Our Joe & Jill’s natural foods for cats have long been appreciated by cats up and down the country – but the shiny silver and blue packaging wasn’t to everyone’s taste, so we decided to give the brand a facelift and the end result is a completely new look for Joe & Jill’s.
We think the new packs look great and they are currently being stacked on Asda shelves up and down the country so pop into your local store and see what you think!
Great news for cats and dogs up and down the country – the best and tastiest foods around are now available in over 340 Asda stores nationwide!
The full Vet’s Kitchen range of natural hypoallergenic veterinary foods for dogs and cats, including the Active Sauce supplements is available along with our new-look Joe & Jill’s natural cat food.
We are currently trying to squeeze all the store names and addresses into our poor overworked online store locator so please bear with us on that for a little while – but in the meantime, it’s safe to assume that your local Asda store will be stocking our products.
The LSPCA (Lilongwe Society for Prevention of Cruelty for Animals) is the only charity in Malawi working to improve standards of animal welfare in this small African country where animals play such a crucial role in the everyday lives of the people. Here in the UK our cats, dogs and other animals are usually luxuries, adding to our quality of life and keeping us happy – but in African countries such as Malawi, they are often play an essential role in communities, from guarding livestock to providing food. And with diseases such as Rabies and Newcastle disease prevalent, and little or no veterinary care generally available, the work of the LSPCA is absolutely invaluable.
The main work of the charity is vaccinating dogs against Rabies and other diseases, and chickens against Newcastle disease (which can devastate flocks leaving villages desperately short of food), and neutering dogs to try and reduce the massive stray dog problem – and with it the incidence of rabies infections in people. The LSPCA has also been campaigning hard on animal welfare issues and has made some real progress in reducing the problem of puppies and kittens being sold on the roadside, and chickens being carried by their feet on motorbikes.
However the charity is tiny and the scale of the challenges they face is enormous, so there is a great need for additional resources and funding to help the vets like Richard Ssuna who runs the charity continue and expand their amazing work. The latest project is to set up a proper clinic, as until now Richard has been working out of an open tent in dusty village squares providing far from ideal conditions for proper medical care and surgery. This project, called ‘a clinic in a box’ aims to create a fully functioning veterinary clinic in Malawi for the first time, and once complete it will make an enormous impact on the welfare of thousands of animals across this country. To find out more, please take a few minutes to visit the LSPCA blog where you can also find out how to donate by text and support this wonderful charity.
Just back from a great weekend at the Bedfordshire Show – apart from some torrential rain, it was a really enjoyable show, and the Vet’s Kitchen Health Scan trailer was kept busy all weekend with lots of owners taking advantage of our free health checks for their dogs.
As well as checking over lots of dogs and talking to people about our products I also helped out with the judging of the fun dog show which was great fun, and met some lovely dogs and owners – including these two beautiful greyhounds Gilmour and Kryssy owned by Jackie Staines, who is passionate about the breed:
“We discovered greyhounds by chance and they have rapidly become our preferred breed - partially because of the nature of the breed but also because of the plight of greyhounds bred for racing. It’s not so much that they race that bothers me as greyhounds really do enjoy running at speed, but the intensity of the breeding, and therefore ‘wastage’ of surplus hounds. Gilmour and Kryssy’s fathers and grandfathers between them (i.e. four dogs) have sired almost 18,500 pups between them – and they’re just the ones that can be traced because they did make it to the race track. Goodness knows how many didn’t make the grade.”
I also have a soft spot for greyhounds, and feel very strongly about the issue of racing dogs being very poorly treated at the end of their careers. Thankfully there are lots of great rescue organisations around, and Jackie supports her local branch of the Retired Greyhound Trust – http://www.greyhoundhomer.org.uk/.
The Pet Travel Scheme:
Introduced to the UK in 2000, the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), allows pet owners to take their animals to specific overseas countries and bring them back into the UK without having to go through quarantine. In order to qualify for this scheme there are some very strict rules that need to be adhered to, and there is no leeway or flexibility so it is essential you get it right if you are considering travelling outside the UK with your pet.
Here are the key facts you need to know about the PETS:
- The scheme only applies to dogs, cats and, rather strangely, ferrets.
- To qualify for the scheme pets need to have a microchip implanted under the skin. This relatively painless procedure involves a large injection in the scruff of the neck, usually done by a vet, and typically costs between £10 and £30.
- All pets need to be vaccinated against rabies, which involves a single (or sometimes two) injections administered by a vet. The costs for this vary but a likely to be around £40 per injection. Most vets nowadays just give one injection, but some prefer to give two as this is slightly more reliable.
- After the rabies vaccination a blood tests is taken to check that the rabies injection has worked. This tends to be the most expensive part of the procedure, costing up to £80*
- Once the blood test has confirmed that the pet is fully protected against rabies, the vet will issue a pet passport which is an official document that is needed when you come back into the UK. And yes, it does have a space for a nice picture of your pet, although this is not a legal requirement!
- Crucially, the passport is not valid for entry into the UK for 6 months after the date of the blood test, so you need to get organised well in advance of coming back into the UK*
- All pets must be treated with an approved tick and worm treatment between 24 and 48 hours before re-entering the UK.
- Pet passports are only valid for a specific list of countries which includes the all of the countries of the EU, the USA, Canada and most of the Caribbean islands.
This may all sound quite daunting but in practice it is usually very straightforward once the initial paperwork and waiting period is over. Ask your vet for advice and to organise microchipping, rabies vaccination and blood tests, and you can also visit the DEFRA website at www.defra.gov.uk for more information.
* Latest news is that DEFRA are going to remove the requirement for a blood test and reduce the minimum time between the vaccination and return to the UK to 3 weeks, and this should be in force in 2012 so keep an eye on the news for confirmation. To find out more, visit the DEFRA website at http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2011/06/30/new-rules-pet-passports/
It’s all too easy to get carried away when you get to your hotel or apartment and forget that your pet might not settle into things as quickly as the rest of the family. Always make sure they have time and space to acclimatise themselves to their new surroundings and remember to take extra care when letting them outside in case they get lost or confused. It’s always worth taking extra precautions, such as keeping a dog on the lead, as there’s nothing quite like a lost pet to ruin a holiday!
Once you’ve settled into your holiday, there are some other important things to bear in mind as to make sure you and your pets enjoy a safe and happy holiday:
- The sun can be dangerous to pets as well as people – pets with white skin, especially on their ears, are particularly prone to sunburn and even skin cancer so use a high-factor sun block on any white areas of skin that don’t have much fur cover.
- Dogs (and cats) can easily overheat and suffer from hyperthermia in hot weather – to avoid this make sure they always have access to shade, fresh water and plenty of fresh air.
- While dogs in particular often enjoy playing in the sea, rivers or lakes, there can be hazards such as dangerous currents, hidden obstacles and even toxic blue-green algae in stagnant water, so make sure you check out any water before letting the dog plunge in.
Staying at home:
There may be time when taking your pet away with you is just not practical and you have to look at alternative arrangements such as kennels or catteries. Although some pets really do enjoy these ‘staycations’, for many it’s time to be endured rather than enjoyed, so it is important to help make them as comfortable as possible while you’re away. Here are my tips for helping your pets enjoy the kennel or cattery experience:
- Check out any kennel or cattery in person before sending your pets there. Look for modern, clean and comfortable accommodation, kind and enthusiastic staff, and safe and appropriate exercise facilities.
- If possible take your pet’s own food so they don’t have to change their diet while they stay, as this can cause digestive upsets.
- Take your pets favourite bedding, toys and anything else that will help make them feel at home
Travelling with your pet:
Whether you are heading across Europe or just across the UK there are some important things to consider before setting off with your pets:
- Always plan your journey with your pets in mind – so make sure you schedule in plenty of breaks into car journeys, and try not to go too far on trains or buses in one go.
- Make sure you pack everything your pet needs for the journey, including:
- Water and a suitable drinking bowl
- Food if the journey is going to extend beyond mealtimes
- Poop scooper or bags for dogs
- Bed or blanket
- Favourite toys
- Never, ever leave your pet in a parked car for any length of time as even short periods on moderately hot days can be fatal
- Some dogs can get car sick but you reduce this by using a car seat harness to allow them to sit on the back seat and see out the front. If this doesn’t work or isn’t practical, ask your vet about car sickness medications such as ACP tablets (which also help sedate pets for long journeys) or Cernina (a powerful anti-sickness drug).
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q. I really want to take my dog to France this summer but he doesn’t have a passport – is there any way I can get a passport organised in time?
A. No – at the moment the 6 month rule is very strict and there is no way your dog would be allowed back into this country until 6 months after the blood test for rabies is taken. Your only option if you wanted to go to France earlier than that would be to enjoy a very long holiday and wait until the 6 months are up before coming home! However this does look set to change from 2012 with the interval between vaccination and re-entry to the UK dropping to 3 weeks which will make things much easier.
Q. How often do I need to vaccinate my dog against rabies to keep his passport up to date?
A. The usual interval is 2 years but 3 years is acceptable in some cases depending on the vaccine brand used. Your vet will be able to advise you on this.
Q. How can I find holiday accommodation that accepts pets?
A. There are several good online guides available including www.petfriendlyhotels.com and www.dogfriendlybritain.co.uk and these are the best places to find hotels and B&B’s that welcome 4 legged members of the family.
Q. I’m thinking of taking my cat away on a caravanning holiday as he really misses us when we go – is this sensible?
A. My advice would be not to risk it as however well-behaved and home-loving you cat may be, there’s always the chance that they will take fright and run off, or simply get lost and you’ll spend your holiday desperately searching for them. I speak from bitter experience on this one, having spent a miserable 48 hours in Devon hunting for a girlfriend’s cat after agreeing to let it come on our camping trip! We did find it in the end but it ruined the holiday – and ultimately the relationship as well!
