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Using Litter Trays


There’s a number of reasons that your cat might not be using their cat litter trays – any reason from not being the correct litter, the litter tray itself or maybe even a medical condition.  It’s infuriating to have your cat not use their tray and luckily it can be easy to remedy this problem once the problem has been identified.


Like humans, cats don’t like to be disturbed when doing their business so it’s best that the tray itself is placed out of the way so  they can have their privacy. If it’s not possible to have the tray in a quiet corner then a hooded litter tray is a better idea than a bog standard tray, but the lid should be removed otherwise the tray will harbour smells giving your cat an unpleasant experience making them less likely to use it. Some cats also don’t like the lid touching them when leaving/entering their litter tray, so removing the lid could also provide a solution. Not only do cats prefer to have their litter trays away from busy areas, they also don’t like their trays near their food and water. In some instances, moving the litter tray is enough of a solution to get your cat to use their tray.


The litter tray should be atleast 1.5 to 2 times longer than the length of your cat – this allows space to turn in the tray, as well as dig – and the litter should be around 2 cm to 4 cm deep. The tray should also be around the cats chest height when they’re sitting to provide the privacy they want to do their business. The height of the tray can cause problems for kittens and senior cats when getting in and out of the tray, so in this instance a tray with a lower side should be available for easier access.



Cats in the wild have evolved to use soft and fine sand-like substrates, so it makes sense that your pet cat would also prefer this. Some cats don’t use their litter trays as the litter itself is too hard on their paws and applies too much pressure on them when they’re trying to do their business, so using a finer and softer litter can be a solution for this.

Cats are also likely to favour the litter they used as kittens, so switching back to that litter could also provide a solution. Not only do cats only like some litters, they normally prefer non-scented litters – to some owners dismay. The fragrance unfortunately isn’t for your cats benefit and so they don’t often enjoy them as they smell them more strongly than their human counterpart, therefore they should just be avoided. Some cats also don’t like clumping litters as they’re unable to cover what they have done.


Cats are fastidious creatures and won’t use dirty litter trays – just like how we prefer not to use dirty toilets – making it important that their litter trays are regularly cleaned. All deposits should be removed once or twice a day, replacing any soiled litter with fresh litter, and the entire tray should be cleaned out atleast once a week. Care should be taken to not over-clean the tray using harsh smelling cleaning products. Instead, use a litter tray specific disinfectant and wipe any excess off the tray.

Team Shanklinpets


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Unhealthy vs. Healthy Dog Treats


There’s a lot of speculation surrounding dog food and what is and isn’t healthy for them – so why isn’t it applied to dog treats also? Dog treats can substitute up to 10% of your dog’s daily calorie intake once they’re older than 6 months, therefore it makes sense that you buy healthy dog treats as its a substantial part of your dog’s diet. We recommend that puppies under 6 months shouldn’t be fed treats as their stomachs are still delicate and instead should be fed their kibble itself as a treat.

Ingredients to Avoid in Dog Treats

  • Grain

Like with dog food, it’s recommended that dog treats that contain grain should be avoided – or at the very least low-quality grains – to avoid any allergic reactions and/or yeast infections that grain can cause.

  • Artificial Colours

Artificial colours are more for the benefit of the owner than for the dog, with the different colours giving a variety to look at. Unfortunately, dogs don’t care what their food looks like as long as it tastes nice. This makes artificial colours an unnecessary chemical in their treats.

  • Artificial Preservatives

Artificial preservatives can be quite harmful for your dog so you should avoid treats containing the ingredients BHA, BHT, Sodium Nitrate, Calcium Propionate – amongst others. More natural preservatives include Vitamin C and E, sometimes referred to as ‘mixed-tocopherols’.

Healthy Dog Treats

There’s a range of dog treats that can be classed as healthy and finding what’s best for your dog can take a bit of trial and error. Dog treats should be similar to the diet your dog has, or even the kibble normally fed if you’re not trying to motivate your dog into doing something special, anything too different can completely imbalance their diet so try and keep it similar.

A selection of healthy dog treat brands include:

Some of the flavours available include both Chicken and Duck Breast fillets, as well as Venison Strips. These contain no artificial additives, preservatives, colourings or flavourings and also contains Vitamin E instead.

