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ISSN 2046-7303

Hamming it up Small, but with big potential

It’s only natural

Free range and organic foods


Holistic rabbit care

Breaking with tradition

Considering the whole care of the rabbit from its environment and nutritional needs to its mental welfare

One of the most widelypractised forms of medical therapy, herbal medicines spread to the pet sector

This month

Editor’s letter

JuLY 2011 Contents Roundup 


Three minute interview 


The latest news from the industry Tony Molton, Company of Animals

Bedding down 


Taking stock 


In the balance 


It’s only natural 


Hamming it up 


Holistic rabbit care 


Going back to our roots 


Breaking with tradition 


Green spirited 


Under cover 


Six of the best 


Make an impact 


Best on show 




New appointments 


Voice on the highstreet 


Social enterprise Norfolk Industries not only provides work for disadvantaged people in the local community, but is also growing into a successful pet bedding and small animal accessories business The latest products for the pet trade Complete kibble foods are becoming increasingly sophisticated from breed-specific brands to dry diets for older dogs With interest in organic and free range foods growing, Holly Mash discovers what’s behind the labels and why they are proving such a popular choice with pet owners A firm favourite with children for decades, the humble hamster has a lot to offer both pet owner and retailer, being easy to care for and requiring a range of associated goods Veterinary surgeon Stuart Marston explores the holistic or complete care of rabbits, from housing and feeding to the treatments that can be used for a wide range of conditions In an interview with homeopathic vet Sue Armstrong, she reveals why she is a strong advocate of this alternative form of medicine With herbal medicine the most widely practised form of medical therapy in the world, we look at the benefits it can offer to animals Francis Saunders, technical director at Eco Pond Ltd, discovers the growing trend for eco-friendly products in the aquatics sector

Michael Ferraro, managing director of TH March & Co Limited, looks at the importance of business interruption insurance for retailers From simple fish tanks to stunning aquascapes, Jon Chapple discovers the pleasures of fish keeping Michael Bellingham of the PFMA offers some tips for retailers on effective merchandising Kelly Clark talks to shopfitters and retailers to get some key hints and advice for displaying goods in the pet sector Upcoming shows, forums and meetings in the world of pets Pastures new for professionals in the pet trade Angel Dominic Moore, Barking Barbers, Manchester


ith news from the British Retail Consortium indicating that consumer confidence has taken a hit, it is suggested that despite the low interest rates, we are choosing to put away spare income rather than spend. This, coupled with the retail sales figures from May, which showed a 2.1 per cent decline, would seem to indicate that times still remain tough for those on the high street. Yet there are many companies out there that are showing healthy signs of growth, most notably Pooch & Mutt, having just secured yet another deal with a big name manufacturer. Pedigree’s decision to distribute the range of canine health supplements is a further coup for a business that seems to go from strength to strength despite the current economic gloom. As founder Guy Blaskey says: “We look forward to working with a lot of new outlets thanks to this deal with Pedigree and the recent agreement that we made with Vital. We would ask that any new stockists get in touch with us so that we can list them on our online, interactive stockist finder and get some promotional material sent to them.” Turning now to a less high profile venture, I would like to draw your attention to a unique social enterprise scheme that is being run at a workshop in Norwich. Norfolk Industries is a producer of small animal bedding products and also offers employment opportunities and training to ‘disadvantaged people in the community.’ The organisation has to date had a great deal of success supplying to high street store Asda and currently has plans to expand the business to the Netherlands, Spain and Japan. It is also looking at the re-branding of its existing range and developing a whole line of new products specifically for small animals, such as housing, food and accessories. With the local council likely to withdraw funding, the business must now become self-funding and is seeking investment from interested parties. Growth is also being experienced in the pet food sector and last year’s strong sales figures seem set to continue. According to Nestlé Purina development organisation director Andrew Harding: “Sales data shows that the economic environment hasn’t deterred pet owners from spending a little more for an indulgent food.” The pet industry will always have one key advantage over other retail sectors and that is its universal appeal. With pets and pet ownership crossing generations, there is always a constant market to tap into and a constant demand for innovative products and services, whether it’s food, bedding or health supplements. I hope you enjoy this month’s issue. Sam Guiry




PET GAZETTE Established 2008

Managing Editor

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Sam Guiry Editorial Assistant

Jon Chapple Production Assistant

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Kelly Smith Advertisement Manager

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01206 767 797 Contributing writers

Michael Bellingham, Kelly Clark, Michael Ferraro, Stuart Marston, Holly Mash and Francis Saunders Design

Arthouse Publishing Solutions Ltd 01394 410 490

Company calls in the administrators Family-run business Kennel Nutrition Ltd, which produces Vitalin Pet Foods, has entered administration. Based in North Yorkshire, the company’s founder Arthur Mills started the business in the 1950s and developed the range of Vitalin foods for cats, dogs and small animals. The company’s philosophy was based around the use of premium ingredients for pets and it was responsible for one of the first commerciallyproduced dry dog foods in the UK. Company director Simon Hopper confirmed the news, saying: “Sadly, yes, the company directors have made the decision to put Kennel Nutrition into voluntary administration.” Chartered accountants and business advisers Auker Rhodes, the company called in to handle the proceedings, confirmed: “Kennel Nutrition Limited entered administration on 15 June 2011 and is not in liquidation, although the company ceased to trade upon the same date as administration.” Kennel Nutrition will announce further details in due course.

Head of Blue Cross charity embarks on secret mission Blue Cross chief executive Kim Hamilton is set to appear in the new series of Undercover Boss, which returns to Channel 4 in July. This is the first time a charity has featured on the prime time show that takes company heads away from the comfort of their offices to get their hands dirty in an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of their organisations. “Over the course of several exhausting days, Kim discovers what it really takes to care for sick and homeless animals, hears what her employees think about how the charity is run, and discovers some of the unsung heroes who take great pride in their work helping animals and owners in need,” the animal charity said in a statement. “After a challenging and enlightening few weeks, it’s time for Kim to reveal her true identity to her unsuspecting staff as she explains what she has learnt, the changes she wants to make, and how she plans to show her appreciation to the staff and volunteers who are doing an outstanding job.” Broadcast dates will be announced shortly on the Channel 4 website.

Councils condemned for their part in puppy farming ISSN 2046-7303 Pet Gazette is published monthly by:

Mulberry Publications Ltd, Wellington House, Butt Road, Colchester CO3 3DA Tel: 01206 767 797 Fax: 01206 767 532 The editor and publishers do not guarantee the accuracy of statements made by contributors or advertisers, or accept responsibility for any statement that they express in this publication. The opinion of the contributors may not necessarily be the opinion of the publishers. Articles are considered for publication on the basis that they are the author’s original work. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the permission of the publishers.

Despite the new Animal Welfare Act, the practice of puppy farming continues to grow, SafePets UK’s Debbie Connolly has said. Connolly has been campaigning for many years to stop dogs being bred in dirty, overcrowded conditions, with some farms producing tens of thousands puppies yearly. Carmarthenshire County Council is currently considering a planning application from a local puppy farmer to use an agricultural shed as dog breeding kennels for 196 dogs. Feeling that it is time for new action to be taken, Connolly said: “Councils often bear the brunt of blame as they are the ones licensing premises and breeders, but no matter how many film exposés are done, however many complaints are made, and however many times these breeders breach permissions and break welfare laws, these same councils continue to issue licenses and permissions.” The Trading Standards Authority can take action against sellers, but Connolly wants to see: “councils granting licences to puppy farm breeders being reported for breaking welfare, trading or licensing conditions, charged alongside the puppy farmer as an accessory for helping the puppy farmer to break the law.”


Long commitment to pet trade Colin Williamson of 3Cs Boarding Cattery in Blackwater in Surrey has been voted the winner of the 2011 Lifetime Achievement award in recognition of his 53 years’ dedication to the pet trade. Colin started out in 1958 as the owner of Tailwaggers pet shop in Luton and realising the growing popularity of cats in the early 1980s, opened a boarding cattery in 1984 and never looked back. The business has gone from strength to strength winning awards and expanding, with plans to increase the number of runs from 117 in the near future. Now aged 75, Colin still can’t resist new challenges and, as recently as November, became the first independent retailer and cattery owner to become a qualified animal health adviser. He is also currently working on the City & Guilds kennel and cattery management qualification. Nominating him, his managing partner Emma Sandon said: “Colin has mentored me and inspired me throughout the years. He has taught me, and others, so much about the pet trade and instils in everyone his exacting professional standards. There could be no better teacher in our field of work.” Colin will be awarded his Lifetime Achievement award in front of hundreds of industry peers at the 2011 Pet Industry Awards dinner on the 20 September.

Consumers are still cautious about spending Consumer confidence levels in Britain were a disappointing nine points lower in the first quarter of 2011 than at the end of 2010, according to new data released by the Nielsen Company and the British Retail Consortium (BRC). In sharp contrast to a global backdrop of growing optimism, the BRC’s GB Consumer Confidence Index suggested that, despite continuously low interest rates, the UK is fast turning into “a nation of savers,” with an ever-increasing number of people choosing to put away spare income instead of spending it. Thirty per cent of respondents in Great Britain also said that they had “no spare cash” – the highest percentage the survey has ever recorded. “The long, hard winter and continuous media coverage of UK debt levels and cuts in the public sector are all taking their toll on consumer confidence,” commented Chris Morley, group managing director of Nielsen UK & Ireland. “I would envisage a continuation of lower confidence as consumers are still being very cautious in their spending intentions.”

Three minute interview Tony Molton, export sales manager, Company of Animals

Describe yourself in three words Happy, passionate, driven.

What is your earliest memory? Having an operation on my eye when I was about two years old.

When you were at school, what did you want to be and why? I never knew what I wanted to be; I always hoped inspiration would come. Luckily, I stumbled into my dream job almost by accident.

What was the first music album you bought? One by the Thompson Twins.

If you could have dinner with one person, who would you choose and why? Tony Robbins, the American performance coach. This man has been the biggest influence on me and I would want to thank him in person.

What is the best advice you have been given?

Subjects sought for PhD student’s rabbit survey

Decide if you are getting what you want, and if you aren’t, do something about it!

Student Jessica Hardiman is currently undertaking a survey on the management of pet rabbits as part of her PhD. Covering aspects such as owner knowledge, motivation and animal welfare, her overall aim is to use the results to guide the educational strategies to encourage responsible ownership. “The survey enables me to look at what people are doing with their rabbits and explores why they do these things such as how they are housed, fed and generally managed,” she said. She will be looking at animals that are currently under the care of pet owners and those that are being handed over to welfare centres because their owners can no longer look after them. She will then study the factors relating to relinquishment and continued ownership and use this to improve knowledge about rabbit welfare. Jessica needs a large sample size to conduct an accurate study and if anyone in the pet trade would be willing to help, they can email her on or go direct to

What is your next goal in life?


To complete the marathon I am doing in September in less than four hours.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why? I would return to the Grand Canyon. It’s truly the most awe-inspiring place – nature at its best. Plus, it’s not far from Las Vegas, which is total fun.

What is your favourite quote or saying? “Do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” – Thomas Huxley.

What is the most important thing that your job has taught you? Find out exactly what is expected of you and deliver on this and life will be made so much easier for you.



and briefly Entrepreneurs market pet food A recent episode of hit BBC series The Apprentice saw the participants visit Mars Petcare’s Waltham and Melton sites as they designed, prepared and marketed new pet food brands. After receiving advice from Mars Petcare nutrition experts Abigail Stevenson and Evelyn Fraser, the teams were challenged to come up with their own creative idea for a new pet food. The teams then developed an advertising campaign, which was presented to a panel of expert judges that included Mark Johnson, managing director of Mars Petcare, and Susan Blount, director of nutrition. “We’re big fans of the show at Mars Petcare,” Johnson commented, “and were delighted to be able to participate in this series of The Apprentice.”

‘Handle a pet day’ at garden centre As part of an initiative to promote pet ownership, Monkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre is hosting free ‘handle a pet’ drop-in sessions on Saturday 23 July. Liz Woodward, pet and reptile centre manager at the store in Monkton Heathfield, explained: “Our regular ‘handle a pet’ days are designed for anyone thinking about buying an animal who wants to know how to care for it. Staff will also be bringing in their own pets and sharing their experiences. Visitors can drop in any time between 11am and 4pm.

Britain is home to pampered pets Online shopping comparison site Kelkoo has carried out a survey that shows how pets are being elevated to human status. The online dog-related study has revealed that 28 per cent of owners spoil their pets with presents at Christmas and birthdays and 12 per cent carry this devotion to the grave by investing in professional crematorium services for their dogs. Mark Berriman, managing director of, said: “Since the start of the recession, we have even seen an uplift in certain product categories such as clothing, accessories and grooming, as owners take great enjoyment and satisfaction from pampering and spoiling their pets.”

Students raise funds for animal charity Students at Brooksby Melton College in Leicestershire raised £550 for the Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust after they organised a horse show as part of their second year studies in Horse Management (National Diploma). Robinson Animal Healthcare was delighted to support the show and donated horse and rider first-aid kits for the charity raffle.

pet gazette cartoon july issue.indd 1

New voice for pet sector The pet industry has a new voice following the establishment of the Pet Education Trust (PET). Consisting of a group of professionals from varying backgrounds across the sector, its aim is educate, inform, guide and support all current and potential pet owners throughout the UK by offering a concentrated focus on what responsible pet ownership entails. By combining expertise to collate and provide practical information, PET is hoping to reduce the growing numbers of animals ending up rescue centres because their owners did not give serious consideration to the type or breed of pet that would fit into their current lifestyle. PET plans to do this through education in schools and youth groups, through community education courses and via the website programme ‘Which Pet for Me.’ Naidre Werner, managing director of PET, said: “The Animal Welfare Act states that we all have a duty of care to fulfil the welfare needs of our pets and the aim of PET is to make sure that people and organisations know, in the first instance, what those needs are before going on to learn how to fulfil them.”

Cranswick reaches competition finals Yorkshire-based Cranswick Pet Products has been voted ‘Management Team of the Year 2011’ in the mid-market category for private equity-backed investment in the Midlands, and will now automatically go forward to the national finals. The awards will be presented at a prestigious ceremony in London on 30 June at the One Marylebone, where the national finalists will also be announced. The British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA) is the industry and public body advocate for the private equity and capital industry in the UK. It has been staging the awards for three years to celebrate the positive impact of private equity and venture capital-backed companies on the British and global economies and recognise managerial excellence. Derek Black, chief executive at Cranswick Pet Products, commented: “We are delighted to be awarded the ‘Management Team of the Year 2011’ for the Midlands region. This award is thanks to the hard work and dedication of our entire team to ensure Cranswick maintains industry leader status. I’m thrilled their efforts have been acknowledged with such a prestigious accolade.”

26/05/2011 12:29:04



and briefly Cats hide symptoms more than dogs In preparation for the BVA Congress later in the year, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) has drawn up a list of topics for study and debate including a focus on feline medicine. Professor Ian Ramsey, of the University of Glasgow veterinary school, points out that with cats overtaking dogs as the most commonly kept domestic pet, there is a greater need to understand their clinical needs. He says that cats are not the most co-operative of patients and hide their symptoms so well that they are usually at a much more advanced stage of the disease process by the time they are brought in for treatment than an equivalent case in a dog.

Bad pet advice sparks new venture Appalled by the media stories on how owners have been treating reptiles, Dave Hogg has decided to set up his own store. A breeder of snakes for over 20 years, Dave launched his business to offer expert advice to potential new owners and encourage responsible reptile keeping. Based in Widnes, the Reptile World stocks pythons, monitor lizards, iguanas and other exotic creatures plus food and accessories with advice sheets available in-store and online.

Leaflet to improve the lives of rabbits As a contribution to Rabbit Awareness Week, which was held in May, the British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation (BVA AWF) launched a new leaflet which is designed to help owners through the process of improving the life of their pet rabbit. The recent PDSA Animal Wellbeing report found that of the UK’s 1.6 million rabbits, many live in hutches that are too small, lack the right nutrition, lack mental stimulation and suffer from illnesses such as dental disease and flystrike. BVA AWF chairman of trustees, Carl Padgett, said: “With rabbits among the most popular pets in the UK, we set out to create a simple educational guide for owners of these lovely companions.”

Pet business owner rewarded A popular member of the Tonypandy business community has brought home a top Welsh award for her leadership skills. Kate Wood, a director of Your Pets Warehouse, was presented with the Social Enterprise award at this year’s prestigious Leading Wales Awards, which recognise and celebrate leadership across Wales. She was praised for her strong leadership skills in driving forward the business she founded three years ago after spotting a gap in the market to provide employment opportunities for disabled and excluded young people. John Bennett, the chief executive of the Welsh Social Enterprise Coalition, said: “Today is all about celebrating leaders and in Kate we have a wonderful example. Excellent leaders are particularly crucial in the social enterprise movement, simply because, by very definition, leaders will take others to places they would not think of going on their own.”

Plans for London Vet Show are well underway Since its launch in 2009, the London Vet Show continues to be a key date in the events calendar attracting year-on-year increases in delegate numbers and over 250 exhibiting companies on the trade floor. The annual show seamlessly blends clinical and commercial insight to support and equip vets, vet practice managers and owners, nurses and all other veterinary professionals for the challenges ahead. The show can attribute its success to the conference programmes written by the Royal Veterinary College which always prove to be massively popular, delivering over 60 hours of first class certifiable content with leading speakers from around the world. Jill Maddison, director of professional development at London’s Royal Veterinary College said: “I am excited to be once again coordinating the clinical CPD programme at the London Vet Show. In 2011 it will be practical, relevant and inspiring CPD that meets the needs of practising veterinary surgeons in all forms of small animal practice.” This year’s London Vet Show will be held on 24th and 25th November at the Grand Hall, Olympia and registration for 2011 is now open.

Bird food supplier supports wildlife

Demand for BARF diet is continuing to grow

Walter Harrison’s, one of the UK’s leading suppliers of wild bird foods and accessories, is helping Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust. A generous donation of over £13,000 will support the crucial work of the trust and enthuse the next generation of naturalists. The latest donation will allow the trust to host over 1,000 educational visits from schools across the country to the Attenborough Nature Reserve, as well as fund vital habitat conservation work.

The rising popularity of the BARF or the raw feeding diet has sparked the birth of a new company in the UK. Co-founded by Andreas Dauer and Leigh Stringer, BARF Pet Foods based in Sittingbourne Kent, aims to offer dog owners a more comprehensive range of meat dishes, treats and supplements. BARF follows the principle of evolution that dogs are descended from wolves and as carnivores meat should form the basis of an appropriate, natural and healthy diet. This natural way of feeding dogs has been endorsed by many holistic vets including members from the British Homeopathic Veterinary Association. Andreas says: “The BARF Foods range is 100 per cent pure meat and allows the owner to mix and match recipes for their dogs. We also supply a range of dog treats and bones as well as a new range of health supplements, which can be added to the food. We are the sole distributor for this range in the UK.”

TV vet Abraham will host LovePets TV vet Marc Abraham will be a star attraction at this year’s LovePets exhibition, the show’s organisers have announced. An active promoter of responsible pet ownership, Abraham has appeared on some of television’s biggest animal programmes, including BBC One’s Animal Rescue Live and Channel 4’s It’s Me Or the Dog, and has contributed to BBC Breakfast News, ITN News and The Tonight Programme.

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Business seeks investment

Bedding down Social enterprise Norfolk Industries not only supports people with disabilities, but also supplies an innovative range of bedding products for the pet sector. The not-for-profit venture now faces closure, unless it can become self-funding


small company in Norfolk may be forced to close due to government cut backs. Established in 1805, Norfolk Industries’ aim was to ‘provide meaningful work for disadvantaged people in the local community.’ Since its founding, this thriving social enterprise has employed people with disabilities, particularly sight impairments, and today offers work to 25 members of staff who produce pet bedding and wire products. Jim Holmes, team leader at Norfolk Industries, says: “In 1996 we started manufacturing the small animal bedding and have grown the company to the point where we now produce just under 1.4 million bags. We added to these larger bales for dog owners and kennels and most of what we manufacture comes from recycled paper.” The company is currently in talks to distribute the products in Japan, Spain and the Netherlands. The organisation has secured some highly lucrative contracts, most notably with Petlife and superstore giant Asda. The manager at the local Asda store in Norwich agreed to a trial run of the pet bedding and was surprised when it flew off the shelves, so much so, that he approached head office and recommended all stores across

the UK stock the product. Some 11 years later and Asda continues to sell the Snooze range of pet bedding produced by Norfolk Industries. Jim Holmes explains that plans are currently underway to rebrand the existing products and expand the range to include accessories for small animals. He says: “Lots of bedding products currently on the market have a similar theme such as snooze or snuggle and we wanted to create a more eye-catching and fun design.” With the help of an Australian designer and Sewell Park College in Norwich, Fingleburt the Mouse is the new face of Norfolk Industries. Out goes Snooze bedding for small pets and in comes Fingleburt’s Bumper Bag of Fantastic Flakes, his ‘Frizzled Paper’ and ‘Fabulous Fluff.’ The company also plans to produce a whole range of accessories for small animals that includes housing, feeds, treats and tunnels. Norfolk Industries, its full title being Norfolk Industries for the Blind, is supported by Norfolk County Council. It not only provides employment opportunities for people with disabilities, it also offers short-term placements for others who have significant barriers to work. One of the team members currently employed at the workshop in Norwich is Michael, who is blind in one eye and has 40 per cent vision in the other. When he was made redundant at the age of 52, he thought he would never work again due to his age and his disability. Far from being over, his career has gone from strength to strength and he has since been promoted to chargehand. With recent cut backs in government funding, Norfolk County Council is reluctantly withdrawing its support for the venture. According to George Nobbs, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council, “the cuts are harsh and they hit the most vulnerable people because £0.5 million is going from the sensory support budget and that hits blind and deaf people.” Jim explains that the solution is to make the business more commercial with the aim of being solely self-funded. He adds: “We are desperately trying to set up the business as profitable venture while retaining the social enterprise

element and continuing to trade. We are actively developing a new range of small animal products in conjunction with a local school that is helping us to create a whole new brand and concept.” Shredded recycled paper is becoming increasingly popular in the pet sector as a form of bedding, as it is one of the cheapest to produce. Jim adds: “It also keeps the animals cleaner than other bedding products and the freedom from dust and chemicals makes it particularly suited to pets with allergies. It is easy to store, light to work with, absorbent and warm in the winter.” The company currently produces pet bedding for a range of suppliers throughout the UK. The ranges include white shredded paper in 10kg bales designed for dogs, cats, pigs and horses; and paper flakes in 12kg bales which can be used for hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, mice, rats and ferrets. The paper is a dust-free material, normally used within the medical services, and this means it is free from contaminates and chemicals which might cause harm to pets. Sharon Tooke, general manager at Norfolk Industries, says: “We are happy to work with companies to develop and manufacture products and they are often surprised at what we can do. Our customers need quality products at a realistic price for their businesses. In supporting us, they also fulfill corporate social responsibility objectives by helping us support our employees – it’s a great win-win situation all round. We see our current situation as a real opportunity to move the business forward in a more commercial manner and grow without the legal ties of operating under the auspices of Norfolk County Council.” When Thomas Towell set up the ‘Institution for the Benefit of the Indigent Blind in Norfolk’ over 200 years ago his primary objective was to prove that people with disabilities were able to gain useful employment and contribute to the local community. Jim Holmes has the same ambition and hopes to secure the investment to ensure this worthwhile venture continues and is able to diversify into other markets for small animals in the near future.



Taking stock


BARF Pet Foods Kent-based BARF food specialist BARF Pet Foods is to become the sole distributor in the UK for Canina, the award-winning German range of feed supplements and care products. The range is currently available in over 30 countries worldwide and BARF Pet Foods will be supplying a selected range of remedies and supplements for both cats and dogs. Among the range is PETVITAL Derm-Caps, which provide a natural remedy for metabolic-, hormone- and allergy-related skin problems. Derm-Caps contain evening primrose oil, which is an effective essential fatty acid, to help maintain the condition of the skin and coat in cats and dogs, and sea animal oil and other essential minerals and vitamins. Information: 0808 197 2702 or


Simple Solution With better weather comes the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors; be it a garden, yard or terrace. With Simple Solution stain and odour remover, designed specifically for patio and decking, and the Pee Post training aid, you can also ensure it is a smell-free and much more pleasant place to relax. The Patio and Decking stain and odour remover is the same proven formula as regular stain and odour product, but comes in a handy four litre bottle and can safely be used on wood, paving, concrete, brick and tarmac. The Pee Post puppy training aid contains a non-toxic pheromone attractant that encourages pets to eliminate in the same place, keeping precious areas clean and tidy. Information: 01480 464 550 or


Starline Aquatics Starline Aquatics has been importing tropical and ornamental fish and aquatic plants since 1979. It supplies to garden centres, pet shops and aquatic specialists and suppliers throughout the UK, with a focus on the quality of its fish and service to the customer. All orders are packed the morning of delivery and transported in its own vehicles equipped with satellite navigation, tracking and mobile phones to ensure prompt and safe delivery. Availability lists, special offers and recommendations change weekly as new stock arrives and discounts are available for first-time orders. Customers are updated by email, fax or post, and the company can advise of special items via text message. Visit StarlineAquatics on Stand K1 at Aqua 2011. Information: 0800 234 6901 or


Agrivite Vitality through nutrition! Following the success of its original Chicken Lickin’ range, Agrivite has expanded yet again and developed a new group of liquid herbal supplements specially formulated to improve the health and vitality of the flock. Herb ‘n’ Thrive is a concentrated blend of herbal oils including oregano, with natural anti-coccidial properties – an excellent tonic when birds are showing signs of ill health or parasite burden. Calm ‘n’ Thrive supports the immune system and reduces stress in poultry, promoting growth and improving feed-conservation ratios. Breathe ‘n’ Thrive is an effective combination of liquid plant extracts, useful when birds display symptoms of respiratory or digestion problems. The products pictured are supplied in both 250 millilitre and one litre quantities, with easy-to-use, pump-action applicators. Information: 01246 264 624 or


Hilton Herbs Hilton Herbs has recently launched a new and unique range of products for cats. Formulated by medical herbalist Hilary Self BSc MNIMH using human-grade plant extracts blended with sweet vegetable glycerine, the products in the Kitty range are presented in 50 millilitre and 100 millilitre dropper bottles. Products are available for veteran cats, as well as the urinary, immune, digestion and nervous systems and are effective and palatable. Details of introductory special offers for retailers are available. Information: 01460 270 701 or

Taking stock


ZiwiPeak ZiwiPeak, the new air-dried meat pet food from New Zealand, has launched trial-size bags alongside its food and treats range to give customers a chance to sample the innovative product before buying a full-sized bag. ZiwiPeak ‘Daily Dog’ Cuisine is a new concept in the UK and contains real, air-dried meat and essential vitamins and minerals. It is a complete food that is 100 per cent natural, with no preservatives, colours, fillers or grains. The ingredients used in ZiwiPeak, which is distributed in the UK by Bern Pet Foods, are all ranch-raised in New Zealand, free of antibiotics and hormones, or fished from its waters. Only ingredients ‘passed fit for human consumption’ are used.


James Wellbeloved James Wellbeloved has extended its range of award-winning naturallyhypo-allergenic pet food by developing a range specifically designed and formulated for small breed dogs aged over six months and weighing up to 10kg. The small, energy-dense kibble is easily chewed by small mouths, and provides the proportionately higher levels of energy required by small breed dogs. Natural cranberry extracts and anti-bacterial green tea extracts are also added for optimal urinary and dental health. The Small Breed kibble is available in four variants: duck and rice, lamb and rice, turkey and rice or ocean white fish and rice.


EzyDog The Checkmate collar is a limited-slip collar that provides just enough ‘check’ when necessary. A super-strong buckle closer makes slipping over the head obsolete, while there are reflective trims throughout for night-time visibility. As with all EzyDog collars, it is finished with a stainless steel D-ring.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition Hill’s Pet Nutrition is launching Science Plan Sterilised Cat to the pet channel this month. This exciting sector represents a big opportunity for the trade, as around 90 per cent of cats are sterilised (or neutered), yet few cat owners realise that a food that meets the very specific nutritional needs of these cats can offer significant benefits. The product is aimed at two lifestages, meeting the different needs of young adult and mature adult cats. Science Plan Sterilised Cat has a unique weight-management formula that includes L-carnitine at clinicallyproven levels to help reduce fat buildup and keep muscles lean. It also has controlled levels of phosphorous and magnesium to support production of an appropriate urinary pH level that helps reduce the risk of bladder stone formation and promote a healthy urinary system.

Information: 023 9247 4711 or

Information: 0800 242 438 (UK), 1 800 626 002 (RoI) or

Information: 01737 767 679 or

Information: 0845 603 9095 or



Bradfield Bradfield’s eco-friendly pet care products are developed with the use of essential oils and other natural extracts from New Zealand. The aim is to replace harsh chemicals with natural derivatives, which are safe to use for owners and animals. Essential oils are well known for their healing properties, both internally and externally, which keep your pets bug-free, smelling great and happy. The Paws is proud to offer a wide range of Bradfield’s products, including Dog Shampoo, Flea & Tick Spray, Pet Calmer and Omega 3 supplement. Information: 0845 834 0033 or



Taking stock


Hertford Shelving Hertford Shelving Ltd is a shopfitting and shop shelving supplier, based on the Herts–Essex border five miles outside the M25. For more than 20 years, it has supplied Tegometall shelving and has offered a complete shopfitting service for all types of retail outlets, including post offices, supermarkets, garden centres and those in the pet, reptile and aquatic trades. Hertford can price from drawings faxed, emailed or sent by post, and the company is more than willing to visit customers’ premises to plan and discuss their requirements. Information: 01992 892 898, 07850 166 481 or


Royal Canin Royal Canin has added two new nutritional support products to its complete dog food ranges. EDUC is a healthy, low-calorie and palatable nutritional support for use in reward-based training, while ENERGY is a complementary nutritional supplement for adult dogs, designed for use an hour before and/or during moderate or intense physical activity. Marketing manager Gemma Duffield explained: “We’ve identified a clear need in two key areas for a premium quality nutritional support product. Until now there has not been an ultra-highquality option in either area, but with growing interest in better dog training and increasing levels of participation in sporting activities with dogs, we believe we can provide something really beneficial for dogs and their owners.” Information: 0845 300 5011 or


Vetark Vetark’s long-established range of avian health products have been given a new look with a new label design, and the brand has just introduced SOLUVERM – a new water soluble wormer for all caged birds. Vetark also says that it has always taken the holistic route to animal health, firmly believing in the effect of good nutrition and clean housing to maximise an animal’s own response. For 20 years its probiotic AVIPRO PLUS has been used in support of an ever-widening range of species. In addition, a ‘routine use’ probiotic ProC with natural chlorophyll, was introduced three years ago. Information: 01962 844 316 or


KONG Company This season sees the UK and European launch of Tugger Knots, the newest addition to KONG’s range of interactive dog toys. Tugger Knots are multi-purpose and have rope handles for tugging, plush bodies for shaking and snuggling and a squeaker for added excitement. Tugger Knots’ unique design features knotted ropes inside the toy, which provide varied chewing resistance and absorb the stress of tugging, leaving the toy intact even after the most strenuous tug sessions. The rope is enclosed in a plush animal shaped covering made from double-ply material for extra durability. The toys are available in small/medium and medium/large sizes and in four cute characters: monkey, frog, lion and moose. Information: 01308 869 000 or


ACANA ACANA RANCHLANDS is the latest addition to Champion Pet Foods’ grain-free range of complete dry dog foods. It features three red meats, including Angus beef, Alberta bison and Alberta lamb – all raised free-range, without artificial hormones or antibiotics, on ranches, and delivered fresh. ACANA’s biologically-appropriate concept is to mirror the natural diet, which comprises almost entirely of fresh meats. Its fresh ingredients are never frozen or exposed to chemical preservatives, and the company says that their nutritional properties are superior to any other ingredient form. ACANA RANCHLANDS is available in 13.5 kg, 7 kg, 2.5 kg and 400g bags. Information: 01737 767 679 or


Taking stock


Burgess Pet Care The Burgess Supacat adult and mature range is a competitively priced everyday dental diet for cats, and is exclusive to the specialist pet trade. These products are specially formulated with ‘STAY-Clean’, which helps reduce plaque and tartar buildup on teeth. Each recipe is a delicious crunchy meal that cats will adore, and contains all the protein, vitamins, minerals and taurine to help keep Supacats happy and healthy. Call today to see how to benefit from a full POS kit and nationwide marketing campaign. Information: 01751 474 123 or


Nature’s Feast Nature’s Feast Hamster, Mouse & Gerbil Food is a tasty, natural and wholesome feed mix that the “animals will simply find irresistible.” Specially-formulated to provide hamsters, mice and gerbils with the essential vitamins, minerals and fibre they need for a healthy and balanced diet, it comes in a pack size of 850g.


SmartBedz SmartBedz is not just a cat litter, it is also an ideal litter for all small pets, chickens and reptiles. The pellets are made entirely from straw – a natural, sustainable and renewable resource – and absorb up to four times their weight in liquid in double-quick time. This gives excellent odour control, without any added chemicals, minerals or perfumes, at an economical price. Producing no dust through use, SmartBedz suits pets and owners with certain allergies. Totally bio-degradable, the pellets decompose quickly after use when composted or used as a soil conditioner. SmartBedz is now available from wholesalers countrywide. Information: 0845 388 3534, or

Information: 01377 200 800, or


Wagg Wagg Foods has increased production capacity at its Thirskbased factory to fulfil increasing consumer demand for its pet food. Wagg and its sister company Harringtons are both based on this site. The business has invested £4 million on new machinery, plus £2 million on a factory extension to house the new equipment and infrastructure. The extra space is also home to an additional 700 tonnes of raw material storage space. With this extended facility, the business can now produce between 20 and 26 tonnes of complete dry dog food, dog treats and food for small animals every hour.

Natures Grub Norfolk-based pet food company Natures Grub has added to its unique range of natural chicken foods. Earthworm Treat is the latest addition to this popular range – described as a natural mix of cooked flakes, cereals, whole and cut grains and dried fruit, with the addition of large quantities of high-protein dried earthworms, it is also enriched with a “good dusting” of ‘Battle’ poultry spice. Earthworm Treat is available in one-litre, two-and-a-half- litre and five-litre ready-to-use buckets. All Natures Grub’s chicken feed products have been tested and endorsed by the British Hen Welfare Trust.

Information: 01845 578 111 or

Information: 01485 517 177 or



Kibble foods

In the balance

Complete kibble pet foods are becoming increasingly popular with owners as they can be specifically-tailored to meet an individual animal’s needs. We look at the latest innovations on the market from feed for small dogs to products that can actively improve health

Kibble foods


he pet food sector has come a long way since American James Spratt launched the first complete dog food in 1860, a biscuit that consisted of wheat meal, vegetables and blood. Today, the UK pet food market is worth over £2 billion a year with a multitude of foods for owners to choose from, with modern commercial diets tailored to meet dogs’ needs. The Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (PFMA) notes how “over the last couple of decades prepared pet foods have become increasingly sophisticated. Scientific advancements in pet nutrition mean that manufacturers are now not only thinking about meeting the nutritional needs of pets, but also how health and wellbeing can be enhanced by using added beneficial ingredients.” One of the key areas for growth in the pet food market has been the introduction of kibble foods, which is essentially ground meal formed into pellets. Dry pet food has become the preferred choice with many owners, as it is one of the most cost-effective methods of feeding, providing the same quality of nutrients as in wet foods and with additional benefits such as improving dental health. Complete dry diets are also seen as being more convenient to use, easier to store and easier to measure so there is less risk of over-feeding. There are a wide range of commercial dried foods that also cater for both specific breeds and conditions. Founder of Hill’s Pet Nutrition Products, Dr Mark Morris DVM, was one of the first to develop a speciality diet formulated for diseases in pets. The Hill’s Prescription Diet was introduced to help dogs with renal failure, which Morris believed was caused by the high levels of salt contained in the foods on the market at the time. The company has since gone on to develop a broad range of clinically-proven, therapeutic feeds to help with numerous conditions including skin problems, mobility issues, gastrointestinal disease and obesity. In addition to the introduction of kibble foods to deal with specific ailments, pet food manufacturers have also turned their attention to breed-specific foods. Royal Canin was at the forefront of this development, adapting the kibble shape, size and texture for each breed’s needs. A flaky-textured kibble promotes good oral hygiene in Yorkshire terriers, while a specially-designed kibble for brachycephalic breeds such as boxers is designed to facilititate prehension – the process of seizing or grasping the food – and to encourage the dog to chew. As the company affirms: “The size, shape and texture of kibbles change according to the specific characteristics of the animal it is intended for.” James Wellbeloved has noticed that in the past 10 years, the number of small breed dogs has doubled and there are currently over three million in the UK. In response to this trend, the company has introduced a range of food specially-developed for dogs over six months and up to 10 kilograms in weight. According to the PFMA, small breed dogs need more calories per kilo compared to larger dogs and so require a food that is sufficiently ‘energy-dense’ to allow them to eat enough to provide for their energy requirements. Marketing manager at James Wellbeloved, Anne-Laure Jaouen, says: “Small dogs have amazing potential for the specialist sector. Their longer life expectancy than larger dogs means they have longterm feeding needs – the potential annual revenue for the pet trade, based on current UK population, is an amazing £1.05 billion.” The company says its small breed dog food is the first naturally hypoallergenic dry food specially-formulated for small dogs and addresses their specialist dietary needs. As Anne-Laure explains: “Small breed dogs require proportionately more energy than larger breeds, and cranberry is added as they are more prone to urinary tract problems. Dental health is also more of an issue in small dogs, due to the longer life expectancy and the crowding of teeth in small jaws, which means they are more prone to bad breath and tartar.” To combat this, the company has designed smaller kibbles of the right density and shape to help clean the teeth, and anti-bacterial green

tea extracts for oral health. At the other end of the spectrum, the company also offers a kibble that caters for large dogs. They can be susceptible to gastric bloat possibly caused by eating too fast and the shape and size of the kibble is designed to slow down the food intake by encouraging the dog to chew. As well as kibbles catering for different sized animals, it is now recognised that dogs have different nutritional requirements depending on their age. Specialist pet food manufacturer Dickson’s offers a range of foods for puppies, adult and senior dogs. The Kennel Club notes how “puppies grow 20 times faster than adult dogs and so require a special diet to aid their physical development.” The Just Delicious range includes a food that has been designed to meet the needs of puppies of different breed sizes, with DHA that is reputed to aid brain development and make them easier to train, and ingredients to boost the immune system. Probiotics such as Vetoxan, which is found in the Dicksons’ range, also help to maintain a healthy digestive system by introducing friendly bacteria into the digestive tract, which is very helpful especially with a puppy as it copes with the stresses of being weaned off its mother’s milk to a solid food. It also helps throughout the dog’s life as the digestive system does become more sensitive with age. This bio-probiotic has also been very successful in helping dogs suffering from colitis. Wagg also offers a complete dog food specifically-designed for puppies that combines antioxidants from plants extracts, yeasts, vitamins A, C, D, E and vitamin B complex, which is used to help promote a healthy digestive system, strong muscles, bright eyes and a glossy coat. The energy-rich puppy food has been developed to provide a rich source of protein for growing dogs and the addition of calcium and phosphorus helps in the development of strong bones. At the other end of the spectrum, the older dog also has very specific requirements, and as vet Joe Inglis advises, “they generally need less energy, and a bit more fibre, and although they need a reasonable amount of protein to keep them in shape, too much will put a strain on their kidneys.” The Vet’s Kitchen range of foods that includes a formula for senior dogs has lower protein and fat to meet the slower metabolic requirements of the older dog; the amino acid, taurine which can help maintain a healthy heart and omega 3 oils which are believed to improve mental ability. As animals age they also become prone to joint problems, with arthritis common in larger breeds of dogs and symptoms including slowness, a reluctance to get up and a reduced range of movements. Dickson’s affirms that “the support of healthy joints is a critical need for older and larger breed dogs,” and the addition of ingredients such as glucosamine and chrondoitin sulphate to pet foods can have beneficial effects, helping the body repair wear and tear to the cartilage. There can be no doubt that there have been great advances in pet nutrition over the years, with an extensive range of feeds to cater for different breeds, sizes and stages of a pet’s life. Today’s pet owners can be sure they are meeting their animals’ nutritional requirements, and retailers can advise on the best foods suited to specific animals’ needs.

Supplier Listing Barking Heads: Dickson’s: Hill’s Pet Nutrition: James Wellbeloved: Purina: Royal Canin: Wagg:



Organic and free range foods

It’s only natural

looks at the rise of organic and free range pet food and discovers what the labels mean and why they are becoming such a popular choice with pet owners Holly Mash


nutritious diet is the foundation of good health, so the importance of every pet’s daily rations cannot be underestimated. A balanced diet will contain all the key nutrients in the correct proportions to allow our four-legged friends to stay active and healthy. A pet’s individual dietary needs will depend on its age, state of health and level of activity, so no single diet will suit all animals. There is an increasing shift by the pet owning public towards foods that are marketed as natural and organic.

Pet food is pet food, right?

Wrong. There is a huge spectrum in terms of quality in pet foods, ranging from very poor to superior brands that often use human-grade ingredients in their recipes. As more and more pet owners appreciate the crucial role the diet plays in the overall health of their companion, we are seeing a shift towards the purchase of more natural, organic and holistic foods. There has also been growing interest in the BARF diet, which is now available on a ready-prepared, commercial basis.

Organic and free range foods

Introducing the BARF diet

This is a way of feeding a dog (not commonly followed for cats), which stands for ‘Bones As Raw Food’ or ‘Biologically Appropriate Raw Food.’ Fundamentally, this diet consists of feeding both raw meat and bones (chicken wings are often used) and some raw vegetables and fruits are added, after pureeing or liquidising. By so closely matching the wolf ’s diet, dogs can thrive on this way of feeding as it suits their digestive system and their teeth and it is ultimately what they were designed to eat. A growing number of pet food companies are taking all the hard work (not to mention the mess and smell) out of this way of feeding, by delivering frozen packs of raw meaty diets direct to the door! The benefits of

the BARF diet are manifold and usually include glossy coat, shiny white teeth, sweeter breath, a healthy body weight and increased mobility. A BARF diet has not undergone any cooking or processing whatsoever, so the food has not lost any of its nutritional value. This often (but not always) makes it easier for dogs to digest the food, and is one of the reasons that the BARF diet is a popular choice among pet owners. Raw bones can help to keep a dog’s teeth clean and tartar-free and, unlike cooked bones, are unlikely to splinter as the dog gnaws them.

Natural diets

This is a burgeoning area of the pet food market. However, not all so-called natural diets have an equally



Organic and free range foods

good provenance or nutritional status. Many foods contain descriptions such as ‘wholesome’, ‘traditional’, ‘as nature intended’ and ‘real’. Labelling law states that any food using the above descriptions, should be additive-free, have a lowimpact and a smaller-scale, traditional manufacturing and preservation process. In addition, the raw ingredients in dog foods that are described as natural should be in the can, or bag, as nature intended. That is to say, if it contains lamb or chicken, this should be the actual meat, rather than derivatives or by-products, and any grains should be wholegrain and not refined or milled. This way the ingredients retain their innate nutritional qualities and can be digested and used by the body in a gentle and effective manner.

The benefits of organic and free range

There are currently only two criteria pertaining to natural pet foods where stringent regulations apply – these are organic and holistic. In order to achieve certain specific minimum standards, the food needs to have been certified by a recognised organic body such as the Soil Association, or the Organic Farmers and Growers Association (you will see their stamp of approval). Certified organic pet food will contain meat derived from higher welfare farms where unnecessary antibiotics and growth promoters have not been used and where there is no intensive farming. Free-range farms will also have higher standards of animal welfare, as the animals have more freedom to roam. Similarly, the vegetables and fruits used in organically-certified pet foods will have been grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers or geneticallymodified ingredients. So by ‘going organic’ or ‘free range’ pet owners will not only be helping to maintain excellent health in their animals, they will also be doing their bit for the wider world around us. There is only one certified holistic regulatory body, namely the British Association of Holistic Nutrition and Medicine. This has a code of ethics and principles that are similar to those of the organic movement, but with the added dimension that the foods used should be appropriate for the species in question. This means the food will reflect as much as possible the natural diet of the pet’s wild ancestor, so will therefore be most easily digestible and optimally nutritious for them.

You are what you eat

“Let your food be your medicine, and let medicine be your food” said ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. The key to choosing a healthy diet for pets is to look at the quality of the ingredients that have gone into them, as well as how the food was manufactured. Natural, organic and diets made with free range ingredients are generally regarded as being superior in terms of the health benefits for pets – in the same way that people choose to eat organically-produced food for themselves. The commonly reported benefits of such diets include pets with a shiny, glossy, itch-free coat, healthy appetite and digestive system, clean teeth and gums, plenty of energy, a strong immune system and a vitality for life!

Supplier Listing Bern Pet Foods: Burns Pet Nutrition: BARF Pet Foods (Free Range): Dorwest Herbs: Interhatch: Natural Pet Products: Ziwipeak:

A meaty subject

Nigel Woodd from ZiwiPeak, the New Zealandbased company that produces a range of natural premium pet foods, says: “The rise of organic dog and cat foods is growing from a small base and growing quickly following the human food trends and the fact that more pets are becoming humanised.” He also claims that when you review most of the actual ingredients in the organic brands they are not ideal ingredients for cats’ and dogs’ digestive requirements, with many actually causing more harm than good. He believes that as cats are obligate carnivores they need to eat meat and organs to provide their daily nutritional requirements as they cannot easily digest other types of ingredients. He also says that dogs need high levels of proteins and fats from meat and can only digest a small amount of non-meat ingredients. He is among a growing number of people in the pet industry that are recognising the benefits of feeding a natural meat and organ diet. He cites the book Give Your Dog A Bone by the Australian vet Dr Ian Billinghurst, first published in 1993. Nigel says this has been “highly influential internationally in raising awareness of the impact of a natural diet on dogs.” Similar recognition is also now being given to the diet of cats, with Dr Bruce Syme from Melbourne and Dr Elizabeth Hodgkins from California agreeing that cats must also have daily meat in their diet to live. Nigel concludes: “We have to seriously ask why organic dog and cat foods are being greeted with enthusiasm when they are potentially no better than most run-of-the mill foods that are high in carbohydrates and do not contain high levels of protein and fats from raw meat and organs.”

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Hamming it up Once the traditional pet of most children, the hamster’s popularity is waning with the rise of the reptiles. We re-evaluate some of the reasons why retailers should continue to stock and sell this appealing creature



he UK may be a nation of animal lovers but it seems that increasing numbers of pet owners are turning away from soft, cuddly creatures such as cats, hamsters and guinea pigs and moving toward more exotic species such as snakes, frogs and lizards. According to the Federation of British Herpetologists, there are now over eight million reptiles and amphibians kept as pets in over one million households in the UK. The rise in popularity of such exotic species is explained by Chris Newman, chairman of the British Federation of Herpetologists, who says: “There has been an explosion in numbers. They have moved from being niche to mainstream. They are far more suitable as pets than animals which are perceived as more traditional pets such as cats, dogs and small mammals.” The problem for retailers is convincing consumers to buck this trend and choose a more conventional pet such as the humble hamster. Qualified veterinary surgeon Scott Nimmo BVMS MRCVS is very much in favour of children taking on these small creatures and says they continue to be the most popular species from the rodent family partly because of their “cleanliness and cuteness.” He adds: “A hamster usually makes an ideal pet for children and helps teach responsibility. The average lifespan of a hamster is approximately one to three years, and for this reason some people claim that caring for a hamster is a good way for a child to eventually learn to cope with loss.” Pet food manufacturer Supreme believes: “Retailers who sell small pets such as hamsters can double their sales of associated goods, including food. This is good news, as small animal products tend to have higher margins than their cat and dog counterparts.” The company further suggests that although hamsters themselves have a small retail value, their accessories such as cages, bedding, bottles and toys create further opportunities for profit. Selling small livestock can create a specialist image, which together with the convenience of a ‘one-stop-shop,’ can attract people to the store and encourage customer loyalty. The most common species kept as a pet is the Syrian hamster, which is not only the largest kind but also comes in an array of coat colours from golden brown and sable-branded to cinnamon and tortoiseshell dove. A fully-grown Syrian hamster can reach four to six inches in length and Scott advises: “Syrian hamsters should never be kept more than one per cage, because if two Syrian hamsters are forced to share the same space, they will probably fight and seriously hurt each other.” A better option for an owner planning on keeping more than one hamster would be the dwarf species of the same sex. Retailers should also be aware that it is important to correctly sex and separate them in the shop as they can become sexually mature from four weeks old. Animal welfare and behaviour student Sarah Caunt has recently carried out a study into the domestic habits of Syrian hamsters and discovered that they prefer the latest modular-designed accommodation to the more traditional wire cages. The study for Rolf C Hagen, aimed to identify the amount of space used by hamsters in their everyday lives. Watching the animals over a period of four weeks, she noticed how in the large wire cages, they were prone to gnawing the bars and moving around the outer area and not utilising the centre of the cage – an indicator of stress and anxiety in the animal. On the other hand, hamsters in the smaller, modular cage explored the whole area. She argues that the study has great implications for the pet housing industry and “shows that as far as Syrian hamsters are concerned, a bigger house does not mean a better, more interesting environment.” The RSPCA recommends an environment that is 75 centimetres by 40 centimetres by 40 centimetres and it should be made as stimulating as possible with tunnels, tubes and a solid exercise wheel, rather than one with open rungs. Whichever housing unit you decide to stock, it is worth remembering that what may be suitable for a Syrian hamster will not be appropriate for a dwarf hamster, with different sized cage furniture and spacing needed for each species. Dwarf hamsters are highly adept escapologists and can get through the smallest of gaps while Syrian hamsters can get stuck in tubes or tunnels that are too small for them, causing distress or serious injury. There are a wide range of cages available, so check with your supplier to find out which is best suited to which breed. The types of bedding offered will again be dependent on species type. Dustextracted shavings can get tangled in the coats of long-haired varieties and sawdust may be a better option. The PDSA recommends a deep layer of shavings or potting compost at the bottom of the cage to allow the animals to burrow, and shredded paper or cloth-based materials for nesting. The charity cautions against the use of cotton wool or any fluffy type of bedding as this can wrap around the hamster’s legs or cause internal blockages if eaten. 




When it comes to feeding there are many good quality commercial mixes on the market and you could also recommend supplementing the diet with small pieces of fruit and vegetables. According to Supreme, hamsters are often mistaken for herbivores when in fact they are omnivores, so need protein in their diet to keep them healthy. The company says: “In the wild hamsters will eat a range of grasses, seeds and grains, so feeding a pre-packed, species-specific muesli closely matches their natural diet. Retailers should also carry good quality metal bowls, as plastic ones are easy targets for hamsters to chew.” You should also remind your customer that hamsters have a habit of hoarding food in their cages, so it is best to get them to remove all uneaten food on a regular basis. Finally, it is worth noting that although they may be small, hamsters require the same level of commitment as any other pet. Rodents such as gerbils, hamsters and rats can often get overlooked but they are just as reliant on human contact and care as a cat or dog. Supreme advises: “Hamsters are mostly healthy creatures, but because of their small size, they can deteriorate rapidly if they do become ill.” Common complaints include constipation, which can be cured by feeding a small amount of green vegetables, but too much green food in the diet can cause diarrhoea. ‘Wet tail’ is often confused with diarrhoea as animals with this bacterial infection may hunch as if in pain and have a distinctive smell. Usually seen in young hamsters (aged three to eight weeks old), it requires immediate veterinary treatment. The Telegraph’s veterinary columnist Pete Wedderburn notes how the most common reason for a trip to the vets is usually poor husbandry. He says: “Caged animals are completely at the mercy of their owners. They cannot choose their own surroundings or diet. They can only live in the space offered to them and eat the food that is provided. This makes it particularly important to read up about the needs of small pets, so that you can be sure that you are giving them everything they need.”

Supplier Listing Burgess Pet Care: Cranswick Pet Products: Essex Breeding Centre: 01621 740 510 Norfolk Industries: Simon’s Rodents: Supreme Pet Foods: Wagg:

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Holistic rabbit care


B.Vet.Med Vet.MFHom MRCVS explains the principles behind holistic care and offers some key advice on how your customers can care for their rabbits and treat some common conditions Stuart Marston

Holistic remedies


olistic, holism, whole-ism and similar terms are often bandied about without a clear definition as to what is meant by them. A basic definition of holistic is the concept of considering the whole animal rather than an individual system or part of the body, and how it interacts with its environment. Holism addresses all the factors associated with a living body from its environment to nutrition; from mental welfare through to the internal and external stresses placed upon it. A holistic approach favours the care, management and treatment of illnesses by natural means – not through chemicals, antibiotics or processed foods. The concept is simple but understanding its application is difficult, as a change in mind-set is required. Rabbits are probably the third most common pet in the UK and many are kept in cages on their own. Their anatomy and digestive system is markedly different from cats and dogs. It can be suggested that many of the diseases and problems associated with the pet rabbit can be laid at the door of the owner. As a retailer you can help raise awareness about how the animal can be properly cared for. The most important item is without doubt their food. Rabbits are designed to eat grass and this provides all the nutrients, vitamins and a large percentage of the water requirements of the rabbit. They will also eat greens and root vegetables like turnips, mangles, carrots and swedes, which can be added in limited quantities. All-yearround hay (dried grass) and straw can also be fed with available fresh water. Rabbits are by nature sociable animals. They do much better if they have company, preferably other rabbits but humans will do! The older notion that a guinea pig was a good companion for a rabbit has largely fallen out of favour. Problems can arise when keeping rabbits together. Aside from the obvious reproductive proclivity, there are health issues. Female rabbits need to breed in order to maintain the health of their reproductive tracts. Disease can be found in

the uterus of does at less than a year old. If they are not intended for breeding then ovariohysterctomy is advised. This does carry some risks of course, with anaesthetic and stress, but they are outweighed by the potential benefits for long-term health of the rabbit. Neutering males is also a sound practice. Reproduction is prevented and there is generally a much lower incidence of inter-male aggression, provided space is available. Although it could be argued that surgical neutering is not holistic, it does benefit the overall health status of the rabbit in the broad sense. Housing and their environment affects the wellbeing of rabbits. They need to feel safe otherwise they become stressed; they need a place to sleep away from their toilet area; and they need to exercise. A small hutch with little room to move is not satisfactory. Of late, there has been an excellent range of modular rabbit housing introduced to the market. Similar in concept to the hamster tube facilities, the runs are not sealed at the bottom so the rabbits have access to grass. They are also enclosed to keep the rabbit safe from predators, escape-proof and provide space for the rabbits to move and exercise. They also have the advantage that a ‘starter kit’ can be purchased and then tubes, hides and nesting areas can be added later. Holistic treatments are those generally recognised as other than conventional veterinary medicine. These include herbal; homeopathy; acupuncture; reiki; chiropractic; Bach flower remedies and aromatherapy. In the UK it is an offence for anyone other than a veterinary surgeon to undertake diagnosis and/or treatment of animals other than their own, so the possibilities open to lay persons (ie non-veterinary surgeons) are limited to the supply of products for the owner to use on their own animals. These products will be from homeopathic preparations, some herbal products and Bach flower remedies. Due to the sensitivity of rabbits, essential oils can be dangerous and are best left to suitably-qualified veterinary surgeons to administer.



Holistic remedies

Herbal remedies

Herbal preparations vary in their active ingredient levels and should always be used with caution. Herbal does not always equal harmless. Some preparations can enhance the action of conventional medicines and so they should only be used under veterinary instruction. Some herbal remedies and the conditions they can be used for include: Herbal remedy Euphrasia Blackberry/raspberry Ginger Chamomile Apple cider vinegar + olive oil Raspberry leaves/ extract Willow bark Garlic Arnica tincture Rosemary Echinacea Marigold Comfrey

Condition Conjunctivitis Diarrhoea General digestive aid Conjunctivitis Ear mites Assists labour General pain relief Helps removal and prevention of internal parasites Bruises and injuries Exhaustion, weakness or depression (fresh is best) Enhances immune system; antibiotic properties Slow healing wounds and strains/bruising Stressed rabbits; promoting bone healing

Homeopathic remedies

These are readily obtainable, can be provided without prescription and are safe to use along with conventional treatment or herbal preparations. There are some licensed veterinary homeopathic preparations available including arnica, aconite, ars Album, belladonna, nux vom and rhus tox. Homeopathic remedies have no side effects and rabbits respond very well to them. Some remedies and the associated conditions that lend themselves to the use of homeopathy are: Homeopathic remedy Arnica Aconite

Condition Injuries; bruising Shock and stress caused by visits to the vet or boarding Acute onset of any condition Arsenicum album Restlessness; acrid nasal/conjunctival discharges Belladonna Fevers; agitation; acute onset pain; acute inflammation Nux vom Digestive upsets; inappetance; low faecal output Overeating of unsuitable food Rhus tox Musculo (skeletal problems); sprains/strains Damaged muscle Apis mellifica Conjunctival swelling; vulval swelling post-partum Caulophyllum Pre, during and post-partum Helps with birth and uterine contractions Ignatius Issues of abandonment or bereavement Loss of a companion, weaning a litter Sepia Female temperament problems relating to production Aggression; rejection of litter This list is not exhaustive and many other ailments can be helped with homeopathy. Owners should always consult their veterinary surgeon if in any doubt. Rabbits can deteriorate very quickly and delay could be fatal.

Bach Flower remedies

These were developed by Edward Bach. They address the mental state rather than the physical. They are safe and can be used alongside any of the other therapies including conventional medicine. Some of the remedies used and their indications are: Homeopathic remedy Chicory Gentian Walnut Rescue remedy

Condition Possessiveness over bedding or food Dependency; does not like to be left Does not like change in the hutch or house Pain, shock or distress


This is a very useful therapy and helps many musculo-skeletal problems. Only a qualified veterinary surgeon is able to perform this.


This form of healing is practised by many people. It is gentle and side-effect free. As long as the practitioner has the permission of the attending veterinary surgeon this may be undertaken by nonveterinary surgeons. It is always important to know that the rabbit is not suffering from a serious underlying condition before any of the complementary or holistic therapies are used.


This form of therapy involves manipulation of the vertebrae and muscles. It can be hazardous in the rabbit in the wrong hands and again should be undertaken via referral from a veterinary surgeon.


This is not best used other than by veterinary surgeons qualified in this field, or by referral from a veterinary surgeon. Rabbits are highly sensitive animals and the concentrated oils can prove dangerous even in low amounts. Rabbit owners should also have a first aid kit for their animals. Rabbits can move from a mildly ill state to a terminal condition very quickly. A digital rectal thermometer, a heat pad, some alcohol wipes, a styptic pencil (useful to stop nails bleeding) and some bandages would seem to be the minimum. There are several books available for owners to refer to for advice on common conditions. For further information please visit

Supplier Listing Burgess Pet Care: Burns Pet Nutrition: Natural Pet Products: Norfolk Industries: Supreme Pet Foods: Vetark: Wagg:



Going back to our roots Homeopathic vet Sue Armstrong MRCVS VetMFHom runs her practice – the Balanced Being Group – in Wetherby, West Yorkshire. She is also a partner of the Homeopathic Professional Teaching Group (HPTG), the current president of the BAHVS (British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons) and an international lecturer on homeopathy and laser therapy in horses. Here she takes a break from her hectic schedule to tell us more about her work What made you decide to study veterinary medicine? I have always had a deep affinity with animals. I always felt it was important that humans gained a better understanding of the animals we share the planet with and use our knowledge to help animals in the same way that we help each other. Animals suffer pain and disease just as humans do and can be treated just the same.

When and why did you decide to start practising homeopathy? I had been in regular veterinary practice for 10 years and was becoming increasingly frustrated on several fronts. I was learning more and more names of diseases, but with limited options for treatment. I was hearing so many pieces of information from clients describing symptoms that I could do nothing with, which seemed wrong. An example of this would be someone who described their animal having sickness at 5am every morning. To me there had to be significance in this specific time, but in conventional terms it made no difference at all to the limited number of treatments on offer. I also started to see clear patterns of progression of diseases in an animal’s lifetime which, again, was of little relevance to what I was able to do conventionally.

Can you tell us about one of your most challenging cases to date? All chronic disease cases are challenging as each animal is an individual with a complex history. There are so many cases and to choose one is almost impossible. One case that does stand out, and is as much about the human endeavour to stand by an animal and see it through as it is about homeopathy, is a horse that

was poisoned by cyanide-producing organisms on clover. This young horse was partially paralysed and lost control of her bladder function. This was a case where it called on moral and ethical decisions as well as the constant need to adapt our remedy choices for whatever new situation she threw up for us, such as deep ulcers in her skin where the urine had scalded, despite the rigorous care and attention of her owner. After years of work she is now ready to be backed and is a happy, well-adjusted young horse. She has gone through some incredibly difficult times, but is a testament to what can be achieved. This was a case where there was no conventional treatment possible other than antibiotics for when she had urinary infections, so homeopathy stood alone as the only thing to help her and help her it did.

What would you say to people who are sceptical about the effectiveness of homeopathy? I was one such person. I was in a practice where I saw very ill animals in the waiting room waiting to see the veterinary homeopath. I naively judged homeopathy to be useless as why would they all look sicker than my patients if it was so good? The answer was, of course, that in those days people only came to homeopathy as a last resort when nothing else had worked. In fact, minor miracles were being performed under my nose but I didn’t recognise it. There is only one way to overcome the scepticism and that is to experience it first hand.


What is the most unusual animal you have treated using homeopathy? Because anything that lives can be treated homeopathically, there is no limit to what animals can be treated. For me the most unusual animal was a racoon I treated in Canada.

Have you ever used homeopathy on yourself? Yes of course. Homeopathy is a system of medicine with a complete underpinning philosophy and understanding of health and disease. While there are times when conventional medicine and surgery is not only necessary and life-saving, I live my life following homeopathic principles and using homeopathy as a primary care system for myself.

What would be the next step for anyone who is interested in finding out more about homeopathy? There are some excellent books out there and introductory courses for those who are interested, but experiencing it and having yourself or one of your animals treated by a qualified homeopath is the ideal way to start to open your mind to the possibility and potential of homeopathy. By this, I don’t mean go and buy a remedy off the shelf and try it at home. Unless it is arnica for a bruise, you will undoubtedly select a remedy and use it in a conventional medicinal way, which, despite it being called a homeopathic remedy, will not be given according to the principles of homeopathy and may fail because of that.

Are there any significant research studies in the field of homeopathy that you would urge people to read? There is a large and ever-growing body of research studies both in human and veterinary homeopathy from all around the world. The Faculty of Homeopathy provides an excellent listing of published research papers for those who are interested. Also look on the BAHVS website ( for information, research papers and listings of qualified veterinary homeopaths.


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Herbal medicines

Breaking with tradition of Dorwest Herbs looks at the growing interest in herbal medicines and their place in the pet sector Roly Boughton


here has recently been a resurgence of interest from the public and from the medical profession regarding the healing properties of plants. Sales of herbal products for pets have increased immensely over the last decade and are now used by pet owners and also trusted by veterinary practices as well as a whole range of people and organisations that have animals working in various ways. This may be police dogs, rescue dogs, bomb disposal dogs and those who give such important help to those with visual and hearing impairments. All these animals need to be fit and increasing numbers of owners of these working dogs are using herbal products to maintain optimum health. Using herbs grown in the garden or from the wild is an attractive option for some but can also be fraught with difficulties. Firstly the correct plant and species must be identified, any risk of pollution eliminated, and the correct preparation and storage selected. So, it is not surprising that many people prefer to buy herbs in a manufactured form, as these should provide guarantees of quality and efficacy. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and together with misleading advertising jargon the products can cause disappointment for the consumer and the retailer. There are a myriad of products available on the market and choosing the right product for a pet’s needs can be confusing for many people. With more natural products in high demand and sought after by customers, it is important for those working in the pet trade to gain a good understanding of herbal remedies.

The first thing to know is that there are different qualities of herbs, depending on the origin of the plant, how it is dried, the conditions in which it is kept in and how it is processed into the medicine, supplement or feed. The issue of quality is extremely important because it is this that makes the herb effective. All herbs used should meet an accepted stand of purity, normally this will be the European Pharmacopoeia standard as the use of herbs in medicine has not only got a very long history in Europe but they are more widely used in conventional medicine there, than in the UK. The application of these standards is extremely important as natural variation in the plant is normal and is influenced by the country of origin, environmental conditions and seasonal changes. There are very few licensed herbal medicines for animals in the UK, but it is these that set the benchmark as they have to comply with strict controls in the same way as any conventional medicine. A licensed medicine will always be a guarantee of safety and purity, most importantly will show that the medicine will treat the condition that it is being used for. Dietary supplements come in a range of types such as powders, liquids and capsules, but it is not generally known that the ingredients in these do not have to meet any standards of quality or purity and they may contain plants which are unproven as being safe to give to pets. These products can be produced by anyone, anywhere and in any conditions, so with these types of products it is always advisable to choose

Herbal medicines

those from a well-known brand. This is something that all pet owners need to understand so that they can make a more informed choice when buying a herbal supplement for their pet. Ideally a company that manufactures licensed medicines should be the first port of call when looking for a brand to stock because it will have better knowledge and will be able to advise you about all of these issues. Dorwest Herbs’ Scullcap and Valerian tablets, which many readers will be familiar with, are an example of a licensed veterinary herbal medicine used extensively in the pet trade. A reliever of stress, sales reach a high in the run up to fireworks season and at other times when loud noises and bangs can upset animals. This herbal medicine reduces anxiety, nervousness and excitability without the making the animal sleepy or appearing to be drugged, which has wide appeal to pet owners and shows just how effective a herbal remedy can be. Today’s consumers are increasingly discerning about the natural products they use, and because of concerns about the side- and long-term effects of some medications, increasingly they will also ask

the pet shop owners or their vets to provide credible alternative treatments. Many drugs prescribed today are still plant-based but it is when the whole plant is used that the full benefits of herbal products can be seen and these enable stockists to offer a product which has the maximum benefit of this ancient form of treatment. In general, making sure that you offer the best products available will usually result in better sales and more satisfied customers. This should also be backed up with consumer advice, which is an important part of the service. Suppliers should be able to offer in-house or correspondence training for staff, so that they are better equipped to help the pet owner and so maximise sales. Dorwest Herbs has been a leader in this field for over 60 years and its very comprehensive 2011 catalogue not only gives details of its range but also a useful A-Z section on suggested ways to help common canine and feline problems. The company also provides professional clinical and pharmaceutical data for veterinary practices. Go to for further information.



Herbal medicines

Plant power explains how effective some of the herbal remedies can be, the conditions they can alleviate and their advantages over conventional medicines Ray O’Mahony


erbal medicine is one of the most widely practiced form of medical therapies in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that four billion people – 80 per cent of the world’s population – presently use herbal medicine for some aspect of primary health care. Plants have a wide variety of properties which make them suitable for treating most of the commonly encountered conditions in companion and farm animals. For example, hops are a digestive stimulant; Devils Claw is anti-inflammatory; valerian is calming; ginger is a circulatory stimulant; yarrow is healing; nettle is blood-building; lemon balm is anti-viral; and gold seal is anti-bacterial. Then there are tonic herbs which improve the function of various organs, such as Globe Artichoke for the liver, hawthorn for the heart and chamomile for the gut. These can all provide many more treatment possibilities than can be achieved by conventional drugs. Unlike many of the other complementary therapies we know how plants work, we know about their chemical constituents and how they affect the body. Much of this information has come as a result of the work of big pharmaceutical companies in their hunt for the next drug blockbusters. One of the interesting things about these chemicals is they are produced predominantly by plants as a means of protecting themselves from predation or infection. They are referred to as secondary metabolites and are not involved in the production or storage of energy by the plant. Many of the most important and well-known plants we use produce classes of chemicals known as flavonoids and polyphenols. These are complex anti-oxidants and are enormously beneficial to health. Unlike other commonly encountered anti-oxidants,

like vitamins C and E, they don’t cause problems if taken in larger amounts and many have far more specific sites of action, thereby giving more profound protection. The flavonoid lignans of milk thistle seed act as potent anti-oxidants within the hepatocyte (liver cell) protecting it from damage. Milk thistle, contrary to popular belief, does not stimulate the liver’s function and, as such, is better given in combination with other herbs in times of liver compromise. Rarely, in fact, are herbs given alone as they generally work far more effectively when given as a well-constructed formula. Another noteworthy point on efficacy is that herbal products which are whole herb products are far more effective and safer than standardised extracts. The reason for this appears to be the complex synergies that exist between the chemical constituents of each plant. Another very important group of phytochemicals are the alkaloids, which provide us with some of our most potent medicine such as morphine. Modern drugs are phenomenally effective at treating acute conditions, such as injuries, trauma and infections, and many of our common drugs are derived directly from plants. The word drug actually comes from ‘droge’, an old German word for ‘dried herb.’ However, drugs by their definition are single molecule substances, and no matter how advanced such a molecule is, it can never attain the complexity of a whole herb extract. Some of the essential oils containing herbs have thousands of chemical components, each acting in unison, bolstering and modulating the activity of its colleagues. Where herbs really stand out is in treating complex chronic inflammatory diseases such as skin diseases, gastro-intestinal disorders such as colitis, respiratory tract disease such as feline asthma and age-related

Herbal medicines

brain degeneration such as dementia. The reason herbs are so effective in these cases is that they are all complex conditions with a host of different elements, aetiologies and pathologies involved. In conventional veterinary practice most of the above are treated with combinations of drugs, often including antibiotics and corticosteroids, which have numerous side effects when given long-term. However, use of appropriate herbal formulas can significantly reduce, and in most cases, avoid altogether the use of corticosteroids. The improvements in animal welfare and vitality as a result of incorporating herbs into daily healthcare regimes can be profound, for example the use of supportive formulas for old dogs. The use of high quality, well-formulated products is vital in achieving such results and can allow retailers to play an important role in pet health management. Herbs can be safely used in all animals. Of course, all medicinal herbs are not safe in all situations. Most of the products on the market only use herbs that have a good safety profile and wide safety margins for use. In my practice we use herbs daily to treat dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, snakes, various lizards, birds and horses. Herbs are best given internally, whether this is taken in food or used topically such as ear drops, eye drops or skin creams. However, external conditions are usually manifestations of deeper disharmony, so internal use gives better results. Herbs can be safely incorporated into veterinary drug treatment regimes. However, for animals on daily medication for serious conditions such as epilepsy, the advice of the product manufacturer should be sought prior to commencing use. This is because some herbs increase the liver’s capacity to break down certain drugs. St John’s Wort and Ginkgo biloba are two wellknown and widely-used herbs that have this ability.

The VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directive) dictates what may and may not appear on the label of any herbal product offered for sale in the UK. Products may not make any claims of a medical nature – this includes the mention of any disease conditions by name or implication. Neither can they claim to have any action considered to be medicinal, for example anti-inflammatory, so for these reasons the wording on labels is generally vague and lacking in substance. This puts the onus on retailers to research products themselves and to make themselves familiar with the active ingredients and their potential use, so they can best advise their customers on the most suitable product for their pets. Look for products offering both retailer and consumer support and advice lines to make this task easier. This should prove well worth the effort as herbal medicine is rapidly growing in acceptance and a wellformulated product used in the correct situation can produce life-changing results for your customers. Ray O’Mahony MVB MRCVS CVH has developed and produced the Phytoforce Veterinary Herbal Tonics based on years of experience treating animals in vet’s surgeries throughout the UK and Ireland.

Supplier Listing Dorwest Herbs: BARF Pet Foods: Hilton Herbs: Interhatch: Natural Pet Products: Phytoforce: The Bramton Company: The Paws:



Eco friendly ponds

Green spirited Technical director of Eco Pond Ltd, Francis Saunders, looks at sustainable practice in the aquatics sector where evidence suggests that eco friendly ranges are now frequently being favoured over more traditional chemical-based products


arket research indicates that two thirds of consumers are now concerned about green issues and, while eco-friendly products are often no more expensive to manufacture than other options, some consumers are prepared to pay a premium for them. With growing interest in wildlife ponds and the desire to encourage wildlife into the garden generally, the inclusion of a full range of natural and eco-friendly aquatic products, rather than just the odd one or two, is becoming a serious consideration for retailers. There is a wide, and ever-growing range of eco-friendly products now available to retailers and pond keepers. While this does not yet cover the full gamut of fish health, it is certainly expanding to cover the treatment

of pond water and fish food, with several manufacturers including a limited number of eco-friendly products within their broader offering and one or two specialist companies, such as Eco Pond, producing entirely natural ranges. While restricting a product range in this way can limit the extent of treatments offered, it provides retailers with peace of mind regarding the safety of the products to both fish and wildlife and the wider environment and means that they can sell them with total confidence. One of the most common and difficult pond problems to overcome is algae, and barley straw products have been used for many years to deal naturally with this. Finally after protracted consultations between producers and regulators, extract of barley straw has been approved by the

Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) as an aquatic algicide. This may make it sound a less eco-friendly option, but the fact remains that it is a totally natural, longestablished way to kill algae and retailers can now sell it safe in the knowledge that it is a registered product. As a condition of its registration, extract of barley straw has to be manufactured from organic barley straw, so it has the added benefit of giving the organic gardener an acceptable option for algae control. Many other natural, microbial-based products will only slowly starve algae, whereas the action of extract of barley straw is to kill it directly. The most eco-friendly way to achieve good water quality is to interfere with it as little as possible! However, this is unlikely to be music to the ears of retailers, and as the

Eco friendly ponds

majority of pond keepers want to keep and feed ornamental fish there is always a need for intervention. Some of the traditional, chemical-based products have now been withdrawn from the market, so customers are looking for effective alternatives, and there are natural products available which will treat most of the common problems. Typical products include coagulants and flocculating agents used to improve the clarity of cloudy water. Recent innovations have led to some products of this type being produced wholly from vegetable origins. Another major headache for pond keepers has been duckweed, which until fairly recently could only be controlled by the use of aquatic herbicides which have now been withdrawn under the Control of Pesticides Regulations. Research with growers of

aquatic plants has led to the development of a microbial-based product which, while not killing duckweed directly as the chemical alternative did, will do the next best thing and slowly starve it out of existence. Similar products are now widely available. When a pump or fountain is required in a small pond, solar options are now available to provide an eco-friendly alternative to those requiring electricity. When it comes to feeding fish, more companies are offering natural alternatives to the traditional foods, with some starting up purely to tap into the growing interest in this option. A number of suppliers and food producers are now offering fish foods that are free of artificial colouring agents, flavours and preservatives and include in their formulations high quality natural ingredients. Some will incorporate seaweed extract and similar components which have been shown to provide a “natural health boost” to fish. Retailers are also now finding a growing market for home production kits. These enable the customer to supplement commercially-produced fish foods with natural additions such as brine shrimp and daphnia. Providing the customer with handson involvement often helps to maintain an on-going interest in their ponds and fish – something which is vital to the broader aquatic industry. As with so many aspects of life, it is often the results of the interests of big business and major corporations which give rise to the development of technologies and products which have spin-off applications in relatively niche markets, such as the pet care industry. It is then down to the visionary pet product manufacturers and formulators to identify and commercialise products so that retailers have the opportunity to offer their existing and new customers safe, effective and yet novel ways to maximise their expectations of their ponds and pets.

Of interest for the future is the fact that considerable resources are now being directed at the field of fish health, where previously little-researched diseases causing mortality in mature, and often valuable fish are coming under the microscope. Early results indicate that at least some diseases may be controllable by harnessing the effects of naturally-occurring substances derived from other aquatic organisms. The first of these products could well be coming to the market in the next one to two years. This will be a major step forward, as it can often be fish medication that, while having an unquestionable benefit to the fish, has a negative effect on water quality. Finally, there are many buzz words used to sell products of all types – natural, green, organic, and eco or environmentally-friendly. Many companies now make these claims and consumers are becoming wary of them. As with any other purchase, retailers need to look beyond the manufacturer’s claims, and consider the formulation of the product, the packaging itself, and the country of origin when deciding how natural or green a product really is and whether their customers will buy into the product or range’s promise.

Eco Pond is a manufacturer of eco-friendly pond treatments under its own AquaHydrotech and Eco Pond labels and also toll manufactures for companies in the domestic and international aquatic markets. For more information go to or call 01225 767 919.

Supplier Listing Cloverleaf: Nature’s Grub:


Business interruption insurance

Under cover managing director of TH March & Co Limited, looks at the implications of stopping trading due to an unforeseen event such as fire or flood and the steps you can take to protect your income Michael Ferraro,


t is a sad fact that high proportions of businesses that do not have business interruption insurance and are affected by major damage can go out of business within 12 months. The reasons are not hard to see; business depends on cash flow. A major fire, or flood, for example, will destroy or severely diminish cash flow until the business can recover. Recovery is not just about repairing the damage, it is also about recovering turnover. That recovery may have to cope with competitors who have taken advantage from your absence from the market to steal your customers, supposedly loyal customers who have had to commit to long term contracts with other suppliers, and loss of agencies which may not be easy to replace. Business interruption insurance replaces the gross profit for the business for the period that the business is interrupted by an insured risk, which includes the recovery of customers phase. It is subject to a ‘maximum indemnity limit,’ the maximum period of interruption for which the policy will provide cover. While even cover with a short maximum indemnity period is better than none, many businesses select dangerously short maximum indemnity periods, so you’ll need to consider some of the factors which may be involved in recovery from damage. Many of the following steps can be heavily delayed if damage is widespread, such as after a major flood or storm, because builders, architects and plumbers become over stretched: A. Initially you may be unable to access the site until it, or nearby properties are rendered safe B. Liaison periods with insurers, architects and builders to assess the damage C. Decision to repair, demolish and rebuild, or move permanently

Demolition, if necessary, will involve: • Tenders and acceptance • Delays before work begins • Demolition

Moving permanently will involve: • • • •

Search Negotiation Legal delays, possible change of use Fitting out

Major repairs or rebuilding may involve: • Architects and design work • Planning permission • Tenders

Construction period and delays:

• Before work begins • In finding specialist contractors eg for listed buildings, special features or equipment • Local regulations limiting deliveries of materials • Lack of on-site storage • A need for additional works to meet new building regulations • Shopfitting or fitting out of manufacturing facilities, availability of equipment

Post construction recovery:

• Build-up of stock, especially if antique or unique • Recovery of customers Assessing accurately the maximum indemnity period needed by a business is a highly skilled process that usually needs input from local architects or surveyors. However, a few moments’ thought about some of the above stages in relation to other personal experiences, or knowledge of friends’ building and planning work, shows that selecting just the minimum 12 month period is very unlikely to be adequate in the event of major damage. Some locations, for example in pedestrian access areas, narrow streets, or worst of all, shopping centres can significantly extend the period. In some cases, shopping centres have taken up to four years to fully re-open after major damage. A common response by business owners considering longer indemnity periods is that they would move to temporary accommodation if disaster struck. That can be an excellent solution, and in the right circumstances one that insurers will encourage, but can you be sure in advance that suitable accommodation will be available if and when you need it? How will trading from a less prestigious location affect your turnover? You may have to sign a lease for more than 12 months on less attractive terms than you currently pay. Moving may be sensible, but if the location is poor the turnover may continue to be reduced beyond the maximum indemnity period. Extending your maximum indemnity period is likely to be less expensive than you might think. Doubling the indemnity period will not double the premium since the majority of interruptions will be of shorter duration. Business interruption cover may seem extremely complex, but it is well worth discussing with your broker and it may save your business. TH March & Co Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority



Six of the best

Fishy business

Image: M. Kraus

From simple fish tanks to elaborate aquascapes, building the perfect aquarium is a fine art. Jon Chapple examines some of the latest products that can help


ften unfairly derided for their supposed lack of brain capacity and associated intelligence and intellect – including, famously, by that old adage, “a memory like a goldfish” – recent research has confirmed that fish and their other sentient aquatic cousins are in fact much more intelligent than they appear. According to Culum Brown, a University of Edinburgh biologist studying the evolution of cognition in fish, “in many areas, such as memory, [fish’s] cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates, including non-human primates. “Their long-term memories help fish to keep track of complex social relationships,” he continues, “and their spatial memory – equal in all respects to any other vertebrate – allows them to create cognitive maps, that guide them through their watery homes, using cues such as polarised light, sounds, odours and visual landmarks.” Fish also communicate with each other via squeaks, squeals and other low-frequency sounds inaudible to human ears, and some species have been known – when equipped with the right materials – to build bird-like nests for their young and keep underwater ‘gardens’ in which the animals encourage the growth of favourite algae and weed out unappetising undesirables. Clearly, then, not the behaviour of a creature for whom each lap round a fish bowl is akin to seeing the world for the first time. Accordingly, keeping these intelligent animals as pets demands an often surprisingly extensive duty of care; something frequently discovered the hard way by first-time fish-keepers struggling to keep their new pets alive for even the first few months. However, although keeping aquarium fish can be a challenge, with the right care fish can

actually live longer, healthier lives and sometimes even grow larger in an aquarium than they do in the wild. In nature, unlike in captivity, a fish’s food supply is highly dependent on weather patterns; coming and going with the changing of the seasons. Predators, including other fish, will also keep nearly all the young of most species of fish from even reaching adulthood, and the lucky few that do are quickly gobbled up as soon as they become old and infirm. This means that, although aquaria do naturally have limitations, they can equally be an environment where fish are able to flourish. However, for the true aquarist, fish-keeping is about much more than simply keeping one’s pets alive and happy. “It’s really more of an art than a science,” explain the editors of Publications International, which has produced a number of articles on the hobby. “You’ll develop an appreciation for the beauty of the hobby and a certain respect for the creatures in your tank. “You’ll come to view your aquarium not as a pastime or as an attractive addition to your living room, but as a delicate, vibrant system that takes shape and comes to life through your efforts, skill, and vision.” But, of course, before an aspiring aquarist can even start thinking about constructing their dream tank, they’ll need the proper tools to do so, and that’s where the retailer comes in. Finding out exactly what consumers want from their aquaria and being able to advise how best to proceed is a must. Aquatic retailers should ensure their knowledge of the items budding devotees of this potentially lucrative hobby require – and how they operate – is second-to-none. Here we look at some of the best.

Six of the best

Aquatlantis   For a stunning designer aquarium, look no further than the AquaFashion range from Aquatlantis. These lifestyle aquariums are perfect for modern living with a designer twist. Visible from both sides, the tanks come in a wide range of contemporary colours to suit any room and are available with LED lighting and filter system and have a 20 litre capacity. Stands are available separately to complement the aquariums and add a finishing touch. ALF Limited • 0845 838 0981 •

  Huttons Supplies Huttons Supplies says its OneShot cans have become very popular over the years, and with the introduction of OneShot Clear last year, the aquarium hobbyist was given a product that could be used on wet or dry aquariums. OneShot Clear can be used for sealing leaks or bonding equipment or living rock into tanks, and, because the can is self-propelling, it is easy to apply the sealer even in small or restricted areas. The company has recently upgraded its OneShot products with a brand new applicator, which has a variable flow trigger, making it easier to control the flow of sealer. Huttons Supplies • 01202 481 706 •

SICCE   The new Wave Surfer from SICCE offers tremendous value for money for the reef aquarist wanting to emulate natural water movement – especially when bought as part of one of the Wave Surfer/Voyager special offer combos, which consist of a Wave Surfer plus one or two Voyager pumps. The Wave Surfer is an easy-to-use electronic pump controller capable of running two pumps, which can be used with all mains aquarium pumps. In addition to being able to vary the timing of the pumps, it also features a control to reduce water movement at feeding time and overnight. Midland Reefs Ltd • 01543 685 599 •

 Tropical Marine Centre With its compact 20 centimetre by 20 centimetre size, the AquaRay AquaBeam 1500 XG Ultima Ocean White is compatible with all aquarium types, including nano tanks and can be used as primary lighting in marine fish-only and soft coral aquaria, or as secondary lighting in marine full-reef aquaria. The tile has a 9,000k ocean white colour temperature for natural, even light distribution and strong colour rendition, as well as a wide angle beam to maximise light spread. It offers cool running, low cost of ownership and a minimum of 50,000 hours lamp life, and is supplied with versatile mounting fixtures for replacement, retro-fit and new install options. Tropical Marine Centre •

Natures Grub   Norfolk-based company Natures Grub continues to expand its range of natural fish foods, adding to natural aquarium foods such as bloodworm, daphnia, krill, tubifex and brine shrimp with a selection of formulated mixes. Its most popular is the Tropical Fish Insect Mix, a 100 per cent-natural mix of insects and crustaceans that includes the most popular freeze-dried foods as well as some “unusual critters not seen before,” resulting in a natural, high-protein complementary feed. Also in this range is Cichlid Mix, a complete feed of mini-sticks, krill and gammarus shrimp. Natures Grub offers a full range of aquarium feeds, with many types of flake food, pellets, catfish pellets, algae wafers and various seaweeds. Natures Grub • 01485 517 177 •

seneye   It’s been a problem that has plagued fish-keepers since time immemorial – keeping fish alive and thriving. However, UK company seneye says that it has found the solution, at a price that means everyone can protect their fish. Its revolutionary patent-pending products constantly monitor, among other parameters, free ammonia (NH3), pH, water level, temperature and light levels. The sophisticated software analyses the results, and can even pre-warn owners before a dreaded aquarium crash and the related loss of life. Three versions are available – Home, Pond and Reef – and all are incredibly easy to use: just drop them into water and, when connected to a PC or power adaptor, they will automatically take over 5,600 readings per month. ALF Ltd • 0845 838 0981 •


Demand just keeps on growing.

Rover can’t get enough of it. Retailers are queuing up to stock it. That’s because Wagg dry dog food has enjoyed 30% year on year growth for the last 7 years. More than just a mix of quality ingredients, it’s a formula for success.

Stock up now by calling

01845 578 111 or email

Improving your merchandising strategy

Make an impact


With a growing range of pet food and pet merchandise to display in store, Michael Bellingham offers some tips for retailers on effective merchandising

ver the last few decades the pet food offering has increased dramatically. In 1970 the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) was established and comprised four members. The pet food market volume was 470,000 tonnes and the market value was £73 million. Now in 2011 we have 60 members, the market volume is 1,271,000 and the market value is £2.046 billion. Prepared pet foods have also become increasingly sophisticated. Not only can cat and dog owners choose canned, complete dry or pouches, but scientific advancements mean that manufacturers are adding beneficial ingredients to enhance wellbeing, extending their ranges further. The story is similar for small animals such as rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs and an extensive range of food and treats is available for all. Fish food and bird food also demand an increasing amount of shelf space. Pet food retailers and their customers are therefore presented with an overwhelming range of products and it is more important than ever to use in-store presentation to minimise confusion, make shopping as easy as possible and maximise sales.

Tactical positioning

Customers are hugely influenced by visual information gathered when entering a shop. It is important to use a number of tactics to guide them around the store – helping them to find the product category they want, while exposing them to merchandise they might not have noticed before. Experts recommend positioning the most wanted items at the back of the store so customers pass your other goods en route. Sales figures will show which stock keeping unit or SKU has the greatest customer appeal. The shelves or pegs at point of sale by the till or counter top are great for displaying small impulse purchases such as pet toys and healthy treats, which can easily be added to shopping baskets. The rule of placing key products at eye level is well documented but it’s especially important not to display products too high up – especially if your customers are elderly. The use of end caps is often discussed and key products will compete for this location, although there are many other ways of highlighting your products.

Lighting, signage and colour

Lighting, in addition to clear signage, is good for guiding shoppers to the key areas. Not only do people not like shopping in dark areas but light helps draw attention to special offers and themed displays. Mary Portas, the Queen of Shops, would also encourage all shop owners to think about the use of colour – to draw the eye and create focal points.

Changing displays

Once you have effectively displayed all your goods, don’t rest on your laurels! Without alienating regular customers, it is important to change displays regularly to maintain interest from customers and ensure they see new, innovative products. In addition to in-store displays, window displays are a valuable way of demonstrating the goods you have on offer and drawing new customers into your store. Christmas, for example, is a time when non-pet-owners will visit your store for gifts so ensure your displays include these items. Alternatively, themes such as ‘outdoor fun’ and ‘new puppy essentials’ could help encourage both old and new pet owners to make additional purchases throughout the year.

Staff Knowledge

With the pet food market continuing to grow and evolve, knowledge is key. In addition to effective in-store merchandising, staff knowledge is very important. Many new pet owners need a helping hand when making purchases for the first time and experienced owners may be unaware of new developments for specific pets or conditions. Our website has advice on many topics you may encounter and also has links to all our member organisations with the latest product information. Labelling regulations In accordance with the new regulations on the marketing and use of feed (Regulation 767/2009), pet food retailers will soon see changes in pet food labelling. Although the new rules come into force this year on 1 September, any old packaging which left the factory for the retailer’s warehouse before 31 August may continue to be sold after this date. For more information see

About the PFMA The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association is the principal trade body representing the UK pet food industry; a key focus of activity is to promote animal welfare and responsible pet ownership. Its 60 members account for over 90 per cent of the market and produce a wide range of products for cats, dogs, rabbits and other pet animals. To find out more or download some useful information sheets for you and your customers, please visit:




Best on show

Many of today’s pet stores are smart and slick operations and Kelly Clark finds out what catches customers’ eyes and keeps them coming back Casco


F Above and below: Seedee

Below: Abbey Saddlery

irst impressions count. Striking window dressings, value for money offers and clever displays have never been more powerful in attracting customers to you, instead of the competition. As a retailer, your display areas and windows are your primary tools for bringing business your way. But, what tricks should retailers bear in mind when fitting out their shop? Abbey Saddlery, based in Cheshire, distributes a range of Stubbs display models, stands and racks for the equestrian retailer to create striking window and shop displays. The range includes life-size display horses, horses’ heads, horses’ legs and various stands for displaying saddles and bridles. The company offers these tips for creating the best displays: • Keep it simple, less is more • Accentuate products with good lighting • Stock up on featured products • Invest in good quality display units and models • Regularly change displays, keeping the offer looking fresh • Have a seasonal theme to give displays purpose • Let your displays reflect your image – high end or great bargains? • Keep displays and windows clean • Get a second opinion on your displays • Monitor results; what works and what doesn’t? • Recycle old displays or donate to charity The science of retail and how people shop dictates the work carried out by CASCO, the global company specialising in pet and aquatic shop fittings. Ross Butterfill says: “We give our customers help and advice on the layout and design of their store to increase their revenue. Our research shows we can increase revenue by 40 per cent. “We provide customers with 3D image and film plans so they are able to ‘walk’ around their store before we have even started work. Our designs encourage customers to walk through the entire store, using scientific research to entice them into making impulse purchases along the way. “Design and layout is key, followed by stocking the appropriate livestock for your area and keeping the store clean and fresh. If customers see a shabby and unclean store, they will assume the animals are living in a poor environment.” Ross adds that ‘theatre of the mind’ is the latest tactic being used by large chain stores to entice customers to buy livestock. He says: “Adding big artificial trees, background images of woodland or rocks around your livestock makes the whole thing more attractive and feel like a natural environment. People should consider investing in theatre of the mind. It does not have to cost a lot. Our Economy Range offers high quality products which are ready to use and do not require our installation services, enabling stores to add these areas in a more costeffective way.” Pet store Seedee, in Sudbury, Suffolk, has undergone one major revamp in its 30 years, but is now on the verge of a relocation to a larger unit. Owner Dick Cheshire is very clear what his main priorities will continue to be with the look and feel of his brand new store. He says: “The last time we had a big refit was about 20 years ago when we had a new floor, new counters and new displays. We took advice from the




If products can be seen they will be bought... shopfitters and used our own ideas, too. But, with the move, we are starting to think about what works now and how the new store will look and work. “The important things to me never change. I am vigilant about making sure all products are in date. When we have quieter moments, I get the staff to take a section each and check products as well as give the shelving a good clean. “I also think it is important to have good lighting in the shop. We don’t have display lights, but simply make sure the whole shop is brightly lit. We do not have any dark corners. Pet shops have a reputation for being dark and smelly. We are more like a superstore here.” Seedee’s secret to success is offering customers their supplies in whatever measure they need, with foods displayed in large bins. Dick says: “The one thing I really love is serving bins. I am a great believer in cutting the big bags open and offering customers smaller amounts. The margins in that are great. I would rather have 100 customers come into the store every week and buy smaller bags than wait for four people to come in and buy in bulk. “It is also not unusual for people to take small samples of products they’ve not tried before. That would not be possible without the bins. We have serving bins all around the shop. We can’t bin everything, as products which are not so popular go stale before they are sold. But, all of our most popular products are in bins.” Steve Lodge has run Hertford Shelving in Nazeing, Essex, for 22 years. He advises pet shop owners to get their fittings right as they will be working with them for many years to come. Steve says: “People spend a lot of money fitting out a shop and the fixtures and fittings can last 10 or 15 years. Trends do not usually come into that side of the business. “The advice we offer all clients is, if products can be seen they will be bought. Do not stack boxes so customers have to dig to find something as they won’t search for something if they can’t easily see it. The shop must be bright and clean with all products given maximum visibility. With good shelving and wall displays, this can be achieved.” Steve also reminds his clients to consider themselves and their staff as a vital part of the fixtures and fittings. He said: “I could go into a shop and fit gold shelving, but if the staff are gloomy and unfriendly, the products are not going to sell. We have been into shops and done entire refits, but we know it will not achieve anything when the atmosphere is terrible. A smile behind the counter and friendly conversation encourages people to shop with you. Your business is only as good as the people in it.”

Supplier Listing Abbey Saddlery: Casco Europe: Hertford Shelving: Seedee: 01787 311 122

Above: Seedee Below: Casco

Below: Seedee



Events 16–17 July

4–6 September

Festival of Grooming The Belfry Wishaw, Warwickshire

spoga+gafa Koelnmesse Cologne, Germany

1–3 August

19–21 September

Paignton Championship Dog Show Westpoint Exeter Exeter, Devon

Glee Petindex NEC Birmingham

25–28 August

Pet Fair Asia Shanghai Everbright Exhibition Center Shanghai, China

interpets Makuhari Messe Chiba Japan

24–27 September

3–4 September

29 September– 1 October

LovePets Royal Highland Centre Edinburgh

iberzoo Fira de Barcelona Barcelona, Spain

3–5 September

30 September– 2 October

City of Birmingham Championship Dog Show Stoneleigh Park Coventry

PET BIZ Inter Expo Center Sofia, Bulgaria


5–6 October

16–19 November

AQUA Telford International Centre Telford, Shropshire

China International Pet Show China Import and Export Fair Complex Canton China

6–8 October Pet Expo 2011 Claremont Showgrounds Perth, Australia

18–20 October Pet South America Expo Center Norte São Paolo, Brazil

29–30 October LovePets Exec, Peterborough

10–11 December Ladies Kennel Association NEC Birmingham

5–7 October 2012 Pets Today E.K.E.P. Athens Greece

New appointments

New appointments James Wellbeloved

Anne-Laure Jaouën has been appointed marketing manager for James Wellbeloved. Anne-Laure originally joined the company to provide maternity cover and has over 15 years’ marketing experience with FMCG brands across a wide range of industries. She is the proud owner of two rescue cats, Harry and Oliver. Anne-Laure is to be supported by another new appointment in marketing executive Caroline Gray. Caroline has a degree in consumer behaviour and marketing and has worked in marketing for the franchise industry and the UK’s largest independent Cheddar producer. Currently pet-less, Caroline enjoys riding, cycling and going to the gym. Both will report to James Wellbeloved sales and marketing director Andy Reed, following Peter Lancaster’s move to France for a role at Royal Canin group HQ. Mr Reed stated: “Anne-Laure has already been with us six months, so knows the brand well and is very well placed to carry it forward over the coming years as Peter has done until recently. I’d like to welcome Caroline to the team at what is going to be a very exciting time and thank Peter for his superb contribution to James Wellbeloved’s success.”

Pastures new for professionals in the pet trade

Probiotic Live

Probiotic Live – distributed in the UK by Vital Pet Products – has appointed two regional brand managers: Phillip Roberts, for Scotland, northern England, the East Midlands and East Anglia; and Nichola Trivett, for London, southern England, Wales and the West Midlands. Mike Kelly, representing brand owner Bacterfield, commented: “Vital continue to do a fantastic job distributing the brand, and we have received exceptional support from the trade. We are delighted to support their efforts by introducing some proven brand-building expertise in Phil and Nicky. “Phil and Nicky’s roles are to help our customers to be successful by initiating specific sell-through activities, and, along with some major imminent PR campaigns, we can all look forward to a successful and profitable future for this miraculous product.” Has someone recently joined or moved to a new role within your company? You can send the details and a photo to






Pet tags

Pond sealer


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JUNE 2011

ISSN 2046-7303

up Brushinggroom ing A guide to

care Handle withtrainin g aids Dog


The bird is the word


Among the most intelligent of birds, the parrot requires a specialised diet and stimulating environment



Holding back the years

Offering key advice for customers on the range of accessories and foods that cater for the elderly cat

5/24/2011 12:00:26 PM




Voice on the highstreet

Voice on the highstreet Angel Dominic Moore

of Barking Barbers, Manchester

What’s your personal background? How did you first come to be involved in dog grooming? Originally from Galway in the Republic of Ireland, I came to Manchester after travelling the world to get a connecting flight to Florence in 2002, and I’m still here. I have worked as a florist and florist teacher since the age of 18 and did so when I came to England, but after a few years decided to change direction. I went with plan B and went to college to train as a dog groomer – the best decision of my life to date. I am now a Level 3-qualified dog groomer, first-aider for dogs and Reiki master animal therapist, and I’m currently studying aromatherapy.

Barking Barbers specialises in holistic grooming. Could you explain a bit more about what this involves? What is Reiki therapy? My ethos for grooming developed while studying and I chose to stick with it even though it was not the norm in the industry. We try to find a balance on many levels that is best suited to the dog and client. We look at the whole dog and not just the symptom and discuss this with the client – for example, if a dog has skin problems we will look at diet, environment, and current grooming products and devise a treatment best-suited to that dog. We have a vet that we liaise with, and advise all clients to check with their vet if our approach is acceptable. To date, we have had great results. The salon provides a calm environment where clients can stay and watch their dog being groomed. No dog in our care is ever caged and each enjoys an individual appointment with their groomer. We have our own brand of all-natural shampoos, conditioners and finishing sprays, evening primrose oil base and essential oils called Betty & Butch. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It’s administered by laying on hands and helps all types of animals and is very effective in helping with emotional, physical and behavioural problems. We also work with dog owners, as sometimes the dogs’ problems have been shaped by the owner.

You maintain a company website – do you think having a web presence helps pet businesses? Any online presence is paramount to first draw attention to the company. We canvas all our customers and a large proportion have found us on Google, with the remainder by word-of-mouth.

Do you have anyone else working for you? We currently have a team of six: Paul, the shop manager; David in sales and marketing; Kelly in internet and design; Rose, a groomer; and Scott, a grooming assistant. They all also know how to wash and dry a dog when it’s really busy.

What do you enjoy most about the job? Do you have any favourite breeds you most enjoy working with? The reaction when the dog leaves the grooming room and meets their owner never fails to make me happy and as we provide an environment where the client can feel at home with their dog, we have made many friends in the process. My favourite breed changes every day – I am truly dog mad and if I had my way my home would be full of them.

What’s your biggest day-to-day challenge? Finding groomers that are not there just to learn from you and then leave and open their own business. We have now introduced a bonded apprenticeship where apprentices pay the company £2,500 for two years’ worth of working at the store with a weekly wage, with £500 used to purchase equipment for them and the remaining £2,000 returned after the two years’ employment. This way we are guaranteed an employee for two years, which is essential for planning for the future and they will then be offered a franchise or to stay with the company.

What advice would you give to someone hoping to get into grooming? We find that a lot of people see grooming as a quick lucrative business and want to run before they can walk. Decide on what type of groomer you want to be. Gaining a certificate is not always essential if you are prepared to learn from a reputable groomer, but don’t rush out and do a course, as some schools are poor. Check that the name you are using is not in use and trademark it before you begin, at A business plan is a must and keep going back and updating it.

What are your plans for the future? I have so many eggs in my basket at the moment but my passion is to educate groomers with advice on grooming in a more calming, holistic and ethical environment that befits dogs, clients and groomers alike.




This month we’re spending a six figure sum behind ‘5-a-day for your fibrevore’

• National print and online marketing campaign targeting 10 million people • Driving rate of sale with over 100,000 money-off vouchers • Increasing spend per visit across The Excel Feeding Plan

Call 0800 413 969 to find out how you can get involved

Pet Gazette July 2011  

Pet Gazette has views, analysis and advice from the top experts in the business. Whether discussing seasonal food for pond fish or the lates...

Pet Gazette July 2011  

Pet Gazette has views, analysis and advice from the top experts in the business. Whether discussing seasonal food for pond fish or the lates...