The Omlet Blog

Date Archives: November 2019

Going on holiday? What about the pets?

Summertime… Beach stays, trips abroad, hikes… It is a great opportunity to take a break with your family and keep daily stress at bay. You book a lovely hotel with your other half, you read a map with your children asking them where they want to go, you pack your suitcases, you… Wait! Aren’t you forgetting someone? “Babe, what about the cat? Is he coming with us?!”

Most pet owners tend to forget about it: having a pet means new responsibilities and taking care of them when you go on holidays is one of them. Unfortunately, too many people still ignore it. The months of December, January and February are critical since many people seem to struggle when it comes to taking care of their pets while also going on holiday. Read our tips below to make sure your pets will have a great time this summer, just like you!

CHICKENS

You might be an adventurous Frenchman aiming to sail around the world with your hen (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36475672). However, in all other cases, we recommend that you do not take your chickens on holidays with you. The best thing to do is to ask some friends or neighbours to take care of them while you are away, offering them to help themselves to eggs. If you are lucky enough to have an Eglu Cube on wheels, you can even move your coop directly into your neighbour’s garden!

GUINEA PIGS AND RABBITS

Just like with chickens, it is better to leave your rabbit or guinea pig at home and ask a friend, ideally someone they already know, to come and look after them. If you still decide to take them with you, or if you don’t have any other choice, be very careful with temperature change. These smaller pets are extremely sensitive to it and a sudden temperature change could be fatal. While in the car, make sure that they are neither too hot (do not leave them next to a window or in a parked car) or too cold (do not put them in front of the air con). You also want to check that nothing is at risk of falling and hurting them in the cage: take away the bottle and the feeder and stop regularly to give them some water and food. Remember that rodents and rabbits are very shy animals that like to have their own routine and tend to struggle with change.

CATS

You can definitely take them with you, but in most cases you don’t have to: cats are independent animals that can take care of themselves for a few days. Fill their bowls with food and water before leaving. If you are away for less than 10 days, ask a friend to come and check on them (one or two short visits a day should do).  

If you are away for more than 10 days, it is better to leave your cat with some relatives, preferably people who already know your cat and who don’t have any animals that the cat won’t get along with. You can also put your cat in a boarding kennel. However, keep in mind that this can be risky since your cat could feel abandoned (new place, new faces…) and get depressed. Before taking them to the cattery you can give them some soft and natural tranquillizer, like Bach flower, to help them adjust.

DOGS

Dogs are probably the most complicated animal to deal with when going on holidays. You can’t just leave them at home with food and water. This is not only bad for your dog, but could also lead you to be accused of animal cruelty. The best option is definitely to book a seat for your dog in your car and help them pack their suitcase!

Why should I take my dog with me? 

Of course you can leave your dog with your friends or family (preferably someone they already know). However, keep in mind that dogs are very social animals and thrive on their owner’s company. For them, holidays will be a fantastic opportunity to spend some quality time with their favourite humans. Moreover, since you are on holidays, you will have more free time and will be able to spend entire days with your dog, which will make them extremely happy. No more long and boring days waiting for you at home! No doubt that you and your family will also be delighted to spend the whole day playing and exercising with your dog. They can also help you to interact with fellow holiday makers: many people won’t be able to resist giving them some attention!

How to organise a trip with a dog

Here is a list of what you can do to make sure your dog is ready for the holidays and everything goes fine while you two are away from home:

  • Before going, make sure your dog is used to travelling in a car. Some dogs can be car sick and it is good to prepare them, especially if you’re planning on a road trip and are spending a lot of time in the car!
  • Make sure your dog knows some basic commands such as heel and sit. If they are able to go on a walk without pulling on the lead, it is even better!
  • Check that their vaccinations are up to date, and if you’re going abroad, double check what the requirements are far in advance.
  • Bring everything they may need: food, of course, but also a first-aid kit, their health record book, the lead, the food and water bowls, the crate, their favourite toys, some poo bags… It is very important to take your dog’s food with you if you are going abroad since you can’t make sure you’ll find their favourite brand in the country you’re visiting.
  • While travelling, put your dog in their cage in the boot of the car.
  • Before visiting a place, make sure they accept pets. Never go to a hotel before checking it. Likewise, you will easily find a list of dog friendly beaches online.
  • Check that your dog is not too hot. If you’re going on a walk, don’t forget to bring a bowl and a good amount of water.
  • When settling your dog somewhere, do it properly: make sure they have some food, some water, some shadow… Even if it is just for an hour!
  • If you think it is necessary, you can fit your dog with a GPS collar. This can be useful when you go hiking in the wild. You can also download various apps on your mobile to help you locate a lost dog, find a vets near you or keep record of your dog’s health.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

