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All posts in May, 2010

Next week is half term across the UK , which means that pretty soon the summer holidays will be upon us.

If you are going away over the summer and not taking your pets, then now’s the time to start thinking about who will take care of them when you aren’t around.
If you don’t have friends or family who will help you out, the options include:
1/ Kennels or cattery. Your pet will live in purpose built boarding facilities, usually with a small run attached. They will have minimal interaction with other animals but will be safe and secure. These get booked up quickly so get on the phone today. Get a recommendation and go and visit them, if you haven’t used them before. There are some truly dire ones out there but also some lovely ones. Basically you’ll get what you pay for. If you are going to use a boarding kennel, then your pet will need their vaccinations up to date, so make sure you schedule any boosters required in time for your holiday.
2/ Home boarding. Someone boards your pets in their home. Best suited for dogs and small animals in cages. Can be a great option if you find someone suitable. Often more than one dog is boarded at a time so potential for problems but probably more interesting for the dog to have someone to play with.
3/ Pet sitters. Pet sitters often come to your house once/ twice/ more often a day to feed , exercise or check up on your pet. Less stressful for pets and good for independent cats but if pet gets sick or injured, then no one will notice until the next check up.
Some companies such as Homesitters and Animal Aunts offer professional live in pet sitters. This means your house and garden are well looked after as well as your pet(s) but at over £40 a day, this can be an expensive option.
A cheaper option is to advertise on a site such as housecarers or mindmyhouse for someone to care for your house, garden and pets while you are away. You need to write an advert and vet the replies but many people on these sites are mature couples who enjoy living in different places for a few weeks. Check up on references carefully and you will have yourself cheap pet minding as well as the peace of mind of knowing your house is occupied while you are away.
And while you are organising petcare, make sure you check your families passports are all up to date as well. It would be a pity if the pets were sorted but the humans in the family missed out!

We all know this hot weather won’t last long , in fact it’s cooling down as I type, but please do check your pets have fresh water and shade available when it’s this warm. You can put ice cubes in their water bowls or make them ice cubes with appropriate treats in to help cool them down. Oh and don’t even think about leaving them in the car. My dogs start panting in the time it takes for me to turn the AC off and get them out of the car.

Check any caged pets twice a day as they can’t escape if they are roasting away in their cage. If you have animals in hutches outdoors, you may have to change the position of the cages during the summer months. Our hutch is in a very sheltered area in the winter but it can’t stay there during the summer otherwise we’d have baked piggies. They go into their run for the day and I make sure they always have some shade as they can’t cope with extreme heat very well at all.
All the pets have slowed down at lot in these temperatures. The cats stay in the utility room where it’s cool and the dogs can’t get in. The dogs seem to fight for the small landing at the top of the big staircase. The old boy will need to have his coat clipped off if it is going to be a hot, hot summer. He has a typical collie coat, so looks stupid but feels much better if I get him shorn. Even the puppy isn’t as energetic as usual.
I’m trying to walk them earlier than usual and we go to the woods rather than the fields where it feels cooler.
The only ones really happy are the fish.

I’ve just spent the morning shaving the back end of a fluffy bunny.

She didn’t look too bad to begin with : just a knot under her chin and one on her rump but as I started it was obvious it was going to be a bigger job that we expected. It helped that she was used to being handled and was very tolerant. All in all I shaved at least 12 knots off her. The one under her chin prevented her from raising her head properly and the on around her bottom kept her hip muscles permanently flexed. When I had finished, the first thing she did was to lie down in her run and stretch out- something that she was probably not able to do for quite some time.
I could smell dried urine as I trimmed around her tail and if I could smell it, then any blow flies around would be able to as well. She was very close to being a fly blown bunny.
She was lucky. The owners were sensible and called me to clip her off before any real damage was done ( apart from to her hairstyle- I’m no hairdresser!) but this summer many bunnies won’t be as lucky.
If your rabbit is a house rabbit or is handled daily, the chances are you’ll notice if it has knots but for those rabbits that live at the bottom of the garden and are lucky to get some food thrown at them each day, it may already be too late.
If you notice open sores on your rabbit or maybe even maggots, get your pet to the vet NOW. This is an emergency and waiting even an hour can reduce your rabbit’s chance of survival.

It seems the dog rocks do work. The brown patches on our lawn are receding and no new ones have appeared since we started putting rocks in the water bowls. Our major problem is keeping the rocks in the bowls; the kids keep taking them and using them in the sandpit or throwing them around the garden. One was adopted by my 4 yo as a pet and lived by her bed for a few days before I managed to find her an acceptable replacement.

I’ll update again over the summer but so far it’s a thumbs up for dog rocks from me.
We’ve been indulging in a little bird watching with a difference this spring. The Birdbox Project has over 100 schools with cameras in their nesting boxes so you can can watch birds build nests, hatch eggs and raise their babies. This is a good box to watch at the moment, but it’s worth will taking a look at all the live feeds as they all show different views of the nests.