Category Archives: General News

World Heart Day – 29 September 2020

 

We celebrate World Heart Day today on 29 September 2020. This is the world’s biggest awareness-raising platform for cardiovascular disease (CVD) which is accountable for nearly half of all non-communicable disease deaths in humans.

Did you know that heart conditions affect our pets too?  Within our group of practices, we have cardiology specialists available who investigate all aspects of heart disease.

In the first instance, if you have concerns that your pet has symptoms, please contact us for an examination.  Here are some of the signs to look out for…

  • Stopping or slowing on walks
  • Difficulty breathing or not being able to catch their breath
  • Not settling down to sleep at night
  • Coughing, especially during or after exercise or if they’re excited
  • A bloated stomach (caused by fluid build-up).

If you find your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, please make sure you speak to us straight away. Unfortunately, heart disease cannot be cured, however it can be managed.

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How to ensure your dog is a healthy weight

Dogs, like humans, can be prone to gaining weight. This in turn can cause health problems like diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart and respiratory problems, which could reduce your dog’s life expectancy. Here we look at some tips to help get your pet pooch in good physical shape.

How to tell if your dog is overweight

Sometimes you can tell your dog is overweight just by looking at them. If your dog has especially thick fur, it can be more difficult to assess their weight. When you cuddle, or stroke, your dog you should be able to feel their ribs. When you look at your dog you should see a waistline – a clear difference between their chest and stomach.

If your dog is overweight, it’s important to take steps to reverse the weight gain.

If you can identify a certain behaviour that has caused the weight gain, then great – you can reverse or change that behaviour.

Ask yourself these questions:

Have you or someone in your family been giving your dog more treats recently? Check that children aren’t sneaking them extra dog biscuits on the side!

Have you changed your dog’s exercise routine? If you’ve been walking your dog less than usual, they’ll be using less energy and therefore less calories from their food intake.

Does your dog have access to any additional food sources? Make sure they’re not being fed food scraps from the table or treats from neighbours when they’re out in the garden.

Next steps

If the weight gain seems out of the ordinary, or you think your dog needs a little help with losing some weight then it’s always best to get your dog checked by one of our nurses or vets.

Diet is the most vital part of helping your dog to reach their target weight. Bear in mind that different brands of dog food have different nutritional benefits so if you vary between brands, your dog’s calorie intake may fluctuate. If your dog needs to lose some pounds, you’ll need to be much more accurate with quantities, weighing and measuring each portion.

We would advise that you visit us to get professional advice. Our nurses can weigh your dog, advise ideal weight, and track their progress along the way. They can also check your pet’s physical condition if you’re considering increasing their levels of exercise which is especially important in older dogs.

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Introducing a new pet into the household

Getting a new pet is an exciting experience; naturally you’re keen to begin family life with them as soon as possible. However, for your new pet this can be a stressful time. It’s important to ensure that you’re fully prepared for their arrival and take things slowly to help them settle into your home. We’ve put together some top tips to help your new pet feel part of your family.

1. GIVE THEM SPACE

Dogs

To help your dog feel secure, it’s important to create a ‘safe space’ where they can retreat to for rest or quiet time. Dog crates make good dens; the door can be closed to allow your dog some time-out away from young, enthusiastic members of your family. Be sure to leave the door open until your dog is happy in their crate and avoid using time in the crate as a punishment. Make the area more comfortable by covering their bed with an old duvet or blanket. A plug-in pheromone diffuser could also help – these imitate the chemicals that a mother dog would release, providing familiarity for your dog.

Cats

Set up a dedicated room in the house before you collect your new cat. Include everything they need such as litter tray, choice of sleeping places, scratching post, access to high spots, separate food and water areas and a selection of toys. Once home, allow your cat to settle in their own area before allowing them into the rest of the house. Keep windows and doors closed so they can’t get outside.

 

2. MEETS & GREETS

Dogs

It’s understandable that you’ll be keen to introduce your new companion to family and friends, but this needs to be handled in the right way. It’s important to socialise them with as many people as possible, however stagger any introductions so they’re not overwhelmed. Hold these meetings in an open area, such as your garden, so that your dog doesn’t feel trapped (and you can adhere to social distancing guidelines).

Cats

Introduce your cat to other family members once they feel confident with you. It’s important not to overwhelm them with new people and experiences. If you have children in the house, ensure they remain calm when meeting your cat for the first time. Always allow your cat to make the first move and encourage your children to be as gentle as possible. Show them how to stroke your cat properly as even the friendliest of felines can react if they’re handled roughly.

 

3. GIVE IT TIME

Dogs

This is a new situation for both you and your dog therefore allow plenty of time (usually four to six months) for them to settle in and adjust to being part of your world. They need time to build a new relationship with you, so take things one step at a time and reward co-operation with a small treat.

Cats

Be patient and allow your cat to slowly adjust to their new environment. The first few days should be especially calm although it may take a few weeks until they’re fully relaxed in their new home.

 

4. OUTSIDE THE HOUSE

Dogs

As well as settling your new pet into your home, it’s important to also familiarise them with the surrounding areas outside. Make sure their vaccinations are up to date and their microchip is registered to you before you start your adventures.

Cats

After a few weeks, your cat will be familiar with their surroundings and where their food is coming from! This is a good time to let them go outside to explore. Kittens should always be supervised and kept indoors until they’ve been neutered and micro-chipped. To start with, let your cat out when they’re hungry so you can tempt them back with food.

If you have other pets, introducing them to the new arrival takes time and patience. More information can be found at:

https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/introducing-cats
https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-care/dogs-and-cats-living-together
https://icatcare.org/advice/helping-your-new-cat-or-kitten-settle-in/

If you would like to register your new pet with us, or have any questions about vaccinations or neutering, please contact us for advice.

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How to teach your dog to walk on a lead

Training a dog to walk on a lead comfortably and safely is one of the most critical skills that you will teach your dog as a responsible pet owner.

Before you start, make sure you have the right equipment for training your dog. We recommend that you speak to us about the best type of harness and lead suitable for your dog’s breed. By getting the right equipment, you will ensure you get off to the best start and make the training much easier for you both.

Basic steps to lead training your dog

These steps follow guidelines from the Dogs Trust, an animal welfare charity and humane society which specialises in the wellbeing of dogs.

Step 1 – Allocate sufficient time for training your dog, as patience is essential. When you start walking with your dog, the second the lead starts to tighten, stop walking. Simply stand still and don’t move forward again until the lead is slack, then walk onwards.

Step 2 – Think of ways to reinforce positive behaviour whenever they are walking next to you on a loose lead. Keep some treats handy but out of the way. As your dog gets better, you can cut down on treats and phase them out completely. Remember to keep walking forwards as you give your dog treats to avoid stopping and starting. Consistency is key.

Step 3 – Train in a quiet and peaceful area. Walk up and down with no distractions so that your dog can get the hang of it quickly. It’s much easier for your dog to learn new behaviours in quiet places where they won’t be easily distracted.

It’s advisable not to take your dog out for training if they are agitated.

There are no shortcuts to training

Remember that the best advice for training your dog is consistency and patience. Some dogs master lead training quickly while others take their time. There is no right answer to how long it should take to train your dog. The important thing is to stay calm and collected. By doing this, your dog will gain confidence in you and is likely to accept walking on the lead more quickly.

If you are having some issues in lead training your dog, give us a call with the specific problem, and we will be happy to provide you with a few tips. Good training will make daily walks more fun for both ends of the lead.

Happy training!

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Prepare your pets for bonfire night

Fireworks are used throughout the year to mark significant seasonal celebrations including Bonfire Night, Halloween, New Year’s Eve and Diwali.

They are enjoyable for humans to watch but pets can often get scared by the loud bangs and bright flashes. Preparing your pet now can make a significant difference to how your pet copes when firework season begins.

There are several measures to try which might help your pet become less stressed when fireworks light up the skies:

  1. Use a pheromone product

Products are available that contain synthetic versions of pheromones (chemicals produced by the body) which pets find calming and reassuring. These products are available as sprays, plug-in diffusers and collars (dogs only).

There are some natural supplements available that can also help to calm your pet. These products contain casein which is a protein found in milk. The science behind the supplement is based on the knowledge that these proteins promote relaxation in breast-fed babies. This animal version can have a similar effect on many pets.

Please ask your vet for advice on the best product to help your pet.

  1. Provide hiding places within your home

Ensure there are plenty of hiding places around the house for your pet. The following are ideas to try:

  • Top of the cupboard – make sure it’s safe and there’s an ample amount of room for them to move around
  • Under the bed – clear a pet-sized space for them
  • A raised shelf – cats feel safe when they’re high up
  • Inside a box – a door cut into the side of a cardboard box makes a great cat-den
  1. Stay at home with your pets 

Stay in with your pet on bonfire night; your presence will comfort them and might distract them from the noises outside. Stressed pets can sometimes display destructive behaviours that could endanger themselves or others.

  1. Ensure your pet has access to freshwater

Anxious dogs pant more than normal which makes them thirsty so keep their water bowl nearby.

  1. Make sure your pet has a microchip

Sometimes frightened pets run away on bonfire night. It’s quicker to reunite owners with pets that have a microchip. Make sure your pet has a working microchip and that your contact details are up to date. The microchip company that holds your pet’s details on their database can help you with this.

  1. Close curtains, blinds, windows, and doors

Loud bangs and bright flashes can scare pets. Keep your windows, doors and blinds closed to reduce the volume of firework noise. If you have a cat, don’t forget to lock their cat flap so they stay safely indoors.

  1. Walk your dog early

Avoid walking your dog during the early evening and aim to go out before it’s dark. Keep dogs on their lead so, if they are startled by firework noise, they can’t run away.

  1. Bring small animals inside

Loud noises can be stressful for small animals, particularly if they live in outdoor hutches. Consider moving your rabbits or guinea pigs into the house, shed or garage. Reduce firework noise by covering outdoor hutches with a blanket (leave a gap to allow air to circulate).

  1. Provide bedding for your pet to snuggle in

If you have a small pet, put additional bedding in their hutch so they can burrow into it and hide.

  1. Noise de-sensitisation therapy

Noise de-sensitisation therapy is a great way to get your pet used to fireworks well before bonfire night. There are many CDs and downloadable tracks that you can play to your pet. By gradually increasing the volume of these sounds, your pet will become accustomed to the noise of fireworks and, over time, be less anxious on bonfire night.

  1. Don’t punish “bad behaviour”

Pets can’t help feeling scared so try to stay calm, even if your pet shows some dubious behaviour. Pets often take their cue from their owners so, in theory, the calmer you are, the calmer your pet will feel.

 

For further information, visit www.rspca.org.uk/fireworks

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Senior Pets Focus

There are some health conditions that we’re more likely to develop as we age; the same is true for our pets but they can’t tell us if they’re feeling unwell. That’s why it’s important to look out for any signs and symptoms that could indicate your pet isn’t quite right.

Below are a few of the most common conditions that might affect our senior pets:

Arthritis in dogs
Years of wear and tear on your pet’s joints can lead to the development of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (often called arthritis) is when the inside of joints becomes inflamed and painful making movement more difficult. The most commonly affected joints are elbows, hips and knees but any joint can be affected.

Kidney disease
The main function of kidneys is to filter toxins from the blood, regulate the body’s water levels and help control blood pressure. As your pet gets older, their kidney function might deteriorate. When kidneys don’t function properly, kidney (renal) disease develops which can lead to kidney (renal) failure.

High blood pressure in cats
There are many causes of high blood pressure (hypertension) in cats but the most common causes are kidney disease, heart conditions or an over-active thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism). Older cats are more likely to develop these conditions so it’s a good idea to be aware of the early signs of these diseases.

As your pet gets older, it’s more important we regularly check their health for the early signs of age-related health conditions. Please call us for further advice or if you’re concerned about your pet’s health.

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The importance of vaccinations

Do you ever wonder why your pet needs an annual booster vaccination?

You’re probably aware that getting a new puppy or kitten means a few trips to the vets for vaccinations, parasite control and other preventative treatments. However, to maintain your pet’s health and wellbeing, regular trips to the vets are recommended. Annual vaccinations (boosters) are important to protect your pet against preventable diseases. Here we explore some of the common questions and myths surrounding vaccinations…

My pet only had a primary vaccine course, is that okay?

Your pet’s primary vaccination course protects your pet against many diseases but this immunity doesn’t last for life. Over time, protection against these diseases wanes so regular boosters are needed to make sure your pet is always protected. .

