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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.

Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month Nurse Profile – Katy Mabon

May is Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month, a whole month dedicated to raising awareness of the veterinary nursing profession and the vital role they play in animal care and treatment.

Katy Mabon is a Veterinary Nurse at Hawick Veterinary Practice and she kindly took time out to tell us about life as a vet nurse.

katy

1. How long have you been a Vet Nurse and what route did you follow to qualify?

I worked at a racing yard after leaving school before joining Hawick Veterinary Practice as a student and studied for a Veterinary Care Assistant diploma which I achieved six years ago. I then went on to complete my Veterinary Nursing qualification and I have been a registered veterinary nurse for three years.

2. What attracted you to a career as a Veterinary Nurse?

I come from a farming background, so I have worked with animals since I was young.  I was attracted to veterinary nursing by the variety and because every day is different.

3. What does your job as Veterinary Nurse entail?

As well as small animal nursing duties, I also assist the vets with equine and farm animal nursing.  This could be assisting with radiography (x-rays) or endoscopy (using a special camera to look at the airway or stomach) of a horse, driving the vet around the racetrack during races or assisting the vet during a caesarean section on a cow.

I am also the practices green champion and look at how the practice can minimise its environmental impact while still maintaining high clinical standards. We have modified some of our supplies to reduce single use plastic, increased our recycling rate and introduced more environmentally friendly merchandise to our range of toys and treats.

4. What is the most rewarding thing about being a Vet Nurse?

I find following a case to its conclusion really satisfying.

5. What kind of attributes do you need to be a good Vet Nurse?

You have to be caring and hard working.

6. What advice would you give someone thinking about a career as a Vet Nurse?

The main attributes of a successful vet nurse are being able to work as a team and work well under pressure

7. What are the best things about working at Hawick Veterinary practice?

The best bit about working at Hawick Veterinary practice is the mix of farm, equine and small animal patients. Every day is different and I love being involved in all the different aspects of a mixed practice

8. What would be your career highlight so far?

I am proud to have achieved the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Veterinary Nursing Merit Award in Wound Management

9. Have you completed any additional training to support you in your role?

Over the last 12 months, I undertook additional study, practical workshops and exams to gain the BSAVA Veterinary Nursing Merit Award in Wound Management

10. What’s the next step in your career pathway?

To be honest I am undecided what my next career move will be.  I am currently content in my position.

Losing a pet during COVID-19

It is important to consider the impact losing a pet can have on our state of wellbeing. Saying goodbye to a loved family pet can be devastating at any time. However, in the current climate of social isolation, concerns for our loved ones and worries about our futures can intensify the feelings of sadness, guilt and grief.

As a veterinary practice, one of the most difficult adaptations during this pandemic has been the necessity that owners can’t be present during euthanasia. It is necessary to protect all of our clients and our staff, but never the less, we are aware of the distress this can cause during an already difficult time.  In these situations, our vets and vet nurses have ensured that your pets have had the dignified and peaceful passing that they deserve, but we fully appreciate the challenge and heartbreak of saying your last goodbyes in the carpark. We would love to be able to give you a hug, or even shake your hand, but in these times compassion has to be shared from a distance. We have been blown away by your understanding at this most stressful of times and we have worked hard to deserve the trust that you place in us during your pets last moments. 

Studies have demonstrated that pets are an incredibly positive influence on our mental health; providing companionship and stress relief, with us often shaping our daytime routine around their needs. Consequently, their loss can suddenly leave an empty hole in our lives. It is okay to feel sad, guilty or even angry. It is normal to feel grief when a pet dies. At Hawick vets we are always happy and available to talk, however if it is easier to talk to a stranger, then there are several free services available that can offer a listening ear.

The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement line is open everyday from 8.30am to 8.30pm. Call 0800 096 6606 or you can email pbssmail@bluecross.org.uk

Paws to Listen is a support line run by Cats Protection and is open 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday. You can contact them on 0800 024 94 94.

The Ralph Site www.theralphsite.com offers support and resources to help you or someone you know deal with the loss of a pet.

The Samaritans. You can call them on 116123.

