How Animals Can Help Combat Mental Illness

Patients at the Priory’s Hospital in Bristol are benefiting from the company of a “therapy dog” to help with their treatment for stress, anxiety, and depression.

Lara, a rescue dog from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home (BDCH), is introduced into some therapy sessions by her owner Daniel Fryer, a senior qualified psychotherapist.

Where appropriate and where patients are keen, they are able to interact with the dog, and some choose to pat and stroke, or groom and hug, Lara as they participate in therapy. This helps provide comfort in moments of distress, and helps to rebuild self-esteem.

Daniel said: “Lara works as a great ice breaker in one-to-one and group therapy sessions. She lifts the spirits of patients on ward visits. Petting or stroking a dog does wonders for your blood pressure and stress levels.”

Daniel believes the reason that Lara is such a success with his patients is because “they don’t feel judged by a dog, who is able to display unconditional acceptance, and they feel more confident to confront their issues”.

Pet-assisted activities encourage patients to have conversations with their therapist, as well as with their fellow patients. This can be helpful in promoting social interaction and breaking down barriers, emotionally and in a social context.

Animals can trigger the release of endorphins, a feel-good neurotransmitter which gives a calming effect and boosts the level of serotonin, a chemical linked with happiness and well-being.

By directing one’s attention towards another living thing, a patient’s focus is drawn away from his or her own difficulties and, for a while, they can distance themselves from their distress and then begin talking about their own issues and consider ways forward.

In this way, pet-assisted therapy enables a patient to work with a professional towards attaining clinical goals.

Universities worldwide are turning to therapy dogs to relieve their students’ pre-exam nerves and first-term homesickness.

And studies have found that just the presence of a dog can help lower levels of stress and anxiety. A recent Dogs Trust survey found that 95% of dog owners in Britain believe that interacting with their dog made them happier, with 89% saying they talk to their dog when no one else is around1.

Some experts say the presence of an animal in a hospital environment helps patients feel more at home.

Lara is registered with Pets as Therapy as a therapy animal. There are around 6,300 Pets as Therapy dogs visiting hospitals, residential nursing homes and special needs schools in the UK2.

A therapy dog is different from an assistance dog, which will have special training to provide support for someone with a disability, or for someone living with conditions such as epilepsy. “A therapy dog needs to be calm and react well to other people’s tears, sudden noises and movements,” said Daniel. “They mustn’t get too excited about human contact but equally can’t be too laid back.”

Daniel added: “Lara is a fantastic therapy dog and provides comfort to patients in moments of distress. One time, during a therapy session, she sat in front of the lady. Instinctively my patient leant forward to give Lara a cuddle. Afterwards, the lady in question told me that actually what she had really needed at that moment was that cuddle and it made me realise that Lara sensed that.

“There is little doubt in my mind that Lara helps build trust between myself and a client, helps reduce stress, boost self-esteem and generally improve mood. A lot of my therapy sessions have been conducted with the client happily sitting on the floor cuddling and stroking Lara. She gets more feedback on our feedback forms than I do!

“Staffordshire Bull Terriers are effective as therapy dogs because, despite their fearsome reputation and the bad press they sometimes receive, they are very loving and very people-orientated. All my Staffie wants out of life is a big cuddle.”

Adam Lampitt, Hospital Director at Priory’s Hospital in Bristol, said: “We love having Lara at the hospital and she really brightens everyone’s day, both patients and staff. She is brilliant when patients are feeling stressed and anxious by providing them with love and attention. We always check that our patients are happy to have her in their session before she is bought in and she has proved to be a popular member of our team.”

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Vito the Assistance Dog Given Pick of Toys at Store Opening

Store manager Jill Allen and ‘Dogs for Good’ volunteer Lisa Dixon and her son Thomas watch ‘Vito’ choose a toy.

Lisa and 14-year old Thomas Dixon from Dogs for Good and their dog, Vito, were VIP guests at the grand opening of Pets at Home inside Tesco Extra in Durham.

