Hawick Vets report on grass seeds & freshly cut grass hazards

It is the season when issues related to grass seeds are quite common in pets, especially for dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors.

Grass seeds can attach anywhere, but they most commonly attach to long fur between the toes and around the ears. The ends are sharp, and so they work their way into the skin and can embed themselves anywhere. Once in, they can cause local problems or may slowly migrate around the body. Grass seeds can also be inhaled or swallowed. A variety of medical issues can occur due to grass seeds, including pain, swellings, infection, head shaking, sneezing, and pneumonia. Dogs who have seeds stuck inside their paws are also likely to lick them constantly and limp while walking. Your dog may suddenly start shaking their head and pawing at its ear after a walk. An onset of sneezing may mean a seed is in the nose.

Prevention is always better than cure. So even though most grass seeds can be removed with a minor surgical procedure by your vet, you can prevent them from affecting your pet by grooming them regularly and keeping their fur clipped to a manageable length.

Try to carefully examine your dog after walks as it is the best defence against grass seeds. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you suspect that your dog is suffering from the ill effects of coming into contact with them.

Freshly cut grass

Dogs love to run around a freshly mowed lawn during the spring and summer months. Nevertheless, there are some hidden hazards to keep in mind.

Moisture from mowed grass clippings and warm temperatures can create mould in your garden.  Consuming mouldy grass clippings can cause digestive issues for your dog. It can lead to reduced appetite, vomiting, and changes in the stool. The same applies to some fertiliser or other agents applied to lawns used to create lush green gardens.

Keep your dog safe by clearing grass clippings and reviewing the ingredients for products that you use in your garden. There are some products labelled as “lawn fertiliser safe for pets”. This means your pet can go back on the grass after a delayed period. Such products have very specific instructions, and it is essential to follow these instructions precisely. Your pet will be thankful and have a great time enjoying the lovely weather.

Hawick Vets COVID-19 (Coronavirus) 2021

In line with Government guidelines, our practice is open and here to offer a full range of services for our patients whilst adhering to current COVID-19 safety guidelines.

We are working to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and therefore lead times for appointments maybe a little longer than usual. Please bear with us at this time – we will do our best to make your appointment as smooth as possible.

As always, the health and wellbeing of our patients, clients, and staff is our number one priority.

Guidance for attending your appointment:

To keep everyone safe, please help us by:

  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Wearing a face covering where possible. If this is not possible, please contact us before your appointment so that we can discuss how best to support you and your pet
  • Sanitising your hands before and after your pet’s appointment
  • Using contactless payment methods wherever possible
  • On arrival, please report to reception where you will be informed of how best to access our services
  • Being aware that our teams will always be in appropriate PPE.

Thank you for your continued understanding during this time. We remain committed to delivering the best care for your pet and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Hawick Vets discuss exercising your puppy and kitten

Puppies and kittens often have endless amounts of energy and enthusiasm; this is a great way to view the world, and we should encourage this optimism to help create confident cats and dogs. Harnessing this energy into appropriate exercise regimes will also result in happier, healthier pets.

How much exercise does my puppy or kitten need?

PUPPIES

As standard, the Kennel Club recommends five minutes of exercise per month of age; this can be carried out twice a day.

e.g. eight weeks of age > 10 minutes twice a day

four months of age > 20 minutes twice a day

What is the secret to a tired and fulfilled puppy?
Mental stimulation – this is just as important as physical exercise. It’s recommended to provide physical exercise, mental stimulation, and ‘down’ time so that puppies can rest and learn to focus through exciting events.

What exactly is mental stimulation?
Mental stimulation is exercise for the brain, and helps with:

  • Boredom prevention– if the brain isn’t exercised, puppies and dogs will find other sources of mental stimulation such as chewing, digging, or barking
  • Improves owner to dog bond – mental stimulation games and play can increase owner-to-dog relationships making happier dogs and owners
  • Improves overall behaviour – increasing mental stimulation helps reduce stress or frustration in dogs and helps promote good behaviour choices
  • Helps dogs tackle frustration – dogs can often get frustrated (the toy that rolls under the sofa or the kibble that isn’t in reach). Using appropriate mental stimulation games can help dogs become less frustrated and build their levels of concentration.

Puppies are like children in how they react to tasks they deem ‘challenging’. Mental stimulation for puppies will drain their energy levels quickly compared to adult dogs. Some puppies will become frustrated quicker with certain tasks than other puppies. Assessing this during mental stimulation is essential. It is a good relationship builder if you can support puppies through tasks they may find difficult and reward them for attempting, even if they are not successful.

Mental stimulation games to play:

  • Find the food – this can be as simple as hiding puppy food or treats around the house and asking your puppy to find them or scattering puppy biscuits in the grass outside
  • Food dispensing toys – such as slow feeders or puzzle feeders. These can slow a puppy or adult dog from eating too quickly; this increases mental stimulation as they must work for their food
  • Learning new tasks – learning new ‘party tricks’ can be fun to demonstrate to other people, but how about teaching puppies behaviours you would prefer to see? We recommend teaching ‘settle’ or simply rewarding for when your puppy isn’t doing anything at all; this will enable your puppy over time to understand that ‘calmness’ is a behaviour worth doing as they will be rewarded for this. Teaching recall is another task that can provide mental stimulation through learning.

Top Tip – dogs learn by association and must be rewarded within one second for them to associate the reward.

Dogs love to sniff, and we often don’t give dogs enough time to carry out this important task. Letting a dog off their lead helps them feel satisfied from sniffing everything from grass to other dogs!  Puppies are often unsure in new spaces, so having them off their lead early ensures they learn to stay close from a young age. Training your dog as early as possible to be off their lead is recommended. It should be done in a safe, enclosed area, preferably not at home, as the puppy will know their own surroundings and act differently in an unfamiliar area. Find out more here.

Please note that short bursts of mental stimulation games are advised, especially for puppies.

Click here to read further information on dog training and puppy care with DogsTrust. Or contact our team at Hawick Vets.

KITTENS

With cats and kittens, there is no set amount of exercise that should be carried out, but at least two play sessions per day for 15-20 minutes should help reduce boredom and keep them active.

The preferred methods of play for cats are:

  • Pouncing – toys that can be pounced on are a good choice
  • Climbing – cats naturally prefer to be high up; having safe areas for cats to climb on, such as scratching posts, is another good option
  • Chasing – similar to dogs, cats like to chase. Long feather type toys are a good choice
  • Batting – cats also like to push things around the floor; rolling toys such as balls are good for this
  • Exploring – new areas or objects such as cardboard boxes or cat activity stands.

Cats tend to hunt and be most active at dawn and dusk, which is a good time to play. You can also encourage play and satisfaction by dropping a few cat treats when your kitten or cat has successfully ‘caught’ a toy. Trying different types of toys is also beneficial as this will help you discover what’s best for your kitten. Some prefer slow movements of toys whilst others like fast darting toys to chase.

Did you know that cats have a predatory sequence?
Search, stalk, chase, pounce, catch and manipulate. So, we must mimic the ‘catch’ part of this when playing with our kittens.

I have a house cat; do I need to do anything differently?
Indoor cats may be more at risk of experiencing boredom and frustration. The average distance a cat would cover outdoors is around 40-200 meters, so it’s important to factor this when planning exercise and activities for indoor cats to ensure they are stimulated.

Examples of enrichment for cats include:

  • Cardboard boxes – use different sizes and move these around in different locations every day
  • Cat activity stands or scratching posts – the taller the scratching post, the better – ceiling height is preferred, but generally, twice the size of a cat, when stood on their back legs, is a good size
  • Puzzle feeders
  • Various toys – use different toys every day and then re-use previous toys the following week
  • Shelves – placing shelves around the house will make for one very happy cat as they prefer to explore from above; a cat outdoors spends most of their time above the ground.

If you have any questions relating to puppy or kitten exercise, please get in touch with our team at Hawick Vets, and we will be happy to assist you in answering any questions you may have.

Top 10 hazards to watch out for this summertime to protect your pets

Summer brings longer days, warmer climates, new adventures and outdoor socialising, which with pets in tow, can be made even more enjoyable! However, when the temperatures rise, the dangers to our pets increase too. To keep pets safe, you should be aware of the potential hazards, as well as some top tips to help prevent your pet from endangering themselves throughout the summer months.

 

Heatstroke and dehydration
Our pet’s fur is great in the cold winter months, however, in the summer it can make them very uncomfortable; especially long-haired dogs, who require regular grooming. Heatstroke occurs when the body’s temperature rises above its normal levels and therefore cannot accommodate any additional heat.

Some of the key symptoms to watch out for are:

  • Dry pale gums
  • Bright red tongue
  • Excessive panting
  • Agitated behaviour
  • Drooling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting

To minimise the risk of dehydration and heatstroke, your pet should have access to clean, fresh drinking water. You should avoid exercising your dog during the hottest part of the day and try and get out early morning or late evening. If you are out with your dog for the day, you should carry a portable drinking bottle or bowl which is easily accessible and dispensed as required. Short-nosed dogs, dark-coloured pets and animals that are overweight are more susceptible to heatstroke and should be carefully monitored.

If you do think that your dog is dehydrated, or is demonstrating one or more of the symptoms listed above, cool them down with a hose and call us as soon as possible for advice.

 

Ticks
Our pets will be spending more time outside and will become more prone to ticks. Ticks are commonly found in woodland and grassland. Ticks are small parasites, which suck blood from other animals and have an egg-shaped body, which expands and becomes darker when they are filled with blood.

If you do discover a tick, and are confident to so do, you should remove it straight away. You should avoid squeezing the body or leaving the head in your pet. Removing a tick can be done using a tick removal tool, which can be purchased from your local practice.  If you are unsure how to remove a tick, please call us and we can assist. If the tick is not removed correctly, it can leave the tick’s head in your pet, which can cause a nasty reaction.

To prevent your pet from getting bitten, you can purchase preventative treatments from your local Practice which will repel ticks. Please call us to discuss and purchase the best treatment for your pet.

 

Bee or wasp stings
As humans, we fret around the buzzing noise when a bee comes close, however, an inquisitive pet may seek to investigate, and as a result, could get stung. Commonly, most stings will cause your pet some irritation and some pain. Dependent on where your pet has been stung, and if they have been stung before, there can be a lot of swelling and they may continually scratch the stung area, which can result in fur loss. If your pet shows any of the following symptoms, they could have been stung:

  • Drooling
  • Whining
  • Swelling
  • Pawing at the face, or mouth
  • Biting at the site of the sting
  • Holding up their paw (if that is where they have been stung)
  • Hives

If they have been stung near their mouth or nose, you should contact us straight away, as this can be a medical emergency.

 

Extra Fur
Keeping your pet well-groomed is particularly important in warmer weather. Brushing your pet to remove any excess or matted fur and to reduce the thickness of their hair will help. Having thick, ungroomed hair could contribute to heatstroke, as highlighted above. However, it is also important to remember that your pet’s coat also protects them from getting sunburnt.

Some pets are more susceptible to getting burnt by the sun. Fair haired animals, such as white dogs and cats, tend to have fair skin under their fur. Pets with fine, thin hair and hairless breeds are also at risk of sunburn. Remember, regardless of how much fur they have, all pets are vulnerable on areas which do not have much fur, including their ears, nose and on their tummy. To protect your pet, you can buy pet friendly sunblock.

 

Barbecues and alfresco dining
There’s nothing more enjoyable than cooking up a feast and enjoying your favourite tipple outdoors, however for your pet there are many things to be mindful of including hazardous foods, toxic drinks, scalding surfaces and kebab skewers to name a few.

Some food and drink that should be kept out of reach of your pet include:

  • Food containing bones
  • Food containing seeds
  • Grapes
  • Raw garlic
  • Raw onion
  • Raisins
  • Corn on the cob
  • Chocolate
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Coffee/coffee beans
  • Teas/tea bags

 

Swimming pools, sea, rivers, and lakes
For many dogs a pool, river or lake may look inviting when the temperatures are high, however, it’s important to remember that not all dogs like the water or can swim! If you are introducing your dog to water, we would advise initially trying a shallow children’s paddling pool. If they enjoy that, you could then introduce them to wider, deeper waters using a dog-specific flotation device for their safety. If you are near water with a current or tide, please be wary; even if your dog is a strong swimmer, they could quickly find themselves in trouble if swimming against a tide.

Keep a look out for blue-green algae and associated warning signs, as this is often poisonous for dogs. Don’t let your dog swim in or drink water which you suspect is contaminated. You should contact us straight away if you suspect your dog may have come in to contact with some.

If your dog does enjoy swimming, after they have played in the water you should ensure they are always thoroughly rinsed to wash away salt, chlorine and harmful bacteria.

 

Walking on hot pavements and artificial grass
Hot pavements can burn your pet’s paws. Their paws are just as sensitive as the bottom of our feet, so if it is unbearable for you to touch, then it will be the same for your pet. We would advise trying the seven-second rule; if you can place the back of your hand on the surface for seven seconds or more, then your pet should be able to withstand the temperature of the surface. If you cannot, then it’s too hot for your pet to walk on.

To prevent your pet from burning its paws, you should follow the measures listed below:

  • Walk them in the cooler hours of the day – early morning or late evening
  • If you are out in the midday heat, try and walk them on the grass where possible
  • Clean and check your dog’s paws regularly

 

Fertiliser and pesticides
Most fertilisers contain nitrogen and iron, which can poison your pet and cause severe stomach problems which can lead to irritation. Coming in to contact with pesticides can cause your pet to have tremors and seizures. If you are not sure if your pet has been exposed to such chemicals (but your pet is showing one of the following symptoms) please call us and we can provide the appropriate treatment recommendations:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Dark, muddy coloured gums
  • Unusual posture due to abdominal pain.
  • Seizures
  • Tremors

 

Flowers and Plants
Many plants and flowers are poisonous to our pets. If they consume a poisonous plant, depending on how much and their level of toxicity, they may become quite unwell. Below is a shortlist of some of the plants you may find in the summer months, which can be hazardous to our pets:

 

  • Elder: The whole plant, including the elderberries, are poisonous for both cats and dogs.
  • Lilies: Containing a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, collapsing, fits, heart problems and renal failure (cats). Lily flowers and leaves are also often used in flower bouquets and are very poisonous to both dogs and cats.
  • Foxglove: Both the seeds and the leaves of a foxglove plant contain a toxin which can cause your pet to have heart problems, sickness, diarrhoea, fits and collapsing.
  • Geranium: The whole geranium plant is poisonous to both dogs and cats.
  • Hydrangea: Parts of a hydrangea plant contain cyanide which is toxic to both dogs and cats.

 

Cars
You should never leave your dog in a car on a hot day, even if it is just for a few minutes. Heatstroke can happen quickly, and it can be fatal. In warm weather, the temperature in a car can increase rapidly, making it hotter inside the car than outside. If your dog was to become distressed in your hot car, passers-by are encouraged to dial 999 and the police will act to release the dog – even if that means damage to your vehicle.

 

Summer is an enjoyable time of year with our pets, but it pays to be aware of the hazards which your pet could be exposed to, to ensure they remain safe. If you are concerned about your pet and would like some further advice, please contact us