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Learn to Read your Rabbit’s Body Language

Cats and dogs (and humans) make noises to show others what they feel, want or really don’t like. Rabbits do as well, but they mainly use body language to communicate with other rabbits, and with us. You will most likely not be able to understand everything your rabbit is trying to tell you, but by learning a few things about rabbit body language, you’ll be able to make life a little bit better for your pet.

Lost of postures and vocalisations can mean several things depending on the situation, and can differ somewhat from rabbit to rabbit. It is therefore important to be able to take in accompanying signals that help you see what’s going on.

SOUNDS

Rabbits are relatively quiet animals, but they do make a few noises that you’ll be able to differentiate from each other. Here are a few of them:

GrowlingA short barking growl is a sign of aggression, and indicates that you, or something else close by, is threatening the rabbit.

ScreamingIf the rabbit lets out loud, piercing screams he or she is likely to be very scared or experiencing a lot of pain.

Low grunting & grinding of teethThis is the rabbit equivalent of a cat’s purring, and means that the rabbit is content and relaxed.

Loud teeth grinding & chatteringIf the grinding however changes into louder teeth chattering, the rabbit is most likely in a lot of pain.

ThumpingRabbits drum their feet against the ground when they are afraid or threatened, or want to make others aware of what is going on. Thanks to the rabbit’s strong hind legs, this can be surprisingly loud.

EARS, EYES & NOSE

Rabbits use their ears to tune into what’s going on around them, and they can often be a good indicator of how your rabbit is feeling. If the ears are stood up and are twitching, your rabbit is listening out for something. If they are confident it’s not dangerous, or not particularly interesting, they might only raise one ear. When they are relaxed, the ears will rest against the body, normally along the back.

Rabbits have very expressive eyes, and as they are prey animals, they will only fully close them when they are extremely comfortable and feel completely safe. So if you find your rabbits sleeping with their eyes closed, it is a clear sign that they feel at home. Eyes wide open combined with fluffed up fur and growling indicate fear. The rabbit’s inner eyelids might also protrude and become visible if he or she is uncomfortable.

The nose is also a good indicator how the rabbit is feeling and how interested they are in what is going on around them. The faster the wiggling of the nose, the more attentive or agitated the rabbit is. Rabbits tend to rub their noses in a way to show affection, so if you find your rabbit rubbing their nose on you it’s a sign that they really like you. If they also throw in a little lick, you’re properly loved!

POSTURES

The ClassicRabbit is sat with weight on the bottom, forelegs straightened and ears standing up. He or she is checking to see what’s going on.

Head on the ground – If the rabbit rests its head on the ground, he or she is showing submission, and might want to be petted or groomed. In different circumstances it can also mean that they want to be left alone, so make sure to take in other signals.

The BallRabbit is sat rolled up with legs tucked, normally with ears resting against the body. He or she is sleeping or napping. Rabbits can sleep with their eyes open, but prefer to keep them closed if they feel comfortable and safe enough.

Belly on the groundThe rabbit is lying on its belly with legs stretched out behind or maybe to the side of the body, with the head either up or resting on the ground. The rabbit is resting, and is relaxed. The further the legs are stretched behind the body, the more comfortable the rabbit is.

GroomingIf the rabbit is grooming itself when you are around it can be seen as a sign that he or she trusts you. Rabbits are prey animals, and will never take their eyes off what they think might be an intruder.

Nose nudgeThis can either mean “leave me alone” or “you’re in my way”. It is however also a sign of trust, as you aren’t seen as a threat to the rabbit.

CirclingSometimes the rabbit starts running around your feet when you’re in the run with him or her. This is a mating ritual, and a sign that he or she is in love with you.

Territorial behaviourIf you have got a new hutch or run, the rabbit will have to make sure that its territory is marked. Rabbits do this by rubbing scent glands on their necks against objects, spraying urine and scattering their dropping around the place. This behaviour normally stops once the rabbit feels at home.

Nest buildingIf you notice that your female rabbit starts pulling out hair from the fur, and collects hay in a specific place in the hutch, it’s likely that she is building a nest. Rabbits sometimes have false pregnancies, but if you think that there is a possibility that your rabbit might be pregnant, it’s worth contacting your vet.

The bunny flopRabbit is rolling on its back with the legs in the air. This is a sign that the rabbit is really happy and relaxed, and the movement can sometimes be combined with a binky, which means that the bunny is running around and dancing madly, often jumping up in the air out of pure happiness.

Sources:
https://www.omlet.co.uk/guide/rabbits
https://www.petplan.co.uk/blog/5906/
http://www.wabbitwiki.com/wiki/Understanding_your_rabbit
http://www.bunnyhugga.com/a-to-z/rabbit-behaviour/rabbit-body-language.html
https://rabbit.org/interpreting-body-language-and-behavior/

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Want to Teach your Hamster Tricks? Here are our Best Tips!

Someone once said that you can train anything that has a brain that connects to a stomach, and that goes for hamsters as well. They are actually very clever little creatures and probably capable of more than you think – like learning tricks for example!

Training your hamster is a wonderful way to vary your daily playtime and spend time together, and it’s something that both stimulates your pet mentally and creates a strong bond between the two of you. It should be said though that this training takes a lot of time and patience, and every hamster is different, so there’s never a guarantee that your hamster will learn these specific tricks, or any tricks at all.

As with most pets there are advantages of getting a young hamster when it comes to training and getting the hamster used to your and your family, as they have not yet developed habits and routines that can be difficult to break. This is not to say you can’t teach an old hamster new tricks, but it will take much longer to train him or her.

The most important thing is that your hamster feels comfortable around you, and that your smell and your voice has a positive association. Try to always stay calm around your hamster, and avoid raising your voice, as that can cause unnecessary stress. Spend a good few weeks together with your hamster before you move on to tricks, so you know that you can trust each other!

  • TREATS
    Now you need treats. Maybe you already know what your hamster’s favorite is, but if you don’t, we recommend sunflower seeds. They are however very fatty, so make sure that you limit the intake to training sessions or special occasions. You can also try with small pieces of chopped vegetables like carrots or broccoli.
  • STAND
    Start with an easy trick, a good first one is ”Stand”. Hold the treat in front of the hamster just over its head so that the hamster can see it but not reach it. As you do this, use your command ”Stand”. Your hamster will instinctively stand up to get closer to the treat.When the hamster stands, give the treat and verbal praise. Only give the treat if the hamster stands, as they otherwise won’t understand why they are being rewarded. If you hamster doesn’t stand it might be because he or she is not hungry at that moment, or distracted by something else going on in the room. Try again a bit later.Repeat this a few times a day for a week or two, until your hamster stands even when you don’t have a treat in your hand. Stick to one command at the time, and still always reward the hamster for standing.
  • JUMP
    Now you can move on to another trick. Use the ”stand” command, and then move the treat up and forward and say ”jump”. If the hamster tries to jump, praise him or her and give the treat.
    If your hamster is happy to jump you can add a hoop into the mix. Hold some sort of hoop between the hamster and a treat, so that they have to move through the hoop to get to it. As they go though, say ”hoop” or ”jump through the hoop”. Start with the hoop touching the ground, and then gradually lift it if you hamster seems to enjoy the game.
  • ROLL OVER
    Another fun and easy trick is ”roll over”. All you need to do is to carefully place the seed on your hamster’s back and ask him or her to roll over. If they do it, reward with the seed. After a while the hamster will roll over even without you putting the seed on their back.

Be consistent with the training, and let it take time, but it doesn’t hurt to shake up the routine every now and then to keep things interesting. Some tricks are easier than others, and all hamsters are different, so be patient and do not push your pet or get frustrated if it’s taking longer than you expected.

If both you and your hamster enjoy the training, there is really no limit as to how much you can teach your pet. You can use toys or build obstacle courses; make up the tricks as you go along and show off to friends and family!

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How to Care for an Older Chicken

On average backyard chickens live to an age of six to eight years, but there are of course exceptions. How old a chicken will become depends amongst other things on the breed and how a chicken is kept. Heavy layers exhaust themselves with a lifespan of just three years, others can live up to ten years. According to the Guinness World Records world’s oldest chicken is Matilda, a Red Pyle hen from Alabama that died at the age of sixteen (1990-2006). A hen is considered a senior around the age of five. If you are not sure about the age of a chicken, there are signs that will tell you your hen is getting older.

As a chicken gets older the texture of the comb will slightly change and she will likely have some scars from being pecked by other chickens. The feet and legs tend to thicken and if your hen has spurs, you know she’s not a youngster anymore (generally chickens grow spurs around three years of age). Arthritis may cause your older chicken to move stiffly and you might notice she walks a bit slower and more carefully. And of course the egg production of an older hen will decrease. The average chicken lays eggs for four to five years on a regular basis, with the peak of the egg production around 18-24 months. Already after two years, the egg production tends to drop. When you start seeing soft or thin-shelled and misshapen eggs, you know your hen is about to retire from egg laying altogether. But with most breeds living to age seven or beyond, you’ve got a few more years to enjoy the companionship of the hen that has served you and your family so well.

CARING FOR OLDER CHICKENS

Caring for older hens isn’t difficult and really isn’t much different than caring for them when they’re younger but there are a few things you can do for them to make sure they are healthy and comfortable.

Lower the perch in the run and/or coop
Senior chickens can start having mobility problems due to arthritis or joint inflammation. By lowering the height of the perch to one or two feet off the ground it’s easier for your old hen to hop onto it, protecting her joints. Building a ramp up into the coop might be necessary.

Predator proof run
Old chickens don’t move as fast as they used to. Providing them with a predator proof space is important to keep them safe. It’s best to supervise your chickens when they are free ranging. You may want to provide your older chickens with a separate coop and run to prevent younger, more aggressive hens from pecking them.

Accessible food and water
Make sure food and water containers are easily accessible. This means the food and water containers must be on an easily accessible height. It can also be a good idea to have two sources of food and water: one in their run area and if they are free ranging one outside. Older chickens may not be able to range as far for food and water.

Feeding older hens
If your entire flock is older and none of the hens are laying any longer, you can give the whole flock a chicken grower feed since they don’t need the additional calcium that a layer feed provides. If you are feeding different age groups together or add new chicks to the flock, the entire flock can be fed the chicken grower feed from the time the new chickens are eight weeks old up until the laying age of 16 to 18 weeks old. After that the new layers will need a laying feed. The layer feed won’t hurt the older hens, as the calcium is good for their bones.

Nail clipping
Older chickens may not be wearing down their nails with activity like foraging and scratching. If the claws are curling round then they will need trimming. Consider nail clipping as part of caring for old chickens if your chickens have long nails.

A good vet
Try to find a vet near you who specialises in poultry. Do this and register in advance of having problems. Arthritis, egg failure, joint inflammation, gout, ascites, tumors, adenocarcinoma and salpingitis are issues that can come up with chickens of any age, but more so in old chickens.

BENEFITS OF OLDER HENS

In their own way, older hens contribute well past their productive egg laying years. Older hens still produce manure, which is a great fertilizer for your garden. Older hens still like to eat bugs. You’ll notice a reduction in the number of ticks and snails in your garden when you keep a flock of chickens. Furthermore, older hens are more likely to go broody and be available to raise the chicks you purchase or hatch.

 


Above: Omlet’s new chicken fencing
Sources: omlet, countrysidenetwork, mypetchicken, poultrykeeper, thehappychickencoop, wideopenpets, the-chicken-chick

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Caring for your rabbits in winter

When the temperatures drops, most rabbit owners know the importance of checking that their pet’s hutch is winter ready.

However, did you know it’s just as important to consider your rabbit’s emotional needs as well?

Brave the cold to give your bunny a cuddle!  

An often overlooked problem for rabbits in winter is that they have reduced playtime with their owner. When the weather’s nice, you’ll often be outside even if you’re not specifically going out to see your rabbit.  You and your pet will benefit from lots of regular visibility. However, in the winter when you’re not going outside as much, you and your rabbit will also be missing out on regular contact and this will have a significant impact on your rabbits’ health. Even if kept with other rabbits, they can still miss you and feel lonely. Brave the cold and get outside to maintain as much of their normal routine as possible.  And remember rabbits are crepuscular meaning they are most active at dusk and dawn so even when it’s dark you can still pop out to see them, it’s unlikely you’ll disturb their sleep.

As well as less playtime with their owner, less exercise is also an unhealthy side effect of the winter months. It is incredibly important you do all you can to avoid this affecting your rabbits’ health.

Consider a hutch with a run attached so that your rabbits have access to space for exercise during the day. A large walk in run also makes it easier for you to play with your rabbit, as there is space inside for you to join them, and you and your rabbits can be protected from the elements by covers over the top and around the sides of the run.

If your rabbits’ hutch is not attached to a run, the Zippi Tunnel System is an excellent solution to link these two together, and provide rabbits with easy access to a larger area for exercise when they choose. You can also open the run in the morning and close in the evening by using the door on the Zippi Tunnel entrance.

Provide lots of dry bedding in their hutch and if your rabbit’s get really wet then you can dry your rabbits with a towel after outdoor activity. Check there is food and water available in the run, as well as a shelter and toys. You can even place some bedding in the run to encourage exercise when it is cold.

Your rabbits’ home

In winter, ensure that your rabbits’ home is waterproof, dry and ventilated. A common problem with standard wooden hutches is that they can become damp and cold from leaks and drafts. If you do have a wooden hutch, it is important to check the home for damp patches regularly. You will also need to remove any wet bedding promptly as this can freeze.

Consider moving your hutch closer to your house, in a sheltered area to protect it from wind and rain and make it easier for you to check on your bunnies regularly.

Provide your rabbits with extra bedding to keep them warmer during these colder months, and you may also want to purchase a safe microwavable heat pad to place underneath bedding if temperatures drop below freezing.

Ensure your rabbits have access to clean drinking water at all times, as they will likely drink more in winter, and check this is not frozen on particularly cold days. As well as hay, provide your rabbits with some leafy greens as these may be in short supply for them in your garden at this time of year.

Some owners bring their rabbits indoors for winter. This can be a great way to keep pets warm and healthy in the colder months, however, the process needs to be carefully managed. Moving your rabbits into a different habitat can be a stressful change, which should be done gradually. Remove all hazards and cables from ground level in the rooms which your rabbits will have access to, provide a dark sleeping spot, and place familiar items from the outside hutch into the home.

We recommend seeking further advice from animal welfare experts such as the RSPCA or your vet if moving your rabbits indoors.

If this is not an option for you, or if your wooden hutch is looking a little worse for wear, and not providing your rabbits with the warm, dry shelter, they require, consider upgrading to a insulated waterproof hutch, such as the Eglu Go, which offers complete protection against the elements.

The Eglu Go Hutch has a unique twin wall insulation system which works in a similar way to double glazing to keep your rabbit’s home well insulated, while the draught-free ventilation system allows fresh air in without blowing cold air over the bedding area. The removable bedding tray can be slid out and cleaned quickly making it easier for you to meet your rabbits’ needs and maintain their dry living conditions.

 

Watch this video to see how easily the Eglu Go Hutch can be made completely winterproof…

Source – RSPCA (https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/rabbits, https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/seasonal/winter/pets)

Click here for full terms and conditions for New Year, New Eglu promo.

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New Year Resolutions For You And Your Pet

January is historically the month to set yourself some achievable goals for the year ahead. We’ve put together some ideas for creating New Year Resolutions for you and your pet!

Get Fit
No more quick walks around the block after dinner. 2019 is all about getting fit with your pet. Both you and your pet will reap the rewards both physically and mentally. On an average 30 minute dog walk you can burn between 100 and 200 calories.

Try a new activity with your pet
From hiking to kayaking, hitting the waves to joining a pet exercise class, it’s easier than ever for people to incorporate their pet into a new pastime. These new activities will help you burn lots of calories! A 30 minute walk on the beach will burn approximately 150 calories and you could expect to burn 220 calories on a 30 minute hike.

Incorporate More Playtime into Your Routine
Dogs love to play games and Cats love the thrill of chasing a toy; let’s just not tell them it’s exercise! Enjoy spending more time playing with your pets this year. A fun 20 minute tug of war would see you burn 50 calories.

Groom Your Pet Every Day
Brushing your pet helps to remove excess fur from their coat which reduces the amount you find on your clothes and furniture. It also helps distribute oils from the skin to the fur, to keep their coat healthy and shiny. Grooming an average sized dog burns 200 calories.

Teach an Old Dog a New Trick
Studies show that mental stimulation can help reduce cognitive deterioration in older animals. By keeping your senior pet’s brain active, it can actually make it healthier.

Update your Pet’s ID Info
Over the course of a year, a lot can change — people move, get new phone numbers, and forget to update their pet’s tags. Don’t wait — update their tags and microchips now.

Make new Friends
Visit your park and get to know other pet owners! It’s easier that you think!

Maintain a healthy diet
Lead a healthy life with a balanced diet and not too many treats.

Most of all; enjoy spending time with your wonderful pets!

Sources: BravoTv, Petmd, PetSit

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Top Ten Benefits Of Owning A Pet

Studies have shown that having a pet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, relieve stress, increase fitness levels and boost overall happiness and wellbeing.

Read our top ten benefits of owning a pet

  1. They keep you fit
    Dogs need regular, daily walks in order to stay happy and healthy, and so do we. On an average 30 minute dog walk you can burn between 100 and 200 calories!
  2. They lower your stress levels
    Life can be stressful and high levels of anxiety can lead to numerous health problems. Pets can help us to relax. Stroking your cat or simply watching your chickens in the garden can make your worries melt away
  3. They make sure you’re never lonely
    If you live alone, or your partner works different shift patterns to you, it can get very lonely at home – unless you have a pet! They make great companions – they’ll always be waiting for you to come home.
  4. They can lower your cholesterol Levels
    Reports have shown that people who own pets–and men, in particular–have significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those who don’t have pets.
  5. They can lower your blood pressure   
    It has been suggested that owning a pet decreases your blood pressure. The reduction in blood pressure could, in turn, lower risk of stroke and heart disease.
  6. They can help you make friends
    The pet owner community is incredibly friendly – you’ll often find that people will stop to talk to you about your dog during a walk. Having a pet is a great way to meet new people.
  7. They can teach children responsibilities
    Having a pet in the home is a great way for children to learn valuable life lessons in a fun, rewarding way. They get to take on the daily responsibility of feeding, exercising and caring for their animal.
  8. They can boost your mental wellbeing.
    Studies have found that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets and ownership can reduce stress and anxiety levels. Playing with your pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  9. They help you establish a daily routine
    The responsibilities that come with owning a pet can give your day purpose, reward and a sense of achievement. Regular routines are said to help forge discipline, help energy management and support mental space.
  10. And last but not least, they will give you unconditional love
    However bad your day’s been, you’ll have someone who depends on you to shower you with affection. The British Medical Journal believes the emotional bond between owner and pet can be as intense as that in many human relationships.

Sources: PetMd, PawCulture, WomansDay

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Are you finding frozen eggs in your nest box?

Finding a frozen egg in the next box is one of the most disappointing things a chicken keeper can experience, especially as eggs can be few and far between in winter.

An egg white freezes at -0.45°C, and a yolk at -0.58°C, which means that exposed eggs are at risk of freezing as soon as the temperatures approaches zero.

Can I use a frozen egg?

Frozen eggs can make you very ill. When the egg freezes the contents expand, causing the shell to crack. If you find a frozen egg with a cracked shell, the safest thing to do is to discard it, as you don’t know what unpleasant things the contents of the egg have come in contact with.

If the shell isn’t broken, you can keep the egg frozen until you need it, and then thaw it in the fridge. You might however find that it doesn’t behave completely like eggs that haven’t been frozen, especially the yolk. It can get gelatinous and thick, and will not flow like it normally does. It will also be much more difficult to separate the white and the yolk, so it’s best to use the egg for a recipe where the whole egg is needed.

How to prevent the eggs from freezing

Insulate your coop
The simple answer is to insulate your coop, or to get a coop that is already insulated, like the Eglu chicken coops. If you try to insulate your coop with plastic or tarp, or some old rugs you’ve got lying around, make sure you keep the coop well-ventilated.

Focus on the nest box
Try to make the nest box as inviting and warm as possible. Hanging curtains around them will help retain the heat from the chickens, as will lots of straw.

Collect the eggs more frequently
You will be surprised how fast an egg freezes in sub zero temperatures. Rather than collecting the eggs once in the morning, try to visit the coop 3 or 4 times a day to get the new eggs into the warmth of the house as soon as possible.

If this is not a possibility for you, Omlet’s Eglu coops can give you a bit more flexibility. The twin-wall insulation system will keep the coop warmer for longer, which prevents the eggs in the nest box from freezing, while also keeping your chickens warm and cosy, and the coop nicely ventilated. You can also protect your eggs (and chickens) against the most extreme temperatures with our rage of insulating blankets and jackets.


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This entry was posted in Keeping Chickens


Happy Howlidays: Food do’s and don’ts for dogs this Christmas

Christmas is a time that all members of the family should enjoy, including your pet pooch. The problem is that if you are not careful, the festivities can turn out to be not so great for your dog. Giving them the wrong food, or inviting them into a busy kitchen, can cause things to take a turn for the worse, very quickly.

Foods that your dog should not eat

Starting with the basics, your furry friend should never be encouraged to join in with Christmas drinking. Even a small amount of alcohol is bad for them. There are also several traditional festive food goodies that you should not share with your pet:

  1. The bones and skin from the turkey.
    Bones from any bird can be dangerous. They are delicate and can break into small pieces making them a serious choking hazard. The skin of turkeys and chickens is full of fat which can cause problems with your dog’s pancreas.
  2. The gravy you have with dinner.
    You may think that gravy is delicious and completely harmless. However, it’s high in salt and fat; both of which can be dangerous to dogs.

  3. Onions and other bulb vegetables.
    Onions are the main cause for concern when it comes to bulb vegetables. They are poisonous to dogs, so your pet should be kept away from them. It’s also a good idea to not feed them other bulb vegetables like garlic. They are not as immediately toxic but a build-up of them can cause serious problems.
  4. Christmas cake ingredients, raisins, currants and sultanas.
    All of these items, together with grapes, are poisonous to dogs. In fact, if your pet does eat even a small amount, you should seek help from a vet as soon as possible. For this reason, Christmas treats such as Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies should never be fed to dogs.
  5. Chocolate in any form.
    Chocolate is a favourite in most homes over the holidays. This is fine for humans, in moderation, but it’s not good for dogs. The theobromine that is present in chocolate can be deadly to your furry friend, so do not let them have any,, no matter how much they give you the sad eyes treatment.

These are a few of the festive food treats that you should not share with your dog at Christmas, or any other time of year. However, it’s not all bad news, there are some favourites that your pet can enjoy.

Christmas food that your dog can eat

Before you start feeling mean about depriving your pooch of all the food that they want, but is really bad for them, there are several favourites that pets and people can all enjoy. It’s important to remember that all of these foods should be given to dogs in moderation; keep portions small.

  1. A few slices of turkey.
    You can give your pet some white turkey meat, as long as the skin has all been removed.
  2. Boiled and mashed potatoes.
    Dogs enjoy a little potato that can be boiled or mashed. Remember that you should only ever feed your pet plain potato with no salt or butter added.
  3. Mixed and green vegetables.
    As with any other food items, do not give your dog a pile of vegetables, but it’s fine to let them have a few selected items such as carrot and swede mash, sprouts, parsnip and green beans. Do not add any seasoning or sauces before you give the vegetables to your pet.
  4. Fruit with pips or stones removed.
    Aside from rhubarb, which is poisonous to dogs, you can share fruit bowl items with your pet. However, you need to make sure that pips and stones are removed. You should also remember that fruit is acidic and contains sugar so can cause stomach problems in dogs if they have too much.

Making sure your furry friend has a great Christmas is important. Keeping your dog out of the kitchen, and making sure they eat and drink the right things, can help make this happen.


Written by Ella Hendrix.

Image Credit: Stonehouse Furniture

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Have yourself a Pet Friendly Christmas

Christmas is a wonderful time of year, and we are all looking forward to celebrating together with our loved ones, including our pets! It’s therefore important to think about what effect all the festive fun is having on our furry little friends, and make sure they’re also having a nice time. Here are some of our top tips for keeping your pets safe and happy this Christmas:

Limit treats

We know it’s much more difficult to resist feeding scraps to your pets over Christmas, but in most cases it really is not good for them. In some cases it can actually be harmful. Instead we suggest that you, if you’ve got a few days off from work, spend some extra time with your pets. They will without a doubt prefer that to treats or presents!

Keep routines

Try to stick to the normal schedule as much as possible over the holidays, especially when it comes to meal times. Let your chickens out at the same time as usual, walk your dog as you would normally and give your cat its daily play time. They might not understand that you have got lots to do, and a disruption of their routines will add to a possibly already stressful time.

Give your pets a safe space

Christmas can get hectic, so make sure your pet have somewhere to go to get away from all hustle and bustle, preferably in a different, quieter, room. If you’ve got guests coming over, let them know what to do, and what not to do, around your pets. It’s important that everyone knows what doors, windows and gates need to be kept closed, what the pets are allowed to do and eat, and when they are to be left alone.

Going away

If you’re spending Christmas somewhere else, you need to take your pets into consideration. Don’t leave them alone for longer than they are used to, and make sure they’ve got what they need while you’re away. If you’re taking them with you, bring something that will remind them of home, like a blanket or a toy, or even their crate or cage. If you can’t take them with you, you will need to find another solution.

Make sure you plan the journey and be aware of the fact that traffic can be busy around Christmas. Your pet must have access to food and water at all times, and depending on your what pet you’ve got, there might be a need for toilet breaks.

Christmas Trees and Plants

Make sure your Christmas tree if safely secured, as cats tend to try and climb them. It might also be a good idea to hang especially intriguing and tantalising decorations higher up in the tree where pets can’t reach them as easily. This minimises the risk of cats getting tangled and the tree falling over.

Hoover under and around the tree regularly to get rid of fallen pine needles. The needles can get stuck in mouths or between toes, which can be very painful.

Lots of our most common Christmas plants, including poinsettias, mistletoe and amaryllis, are poisonous to a lot of pets, so make sure you stay clear of them, or keep them out of reach.

Decorations and presents

If possible, choose non-toxic Christmas decorations. Keep cables from lights and other decorations out of reach, or your pets might try to nibble through them, which can cause damage to both cable and pet.

Don’t leave presents containing eatable things (chocolate in particular!) under the tree. It will soon be sniffed out, and it won’t take a couple of greedy paws long to get into a wrapped present.

Once the gifts have been opened, clear away the wrapping paper straight away. Not only will you avoid having paper all over the room once your pets get to it, but coloured paper and string should also not be ingested by pets.

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Does my pet need a buddy?

An animal that exhibits a high degree of sociality is called a social animal. This means they need contact with their own kind. Being kept on their own causes these animals to experience boredom, frustration and fear. Unless you have plenty of time to socialise with them, it is recommended these pets have a buddy.

Solitary animals on the other hand spend a majority of their lives without others of their species, with possible exceptions for mating and raising their young. They are often territorial and do not like the company of another animal, especially an animal of their own kind. Some solitary animals will even start fighting when kept together, which can harm or even kill one or both animals.

 

Rabbits
Wild rabbits spend their lives as part of a large group, known as a warren. Rabbits are very sociable animals and need to be kept with at least one other rabbit. It is easiest if rabbits are kept together from birth, but rabbits less than 3 months old will usually live together happily. The best combination is a neutered male and a neutered female. Two litter brothers or two litter sisters will also get on well, but to prevent fighting it is important that they are both neutered.

Hamsters
Syrian (and sometimes Chinese) hamsters must be kept alone. If kept together, these hamsters will get very stressed, even if they are housed in a large enclosure. For owners who want to keep two or more hamsters together, Dwarf hamsters are recommended (such as Roborovskis or Winter Whites). These species can be kept in pairs or groups as long as they are given adequate space.

Guinea pigs
In the wild guinea pigs live in groups of 10 or more, they are social creatures, and like company. As pets they are usually kept in pairs; two females (sows) will live happily together, as will two males (boars), particularly if they are brothers. Two boars of different ages will usually live together, as long as there are no females around. If a female and male live together the male should be castrated.

Gerbils
Due to their social nature gerbils need the company of their own kind, the exception being Fat-Tailed gerbils. It is always advisable to get a pair of gerbils because it can be difficult to introduce two gerbils to each other when they are adults (around 16 weeks old). You can keep either two males or two females. Whilst gerbils are social and can live in groups, unless you have a very big area to keep them in, it’s better to keep no more than 2-4.

Dogs
Dogs love nothing more than attention and affection, whether it be from you (their owner) or their fellow dog friends. They can be perfectly happy with just the attention from their owner and family, which means getting another dog is not essential. It is often thought that adopting another dog will instantly solve all problems associated with your first dog’s separation anxiety, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. When adopting a second dog you must consider a number of different variables, including gender, temperament, energy requirements and size.

Cats
It is thought that cats don’t actually crave companionship from one of their own. Often they are perfectly happy being the only cat in the house. Cats are indeed a solitary species but they can and do live in groups. But an extra cat friend (or partner in crime) does provides extra mental and physical stimulation. The major benefit to getting two cats is that they will keep each other company whilst you are away. Getting kittens from the same litter of cats is always the best choice.

Chickens
Free-ranging chickens are social animals. Hens and chicks are the core, while roosters live independently. Because they are social animals they prefer to live in a flock. A chicken without a buddy will get lonely and stressed out. When you have a group of chickens or add new chickens to your existing flock, they will have to establish the pecking order and you might start to wonder if they are social animals after all. Read the guide on our website for more information on how to introduce chickens to an existing flock.

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Warming Winter Breakfast for your Chickens

The cold, frosty temperatures of Winter are in full swing, and while you are enjoying a warm cup of tea in the warmth of your kitchen, you might be looking out on your girls wondering how they feel about the colder weather.

If you’re looking for a new way to keep them warm first thing in the morning, or late afternoon just before they go to roost, consider making this yummy, warm corn recipe, specially for your hens, with a festive flavour which will provide extra nutrients to keep up their health this winter. It’s super simple and quick to make.

Ingredients – for 2-3 chickens

40g corn

20g oats

20g raisins

100ml hot water

Pinch of ginger, cinnamon

Method

Soak the corn, oats and raisins in hot water for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in a pinch of Ginger and Cinnamon for added nutrients for your chickens. Leave to cool slightly before feeding to chickens.

Ginger supports the immune system and provides anti-inflammatory benefits which can be particularly beneficial for a poorly hen. Cinnamon has antibacterial and antioxidant benefits, and can reduce inflammation, these are extremely good for chickens as they are likely to experience respiratory problems.

Only feed your chicken’s porridge as an occasional treat. Make this recipe outside of your kitchen to avoid cross contamination of food.

Source: https://www.fresheggsdaily.com/2015/05/spice-up-your-chicken-keeping-for.html

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Give your bunny rabbits their own warren

Why Settle For A Hutch When You Can Have A Warren?

We all know that pet rabbits need a hutch and a run. But what if they could enjoy the luxuries of a warren in your own back garden, complete with rabbit burrows and tunnels, without having to dig under the lawn and flower beds?

Connecting a rabbit hutch to a run is a simple way to keep bunnies happy. A set up such as Omlet’s Eglu Go is part of the solution, combining the indoors and outdoors that rabbits require. But there are other, more ingenious ways of giving your bunnies the perfect home.

Drain Pipes For Rabbits?

Like all animals, rabbits have inbuilt instincts that need satisfying. Rabbit tunnels and rabbit burrows are as central to their requirements as a bathroom and a comfy bed are to you. In the wild, rabbits live in complex warrens, made up of many private and communal living spaces linked by underground tunnels. This instinct to move around underground is strong in pet bunnies too. And yet, for many, it is an instinct that remains unsatisfied.

This was the inspiration behind the Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System, a design that builds and improves on the concept of drain pipes for rabbits. Its durable, flexible, easy-to-clean tunnels are a neat DIY solution that gives rabbits the tunnelling their instincts demand, and with no extra digging required.

A Rabbit Tunnel, And Then Some!

The Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System’s burrow pipes provide easy access from hutch to run, and a cosy bolt hole too. They can link runs to playpens too, enabling your kids to become part of the home warren.

Because rabbits come in all sizes, the Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System is built to accommodate the very largest of breeds, and is designed with a flexibility that puts the average drainpipe to shame:

  • It comes in 90cm sections, with no limit on the length and complexity of your set up.
  • All fixings and connectors are supplied.
  • The Zippi doesn’t think in straight lines – it can curve around any garden feature if required.
  • In addition to the standard 90cm tunnel, there are optional Zippi T-Junctions, Corner Pieces, Lock-out doors, and mid-tunnel Look-out sections which double as Hay Racks.
  • Support hoops lift the Zippi from the ground, enabling the grass to grow beneath it.
  • The unique design provides ventilation and drainage, and keeps out any would-be predators.

Bunny Bliss

Rabbits make great pets. They don’t disturb the peace, they don’t hunt birds and rodents, and they don’t require constant walking and training. Coupled with the fact that they are cute and full of character, this has made them a hugely popular choice of pet in recent years.

But it’s not just about keeping you happy, it’s about delivering the bunny bliss your pet deserves. With a hutch and run, you’ve provided a cosy home. But add the Zippi Rabbit Tunnel System, and you’ve got a wonderful warren that represents the ultimate des res for rabbits.

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