The pandemic has seen many people finding comfort in a furry little friend, and while a dog is the perfect companion in difficult times, the high demand for puppies has led to a disturbing rise in dog theft. In fact the UK charity DogLost has reported a 170% increase in dog theft from 2019.
Losing a dog can be a devastating experience and many people will go to extreme lengths to avoid the pain. The BBC recently reported on a couple that offered a staggering £20,000 reward for the safe return of their dog, the sum total of their life savings.
To avoid ending up in a situation like this it is important to understand why people steal dogs, so that you don’t end up unwittingly supporting the crime, and we will make some simple suggestions so you hopefully will never end up losing your dog.
Why are dogs being stolen.
Having a dog stolen is a devastating experience and many owners will offer no questions asked rewards for the safe return of their dog, the dog thief can simply pretend to be the one who found your dog and collect the reward.
Sometimes dogs are stolen to fulfil a particular request, whether it is for a breeder or a private owner who can’t wait to get their hands on a specific breed of dog.
Demand for puppies has increased enormously during the lock down which has seen the average price of a pedigree dog increase from £500 to £2000! This combined with the fact that the lockdown is making other forms of crime harder, breeding puppies has become a lucrative alternative.
As we’ve noted demand for puppies has increased dramatically during lock down. Many dogs that are stolen are simply sold on through various sites such as Facebook, and Gumtree.
Perhaps the saddest reason is that sometimes dogs are stolen to act as ‘bait dogs’ to train fighting dogs.
How to stop it.
Don’t let your dog out of your sight!
It might sound obvious, but your dog is more vulnerable to being stolen if they move out of your line of sight. Be wary of letting your dog round bends, or into bushes, they are far more likely to be taken if the thief can’t see the dogs owner. 16% of dogs are stolen when out for an ordinary walk, so varying your route might also help protect your pooch.
Secure your garden
Taking care of holes in fences might prevent your dog escaping, but raising the height of your fence or hedge will deter thieves from gaining access to your garden and stealing your dog. AS many as 50% of dogs are taken from gardens, so if you only do one thing to protect your pet this should be it.
Don’t leave your dog outside of the shop
This leaves your dog very vulnerable to being stolen as once out of sight a potential opportunity is created, with 7% of dog thefts occurring in this way. Bystanders provide little protection, as they don’t know who the dog belongs to.
This might sound obvious but neutering your dog means that it won’t be stolen for breeding purposes. Taking away one of the reasons dogs are stolen will help protect your dog t=from theft.
A microchip that is registered with a pet database, and whose information is kept up to date will help your dog be returned to you as easily as possible, should the worst happen.
Make sure your dog walker is legitimate
When looking for a dog walker, reach out to friends and family and try and get recommendations. While a dog walker might not be out to steal your dog themselves, not all dog walkers and created equal, some might now be quite as careful with your pooch as you’d like.
Make sure your dog is well trained
A well-trained dog that will return when called and won’t stray too far, will give a potential thief far fewer opportunities to steal your dog, than an untrained or poorly trained dog. Make sure you sign your dog up for a good puppy school and get on top of their behaviour.
Look out for info on local dog walking groups
Joining a good walking group can be very useful for finding out about dog thefts in your area, as well as providing a network of people who can keep an eye out for your dog if it has been taken.
Be careful where you buy your dog from
Carefully selecting who you buy your dog from can help decrease the demand for stolen puppies. Research your seller, make sure they have a good reputation to reduce the likelihood of illegal activity. Or even better try and get your dog from a rescue centre, not only will you be a super-hero, rescuing an unwanted puppy, but you will also further reduce the demand for stolen dogs.
When your dog is alone, make sure he’s out of sight
19% of dogs are taken from breaking into homes and 5% are taken from cars. When you leave your dog at home try to make sure they are not visible from the street and try to avoid leaving them alone in the car altogether. Making simple changes like this can remove the chance for opportunistic thieves do steal your dog.
Statistics from: http://www.pettheft.org.uk/press.php
If you have a dog you may want to avoid muddy areas for a little while. Alabama Rot or CRBV is a disease that causes blood clots to form that can cause ulcer like sores and cause damage to the blood vessels of the kidneys and skin
Alabama Rot, or CRBV, was first detected amongst greyhounds in Alabama in the 1980s. After a short lived flare up, the number of cases declined and no clinical research was carried out. As a result the cause of Alabama Rot is unknown and can only be diagnosed as collection of clinical symptoms.
Alabama Rot first appeared in the UK in 2012 has seen the number of cases rise from 19 cases in 2016 to 40 in 2017, with 29 cases already identified this year.