 

Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month Nurse Profile – Stacey Brown

May is Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month, a whole month dedicated to raising awareness of the veterinary nursing profession and the vital role they play in animal care and treatment.

Stacey is one of the head nurses at Hawick Veterinary Practice and she kindly took the time out to tell us about her life as a Veterinary Nurse.

How long have you been an RVN, and which route did you follow to qualify?

I have been a Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) for six and a half years. I started my HNC in Animal Nursing in 2011 at Barony College which is now SRUC Barony Campus. I went on to complete my HND in Veterinary Nursing the following year and qualified as an RVN at the end of 2013. The two-year course was very gruelling, as it left very little time for living a ‘student life’, but I made friends for life there and can genuinely say that I enjoyed it. It became a second home for all of us that stayed on campus for those two years, and the staff that worked there were so welcoming and friendly.

What attracted you to a career as a Veterinary Nurse?

I always knew from a young age that I wanted to work with animals. However, when you are young the only way to work with animals (that is well known) is a Vet. I knew I didn’t want to be a Vet, for various reasons, so I decided to look into other careers. When I was 16, I came across a job description of a Veterinary Nurse. I was astounded at the things a Veterinary Nurse was capable of doing: monitoring anaesthesia, minor operations, injections, and they could go on to specialise in different areas of veterinary nursing such as diabetes and rehabilitation. I remember at the time when I told people I wanted to be a Veterinary Nurse they asked ‘Is that even a real thing?’ which used to really annoy me. I came to Hawick Vets for work experience once a week for a whole year in my sixth year of school. I saw how hard the nurses worked, and how they cared for the ill animals they had in with them. I also saw how happy they were when their work paid off and how upset they were when it didn’t. They genuinely cared for the animals. I knew after seeing the job for myself that it was the job for me.

What does your job as a Head Veterinary Nurse entail?

As an RVN, your duties can differ from day to day depending on what your responsibilities are for that day. If you are on Theatre duties this will include admitting patients into the Practice, helping the vet draw up injections needed for a procedure, supporting and caring for nervous and scared animals who are receiving procedures, monitoring patients under anaesthetic and ensuring their vitals are stable and their anaesthetic is the correct depth. If you are on in-patient duties, you’ll be expected to care for patients who have received surgery, and patients who are ill. You would need to ensure they are clean and comfortable, monitor intravenous fluids if they are receiving it, prepare and inject prescribed medication from the vet, and ensure they are receiving the nutrition they need to get better. I have to say I think one of the most important jobs we have to do as an in-patient nurse is to spend time with them not doing anything clinical. It’s amazing the change we can see in patients once a nurse has sat with them, spoke to them and gave them some hugs. Some animals thrive on human affection, and if they don’t receive this it can actually make them very down. I could go on and on about some of the things a veterinary nurse does on a daily basis but it would probably take up the whole page!

As a Head Veterinary Nurse, I am expected to support my team on a daily basis, ensuring that they know their role for the day, and also carry out Registered Veterinary Nurse duties alongside my fellow nurses. I’m responsible for creating the weekly rotas and insurance paperwork for patients, as well as being one of two Radiation Protection Supervisors, and leaders for the Practice Standards Scheme. This is a scheme run by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons that ensures that practices who are accredited meet a list of high standards to ensure optimum patient care.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a Vet Nurse?

The most rewarding thing about being a Veterinary Nurse, is knowing that in some way you are making a difference to someone’s life. When that patient who has been ill for days, and finally starts to show signs of improvement, there is no better feeling than seeing that and being able to phone the owner to let them know their furry family member has improved. I think I speak for every nurse when I say that is why we are drawn to the profession in the first place.

What kind of attributes do you need to be a good Vet Nurse?

I feel that the most important attributes a veterinary nurse can have are patience, people skills, and a good team work ethic. When you work as a vet nurse, there will be challenges in your job, sometimes on a daily basis. You need to be patient, evaluate a situation, and respond carefully. Owners going through the stress of having a sick or injured animal need to be supported as well as the patient, and this is where people skills are needed. A lot of people think that the job is all about the animals, but the job is very much 50/50 between working with people and caring for animals. There is no individual that makes a practice, it is 100% a team effort. We must support our fellow colleagues in hard times, take our fair share of the workload, and be able to communicate effectively and professionally to each other at all times.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming a Vet Nurse?

