Category Archives: Dog Health

Talkin’ Wheels

Daisy in her wheels

Daisy in her Walkin’ Wheels

Wheelchairs for pets are growing in popularity

During lockdown, we’ve been taken aback by the volume of calls we’ve received from owners considering a wheelchair for their dog.

Is it because people are spending more time with their pets and have been forced to confront the reality that they are ageing or becoming less mobile? We know we buried our heads in the sand for some time and were reluctant to admit that Daisy had a problem.

Whether like Daisy, your dog has DM (degenerative myelopathy), another problem, or just old age creeping up, there is no doubt that a dog wheelchair can bring immense benefits.

Let’s face it, when you see your pet in the early stages, still walking but starting to struggle, you may consider euthanasia. No one wants to see a beloved pet suffer, and for some, that may be the correct course of action. Also, financially, it can be a difficult choice as a dog wheelchair is a considerable investment.

Should you consider wheels?

Daisy digging in her wheelchair

Daisy still able to dig up molehills!

If you are facing this situation and you are undecided, let’s consider some of the pros and cons of taking that step.

Wheels can be a viable option. They give your dog (or cat) back the freedom that they once had to run free, chase their ball, or just potter around sniffing if that’s their thing.

With the correct introduction and encouragement, a dog wheelchair can enhance your pet’s life by giving them back the independence of movement. They can still pee and poop whilst in their chair too.

A dog wheelchair can also give pets a huge mental boost, particularly if they have become frustrated or depressed when they cannot move around as freely as they once could. It is incredible how quickly they adapt to the wheels.

On the negative side, it is true that some pets simply don’t take to dog wheelchairs. We believe that with a little work, and right incentive, most hurdles can be overcome, but of course, each dog is different.

For larger pets, wheelchairs can be less practical for indoor use – the larger the wheelchair, the wider the wheelbase becomes, so doorways and furniture (and your feet!) are difficult to navigate around.

You should also consider how you will lift your pet in and out of their wheelchair. Technique is everything, but even so, your dog may be heavy and need to be manoeuvred into place. Additional accessories may be needed to help you (such as harness that can be fitted onto your dog first, before clipping straight into the wheelchair frame).

Think about the terrain on which the dog wheelchair will be used. Long grass or large obstacles will make it more difficult for your pet to move around, and you may need to choose a less hazardous route when out and about.

Do your research

Before you make your decision, think about what you want your dog’s wheelchair to do for them. Do some research, and talk to other owners who have taken the plunge. They will be the first to tell you the highs and the lows of wheelchair life, and talking about their experiences can really help you.

When one of our GSDs, Blitz, was diagnosed with DM, dog wheelchairs were not a very accessible option. He was happy when he was around us, but he would have loved to be mobile again.

By the time Daisy was diagnosed 8 years later, dog wheelchairs were becoming more prevalent. We were sceptical of them, and unsure whether Daisy would be willing, but we are so glad we gave one a try. Daisy was gifted nearly two years of happy ramblings with her wheelchairs, chasing her beloved Puller. Even when she could no longer run after it, walking around the field with it clamped firmly between her jaws was enough to put a smile on her face!

Daisy’s wheelchair journey:

Sabrina

From a happy new Walkin’ Wheels dog wheelchair user:

Sabrina in her wheelchair

Sabrina in her new Walkin Wheels wheelchair

“It has been great to see our dog have some quality of life back. We can’t get her out every day, but when we, can she loves it.”

Sabrina in her wheelchair

Rolling happily along!

“I was worried she wouldn’t take to it as she has always been scared of most things (she doesn’t even like squeaky toys) but as soon as we put it on her she was off”.

Walkin’ Wheels Wheelchairs

Tilly in her cone of shame

Beat the Boredom

Tilly after her elbow arthroscopy

Her legs must be chilly?

Cage Rest and Cone?

What do you do when you’ve got a sick or injured pet? What if they’re on cage rest? What if they are doomed to wear the cone of shame? We have been faced with this problem for weeks now.

But it’s not only that, what if they’re home alone or the weather is bad? How do you entertain a bored pet?

Exercise their brain!

For a dog on cage rest as our Tilly was after her elbow arthroscopy, wearing a cone to protect her stitches, life was very miserable and we feared for her mental wellbeing. Not only that but two weeks into her confinement, her spay scar became infected, so she was double coned and confined for a further two weeks.

Tricks and Tips

How did we cope? Well, we had two large dog crates which were situated in the main parts of the house so that wherever we were, she could be nearby. She had a soft toy with her at all times, but that had to be operated on to remove the squeakers. Toby hates squeakers and she was driving him crazy!

A stuffed KONG

A well-stuffed KONG always proves popular!

Due to the amount of space available, we decided to use smaller treat toys to entertain her. She couldn’t have coped with the puzzle toys in such a restricted environment. Our go-to toy for most occasions is the KONG. Stuffed to the gills with tasty treats, what dog could resist? And you can always freeze it for longer-lasting play. You simply can’t go wrong with a KONG!

Our second choice was the Starmark Treat Ringer Orb which proved such a big hit with Toby as a pup.

Treat Ringer Orb

The challenging Treat Ringer Orb

At first, Tilly found this difficult and it lay untouched in her crate, but by removing a treat and letting her get a taste of it, she was motivated to try for herself and eventually got the hang of it. Now it’s one of her favourite evening challenges.

Thirdly was an old favourite, the Lotus Ball. This is a very simple toy and probably better suited to retrieving, but for Tilly, it contained another little treat for her to extract and keep her mind active. To make it more appealing, we boosted it up with a jackpot treat, Davies Puffed Jerky. Our dogs go wild for it.

Lotus Ball and Puffed Jerky

Lotus Ball and Puffed Jerky

Puzzle Toys

If your dog is not restricted space-wise, there are numerous puzzle toys to keep them entertained. If you haven’t tried one before it’s best to start with something straightforward as you will find they are easily discouraged if they can’t get the hang of it. A great starter toy is the Nina Ottosson Dog Smart.

Nina Ottosson Dog Smart

Nina Ottosson Dog Smart

Another simple toy is the Lick n Snack Platter which gives them an instant win, plus licking can have a calming effect on your dog. Great as a feeding bowl, too.

Moving on you then can progress to the K9 Pursuits Interactive IQ Game Watson, and bring out the super-sleuth in your dog. There is the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Toy, which has 3 different treat-feeding features and is a long time favourite. Or why not try the Dogit Mind Games Interactive Dog Toy that challenges both their physical and mental abilities. The K9 Pursuits Multi Maze is a 2-in-1 anti-gobble slow feeder and interactive game! The best of both worlds with its three interchangeable centrepieces all offering a different challenge!

Interactive Games

There are games to suit all levels: from top left, K9 Pursuits Interactive IQ Game Watson, Trixie Lick n Snack Platter, middle, K9 Pursuits Multi Maze Slow Feeder, bottom left, Dogit Mind Games Interactive Dog Toy and the Nina Ottosson Dog Brick Interactive Toy

Or your dog may prefer soft toys, so why not make these interactive too? If they’re not treat motivated but love a squeak, what about the Puzzle Plush Hide A Squirrel. Three furry gremlins to remove from their tree trunk nest.

Alternatively, there is the Sniffing Blanket Strategy Game, which has multiple hiding places for treats and small toys. Excellent for the keen forager.

Interactive Soft Toys

Some dogs prefer soft toys like the Puzzle Plush Hide a Squirrel or the Sniffing Blanket Strategy Game

You may find something above that you think is suitable for your dog but if not we have plenty more to choose from in our Interactive Play section or even our Treat-Dispensing Toys. And don’t forget the all-important Dog Treats to accompany your strategy games.

Keeping Cats Occupied

Cat in crateIf your cat is confined to a crate for any reason here are some tips and tricks:

  • Keep the crate super clean, changing water and blankets regularly.
  • Ensure the crate is in an area in the house where the family spends most of their time to prevent loneliness and boredom.
  • Keep some toys in the crate, perhaps infused with catnip, or dangling through the bars for entertainment. Swap the toys from time to time to give your cat something new to play with.
  • Have a regular routine so your cat knows what to expect and when. At night half cover the outside of the crate with a blanket.
  • Talk to your cat or play music or the TV so there is some background noise.
  • A cat pheromone spray may also help to calm and de-stress anxious cats.
Cat Enrichment Toys

From left to right Snack Mouse Treat Dispensing Toy for Cats, FroliCat CHEESE Automatic Cat Teaser, Cat Activity Fun Board Interactive Toy

There are a wide variety of enrichment toys available to keep your feline active and prevent boredom. There are self-play toys such as the FroliCat CHEESE Automatic Cat Teaser. Useful when they are home alone.

Next, there are the food puzzle toys that encourage foraging and make them work for their treats with the Cat Activity Fun Board Interactive Toy being one good example, and the Snack Mouse Treat Dispensing Toy for Cats, another. Your cat will learn to manipulate the toy to release the food.

Then there are interactive toys that are designed to strengthen the bond between you and your cat. The Cat Activity Fun Circle Interactive Toy is a game you can enjoy together, which is also suitable for older or sick pets and provides different activities on two different sides.

Take a look at our full range of Cat Strategy Games to find something to keep your kitty fully engaged.

So, do you know if your cat is bored? Take a look at this excellent article, Is Your Cat Bored? 10 Ways to Prevent Boredom, which explains how you can tell and provides some interesting ideas for enriching your cat’s environment.

Horses Need Enrichment Too!

Likit Equine Boredom Breaker

The Likit Boredom Breaker for Horses with Likit Refills in 4 delicious flavours

In a 24-hour period, a lot of equines will only have a few hours of mental and physical human engagement so boredom vices can set in. Enrichment toys can provide welcome relief for them and hung in the stable, the Likit Boredom Buster will do just that. Developed to provide environmental enrichment, this challenging stable toy is designed to get horses to work for their reward and there are four scrumptious Likit Treat flavours to choose from (available separately).

Enrichment provides a way to stimulate a horse’s natural instincts and is crucial to their overall wellbeing. By engaging these instincts, they can become healthier, happier equines.

Stock up and be prepared

In summary, ensure that your pets have a well-stocked chest with a wide variety of toys and games for both physical and mental stimulation. You can’t make every minute of your pet’s life exciting, but you can go a long way to keep their boredom at bay!

Daisy’s Story

Pup at 14 weeks

Daisy pup at 14 weeks

The White Wolf

Daisy’s story begins with a devastating loss for us. In the summer of 2009, we lost two of our five German Shepherds, Molly and Amy. One after the other within a week. Completely unrelated illnesses. They weren’t old, so it was totally out of the blue.

The grief was raw and for me, I couldn’t seem to get past it. I kept thinking puppy! I bought the local paper and trawled through the pet section. For once there was a distinct lack of German Shepherd pups for sale, but there was one ad that I decided to respond to.

I spoke to a woman who told me she had a 14-week-old white German Shepherd pup for sale. It wasn’t KC registered but was a full shepherd. If I was interested, I should act quickly as there were other people interested in her.

I had never wanted a white shepherd. We live in a very muddy place and I couldn’t think of anything worse than a white dog. However, she was all that was available at that moment in time and I felt like a pup was the only thing that would drag me out of my grief.

Neil didn’t take much persuading and we arranged to see the pup the next day.

On arrival, we discovered that the pup was living in a rented shed in someone’s back garden, with both its parents. The woman who was selling her, didn’t even keep her dogs in her own home.

Alarm bells should have gone off, but no. We saw her running around with both mother and father, who were friendly enough, so we took her. Instantly, I called her Daisy.

When we got her home, we carefully introduced her to the others, Sophie, Blitz and Fin. Sophie as always took charge.

That evening, despite the fact that she had never had much human contact, she spent the whole time asleep on my lap. She was a small white bundle of fluff and a real poppet. Although she was pure white, she had one single black spot on her front leg!

Daisy settled in well with the others, but it wasn’t long before she began growling at me. I was drying her tummy after she had been outside, and she started. I couldn’t quite believe it. I told her off, carried on with what I was doing, and she shut up.

From that day on, she was always a growler. She would growl at everybody apart from Sophie. Sophie wouldn’t have stood for it.

Our first encounter with DM

Not long after her arrival, we discovered that Blitz one of our rescue boys, had DM (degenerative myelopathy), a progressive disease of the spinal cord in dogs, most common in the German Shepherd Dog, although other breeds such as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Boxer, Rhodesian Ridgeback and Chesapeake Bay Retriever can also be affected. The condition has also been referred to as CDRM (chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy). It was our first experience of this horrible disease. The vet told us there was nothing to be done. As time went on, Blitz couldn’t move about much, so Daisy would cuddle up to him on his bed.

Daisy and Blitz cuddled up

Daisy pup with Blitz

We didn’t really know much about DM but learnt as we went along from various groups on the internet and although Neil made a wheelchair for him from copper pipe, we never tried him in it as he also had a mass in his gut and we were wary of putting any pressure on it.

Dog wheelchair frame

Our first attempt at making a dog wheelchair

Neil would carry him outside in a belly band that I made for him out of old sweatshirts. He was happy enough sitting in the garden. Then, of course, inevitably, the day came when we had to say goodbye. We were prepared, but it still hurt.

After we lost Blitz, Neil had to have physio for tennis elbow due to strain on his joints from hefting a large dog around day in and day out.

With just Sophie (Amy’s litter sister), Fin and Daisy, who was growing rapidly, we soon added to our numbers with Archie, then Jack came along. A collie. We had sheep, they needed herding and the German Shepherds just couldn’t quite grasp that concept.

We lost Sophie in the wintertime. She collapsed suddenly and died before we could get her to the vet. We were once again devastated.

The big Ginger Fin, our second rescue boy, was getting on and had his own ailments. Namely, anal furunculosis, a chronic, progressive inflammatory disease of dogs that results in ulceration and inflammation in the area surrounding the anus. He needed constant nursing, but inevitably we lost him too.

Daisy takes charge

Daisy was now in charge. She ruled the roost with Archie and Jack and continued her growly ways, but we were used to her and took no notice, although she could be alarming to visitors. She may have growled and snarled, but it was all show.

Daisy and a goat kid

She loved her life here on the croft, surrounded by livestock. There were two walks a day in the fields, the occasional rabbit to pursue and her favourite thing of all, chasing frisbees. She adored them from a tiny pup. When the Pullers came along, she was in her element.

In 2017, I started to notice that her back legs weren’t working quite as well as they should. There was nothing obvious, just a feeling I had, having been through a similar thing with our Blitz.

We buried our heads in the sand for a while because we didn’t want to believe that there was anything wrong, but during the winter months, I could tell from her pawprints in the snow that all was not well. It was apparent she was dragging her back legs very slightly.

Paw prints in the snow

December 2017

It was time to face up to it and get a diagnosis. A few years had passed since we had lost Blitz so there could have been some new treatment available.

DM strikes again

DM was confirmed, and we were disappointed to hear that there was still nothing that could be done to combat this horrible disease. We had recently discovered that we had a dog hydro pool nearby, Fusion Vet Therapy, so we decided to try physio and swimming.

Dog physio

May 2018:  Physio

We didn’t know how she’d react to the pool; she had never swum before, but during her first session, she took to it like a duck to water. She absolutely loved it.

Dog swimming

November 2018

As well as her swimming and physio, we scoured the internet and Facebook groups for something, anything that would help us prepare for what was to come.

As her disease progressed, and her back legs got weaker, we put her in Dog Boots to stop her from damaging her back feet. We tried just about every boot on the market with varying degrees of success. Some wouldn’t stay on her feet and we would spend hours looking for lost boots in the field. We quickly learned to tape them to her legs with micropore. Some wore out too quickly so we would reinforce them with duct tape. The boots that worked well for us, we decided to stock ourselves. Daisy tested them all!

After doing a lot of research, we learned that DM could be related to deficiencies in diet, after finding the following article: Does DM (Degenerative Myelopathy) and other Neurological issues like Seizures and Doggie Dementia, actually start in the gut? In desperation, we embarked on an extensive vitamin regime which was primarily based around vitamin B and magnesium.

Eureka!

We had one moment of triumph. Five days after we started her on the vitamin supplements, she suddenly stood up on her back legs for the first time in weeks and we were over the moon. We really thought we had found the cure!

Dog with DM stands up

December 2018: Daisy stands up

But it was short-lived, and we soon realised that vitamins weren’t the answer.

We continued with the weekly swimming sessions. She would get so excited when she realised it was time to go to the pool. She also had hydrotherapy sessions which she wasn’t quite so keen on but put up with them with good grace. Funnily enough, she never once growled at the girls at the pool.

She was at the stage where she couldn’t stand up on her own and we were using the belly band that I made for Blitz to get her out and about. She could drag herself along the floor so to help her get about indoors, we removed all the rugs that she was getting snagged on. This left wooden floors which were difficult for her to grip, so we bought metres of black rubber flooring and covered the ground floor of the house.

There was also some incontinence, so we got a cover for the sofa and invested in boxes of puppy training pads.

A wheely good idea

I really wanted to try a wheelchair, but Neil wasn’t so keen. I spotted a second-hand one on Gumtree which was not too far away from us, so we went ahead and bought it.

At first, it wasn’t a great success. It was a bit on the big side for her and she didn’t like the rigid saddle. She would just stand in it and not move. On the other hand, if we put her in the belly band, she would run around quite happily with Neil trying his hardest to keep up with her.

Sweatshirt belly band

October 2018: Out and about in her sweatshirt belly band

We decided to make some modifications to her wheelchair so that the belly band could be used to support her instead of the fixed wheelchair saddle.

When it was done, it looked a bit Heath Robinson, but she loved it. She had her freedom back. She could walk outside unaided, go to the toilet, run with the other dogs and even chase her beloved Puller.

Modified dog wheelchair

October 2018: We combine the wheelchair with the belly band

She may not have had her legs back, but she had her life back.

Her back legs were still very mobile, although they couldn’t support her weight, so we still needed functional boots.

There wasn’t the space to use the cart indoors, so she would crawl.

Her feet were of major concern to us, and every day we would check them over, put Sudacrem on any sore bits and bandage them up to protect them when she crawled. She also developed sores on other parts of her body from the friction of using the chair daily, and they also had to be attended to.

We rarely went out or left her alone for more than an hour as she got distressed. One day my mother was staying with us and offered to sit with her whilst we had a few hours away from home. Daisy was under the table in the kitchen. After a while, my mother detected an odour and when she looked, Daisy had pooed. As she was in such an awkward position, my mother couldn’t get to her to clean it up, so she used my extra-long wooden jam spoon to drag the poo nearer and pick it up! Needless to say, I shan’t be making jam with that spoon ever again!

But it didn’t matter what we did, there was no halting the progression of the disease and day by day, week by week, month by month, it gradually crept up her spine, leaving her more and more debilitated and reliant on us for her every move. She was too heavy for me to lift and take outside in the homemade belly band, but then we discovered the Solvit Mobility Harness, and with the aid of this, I could manage when Neil wasn’t around.

Her cobbled together wheelchair was wearing out, so we managed to get her another from a DM charity, Cure4DM. Once again, she had a new lease of life, only this time her back legs were no longer mobile, they were just dragging, so we hooked them up in stirrups. Still, she was running with the others and chasing her Puller.

Dog wheelchair with stirrups

April 2019: Her back legs are now in stirrups

It wasn’t long before we realised that her front end was struggling. She found it challenging to sit up. She was no longer dragging herself around the house and wasn’t finding it that easy to walk in her chair. There were also problems with diarrhoea and urinary incontinence.

The vet recommended Incurin for the incontinence and it worked. No more peeing herself overnight. The diarrhoea was a problem on and off. We knew we were having a good day if she ate her breakfast, didn’t pee herself and her poos were firm!

We lived day to day, hoping for the best. Worrying when she was under the weather. Neil slept next to her every night for months, holding her paw or rubbing her belly. He started off in a chair in the lounge and then graduated to a camp bed!

We decided to get her a new quad chair so that she would have support at the front end. We ordered her a snazzy, camo Walkin’ Wheels.

Daisy in her Walkin' Wheels

September 2019:  In her Walkin’ Wheels

Her new chair arrived, and it was perfect. However, we never did fit the front wheels. Our fields are rough grassland so we weren’t sure that she would be able to manoeuvre around it with the front wheels on. We were at the point where we were going to fit them on her wheelchair to try them. If they didn’t work for her, we would have looked for a flatbed trolley to take her out and about.

We lost the fight

Sadly, there was no halting the ever-creeping paralysis and the weekend just after Christmas she lost coordination on her right-hand side. Her belly was distended. She wasn’t peeing when we took her outside and she was generally sluggish and quite distressed.

As painful as it was, we knew the time had come to let her go while she still had some dignity, so we called the vet out. He examined her and agreed with us. It was her time.

On her bed in the lounge next to the wood burner, with a Christmas tree in the background, we said our goodbyes, told her how much we loved her and held her paws while she slipped peacefully away.

We buried her in the garden next to Blitz, Sophie, Fin, Amy and Molly. Some she had known and some she had never met, but we like to think of her running free with them all.

The pain of the loss seems unbearable, but we know from bitter experience that it will start to fade in time.

Knowing what to do with ourselves is another matter. Our days revolved around her care and now they seem to drag on endlessly.

We have the others to focus on. Archie, Jack, Toby and Tilly and already the pack dynamic has changed. We were always so focused on Daisy, her needs and her wellness, now we can see them coming out of their shells and blossoming with our attention. It must be hardest for Archie as he spent all his days in my office with Daisy and myself.

From the summer 0f 2017 until December 2019 was the time it took for that horrible disease to take our beautiful White Warrior. She fought it so hard and so did we.

We went to extraordinary lengths to care for her. Our whole lives were geared up to her needs and people must have thought we were crazy, but I know that there are hundreds, probably thousands of DM dog parents out there doing exactly the same. From diagnosis to progression of illness, to aids for caring for your DM dog, there are so many people seeking solutions. And we are passionate about sharing our experiences and knowledge with them.

Breeders take note

We have had Archie, Toby and Tilly DNA tested and we know that none of them will ever suffer from it which is a massive relief for us. However, we know Toby is a carrier. If mated with a bitch who is clear, none of the pups would be affected by DM, but there is a 50/50 chance that they too would be carriers. When I gave his breeder the results, she told me that none of her dogs had ever suffered from DM, but although she claimed her dogs were DNA profiled, they couldn’t have had that particular test. Without that knowledge, she could possibly mate two fit, healthy dogs that just happened to be carriers, thereby creating a new generation of dogs vulnerable to DM.

We will never buy another pup unless it has been tested.

We know nothing will stop the puppy farms and back street breeders, but to all those registered breeders out there, or even owners who think it would be nice to have a litter from their dogs, we urge you to DNA test your dogs before breeding from them. It’s a simple test. We used Animal Genetics, who offer a whole range of canine testing options. It doesn’t cost a fortune and it could stop other people and their precious dogs going through what we’ve been through, twice now.

Neil will once again be getting physio for his elbows, but he would gladly put up with the discomfort of carrying Daisy again in a heartbeat, if he could.

Daisy on the beach

April 2019: Daisy 2009 -2019 The White Warrior rides again

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Pumpkin and your Pets

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

Last month Daisy was unwell. She had an upset stomach which resulted in bouts of diarrhoea. That is bad enough when you have a dog with four working legs, but for a dog that cannot walk unaided, it is deeply unpleasant. The vet advised a bland chicken and rice diet, which we had already begun, but he also prescribed some paste which did the trick and she was soon back to normal. We were relieved, but of course, the bill followed! Now, we don’t begrudge paying for her treatment, but it got us thinking about natural alternatives. In the distant past, we had given our dogs pumpkin when they were unwell, so since it is now pumpkin season, we thought we would revisit the idea.

Why is pumpkin good for dogs?

Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial vitamins and nutrients:

  • Potassium – an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity
  • Vitamin C – one cup of pumpkin contains at least 11mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects
  • Beta-Carotene – beneficial for preventing cancer. The bright orange colour is an indication of how rich it is in beta-carotene
  • Alpha-Carotene
  • Fibre
  • Zinc – will help improve skin and coat
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A – which is important for your dog’s vision

One of the most common uses of pumpkin is for dogs suffering from diarrhoea. The natural fibre content of the pumpkin helps to slow down digestion by adding bulk to the dog’s stool. Experts recommend adding pumpkin to your dog’s normal dog food and this has widely been reported to act quickly to settle their stomach. We used to keep small bags of frozen pumpkin in our freezer for just that purpose.

Interestingly enough, while pumpkin is a great remedy for diarrhoea, it is equally effective at easing constipation. Naturally increasing the amount of soluble fibre in your dog’s diet will also help move things along in a comfortable way. Pumpkin is gentle, unlike some conventional drugs designed to relieve constipation. Once again, pumpkin can be added to your dog’s normal food in small quantities whilst ensuring that they have plenty of fresh water. Dehydration can have a direct link to constipation and will certainly make a pre-existing condition even worse.

Since we are in pumpkin season, it’s also an excellent opportunity to make some pumpkin treats for your dog, so we have a couple of recipes for you that are as easy as pie! These make great Jackpot treats so you can incorporate them into your training.

Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Bones

Always check your ingredients for Xylitol before using.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

or Ingredients for grain-free

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup organic peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted then slightly cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until a stiff dough forms.
  4. Roll out dough to approx 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Use a cookie cutter to cut out dog bone shapes, or just bake into little circles like cookies.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Treats should have a slightly golden colour around the edges.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Can be stored in airtight containers for up to three weeks.

Carob Icing For Pumpkin Bones

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Unlike chocolate, carob is safe for dogs. You can buy it in various forms such as bars, chips or powder and it will turn your treats into something a bit special. Melting carob can be a little tricky – it doesn’t melt as easily as chocolate. The easiest way to melt carob chips is with a little coconut oil in a double boiler on the cooker.

  1. Fill a saucepan a 1/3 full with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer.
  3. Place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. It should fit tightly on top of the saucepan and shouldn’t touch the water. Make sure no steam gets into the bowl or it will ruin your melt.
  4. Put 1/2 cup carob chips and 1 tablespoon coconut oil into the bowl. After a couple of minutes start to stir them around. Continue stirring until mixture reaches a smooth consistency and has no more lumps.
  5. Dip biscuits into the melted carob immediately.

Make the carob icing when you’re ready to use it because you can’t successfully melt carob a second time. Store iced treats in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer!

Remember, once Halloween is over, pumpkins will be cheaper than ever. Why not buy a batch, chop, roast, puree and freeze for use throughout the year or alternatively check out these other super pumpkin recipes.

Cats can benefit from pumpkin too

Is Pumpkin good for Cats?

One of the key nutritional qualities of pumpkin is that it is rich in fibre (the material from plants that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the body).  Fibre can beneficial to cats in the following ways:

  • Weight control, fibre promotes a feeling of fullness, even if fewer calories are being taken in.
  • Treatment of diarrhoea. Pumpkin contains soluble fibre, and this can absorb excess water in the digestive tract, reducing or relieving diarrhoea.
  • Constipation. Conversely, a pumpkin’s high fibre content can act as a laxative. The combination of fibre and moisture can be of great benefit in creating bulk that stimulates bowel movements.
  • Hairballs in cats can be relieved by pumpkin through the same mechanism as it relieves constipation.

Fresh roasted pumpkin seeds, without any salts or spices, can be fed to cats. They have been rumoured to help with worm infestations. Although we don’t see as much of it in the UK, you can buy canned pumpkin without additives, spices or sugar which is also perfect for your feline friend. And lastly, you can feed fresh pumpkin that has been baked until soft.

It is advisable to start with very small amounts of pumpkin if you are planning to add it to your cat’s diet and, of course, for expert advice, speak to your vet first, especially if your cat is unwell.

If this has piqued your interest in the humble pumpkin as a superfood, then you can read more about the subject in Did you Know your Pet can Eat Pumpkin?