How To Transport Your Pet

At some point in time you will need to transport your pet, even if it’s once a year for their annual checkup. Here are some tips to minimise stress and keep you all safe on the move.

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Dogs

You can transport your dog in two ways for maximum safety.

  • Buy a boot guard. They are available for most car makes and will ensure you dog stays safely in the boot of your car.

  • If you don’t have a hatch back you can buy a dog seat belt. These clip into the seat belt mechanism to belt your dog firmly in position.

If your dog is an unhappy traveler, let him have a treat before and after the journey. Old dogs may need help getting into the boot. If you can’t lift your pooch you can buy fold-able ramp to help him up and down.

Cats

Cats should always be transported in a cat carrier. You may find it easier to get Tiddles in with a top loader rather than a side door. Many varieties are available including plastic washable ones, wicker and material. Ensure the hinges and connecting parts are secure and always carry it with one hand underneath. Cover your cats basket in the vet waiting room and don’t allow other peoples dogs to sniff the cage.

Small Mammals

Rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs can be moved in a car carrier, but you will need something smaller for a hamster or gerbil. Purpose made transporters are available. Always ensure small heads cannot get through the wire or plastic housing as it will cause damage.

Fish

Fish are best moved in fish bags – placed in a cardboard box in the foot-well of your car. Always ensure there are no sharp objects and it’s best to take a spare bag filled with water just in case.

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Birds

Birds can be transported in their own cage with movable objects taken out such as swinging mirrors or toys. If the cage is too big there are small bird transportation cages available.

Safety First!

  • Don’t allow children to open the pet cage no matter how much the pet cries. They are not safe in a moving car and if opened outside they will run and hide, meaning your pet may get lost.

  • All pet carriers should be kept in place with a car seat belt, not left to roll around on the back seat or crash into the driver if you need to break heavily.

  • Keep pets out of direct sunlight.

  • The same goes for cold temperatures. Birds and fish are particularly sensitive to temperature.

  • When travelling with pets make sure to keep the windows closed.

It can be traumatic (for you too!) to transport your pet. So put a small blanket or piece of your clothing in with your pet to soothe its nerves. Very nervous cat and dogs may benefit from scent diffusers that mimic pheromones given off by parents to their babies.

 

5 Common Mistakes New Hamster Owners Make

As with every new pet, a new hamster owner should thoroughly research hamster care before buying their pet. Unfortunately, not everybody does this as hamsters can sometimes be impulse buys – purchased at short notice. If this sounds like you, don’t worry! We’ve created a list of the 5 most common mistakes new hamster owners make, so that you can learn from other people’s mistakes and avoid making them in future!

Keeping your hamster in a cramped cage:
Hamsters are active and run for long periods of time every night, so keeping them in a small cramped cage will limit their physical exercise space and lead to an unhappy hamster. The minimum cage size for hamsters in most European countries is 80cm x 50cm, so if you’re able to get something bigger your hamster will definitely thank you!

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Keeping males and females together
Unless you want lots of babies, avoid keeping a male and female hamster in the same cage! Hamsters breed easily, and female hamsters can give birth to up to twenty babies at a time, so it’s not ideal!

Provide an unbalanced diet
Don’t feed your hamster citrus fruits or onion- these foods are acidic and can interfere with your hamsters digestion system putting them at risk. Make sure you do your research and take care to feed your hamster a healthy, balanced diet.

Using incorrect bedding
Don’t be fooled by the fancy names of hamster bedding at the pet store and avoid using the following as bedding in a hamster cage:
Scented bedding
Cat litter
Newspaper
Pine and cedar wood shavings
These can irritate your hamster and cause much discomfort.

Using the wrong hamster wheel
Your hamster wheel will keep your hamster happy and healthy, allowing them to get all the exercise they need. For this reason, make sure your hamster wheel is a good size and not too small. A wheel too small will force your hamster to adopt a bad hunching posture when running, which can be very harmful for their health. Ensure the wheel is of high quality and has a solid surface, you wouldn’t want the wheel to break and your hamster getting hurt.