The family officially opened the new store, before being invited to choose a selection of Pets at Home’s toys and treats for the assistance dog Vito – who was especially drawn to a blue ball.

Dogs for Good, formerly Dogs for the Disabled, is a UK-based charity training and providing accredited assistance dogs to people with physical disabilities and children with autism. Until October 2015 it was called Dogs for the Disabled.

The charity introduced Thomas to Cocker Spaniel Vito when he was just seven and the pair went on to develop an unbreakable bond. Carmel College student Thomas, who has cerebal palsy, was an only child who felt lonely before meeting Vito.

Dogs for Good volunteer, Lisa Dixon said “Thomas and I were really excited to be cutting the ribbon at the launch event for the brand new Durham Pets at Home store.  It gave us an opportunity to show our appreciation for all the fantastic support Pets at Home gives to Dogs for Good.

“Vito was also very excited from meeting lots of new people, getting loads of fuss and sniffing out a few treats!”

Store manager Jill Allen said: “Our opening weekend went even better than we had hoped and it was great to have Lisa, Thomas and Vito attend the launch and show them all the products we have on offer at the store.”

The store which is located inside the Tesco Extra on Dragonville Industrial Estate includes a pet pharmacy which will provide a large range of health care products including supplements, first aid, dental care and flea and worms treatments.

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MPs Rejection of Animal Sentience In Brexit Bill A Backward Step, Says RSPCA

A vote by MPs to reject the inclusion of animal sentience into the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is extremely disappointing and undermines the Government’s ambition to achieve the highest animal welfare standards post-Brexit, claims the RSPCA.

Under EU law, animals are recognised as beings which feel pain and emotions.  Eighty percent of current animal welfare legislation comes from the EU, but after March 2019, European law will no longer apply in the UK.

While most EU law relating to animals will be automatically brought over into UK law, this will not apply to the recognition of sentience.*  The RSPCA has therefore been pressing for the recognition of animal sentience to be embedded into future UK legislation, to help ensure that leaving the EU is not a backwards step for animal welfare. (see RSPCA’s sentience video)

One of the arguments put forward by the Government during the debate was that animal sentience is covered by the Animal Welfare Act 2006. But this is not the case; the term sentience or sentient being doesn’t appear once in that Act and more importantly it doesn’t cover all animals.

RSPCA Head of Public Affairs David Bowles said:  “It’s shocking that MPs have given the thumbs down to incorporating animal sentience into post-Brexit UK law.  This is truly a backward step for animal welfare.

“Animal sentience is never mentioned in the Animal Welfare Act and, crucially, only domestic animals are really  covered by the provisions of the Act anyway and animals in the wild and laboratories expressly exempt It is simply wrong for the Government to claim that the Act protects animal sentience.

“In the EU, we know that the recognition of animals as sentient beings has been effective in improving animal welfare across the region.  If the UK is to achieve the Environment Secretary’s objective of achieving the highest possible animal welfare post-Brexit, it must do the same.

“Animals are not ‘commodities’ and any laws impacting on them needs to take into account their capacity to suffer.  They are sentient beings, with feelings and emotions.”

“A formal acknowledgement that animals are sentient would have sent a strong message to politicians to help shape future legislation, ensuring the best protection for animals.

“The call for legal recognition of animal sentience is echoed across animal protection groups and members of the public. As the EU Withdrawal Bill continues its progress through Parliament we will once again be urging for this important acknowledgement of animals sentence to be included”.

Research shows that much like humans, animals are sentient beings and aware of their feelings and emotions. Their lives matter to them and they have the same capacity to feel joy and pleasure, as well as pain and suffering.

Sadly, millions of animals are still being kept in conditions that do not meet their needs. However, laws are changing and there have recently been significant improvements in how animals are treated.

Since the recognition of animals as sentient beings, the EU has:

  • Banned the use of barren battery cages

  • Ended animal testing for cosmetics

  • Prohibited the import of seal products.

