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The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is celebrating hero cats and dogs who have taken part in its Blood Donor Programme by awarding ‘Blood Donor of the Year’ awards to two of its regular donors, Bertie and Atticus.

The programme has helped hundreds of animals involved in serious accidents, surgeries or suffering from serious diseases.

The awards recognised the contribution Bertie and Atticus have made in helping to save countless lives and will be presented to them and their owners on 14 June – World Blood Donor Day.

Bertie, a nine-year-old Golden Retriever, has been a vital part of the RVC’s Blood Donor Programme for the last eight years. He has a similar blood type to 60% of dogs in the UK (type DEA 1 Positive), and has kindly donated over 22 units to the RVC’s small animal referral hospital. Blood provided by Bertie and other canine donors has been used for over 600 blood transfusions each year at the RVC. He is retiring this year and to note his contribution he has been awarded the ‘Canine Donor of the Year’.

Bertie’s owner, Chris said: “I’ve always been a blood donor myself, so I really wanted my dog to help others like I do. I was around when Bertie was born, and he’s always been very calm. I think that helps make him such a good donor.”

Atticus, a four-year-old cat, has also played an important role in the RVC’s Blood Donor Programme since joining in 2016. The nine units of blood supplied by Atticus is blood type A, which is similar to 75% of cats in the UK. The RVC administers over 130 feline blood transfusions per year. In recognition, Atticus will be supplied with a ‘Feline Donor of the Year’ award.

Atticus’ owner, Olivia added: “My first involvement with animal blood donations was through my work with Peaceful Pets – a charity for retired greyhounds. I got to know the RVC hospital team and then I brought Atticus along to donate after they explained how important feline blood donations are to their work. He becomes extra affectionate after each donation – I love it.”

On this global awareness day, the RVC – which currently runs Europe’s busiest animal hospital blood donor programme – also thanks the hundreds of other animals who have provided blood that has saved lives. They also encourage more cat and dog donors to come forward.

The programme was created in 2005 in response to high levels of demand for dog and cat blood. This demand, which continually increases year on year, is important given the variety and complexities of the treatments offered at the RVC. For example, treatments range from open-heart surgery to emergency and critical care, and from spinal surgery to cancer treatment.

Dominic Barfield, senior lecturer in veterinary emergency and critical care at the RVC, said: “Blood saves lives, literally. We are indebted to the kindness and generosity of those wonder dogs and super cats and the fabulous people that look after them, as their gift of a blood donation means that other pets can live. We cannot thank them enough and our RVC blood donor team who make it all possible.”

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Pet food brand HiLife has unveiled a new look design for the pouches, boxes and bags in its natural range of cat and dog food.

Featuring illustrations rather than photography, the new packaging depicts a playful brown and white dog and a cute black cat, framed by tonal leaves. Highlighting the range’s all natural recipes, the new look also showcases key ingredients and the percentage of meat or fish is displayed on the front of each pack.

Designed to catch the eye whilst sharing the recipe content, this design is expected to stand out from other brands on the shelf.

Owned by Town and Country Petfoods, the company developed the HiLife ‘it’s only natural’ range using 100% natural ingredients such as meat, fish and garden vegetables. Produced with the health-conscious pet owner in mind, each of the hand prepared dishes contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives – meeting the growing demand for natural pet food made with high quality ingredients and attention to provenance.

Tony Parkinson, managing director at HiLife, said: “For the nine million dogs and 7.5 million cats in the UK, owners only want the best food for their pets, scrutinising food quality more closely than ever before.

“With a growing group of pet owners now looking for the same level of quality in pet food as the food they feed themselves, it was important that the new packing for our HiLife it’s only natural range clearly shows what pet owners can expect. We also want to offer our customers packaging that not only stands out in the shops but looks great stacked in their kitchen cupboards too.”

The new look HiLife it’s only natural range is available for retailers to order now.

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Perthshire-based pet food company, Wilsons Pet Food, has launched a range of Working Dog cold press recipes to add to its existing range of Cold Pressed Dog Food.

The range is available in three varieties, pork, peas, sweet potato with apple; chicken, sweet
potato and peas; and beef, peas, sweet potato with carrot. The lower temperatures used in the cold press technology are said to make sure that all the goodness that is contained in these fragile herbs are not destroyed in the manufacturing process.

The recipes contain a number of superfoods including ginger, turmeric, thyme, cranberry and dandelion root, alongside active ingredients which claim to aid digestibility and support the immune system, skin, coat and joints.

Craig Wallace, managing director of Wilsons Pet Food said: “Although our muesli products form part of our heritage, which we are incredibly proud of; it’s time to update our range in order to offer the best nutrition we can. We want to offer the highest quality dog food in both wet and dry food, and for a dry food we believe a cold pressed option is the best way to meet the demands and needs of a working dog.”

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Louise Mackintosh, managing director of raw dog food manufacturer Poppy’s Picnic, has been appointed vice chair of the Pet Food Manufacturing Association’s (PFMA) communications committee.

Mackintosh brings over 20 years of experience to the role, having worked in PR and marketing at the likes of Kellogg, Wickes, Disney, Hamleys, Tesco, CafeDirect, Mysupermarket and Twinings.

Her role will include attending committee meetings, and working alongside the executive team with media responses and decisions.

Mackintosh said: “I am absolutely honoured to be given this position on the communications committee with the PFMA. It is extremely rewarding to work with other colleagues who all come from such diverse sectors of the pet food industry to work for the common good – the well being of our pets.

“Our aim is to ensure best practice within the industry and to further improve the standards and quality of pet food. Our aim is also to ensure that all pet owners are given the correct advice and support so that they can feed their pets the best possible diet.”

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Setting the scene

According to a study commissioned by OnePoll and Lily’s Kitchen, one in five cat owners don’t know their pet is a carnivore. Alarmingly, the insight also revealed that pets’ diets were commonly supplemented with raw vegetables and salad, while common treats included plate scrapings, takeaways, cheese and even chocolate.

It’s no surprise that eating the wrong food can be detrimental to pets. One in five owners admit their pet has been diagnosed with medical conditions, such as skin problems and diabetes, due to a poor diet. A further 20% have had to make a trip to the vets after their pet ate something that disagreed with it.

Feeding human food and treats to pets is never going to be the best way to meet their nutritional needs, but it may come as a surprise to many that one of the biggest dangers to a pet’s health is actually poor quality, mass-produced pet food.

Quality vs price

When ingredients don’t supply ideal levels of nutrients, a pet can become chronically deprived of what it needs. Sometimes the issue is fairly specific, for instance, zinc-deficient diets have been linked to the development of skin lesions. At other times, poor overall ingredient quality can cause increased shedding, gassiness, chronically loose stools, intermittent vomiting, or even obesity.

Being sure to purchase pet food products from trusted manufacturers and reputable sources is obviously one way to help ensure that a pet is receiving the nutrients it needs to thrive. A 2007 scandal in China reported cowboy pet food manufacturers adding melamine and cyanuric acid to raw ingredients to make the ingredients appear to contain more protein than they actually did. These acids caused destructive crystals to form in pets’ kidneys and a subsequent lawsuit estimated that over 13,000 pets died as a direct result of eating the contaminated food.

While scenarios like this are thankfully few and far between, the fact remains that 20% of owners still opt for the cheapest food they can find, while a further 15% swap from brand to brand depending on price. While we should all try and be savvy when it comes to price, it’s the ingredients and their quality that should ideally be the determining factor in any pet food purchase.

Why protein matters

As with all foods, the nutritional value of a product is derived from the make up and freshness of the raw material and the nature of cooking and production. Protein is a vital component of a pet’s healthy and balanced diet. In addition to its key roles within the body, such as repairing and building muscle tissue and growing new skin cells, it provides energy and helps keep the immune system strong. Protein is also a key component in helping pets’ bodies to create essential chemicals like hormones and enzymes, that are needed for healthy body function.

But the type of protein is also important. Within the pet food industry, protein products have historically contained high levels of ash, due to the nature of the animal by-product raw materials used. The residual ash levels are derived from animal bones and contain essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorous and, although a safe ingredient, ash has minimal nutritional benefit.

One example of this investment is our new £8m processing facility at our dried product manufacturing site in Nottingham. This purpose built centre houses dedicated processing equipment for specialist poultry products with new lines that utilise the latest technology to process over 200,000 tonnes of poultry by-products every year.

The resulting high quality poultry meat meal, hydrolysed feather meal and poultry fat is used by some of the world’s leading pet food manufacturers in the production of their premium product lines.

Determining the best choices

The current economic climate means that consumers are increasingly money-conscious, focused on maximising the grocery budget for both their pets and their family. However, in addition to price, pet owners also need to be ingredient-aware. After all, the cheapest food may not be the best financial option if it results in a costly vet bill later down the line.  

There are plenty of products widely available which provide top pet nutrition without breaking the bank and when it comes to top quality ingredients, our advice is simple. Look at the ingredient list. Does it read like a menu or a chemistry experiment? If in doubt, we recommend pet foods that are made primarily from those pure ingredients that a pet owner not only recognises, but is likely willing to eat them self.

This feature was first published in the May 2019 issue of Pet Gazette

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Pet and wild bird food producer, Henry Bell, is unveiling a recyclable packaging for its new Wild Bird Food range which is set to be released in July.

The manufacturer approached packaging supplier Tyler Packaging to create sustainable packaging after its estimation found that over 10 million packs of bird food – largely from unrecyclable materials – are sold in the UK every year.

Thomas Lee, managing director of Henry Bell, said: “At Henry Bell we’ve been committed to sourcing and producing quality products that respect the environment. Developing a recyclable packaging for our new wild bird food brand ensures we lead the conversation in the category.

“We hope to inspire our customers and the growing number of ethical consumers to follow us on our recyclable journey.”

