Archive | June 2012

Pet Smart Tips to Improving your Pet’s Life- Part 1 FOOD


We all love our pets, big or small, hairy or hair-less and we all want to do our best to keep them healthy, happy and content. So here’s some Pet Smart tips to help improve your dog or cat or ferret’s life, starting with food.

I’ve put together some do’s and don’ts which will make you a more savvy pet owner and hopefully help you save some money as well as helping to improve your pet’s health!


  • Do check your pet food packaging; Check that the main or top ingredient is Meat, chicken or turkey are cheap so there could be a high percentage of actual meat in your pet’s food at least 50%. Don’t think that meat meal or animal by products is the same thing because it isn’t, animal by-products can include, heads, beaks, feet and viscera – nothing too nutritious in those things as a whole. If your top ingredient isn’t meat but a cereal like wheat, maize, corn etc, then you are wasting your money because your pet is probably quite literally, getting rid of it as quickly as you feed it. Cereals are called fillers or ‘fibre’ but your dog or cat can’t digest these cereals and therefore it will come out in nearly the same amounts it went in. Go for a good quality, high meat content and you will probably have to feed less in the long run, saving you money.
  • the 2nd part of checking you pet’s food packaging if you feed a commercial brand is to check that there are no added preservatives, colourings or other additives. (This includes commercial dog treats and chews too) So check there are no E numbers, sugars or something called Ethoxyquin – this is a stabilizer which stops fats from becoming rancid, giving them a longer shelf life. It is also a stabilizer for rubber in car tyres! A healthy diet does not contain any of these things in large quantities or eaten at every meal or obviously there will soon be signs that your dog or cat isn’t coping with the large amounts of chemicals and sugars in its diet, obesity, like in humans is never a good sign. Neither is a thin animal that wont put weight on.
  • Give your pet Real Food as often as you can. Even table scraps and leftovers, over ripe fruit and vegetables will add much-needed vitamins, minerals and natural enzymes to your pet’s diet that a dry kibble or tinned food may be lacking. *Remember, uncooked foods don’t lose nutrients like cooked foods do, so if you aren’t up to switching to a raw, whole food diet just yet, try just quickly sealing meat, liver or fish in a pan before adding it to your pet’s food- They’ll love you even more for it!
  • Do you filter your own tap water? What about your pet’s? Have you ever wondered why they prefer to drink out of a dirty puddle than their bowl? There are many chemicals added to our tap water to make it safe to drink but some waters (depending on geographical terrain) can contain high natural chemicals like Calcium or Lead as well as added Flouride; our pets naturally know that some water tastes better than others and will use their preference. So if you already filter your own water or use bottled water, why not top up their bowl too. Or you can place a bucket outside to collect rain water for your pet if you don’t.
  • Lastly, Do give your dog a big, fresh, raw meaty bone at least once a week– more often if you can afford it.You’re local butcher or market can be a great source. It will help your dog clean his teeth and gums, satisfy his chewing and gnawing needs and he’ll look so happy when you give him one that you’ll wonder why you didn’t do this before! (Do make sure bones of any kind are larger than your dog’s mouth if not as big as their head,so they have to chew ). Scrap all those processed treats and chews- this will be much healthier for their whole body, not just their teeth- no more dental trips to the vets!


  • Don’t feed the following foods to your pets as they are toxic and others can be harmful

Chocolate, Grapes, Raisins, Onions or Avocados

Excessive starchy foods like bread and potato’s can cause Bloat in large amounts

Small pieces of bone or cooked bones can splinter and can cause choking or get stuck

Fruit pits and corn cobs can get stuck in the bowel

  • Don’t feed cow’s milk to your pets, it is high in fats and natural growth hormones. Most dog’s and cats have a lactose intolerance and cannot digest any nutrients in milk, therefore you are feeding a high calorie, low nutrient liquid which has no benefit to your pet – not to mention the milk sludge which will coat their teeth. Stick to water!
  • Don’t worry about adding new foods to your pet’s diet. Doing your research and reading books and surfing the internet could help you learn and know more about pet nutrition than some vets!

