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

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

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

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

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

Why do cats like being stroked?

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

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

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

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

Petting a Cat's Head

How to pet a cat

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

Understand their body language

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

Give them space

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

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

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

Know when to stop

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

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

A light touch

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

Overexcitement

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

Where to pet your cat

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

Avoid the belly rub

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

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

Focus on the scent glands

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

Under their chin

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

Stroking a Cat

Behind their ears

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

Base of their tail

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

A full body stroke

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

Keeping your kitty happy & healthy

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

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

Image credit: Buzzfeed

How to Litter Train a Kitten

How to Litter Train a Kitten

Bringing a kitten home is an exciting time for many pawrents. A new bundle of furry joy brings fun, love and cuddles to your home. But there are a number of steps to tackle before you can comfortably let your new kitty roam free in your home.

From choosing the right food and treats for your kitten to settling them into their new environment, there are plenty of things to consider when welcoming a new kitty. Without a doubt one of the least pleasurable things – for both you and your cat – is toilet training. Spotting the tell-tale signs to know when your kitten needs to relieve herself and having the right kit will keep accidents to a minimum.

Spotting the tell-tale signs

Toilet training your kitten is much different to housetraining your puppy. Dogs need to be trained to let their pawrents when they need to go outside, whether that’s barking or scratching the back door. Cats, however, should be taught to go to the bathroom as and when they need to, whether it’s in the litter box or out in the garden – which they could have open access to through a cat flap.

In order to train your kitty to go to the bathroom in their litter tray, you must place them on the tray when they need to go. So, you need to be able to pick up on when your cat needs to go to the toilet in order to get them onto the litter tray in time. There are a number of tell-tale signs to look out for, including…

After eating and drinking

Just like us humans, kitties will need to go to the bathroom after eating or drinking. Shortly after feeding time, take them directly to their litter box, place them on the tray and leave them to it. After all, you wouldn’t want someone watching you go to the bathroom. Give your cat some privacy. Return after a few minutes and, if your kitten has successfully used their litter box, give them plenty of praise and attention.

Digging or kneading

When going to the toilet outdoors, cats tend to look for private areas to avoid being seen as they are vulnerable during this time. Outdoor cats will generally look for soft ground, in order to cover up their mess afterwards. Your kitty may seem to be digging and pawing at the ground when they need the bathroom. If you spot your cat exhibiting these behaviours, pick them up and take them straight to their litter box, again rewarding them if their trip is successful.

Squatting

Before going for a number two – or sometimes a number one – cats often get into a squatting position. When litter training, or even afterwards, if their tray is blocked or messy, you may find your cat squatting in unsuitable places around your home. If you do notice this, be sure to quickly pick them up and take them to their litter box, training them to go there themselves next time they are desperate.

Crying

If your cat’s litterbox is blocked off or unclean, they may cry or paw at the door when they are unable to get out. Firstly, it’s important to listen out for these attention cries. A cat flap or door is also a great addition to your home, allowing your cat to come and go as they please.

But also consider where you place their litter tray. It should be easily accessible, without regular blocking by doors or chairs.

Kitten crying

Litter training basics

Before you even bring your kitty home, you should pick out a litter tray ready to go. It’s important to choose the right litter tray from the start, to carry your cat through their lives. You can buy a new litterbox as and when you need them. But consider how quickly your kitten will grow. Buy one that will be big enough for them fully grown, not just in their first few months.

Remember, cats are notoriously private animals, so they don’t like being in an open space when going to the bathroom. Be sure to place the litter box somewhere quiet and away from food and within easy access.

Some kitties may prefer an enclosed litterbox, with walls and a roof so your cat can have their own little room within your home. This is also great for containing the odour of the litter tray.

Which cat litter is best?

There are a number of different types of litter available, all with their own pros and cons.

Clumping litter

Clumping litter uses a form of clay called sodium bentonite, which is very popular with both cats and pawrents due to its easy clean-up nature. When clumping litter gets wet (from your cat using their litter tray), the sodium bentonite expands and forms hard clumps – hence the name – making it easier to scoop out soiled areas.

One of the main issues with clumping litter is that it can cause intestinal problems for your cat if they digest the particles. Some cats, especially kittens, tend to eat their litter, especially when they’re getting used to their new box. When ingested, these particles can block the digestive system and can cause stomach issues for your kitty. If you do use clumping litter, be sure to keep a cautious eye out.

Crystals

Recently, silica gel crystals have become a popular litter option for pawrents. The gel particles are significantly better at absorbing fluid and odour than other litter variants, keeping your home smelling fresh. Crystal litter also tends to last a little longer than clay variants, so you may need to change it less frequently.

However, crystal particles can get stuck in your kitty’s paws, sometimes feeling sharp on their feet. Cats can even nibble and lick at the crystals when cleaning their paws, which can cause intestinal issues if your cat ingests too many of them. Crystal litter is also more expensive than other forms of litter, so it’s worth weighing up your options.

Biodegradable litter

There are a number of litters available that are biodegradable, including corn, wheat and pine. These are more environmentally friendly as they will naturally decompose quicker when you dispose of litter. They also produce little or no dust, meaning they’re a healthy option for those living with asthma – including both cats and pawrents.

The only problem with biodegradable litter is that it does not clump in the same way as clay litters, so it can be more difficult when it comes to cleaning. Some cats may also have an intolerance to some of these natural ingredients, so be sure to look out for any signs of irritation, upon which you should switch your litter material.

