feeding guides which vary dependent on age and activity level.

For overweight dogs, we recommend first cutting out treats and increasing their daily exercise. Start slow by introducing an additional play session like ten minutes of fetch or increasing the dynamics of their walk – taking them for a hilly walk or just hiking ten minutes further.

These small changes can help shift some of that excess weight without a need to reduce feeding. If your pooch needs to shift a lot of weight, reduce their food by 10% and increase the activity level further. Be sure to start gradually introducing more calorie burning activities to build momentum. Too much too soon can put your pet at risk of injury. Set manageable goals for the future and aim to make exercise a part of their lifestyle.

How much exercise is too much for your dog?

It’s important to know how much exercise a dog needs every day to avoid over exercising them. Perky puppies tend to have more energy than older dogs and the stamina to walk further at a quicker pace. It is possible to even over exercise even a puppy, though. The following questions can help you determine whether you need to take precautions when exercising your dog.

1. Does your dog have arthritis?

Pooches with arthritis or similar conditions may need restricted exercise so they can enjoy the benefits without causing any damage. Dogs with arthritis should avoid exercise that involves jumping. Your vet will be happy to advise you on what’s right for your furbaby. 

2. Does your dog have a short nose, like a bulldog?

Shorter nosed dogs can find it difficult to breathe if they work too hard, so listen out for laboured breathing. 

3. Does your dog have short legs?

Just like taking a toddler shopping can have them complaining of exhaustion and begging to be carried before you’ve made it to the checkout, little dogs will need to take shorter walks than their bigger brothers and sisters. Similarly they should be discouraged from walking up and down stairs.

When you are exercising your dog every day be sure to watch out for signs of overexertion. These include panting, limping, or flat out refusing to go any further. 

Walking in all weathers

Dogs need exercise every day, but the changing seasons can prove challenging. Here’s some tips for walking in all weathers. You can continue to provide the mental and physical stimulation your dog needs in difficult weather as well as adjust how much you feed to avoid a paunch.

Keeping dogs safe in the summer

We all know dogs shouldn’t be left in hot cars. Similarly dogs can suffer from heatstroke on their walks. If it’s going to be very hot, change up your walking routine to avoid the sun at its hottest. It’s best to go for a 20-30-minute walk in the early morning and late evening.

The ground can get incredibly hot and scorch our dog’s paws. As a general rule, if it’s too hot for you to comfortably have your hand on the floor, it’s too hot for your dog. Plan a route that involves shade and hydration. It’s a good idea to bring a big water bottle and umbrella with you.

Walking your dog in winter, come rain or snow

Rain or snow is usually no deterrent to a daring dog. You can try to reduce their exposure to the elements by choosing to walk in places that have some shelter, like big trees or covered outdoor areas. Being out for long periods of time in lots of cold rain or snow could cause hypothermia so put on the pooch’s waterproof jacket if they need to wear one.

Walking your dog in wet weather

Some dogs love to dress up. Others like Smudge don’t. But in cold, wet weather outdoor clothing is your friend particularly for short coated breeds like greyhounds. Keep them warm with an appropriate jumper or coat.

When it snows, for some dogs like lhasa apsos, snow can get stuck in their fur restricting their movement. It might sound counterintuitive but its best to keep the fur around their feet nice and trim during the winter to help here. Similarly, to hot weather burning their paws, you wouldn’t want them to get frost bite. Fret not booties are here and will keep their tootsies nice and snug. If your dog really opposes to booties try to find a clearer path for walks and always towel dry a wet dog when you get in.

Indoor exercise for your dog

As well as their daily walkies, you can also exercise your dog inside. For dogs that can take on stairs, chasing a ball up your stairs is a great game; just make sure the stairs are carpeted and clear of any hazards to ensure they can’t trip or hurt themselves e.g. check for snagged carpet.

Even if you live in a bungalow, there’s still plenty of exercise oppawtunities. Fetch can be played in the rooms where you don’t keep your priceless ornaments and you can create obstacle courses with cushions, boxes and blankets for your hound to race around. Dogs love playing with toys and they can also burn calories playing games with you like hide and seek. You can even train your dog to help you with tasks around the house, like bringing dirty clothes to you ready for washing.  

Doggy day out. Take your furball for a walk around your local large pet store. It’s another way to get them moving and a chance for them to enjoy a leisurely stroll that has endless amusements to sniff and discover. 

Remember every dog is different. Certain types of exercise are not suitable for certain types of dogs. If in doubt, speak to your vet. They’ll help put together an exercise plan that’s appropriate for your dog.

How to get enough exercise for your dog when you work

Fitting in dog exercise when you work full time can be a challenge. For the time poor pet pawrent thankfully there are options.

It’s important for your pooch’s health and wellbeing that they aren’t bored and although they can be left alone, this should be for as short a time as possible i.e. less than 4 hours.

Are you an early riser? And like to exercise in the morning? Morning walkies and play with your dog is a great stress reliever to ease you in and out of the working day.

For most of Smudge’s life we’ve had jobs where she could join us at work and play with our colleagues or other dogs. When we weren’t able to, we used a doggy day care. These can vary significantly in cost and quality so shop around. And there’s also the option of a dog walker although we found it wasn’t much more expensive to have Smudge looked after for the whole day at our local doggy day care and we’d get pupdates with photos of her on her walks.

These things can add up, so it’s worth checking with your friendly neighbours to see if they can look after your pooch whilst you’re at work.

This might be a stretch depending on your workplace but what if Bring Your Dog to Work Day was every day? If your employer can be persuaded that productivity will soar with the addition of a friendly fluffball in the office this is a great get around. If you have an option to work from home, even just once a week, this is another avenue to explore. 

Are you inspired to get fit with your pooch this year? How do you make sure your dog gets enough exercise every day? Let us know in the comments and sign up to our newsletter for all things dog.

Siberian Cat Breed Guide

Siberian Cat Breed Guide

The Siberian cat is a charming, large cat who can make a great addition to many homes. Although their ancestors are likely to have roamed Siberia for thousands of years, the domestic breed has only been relatively recently recognised. Since their introduction, Siberian cats have quickly gained popularity around the world for their striking looks and affable personality.

Boo, our very own Siberian cat is a playful, affectionate soul. We joined her, by the windowsill to ask her some questions about her breed. Would you like to know more about Siberian cats? Are you considering if a Siberian cat would be the right cat for you? Boo’s here to help.

So, Boo what is the history of Siberian cats?

Our origin is something of a Cinderella story. Like all good fairy tails we’re not sure of the exact year we bought our charms to Siberia. Siberian cats are thought to have existed for at least 1,000 years.

We’ve got a talent for catching rats and mice. So we were quickly recruited in shops and farms to help by hunting rodents. That is until we were scouted by people who appreciated the Siberian cats’ regal appearance. From then on we started to star in cat shows and competitions.

It wasn’t just about our wizardly looks, though. We attracted international fame for our funny, friendly nature. Siberian cats have been bred since the 1980s and first appeared in the UK in 2002. So what you see when you look at a Sibirskaya koshka (that’s our name in our native Russian tongue) is all natural and has been shaped by the cruel winters and hot summers of Siberia. You might have seen us take the lead role in a Hollywood movie. I’m sure the Siberian cat actor did all her own stunts – and we feature in Russian folklore stories.

How big is a Siberian cat?

You won’t find out our full size until we’re five years old, but once fully-grown Siberian’s are large cats. Females can weigh from 3.5 to 6kg and males 5.5 to 8kg and sometimes even larger. Siberian cats are normally about 30cm tall. Siberian cats have big round paws with tufts of fur between our toes and a muscly, sturdy build. Our thick, luxurious coat comes in almost every different colour. Mine is a dashing mackerel tabby but it’s common to find us in red, gold, white, and silver and we have a regal ruff around our necks. All the better for our famous fluffy cuddles!

How long do Siberian cats live?

The life span of a Siberian cat is around 10 to 18 years. Some of us live well into our 20s. You can help keep us healthy by feeding us a high quality, complete, balanced, animal protein rich diet like Scrumbles. We naturally have a nice fluffy belly, usually white like our chests and legs. You shouldn’t be able to feel rolls of fat when tickling our tummies.

Speaking of food, what do you like to eat?

I have a fondness for fishier things so I like to munch on Scrumbles Salmon. When Smudge isn’t looking I do tend to wander over to her bowl and grab a few biscuits. The high meat content and salmon oil keeps my coat glossy. I also like to crunch down on a dried jack spratt. Fishy heaven!