Last week was the Royal Bath and West Show and the second outing of the summer for the Vet’s Kitchen Health Scan Roadshow after the Surrey show. The RBWS is the biggest show in the soutwest, attracting well over 100,000 visitors (and their dogs), and after 4 really busy days it feels like we saw pretty much all of them at the Vet’s Kitchen stand.
As well as handing out samples of the food and supplements, we were also offering our Health Scans where we give dogs a full health check and also use our ultrasound scanner to assess their fat coverage to see how overweight or obese they are. This was very popular with visitors, and both myself and Louise our Vet Nurse were really busy with scans throughout the show. The longer term aim of doing these scans is to build up a database of information about the weight and fat levels of dogs around the country to help vets and owners tackle the increasingly serious issue of obesity in pets.
After a few days recuperating we’re back out on the road next week for the East of England show (17th – 19th June) so if you’re in the Peterborough area, come along and say hello, and bring your dog along for a free health scan.
It is well worth involving your vets in any weight loss program you decide to implement, especially if your dog is severely overweight, as losing weight can be a hazardous process with some health risks to be considered. The main considerations are the rate of weight loss and the ultimate target weight. The rate of weight loss is an issue because if you put your dog on ‘crash diet’ where they lose lots of weight very quickly, this can lead to health complications such as fatty deposits in the liver (although this is more common in cats), so it is advisable to stick to a moderate rate of 1-1.5% per week as a safe maximum. So this would equate to a weight loss of between 300-450g per week for a 30kg dog, meaning that it would take around 3 months for this dog to lose 5kg safely.
The issue of ultimate target weight is more subjective and should always be kept in context with the concurrent use of condition scoring as a ‘fail safe’ back up. For example, if your vet advises that your 30kg dog needs to lose 5kg to get to a target weight of 25kg, it might be that at 26kg, a condition score exercise determines that your dog is actually now at a ‘normal’ weight and the weight loss program can be stopped rather than continuing on the arbitrary figure of 25kg. Always be prepared to modify your target based on the physical evidence of condition scoring as this is a much more reliable and safe guide to your dog’s true state of weight than simply relying on what the scales say.
There are many approaches to effecting weight loss in dogs, ranging from simply feeding less and walking more, to the use of expensive ‘prescription’ diets, but whatever approach you chose to use, there are some key pieces of advice that you should consider:
Eating too much of the wrong kind of foods is the main reason that so many pets are overweight, and by making some simple changes to the way you feed your pet, you can make a big difference to their weight and wellbeing:
- Reduce the calories – the ideal way to keep your pet slim is to feed them exactly the right amount of calories, or energy, everyday. If they are overweight, then you simply need to feed less, or use a lower calorie food, and they will lose weight. Your vet will be able to give you detailed guidance, but generally reducing their total daily calories by around 20% is ideal. My new Vte;s Kitchen Light variety for dogs is ideal, containing 20% less fat and calories than our adult foods.
- Cut out the tit bits – leftovers and tit bits from the table are the number one enemy of slim pets! We tend to give the least healthy bits from our meals, such as fatty bits of meat, and these go straight from your plate onto your pet’s hips!
- Use healthy fillers – grated veg such as carrots or courgettes add bulk to food but very few calories so they are a good way of keeping your pet feeling full but not piling on the pounds.
- Small regular meals – are better than one big meal, so divide your dog’s food into 2 small meals, morning and evening.
- Choose a healthy food – avoid ‘junk foods’ containing high levels of sugars, fats and artificial additives.
Along with a suitable diet, regular and appropriate exercise is vital to keep your dog in shape.
- Build up gradually – don’t suddenly change the amount of exercise your dog gets as this could cause health problems – instead, make the change gradually over a few weeks to let them adjust to the new regime, especially if they are old or very overweight.
- Make it fun – exercise regimes are so much easier to stick to if they are fun, so choose something that you and your pet will enjoy. Why not consider joining your local flyball club, or try mountain biking or jogging with your dog as activities like this can be a great way of burning off calories as well as being fun for all concerned.
- Take it easy – if your pet is old or suffers from a mobility problem such as arthritis it’s important not to overdo it. Regular short walks are much better for older dogs than long hikes, and make sure you talk to your vet if you are concerned about any lameness or stiffness associated with increased exercise.
- General Weight Loss Tips
- Don’t give in to begging – dogs who beg will never be satisfied so even if you do give them the treat they want, they will still want more. Much better to be firm and only give them healthy snacks at set times such as just before bedtime.
- Give your pet attention, not treats – many owners use food as a reward and way of ‘buying’ affection from their pets – use attention as a reward instead by spending quality time with your pet.
- You are not being cruel by cutting down their food! A healthy, slim dog will be much happier than an overweight one.
- Dry food is much more filling than it looks – dry dog food swells up when it reaches the stomach, so what looks like a tiny portion will still fill your pet up.
- Neutering does not cause obesity! – many people worry that their pet will become overweight if it is neutered, and while it is true that neutering can slow the metabolism and reduce the amount of calories a pet needs, that doesn’t mean that this should automatically lead to weight gain, as you can easily reduce the amount of calories they eat to compensate for this.