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.

What to Do When You Can’t Walk Your Dog

What to Do When You Can’t Walk Your Dog

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

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

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

Benefits of walking your dog

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

Physical health

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

Mental health

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

Woman walking her dog

Training

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

Behaviour

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

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

What to do when you can’t walk your dog

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

Dog walkers

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

How much do dog walkers charge?

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

Doggy day care

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

How much is doggy day care?

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

How to find a dog walker?

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

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

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

Free options for dog care

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

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

What about holidays?

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

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

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

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

Keeping your dog entertained at home

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

Feeding time = play time

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

Hide and seek

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

Take the stairs

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

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

Indoors fetch or tug of war

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

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

Dog tugging on a toy

Stay healthy with Scrumbles

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

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

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.

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

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

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

The rise of clean eating

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

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

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

Are dogs carnivores or omnivores?

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

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

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

are dogs carnivores

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

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

Dog eating dry food

So, are grains bad for dogs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whole grains are high in fibre

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

Whole grains are antioxidant rich

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

Happy dog running through a field

Does grain-free dog food help with allergies?

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

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

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

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

Is grain-free dog food bad?

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

Does grain free dog food cause weight gain?

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

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

Grain free pet food cancer risk

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

Does grain free dog food cause heart disease?

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

Is grain-free dog food right for you?

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

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

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

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

Good health begins with the gut

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

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

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

Can we help?

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

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

When Can Puppies Go Outside?

When Can Puppies Go Outside?

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

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

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

Medical restraints

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

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

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

Puppy socialisation

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

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

Getting out & about

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

Puppy being carried

Making friends

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

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

Toilet training

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

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

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

When can puppies go outside for walks?

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

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

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

Puppy on a walk

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

Keep in touch

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

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

Healthy Dog Poop Chart: In Search of the Perfect Poop

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

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

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

The perfect poop

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

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

Consistency

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

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

Size

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

Happy Dog In Field

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

Frequency

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

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

Shape

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

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

quizzical dog

Colour

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

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

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

Keeping your pooch happy & healthy

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

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

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

Healthy dog poop chart

In Search of the Perfect Poop

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Dentastix: Are They Good or Bad for My Dog?

Dentastix: Are They Good or Bad for My Dog?

No one wants bad dog teeth but are Dentastix the answer? It’s a question asked by many pet pawrents. After all, we all want what is best for our dogs and puppies. Alongside showers of daily affection and long walks in the countryside, keeping those dog teeth in tip top shape is vital for your pet’s wellbeing.

Brushing your dog’s teeth daily is just as important as brushing your own but currently less than 1% of pet parents brush their cat or dog’s teeth. While there is no substitute to an old-fashioned toothbrush and paste (dog specific toothpaste not human toothpaste!), for convenience, a lot of people use oral care dog chews and dog dental sticks like Dentastix, which claim to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy.

Read on as we discuss whether or not these chews and sticks are beneficial for your dog’s teeth. And find out about our dog dental stick for a low fat, tasty option to keep bad breath and plaque at bay.

What is in Dentastix?

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list to see what makes up a dentastix?

In the UK, pet food and treat companies aren’t legally obliged to list individual ingredients in their product. Instead, they can simply list them by category. As a result, a lot of ingredients may be hidden, and you may not be fully aware of what you’re giving to your beloved dog. Fortunately, we’ve broken down the categories below to give you a clearer idea of what’s what.

Cereals

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

Derivatives of vegetable origin

Again the vagueness of this term means you simply do not know what you’re getting in each dog chew. One batch could be different to another depending on the vegetable products that are most cost-effective at the time.

Meat & animal derivatives

Meat and animal derivatives doesn’t clearly state what part or indeed which animal is being used. It could be any part of any animal, from heads and brains to hair and feathers. The issue with vague terms is that you can’t be sure if the quality is good or bad and once again the meat sources in the recipe could change batch to batch so steer clear if your pooch has any food intolerances.

Minerals including Sodium Tripolyphosphate

Sodium Tripolyphosphate is the active ingredients in a Dentastix that helps keep your dogs teeth clean. Clinical studies show that they can prevent tartar build up by up to 80%.

Oils & fats

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

Dog chewing on a stick

Do Dentastix clean your dog’s teeth?

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

Dentastix claim their unique shape helps keep teeth clean but depending on the dog, the soft chew doesn’t do much to naturally rub away at plaque. That’s why our dog dental chews are designed to have a crunch. Yes, Dentastix do contain specific ingredients designed to clean your pooch’s teeth but the question is whether or not you think feeding these dental chews are good for your dog’s health overall. We’d argue there are healthier alternatives that aren’t as fatty and have natural clean ingredients.

Active ingredients

The main Dentastix ingredient that cleans your dog’s teeth is Sodium Tripolyphosphate, a chemical which can break down plaque and tartar. However, the chemical only accounts for around 2.6% of each Dentastix stick, so you want to be comfortable that the other 97.4% is good for your dog…

Hidden ingredients

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

Our healthy alternative

Tough on plaque and kind to the planet, our Gnashers are a guilt-free dog treat that promote great oral health.

We believe clean ingredients are best for your pooch’s health, making Dentastix a no no. So we’ve developed our healthy alternative to tackle bad breath and plaque. With the same active ingredients as a dentastix but minus the junk, our dental bones are baked with natural ingredients that are kind to tums and packed in eco packaging to tread lightly on the planet. Click on the image below to find out more and try them.

dog dental stick

Named ingredients

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

No substitute for the real thing

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

Dog with a brush in its mouth

Tough chews

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

Supervise your pup

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

Keep in touch

If you’d like to learn check out our ultimate guide to dog teeth and if you’re looking for a healthy alternative to dentastix, we’d love you to give our Scrumbles Gnashers a go. Follow us on our Instagram and Twitter pages for more pupdates.

Comment below with your handy tricks for keeping your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. And stay up to date with our blog to keep in the know about all things dog related.

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

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

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

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

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

Why cat teeth cleaning is important

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

Cat teeth cleaning

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

Looking out for warning signs

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

Bad breath

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

Physical signs

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

Change in eating habits

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

Reluctance to play

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

ginger cat with paws over its face

How to clean your cat’s teeth

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

Cat teeth cleaning essentials

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

Start slowly

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

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

More than just the teeth

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

Using the right products

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

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

Keep your cat comfortable and secure

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

Calling on the experts

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

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

Keep in touch

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

Pregnant Cat Checklist

Pregnant Cat Checklist

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

How to tell if a cat is pregnant

First things first, is your cat pregnant?

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

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

Changes in appearance

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

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

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

Changes in behaviour

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

Cat playing on the floor

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

Changes in eating habits

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

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

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

How long is a cat pregnant?

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

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

Caring for your pregnant cat

A little extra TLC

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

Feeding your pregnant cat

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

Pregnant cat being fed a kibble

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

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

Cleaning up

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

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

Keeping your pregnant cat safe

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

Preparing for the big day

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

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

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

Let her lead the way

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

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

Create a peaceful environment

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

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

Take a step back

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

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

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

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

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

Pregnant after-care

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

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

Keep in touch

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

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

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.