Pet Advice Guides for Pet Owners

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Coping with problem pets can be daunting without good pet advice. If you have encountered aggressive behaviour in dogs, cats who refuse to use their litter trays, overweight pets, nervous behaviour and fear of loud noises, excitability, skin ailments and general poor health, help is at hand. Our Pet advice pages are based on years of work with all sorts of animals. Through our dog adoption services, we have seen all sorts of behavioural problems. Sadly, this usually results in owners getting rid of the problem, often due to many months (even years) of trying to cope. Our aim is to educate, rehabilitate and create harmony between owners and their pets. We provide assistance, help, maybe just a shoulder to lean on, so you can enjoy a balanced, healthy relationship with your pet.

If you have a specific pet problem and would like some advice, let us know.
All our pet advice pages are provided as a free service for you to enjoy. If you find them useful, a small donation is always appreciated.

Illness and Bereavements – We are here to help

The Pet Samaritans provides emergency pet rescue services across the UK and we give priority support for owners with terminal illnesses or bereavements were pets have been left without support. We provide a permanent loving home at our animal sanctuary and offer lifetime care. Without your kind help and donations, we couldn’t continue to offer this essential service.

Life is unexpected and ensuring your pets are safe should the worse happen is something to think about. If you are worried about what would happen to your pets if you weren’t able to care for them anymore, get in touch and ask about our Emergency Pet Rescue service.

Emergency Pet Rescue for Terminally Ill Owners and Bereavements

Max and Toby are just one of the many cases we have helped with over the years.  They came into the sanctuary after their owners could no longer look after them due to debilitating illness of dementia. We stepped in to help and they came to live at the Animal Sanctuary. They have become part of our ever growing animal family and are very popular with our volunteer dog walkers. They love going for long walks, fetching balls and being fussed over. In their new life with us, they provide an essential opportunity for people who aren’t able or fortunate enough to have a pet in their life, the chance to experience the joys of pets ownership so many of us enjoy.

Emergency Pet Rescue dogs at the sanctuary

Max and toby



A Healthy Guide To Feeding Your Dog

Feeding Your Dog Naturally

We’ve see losts of dogs over the years at the sanctuary with numerous problems that are related to diet. A very common problem we encounter is dry itchy skin, hair loss, dull eyes and dry nose. Over excitement or lack of energy is common too. Of course we’ve seen our fair share of malnutrition as dogs that come into the sanctuary have often been neglected through no fault of their own.

Owners often get in touch after prescribed medicines have failed to cure the problem and have we been able to offer suggestions on diet which has resulted in dramatic improvement in health. We have used the same principals of a healthy balanced diet for many dogs over the years with behavioural problems. The use of dorwest herbs and plenty of fresh air has worked wonders too for many owners.

In many cases we have found the underlying cause of the problem to be commercial dog foods. Many commercial dog foods contain ingredients that should never be used. Propylene glycol is one such additive used to help preserve the moisture content in some commercial dog foods. It’s also used in anti-freeze to defrost your car windows in the morning. Can you hear alarm bells ringing? Unfortunately the requirements for what is safe and not safe to put in dog food is not the same as food for human consumption. Dry dog foods are often the worst when it comes to health problems with many brands of tinned food not far behind.

Raw dog food

So what should I feed my dog?

Local butchers are almost a thing of the past, so getting hold of fresh meat and preparing a meal for your pet isn’t really practical in busy modern life. Thankfully there are a number of responsible companies out there now that make convenient natural dog food with no nasties added. Natures menu is our tried and tested dog food of choice. We have used their frozen meal packs with great success over the years and can really see the difference in dogs after only a few weeks of use. They produce frozen meat meals for dogs using meat fit for human consumption and add vegetables to give a balanced all in one feed. It is simple and quick to use. Some dogs might find it a bit bland after commercial sugary tinned meat but stick with it. Eventually they will no longer crave the fix of meat and jelly and will wolf down the natural diet.   We usually find after a few weeks on natures menu, most symptoms disappear and dogs look glossy and healthy again.

If raw meat is not for you, you could try Robbies natural dog food which is a cereal based dried food food made to very high standards. We have used it before with similar great results.

We also use and recommend Dorwest Herbs which produce a great line of products to treat all kinds of problems. Dorwest Keepers mix is great to put on food and we use this as an all year round supplement for dogs.

You can buy Natures Menu direct from the Sanctuary and you are more than welcome to come down and have a chat about your pets diet with Jo or Kate. Alternatively, give us a call on 07432 071122 or email us with any questions.

Mr. Big is a handsome tabby cat

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Mr. Big is a very handsome tabby cat with a lovely laid back personality.  He was brought in by his elderly owner who was moving house and unable to take him with her.

He’d had a sedentary life and was seriously overweight so the past few months have been devoted to slimming him down.  It has to be done gradually and Biggie is looking much better now – he’s sleek and svelte.

He’s also much more active although is still a laid back fella who likes to sit in the sun – or on your knee.

Biggie is vaccinated and neutered and has had a health check, which was fine.  He’s a bit timid with strangers but very loving when he gets to know you, he’s  joined our resident cats and made himself at home, if you’d like to sponsor this lovable lad please get in touch.

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Watch out for ticks

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Dogs can pick up ticks after walks in long grass or through woodlands.  They look like grey blobs, quite small (pin head to start with) and then bigger as the tick sucks blood and swells.

If left they can cause Lyme Disease which will make your dog very ill.  Get rid of the tick with a Tick Twister which is a small gadget that gets them out completely.  It’s easy to use – we have them in stock and they should be part of every canine first aid kit.

Ask your vet for advice on which flea treatment to use – Frontline stops dogs from being bitten by ticks but only lasts a month.   Vet advice is best.

Take care to dispose of ticks carefully, they are difficult to kill.  Watch out for getting bitten yourself, you need to seek medical advice if you do get a tick bite.

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Good food for rabbits

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Natural food is best for rabbits with lots of fresh, sweet hay given every day.   They also like brambles and twigs, make sure they are suitable and not poisonous though.   We offer rose trimmings, elderflower, silver birch, apple and pear twigs.   Ornamental shrubs aren’t safe or flowers unless you know for sure they aren’t toxic.  Dandelions are a great favourite of course and they like leaves and roots.   We offer only a small amount of grain, they don’t eat this in the wild.   The vegetables they like are broccoli stalks, carrot tops and a piece of apple for desert.

Aloe Vera Spray

cats - lillie 6Lillie is the latest rescued cat to get the benefits of Aloe Vera.  She came in after living ‘rough’ for a long time and she is in poor condition with a dry and unhealthy coat.   We’ve been using Aloe Vera lotion on her, it’s spray and easy to administer.  If she licks it off it won’t hurt her and already we can see an improvement.   We’ve been using Aloe Vera for many years and it’s a great natural product.

It’s good to be able to get it now in a convenient form from the Forever Range which helps  you to care for your animals in an easy and cost effective way.  It’s the way to keep your pets healthy, fit, clean and energetic – you can get the Aloe spray from us or direct from local agent Lesley – 0788 3566766 – if your pet has itchy skin or bald patches then trying Aloe will make all the difference.

Contact Lesley on 0788 3566766 –

Caring for poorly pets

dogs - jack & noleneSanctuary residents, Jack Spratt and Miss Nolene have both suffered with serious health conditions and had operations to cure them.   Spratt had a large lump which had to be removed and Nolene had a hernia which caused paralysis.   Even when pets have only mild ailments, how we look after them makes a big difference to their recovery.

The same old routine just won’t do.  Follow your vet’s instructions as to medication of course.  Provide plenty of fresh water to drink and change at least twice a day.  Try warm goat’s milk too, it’s a good restorative and palatable to both cats and dogs.  Cow’s milk is best avoided as it’s likely to upset their tummies.

A soft, comfy and clean bed should be provided.  Following an operation we use a couple of clean (new) duvets and then put a clean sheet on top.  We have a pile of sheets ready to change when soiled.  Pillows and cushions, again new or freshly washed, put round the duvets make a comfy nest.  A dog, especially, needs to be able to stretch out and get in the best position to sleep in comfort.

We keep pets who are poorly nice and warm.  A heated pad is best for a cat, near to a warm radiator is good for a dog.  A dish of water, scented with lavender or tea tree oil is good to have nearby so the air doesn’t get dry.

The lights should be dimmed until the invalid begins to pull round.  It might take several days and keeping the room quiet is best.  Other pets who might be disruptive shouldn’t be allowed near.

We offer soft and tempting food when dogs and cats are ill.  Warm tuna, mashed up is often liked by cats. The best invalid food though is chicken soup, we make it by stewing chicken along with bones.  The chicken carcass is the key ingredient and a slow cooker is perfect as the bones need to simmer for a long time. When the meat is falling off the bones you can switch off and allow it to cool.  The soft chicken meat will be surrounded by jelly and it’s this that does all the good.  Like chicken soup for the soul (and for a cold) this jelly has compounds in it that combat infection and speed recovery.  It’s easy to digest, very tasty with no nasty artificial ingredients and makes a nice invalid dinner.

When your pets are up and about again they can gradually go back to a normal diet.   At least one bowl of chicken soup every day for several weeks will still be beneficial and help full  recovery.

Pets and plastic

plastic & petsWe routinely use plastic when we have pets.  They eat from plastic dishes like this little kitten here.  Dogs have plastic bowls, beds, toys.  Cat carriers aren’t wicker anymore, they’re plastic.  Dogs and cats and other small animals are in contact with plastic on a daily basis.   Cats used to have cushions and cardboard boxes.   They had china pottery dishes, a saucer with a chip in it was destined to be the cat’s dinner plate.   Plastic litter trays were unheard of.   Cats used to go outside to their toilet.  If a cat couldn’t go out she was provided with a wooden box or tin tray filled with ashes from the fire and this was her temporary w.c.  Houses were better then, they had sculleries and coal houses where cats could shelter and utensils could be washed and stored.   Blankets were wool and usually handed down to the cat when they were frayed or past being mended.  Toys were feathers and cotton reels and silver paper.

Dogs had leather collars, wicker baskets or a wooden box that someone had knocked together.  With a piece of old carpet on the base and then some old cushions and cut up blankets, they were cosy and warm.   There was no such thing as a plastic dog bed.      Rover had an enamel dish for his dinner, it might be worn and dinted but he didn’t mind. Water bowls were stoneware, which is the cleanest and best for dogs to drink from.

We made dog coats, which is quite easy to do.  My Dad used to make a pattern and then cut down cast off clothes and sew on fasteners.  Mum would make polo jumpers by cutting off sleeves from old cardigans.  A couple of holes in for legs and they were perfect. Most things for the dog and cat were household cast offs being used again.  We didn’t know that we were recycling and being environmentally friendly – it was just commonsense and thrifty.

Now we buy new for everything.  The first thing anyone does when they get a new pet is go and spend a small fortune on plastic gizmos at the pet superstore.   Plastic toys make me shudder.  They are unnatural and most dogs don’t like them.  After costing so much they are thrown away.  We stuff old socks (with other old socks) and make a soft ‘toy’ a dog can carry round.   Dogs like to pick up sticks (make sure they are chunky) and carry them.  Bones are the best plaything ever.

Buying plastic for pets is completely unneccesary and is costing the earth – literally.  Plastic isn’t made in a factory down the road, it comes from China.  The idea of such a thing as a dog bed or a plastic chicken being brought here from the other side of the world is ludicrous.

It’s not just people owning pets to blame there is waste and pollution in every aspect of life today.  But there are around 9 million dogs and 8 million cats in the UK today.   If we can change the way we look after them and provide for them it will make a difference.   The ice caps are melting, water levels are rising and it’s almost too late to stop this man made disaster.   Keep pet care simple, buy local, feed natural and locally sourced food.   The pet industry is a massive concern, we fear  that one day our pets will be wandering round a wasteland planet Earth where their future has been destroyed because we humans like to go shopping.

Coming next – mounting evidence that plastic can be toxic ….

Danger for dogs down in the garden

dogs - nolene in flowersOur little sanctuary resident Miss Nolene loves to sit out in the garden, she wouldn’t dream of eating a plant or flower (unless it was chicken flavoured maybe).  She is wary about food and likes only the best – is this from M & S?  It’s mostly young dogs who like to experiment and will nibble at anything.  We’ve even heard of dogs who avidly eat frogs!   If your pet is the inquisitive kind you need to be aware of the large number of plants that are toxic to dogs, some can be deadly.  These aren’t exotic flowers but the ones we know and love.  A dog shouldn ‘t normally want to eat them but if he did you can expect tummy aches, excessive saliva and even deadly damage to the liver and nervous system.

If you’ve recently lifted your daffodil bulbs and are storing them ready to plant again later in the year, they need to be kept safely in a shed.   A recent survey has shown that out of 2,000 cat and dog owner, more than 1 in 12 pets have eaten poisonous plants and half of these became ill enough to need vet attention.  Fifteen per cent of dogs died.

Plants that are dangerous include:  Clematis, Ivy and Wisteria, Verbena, Chrysanthemums, Geranium, Grape vines, Seed Potatoes, Asparagus Fern, Asiatic Lily, Calla Lily, Daisy, Dahlia, Delphiniums, Eucalyptus, Fern, Foxglove, Oleander, Peony, Poppy, Privet, Tomato plants, Wisteria and the deadly Yew Tree.   We’re not suggesting you grub up half your garden but if you see your pet eating or chewing with any plant (apart from grass which has health benefits for dogs to eat) – keep an eye on him for a while in case of symptoms.

Hedgehog orphans

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These tiny hoglets (baby hedgehogs) are orphans, they were brought in by council workers who had moved a shed and found the family underneath.   Mum was dead, the little ones don’t have their eyes open so they are very young.  We’ve reared hoglets before, they usually take to suckling from a bottle quite well.   One is even smaller than the rest so that is the most vulnerable and it all depends on how well their immune system has developed.

It’s the same as rearing a baby – keep warm, clean, feed warm milk often and give lots of love.   We’ll give it our best  ……..

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hedghog orphans 5Still in the nest when they first arrived.