Tortoise parasite prevention

Do you have a tortoise? If so, it is recommended to have a worm count carried out on your tortoise twice a year.

A worm count can be carried out by obtaining a faecal sample, which can be tested in practice. It is common for tortoises to have a low-level worm burden; however, when this increases, it can cause issues such as diarrhoea, a reduction in the absorption of nutrients, and subsequently, weight loss. It is particularly important to control before hibernation, after moving to a new enclosure, before meeting a new tortoise, or if they stop eating or have diarrhoea.

If a positive test is returned, we would recommend booking in for worming treatment. Many wormers will only kill the live worms and not the eggs and, for this reason, we may advise on repeat doses and another faecal count at the end of the treatment.

Whilst your tortoise is undergoing worming treatment it is important to remove all substrate and replace it with newspaper. Throughout this time, you should feed your tortoise with high fibre, high water content food. It would help if you did not feed them fruit, as sugar can lead to worms reproducing more rapidly.

For more information, please contact us.

How to choose a scratching post for your cat

Scratching posts are essential items for cats. They provide a dedicated place for your cat to scratch and ensure that your walls and soft furnishings avoid unnecessary damage.

The reasons cats scratch are:

  • for claw maintenance – to shed the outer sheath of the claw and sharpen the tips of the claws
  • to exercise the muscles and maintain the system that allows claw extension and withdrawal, used in hunting and climbing
  • for territorial marking – scratching leaves a visual marker in the form of scratch lines and a chemical marker as pheromones are released from the plantar pad glands

There are many different types of scratching posts available suitable for all budgets. Some may come with hiding places, platforms at different heights, and dangling toys.

Things to look out for when shopping for a post:

  • You will want to make sure the post is rigid and stable. We would recommend attaching it to the wall with a wall bracket for a taller modular style post for extra safety
  • The post will need to include enough height to ensure your cat can fully stretch to provide the scratch room that they require
  • Many cat scratching posts are covered in a variety of carpeting. However, it’s important to choose a post with a covering different from your home’s material, as you wouldn’t want to send mixed messages that scratching one type of carpet is ok, however not scratching other areas of your house with the same material is not!
  • For claw maintenance, the option of having horizontal and vertical surfaces for scratching is preferred
  • The number of scratching facilities in your home very much depends on the number of cats you have in your house. If you have several cats living in a home, then you should avoid cats having to share scratching posts, which will help prevent competition and anxiety.

Where to place your post:

Ideally, you will want to place the post near your cats’ bed so that they can scratch first thing in the morning. A location near a window or radiator in a room that your cat prefers would be a great place to start.

If your cat loves to hang out with you, you could put posts with beds in areas close to where you spend most of your time. Cats want their scratches to be visible to humans, and for other household pets to see and smell.

Getting your cat used to the post:

When you first introduce the post to your cat, they may avoid it. If they do, you can encourage them to engage with the post by playing a game with your cat around it. Alternatively, you could place some dry food on different levels of the platform to encourage your cat to jump up.

We hope that your cat enjoys its new safe space.

How do you show your pet affection?

Showing your pet that you love and care for them doesn’t have to be complicated. We have pulled together some simple ideas of ways to show your pet that you love them.

Keep active together
Exercise not only benefits your physical and mental wellbeing but your pet’s too. Spend quality time together by taking your dog on long walks, varying the route each day.

Why not combine your dog walk with a run? Couch to 5k is a great initiative, and introduces exercise into your life, and keeps your pet fit and active, by introducing interval training. Whilst out on walks, you could also encourage catch and fetch games to keep your pet engaged and active.

At home, you could build a mini obstacle or agility course using household items such as large boxes, laundry baskets, cones, and cushions. You should incorporate chase toys into your cat’s routine to keep them active.

Teach them new skills
To keep your pet’s mind active teach them new skills. Not only will these break up the day, but tricks also keep their mind sharp too.

Show physical affection
Throughout the day ensure you include lots of belly rubs, ear scratching, and stroking.

For cats, stroke them from the top of their heads down to the tail and encourage them to sit on your lap whilst you stroke them.

Grooming
We all love being pampered as it makes us feel good. Take time to groom your pet and make a fuss over them. This time is great for reinforcing the bond between the two of you. You can also use this time to check for any issues or injuries.

Could you treat them?
Reinforce positive behaviour with a healthy treat. If your pet has mastered a new trick, reward them, but take note to ensure this comes from their daily food allowance.

Are any of their toys looking used or worn? If so, invest in some new toys to stimulate your pet, but ensure to rotate toys to keep your pet engaged.

There are many ways to show your pet that you love them, and just by implementing some of the suggestions above, your pet will thrive from the love and attention that they receive.

Rabbit Dental Care

Unlike domestic dogs and cats, a rabbit’s teeth never stop growing and can grow nearly 2mm a week. Wild rabbits adapt for this growth by chewing daily on coarse grass and other vegetation that helps to wear down the crowns of their teeth, however, pet rabbits are not typically offered access to the same type of vegetation and often consume dry pellets as the bulk of their diet.

Domestic rabbits also receive less sunlight compared to wild rabbits. Sunlight helps with vitamin D production, which enables the absorption of calcium from food for the proper development of the jaw and teeth. A lack of vitamin D can lead to teeth not growing and maturing correctly, leading to malocclusions and dental problems. It can be more common for short-faced rabbits to encounter dental concerns.

As a rabbit owner, it is important to keep an eye out for dental disease, as well as learn ways to keep your rabbit’s teeth healthy throughout its life.

Dental disease in rabbits

The best way to diagnose dental disease in rabbits is to have your vet perform a thorough oral examination and take x-rays to see the tooth roots below the gum line. Through this procedure, your vet can discover a condition called malocclusion. When a rabbit’s jaw is not aligned correctly due to malocclusion, their incisors become long, making it difficult for your rabbit to chew. Rabbit’s teeth can be examined with them awake, but if there are problems, the only way to thoroughly examine the back molars is under anaesthetic.

As the tooth crowns grow longer inside the mouth, the top and bottom teeth hit as the rabbit chews, putting pressure on tooth roots below the gum line and creating gaps between the teeth and gums. Bacteria can become trapped in these gaps, leading to the infection of teeth roots and the formation of jaw abscesses. It is also quite common for the incorrect movement of the jaw to cause sharp spikes on the teeth which can lacerate the tongue and cheeks.

Other signs that rabbit owners should look out for are:

  • salivation and a wet chin,
  • decreased appetite,
  • overgrowth of front teeth from lack of wear,
  • discharge from the eyes due to compression of the tear ducts from overgrown tooth roots.

How to care for your rabbit’s teeth

Your rabbit’s teeth should be checked regularly by your vet. Rabbit owners should also consider the following:

  • Pet rabbits should have free access to hay or grass, making up 90% of their diet. The rest should be made up of pellets (not muesli) and fresh greens
  • Provide your rabbit with access to direct sunlight
  • Ask your vet about tooth trimming services.

We recommend that you inspect your rabbits’ front teeth often. They should be creamy white, smooth (except for a vertical line down the centre of the top ones), and end in a neat chisel-shaped bite. The back teeth are best inspected by your vet. By paying close attention to your rabbit’s oral health, you will have a healthy and happy bunny.

For more information on caring for your rabbit, please visit https://rabbitwelfare.co.uk/rabbit-care-advice/

Advice on grooming your cat or dog at home

Grooming is an important part of pet welfare and wellbeing and should be carried out regularly.

Spending time grooming your dog or cat can benefit your own mental health and improve your relationship with them. It is a good idea to start getting your pets used to grooming from an early age.  It’s also a good opportunity to look for any abnormalities or changes in their physical condition, like lumps, bumps, or skin lesions that may need to be checked out by a professional. Early detection of changes can be vital for your pet’s health, and your vet will be able to advise if you do find anything that concerns you.

Brushing

Most pets love being brushed, and it is a good opportunity for bonding and training. Brushing is especially important for long-haired dogs, though short-haired dogs also benefit from and enjoy it too. Brushing helps to get rid of loose hairs and dead skin, remove any tangles and promote circulation. It also helps bring out natural oils which are then distributed, giving their coat a healthy sheen. Cats generally groom themselves, however, long-haired cats and older cats may benefit from a helping human hand. Always use a vet recommended brush suitable for your pet’s fur.

Bathing

Bath your dog as often as is necessary, using good quality shampoo. Some dogs may love being bathed, for others, it will always be challenging. There is no need to regularly bathe your cat; only if it’s necessary to remove dirt or residue. Many cats find being bathed extremely stressful, so try to keep them calm with lots of stroking and soft words. Ensure there’s sufficient space for your pet to move around, but not to run away, with a non-slip surface (e.g use a bathmat in the bath). Smaller dogs and cats can be bathed in a sink. Water should be warm (but not too hot) and you should use a specially formulated dog or cat shampoo.

Dry your pet with a fluffy towel or leave them to air dry. We do not recommend using a hairdryer on wet cats or dogs unless they are particularly accustomed to it, in which case use a low heat setting and avoid eyes and ears.

Cleaning teeth

Teeth and gum health is important for pets and needs to be considered as part of a regular grooming routine. If this is something you haven’t done before, it may take time for your pet to feel comfortable with the process. Our recent tooth brushing guide for small animals may be useful to you.

Checking ears

Cats and dogs can be prone to ear infections, which can cause pain and discomfort. Because they can’t vocalise issues it’s worth checking regularly for any sign of problems. Look out for any changes that have occurred between regular ear checks such as redness, swelling, offensive odour, or excessive wax. If you have any concerns, we’ll be happy to help.

As always,  we’re on hand to offer advice and support, as well as to examine your pet if something seems wrong. Please contact us if you need our assistance.

Starting your puppy off right!

If you’ve recently got a new puppy, you may be wondering how to give them the best start to life. According to Dogs Trust, the first four months of a puppy’s life are crucial, as it is when they learn what to make of all they experience in the world.

Problems can arise when puppies do not receive training or are not familiarised with their environment early on. As dogs get older, they can become stressed about things that they did not encounter when they were young. As you can imagine, adjusting to all the changes caused by the COVID-19 control measures and transitioning to the new ‘normal’ can be confusing to a puppy.

When you start to train your puppy, we recommend using methods that rely on positive reinforcement and gentle teaching. Puppies have short attention spans, so training sessions should be brief but should occur routinely.

Teaching your puppy to be alone

Your puppy needs to feel stress-free and confident to be left alone. You can start training by putting your puppy behind child gates or playpens, then quietly walking out of the room. Return immediately and reward them with praise. Repeat the process, slowly increasing how long you are away each time. In the beginning, even a single minute might feel too long for your puppy, but over time, you should be able to build up to reasonably long periods.

Once your puppy starts to feel confident, you can get them used to you leaving the house. Start slowly by going outside and returning straight away. If your puppy stays relaxed, you can increase the time that you are out. This will leave them well-prepared when the time comes for you to transition away from working from home or when your social diary fills up.

Creating a routine

Some basic structure will help your puppy feel secure and know what is expected of him or her. The best way to do this is to create a basic schedule. Try and develop a routine of exercise, mealtimes, potty breaks and training sessions. No matter how tempting it is to play with your puppy all the time while you are at home, it is essential to give your puppy rest throughout the day.

By establishing the routine from the very start, you will be on your way to a well-adjusted dog. It is worth putting in the time right now so that undesirable behaviours will not develop in the long run.

Socialising with dogs

Puppies need to learn how to communicate with other dogs. This task became tricky due to COVID-19 limitations and social distancing. Many behavioural problems can arise when a dog has been inadequately socialised as a puppy. For this reason, it is best to aim for early controlled socialisation as much as possible. To keep them safe, we recommend that your puppy receives all the necessary vaccinations before they start interacting with other dogs.

Socialising with people

A major component of a dog’s life is meeting new people, whether when out on exercise or when visitors are able to come to your home.  Dogs Trust highlights that you can have great fun introducing them to how different people might appear, by:

  • Trying on different outfits around the home.
  • Getting into a big hat or a wig.
  • Introducing things like walking sticks or high-vis clothing if you have them.


Handling and grooming

It’s a great idea to help your puppy get used to being handled at a young age. Introduce a gentle grooming brush and spend a few minutes each day examining your puppy’s mouth, ears and paws. If unsure, ask one of our team members to show you how you can do this gently.

Play

Puppies learn a lot about social interactions through play. Short periods of energetic play are a good way for puppies to learn the basics such as ‘fetch’ and ‘hide and seek’. You could practise inside your home or garden in preparation for when you can venture further afield.

Cars

Although it’s important to get puppies used to going out in the car at an early age, it may not be possible to do this under the current circumstances. If you have a travel crate in the boot, now’s a good time to introduce them to it.  Sit the puppy in the crate in your car whilst stationary on your drive or outside your house, to get them used to being in the car. Gradually spend longer periods of time with your puppy in the car, giving plenty of praise and treats each time. Feeding meals in the car is a good way for your puppy to develop a positive association with your car.

Children

The actions of children can be scary to adult dogs that are not socialised with children during puppyhood. Children tend to get excited around puppies and may incite them to play and chase, therefore it’s important that they are taught how to behave around each other. We do not recommend leaving your new puppy unsupervised with any children until you are certain they can get along well.

The best way to build a good relationship between your dog and children is to use positive reinforcement. When your dog is behaving well around children, be sure to give them lots of praise and treats. Your dog will learn that good things happen whenever kids are around.

For additional tips, please visit www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/behaviour/puppy-socialisation-introduction 

Tooth Brushing Guide for Small Animals

Brushing is by far the best method for keeping your pet’s teeth clean and is more successful if taken in stages. Ideally, it would help if you brushed your dog’s teeth at least once daily to help remove plaque and prevent tartar build-up.

STAGE 1: Build confidence

  • Smaller pets can be placed at a comfortable height where they feel secure, such as on a chair, table, or lap covered with a towel to prevent slipping.
  • For cats, it can be easier if there are two people. For larger pets, it may be best to leave them on the floor.
  • Gently rub the face and muzzle with fingers and hands only. Work up to being able to gently hold the mouth closed for a short period. This can be done by placing fingers on top of the nose, or muzzle, with the thumb under the chin.
  • Do this for approximately 30 seconds and then reward with some fuss, play, a treat, or all the above.
  • Repeat daily for at least five days or until your pet is relaxed and comfortable with this.

STAGE 2: Finger brushing

  • Place your pet in the same position you used when building their confidence (Stage 1).
  • Gently close the mouth as practiced. The lips will be relaxed, so there is no need to try and hold the mouth open.
  • Apply a small amount of pet-specific toothpaste to a fingertip or finger toothbrush and slide under the lip to rub the paste onto the teeth.
  • Start from the canine (fang teeth) and work backward.
  • Many pets find the incisors (small teeth at the front of the mouth) very sensitive, so only brush these once your pet has become used to the other teeth being brushed.

STAGE 3: Moving on to a toothbrush

  • Once your pet is happy with the finger brushing, you can progress on to a toothbrush. Brushes specifically designed for both dogs and cats are best.
  • Place the pet-specific toothpaste onto the brush, slide under the gum, and gently brush the teeth.
  • We recommend working hard at ensuring that both sides of the mouth are equally brushed. This may mean starting on the side that you feel least comfortable brushing.
  • When you start brushing, you may notice a small amount of blood on the toothbrush. As you continue to brush this will stop appearing as you will be tackling the gum disease responsible for the bleeding. If it does not stop, please contact us so we can advise on the next steps.

 ADVANCED LEVEL

Consider the gums
If you find the brushing easy and your pet is very tolerant, you may also be able to brush their gums. To do this, you will need to look carefully at which teeth you are brushing. Angle the toothbrush so that the bristles gently clean the gum around the base of each tooth. This is advanced level brushing and only to be attempted if you and your pet are comfortable and confident to do so.

In addition to brushing, the following can also help keep teeth and gums healthy…

GELS
Gel products are beneficial for pets that suffer from or are likely to develop gum disease. Gels can also be helpful for cats where brushing is not tolerated as they can be applied with a cotton bud initially, and may allow for progression to a toothbrush.

ORAL RINSES
Oral rinses are useful if gums are too sore to brush, especially immediately after dental treatment. Like gels, oral rinses are to be used daily.

SPECIALIST DIETS
Some brands of pet food offer a range specifically designed to be kind to your pet’s teeth and to be used in conjunction with brushing. The biscuit size, shape, and texture is formulated to provide an increased abrasive action. Please speak to us to find out which diet would be the most suitable for your pet.

DENTAL CHEWS
Dental chews may help to reduce plaque accumulation and tartar formation on teeth, and pets love the taste. However, it is important to not solely rely on them as evidence indicates that chews alone are not capable of maintaining long term oral health.

For more information or advice, please contact us.

January is National Walk Your Dog Month

If you’re a dog owner, you’ll know that every month is walk your dog month, as our canine friends need regular exercise all year round! But during January – with the enjoyment of Christmas a distant memory, the cold weather continuing, and those dreaded January blues to deal with – it can be tempting to put off walking your dog.

Walking your dog can bring benefits for both of you, which can be especially important in January, so our advice is to embrace this time of year.

Exercise

Many of us will have indulged over Christmas, and our waistlines may be showing the effects of one too many mince pies. Regular walks with your dog can help to combat December’s Christmas indulgence without the need to hit the gym. Weight management is important for your dog too, and walks are a good way of helping to regulate their weight alongside a healthy diet.

Mental wellbeing

Getting out and about can be good for your mental wellbeing as it takes you away from the stresses of everyday life. With time to process your thoughts, the effect of your dog’s excitable happiness when they realise it’s time for ‘walkies’, and the shared camaraderie and exchanges with other dog walkers will leave you feeling brighter and more enthusiastic.

Fresh air

If you’ve been spending more time indoors lately with windows closed and the heating on, you may have forgotten just how good it feels to get some fresh air. Getting outside and breathing deeply can clear your lungs, unblock a congested nose, give you more energy and focus your mind. It’s good for lowering heart rate and blood pressure too.

Plus, being outside gives your dog the chance to be a dog! Dogs love sniffing out scents and exploring so, while it may not be the fresh air they’re breathing in, they’ll appreciate the benefits it brings. It will also aid their food digestion and energy levels.

Technology downtime

If you’re guilty of spending a lot of time on your mobile phone, games console, or watching box sets on TV, going outside can be a welcome distraction. Take in your local area, absorb your surroundings, and enjoy living in the moment. Spend time focussing purely on your dog; run around the park with them or take a ball to play fetch. They’ll appreciate your attention. Your tech will still be there when you get back.

Ensure you stay safe by reminding yourselves of our tips for walking your dog at this time of year here

Now grab that lead, put on your warm coat, and off you go!

Pet Passports no longer valid from 1 January 2021

You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland. You can still use a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland.

Instead, pets travelling from Great Britain to an EU country or Northern Ireland will need an Animal Health Certificate (up to five pets on one certificate).

Your pet must:

  • Have a functioning microchip
  • Have a rabies vaccination at least 21 days before travel
  • Enter the EU via a designated Travellers’ Point of Entry
  • Have an Animal Health Certificate written in the official language of the country they will enter the EU unless you have a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland
  • Dogs travelling directly to Finland, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland or Malta must be treated for tapeworm no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before you arrive

The Animal Health certificate is:

  • Valid for ten days from the date of issue
  • Valid for a single trip into the EU
  • Valid for onward travel within the EU for four months or until the date of expiry of the validity of the rabies vaccination whichever is sooner
  • Valid for re-entry to Great Britain for four months after the date of issue provided rabies vaccination is kept up to date

We suggest that you discuss your travel plans with your vet at least one month before your intended travel plans to ensure your pet is prepared for travel.

Please contact us to advise on the steps required to ensure your pet is prepared for travel and ensure you have the required appointments booked for your pet.

For the most up to date information, visit the government website by clicking here

Senior Pets Physiotherapy

There are a variety of complementary treatments available to help our senior pets, one of these being physiotherapy. Below we take a closer look at physiotherapy as a therapy and the benefits it can have for your pet.

What is physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy is a hugely beneficial discipline in helping manage senior patients, especially those who suffer from degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis, and lumbosacral disease. It can consist of a range of treatments including therapeutic exercise, manual techniques, ultrasound, laser therapy, TENs therapy, and pulse wave therapy.

For a senior pet, physiotherapy could involve the use of high-tech equipment, or simply hands and gentle positioning. Based on your pet’s condition, the physiotherapist will employ the right tools to achieve the best results.

What is the aim of physiotherapy?
As a complementary therapy in helping senior pets, physiotherapy aims to improve mobility, restore normal function, and relieve pain by improving muscle strength, muscle stamina, and joint range of motion. Managing degenerative joints is a key focus for a veterinary physiotherapist; painful joints always mean painful muscles because of the compensating and adapted gait pattern. As such, prolonging a good quality of life for your pet is a major priority.

What are the benefits of physiotherapy?
Owners are often unaware that their pet is in pain. A physiotherapy assessment on patients, can identify signs of pain and start the process of adjusting medication, managing the degenerative disease, and preserving the quality of life. By closely working with veterinary surgeons, physiotherapists can constantly reassess patients to make sure any pain is managed, whilst providing an additional perspective for the vet asides from that of the owner. In most cases, a consultation with a vet may be limited to around 15 minutes, however, a physiotherapy appointment will tend to last for an hour at a time, where mobility, musculoskeletal systems, lifestyle, and behaviour can be thoroughly assessed and discussed.

Physiotherapy plays an essential role in advising owners on crucial management strategies to help senior pets cope better. These can include:

  • Discussing adjustments to their home life
  • Adjusting the exercise and play regime
  • Keeping pets’ arthritic joints warm in winter to prevent inflammatory flare-ups and maintain quality of life.

The undertaking of simple, quick exercises fitted into your daily routine can also improve your dog’s muscle strength and mass, as well as energy levels.

Catching degenerative diseases early is crucial for success in long term management. Many professionals recommend having annual physiotherapy check-ups once your pet reaches adulthood to identify early and mild symptoms.

More information on treating arthritis in dogs, using complementary therapies such as physiotherapy, can be found here.

If you would like to discuss physiotherapy for your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact us