Category Archives: Pet health care advice

Preparing your pet for life after lockdown

How do you feel about the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions? Relieved? Anxious? If we could ask our pets the same question, we’re fairly certain their answers would put them in one of two camps; those who are looking forward to the peace and quiet and those dreading not being with us 24/7.

If your pet falls into the first category, they’ll probably resume their daily napping-schedule quite happily. The pets (mostly dogs) who might struggle are those who rely heavily on contact with us in order to feel secure. Young dogs and puppies, who have never been left at home, might also feel anxious when their ‘pack’ (your family) start going back to school and work.

What is separation anxiety?

Most dogs learn at an early age that, when we leave the house, we’ll always return. Knowing this helps them to feel secure when they’re alone. Some dogs take longer than others to learn, and they feel anxious when they spend time away from us.

Dogs who are scared of being left alone might express their anxiety by misbehaving. Some become destructive and chew household items or furniture; others become very vocal and bark or whine continuously until we return home – which will be distressing for them, and probably your neighbours too; and some may even go to the toilet inside the house – which is out of character for them. Your dog may show one or even all of these symptoms.

There are a few things we can do now to prepare our pets for the end of lockdown. These ideas might also help dogs who struggled with separation anxiety before the lockdown began.

Encourage independence

We can teach our pets to feel secure when we’re out by gradually spending longer periods of time away from them when we’re at home. This is especially important for dogs who like to physically touch or be near to us at all times…. our four-legged shadows!

  • Spend time in a different room to your dog and gradually increase the length of time you’re apart. Don’t fuss your dog when you leave or when you return. By staying calm, you’re signalling to your dog that it’s no big deal for them to spend time alone.
  • Encourage your dog to explore your garden, or outside space, alone.
  • Make sure your dog takes naps in his/ her own bed and not always next to you on the sofa.
  • If you always leave your dog in the same room or area, use these spaces during daily family life. Your dog will be less worried about being left in a familiar space.
  • Introduce interesting toys (such as food-filled chews) to your dog when you’re at home. Lengthen the time your dog has access to these ‘special’ toys while you gradually move away to other parts of your home. The benefits of this are twofold; your dog’s focus is directed away from you, and the action of chewing is something that relaxes most dogs.

Build resilience

If your dog is particularly attached to one person, it’s a good idea to share the load of their daily care. This helps your dog to feel secure even when their favourite pack member isn’t at home. Ask other family members to become involved with your dog’s feeding, walking, snuggling and playtimes.

Your dog will gradually learn to feel safe with whoever they’re spending time with.

How else can we help our dogs adapt to life after lockdown?

Exercise

If you plan to increase your dog’s daily exercise after the lockdown has ended, make sure you do so gradually. We’ll all be trying to lose our lockdown-pounds and increasing the amount of exercise we do is a great way to achieve this. Make sure you and your dog take things slowly to avoid injuring body parts which haven’t been used for a while!

Puppies

If you have a puppy or young dog, introduce them to places that you couldn’t visit during the lockdown period. The more smells, sights, and sounds your dog experiences as a youngster, the less they’ll fear as an adult dog.

Please contact us to ensure your puppy has received the vaccinations and preventative healthcare they need to keep them safe when they start going out.

And what about cats?

For the vast majority of adult cats, their life during lockdown was probably not massively different from their usual routine. They may have felt inconvenienced by more attention from their humans, but many cats avoided this by seeking out new sunbathing/ hiding/ sleeping places!

If your cat has lived indoors during the lockdown, it’s worth checking they’re up to date with their preventative healthcare before they go outside again. We can provide you with your cat’s usual flea and worm treatments so please let us know if you’ve run out. As soon as we can, we’ll resume all vaccinations, so we’ll contact you when your cat is due for a check-up and booster.

For new kitten parents, please arrange for us to vaccinate, neuter and microchip your new addition before letting them go outside. Because of the lockdown, your kitten might be older than usual before this happens. It’s especially difficult keeping young cats indoors during the summer months so we’ll do all we can to ensure they’re ready for the butterfly-chasing season!

All pets

It will take all of us some time to get used to our daily routines again after lockdown has ended. If your pets have enjoyed lie-ins and late nights, it’s helpful to resume your usual routine before you go back to work. Your pet will feel more secure, knowing what time dinner is served!

If you’d like further information about any aspect of caring for your pet after the lockdown has ended, please call us for a chat.

Posted in Pet health care advice |

International day of happiness – how pets contribute to our Mental Wellbeing

Happiness day-dog and ownerThe ongoing uncertainty surrounding the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will no doubt cause disruption to our usual routine and reduce the amount of social contact we have – preventing us from doing some of the things we enjoy which helps protect and maintain our mental wellbeing.

With today, March 20, being International Day of Happiness, we thought we’d highlight the importance that our furry friends play in our lives as well as share some tips on how to keep them happy and stimulated during these uncertain times.

You can’t beat that fuzzy feeling of returning home after a long stressful day to be welcomed by a loving, attentive furry friend. Having a pet is great for our mental health, wellbeing and happiness.

Whether it’s the extra exercise we get from a long walk with the dog, the anti-stress chemicals released by stroking a cat or the entertainment provided by our rabbits – animals help to reduce anxiety, relax and generally just feel good.

However, it’s not just a feeling, it’s supported by scientific evidence. For a long time, researchers have explored how and why our mental wellbeing is improved by having an animal – considering the impact our pets can have during bereavement, for the elderly and even for people who are homeless.

A study carried out by the Mental Health Foundation with Cats Protection is 2011 found that 87% of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing (https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/pets-and-mental-health).

Due to recent events and the possibility that many of us will be in self-isolation, this will no doubt be affecting our mental health as well as that of our pets.  So, how can you provide additional stimulation to four-legged friend at a time when outside access is restricted:

You can exercise with your pet at home.

Why not try setting up agility activities or teaching your dog something new.

Play games with your pet.

Interacting with your dog or cat will help stimulate their mind and also help to strengthen your bond.  Consider something you could throw, drag or swing to get their attention.

Buy new toys and rotate with their existing ones

There are lots of interactive toys available for both cats and dogs which you could buy ahead of isolation – or even order online and have delivered. By rotating the new and old toys you will keep your pet interested in what they’re playing with.

Play hide and seek

Hiding treats and toys around your home will not only provide mental stimulation but also important exercise at a time when outside access is restricted.

Provide access to light and a window

If you have access to a garden, your pet can continue to get fresh air, light and exposure to different sounds and smells. Set-up a space for them by a window so they can watch the world go by.

Play Pup Fiction
Spotify have launched a ‘My Dog’s Favourite Podcast’ – which has up to 5 hours of ‘soothing sounds and friendly chat’ which is an ‘aural treat’ for your dog. Check it out.

Posted in Pet health care advice |

Joining forces with Cats Protection for FREE Neutering Month

Cat owners will be able to get their pets neutered for free thanks to a month-long initiative between us and Mid-Warwickshire Cats Protection.

Sandy Soinne, neutering officer from Mid-Warwickshire Cats Protection, said: “Getting your cat neutered is unbelievably important.

vet-andrea-davis-and-cat-avonvale

Vet Andrea Davies and a feline patient.

“An unneutered female cat can have two, sometimes even three, litters a year. This is bad for their health, weakening them and opening them up to all sorts of infections.

“Unneutered males will go out looking for a female to mate with and will end up fighting, which results in abscesses and wounds and all manner of things which are hugely damaging to their health and wellbeing.

“For anyone concerned that neutering will mean no kittens are born, we at Cats Protection know from the work we do day in, day out that there will always be many unwanted, unloved kittens out there who will need homes.”

Kieran O’Halloran, our clinical director, said: “We have always been delighted to support Cats Protection during Free Neutering Month.

“If you live in the catchment area and you have a cat which is over four months old and has not been neutered, then I urge you to take advantage of this wonderful initiative.

“Not only does neutering reduce the number of strays organisations such as Cats Protection take in and care for, it is also far better for the health of your pet.”

The Mid-Warwickshire Cats Protection scheme runs throughout February for pet owners in the following postcode areas: B49, B50, CV31, CV32, CV33, CV34, CV35, CV36, CV37 and CV47.

The offer is limited and is on a first come, first served basis. Pet owners should call their nearest branch to book an appointment.

For more details, visit http://bit.ly/freeneutering.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice | Tagged

Be prepared to help pets de-stress, urge Warwickshire Vets

Pet lovers are being urged to be well prepared for what veterinary experts have highlighted as a time of year which can be difficult to keep animals calm.

