Pet wellness experts, Itch, have launched the first ever pet insurance. It rewards proactive pet care, giving pet parents discounts on their insurance for taking the best possible care of their pets with Itch’s range of parasite protection and pet wellbeing products.
To celebrate the launch of Itch Insure, Itch worked with animal behaviour and welfare expert Dr Lauren Finka, to create a unique, innovative audio experience for owners and pets to enjoy together. The audio track which is voiced by Oli Juste, leading dog trainer, behaviourist and Itch advisory panellist, is designed to ensure the time we spend with our pets is as rewarding as it can be.
Research from Itch into how we reward ourselves and our pets found that over two thirds (67%) of pet owners see their pets as much a part of the family as siblings, children and parents. Over a third (35%) also say that they often go above and beyond to ensure their pet is as happy and healthy as is possible, yet just over half (57%) of Brits say they have pet insurance, leaving 43% of pet owners at risk should anything happen to their fluffy friends.
With such an unbreakable bond between pet and owner, it makes sense that a further third (34%) say they love to share rewarding experiences with their pet and admit to trying to replicate human experiences for them to enjoy such as letting them eat human food (17%) and massaging them (17%).
Itch also found ‘anxiety and stress’ are the most reported pet health conditions by owners when signing-up to an Itch subscription, as well as one of the top causes of current concerns by pet owners (23%). Respondents also expressed that their pets are one of their biggest concerns in life (44%), more than their finances (40%) or even their job (17%). As such, the audio track places a focus firmly on pet health and wellbeing and features positive reinforcement for both human and animal.
The creation of the unique Pet ‘af-fur-mations’ audio track in reaction to the findings combines classical music, affirmations and meditation for a unique, innovative sound experience for owner and pet. It provides ultimate relaxation and a moment of calm for pets and owners to enjoy together.
Dr Lauren Finka discusses the benefits of sounds and affirmations for pets: “The idea behind this audio experience is for pet owners to take a few moments to enter into a calm, peaceful and positive mental state while being close to their pets. Scientific research shows that pets are sensitive to our tone of voice, body language and facial expressions and may therefore notice (and appreciate) the changes in our behaviour that the relaxation practice using this track will bring.
“Studies also suggest that just like in humans, classical music can calm and relax cats and dogs. Additionally, positive verbal praise from owners has been found to stimulate the ‘reward’ parts of dogs’ brains. Therefore, as well as encouraging us humans to relax, the music and affirmations selected for the audio track are also designed to have a directly positive, calming impact on your pet.”
Research also found that pet owners believe one of the best ways to reward their pets is by keeping them healthy (27%). 32% reward their pet by taking them on a long walk, 23% think about regular parasite protection, 22% make sure they only give their pet ‘healthy’ food and 10% purchase some kind of health supplement for their pet.
Andrew Pinnington, CEO at Itch, commented: “It’s great to see that pet health and wellbeing is at the top of the agenda for pet owners. As well as the reward that cat and dog owners receive from having a healthy and happy pet in their lives, we think they should also be rewarded for taking the best possible care of their pets and that’s exactly what Itch Insure is all about. As a member of Itch, you’re taking a proactive approach to pet care by protecting your pet against fleas, ticks, lice and worms, as well as common pet health concerns such as ear infections and dental issues. We think this deserves great savings on your insurance, as healthy pets take less trips to the vets.”
Itch is a hassle-free monthly subscription service for pet health and well-being products including highly effective parasite treatments. By using Itch Treatments, you are focusing on your furry friends wellbeing. This means Itch will reward you with 10-17% off your insurance payments based on your subscription level. The more you protect your pet, the more you save.
Zoe Costigan, in-house Vet at Itch adds: “Insurance that promotes the wellbeing of pets by encouraging and rewarding proactive care should be a leading choice for all pet parents. When you sign-up to Itch Insure you get unlimited access to the Itch Vet Clinic. There are a range of experts, including behaviourists on hand with a friendly listening ear, whenever you need them.”
Itch Insure is provided by Pinnacle Insurance PLC. Itch Insure members can also get access to the Itch Vet Clinic, offering 24/7 free and unlimited advice from vets, nurses, behaviourists and counsellors. To find out more and to sign-up to Itch Insure, please visit www.itchpet.com/insure.
To listen to the pet af-fur-mations and for tips on setting the experience up, visit The Itch website.
After a rollercoaster few months keeping paws crossed, top doggy festival Dogstival sponsored by Purely Pets, is preparing to go ahead on 5 and 6 September. This promises to be the ultimate treat for all Very Important Pets, who have been working hard to provide companionship and exercise for their humans during these unprecedented times. Following the easing of Covid-19 guidelines, this two-day extravaganza of four-legged fun will again take place in the heart of doggy paradise, the New Forest, in Burley Park.
For everyone’s safety and reassurance, Dogstival’s organisers are working with New Forest District Council and Hampshire Police on plans, risk assessments and guidelines. Burley Park itself offer acres of space to explore, allowing easy social distancing and there will be plenty of extra hygiene measures in place including multiple hand sanitiser stations throughout and on-site cleaning teams across both days. Additionally, tickets are only being sold in-advance to comply with ‘track and trace’ and help manage capacity to ensure social distancing guidelines are met.
Dogstival will once again host the canine activities, shows and demonstrations that made their inaugural event such a hit with thousands of dogs and their owners last year. Dogstival will give pets a much-deserved ‘play-rise’ over one pawsome weekend with features including:
Richard Nowell from Lighthouse Marketing, organisers of Dogstival says: “We are delighted to start planning for Dogstival in September to ensure a much-deserved day out for our beloved pets and their humans. Being outdoors with acres of space to socially distance, we are confident in the level of public safety and we will be investing in a range of hygiene measures to protect our guests.”
Ross Hallifax, Director at Purely Pets, Dogstival’s headline sponsor adds: “Over the last few months, the positives to dog ownership have been highlighted more than ever. Our four-legged friends have provided support and comfort for many owners and have probably never been walked more in their life! That’s why it’s fantastic news that Dogstival can go ahead, in a controlled environment and we can continue to celebrate our canine friends. The show is not only a ‘paw-fect’ day out, but a great opportunity to find out more about our dogs and how to keep them happy and healthy. Whether a loyal companion or the centre of a family, we understand the important role they play in people’s lives and as specialists, our dedicated team can be trusted to offer the right insurance for owners and their pets alike.”
Boutique Shopping offers around 150 quality stalls selling everything a dog could wish for, as well as Artisan Food & Drink from Hampshire and New Forest producers.
Live Music and a Vintage Fairground complete the entertainment.
Tickets are advance purchase only. They are £13.90 for adults & £8 children aged 6-16yrs. Free for under 6 year olds. Concessions available. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Dogstival.co.uk. Also keep up with the latest announcements @dogstival on social media. Click here for more ideas of things to do, places to stay and general information on the New Forest area.
Dogs Trust asks the nation: is now really the right time for you to get a dog?
Charity concerned about impending puppy crisis as online searches to ‘get a puppy’ rise by 120%
DogsTrust is asking the public to weigh up if they are actually ready for the realities of dog ownership before taking the leap, as searches to get a dog have shot up in the past month while the country is on lockdown.
The charity is concerned there may be a spike in people giving up their dog when normality resumes and reality sinks in. This is the sad state of affairs that often follows Christmas when people also get dogs on a whim.
Dog ownership can be rewarding, but caring for a dog when you are at home 24/7 is not the norm, so the charity is temporarily tweaking its famous slogan to ‘A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Lockdown’ to get everyone to think twice before going ahead with a puppy purchase.
In the long-term, are you ready…
Dogs Trust’s Chief Executive, Owen Sharp, said:
“Dog ownership can be so rewarding, but it’s also a huge responsibility which is why we are reminding people today that ‘A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Lockdown’.
Like Christmas, when people are at home more, they might think now is the perfect time to get a dog. For some people this will be the case, but we’re asking people to consider when the lockdown lifts how your life will need to change to accommodate your four-legged friend.
We’re encouraging potential dog owners to carry out our test (see below) to find out if you’re Dog Ready. Are you ready to be chief pooper scooper? Are you ready to forego a lie in ever again? As well as more serious questions around vet treatment and preparing for emergencies. If there is still a dog- shaped space in your life, then it may be the right time for you.”
Graham Norton, owner of Labradoodle Bailey, TV presenter and Dogs Trust supporter said:
“As a dog owner myself, I know how much joy four-legged friends bring to our lives. I’ve certainly found that my gorgeous dog, Bailey, has taken the boredom out of lockdown for me, and I’ve really enjoyed spending even more time with him than usual. However, whilst the thought of introducing a cute, fluffy pooch to your family right now might be appealing, I fully support Dogs Trust’s important message, ‘A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Lockdown’. Don’t forget that you still have to walk a dog on a rainy evening and pick up their poo in the dark!
Please remember that life will go back to ‘normal’ at some point with people returning to work and school, and when this happens you need to think about whether you can still fit a dog into your life. Taking a look at Dogs Trust’s ‘are you dog ready’ test is a great place to start if you’re thinking seriously about getting a dog.”
Dogs Trust are asking people to take the test and see how ‘dog-ready’ they actually are. If you think you are ready for a dog, although centres are closed to the public, rehoming is happening on a limited basis. Please see website for details. Take the fun test here.
Bonfire Night, a seasonal tradition. At this time of year, watching a stunning spectacle in the sky is an event to look forward to. For dogs though, fireworks can be a terrifying experience. Research shows that 45% of dogs show signs of fear when they hear loud noises. While it is heartwarming to share special moments with our pets, it’s important that they enjoy it too. The experts at Canagan, grain-free pet food specialists, offer their tips on keeping your dog calm during this time.
Preparing your dog for fireworks season
De-sensitise them to loud noises in advance: Start playing firework sounds quietly while you’re with them at home, offering occasional treats. Gradually increase the volume. Eventually your dog will feel safe and will think of fun, happy moments when they hear real fireworks
Engage in plenty of activity during the day: Exercise with your dog during the day – whether a long walk, playing frisbee or fetch – so when the fireworks start, they’re almost too sleepy to notice
Let them out early: For most of the year it’s against the law to set fireworks off after 11 pm. However, this curfew is extended to midnight on Guy Fawkes Night. To ensure your pet enjoys a full night’s sleep, ensure they have gone to the toilet and eaten before bed. Introduce this earlier regime in the days leading up to your local display so they adjust
Keep them indoors: To prevent your dog from feeling distressed, get lost or injured, settle them down at home, in familiar surroundings
Create a ‘safe space’ in your home: Whether it’s their bed with blankets and soft toys, or on the sofa, create a comforting space where they can retreat and relax
Let them decide where to settle: While your designated ‘safe space’ may look appealing, your pet may prefer snuggling next to you. If you confine your pet to one place, they may grow distressed or hurt themselves trying to flee should they be spooked by your local display
Draw the curtains: Firework flashes can scare dogs, so shut out the light to create a relaxing environment
Escape-proof your home: Close all doors and windows and secure any garden escape routes. If you have people coming and going from the house, emphasise that external doors must be opened and shut swiftly to avoid your furry friend getting out
A collar and micro-chip are essential: If your dog does get out, a collar with your details and an up-to-date micro-chip will ensure they can be traced back to you
How to keep your dog calm during a display
Mask the sound: Playing the TV or radio – classical music for example is proven to calm dogs – will reduce the impact of loud noises
A long-lasting chew toy: Stuffing a chew toy with food will keep their attention and offer a delicious end to the evening
Act natural: Animals are perceptive and sense if you’re behaving unusually. This may unsettle them so give reassurance by inviting play
If they join you outside, use a leash: If you prefer your dog to accompany you during a fireworks display, keep them close on a lead. Your presence will reassure them, while you’ll have peace of mind knowing they won’t run away. Never, ever tie a fearful dog up outdoors and leave them alone.
Avoid leaving them alone at home: Arrange a sitter to look after your dog if you have plans to go out. If you return and your frightened pet has made a mess, don’t be annoyed. This will only cause your pet confusion and distress.
If fireworks are causing your dog high levels of anxiety seek advice from a behaviourist. De-sensitising your pet to loud noises and flashes takes time and keeping them comfortable is key to protecting their wellbeing, as well as maintaining calm behaviour.
We can take steps to make ourselves comfortable in hot weather, but our animal friends have to depend on us to help them. Below are some helpful tips, thanks to the RSPCA.
Every Sunday from 5 May for 8 weeks, dog lovers can head to a range of city centre bars to enjoy exclusive drinks for themselves and their pooches. The event is being sponsored by Tito's Handmade Vodka, who support dog-friendly events around the world.
The hub for the Leicester event is Rutland Street's Manhattan34. Entry costs £10, for which they receive their Tito's doggie bandana, a drink for themselves and dog-friendly cocktail for their four legged friend. Over the following weeks, participants can visit a range of bars to try Tito's cocktails. By collecting stamps and sharing a selfie of themselves and Man's Best Friend on social media at each bar, they will also be rewarded with a Tito's dog bowl and tin wall sign which available from Manhattan34.
One dog will be chosen from all pictures shared on Instagram to be the Tito's dog ambassador for Leicester and will receive a special prize. Each venue will donate £2 to a local dog charity for every Tito's special drink sold.
Here is a taster of Tito's drinks available from Manhattan34:
Chocolate Espresso Martini
Tito's vodka with a shot of espresso, coffee liqueur vanilla syrup & drizzle of chocolate sauce
Tito's vodka, dark chocolate Mozart & Bailey's
Floral & Ginger Mule
Tito's vodka with iced ginger tea, lavender & rose syrup and elderflower cordial
All I can say to that is 'Woof!'
A dedicated doggie foster carer who has helped care for more than 30 rescue dogs has rekindled her love for painting. She says it’s all down to the four-legged friends she has brought into her home.
Jo Heather from Salisbury started fostering dogs through Dogs Trust Salisbury's Home From Home scheme and has hand painted a picture of every dog that has come into her home. Collies, terriers, puppies and oldies, she has captured the likeness of every one whilst they sleep.
Jo said, "I studied Fine Art a few years ago but life got in the way and I had not picked up a paint brush for some time. But once I started fostering, our doggy visitors inspired me to revive my love of painting. I have always been inspired by nature, wildlife and animals, so I like to use the time to sit quietly during an evening, a tired dog curled up by my side and draw and paint. "
“As my daughters were growing up, we would often visit the centre with donations and were always in awe of those who worked there and the valuable role Dogs Trust played. During one visit two years ago, we saw a poster highlighting the need for foster homes and thought that might be a way to get involved and play a positive part in a dog’s life.
After a visit from the Home from Home coordinator, Emma Sainsbury, our minds were made up. She explained the support we would receive from Dogs Trust and the type of dogs who benefit from being in a foster home. It is so rewarding to see a dog starting to trust, to learn to play again or start to enjoy walks after being nervous of the outdoors. We have attended various Dog School classes that have helped with our understanding of dogs, but above all we just open our home and enjoy offering a safe space, full of care and kindness. We have had wonderful dogs of all ages and we are always so happy to see them find their forever homes.”
Emma Sainsbury said, “We are incredibly lucky to have a fantastic network of foster carers like Jo. The Home From Home scheme is there to help our doggies whilst they wait to be adopted, but it’s also so heartwarming to see how the dogs can help their foster carers discover things about themselves too. We believe a dog is for life and our fantastic fosterers really do show our dogs the meaning behind this statement, giving them a safe, loving environment to enjoy whilst they wait for their new families. For anyone who is a dog lover but dog-less and who wants a four-legged friend in their life but can’t commit to having a dog long-term, fostering could be the perfect solution.” See dogstrust.org.uk for more information.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and 12 x author. Published credits include the Telegraph, Mail, CNN, Express, Woman's Own, BBC magazines etc