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ADVANCE™ is scientifically formulated to help improve pet health.  Read all the latest articles and news, as well as get tips and advice on puppy, kitten, dog and cat nutrition and health care topics.  Brought to you by the experts at ADVANCE™ premium pet food.

Tips to help your pet cope in the heat

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Warmer months

When the weather heats up, it’s vital to consider how prepared your pets are to cope.  Dogs and cats can’t regulate their body temperature through sweating (like we can), which means they’re more susceptible to heat stress than humans.

Read on for our tips to help your pets stay cool during the summer months.

Warmer months

When the weather heats up, it’s vital to consider how prepared your pets are to cope.  Dogs and cats can’t regulate their body temperature through sweating (like we can), which means they’re more susceptible to heat stress than humans.

Do dogs and cats sweat?

Dogs and cats possess only a limited number of sweat glands, and these are mostly located around paw pads.  This means that when a pet’s body temperature starts to rise, sweating alone is insufficient to help cool them down.  Instead, dogs and cat utilise other strategies to help regulate their body temperature.  Dogs pant to dissipate body heat via evaporation of moisture from their tongue and nasal cavity.  For cats however, panting is generally cause for concern and may indicate an underlying medical problem.  If you see your cat panting, it’s best to book a visit with your vet.

Cats help cool themselves down by grooming.  The saliva that evaporates off their skin has a cooling effect.  Both dogs and cats seek out cool areas to lie and reduce their activity to help keep cool.

It’s worth noting that breeds with short noses and flat faces such as the French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug as well as Persian and Himalayan cats are more susceptible to overheating and heat stroke.  Overweight pets also find it harder to regulate their temperature, so special care needs to be given if this applies.

Cool refuge

On warm and hot weather days, plan for your pet’s comfort accordingly.  Ensure they have access to a cool spot with plenty of shade, and when the weather warrants it, bring your pet indoors.  Keep your pet well hydrated by supplying cool, fresh drinking water with some ice cubes added.  Consider placing multiple water bowls in a few different locations, which also helps if your pet tends to knock over their water bowl.

A cool surface to lay on, such as floor tiles, helps a pet transfer any excess body heat.  Keep blinds shut and use fans and air conditioning to help keep the room cool. 

You can make cool treats by freezing canned pet food in ice cube trays.  This can help pets stay entertained as well as cool!

Plan your walkies

Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest part of the day.  Instead, head out for a stroll during the cooler times of morning or evening.  Carry some water and a collapsible water bowl for an easy drink on the go. This helps avoid heat stress and dehydration.  

It’s also a good idea to take note of how hot the ground feels.  If it’s hot to your touch, there’s the potential it may damage your pet’s paw pads.

Try to avoid car travel with your pets when the weather is hot and never leave your pet unattended in a car.  The temperature within a closed car can rise rapidly and can be lethal.

Heatstroke

If a pet is unable to keep their body temperature within a normal range, they are at risk of heatstroke which can be fatal.

What are the signs of heat stroke?

  • Excessive and heavy panting
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Increased body temperature (over 40 degrees Celsius)
  • Drooling
  • Gums that appear bright red, bluish or pale
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Muscle tremors and seizures

A pet with heat stroke needs immediate veterinary attention.

Follow these tips to help keep your pets cool and comfortable during the warmer months.

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Common kitten feeding queries

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Feeding your kitten

It can be argued that nothing plays a more important role in healthy kitten growth and development as nutrition, so let's look at some common kitten feeding queries.  

Feeding your kitten

It can be argued that nothing plays a more important role in healthy kitten growth and development as nutrition, so let's look at some common kitten feeding queries.  

How much to feed my kitten?

Use the feeding guide found on pet food packaging as a starting point.  This will show you the total daily amount to offer your kitten.  Keen an eye on your kitten's body condition so that you can fine tune the amount fed, if needed.  Have a chat to your veterinarian if you're concerned about your kitten's body condition or growth rate.  

How often to feed my kitten?

In general, younger kittens should be fed smaller meals more frequently.  This is to help allow them take in enough food for growth.  Their stomach capacity is small, therefore they require frequent meals.  

Over time, the number of meals can be gradually reduced so that by the time your kitten reaches adulthood, they will be on one or two meals per day.  Many cats prefer to graze feed throughout the day, and this is acceptable provided they maintain a healthy body condition and are not allowed to become overweight.

Ensure that your kitten has free access to a continual supply of fresh drinking water in a suitable sized container.

Should I feed my kitten a home-made diet?

It can be tempting to feed a pet a diet made up of human food and table scraps.  However, it is a challenge to create a home-made diet that is complete and balanced, especially in the long term.  Kittens need a complete and balanced diet that is specially formulated to support their healthy growth and development.  A high quality super premium pet food such as ADVANCE™ provides this peace of mind.

In addition, some human foods can be toxic to pets such as grapes, raisins, onions and chocolate. 

Should I feed my kitten dry or wet food?

Dry and wet foods are equally nutritious.  The feeding of both dry and wet foods is known as ‘mixed feeding’.  This method of feeding provides a pet with taste and texture variety and enables them to get the benefits that each feeding format offers.

ADVANCE™ kitten diets are suitable for all breeds, so you can be sure there's a diet that’s just right for your kitten.

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Socialising your puppy

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Positive socialisation practices are critical for your puppy

Dogs that are under socialised may become shy, fearful and sometimes even aggressive.  They may not develop the appropriate canine body language necessary to interact well with other dogs or know how to behave appropriately around people.  In contrast, puppies that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident dogs.   

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your puppy

Dogs that are under socialised may become shy, fearful and sometimes even aggressive.  They may not develop the appropriate canine body language necessary to interact well with other dogs or know how to behave appropriately around people. 

In contrast, puppies that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident dogs.   

The socialisation period

Puppies go through various developmental stages on their way to adulthood.  The ‘socialisation period’ lasts from around 3 to 12 weeks of age, and during this time, puppies are more sensitive to socialisation.  The experiences your puppy encounters during this stage, negative or positive, can have a profound effect on their behaviour later in life.

While the socialisation period is a critical developmental stage for your puppy, socialisation should also continue throughout your dog's life.                                       

Positive socialisation

Socialising your puppy involves introducing them to a whole range of new experiences including meeting different types of people, dogs, other animals, places, smells and noises.  It’s important that these interactions are a positive experience for your puppy.  Introduce them to new situations gently and reward them for calm behaviour. 

Puppy School training classes are a great way to start socialising and training your puppy.  Here you can get good advice on basic training, puppies can meet a wide range of other puppies of all shapes and sizes, as well as different people. 

Tips for choosing a Puppy School class

Puppy classes should be well structured and organised and not just a free play session for puppies, as this can frighten young or less confident puppies.  Off-lead play should be carefully managed and supervised with just a few puppies off lead for short periods.  The trainer should use positive reinforcement training methods.  In addition, class sizes should be limited to no more than 10 puppies.

Veterinarians can often recommend where to find good puppy classes, and a local veterinary clinic may well run one.

                                          

Socialising with other animals       

Remember that socialisation is not simply a matter of letting your puppy play with other dogs.

It’s very important that you select the dogs that you allow your puppy to interact with and supervise play sessions making sure all dogs involved are behaving appropriately.  As your puppy’s guardian you must make sure there is no bullying occurring either by your puppy or to them.  If either situation is occurring, simply end the play session and try again another day.  

Until your puppy is fully protected by vaccination, they should only mix with dogs whose vaccinations are fully up to date and should not be taken to parks or areas where other dogs have toileted.                                                                                                           

Introduce your puppy to other animals such as cats at an early age.  To a small puppy, an adult cat may be terrifying, so supervise these meetings to make sure they are positive encounters for both your puppy and the other animal.

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Gum disease in cats

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The stats

70% of cats aged over 3 years have some form of gum disease, yet less than 10% of pet parents realise their pet has a dental health issue.  By establishing a good oral health routine from a young age, your cat can avoid becoming part of this statistic. 

 

The stats

70% of cats aged over 3 years have some form of gum disease, yet less than 10% of pet parents realise their pet has a dental health issue.  