Be prepared to work hard, as a student and as a professional. During my two-year course, 20% of the class walked away from the course. It is an intense course which includes 52 weeks of placement alongside assignments, and multiple exams throughout the year you are required to pass in order to stay on the course. In your day to day working life, you are met with challenges which you must learn to over-come in order to carry out your duties correctly. Not every day is a win, and you need to be able to leave that at the door before you go home. The job will test you, mentally and physically. Some days you won’t get home on time, and you may miss those meals and events that have been planned due to an emergency operation or a patient that needs you to stay with them. If you are not prepared for this then you will struggle to do this job. If you decide that these are things you can do, then it is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do.

What are the best things about working at Hawick Veterinary Practice?

The main thing I love about working at Hawick Vets is my colleagues. I’ve been with Hawick Vets from the start of my course, through my exams and working for them for over six years. My colleagues have been with me through so many things in my life that I am fortunate to say they have also become my friends. They have always been supportive in any areas I wanted to excel in, and also through difficult times. There isn’t one person in the practice who doesn’t genuinely care for the animals and clients, and it is great to work with such a trustworthy team.

We are also fortunate at Hawick Vets to have some amazing clients. We are lucky enough that our clients see that we truly care about the animals and are very appreciative of the work we do.

What would be your career highlight so far?

Becoming one of the Head Veterinary Nurses at Hawick Vets would be my highlight so far. In addition to being able to support the nurse team on a daily basis, I am able to work with Vanessa, our other Head Veterinary Nurse, on improving the team’s work, and to be a voice for the nurses in the practice during Management Meetings. We are also able to attend Linnaeus Senior Nurse Meetings, where we can learn new things to help improve the practice and exchange advice on working in practice.

Have you completed any additional training to support you in your role?

I have a keen interest in laboratory work and have completed a course on Haematology and Microscope work. I have also completed a Diploma in Canine Behaviour Management to expand my understanding in this.

Next steps in career?

The great thing about working for Linnaeus are there are so many avenues you can go down and so many options for your career. For now, I love my job at Hawick Vets and the work I am doing and intend to stay here for the foreseeable future.

 

Thank you Stacey for sharing your story.

To find out more about the role of RVNs in veterinary practices, or if you are interested in finding out more about a career in veterinary nursing, visit the BVNA website

Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month Nurse Profile – Vanessa McClure

May is Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month, a whole month dedicated to raising awareness of the veterinary nursing profession and the vital role they play in animal care and treatment.

Vanessa is one of the head nurses at Hawick Veterinary Practice and she kindly took the time out to tell us about her life as a Veterinary Nurse.

1) How long have you been a Veterinary Nurse and what route did you follow to qualify?

I started as a Student Veterinary Nurse 17 years ago. I studied at Barony College in Dumfries (now known as SRUC) and did my practical training with the wonderful Ashlea Veterinary Centre in Carlisle.  I have worked with Hawick Vets for 15 years as a qualified Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN). 

2) What attracted you to a career in Veterinary Nursing?

I’ve always absolutely adored any type of animal, so it was only fitting that I found myself a career that cares for them.

3)  What does your job entail?

My job is so varied day to day.  Veterinary nurses do consultations advising on nutrition, behaviour and life stage changes.  We also give second vaccinations to puppies and kittens, microchip pets, clip nails and administer first aid.  We monitor anaesthetics, take radiographs, scale and polish animals’ teeth under general anaesthetic, take blood samples, give medications and start intravenous fluids under the direction of the vets. We care for animals as they recover after operations and when they are poorly.  Although, we’re nursing animals, we’re also working daily with the owners which I love. 

4) What is the most rewarding part about being a Veterinary Nurse?

Although there are sad moments in this career, there are so many wonderful moments.  The most rewarding part is being able to nurse an animal back to health.

5) What attributes do you need to be a good Vet Nurse?

I would say you need to like animals to start with.  Being kind, caring and compassionate is also important.

6)  What advice would you give someone thinking about a career as a vet nurse?

Firstly, work hard at school, this way many doors will open for future career choices. Work experience within different animal related industries is helpful, and also lets you see if Veterinary Nursing is something you really want to do.  Although it’s a wonderful job, it’s hard work and requires focus and resilience and it’s good to get an insight into the profession you want to enter.   It’s such a fantastic role, and if it’s something you think you’d be great at then I advise you go for it. 

7)  What are the best things about working at Hawick Veterinary Practice?

I’m so lucky to work with such an amazing team. We really do have the best clients and pets a practice could ask for too.  We’re more like friends, and I feel that gives clients peace of mind when having to bring their pet to us. 

8) What would be your career highlight so far?

Becoming one of the Practices’ Head Nurses was definitely a highlight for me.  There have been so many highlights throughout my career though and it’s hard to pick just one. Making bonds with clients and their pets is always the best thing for me. 

9) Have you completed any additional training to support you in your role?

I regularly attend lectures and training on different topics and techniques.  This helps me to stay up to speed with latest changes etc. 

To summarise, I really couldn’t be more grateful for this role.  Every day is different and challenging in its own way.  I love being a veterinary nurse!

 

Thank you Vanessa for sharing your story.

To find out more about the role of RVNs in veterinary practices, or if you are interested in finding out more about a career in veterinary nursing, visit the BVNA website

How owning a pet can be good for your mental health

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK, so we wanted to explore the connection between pet ownership and mental health.

Thankfully, in more recent times, the conversation about mental health is more open and honest than ever. Members of the Royal family have spoken out about their own mental health issues and act as patrons to dedicated charities; celebrities and public figures talk about their struggles; and the medical profession is more educated and understanding than before.

We hear advice on how to keep our mental health strong, and how to deal with negative mental health experiences in terms of physical behaviour, but what about external factors? Here, we’re looking at how owning a pet can have a positive effect on your mental health.

Loneliness

A well-known cause of low mood and depression is loneliness. The companionship provided by a pet can help to reduce feelings of loneliness by having ‘someone’ to talk to, or to give and receive cuddles. In extreme cases, pets have been attributed with saving people’s lives’ by giving them a focus and something to live for. Pets are great listeners and never talk back, are grateful for attention and always appreciative when you feed them! They give unconditional love, which can be essential for people who feel alone.

Anxiety

Studies have shown that stroking a pet can regulate breathing, lower blood pressure, relax muscle tension and slow heart rates; all signs of anxiety and stress. It can release serotonin and dopamine – happy hormones – which relax us and improve our mood.

Structure and focus

Pets don’t care if you’re tired, miserable or don’t want to get out of bed – they need feeding, walking, and general looking after. Owning a pet can give the structure needed to get through the day when you’re feeling troubled. Caring for a pet can also remind us that we need to care for ourselves too.

Exercise and fresh air

If exercise is good for mental health, then owning a dog might be the push needed to get out and about. Dogs require regular exercise and generally love walkies, which encourages their owners to take them out even when they may not themselves feel like it. Owning a dog is a big responsibility, which needs to be thought about before making a commitment, but it’s a great way to stick to daily exercise all year round.

Be more social

Owning a pet can help people become more social too. Many dog owners love to exchange pleasantries or stop for a chat on their daily walk. But all pets provide a commonality with friends and strangers; it gives us something to talk about and share stories about. With the love of pets on social media, isolated people can develop new friendships and relationships by sharing their pets photographs and joining in conversations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, there are medical professionals and registered charities that you can contact for help, support and advice, such as the Samaritans (116 123) or Mind (0300 123 3393).

If you or someone you know is struggling with the loss of a pet then there are pet bereavement services there to support you, such as Blue Cross (0800 096 6606) and Paws to Listen – Cats Protection (0800 024 9494).