Scented vs unscented cat litter

It might be tempting to choose a scented litter to mask odours but typically kittens and cats prefer unscented litter which is more natural.

To clump or not to clump?

Ultimately your cat is boss and will have a particular preference towards one. If you choose one they’re not keen on, they might choose to toilet elsewhere, so do your research and test which litter your kitty prefers to avoid toilet mishaps.

How often to change cat litter?

It’s important to clean your cat’s litter tray or box every day. If it starts to get too messy or begins to smell, your cat may not be willing to go inside. Clumping litters are easier to clean as you can remove the soiled areas effectively, but it’s still important to completely remove all the litter, clean out the tray or box and refresh it with completely new litter at least once a week.

Some disinfectants or cleaning bleaches can be toxic or poisonous for your cat, so you should choose one with limited ingredients, or simply use hot water and a sensitive-friendly detergent. You may also want to use a little lemon juice or scented anti-bacterial cleaner to neutralise the scent of the litterbox. Use rubber gloves and a damp cloth to wipe over the surfaces, making sure it’s entirely dry before adding fresh litter to the tray.

Using positive reinforcement

Like most animals, and humans for that matter, one of the best ways to train your cat is to reward them for good behaviour. The same approach works for litter training, too. If and when your kitty uses their litter tray for the correct reason, whether you’ve placed them on it or they’ve gone of their own accord, it’s important to reward and praise them.

Playing with a kitten

Plenty of positive feedback, tickles and cuddles will teach your kitty to associate the litterbox with positivity and love, leading them to use it more consistently. If you’re using treats to reward good behaviour, you should make sure you’re not overfeeding your kitty. Only give them treats with plenty of nutrients and limited additives – and remember to steer clear of human foods like cheese.

Accepting accidents

After all your hard work and efforts litter training your cat, it can be frustrating and disheartening if they have an accident. But remember, even fully trained adult cats may have an accident from time to time. And punishing them will not stop it from happening again. In fact, they may not even understand what they are being punished for.

Be sure to continue rewarding your kitty for positive behaviour to keep their training consistent. There are a number of reasons that your kitten may start to have accidents, after months of litter training:

  • Their litterbox may be too dirty, and they may be put off going inside
  • Your cat may be seeking attention that they aren’t getting elsewhere
  • Your female cat may have reached sexual maturity and struggle to hold their bladder
  • They may feel their territory has been invaded, causing them to mark their personal space with their scent

If none of the above seem to be the impacting reason for your kitten continuing to have accidents, you may want to seek a vet’s attention to get your cat back on track with their training.

Promote good digestive health

To encourage healthy and regular bowel and bladder movements, it’s important to make sure their kitten food has the best ingredients with all the nutrients they need. As obligate carnivores, cats and kittens need plenty of protein from chicken and fish to keep them happy and healthy. Choosing a recipe packed with probiotics will aid and promote great digestive health.

At Scrumbles, we tailor our cat food recipes specifically for both adult cats and kittens to make sure they’re getting all the goodness they need for their health. Try our recipe for your kitties with our personalised subscription boxes, choosing the best food and the perfect amount of nutrients to keep your cat healthy.

Be sure to let us know below whether your cat loves our recipe as much as ours does. And if you have any handy tips and tricks for litter training your kitty, let us know over on Facebook so we can help all the other pawrents out there!


Dog Teeth: Your ultimutt guide

Dog Teeth: Your ultimutt guide

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

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

How many teeth does your dog have?

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

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

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

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

Dog teeth pattern

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

Incisors

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

Canine

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

Pre-molar

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

Molars

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

What about the carnassial?

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

Taking care of your puppy’s teeth

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

When do puppies get teeth?

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

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

When do puppy teeth fall out?

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

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

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

Dental care for puppies

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

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

What’s the difference between puppy and dog teeth?

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

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

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

Puppies showing teeth

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

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

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

Recognising their individual needs

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

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

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

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

Larger dog teeth

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

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

Dog showing its teeth

How to properly care for your dog’s teeth

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

Brushing your dog’s teeth

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

Look out for signs of disease

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

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

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

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

Avoiding cavities

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

Maintaining a healthy diet

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

Dog dental sticks and chews

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

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

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

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


What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

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

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

What can you feed hedgehogs?

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

What do hedgehogs eat in the wild?

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

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

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

High protein pet food

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

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

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

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

How can you stop cats and foxes from stealing the food

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

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

Hedgehog eating

Can you feed hedgehogs fruit & vegetables

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

What not to feed hedgehogs

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

Hedgehog in the wild

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

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

How to help hedgehogs thrive

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

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

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

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

Keep in touch

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

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

Can Cats Eat Cheese?

Can Cats Eat Cheese?

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

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

Is cheese bad for cats?

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

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

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

What about non-dairy cheese?

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

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

Can kittens eat cheese?

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

Can kittens eat cheese

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

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

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

Other ‘human food’ cats can’t eat

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

Tuna

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

Onions & garlic

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

Grapes & raisins

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

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

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

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

What can you feed your cat?

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

What can you feed your cat

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

Fruit & Vegetables

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

Cooked fish

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

Eggs

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

Keep cats away from cheese

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

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

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 hello@scrumbles.co.uk