A range of healthy Fish Treats – such as Sea Biscuits and Sea Jerky – that contain no artificial colours or preservatives and is also a good sources of Omega for your dog.

This range includes Kangaroo, Goat and Wild Boar Strips, with each of them made up to be purely meat.

These are a meat-free healthy treat made up of potato and vegetables and are also grain-free.


Team Shanklinpets

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For the whole of January shanklin pet stores is giving all of its isle of wight customers 20% off their on line orders, simply enter coupon code ( vatfree ) and get 20% off your order when you spend over £35 , this means all orders will be VAT FREE all month, this is an online offer only for the isle of wight, minimum spend applies  please read t&c’s below for more details.


T&C’s, this is an online only offer, offer ends 31/1/2021, this is an isle of wight offer only and excludes mainland uk, coupon can only be used once per customer, shanklin pet stores has the right to change this offer and its t&c’s at anytime, shanklin pet stores holds the right to cancel any orders, website t&c’s also apply to this offer, this offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer, minimum spend £35, When you place an order with us it will be deemed that you have read, understood and agreed to these Terms & Conditions, If you are unhappy with any part of these terms and conditions, you should contact us before placing an order tel; (01983)863546 email;

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Guinea Pigs and Rabbits: Can They Eat Each Others Food?

Although Guinea Pigs and Rabbits are apart of different species, it’s not uncommon to see a food advertising that it is suitable for both Rabbits and Guinea Pigs. However, there’s small differences between the two animals that can cause fatalities if they eat one another’s food long-term.

What makes Guinea Pigs and Rabbits so different?

Rabbits can synthesise vitamin C so don’t need the supplements added to their diet as an excess of the vitamin within their diets can cause serious kidney damage. On the other hand, Guinea Pigs – like Humans – are unable to synthesise vitamin C themselves so need to consume additional food with the vitamin to prevent problems starting for them, like scurvy. This highlights the importance of making sure Guinea Pigs and Rabbits aren’t fed one another’s food.

Symptoms for scurvy include:

  • Weak and lack of energy
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Diarrhoea
  • Bleeding gums
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rough hair coat

What should Guinea Pigs eat?

Guinea Pig’s digestive tract is designed to process and digest large amounts of fibre, therefore Hay and/or Straw should make up the majority of a Guinea Pig’s diet and should be in an unlimited supply for the animal. In addition to this, ⅛ of a cup of Guinea Pig pellets – that has a minimum of 18% crude fibre – should be fed with added fresh vegetables as a supplement. About 1 cup of vegetables can be fed every day per Guinea Pig – this should be leafy greens or fresh vegetables with carrots, zucchini or sweet potato added once or twice a week. Due to the high levels of sugar in fruit, fruit should only be fed once or twice a week as a treat or in smaller pieces daily to try and prevent the overgrowth of ‘bad’ bacteria.

Vegetables and leafy greens that can be fed include:

  • Mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Parsley
  • Bell peppers
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Clover and dandelions
  • Cellery

Team Shanklinpets


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Christmas Opening Hours 2020/21


Thank you for your continuous support throughout the year, its been a tough and random year and we hope everyone has kept safe

Our online shop will close on Thursday 17th of December and not reopen until Friday 1st of January so please make sure you stock up plenty of food and necessities for the Christmas break! You can still order on the phone for INSTORE items until wednesday 23rd of December

Christmas Opening Hours:

Day Status Hours
Monday 21st OPEN 9am-4pm
Tuesday 22nd OPEN 9am-4pm
Wednesday 23rd OPEN 9am-4pm
Thursday 24th OPEN 9am-4pm
Friday 25th CLOSED
Saturday 26th CLOSED
Sunday 27th CLOSED
Monday 28th CLOSED
Tuesday 29th CLOSED
Wednesday 30th CLOSED
Thursday 31st CLOSED
Friday 1st CLOSED
Saturday 2nd CLOSED
Sunday 3rd CLOSED
Monday 4th CLOSED
Tuesday 5th OPEN 9am-4pm
Wednesday 6th OPEN 9am-4pm
Thursday 7th OPEN 9am-4pm
Friday 8th OPEN 9am-4pm
Saturday 8th OPEN 10am-2pm

Stay tuned to our Facebook page and YouTube channel for updates throughout the Christmas Period or contact us in-store. Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Team Shanklinpets

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Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters


Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters

The most common household hamsters are the Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters. Dwarf is an umbrella term to cover Phodopus RoborovskiPhodopus Sungorus and Phodopus Campbelli – and are normally looked after in the same way as Syrian Hamsters, regardless of being different species.

