Plants & pets: Spring gardening advice for you and your pets

It’s the start of the growing season, an exciting time for gardeners. Our advice will help you start growing now to make sure you don’t miss out on the joys of spring.

pets and plants

The change of the seasons is an exciting time; a time when we can get stuck into the nitty-gritty of garden maintenance and start planning for the coming summer. However, those plans more often than not ignore the needs of our pets. Our dogs and cats are as fond of the garden as we are, so it makes sense to devote some time to ensuring their is nothing in there that could do them harm. Here’s our list of things to do in the garden over the coming weeks, plus a few ideas on creating a pet friendly space.

• Now is the time to start sowing seeds. You’ll need fresh compost, seed trays, modules, fleece and netting.

• Once you’ve got these you can then start to think about the food your garden can provide you with – sow peas, plant potatoes in the ground or in planters, plant out onion sets and asparagus and if you have a greenhouse sow strawberry seeds.

• If you have any bare soil, sow green manures on it to ensure that the soil gets the nutrients it needs. Try mustard, phacelia or tares. Dig in overwintered green manures.

• Apply compost or manure to overwintered crops. Mulch fruit.

• Get soil ready by warming it under fleece, plastic sheets or cloches. It should be warm enough to sow seeds once the grass starts growing.

• Rake the lawn to remove moss and weeds and service the mower ready for grass growth. Fork muddy patches to improve drainage, feed and re-seed as necessary.

• Hoe to keep weeds down, on dry days. Collect the weeds to prevent re-rooting.

• Tidy the garden, removing dead plants and so on.

• It is also important that you’ve completed all winter pruning before any buds start to burst. Don’t prune spring plants until they finish flowering.

• Now is the time to be vigilant for pests multiplying as the weather warms up, so deal with them straight away before they can breed.

• If you haven’t already got one, now is the time to either invest in or build yourself a compost bin. You can visit Home to find out how you can build your own compost bin or buy one from The Organic Gardening Catalogue at The Organic

Your garden and pets


It is instinctive for dogs to dig, however, it is not behaviour that most gardeners want to encourage and it can cause health concerns, if stones and gravel get caught in paws. Keeping your dog fed and stimulated with other activities is one of the best ways of stop him from digging. You can distract them with toys, a ball, or a small morsel of food. Basic obedience training will keep your dog away from fragile plants and fertilised earth, which is particularly attractive to dogs.

Animals that eat plants, compost or manure must be dissuaded since they are at risk of getting a taste for it and transmitting disease.


An easy trick to keep your dog away from fresh garden beds is to sprinkle forbidden areas with specific pet/garden repellents that come in granule or spray form. Read instructions carefully before using any garden chemical at all. Even so called “natural” products can be dangerous to some animals. To deter cats, oil of citronella should do the trick as they hate the smell of citrus. Coleus Canina, also known as the scaredy-cat plant, is very effective to repel cats and dogs. It is available from most garden centres. Another option is commercial products from your local pet shop.

Litter Box

To avoid brown patches on your lawn, create an outdoor litter box for both cats and dogs. To integrate it into the garden and offer your pet some privacy you can also surround the litter tray with plants. Make sure that the plants are safe by checking the list of poisonous plants for animals at the Kennel Club.

Ten common poisonous plants for dogs

1. Autumn Crocus

The Autumn Crocus can cause an intense burning sensation in the mouth, vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, liver and kidney damage, and even heart arrhythmia. Although the entire plant is considered toxic to dogs, the toxicity is highest in the bulbs of the plant.

2. Azalea

Ingestion of just a few leaves of Azaleas can cause oral irritation with subsequent vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs. In severe cases, ingestion can cause a drop in blood pressure, coma, and even death.

3. Daffodil

Although the entire plant is considered poisonous to dogs, it is the Daffodil bulb that is the most toxic. Ingestion of any portion of a Daffodil can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, arrhythmias, convulsions, and a serious drop in blood pressure.

4. Dieffenbachia

Dieffenbachia, also known as Dumb Cane, is a common houseplant that can cause oral irritation, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing in dogs. It can also create a burning sensation of the lips, tongue, and mouth.

5. Tulip

Although the entire plant of a tulip is considered toxic, it is the bulb that is the most poisonous to dogs. Ingestion can cause significant oral irritation, excessive drooling and nausea.

6. Kalanchoe

Also known as the Mother-In-Law plant, the Kalanchoe is a common house plant with small dense flowers. When ingested it can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. In rare cases, heart arrhythmias can occur from a poisoning.

7. Sago Palm

The Sago Palm is an extremely poisonous plant to dogs when ingested, causing bloody vomiting and diarrhoea, bleeding disorders, liver failure and death.

8. Oleander

Oleander is a popular ornamental flowering shrub commonly found in the southern United States and California. Its cardiac glycosides, similar to digoxin, are very toxic to dogs and can cause fatal heart abnormalities, muscle tremors, incoordination, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea.

9. Cyclamen

Also known as Sowbread, the Cyclamen is a common household flowering plant with poisonous properties (i.e., terpenoids) to dogs. It can cause oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, heart abnormalities, seizures and death.

10. Amaryllis

Especially popular around Easter, the lovely Amaryllis is also poisonous to dogs. Its toxins can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia, and tremors in dogs.

(Article source: Various) 

Yappy Yorkshire! 6 reasons why your dog needs to visit Yorkshire

Forget the stress of airport queues, traffic jams and most importantly,the heartbreak of leaving behind your beloved pooch, as there really is nothing more relaxing than a trip to a glorious part of our green and pleasant land with a furry friend in tow.

White Swan

As a national newspaper journalist and former editor-in-chief of OK! Magazine, my family and I were spoilt by a fleet of exotic press trips – a break in the Maldives, long weekend in St Tropez or tour of India – we’ve done them all, writes Lisa Byrne.

However, since leaving London to return to my home town of York, and acquiring two mischievous but adorable Cocker Spaniels, Diggerley, 12 and three-year-old Merlin, the Byrnes (myself, husband Davey and 11-year-old daughter Brontë) have largely forsaken the promise of a sun-soaked paradise in favour of heavenly trips in God’s Own Country. Leaving our hairy sons behind for a foreign jaunt just proved too heartbreaking for us all.

We would sit by a Sardinian swimming pool sipping cocktails, reminiscing about what mischief the boys were getting up to back home, and often shed a tear or two.

Of course, we occasionally have the odd trip abroad but as long as we have our dogs, we’ll always have that huge heart-aching tug back home. That’s why we decided to explore more of the stunning countryside near our home in York.

So here is one of the best dog-friendly places we have been lucky enough to discover in North Yorkshire and five others you might like to visit…

1. The Talbot, Malton

If Malton is Yorkshire’s capital of food then The Talbot is its Buckingham Palace, renowned for hosting legendary feasts such as well as boasting sumptuous rooms, the hotel is simply breathtaking. And as we head close to The Talbot our boys, with happy recognition of a place they’ve previously visited, start whining in unison, desperate to escape from the confines of the car and leap across the gravel into the hotel.

On arrival, we receive a very warm greeting by the receptionist before racing up the beautiful staircase to our gigantic suite which includes two huge rooms, one with a vast super-king bed. Next door is an open plan lounge with original fireplace, large mirror and high ceilings adjacent to a gorgeous marble bathroom including a huge bath and Monsoon shower, packed with Penhaligon toiletries.

After a quick sniff into the corners and crevices, Diggerley and Merlin swiftly discover a table where a generous portion of treats are laid out, as well as the dog bowls and rugs to rest on. The hairy new Lords of the Manor then rush to the huge windows to take a sneaky look of the glorious scenery, boasting views of rolling hills and manicured lawns as well as enticing wildlife.

After unpacking we strolled into the centre of Malton, a beautiful chocolate-box town worthy of its reputation of being one of the loveliest in Yorkshire, where we found a food market in full flow the main square. With the dogs going bonkers over the tempting smells we decided to head back for dinner before it all proved too much for their delicate noses.

A large part of The Talbot’s cosy restaurant is set aside for diners who wish to eat with their canine companions so we relaxed over a gin and tonics and water bowls while contemplating our orders. A real treat for the senses was the devilled kidneys on sourdough, absolutely glorious, as was the roasted pumpkin and leeks with romesco, bulgar wheat and crispy sage. For the main course, we opted for a mixture of venison and claret pie with buttered greens and potatoes (heavenly) and crisp fillet of sea bream with purple sprouting broccoli, roasted red peppers, almonds and olives.

With no room for pudding we went for another look around Malton, recently voted the UK’s most dog friendly place, and discovered that we could bring our pub-loving pooches into most of the drinking haunts for a swift half or two. Diggerley and Merlin were certainly rather melancholy to leave such a slice of heaven and we will all be delighted to return soon.

5 other best dog-friendly hotels in Yorkshire

Thanks to a wag-worthy assortment of dog-friendly walkies, attractions and hotels, it’s easy to bring four-legged members of the family on holiday in Yorkshire. Here are five of the best dog-friendly hotels in Yorkshire, selected by the Good Hotel Guide.

2. The White Swan, Pickering

For a dog-friendly holiday that’s not completely focused on walkies, head to The White Swan, a friendly 16th-century coaching inn in the historic market town of Pickering, gateway to the North Yorkshire Moors. Dogs are welcome in the cosy, traditional bar and in the lounge, which has board games, books and a log-burner. The Hideaway bedrooms are perfect for pets, with stone flooring and a porch for doggy kit storage and towelling down. For a break from canine-centric activities, take a trip on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway; tickets for dogs are £3.

3. The Traddock, Austwick

Dogs are “very much a part of the ambience” at this Georgian house hotel in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – prime dog-walking territory. If you need a quick amble somewhere closer to your bed for the night, The Traddock has one and a half acres of grounds to roam (there’s a dog bin in the car park). And if it all gets a bit muddy, there are dog-washing facilities outside, and you can borrow a towel to dry your hound. Fortunately, facilities for dog owners are more sophisticated: some of the well-appointed bedrooms have a roll-top bath, and chef Thomas Pickard’s imaginative menus, built around local and wild ingredients, are varied and delicious.

4. The Blue Lion, East Witton

This is the sort of place where well-walked dogs can flop in front of an open fire! The Blue Lion is an 18th-century coaching inn with flagstone floors, sturdy oak tables and chalkboard menus in the dog-friendly bar area. Dogs can stay in the country-style bedrooms across the courtyard. Keep close tabs on your room key though – it’s attached to a cricket ball that might just prove too tempting a toy for your pooch! On the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the inn has several circular walks from its door, or you can go for a romp around nearby Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal; there are long trails through the gardens and deer park, and dogs on short leads are allowed in the abbey.

5. Yorebridge House, Bainbridge

Stylish Yorebridge House is living proof that dog-friendly hotels don’t necessarily skimp on panache. Two of the 12 rooms in this Victorian Grade II-listed former school and headmaster’s house are dog friendly – and they have a hot tub. Rangali has wooden floors, a large wet room-style shower and a sizeable private terrace so Rover can sniff around outside while you have a lie-in. Book African lodge-style Kariega for a private riverside garden with views of the Yorkshire Dales. There are ample grounds for more leg stretching and walks, and dog-friendly pubs in every direction. Dogs aren’t allowed in the hotel’s communal areas, but room service is available and staff have been known to dish out dog treats.

6. The Carpenters Arms, Felixkirk

Rainy days won’t get in the way of walkies at this chic dog-friendly pub-with-rooms on the edge of the North York Moors. Dogs can stay in the Garden rooms, which have a drying wardrobe for soggy kit, seating area, super-king-size bed and private terrace with views over the Vale of Mowbray. Pooches are welcome in the bar area of the appealingly rustic pub too; it has flagstones, low beams, wooden settles, a log fire in cool weather, local beers and hand-pulled ales. Tuck in to reasonably priced, hearty, county-showcasing dishes, such as roast rack and slow braised shoulder croquette of Yorkshire lamb.

(Article source: Various) 

Here boy! What makes a dog choose to approach certain people?

Whilst a lot of dogs are really friendly and often have to be stopped from trotting up to everyone they meet with a cheerful wag in the hopes of getting a pat, other dogs are a lot more shy, wary or speculative, and can take a while to warm up to a person.

Dog People

However, just as every person is an individual, so too is every dog – and many people who own a shy or generally reticent dog will find themselves surprised now and then because their usually stand-offish dog deliberately approaches a specific person for no obvious reason, when they would usually keep them at a distance or avoid them altogether.

Some people in particular tend to be dog magnets, and are easily able to encourage a shy dog to approach them, sometimes without making any obvious effort – and of course, other people will have a certain x-factor that seems to make them appealing to specific individual dogs. The reasons why any given dog picks out one person can be numerous and varied, and you’ll never know for sure what is going on in your dog’s mind – but there are a number of factors that together, help to pinpoint why any given dog might choose to approach or befriend any given person.

In this article, we will look at some of these factors and explain some of the little things that can make someone dog-friendly, and why. Read on to learn more.


The dog’s most powerful sense is their sense of smell, and smell is usually the first thing that gets a dog’s attention and provides them with information and feedback about the people in their proximity.

Someone who is carrying a handbag full of dog treats, eating a sandwich on a park bench, or who has just popped out after a morning baking something delicious will appeal to dogs, and this can be enough to make a dog pay attention to a person and serve as the initial stage of an approach. Additionally, if a strange person smells like a familiar person or generates positive scent-based memories in a certain dog, this too can cause them to consider them a friend, even if they have never met them before.

Familiarity or association

Just as a specific scent might trigger a positive association in a certain dog, so too can other familiar traits that the dog associates with good things – such as attention, feeling safe, having fun, or being given a treat. If someone’s voice sounds like a voice that the dog responds well to, or even if the way they are standing or sitting appeals to a dog, they might go over.

Similarly, some dogs will respond better to certain types of people – such as women rather than men – but actively avoid others, such as children.

Tone of voice

A tone of voice that a dog finds familiar will also potentially encourage an approach, but your vocal tone and fluidity can also encourage a dog you haven’t met before if your voice is calm, warm, and generates positive feelings in the dog. Higher-pitched voices, fast or urgent speech and irritation or anxiety, on the other hand, might discourage an approach.

Stance and build

Dogs that tend to be shy or nervous around people will tend to avoid people with a daunting physical presence, which means that they are more likely to approach someone who is sitting or crouching down than they are someone who is standing and so, towering over them, particularly if they have a wide stance and/or are very tall.

Dogs are adept at reading human body language and telling friend from foe, and a person who is relaxed and open and who moves fluidly without quick, jerky movements will all signal a green light to a dog who is considering saying hello.

Facial expression

A full-on smile with teeth bared is a welcoming human greeting, but it can be daunting for a dog. A relaxed smile that doesn’t show all of your teeth and a generally calm demeanour work better. Eye contact is another area of expression that means a different thing to a dog than a person – for us, direct eye contact is considered to be honest, polite and respectful, but for dogs, it can be seen as a challenge or deterrent.