Hawick Vets COVID-19 (Coronavirus) 18th May Update

Please note, as of 18th May, there have been no new updates and we continue to follow the guidance below:

From 23rd March, for an initial 3-week period, veterinary practices have been physically open for urgent and emergency cases only, following government advice and professional guidance from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and British Veterinary Association (BVA).

Following new guidance, from 14th April, some additional services can be offered to our patients, while still following COVID-19 guidelines and strict social distancing. Any additional services we can offer will depend on a risk assessment which considers the safety of our clients and teams with the welfare of your pet, to ensure the most appropriate course of action is determined. Of course, we continue to be physically open for urgent and emergency cases.

As we continue to comply with social distancing rules, we are working in smaller teams to reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is likely that fewer appointments will be available and that we will need to prioritise cases on clinical assessment and need.

Examples of services which may be possible:

Vaccination – We strongly believe in vaccination and the benefits of preventative healthcare, but risks vary based on geography, lifestyle and previous history. We will use our professional judgement and discretion to assess each individual situation and advise you on the best course of action.

Neutering – we will assess your pet’s situation based on welfare, population control and individual household circumstances to decide if the need for neutering your pet is essential or if it can be safely delayed further. We are also mindful of the need to preserve essential PPE and anaesthetic which are required by the NHS.

If your pet requires one of the above treatments, please get in touch. For existing clients, if we have not already been in touch with you, please contact us.

We are currently reviewing how best to re-introduce some of these services while keeping you and our teams as safe as possible – so please bear with us, it may take us longer to answer calls or respond to email/web requests. If you have any other concerns about your pet’s health, please contact us to discuss how we can help you.

Flea and worm treatments – will continue to be provided based on your pet’s need. Please call us to order more.

Prescriptions and food – will still be supplied, however the process for ordering may have changed. Please call us if you require more.

We realise you may be feeling anxious about your pet’s wellbeing. However, we wanted to reassure you that we’ll do all we can to support you and your pet – should the need arise.

Guidance for visiting a practice:

We will continue to minimise face-to-face contact, to protect human health and curb the spread of COVID-19, and therefore if you are visiting us:

  • When you arrive, please wait outside and call our reception team to notify them of your arrival.

We will advise you of how we can safely take your pet into the practice to be examined.

  • To protect the health and wellbeing of our staff, please do not enter the practice unless instructed to do so.
  • If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, had close contact with someone who has, or you’re experiencing symptoms (new persistent cough and/or fever), and your pet needs veterinary care, please call us. We will be able to advise you on how your pets can receive the care they need.
  • If your pet is hospitalised at our facility, we are asking clients not to visit their pet at this time.
  • If you need to change any appointments because you are in isolation, please call us and we will rearrange these for you.

We have made this decision as the health and wellbeing of our patients, clients and staff is our number-one priority.

Thank you for your understanding during this time. We remain committed to delivering the best care for your pet and for now, stay safe, we are here for you if you need us.

75th VE Day Anniversary – Animals in War

On this VE Day, it will be 75 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the war in Europe. The 75th anniversary will provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the bravery and sacrifice of people from all walks of life. It is equally important to consider the role animals played and how they were touched by war.

Domestic pets

As they do today, pets played a significant role in people’s lives during the war. When refugees escaped from Europe, sometimes they only managed to escape with their pets.

With millions of people joining the war effort, charities such as the Blue Cross stepped up by looking after the pets of service members. Despite facing great danger during the war, the charity and volunteers across the UK continued to care for and treat animals. By 1945, they were treating 210,000 animals a year!

Pets also saved countless lives during the war. Here are just a few examples of pets who become heroes:

  • When an incendiary bomb was dropped through the roof of the house in which Juliana, a Great Dane, and her owner lived, the dog stood over the bomb and urinated on it, extinguishing the incendiary device. She was awarded her first Blue Cross medal for her actions. Juliana was celebrated as a hero for a second time in 1944 when she again helped to save the lives of her owners. After a fire started in their shoe shop, she alerted her owners’ family to the imminent danger. For this courageous action, she was awarded a second medal.
  • A little dog by the name of Fluff worked valiantly to save her owners. Fluff was buried with her owners in the rubble of their house after a German bomb landed on it. By continuous scratching, Fluff made a hole big enough to get out, which also acted as an airway for the trapped people. She stood outside the hole and barked until rescuers arrived.
  • The home of Peggy, a ferocious terrier, was blown up by a German bomb. Her female owner and a baby were trapped under the debris of the house. The dog worked furiously with her paws until she had made a hole through which the child could breathe. All three were saved and continued to live a happy life.