David Bowles added:  “More than 900 million farm animals are reared every year in the UK, as well as many millions of fish and we’re working hard to try to improve the lives as many farm animals as possible. Much like us, farm animals are sentient beings and aware of their feelings and emotions – their lives matter and more needs to done to protect their welfare.”

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Sleeping with Your Pets: The Dos and Don’ts

Who needs a cuddly toy at night when you have a pet, am I right? Well, unless your pet happens to be a hedgehog. Slightly less huggable, perhaps.

It’s true though; letting our pets sleep in our bedrooms – or even on our beds – can be a source of great comfort. And it’s no surprise that over 50% of pet owners bring their pets into slumberland alongside them.

Because our pets make us feel safe, secure and loved. In return, we want to make them happy and as comfortable as possible. We also want to feel like good owners, by not leaving our little friends out in the cold. Puppy eyes, anyone?!

All of these factors can combine to give us a great night’s sleep. Which is really important for all kinds of reasons; namely that sleep results in a well-rested, healthier person, a kinder, more tolerant owner and an all-round better human being. Yay!

Still, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind when sleeping with your pets. And not making innuendos is one of them. 😉

Do…

  1. Lay down the law

If you’re kind enough to let your pet in, they better show you some respect. Avoid territorial battles at the outset by making it clear who’s boss in bed. If your pet protests every time you move in bed, or even tries to nip you, say “no” firmly. If this behaviour continues, well it’s the floor – or back outside – for them.

  1. Let them do their business

Just like you’ll have a final bathroom visit before settling down for the night, so should they. Give them a chance to empty their bladders and you’ll both have a better night’s sleep because of it!

  1. Make sure they’re healthy

Although your furry friends may make great bedtime companions, this shouldn’t come at a risk to your health. Our pets may carry germs that can cause zoonotic diseases, even if they appear to look perfectly healthy. So bring them to the vet for regular check-ups, make sure their vaccinations are in order and rest assured that you’ll sleep both soundly and safely.

Don’t…

  1. Bring them under the covers

Fine if you like the comfort of your pet beside you. But do you really want it dragging whatever it has encountered in the world that day onto your sheets? No thanks.

  1. Let them affect your relationship

If you’re sharing a bed with a partner as well as a pet, well, things can get tricky. Your pet might be over-protective and try to nip your partner whenever they try to come near you. Or you simply feel weird about any…ahem…extracurricular activities with your pet in the room.

First thing’s first. Get them off the bed and onto the floor – your pet, that is! Because, much as you love them, they shouldn’t come in the way of your relationship (or, if they do, maybe there’s a reason for that…) Anyway. Get them out of bed, for starters. And if you’re ok with them being in the room while you’re otherwise engaged, at least distract them with a toy.

  1. Continue if it’s affecting your sleep

Ok, so you do get those lovely feelings of warmth and security. But on a more unconscious level, your pet could be disturbing your sleep. They may be tossers and turners, random howlers or cover hoggers. Or perhaps they won’t leave you alone until you let them out for a bathroom break. Too well-trained, in that case!

It’s a sad thought but one to bear in mind: Not only does your pet take up some valuable sleep space, it can disturb your sleep patterns, too. Because your furry friend might have very different sleep patterns to your own – for instance, cats seem to sleep a lot during the day but less at night – which can lead to lots of nocturnal issues.

Whether or not to let your pet in your bedroom is a personal choice. And you have to weigh up whether you want that companionship or if it’s costing you too much – that cost being a good sleep. Remember, rested owners are happy owners so if you’re losing out on sleep, you’re not helping anyone!

If you do decide to let your pet join you in Sleepytown, remember the dos and don’ts from above. That way, your pet will continue to be your pal for life!

Sweet dreams to you both.

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Surge in Growth for Company Creating 3D Pet Sculptures

An innovative company that makes 3D sculptures from photos of beloved pets is experiencing a surge in demand for its products from veterinary practices, and from pet owners in general.

As a result, Arty Lobster https://artylobster.com which was a Finalist at the prestigious Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) London Business Awards, has plans to hire an additional three 3D artists in the next 12 months. This would take the three-year old company to 15 members of staff.