Noisy celebrations such as Halloween, Bonfire Night, Diwali, Christmas and New Year are all identified as occasions which can cause stress for pets.

Help is at hand, though, as Avonvale Veterinary Centres in Warwickshire is running a “Comfort your Pet” campaign which is aimed at raising awareness of the challenges of the upcoming party season, while also providing advice, guidance and offers on treatment.

Kieran O’Halloran, of Avonvale Veterinary Centres, explained: “This is the most challenging time of year for pet owners as there are so many potential triggers of stress in animals coming up over the next few months.

“There are the bangs of fireworks, the noisy and hectic festive season – including unfamiliar faces and smells – and, of course, there’s the possibility of autumn thunderstorms and the earlier dark evenings.

“All of these can cause stress in our pets and while some owners will seek guidance and advice, we also know there are many others who just suffer through this period with their pets not knowing that help is available.

“The aim of our campaign is to raise awareness of the potential problems ahead, promote the numerous precautions and highlight the effective treatments which are available in a bid to ensure people are well informed and well prepared to cope with any potential problems.

“We’ll be handing out leaflets full of advice and guidance and providing offers on stress relieving treatments such as Feliway and Adaptil diffusers and collars, which help comfort pets and keep them calm.”

The comprehensive measures are all part of the far-reaching, proactive campaign by Avonvale Veterinary Centres which begins on Monday, September 30 and runs all the way through to Sunday, January 5, 2020.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice, Warwick News | Tagged

The Long and the Short of it…

Spot the difference…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Images taken from University of Cambridge BOAS research group website)

These images are both CT scans of dog heads. The dog on the left is a Labrador Retriever and the dog on the right is a Pug. Both dogs have the same anatomical structures except the Pug has them packaged in a much more compact skull. Pugs are just one type of dog classed as a brachycephalic breed. The term ‘brachycephalic’ literally means ‘short head’. French bulldogs, Bulldogs, Boxers and Shih-tzus are also considered to be brachycephalic breeds.

The black areas on the scan pictures represent air within the skull making it possible to compare the airways of these two dogs. When dogs inhale, air is sucked into the nostrils and flows over the nasal turbinate bones. It then passes through the naso-pharynx (throat) and continues into the trachea (windpipe) before reaching the lungs. The scan of the Labrador’s skull shows the airways are relatively wide and unrestricted. The scan of the Pug’s skull shows a much shorter nose with a narrower airway which becomes almost completely constricted around the throat.

Trends in the popularity of specific dog breeds are not uncommon in the UK. According to The Kennel Club, Labradors were the most popular breed in the UK for nearly 30 years before being nudged into second place in 2018 by French Bulldogs. The popularity of all brachycephalic breeds has soared in recent years. Images of these dogs have been widely used in many advertising campaigns promoting products ranging from insurance to mobile phones.

The more demand there is for these dogs the more intensely they are bred and this can lead to a higher rate of breed-related health problems. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a condition affecting a large number of these animals. Some dogs have severely deformed airways which can lead to serious breathing problems.

The main physical features seen in dogs suffering from BOAS include: narrowed nostrils, excessive soft tissue inside the larynx, an over-long soft palate,a narrowed trachea.

Dogs suffering from BOAS display symptoms that include: noisy breathing and snoring, reduced exercise tolerance (including collapse in severe cases), sleep apnoea, swallowing problems, reverse sneezing.

Environmental factors can contribute to the severity of the disease. Hot weather is particularly difficult for brachycephalic dogs; they can overheat very quickly and may develop life threatening hyperthermia. Dogs who are overweight carry excessive fat around their throats which can exacerbate the symptoms of BOAS.

The severity of BOAS varies between individuals; a grading system has been produced by Cambridge University to help identify dogs in danger of developing life threatening breathing difficulties.  Brachycephalic dogs who score Grade 0 are entirely unaffected and can breathe normally. Dogs who fall into the Grade 3 category are severely affected and will require surgical intervention in order to lead a normal life.

The Kennel Club is funding a research project led by the University of Cambridge into BOAS as there are concerns that unless responsible breeding programs are introduced the number of dogs suffering from BOAS will continue to rise.

Dogs who are affected by BOAS may lead a better quality of life if they undergo surgery to widen their nostrils and reduce the amount of soft tissue obstructing their airways.