 

Dogs also played a direct role in the war. Dogs were trained to protect, patrol, find land mines, and even parachute behind German lines. Brian, a two-year-old Collie Cross, was one of the most-famous “paradogs” and was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal for his service. During the D-Day Landings, Brian and several other animals joined the conflict in France and beyond.

 

Horses

Horses have had a long-established role in war. In WWI, nearly a million horses were sent to France between 1914 and 1918, and only 62,000 returned. In WW2, soldiers of the Yeomanry regiments were shipped from Britain to multiple battlefronts with their horses. In 1942, when the Yeomanry were given tanks, the animals became redundant. Thanks to efforts of a charity called Brooke Hospital, now simply known as Brooke, these war horses were provided with a second home. Read more about their work with horses by clicking here.

During the Blitz, citizens and charities worked to save horses impacted by German air force bombing. Among the many stories of heroism during this dark period, volunteers and staff members of the Blue Cross worked to rescue 11 horses trapped in a bombed building in the heart of London. Even though bombs were falling within their vicinity, they managed to save 8 of these horses.

The human-animal bond

The human-animal bond persists through war and peace. Volunteers and charities looked after animals despite a considerable risk of personal harm, and many pets actively safeguarded their owners.

As we look back on VE day, let us be sure to remember and appreciate the important role animals played and continue to play in our life.

Deaf Awareness Week – the important role of dogs

We love dogs; they’re amazing companions – fun, loving and they bring us lots of joy! For some people however, their dog is more than just a pet, they’re a lifeline. Most of us are familiar with Guide Dogs – who are bred and trained to help people with visual impairments navigate their way around – but did you know that Hearing Dogs also exist to support people who are deaf?

As it’s Deaf Awareness Week, we have looked deeper in to the essential role dogs play in the lives of deaf people.

Through many years of experience, the teams behind breeding hearing dogs in the UK have settled on four perfect breeds they feel are best suited to carrying out the role and changing the lives of deaf people. Those breeds are Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles and mixed breed Cockapoos, due to their personality traits of being gentle whilst active and alert.

Like Guide Dogs, hearing dogs are bred specifically into the programme, with the intention of becoming working dogs and being matched with a person in need. Their training includes learning to respond to common (and not so common!) sounds like alarm clocks, doorbells, fire alarms and even text messages on mobile phones! These are all noises that a deaf person wouldn’t hear, and that could be potentially dangerous or even life threatening if they were missed.

Hearing dogs learn through reward-based training. When dogs display behaviour in line with what’s expected of them in their ‘job’ they get lots of fuss, treats and cuddles. When they don’t display the correct behaviour they’re simply ignored. Hearing dogs in training are never punished for the ‘wrong’ behaviour. This results in calmer, happier dogs, who go on to be dedicated and relaxed companions. Once matched up with an owner, the dog’s training will be further tailored to meet that person’s needs.

Hearing loss can occur from birth or later in life and can be very isolating and lonely. As well as providing essential listening skills for their owners, hearing dogs can bring companionship, confidence and independence. Hearing dogs can be matched with people of all ages, from children and teenagers through to older people. Parents can also benefit from being alerted to cries from their children if they fall or have a bad dream.

To find out more about hearing dogs, including how they are trained, and to read real life stories from people of all ages, visit www.hearingdogs.org.uk

Protect your pet from the sun

As we head into the summer months and temperatures start rising, it’s important to remember that your pets are most vulnerable at this time to many injuries and illnesses brought on by hot weather including sunburn, foot pad burns, dehydration, and the most dangerous of all, heatstroke. While heat stress is more common during the summer months, it can occur at any time throughout the year.