Do Siberian cats need grooming?

We have a naturally oily coat. This protects us from the freezing temperatures of the tundra and the beating sun in the summer months. Siberian cats are triple coated! Luckily our luscious locks don’t tend to matt or tangle, probably because you have to be quite low maintenance living in the snow forests of Siberia.

If you try to bathe us, our fur is water repellent. It can take around fifteen minutes to wet the coat – then even longer to wash out any shampoo you’ve used. If you don’t rinse it out, we can get dandruff so it’s best to just brush us every day or at least once a week. We’re devoted to our pet pawrents and love the time you take to groom us. Our extra fluffy ears need to be kept clean too with cotton wool or a soft, clean damp cloth.

Are Siberian cats hypoallergenic?

Siberian cats are believed to produce less of the protein that typically affects people with allergies. Coupled with the fact that we only shed twice a year means we’re more suitable companion for those with allergies. For example, my pet parent Aneisha suffers with cat allergies and she isn’t really affected by me. We can’t call ourselves officially hypoallergenic, but anecdotally people who have allergy symptoms around cats tend to get along just fine with us. Also, worth noting that girl cats tend to produce less of the protein than male cats.

Do Siberian cats shed?

Siberian cats typically shed just twice yearly: in spring to lose our winter coats and in autumn to lose the light summer covering and grow in a thick furmidable one for the cold weather. If you don’t brush us at these times we can ingest a lot of the hair we shed and suffer from those dreaded furballs.

Are Siberian cats healthy?

As cats we can be affected by the usual feline problems, but we tend to be a strong, healthy breed. Unfortunately, many Siberian cats carry the hereditary condition hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes swelling of the heart and is the most common heart disease in kitties. You can talk to your vet about early screening of cats’ hearts with an ultrasound and using anti-coagulants like aspirin to thin the blood.

Are Siberian cats’ indoor cats?

We’re very happy being indoor cats as long as there’s lots to entertain us and access to the outdoors for mental stimulation – there are some great catios which keep us safe and give us a taste of the outdoors. I like to go outdoors for a stretch in the morning and evening but spend the rest of my time lazing indoors with my sister, Smudge.

Siberian cats are known as a dog-like breeds (unlike some of our fellow cats we don’t see this as a bad thing) and we need to release our energy through play and exploration. Some of us can be taken for walks on a harness every meow and then; we prefer cat harnesses over collars and it’s best to get us used to wearing this as early as possible. We adore chasing things and playing fetch so if there’s room to run around we’ll have a happy life inside your home.

Are Siberian cats friendly and cuddly?

Absolutely! We are very playful, affectionate and love spending time with our family, including children. We’ll follow you around and greet you when you come home.

Siberian cats have a cute soft meow. If we’re not purring happily we’ll be trilling and chirping away – we can hold our own in conversations. We know when you need time to yourself but we’re always ready for a game or a chat. We couldn’t be further from the idea of the “aloof cat” and think it’s pawsome to jump on your lap for cuddles. Humans say we tend to notice if they’re having a bad day or feeling sad and we devote extra attention to them. Us Siberian cats have been described as gentle giants and we have a calm demeanour despite our cheeky feline frolics.

Do Siberian cats get along with dogs?

We get along purrfectly with everyone! Siberian cats are playful and curious, and we love interacting with other cats, dogs and children – we’re very patient. We just really enjoy forming close relationships with our family, whether they’re the human or fluffy kind.

Us Siberian cats don’t really get bothered by noise or strangers like some other cats do. We’re just too friendly for that! Although, we do still have that strong hunting instinct. So a hamster or mouse might be best kept in a cage around us… Nobody’s perfect.

Are Siberian cats vocal?

We purr a lot and like to make adorable little meows and cute cat sounds to let you know what’s going on. We’re not known as a particularly vocal cat. If you’ve been out all day though it’s likely us Siberian cats will have a lot to say to you once you’re home. We will be very excited to hear about what you’ve been up to.

As we’re not known for being loud, if you notice excessive vocalisation it could mean we are in pain or anxious about something. Remember that we stay cute kitty cats for the first five years of our lives, and kittens are known for being chattier. Our purrs and chirrups soon become the welcome soundtrack to family life.

Can you train a Siberian cat?