Part of the increase in demand has come from the company’s ability to create free previews of a sculpture, before a customer commits to buy. This allows anyone to see the beauty and uniqueness of the sculpture itself.

London-based Arty Lobster takes 3D tech to the limits by creating items that are truly bespoke and unique. Highly skilled artists create the 3D pet sculptures from customers’ photos of their pet, which are then 3D printed in-house before being delivered to the customer. There are three options, including sandstone, porcelain and bronze.

Lars Andersen, Founder and MD of Arty Lobster, said: “Pet memorials represent a significant part of our customer base. As our pets are becoming members of our family, we increasingly want a memento of them to cherish forever, which is why I believe this market is becoming increasingly important for us.

“Veterinary practices are among one of our key growth areas. Pet owners are seeking lasting memorials of their pet, and they also serve as unique and attractive gifts for any pet lover.”

He added: “In business terms, it’s an incredibly exciting time for us. We have experienced strong growth in the UK and internationally, which has allowed us to take on several new full-time members of staff as well as to add to our team of dedicated associates.”

At the cutting edge of 3D innovation, Arty Lobster has implemented a rigorous training programme to ensure each pet sculpture is crafted to the highest quality and artistic standards.

The UK pet accessories market was estimated to be worth around £850m at retail selling prices in 2016, according to AMA Research, with growth forecast at around 2% for 2017. The market covers a wide range of product groups including care products, toys, housing, bedding & feeding products, collars, leads and utility products.

Arty Lobster has a range of wholesale prices for businesses of up to 30%. For enquiries, please email [email protected], or visit  https://artylobster.com.

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Vet Says Cats Adept at Hiding Illness from Owners

A leading London-based feline vet is recommending that cat owners generally need to watch their cat’s behaviour more closely – to spot subtle signs of illness before it becomes serious.

Dr. Jeremy Campbell, a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Advanced Practitioner in Feline Medicine and owner of The London Cat Clinic (www.thelondoncatclinic.co.uk), one of only a handful of practices in the UK that is cat-only, says that felines instinctively hide illness from their owners –  “There is no survival benefit in the wild in showing weakness from illness,” he says.

There are, Dr. Campbell explains, some key changes in behaviour to look out for if an illness or disease is to be spotted early and treated effectively. More common conditions that cats may inadvertently be concealing from their owners include arthritis, dental pain and gastrointestinal disease.

One of the most important indications of ill health in a cat is when he or she suddenly prefers to spend time in a less elevated or unusual perch in the house. Cats, being both predator and prey animals, instinctively prefer to be in a higher place from where they can securely survey their surroundings.

Dr. Campbell explains: “In the wild, cats are solitary hunters that move from small prey meal to small prey meal only relying on themselves without the protection of a pack or social unit.  If they let down their guard and are injured this makes them less able to protect themselves and hunt which equals vulnerability.  

“An elevated position enables your cat to continuously monitor their environment and assess potential threats, or feeding opportunities. Height is also a sign of status to most cats, particularly those in a multi-cat household.

“Has your cat started to keep close to the floor, sleep at a lower level, or even on the ground? Has the ‘perching order’ changed amongst your cats? These are definite signs to look out for that could suggest that your cat might be ill.”

Many households now have indoor cats, but what if an outdoor cat suddenly becomes an indoor cat? Dr. Campbell asks.

“Many people choose to keep their cats indoors with access to a garden or out on a cat lead, as they may have concerns over safety and disease so changes are more readily noticeable. But, if your outdoor cat is spending a lot of time around the house, it  could be that something is wrong with him, and he should be examined by your vet,” Dr. Campbell explains.

“Cats are masters of disguise when it comes to camouflaging disease and injury they are hardwired not to show pain because there is no survival benefit in doing so. You might put this down to a change in preference, but is it? Why would a cat move from a position of strength to a position of relative vulnerability? Does it accompany any other changes in your cat’s habits like decreased grooming or more matting around the tail base and bottom?”

