1. Christmas and New Year dangers for dogs

    Christmas and New Year dangers for dogs

    Tips to keep your dog safe at Christmas.

    Most of us enjoy Christmas, and view it as an excuse for over-indulgence. After all, if you can't have a good time at Christmas, then when can you? And of course the family dog is included in this.
    At our house the family sit together around the christmas tree, festive plants and warm fire as the well wrapped presents are opened. This is done while we perhaps enjoy a festive drink - champagne, wine etc. - some 'pigs in blankets' and the bacon from the top of the turkey. After dinner we crash out together and find some impossible little corner in our tummies to fit in some chocolates, nuts and perhaps a little alcohol. Then at tea time we enjoy a bit more turkey and ham, followed by a rich fruit Christmas cake - then more chocolate and liquid goodies. Perfect!
    Of course our dogs are there with us - ever curious and full of fun. We certainly don't want them to miss out.
    But hopefully we don't put our dogs in danger. Like all good parents we try to never lose sight of our responsibilities.
    But what are those responsibilities? Here we look at some of the more common dangers for dogs at Christmas - and many of them have already been listed above!

    Which Christmas foods and drink are dangerous to your dog?

    Please bear in mind that giving your dog lots of new food (any new food) can cause vomiting and diarrhoea so please be careful. However, there are some foods which are particularly relevant around Christmas.

    Dogs and chocolate.
    There are many proprietory brands of chocolate specially formulated and labelled for your dog to enjoy. Keep to these!
    Chocolate intended for human consumption should be kept away from your dog at all costs. Even small amounts can make them feel sick. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and the darker the chocolate, the worse it is. Chocolate liqueurs are particularly dangerous.
    Chocolate can cause your dog to suffer from agitation, excessive excitability, tremors, convulsions and problems with the heart.
    Do not keep chocolate presents under the christmas tree or anywhere else your dog may discover, and seek your vet's advice / treatment immediately if you think there is a problem. It's better to be safe than sorry.
    A sugar-free sweetener called xylitol is often found in the sweets popular at Christmas, as well as chewing gums, mouthwashes, toothpastes and supplements. It is poisonous to dogs so get into the habit of checking the label.

    Alcohol - a christmas tipple..
    Many of us enjoy our seasonal tipple, but too much of it can make us ill. Very ill!
    Your dog is no different, and of course he is completely unawares and unused to the effects.
    Unattended or discarded alcohol glasses can be very attractive to the curious dog, so be careful. Just like us your dog can suffer from bad reactions - they can become wobbly and drowsy and in severe cases there is a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma.
    You can buy things such as doggy beer or pawsecco - if you want your dog to join in then keep it safe with products such as these. Pre planning is the key.

    Nuts and dogs
    Dogs can have some nuts, preferably fresh and unsalted, and nuts that are OK for dogs to eat include peanuts, almonds and cashews. However, the high fat content in nuts can cause vomiting and diarrhea, so watch the quantity!
    But there are some nuts which should be avoided - particularly macadamia nuts or black walnuts as these can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremor, lameness and stiffness. Most peanut butters should be avoided, and please don't even think of chocolate covered nuts!

    Mince Pies and Christmas Puddings.
    Grapes are toxic to dogs and can cause severe kidney failure. This includes currants, raisins, sultanas and the dried fruits contained in Christmas puddings and mince pies. Even small amounts are dangerous - be aware.
    The good news is that dogs can eat dates - but as with everything - in moderation.

    Onions and similar foods.
    Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives all belong to the Allium species of plants and can cause toxicity, whether uncooked or cooked. Initially there can be vomiting and diarrhoea but the main effect is damage to red blood cells, resulting in anaemia. This may not be apparent for several days after ingestion.

    Christmas trees and plants.
    The pine needles from a Christmas tree can cause a mild tummy upset, but the bigger danger is that the sharp needles cause internal damage. Hoover up regularly.
    Poinsettia is popular at Christmas, but it can cause vomiting and irritation to the mouth and stomach.
    Holly, ivy and mistletoe can cause mild tummy upsets in dogs if eaten, but the bigger danger is from the berries. Keep well away from the American poison ivy and American mistletoe which can be dangerous.

    Decorations and wrapping paper.
    Generally these are of low toxicity to dogs, but can cause trouble and blockages if eaten in large amounts, so watch out for this obvious danger.
    Candles, although generally of low toxicity can cause choking and blockages.
    When eaten, potpourri can cause significant gastrointestinal effects in dogs. These effects may last several days even after the material has passed through.

    Dogs can have allergies.
    Of course dogs can have allergies, so please bear this in mind over the festive season. The most common allergens are beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, soy, pork, rabbit, and fish. Especially at Christmas some nuts can be added to that list. Most dogs are usually allergic to more than one thing, so be particularly vigilant during these times of indulgence.

    So what can I feed my dog at Christmas?
    Well, your local pet shop's shelves will be groaning under the weight of Christmas treats for your dog, so take full advantage of that!
    Obviously, you can feed some leftovers from your Christmas table - assuming your dog is not allergic to them, and these include :-
    Turkey meat (no skin or bones), Salmon (fillets or cooked in spring water are preferable to smoked salmon), Lamb meat (no bones), Scrambled egg, Green beans, Brussel sprouts, Parsnips, Carrots, Peas, Swede, Mash potato (best without additional butter), New potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Yogurt (but check the ingredients and don’t feed if xylitol is listed as this is toxic to dogs).

    Give your dog a safe refuge!
    All the excitement may get a bit much for your dog, especially if your house is full of visitors and merriment.
    Make sure your dog has somewhere safe and quiet to retreat to, whether it be a bed, and open dog crate or a quiet room.
    Provide familiar toys and chews. Not everyone may enjoy the novelty of Christmas as much as you, and we all enjoy 40 winks at times.

    Acknowledgements.
    This is not a veterinary website, and all recommendations are given in good faith. Please check with your vet if you are concerned about any aspect.
    Much of the above information is drawn from the recommendations of the Blue Cross animal charity, and we recommend that you go to their website, check with the Kennel Club by clicking HERE, or 'Google' dogs at christmas to get more information.
    Have a great Christmas and New Year with your dog.

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  2. When is it wrong to crate a dog?

    When is it wrong to crate a dog?

    Introduction.

    It's probably obvious that we are big lovers of dog crates, and can list a LOT of reasons why you should use one - just read our blogs for starters!
    Yet the responsible owner should know what to look out for on the occasions when crating may not be the best thing to do.
    So, when should you consider not crating your dog? Read on!

    Never leave a dog crated if it suffers from separation anxiety.

    Most dogs love their crate, and want to be in it. But some dogs get extremely distressed when left alone - this is separation anxiety. If your dog suffers from this then crating can make things worse, so never do it.
    A really distressed dog may attack the crate, and consequently damage itself - teeth, claws, mouth etc. as the panic gets worse. No-one wants that! And it's not the fault of the crate.
    Excessive barking, whining, chewing doors and visible distress are the things to look for. If your dog suffers, then don't leave it in the crate to teach it a lesson and to get used to the idea - embark on crate training and ask the advice of your vet or local animal behaviourist or trainer. Separation anxiety is horrible - and can be dangerous.

    Sound crate training is essential - see our basic crate training hints by clicking on the box.

    Never leave your dog crated for longer than it can hold its bladder.

    We would have hoped that this is such a basic point that it doesn't need making. Sadly this does happen.
    A dog's basic instinct is to keep its bed clean, so if a dog is crated for such a long period that it wets itself, then not only does it cause a mess, but it will probably make the dog anxious as it knows it shouldn't have done that.
    The length of time a dog can be crated does depend upon the dog's age and breed, so make sure you know about your dog's toilet habits and don't put it in this situation.
    It's just not fair.

    Don't let your crate be the reason your dog misses out.

    As mentioned above, there are physical reasons for not leaving your dog crated for long periods.
    But there are also psychological reasons. Whilst it may help you to leave your dog crated whilst you go about daily life, if this is the only reason for crating then this is not usually good for the dog. Dogs are sociable creatures and want to mix - they love being with people.
    Dogs also need to exercise - even if that just means walking around the room. So, whilst it is usually OK for a dog to be crated to satisfy the den instinct - this crating should be supervised and the crate should have an open door so the dog can choose for itself what it wants to do.
    Crates should add to the quality of life - not detract from it.

    The big no no - punishment.

    This is usually when a crate is mis-used and the owner just can't be bothered to look for a different way, as in "He's being a nuisance, I'll deal with him later, meanwhile - crate!!"
    This is just using the crate as a punishment, which is obviously wrong. The dog will see its crate as a bad place, rather than the good place it really is. If a crate is used as a punishment area, then it is quite natural that your dog will want to avoid the crate - and this is usually directly in opposition as to why the crate was bought in the first place.
    So, never, ever use the crate as a punishment.

    Conclusion.

    A dog crate is a wonderful addition to the canine household if it is used wisely.
    But in the wrong hands, or in the hands of a pre-occupied owner then the crate may inadvertently be a negative effect.
    We would hope that the points above are so obvious that they don't need making - but sadly sometimes they do.
    So use your crate often - but use it wisely. If in doubt then consult your vet or local dog trainer.
    Make sure your crate is a friend to you and your precious dog.

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  3. The 5 most common reasons for using a dog crate.

    The 5 most common reasons for using a dog crate.

    Introduction to Dog Crates

    Dog crates, or dog cages as they are sometimes called are basically used for security and to enhance the safety of the dog.
    If used correctly they are never cruel, and any negative thoughts about crating invariably stem from the human perspective and a human horror of being caged.
    Dogs in general love their crate! They see things differently. 
    Dog crates have many uses and here we explore the five more common reasons for crating.