 Ask – ask other people you know what they feed, what they have tried and don’t be put off by scare-mongers. Join groups or forums online who are set up to help and support newcomers and give them advice and support.

Not feeling that you are on your own is a big part of starting any new journey of any kind. We’ve all been there and we all want the best for our pets!

Some Books and resources to get you started

Books- The Nature of Animal Healing by Martin Goldstein (D.V.M.)

Work Wonders by Tom Lonsdale (Australian DVM)

Barf & Raw Feeders N.Ireland– Facebook group for new and experienced pet owners

Or you can visit my own website where you can download an introduction to raw feeding your pet or email me

I hope you found this content of value and look forward to you lovely comments. Don’t forget you can sign up to receive free updates from my blog or sign up to my newsletter on my website!

Bernie- The Dog Owners Coach

Time for a Vacation – What about the dog? 6 Reasons to Hire a Petsitter

We would all love to take our dogs on holidays with us, some people do but if we want to go a  little further away sometimes it’s better to leave fido at home. So then the big decision is ‘What about the dog?’

I meet a lot of dog owners in my line of work and many of them tell me they haven’t taken a holiday since they got a dog. Usually when asked why they reply with ‘ we couldn’t put him/ her in kennels!’ or ‘we tried kennels once, never again’. It seems guilt is a big factor in leaving the dog behind and then to have to leave them in a big concrete building away from all their creature comforts is more than most owners can bear.

Most modern boarding kennels are heated, are comfortable and dogs get their daily walks and attention but if kennels aren’t your thing then there are plenty of other options. There are Home Boarding which is someone who will look after your dog in their home, you will probably still have to show your dog is up to date with vaccinations and parasite treatments. But they will have 24hr care and usually all their home comforts. Obviously if you can get a family member or friend to look after your dog while you are away is always a great option, if you trust them to do the job right but, the next best thing to that is to hire a Petsitter.

6 reasons why a Petsitter will fit the bill

  1. You will have someone not only looking after your dog(s) but also your home; most petsitters will do home services too like collecting mail, watering plants, leaving out bins so you dont have to worry about coming home to a pile of mail or dead plants. It will all be taken care of. Most petsitters will take care of other pets as well as dogs and cats but check first.
  2. A Petsitter will usually charge you for the time you are away, not by the number of pets you have, therefore if you have lots of pets a Petsitter could be a cheaper option in the long run.
  3. By remaining in their home environment most dogs and cats are a lot happier and therefore seem less likely to pine or worry while owners are away, why would they, they’re at home!
  4. Pets get to stay in their normal routines for feeding, walks, play time, nap time so there is no big changes which could make your pet get stressed. Plus they have someone taking care of them the whole time you are away.
  5. If you have a pet that needs specialist feeding or medication, this is always an added worry in kennels that the same person will do this properly. With a Petsitter you can show them and make sure you are happy before you leave knowing that that person will do exactly what you have shown them and your pet is in good hands.
  6. Petsitters usually get their work from repeat business and word of mouth, someone who does a good job and is trusted will always be recommended, so ask friends or other dog owners who they use to look after their pets. You might be surprised to find there is a local Petsitter in your area.

Most Pet sitter have many years experience with looking after different animals, including their own.  Don’t be afraid to ask them about their experience, many professional Petsitters will bring references from other clients, insurance certificates and a contract for you to fill in to keep everything legal, professional and both parties happy. They will usually do an introduction interview to say Hi and answer your questions and of course to meet your pets, obviously the petsitter wants to be happy taking on the job as much as you will want to be happy hiring that person to look after your home and pets.

If all goes well then once your petsitter has been hired you can go on holiday with the safe knowledge that your dog, cat or bunny is being well looked after and in safe hands and you can relax. Don’t be afraid to ask your petsitter to send you a text or an email for updates if this is the first time away from you pet, they will understand. I am always happy to text worrying owners and even send them photos of their pet having a good time, we all worry a little when we leave our pets.

I hope I have helped you take a bit of the worry out of going away and leaving your dog or pets at home. If you live in N.Ireland you can find my petsitting services HERE

I would love to hear your experience of going away and who you use to take care of your pet, please leave a comment below.

Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach