At the heart of your family

Since 1927, we've believed that a dog makes a family.

Only a dog can bring such infectious enthusiasm to a long walk in the country. Only a dog can be such a perfect, patient playmate for the kids. And only a dog can dispel all gloom, tension and work-stress with a single explosion of excitement every time you walk through the door.

But to be the beating heart of your family, your dog needs a meal that provides all the nourishment, vitamins and minerals he needs to help keep him fit, healthy and vivacious. That's why Winalot uses wholesome, quality ingredients and contains 9 added essential vitamins and minerals.

Find out more about our delicious Winalot range.

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  • Let's Play Together!

    What could be better! You and all your family (… of course including your dog) having the time of your lives - feeling a fitter, healthier and happier family for it! By varying the routine, who plays with the dog and the games you play together, you also help your dog to learn. But we have a few favouirtes that will have you all looking forward to playtime, every time!

    Hide and seek

    An all-time favourite for you and all the family that your best friend will never tire of! Get someone to hide with a favourite toy or a treat. To start with you can make it easy, letting your dog watch where they hide. Encourage your dog to find the person, who can then hand over the toy or treat as a reward. After a while, you can make the game more difficult. Distract your dog while the other players hide, using different hiding places to keep him on his paws!

    Find the treat

    You can tell your dog to "stay" and show him a treat or biscuit, which you then clearly put under a cushion or behind a chair. Go back to your dog with the instruction to "seek". After a bit of practice, you can pretend to hide the object in a variety of places around the room – or the house!

    Tracking

    Tracking is great fun for all the family, but it does take a bit of training. First of all, put your dog on a long lead or flexi-lead, using a fixed collar. Though never use a choke chain for this, or even to walk your dog, as they are old fashioned and potentially dangerous. Make your dog stay (or get a the kids to help) while you walk along backwards for about 20 meters showing a toy or treat, dragging your feet to maximise the scent trail and holding the reward near the floor to encourage the dog to search along at ground level. Leave the reward at the end of your scent trail and return along the same path. With the request "track", encourage your dog to sniff the ground where you walked until the reward is found. In time, you can all lay longer trails, and try walking in different directions and patterns to help him develop his skills.

    Treasure hunt

    Try this once you've successfully taught your dog to track. Next time you’re out, drop a toy without your dog seeing you, but continue walking for a few yards. Then stop and say "look back," encouraging him to retrace the route (most dogs will be able to follow your scent even if they didn't see exactly which way you went) until the toy is found. You can use a long lead at first to help you keep the dog on the right track. After a while, increase the distance and make the object a little more difficult to find. Don't throw it away from where you walked though, as he won't be able to use your scent to find it!

    Fetch

    You can teach everyone to play fetch with your dog without even leaving the sofa! Offer him a toy, and as he mouths and sniffs it, say "fetch" and reward with praise or a treat.

    Once he learns to touch the toy with his nose whenever you offer it and say "fetch" - offer it again with the request - but without the reward. This will be a bit puzzling, so say the request again straight away and your dog will be even keener to show you how clever he is!

    Once you have reached this stage, drop the toy and say "fetch". When your dog starts to pick it up, you can begin to throw the toy slightly further away each time. Only reward your dog when he brings the toy back. Make sure you start and end these games with distinct signals, or your dog might start insisting you play just when you want to watch your favourite TV programme!

  • Which Dog For Me?

    A dog is for life, not just for puppyhood! For many years to come, he’ll be at the heart of the family: a constant source of energetic fun, love and affection. So, long-term, choosing the right dog for you and your familes lifestyle is vitally important. Do you choose a puppy or an adult? Pedigree or crossbreed? Let’s explore the options:

    Pedigree or mixed breed?

    There are more than 200 breeds recognised in the UK alone, plus all those adorable crossbreeds and mixed breeds in infinite variety.

    The major advantage of choosing a pedigree (pure bred) is predictability. You can be fairly certain that you will get predetermined size, coat length and texture, character, energy level and susceptibility to illness.

    Cross-breeds (parents from two different pure breeds) can be predictable too, but you can't be sure which breed might dominate your dogs basic character. For example, a Border Collie-Labrador cross could be either laid back or brimming with energy!

    Mixed breeds (otherwise known as mongrels) come from an entirely non-pedigree background. Sometimes you can see a few hints as to the parentage; with others it's impossible to guess – particularly when they’re puppies – they simply just look cute!. Infact, genetically mixed breeds are often healthier, since they usually have a larger gene pool and fewer hereditary problems.

    Puppy or adult?

    Puppies are adorable and cute, however they are also very time-consuming in the early days, with frequent trips outside for toilet training and constant vigilance to ensure your favourite possessions don't end up as chew toys!

    Homeless adult dogs can make exceptional pets and will often come with a good deal of training and socialisation. However, it is important to consider that adult dogs may also come with 'emotional baggage' and time and patience may be required to overcome timidity, a lack of social skills or other difficulties.

    Dog or bitch?

    Un-neutered dogs of both sexes always come with a few extra challenges. Males can wander off in search of females in season. Females may have phantom pregnancies and can be difficult to manage during their season. The cost of neutering a female is much greater than for neutering a male, and greater still if she is already pregnant. It's best to be guided by the breeder or other sources of expertise, such as a vet, behaviourist or trainer as to whether a male or female is best for you and your lifestyle.

    Breeder or Rescue dog?

    If your heart is set on a pedigree or cross-bred puppy then finding a reputable breeder is really important. Try contacting The Kennel Club or a breed club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or can put you in touch with breeders in your area.

    Adopting a dog from an animal shelter or larger welfare organisation can be incredibly rewarding. There are thousands of potential ‘family friends’ waiting for a second chance in life, often having lost a home with their first owners through no fault of their own. Reputable centres assess the dogs they take in carefully and will help match the best canine personality to you, your family and your lifestyle.

    Not surprisingly, puppies for re-homing tend to be in pretty short supply. You may have to take your time contacting several shelters and might have to travel further afield. Consider contacting the larger organizations such as Dogs Trust, The Blue Cross, Battersea Dogs Home or Dublin SPCA.

  • Feeding Your Senior Dog

    Around the age of seven, your family friend starts taking life a little easier, so his nutritional & exercise needs begin to change. Though with larger breeds, this change tends to take place at little earlier at around five years old. Its at this age, your dog is heading into his senior years. Senior dogs are less active and have a slower metabolism, so they need fewer calories and less fat from their food. Infact a diet that contains high quality, easy-to-digest protein can help more than ever in keeping your dog in trim, healthy and happy!

    What this means is a good senior diet should be concentrated, high quality protein, be low in fat and contain easy to digest carbohydrates for energy. A senior dogs diet should also contain key minerals to support ageing joints, and vitamins C and E to help fight infections. If chewing becomes more difficult, a smaller kibble size will also help your dog enjoy his meals more and help him get the most of them.

    Remember though, if you change your dog onto a new food, you should start by mixing the new formula with what your dog is used to and then slowly building up the proportion over a week to ten days until you are only feeding the new senior formula food.

    How to feed

    We recommended feeding older dogs once or twice a day, although you may prefer to to fed little and often. Being less active older dogs are particularly prone to weight issues so even though it’s hard…. try to resist those lovely big brown eyes and try not to overfeed.

    Chef’s orders!

    An older dog may also lose his sense of smell a little so try and serve the food at room temperature so that your dog can really smell, taste and enjoy every mouthful

    Table for one!

    When eating, your family friend will appreciate being fed in a quiet place away from interruptions – and kids! It's also a good idea to feed on a surface that is easily cleaned, like a tiled floor or a mat.

    How much?

    Follow the feeding guide on the back of the pack, but remember the guide is only there to give you an idea. Like us every dog is an individual, so the main consideration is to feed enough to maintain a lean, healthy condition. And always provide a bowl of fresh drinking water.

    Weight- watching!

    Senior foods tend to have a lower calorie level that can help control this weight gain. But if you are worried about your dogs weight gain,maybe consider trying a specially formulated 'light' product. These are lower in fat whilst still containing all the necessary vitamins and minerals, to keep your dog healthy and happy.

  • His Good Health!

    As you know prevention is always better than cure, so we suggest you get your friend regularly checked out for any possible signs of illness. A quick check-up is also a great excuse for a hug and a cuddle!

    Health check list:

