Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash
Chickens sometimes lay eggs that look nothing like a standard supermarket egg. Some are huge, some are tiny, some are ball-shaped, some are pointy, and some are soft-shelled. There are various reasons for these oddities.
Each hen will have her own ‘quirks’ in terms of egg size and colour. Although most chicken breeds lay light brown eggs, some have eggs with pigmented shells. A hen will produce eggs of the same colour throughout her laying years. The palette ranges from deep browns to light blues and pastel greens, with speckling adding another dimension of prettiness.
Odd shapes and sizes are something quite different, though. They are quirks rather than breed-specific traits.
Why are chicken eggs sometimes bigger or smaller than usual?
A huge egg contains two yolks. In these cases, the hen has doubled up on her usual daily production and has had to produce a giant egg to accommodate the extra mass. These eggs usually have smaller-than-usual yolks, but they look very eye-catching in the poaching or frying pan!
Young birds often produce small eggs, and they will begin laying regular eggs very quickly. Some smaller bantam breeds produce small eggs all the time, of course.
Why are chicken eggs sometimes misshapen?
An oddly-shaped egg can be produced for various reasons. It often takes young hens an egg or two before they settle into their regular pattern. Stress in the chicken coop can lead to misshapen eggs too. This is usually due to a hen having the urge to lay but finding her space in the laying box occupied by another bird.
Misshapen eggs can be elongated, or they may have a thin, pointy end. Sometimes they are rough-looking, with craggy rather than smooth surfaces, or with thicker bands of shell running across their middles. In all these cases, the egg inside is unaffected and is perfectly safe to eat.
A ball-shaped egg is usually a sign of slight calcium deficiency. The round shape requires less calcium than a normal oval egg.
Are oddly-shaped chicken eggs a sign of illness?
Infectious bronchitis can lead to misshapen eggs. An infected hen will stop producing eggs for a few days or will only lay intermittently. The eggs she lays will have thin, wrinkled or rough-shelled eggs, and the white of the egg will be watery. It is also common for the affected eggs to have lighter-coloured shells than usual. The condition is rare, and chickens can be vaccinated against it.
Laryngotracheitis is another illness linked to egg abnormalities, and this, too, can be prevented through vaccination. Any ailment can cause a hen to become stressed, so, in theory, any illness can result in misshapen eggs.
Why do chickens lay freckled eggs?
Some breeds always lay speckled eggs. However, if a hen that typically produces plain eggs lays speckled ones, there are various possible causes. She may have been shocked or stressed in some way while the egg was forming, or she may have developed a quirk in the pigment-producing part of her egg-laying system.
Freckling is often the result of excess calcium production, sometimes associated with the ‘end of season’ laying at the beginning of winter. On some eggs, there is a marbled pattern rather than an area of freckles.
The speckling is usually smooth, but it sometimes manifests as raised blotches of excess calcium. These can be spots or wormlike strands, and they often occur as single spots on an otherwise standard egg. This may be linked to dehydration, so make sure your hens have enough water, and that a timid hen isn’t being bullied away from it all the time.
Why do chicken eggshells sometimes have a white ring?
Viewed from the side, an eggshell with this peculiar oddity has a thick white ring, looking uncannily like an x-ray of the egg that lies beneath. It is usually caused by an interruption in the formation of the eggshell, caused by stress or by a second egg entering the internal production line.
The second egg produced in this process will usually have a flattened side, as it has bumped into the first egg during the early stages of shell formation and has been ‘squashed’ into an odd, flattened shape.
Why are chicken eggs sometimes wrinkled?
A wrinkly eggshell can be a sign of stress or illness, but is usually a hereditary condition. Some older hens begin to lay wrinkly eggs too. The wrinkles are often deep grooves, giving a very misshapen egg and making this perhaps the weirdest of all the egg oddities.
The wrinkles sometimes look like a series of cracks in the shell. This results from an egg cracking during calcium formation, and the cracks are the chicken’s repairs, laying calcium over the cracks. Once again, the underlying cause is usually stress or illness, although sometimes it is simply the result of a second egg ‘crashing into’ the first due to an over-productive system.
Why do some chicken eggs have soft shells?
A soft shell is a sign of calcium deficiency or a lack of vitamin D. Low calcium can be prevented by making sure the hens have a high quality feed and don’t gorge on kitchen scraps (which may fill them up so much that they don’t bother eating the layers pellets). Low vitamin D can be prevented by sunlight – not always easy in the colder months of the year!
Other possible causes include heat stress, too much salt or too much spinach. When feeding chickens kitchen scraps, avoid giving them anything that is salted.
The extreme version of the soft-shelled egg is the egg with no shell at all. If a hen lays a shell-less egg, it should be cleaned up at once, as it will soon become rotten in the warm coop.
Weird eggs are usually one-offs, and they are nothing to worry about. If a hen lays an odd egg two days in a row, it is worth looking at possible underlying causes. Diet and stress are the chief culprits.
In terms of culinary uses, don’t worry. With the exception of soft-shelled and shell-less eggs, all these egg oddities are safe to eat.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Like all social animals, rabbits have a ‘pecking order’. Young rabbits who have grown up together will figure this out without you even noticing. However, if you are introducing rabbits to each other for the first time, they will have to size each other up and establish which one is going to be dominant in the relationship.
The rabbits will not usually sort out this hierarchy by fighting, but display physical behavior that is the bunny equivalent of two people showing off. They will chase, groom and bow, and one will try to mount the other (a sign of dominance in many mammals).
Why do rabbits groom each other?
On the surface, it may look as if a grooming session is an act of love and friendship. In reality, it is an act of subservience. The bunnies who do the grooming are letting the dominant rabbit know that they accept their place lower down in the social hierarchy. Mutual grooming will sometimes occur, but if a rabbit is licking and grooming another bunny’s ears, eyes and forehead, it means they are acknowledging the dominant rabbit’s place at the top of the pecking order.
The dominant rabbit will often request the grooming by approaching another rabbit and lowering its head. This may look like an act of submission, but it is the exact opposite. The rabbit with the lowered head is saying “here’s my head – get grooming!”
Why do rabbits bow to each other?
A bowing rabbit is asking to be groomed. The dominant bunny will approach its companion head-on, often touching noses. Its ears will be raised, and it will sometimes nudge the other rabbit’s chin to prompt the grooming.
Early in a bunny relationship, before the pecking order has been properly established, the rabbit being bowed to may not take the hint and, instead, will bow back. There will be several bows from each rabbit before the matter is settled, and it may even end in a brief tussle. A rabbit who wants to be groomed tends to insist on it!
Why do rabbits ‘flatten’?
Flattening involves crouching low on the ground, ears down. That latter detail differentiates it from a bow, as the flat ears indicate submissiveness. Rabbits will sometimes perform this action if they feel threatened by another rabbit in the run, and it will usually defuse any potential confrontation straight away.
A dominant rabbit will occasionally approach the ‘flattened’ bunny and lick its forehead. This is an acknowledgement of the submissive gesture, and it means the other bunny can relax.
Why do rabbits chase each other?
Chasing has two meanings. It can be sexual behaviour, with a male chasing a female, or it can be another sign of dominance.
Chasing occurs quite frequently when rabbits are first introduced to each other. When the hierarchy has been sorted out, it becomes far less frequent. However, an un-neutered male will often chase habitually to let the other rabbits know he is the dominant one. Some occasional bullies enjoy chasing, too. Unless one particular rabbit is being repeatedly targeted and is becoming stressed, or any individual is hurt as a result of a vigorous chase, you should simply accept it as part of the pecking order.
Sometimes the chase will manifest as a circling motion, with the dominant rabbit literally running rings around the subservient one. This will often culminate in mounting.
Why do non-mating rabbits mount each other?
Dominance is not automatically based on gender, and a female is just as likely to mount a male as vice versa. It’s a bit like wrestling, where the person who has thrown their opponent to the ground has won that particular round. The rabbit that has been mounted will not always submit after a single mount, and the tables may be turned a few times before the dominance is formally established between the two bunnies.
Once rabbits have settled in together, the mounting will usually end, although some boisterous males seem to persist with the mounting habit. As long as the submissive rabbit accepts this as part of the social setup, it will not lead to further aggression. Occasionally, you might notice the dominant rabbit mounting just to remind the other bunny that they are the boss.
If the submissive rabbit appears to be distressed and is trying to escape, and is being pursued as a result, the animals may have to be separated for a while. Otherwise, it is best to let them resume this behaviour and accept the mounting as a fact of rabbit life.
Introducing new rabbits
New rabbits should be introduced to each other on neutral territory, if possible. If you simply lock a newcomer in an existing rabbit run, it will be bullied by most of the other bunnies, and the dominant one can sometimes inflict injury on the newbie.
If you can take your dominant rabbit with you when choosing the new pet, it will help enormously. You will be able to see how the old rabbit reacts to the new one, and if all is well, they can even travel home together in the same travel crate. This will also help the bonding process, as both rabbits will feel nervous during the journey.
When you get home, let the rabbits settle down together on neutral territory. If all goes well, they can be moved to the run later in the day, with two food bowls. This is the best-case scenario, and it will often be a more drawn-out process getting two bunnies used to each other. You should have a spare run ready for the newbie rabbit, within sight and smell of the established bunny or bunnies.
Let the rabbits in the same enclosure each day for a few hours on neutral territory until they are completely happy together. This may involve several mounting, chasing, grooming and bowing sessions, but the pecking order will be established in the end!
This entry was posted in Pets
Chickens are fascinating creatures, and their eyes, even more so. Here are some amazing facts about chickens’ eyes that you may not have heard before!
Chickens Can See More Colours Than Us
Chickens are tetrachromatic. They can see the colours we see in (red, yellow and blue), but whilst we have three types of cones in our retinas, chickens have four, which allows them to see in ultraviolet light. This gives chickens access to a much wider range of colours and shades than humans.
Chickens Have a Third Eyelid!
Believe it or not, chickens actually have a third eyelid, on each eye! The third eyelid, called the nictitating membrane, horizontally draws across the eye which helps clean, moisten, and further protect the eyes from dirt. The nictitating membrane is transparent in appearance which means that chickens still have the ability to see, even when the third eyelid is closed.
They Can Use Each Eye Independently
Chickens are able to use each of their eyes independently, with a 300 degree field of vision (humans only have 180!), meaning that both of their eyes can focus on different tasks at the same time. This is also known as monocular vision, which amazingly already begins even before a chick’s arrival. When the chick is still in its shell, it turns towards the right to absorb any light and the left side of the shell is covered by their body. When the chick then hatches, nearsightedness develops in their right eye, which will allow the chick to search for food, as the left simultaneously develops farsightedness. This is to help the chick look out for any potential predators. You will probably notice this from when chickens tilt their heads when a hawk flies over.
Chickens Have Terrible Vision in The Dark
Night vision definitely isn’t their strong point! Having descended from dinosaurs many millions of years ago, as opposed to being preyed on by them like other species, chickens had no need to learn how to run and hide in the dark. For this reason however, chickens today require protection at night because just like humans, they’re awake during the day and sleep during the night, and are highly susceptible to predators.
Chicks Have Amazing Eyesight From Birth
When chicks first hatch, they surprisingly have remarkable eyesight, in fact a lot better than humans. From the minute they hatch, chicks are able to detect small items such as grains of food and even have spatial awareness. A human baby however, lacks this ability and does not develop such skills until a few months down the line.
Photo by Andrey Tikhonovskiy on Unsplash
Chickens Rarely Move Their Eyeballs
Chicken eyes have a very limited range of motion and lack the ability to remain focused on an object whilst the rest of their body is moving. This is why you’ll often see chickens walking around, bobbing their heads, whilst facing onwards. It is not so much a case of chickens not being able to actually move their eyes at all, but rather their eyes cannot move quickly enough to process the image in front of them. Instead, chickens will tend to turn their heads when they want to gain better eyesight of something.
Their Eyes Have a Double Cone Structure
The retina of the eye is composed of rods and cones, the rods being to detect light-sensitive motion, and cones to see colour. As we found out earlier, chickens have more types of cones than us, hence why they are able to enter a fourth dimension of colour, which us humans can’t. A double cone retina structure means that a chicken’s eyes are more sensitive to movement. This is advantageous to chickens as it gives them a greater ability to detect motion, which is helpful when it comes to spotting a perceived threat.
Chicken Eyes Make Up 10% of Their Head Mass
That’s quite a lot, considering our eyes only make up for approximately 1% of our head mass! Although it may look humorous, there’s actually a good reason behind it. Having such large eyes helps chickens to see larger and clearer images as they are produced.
Chickens Can Sense Light Through Their Pineal Gland
Light reaches chickens through either their eyes, skulls, or skin, which activates the pineal gland in the brain. The pineal gland, also sometimes referred to as ‘the third eye’, is something else that makes chicken vision oh so interesting. A pineal gland helps chickens to sense daylight, or the lack of, even if they are unable to see with their eyes. This means that even a blind chicken is able to detect lighting or seasonal change!
They Have the Ability to Recognise up to One Hundred Different Faces
They say that elephants never forget but apparently chickens don’t either! Chickens are able to recognize up to one hundred faces, be it other chickens, humans or any other species. They can also amazingly decipher between their positive and negative encounters.
After a few interesting facts, we’re sure that you’ll now know a whole lot more about the amazing subject of chickens’ eyes, that’ll be bound to get you wondering just what’s really going on through the eyes of your chickens!
This entry was posted in Chickens
During their moult, chickens shed their old feathers and grow new ones. They usually stop laying eggs at this time, or reduce their laying rate, and this gives them time to rest and prepare themselves for the next laying season.
Moulting occurs every year, sometimes twice, and it can kick in at any time; although in the UK, most hens moult in late summer. Occasionally, an early moult can be brought on by stress. The process varies in length, but is usually complete after four weeks. In some cases, it can be three months or more before the new coat of feathers is complete.
When Do Chickens Moult?
Young chickens frequently moult as they shed their baby feathers and grow adult ones. The first moult occurs before they are six weeks old, and there is a second moult before nine weeks and a third at 12–13 weeks. The last of these ‘chick moults’ occurs between 20 and 22 weeks, at which point the bird is an adult and is laying eggs. She will moult once or twice every year.
How Do You Know if Your Chicken is Moulting?
Chickens will lose occasional feathers at any time of year, and that’s nothing to worry about. These are the obvious signs of moulting:
- A Messy appearance, with bald spots
- A dull-looking comb and wattles
- A sudden stop to egg production, or a reduction in the usual number of eggs
- An increased appetite, with a hunger for protein (the hen may fight other birds away from food scraps or scratch frantically for bugs and worms)
The moult usually starts at the chicken’s head, and travels via the breast and legs to the tail. By the time the tail is bare, the head feathers have started to regrow.
If a hen is losing feathers and doesn’t grow new ones, there may be a problem with feather mites or some other illness. Watch out for any unusual behaviour in your hens – listlessness or a hunched posture, for example, are signs of an underlying problem. If you are in any doubt about your chickens’ health, speak to your vet.
Similarly, if the laying cycle is severely interrupted and the hen is not laying several days after the end of the moult, contact your vet.
What to give chickens to help with moulting
Moulting is not an illness, so there is no treatment required as such. However, changes to the birds’ usual diet help them through the moult. Their taste for protein will increase during this time, as new feathers need lots of it. Indeed, feather growth will eat up all the usual protein you give your hens.
To add extra protein to the chickens’ diets, give them a feed that is at least 18% protein. It’s best not to give them cooked meats and dairy, as these are very fatty, and all dairy is hard for chickens to digest. Cooked eggs and fish are good protein sources, and if your hens have access to bugs and worms, all the better. Many chicken keepers feed their birds mealworms during the moult, and these are perfect, being high in protein and low in fat. Cooked peas, lentils and beans are good protein sources, too.
To ensure general health and a robust immune system, add some apple cider vinegar to the hens’ water to boost their digestion too. Otherwise, simply continue with the healthy feeding regime, and make sure their diet has plenty of vitamins and minerals.
What to do when your chickens are moulting?
Do not handle your chickens during the moult, and resist the temptation to cover their balding bodies with chicken pullovers or jackets! The hens’ skins are tender and itchy during the moult, as hundreds of pin-feathers are pushing through. Handling them or dressing them up will only add to their irritability!
To ease the hens through their annual feather makeover, make sure they are in a stress-free environment. New birds should not be introduced during the moult, and coop renovations or changes to your henhouse setup should be put on hold until the new feathers are all in place.
Wild chickens were happily moulting for millions of years before we first domesticated them, so this is one of those cases where it is best to let nature take its course. With a little dietary help from their human friends!
This entry was posted in Chickens
World’s heaviest chicken
The heaviest chicken breed, White Sully, was developed on a farm in California. It’s a hybrid breed of large Rhode Island Reds and other heavy breeds. The largest chicken ever recorded was a rooster called Weirdo, and he weighed just over 10kg (22 lb). It is said that he was so aggressive that he killed two cats during his lifetime and seriously hurt a dog that came too close to his territory.
World’s oldest chicken
The current world record holder is Muffy, a Red Quill Muffed American Game hen, who died at the age of 22 in Maryland, USA. One of the more famous old chickens was a Red Pyle chicken called Matilda from Alabama, USA. She was the first hen to receive the title of World’s Oldest Living Chicken from Guinness World Records, and lived for 16 years. Veterinarians said it was likely she lived for so long because she was kept in her owners’ house as a pet, and never laid an egg in her life.
World’s heaviest egg
The heaviest egg ever recorded was laid by a White Leghorn chicken in New Jersey, USA in 1956. It weighed 454g (16 oz), and had both a double yolk and a double shell.
World’s biggest egg
The heaviest egg was however not the biggest egg ever found. Tony Barbouti in Eastwood, Sussex, once found an egg in his coop measuring 23cm (9.1 in) in diameter. It only weighed just over 161g, but certainly gave Barbouti a shock! He later said that the hen was noticeably shocked after having produced the egg, and she walked a bit funny for a few days, but recovered completely.
World’s longest flight
Chickens are not known for their ability to fly. In fact many mean that they can’t technically fly, but only jump high and flap their wings to stay in the air. The longest flight of a chicken that has been recorded is 13 seconds. A different record for the longest distance flown is just under 92m (301 ft). Pretty impressive for a supposedly flightless bird!
World’s most prolific layer
A Prof. Harold V. Bieller conducted experiments with chickens in the late 1970s at the College of Agriculture, University of Missouri. The highest rate of egg-laying he found was by a White Leghorn in 1979. She laid a whopping 371 eggs in 364 days!
World’s most prolific mother hen
Northern Irish farmer John Dolan has got two hens that have made it into the Guinness Book of Records. His hen Sally entered by having two sets of chicks in just 55 days, the latest of which produced 11 live chicks from 12 eggs. Chickens normally stay with their young for at least three months, but Sally started laying again after only 21 days. John’s other record breaking chicken Marmalade made it into the Book of Records by hatching a remarkable 107 chicks in two years!
This entry was posted in Chickens
It is a common myth that dogs only see in black and white. This is not the case, although their colour vision is limited compared to humans’.
The average person can see ‘all the colours of the rainbow’, from red to violet. However, dogs don’t have the same light receptors in their eyes as we do, and to them the rainbow is missing the red half of the spectrum. They can, however, see the yellows and blues. Indeed, a rainbow, to a dog’s eyes, is a series of yellows and blues of different shades.
The ‘missing’ reds and oranges will appear to dogs as the various shades of light brown labelled ‘tan’. The greens in grass, trees and other plants are also tan to a dog. That bright red ball lying in the lush green grass may be very clear to you, but to your pet dog, the ball and the grass are both brown. Buy your dog a yellow or blue toy, however, and it will be as visible to your dog as it is to you.
Luckily for dogs, they rely on their sense of smell more than sight, so locating that ball in the grass won’t be so tricky, no matter what colour the toy is.
Do dogs see colours in their beds and toys?
As long as you don’t decorate your dog’s crate, Fido Nook or other cosy corner with reds, oranges and greens (which will all appear brown to a dog), they will appreciate a splash of colour. There’s nothing wrong with shades of tan either!
There is no evidence, either, that a dog prefers a blue or yellow ball to a red or green one. They will, however, be likelier to lose track of a light brown ball in the light brown grass.
How do we know dogs can’t see certain colours?
In the earliest research into animal vision, dogs were taught to choose a disc that was a different colour from the others by touching the odd-one-out with their noses. If they chose the right one, they were given a treat – always a great incentive, as any dog owner knows! Sometimes, however, even the most well-trained dogs struggled to identify the odd-one-out. This told the researchers that the dogs were unable to distinguish between certain colours. When the discs were all red, apart from one green one, all the dogs could see were light browns!
Scientists are also able to use electroretinography to measure how animals’ eyes react to light. It was soon confirmed that key ‘cone cells’ responsible for registering colour in human brains were absent in dogs. Humans have three types of cone receptor, while dogs only have two.
Do dogs have good eyesight?
It may come as a surprise to many people that dogs, in addition to their poorer colour vision, cannot see as clearly as humans. Beyond a certain distance, everything becomes blurry for them. They have a genetic short-sightedness that prevents them from seeing distant objects clearly. The degree of short-sightedness varies between dog breeds, and it comes as no surprise to learn that so-called ‘sight hounds’ such as the Afghan Hound, Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound and Whippet have better eyesight than Chihuahuas, Pugs and Bulldogs.
However, dogs’ eyesight comes into its own at dawn and dusk, when they can see just as well as they do in the daytime. Like cats, they have retinas that function well in poor light. The shape of their eyes’ light receptor cells and a reflective tissue layer at the back of the eye combine to create this low-light supervision.
And yes, that reflective layer is why dogs’ (and cats’) eyes always have a ‘red eye’ effect in photographs, and in car headlights. No wolf pack in a horror film would be complete without those glowing eyes!
Dogs also have a broader field of vision than humans, as their eyes are more on the side of the head than ours. This enables them to take in details that we would either miss or would be half-glimpsed things seen ‘in the corner of the eye’.
Why do dogs see less colour than humans?
Dogs evolved as hunters, just like modern wolves. On the one hand, this might make you assume that fantastic vision would be essential, as it is, say, in a bird of prey. However, the difference between a dog and an eagle is that the dog evolved to hunt at night, or at dawn and dusk. A hunter doesn’t need full-colour vision at night, as colours simply disappear when the sun goes down. The key skill is to detect motion and to see things vividly in the half-light. In these respects, dogs’ eyes excel, and their eyes are super-sensitive to movement.
Humans, in contrast, evolved as daytime hunters, and that’s why we have better colour vision. At night, our eyes are hopeless without some kind of artificial light. At dawn and dusk, our brains have great difficulty identifying moving objects with certainty. That’s why ghosts, goblins and other supposedly supernatural sightings occur at these times of day – they are a function of our brain trying to busk in the half-light!
Human vision, then, contains more colour than a dog’s. However, we are certainly not top dogs when it comes to colour vision in the wider animal world. Many insects, including bees and butterflies, as well as many fish and crustaceans, have far more light receptors than we do and can see far more colours in the rainbow and the world around them.
But a dog’s vision is still perfect – for a dog!
This entry was posted in Dogs
Keeping your pets and their homes clean and hygienic is one of the best ways to prevent illness or distress. It’s obvious when your Guinea Pig is happy and in good health, as they will be running, playing, chattering and acting as they usually do. However, if your Guinea Pig seems to be under the weather, but a trip to the vet has identified no underlying problems, this could be a sign that better hygiene in the hutch and run is required.
A healthy Guinea Pig is a relatively clean animal that relies heavily on the nature and safety of their habitat. The cage, hutch and enclosure are the best places to start when looking at ways to improve your pets’ environment. Depending on the the material your enclosure is made of, you will need specific products to clean it. Using the right sort of cleaner will ensure you get the most out of every home and piece of play equipment you buy for your Guinea Pig.
How should I clean Guinea Pig hutches?
If your Guinea Pigs live in a cage or caged hutch, a pet-safe liquid spray disinfectant is perfect for cleaning the cage and any plastic base or play equipment. It’s a good idea to soak the cage in water and let it dry before disinfecting, as this will loosen any large pieces of dirt and allow the spray to do its job! If regular disinfecting isn’t doing the trick and the hutch retains unpleasant odours, try using hutch cleaning granules, which have been specifically designed to eliminate smells from your pets home.
How should I clean wooden hutches?
If your Guinea Pigs lives in a wooden hutch, you need to disinfect it as you would with a regular cage, and it’s also a good idea to clean it every month or so with hot soapy water and scrub the wooden surfaces. Try to minimise soaking the wood by squeezing out most of the water from your sponge before cleaning. If the hutch contains any fleece liners, these are usually machine washable, and it’s good practice to give them a clean more regularly than you would the rest of the hutch. Regardless of which type of hutch you use, always let it dry thoroughly after cleaning before reintroducing the Guinea Pigs.
Does my Guinea Pig need a bath?
If your Guinea Pig’s coat is in need of a good clean, there are some important things to bear in mind. Bathing Guinea Pigs in water can actually be bad for their health – Guinea Pigs naturally maintain a good level of cleanliness through self-grooming or group-grooming. As a result, they can develop dry skin if they are bathed in water. Instead, you could invest in a grooming kit. This is a particularly good idea if your Guinea Pig lives alone, as you can take the place of their fellow Guinea Pigs in maintaining their lovely coats.
If a Guinea Pig coat becomes matted with dirt, you may need to use a chemical-free wipe to slightly wet the fur, enabling you to clean it thoroughly. If your Guinea Pig’s coat gets wet in the process of cleaning, make sure they have plenty of blankets and warm toys to surround themselves with afterwards.
How often should I replace Guinea Pig equipment?
Everything you buy for your Guinea Pigs has a different lifespan, but it is often a good idea to replace items before they deteriorate completely. A typical pet’s water bottle could last many years without breaking, but replacing it every year or so is a good idea. This is because repeated wear and tear of the plastic bottles can result in the animals ingesting plastic, in small pieces or as microplastics in the water itself.
Likewise, if you feel that any piece of equipment is no longer possible to fully clean, even after a thorough attempt, it is a good idea to replace it. Your pet would appreciate having something new to play with – although you might want to think twice before throwing out a favourite toy that the Guinea Pigs have had since they were very small, as sentiment is just as important to Guinea Pigs as it is to us!
Should Guinea Pig teeth be brushed?
Guinea Pig teeth are naturally either yellow or orange, so there is no need to worry about struggling to find the smallest possible toothbrush to get them white! However, if you notice that your Guinea Pig’s teeth have grown very long, or they’re having trouble eating, it’s a good idea to check with your vet if any action needs to be taken. Equally, you should consult the vet if you’re concerned about the length of the toenails on your Guinea Pigs.
Although there is no way to ensure your Guinea Pigs will always stay healthy, paying attention to their hygiene and nutrition will set your pets up for long and healthy lives. Doing plenty of research on your Guinea Pigs is one of the best things you can do as a pet owner. Guinea Pigs, for example, need lots of vitamin C, and they have been known to lack this essential nutrient in their diets. They will benefit from the occasional use of supplements.
Keeping up to date with the latest research and advice on Guinea Pig health has never been easier than on the Omlet Blog, so be sure to keep checking back in for new articles!
This entry was posted in Guinea Pigs
If you share your home with a dog, it’s important to make sure the space is just as comfortable, hygienic and safe for them as it is for you. These 5 simple tips are a good first step to a dog-friendly home…
Choose strong, easy clean materials
This is a simple idea but one that will save you a lot of cleaning time and expense in the long run. Opt for washable sofa covers wherever possible and steer clear of materials that can easily be scratched or will likely attract loose fur. The same goes for flooring – choose something easy to mop or wipe after a muddy walk! A machine washable dog bed like Topology will also help to minimise dirt and fur in your home, as you can quickly unzip and machine wash the topper, making maintaining hygiene much easier.
Most owners of excitable dogs will be well practiced in drink-saving reactions to prevent a whipping tail causing carnage. It’s important to keep breakable or potentially harmful items up high, like candles and glasses, not just for your sake but also your dog’s safety. Opt for higher side tables rather than low coffee tables for tea and snacks to move the temptation out of sight!
Built in, discreet crates
Crates aren’t the most attractive pet item but puppies, rescues and anxious dogs often really appreciate the calm, safe space to relax. Consider a built-in crate or pen under the stairs or in a side unit with surface above to better utilise the space in your home, like the Fido Studio – the optional wardrobe is also handy storage for their dog toys and treats.
Match their bed to your other home furnishings
Your dog’s bed doesn’t have to stand out awkwardly in your home, and matching the colour of the dog bed to an accent colour in the room can be a great way to integrate their bed with your interior style, and really make it part of the home. From bright Cherry Red to deep Plum Purple, sunny Mellow Yellow to soft Sky Blue, you can find a memory foam bed to match your home in the Bolster Dog Bed range. Plus, why not raise your dog’s bed with designer feet for an impressive, stylish touch?
Safe house plants out of reach
You can still enjoy house plants, but make sure they’re a safe species for dogs, for example, spider plants or boston ferns. If your dog loves mud, you might also prefer to keep houseplants up out of reach of digging paws!
What are your top dog-friendly interior tips? Tag us in your home pet pics on Instagram!
This entry was posted in Dogs
Before introducing new birds to an established flock, they should be quarantined. You will also have to quarantine chickens that have fallen ill or shows signs of illness.
The reason for separating new birds from the established flock is eight parts sensible to two parts paranoia. If you source the new chickens from a reputable supplier or have hatched the birds yourself, there is little chance of the birds harbouring illnesses. However, the potential problems you are guarding against are not easy to spot. Chickens may have internal or external parasites, or the bacteria and viruses that cause disease may be lurking out of sight.
Quarantine significantly lowers the risk of the new chickens spreading parasites or infection in your established flock. In the age of Covid-19, the idea of quarantining has negative associations with isolation and inconvenience. With new chickens, all you’re doing is giving them some space away from the main flock. Other than that, it’s chicken business as usual!
What is quarantine, and when should I quarantine my flock?
Quarantine simply means separating one or more chickens from the rest of the flock. The aim is to minimise the danger of illness spreading between ill and/or new chickens and the existing flock.
All new birds should be put into quarantine. Chickens bought at a show or fair will have been in close proximity with lots of other birds. Chickens from reputable suppliers are not immune to disease either, and even a new-hatched chick may harbour illness, as certain bacteria can penetrate eggshells and infect unhatched birds.
Why do chickens need quarantining?
Bird diseases and parasites spread quickly, and by the time you spot the symptoms, it’s often too late to prevent the other chickens from falling ill. Stressed birds are particularly prone to illness, and a new hen will always be a stressed hen. There’s nothing you can do about this, as it’s a symptom of moving from the world she knew previously to the world of your backyard chickens.
A bird that falls ill needs isolating from the rest of the flock to minimise the risk of the illness spreading. If the issue is parasites – lice, fleas or worms – by the time you spot the problem it will probably be present in every bird, so in these cases, you need to buy the appropriate parasite treatment rather than quarantining single birds.
How long do new chickens need to be quarantined?
New birds should be quarantined for at least four weeks. If there are any illnesses, they will show in the first week, following the stress associated with the move. Give the new birds a thorough health check every few days.
In the final week of quarantine, keepers with a larger existing flock often introduce an older bird – perhaps one that has stopped laying – into the quarantine shed. If at the end of this week the introduced hen is healthy, all is well. If there is any disease lurking unseen, the older bird will begin to look unwell. This is the so-called ‘Canary in the mine’ method, and not everyone will be happy putting an older bird at risk. However, the main point is that you are 90% sure that there is no problem in the quarantined flock by this stage.
Note: bird flu, or avian influenza, has an incubation period of around 21 days, so a hen that was infected on the day you brought her home will not show symptoms for three weeks. This is one of the reasons why the quarantine period is so long.
Setting up a quarantine area for new chickens
There is a simple checklist that gives the quarantine the best chance of being successful:
1. Give the new birds a physical check, looking for signs of lice or fleas. Check the consistency of their droppings and their general posture, referring to our guide to healthy chickens for reference.
2. Make sure the enclosure and coop have everything the new birds need, including a roosting perch, an egg-laying box, fresh food and water, and shelter from the elements.
3. Ensure that no feathers, sawdust, dander, food or water from the quarantined new birds enter the main flock’s enclosure.
4. Don’t wear the same shoes and clothes when tending the healthy and the ill birds. Infection can spread quickly, especially on your hands and the soles of your shoes.
5. The new birds should be kept as far from the other chickens as possible. Ideally, they should be at least 10 metres (33 feet) from the main flock, and downwind as much as possible. However, this will not always be practical, and simply keeping the new chickens in a separate enclosure will be as far as many owners can go. If there is an enclosed building to keep them in, that’s perfect. Keeping the new birds upwind of the existing flock is even more important in these close-proximity set-ups.
What to do if the quarantined chickens fall ill
If any of the new birds become ill, you will need to identify the illness. If you are uncertain, call in expert help to assist with the diagnosis. Depending on the problem, the new chickens will need to be treated and isolated for another month or so. If the illness turns out to be avian flu or another lethal disease, the birds will have to be culled. In the case of the bird flu, check out our bird flu article for the latest advice.
Quarantine of new hens is a better-safe-than-sorry routine that ensures health and happiness in your ever-changing flock of chickens. It also has the advantage of acclimating newcomers to the sights and sounds of your garden before they mingle with the existing flock.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Exercise is not always easy. You have to motivate yourself, find time and keep the pace. This is why it can be necessary for some people to be accompanied in this process. And who better to be your sports coach than your dog!
In a previous article we saw that it is possible to do yoga with your dog. Today we would like to show you why your dog is your best partner to reach your exercise goals.
In the current climate, where working from home has taken over from office work, finding the time and motivation to exercise and go outside has become a real challenge, and as a result many see a decline in their physical and mental health.
Lack of exercise motivation is harming our pets too. Various studies on pet health have found anywhere from 25% – 50% of dogs are considered overweight.
It has never been more important to get your daily exercise to feel good mentally and physically.
Resolutions and intentions are good, but actions are better. Deciding to turn off the TV and put on a pair of running sneakers is much more complicated than it sounds. Being accompanied in your training can be the ideal way to find the necessary motivation! Here’s why your dog is the best workout partner you could have…
5 reasons to get out and do some exercise with your dog
1- Dogs are very energetic and will always be happy to go out
Most dog breeds are happy to go for a walk and are excited to have a run around, so will always be in a good mood to go outside. It’s not like calling a friend to go for a workout and having them be unmotivated or in a bad mood, which will eventually demotivate you.
Dogs are habit-forming animals. If you regularly repeat the action at the same time for several days, it will become a natural ritual for your dog. This is ideal if you are demotivated but don’t want to disappoint your dog. You will still put on your sneakers to please your little companion, imposing a certain regularity on you.
2- They have a regular pace
As mentioned above, they are consistent pets and function very much by habit. But beyond that, apart from when they are ill, they keep a certain pace and will always have a maximum of energy to expend.
Having an active pace allows you to optimize your training and get great results. It is much more fun to follow your dog’s pace than to watch your watch! If you are too slow, your dog will tend to stop. So don’t hesitate to find a pace that suits you both!
3- You will always be safe with them
Running or walking alone is not always ideal in terms of safety! Sometimes it’s late in the day and the simple fact of being alone and feeling vulnerable, can be demotivating. The presence of your dog can therefore be a real comfort for your daily outings. A dog has extra senses that will make them react if you are ever in some sort of danger. You should trust your dog’s senses, while also keeping an eye on him so that your dog doesn’t get hurt either.
4- They are always available, there is no need to wait for them
The most complicated thing about daily physical activity with someone is finding the right time and agreeing on schedules. There is always someone who can’t or would rather be an hour earlier or an hour later than the right time for you! With your dog this is not an issue. Your dog will always be available, happy and motivated to come and roam around with you!
5- They don’t ask for anything in return, only love and good times by your side!
Dogs will never ask for anything in return for doing sports with you. On the contrary, they will be happy to have spent some quality time with you! They are the best coaches you can have. They don’t yell at you (maybe a couple of barks) and you don’t spend money like you would with an experienced athletic trainer.
What discipline should I do with my dog?
There are many ways to exercise with your dog. It can be anything from walking to fitness training!
Have you ever heard of canicross? This discipline is an athletic sport where the owner is attached to his dog by a harness. The dog’s traction allows for long strides. It is a bonding moment between the dog and its owner through intense physical effort. This activity is open to all dogs!
Riding a bike with your dog is also possible! There is equipment that allows you to practice this activity safely with your pet.
Lewis Hamilton’s best training partner is his dog!
Multiple F1 champion Lewis Hamilton has released a video of himself training with Roscoe, his dog:
Every time you go out with your dog, higher energy and good vibes are guaranteed!
This entry was posted in Dogs
Whether in our gardens or in our homes, plants not only enhance the overall appearance of a space, but they can also help boost moods, increase creativity and reduce stress. Although we don’t always consider the dangerous side of plants, it’s important to know that some plants can be toxic to your cat if ingested. If you decide to add a touch of greenery to your home, make sure you pay particular attention to the choice of plants and ensure they’re safe for your feline friend.
In order to help you decide which plant will sit proudly on your coffee table, we’ve compiled a list of 10 plants that you can add to your home without hesitation.
Why is the choice of plant important for your pet?
Cats tend to eat plants. This behaviour is quite common in cats for a number of different reasons such as boredom, enjoying the texture, the need for certain fibres, and more.
By ingesting certain plants into his body, your cat may also try to eliminate and get rid of the hairballs swallowed during his daily grooming by vomiting.
It is therefore essential to choose suitable plants, and if you do not want your cat to touch some of your decorative plants, why not dedicate a corner just for them?
10 non-toxic plants for cats
Whether it’s wheat, oats, barley or rye, grasses are not toxic to your cat. It is safe to approach them. Your cat can therefore play with Deschampsia cespitosa, Briza media, Pennisetum villosum or Stipa tenuifolia.
If you observe cats in the wild, you can see that they easily go for natural grasses.
You can leave your thyme, sage, lemon balm or valerian lying around without worrying about your cat’s health. Valerian is often prescribed by vets for stressed cats. However, if you want to keep them for cooking in the evening for your lunch, don’t leave them lying around for too long, you might find them in your pet’s tummy. You can, however, have fun hiding them in your cat’s toys to stimulate your furry friend’s senses.
Don’t forget mint, which you can place in your cat’s litter box to reduce odours.
This plant has different names but it is the same plant: Catnip (Nepeta cataria). This plant has a euphoric effect on cats due to the smell it gives off. In the presence of this plant, cats tend to rub it, roll around in it… If they meow, purr, lick it, it’s perfectly normal! No need to worry yet, as this is still a plant that is harmless to your pet despite the effects it has on him. 2 out of 3 cats are attracted to this irresistible plant.
As well as decorating your home, papyrus is a plant that will entertain and amuse your cat with its drooping leaves. It is also extremely effective in cleansing your cat’s body.
Contrary to what some people think, heather is not a harmful plant for cats.
Lavender is a plant that tends to calm your cat. In addition to smelling good and being able to camouflage odours (especially litter), lavender is said to have soothing properties.
Germander is a very popular plant with our cats. They tend to chew and rub themselves on it.
This plant is harmless to cats. If cats do eat it, don’t worry, it is full of nutrients. Callisia turtle is rich in minerals and calcium.
Similar to humans, chamomile is recommended for managing your pet’s stress. It can therefore be interesting to give your cat chamomile when travelling by car or train, which can be very stressful for your cat. The various properties of chamomile will soothe, relax and calm your cat.
Used as a disinfectant for wounds and other sores, goldenseal is an interesting plant to have on hand to treat everyday ailments. It is known for its soothing, disinfecting and healing properties. Moreover, it is not toxic for your pet.
Plants to avoid for your cat
There are many plants that are toxic to animals and therefore to cats. If you have a cat in your home, you should be aware of which plants are toxic to furry friend.
Indoor and outdoor plants to avoid are dieffenbachia, lily of the valley, lily, ficus, azalea, anthurium, daffodil, oleander, holly and mistletoe, poinsettia, yuccas, amaryllis… This list is not exhaustive and if you have any doubts before buying a plant do not hesitate to search on the internet, ask your vet for advice or ask the seller.
If your cat ingests or comes into contact with any of these plants, do not hesitate to call or take your cat directly to the vet. The consequences can be severe.
This entry was posted in Cats
Keeping chickens is a wonderful way to educate children about the lifecycle of animals and show them the many benefits of keeping any farm animal. It’s not just the never-ending supply of eggs on toast that children will enjoy – keeping chickens is a rewarding experience that will teach children of all ages the value of animal life and companionship.
Learning to handle your chickens
If you choose to buy your chickens when they are still chicks, there’s a better chance of children forming bonds with them. Handling chicks regularly is easy and great fun for children, a surefire way to make them feel comfortable and confident around the hens. Some chicken breeds – the Silkie and Sussex, for example – actually enjoy being occasionally pet, not unlike cats! Always remind your kids to be gentle with the birds, though, whether chicks or adults. Even a ‘tame’ hen should be approached slowly and with caution and respect – sudden moves trigger a chicken’s instinct to flap, squawk and panic!
It’s important that children learn to wash their hands whenever they’ve been touching the chickens, or after washing and cleaning the coop or feeding the hens. Chickens, just like us, have all kinds of bacteria which are healthy for them, but not necessarily for us!
Daily chicken activities
Chickens need tending every day, but they are very undemanding as pets. This is a great combination for kids, as it teaches them about routine and allows them to enjoy time with the chickens without feeling it’s too much of a chore.
Getting kids involved in the daily activities that keep chickens happy and healthy is fun and beneficial in giving children a sense of responsibility. The first job of the day is opening up the coop. Children love getting out into the garden after breakfast, and once they’ve refilled the feed and water bowls, it’s time to open the coop and let the chickens into the enclosure. Again, these are simple but meaningful tasks that children will enjoy.
Healthy chickens eat and drink lots in a day, so ask your children to check out our guide on Feeding and Watering Your Chickens to turn them into instant experts!
Cleaning out the chicken coop is probably a job for children of 11+, but consider asking a young child to help out too. They can certainly assist with putting new bedding and toys into the coop once the cleaning is complete. It can be fun setting up your chickens’ coop in new and different ways, and you can really tell when they love their homes!
Children love going into the chicken coop to find freshly laid eggs, and if it’s in time for breakfast, that’s even better! You could teach your child to collect and (if necessary) gently clean the egg, and if they are yet to learn any cooking skills, a boiled egg is a great place to start! Perhaps soon you’ll be getting breakfast in bed…
Teaching your children responsibility
Owning chickens is a great way to teach children responsibility. By looking after hens, a child can learn that a little hard work and reliability puts food on the table – literally, in this case!
Having a pet is sometimes people’s only reason to go outside first thing in the morning, and any pet owner would tell you that this improves their lives in countless ways. Just like walking a dog, going out into the backyard to feed the chickens can be a fun way to introduce routine, responsibility and regular fresh air into your kids’ lives.
Get your kids involved in choosing the chicken breed
If you want a friendly hen for your kids, Silkies are an excellent choice, as they are known for their affectionate nature. Other child-friendly breeds include Australorp, Cochin, Orpington, Plymouth Rock, Sussex and Wyandotte.
For more information on how to get children involved with chicken-keeping, including which breeds to choose, check out our article on why Children love chicken keeping.
Tameness isn’t guaranteed in any hen, though, and the most important thing is ‘socializing’ them from – i.e. handling them – from a young age. If children spend time with the hens as soon as they arrive in the coop, they’ll be well on the way to making a feathered friend for life.
Whichever breed you choose, getting your children involved in the decision will help them feel responsible and connected with their chickens from day one. And then there’s all the fun of choosing names for the hens!
Having fun with your chickens at Easter
There are many Easter traditions that involve chicken eggs, the ever-popular egg hunt being the most obvious example. Try hiding eggs that your chickens have laid themselves – it’s lots of fun and a good way of working up an appetite before an egg-based breakfast!
Another Easter tradition is the painting of boiled eggs, which is a great way to introduce children to the weirder world of traditional art. And why not go a step further and go egg-rolling – another fine old British tradition! Find a hill and roll your painted eggs down the hill – the last one to crack and release its hard-boiled yolk wins! You’ll sometimes find an egg that seems unbreakable, no matter how many times it’s rolled – the challenge then becomes trying to break it, by throwing it as high as possible!
So, whether it’s using eggs for cakes or quiches, rolling hard-boiled eggs down a hill, or just spending meaningful social time with the chickens, there are loads of reasons why hens make great pets for children!
This entry was posted in Chickens
As we head into summer and the weather begins to warm up, you might be wondering how you can help your chickens keep cool in the hotter months. Get prepared now and catch up with our previous blog posts on keeping happy and healthy hens during summer below…
7 Ways to Help Your Chickens Stay Cool This Summer
Did you know, that chickens can’t sweat? Instead, chickens use their legs, combs and wattles to lead heat away from their bodies. They also pant and spread their wings in order to get some air through their feathers. But what can you do to help?
From water to dust baths, here’s 7 simple but effective tips to help your chickens stay cool in the hot weather…
10 Things Not to Do in Summer if You’re a Chicken Keeper
From 7 things you should do, to 10 things you shouldn’t do this summer if you’re a chicken keeper! This advice is just as important as the tips above for ensuring a comfortable environment in the warmer weather, and also preventing your chickens from overheating.
How to Protect Your Chickens from Red Mite
Red mites, or Dermanyssus gallinae, are without a doubt backyard chicken keepers’ worst enemies! They are nocturnal creatures living in cracks and crevices of the coop, and they only come out at night to feed on chicken blood. Most long term chicken keepers will have encountered these parasites, and can confirm that they are more destructive and difficult to get rid of than all other pests combined.
Learn how to treat and prevent red mite infestations in your coop to keep your chickens happy this summer.
How the Eglu Keeps Chickens Cool
Traditionally chicken coops and rabbit hutches have been made from wood. This has its advantages: it’s an easy material to work with, it’s customisable and it looks attractive. However, when it comes to coping with the weather, it can leave a lot to be desired. Wood is not a very good thermal insulator, meaning if it’s hot outside the temperature will transfer through to the inside quickly.
If you’re using a wooden coop, it might be a good time to consider upgrading to a better insulated and ventilated house before the worst of the hot weather hits. Learn how an Eglu keeps chickens cool in this blog post.
This entry was posted in Chickens
A dog who has been taught positive behaviour will be your best friend – fun, affectionate and reliable. It’s straightforward teaching your dog this canine version of positive thinking, but it won’t happen unless you lead the way.
There are many ways of teaching a dog the rights and wrongs of living in the human world, and that extends to how they interact with other dogs and the world around them. In this article, we reveal the five rules of thumb for all dog owners – whether you’re training an adult dog or a puppy.
Encouraging Positive Behaviour in Puppies
Puppies recognise when we’re pleased or displeased. It’s all part of their instincts, and in the wild this instinct helped their wolf ancestors find their place in the pack very quickly. Learning their place in the big wide world is all about positive reinforcement.
1. Puppy Treats. Dogs of all ages love food and will put lots of effort into doing what you want them to do as long a there’s a yummy treat at the end of it! This means treat-based training can be used for everything from toilet training to basic obedience training and that all-important early socialisation. The message here is simple and timeless – do this right, and you’ll get a treat!
2. Affection. This is arguably even better than a food treat! Bonding with a puppy involves physical contact in the form of belly-rubs, back stroking and lots of gentle words of affection and encouragement.
3. Fun and games. Tug-of-war, fetch and simply running around the garden with you are games that puppies love. What’s more, they strengthen the bond and love between you and your pet, and that’s the perfect groundwork for training and encouraging positive behaviour.
4. A trip to a favourite place. This is a great treat for dogs, and can be as simple as a trip to the park, or perhaps to a favourite street for an on-lead walk, or maybe a shop that sells some of those yummy treats! If this is being done as a reward for good behaviour, make sure your puppy knows it by telling them what a good boy/girl they are as you put the lead on or get into the car!
5. Puppy playdates. Starting these early is a great way to socialise your puppy, and that provides the basis for all the positive behaviour training. Young dogs love meeting each other – it’s not going to be a quiet morning out with your furry friend, but it’s one that will give him or her essential social skills.
Encouraging Positive Behaviour in Adult Dogs
The basics are simple. Positive reinforcement rewards a dog for good behaviour and ignores, rather than punishes, undesirable behaviour. Punishment will only lead to confusion and fear in your dog, reducing your chances of achieving the full benefits of positive-behaviour training.
Here are the five ways to make everything go smoothly, no matter which dog breed you have.
1. Keep it simple. One-word commands are better than complex ones. We’re talking here about sit, come, sat, etc. Save the long-winded exchanges for praise and affection! A training session based on simple commands and treats is a great start for encouraging positive behaviour. Which brings us to…
2. Treats. Just like puppies, adult dogs will be well and truly ‘reinforced’ if treats are involved. Some breeds are more food-obsessed than others, but all types of dog will quickly learn that good behaviour results – at least in the early days of training – in a yummy treat.
3. Quality time. Dogs are social animals by instinct, and they will thrive in human company. Once you and your pet are the best of friends, the positive behaviour training will be much easier. If there’s any nervousness or standoffishness in your dog, they will be less able to take on board the things you’re trying to teach them. So, keep up the contact, and play with them every day.
4. Make it fun. A long session of ‘sit, lie down, stay, come’, etc. will soon become boring for a dog. A short session of command-based training followed by a bit of fun, however, will make your dog look forward to the sessions every time. After five or ten minutes (depending on your dog’s stamina), round off the proceedings with a game or a walk. The dog will soon realise that “If I do this tricky bit, I get that fun bit afterwards!” It’s a trick that works just as well with young children – “Finish your homework, and then we’ll go out on the bikes!”, that kind of thing.
5. Get everyone involved. Once your dog has grasped some of the basics, other members of the family, or friends, can reinforce the good behaviour by running through some of the training with your dog. Your pet will then learn that positive behaviour is part of their general lives and applies in all situations with all people.
This latter point is the ‘quantum leap’ for a dog – the idea that positive behaviour extends beyond their immediate owner to the big wide world around them. Getting them to this point takes time, there’s no doubt about that, and some breeds are a lot easier to train than others. However, once the work has paid off, you’ll have a doggy best friend you can be truly proud of!
This entry was posted in Dogs
Chickens pretty much take care of themselves from an early age. However, there are certain things you need to avoid if you want your baby chickens to get the very best start in life.
In this article, we present six easily preventable pitfalls.
1. Not Having The Brooder Ready Before The Chicks Arrive
You need to sort out the chicks’ housing – known as a brooder – before the birds arrive. Otherwise, there will be nowhere to put them, and that would be disastrous.
You can buy brooder boxes made specifically to keep chicks in, or you can make a DIY brooder using a cardboard box or plastic bin with holes in the side. Only choose the DIY avenue if you’re 100% confident you know what you’re doing.
The important thing is to keep the birds in a warm and well-ventilated space, but protected from drafts. As a rule of thumb, allow two square feet per chick – this is more than enough space for fluffy newcomers, but remember you will also need to make sure they have enough room when they get bigger – which they will do very quickly!
A chicken wire covering for the top of the brooder is advisable. Chicks can easily ‘fly the nest’ if the sides of the brooder are less than 45cm high. Older chicks need roosting poles for perching when they sleep, and will appreciate the inclusion of these in the brooder.
2. Not Getting The Temperature Right
Too much or too little heat can kill chicks, so this is another life-or-death issue. The chicks need to be kept in a temperature of 35 ∞C (95 ∞F) in their first week. The heat should then be reduced slightly every five days or so until you’ve reached room temperature.
The source of heat is an important detail too. A heater designed explicitly for coops and aviaries is the best option, or a red heat bulb. You should not use a white heat bulb, as these produce glare that keeps chicks awake at night. This will make them irritable, as a result of which they may start pecking each other. Standard light bulbs are not suitable either.
Even the correct type of heater or bulb will need some adjusting in terms of where it hangs, and how high it is from the ground. Watch how the chicks behave in relation to the heat source. If they crowd together directly under the bulb or in front of the heater, it means they’re too cold. Lower the heat source or add an additional one, depending on the situation.
If the chicks cluster away from the heat source, they’re probably too hot. In this case, the heater or bulb will need to be moved further away, or its temperature reduced slightly. The chicks’ behaviour may change as they grow larger and the space becomes more crowded, so watch them carefully each day.
3. Using The Wrong Type Of Bedding
With chicks, it’s not a case of “any old bedding will do”. Use wood shavings or other non-toxic, absorbent material recommended for baby chickens. Avoid newspaper or shredded magazines, and don’t use aromatic, oily woods such as cedar. A 2.5cm layer of this bedding will be enough. If you omit the bedding, the chicks are in danger of slipping and sliding on the surface, which can lead to an injury called “splayed leg”, which is a life-threatening condition. The bedding should be changed at least once a week to prevent sticky droppings from accumulating.
4. Getting The Wrong Type Of Feed
Starter feed – in the form of either ‘crumble’ or ‘mash’ – is the essential basis of a chick’s diet. If your chicks have been vaccinated against coccidiosis, you will need to buy an unmedicated feed. The starter feed will double as a ‘grower’ feed, intended for chicks for up to 16 weeks. Some varieties, however, are for the first four weeks only, after which you can switch to a ‘grower’ feed.
Chicks will also enjoy a bit of fresh food as a treat, either vegetables or worms and bugs. These should never replace the starter feed mix, however. Chicks only eat as much as they need, and there’s no danger of them over-eating. So all you have to do is make sure the feeders are topped up at all times.
Like adult birds, chicks require grit to grind up their food. It needs to be sand grain-sized rather than the small pebbles and shell fragments that grown birds require.
The chicks will need food and water dispensers. Buy custom-made ones rather than improvising with dishes and trays: these inevitably end up fouled and/or spilt. Very young chicks will need to have their water changed at least twice a day, as they very quickly dirty it.
5. Forgetting To Perform Daily Health Checks
A chick health check is a simple case of looking at the young birds and making sure they look as lively and alert as usual. A chick that sits alone and looks lethargic or fluffed-up when the others are active may be unwell. An ill chick will deteriorate very quickly and die.
The most frequent health issue encountered in young chicks is ‘pasting up’. This is when their droppings become encrusted on their bodies, preventing them from pooping. An affected bird can be cured by wetting the pasted-up area with warm water and wiping it clean. You may occasionally have to use tweezers to remove a plug of poo from the vent. The chick will need holding securely during this rather delicate and undignified procedure. If left blocked, a pasted-up chick could quickly die.
Note: if there is a thin dark strand hanging from a chick’s rear end, this is NOT pasting up. It’s the dried up umbilical cord that attaches the bird to its yolk inside the egg. It will fall off in a few days.
6. Moving Chicks Outdoors Too Quickly
Chicks can spend up to three hours a day outdoors once they’ve reached two weeks, as long as there is someone to supervise them. A large wire cage or portable run will do the job. The birds should only be placed outside if it’s at least 18 ∞C (65 ∞F), dry and not too windy. They will need food, water and shade.
Note: If you take the chicks outdoors before two weeks old, or if you leave them for more than three hours, they may catch a chill or sunstroke (depending on the prevailing weather). These shocks to the system can kill a small bird.
By 12 weeks, the young hens are old enough to move into an Eglu coop and run. They will still be too small to negotiate the roosting bars, so these should be removed until the chicks are big enough to perch and walk across them safely. If you have an Eglu Cube, the chicks may have to be lifted in and out of the roosting and laying area, as they often struggle with the ladder. This can be converted into a ramp during these early weeks, to make things easier for the hens.
The roosting area of the Eglu – or any other walk-in coop and run set up – should have lots of bedding to ensure the hens stay warm at night. The bedding should also be replaced at least twice a week.
Chicks soon pick up the dos and don’ts of life from their fellow hens. A lot of their behaviour, remember, is based on instinct, so as long as you give them the right environment, nature will take care of the rest.
This entry was posted in Chickens
Pride of Omlet series is a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.
We have been lucky enough to collect some wonderful stories of your extraordinary pets and share them with you for 10 weeks! Here is a summary of the stories that you can read again and find directly on our Blog.
Pride of Omlet: Stand Up for Disabled Animals
Jerry’s a cheeky, playful and boisterous rescue dog from Romania who can do a handstand! He landed on his feet when Shena gave him a home and inspired her to start a rescue centre specializing in disabled animals. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: The Constant Companion
Martha’s humans Nicola and Ben bought chickens to bring joy to Julia, their mother who they cared for at home. The family could never have imagined that a chicken would become a caring companion to Julia in the advanced stages of dementia. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Free Support
Once caged battery hens, Hennifer Marge and Sybil now work free-range with their human Jonathan, transforming lives for offenders at the Rosemead Project. Jonathan (support worker and chicken champion) believes the hens have the power to unscramble tricky social situations. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: A Perfect Match
On paper, Kipper wasn’t exactly what Angela wanted. After years of behavioural challenges, he’s become the best-behaved blood donor and saved over forty dog’s lives. Kipper’s turned out to be Angela’s perfect match. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Teachers Pet
Henni Hen is a teaching assistant by trade. A cute and cuddly chicken who loves children. She follows in the footsteps of her bubbly humans, Hamish and Verity. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Mipit Makes Sense
Mipit is a Mental Health Assistance Dog for his human, Henley. Mipit keeps Henly alive and independent. Who wouldn’t love a dog that can put out your recycling, answer your phone, and be your best friend, come rain or shine? Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Perfect Peaky
At the tender age of one, Peaky is already a retired filmstar. He had lived in a cage his whole life, released only to perform. When Joana and Fergus took him home, he was a fluffy, yellow bundle of nerves. But they are determined to help Peaky, their cute little canary companion, to come out of his shell. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Saving Sophia’s Life
When you’ve grown up with animals, home isn’t home without a pet. Bringing Harry home was lifesaving for both him and his humans, Sarah and daughter Sophia. Harry has a special gift. He’s a unique epilepsy monitor, and he’s saved Sophia’s life countless times. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Buster’s Beard
Buster was destined to chase balls on the beaches of Barry Island. He’s a lovable labradoodle with big brown eyes and a long beard. A thinker with a playful nature, he’s co-authored a children’s book with his human Natalie to bring Autism Awareness to all. Read the story here!
Pride of Omlet: Brave Bunnies
It’s hard to describe how frightened Pixie the rabbit was when the RSPCA rehomed her with an experienced rabbit owner. Eighteen months on, cheeky little Pixie lives in the lap of luxury and is learning to be loved by her adoring human, Wendy. Read the story here!
This entry was posted in Pets
Evidence suggests that rabbits who bond with their owners live longer and happier lives. Sometimes it can feel like our furry friends are in a world of their own – but it only takes time and patience to start bonding with your bunny.
This article looks at ten fun and exciting ways to deepen your connection to your pet, whether the rabbit is already part of the family or you’ve just brought a new bunny home.
1. Learn Your Pet’s Personality
Like people, all rabbits have distinctive personalities and unique habits. If you have decided to buy a baby rabbit, you may find that they’re very shy at first, but over time they will come out of their shell and begin to reveal their personality. We have a very useful article about Learning to Read your Rabbit’s Body Language, a great resource for identifying what makes rabbit tick. The article outlines the many different sounds your rabbit can make, as well as how its posture can give you clues to what your pet is thinking.
2. Create A Shared Space
It’s natural for your rabbit to feel nervous or even defensive if you interact with them by reaching into their hutch – after all, this space is their home, and all of their instincts tell them to protect it from potential predators. If you want to spend time bonding with your rabbit, try setting up a play area or run large enough for you to sit inside with the rabbit. This way, you can start interacting with your pet on neutral ground.
Rabbits feel comfortable when they have something over their heads, so don’t feel bad if the first few times they hide under any covered area you have set up.
3. Fill Your Shared Space With Toys
There are many fun things you can place around your rabbit’s play area or run, including Zippi tubes and tunnels, chew treats, a covered area, hanging toys and a hay basket.
Once you have a shared space set up with toys and other gear, try sitting in there with your rabbit for half an hour every day without reaching out to touch your pet. This way, your rabbit will learn to feel comfortable in your company and begin to trust you. It is likely that after a few days of this close contact, your rabbit will approach you without fear and begin to show some curiosity. It’s natural for your rabbit to have a gentle nibble when you first meet – don’t worry, it’s not a bite!
4. Give Your Rabbit New Experiences
Although rabbits are creatures of habit, it’s still good for them if new things are introduced into their lives now and then. Your rabbit will learn to associate you with these new fun experiences, which will deepen your bond. Try occasionally changing the layout of their hutch or investing in a fun new toy for them to play with – you could even make toys for them out of simple household objects like empty kitchen rolls.
5. Offer Healthy Treats
Rabbits can teach us a lot when it comes to healthy treats. They don’t like sweet things or junk food, and the most unhealthy thing you can give them is actually carrot or apple (as these are relatively high in sugar)! It helps you bond with your pet if you offer tempting greens, celery sticks or other yummy things. The rabbit will cautiously approach and take a nibble, and you’re a step closer to breaking down those barriers and properly bonding.
6. Pet your Rabbit
Once your rabbit is comfortable around you, and doesn’t run away when you approach with your hand extended, it’s time to start stroking them. Physical contact with your pet is one of the most natural ways to form a bond, and although you may find at first that the rabbit doesn’t seem too keen to be stroked, this is totally normal, and nothing to worry about. It may take a few weeks before you have your rabbit sitting comfortably in your lap.
The most considerate way to approach your rabbit is to reach with your hand low down, just to the side of their head. This way, they can see that it’s you who is petting them. Rabbits are naturally terrified of birds attacking from above and often run away when approached from a height (and a human standing on two legs is, as far as the rabbit is concerned, a height!). Rabbits also have a blind spot right in front of their noses – something common to most plant-eating animals – so you should also avoid approaching nervous rabbits directly from the front.
7. Teaching Rabbit Tricks
Once your rabbit is playing with you regularly, you can start teaching them some simple tricks! This can begin with reinforcing natural behaviour such as walking through a tunnel, with a treat waiting for them at the far end. Or, it could be something more complex such as teaching your rabbit to spin or do a roll. We have an article all about teaching your rabbit tricks if you want to go deeper down this fascinating rabbit hole!
8. Copying Your Rabbit
One slightly more unusual way of bonding with your rabbit is to behave in ways they would expect to see in other rabbits. This could include pretending to clean yourself the way a rabbit does, or having a little bit of your own food when you see them nibbling at theirs. Just make sure your rabbit sees you doing this, as the whole point is to make them see you as more rabbit-like! This may not be necessary if you already have a trusting relationship with your rabbit.
9. Choosing The Right Time To Play With Your Rabbit
As you begin to get to know your rabbit well, you will see that they have certain times of day when they are more or less active. It is natural for your rabbit to spend large amounts of time sleeping, and they are very habit-forming animals. Try taking note of when they are most active so that you can choose that as the optimum time to play – this avoids frustrating your rabbit by interrupting their nap with a trip to the playpen!
10. Learning To Hold Your Rabbit Safely
When your rabbit is fully bonded with you, they might let you pick them up and carry them around. If you are lucky enough to have a docile rabbit that lets you do this, always remember to hold them in the way that is most comfortable for them. Support your rabbit’s hindquarters in the same way you would support a human baby’s head. Hold them only firmly enough to keep them in your grasp – there is no need to hold them tight, as they are unlikely to jump to the floor.
Rabbits are gentle souls, so you need to be gentle in return. Be patient, give them time, and they’ll soon come to look on you as a true friend and companion.
This entry was posted in Pets
David is a long time lover of dogs since he was young. He loves most dogs but his favorite are golden retrievers. He also runs his own blog at dogdesires.co.uk where he helps other dog owners with advice and dog product reviews. In this article David gives 5 considerations for finding the right dog breed for you.
There are several things you need to consider in order to choose the right dog breed for you. Depending on your lifestyle, certain breeds are more suited for you because of their size, maintenance, activity level, and more.
Read on for more detail and by the end of this article, you will have the insight needed in order to choose the ideal dog breed for you.
Some people already have their hearts set on whether they would like a huge dog or a tiny one. Those who aren’t sure or that bothered about it tend to go for medium-sized dogs.
One thing that is an important deciding factor regarding what size breed is best for you is your living conditions. Naturally, large dogs need a lot of space so if you’re living in a relatively small and cozy apartment you would not want to get a Great Dane. They especially need more room because of their tails, so that they can wag without injuring anyone or damaging anything.
That being said, living in an apartment does not automatically mean you must get a toy dog. Some dog breeds are known for being adaptable to living in apartments, such as the Sheepadoodle. If you’d like to read more about this breed, you should check out this breed guide here – Sheepadoodle.
Keep in mind that small dogs are more vulnerable, in the sense that you need to get used to always looking down to not step on them. Smaller dogs also tend to be more sensitive to the cold so they need a little help staying warm.
With maintenance comes many things. Firstly, some breeds have fur that needs a lot of maintenance to stay healthy. Dogs with short fur are easy to take care of, such as Springadors, as they just need brushing every now and then. But dogs with longer fur, curly or otherwise, need to be brushed more frequently as well as trimmed and more. So, you will need to dedicate more time to these dogs.
Another factor is the expense. The larger the dog, the more food you need to buy and larger dog beds, etc.
Lastly, there’s training. This is very important, as some dog breeds are known for being more well-behaved and thus easier to train. Smaller dogs tend to have something that is referred to as ‘small dog syndrome’, which is when a small dog thinks that they are bigger than they actually are and therefore have more of an attitude. This can cause them to be more stubborn when it comes to training. For example, pugs are known for being naughty and for being stubborn.
Another good thing to remember is that if you let a large dog breed behave as a lap dog from a young age, they will continue to try and walk all over you when they become adults – and I mean that literally, not figuratively.
Also, dogs with long and floppy ears need frequent and thorough cleaning as they are more prone to ear infections. Moreover, certain dogs are more likely to drool than others such as Bloodhounds and Mastiffs.
If you get a hunting dog breed, such as a Labrador, Beagle, Foxhound, etc., then you can expect this dog to have a high activity level. Even crossbreeds with a hunting dog parent tend to inherit the genes and have a lot of energy.
Most dogs do not destroy things and dig up holes in your yard without a reason; energetic dogs, in particular, need much more exercise and become bored and destructive without it. Mental exercise, as well as physical, is a must too.
No matter the breed or size though, all dogs need routine exercise. You will need to commit to going for walks twice a day and if you’re looking for a dog that you can jog with then a Weimaraner or German Shepherd are great choices.
This one goes without saying for some people, but seeing as certain breeds are known for having certain personalities, we can use this to our advantage. For those of you who are looking for a cuddly and loving dog, Retrievers, Greyhounds, Irish Wolfhounds, Old English Sheepdogs, Pitbull Terrier, and King Charles Spaniels are known to be some of the most affectionate dog breeds.
Unfortunately, depending on the country and state you’re in, some breeds may be banned.
To give an example I would like to name Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. Both of these dog breeds are sadly banned in many states, the reason being that they face stigmas as ‘dangerous’ and ‘aggressive’.
Personally, I would like to note that I have had several dogs of both of these breeds and none of them ever showed any signs of being aggressive or dangerous in any way. They were sweet, kind, and several of the Rottweilers were protective over me.
I do not believe for a second that aggression can be inherited in genes, but rather it comes about when a dog is being raised wrongly.
This entry was posted in Dogs
This article is a part of our Pride of Omlet series, a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.
-Written by Anneliese Paul
It’s hard to describe how frightened Pixie the rabbit was when the RSPCA rehomed her with an experienced rabbit owner. Eighteen months on, cheeky little Pixie lives in the lap of luxury and is learning to be loved by her adoring human, Wendy.
Wendy had two beautiful rabbits, which she adored. A jet black male Rex rabbit called Jensen and his chocolate brown partner, Havana. But in 2019, Havana died suddenly of pneumonia, and Jensen grieved so severely that he wouldn’t leave his bed. He was the most miserable, unhappy rabbit.
Wendy wanted him to bond with another rabbit, so she went to the RSPCA Canterbury and found Pixie, who had been severely neglected. Pixie was rescued with her partner, but sadly, this rabbit didn’t survive. Pixie was close to starvation, she was skin and bones and had to be fattened up before she was ready to be rehomed. Wendy wanted to give her the loving home she deserved.
Thinking she would be a perfect match for Jensen, Wendy took Pixie home. She had divided the rabbit house so that she could slowly introduce them. After about a month, they were lying next to each other, separated only by the wire, so Wendy decided it was time. But Pixie was traumatised and her fear presented in aggressive behaviour. She couldn’t handle it and bit Jensen. She was agitated and frightened of everything. For a while, even putting food down for her was tricky. She would lunge at the hands that fed her. It was a terribly sad time for Wendy to see Pixie so distressed.
Wendy kept Pixie on her own, and slowly slowly, Pixie began to trust her. Now, 18 months on, she puts her nose up to be stroked, and she’ll hop alongside Jensen. Their Omlet runs, run parallel, so she’s got her space, and he’s got his. They also have a shed divided in two with three levels, windows, balconies, and a flap to their outside Omlet runs, which are connected with tunnels to the conservatory. The gate system on the Omlet runs means Wendy can let them both have time in the house. What was once Wendy’s dining room is now a rabbit playroom with a box, some steps and tunnels so they can just mess around and do bunny stuff. They take turns to come in, and Wendy leaves the door open, so they don’t get too warm.
Before she starts work in the morning, she makes the rabbits a little salad. Kale, Cavalo Nero or Spring Greens are the staples, mixed with herbs like parsley, mint and basil. And in the summer, she’ll pick fresh leaves and rose petals. They have 3 or 4 different kinds of hay to choose from in their runs, and for a treat, Wendy likes to give them bunny biscuits, or strawberries which they absolutely love.
From her sad beginnings, Pixie has blossomed with a loving owner who understands her past, builds up her confidence and feeds her a delicious diet. And Jensen has a new partner, Tinkerbell, a blue-eyed white mini Rex. Wendy simply adores all three of her beautiful rabbits, but especially Pixie. She’s a survivor.
“Almost every day, she could reduce me to tears. She’s so loving and responsive. I’m just absolutely amazed that this little rabbit found it in her heart to actually forgive humans.”
This entry was posted in Pets
Happy National Rescue Dog Day!
20.05. – National Rescue Dog Day! We would like to use this special date to address animal welfare, shelters, the hard work they have to face every day and of course everything about the topic of adoption.
Every year, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter animal shelters nationwide in the US and are in dire need of being adopted. With this warning number, it’s important we consider our local pet shelters when welcoming a new family member. We’ve interviewed an animal shelter which has a tough job to do. Let’s find out more about this work and the process!
The “Einfach Tierschutz e.V.” is a German non-profit animal welfare association founded in 2016 with the aim of helping street dogs where the need is greatest. This is particularly the case in Eastern and Southern European countries, where street dogs have no rights and face harsh times. Einfach Tierschutz stands up for those animals in need, in areas such as Romania.
“Everyone has a purpose in its life, a reason for being in the world. My purpose is to save dogs.”
Jens Waldinger, Head of Einfach Tierschutz
1. Omlet: Can you please tell us a bit about the company: how many pets do you care for? What does the work at an animal shelter involve and what does a typical day at your shelter look like?
Einfach Tierschutz: Einfach Tierschutz e.V. is the owner and operator of two animal shelters in Braila, Romania. In our “Phoenix Shelter”, where we take care of about 400 street dogs, just recently also cats, and try to find them a new home. They get medically treated and socialized every day in our spacious sanctuary.
Since spring 2020, we have been running our second shelter specifically for puppies, the “Phoenix Puppy Shelter”, where up to 50 puppies and young dogs are fostered, cared for and prepared for placement in a family on an area of 2,000 m≤. In addition, we were able to move forward with a long-time wish in 2020 with the construction of the cat house on our premises. With the completion of this product, we can also provide our cats with safe and species-appropriate accommodations.
We have employed an average of 6 staff members in the shelters of Romania, who work in shifts so that someone is present at all times. Additionally, we have a driver and an office worker as well as the shelter manager on site. The tasks of the staff are mainly the support and maintenance of the dogs as well as night watch and administrative activities.
Our team consists of trained and certified dog trainers, professionals, and experienced fosters. We are also in contact with vets/veterinary assistants. In addition, we work closely with the local veterinary office, registering both our transports and our foster homes at this office, and can provide proof of the correct written documentation on transports, dogs and adopters at any time.
Our office is located in Germany, from where we coordinate all of the association’s activities. Various volunteer teams work under our guidance in the areas of social media, pre- and post-inspections, placements, adoptions, flea market and planning of the shelter travels.
Jens Waldinger Sarah Goetschel Carmen Salcedo
Head and Manager of the shelter Head and Manager in DE of the placement Dog Management in Braila
A primary goal of our work is to relocate and find new homes for as many dogs as possible and place them into loving and safe families. We also provide a licensed transporter in order to transport our dogs and cats in our own equipped vehicles from Romania to their future families in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
Lutz (top model, top dog)
We provide dogs, which are not suitable for a life as a family dog or for any other owner, a permanent safe refuge in our shelter. Here, they will have a better life without hunger and diseases, and are not exposed to the bad and cold weather conditions in Romania, especially during the winter season – just a stable and stress-free life.
Another goal for us is to make an important contribution by helping to control the reproduction of street dogs and cats through regular spay/neutering campaigns at our expense, and to bring about a change in the way the local population thinks about handling this issue. Due to the uncontrolled multiplication of street as well as house and yard dogs of the inhabitants, thousands of unwanted puppies end up on the streets or in the municipal animal shelters every year, which are allowed to euthanize these dogs after a period of two weeks if they are overcrowded. We also intervene here and are happy if we can take some of these dogs with us.
Spay/Neutering Marathon in Baraila, Romania
2. Omlet: What differs Einfach Tierschutz from other animal rescue organizations?
Einfach Tierschutz: First of all, the Einfach Tierschutz is a German association which is not only active abroad, but also runs its own animal shelter abroad. We do not solely relocate our dogs in Germany, but also in Switzerland and Austria. Mostly, we stand out because of our size: since we have started this organization, we now have over 8,000 members who support us. We have succeeded in convincing many people of our projects and know-how in just a few years, and with their support through donations, memberships, sponsorships, etc. we have been able to invest wisely.
We also offer our members the experience of traveling to our Phoenix Shelter in Romania. Our members then get to see first-hand what our team’s workload is on a daily basis. They also get to see what we have achieved in this short period of time with all the donations and membership fees we receive from them.
“There is a before and an after in my life: Before the trip to the Phoenix Shelter and after the trip, because since then I know what it is worth living and fighting for every day: “my” dogs there in the shelter. I may be back in Germany, but my heart has stayed there with the dogs.”
– Association member a few weeks after returning from a shelter trip
We offer our members the opportunity to follow our work on a daily basis via our Facebook members’ group. We provide pictures and video material from our shelter and thus allow every member to participate in current events. We also offer the opportunity to network with other members at more than 40 regulars’ tables and to plan joint activities such as information booths or fundraising campaigns.
We recently had our first big fundraiser where our members purchased lots from us in order to have the chance to win many great prizes from generous donors. The proceeds went directly to the shelter.
We are constantly working to improve our standards and ourselves professionally, in line with our ideas of good, sustainable animal welfare so that we can continue to grow and help as many animals as possible. In this way, we are always trying to maintain a balance between possible improvements and new projects or extension of our activities. We are very motivated and hungry to go further, to achieve even more.
3. Omlet: What do you like about your work? What is most rewarding?
Einfach Tierschutz: Every little success reminds us why we do all this. For example, the rescued dogs that we are able to bring into the safety of our shelter or animals that are brought back to life by our team after serious illness or injury make the work that much more rewarding! Also, seeing fearful and shy dogs that we have been able to socialize to such an extent that they can now enjoy their lives in a family makes the work worthwhile for us. All of these animals that are given a chance for a better life through our work is what makes the work priceless for us!
4. Omlet: Adoption vs. Purchase: what is the biggest challenge?
Einfach Tierschutz: From our point of view, the biggest problems are the mass breeding of pedigree dogs, while thousands of dogs are waiting for a loving home in the animal shelters. In particular, the illegal breeding and illegal transfer of puppies from abroad, which are then sold cheaply via various online portals by professional traffickers posing as private individuals, is a thorn in the flesh. As humans, we have a responsibility towards our fellow creatures and as long as the streets are full of unwanted animals that reproduce uncontrollably, suffering from hunger and diseases, we believe it is irresponsible to continue with breeding dogs.
Unfortunately, many people lack a sense of responsibility and foresight. Many hardly think about what it means to give an animal a home for the next 10 to 20 years and also give up far too quickly when the animal becomes “uncomfortable” for whatever reason. The decision to give up an animal is taken ever more quickly and lightly these days…
Floki (left) has also found a new best friend for life through his new home
5. Omlet: Speaking of adoption: What is important to you when looking for the right adopters, what expectations should a potential adopter fulfill ? What challenges or difficulties can you face when a shelter dog moves into its new home?
Einfach Tierschutz: It is very important to us that the family and the dog are well matched, which is why we work with the dogs on site to get to know them better and assess them as well as possible. Our employees in Romania also help with socializing the dogs when we are not around. Nevertheless, though we try our best here, we cannot predict what the dogs’ behavior will be like when they arrive at their new homes. Several factors will play a role. With the new environment, new people and maybe other companions it is hard to make a binding statement about it but so far, we mostly received positive feedback from the adopters.
Annett has finally found her family after waiting for such a long time
A dog from another country is always a bit of a “surprise package”. They are not familiar with our everyday lives and need time to get used to it. Through plenty of interaction with volunteers, outdoor runs and play sessions as well as walks, we try to keep the dogs as busy as possible and introduce them to new things. However, there is no comparison with the life they will experience with their future families. Some of them have never seen a leash or worn a collar or harness before, they are often unfamiliar with stairs, cars, bicycles, pedestrians etc. Some dogs are already house-trained when they move in, others need days, weeks or even months to train. Domestic or human smells and noises are often unfamiliar to them, and while one dog may be happy and react inquisitively, another may still feel anxious and need more time to realize that all of these changes are leading to a better quality of life.
Hamlet not only found his forever home but also his favorite meadow where he can play and relax
The sensory overload, especially while settling in, can lead to dogs initially acting differently – often more timidly – than in the familiar environment of our shelter. This is why it is very important to us that we educate and prepare our adopters well before receiving the dog. We offer them thorough advice about dogs that are suited to their circumstances and lifestyle. We carry out pre-checks (and post-checks) and we discuss general aspects of adopting a dog from another country with the prospective adopters.
We have useful tips for them on how to deal with newly arrived dogs, with common behavior patterns during the settling in period and safeguarding during walks. Also, we talk about illnesses that cannot be ruled out based on incubation times. This information is constantly updated and further refined.
However, in those cases where, for whatever reason, things do not work out in the new home, we take care of finding a new place for the dog, and even provide emergency foster homes. Under no circumstances will we allow a dog that was placed by us to end up in another shelter.
Up to now, we have been able to offer a swift solution in each of the few individual cases, where contrary to expectations, the adopters had to return a dog. Thus, we have been able to make the best of the situation in the interest of the dog.
In case of problems, we assist our adopters with help and advice and we are always available after an adoption and happy to help! On our Facebook page you can find some great stories and photos of “happy endings” posted by the families and owners that have adopted these dogs .
6. Omlet: As an NGO, how do you raise money for your animals, shelters, sterilization projects, etc.? How are you compensated?
Einfach Tierschutz: In order to be able to cover the high project costs, we had to invest a lot of time in advertising and generating new supporting members to bring in enough donations. As an association that is mainly active via the fast-moving social media channels and also promotes the dogs through them, we depend on a well-functioning technical infrastructure.
The commitment of our local board is particularly important too, as it generates a lot of attention. Our local experts also have to regularly assess the socialization of the dogs, as we place them very responsibly to ensure that dog and family get on well together later on. We invest in our social media presence, promotion via billboards, newspaper advertisements, flyers, info sheets, stickers. As a result, we have been able to maintain our high level of popularity and success, – which of course goes hand in hand with a further increase in administrative expenses.
7. Omlet: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Einfach Tierschutz: We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the interview and the interest in our association and invite everyone to get an idea of our work and visit our homepage or follow our social media activities. We – and especially the animals – would be very happy about a small donation, which we would like to invest in food, vet visits/surgeries/medications, spaying/neutering or in the shelter itself, e.g. for the expansion or the cat enclosure.
We would also more than welcome new fellow members who would like to get involved in our activities (e.g. shelter travels), gladly from anywhere. You can find all information on our homepage: www.einfachtierschutz.de
(You can also set up the pages in your desired language.)
Omlet would like to thank Einfach Tierschutz e.V. for the interview and wishes them all the best for the future and that all dogs will find a great and safe new home.
This entry was posted in Dogs