by Harry Roberts Managing Director My Favourite Cottages
Statistics tell us that 3.2 million UK households welcomed a new pet since the pandemic, with 59 percent now owning one. A recent study revealed searches for 'dog-friendly holidays’ had a 665 % surge last year.
For National Pet Month, Harry Roberts, Managing Director My Favourite Cottages shares his top tips for going on holiday with man’s best friend…
Preparation is key when travelling with dogs. Research dog-friendly accommodations at your destination and ensure they have the right facilities. Also check that there are plenty of walks and trails available for you and your dog to enjoy. It’s also worth finding out if there are any dog-friendly beaches nearby that allow them to roam freely.
Getting to grips with where you’re staying beforehand makes life a lot easier when you’re there, plus it saves time and ensures you’re picking the perfect spot for your stay. Before you leave, make sure you pack essentials such as a sturdy lead, harness, waste bags, identification tags, treats and pet food.
It's also a good idea to bring your pet's medical records along too, ensure they are microchipped and look into how far away you are from local vets and whether they offer emergency appointments should any health problems arise, or your pet gets lost far away from home.
Sitting in a car for hours on end can be tedious for most of us, as it is for our pets. When travelling, check your pet has plenty of food and water for the journey and stop for regular breaks to allow them to replenish and go to the toilet.
Meanwhile, your pet's safety is paramount. Use a special seatbelt or harness to ensure your dog can't roam around the vehicle and distract you. Another good option is a pet carrier which allows them to stand up and lie down comfortably.
Making the most of your stay
Remember your holiday is as much for your dog as it is for you.
Allow your dog to get to grips with their new environment, smells and sounds, to allow them to feel safe and relaxed. Kitting your holiday home out with their favourite toys, blankets and belongings will help create a little sanctuary for them.
Give your pup plenty of attention and never leave them alone in your holiday home unattended, new places are sure to make them feel anxious or uneasy.
Be cautious of letting your dog off the lead in busy areas unfamiliar to both of you, as you never know what dangers could be around the corner, be that of other animals, people or hazards.
Try and stick to a routine as much as possible, including set feed and walk times, dogs are creatures of habit, after all.
Above all, have fun and enjoy your time away with your pup!
It was a great idea of Debi Emmett's to establish a Pet Food Bank service. Based in South Wales, the charity provides pet food and pet items for those who struggle to feed their beloved companions, including the homeless, those in financial difficulties, the elderly and victims of natural disasters.
Up to March this year, the service has provided a whopping:
15,532 pet meals
827 packets of dog treats
100 poo bags
153 dog coats
161 collars/ harnesses / leads
41 Dog toys
99 Packets of cat treats
Total pet meals provided to date: 79,692
More are always needed and there are lots of ways you can help Debi to help the animals, look here: https://petfoodbankservice.co.uk/help-us
Debi runs the service ably assisted by some friends and her lovely dog Ruby, official 'greeter' for the charity and chief of quality control.
This is Ruby >>>>>>>>
To find out more, visit
email Debi at:
or call her on 0787 1926934.
images (c) petfoodbankservice
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.
image (c) itch
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.
image (c) The Dogs Trust
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.
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer, 13 x author. Credits include: Telegraph, Mail, CNN, Express, BBC mags, Country & Town House, The Scotsman, World of Cruising & countless others