A state of hyperthermia, heatstroke occurs when a pet’s core body temperature exceeds the normal range, caused when heat generation exceeds the pet’s ability to cool itself down and lose the heat.

All pets are susceptible to heatstroke, but some are more prone than others including;

Dogs and Cats – pets which are overweight, have a thick heavy coat or are of a flat-faced breed (which is prone to breathing difficulties) are all more prone to heatstroke.

Rabbits and Guinea pigs – Rabbits and guinea pigs of any age are susceptible to heatstroke because they have very few ways of getting rid of excess heat. As prey species, they are experts at hiding any evidence of distress. Long hair, pregnancy and being overweight are some of the factors which make them more prone to heatstroke.

To help protect your pets during warm weather spells, and minimise the risk of any sun-related injuries, here are a few simple things you can do at home:

Water

Ensure your pet always has access to fresh water. Like humans, our pets are at danger of dehydration if they don’t drink enough water. Do not wait for your pet to appear thirsty or beg for water; ensure that it is readily available in a shady area, out of direct sunlight. You should also ensure their bowls are clean so that it stays nice and fresh, and they want to drink from it.

Exercise

Beat the heat and exercise your dog during the coolest part of the day. You should try and get out early morning or late evening and keep extra strenuous exercises to a minimum throughout periods of hot weather. When taking your dog for a walk you should ensure you have a fresh supply of water with you. If your dog isn’t used to going for long walks, is overweight or suffers from breathing difficulties, it is advisable to avoid exercising them when it’s particularly hot.

Time out

It’s important that your pet has access to a cool area in the house or hutch out of direct sunlight to go and relax.  Also ensure the area has an ample amount of airflow and remains well ventilated throughout the day.

If your rabbit or guinea pig are kept in a hutch then you should move this into a shaded area, or inside of the house, depending on where it is located.

Sun Cream

Just like us, our dogs and cats can get burned when they endure prolonged sun exposure, and as a result, can suffer from red, inflamed skin which is painful and irritating; resulting in scaly skin and hair loss. Use a pet-safe sun cream recommended by your vet – especially on pets with thin or white fur –  focusing primarily on their nose and ears to protect them from harmful UV rays.

Cars, Caravans and Conservatories

Never leave a pet in a car, caravan or a conservatory as temperatures, even on a cloudy day, can rise dramatically within a very short space of time. This could quickly lead to heatstroke, which can be fatal. If you have to travel with your dog in a car, you should ensure there is fresh air circulating through the vehicle, either from an open window or air conditioning. If you see a dog in a car looking distressed you should call 999 immediately, as recommended by the SSPCA and other animal welfare organisations.

Keeping your pet cool

If you’re seeking some further ideas for ways to keep your dog or cat cool, and entertained at the same time, you could:

  • make some frozen treat cubes,
  • let them play with a cold/damp towel,
  • provide a cooling mat,
  • place fans around the house,
  • provide a paddling pool,
  • put some toys in the freezer to cool them down.

Do not use ice, or ice-cold water as this can cause shock.

If you have a rabbit or guinea pig, you could:

  • freeze a water bottle and wrap it in a towel. They can then snuggle up to the bottle to cool down.
  • choose to give them some fresh vegetables. Before putting them in their hutch, wash them and leave a little water on them to add to their water intake.
  • regularly pour cool water on them so the heat is lost by evaporation.

It is important to note that you should not use ice-cold water or ice as this could shock their body and worsen the problem.

Symptoms

Here are some of the symptoms you should look out for with heatstroke in dogs:

  • Distressed breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Heavy Panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargic and weak
  • Collapsed or stumbling
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors

Although being very similar to a dog’s symptoms, a cat’s symptoms can be a lot more subtle and include:

  • Distressed breathing
  • Heavy Panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Appears drowsy – may pace
  • Collapsed or stumbling
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors

Some of the symptoms you should watch out for in a rabbit or guinea pig include:

  • Red ears (rabbits)
  • Bright red tongue
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Lethargic
  • Muscle tremors
  • Appears drowsy

If your pet is presenting symptoms or you are concerned about your pet and heatstroke, you should contact us immediately.