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Hopefully the information above will help you create the perfect home for your hamster. Enjoy this time with your new hamster and continue doing research on how to ensure your hamster can stay happy and healthy at all times!

The Right Time To Begin Grooming Your Puppy and How To Do It

Grooming is important for both the health of your pet and the bond you share. It’s also a nice way to spend quality time together with your puppy while also monitoring their health by checking for cuts, bumps, and tenderness.

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When your new puppy is about 8 weeks old, has left their mother, is introduced to its new home and established a relationship with you as the owner – you can begin to think about getting the puppy groomed.

The very first grooming appointment is an introduction to the puppy and the owner to the world of grooming. The puppy with be introduced to a bath, dental care, nail care, ear care and slight trimming.

Bath time:
The bathing products available for dogs today are almost as numerous as those for us humans, and they’re much better suited to a dog’s skin type than human shampoos. Choose a special dog shampoo that’s best suited to your puppy’s hair type and take extra care not to get any shampoo in his eyes when washing him.

Investing in a non-slip rubber mat and placing it on the bottom of the bathtub is always a good idea as it will help in giving your puppy extra confidence during bath time.

Dental care:
Good oral health is essential to your puppy’s overall health. To help keep your puppy’s teeth and gums healthy, brush your puppy’s teeth regularly. Ask your veterinarian to show you how. Never use human toothpaste on your puppy – dental kits for dogs are available for daily use.

Nail care:
Regular nail trims will blunt the sharp tips of your puppy’s nails and minimize accidental scratches during play. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to trim your puppy’s nails, as it is important to know how to avoid the nail’s blood vessels and nerves in the pink base close to the toe. Make sure to only use nail trimmers designed for dogs and introduce nail trimming gradually, trimming just a few nails once a week at first. The more you do it, the more familiar it will become to your pup. A nail trim every four weeks is usually enough.

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Ear care:
Although a dog’s ears normally do not require cleaning, it is important to check them regularly for any dirt, debris or redness, especially if you’ve noticed your puppy scratching or shaking his head. Contact your veterinarian if you notice these signs or anything unusual.

Trimming:
As a young puppy it is a lot to ask to force them to stand for long periods of time while being groomed. This is why it’s important to do only the basics for their first groom. Don’t forget to trim the fur from around their eyes carefully and around the sanitary area. Depending on how the puppy reacts to the first grooming we may recommend doing this type of trimming one more time before the full haircut. The more comfortable the puppy becomes with being handled by the groomer and being on a table, and in the tub, the better the puppy will become as they grow up.

Moving Home – How To Keep Your Pets Happy

Moving is a stressful time and it’s no different for our pets. They are generally territorial and often create strong environmental bonds. If you can’t place your pet in a cattery, kennels or with friends during the move – try these tips.

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Travelling

  • Ensure your pet is in a safe, secure carrier with no room for escape. Try spraying some synthetic pheromone on bedding such as Feliway for cats to help keep them calm.

  • Ensure the vehicle is cool and not noisy – turn the radio down and the air conditioning up.

Indoors

  • On arrival keep your dog or cat confined to a single room with some familiar furniture. Put food and water down plus bedding from their previous set up. Pets like rabbits, hamsters and birds should be kept in their original cage or hutch for familiarity.

  • Keep strangers away as all animals are unpredictable when afraid.

  • Cats and dogs should have gradual access to the rest of house, but ensure all windows, doors and escape routes are closed.

  • Keep feeding and walking routines at similar times to build up their confidence.

  • If you are doing any DIY’s such as painting make sure you have fume-free varieties and don’t paint a room that your pet is shut in.

Outdoors

Cats:

  • Cats should be kept indoors for at least two weeks. Ensure you have lots of cat litter – you’ll need one litter tray per cat.