While the chances of contracting Alabama Rot are extremely low, the disease has a very high mortality rate.
Preventing Alabama Rot
The cause of Alabama Rot is still unknown. In contrast to the cases of Alabama Rot that presented in Greyhounds in the US, the UK version doesn’t seem to target a specific breed, age, weight or sex of dog.
Some dogs who live in close proximity have become infected, however it is not clear whether they were infected by each other or whether they simply share and environment and lifestyle.
There is some suggestion that Alabama Rot can be picked up on a dogs legs and paws after muddy walks. It is advised to avoid walking through muddy areas and wash your dog thoroughly after walks and regularly check for symptoms.
The vetsforpets website is currently tracking the Alabama Rot and they have created an interactive map to show areas where cases have been reported, which can be found here.
There have so far been no examples of a human contracting the disease.
Symptoms of Alabama Rot
The first symptom of Alabama Rot is the development of sores that typically form around the elbow and or knee of a dog and have no obvious cause. These sores have will appear as small ulcer like swellings that are red and open.
Within two to seven days the dog will begin vomiting and show signs of kidney failure including reduced appetite and unusual tiredness.
Without treatment, Alabama Rot can lead to a rampant fever and eventually death.
Treating Alabama Rot
These symptoms are not limited to Alabama Rot, but if symptoms begin to manifest the dog should be taken to the vet, who will determine what’s wrong and may offer a course of antibiotics.
While the chances of a dog catching Alabama Rot are extremely low, take reasonable precautions such as avoiding muddy areas, cleaning a pet, and checking regularly for symptoms as the disease has a very high mortality rate.
A recent study by Liverpool University has suggested that anxious people are more likely to be bitten by dogs and that dog bites are more common than is often thought.
A sample of 700 people were rated for their emotional stability on a scale of one to seven and then questioned about whether or not they’d been bitten. The researchers found that for every point of increased anxiety on the scale there was a 23% increase in the chance of being bitten.
Of the people interview around one fourth reported having been bitten by a dog, with a third of those bitten requiring medical treatment. Which suggests that the number of dog bites might be significantly higher than official statistics suggest. With men being more likely to be bitten.
Given these findings it is worth learning the proper way to approach a dog as being comfortable and confident with the animal will make it easier to make friends.
How to approach a dog
Caroline Kisco of the Kennel Club notes that “How dogs react to people is often determined by how people themselves react to dogs, so it is important that people recognise the best ways to interact with dogs and that owners always keep their pets under control and consider that not everyone may feel comfortable being around dogs or know how to interact with them.”
Knowing the correct way can help reduce anxiety and help a person approach a dog with confidence reducing the likely hood of being bitten.
- The first thing to do is speak to the dog’s owner and make sure that it’s okay to approach their dog. If a dog is alone it is best not to approach it at all.
- Move toward the dog from the side instead of coming at it head on. This is how one dog greets another. Coming at a dog straight on can be interpreted as aggressive behaviour and will draw aggression in turn.
- Speak calmly and quietly. Try to adopt a relaxed manner with the dog, yawning, smiling and blinking slowly are all good ways to achieve this. Try to avoid starring at the dog, this can also be interpreted as aggressive behaviour.
- Don’t rush up to a strange dog and stand over them. Dogs can find this frightening. Try to let the dog come to you.
- Try to squat by the dog instead of towering over them. Let the dog sniff you, then stroke the shoulder or chest. Don’t reach over the dog this can result in anxiety for the animal.
- Finally never make a dog feel trapped. Don’t back it in to a corner or put your face too close to the dogs face filling its vision
- A dog’s body language will give you clues to how it is feeling. If the dog arches its body, tucks its tail between its legs, licks its lips, looks away or growls, the dog may feel uncomfortable and its best to back off.
How to train a dog
While it is important to help people find the best ways to approach a dog it is important to remember that it is our responsibility as dog owners to control our pet’s behaviour. It is not reasonable to expect every person a dog meets to have the knowledge and experience to correctly interact with a dog.
As Ksico notes “It is important that all dogs are properly trained and socialised from an early age to reduce the risk of bad behaviour, including biting.” It can be tempting when we get our adorable little ball of fluff and puppy eyes home to let it do whatever it wants, but if we want a happy well behaved dog follow these suggestions:
Firstly Dogs need training from the moment you bring your puppy home. Puppies are constantly learning from the moment they meet their new owner. Creating a fun loving environment with consistent rules will help a puppy learn its place in the world.
Potty training a puppy through positive reinforcement will help to establish a positive relationship with a puppy, helping to learn his role and the role of their owner.
The first 16 weeks of a dog’s life are the best time for them to learn to socialise. Through interaction with other dogs a puppy will learn not to bite too hard or be too boisterous, as well as learning tolerance and patience.
Socialisation with people is equally important. Carrying around a few treats that can be given to strangers to give to the dog, can help the dog associate strangers with good experiences, making them less likely to respond aggressively.
Teaching a dog that it is not okay to bite from an early age is very important. An owner must establish their place as the leader of the pack to help a puppy understand its place in the world.
Finally, a dog must have plenty of exercise. A bored dog with a lot of excess energy is far more likely to engage in aggressive inappropriate behaviour
While this list is a good starting place, there many excellent training schools that can help give a puppy the best possible start in life.
While the number of dog bites is still very low in the UK, there are things we can do both as pet owners and fans of pets to reduce the likelihood of a dog bite occurring. Properly training a dog, and learning the correct way to interact can reduce the chances of a dog bite, and create calm happy pets.
Fleas are a nightmare. Once they take control of a home they can be very difficult to get rid of. A single flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, that’s an incredible 1500 eggs a month. In fact statistics suggest that for every flea you see there could be as many as 99 more lurking in your home.
While not quite such prolific breeders, ticks are still very unpleasant little parasites. Latching on to your cats and dogs to feed on their blood before falling off and waiting for their next victim.
Carrying disease and parasites, fleas and ticks have a negative effect of the health and wellbeing of your pet and are not welcome in a home.
Why flea your pet
If the thought of swarms of blood sucking parasites isn’t enough to make you want to flea your pet, there are a few more serious problems caused by fleas and ticks.
The itchiness from the biting and scurrying can cause a pet an enormous amount of distress and can develop into an allergy causing further effects on an animals health.
Fleas and ticks are capable of carrying a range of diseases and parasites that will be damaging to your pets health, such as Mixamatosis in rabbits, Lyme disease, as well as worms that can affect all animals, as well as diseases that can be passed to humans.
A large enough infestation can even lead to fatal anaemia.
How to spot fleas and ticks
Sometimes discovering a pet has fleas can be as simple as seeing one scurrying through a pet’s fur, however this might not be the best way to tell if your pets is suffering as scurrying fleas are often scratched away before you can see them.
Better to look for excessive grooming, chewing, scratching and biting all of which are good indicators of fleas and ticks. It can sometimes, although not always, be possible to see small pink bite marks on the skin and more extreme reactions can lead to hair loss and sores.
Possibly the best way of telling if your pet has fleas is to give them a good fuss. If you find sandy black specs in the coat that can be crushed into red stains then your pet has fleas. Although sometimes mistaken for eggs, these small black specs are actually flea faeces.
Ticks come in a range of sizes and colours. The size of a tick can vary between a pin head and fingernail, they can range in colour from dark green to pale cream, but generally a tick will appear like a small rounded pebble attached to the pets skin.
The Life of a flea
Different flea treatments and prevention products work on different stages of a fleas life. Therefore in order to prevent and treat a pet for fleas it is important to understand the life cycle of a flea.
There are four stages to a fleas life; egg, lava, pupa and adult
As well as existing on your pet, eggs can be scattered anywhere and everywhere. To make matters worse at just 0.5mm in size and white or even transparent, eggs can be very difficult to spot. Eggs simply fall off a pet as they scratch, and develop happily in your garden, carpet, sofa, bed, where ever a pet spends time there could potentially be eggs.
The eggs then hatch into larvae, tiny worm like creatures that can live on the organic matter they find where they hatch. Shed skin, dead insects and even the faeces of adult fleas, which is rich in blood can sustain the development of a flea.
After moulting twice and growing in size the larvae enters the pupal stage. During this stage the larvae weaves its self a cocoon, moults one final time and undergoes a metamorphosis into its adult form. Fleas are extremely resilient during this stage, which can take as little as four days, however fleas are capable of surviving for long period of time in the pupal stage if the environmental conditions are not good for survival. Warmth, noise and an increase in carbon dioxide can all indicate a host is near. A newly emerged adult flea is able to jump almost immediately.
The time all this takes depends on environmental factors such as availability of a host, temperature and humidity. Under the right conditions this process can take just fourteen days
Once a flea is a fully mature adult flea will live for several weeks on a pet, during this time it will live to feed and breed
Understanding a fleas life cycle helps show that a spot of topical treatment when a pet owner notices a few fleas on an animal probably won’t be enough to address the problem. A regular and multi-pronged attack is necessary to keep on top of the problem.
Acting quickly to treat or prevent flea and tick infestations is very important to your pets health. Flea and tick treatments for animals come in three main types.
Spot on – Topical flea and tick treatments typically come in the form of a liquid applied directly to the skin. Spot on treatments kill adult fleas, larvae and eggs and typically last about thirty days.
Oral – typically in pill form, oral treatments can be very effective. Travelling through the blood stream oral treatments kill adult ticks, fleas and larvae when the bite the animal.
Collars – Flea collars are designed to repel fleas and typically last for several months.
If prevention fails and you find a tick on a cat or dog there are a couple of things to bear in mind when attempting to remove it. First of all don’t just leave it to your pet, deal with it yourself.
Don’t try to brush it off or pick it with your fingers as this can cause the ticks probe to break increasing the chance of infection by diseases such as Lyme.
Don’t use chemicals, alcohol or even try to burn the tick off as this can cause irritation and damage to your pets skin.
The best way to remove ticks is with a tick twister, a tool used by vets specially designed for the job. Failing that, a pet owner can use tweezers, grabbing the tick gently as close to your pets body and gently levering the tick out of the skin.
As we’ve seen simply treating your pets may not be enough. One of the most effective way to control fleas is to keep things clan! Make sure to wash a dogs favourite blanket of a cats favourite cushion. When hoovering, don’t stop at the floor, make sure sofas and upholstery gets a good going over as well. Good, thorough cleaning practices will help control the fleas that survive other treatments.
Royal Canin pet foods are different for the simple reason that their foods are designed for pets rather than pet owners. Royal Canin was created by a vet named John Cathary in 1968 who realised that not all dogs and cats are created equally and feeding every animal what is essentially the same food might not be the best thing for them.
A Pug is a completely different size and shape to a Labrador. Just watching a Labrador bounding around then a pug amble along suggests that the two animals would have very different nutritional needs from their diet. Similarly a house bound Persian Cat is very different to a sleek Siamese.
By scientifically analysing the many different breeds and vareties of animal using cutting edge research, Royal Canin has created a range of products specially designed for the nutritional and health needs of each specific pet. Large or small, young or old, pure bred or mixed Royal Canin use the finest ingredients to create a balanced diet and keep a pet happy and healthy throughout their entire lives.
Nutrient vs ingredients
Royal Canin’s research team put nutritional value, not just ingredient selection at the heart of their food. Each formula contains a precise balance of over 50 nutrients that serve specific functions to help maintain the health and happiness of a pet.
Each nutrient serving one of four goals:
Amino acids, minerals, vitamins and fatty acids meet the basic nutrition requirements for healthy physical development and maintenance.
Protein, carbohydrates and fat provide energy to cats and dogs.
The best antioxidants, prebiotics, fibre and essential fatty acids help address kidney issues, digestive problems, the effects of aging and other common health issues.
Very specific nutrients can be limited or added in certain formulations in order to help cats and dogs recover from particular health issues.
The scientific research doesn’t stop at the nutritional content of the diet. The size, shape and even the density of each individual piece of kibble has been tested to meet the needs of the dog or cat it is designed for. For example A Persian Cat eats with the underside of its tongue, so Royal Canin scientist quickly realised that an almond shape kibble would be easier for the cat to pick up. A Labrador dog on the other hand has a tendency to gobble its food. A doughnut shaped kibble was therefore designed to slow the dog down and make it chew.
The attributes of a piece of kibble can help protect a pet in a number of ways including:
A properly designed kibble can effectively brush your dog or cats teeth, reducing plaque and tartar and maintaining a healthy mouth
Slowing the rate of ingestion, by slowing a pet’s ingestion and forcing them to chew has a positive effect on digestion.
Increase the foods palatability
As well as the smell the way the food feels in the mouth wiii help avoid problems with fussy eaters.
The density of the kibble affects how full your dog or cat feels after a meal making it easier to control how much your dog eats.
Types of food
Royal Canin provides a range of products specially designed for each animal. Their food comes in 4 distinct types:
Different breeds of pet have very different nutritional needs. A Bull Dog and a German Shepard are very different animals, who require very different diets. Their size, shape, metabolism and even fur require a different nutritional profile to cater for their needs. Royal Canin uses cutting edge research to cater for those needs.
As your cat or dog ages and their bodies change so do their nutritional requirements. As a kitten or a puppy is developing they require a higher concentration of nutrients in order to not only maintain themselves but to also create the capacity for growth. Whereas it is natural that a senior or geriatric pet needs a different nutritional profile to help guard against ailments associated with age. Similarly a young animal requires higher carbohydrate levels to fuel their active lifestyle, whereas an adult pet who is far less active would just grow fat. Picking the right food in line with a pet’s age will help your pet by keeping your pet healthy and active throughout their life.