In some states you can travel for free with your pet on most public transport: buses, taxis, trains and ferries. However, to make sure everything goes smoothly, always check that that is the case before you board. Be aware that coach companies generally do not accept pets except for assistance dogs. Remember that passengers can complain about your animal’s behaviour so try and make sure your pet will be able to behave themselves while travelling.

When travelling abroad, make sure you can go on public transport with your pet since this can vary according to the country (in some places you will have to book a ticket for your animal).

If you’re travelling by plane, mention that you have an animal when booking and check that your animal’s vaccination is up to date. On the day of the departure, make sure to arrive early. Cats and small dogs will generally be allowed to fly with you in the cabin. However, bigger dogs will have to travel in a heated and pressurised part of the cargo hold. Birds, rabbits and hamsters are often forbidden but some airlines may accept them.

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This entry was posted in Pets on November 25th, 2019 by linnearask


How To Make A Dust Bath For Your Chickens

You might not think it necessary to actually make a dust bath for your chickens. They seem to do it for themselves. Whenever there’s a dry spot of earth they’ll peck and scratch at it, and then crouch down, fluff out their feathers and shake their wings to cover themselves in dust.

That’s fine. But there are ways of making the dust bath even more enjoyable, and more effective too. A bit like trading in a bucket of cold water for a power shower!

Why Do Chickens Need Dust Baths?

Just like a human bathtub, a dust bath is all about cleanliness. It’s not only chickens who like to hit the dirt – you may spot other birds such as sparrows and blackbirds taking a dust bath too. The dust or sand absorbs surplus moisture and oils on the skin. It also deters parasites such as mites and lice by coating the insects’ breathing pores or simply driving them away.

Once fully coated in dust or sand, the chicken will have a shake-down, just like a dog after a dip in a river. A quick preen of the feathers, and they’ll be all done and dusted. Literally.

In addition to these physical benefits, dust-bathing is also thought to be mentally rewarding for hens. It helps them relax, and is a way of socialising too, when a group of hens bathe together.

Things To Add To A Dust Bath

Many owners convert an old cat litter tray, or the base of a disused bird or small mammal cage, into a chicken dust bath. These can be a little shallow though, resulting in the bath contents being scattered around. An old tyre can be used, or an old crate or wooden box. It should be 20 to 30cm high, which is enough to contain 10cm of ‘dust’ plus extra height to prevent the stuff spilling out.

The dust bath should be placed in a sunny spot. This seems to be an important detail, and chickens will seek out a sunny dust bath even in the winter. The bath tub should be filled with non-clay-based, chemical-free soil (sandy is ideal), and kept dry. It will become fine and dusty in no time.

Wood Ash – One of the best things to add to the soil is wood ash. It contains vitamin K, calcium and magnesium, which is great for the birds’ health. It also absorbs toxins from the pores, so acts as a kid of medicine. Chickens will usually eat some of the ash too. This is fine – those nutrients work inside as well as out.

Diatomaceous Earth (Food Grade) – This natural, silica-rich powder has powerful anti-parasite properties, killing mites, lice, fleas and ticks. Hens will bathe in it, and it can also be added to their food.

Fine sand – Even if you have sandy earth in your area, adding fine sand will improve the dust bath. It cleans feathers very effectively, and also helps deter those pesky parasites.

Dried herbs – While very much optional, herbs bring health benefits to hens. Lavender, rosemary and thyme and mint are gentle insecticides, helping yet again with chicken parasites. Rosemary and thyme are also anti-inflammatories, and are thought to help keep hens’ respiratory systems healthy. Oregano and sage help boost their immune systems, and parsley provides a vitamin boost. Mint can help the birds keep cool in hot weather, and is also, due to its strong smell, thought to deter rodents and insects. And all that green stuff helps produce brilliant yellow egg yolks too. 

For dust-bath maintenance, all you need to do is clean out the droppings each day, and refill the bath every week or so, depending on how heavy the usage is. If you provide your chickens with the ideal bath, you won’t see them for dust!

