Importance of Pet Insurance

We believe that pet insurance is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Owning a pet is hugely rewarding, but it can also be expensive if they are to suffer an illness or injury.

Having a good pet insurance policy allows you to concentrate on what’s best for your pet while knowing help is there for the cost of unexpected treatment should they become ill or are injured.

People tend to think it’s only older pets that get ill and therefore, younger pets don’t need pet insurance, but we know from the patients we see each day that that is not the case.

The younger your pet is when you insure them, the better as it means you are less likely to have any existing conditions, which the policy may not cover, and you can then receive more help covering the cost of any future treatment your pet needs.

It is important to note that not all pet insurance is the same. There are many different types of policy available, and the level of cover provided can vary considerably. The four main types of policy are as follows:

  • Accident: provides cover for accidents only and no cover for illness
  • Time-Limited: provides cover for a set amount of time (usually 12 months) and after this period, the condition is excluded
  • Maximum Benefit: provides cover up to a maximum amount of money per condition and once this limit is reached, the condition is excluded
  • Lifetime: provides a set amount of money each year which is refreshed each time you renew your policy, allowing you to continue to claim for ongoing conditions

As you can see from the information above, the type of policy you choose can have implications for the veterinary care of your pet and the costs you will face, so it’s important to choose the right cover.

Sometimes, the cheapest insurance can cost you more in the long run. Therefore, when shopping around for a policy, we suggest that you ask the following questions to allow you to compare the overall value you are getting, not just the price:

Does this policy cover congenital, hereditary, hip-related, dental, and behavioural conditions?

Is there a time or monetary limit on how long this policy will cover ongoing conditions?

If I file a claim, will my premium increase?

Unlike other forms of insurance, it is not always easy to switch pet insurance in the future as any pre-existing conditions your pet has are likely to be excluded, so it’s important to do your research and choose the right cover from the start.

antibiotics

Help us to keep antibiotics working…

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develops mechanisms to reduce the effects of the antibiotic. These mechanisms evolve through mutation and adaptation. Mutations can be good or bad for bacteria. In some cases, the mutation kills the bacteria and it may provide the bacteria with a survival advantage. The survival advantage may include resistance to antibiotics. In the presence of antibiotics, this resistance becomes an advantage and the resistant strain becomes dominant.

In pets, just like in humans, it’s normal to have bacteria in the bowel and on the skin. These bacteria, just like any other, can develop resistant mechanisms, so using antibiotics can kill other non-resistant bacteria, allowing the resistant bacterial strains to dominate and thrive. As a result, overusing antibiotics or use of an antibiotic over an extended period can affect the ‘good bacteria’ and cause more harm than good.

Antibiotics are only effective against some types of bacterial infection and will not work against viral infections. Therefore, veterinary surgeons need to determine what kind of infection a pet may have to treat and help them recover quickly and safely as appropriate. Following your veterinary surgeons’ advice on medication, it’s essential to ensure long-term access to antibiotics that work.

Why do we need to alter the overall attitude towards antibiotic use?

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a One Health concern. If this important class of drugs becomes ineffective, it will have a serious impact on the health of both humans and animals.

For years now, alongside other infection control measures in human and veterinary medicine, antibiotics have been a core feature of providing effective medical treatment for bacterial infection. As a result, infections that were once fatal are now treatable and surgical procedures have become more advanced due to our ability to treat infections.

In recent years, however, the medical and veterinary professions have identified that the effectiveness of antibiotics against some bacteria has changed. We know this because the bacteria which can resist antibiotics are seen more often. To slow down the evolution of resistant bacteria and protect the efficacy of the drugs, medical professionals have had to review their approach to using these antibiotics, whilst research to find new antibiotics is ongoing.

How does antibiotic resistance occur?

After Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, work was undertaken with his colleagues Florey and Chain to make the molecule useable as a drug to treat infections in people. Fleming himself noted in his early observations that bacteria could become resistant to penicillin, even if used appropriately.

Understandably, given its significant impact on healthcare, penicillin was initially prescribed widely, but it became less effective over time.

A combination of factors has contributed to this. Some of these include:

  • Bacterial multiplication, mutation and evolution (natural processes)
  • Use of antibiotics for non-infection control reasons
  • Prescribing antibiotics ‘just in case’ for illnesses may speed the development of resistance
  • A significant reduction in the availability of novel antibiotic classes.

What does this mean?

Research for new antibiotics is an area of focus that has Government support. However, the development and approval process for any new drug takes time. While this research is ongoing, we need to take measures to slow down the evolution of resistance and protect the drugs’ efficacy.

This means that, as some antibiotics are no longer as effective as they used to be, healthcare and veterinary professionals have had to adapt their approach to administering antibiotics to help preserve the efficacy of those that currently still work. This work has resulted in significant drops in antibiotics used. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate reported a reduction in antibiotics in food-producing animals in the UK of 52% in six years (between 2014 and 2020).

We should also be aware that any new antibiotics discovered may be reserved for human use instead of antibiotics for our animals.

Why is it important for veterinary medicine?

As antibacterial resistance is a growing concern in both human and animal medicine, there is pressure to preserve the medical use of certain antibiotics. This has implications for animal health and welfare. Veterinary professionals, therefore need to use antimicrobials responsibly. Using antibiotics only when appropriate also reduces the chances of drug side effects and reduces the carbon footprint of treating diseases.

 

In both human hospitals and veterinary practices, it is common to find recommendations for infections or conditions where antibiotics are not required. This is called Antibiotic Stewardship.