At Avonvale we support responsible breeding and therefore feel it is important to highlight BOAS as a potential concern associated with brachycephalic breeds. We see many brachycephalic patients and enjoy getting to know these fascinating dogs with huge personalities; they can make wonderful family pets.

Before buying a puppy it is worth doing a bit of research to ensure that breeders have considered BOAS and are only producing puppies who are not affected by this syndrome. It is a good idea to view both parents and also any offspring from previous litters.

If you would like any more information about BOAS or are worried about your dog please contact us at any of our surgeries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice | Tagged , , ,

Bella’s having a ball after life-changing operation

bella the pug at avonvale veterinary centre

Bella the pug is now much happier after her operation.

A pug dog is enjoying a new lease of life after a leading Warwickshire vet carried out an operation which dramatically improved her breathing problems.

Like many pugs and other flat faced dogs, Bella, who is six, suffered from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

The breed has all of the anatomy of a longer nosed dog condensed into their flat noses, so there can be very little room for air to get in and out.

Bella was given a general anaesthetic and Katie Wain, clinical director of Avonvale Veterinary Centres, operated to remove part of her soft pallet, to solve the issue.

The case has prompted Katie to issue advice to owners of flat faced dogs. She said it is not normal for them to breathe noisily and if they are doing this, owners should take them to see a vet.

katie and bella at avonvale veterinary  surgery

Bella with Katie Wain, clinical director at Avonvale Veterinary Centres

Katie said: “I found her soft palate was too long and was flapping and blocking her airway so I shortened this to stop it happening.

“She also had really tiny nostrils which I made bigger.

“Immediately after the op you could hear a difference in her breathing. We kept her in overnight so we could monitor her and she was sent home the following day.

“Now, nine months later, and her owners simply can’t believe the difference in her. She is a much brighter and happier dog.”

David Barnes, who takes care of Bella during the week while his daughter Charlotte is at work, said: “The change in Bella was almost instantaneous. Before her op, she really struggled, particularly on hot days.

“She would get breathless when we took her for walks, she would snore really loudly and her inability to breath properly used to wake her up at night. It was so upsetting.

“She is now a different dog. She is just so happy. She is no longer distressed at night by sleep apnea, caused by gasping for breath”.

Bella is already a bit of a legend as last year, David released a book about his and Bella’s life together. Money made through sales of “Paws for Thought” is being donated to Pug and French Bull Dog Rescue and Rehoming Foundation, in Wales.

Katie has some advice to pug owners. She said: “People should be aware that BOAS is a problem that often occurs in this breed of dog.

“Many people think their noisy breathing is normal but it really isn’t. A normal dog shouldn’t make a noise when breathing, this is a sign that something is blocking the airway.”

She said another issue with pugs is that they are very prone to heat stroke, so owners should be wary with the summer approaching.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice, Warwick News | Tagged

Pet Anxiety Month.

March is Pet Anxiety Month. This is an initiative that has been launched to raise awareness of anxiety related behavioural issues affecting dogs, cats and rabbits. This nationwide campaign is partly in response to the PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report 2018 that revealed half of the veterinary professionals surveyed reported they have seen an increase in dog behaviour related issues over the last two years. Of the pet owners questioned, three quarters of dog owners reported they would like to change at least one anxiety related behaviour displayed by their dog and 90% of cat owners reported their cat was afraid of at least one thing. https://www.pdsa.org.uk/media/4371/paw-2018-full-web-ready.pdf

Many pets display anxiety related behaviour when exposed to common triggers such as loud fireworks, meeting strangers and new animals joining the household. Sometimes, however, their anxiety can be related to not having their basic needs met. The Animal Welfare Act was passed in 2006 and advises that all animals should have five basic welfare needs met including the freedom to display normal behaviour patterns. Sometimes it can be difficult for animals to adjust to modern lifestyles and this can cause them to express a variety of behavioural issues which can consequently affect an animal’s health.

Across the Avonvale Surgeries we have a wide range of expertise in dealing with common anxiety-related issues and we can advise owners how to recognise and tackle these problems. Cats often display stress by inappropriate toileting, over-grooming or becoming withdrawn. Often simple changes can be made to restore happiness to our feline friends. Dogs can show anxiety by increased vocalisation, increased aggression or destructive behaviour. Subtle changes in a dog’s body language can indicate they are suffering from high levels of anxiety. Sometimes small tweeks in their environment and routine can make a huge difference.