Syrian Hamsters


Syrian Hamsters can also been known as Golden Hamsters or Black Bear Hamsters, depending on their fur. Whilst these hamsters can be friendly with their owners, it’s best that they’re kept by themselves as they’re aggressive when kept with other hamsters and will try and violently kill one another. Syrian Hamsters live in hot, arid conditions in the wild so their home should be dry and draught-free, as well as comfortable. They’re also active so will need a big cage – preferably with a deep tray and multiple floors with wired walls and different toys/objects to keep them occupied – this will allow them the chance to use up their energy through digging, climbing and exploring in general.

Unlike other small animals, hamsters can’t have straw in their cage as the straw can damage the pouches of the hamster’s mouth. However, good-quality hay can still be used as bedding, as well as cardboard and shredded paper. Dust-free wood shavings should also still be in the cage like other small animals as this can be used for digging as well as for litter, with coarse sand being another alternative litter option. Hamsters also live in deep burrows underground, this means that they should have access to a shelter of a kind that has limited light reach it. A shelter is important as it’s somewhere dark, safe and warm that a hamster can retreat to whilst also being close to their food source.

Dwarf Hamsters


Whilst there are some similarities between Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters – such as the conditions they like to live in – there are different factors that has to be considered for Dwarf Hamsters. Where Dwarf Hamsters are much smaller than Syrian Hamsters they can escape must more easily from poorly constructed cages or cages that are too big. Dwarf Hamsters are able to squeeze in between the bars of a normal cage so cages with much more narrow gaps between the bars are needed to stop the hamster from escaping. Equally, a plastic cage could be used but it doesn’t have as good ventilation compared to a wired cage and limits the climbing and exploring that the hamster can do.

Another key difference is the different nutritional requirements and preferences between Syrian and Dwarf Hamsters. Most foods are catered for Syrian Hamsters so lack foods such as mealworms and small millet that Dwarfs love but Syrians tend to ignore. Fresh, washed raw fruit and vegetables can also be provided as a supplement/treat but it’s important not to go overboard in case they go rotten in the cage.

Life threatening foods include, but isn’t limited to:

  • Avocados
  • Apple seeds
  • Almonds 
  • Onion
  • Peppers
  • All citrus fruits
  • Chocolate
  • Beans
  • Raw potato

Team Shanklinpets


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What Can Degu’s Eat?

How Do You Care For A Degu?


Degu are sociable animals that live in groups of up to 100 and are native to the plains and mountains of Chile – therefore a part of a wild Degu’s diet is made up of the natural vegetation found in these places. They also like to live in temperatures below 20°c with plenty of space to exercise to remain stress-free. Degu also need a sand bath available to clean in daily and after handling or a digging box with a mixture of sand and soil to keep a Degu occupied.

What Should Degu be Fed?

Like some other small animals, Degu are unable to regulate sugar levels in their blood as effectively as other animals. This means that care has to be taken for Degu not to be fed food high in sugars to avoid health complications and a healthy balanced diet should be maintained. They also can’t be fed food rich in protein as it causes them to drink more water and therefore damage their kidneys.

Degu should be fed grass hay and should also be available at all times to keep their digestive system and teeth healthy, with alfalfa hay also given as the occasional treat due to its high levels of protein and calcium. Fresh vegetables should be fed in a variety to meet the range of nutrients and vitamins that Degu need, however some can only be fed once a month due to their high sugar content – such as carrots, sweet potatoes and cucumber. Degu should be fed other vegetables also that can be fed more often (about once a week) but still not daily due to their sugar content; this includes pumpkin, red and green peppers and radish.

Alongside these foods, hard feed should also be fed once a day to guarantee that all nutrient requirements are met. Foods that contain a 2:1 ratio of Calcium : Phosphorus are safe for Degu to eat despite not necessarily being labelled as Degu food. The ratio is important to maintain teeth and bone health.

These foods include:

Team Shanklinpets


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Worms in Cats and Dogs

Worms in Cats and Dogs


The most common worms in both Cats and Dogs are the roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms – with only the roundworms and tapeworms visible by eye. The symptoms for these worms can include diarrhoea with blood, weight loss, dry hair, vomiting (maybe with worms) and a general poor appearance.


Roundworms can be gained in a number of ways. This includes the worm being transferred to a puppy or a kitten through the mother’s milk or straight from the uterus through tissues whilst they are pregnant. Animals can also get them from eating egg-bearing stool.

Female roundworms can produce up to 200,000 eggs in one day that have the ability to exist for years in soil due to their hard shell. If left untreated a severe infestation can cause death by intestinal blockage. Roundworms cause potbellies and poor growth for puppies and kittens


Tapeworms are transmitted to dogs and cats that ingest fleas or hunt and eat wildlife and/or rodents infested with tapeworms or fleas. These worms can grow from 4 to 6 inches in length in the intestines and can be seen attached to fur under pet’s tail or around the anus.

How do you treat worms?

Almost all wormers work only on adult worms in cats and dogs in the intestinal tract, therefore they wouldn’t be 100% effective as they don’t kill larvae. Also, not all worms respond to the same treatment and no single wormer works against all kinds of parasites. Worms can be prevented by regular flea treatment on a dog or on a cat as worms can be transmitted via fleas. However, if a problem is noticed a trip to the vets is recommended to try and get medication strong enough to kill both adult and larvae worms.

Team Shanklinpets


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Cereals in Dog Food



What are cereals in dog food?

Cereals found in Dog Food can include Wheat, Rice, Oats, Barley, and other cereals. Some popular Dog Foods are made up by around 70% cereal, which  makes the recipe incredibly vague and makes the recipe liable to being contaminated by Aflatoxin and Mycotoxins alike. As the type of cereal isn’t specified, the grain source is also able to change between batches. Whilst the term can encompass high quality grains, it’s safer to assume the worst and avoid food with the term ‘Cereal’.

Some Mycotoxins, such as Aflatoxin, are already in certain crops – such as Corn, Wheat, Barley, Rye – before going into production and are then scanned to try and prevent the mycotoxins from going into the dog food being produced. Despite this, it makes dog foods high in cereal more likely to contain these toxins, so low levels of cereals or none at all within dog food is best.

Cereals supply a slow-releasing digestible energy to dogs, and can be close to 100% digestible in cases such as cooked Starch. Uncooked Starch on the other hand is largely indigestible to pets and would pass straight through your dog, which highlights the importance of having or not having certain cereals in a dog’s diet cooked in a certain way. This is due to the complex nature of uncooked Starch not being able to be broken down completely due to dogs having less Amylase compared to herbivores, so it therefore cannot be fully broken down and absorbed in the digestive tract. This means that the unbroken Starch has to pass through the digestive system in the form of a loose stool.

What is a good alternative dog food?

Grain-free Dog Food cut out the cereals, and normally gluten too, in pet food and are normally hypoallergenic so is a good alternative for Dogs with allergies that have symptoms ranging from upset stomachs to itchy and flaky skin. Cereals within Dog Food have been linked to causing allergies to grain, therefore causing an increased production of grain-free food to meet demands. Most grain-free foods also contain more higher-quality protein and more digestible fats with less carbohydrates – meaning that Grain-free foods are able to control and maintain your dog’s weight better than a normal dog food.

Cereals are not an essential nutrient or ingredient for dogs either, they can just be metabolised fairly easily. Avoiding foods with the term ‘Cereal’ wouldn’t harm your dog – if anything, it would result in needing to feed your dog less, meaning you’d need to buy food less often. It would also mean that a Dog’s stool would be more firm and would be passed less frequently – which is always a benefit to Dog Owners. However, grain-free food is normally more expensive as the cost needs to include more expensive and better-sourced ingredients as well as an alternative energy source, but Dogs do tend to enjoy eating Grain-Free food more so than normal Dog Food.


Team Shanklinpets