Our priority is your pet’s health so we recommend annual vaccinations for that reason alone. We don’t advocate annual boosters for commercial gain or because of pressure from pharmaceutical companies.

How do vaccines work? 

Did you know, vaccines don’t actually fight diseases themselves?

Vaccines stimulate your pet’s immune system to recognise specific disease-causing viruses and bacteria. If your pet comes into contact with these diseases, antibodies (disease fighting cells) are produced. These antibodies send chemical signals to the disease-fighting cells of your pet’s body and an immune response (attack against the disease) is activated.

Our pet’s produce different levels of immunity to different diseases. For example, the leptospirosis vaccine protects dogs for a year whereas the distemper vaccine protects dogs for three years.

We follow a vaccination protocol that ensures your pets only receive the elements of the vaccine they need that year; this means we never give vaccinations that your pet doesn’t need.

Which diseases do vaccinations protect my pet from?

We vaccinate dogs against:

  • Leptospirosis
  • Canine distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Infectious canine hepatitis
  • Canine parainfluenza virus

We vaccinate cats against:

  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis (cat flu)
  • Feline calicivirus
  • Feline panleucopaenia
  • Feline leukaemia virus

It may take up to a few weeks after vaccination before your pet is fully protected against disease; we can advise you on this during your appointment.

Is my pet protected for life?

Just like us humans, the very young and elderly are more vulnerable to disease and illness. Regular vaccinations help protect your pet throughout their life, even when their immune system doesn’t function as well as it used to.

Helping the wider pet community

By vaccinating your pet you’re also helping to protect all pets in your local community. The more vaccinated animals there are, the less likely it is for disease outbreaks to occur. Most boarding kennels, catteries and dog walkers insist that your pet is vaccinated when accessing their services.

In the UK, pets have been part of vaccination programmes for many years so outbreaks of serious diseases occur less often. These disease outbreaks are only controlled because we continue to vaccinate our pets yearly.

If your pet is a little behind on their vaccinations because of the recent lockdown, please give us a call and we can arrange to re-start their vaccinations for the cost of a single booster. This applies for vaccine courses started in September only.

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Protect your dog against kennel cough

Does your dog regularly come into contact with other dogs? Maybe out on walks, at the park, or when boarding in kennels? If so, we highly recommend vaccinating your dog against kennel cough. And, with our new oral vaccine (a liquid given into your dog’s mouth) it’s now even easier to protect your dog.

Kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis) is a very contagious respiratory disease. Dogs can catch kennel cough after being in close contact with an infected dog. If your dog stays in boarding kennels, they’ll probably be quite close to other dogs which means it’s easier for them to catch kennel cough. If you’re planning a trip away it’s worth considering getting your dog vaccinated against kennel cough.

Contact us today to arrange an appointment.

What are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

The main sign to look out for is a deep hacking cough, which can sometimes lead to retching, sneezing, snorting, gagging or vomiting.  In some cases, you may only notice your dog coughs when they’re excited or during exercise. Some dogs get a fever and, in rare cases, the infection may progress to pneumonia.  Symptoms usually start within 10 days after your dog becomes infected; your dog could cough for up to three weeks. Often the cough is worse at bedtime which causes sleepless nights for the whole family!

How is Kennel Cough diagnosed?

Diagnosis is often based on the clinical signs your dog shows and the history you give us about your dog’s symptoms. If a gentle palpitation of your dog’s throat causes a retching cough, a diagnosis of kennel cough is quite likely.

What treatment is available for Kennel Cough?

There is no specific treatment for kennel cough (as it’s usually a viral infection) but antibiotics are sometimes used to treat dogs who have developed a bacterial infection. Infected dogs should rest and isolate from other dogs for around 14 days. In most cases, dogs recover from kennel cough within three weeks. It helps to avoid using a lead and collar as this can irritate your dog’s throat. Sometimes we prescribe cough suppressants or anti-inflammatories to help make your dog feel better.

What’s the best way to prevent Kennel Cough?

The best way to protect your dog from kennel cough is to vaccinate them. The vaccine is a quick and painless procedure. You can choose between a nasal spray or a liquid given into your dog’s mouth. This new oral solution is available at our practices. If your dog becomes stressed by the nasal vaccine, the new liquid might be a good option to try.

A kennel cough vaccination protects your dog for a whole year. Sometimes we can’t give it along with your dog’s regular booster so it’s worth checking when you book your dog’s appointment. Often kennels require that all the dogs boarding with them have been vaccinated against kennel cough so it’s worth checking when you book your dog in. The nasal vaccination should be given at least one week before their stay and the oral vaccine fully protects your dog after three weeks.

If you’re concerned your dog may have kennel cough and has any of the symptoms, speak to a member of our team for advice.  Alternatively, if you’d like to arrange a kennel cough vaccination for your four-legged friend, just give us a call.

Don’t forget, if you’re a Healthy Pet Club member, you can benefit from a 5% discount.

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Basic First Aid for pets

Whenever your pet becomes ill or injured, it is always a stressful situation for both you and your companion. That is why we wanted to provide you with some guidance on how you can act, and what you can do to help, when these incidents occur.

The following is always important to remember in any emergency:

  • Always assess the situation before acting – as your pet is most likely in pain, and as a result frightened, they may act differently to usual if you try to touch the injured area (such as trying to bite).
  • Always contact us as soon as you can – we are best placed to provide you with any immediate action you may need to make.
  • Never administer human medicine to your pet as in most cases this can be harmful.

There may be occasions where you might need to provide basic first aid to your pet before they are seen by us.

Dealing with bleeds

  • Keep your pet quiet and calm
  • Stem any bleeding with pads and dressings
  • If advised by us, you can apply a bandage to the wound. If on a limb then the foot should also be included to avoid swelling.

Dealing with broken bones

  • If any serious bleeding, then this can be controlled as above.
  • You should not apply a splint as this can cause more pain to your pet and worsen the injury.
  • The best action (after phoning us) is to keep the animal confined ready to get to our practice as soon as possible.

Dealing with burns/scalds

  • The best action is to run cold water over any burn for at least five minutes before calling us, ensuring you keep your pet warm.
  • Do not apply any creams or ointments. However, a saline dressing could be applied if there is likely to be a delay in you getting to the practice.

Dealing with Heatstroke

  • Place your pet in a cool area that ideally has a draught and wet their coat with some tepid water (do not use cold water as this can slow down the heat loss process).
  • Offer your pet a small amount of water.

 

As mentioned, the best action is always to contact us as soon as possible if you have concerns about your pet, so that we can advise you on the next steps and ensure that your animal receives the treatment it requires.

We are always here to help, therefore please do not hesitate to contact us

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Heat awareness for animals in hutches

Even though the height of summer is over, we might be lucky and get a few warm days in September! We all enjoy getting out in the sunshine (when it arrives!), however the same is not always true for our pets! Animals living in hutches, such as guinea pigs and rabbits, can’t find their own shade when temperatures rise. They rely on us to keep them cool.

Hutches can heat up very quickly and become uncomfortable for small pets. Take a look at our 5 top tips to help keep your furry friend cool:

  1. It’s always best to find a shady area in the garden for hutches and exercise runs; keep them away from direct sunlight. Extra shade could be created by draping a towel or sheet over part of the run, maintaining a draught of cool air.
  2. Create an area that’s cool to lie on – try placing ceramic tiles in a shady area of the hutch or run.
  3. It’s important to remember that animals drink more on hot days, therefore keep water bottles and bowls topped up with fresh, clean water. Regularly check water bottle valves and spouts to make sure the water flows out easily.
  4. A way to ensure that your pet is getting some added water in their diet is to feed them plenty of leafy green vegetables and safe fruit (such as tomato or cucumber).
  5. For those breeds that are long-haired, consider making them feel more comfortable in the heat by removing any excess hair with a brush.

With the above in mind, recognising the main symptoms of heatstroke for rabbits and guinea pigs is important to ensure that you can take action to prevent it, or if it occurs, get them the necessary treatment from your vet. Keep an eye out for:

–   Convulsions (fits)

–   Salivating (dribbling)

–   Reddening of the ears

–   Panting

–   Weakness and lethargy

If you feel your rabbit or guinea pig is showing any of the above symptoms, then use cool water to dampen their fur and contact us immediately.

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