    Use for training.

    All dogs - and especially puppies - need a certain amount of training and crates can help to train your dog to be left alone for short periods and are also often found to be a great help in toilet training.
    In fact a dog crate is often the training tool most recommended by dog trainers and vets. Without doubt a crate helps to build and maintain a bond between you and your dog.
    But first, the dog or puppy must be trained to actually use the crate and we have a lot of helpful tips on this site to assist.
    You may find the button links below a help in your training regime. Every moment spent on crate training is time well spent.


    Crates used as a dog den

    Use as a den or safe place - not a "sin bin"

    Dogs are, by nature, "den" animals and have a natural tendency to seek out a safe place. This allows them to relax in their own secure environment using the crate as protection. Correctly trained dogs have a positive association with their crate and will quite happily walk in and out of it. They will also be quite happy to be left alone in the crate as they will be happy there.
    But this all comes down to the training. Crates must never be used as a punishment or to prevent unwanted behaviour. If your dog or puppy's behaviour does give you cause for concern and you feel that the training tips on this site are not quite enough for you, then see your vet or breeder who if they are not able to help will be happy to point you towards an expert professional dog behaviourist, and this usually does the trick!
    Do not use the crate as a "sin bin" - this will help no-one. The crate should be a safe haven not a place of punishment. 

    Use for short term confinement.

    Inevitably there will be times when you have to leave your dog or puppy alone in its crate, and this is when you will reap the benefit of the training you have done as if your dog feels insecure it may suffer from separation anxiety and may even attack the crate. A dog which has a relaxed and confident attitude in relation to the crate will not do this. Always try to leave some distraction for your dog - perhaps the radio playing in the background and some toys inside the crate. Here we usually find the 'Kong' treat toys or the 'Lickimat' range to be helpful, giving your dog distraction as it finds and enjoys tasty treats.
    There are many situations when you need to leave your dog such as popping out to the shop or to visit a friend or any other reason, including if you are staying away from home in a hotel or b&b, or if you show your dog at local open or championship dog shows. Whatever the reason, your crate is there to help.

    Use following illness - or your Vet says so.

    When we are ill or feeling under the weather we often take to our bed as a comforting and comfortable place to be. Your dog is no different!
    And if your dog is unfortunate enough to have had surgery, or is recovering from an accident which may have broken bones, your vet may prescribe a period of crate rest. This period of rest may go on for a considerable time - sometimes weeks or months - a time when your crate becomes ever more valuable. The whole subject of crate rest is explored in more detail in another of our blogs. Just follow the button link to read up on this important topic if you are unfortunate enough to need to.

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    Use in the car or when travelling.

    The Highway Code leaves no doubt that dogs should be restricted whilst travelling in a car, and the owner may be prosecuted if this is not done! Dogs should not distract the attention of the driver and should not be placed in a position to injure themselves or you should you stop quickly or have an accident.
    There are several ways you can operate this restraint including a seat belt harness, but many believe - as we do - that the best way of protecting yourself and your dog is by the use of a dog crate or dog guard.
    This may be achieved by using a standard rectangular dog crate, but there are available shaped crates to fit more snugly inside your car. A more expensive option, but one which is probably worth every penny, can be found in our range of crash tested car crates which offer that extra degree of safety. These are available in many sizes, all of which can expand to make better use of the space available. For the very small dog a crash tested crate which sits on the car seat and restrained using the seatbelt is available.
    We cannot recommend crash tested crates enough, and you can see the range by clicking on the button below. On these pages you will also see our handy crate finder which shows which crate fits in which car.

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    A further option is to fit a dog guard behind the back seats together with a tailgate guard which includes an entry door.
    Again we would recommend the crash tested versions - follow the link below.

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  4. Keep your crate

    Keep that crate - your dog loves it

    My dog's now an adult - does it still need crating?

    Yes!
    On second thoughts - Yes!
    dogs love their crate.
    So, you have been very wise and bought a crate for your puppy, and it worked a treat! Your grown up puppy is now house trained and perfectly at home in its crate.
    So well behaved is your (now adult) dog around the house that it is now allowed to wander freely around the house and enclosed garden. You may never take your dog to dog shows where crating is all but essential, so why keep the crate? Why not sell it and get a bit of money back?
    Where do we begin to answer these very common questions?

    Do dogs like their crate?

    Generally speaking us humans like space - the bigger the better. We like big homes. We like big gardens. We don't want to feel enclosed, or trapped.
    But dogs are different. They are denning animals. Whilst, of course, they like the outdoors and love to run or play ball, the very same dog will find a den to relax and feel safe in - whether it is under a chair, behind a settee, under the stairs, or wherever. If a crate is available then your dog would not be unusual if it made straight for the crate and settled down, feeling safe. Our dogs certainly do this!
    Many animal behaviourists advocate the use of crates throughout a dog's life for this very reason, and also recommend that the crate is covered - preferably with a purpose made crate cover - to enhance the den feeling and encourage crate use.