“A change in perching behaviour may reflect development of degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis…”

These signs may signifiy dental or other systemic disease, says Dr Campbell.

Dr. Campbell continues:

“A change in perching behaviour may reflect development of degenerative joint disease or osteoarthritis, and the increased joint pain that is associated with jumping to the higher perches is a deterrent and keeps your cat ‘grounded’.

“Arthritis is vastly underdiagnosed in feline patients and has been shown in various studies to affect between 60 and 90% of cats, particularly older cats. Commonly affected areas are the spine, shoulders, hips, elbows, knees and ankles. Certain breeds including Maine Coons, Persian, Siamese, Burmese and Scottish Folds have a higher incidence of developing the disease.

“Has your cat has developed a middle-age spread or worse? This extra weight will worsen arthritic pain and speed progression of the disease and becomes a vicious cycle. Evidence of arthritis may be found by your vet at yearly check-ups, and in some cases, there is obviously reduced joint mobility combined with pain.

“In other cases, the signs may be subtler and require x-rays (radiographs) to diagnose. Is this middle-age spread appropriate to their food intake? There are unfortunately other reasons that cats can look overweight but in fact aren’t and they should be checked if there is a sudden perceived weight gain.”

Dr. Campbell concludes:

“There is no need for our feline friends to suffer in silence if we are just that bit more aware of what they are doing in the background and remembering that height is might and lack of height can mean something is afoot.”

 

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Easy Mistakes Pet Owners Can Make

If you’re a new pet owner, you’re likely on a bit of a learning curve. Unless you’ve owned pets before, there’s a lot of new information, signs, and signals to take in. Dogs and cats all have their own unique quirks, and getting used to them is one of the major obstacles in the way of having a good life with your new pet.

This is because some people don’t think of their animals in terms of having their own personalities, which is an easy mistake people who aren’t ready for a pet make. It’s mostly plain sailing, but there’s a few more easy and common mistakes a pet owner can make, so here’s some tips.

Not setting down house rules from the beginning

If you bring home a new dog, and dog’s in particular are more at risk of this, make sure you set down house rules otherwise they’ll never learn properly.  You can get some dog training for your puppy, or ideas on how to do so yourself, from the web or a local puppy class. Keep an eye out for all these helping hands.

Don’t be inconsistent with your training either. Make sure to always reward when your dog has done something right, and make sure everyone else in the house does as well. Behaviours can be secretly encouraged by guests and children, so keep a watchful eye over your puppy’s training regime.

A similar vein goes for cats. When it comes to setting boundaries for a cat, you have to think from their point of view. Cats always like to scratch, and you’ll always find them indulging in this behaviour, whether it be on your sofa or a scratching post. Don’t be angry if your cat does use furniture, as they probably don’t have the toys as an alternative. Make sure to set those out from the beginning as well.

Not playing with your pet

A lot of us come home from work or an event out and don’t have the energy to spend anymore time upright. Therefore we hit the hay without much consideration for our pets. Subsequently, they begin to act out.

Dogs and cats, especially puppies and kittens, have a lot of energy. If this isn’t being put to good use it’ll present itself in other ways. Nipping, clawing, tearing around the house, and purposely misbehaving. A lot of this is done for attention purposes, but a lot of it is just a byproduct.

Be sure to wear your pets out before bedtime. This way they’ll settle down for the night more successfully and won’t wake you up at 5am looking for food. Use toys to show that hands are not to be bitten or played with, and do it regularly.

There’s plenty of mistakes a pet owner can make, and often simply because it didn’t cross their mind as a problem. We love our pets and can be weak to their puppy eyed look, but be firm and always stand your ground.

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Harold the Hamster Dumped on Doorstep in Harrods Carrier Bag

Harold the Hamster

A man had quite the surprise when he found a hamster dumped on his doorstep in Cambridge – with no sign of how he’d got there or who had left him behind.

The little hamster had been left in a small plastic cage wrapped in a Harrods carrier bag before being dumped outside the house in Vinery Road, in the Romsey area of the city, on Thursday evening (21 September).

The man, unsure of what to do with the rodent, called the RSPCA and animal welfare officer (AWO) Jane Folly went along to collect him.

“The little hammy must have been terribly frightened and confused after being removed from his home, placed inside a tiny cage and wrapped up in a plastic bag,” she said.

“The sun was going down when the gentleman found him so it was getting dark and cold. The poor thing wouldn’t have survived long on his own if he’d not been found.

“Thankfully the man who found him did the right thing and took him inside to keep him safe before calling us.

“To abandon such a small, vulnerable animal – one which relies on us for everything – is despicable and could have had awful consequences. I’d urge anyone who knows where the little hamster has come from or who is responsible for abandoning him to contact our appeal line on 0300 123 8018 and leave me a message.”

The adult, male Syrian hamster is now being cared for by staff at the RSPCA’s Block Fen Animal Centre. Staff say Harold, as he’s been named, is “lovely” and is doing well. If he is not claimed then he will be rehomed by the charity.

AWO Folly added: “Sadly, thousands of pets are cruelly abandoned every year and charities like the RSPCA are left to pick up the pieces.

“I would urge anyone thinking of getting a pet – whether it’s a hamster or a horse – to do their research first and ensure they can care for that animal for the rest of its life. And anyone who is struggling to care properly for a pet should contact their local vet or animal charity for advice and support.”

To rehome an RSPCA animal please visit Find A Pet to browse the different animals we have looking for fresh starts.

To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs like these, please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

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Want a Unique Pet? Here Are 3 Reasons to Consider Getting a Bird

When people think of pets, they usually go straight to the two main ones: dogs and cats. There are many breeds of these two common household pets, they’re usually quite friendly and playful, and they’re also relatively easy to maintain. However, if you’re looking for something a little different and a bit more exotic, then why not consider getting a bird? To help you make that decision and take the plunge, here are three reasons that will help convince you to get a bird as your next pet.

Birds don’t require much maintenance

Unlike your dog that requires lots of care, attention and walks, a bird doesn’t require much attention at all. Compared to other pets, birds are relatively easy to take care of. They can simply be put inside of a cage and they don’t require walks, petting or frequent feeding. If you want to give your birds a bit more space to flap their wings, then a walk-in bird habitat is the best option. It requires a little more cleaning but gives your bird more freedom and you can get inside the cage to clean it and interact with your flying pet. It’s far more convenient to wash a birdcage than having to constantly having to scoop up poop or clean a litter box.

Birds aren’t expensive to keep

You can give your bird a high-quality diet, but even then the cost of feeding your bird is lower than other animals. This is because birds are fine eating whatever fresh fruits and vegetables you serve them in addition to the pellets that you can buy from a pet store. This provides them with plenty of good nutrients to help them grow and stay healthy, and it allows you to spend less money on actual bird feed. This makes birds significantly cheaper to maintain. In addition, you don’t need to purchase too many things to keep them entertained. Birds also don’t require much grooming unlike other fluffier and larger pets. Birds often keep themselves clean so they don’t need shampoo or expensive haircuts. It’s a good idea to give their nails a trim to prevent them from accidentally scratching you when you handle the bird, and a quick wash with clean water is acceptable for keeping your bird fresh.

Birds are social creatures

Birds are comfortable around their owners and aren’t likely to fly off or do their own thing even when let out of their cage. Birds can even be trained to do little tricks if you’re patient enough. You can spend hours watching and playing with your bird and depending on the breed, they may even develop a habit of tweeting and singing when you’re in the vicinity. Despite their small size, they are affectionate creatures much like a cat or dog, and you can even take them out for walks if you want them to see the outside world a little.

As you can see, birds make fantastic pets as long as you’re willing to give them a chance. If you want a unique pet, give them a try the next time you’re at a pet store!

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Dogs Left Home Alone Getting Hooked On TV and Radio

Thousands of dog owners admit to leaving the TV or radio on, leaving out extra food – and even getting a neighbour to call in when their dog is home alone, a study has found.

Many also treat their beloved pooch to a new toy or bone as they walk out of the door, install a dog flap and use a web cam to check up on them.

More than one in 10 have even arranged for a dog sitter to go to their home to keep their mutt company, while 24 per cent have asked a friend to drop in to spend time with their pet.

It also emerged the average pooch will spend two hours and 47 minutes at home alone every day, and half of all dog owners admit they feel guilty about the amount of time their pet is left alone.

A spokesman for manufacturer of  pet supplement brand YuCALM from Lintbells, which commissioned the research, said: “They say a dog is a man’s best friend, and it seems that really is the case.

“No dog owner wants to leave their dog home alone but sometimes this is unavoidable.

“But as a result, it seems many owners are finding different ways to try and make sure their dog doesn’t end up feeling lonely while they are out and treating them when they get back home.

“It just goes to show how much we love our pets.”

The study of 2,000 dog owners found 86 per cent leave their dogs at home alone, with 46 per cent admitting they feel sadness when they close the door to their pet pooch.

A third say they have considered taking their pet to work to avoid them being at home on their own for too long.

Almost one in 10 have even taken time off work or dodged social events to keep their dog company.

But when they do have to leave them home alone, more than four in 10 turn the radio on for them, while another 32 per cent keep the TV turned on.

A third will present their four-legged friend with a new treat just as they are walking out of the front door to keep them busy, with 18 per cent coming home with something special to make it up to them.

Others have left them more or better-quality food than they are used to or have installed a dog flap to give them free rein of the garden.

One in 20 even pay for their pets to go to ‘doggy day care’ to avoid them being left at home alone altogether.

But the survey, carried out through OnePoll.com also found that two thirds of owners admit they feel so guilty about leaving their dog unattended for even short periods of time that they end up lavishing them with treats or attention when they walk through the door.

More than one in five have allowed their dog to sleep next to them in bed to make up for not being around while more than one in 10 have even given them a steak dinner.

Others spend longer than usual grooming or walking them when they get home while 16 per cent have cooked their dog’s favourite meal to make it up to them.

The average dog owner will even spend £11.30 – more than £135 a year – buying things to make it up to their dog after leaving them home alone.

Researchers also found 54 per cent of people would like to reduce the amount of time their pet spends at home without them.

Dog behavioural expert Dr. Emily Blackwell PhD, CCAB, Senior Lecturer in Companion Animal Welfare who works closely with YuCALM and Lintbells, said: “Leaving dogs alone should be a normal experience for both the owner and their pet and shouldn’t be something dog owners worry about.

“It is vital to introduce this time alone for your dog from a very young age, so that this becomes a normal part of life and their routine.

“Preparing dogs to become comfortable with being alone is crucial for any puppy owner, however this can sometimes get overlooked.

“There is lots of useful advice and information out there to help owners teach their puppy that being home alone is a nothing to worry about.

“Giving dogs a special treat when they are left alone can be a great way of making time alone fun, however if the dog doesn’t eat the treat this can be a sign that it is anxious.

“Leaving nice toys and treats can also help owners feel less worried about leaving their pet.”

Top 10 things dog owners do when they leave their dog at home alone:
1. Leave the radio on for them
2. Buy them a new treat/bone/chew
3. Leave the TV on for them
4. Ask a neighbour or relative to pop in and see them
5. Come home with a special treat to make up for being out
6. Leave them more food than usual
7. Leave them better quality food than usual
8. Install a dog flap
9. Buy a web cam to check on them
10. Use a doggy monitor

Top ten ways owners make it up to their dogs after leaving them home alone:
1. Take them outside for an extra-long walk
2. Give them extra back/belly rubs
3. Let them onto the sofa for a cuddle
4. Buy them special treats
5. Buy them a new toy
6. Take them out straight away to play with them
7. Let them sleep in the bed
8. Cook their favourite meal
9. Groom them
10. Not scold them for something they usually get told off for

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Posted in Animal Welfare, dogs, Exercise, health | Leave a comment