Adam Kay, sales and technical director, Tyler Packaging, added: “After years of research we’ve engineered a packaging with a mono structure that is easy to recycle and also satisfies requirements around functionality. We’re delighted to see Henry Bell Wild Bird Food range launching our eco-packaging solution to the UK market.”

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Dog toy manufacturer Chuckit!, has announced the launch of its new FetchFlight toy, which has a flexible unique EZ Grip design that ensures dogs and owners benefit from the convenience of easy pick up, and it’s rubber pyramid design which is claimed to be durable.

The FetchFlight features an inner sail that flexes with each flight, allowing better loft during play. Ideal for use on land, the toy comes in Chuckit!’s distinctive bright blue and orange colour for increased visibility.

The new product joins the Chuckit! Range, which includes the original dog ball launcher.

Will Baggaley, brand manager for Chuckit!, said: “As consumers continue to seek out
and invest in quality fetch toys, expanding our range of flight options was important to us.
We know durable flight products are not always readily available for consumers and we’re
excited to be launching the FetchFlight just in time for summer.”

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A West Midlands animal hospital is set to add to its wide range of services with the launch of a chronic pain clinic this June.

Willows Veterinary Centre and Referral Service, based in Solihull, is introducing the new clinic to provide a bespoke pain management plan for pets referred both by external first opinion practices or internally by colleagues in other disciplines such as soft tissue and orthopaedics.

Led by Jacques Ferreira, RCVS and European specialist in Veterinary Anaesthesia and Analgesia, the service is set to launch on 17 June and will offer different techniques and treatments, including the use of acupuncture and physiotherapy.

Ferreira, who joined Willows in 2018 having previously lectured in veterinary anaesthesia at the University of Liverpool after specialising in the same subject in his native South Africa, said: “Just as with humans, our pets are living longer and, with that, there is an increased risk of developing chronic pain conditions.

A one-year-old Daschund with hip dysplasia undergoing acupuncture

“Traditionally, the most common patients are cats and dogs with chronic joint disease such as osteoarthritis but patients with a history of back problems and trapped nerves, cats with chronic cystitis and even those with some forms of cancer may benefit.”

He added: “We will work with first opinion vets who refer their patients to us, as well as internal referrals. The management of chronic pain is obviously ongoing but the aim for us would be to get to a stage where pain is effectively managed through the most appropriate avenue and check-ups are only needed every few months.

“We have our own primary team at Willows, while both our orthopaedic and soft tissue specialists have already identified patients who would benefit from the pain clinic.”

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VIP Subscribe & Save Flea Treatments - YouTube

Pets at Home has launched a social-first campaign to advertise its new VIP Subscribe and Save flea treatment.

The campaign shows two pets, K-9 and Lil Smudge, turn to rap music to tell customers there’s only one type of scratching in their home – the scratching on their decks – now that they’re protected from fleas.

The campaign, developed by creative agency Dinosaur, set out to raise awareness of the subscription service in a fun and engaging way – tapping into the nation’s love of humorous pet videos.

Mark Beaumont, chief creative officer at Dinosaur, said: “We were excited to be given this brief from Pets at Home. They wanted something different and memorable, and we embraced that opportunity.

“VIP Subscribe and Save flea treatment makes it easier and cheaper to protect your pet and your home from the horror of a flea infestation. This campaign is a tongue-in-cheek celebration of that.”

Pets at Home’s marketing manager, Cheryl Fitchett, added: “We asked Dinosaur for fresh creative ideas and they certainly delivered. Not only is it entertaining and highly watchable, it cleverly delivers the key benefits without compromising on the creative, which is no mean feat. We’re delighted with the result.”

The fully-integrated campaign is currently running across YouTube pre-roll, Facebook, Instagram, digital display, national press, and in-store activations.

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To celebrate the upcoming Bring Your Dog to Work Day (21 June), dog holiday provider Barking Mad, plan to set world record for the most dogs in a single webinar. There is no charge to join, but donations to dog charities are encouraged.

The UK’s sixth official Bring Your Dog to Work Day, encourages businesses to welcome canine companions into the workplace just for one day, to raise money for charity. The event was founded and is organised by ethical dog grooming product company, Hownd, and aims to raise money for All Dogs Matter, Animals Asia and other charities chosen by participants.

Barking Mad was established in 2,000 and has over 80 branches throughout the UK, its holiday service matches friendly dogs with ‘hosts’. Allowing people who don’t want the full time emotional and financial commitment of a dog ownership to experience all of the health benefits, such as companionship and exercise, with full support 24/7 and also the opportunity to meet up with other local likeminded dog lovers.

Richard Dancy, communications managing director of Barking Mad, said: “We’d love to invite as many dogs to get involved as possible. The only requirement is that they have a human with a reliable internet connection, webcam and an audio headset. The webinar will be hosted from Barking Mad HQ in the Lake District with our office dog, border collie Paddy, at the helm.

“Bring Your Dog to Work Day is a fantastic way to raise funds for animal charities and promote the positive effects of spending time with dogs. We will be using our Woofing Webinar to promote awareness of and raise money for our inspirational charity partner, Dogs for Good.”

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