    That's OK - but what other reasons are there to keep my crate?

    Travel for one!
    The Highway Code is quite clear that dogs should be controlled in a car - and what better way to do that than in a crate?
    dogs love to travel safely in a crate.
    There will undoubtedly be times when you have to visit the vet and travel there by car. This is precisely the sort of time when you want your dog to be safe and to feel safe. Your crate is the answer!
    Or you may go on holiday, or away for the weekend and need to feel confident that your dog is protected.
    Or you may go to a camp site, a B&B or hotel where dogs are only accepted if they are kept under close control at all times. Again, your crate is the answer!
    When your dog is poorly, just like us it will need a bit of peace and quiet; time to itself. Once again your crate is a safe haven.
    And, of course, your dog loves the crate as the very special place a dog can truly call home. It can be used when you pop out of the house - although not for too long (see previous blog) and when you go to bed.
    Crates should never be a negative experience - they should bring stress free living to your dog and help it to be happy!
    So, keep that crate - you will be glad you did!

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  5. Dog Crate Questions

    Dog Crate Questions

    Buying a dog crate?
    Ask yourself these questions and get it right first time!

    Your choice of a dog crate is important. It's easy to snap up the first crate you see or to buy purely on price (as they say .... buy cheap, buy twice), but it's harder to make sure you get it right first time.
    So here are a few questions to ask yourself before buying a crate.

    1. How big is your dog - or how big will it get?

    This is the basic question, and is one which many get wrong!
    A dog should be able to stand up, turn around and lie down in the crate. It is not always necessary that the dog should have enough crate headroom to fully raise the head, but every crate should allow the dog to stand with fully straightened legs, and lie down in the favoured position.
    Our many years of experience have helped us compile a DOG CRATE SIZE GUIDE BY BREED which you may find helpful. Just CLICK on the link to find what size you need for your breed.

    2. What will you use the dog crate for?

    Will you use the crate solely for travelling? Or will you just use it at shows?
    Then again you may use it in the home as an aid to training, or you may use it as a bed or daytime den. Or another use entirely?
    If your dog is not entirely happy within a crate, or if it is still a puppy then a soft sides crate is probably not for you. Although a crate trained dog is often happier in a soft crate as it creates the 'den effect' which animal behaviourists love as it is (more or less) enclosed all around.
    If a soft crate is not for you then consider a wire dog crate - and these are available in a variety of designs and strengths. The Croft Alpine is undoubtedly the lightest Croft crate, and is vailable in most sizes with a choice of colour - black, pink, or blue.
    Stronger crates are available in either the Croft Showman range which has a metal floor tray, or the Crufts crates which have a plastic tray making the crate lighter to move and carry.
    All metal crates fold down for easy storage and carrying.
    If you are using a crate for travel, then any of the above are usually fine, but you should also consider shaped crates which may fit better inside your car.
    The "Rolls Royce" of travel crates is undoubtedly the Variocage crash tested crate which is available in a variety of sizes and may be used for one or two dogs.
    If you have a toy dog you may wish to consider the plastic CARE2 range which is designed to be used on the car seat and secured by the seat belt.

    3. Do you need more than one?

    It's a lot more common than you may think for a dog parent to own more than one crate. It is not unusual to have a crate in the bedroom for night-time, a crate down stairs for daytime and for those short periods when it is necessary to crate whilst you pop out, and another crate permanently in the car - especially if you have invested in a shaped crate or crash tested crate.
    By owning more than one crate you can save yourself a lot of work and give maximum flexibility. - Think about it!

    4. Will you want to fly with your dog?

    If you need a crate to use whilst you travel by aeroplane, then this opens up a whole new series of questions.
    You must first contact the airline and ask about their specific rules.
    Wire crates or fabric crates are seldom accepted as dogs have to be fully enclosed to avoid the possibility of touching other dogs - or airline employees!
    Water must be provided and door locking arrangements secure.
    Each airline has its own rules so it is virtually impossible to list all the requirements in this blog - you are far better speaking to the airline and asking for their favoured brand(s) of travel crate.

    dog crates and dog cages.

    5. How long to you plan leaving your dog in a crate?

    A dog should never be left in a crate longer than it can control its need for toileting. This has to be the absolute maximum - and really this should go without saying!
    If you are leaving your dog alone, please ask yourself -"Does my dog need to be crated, or is it safe to leave it in a safe controlled space - such as a kitchen with the room doors closed?"
    Consider combining this approach with leaving the doors to the crate open so that your dog can use the crate as a den (which it loves), but still be able to walk around.
    We are often asked for guidance on what is acceptable regarding dog crating, and as always - this depends upon the dog. Most adult dogs are ok to be crated for a few hours - say 4 or 5 hours, although some may be fine for longer. If you do leave your dog crated on a regular basis, then there may be a case for purchasing a crate with a larger floor area so that the dog can change positions - after all we all like to toss and turn in bed!
    Crating at night is slightly different and it may be that a slightly longer time is needed.
    Please make sure that, whatever the reason for crating, your dog has plenty of exercise and toilet opportunity before and after. Always ensure a supply of water (non spill bowls can be good here) and that safe toys are available. Some dogs may suffer from separation anxiety whether or not they are crated, so be aware of that. If this results in the dog chewing the mesh of the crate then there is an obvious danger there. Please seek the advice of your vet and/or a local animal behaviourist if you have any concern whatsoever.
    A dog crate can be a great help, but it should never be used as a substitute for responsible pet parenting! See also our advice on dog crate training.

    6. Will your dog be too hot / cold in the crate?

    When planning your crate purchase, if you are planning to use your crate in your home, then think about the best position. The crate should not be too far or too close to a heat source. Fires and electric leads should be well away from the crate.
    It may be that in order to shelter your dog from draughts a crate cover is necessary. In addition to draught protection a crate cover is helpful in providing the den effect so loved by dogs and animal behaviourists.

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  6. Crash Tested Car Crates

    Crash Tested Car Crates

    Why would you even consider a crash tested dog crate?

    Well, it depends on your view to car safety generally, but the Highway Code says a dog must be under control in a car whilst travelling, and ROSPA have a very graphic image which puts car safety for dogs and passengers most effectively. So your dog needs to be contained not only for the dog's safety, but also for your safety and that of your passengers.

    ROSPA advice on car travel for dogs.


    To learn more about crash tested crates - read on!

    To find out which crate is suitable for your car, click on the buttons below.

    What makes a crash tested car crate so different from a normal Croft crate?

    It's true that Croft have been manufacturing dog crates for 40 years with lots of other brands available, and it's also true that Croft crates have protected dogs in car accidents. But no matter how good these wire crates are, they have not been subjected to impact tests as they are simply not designed for a car crash. They cannot give you that peace of mind!
    So we have to look at what may happen in a crash, and what forces a crate has to withstand to give your dog maximum safety.
    Whilst crash testing does not make a crate crash-proof, it does mean that when you put your dog in a MiM Variocage car crate you have done everything you can do to look after your dog during travel.
    And every dog deserves that!
    Watch this video for more information.

    How are these crates actually tested?

    crash tested car crate

    Crash Test Report.


    (Note - Crash Tested - not crash proof!)

    MIM Construction AB has evaluated the dog crate Variocage in car crashes from the safety aspect of both the dog and passengers.

    Rear end collision

    Out of a variety of crashes the rear-end collision is a big threat to passenger safety. The luggage compartment is a part of the deformation zone around the passenger compartment that protects passengers in collisions. In a rear-end collision the rear-end is pushed forward by the hitting vehicle. Objects in the luggage compartment are then pushed forward. The amount of intrusion is limited by the stiffness of the car and the speed and energy of the hitting vehicle. A dog crate placed in the luggage compartment affects the balance of the system, and if the crate is too stiff the back of the rear seats will yield and collapse in a rear-end crash.
    When passengers occupy the rear seat the change of the deformation zone becomes dangerous if the back of the rear seat does not stop the dog crate. It is thus essential that the crate is constructed in a way that makes it collapse in a controlled way in severe rear-end crashes.
    The speed that was used in the rear-end crash test was 30 km/h. It is equal to at a stand still getting hit from behind by a car with the same weight as the hit car doing 55 km/h. Part of a Volvo V70 body was placed on a crash test sled. The crate was then placed in the luggage compartment against the seat back. Two 35-kg dog dummies were placed inside the crate. The crate was pushed forward during the crash by a plate big enough to hit the entire rear-end of the crate. 
    A Variocage XL dog crate for two dogs was tested. The loading of the seat back was moderate and no visible deformation of the seat structure could be found after the test.

    V70 crash test The plate enters the luggage compartment just a little bit above the floor and push the crate forward during the braking of the crash test sled.
    The crate was compressed about 150 mm after the test.
    No sharp edges dangerous to the dog could be found. Both gates could be opened.
    The emergency gate was not jammed and could be opened.

    Front end collision

    A frontal collision test was also performed. Two 35-kg dummies were placed in a Variocage XL for two dogs. The test speed was 50 km/h and the retardation was approximately 24 g, which corresponds to 2,5 tonnes of loading of the rear seat. The crate was slightly compressed by its own weight during the collision. No sharp edges were found. Both gates could be opened. The emergency gate was not jammed and could be opened. The front wall of the crate was deformed by the dummies during the crash test. That was positive as it took care of some of the energy during impact and it would have helped the dogs in a real crash. No deformation of the seats could be found. 

    Vehicle roll-over.

    The forces in a roll over are difficult to create in a controlled way in a crash lab. They are randomised and can come from any direction. The falling distance in a roll over is not very high and the crate is close to the centre of gravity. It is thus the impact from the falling that is interesting and easy to create. A Variocage XL single crate was tested in a drop test to see if the crate could handle forces in the corner of the gate. The crate was dropped from a height of 70 cm, which corresponds, to a speed change of 13,3 km/h when it hits the concrete floor. With the lower hinge corner of the crate facing down and a 45-kg dummy inside the impact of the crate is quite rough.
    The crate handled the impact well and did not open or crack in any other way that would be dangerous to the dog.

    crash testing showing crate on its side The Variocage crate after the drop test was resting on its side.

    The next video gives a little more information about the actual test.

    Impressed? We hope you are!
    There is a lot more information on the product page.
    Find out which crate is best for you by clicking on these buttons.
    Drive safely!

    If you are still unsure, or need any further information at all, please phone us on 01257 484200 or send an e mail by clicking on the button below.

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  7. 6 Summer safety tips for dogs.

    6 Summer safety tips for dogs.

    Are we to have a hot summer? Time will tell, but ...

    We like to think of summer as those hot balmy days with the sun beating down. And this year we are even told that we are going to be very warm with some forecasts mentioning a sizzling summer - we will see.
    However, if it does get hot there are certain things a dog owner should be aware of - so here are our top 6 tips.

    1. Make sure you provide shade, especially when using a dog crate.

    Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, think 'shade'. This applies everywhere - in the car, at a show, in the back garden, on the beach, in the park, everywhere. And don't forget to provide plenty of water in a suitable bowl. Here you may consider the non-spill bowls which are plastic so they don't absorb heat as much as stainless steel bowls, and also have a small lip to give a possible shadow over at least some of the water. As it happens, we sell these and you can find them HERE on our website. Place the water in a place which is likely to get maximum shade.
    In the garden you may be able to erect a sun umbrella - perhaps from your garden patio set? When you go out - do you use a dog crate? If so, this should be covered - at the very least with a towel but preferably with a purpose made crate cover which allows adequate ventilation. This is important because in a crate the dog cannot get up and walk away to find a cool place. Dog crate covers are easy to get from our site, and even include a shiny silvery cover which reflects the sun to a degree. Crate covers can be viewed HERE.
    dog crate covers and soft crates can provide shade
    And if we are wrong about the hot summer, the crate cover will give shelter from the rain!
    Or you may consider a soft crate which has fabric walls to keep the dog shaded whilst allowing plenty of air to circulate.

    2. Keep cool while lying down.

    An elevated bed is just the thing to keep your dog cool as it not only gives somewhere comfortable to lie, it ensures that air can circulate underneath the dog as well as all around, and this is a big help in keeping your dog cool. It also has the advantage of avoiding floor draughts. Click on the image to learn more.
    elevated camper dog beds in hot weather

    If it gets really hot, consider a cooling mat. Your dog will love it! Click on the image for further details.

    3. Adapt your walking routine to suit the weather, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion.

    Remember that dogs don't sweat (they pant) and therefore it is best to avoid mid-day and afternoon sun if you possibly can.
    Whilst the early or early-ish morning routine walk is probably OK, it may be best to change the time of your afternoon walk . Instead of taking the dog out before tea, why not wait until, say, seven o'clock when the heat has gone out of the day and it's a bit cooler. In this way you avoid physical and mental exhaustion for you both.
    The classic signs of heat exhaustion in a dog are excessive panting, being unable or unwilling to move around, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, diarrhoea, mental dullness, uncoordinated movement, and in extreme cases, collapse. If these signs appear, then head straight for the shade, provide cool water to drink, douse the dog in water, especially on the underside, paw pads and armpits and then get to a vet asap.

    4. If it's too hot to walk barefoot, it is too hot for your dog's paws.

    In a really hot summer the newspapers love stories about frying an egg on the pavement. This should be a warning that the pavements can get unbearably hot, so think about treating your dog to some footwear - search on Google or Amazon for 'dog booties' and you will see the choices available.
    Wherever possible choose your walks carefully to include grass or sandy paths, avoid the excess heat and check your dog's paws for injury or abrasions.

    5. If you have a big garden, section off a cooler area.

    This may be under trees, by a hedge or in the shadow of your house and in this way you will control your dog's movement whilst allowing freedom.
    outdoor play pens for dogs
    We have a great range of outdoor panels which can be used to segregate your garden to give a cooler experience for your dog.
    Click on the image above for details or read an earlier blog HERE.

    6. Haircut, sunscreen, fleas and ticks?

    It may be that a shorter cut would be welcomed by your dog in hot weather, so think about this if you don't have to consider showing your dog when certain grooming standards are essential, although in double coated dogs shaving can make matters worse. Also some breeds such as GSDs, Retrievers etc have coats which adapt to hot and cold weather. A short back and sides MAY be something to think about, but discuss it with your groomer or breeder first.
    Dogs can get sunburn too, especially on noses, ears, bellies etc, but human sunscreen is rarely if ever suitable as it contains substances which can be really harmful to a dog, so make sure you use a dog-safe sunscreen. Again, search on Google or Amazon and you are sure to find what you are looking for.
    Fleas and ticks can be a big hazard in warm weather, so take precautions as they can carry harmful diseases. Invest in a specialised treatment before your dog goes out, and remember, if your dog is bitten by a tick, don't just pull it out, use a proper tool under instruction, or see a vet as hasty removal of a tick can leave the head in and cause problems. Never 'dig around' to remove the last bits of the tick, and apply antiseptic cream if necessary.


    But don't let these 6 warnings spoil your summer with your dog - enjoy the good weather!

    This is part of a series of blogs about dog crates. If you want us to write about any aspect of dog crates or playpens then please contact us using the link below, and ask. If we can help, we will.

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  8. Use dog crates for car seats - safely!

    Use dog crates for car seats - safely!

    Now your dog can safely travel on the car seat in a crash tested dog crate!

    Until now, it was never recommended that dog crates be used directly on the back seat of a car, as it has always been difficult to ensure they are safely strapped in. Dog crates are OK behind the back seats where it is more difficult for them to become a projectile.
    Now we have a brand new product which fits snugly onto the car seat, and has built-in contact points for the standard car seat belt. To date this crate is only available for toy dogs or cats, but that may change!
    We currently have two sizes of Care dog crates, with the sizes varying by width. You can view these crates by clicking on the link button below, but read on to learn more!

    A dog car crate for use in and out of the car!

    These pet carriers are virtually crush proof in most road accidents, and being crash tested they offer a safe place for your dog or cat to travel within the car, or to be carried outside the car. Easily to carry this dog crate

    Where the crate is to be used within the car, it should be secured using the car's seat belts.
    Each crate has moulded fixing points for the seat belt to pass through, so it remains a safe place for your pet!

    car seat dog crates should be secured with the seat belt

    The main safety points.

    • Two doors (front and back) make it easy to reach your pet in almost any circumstance.
    • The doors are reinforced, and designed not to open in the event of an accident.
    • These car crates are tested to the same exacting standards as those imposed on baby car seats.
    • Each dog crate is fitted with an integral thermometer so it is easy to see if your dog is comfortable.
    • Designed for pets up to 9kg.

    This is part of a series of blogs about dog crates. If you want us to write about any aspect of dog crates or playpens then please contact us using the link below, and ask. If we can help, we will.

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  9. Where should your dog sleep?

    Where should your dog sleep?

    Question:- 'Where should dogs sleep?'
    Answer:- 'It depends on the dog, his age, behaviour, training and of course your own preference.'
    So let's have a look at the alternatives, some of which are - in a dog bed; on the floor; on furniture; in a crate; sharing your bed or free roam to do whatever it wants.

    Would you let your dog share your own bed?

    Firstly, if you have a partner, are you both happy with this sleeping arrangement, as it may prove none too easy to change?
    If your dog moults, your bed is going to get a bit hairy, and those hairs will probably transfer to your clothing. You may also breathe them in when you sleep which may not be too healthy. But none of that may not worry you.
    Some animal behaviourists are against sharing a bed with your dog as they look on dogs as a pack animal and so have a natural tendency to be 'top dog' They will therefore try to take over the bed by shoving you out of the way. Others say this is nonsense - the dog just wants to cuddle up and get warm. dog sleeping on the bed with its owner.
    However, if you are a light sleeper you will soon notice that a dog generally does not close its eyes and then never move until the morning - they do move, they do jump on and off the bed, pant, roll over and all the things that we do (perhaps we don't pant quite so much!).
    But if your dog is well behaved and a good sleeper then you may love its company and enjoy the sleeping arrangement. You may want to train your dog to sleep alongside you, rather than on your head or your feet - you want to move around as well!
    If your dog spends the night jumping on and off the bed, or if it is not house trained, then sleeping in your bed may not be ideal. Perhaps he should have a crate or a pen.

    A crate or playpen can give security and safety.

    You would probably expect us to extol the virtues of a crate or playpen, but they are very good!
    Especially if you have a puppy which is still in the housetraining stage then a dog crate or puppy playpen can be a great help.
    Older dogs also love their crate as a special safe and secure place as dogs are basically den animals, and the crate becomes their safe den!
    dogs love a dog crate - it is their own special place.
    You will probably find that if you leave the crate doors open then your dog will come and go as it pleases, but it will spend a lot of time in the crate by choice. 
    At nightime you may or may not want to put the crate in your bedroom - especially if you don't allow your dog to sleep on the bed - as then you both can have an undisturbed night's sleep in a comfortable place.

    Of course, your dog can have its own bed or basket.

    There are so many beds to choose from that finding the right bed for you should not be too much of a problem. Watch your dog as it sleeps - does it curl up, stretch out, prefer a head rest, or does it lie on its back with its paws in the air? See which position it favours, and choose the bed with that in mind.
    dog fast asleep in comfortable dog bed.
    If your dog is the outdoor type and continually muddy, then think of a waterproof bed which can easily be hosed down and cleaned.
    Or of course there is the tried and trusted wicker dog basket, and also a camper bed which will keep your dog away from a draughty floor.
    dog baskets and camper beds are great dog beds.
    A bed is a very important choice. We all know how good it feels to get a good night's sleep, so choose carefully.

    Or just give your dog the freedom of the house at night!

    Be careful if you choose this option, and ask if your dog is well trained, well behaved, mature, housetrained and not likely to get into trouble or mischief. What dangers are there in your house for an unsupervised dog? Check the risks.
    dog asleep on furniture.
    Are you happy if your dog sleeps on the furniture? If so, no problem - the dog will be comfortable. Of course it may prefer to sleep on the floor, or on a blanket or vetbed on the floor - or all of these.


    dogs and cats sharing a bed

    If there is more than one pet in the household, they may want to share - are you happy with that? We are sure you are!

    And then of course there is the Vetbed 'family'


    Vetbeds are recommended by Vets.

    Vetbeds are a top of the range dog bedding recommended by vets. They are great because they fit into almost any sleeping arrangement. They can be purchased cut to size to fit into a dog crate, or you can buy a piece cut from a roll to the length you need. Vetbeds can be used anywhere - inside a dog bed or basket for that extra bit of luxury; just on the floor so your dog can lie out; or even on your bed to protect your sheets and duvet, Available in a huge variety of sizes, colours and patterns. Check this site for details.
    Then, of course, there is the tried and trusted Flectabed. This is a range of dog bedding filled with a refglective material which reflects the dog's own body heat, and so keeps your dog nice and warm. Again it can be used with standard dog beds, dog crates etc. We have used it for years with our scotties and can swear by it.
    Posturepal is a specialist bedding which can be used wherever your dog sleeps. It is an orthopaedic bedding which again can be used whichever sleeping arrangement you have chosen. So if your dog is old, stiff, or has special needs - check it out on our site.

    It's your decision.

    Where your dog sleeps is ultimately up to you. Think about all of the points above and consider the hazards - remember that you will be asleep so not in close control. You probably don't want your dog to rummage around the waste bin, or jump up on working surfaces to eat whatever food is there, so choose carefully. A dog bed within a dog crate or playpen may be a great choice - but every dog and home is different.
    Here's to a good night's sleep for all!

    Stock photos courtesy of Dreamstime.com.

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  10. Garden Play Areas for Dogs

    Garden Play Areas for Dogs

    Summertime - and the living is easy.

    Throughout the year, and especially in the good weather, your dog will enjoy being outside in the garden, so you need to know that even when you are not looking the dog cannot get into trouble!
    This can be done by choosing either good strong dog-proof perimeter garden fencing, or by choosing an enclosed run of the correct height and design. How to choose the correct height will depend upon the breed of dog as well as it's characteristics. What size is the dog? Does it jump? Does it climb? Is there anything else you should consider such as are there any dangers in the garden such as ponds, and will a dog running freely damage itself or your plants, or might it have a tendency to eat things it shouldn't such as the family's vegetable plot or dog toxic plants?
    More and more owners are choosing a high quality outdoor pen which will not rust to keep their dog safe and happy.

    Your Play Pen Choices.

    Although it is obviously possible to simply carry a foldaway dog crate outside which will contain the dog, a dog crate may not give the space to lie down and walk around. Crates certainly have their uses, but if a garden play area is needed then purpose made panels are the answer.
    Here at Croft we have two such products - The Discovery range which is made up of individual hook together panels, either with or without a gate, and has height alternatives of 3ft and 4ft (90cm or 120cm), or the bolt together kennel run panels which are 6ft high. Where the dog's size, breed and temperament are suitable the most popular choice is the hook together Discovery range as this can quickly be adapted in size and shape, as well as being really easy to erect and dismantle.
    Because it is hot dip galvanised (coated in zinc so it will not rust) this outdoor playpen system is strongly made using 25mm square tubing and a welded mesh infill with 2" - 50mm - squares. This makes it ideal for most applications and your dog will love the freedom an outdoor play pen gives.
    Owners love this system as it lasts for years and gives confidence.
    The kennel run panels are made of similar materials although the mesh is made from thicker wire and are slightly more difficult to erect or dismantle as they bolt together, but do have the advantage of being much taller, standing at 6ft (180cm) in height.
    Whichever your choice of pen, your dog will be grateful, but don't forget to leave sufficient water at all time. Often this is best served in bowls which clamp to the mesh to reduce the possibility of spills, and again such bowls can be seen on this site. You may even want to include a covered kennel within the run to protect from rain or excessive shine - this would make it a real home from home!
    Galvanised pens such as these are gaining in popularity all the time - and deservedly so!

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