By establishing a good oral health routine from a young age, your cat can avoid becoming part of this statistic. 

Teething

Kittens start losing their temporary teeth (also known as milk teeth) between 3½ and 4 months of age.  These are replaced by a set of adult teeth. The milk teeth usually fall out easily, but during this time a kitten may have sore gums and eat a bit less than usual.  By the time your kitten is 6 to 7 months old, they should have all of their permanent teeth. 

Gum disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is common in cats, so start dental care while your kitten is young.  

Plaque can form on the teeth which contains bacteria and leads to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).  Plaque can then mineralise to form tartar which leads to bad breath and gum recession.  If left untreated, this painful condition can eventually lead to tooth loss and even systemic disease such as organ failure. 

Tooth brushing

Prevention is better than cure, and the most effective way to prevent tartar deposits is to brush your cat’s teeth daily.  

Step 1: Start with pet toothpaste

Sit your cat in your lap or a favourite resting place.  Using washed hands, apply a small strip of specially designed pet toothpaste to your finger and allow your cat to lick it off.  Repeat a few times.  Pet toothpaste comes in a variety of different pet enticing flavours.  Never use human toothpaste as it’s toxic to pets.

Step 2: Now get your cat accustomed to having their mouth and teeth touched

Apply pet toothpaste to your clean finger, lift your cat’s lip and smear the pet toothpaste on the teeth and gums.  Start slowly progressing only as far into the mouth as your cat is comfortable. Be gentle and patient and use lots of positive reinforcement (treats, verbal praise).  

Step 3: Progress to using a finger-brush and then a cat toothbrush

Prepare the brush with pet toothpaste and gently brush to clean the outside surfaces of the teeth and gums.  Many pets won’t allow you to brush the inside surfaces of the teeth.

Step 4: Toothbrush the back teeth

Be sure to brush the back teeth as they tend to quickly build up tartar.  Progress only at a pace your cat is comfortable, and keep up the positive reward based training.

Gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing your cat’s teeth.  Ideally, toothbrushing should be done every day.

Additional help

Specially designed dental dry food such as ADVANCE™ Dental Cat can be offered when your cat becomes an adult.  Dental treats such as Feline GREENIES™ can be used daily, and fed from 1 year of age.  These products are designed to help reduce plaque and tartar accumulation.  They can be especially helpful for pets who won't allow their teeth to be brushed.  

Follow these tips, to keep your cat’s pearly whites in top shape!

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How can I tell if my dog is overweight?

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A weighty issue

Did you know that around 40% of Australian dogs are considered above their ideal weight?  Pet obesity is a serious issue, and globally it's on the rise.  As with humans, overweight pets are at an increased risk of serious health consequences, which may be life threatening.  In addition, obesity may exacerbate existing medical conditions in pets.

A weighty issue

Did you know that around 40% of Australian dogs are considered above their ideal weight? 

Pet obesity is a serious issue, and globally it's on the rise.  As with humans, overweight pets are at an increased risk of serious health consequences, which may be life threatening.  In addition, obesity may exacerbate existing medical conditions in pets.

Overweight pets have a reduced quality of life and are more likely to be disinterested in exercise and play.  They tire quickly when they do exercise and might appear to walk with a waddle. 

Reduced lifespan

Overweight pets live shorter lives. 

A study published in 2018, examined Banfield Pet Hospital™ data from over 50,787 pet dogs across 12 of the most popular breeds.  The results showed that the lifespan of overweight dogs was up to two and a half years shorter when compared to dogs with a healthy body condition.  So it’s not just quality of life that is affected in overweight pets, it’s quantity too. 

Body condition scores

You can learn to assess the body condition of your dog and this also helps let you know if you're feeding them the right amount of food.

Take a look at your dog from both a side-on, as well as an aerial view (ie from above looking down) and check:

• Can you see and feel your dog's ribs, as well as the bones along their spine and over their hips?

• When looking down on your dog, can you see an obvious ‘waist’?

• Look at the area behind the ribs.  Can you see a tuck of the abdomen? 

A dog in ideal body condition has:

• Ribs which can be felt without excess fat covering them. 

