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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.

Bringing your kitten home

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This is an image of two kittens playing.

Settling in

Lots of kittens can seem timid when they first move to a new home.  It's understandable, as leaving the only family they've ever known to start another life with a new family is a pretty big deal!  Here we offer our tips for helping your new arrival feel at home in no time.

Settling in

Lots of kittens can seem timid when they first move to a new home.  

It's understandable, as leaving the only family they've ever known to start another life with a new family is a pretty big deal!  Here are our tips for helping your new arrival feel at home in no time.

Take it slow

Don't be in a rush to remove the cat carrier your kitten was transported in.  Instead, leave it in the corner of the room where your kitten will sleep to create a familiar refuge.  Initially, a new kitten might hide quite a bit until they become more accustomed to their new home.  Don’t worry, it won’t be long before they will be out and about exploring their new surroundings.

Essential items

Provide your kitten with a litter tray on one side of the room and a fresh bowl of food and water on the other.  You might like to also supply a few other hiding places such as a cardboard box (a perennial kitten favourite!) to help your kitten feel safe and secure. 

Leave your kitten's food and water bowls, as well as litter tray in the same spot so they can be located easily.

Keep things quiet

In order for your kitten to adapt to a new environment and settle into a regular feeding and sleeping routine, the household should be kept relatively quiet and visitors kept to a minimum for the first two weeks.  Children should be reminded that the new kitten needs lots of rest and should not be over-handled. 

Wait before making introductions

If you have other pets at home, it’s best not to introduce them just yet.  Provide your kitten with their own space for the first few days or weeks.  This will help boost your kitten's confidence levels.

Exploring the home

Once your kitten has settled in, and developed a regular routine of eating, drinking and using the litter tray, they will become curious about their new home and be keen to start to explore.  Ensure this is well supervised, and limit your kitten to the areas of your home where you spend the most time.  This provides the opportunity to reinforce desirable behaviour.                 

Finally, remember not to let your kitten outside until they are fully vaccinated.  If they arrived fully vaccinated, it's still best to keep your kitten indoors for the first 2 to 3 weeks.

Other pets in the home can then be introduced very slowly and only under close supervision.

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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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Preventing boredom in dogs

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Home alone

Many dogs are left alone for hours every day.  This can lead to boredom which is often the root of many behavioural problems.  Let’s take a look at how you can keep your dog occupied when you’re not there.

Home alone

Many dogs are left alone for hours every day.  This can lead to boredom which is often the root of many behavioural problems. 

Dogs are intelligent creatures and therefore require mental stimulation.  Left alone with nothing to do, a dog will create its own entertainment.  This could include such behaviours as barking at birds and clouds, running in circles, pulling clothes off the line or digging holes in the garden.  In extreme cases, some dogs will even resort to self-mutilation.

How can I keep my dog occupied when I'm not there?

The key lies in 'environmental enrichment'.  This means to make your dog's environment more interesting and complex, and is a strategy used in zoos and wildlife parks around the world.

Exercise

Dogs need daily exercise and ideally they should leave your property every day.  Taking your dog on a walk has many health benefits for both of you.  Try to vary your walks so that your dog gets to experience new sights, smells and interactions.

Find a safe off-leash area where your dog can let off some steam.  For high energy dogs consider dog sports such as Agility or Flyball.

A happily tired out dog is more likely to rest when you’re not home, rather than seek out mischief.

Toys

Have a collection of safe and fun dog toys and rotate them daily (yes, every day!) so they maintain their novelty factor and stay interesting for your dog.  Select toys that are appropriate for your dog’s level of destructiveness.  Always supervise your dog when first playing with a new toy to see if there is any potential risk of the toy becoming dangerous.  Inspect toys regularly for signs of wear, and replace any that are damaged. 

Make feeding time last longer

In the wild, an animal spends a significant proportion of their time seeking out their next meal.  When your pet can rely on you to meet their nutritional needs, they’re left with a fair bit of time on their paws.  So rather than feeding your dog from a bowl, scatter their dry kibble around the backyard.  It will take them ages to sniff out every piece.

Stuff a ‘Kong’ toy with yummy treats or put some kibble in a treat ball or ‘Buster Cube’.  Your dog will need to use their brain to work out how to get those treats.

Provide your dog with a raw bone and smoked pigs ears a couple of times each week to chew on.                            

You could also

Create a digging pit using a child’s sand pit.  Try hiding toys and treats in it for your dog to find as buried treasure.

Play hide and seek by hiding treats around the garden for your pooch to find.

If you don’t have time to walk your dog, consider employing a professional dog walker.

Investigate local doggy day care centres, where your dog can spend some quality time playing and socialising.

 

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Problem barking in dogs

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Dogs are social animals

Barking and other forms of vocalisation serve as a form of communication and are considered normal behaviour for dogs.  Tensions arise when a dog is considered to bark excessively.  Here we take a look at what you can do to help prevent and reduce problem barking.  

Dogs are social animals

Barking is considered a normal behaviour for dogs.  Barking and other forms of vocalisation serve as a form of communication between individuals, such as to alert to an approaching threat.  This ability was a seen as a good thing when humans were domesticating the dog.  Breeds were developed based on individuals who were very good at alerting us to danger.  A dog's hearing is about 4 times better than ours, and things they can hear (from some distance away) can be very arousing to a dog, whose response is often to bark.

Many dogs also vocalise when they are frustrated, excited or anxious.  If dogs are left alone for long periods, they may become under-exercised, under-stimulated and may bark as a result.         

Tensions arise when a dog is considered to bark excessively.

How can I help prevent my puppy becoming a barker?

There are quite a few things you can do when you first bring your puppy home to reduce the chance they will develop into an excessive barker.

Positive Socialisation

Ensure that your puppy is positively socialised, and that this continues for life.

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. 

Dogs that are under socialised may become fearful and suspicious of things they haven't encountered before.  These things will be seen as a potential threat, and something that the dog then barks at.

Encourage calm

Develop a routine that encourages your puppy to display quiet and calm behaviour.  Teach your puppy that it's OK to be alone for short periods and encourage their love of chew toys which helps keep them mentally stimulated.

Crate training helps reinforce happy, quiet time and teaches your puppy that the night is for sleeping, not for barking at cats or possums!

Training

Teach your puppy to 'speak' on cue, along with the alternative command 'shush' to stop the barking.  This is a lot easier than trying to teach your puppy to be quiet when they are barking excessively (and in an aroused state).  By practising these commands when your puppy is calm and focused, they'll make the learning connection.  You then have an effective cue to offer them when you want them to stop barking.

My dog seems to be barking a lot, what can I do?

Ideally, determine the cause of the barking.  Keep a barking diary where all members of the household (as well as neighbours) note down the times of day when the dog barks.  From this, it may be possible to understand what triggers the barking. 

Another option, especially if your dog only seems to bark when you’re not home, is to use video surveillance to observe what your dog is doing.  Only when you understand why your dog barks can you start working to reduce the noise.  Options include changing the way your dog is managed, changing the places they have access to, covering over fences or gates to reduce visual stimuli or allowing your dog a better view of the world.  Sometimes the answer is to bring your dog inside the house when they are most likely to bark, or when you're not at home.

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Treating your puppy

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Treats

Who doesn't love a tasty treat from time to time?  Pet food treats come in a wide range of formats and flavours and are generally designed to satisfy one of 3 key need states.  Here we look at how to use treats wisely.

Treats

Who doesn't love a tasty treat from time to time? 

Pet food treats come in a wide range of formats and flavours and are generally designed to satisfy one of 3 key need states: to reward/bond, to occupy and for functional health.

Types of treats

Treats provide an important mechanism for strengthening the bond you share with your pet and are frequently used as a motivating tool for training.  Certain treats are designed to be longer lasting to help keep a pet entertained for a period of time.  In addition, some treats have positive effects in areas such as oral health and joint health.

How can I use treats wisely?

Treats are particularly useful for training, but due to the risks of overfeeding and nutritional imbalances, their use should be controlled.  As a general rule, no more than 10% of the calories in your puppy’s diet should come from dog treats.  Keep a close eye on how many treats your puppy is getting, and how often they are getting them. 

It’s likely in the early days of puppy training that you’ll use food treats as rewards a lot.  Consider using part of your puppy’s daily dry food allowance as treats.

Get the timing right

When using food treats as training rewards, timing is crucial.  Only offer a treat when your puppy responds correctly to your training command and is calm.  That way you’ll avoid inadvertently rewarding any over-excited behaviour.

Stick to pet treats

Treats designed specifically for dogs and puppies are best.  Chocolate and foods containing xylitol (a sugar substitute) are just a couple of examples of human treats that are highly toxic to pets.

Consider life rewards

Whilst food treats can be very effective for a puppy when learning a new behaviour, you should introduce other rewards that your puppy responds to.  A ‘life reward’ is anything that your dog desires in their day to day life.

Consider the following life rewards:

• A tickle on the belly

• Verbal praise

• Playing a game of tug 

• A pat on the head

• Playing with a toy

Life rewards teach your puppy that it’s important and worthwhile to listen to you, even in the absence of food.

By using food treats, in conjunction with life rewards, you'll keep training fun and interesting for your puppy while helping build reliability in their behaviour.

 

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Importance of quality nutrition for puppies

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Big changes

Puppyhood is an amazing time of change and development, both physically and mentally.  Fuelling the incredible changes that you see in your puppy is the nutrition you provide.  It can be argued that no other factor plays such a crucial role in the overall health and wellbeing of pets as a nutritionally balanced diet.  So choosing the right diet is vitally important. 

Big changes

Puppyhood is an amazing time of change and development, both physically and mentally.

Fuelling the incredible changes that you see in your puppy is the nutrition you provide.  It can be argued that no other factor plays such a crucial role in the overall health and wellbeing of pets as a nutritionally balanced diet.  So choosing the right diet is vitally important. 

How long should I feed puppy food for?

Different sized dogs grow at different rates and become adults at different times. 

How can ADVANCE™ support my puppy's health? 

ADVANCE™ has been formulated to support multiple pet health indicators.  This is achieved through high quality ingredients, potent actives as well as synergetic complexes of nutrients.

All dry food products in the ADVANCE™ Puppy range contain:

• NUTRIFIBRE which results in fewer, firmer stools.

• Antioxidants which help prevent cellular damage and provide a natural defence for your pet against Australia’s harsh climatic conditions.

• Enhanced levels of zinc and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and shiny coat.

• Smart start – fish oil (natural source of DHA) and enhanced levels of Choline to help support brain development.

Every ingredient in ADVANCE™ serves a precise purpose to deliver the superior nutrition your puppy needs. 

Different size puppies have different nutritional needs, so remember to choose a formula that is tailored accordingly.  ADVANCE™ has a range of puppy diets to suit the various breed sizes, so you can be sure there's a diet that is just right for your puppy.

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Puppy spending time alone

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Home alone

All puppies have to get used to spending some time by themselves.  Help your puppy learn that their time alone can be a positive thing, through training and a little planning. 

Home alone

All puppies have to get used to spending some time by themselves.  Help your puppy learn that their time alone can be a positive thing, through training and a little planning. 

Start small

You should begin by leaving your puppy alone in a room for a couple of minutes and gradually increase the amount of time.  The time alone should be a positive thing, so providing suitable play toys in your absence will help to keep them occupied.  Having your puppy crate trained means that you have a safe refuge for these short periods of confinement, as well as a place where your puppy feels relaxed.            

              

Leaving the house

Start leaving the house for short periods and gradually increase the amount of time your puppy is left. The length of time alone should be varied so your puppy learns that you leaving doesn’t always mean you will be gone for a long time.  

When leaving them alone it's important not to make lots of fuss saying goodbye; it's better to simply leave as if nothing is happening.  On returning, it can help to ignore your puppy for a few minutes so they are not rewarded for any over-excitable behaviour.

If your puppy has had an accident and messed in the house you should simply clean it up as if nothing has happened, and never punish them for it.  It may also help to leave a radio on whilst out, so your puppy has some background distractions and the home is not so quiet.  This will also drown out any noises coming from outside that your puppy may react to.

Boredom busters

Toys that provide mental stimulation such as chew toys and those that dispense kibble as a reward for puzzle solving, help keep boredom at bay.  Remember to rotate toys on a daily basis so that they maintain their novelty factor. 

Consider other ways for your pup to stay entertained, such as creating a digging area using a child’s sand pit.  This can also teach a puppy where the ‘approved’ digging location is and help save your garden.

 

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Grooming your puppy

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Make grooming time fun!

As part of general handling, you’ll need to get your puppy accustomed to being groomed and washed.  This is also a great time to inspect the condition of their skin and coat.  When brushing and bathing, be gentle and and initially keep the sessions short.  Be sure to offer lots of positive reinforcement with treats and praise, so that grooming time is fun and a chance for you both to bond.  Check out our tips for brushing, bathing and nail trimming.

Make grooming time fun

As part of general handling, you’ll need to get your puppy accustomed to being groomed and washed.  This is also a great time to inspect the condition of their skin and coat. 

When brushing and bathing, be gentle, move slowly and initially keep the sessions short.  Progress only at a pace your puppy is comfortable with.  Be sure to offer lots of positive reinforcement with treats and praise, so that grooming time is fun and a chance for you both to bond.

Brushing your puppy

Different dog breeds have different grooming requirements, so be sure to look into what grooming tools you might need for your puppy.

To help keep your puppy looking their best, here’s our guide for how often to brush:

Short-haired breeds:     brush 1 to 2 times per week

Medium-length coats:    brush every second day

Long-haired breeds:      brush gently every day

While your puppy is getting used to being brushed, offer lots of positive reinforcement with treats and praise, to keep grooming time enjoyable.

Bathing your puppy

As a rule of thumb, try to limit baths to no more frequently than once a month as bathing removes natural oils from your puppy’s coat.  Use lukewarm water and a specially formulated puppy shampoo.  Once bathed, wipe your puppy down with a towel and keep them warm until they are properly dry.

To help your puppy stay looking great in between baths, keep up regular brushing and combing in conjunction with wiping with a towel or pet wipes.  Regularly check your puppy’s ears, and if you see any discharge or abnormalities be sure to check in with your veterinarian.

How do I trim my puppy's nails?

Proper care of claws (nails) is important, and sometimes puppies need their claws trimmed.  Use a pet claw trimmer and have someone gently restrain your puppy, or better still, ask your puppy to offer their paws.  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 will need to use your judgement on dark coloured claws. 

If your puppy has any dew claws, keep your eye on them as they will need a regular clip.  Be sure to pair this exercise with food treats to ensure a positive association with claw trimming. 

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Gum disease in dogs

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

The stats

80% of dogs 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 dog can avoid becoming part of this statistic. 

The stats

80% of dogs 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 dog can avoid becoming part of this statistic. 

Teething

Puppies start losing their temporary teeth (also known as milk teeth) between 4 and 6 months of age.  These are replaced by a set of adult teeth. The milk teeth usually fall out easily and are often swallowed by the puppy.  Teething can increase chewing and mouthing behaviours, so provide plenty of quality, safe chew toys.  By the time a puppy is 7 or 8 months old, they should have all of their permanent teeth.

Gum disease

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

Plaque can form on the teeth which contains bacteria and leads to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).  Plaque can then mineralize 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 dog’s teeth daily.  

Step 1: Start with pet toothpaste

Using washed hands, apply a small strip of specially designed pet toothpaste to your finger and allow your dog 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 dog accustomed to having their mouth and teeth touched

Apply pet toothpaste to your clean finger, lift your dog’s lip and smear the pet toothpaste on the teeth and gums.  Start slowly progressing only as far into the mouth as your dog 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 doggie toothbrush – start with the canine teeth

Prepare the brush with pet toothpaste and gently brush the canine teeth first.  Use an up and down motion, with the toothbrush moving away from the gum to the tip of the tooth.  The front teeth are the most sensitive area of your dog’s mouth, so avoid brushing them just yet.

Step 4: Toothbrush the back teeth

After brushing the canine teeth in an up and down motion, now move to brushing the back teeth using a circular motion.  Progress only at a pace your dog is comfortable, and keep up the positive reward based training.

Step 5: Toothbrush all the teeth

Once your dog is comfortable with Step 4, hold their mouth closed around the muzzle and gently lift their upper lip to reveal the incisor teeth.  Brush these gently in an up and down motion.  Some dogs may sneeze when their incisors are brushed.

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

Additional help

Specially designed dental dry food such as ADVANCE™ Dental varieties can be offered when your puppy becomes an adult.  Dental treats such as GREENIES™ can be used daily, and fed from 6 months 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 dog’s pearly whites in top shape!

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How to stop your puppy 'jumping up'

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Jumping up

While we all love coming home to an affectionate puppy or dog, it’s important to avoid inadvertently encouraging ‘jumping up’ behaviour.  Your cute (and small-ish) puppy will grow, and you might not want to see this behaviour when they reach adulthood.

Jumping up

While we all love coming home to an affectionate puppy or dog, it’s important to avoid inadvertently encouraging ‘jumping up’ behaviour.  Your cute (and small-ish) puppy will grow, and you might not want to see this behaviour when they reach adulthood.

Be consistent 

Now is the time to be consistent in the way you respond to your puppy’s behaviour.  If you praise and give attention to your puppy when they jump up, they’re being reinforced to offering you this behaviour.  They will not understand why you are reacting differently when they become a bigger dog.

How do I train my puppy not to 'jump up'?

Reward your puppy for an alternative behaviour such as sitting or having all four paws on the floor.  If your puppy jumps on you, immediately turn away.  Do not look at or speak to your dog.  When they get down and have all paws on the ground, immediately praise and reward. 

Consistently practice this over and over so that your puppy learns the connection between having all paws on the ground and a reward.  Ensure this is consistently applied by all family, friends and visitors. Set your puppy up for success!  Anticipate jumping up and instead ask for the alternative behaviour.  Your puppy will learn that they don’t need to jump up.  Instead, if they are calm and sit, they will get your attention.

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