    • Body condition – Performing regular body condition checks on your dog is much easier than it sounds! It’s simply a matter of using your eyes and hands. When you run your hands over your dog, you should be able to feel and (depending on breed/coat length) sometimes see their ribs relatively easily, with only a slight covering of fat. Your dog should have a well-defined hourglass waist when viewed from above and the belly should slope upwards from the chest towards the hindlegs. Regular checks can help you notice any gradual weight loss or gains that may occur over time.
    • Ears - Your best friend’s ears should always be clean, without any thick waxy discharge, redness, itchiness or odour. However some long-eared breeds would probably benefit from regular ear-cleaning with special ear cleaners - which is likely to be recommended by your vet. If your dog starts to hold his head to one side, rubs one side of his face along the carpet/grass or is always shaking his head, pop down to your vet for a thorough ear examination!
    • Eyes – Your family friend’s beautiful, expressive eyes should be bright and clear, with no signs of runniness, redness or soreness. Your dog shouldn’t squint or shy away from light and if you notice him bumping into objects all of a sudden that’s not really like him, we recommend you ask your vet to take a look at him.
    • Nose – Next time you give your best friend a hug, take a quick look at his nose. Noses can change from black to pink and back again. There should be no crusting on the surface of a healthy nose, nor should there be any runny or thickened discharges or bleeding. It is also worth noting that a healthy nose doesn’t always have to be very cold or wet!
    • Mouth – Teeth should be white/cream with no excess tartar, which looks thick and brown. The gums should be a healthy pink or black and not red, swollen or bleeding.If your dog has bad breath, this could be an indication of bacterial overgrowth or plaque on the teeth/gums, which can lead to tooth decay. So to keep your dog healthy and happy make sure you ask your vet to check your best friend’s teeth every time you visit!
    • Skin & Coat – Stroking and cuddling your dog is a joy for all the family, but what’s beneath that lovely coat? Your dog's skin can be pink or black depending on the pigments common to that breed or the individual genetic history. It should be free of crusting; itching, scaling, black/white spots and infected or hot and inflamed areas. The coat should be thick (depending on breed) and shiny with no broken hairs, bald patches, dandruff or fleas. Regular grooming is important and is for the kids to do !
    • Nails - These should be smooth and can either be white or black. Nails that are roughened and flake or break easily may require veterinary attention.
    • Digestion – Keep an eye on your dog's appetite and always know what you are feeding and what everyone else in the family may be feeding! If you decide to change his diet, make this a gradual process, normally over the course of 7-10 days. Occasional eating and regurgitation of grass can be normal, but generally speaking your dog should not be no vomiting, showing reluctance to eat or have difficulties when eating. But as with everything,if in doubt, seek veterinary advice.
    • Thirst - If your dog suddenly becomes very thirsty or starts drinking more than usual without excessive exercise, it could indicate an underlying medical problem and we would recommend you consult your vet.
    • Attitude - Your family friend’s general attitude to life can tell you … a lot! If you notice his head and tail are down and he seems quieter and less playful with all the family than usual, it could mean he’s feeling a little under the weather. Poorly dogs might skulk in corners, dig holes in the garden to lie in or sometimes appear unusually aggressive for no apparent reason. If you're worried at all, ask your vet’s advice.
  • Exercising your four legged family member!

    Every time you and your whole family (which of course includes your dog) venture into the great outdoors, you do each other a power of good! Not only do you get to share all-important time together, but you also help your dog to control his weight and stay in trim. And just think how much better it makes you feel too!

    Variety is the spice of life!

    Whether exploring the local park or a wild mountain top, your dog loves to spend time with you and your family, particularly if you make that time really special by varying locations – allowing him to meet new playmates and follow new scents! As well as taking different routes for ‘walkies’, try to build in some playtime with games and challenges. Your best friend will be in his element!

    Most puppies and young dogs in particular really benefit (and love!!) from a game of fetch. As long as they receive a reward in the form of hugs and cuddles (rather than too many treats) many dogs will gladly wear out anyones throwing arm! Careful though, whilst its really tempting, avoid throwing sticks, as the wood might splinter and hurt an over-eager dog.

    Different strokes

    Your dog’s breed will probably determine whether he’s happiest charging through streams and up to his eyes in mud, or taking a more genteel approach to exercise. Terriers love to dig, while hounds, probably prefer sharp bursts of exercise. ‘Country’ breeds particularly enjoy lots of running around and canine sports. Why not contact The Kennel Club or ask your doggie owning families to learn more about your dog's instinctive preferences.

    Easy does it!

    If your family friend hasn’t been used to regular exercise, its best to begin with short periods of activity at slow speeds and then gradually increasing the time, speed and distance. Its worth thinking about that whilst keeping your dog on a lead gives you control when walking or running, you may find that your dog will be better managed wearing a head-collar or harness if he is very enthusiastic or large and powerful!

    Food & drink!

    Very few of us would fancy a run around the park after a big hearty meal, your favourite family friend is no different. A lot of charging about on a full stomach may cause digestive upsets’ so allow an hour for dinner to go down! Exercise is thirsty work too, so make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh, clean drinking water available.

    Rain or shine!

    Whilst not everyone feels like it, come rain, shine, sleet or snow, your dog still needs and enjoys regular exercise. But bare in mind extremely hot or cold weather present extra challenges. Dogs feel the cold too and can suffer from frostbite just as we do. If you or your family walk your dog in the snow, wipe the paw pads to remove any snow, ice or salt that may have got caught in his fur when he’s been running around. And, come summer, do watch out for sunburn and heatstroke.

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