  • When you let your cat out for the first time make sure they haven’t just eaten and they are wearing a tagged quick release collar if the microchip isn’t up-to-date yet. Don’t panic if Tiddles jumps straight over the fence. Give them time, call for them and shake those treats. An empty stomach often wins over the urge to explore.

Dogs:

  • Dogs should be kept on the lead until you’re sure the area is safe. Check the garden over thoroughly and put a warning on the gate. Even the most placid dog may nip if it feels threatened in a new environment.

Outside Pets:

  • Keep an eye on where the sun falls and where cold drafts are in the new garden and make your pet comfortable as necessary. Some extra straw to hide in would be appreciated too.

  • Before you let your pets out into their run, check your grass over for unsuitable weeds.

  • Give the run a thorough check too in case it was damaged in transit.

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The golden rules when moving home are to keep your pets securely confined for a time and reduce stress with familiar objects and routines.

Good luck and happy moving.

The Joys of Winter

Anyone who has seen a dog running through snow or licking frost will appreciate they like nothing more than a chilly day (or perhaps biscuits). Hot days make our pets sluggish, but chilly days perk them up; even oldies like to get in on the action.

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Keep Warm!

Running will make a dog hot, but as they cool down the chilly wind can make them shiver; try a dog coat to keep the cold out. Avoid rivers too, because they can be sub-zero and your wet dog will become gradually colder as the walk progresses. Iced over rivers are dangerous, never let your dog onto the ice, it may break and your dog can be swept underneath.

Be Careful Out There!

Whilst we’re talking about dangers – make sure anti-freeze is locked away and spray it sparingly. It’s poisonous, and kills pets within hours if they ingest it. Anti-freeze tastes sweet, which is a big attraction for animals.

Salt and grit on icy roads and pavements can cut foot-pads and get stuck between toes, so wipe your dog’s feet after a walk to prevent sore cuts. Stop them licking at the salt on their feet too, as it creates excessive thirst.

Dark mornings and early nights are a perennial winter feature. Invest in good quality high visibility coat so you’re safely seen. Hi-vis dog coats are a good investment and you can also buy a hi-vis collar with lead! Don’t forget your torch on winter walks. Even a mini torch that fits in your pocket is better than nothing if you get caught out.

Wrap Up Hutches

Pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs need extra warmth. Make sure their bedding is dry, and wrap towels or an old duvet over the hutch. Remove ice from bowls daily, and ensure any hanging drinkers are not frozen solid.

Frozen Fish

You can’t knit a bobble hat for your fish during cold spells, but you can keep the pond clear of leaves, as they raise ammonia levels. To prevent pond ice place a ball in the water. Fish slow down during winter, but feed them if they are active. Logs at the bottom of the pond can provide warm spots for them, or you can buy a surface heater if you like to see them swimming year round.

Native Wildlife Needs You

Birds appreciate peanuts or fat balls when it’s cold, and hedgehog food is available as well. Don’t brush up those leaf piles, because they provide shelter for hibernating insects, toads, bees and butterflies. You can put up an insect or bird box now too, so it will be weathered and smelling natural by spring time.

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Wrap up, and enjoy that fresh air!

 

Avoiding Holiday Weight

Piles of Presents – And Pounds!

We all love to celebrate over Christmas and New Year. It’s a time to indulge and relax but when it comes to our pets we need to stick to the rules because holiday weight is difficult to shift and it can damage their health.

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Our pets don’t hibernate so here’s how to keep them svelte over the holiday season.

Lock Away Chocolate

Christmas brings out the sweet tooth in us all. Who doesn’t buy at least two tins of Roses? The problem is that large quantities of chocolate are poisonous for dogs, and smaller doses increase their weight. Lock chocolate away and be careful about what is stashed under or on the tree because a bored dog is likely to investigate.

Visitors Under Order!

You know not to feed your pets rubbish, but make sure visitors know too. Don’t leave children with pets and treat foods, because they just can’t resist puppy dog eyes.  Cats love the Christmas cheese but keep granny under control because it’s very difficult to diet a cat.

Keep Exercising Despite The Cold

Yes it’s cold and you’re busy, but your pet still needs exercise.

Dog still need a daily walk even on Christmas Day. Without it you face behavioural issues, and coupled with inappropriate treats, you’re in for double trouble! If it’s uncomfortably dark and cold consider a warm coat for your dog or some safe reflective clothing.

Don’t forget to exercise caged pets. Gerbils can run in an empty bath and a rabbit can stretch those running legs on the landing. It’ll help to burn off any chocolate covered M&Ms that have been innocently pushed through the cage bars.

Give Them Pet Treats

Take a look at our pet treats in store. They’re specifically made for dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, birds or other caged pets. Some are low in fat; others help with fur-balls, coat condition and smelly breath!

Don’t Give Human Food

The Christmas turkey will have stuffing with onion and leeks which are toxic for dogs and cats. It may cause an upset stomach and destroy your day, never mind your carpet!

Here’s What You Can Give Them:

  • Pet treats in recommended amounts

  • Stuffing-free turkey that’s been skinned, de-boned and had all fat removed

  • Fish – cats and dogs love mackerel fillets.

  • Yogurts – a small amount of plain yogurt is loved by most animals

  • Ditch the cream; get some lactose-free cat milk.

The golden rule is to follow a normal diet with occasional treats. Spoil your pets this Christmas but not with lots of food or you’ll have to put them on a New Year’s slimming diet!

Have a Happy Christmas and a great 2017!

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Be Safe On Darker Nights

Keep Safe On Darker Nights

The nights have closed in and it’s getting dark at 4pm. This time of year can be unsafe, but your pets still need exercise or it can lead to behavioural problems. So what can you do?

Here are some ways that pets and their owners can keep safe this winter.

Walking The Dog

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  • Buy a high visibility coat for Rover, so you’ll spot him in the dark and be safe near cars.

  • If you don’t want to buy a coat, try a high visibility collar or lead instead.

  • LED lights are a good idea. You can attach them to collars.

  • Always take a torch and check it over before you leave the house.

  • Don’t forget your phone.

  • Use an extendable lead rather than allowing your dog to run off into the dark.

  • Exercise in a well-lit area.

Don’t Forget About Your Cat

Some cats like darker evenings because the mice come out earlier! It’s a good idea to buy a reflective collar, so drivers can spot a bolting cat. Just make sure the collar is quick release – that’s the kind that unclips if Puss gets tangled.

On very dark and cold nights you might consider keeping your cat indoors, particularly if they are young or elderly.

Outdoor Pets

As dusk falls earlier make sure your outdoor animals are shut in and safe from predators. A hungry fox will make a meal out of your rabbit, guinea pig or hens – it doesn’t need to be pitch black.

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Make sure your rabbit or other animal has a safe, warm hutch with plenty of bedding. Tie a duvet around the hutch when it’s really cold. Remember they’re at your mercy and not able to find elsewhere to warm up.

Dogs Die In Cold Cars Too

We all know that dogs die in hot cars, but in winter your car goes the other way. Don’t leave your pet in the equivalent of an ice box. It’s a good idea to let their coats grow a bit now as well, don’t shear off all their warm fur because they need it!

If you haven’t done so already, consider getting your pets micro-chipped, just in case they end up lost on darker evenings or have an accident.

Don’t Forget The Birds

Feed wild birds earlier than usual, because they’ll roost at sunset. High-fat foods and clean water are important during these cold months. You can provide some warm roosting sites too, such as a stuffed nesting box.

Pop into Rookes to chat to us if you need any advice or help. Remember – be safe, be seen!

 

How To Choose The Right Pet For You This Holiday Season

Deck The Paws With Meows Of Holly

Pets bring happiness into our lives. They cheer us up with their antics, calm us down with their soft fur, and give us unconditional love. Before we know it they are one of the family, and you can’t imagine life without them. However, pet ownership comes with a level of responsibility. If you are thinking of adopting a pet, here are some of the issues to consider.

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Choose a pet to suit your lifestyle

  • Dogs need to go out during the day, so make sure someone can let them out at lunchtime if you choose a dog. Make sure you occupy them in the meantime too, or barking might annoy your neighbours. Try pacifiers such as a Kong with paste inside, and leave a radio on for company. An occupied dog is a happy dog.

  • Cats make great pets too, and they’re more self sufficient than dogs if you install a cat flap or a litter tray.

  • Caged animals such as rabbits, hamsters, or fish are fun and a good starting point for younger children who want a pet. Make it small and easy to care for in the beginning, as this promotes responsibility in youngsters. Once they can care for the hamster, maybe it’s time for a dog…

Finances

Don’t underestimate pet costs – you can get caught out by vet bills for accidents and illness, so search round for some insurance to mitigate the bills. It doesn’t cost a great deal per month and can save a nasty surprise.

People can be put off pet ownership by boarding costs, but pet-friendly holidays in the UK are more numerous than you’d think. If you can’t go without a holiday abroad, invest in a pet passport, or ask a pet-loving relative to stay at your house.

The First Days

Once you have chosen your pet and you are ready to bring them home, think about letting them have some space. Keep other animals away, and minimise loud noises. Make sure they know fresh water and food is freely available, and don’t let cats outside, at least for the first few weeks. Try calming pheromone plug-in diffusers if your pet is still unhappy.

Depending on what type of pet you choose their start-up kit will consist of appropriate food, bowls, bedding, leads/collars, combs, cages/tanks, scratching posts, heat lamps, entertainments and more. Ask in store if you are not sure what you’ll need and buy it in advance so you ready!

Owning a pet isn’t always easy, but most people agree that the love and friendship you receive is worth the effort.

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Enjoy your new pet – and have a very Merry Christmas.

 

4 Must-Have Winter Accessories for Your Dog

With winter stretching ahead and temperatures rapidly dropping, we’ve put together a few suggestions of must-have winter accessories so your dog can avoid discomfort or upset during the colder months.

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Heated Pet Bed

Cold, hard surfaces aren’t very friendly to joints. So for young, old or those prone to joint issues a heated pet bed is perfect for cold floors!

Grab a Microwaveable heat pad in store and simply pop it underneath your dogs bed!

Paw Balm

The cold alone can be damaging to your dogs paws, let alone all of the salt & de-icers left on the ground. Paw balm can help protect the paws from painfully cracking, you can grab Shaw’s Paw Wax in store for just £3.59.

Don’t forget to wipe your dog’s feet well after walks during Winter to help prevent anti-freeze poisoning!

A trendy jacket

Short-furred friends will appreciate a jacket in this nippy weather. We’ve got all shapes & sizes in store, come on in and try one on.

A tag

This one is for all weather but ‘New Year, New Tag’? If your dog’s tag is a little worse for wear consider replacing it as soon as possible. We have a machine in store, just ask one of the team to help you.

The staff at Rookes are here to help you with deciding on the right winter gear for your dog so don’t hesitate to pop in, have a shop around and get some expert advice!

10 Random Bunny Facts You Didn’t Know

We’ll admit it – we love bunny rabbits!
So we decided to do some research and put together a list of 10 random bunny facts – some of them might surprise you!

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  1. A baby rabbit is called a Kit
  2. Baby rabbits are born without fur!
  3. Rabbits are mammals
  4. Rabbits are herbivores
  5. Rabbits sleep around 8 hours a day
  6. Rabbits have around 28 teeth and they never stop growing
  7. Rabbits have almost 360 vision
  8. Most Rabbit breeds can jump around 1 metre high
  9. Rabbits don’t like to live alone
  10. Rabbits can be trained