Rabbits and ‘small furries’ can also exhibit anxiety if their basic needs aren’t met. Our vets and nurse are happy to offer advice regarding environmental enrichment and best husbandry techniques for providing the happiest possible homes for these pets.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice |

Act now if taking pets abroad after Brexit

We’re advising pet owners they have until the end of the month to act if they intend to travel to the European Union (EU) with their furry friend from the end of March.

Currently, dogs, cats and ferrets can travel anywhere in the EU as long as they have a pet passport, which sees owners take their animals to an Official Veterinarian (OV) three weeks before a trip to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.

However, last month, the Government issued a paper preparing for a possible No Deal Brexit, in which it advised pet owners wanting to go abroad after 29th March 2019 that they have to take their pets to an OV at least four months before travelling – meaning the end of November deadline is fast approaching.

Our advice

The turnaround for organising microchipping, vaccinations and a pet passport has always been relatively short but the Government has now warned that, with no EU deal, pet owners may have to visit their OV as early as the end of next month for an April trip abroad.

The pet could have to have a rabies vaccination, followed by a blood test at least 30 days after the date of vaccination to show the pet has become immune. Once that is completed, the pet would then have to wait at least three months from the date of the blood test before they can travel.

This process takes at least four months in total. Owners would then have to visit a vet to obtain a health certificate, which can’t be done more than 10 days before travel.

It’s certainly worth being organised ahead of any planned trips abroad with your pets early next year and with time ticking until the November deadline, I’d recommend getting your animals booked in to see an OV as soon as possible to avoid any undue or unforeseen delays.

More information

Please call to speak to one of our OV vets if you need any help or advice on pet passports.

Further information on the issue is available via the GOV.UK website.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice |

Top tips to help protect pets around fireworks season

It may be hard to believe but it’s that time of year again, when we start thinking about how best to care for our pets as fireworks season gets under way.

We know this can be a very tough time of year for pets, who can become stressed and unsettled as fireworks are used ever more frequently – not only for the traditional November 5th bonfire night but also in celebration of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of top tips to ensure your pet stays safe during fireworks season:

  • Always keep cats and dogs inside when fireworks are let off
  • Some pets like to hide in the bathroom. Make sure toilet lids are down if you have a small dog or cat. Beware if you have the older style of toilet with the exposed U-bend as some dogs can wedge between the pipework and become stuck
  • Close all windows and doors, draw curtains and seal up cat flaps
  • Let your pet pace around, whine, mew and hide if they want to. Don’t try to coax them out – they are trying to find safety and should not be disturbed
  • Hutches and cages should, if possible, be taken into a quiet room indoors or into a garage or shed. If this isn’t possible, turn them around to face a wall, creating a black-out from the flashes of fireworks
  • Give your small pet extra bedding to burrow into so it feels safe
Posted in General News, Pet health care advice | Tagged , , , , ,

Keeping your pet safe in the heat

With temperatures due to rise again, here is some advice about keeping your dog safe in the heat.

The dangers of leaving pets in the car in this heat are well known but we should also beware of the temperatures that can occur in closed caravans and conservatories. Pets shut inside need shade, ventilation and access to plenty of water.

Keeping your pet safe in the heat - Milo is hotActive dogs and those with dark thick coats can also be prone to heat exhaustion if walked in the heat of the day. Although a dog may continue to play and run around they may in fact be experiencing the first signs of heat exhaustion. Signs are excessive panting with chest heaving, restlessness and even vomiting and diarrhoea, leading to collapse. Heat stress and dehydration can be fatal if not treated immediately.

If you suspect your dog to be seriously dehydrated, contact your vet immediately and try to keep your dog cool by showering them with water, covering in wet towels and fanning to aid evaporation.

In this heat avoid excessive exercise in the middle of the day and restrict walks to the cooler early mornings or evenings. Keep water available at all times and encourage your dog to drink.

You may also have read the misleading posts doing the rounds on social media recently about giving ice to dogs. There is no danger in giving your dog ice cubes to crunch on or a cold paddling pool to play in. There are both great and fun ways to help your pet stay cool during the summer.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice |