A Guide For New Pet Owners
Whether your pet is a fussy eater, large eater, small eater, likes raw pet food, wet pet food, natural pet food, dry pet food, handcrafted pet food, homemade recipes, or is a senior dog or cat or needs kitten or puppy food, there’s plenty to choose from a large selection of manufacturers available from thousands of UK outlets.
Today, you don’t have to visit your local store either with plenty of quality subscription services now available offering regular tailored made pet foods delivered straight to your door.
Just as we like to change our daily menus and eat a balanced diet, so do millions of UK pets, whose owners spend billions of pounds every year, making sure their beloved pooches and paws are well-loved. The government free website, Money Advice Service, suggests that dog owners are likely to spend approximately £200 to £400 a year to feed a dog, (2018) and there’s now more than 20 million pet dogs and cats in the UK. (2020), so the choice keeps getting bigger and bigger for this enormous pet food market.
What Food And Drinks Are Good For Your Pet?
There are three main types of pet food classified as ‘Dry, Wet or Raw.’
- Dry pet food generally biscuits, pellets or kibble.
- Wet pet food generally consists of chunks of (meat) in jelly, in gravy.
- Raw dog food is often frozen with high meat content.
Protein is one of the most important food groups, coming from meat or cereals in pet food. Protein levels for wet dog foods look lower compared with dry dog food because of the high water content. However, if you feed your dog the recommended quantities of complete wet food, then they should get a similar daily intake of protein as they would from dry food.
Did you know that the meat in pet food comes from animal derivatives, being the safe by-products of the human food industry as pet food must be fit for human consumption?
10 Tips Buying Your Pet Foods
There’s no one solution to buying pet food and it’s very much what your pet prefers and your choice. What suits one pet may not the next. There’s something for every pet.
- 1. Pet owners can cut costs by buying in bulk. Pets can become bored with repetitive purchasing so varying the contents of each bulk purchase is a must.
- 2. When buying online compare pet sites for free UK delivery post and packing services to reduce costs.
- 3. Check the contents of pet products before purchasing.
- 4. Pet foods filled with more meat will naturally cost more, cheap pet brands are often bulked out with cereal fillers.
- 5. Budget for larger pets who eat more, especially large dogs.
- 6. Companies are often obliging providing sample packs of their foods before purchasing bulk items or offer bundle packs for the first time at reduced prices for the new customer.
- 7. Try the FreeStuff website for free samples.
- 8. Take time to read customer reviews particularly before purchasing new pet products or purchasing from new shop accounts.
- 9. Sign up for regular exclusive pet offers and newsletters.
- 10. Lookout for pet food companies providing free impartial general veterinary advice services available online for customers, which can be helpful in emergencies.
- 11. Vegan and vegetarian owners may prefer their pets to follow their lifestyles, however, this is not preferred by vets. Seek professional advice before starting.
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Which Dog And Cat Food Is Best?
There are hundreds of pet food brands to choose from. The British Veterinary Associations advises that commercially manufactured pet food in the UK that meets PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturing Association) guidelines, would have complete nutritional requirements for pets, so buying a ‘complete’ commercial pet food, your pet is getting what they need and there’s no need to supplement with anything else. Many pet food manufacturers have designer style websites providing information about their products, particularly the more expensive crafted pet food.
Most commercial pet food comes with feeding guidelines on the packaging based on your pet’s weight and activity levels. If new to pet feeding, weigh and measure your pet food to avoid overfeeding. Vets will provide useful advice on diet and lifestyles and free weigh-ins available at good veterinary practices to keep an eye on your pet’s weight.
The government provide various leaflets covering expectations of care by the public for dogs and cats by The Animal Welfare Act 2006, section 9 and expect owners to provide a suitable diet for their pets is one of the 5 important welfare needs outlined. You can read more by downloading the 19 page PDF document called Code of Practice for the welfare of dogs and the 19 page PDF document called Code of Practice for the welfare of cats.
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5 Points To Watch Buying Pet Food
The largest UK animal charity PDSA, The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, has dedicated online information providing lifestyle and dietary advice for a range of pets including dogs, cats rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, tortoise.
The ingredients on the packaging are listed in order of quantity, so if the meat is at the top of the list, it means the product contains more meat than any other ingredient.
If the front of the packaging names one type of meat or any other food, such as rice or vegetables, the ingredients list has to state how much of it is actually in the food. So a dog food ‘with beef and vegetables’ must tell you the percentage of beef and vegetables it’s made up of.
Don’t overfeed your pet; measure the food to ensure you’re giving the correct amount and limit treats.
Protein is one of the most important food groups, coming from meat or cereals in pet food. Protein levels for wet dog foods look lower compared with dry dog food because of the high water content.
If you feed your dog the recommended quantities of complete wet food, then they should get a similar daily intake of protein as they would from dry food.
The PFMA, Pet Food Manufacturers Association, have a comprehensive page providing further detailed pet food information.
Just like human’s, dog, cats and rabbits need fresh water to stay healthy and dehydrated.
It’s important to keep fresh cool clean water available 24/7 in a bowl, in a dedicated place in the house for your dog or cat and likewise small caged pets.
Pets will like to return to drink water throughout the day and particularly after eating their main meal. If you have two or more pets, then a bowl for each pet is advisable.
Other Drinks For Dogs
Milk is not advisable to give your dog to drink, as this can upset their digestive system. Some dogs react immediately, others taking a bit longer to show signs of pain and discomfort.
Tea and coffee are not advisable or any other caffeinated drink. These are poisonous to dogs. Alcohol is also toxic to give to dogs.
Specialist dog drinks are a growing market and whilst these are marketed as treats they should be served only for special occasions and not for everyday consumption.
Other Drinks For Cats
Cats just like dogs are lactose intolerant so giving them cow’s milk can actually cause health issues, with stomach upsets and other related problems.
There are specially formulated cat milk drink treats which can be bought from pet shops which should be given on special occasions and be counted into their everyday food allowance.
Other Drinks For Kittens
Young kittens will drink their mother’s milk until they are weaned, this is normally about 4 weeks or so when they will start exploring more solid food and drink water. Their mother should have access to clean freshwater and kittens will start drinking this as well as their mother’s milk until that stops.
Constant Fresh Water For Your Pet
There’s a super range of reasonably priced pet water fountains which keep water cool and plentiful, particularly useful if you cannot keep refreshing your pets water bowls during the day. Suitable for both cats and dogs us available from most major good pet stores.
What Sort Of Feeding Bowl Is Best?
- 1. Bowls that can be safely dishwasher are an excellent choice.
- 2. One bowl should be adequately sized for your pet for eating their main food and a separate water bowl always available.
- 3. Ceramic bowls tend to keep food and water cooler.
- 4. Bowls raised off the floor help those dogs with aching joints with less distance to follow.
- 5. Stainless steel bowls are classic for easy care.
- 6. Slow feeder bowls for those pets that help to slow down fast eaters.
Dog Feeding Bowls
- 7. Heavier weighted bowls, stop them being easily manoeuvred sliding around a room by thirsty large dogs.
- 8. Avoid using ordinary china plates for dogs as these can chip or break easily.
- 9. Dogs with longer ears need higher rimmed bowls and smaller opening helping them not to get wet ‘dangly’ ears every time they take a drink.
Cat Feeding Bowls
- 10. Cats need smaller, shallow bowls who eat much smaller portions and can eat more frequently during the day.
- 11. Shallow smaller bowls help to keep cat whiskers out of the food.
- 12. Pet food dries out very quickly, becomes smelly, ideally, food bowls should be replaced regularly during the day, and particularly in hot weather.
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What Foods And Drinks Should I Avoid Giving My Pet?
There are very few human foods that do not cause toxicity or other medical conditions for dogs and cats. Rabbits can eat selected vegetables and fruit as a small portion of their diet.
The general rule is to avoid giving them to your pets if you are unsure and especially teaching young members of the family household not to give pets “treats” such as very toxic chocolate to their furry friends. Many accidents so often happen, when human food is left lying around your home where pets natural instincts are to forage.
26 Foods Pets Should NOT Eat
- 1 Chocolate (dark being the worst kind)
- 2 Avocado
- 3 Raisins
- 4 Alcohol
- 5 Onions
- 6 Milk
- 7 Coffee (any caffeine-based drink)
- 8 Cheese
- 9 Bacon
- 10 Macedonia nuts
- 11 Chewing Gum
- 12 Grapes
- 14 Apples
- 15 Uncooked bread dough
- 16 Ice Cream
- 17 Sweets
- 18 Bones
- 19 Peaches
- 20 Marijuana
- 21 Raw Eggs
- 22 Raw Meat
- 23 French Fries
- 24 Mushrooms
- 25 Human Medicine
- 26 Spices especially nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper
6 Tips Storing Your Pet Food Safely
1. Organise an area around the home where pet food can be stored carefully preferably in a locked space and out of reach of pets so they don’t snack-up on their own food without you knowing.
2. Make sure human food or cleaning chemicals are not accessible from floor to waist height in the kitchen or storage cupboard. This is a must-do.
3. Don’t leave foods such as chocolate and wine glasses lying around on sitting rooms side tables to avoid nasty pet toxicity accidents when you’re not looking or get distracted.
4. Don’t leave food plates lying around in the dining room or lounge where your pet can sneak up and snatch any food left on your plates. Pets will use chairs to clamber onto tables! Finish your meal and remove the plates to the kitchen area out of reach, ready for washing up.
5. Don’t leave any drugs and medicines by the bedside table or low reach in the bathroom. Dogs particularly, cats and even rabbits will try to eat pills if left lying around. Put them safely away in a secure medicine cupboard.
6. Pet storage tins and jars are a great idea for storage where they have air-tight lids and sold with scoops as featured below.
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What Foods Do Rabbits Like?
Rabbits like a high fibre diet. Their daily main food should be fresh quality, not mouldy or damp, feeding hay. Feed them at least a bundle that is equivalent to their body size each day. Balanced with quality rabbit pellets that can be purchased from most good pet shops which are formulated to provide a nutritionally complete and balanced diet.
Rabbits can eat certain fruit but this is high in sugar content and should only be given rarely.
In addition smaller amount of green food can be given such as our list below –
- Brussel Sprouts
- Carrots and carrot tops (high in sugar so only as a rare treat)
- Cauliflower leaves and stalks
- Dandelion (very small amounts as this makes them poop a lot)
- Red cabbage
- Romaine lettuce
- Salad peppers
- Savoy cabbage
What Foods Are Poisonous For Rabbits?
Very similar to cats and dogs, rabbits can be poisoned very easily with human foods such as chocolate, avocados, garlic, onions and chives, raisins, sultanas, currants and grapes. Caffeine is bad, so keep tea and coffee bags away from rabbits and drinks containing caffeine. Macadamia nuts and peanuts, salt, vitamin D and alcohol. Chewing gum and sweets. Rhubarb leaves, potatoes and their tops and tomato leaves. Apple seeds are poisonous containing cyanide.
If unsure then simply don’t feed your pet on the food until you have researched fully.
Rabbits need a quality balanced diet which helps their overall weight, and lessens dental problems. They don’t need to eat from a bowl but it’s important to always give them fresh water in a bowl.
It’s recommended NOT to feed human muesli type meals including oats. Rabbits do not benefit from these and generally put on too much weight.
The PDSA offer a free download to help pet owners keep their pet in tip top health and shape.
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Why Do Dogs Drink Water Out Of Toilets?
Dogs do not understand toilets! Dogs drink because they want cool freshwater and if their water bowl is empty or warm, they look elsewhere. This is classed as a common behaviour problem but it generally derives from the fact they need more cool water and will look for a fresh supply around the home, and sometimes the garden pond.
The water in the loo is often cooler and fresher than that in their dog water bowl because the toilet is used and flushed regularly, as to why dogs will lean over and stick their heads in the toilet!
Toilets are flushed several times a day and are often cleaner than their own dog water bowl if not refreshed regularly particularly during hot summer days. Constant flushing oxygenates the water and the ceramic bowl keeps the water nice and cool. If you want to try and stop your dog from drinking out of the toilet, you’ll need to increase the times you are providing clean freshwater in clean freshly washed-out bowls.
You could consider changing the type of water bowls that you’ve been using. Your pet may prefer cooler ceramic bowls rather perhaps a plastic-type. Bathroom doors can stay shut preventing your pet access and a new house rule that the toilet lid is put down after every flush.
It’s not only dogs that are culprits but cats can also try and lick the water. To stop this pet behaviour and particularly if you are not always present in the home, keep the toilet seat down and the door shut.
One word of caution for using toilet cleaners. These are potentially toxic to dogs, and to any pet, so if your dog is a toilet drinker, make sure you clean the toilet well and flush thoroughly afterwards to avoid any accidents.
Pet Water Fountains
If you’re a busy household and not always be there during the day to replace water for your pet, then you can consider purchasing a pet fountain as featured. These continuously circulate and oxygenate water staying fresh all day. Fountains are popular with many dogs and cats preferring to drink this water.
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Vegan Pet Food
Veganism is growing where the UK population is expected to hit approximately 7 million people not eating meat related dishes by the end of 2020 with a growing trend of vegan pet owners providing their pets with vegan foods and lifestyles. Vegans do not consume meat, dairy products, eggs, honey, or any product derived from an animal. A vegan diet can be full of a wide variety of delicious, nutritious foods, including vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, seeds, and fruits.
Vets have been alarmed at the growing trend to feed their pets with a vegan diet and ask anyone changing their pet’s lifestyle to consult with them to ensure the pet is fit and healthy to do so and discuss the additional supplements that would be needed
However, feeding your dog a few of the right vegetables infrequently is not so much of a problem to your dog’s health issues such as VEGETABLES that can be eaten as a small treat by healthy dogs, those not on special diets or have allergies include –
- Brussel Sprouts
- New Potatoes
- Mash Potatoes (no butter)
- Broccoli stalks
- Green beans
\\\ Pet Food Testing
PETA is well known for its defence of animals and testing and has compiled a list of companies that do not test their pet food on animals and that only carry out palatability tests with companion animals at home. Palatability studies involve feeding animals new formulations to see if they will eat or like them.
PETA has compiled a list that outlines the companies that have signed a PETA Statement of Assurance pledging that they do not conduct, contract out or fund animal tests in the developing, manufacturing, testing or marketing of their products.
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