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This entry was posted in Chickens on November 23rd, 2019 by linnearask


10 Common Dog Training Mistakes

It’s a fantastic achievement to transform that over-excited, jumping, weak-bladdered puppy into a trained and trusted friend and companion. The transformation isn’t automatic, but comes about through persistence, organisation, and a few simple dog training tools.

You can find several training tips on our Omlet Dog Guide. Here, we’ll highlight a few things that can slow down the training process.

1 – The training sessions are too long.

This is definitely rule number one. Training takes a lot of canine concentration, and if you overdo it, the dog will become bored and/or impatient. And, frankly, so will you. A training session should be between five and ten minutes. After that, it’s time out. You can resume the training with another 10-minute session an hour or so later.

2 – You’re getting impatient.

You might think your dog is the cleverest pet you’ve ever met. But he’s still a dog, and not a human, so you shouldn’t expect miracles. A dog has to concentrate to learn new commands, especially ones that go against his natural instincts to run, bark, eat, and jump up to greet people. Many owners lose patience when, for the umpteenth time, the dog fails to respond to a command, lies down instead of sitting, forgets to wait when you tell him, and so on.

As soon as you lose your temper, your dog will sense the hostility and begin associating training with human anger. Understandably, he’ll not be too keen on taking part in future sessions.

3 – You’re on auto-repeat.

If your dog fails to get the hang of a new command or trick on the third attempt, let it go. The mystified mutt will have made three incorrect guesses, and getting it right after ten attempts will not make the training stick. Revisit these ‘fails’ in later training sessions. Review your approach – was it too vague, too similar to another command, or have you fallen into the traps mentioned in points 1 and 2 above?

Similarly, if your dog fails to lie down when you say “lie down”, don’t repeat the command endlessly. It will tell the dog he doesn’t need to respond immediately, or it might make him think that the command for ‘lie down’ is actually “Lie down! Lie down!  Lie down! Lie down! Lie down!…etc.”

4 – Everyone’s moody.

If a dog is tired, grumpy, hungry, or expecting his regular walk, a training session isn’t going to go down well. The same applies to the human trainer – if you’re not in the best of moods, the dog will know, and neither of you will be in the best frame of mind for a training session.

5 – The default approach is punishment.

There are two ways of training a dog – the old-fashioned correction-based method, and the much better ‘positive reinforcement’ method. The old way involved punishing a dog for getting things wrong, while the modern way is to reward him when he gets it right. Some owners mix and match the two methods, which can be confusing. The poor dog doesn’t know what’s coming next – a tasty treat or an angry gesture.

You should never shout your dog’s name in anger or as part of verbal punishment either, or he will come to associate his name with negative things.

6 – The training is inconsistent.

Always use the same command words for each action, and make sure the dog performs the required action once he’s learned it. If you give the command and then let it slide if the dog doesn’t bother responding, you’re undermining the process. When training a dog you’re establishing sets of rules, and consistency is the only thing that’s going to make them stick.

If using a dog clicker, make sure the clock is reinforced with a treat. And don’t click loads of times for a single training action or behaviour, or the click will lose its meaning for the dog.

7 – The training is tailing off.

If a dog learns new tricks and performs well in early training sessions, it doesn’t mean the behaviours will stick in his head forever. They need reinforcing every day over the dog’s early months, otherwise he will get rusty (a bit like you trying to recall those school French lessons 20 years later). Some owners make the mistake of thinking a paid-for training session can replace a year of regular and patient training. It can’t.

8 – Bad behaviour is being rewarded.

If a dog is misbehaving, it can be tempting to shout his name angrily, and then reward him with a treat or attention when he comes. To the dog this means bad behaviour = reward. Ignore the bad behaviour as much as you can, and draw a line by distracting the dog by asking him to sit or lie down (without using his name). You can then reward the good behaviour.

9 – You’re overdoing the treats.

If dog treats are given too frequently or the portions are too large, the dog may decide, later, that he will only listen if there is food involved. There are also health issues involved with overdoing the snacks too. Praise, play and affection are just as important as food treats when training.

10 – A bull terrier can’t be a sheepdog!

There’s no single ‘best way’ to train a dog. It depends on breed and temperament. So, don’t rely on previous experience or the advice of another dog owner, if the dogs in question were completely different characters. 

