Keeping Your Dog Safe This Easter… Chocolate Poisoning

We all know what Easter means…. Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Whilst this may be fun for us (at least at the time anyway!), it is not fun for our furry friends. In fact, the consequences for dogs who eat chocolate can be fatal.

You can still have a great time at Easter with your dog – just make sure you don’t leave chocolate eggs (or their wrappers) where inquisitive pups can find them. And if you have little ones, why not consider an extra special egg up for grabs for those who take part in a chocolate wrapper or egg foil hunt after the official one? You could then safely follow up with a dog friendly treat hunt.

easter_chocolate_pets_dogsWhy is chocolate dangerous for dogs?

Chocolate poisoning can happen to any animal, however, is it most common in dogs – and not just because many of them are hoovers! Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine which is lethal to dogs. Due to the amount of theobromine, baker's chocolate and cocoa are the most toxic, followed by dark, milk then white chocolate.

Caffeine, another ingredient in chocolate, can damage a dogs’ nervous system and heart. So even if your dog consumes a small amount of white chocolate and you may not be as worried about the theobromine; the caffeine can still cause significant health issues.

How much is too much?

There is no specific answer to this as toxicity levels all depend on the type of chocolate your dog has eaten; the weight of your dog and how much chocolate is consumed. Without question though, it’s always best to contact your vet to go through this in detail if you suspect that your dog has eaten any chocolate – even if they’re not yet exhibiting any symptoms.

chocolate_toxic_to_dogsWhat are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

Dogs process theobromine and caffeine slowly, with the toxic compounds building up in their systems. This slow process means dogs can take up to 6-12 hours before they show signs of chocolate poisoning, so don’t wait for these signs if you already know or suspect your dog has eaten any chocolate. Some of the signs include:

  • Lethargy
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Twitching
  • Tremors

These can be followed by a period of extreme excitement then seizure, coma and death.

What should I do if I suspect or know my dog has eaten chocolate?

Your PetPA has a chocolate toxicity calculator available on the free app that you can use to calculate chocolate intake for your dog and how deadly it can be. If your dog has consumed large amounts of chocolate call your veterinarian immediately. Or take your pooch to the emergency clinic for peace of mind. Early treatment when it comes to consuming chocolate, can mean life or death for your dog.

Download the free Your PetPA app for quick access to our chocolate toxicity calculator and the ability to schedule online veterinary consultations immediately.


Top 10 Dogs for Families

Many dogs make wonderful family pets, however with hundreds of breeds to choose from, finding and picking the perfect one to fit your family, lifestyle and household can often feel overwhelming.

Considerations need to be made with respect to temperament, exercise and grooming requirements, and of course size…

Matching a dog’s natural predisposition to your family’s lifestyle is the best way to ensure that you find the perfect match for all family members to bond with, so to support you in doing so, the team at Your PetPA have put together their Top Ten recommended dog breeds for families.

1. Golden Retriever


Golden Retrievers are friendly, loyal, smart and tolerant dogs and in turn a wonderful family pet. Their intelligence and eagerness to please the ones they love, make them easy to train and obedient. Most importantly, they’re great with kids of all ages.

Dog group Gundogs
Country of origin UK
Life Span 12 - 13 years
Coat type Long, silky coat
Weight range 25 - 34kg
Recommended exercise 40 - 60 minutes a day

Golden Retrievers do shed profusely, especially in the warmer months. Daily brushing is recommended to prevent shedding all over your clothes and house, however if that is not an issue and you’re looking for a smart, affectionate, and extra cute companion to join the family - Golden Retrievers are our No. 1 choice!

2. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are outgoing, sporty, fearless, and eager to please dogs making for a wonderful choice for a family pet. Known for their ever-wagging tails, the Cavalier King Charles are happiest with their people or outdoors. Although a sporty dog that loves to join in on hikes, they get just as much enjoyment cosying up to family members on the couch.

Dog group Companion dogs
Country of origin UK
Life Span Over 12 years
Coat type Long, silky coat
Weight range 5 - 8kgs
Recommended exercise 40 - 60 minutes a day

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel do shed profusely, especially in the warmer months. Regular combing and brushing are recommended to prevent major shedding and mats. Although not the best watch dog, some Cavaliers will inform you of every event in your neighbourhood and bark ferociously when strangers approach.

3. Beagle


Beagles are one of the most popular scent hounds seen in family households. This active, happy-go-lucky and amiable breed is a popular choice for families who have access to a secure yard and spend a lot of time outdoors. Beagles are a friendly, outgoing, and loving dogs and inquisitive, determined, and highly motivated by food.

Dog group Scent dogs
Country of origin UK
Life Span 11 - 13 years
Coat type Short dense, tri colour coat
Weight range 9 - 11kgs
Recommended exercise 60 minutes a day

The most important thing to know about the Beagle is that being a scent hound, his nose is the most important part of his anatomy. His head is always going to be down to the ground, searching for an interesting trail to follow. Beagles will wander off if they catch an enticing smell in the air making them slightly more difficult to train.

4. Samoyed


Originally used for herding and guarding reindeer and for sled-hauling, this strikingly attractive breed is now recognized for its loving traits and loyal companionship. Also well-known for its devotion, easy-going, friendly, and playful personality, it’s no surprise that the Samoyed is being seen more and more in family homes.

Dog group Spitz-type dogs
Country of origin Russia
Life Span Over 12 years
Coat type Thick and soft coat
Weight range 16 - 30kgs
Recommended exercise 30 - 45 minutes a day

The Samoyed's white, thick, and fluffy coat is beautiful, but to keep it in good condition requires rigorous grooming to brush out loose hair. Due to the Samoyed falling into the working dog group, a home with a large, securely fenced is necessary so he has room to romp and play.

5. Labrador Retriever


Labrador Retrievers are the perfect mix between sporty and playful and affectionate and loyal. Similarly, to the Golden Retriever, Labradors are incredibly friendly, trustworthy, intelligent, and easy-going dogs making for a wonderful family pet. Due to their enthusiastic and energetic personality, obedience training and enrichment need to be implemented to prevent destructive behaviour.

Dog group Gundogs
Country of origin Canada
Life Span 10 - 12 years
Coat type Short, soft coat
Weight range 25 - 37kgs
Recommended exercise 30 - 45 minutes a day

Labradors tend to eat and eat (and then continue to look for more food!). This can lead to obesity if strict diets suitable for age and size aren’t adhered to. Labrador coats require next to no maintenance with only light brushing recommend helping remove any lose hair.

6. Labradoodle


Originally bred in 1989 to be hypoallergenic guide dogs, this Poodle and Labrador Retriever cross has become a very popular family dog breed due to his friendly, affectionate, and sociable nature.  Labradoodles are happiest surrounded by people and will shower their family with love and devotion.

Dog group Crossbreed
Country of origin Australia
Life Span 10 - 12 years
Coat type Curly, thick hypoallergenic coat
Weight range Miniature 7 - 11kgs
Medium 14 - 20kgs
Standard 23 - 29kgs
Recommended exercise 30 - 45 minutes a day

Due to their thick curly coat, brushing is required at least twice a week and regular grooming to prevent knots and mats. Labradoodles are hyperactive, energetic dogs and are best suited for family homes that have access to a backyard.

7. Border Terrier


Known for their energetic and cheerful terrier traits but with an overarching relaxed personality, the Border Terrier is a small breed perfect for the family home. Originally bred for hunting foxes and rats, the Border Terriers still excels in trials but is also considered a highly popular pet with a soft and cooperative temperament.

Dog group Terriers
Country of origin UK
Life Span 13 - 14 years
Coat type Dense and short wiry coat
Weight range 5 - 7kgs
Recommended exercise 30 - 45 minutes a day

Border Terriers still have a strong drive to hunt, chase and dig. They can adapt easily to apartment living if daily exercise is provided. As long as you can offer this breed the attention it needs, it makes for a loyal and loving companion that is also great with kids. The coat requires weekly brushing and periodic stripping to remove the dead hair. This can be done by hand or using a striping tool, but clippers should never be used.

8. Australian Shepherd


Intelligent, hardworking, and versatile, the Australian Shepherd (also knows as the “Aussie”) is an even-tempered, no-nonsense dog who thrives in a family home where his brains and energy are put to good use. Although large backyards would be suitable for this breed, the Aussie can adapt to apartment living if adequate stimulation and daily exercise is provided.

Dog group Working dogs
Country of origin USA
Life Span 10 years
Coat type Thick wavy, medium length coat
Weight range 18 - 29kgs
Recommended exercise 45 - 60 minutes a day

Without enough exercise and mental stimulation, Australian Shepherds can be very destructive and bark for long periods. To prevent matting, their coat requires regular maintenance including brushing and possibly trimming to keep it looking tidy.

9. Bulldog


Adorable, wrinkly and full of character, the Bulldog is a symbol of courage, determination, and tenacity. Once used for bull-baiting, this breed is actually mellow, well-natured and loving. Although at times stubborn and protective, they rarely develop aggression tendencies making them the ideal household family pet. Although a low maintenance dog, the Bulldog requires daily exercise to prevent weight gain.

Dog group Working dogs
Country of origin UK
Life Span 8 - 12 years
Coat type Short, smooth coat
Weight range 23 - 25kgs
Recommended exercise 20 - 30 minutes a day

Bulldogs are sensitive to cold weather and do wheeze, snort and snore making them prone to sleep apnoea. As Bulldogs get older, they can become lazy and less enthusiastic towards exercise. Regular physical activity is important to help keep them fit and at an ideal weight. Bulldogs can be prone to skin issues and therefore cleaning daily between the wrinkle folds is sometimes necessary to maintain skin hygiene.

10. Cockapoo


The Cockapoo is an intelligent, gregarious, and relaxed dog making it an easy city or suburbia companion. Crossed between the Toy or Miniature Poodle and most commonly the English Cocker Spaniel, the Cockapoo has all the wonderful traits of both intelligent, well-mannered breeds. Being particularly affectionate, the Cockapoo loves to be close to its hoomans and is gentle with kids. They are highly food motivated making them enthusiastic and easy to train.

Dog group Crossbreed
Country of origin USA
Life Span 14 - 15 years
Coat type Single, smooth, hypoallergenic long coat
Weight range Toy Up to 5kg
Miniature 6 - 9kgs
Standard Over 10kgs
Recommended exercise 30 - 45 minutes a day

This happy go lucky breed can suffer from separation anxiety so training as a puppy is important. They are a non-shedding breed that require regular brushing (to prevent mats and knots) plus occasional professional grooming.

Overall, there are hundreds of dog breeds that can make the perfect family companion and research should be conducted on all your favourite breeds before deciding which one is suitable. Some breeds are more prone to health concerns or genetic issues and having awareness before choosing is your responsibility as a dog owner. If you would like further support around selecting the right breed for your family, book an appointment to speak with a Your PetPA veterinarian or nurse via our website or App.

Don't forget to check out Your PetPA online store for dog food, dental and grooming supplies, and more.



There are many reasons why feeding your fur baby a high-quality diet is preferable… not just when it comes to what comes out the back end! Whilst we acknowledge the obvious price discrepancy, the cost of the higher quality food over the life of the pet will be offset by lower veterinarian bills with a reduced risk of health issues that are a result of improper nutrition.


And it’s not just about maintaining a healthy weight — a balanced diet provides your pet with the right combination of nutrients. Protein, carbs, fat, vitamins, minerals, and water all play an important part in keeping your pet happy and healthy...

Protein: Your pet relies on the essential and non-essential amino acids found in protein as they help maintain muscles, repair cells and produce hormones and antibodies.

Fat: Fat provides much energy for your pet — more than twice the amount found in proteins and carbs! Fat also keeps skin and hair healthy, insulates the body and is necessary for absorbing some vitamins.

Carbohydrates: Carbs can get a bad rap from humans but they’re essential for healthy nutrition in your pets. These nutrients fuel your pet’s cells and provide energy. Fibre is a type of carbohydrate that is particularly helpful in promoting good digestion.

Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins A, D, E, and K and minerals like calcium and potassium help maintain the nervous system, boost immunity, strengthen teeth and bones, and maintain muscle health. A well-balanced diet should contain all of these.

Water: Up to 70% of an adult pet’s body weight is made up of water so it’s important your pet stays hydrated. Water plays an important role in digestion, eliminating waste, and regulating body temperature. Make sure your pet always has access to fresh, clean water.


Tips on feeding your dog

  • Dogs need a complete and balanced diet
  • Freshwater should be available to your pets at all times, inside and out
  • Adult pets can be fed one or two meals a day
  • Puppies often need three or four small meals a day
  • Any food that is left out for long periods can grow bad bacteria, so it is recommended uneaten food be thrown away after one hour


Home-cooked diets

There can be advantages to home-cooked meals, but they do not outweigh the disadvantages unless the diet has been put together specifically for your pet by a qualified veterinary nutritionist.


  • Increased palatability
  • High digestibility
  • Ability to control ingredients


  • Expensive
  • Poorly balanced i.e. lack the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins & minerals
  • Bacterial contamination of raw ingredients can affect both pets and humans
  • Bones can cause gastrointestinal obstructions, break teeth and tear the intestines

Unless you have specific recipes that have been formulated by a veterinary nutritionist, commercial diets should be considered.


Treats are a great way to help with positive reinforcement for good behaviour, but it is important to choose the right treats and to give them in moderation as each treat adds towards daily calories for your dog. Treats should not represent more than 10% of your pets’ total diet and don’t forget that affection is just as effective and appreciated as an alternative to food treats!

Good treats:

  • Dried liver treats
  • Dog-approved biscuits for dogs
  • Dog dry food
  • Natural popped popcorn
  • Puffed rice

Overweight pooches can still enjoy the occasional treat:

  • Green beans are low calorie and high in fibre
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Chickpeas
  • Carrot


Tips on feeding your cat

  • Cats need a complete and balanced diet
  • Freshwater should be available to your pets at all times, inside and out
  • Adult pets can be fed one or two meals a day
  • Kittens often need three or four small meals a day
  • Any food that is left out for long periods can grow bad bacteria, so it is recommended uneaten food be thrown away after one hour

Feeding tips to help reduce boredom and maintain a healthy weight:

  • Feed smaller meals throughout the day
  • Maintain a feeding schedule
  • Hide dry food around the house
  • Use food contraptions
  • Encourage the cat to chase after dry food

Tips to help feed a picky eater:

  • Picky eaters can develop if a cat is fed a single food item over a long period of time with little variety. To avoid this, it is important to expose a cat to a variety of flavours, textures and sizes of food.
  • When modifying a diet, always make a gradual change and if your cat refuses to eat for over 24 hours, seek veterinary attention.
  • Cats only have around 400 taste buds - compared to dogs at 1,700 and people at 9,000. Because of this, cats rely on their sense of smell to determine the taste of food. If the cat’s diet lacks smell or if the cat has the flu, try warming the meal to enhance the smell.



It is important to choose the right treats and to give them in moderation as each treat adds toward daily calories for your cat. Treats should not represent more than 10% of your pets’ total diet and don’t forget that affection is just as effective and appreciated as an alternative to food treats!

Good Treats:

  • Dried liver treats
  • Cat-approved biscuits
  • Cat dry food
  • Natural popped popcorn
  • Puffed rice
  • Chickpeas
  • Feeding bones

Raw meaty bones such as chicken necks and wings can help in keeping teeth and gums healthy however it is important to make sure the bone is long enough so it cannot be accidentally swallowed whole. Ingestion of raw bones can lead to constipation so always discard the bone after a time and never feed cooked bones as they can splinter and cause intestinal obstruction.

Tinned sardines, tuna, or salmon can be offered as an occasional treat but should not be given as a regular food source and always removing any bones.

If you need further support around this issue, book an appointment to speak with a Your PetPA veterinarian or nurse via our website or App. Personalised nutrition advice is especially recommended if your dog or cat has a health condition or special dietary needs.

Shop at Your PetPA online store for pet food and treats. Thriving Pets+ members receive 10% discount on all purchases.



Vaccinations are the safest and most cost-effective method of preventing infectious disease in our loyal companions. They are quick, painless, and incredibly important to your pets’ health.

The recommended vaccination strategy will differ for each region and your veterinarian will be able to guide you based on the infectious diseases in the area, however what does not change is the recommendation that your pet be vaccinated with boosters administered throughout its’ life.

Depending on the vaccination type, your pet may require boosters every 1 to 3 years.

cat_dog_vaccinationWhy vaccinate?

  • Protect from fatal diseases or long-term health problems
  • Help keep other pets and the community safe through herd immunity
  • Help reduce the prevalence of the disease in the community
  • Prevent transmissible diseases between animals and humans
  • Cost-effective in that it will protect your dog or cat from contracting a preventable illness that may require costly treatment

Vaccination Types

Vaccinations can be divided into two types – core or non-core.

Core vaccinations are those administered to all dogs or cats.

Dog core vaccinations your vet may administer include canine parvovirus, canine adenovirus and canine distemper virus.

Cat core vaccinations your vet may administer include feline calicivirus, feline parvovirus, and feline herpes virus.

Non-Core vaccinations are administered where the pet may be at risk and will depend on the pet’s lifestyle and age, and your geographical location.

Dog non core vaccinations may include, but are not limited to, bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough), canine parainfluenza virus (kennel cough), leptospira and canine influenza virus.

Cat non core vaccinations may include, but are not limited to, feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), chlamydia felis and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).

Vaccination Schedules

Schedules may vary depending on your veterinary clinic protocol and vaccination type, however they generally follow the below recommended timelines:


6-8 weeks First Vaccination
10-12 weeks Booster Vaccination
14-16 weeks Final Puppy Vaccination
Yearly Annual Booster Vaccination


6-8 weeks First Vaccination
10-12 weeks Booster Vaccination
14-16 weeks Final Kitten Vaccination
Yearly Annual Booster Vaccination

Remembering the due date for your pets’ vaccinations is critical to lower the risk of them getting seriously ill and also keep other pets in the community safe.

Your PetPA’s FREE wellness plan offers reminders to ensure that vaccines plus flea, tick and worming preventatives are not forgotten – simply download the APP to register.

~ Dr Mari-Leen Kroezen


Maintaining a healthy weight for my cat or dog

Maintaining a healthy weight for your pet isn’t always as straightforward as ‘just don’t feed it too much’. Some pet owners can be in the opposite position with their pet struggling to gain weight. Regardless of what end of the spectrum your fur baby is on, maintaining a healthy weight can be the difference between your pet living a long and healthy life or being diagnosed with a life-threatening condition.

Why is maintaining a healthy weight so important?

maintaining a healthy weight of your pets

Pets are considered overweight when they become 10%–20% heavier than their ideal weight. Overweight and underweight pets are predisposed to various diseases and disorders that can ultimately shorten their lifespan.

Pet obesity increases the risk and prevalence of metabolic disorders, endocrine disease, reproductive disorders, cardiopulmonary disease, urinary disorders, dermatological disease, arthritis, and neoplasia. Whilst nutrition deficiency can lead to chronic gastrointestinal problems, depression, skin and coat issues, brain development, vision impairment and poor immune system.

Both are major health concerns, and both are treated differently over a long period of time and in some cases for life.

How can I know if my pet is at a healthy weight?

Determining the ideal weight for your pet is subjective with many ideal breed weight references and pet body scoring systems available. Within clinics, veterinarians may refer to a body score chart to visually demonstrate where your pet sits on this scale and where the aim would be to have them.

The Body Condition System uses visual inspection and sense of touch to help specify if your pet is considered too thin, at an ideal weight or too heavy. Within these categories, your vet will determine the severity by providing a specific Body Chart Score (BCS) from generally 1 to 9.

The ribs, waistline and tummy will be visually assessed and lightly examined to determine if your pet is over or underweight.

Canine Body Scoring

Starting with the ribs, you should be able to easily palpate these with only minimal amounts of fat covering the area. By viewing the waste line from above, an inward curve behind the ribs should be seen. From the side of your dog, a slight ‘abdominal tuck’ should be seen behind the ribs. If your dog is overweight, it will have excess fat covering the ribs and the waistline or abdominal tuck will not be seen.

Body Condition Score of a Medium Dog

Feline Body Scoring

Similarly, to performing a canine BCS you will not be able to easily palpate the ribs or backbone of an overweight cat. Overweight cats will not have that subtle abdominal tuck that meet their hips but rather a tummy that drags all the way down and may swing when they walk. Feline Body Scoring


How can I help manage my pet’s weight?

Come up with a plan

There are many factors as to why your loving companion may be overweight or underweight, and therefore veterinary advice should be sort out before developing a weight management plan.

Although diet plays a large part in the cause of weight problems for our pets, some breeds are predisposed, and some medications are known to cause weight gain. If a medical condition is causing your pet to gain weight, you need to work with your veterinarian to come up with a treatment plan that will manage the condition and help your pet lose those extra kilos.

Determine a daily feeding requirement

Depending on your pets age, life stage and current weight situation, this will determine what food is suitable for your pet and the amount it will need to maintain a healthy weight.

Premium diets are designed to make your pet feel fuller for longer by using ingredients rich with nutrients and amino acids. Investing in a veterinary-approved diet is going to ensure your pet is receiving the correct amount of food for its body weight goals, support the immune system and help with signs of aging.

Your veterinary clinic can help offer advice on suitable food and the recommended amount noting the daily recommended amount and food type can be subject to change as your pet starts to lose or gain weight.


Daily activity and exercise can be more of a challenge to implement depending on the breed of your pet. Some breeds are more active than others so encouraging or increasing exercise may not be easy or in some cases, even possible so it’s important to always start slow and increase slightly to prevent injury or an aversion towards it. Incorporating some fun games or playing with other animals can be an easy way to encourage some movement and increase activity levels.

Weight checks

Once you have determined how much weight your pet needs to lose or gain, monitoring and measuring the weight of your pet regularly is the simplest way to know if you’re on track and if any updates are needed to the weight management plan.