Our practice supports the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and the Small Animal Medicine Society (SAMSoc) ‘PROTECT ME’ principles. Their core principles are as follows:

Prescribe only when necessary

Reduce prophylaxis

Offer other options

Treat effectively

Employ narrow spectrum

Culture appropriately

Tailor your practice policy

Monitor

Educate others

silver-cat-friendly-clinic

Silver Cat Friendly Clinic

At Hawick Vets we’re proud to be reaccredited as a Silver level Cat Friendly Clinic and members of the ISFM (International Society of Feline Medicine) 

Read more

December opening hours

With Christmas around the corner, we wanted to ensure we had our opening times for the festive period in place for you.

Please see below our opening times over Christmas and New Year.

  • Christmas Eve: 8.45am-6.00pm
  • Christmas Day: CLOSED
  • Boxing Day: CLOSED
  • 27th December: CLOSED
  • 28th December: CLOSED
  • 29th December: 8.45am-6.00pm
  • 30th December: 8.45am-6.00pm
  • New Years Eve: 8.45am-6.00pm
  • New Years Day: CLOSED
  • 2nd January: CLOSED
  • 3rd January: CLOSED

If your pet requires a prescription or specific food during the holiday period, we kindly ask that you request this well in advance.

If you require any emergency care, please call 01450 372038.

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Walking your dog safely in autumn and winter

The nights are getting darker in Hawick and there’s a chill in the air, but your dog still needs regular walks in order to stay fit and healthy. Walking your dog safely cannot be taken lightly. Here are some suggestions to keep both you and your pet safe whilst exercising during the coming months.

Make yourself visible
Lack of daylight sees an increase in traffic accidents, and that includes those involving pedestrians too. Consider wearing a high vis jacket or reflective strips on shoes so that you’re more visible to motorists and invest in a reflective collar or harness and lead for your dog.

Dress appropriately
Autumn weather can be changeable – setting out in the early evening sun can mean getting home in the cold and dark. Wear layers and comfortable shoes. If your dog is a short-haired breed, they may benefit from a winter coat. We’re happy to advise if you need further information.

Be contactable and alert
It’s always a good idea to be able to quickly and easily contact someone in case you need assistance – whether for yourself or your dog – when you’re out walking alone. Ensure your phone is charged before you leave home. Be aware of your surroundings so you can listen for traffic, or other dogs; avoiding headphones and music.

Check underfoot
Look out for items on the floor which could be dangerous to your dog – broken glass underneath leaves, acorns, or conkers which can cause illness when ingested, and holes or obstacles which could injure you or your pet. Stick to known routes and footpaths.

Please contact us for further information

Preparing your pet for firework season in Hawick

Fireworks are used throughout the year to mark significant seasonal celebrations in Hawick including Bonfire Night, Halloween, New Year’s Eve and Diwali.

Whilst they are enjoyable for humans to watch, pets can often get scared of the loud bangs and bright flashes. Preparing your pet early can make a significant difference and will help your pet cope throughout the seasonal events – start preparing now!

There are several precautions we can put in place to help our pets and to ease their stress when fireworks light up the skies:

  1. Purchase a pheromone adaptor
    Placed throughout the home, a pheromone spray, and/ or adaptor, can help ease your pet’s anxiety and stress. A pheromone is a natural chemical which triggers a social response in members of the same species, and often promotes a calming effect. Please contact us for advice on the best one to suit your pet.
  2. Provide hiding places within your home
    Ensure there are plenty of hiding places around the house for your pet, particularly for cats, e.g.:
  • Top of the cupboard – make sure it is safe and there’s ample amount of room for them to rest
  • Underneath a bed – make a small space, whilst ensuring it is safe
  • A raised shelf – clear a space on a bookshelf or on top of a chest of drawers
  • Inside of a box – you may have an old box in the garage or loft which you can dig out
  1. Stay at home with your pets
    Staying in with your pet will help calm their fears. Your presence and attention will comfort them and distract them from the background noise. If a pet is left alone and becomes stressed, they could become destructive or panic and injure themselves.
  2. Ensure your pet has access to freshwater
    You should ensure your pet has access to freshwater. Anxious dogs can pant more than normal, resulting in a greater thirst.
  3. Make sure your pet is microchipped
    It is important to ensure your pet is microchipped as, if spooked, they could run away. If your pet is already microchipped make sure your contact details are up to date so that you can be reunited if the worst happens.
  4. Close curtains, blinds, windows and keep doors closed
    Loud bangs and bright flashes can scare pets. By keeping your windows, doors and blinds closed, sounds can be can dampened. Also, if you have a cat and they are in the house, don’t forget to lock their cat flap to stop them getting outside.
  5. Walk your dog early
    If you usually take your dog out in the evening, or for a late-night stroll, you should avoid being out when fireworks start – switching up your routine ahead of forthcoming events, so it’s not a sudden change, will support this. You should also ensure they are kept on a lead, as startled dogs can run off without warning.
  6. Consider bringing small animals inside
    Loud noises can be stressful for small animals, particularly if they are living in hutches outside. If you have a rabbit or guinea pig, you should consider moving their hutches inside. This could be into the house, shed or garage space. If you are unable to bring them inside, you should consider covering their hutch in some blankets and a waterproof sheet to dampen the noise. If you are covering their hutch, please remember to leave a suitable gap for ventilation.
  7. Provide bedding for your pet to snuggle in
    If you have a small pet, in a hutch, put some additional bedding in with them so that they can burrow into it and hide.
  8. Don’t punish “bad behaviour”
    You should not punish bad behaviour if your pet is scared. Instead, you should stay calm and demonstrate to your pet that there isn’t anything to worry about. This will help restore normal behaviour.

Contact us at one of our offices. For further information visit www.scottishspca.org/news/fireworks-advice 

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.

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.