No dog is born pre-trained. But by avoiding these 10 common mistakes you’ll make the training much more effective, ensuring that everyone involved – human and dog – has a great time during the process.

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This entry was posted in Dogs on November 21st, 2019 by linnearask


What to do if Your Cat Goes Missing

Contact neighbours to check sheds and garages

Before you go for a full search party, try contacting your neighbours and ask them to check their garages and sheds to see if your cat has accidentally got locked in. As you’re walking around the neighbourhood, call the cat’s name and listen out if you can hear a cry from any garages. 

Make sure someone is home 

If you don’t have a cat flap, make sure someone is at home while you’re out searching just in case your cat decides to come back. Some cats do just like to go for a walkabout for a few days. If the weather takes a turn and it starts to rain, it can be heartbreaking to think of your pet out in the cold weather, but actually bad weather can help as it will drive your cat home as it seeks shelter. 

Go out searching

If you know your cat, you will know where their favourite hang out is. Make sure you head along to their most frequented spots and take a box of treats with you to loudly shake and call their name. 

Put up posters

Make sure you put up posters locally, including lampposts, notice boards in shops and post through peoples doors to spread the word and make them more aware. 

Make sure they are collared and chipped

If your cat is chipped, then if they’re taken to a vets the vet can call you and reunite you asap. If they are not, make sure you call all of the local vets and check your cat hasn’t been brought in. 

Social media

Put up a post on your social media similar to your physical poster and ask friends and family to share it. Also message your local community Facebook groups to get them to post about the missing cat. 

Let your other cat help

If you have another cat, it can be tempting to keep them locked in whilst the other one is missing due to your worry. Don’t do this! Make sure your other cat is allowed out exploring as they normally do, more often than not they will lead you to your other cat who might potentially be trapped or injured. Also if you follow your other cat it will give you an idea where they normally spend their days. 

Use smart front door cameras

Front door cameras such as Nest and Ring will often pick up any movement going past their house including animals. Check with your neighbours if anyone has one and ask them to look at motion alerts from the time you last saw your cat. 

If you move house

To avoid your cat getting lost when you move house,  keep them indoors for at least 3 weeks to avoid them getting disoriented or trying to head back to their previous territory. This time indoors allows them to settle and regard the new house as ‘home’ marking their scent. 

You can also rub butter on your cats paws on the first day you arrive, instead of stressing and trying to dart out the door your cat will enjoy sitting down and licking the butter off its paws thereby slowly becoming familiar with their surroundings. 

Whilst they’re kept indoors, keep sprinkling some of their used cat litter around the garden so that it warns off other cats and also is a familiar scent for them when you do let them outdoors. Once you do let them out, do it just before a usual mealtime, if they’re hungry they will more likely come back to the sound of dinner rattling in the box or packet.

The need and want to return to their old home can be very strong for a cat, particularly if the house isn’t very far away. Make sure the new owners have your contact details in case your cat returns. 

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This entry was posted in Cats on November 16th, 2019 by linnearask


How To Care for Your Rabbits in Summer

Summer is the greatest time of the year, but when the temperature rises it’s important to make sure your rabbits, and their home, are ready for the warmer weather. Rabbits are generally very hardy animals, but they actually tend to deal better with cold spells than with extreme heat. 

It might be tempting to move your outdoor rabbits inside your air-conditioned house to help them stay cool, but sudden changes in temperature can actually be worse for them than  staying outside in the heat. It is, however, important to know that rabbits can die from heat stroke, so make sure that you’re doing everything you can to prevent your rabbits from getting ill. 

The Hutch

The easiest thing to do to make sure your rabbits are comfortable is to get them a hutch that stays cool even in the height of summer. The Eglu Go hutch has twin-wall insulation that keeps the heat out, and makes the temperature in the hutch stay relatively stable throughout the day. It also has a draught-free ventilation system that encourages air to flow through the hutch without creating a nasty draft. 

Another important thing is shade. If possible, place the rabbits’ hutch and play area in a shady part of the backyard, ideally under a tree or next to a building that blocks the sun. If different parts of the yard are shaded at different times of the day you might be able to move the play area as the day goes on. This is very easy with Omlet’s Zippi runs and tunnel system. If you don’t have any natural shade you will need to add covers and sun shades to the run to make sure that your rabbits can be outside without having to be in direct sunlight.

Food and Water

Make sure that your rabbits have plenty of fresh water at all times. Consider changing the water several times a day when it’s very hot; rabbits are much more likely to drink more if the water is nice and cool, just as you would. Speaking of water, fill a few plastic bottles and put them in the freezer for a few hours. You can then place them on the run or in the hutch for your rabbits to lean against when they’re feeling warm. Prepare a few bottles so you can swap them around when the first ones have melted. 

Your bunnies will also love to eat cool and refreshing things when the sun is out. Try washing the vegetables you are giving to your rabbits with cold water before you bring them out to the hutch. 

Grooming

Other things you can do if you think your rabbits are finding the summer a bit sweaty is to remove all their excess fur. Brush your pets more regularly in summer to make sure they’re not carrying around unnecessary layers. If you think your pets are looking particularly hot you can mist their ears with cool (but not ice cold) water from a spray bottle. Do however make sure the water doesn’t get into the ear canal. Another important thing to think about is the rabbits probably won’t appreciate getting handled during the hottest hours of the day, so leave play time to later in the evening. 

Fly Strike

It is also very important to know that the risk of fly strike is much higher during the summer months. Fly strike is caused by flies getting attracted to damp fur, urine and faeces and laying their eggs in the rabbit’s bottom. When the maggots are born after a few hours they eat the rabbit’s flesh and release toxins into the body. Fly strike can kill a healthy rabbit who just happens to have loose stools for a day or two, but if you know that your rabbit sometimes struggles to clean itself it is extra important that you check their bottoms daily. If you see any signs of fly strike, contact your vet immediately. The same goes for heat stroke. Don’t panic and dip your rabbit in cold water, instead take your rabbit to a cool room inside to try to lower their body temperature while you phone the vet. 

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This entry was posted in Rabbits on November 14th, 2019 by linnearask


Why Are My Chickens Not Laying?

Most people decide to keep chickens because they’re looking forward to a supply of fresh eggs. So when the hens don’t deliver the goods, it can be worrying, baffling and frustrating.

In most cases, patience is the simple answer. There are a number of reasons why hens might not be laying, but the commonest are simply to do with age. They will not start lying until they are six months old and thereabouts. The exact timing depends on breeds. Some, such Australorps, Golden Comets and Leghorns, begin laying early, between 16 and 18 weeks. With some of the larger breeds such as, Orpingtons, Plymouth Rocks, and Wyandottes, you can wait up to eight months for the first eggs to appear.

Another complicating factor is the time of year. Hens that reach egg-laying maturity in the autumn or winter may not lay until spring. This underlines another common answer to the “Why are my hens not laying?” question – most breeds tend to stop producing eggs, or drastically reduce their output, in the colder months.

In the Mood to Brood

Sometimes a chicken decides to sit tight and wait for her egg to hatch. In this maternal mood, she is known as a broody hen, and will stop producing eggs. This is handy if you want to hatch chicks, as the hen will happily sit there for the three weeks it takes to hatch an egg. It’s less handy if you want her to produce more eggs, though.

The hen can either be left for three weeks, after which she will resume normal service, or you can gently discourage her. Placing a bag of ice cubes or frozen peas underneath her can do the trick. Some chicken keepers recommend placing the hen in a wire cage or dog crate, with food and water. This is a little uncomfortable, and will usually beak the brooding habit.

All Change – Moulting and Ageing

All hens have a time limit on their laying. On average they will produce eggs for three years.

Most hens take ‘time off’ for winter, and also for moulting. Many breeds undergo what’s known as a hard moult, losing their feathers over a few days and growing a new set quickly. Others may undergo a ‘soft’ moult, losing a few feathers at a time.

Keeping the hens well fed, and adding a little extra protein to their diet, will keep them healthy during this time. Their physical efforts are concentrated on growing new feathers, which is why the egg supply tends to drop during the moult.

This underlines another important point – a nutritious diet, centred on a fortified chicken feed and plenty of calcium, is vital. If hens are malnourished, egg production will drop.

Sick Birds Don’t Lay

If your hens are neither too young nor too old, not moulting, not brooding, and not hunkering down for a cold winter, the reason for the drop in eggs may be illness. Parasites – lice, mites, fleas, internal worms – can cause bodily stress that impacts their laying.