Look in the direction of the dog but don’t engage them in direct eye contact, and don’t stare!

Learned experiences

If a dog is used to approaching others and garnering a positive response, they will gain confidence and be more willing to approach other people in future. Similarly, if a dog has had a positive experience with a particular person, they are more likely to approach them again in the future, or someone who reminds them of them.

Dogs tend to pick out dog-friendly people

As a general rule (although it is not always the case) dogs tend to know who is likely to be dog-friendly, but this is less of an extrasensory power on the part of the dog, and more to do with the demeanour and body language of the person in question.

Someone who owns a dog or likes dogs will naturally and intuitively have learned over time what dogs tend to respond to, and they also stay calm and open when a dog is around – rather than avoiding them or on the flip side, trying too hard to encourage a dog over, which can be daunting for a shy dog.

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

Bikes & barks: Tips and advice on riding a bike with your dog

Dogs love being with their owners especially outdoors so what better way to spend some quality time together than on a bike ride!

Biker And Dogs

Your pup can accompany you either by travelling in a basket or trailer or running alongside you. Which method you choose all depends on the size, age, health and fitness level of your dog.

Small dog breeds and puppies are best suited to a basket whereas a trailer is ideal for a larger dog that is not fit enough to keep up with you, has health issues or is old. If you have a high energy dog, having them run alongside you when you on are on your bike is an excellent way for them to exercise. However, before you decide to ride off into the sunset with your beloved pet, there are few things to consider first.

Dog bike basket

If you own a puppy or small breed of dog, they can accompany you on your bike in a basket secured to either the handlebars or at the rear on a back rack.

The ideal basket has padding along with secure attachments which connect to both the bike and your dog’s harness to prevent them from jumping out. The material used for dog bike baskets are either wicker, wire or fabric, and some include storage space for items such as a water bottle, treats and a lead.

Before you start enjoying bike rides together, it is essential that you familiarise your pup with riding in a basket as a frightened dog going crazy can unbalance the bike causing a possible accident. Some dogs feel restricted and don’t enjoy the experience whereas others love it! Be patient, taking as much time as necessary as it is imperative that you build confidence and trust in your pet, so they are not scared. Make sure the basket is the correct size for your dog and introduce him to it off the bike at first so he can get used to it.

The next stage is to fix the basket to the bike and place your dog inside, standing next to him. Keep him calm by petting him and talking to him gently while attaching the harness.

If he seems fine, then walk with the bike so he can become accustomed to the movement. Once he appears confident, go for a short, slow ride, on a smooth surface. Gradually build up the distance and speed each time, rewarding him with treats.

As your dog becomes used to travelling by bike, introduce small bumps and hills but don’t go mountain biking as riding over rough terrain will throw your pup around like a rodeo rider! Having a dog in a basket at the front of the bike can make steering difficult so when braking, lean back and use the back brake first before using the front brake. Never leave your pup in the basket when you park your bike, as even with the bike stand down a fidgety dog can easily make it fall over.

Dog bike trailer

A dog trailer is attached to the back of the bike and towed along by the cyclist. It is ideal for owners who like to cycle long distances with their dog running alongside, giving him the chance to rest for some of the journey. A dog trailer also allows a senior dog or one with health issues to get out into the fresh air and enjoy the ride.

When choosing a bike trailer for your dog, there is much more to consider compared to a dog basket. First, it should be big enough for your pup to sit, stand, lie down and move around in comfortably without feeling restricted. The ideal trailer should have a large wheelbase, and a low centre of gravity with large wheels for a smoother ride and the floor should be removable to make cleaning more practicable. The trailer must also include a protective cover for all types of weather with a large opening for easy access.

Your dog’s well-being is paramount, so it is essential to choose a model that meets certain safety standards. It must have a safety harness and a safety strap for the hitch in case the trailer becomes detached as well as an automatic braking system. Reflectors and safety flags make the trailer visible to other road users.

Just the same with a basket, allow your dog as much time as he needs to become used to the trailer using lots of treats. Start by introducing it without the wheels, placed somewhere in the home so he can become familiar with it and go inside. If your dog is reluctant to go in, leave his favourite toy or some treats inside to encourage him.

Once your dog is happily going in and out of the trailer, attach the wheels and hitch it to your bike. Ask your pup to go inside the trailer, again taking your time using praise and treats. Once he appears happy, connect the harness and push the bike around. If all is well, go for a short, slow ride over a smooth road. Gradually increase the distance and allow your pup to get out sometimes to have a run around.

Dog running alongside bike

If you have an energetic dog, having him run alongside you when riding your bike is a fun way for you both to exercise.

Your pup should be at least a year old and, before you start, should be taken for a health check with your veterinarian to ensure he is fit enough for such strenuous activity. The build of your dog is also an essential factor to consider. Dogs with lighter frames can run longer distances than those that are heavier and more muscular so always bear this in mind. Brachycephalic breeds are not designed for this form of exercise as they quickly overheat.

If your dog has the all clear from the veterinarian, then you can start thinking about going on bike rides together. Before you do this though, ensure your pup is obedient, responding to your commands and knows how to heel. Riding a bike with an undisciplined dog is extremely dangerous and can cause an accident. You will need to purchase the correct equipment if you are to ride your bike with your dog running alongside you safely. Although you may see people riding a bike with their dog holding the lead in their hand, this is dangerous as it could either get caught up in the wheels or your dog could pull you over.

There are various bike attachments available for canines including a specially designed dog bike leash, which is fixed to the bike frame or seat post along with a cord that attaches to a no-pull dog harness. Other inventions include a rigid dog leash which connects to the rear wheel allowing the dog to stay close and in full view. This design encourages the dog to maintain heel position and has a device that transmits to the dog any changes of direction. Other essential accessories you need for your dog are a reflective vest as well dog booties to protect the feet from sharp objects or hot concrete.

Introduce your dog to your bike with his lead on taking him around the bicycle before walking him alongside it. Once he is happy doing this, connect him to the bike leash and continue to walk practising commands you would say when riding for slowing down, turning or stopping. You can then take him for a short ride going slowly. Build his fitness up gradually from walk to a trotting speed travelling on smooth, quiet roads.

Observe your dog regularly, checking for excessive panting or tiredness and make sure he has frequent breaks so he can have a drink and a rest. He should be detached from the bike when you are not riding. Towing a bike trailer is useful for long distance rides as your dog can relax in it for a while if he becomes tired.

Biking with your dog

Biking with your dog is tremendous fun so long as you take the necessary precautions to ensure both you and your pup are safe. Always take your time introducing the equipment to your dog to provide a happy experience. When transporting your dog by basket or trailer, allow them to get out to stretch their legs and have a drink of water. Like people, all dogs are different, and your pooch may not enjoy travelling by bike so never force him. Ensure your bike is roadworthy and always wear a protective helmet. If you prepare your dog correctly, he will make an excellent biking companion for you!

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

The Canine Communicator: ‘Animals communicate with their owners through me’

Lying in bed at 3 o’clock one morning and not being able to get back to sleep it struck me as the ideal time, meaning no interruptions, to try to meditate and practice how to connect to an animal.


Looking back, I was very ignorant in thinking that I was just connecting to the soul of the animal, it did not enter my brain (sleep deprived mind) that it can happen in the present moment. I was hoping that it would send me back to sleep.

Alas, it worked and I woke up my extremely angry Alsatian Rottweiler cross Sasha who barked at me crossly from the room in which she was sleeping (she had a couch to herself).

I don’t know who was more shocked me or her, but I received a mouthful about “waking dogs up in the middle of the night” and “did I not have any manners, it’s simply rude!”

I immediately apologised profusely, promising never to attempt any further conversations in the early hours of the morning or late at night ever again.

Needless to say, I did not get any sleep after that. My mind was buzzing with what had just happened and it was a major learning curve for me.

My life changed dramatically after that, it opened a door that I had never imagined possible, not in my wildest dreams. If anyone had told me early on in life that I would one day work as an Animal Communicator I would have been the first one to burst out laughing. Yet here I am 14 years later, living and still loving it. No two days are ever the same.

Some days I work from home and do distance sessions for animals all over the world, and yes, I now check the world clock to see what time it is wherever the animal is.

Other days I am on the road working with a variety of animals, such as a grieving donkey who has just lost their best friend to the monitor lizard who wants to know if her lizard is pregnant and wants anything else in her diet.

There have been a few occasions where things have come out in the session that not the entire family wants to hear.

One such session was well underway and as we were winding up the Staffie casually mentioned that the wife often has the smell of fudge on her breath. Which was enjoyable to the dog, but he wished that his mistress would share her sweet treats with him. Most dogs have a sweet tooth and will often request things to be shared with them.

Hearing this information, the husband seemed to tense up and looked at his wife “you’ve been eating fudge! Where?”. Seemingly caught out the wife tried to play it down and said she had only had one piece” to which the teenage daughter replied, “Mom, it’s like every third day”. The husband’s face grew redder and it looked like he wanted to explode.

He looked at me and pointed a finger at his wife. “She has put me on this ridiculous diet for about two months now! No cheating allowed I have been told. It’s been the hardest two months of my life and now I find out from the dog that she has been eating fudge. Hypocrite.”. And with that, he left the room. We wrapped things up pretty fast and I was happy to be on my way.

We share our lives with our dogs in a very intimate way, in our home. They are exposed to our moods, foods, comings and goings and even have to put up with the uncle who has smelly feet.

They have an opinion on most things, just like we do, and it really helps to know certain things, like what they feel about their food, what their favourite colour is or what their favourite walking route is. It all leads to the same thing: is there something that the owner can do to make the animal’s life a little better or easier. Sometimes we need to negotiate a behaviour change that it works for the owner and the dog.

Bentley is a gorgeous cross Poodle who wakes his owners up at 4.30 every morning. He showed me he hates the alarm clock so he prefers to wake them up instead and then wants to play.

The owners set their alarm clock for 5.30 and really don’t appreciate being woken up at 4.30.

Instead of reprimanding Bentley about this which is a negative but can be turned into a positive by the way that you put it to him, I told Bentley he was doing an excellent job of waking his owners up instead of the alarm clock.

They were extremely proud of him but they just had a small request to please wake them up an hour later at 5.25. “Sure” said Bentley and he was rewarded with a treat the next week when he woke his owners up at 5.25 instead of 4.30 every morning.

About the Author

Diane Budd is a sought-after animal communicator and healer, serving to bridge the gap in understanding between animals and their human companions. She teaches workshops on animal communication, animal healing, and zoopharmacognosy and offers in-home consultations around Cape Town, South Africa.

Her book ‘Energy Medicine for Animals’ is out now.

(Article source: K9) 

Superbugs: How big a threat are they to your dog?

Every November, politicians and medical professionals across Europe call on fellow doctors, nurses and members of the public to think carefully about prescribing and using antibiotics, as part of European Antibiotic Awareness Day.


This is because the threat posed by potentially fatal ‘superbugs’, resistant to various types of antibiotics is not going away. UK officials call this drug resistance ‘one of the biggest threats facing us today’ and a Government report released a couple of years ago estimated that by 2050, 300 million people around the world could die early from exposure to antimicrobial (the broad scientific word for organism-killing drugs like antibiotics) resistant infections. Scary stuff.

Scarier still, scientists are finding newly mutated superbugs in Chinese agriculture. So the health threats posed to people and food by antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is under the spotlight. But what about pets?

Which is where we come back to last year’s European Antibiotic Awareness Day. In the UK, the awareness day has been turned into a springboard to educate people about AMR and superbugs, in the form of a public health campaign called Antibiotic Guardian. Officials want doctors, dentists and the public to pledge to safeguard vital antibiotics and use them properly. But, as The Bella Moss Foundation (BMF) has reminded Government officials, our pets get treated with antibiotics too, and superbugs don’t discriminate who they infect (your cat is just as welcoming a home to them as you are!).

BMF is now working with officials at Public Health England to encourage UK vets and pet owners that we can – and should – join the fight against AMR. But it’s not an easy argument to make, as a dog owner you might not really think about AMR or how it can affect you and your pets.

Which is where my story begins and how BMF came to be.

Unlike in human health, where officials have come up with scary figures on AMR (‘300m dead by 2050!’), these figures don’t exist in the UK vet world. Unlike with the NHS, vet practices do not have to record their infection rates (they should, and we are confident the vast majority do) or collate them into national figures. So we don’t know how many superbug infections vets are seeing, we can’t say the threat is anywhere like it is in human health. But the principle of how these infections move about is the same for pets as it is for humans, and BMF knows for sure these infections occur in pets. We know first hand.

I started campaigning on AMR in 2005, after my much-loved Samoyed dog, Bella, died of a misdiagnosed MRSA infection. Apparently, she was the first-ever recorded case of a pet dying of a superbug (one better known for stalking the nation’s hospitals). Not that I cared about that, I cared about my gorgeous dog being ravaged by a completely preventable infection that got missed at the vets. I just couldn’t understand how this could have happened and was determined to make sure no one else lost a pet in the same way. So in 2006, The Bella Moss Foundation was born.

Coming up to our 10 year anniversary, BMF now produces practice materials for vets and vet nurses, as well as lectures and online resources. We work with Government officials on their campaigns, like Antibiotic Guardian, and with academics at vet schools around the UK. And we provide a 24/7 helpline for both vets and worried owners, so they can call us at anytime and be referred on to the best vets and advisers in their area. While we still don’t have any concrete figures on AMR in pets, we receive around 5-10 enquiries a week (mostly from the UK, but also from concerned pet owners abroad in need of advice). So, a decade after Bella’s death, we know AMR in pets happens and is still a worry. But it’s nowhere near as ‘interesting’ as the threat to human health.

Which is where you come in.

What every dog owner can do to help

We don’t want to scaremonger. We have no idea how much a problem AMR in pets really is, or could be, but we do want to make sure all loving pet owners have all the facts to help keep their pets, and themselves, free from superbugs.

The most obvious ways to cut the risk of infection sound trivial – but they really are vital – look after your pet and wash your hands! The more healthy your pet, the better equipped they are to beat the bugs. And the cleaner you and your family’s hands are as you move from people to pets to food, the less likely you are to spread infections. Sounds simple, but we all need reminding, and there are loads of pet lifestyle tips and hand washing resources to help you on the BMF website.

The other way we can stop the superbugs is by making sure we use antibiotics properly. BMF and the Government is working with vets to make sure they are only prescribed when a pet really needs them (and to make sure they are the right sort). But as owners, we can all do our bit to step up and make sure we don’t misuse antibiotics – and the easiest way to do this is to pledge to be an Antibiotic Guardian.

The Government is hoping to have 100,000 guardians pledge their support by spring. So far they have nearly 30,000. Not bad, but there’s still a way to go and we think, as a nation of dog lovers, that pet owners could really be the ones to tip the balance. So please get pledging! Find out more about the Government campaign at

About the Author

A RADA-trained actress and qualified radio journalist, Jill Moss previously worked as a reporter for Fox news, Sky and the BBC, as well as hosting her own radio shows. Following the death of her dog Bella the previous year, Jill founded The Bella Moss Foundation (BMF) in 2006, giving up work to run the charity. Along with a team of vets and pet owners, she continues to run the charity full-time, as well as producing an array of industry-recognised educational materials and answering calls from vets, doctors and pet owners.

To find out more about BMF, its work and how you can help keep the charity going, please visit

(Article source: K9)

45 gorgeous flower names for dogs that go beyond Daisy and Lily

We love all the sweet canine Daisies and Lilies that we meet at the dog park, and the popularity of those names got us thinking: what about other flower names for dogs?

dog names reports that now more than ever, pet parents want their dog’s name to fit their personality and their passions. For nature-loving dog owners, the wide world of flowers can be a fantastic source of dog naming inspiration. There’s enough variety to fit any dog, from a delicate Violet to a feisty Dandelion, and they’re not limited to female dogs, either (Garland and Rhododendron, we’re looking at you.)

This list of flower dog names was created especially for the most beautiful dogs, and by that we mean: every dog everywhere. We handpicked these dog flower names by digging through our giant database of dog names nationwide.

We also found inspiration from dogs in the Rover office and dogs we’ve encountered through our wide social media travels. Many of these are quite unique, while others appear in the top 100 dog names.

This is only the beginning, of course. Nature names for dogs can come from trees (Cedar, Aspen), the herb garden (Sage, Rosemary), or natural wonders (Rainbow, Forest). And don’t even get us started on place names, because we could go on all day.

45 Top Flower Names for Dogs

• Aster • Azalea • Begonia • Blossom • Bluebell • Buttercup • Calla • Camellia • Carnation • Clover • Daffodil • Dahlia • Dandelion • Fleur • Freesia • Garland • Holly • Honeysuckle • Hyacinth • Iris • Jasmine • Lavender • Lilac • Lotus • Magnolia • Marigold • Mimosa • Orchid • Pansy • Petal • Petunia • Poinsettia • Poppy • Posey • Primrose • Rhododendron (Rhodie?) • Rose (ie) • Sunflower • Tansy • Thistle • Trillium • Tulip • Violet • Wisteria • Zinnia

(Story source:

Brexit news: UK pet passports could be completely invalid amid no deal, owners clueless

Brexit could render pet passports invalid – and 75 per cent of owners are completely unaware.


The Express reports that travellers will be unable to venture overseas with their furry friend without the document, and a no deal Brexit could make it even harder to obtain.

Brexit might be baffling for Britons attempting to plan their travels abroad – yet holidaymakers’ furry friends will also feel the hit. The huge problem is, the majority of their owners are clueless, according to a recent survey, so adequate vacation provisions have not been put in place.

It has been revealed a no deal Brexit – which is still a possible option for the UK’s separation from the European Union – would make obtaining a pet passport much more difficult. Indeed, a divorce of the UK and EU on April 12, with no plans of how to proceed, is deemed by experts to be “likely” to lead to the UK getting unlisted, third country status.

As a direct consequence, it would mean pet passports for cats, dogs and ferrets, issued in the UK would become invalid for travel to the EU.

This marks a stark contrast to the current situation, where UK pet owners can currently take their animal to and from the EU so long as they have a pet passport and are micro-chipped.

A new study released by has revealed three quarters of pet owners are unaware their much-loved animal could lose their pet passport in the case of no deal Brexit.

What’s more, out of the 2,000 people surveyed, half of those whose animal has a passport will holiday in the UK more regularly if their cat or dog is unable to travel overseas. Further statistics showed four in ten plan their entire holiday around their animal.

Adam Jay, president of, said: “We can see why pet owners are barking mad if pets lose their European pet passports.

“But vacations are not lost when you can staycation or even fakeation. “Remember your dog needs a holiday as much as you do.”

Meanwhile, for those travelling ahead of the suggested Brexit departure date of April 12, passports are still valid.

An owner must always travel with the original document, and not a photocopy. Yet the government has urged owners to get ahead of the game should a no deal scenario occur.

The UK government website states: “If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the rules for travelling to EU countries with your pet will change. “You should start the process at least four months before you travel.”

While the pet passport scheme does include non-EU countries, in a post Brexit environment, the UK would need to be added onto this list.

With agreements needed to do this, it could potentially be time-consuming and problematic. Meanwhile previously reported how horses need their own pet passport – even if they are not planning on travelling anywhere.

(Story source: Express)

UK’s first pet poet laureate announced

The Poetry Society, partnering with national pet charity Blue Cross, are pleased to announce Russell Jones as the first ever Pet Poet Laureate, a role that will see him pen a series of poems throughout the year of his tenure, all about pets and the wonderful influence and impact they have on people’s lives.

Pet Poet

The Poetry Society reports that the position of Pet Poet Laureate was filled following a nationwide search to find a poet that demonstrated outstanding creativity in their writing and shared Blue Cross’s passion for pets and their welfare.

Russell’s winning entry poem, ‘A Tempest’, describes the struggles of an abandoned cat Ella and her homeless kittens. In keeping with the title, the poem gives each kitten its own stanza and takes the physical form of a wave-like quality. Julia McKechnie-Burke, Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Director at Blue Cross, added, “We are very excited to present the nation’s first Pet Poet Laureate to champion the huge impact pets have on people’s lives.

We wanted to tap into the wonderful world of poetry, which is undergoing an exciting renaissance and reaching increasingly diverse audience, to demonstrate our mission in a unique way that has never been done before.

“Over the next 12 months we will work with Russell to create a series of poems covering themes relating to pets and their people, from how pets impact children’s development to the enormous role pets played in the First World War. We can’t wait to reveal what surprises we have in-store to celebrate the nation’s love for pets and help bring attention to the thousands of pets across the country that are still in need of our help.”

When asked about their involvement in the project and why they chose to appoint Russell, Ben Rogers, of The Poetry Society said, “The Poetry Society is delighted to partner with national pet charity Blue Cross to judge the Pet Poet Laureate. Pets have already left a clear paw-print in bardic history from the pens of poetry greats including T S Eliot who marvelled at the ‘terpsichorean powers’ of cats and Elizabeth Barrett Browning who noted the ‘loyal cheer’ of dogs. With pets so prominent in society and many households considering them part of the family, it is appropriate and exciting for a new poetic voice to step in and respond to how we see our furry friends today.

“In a field of strong contenders, we were charmed and moved by a wide variety of poems that regularly demonstrated a strong understanding and affinity for pets. Russell’s winning poem offered striking imagery, clever leaps of language and voice, and powerful insights about pets and our relationships with them. We very much look forward to seeing the work he creates during his year’s tenure in the post.”

After being appointed the position of Pet Poet Laureate, Russell Jones commented, “Having been a pet owner for as long as I can remember I am absolutely delighted to have chosen to take on the role of Pet Poet Laureate. I feel extremely grateful that the judges chose me as their winner and can’t wait to get started on writing more pet-themed poems to be released throughout the year.”

Russell, who before being appointed his new role had already proven his expertise by publishing as many as five collections of poems, will be sharing his work commissioned under the role of Pet Poet Laureate on Blue Cross’s website and social channels, where details of public appearances and new material will be published throughout the year.

A Tempest – for Ella (“Beautiful Fairy”)

Cast away, nursing futures, mottled shells spilled on bare shores.

Ella, hold them close, listen to those tiny oceans roar, sail fast with hope beyond hope.

Who knows what storms you navigate or divine.

Be not afraid, this isle is full of distant mews, incantations and leviathans. A blue cross cuts the squall.

You will wake to your babes lapping, think of new worlds.

(Story source: Poetry Society)

How to make your dog Instagram famous

Instagram is becoming increasingly popular in our every day lives. Not just for sharing where we go and what we eat, but by searching for popular hashtags, we can build connections with like-minded people.

Instagram Dog

I’m particularly camera shy. It’s rare a photo is captured with me in it, even rarer still that it’s one where I have my eyes open, timing is just not my friend (something my old Labrador Chloe and I had in common). So my social media mainly consists of my dogs and cooking fails, or searches for reviews.

I wanted to find out how I could make my dogs Instagram famous and spread their wonder beyond my friends, so I asked Ali Drew, who made her dog Bryan into one of the UK’s most famous canine social influencers for advice.

1. Bring your dog’s personality to life

“Try to get your dog’s personality across in your posts so followers feel like they are getting to know your dog. “For example, Bryan loves his sleep and is very lazy so I post his funny sleeping positions and videos of him falling asleep in the strangest places!”

2. Post regularly

“I try to post most days on Bryan’s Instagram. Posting regularly will keep people interested in your page and feel like they are involved in your dog’s everyday life. “Also, the more you post, the more chance you have of people seeing your posts.”

3. Think about photo settings

“I like to change up Bryan’s photo settings as often as I can. It stops his page looking boring and stops every photo looking the same. “I’ll mix indoor photos of him at home with outdoor shots, some are of him on walks and others are when he’s out and about with me.”

4. Share special moments

“The more special moments you post, the more your followers feel they are involved in the real life of your dog. “Try to post important things in your dog’s life, such as a birthday, or achievements like learning a new trick or getting a new toy. Sharing a fun play date with friends is always hits too.”

5. Caption well

“Captions are almost as important as the photo. “Put a caption that is relevant to the photo and always try to keep it lighthearted. I always post as if Bryan himself is writing it himself.”

6. Make use of tagging

“Tagging the photos is important. “It will help the photo be seen by more people. But always make sure the tags are relevant to the photo, so keep them dog related because you want dog lovers to discover your photo.”

7. Most of all, have fun!

“Remember to have fun with it. When you are taking the photos and videos, you’re getting to spend with your dog so enjoy that time together and let your dog enjoy being themselves, showing off for you and getting lots and lots of treats in return! “Also, people follow dog accounts because dogs makes them happy and they enjoy seeing cute dogs so it should be an enjoyable experience for everyone!”

(Story source: K9)