Us Siberian cats are intelligent problem solvers and it’s common for us to teach ourselves how to open a door if we think our purrents are on the other side. We will often instigate a game of fetch and anything can be a toy to us so don’t leave out items you don’t want us putting in our mouths or batting about with our paws as we wouldn’t want to break something you like.

We can usually be trained to walk on leashes and use scratching posts. If you look at videos online, you will see many examples of our relatives doing impressive tricks. If you’ll be bringing a little kitty home, you can help us trust and feel safe with you by preparing for our arrival; we long for close bonds and will enjoy trying out training and learning tricks if it means spending quality time with our family.

Do Siberian cats like water?

Water – where? We love water! All varieties of water bring us great joy to play with, as our ancestors used to stay out in all types of extreme weather playing in the rain, sleet, and thick snow that blanketed the forest floors.  Our triple coated fur is designed to handle wet conditions, so it doesn’t bother us as much as other cats. They don’t know what they’re missing. Don’t be surprised if we join you in shower or bathtub… Can we get some more water in here please?

Who would make a perfect pet pawrent for a Siberian cat?

Somebody who will love us, play with us, and adore us as much as we do them. We may be glamorous – we are the national cat of Russia, after all – but we are incredibly affectionate and thrive in a social environment. We don’t just want to be admired from afar.

Our purrfect pet pawrent would want a companion who will be there for them and not the sort of cat who comes and goes every few days. Our pawrent should be a great conversationalist with a talent for brushing hair. It would be terrible if they got annoyed when they find us Siberian cats hanging from the chandeliers or making ourselves comfortable on their laptop or the book they’re reading.

We would be happy joining a big boisterous family with children. Equally we’d love delighting a single human or couple who have other pets with our clown-like antics. Anybody who is kind, caring and wants to build and cherish a true bond with their pet will make a great pawrent for us.

Now, to sum up in Russian: Sibirskaya koshka mozhet proiskhodit’ iz kholodnogo klimata, no u neye teploye, obozhayushcheye serdtse – ne mogli by vy dat’ nam vsyu lyubov’, v kotoroy my nuzhdayemsya?

Thanks Boo! And in English?

Of course. The Siberian cat may come from cold climes, but it has a warm, adoring heart. Could you give us all the love we need?  

It’s hard not to be won over by the Siberian cat’s stunning looks and affectionate, friendly nature. If you have any questions for Boo about her breed, let us know in the comments. Sign up to our newsletter for more cat facts and doggy delights. 

Lhasa Apso Breed Guide

Lhasa Apso Breed Guide

If you’d like to find out more about the Lhasa Apso breed, or are trying to determine if a Lhasa might make the right companion for you, this handy guide, by Smudge herself, might help.

After a grooming pamper session, a nice walk and a tasty lunch (Scrumbles of course!), Smudge sat down with us to answer some questions about her breed…

What is the history of Lhasa Apsos?

The Lhasa Apso is a positively magical dog! The tale of our mystical origins begins way back in 800 BC in the sacred city of Lhasa, Tibet, known locally as “the place of the gods.” Lhasa boasts holy Buddhist pilgrimage sites nestled in some of the highest mountain peaks in the world, over 3.6km above sea level.

My ancestors were entrusted with the great honour of guarding the monasteries and palaces from within as well as providing loyal companionship to Tibetan Buddhists. Their alertness, intelligence and ability to recognise unusual sounds and respond with an assertive bark earned them their place besides nobility and the divine residents of the sacred buildings. It was believed that the souls of monks who didn’t make it to spiritual nirvana would pass into a Lhasa Apso.

It used to be you could only gain a Lhasa Apso if you were gifted one by the Dalai Lama, but we now make common companion animals – the 27th most popular breed of 2018 in the UK… Surely that should be 1st?!

The noble, hardy Lhasa Apso may be far removed from the mountain wolves we descend from. However, our Tibetan name of Abso Seng Kye, which translates to “bark lion sentinel dog,” reflects the legend that a Lhasa Apso looking in the mirror sees a lion.

How big is a Lhasa Apso?

The original Lhasa Apsos had to be able to survive the tough conditions of the mountainous Himalayan region: short hot summers, long freezing winters, terrain of high peaks and low troughs, dust, wind, and high altitude. You can see evidence of this in our features, from the hair that covers our eyes if left ungroomed, to protect from flying particles, and our straight front legs which are great for climbing. We are usually around 25cm tall at the shoulder and weigh between 5 and 9kg. As Lhasa’s go, I’m rather petite at just 5.2kg.

How long do Lhasa Apso dogs live?

We are tough pooches and tend to live long lives, with a typical lifespan of 15 to 18 years and many of us reach our early 20s. The oldest Lhasa Apso on record lived for an amazing 29 years!

How often do Lhasa Apsos need to be groomed?

The longer the hair, the more grooming is required. For my long haired lhasa brothers and sisters, daily brushing is recommended. Us Lhasa Apsos are double coated and our thick, long hair will grow straight down to the floor on each side from a parting along the middle of our backs.

Many owners choose the charming teddy bear cut (like mine) for their Lhasa Apso which is lower maintenance although I still get a brush twice a week, particularly on my long fluffy tail. A neglected coat will quickly matt, so we really need a pawrent who can give the time to care for our coats properly, and it’s a great way to bond with us. I take weekly baths, too, driven by my penchant for fox poo. We can be many colours including white, black, tan, grey or different combinations and can have dark markings on our face and ears – we’re full of surprises as our hair tends to change as we mature.

Do Lhasa Apsos shed?

Generally, Lhasa’s shed very little and are popular for not moulting. Our hair sheds more like human hair rather than some other dog breeds. We shed over time rather than all at once and our long, heavy hairs are less likely to fly around that could cause sneezing fits for sensitive humans.

Are Lhasa Apsos hypoallergenic dogs?

Although no perfectly hypoallergenic dog exists, we are a good choice for someone with allergies. Little to no shedding, and almost zero drool means that people who normally wheeze, sneeze, and tear up around dogs are less likely to be affected by a Lhasa Apso. I am a bit of a licker though and will happily shower you with kisses, all day, every day but that’s just me. 

Are Lhasa Apsos noisy?

We have a distinctive bark but there are ways to prevent us using it too often. If we get tummy rubs or toys when we bark, that encourages us, and if we are shouted at when we bark we just think you are barking back and carry on!

If we don’t get enough exercise we bark to de-stress and if we are bored or lonely barking can become a habit which we do to entertain ourselves. You can actually train us to bark on a command like “speak” or “talk” and to stop barking by saying “quiet” or “stop.”

Barking is part of what makes us dogs, but excessive yapping suggests a problem so please speak to your vet. Personally, I’m not much of a barker, until I see a pesky squirrel in the garden, or the damn postie shows up making a racquet – but that deserves a bark or too right!?

Barking is part of what makes us dogs, but excessive yapping suggests a problem so please speak to your vet. Personally, I’m not much of a barker, until I see a pesky squirrel in the garden, or the damn postie shows up making a racquet – but that deserves a bark or too right!?

Are Lhasa Apsos smart?

Absolutely! Us little lions are known for our intelligence and curiosity. We have a great sense of humour and are envied among the other breeds for our ability to learn many words (along with all our other great traits, obviously.) My favourite word is “food” and “walkies”.

What health problems do Lhasa Apso’s have?

Lhasa Apsos are as hardy as we are hairy, but unfortunately are prone to hip dysplasia, which can be prevented by keeping us at a healthy weight and feeding the right portion size of a healthy and complete dog food. We don’t tend to gain weight easily, especially with daily exercise.

Sadly, we are susceptible to eye problems and hereditary progressive retinal atrophy, which causes retinal deterioration and could result in vision loss in our twilight years; however, we tend to handle this with ease and adapt well to the changes.

Lhasa Apsos can also develop cherry eye, where the tear duct moves to the surface of the eye, and dry eye, where not enough tears are produced. This doesn’t sound very nice to me and there are treatable conditions so please make sure to schedule eye tests for us – your vet can tell you more about how to take care of our eyes.

Lhasa Apsos are also predisposed to sebaceous adenitis, which is when the immune system attacks the sebaceous glands causing silvery dandruff, skin lesions, and a musty “wet dog” smell. The condition requires lifelong treatment managed with antibiotics and medicated shampoos, minerals and ointments and feeding us dog food rich in essential fatty acids and vitamin A.

Speaking of eyes, we’re known for having rather large beautiful eyes which can produce tears excessively leading to tear stains. There is no way to get rid of tear stains contrary to claims out there but there are things that can help. I get fed a highly digestible food with probiotics (Scrumbles), use stainless steel bowls and filtered water as well as having my eyes cleaned every morning.

How much exercise do Lhasa Apso’s need?

We’re known for being perfect lap dogs who don’t need a lot of exercise and are suitable for the home or flat life, but we do still need daily walks and I’m a big fan of the outdoors. I like a big hike and most days run around in the woods or park for at least an hour. It’s also great fun for us to run around off our leads in a fenced-in back garden and we love playing frisbee or fetch.

Are Lhasa Apso’s stubborn?

Lhasa apso Breed Guide

I’m not answering that!

Please?

Later, after a treat and lots of cuddles…

Ask again, as we discussed.

Ok, are Lhasa Apso’s independent?

Yes, we are! When you consider our origin, it makes sense that we have a lot of pride but we’re also very funny, loyal and obedient to a strong leader. We have a bit of a reputation as being tough to train with selective hearing but actually we just keep our playful puppy demeanour for the first few years of our lives. Lhasa Apsos really need lots of socialisation early on, so we don’t become suspicious towards strangers – that’s our old guard dog instincts showing themselves in a negative way.

Obviously, we don’t think you have any, but what are the cons of Lhasa Apso’s?

I’m glad you asked this – I want to clear up some misunderstandings! It’s hard to believe but we Lhasa Apsos have a reputation for being aggressive, stubborn, defensive, and unkind to strangers and small children. Doesn’t sound at all like me, does it? Some have even tarnished us with the brush of having small dog syndrome – how rude!

In truth good socialisation early on will help make a calm, friendly companion and personally I get on well with people, dogs and even cats of all sizes. Now that I’m an older lady (8 years old), I prefer calmer pets and people. Due to my diminutive size, I do have to watch out for boisterous puppies who have been known to step on me in the past, so I prefer those kinds of encounters to be in a controlled, open environment.

Our keen sense of hearing is our very own super power but can make us sensitive to sounds. Personally, I’m not a fan of thunder or fireworks so do take a little extra care are consideration where this is concerned. Take a look at our guide to keeping me and my furry friends happy during fireworks season

We have tiny teeth so dental care is a must. Daily brushing will help keep our teeth in tip top condition so that we’re happy and healthy. Introduce us to tooth brushes early on so that we get used to it. I personally don’t enjoy this part of grooming but my pawrents say it’s a non-negotiable. If you’re new to brushing teeth check out our guide here.  

Are Lhasa Apso’s easy to train?

Our independent nature can make us a little tricky to train, but with patience and the right motivation we can be well trained. Motivational training involves using praise, toys and the occasional treat to train us. Although, we typically only like praise when there is a good relationship between the trainer and the pup which can take a while to develop, so if you can be the one to train your dog this will be a great building block for a beautiful relationship.

Us Lhasa Apsos have a noble background and we won’t accept being treated aggressively or unkindly, so telling us off if we’ve grown tired of training won’t work at all and we may leave a little present for you to teach you to be kinder. Training should be steady, ongoing, and positive. Crate training is recommended for Lhasa Apsos and we really enjoy consistent rules and having our own safe little den to retire to. We also love learning your human language! Understanding what you mean when you say words like “sit” and “fetch” feels great so please take the time to teach us.

Do Lhasa Apso’s like children?

Young children should always be accompanied when interacting with any dog. Our long ears and tails may be tempting to tug but are very sensitive. What a child might think is a playful pet may hurt us – I’ve been brought up around children so love getting kisses and gentle strokes and am patient when fussed over but I will give you a warning growl if you hurt me and look for a quiet spot. Generally, it’s important to give us some space and watch our body language as we’ll make it clear it if we are unhappy.

Who would make a perfect pet pawrent for a Lhasa Apso?

Lhasa Apsos love having fun and playing with our human housemates. We’re adaptable doggies and suit living with most people. We’re low maintenance as dogs but do require a little more training that others as puppies so prefer a patient owner. Mostly we just want to be respected and treated like the regal breed we are. And don’t forget about elderly daring dogs – we still make charismatic companions but just a little less mischievous.

Thanks, Smudge! With such an enchanting background, it’s not surprising Lhasa Apsos have put so many pet pawrents under their spell. 

Do you have a question for Smudge about Lhasa Apsos? Ask us in the comments and don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more pet info straight from the dog’s mouth!