• A ‘waist’ which can be seen behind the ribs when viewed from above

• The abdomen is tucked up when viewed from the side.

Once a pet is overweight, it becomes more difficult to feel their ribs due to a padding of excess fat.  Their ‘waist’ becomes less obvious and their abdominal tuck decreases. 

All packets of ADVANCE™ dog food display a 5-point body condition scoring chart that you can use to help assess your dog's body condition.

On a 5-point body condition scoring chart, a score of 3 is considered ideal.  A score of 1 or 2 indicates that the dog is underweight, while a score of 4 or 5 indicates that the dog is overweight.

Getting back into shape

Overweight pets need a tailored diet and exercise plan, and this is best managed under supervision by your Veterinarian.  Feeding a lower calorie or ‘light’ diet can be helpful, as they provide less calories per meal.  In addition, a tailored exercise program that is appropriate for the dog helps burn calories and build muscle.

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Skin and coat health for pets

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Gorgeous coat!

It’s a joy to see a pet with a beautiful and glossy coat.  Not only does it look great, but a healthy skin and coat is a good indicator of overall pet health.  What you feed your pet has a direct effect on their skin and coat quality.  For pets with a sensitive skin, diet can play a really important role in their management plan.

Gorgeous coat!

It’s a joy to see a pet with a beautiful and glossy coat.  Not only does it look great, but a healthy skin and coat is a good indicator of overall pet health.

What you feed your pet has a direct effect on their skin and coat quality.  For pets with a sensitive skin, diet can play a really important role in their management plan.

Vital barrier

The skin has a number of important functions including protecting the body from physical, chemical and microbial injury, as well as for sensory perception.

To be able to achieve this, the skin needs to function as an effective barrier.  Diet can play an important role in supporting the barrier function of the skin.

Unlike humans, the skin of dogs and cats plays a minimal role in helping them regulate their body temperature.  This is because dogs and cats have a very limited ability to sweat, so instead they pant to help reduce body heat when they need to cool off.  This is one reason why you need to take extra care when looking after your pet in hot weather.

Skin is an active organ

The skin is a large metabolically active organ, responsible for using around 30% of a dog or cat’s daily protein requirement.  The skin is particularly sensitive to subtle changes in nutrient supply, however its response to dietary changes may take several months to fully appear.

Skin nutrients

A number of different nutrients help support skin and coat health.  These include protein, vitamins and minerals as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Signs of a healthy skin and coat:

  • Soft, lustrous and glossy coat (bear in mind that some breeds have different coat types such as those with wiry coats)
  • Skin is free from scurf and dandruff and there are no areas of hair loss or signs of irritation (remember that seasonal moulting or shedding is a normal occurrence for most breeds)

How can I tell if my pet has a skin and coat problem?

A pet with a skin and coat issue may scratch quite a lot, which can lead to irritation, sores and infections.  Their coat may look dull and brittle, and their skin can appear greasy or conversely dry and flaky.

How diet can help

To enhance your pet’s skin and coat health, look for tailored nutrition that offers a specific skin and coat health claim. 

Every ADVANCE™ formula has been specifically formulated to help your pet look their best.  They contain patented levels of essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, as well as high quality protein, which have been shown to help improve skin and coat condition.

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Should I feed wet or dry food?

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Wet and dry food

There's an ever increasing range of pet food products available, often in a variety of formats.  Many pet parents wonder if they should be feeding dry food, wet food or a combination.  Each feeding format has specific advantages so let’s take a look at some of them.

Wet and dry food

There's an ever increasing range of pet food products available, often in a variety of formats.  Many pet parents wonder if they should be feeding dry food, wet food or a combination. 

Each feeding format offers specific advantages so let’s take a look at some of them.

Wet food

• Comes in a variety of packaging types such as tray, pouch and can

• Provides variety to a pet’s diet through flavour and texture

• Food is sterilised through cooking, so no preservatives are added

• Easy to chew texture can help puppies and kittens, as well as senior pets

• Provides additional moisture, especially beneficial to the pet when the weather is warm

• Aromas and texture can help tempt fussy eaters

• High moisture content helps maintain lower urinary tract health

• Less calorie dense than dry food, so can assist with weight loss and healthy weight management

Dry food:

• Concentrated nutrition, so you feed less

• Economical

• Convenient to use and store

• Crunchy kibbles may help improve dental health and freshen breath

• May contain active ingredients such as stabilised Green Lipped Mussel powder for joint health

Should I feed wet or dry food?

Wet and dry foods are equally nutritious.  The important thing is that you offer your pet a diet that is complete and balanced for their life-stage.

The feeding of both wet and dry food formats together is known as ‘mixed feeding’.  This method of feeding provides a pet with taste and texture variety and enables them to get the benefits that each feeding format offers.  In other words, mixed feeding provides a pet with the best of both worlds, so it's a great choice. 

When feeding both ADVANCE™ wet and dry food, simply halve the recommended quantities of each product and let your pet enjoy the advantages of both formats.

What about home prepared and raw feeding?

Some pet parents want to feed the wild nature of their cats and dogs, but it’s important to remember that our couch-dwelling pets have evolved quite a bit from their days as wolves and free-roaming cats. 

Cats and dogs require about 40 essential nutrients, each in the right form and in the right amount (balanced) to deliver complete nutrition.  Formulating a pet’s diet means ensuring that the minimum and maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals are met – and that adds an extra element of risk to home-prepared or raw meals.

While raw meat can be a novelty for your pet, it has to be very fresh.  A recent study, published in Vet Record, has found that raw meat can contain high levels of bacteria that may pose health risks for your pet.  The researchers also explain that such food could present a health risk to you, or others in your household if their immune system is compromised (children, the elderly or anyone using immune system suppressant medication for a health condition).

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Caring for your cat's claws

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Claw care

Your kitten's sharp little claws are amazing.  They help them balance on smooth and slippery surfaces, and give them a good, strong grip when they’re climbing and holding onto things.  It’s important that your kitten’s claws stay in good condition.

Claw care

Your kitten's sharp little claws are amazing.  They help them balance on smooth and slippery surfaces, and give them a good, strong grip when they’re climbing and holding onto things.  

It’s important that your kitten’s claws stay in good condition.

Regular checks

Because your kitten’s claws are protected by special sheaths, they rarely get damaged.  However, it's a good idea to check them regularly to make sure they haven't grown too long.  Outdoor kittens usually keep their claws trim by scratching on trees or fences, but if your kitten lives indoors you may want to check their claws more frequently.

Scratching post

When it comes to caring for your cat’s claws, their scratching post will act as a nail file.  However, your cat is likely to need a nail clip when they get older.  To help get your cat used to that idea, start handling their paws early on so that they'll be more accepting of a trim when the time comes. 

Remember that a scratching post is a great outlet for your cat’s natural scratching behaviour, and it's better for your furniture as well!

Ask your vet

The first time you notice that your kitten’s claws have grown long, you might prefer to take them to the vet.  That way, you can watch how the expert does it, and decide whether you want to carry on trimming your cat’s claws yourself.

How to trim your cat’s claws

If you decide claw trimming is for you, it helps to be well organised.  Make sure you work in good light and find a comfortable place where your cat can be gently restrained.  Use a pet claw trimmer and trim each claw back a little at a time until you get close to the quick, the pink part where the blood supply is.  You can see where this is on white claws, but you’ll need to use your judgement on dark coloured claws.

Be sure to pair this exercise with food treats to ensure a positive association with claw trimming. 

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Basic puppy training

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Sit, stay and come

Puppies sure are on a steep learning curve, especially in their first few months.  How’s your puppy going with the three key commands of sit, stay and come?      

                                                                                                                           

Sit, stay and come

Puppies sure are on a steep learning curve, especially in their first few months. 

How’s your puppy going with the three key commands of sit, stay and come?

Positive reinforcement

Puppy training should be based on a positive reward based training method.  This gentle method of training is effective with all breeds of dog. Punishing your puppy with harsh reprimands if they misbehave is not necessary.  

The key to your puppy learning desirable behaviour is to ignore the alternative undesirable behaviour.  By rewarding desirable ‘good dog’ conduct, your puppy will offer these behaviours more often.  Likewise not rewarding poor behaviour will encourage it to cease.

Rewards

For early puppy training, food treats are generally the most motivating and convenient reward.  However, as the desired behaviour is learned, the use of food treats should be phased out and replaced with other forms of reward.  This can include offering praise, patting or playing with a toy, as well as 'life-rewards' which are things your puppy enjoys in their daily life such as games, trips to places they like, extra walks etc

Remember that food treats should not make up more than 10% of your puppy’s daily food intake and chocolate should not be used as a treat for your dog.  If you need to do a lot of food reward training, which is common in the early days with your puppy, consider using a portion of your puppy’s main meal dry kibble for training.  That way they are receiving complete and balanced nutrition, and you can reduce their main meal volume accordingly to avoid over-feeding. 

‘Sit’ Command

Hold a food treat in your hand and place your hand in front of your puppy’s nose.  Gradually move your hand upwards.  Your puppy will follow the food treat causing their head to move upwards and their backside to move towards the floor.  Just before your puppy’s rear touches the floor, say ‘sit’.  At the moment their rear touches the floor, praise and reward.  Repeat over several training sessions.

The next step is to fade out the food lure.  Say ‘sit’ and use the same hand signal as in step one but do not have food in your hand.  When your puppy sits, then you can praise and reward them with a treat.

‘Stay’ Command

Begin with your puppy sitting in front of you.  Say ‘stay’ and wait 2 to 3 seconds.  If your puppy does not move, praise and reward them.  If your puppy moves, simply turn away and do not offer a reward.  Now ask your puppy to ‘stay’ and take one small step sideways.  If your puppy remains still, offer praise and reward them.  Gradually increase the distance you move away from your puppy.

‘Come’ Command

Show your puppy that you have their favourite treat or toy.  Call your puppy’s name followed by the word ‘come’ in an enthusiastic tone.  Step backwards.  As your puppy comes towards you, praise and reward them.  If there are others in the household, practice calling the puppy between you.  Never ever call your puppy to you and punish them.  This will make them less likely to come to you the next time you call.

Everyone learns best when they're having fun, so keep your practice sessions short and enjoyable.

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Digestive upset in puppies

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Bellyache

Did you know that digestive upset is common in puppies?  Mouthy behaviour and an immune system that is still developing all put a puppy at increased risk of an upset tummy.  In addition, rapid dietary change and the stress associated with moving to a new home, plus other causes such as infectious agents, can lead to loose faeces, diarrhoea or vomiting. 

Bellyache

Did you know that digestive upset is common in puppies?  Mouthy behaviour and an immune system that is still developing all put a puppy at increased risk of an upset tummy.  In addition, rapid dietary change and the stress associated with moving to a new home, plus other causes such as infectious agents, can lead to loose faeces, diarrhoea or vomiting. 

Avoid milk

Once puppies are weaned from their mother, they no longer require milk as part of their diet.  The feeding of cow’s milk to puppies can lead to digestive upset, and should be avoided.  Lactose-free pet milk is an option, but a complete and balanced puppy diet will supply all the essential nutrition your puppy needs. 

How can I avoid my puppy getting an upset tummy?

  • Ensure that your puppy's vaccinations and worming treatments are up to date
  • Don't let your puppy drink from puddles when out on walks  
  • Avoid access to food scraps and garbage
  • Offer small, frequent meals
  • Make any diet changes gradual, over a period of 7 days.  Add a small proportion of the new diet to the puppy’s regular diet on the first day.  The proportion of the new diet should be gradually increased each day, so that it makes up half of the puppy’s food on day 4 and the whole meal by day 7.

When to call the Vet

If your puppy is experiencing diarrhoea, vomiting or lethargy be sure to take them for a check-up at the Vet.  Dehydration can occur quickly in youngsters.  Signs of dehydration include dry skin that lacks elasticity such as neck skin that stays tented when gently pinched, lethargy, increased heart rate, high fever and a dry mouth.

By feeding a high quality, highly digestible puppy food you will reduce the chance of an upset tummy in your puppy.                                                                                 

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