Specific health concerns
Companies such as Royal Canin offer a range of products designed to use diet to aid in the recovery or managements of specific health problems such as Urinary Health, Diabetes, Digestive Support, Liver Health, Illness and Surgery Recovery Support, Renal Health, Weight Management, and Cardiac Health. These products are designed to use ingredients that specifically help to care for animals with these ailments and are available through your vet or licenced vendor.
As well as the more specific problems that can be helped by diet, there are also a range of products designed for more general health and care of a pet. For example foods that help control the weight of a dog, or a food designed for cats who are fussy eaters, or hypoallergenic food for animals with allergies.
Royal Canin’s commitment to quality extends from its research stage all the way through to manufacturing. Raw materials are selected from suppliers who strictly adhere to Royal Canins specifications. Every Delivery of raw materials is checked before the lorry is even unloaded, so that they can ensure Royal Canins strict nutritional standards have been met and that there are no micro toxins present.
Royal Canin uses the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) method to ensure tight quality control at all stages of manufacturing. Including a final round of tests and analyses to make sure the final product meets every standard set.
Royal Canin’s ethos has kept the company at the cutting edge animal feed research and production for 40 years. Their commitment to the specific needs of every type of cat and dog ensures that they continue to produce high quality pet foods that will keep your pet happy and healthy throughout their entire lives.
Dogs, as the old saying goes, are man’s best friend, and you won’t find anyone disagreeing with that at farmandpet! Dogs give so much to their owners, love, companionship, routine, and play that it’s hard to stop short of recommending a dog to everyone. But before you dive in head first think about your situation and make a list of what you want from a dog and what it wants from you and we’re confident you’ll find a loyal companion. Here are 7 things to consider before you get a dog
Does your dog spend the whole day staring at the door waiting for you to come home? They’re always there, always excited to welcome you home. One of the best things about owning a dog is the companionship, but this is a two way relationship.
Not all dogs need to be walked for miles multiple times a day, but all dogs require affection, attention and a certain amount of routine. If you decide to get a dog you will find your ability to be spontaneous limited. No more drinks after work without popping home to feed the dog, no more weekend dash without finding someone to look after the dog. These problems are easily over come with a little planning, but once you have a dog everything will require a little more forethought.
You don’t have to live on a many acred estate to keep a happy dog. Even if you live in a small flat there is probably still a dog for you, you just have to be sensible when selecting your breed. As a small relatively low energy dog, the French Bulldog is great for small flat, but great big German Shepard crashing around wouldn’t be a good fit! Do your research and find a dog that suits your situation.
Dogs come in a vast verity of shapes, sizes and temperament, no matter what your needs, likes and dislikes, there is probably a dog for you. Before getting a dog make a list of what you want from a dog and what you don’t want. If you want a dog to take on long walks perhaps a Dalmatian is for you. If you live in a small flat have a look at the Chihuahua. Don’t want too much hair about the house try a Poodle. There are so many breeds and verities there’s bound to be a dog for you. Click here for a guide to different dog breeds
As brilliant as it is having a dogs can be quite expensive so it’s worth considering a few of the costs before committing.
You will need: Food bowl
Collar and lead
Flea and worming treatments
Be prepared to have your shoes and socks eaten, because dogs love to chew and they will chew everything! But don’t worry with a little organisation and a well placed chew toy a lot of this can be avoided. Keep things out of the dogs reach and give a dog something it can chew and it will be happy, but be prepared, accidents do happen.
Puppies are wild little balls of energy and glorious destruction follows in their path! Watching a puppy grow in to a dog is enormously rewarding. Watching their personality grow and change is fantastic. However you need to consider if you’re up to the challenge of a puppy. They need a lot of attention, if you’re very house proud they will leave hair on everything, they will eat your shoes, and need a lot of training. If all this sounds too much consider getting an adult dog who is calmer and well trained.
Socialising a dog is incredibly important to your dog’s temperament. If your puppy is to grow into a gentle friendly dog it’s up to you to make this happen. Early on socialising a dog is very easy, simply playing, handling, speaking softly and in affectionate tone, all of those thing you will hopefully do naturally to make the puppy feel safe and loved.
As they grow it’s important the dogs spend time around other dogs. Learning how to play with one another will help dogs learn not to bite too hard or be too aggressive with other animals. This is a process that must be continued throughout the dog’s life, regular trips to dog friendly parks will help dogs be happy gentle and friendly.
If you’ve considered all these things and found the perfect breed, go get a dog. We promise you won’t regret it!