Sunday, 22 March 2020

Dog Treats Made In The Uk

Here at Not From The Pet Shop, we are super proud of the relationships we have with UK small businesses. From dog beds made by a mother and daughter to cat ID tags made by a small family business with a passion for pets, we love the stories we hear from the makers of our products.

In this post, we bring you an interview with Sarah, the maker of our tasty natural dog treats.

What pets do you have?
I have 4 pets in total, my 9-year-old Patterdale Terrier Riley, Hedwig our Siamese Cat, who acts more like a dog than a cat and we also have 2 tortoises called Charlie and Sheldon.

Hedwig lost a front leg last year, it was such an awful and traumatic time for our family, as we still don’t really know how it happened, we live very rurally so we can only assume he got caught up in some farming equipment – but he made it home and is now back to full health! Riley and Hedwig have an amazing relationship which melts my heart!

We also have a resident Pheasant called Phil that wanders around outside!

How long have you been creating dog treats?
I have been making dog treats since January 2018, but started making them for the business last August.

What made you decide to first start your Life of Riley?
Riley got really poorly! It was terrifying! He was nearly 7 and out of the blue he developed quite severe food allergies. He was on high quality food but we eventually we worked out the treats he was having must have been the issue! After looking at the ingredients, there were so many things I didn’t understand or recognise and I asked myself, ‘should they be in there?!’.

I decided to do a short intensive course in canine nutrition, this was eye opening to say the least – I have never looked at an ingredients list in the same way again!

So I decided to take control of the situation, I wanted to know exactly what was in his treats and the only way to do this was to make them myself! After the success we had changing Riley’s treats and the popularity from friends and family dogs, I decided to make them accessible to all dogs!  
I then had to convince my husband that the 170 year old sandstone outbuilding he had his eye on for his ‘man shed’ would make a fantastic pet bakery! It took 4 months to kit out and it’s my favourite place to be!

What is the best part of the job?
By far, the best bit is getting the feedback! It never gets old. It’s so lovely to hear that dogs are loving our treats, and benefiting from having a nutritional and healthy option. We have had amazing feedback from our turmeric treats especially for the improvement in inflammation and joint problems, our paw balms and natural shampoo bars helping with skin problems too!

What is the hardest part of running a small business?
I would say it is trying to get people to realise that there are better options out there for their dog, and out of the habit of just picking up any old thing from their supermarket because their dog eats it and it’s a well-known brand.

I often get people saying, ‘oh my dog will eat anything, he doesn’t need special treats’, it makes me cringe, as that used to be me! We don’t know how long Riley was suffering from tummy pain before he was diagnosed, my guilt for this is real!

What has been your biggest recent challenge? 
Packaging! We are trying so hard to move away from single use plastic, but it’s tough! We now offer plastic free options, but they are not suitable for all instances – we have just been to a big packaging show though and we hope something comes of it, but many of the recyclable and bio options are still in testing by the manufacturers – watch this space!

What are your biggest hopes and dreams for your business?
My biggest hope is that you will be able to walk down to your local independent pet shop, farm shop, dog groomer, or order from your online retailer and be able to access our products easily and readily! That way we can know for sure we are making a positive impact on the world, not only from an environmental point of view but also for the health and happiness for all the lovely dogs!

Are you planning any changes in the next 12 months?
We are always planning changes and improvements, but we are in the process of designing ‘Bakery Mk2’! I am so lucky to currently have my current dedicated commercial bakery, it’s beautiful but quite small! So the next one will be much bigger and allow us to diversify not only with our dog products but we also want to offer cat, rabbit, Guinea, parrot treats too! The current bakery will then become the test / development kitchen – but don’t tell my husband! 

Why should people support small businesses?
It is true what they say, when you order from a small business someone does a little happy dance! You’re putting your faith and trust in people rather than corporations, chances are that person has started that business for a reason, just like we did – this means they actually care! But please be aware, there is a difference between a hobby and a business, as there are important insurances, licenses and registrations that will have to be adhered to keep you and your pet safe!

What makes your products special?
When people ask me this, I just show them the ingredients we use, we only use the best, mostly organic highest grade ingredients in our treats! We even roast and blend our own peanut butter to ensure it’s safe and pure! All our treats are grain free, free from animal by-products and nutritionally beneficial. We really do love what we do and it shows in our products.

Describe your business in 5 words 
Ethical, responsible, made with love!

Describe working with the Not From The Pet Shop team
Fab! Love the Lyndsay’s and love being part of their exciting journey. Everything they stand for we wholeheartedly agree with, we share the true love for our animals and want to offer the best options to their owners!

What pet would you love to own if being practical didn’t come into it?
A platypus! I grew up thinking they were some mythical, fictional animal to then discover in my 20's they were actually a real animal! Says a lot about hot dippy I can be doesn't it!

Get your hands on our Dog Treats here.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Being A Dog Mum

March brings Mother’s Day and an opportunity for us to spoil our mums. Flowers, chocolates, breakfast in bed. But Mother’s Day isn’t just about our mums and human children. As dog mums, we know that sometimes our favourite family member is the one with a slobbery tongue and four legs.

Thinking about being a dog mum made us at Not From The Pet Shop realise quite how much changes when a dog joins your family.  

When you’re away from your dog, you will spend your time thinking about your dog.
Whether it is for ten minutes or two weeks, time spent away from the dog is usually accompanied by us wondering what they’re up to. Are they settled ok? Are they sleeping ok? Are they eating ok? Will the boarder make sure he’s warm enough? Will she get the cuddles she likes before bed? You’ll also ask for photographs to show he’s doing ok, and will be desperate to get back from holiday for cuddles.

You will spend more money on your dog than you do on yourself.
That cute personalised dog bowl you need for your kitchen? The orthopaedic dog bed that helps your dog’s joints? The on trend collar and lead set you just can’t resist? You know you’re a dog mum when you’re no longer wondering about buying that new top after payday, and instead it is a new toy for your dog that is top of the wish list.

You research your dog’s food more than your own.
It isn’t just the personalised dog bowl that makes your dog’s meal times special. Whether it is how to make the perfect raw combination, or the latest advice on which supplement is good for your dog’s coat, we spend more time reading the latest tips on how our dogs should eat. You’ve got it particularly bad if the organic coconut oil in the cupboard is just for the dog. 

You train yourself to train your dog.
When your first adorable puppy arrives, it doesn’t come with an instruction book. So, we turn to Google, Facebook groups, a dog blog, E-books, podcasts and anything else we can find to help us.

Your camera roll contains approximately 5000 pictures of your sleeping dog.
Sprawled out on the floor, sneaking a nap on your bed, or curled up in his cozy new dog bed, however they sleep, we want to photograph it. Legs in the air, head on your lap, curled up in your pillow, your phone is crying out for more space but you just can’t stop.

You start to recognise other people by their dogs and not their name.
Blonde lady with Milo the lab. Tall man with Lucy the staffie. Friendly family with Hugo the springer spaniel. Sound familiar? You share tips on where to walk that isn’t quite as muddy this week, the local dog friendly pubs and which beaches allow your dog to run around. You’ve bonded for life over your love for your dogs, but haven’t a clue of each other’s names.

You get an immediately uneasy feeling when you arrive home and the dog isn’t at the door.
Did you leave the kitchen bin out? Have they eaten the sofa? Are they destroying the toilet rolls again? We’ve all known that sinking feeling when we aren’t immediately greeted by a wagging talk when we walk through the door. And we feel the relief when they’ve just been dosing on their dog bed, just like we want them to.

You spend more time on your dog’s Instagram account than your own.
Your own social media accounts get neglected in favour of the 400 dogs your dog is friends with. Your dog has Instagram worthy bow ties and bandanas, and your hashtag game is on point. Whether it is #dogsofinstagram or #instadog your news feed is full of cute dog pictures. When that Instagram famous dog follows you back you’re the proudest dog mum.

You spend hours trying to get the perfect dog selfie
Trying to get the perfect dog selfie just never gets old. Getting the dog to look at the camera at the same time that you’re trying to press the right button on your phone, at the right angle, and trying to keep your eyes open is no mean feat. But the hundreds of attempts are totally worth it when you get that perfect snap.

Your favourite way to spend your weekend is with your dog.
Your dog can’t come? You don’t really want to go either. Whether it is long walks in the sunshine, learning a new trick at home or a few hours spent in a cosy dog friendly pub, your perfect weekend always involves your four legged friend.

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Saturday, 22 February 2020

5 Tips for Dealing with Muddy Dogs & Muddy Paws

Is it spring yet! Have you had enough of dealing with muddy dog walks and washing dog paws this winter?

Our dogs need the freedom of running free and being able to be dogs, regardless of the weather. UK winters, wet weather and active dogs make for muddy paws and smelly cars and homes. 

What can we do to help keep everything that little bit cleaner and fresher smelling during these winter months with our muddy dogs?

1) Keep a towel or mirco-fibre mitt handy in the car or by the door and dry off muddy paws before your dog enters the car or the house after a muddy dog walk. 

Muddy dog tip: Practice getting your dog comfortable with being dried at home first and reward them for standing still with treats to make it easier for them (and you) when drying them after a walk. You'll have clean dog paws in no time!

For extra luxury: Wrap the towel or mitt around a hot water bottle while you are out walking for a nice warm massage for your dog when getting dried off, with the added bonus of warming your hands.

2) Newspaper is your friend. Old newspapers can make a cheap, easy to clear up runway to protect your hallway floor from your muddy dog after a muddy walk.

Muddy Dog Tip: Scrunch up the newspaper hide treats in it to reuse it afterward for enrichment, a perfect rainy day dog activity. (supervision recommended) 

3) Before you go out on your dog walk, cover your dog’s bed with a large towel so that when your muddy dog comes in, you can ask them to go to their bed and the towel will already be there to help clean and dry them and to protect your dog bed.

Muddy Dog Tip: Waterproof dog bed covers like these are very handy at this time of year and save on washing machine usage.

4) Install a warm outside tap and hose system to wash down your muddy dog. It might sound a little extravagant but it is totally possible and a great solution if you have the space and the money.

Muddy Dog Tip: Try not to use cold water to wash your dog off with, as well as the effect on muscles and joints, it’s just not very nice for your muddy dog on a cold winter’s day.

5) Switch to biothane dog collars and biothane dog leads such as these. Biothane leads are easy to wipe clean and don’t hold doggy smells like fabric dog collars and leads can. Biothane leads also don’t get soggy, so feel much nicer to hold in your hands on wet days than fabric leads do.

Muddy Dog Tip: Choose your dog’s favourite colour for a matching biothane collar and lead combo.

Don’t be scared to let your dog run through mud and have fun this winter. The dirt and nature under their paws are great for their well being and happiness. A muddy dog is a happy dog!

Have you thought of great ways to wash dog paws or do you have a top muddy dog tip? Drop it in the comments - we’d love to hear it.

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