Autumn dangers in Hawick

To ensure you know the dangers associated with autumn in Hawick, we have compiled together some guidance to ensure you all stay safe as we transition between seasons.


Clocks changing

The changes brought about with the clocks going back next month bring an increase in pet-related road traffic accidents and catfights. The change in routine as a result of the time difference can unsettle our pets, who often prefer routine, therefore, altering your routine a few weeks before the change can ensure your pet will be less affected and experience less routine disruption.

 

 

 

 

Leaves

Piles of leaves are fun to jump in, but once they start to decay underneath, they harbour large amounts of bacteria and mould.

 

 

 

 

 

Conkers

Although they may look appetising to dogs, conkers are toxic if chewed or ingested, and can cause blockages if swallowed.

 

 

 

 

 

Antifreeze (ethylene glycol)

This liquid is sweet-tasting to pets and if ingested it can be extremely dangerous. The liquid is rapidly absorbed and can cause severe kidney damage. In one study involving 25 cases, 96% of those affected by antifreeze sadly died. Make sure your cats have access to fresh water, and don’t allow dogs to drink from puddles where cars may have parked.

 

 

 

 

Blue-green algae

Blue-green algae is mainly present from late spring to early autumn and looks like a blue-green layer on the water. Dogs who swim are most at risk but be sure to avoid known infected waters, or avoid letting your dog swim or drink from lakes or ponds.

 

 

 

Arthritis

As the seasons start to change and we see the cold creeping in, we start to see pets suffering from arthritis become stiffer and less mobile. If you’ve noticed any change in your pet during the colder months, we can assess them to see how we can help them feel more comfortable. We will also be dedicating November to our older pets – giving you all the latest information and advice for caring for your older companions so keep a look out for further information in the coming weeks.

 

 

Fleas

It’s a good job our health plan covers the cost of prescription-strength flea treatment and wormers because even during the winter months, we still see pets with fleas.  They like the warmth, and with households keeping the heating on during cold spells, this can keep those pesky fleas breeding in the house. Keep them at bay by making sure you’ve collected your pet’s treatment this month.

If you have any worries or concerns during the autumn time, please don’t hesitate to contact us in Hawick.

Top tips to calm your anxious and stressed pet

Like humans, pets often suffer from everyday stress that can lead to issues that can cause them to become anxious or stressed. Unfortunately, while humans have some means at their disposal to deal with such issues, pets aren’t so lucky. So here are some effective ways to help reduce and relieve anxiety and stress in pets in Hawick.

Physical and mental exercise
Lack of mental stimulation or physical activity can create stress. There are lots of interactive toys available for both cats and dogs. By rotating new and old toys, you will keep your pet interested in what they’re playing with. Whether a hide and seek mouse game or an IQ treat-dispensing puzzle – there’s bound to be something available for your pet.

Pheromone diffusers
When dogs or cats lactate, they produce a pheromone that intensifies the bond between mother and pup or kitten. This pheromone has a calming and soothing effect and can be manufactured into an easy-to-use product. You can get products that contain the facial pheromones that cats rub over people and objects to mark them as familiar or safe. Cat pheromone products come in a diffuser form and dog pheromone products come as diffusers, sprays or collars. Pheromones can help treat anxiety in cats and dogs of all ages. In addition, it is odourless to humans, so you don’t need to worry about strange scents in your home.

Safe space
Most pets like to have a safe space to go to when they feel anxious or stressed. Your pet’s safe space could be a place where they can have some privacy and serenity along with a few of their favourite toys. You can also use a pheromone dispenser on or around their safe space. Cats like to get up high where they can observe their environment, especially when they are frightened. Provide your cat with a few different options, including open resting spaces such as windowsills as well as enclosed resting spaces.

Calming music
Spotify has launched a ‘My Dog’s Favourite Podcast’ – which has hours of ‘soothing sounds and friendly chat’, which is an ‘aural treat’ for your dog. Classical music is soothing not only for humans but also for cats, according to the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, produced by the International Society of Feline Medicine, the veterinary branch of International Cat Care. The soft sounds can calm down some cats and lead to relaxed breathing and a well-balanced heartbeat – with some dogs as well.

Avoid drastic changes in your routine
Cats thrive on routine and benefit from regular mealtimes, playtimes, and bedtimes. However, changes in your cat’s schedule or environment can create stress and anxiety and may trigger inappropriate urination. A routine will let your dog know what to expect each day and when to expect it. Establishing a toileting routine will help to avoid feelings of discomfort or anxiety for them and nasty clean-ups for you.

Check for health and behavioural issues
Pets often conceal health issues because of how they have evolved over several millennia. Anxiety and stress could be caused by an underlying health issue. It’s crucial that you speak to your vet to see if this can be ruled out as a possible cause. You may also want to consider meeting with an accredited veterinary behaviourist to help you put together a specific plan to adjust your pet’s underlying emotional response.

Please keep in mind that sometimes you may need to implement a mixture of strategies. The solution may not be quick or easy, but you can help your pet be happier and worry-free with dedication and the right professional assistance.

Please contact us in Hawick for further information.

Have a worry-free experience when taking your cat to the vet

We know regular veterinary visits benefit our cats – but taking them for an appointment in Hawick can pose a challenge if not done correctly. Cats by nature are independent, territorial and need to feel in control. So – all these things can make trips to the vets eventful for both you and your cat.

Preparation for your cat’s vet visit

A trip to the vets in Hawick takes cats completely out of their comfort zone as they experience confinement in a carrier followed by unfamiliar motion, sights, smells, and sounds. All these will increase a cat’s anxiety levels and place it into a high state of alert.

Fortunately, you can do a few things to make the experience less challenging for you, your cat, and our veterinary team.

From an early age, you should get your cat accustomed to being handled. One of the most common things your vet or nurse will do during any visit is perform a routine physical exam of your pet. The best approach is gentle, little, and often handling. Always stop if your cat shows any signs of unease. The more your cat is used to this, the more likely it is that being handled by our veterinary and nursing teams will be well tolerated.

Travelling to the vet means getting your cat familiar with carrier use. When choosing a carrier, it should be sturdy, easy to clean, secure, and should be easily accessible. Open top carriers can be easier for this reason.

In the first instance, place the carrier in a room where your cat is comfortable, put some familiar bedding in it, and allow your cat to get used to it being there. You may wish to use a pheromone spray for cats on the bedding to reduce any anxiety or place some treats within the carrier. It is also advisable to place a light covering over carriers to increase the feeling of security.

On the day of the appointment, please do not feed your cat a large meal before leaving for the vet, as the travel could induce nausea, causing your cat to be sick in their carrier. It’s fine to offer a few treats as a positive reinforcement when preparing them for their journey (as long as you haven’t been asked to withhold food before a procedure). We may sometimes use treats at our practice to reward your cat and improve their experience with us.

At the veterinary practice

When your cat is ready to go to the vet, please avoid rushing. Pick up your carrier in a secure manner, held close to you to reduce excess motion. The handle on a carrier should only be used to lift the carrier when empty! Cats usually need time to get used to the veterinary clinic and to calm down – this should not be a problem and our team will take the time needed.

At the veterinary practice, keep the cat carrier covered to avoid visual contact with others. We try to keep our waiting room as tranquil as possible, but the presence of other pets and unfamiliar scents can increase anxiety in cats. We have a cat waiting area for clients to wait with their cats away from dogs and also cubicles to put the boxes in that are off the ground and out of sight of any other cats.

Once in the consulting room, ask our team if it is ok to open the carrier and let the cat exit the carrier on its own to explore the examination area. Use strokes or treats to help them relax. Our team will always take a few minutes to chat with you before the physical check-up in a routine consult. This gives your cat a chance to acquaint themself with the surroundings and get used to the new sights, sounds, and smells of the clinic before the vet or nurses begin an examination.

Bringing your cat back home

The exit from the practice should be done with as much care as your arrival. A rushed trip back home with a lot of unnecessary movement can be equally traumatising to your cat. However, you can give your cat extra cuddles and treats when you arrive home for being a brave kitty!

We look forward to seeing you and your cat soon

Stress, anxiety, and worry have a major impact on cat welfare. This is why we are proud of our International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) Silver Cat-Friendly Clinic status. There are many ways we help to minimise stress as much as possible for our feline friends when they visit the practice. To find out more, visit www.catfriendlyclinic.org

Please contact us for further information.

Helping your pet adjust to home life changes in Hawick

The end of the summer holidays in Hawick brings with it another change in home life for our pets. When considering this change, we could put them in one of two camps: those 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 children go back to school or you return to 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 can be more susceptible to separation anxiety than others.

Some dogs when left alone might express their anxiety by behaving inappropriately, some may become destructive and chew household items or furniture; others become very vocal and bark or whine continuously until we return home. Not only is this distressing for our dogs but it’s annoying for our neighbours too!

There are a few things we can do to help our pets adjust to these significant changes in home life.

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. You can try the following:

  • Spend time in a different room from 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 its own bed and is not always next to you.
  • 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 person 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.

Puppies

If you have a puppy or young dog, introduce them to places that you may not have visited before. 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.

How can we help cats?

For the vast majority of adult cats, their life during periods such as summer holidays probably isn’t massively different from their usual routine. They may feel more inconvenienced by extra attention from their humans, but many cats will avoid this by seeking out new sunbathing, hiding, and sleeping places!

If your cat has spent more time indoors, 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. We’ll also contact you when your cat is due for a check-up and booster.

All pets

It will take all of us some time to get used to changes to our daily routine. If your pets have enjoyed lie-ins and late nights recently, it’s helpful to resume your usual routine before you go back to work and school if possible.

If you’d like further information about any aspect of preparing your pet for home life changes, please contact us for a chat in Hawick.

Tips for worry-free visits to the vets

Like many people dread going to the doctor, the vet can be a source of anxiety for our pets. Luckily, there are steps you can take to alleviate some of the anxiety your pet feels when it senses a vet visit in Hawick is coming up.

Preparing for your visit

If possible, hold off on your pet’s regular feeding before you go. This will reduce the risk of accidents, as anxiety and stress can make your pet empty their bladder and bowels more frequently. Our team can give them tasty treats as rewards and distract them while they are with us. A pet receiving treats at our practice will form a positive association with the vet and the facility. They will think of it as a place where they are loved and fed!

One of the things you can do to increase the positive association with a visit to the vet is to visit us in Hawick on a day when no medical examination or procedure is needed. The goal is to make your pet think that it is just a visit, with treats and love from friendly people. The more visits your pet has with treats and love, the less they will be stressed and full of anxiety for their medical visits.

If you have a cat, you can desensitise your cat to a carrier by having it out all the time at home. You can make it a nice place to lie down with the door open. This can help reduce stress for car rides and help desensitisation to new environments such as visiting the vet.

Practice holding and handling your pet and examining them from head to tail. This will help your pet feel less stressed when the vet or nurse examines them. You are, in essence, acquainting your pet to the different elements involved in a vet visit.

There are plug-in pheromone diffusers available for dogs and cats to reduce stress and tension further. In addition, it is helpful to spray the bedding in a pet carrier with an appropriate pheromone. Please ask us about this as we can recommend a pheromone that is appropriate for your pet and can also supply you with some. They help tremendously and allow your pet to have a worry-free visit.

If you would like more information on pheromone diffusers that we recommend, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

When you arrive

The waiting area can be stressful if your pet is not used to being in the company of other pets. Many new pets haven’t had a chance to interact with other pets over the last year due to restrictions imposed for COVID-19; if this is the case for your pet, you can contact us in advance to book a slot when our reception area is less busy. If you would rather wait in your car or outside, please let us know, and we can accommodate this.

Sudden loud noises can be upsetting for pets, so we work hard to keep noise to a minimum in our reception area. We encourage our teams to keep the reception area free of clutter and anything that would be distressing to your pet.

Interacting with your vet or nurse

Your vet or nurse will speak in a calm voice to create a relaxed environment for your pet. A lot of the time, our pets can feed off the anxieties of others.

We will examine your pet on the consulting room table or on the floor. Our team will determine which position is the safest and least stressful for your pet.

Having your pets’ temperature taken or getting their weight checked are standard procedures and deserve praise and a special treat. Keeping your pet distracted while they are having a potentially stressful procedure may help divert their attention.

Keep up the good work

After your pet has become well-accustomed and trained for trips to the vet, it is a good idea to continue trips to your vet. If your pet has been doing great at the vet and then suddenly, after a stressful visit, does an emotional backslide, don’t worry! Just go over these tips and re-acquaint your pet with the different elements involved in vet visits. This will help your pet recover and learn to relax again and have worry-free visits.

Keeping your dog safe during car travel in Hawick

It’s hard not to smile when you see a dog with its head out of the window in a travelling car. They look so happy and carefree! But travelling with an unrestrained dog in Hawick could be a real risk – to them, to you, and to other drivers.

If you’re going to be out and about on the road in Hawick with your dog this summer, here are some things to consider to keep everyone safe.

What does the law say?

Whilst it isn’t illegal to travel with an unrestrained dog, it is advised against it in the highway code:

“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

UK Highway Code, rule 57.

We recommend restraining your dog while travelling. It will keep them safe and secure in the unfortunate case of an accident. It will also stop them from distracting the driver by moving around the vehicle and blocking the view, for example.

Select the right type of restraint for your dog

Acceptable vehicle restraints include a travel cage or carrier (good for smaller dogs and short journeys), or a specially designed harness or seat belt. If you choose a travel cage, this should be placed in the footwell of the front seat or secured with the seatbelt on the rear seat. Never put animals on the front seat of a car. A harness should be properly fitted in the rear of the vehicle, and secured with a seat belt. There should be sufficient room for your dog to comfortably move, but not so they can escape.

Larger dogs may be more comfortable travelling in the boot of a hatchback car. You can use a dog guard to stop them jumping over the headrests. Ensure your dog has plenty of space.

Make sure your dog is comfortable

Give your dog some home comforts for their travels; add blankets and their favourite toy to carriers or cages. If you’re going on a long journey plan regular stops for water, snacks, toilet breaks and stretches. Be sure to keep your dog on a lead as they leave the vehicle; if they’re in an unfamiliar place with other people and traffic there’s a chance they could panic and run away.

Regulate the temperature inside the car; don’t open windows too much or have air conditioning blowing directly on your dog. Of course, it goes without saying, NEVER leave your dog in a warm car. Temperatures can quickly rise even on cooler days; leading to heatstroke, dehydration, and even death. If your dog becomes distressed in a 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.

What’s more, if you fail to properly restrain your pet, it could invalidate both your car insurance and your pet insurance.

If you have any further issues please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Heat awareness for animals in hutches

We all enjoy getting out in the sunshine; however, it is not always true for our pets! Any animal can overheat in hot weather, and we can often forget how tough it can be on our pets that live in hutches in Hawick, such as rabbits and guinea pigs.

It can be easy to think that their hutches provide cover from the warm sun, but they can heat up very quickly and become uncomfortable for the animals. And let’s not forget all that fur that they can be carrying too!

Take a look at our 5 top tips below for helping your furry friend stay cool:

  1. It is always best to find a shady area in the garden to position their enclosure and any exercise runs, to 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 for them that is nice and cool to lie on – this could be achieved by placing some ceramic tiles in their hutch/enclosure, however, ensure that these remain in the shade.
  3. It is important to remember that your rabbit or guinea pig is likely to drink more on hot days, therefore ensure they have access to fresh, clean water when needed. Keep checking the water throughout the day too so that you can top it up as required, but also so you can notice if anything is wrong (e.g. the bottle spout is blocked).
  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. Keep an eye out for:

–   Convulsions

–   Salivating

–   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  in Hawick immediately.