Stress can also be brought on by bullying, too much handling, injury, noisy children and pets in the garden, or poor environment. Making sure the hens have a space where they can stay happy and healthy is vital. A setup such as the Eglu coop and run, along with suitable perches, feeders and other essential accessories, does the trick.

There may be other underlying health issues at play, though. Check out our pages on chicken health for more advice on diagnosing and – where possible – treating problems.

Vanishing Eggs

It’s just possible that your non-laying hens are laying – it’s just that you can’t find the eggs. There are two reasons for this. Free-ranging chickens often ‘go native’ and begin laying eggs in a spot in the undergrowth, rather than in the coop.

Check under shrubs, in long grass, and any secluded corner of your plot of land. If the AWOL laying has been going on for a long time, there may be a few eggs out there in the wilderness. Check their freshness by placing them in a bowl of water. If the eggs lie on their sides, they are fresh. If they are more upright (between 45 and 90 degrees), but still resting on the bottom of the bowl, they are not fresh, but still usable. Any that float have passed their sell-by date!

Eggs may also disappear if a hen acquires a taste for them. Egg-eating amongst chickens can be a sign of overcrowding or poor diet. Once she has acquired the taste, it can be difficult to stop a hen eating eggs, and she may need isolating to stop her pecking at her neighbours’ eggs. The isolation may also induce slight stress, just enough to interrupt her own laying, which may in turn break the habit.

Normal Egg Service Resumed

Don’t worry – unless a hen is very old or very ill, her egg-laying should soon resume. Owners can aid the process by making sure they’re giving the birds everything they need. They keys to a good egg supply are good food, a good space – and patience!

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This entry was posted in Chickens on November 13th, 2019 by linnearask


How To Name A Pet

Naming pets can be difficult. Should you go for something highly original, something that describes the pet, or something that reflects your own personality? Should it be ‘safe’, picked from an online list of popular pet names? Or should it say something about the year the pet was born – perhaps a dog called Trump, a cat called Greta, or a budgie called Boris?

If it’s a family pet, parents often take the easy way out and ask the kids to think of names. We fool ourselves that we are being kind, inclusive parents, but in reality we’re just passing the buck!

Safety in numbers

Somehow, if there’s more than one new pet the floodgates of inspiration suddenly open. You can use the same letter – Maxi and Mini, Pixie and Pumpkin, or Arthur and Alfie. Or you can go for famous couples such as Pepper and George, Thor and Loki , Meg and Mog, Lennon and McCartney, Bubble and Squeak.

It becomes harder if there are more than two new animals to be named. A small flock of chickens, for example, may well start out with individual names, but chances are you’ll soon be referring to them simply as “The Chickens”.

The other definition of “safety in numbers” is “names used 1000s of times before”. Cats will always be called Tom, Fido will be used for Dogs, and Polly the parrot will remain iconic. And then there are all those lists of Most popular Pet Names. These change gradually as the years pass, just as popular baby names do.

A survey of 2018 faves, for example, suggests that Ruby, Bella, Max and Charlie are the commonest dog names in Australia. Cats are mainly called Luna, Bella, Coco and Charlie. And if you have a parrot, chances are it’s named Charlie, Kirsty, Ollie, Bernard or Basil.

Small mammals tend to share popular names, and right now the most popular ones are Flopsy, Thumper, Luna, Cookie and Rosie (and Flopsy and Thumper, along with Peter, have been top names for rabbits for 60 years or more).

No Laughing Matter?

If you opt for an amusing name, you need to be confident you won’t regret the decision further down the line. You will find that names such as Brexit, Doggy McDogface and Smelly Cat soon pass their sell-by date.

If you want a pet name that will always raise a smile, without overdoing it, it’s best to choose something not usually used for pets at all. You’ll probably never tire of a cat called Gary, a dog called John and a parrot called Karen. It’s a fine line, though. Quirkier names such as Laptop the cat, Curtains the dog and Bread Roll the parrot may quickly lose their appeal.

Things To Avoid

If you have a new dog, you should avoid giving it a name that resembles a command word. For example, Sid sounds like ‘Sit’, Levi sounds like ‘Leave it’, Walt sounds like ‘Wait’, Hal sounds like ‘Heel’, and so on. This is less of an issue with other pet species.

Anything rude or controversial is going to cause embarrassment – for you (when you have to use the name in front of the neighbours), and for the poor children forced to address their furry friends as Sexy Paws, Satan, or whatever.

It’s also short-sighted to give pets baby names. Yes, that puppy may well look like Tummykins, and that kitten may respond well to Tiny Fluff, but once they’ve become adults, it will sound a bit silly.

You should also spare a thought for vets and kennels/catteries too. Having a dog called Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley), a cat that sounds like ‘catkin’ but is spelled Qatqin, or even rogue letters in the name, such as Jaxon, Klyde or Phreddie, can lead to confusion in databases.

Things To Fall Back On When All Else Fails

You could choose a name that describes your pet’s behaviour or appearance. Flash, Dash, Nibbler, Scratchy, Sooty, Rosy, Socks, Spot, Biscuit, Brownie, and so on. There are also the famous names – Bugs, Daffy, Sylvester, Tweetie Pie, Lassie, Laika, Marmalade, Felix, etc.

And then, of course, there’s that classic ‘get out of jail free’ card – the kids. All you have to do is pronounce judgement on whatever names they come up with, saying “try again” if you don’t like it. Once they’ve decided on a Snowy, Scooby, Simba or Marley, you can sit back with the satisfaction of a difficult job well done.

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This entry was posted in Pets on November 11th, 2019 by linnearask


15 Reasons Why Your Parents Should Let You Have A Pet

Looking after a pet is a big responsibility. Not because it’s difficult or requires lots of time – neither of those are necessarily true – but because a pet is a living thing. It will rely on you as its friend and carer, its source of food, warmth and shelter.

If you can provide those things, keeping pets is without doubt one of life’s great pleasures. There’s often a big stumbling block though. If Mum, Dad or another well-meaning adult at home says you can’t have a pet, what’s the best way forward?

You could always accept it, of course – and maybe there are good reasons why, in your particular household, keeping a pet just isn’t going to work. For example, if you’re under 10 it’s not recommended that you should take full responsibility of a pet – you will need an older person to help out.

However, if the adult in question has simply not stopped to think about it, you’re in with a chance. For many of the commonest anti-pet arguments there are simple, practical facts that may help you change your parent’s mind.

Arm yourself with these, and you could soon be the proud owner of a new furry or feathered friend!


1 – Mum says: “Pets take too much looking after.”

You say: “It doesn’t have to be something that needs lots of training and walking, like a dog. A cat is pretty independent and easily house-trained. A small mammal like a gerbil or hamster only needs cleaning out once a week, and feeding them every day is simple. The same goes for budgies and finches.”

2 – Dad says: “We can’t afford to keep a pet.”

You say: “Small mammals are very cheap to buy. Or we could get a pet from a pet rescue centre. They’re always looking for new owners, and we’d be helping out an animal in need, and supporting a very important local service. As for pet food, even a big dog will only cost a few pounds a week, and a small pet will spend a month nibbling through a $10 bag of food.”

3 – Mum says: “Yes, but what about those huge vet’s bills?”

You say: “Gerbils and hamsters don’t usually have many health problems in their short lives, and don’t need vaccinations and microchips like dogs and cats. And there’s also pet insurance – for a fairly low monthly premium, a pet can be covered for all kinds of potential problems. That way we can avoid unexpected vet’s bills.”

4 – Dad says: “Pets are too noisy.”

You say: “Okay, dogs are noisy, but they can be trained not to woof too much. Chickens are quite noisy, but we could run it past the neighbours, and I’m sure the promise of a few eggs would win them round! Pet birds make a lot of noise, but how about the gentle squeak of a guinea pig, or the soft purring of a cuddly cat? And rabbits, gerbils and hamsters are pretty much silent.”

5 – Mum says: “They make too much mess.”

You say: “Cats are very neat and tidy. Small mammals make their mess inside their enclosures, and I can clean that up every week.”

6 – Dad says: “Pets are smelly.”

You say: “Not if their cages are cleaned properly every week. And dogs can be shampooed.”

7 – Mum says: “All that cleaning out… I’m not going to do it!”

You say: “Modern hutches and chicken coops are really easy to clean, and I could definitely manage it myself. Take a look at the Eglu for chickens, and the Go Rabbit Hutch, and you’ll see what I mean.”

8 – Dad says: “You’re forgetting – someone at home is allergic to fur and feathers.”

You say: “There are hypoallergenic breeds of cat and dog, so let’s get one of those.”

9 – Mum says: “During term time there’s no one at home to keep the pet company.”

You say: “Some dogs are absolutely fine on their own for a few hours. Most cats are too. You just need to get one of the chilled-out breeds. And all small mammals and cage birds do just fine without a human around 24/7. Same goes for chickens – and you can even get automatic chicken coop doors for them these days.”

10 – Dad says: “But what’s the point?”

You say: “Pets are beautiful. They’re our best friends. Research shows that handling pets relieves stress. And chickens produce lots and lots of delicious eggs!”

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This entry was posted in Uncategorised on November 9th, 2019 by linnearask


15 Signs That Your Cat Loves You

Cats have a reputation for being aloof, and for not getting over-excited when they see you. All this really means is that they’re not like dogs! Cats actually form very strong bonds with their beloved owners, and the subtlety of their affection is all part of the feline charm. So, you know it’s true love if your cat…

1. Greets you when you open the door.

The welcoming meow, the erect tale, the eager trot towards you… if that’s not a happy cat, we don’t know what is! Some cats even acquire an uncanny knack for predicting your arrival, sitting by door or window and waiting for you before there’s any sight or sound of you in the street. But you’ll need to verify that psychic trick with one of the other humans in the house…

2. Enjoys being stroked.

While it’s true that some cats just love being stroked no matter who’s doing the stroking, many don’t like being manhandled at all. If your cat shies away from an over-friendly stranger or discourages them with a claw or two, but lets you stroke her, that’s definitely love.

3. Grooms you.

You might not particularly like being licked by your cat’s sandpaper-like tongue, but it’s a sign of affection nonetheless. It means your cat sees you as her family, a parent figure.

4. Gazes at you.

If your cat looks into your eyes without turning away, she is completely relaxed in your company. A long, slow blink is a good sign too. A cat will normally interpret staring as a sign of aggression, and will look away (or run away). If she’s relaxed enough to meet your gaze lovingly, take it as a great compliment!

5. Head-butts you.

Cats rub against humans and furniture with little discrimination. However, a full-on head-butt rub is a sign of affection, and doesn’t just mean she wants some food!

6. Brings you presents.

Okay, this isn’t your cat’s most endearing habit, but the ‘gift’ of rodents – dead, half-dead or very much alive – is a sign that they feel secure and at home, according to some experts. There’s also a school of thought that interprets it as affection. Sort of. It’s something a mother cat would do for her kittens, teaching them how to handle prey.

7. Meows a lot.

Cats are thought to have a special ‘meow’ for humans. If your cat mews, gurgles and vocalises a lot in your presence, she’s telling you how much she loves you.

8. Gives you the twitchy tail treatment.

When your cat walks up to you, tail erect and twitching, she’s letting you know how pleased she is to see you. Sometimes it’s because she knows its food time, but it’s often simple affection.

9. Falls asleep on you.

Cats are always wary, and need to feel super-secure when choosing a sleeping spot. If they choose you as their bed, take it as a sign of complete trust and contentment.

10. Sticks her bottom in your face.

Cats have scent glands on their rear ends, a kind of scented ID. If your pet presents you with her behind, it means you’re a friend. Don’t feel you have to reciprocate, though…

11. Shows her belly.

A cat that rolls on its back and invites you to rub its tummy is very chilled, and views you as a friend and playmate. But that doesn’t mean she won’t use her claws in the belly-rubbing game that follows, so watch out!

12. Purrrrrrrrrs!

Cats purr for their kittens, and for their human friends. No on else.

13. Gently nibbles you.

The soft nibble of a friendly cat is very different from an aggressive bite. Some cats use this oral greeting as a means of bonding with their human friends. Some owners, however, discourage it, as even a gentle nibble can be a little uncomfortable if the cat gets over enthusiastic.

14. Follows at your heels.

If it’s not food time, this behaviour is a sign of pure affection. The cat simply wants to be with you. Some cats tag along with their owners outdoors, and many are very happy to follow their best friends to bed. Once you’ve let them adopt this habit, it’s a hard one to break!

15. Kneads you.

If your cat needs you, she may also knead you… This behaviour is thought to originate in kittens, pawing their mums to stimulate milk flow. If your cat does it to you, take it as a sign of affection, bonding and trust. Love, in other words!

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This entry was posted in Cats on November 3rd, 2019 by linnearask