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.

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

From 1 January, Official Veterinarians (OVs) issued EU pet passports will no longer be valid for travel to and from the EU.

Instead, Official Animal Health Certificates will be required for dogs, cats and ferrets travelling from Great Britain to the EU (up to five pets on one certificate).

We will be issuing these to owners travelling with their pet to the EU from 1 January 2021.

This will affect your travel if you are arriving in an EU Member State after 11.00pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020.

Your pet must:

  • Have a functioning microchip or tattoo
  • Have a rabies vaccination at least 21 days before travel
  • Enter the EU via a designated Traveller’s Point of Entry
  • Have an Animal Health Certificate written in the official language of the country they will enter the EU by
  • Receive treatment against Echinococcus (a tapeworm) 24-120 hours before returning to Great Britain

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
  • Valid for re-entry to Great Britain for four months after the date of issue

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

Please contact us for advice on the steps required and ensure you have the necessary appointments booked for your pet.

The most up to date information can be found on the government website at www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-after-brexit

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

Focus on Osteoarthritis in dogs

With the onset of colder weather, certain conditions that affect our pets can start to worsen. One of these conditions is Osteoarthritis (or OA for short) and below we take a closer look at the disorder and what can be done if your dog is diagnosed with it.

What is OA?
Osteoarthritis is a disorder that slowly develops over time, caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage found in the joints. Commonly affected joints are high-motion joints that move a lot, such as the knee, elbow, shoulder, and hip.

How many dogs are affected by OA?
It is estimated that there are over six million dogs in the UK and that 80% of those dogs aged 8 years and older have the disorder. That said, it can also affect young animals less than a year of age.

What should I be looking out for?
Most of the signs are typical of what you might expect from a joint disorder, including restricted joint function and muscle loss. Questions to ask yourself can include:

  • Does your dog lag behind on walks?
  • Do they hesitate before jumping into the car or onto the sofa?
  • Do they struggle to get up the stairs?
  • Do they limp after exercise?
  • Are they restless at night?

You may also find that your dog’s behaviour has changed, their amount of activity has reduced, and they are showing stiffness after periods of rest.

What treatment is available?
There are various stages of treatment that are available to help those animals suffering from OA, and any treatment given should be based on the advice of a veterinary professional. These include:

  • Control of body weight
    A good place to start is with weight loss, which not only helps reduce the rate of deterioration in the joint but can lower the level of discomfort for your dog through having less pressure on their joints.
  • Exercise
    As well as complimenting and aiding the weight loss treatment, exercising your dog will help to maintain their muscle strength and overall fitness. The severity of OA in your pet will dictate the intensity of any exercise undertaken, but it is said that generally, it should be little and often (typically three lead walks per day).
  • Pain Control
    Several options are available for helping to control your dog’s discomfort, including:

    • Nutritional Supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids
    • Anti-inflammatory medication (as prescribed by a vet)
    • Warm/Cold compresses to warm up stiff joints or reduce inflammation.
  • Surgery
    If any of the above options have not proved successful in controlling the condition, then surgical procedures such as joint replacement or joint fusion could be considered, but once again, this would be after consultation with a vet.

Will any treatment cure my pet’s OA?
Unfortunately, no, but the use and management of treatment mean that most animals can enjoy an excellent quality of life.

If you feel that your dog is displaying symptoms of OA, or have any concerns, please contact us to discuss advice and next steps.

More information, as well as useful resources for tracking the signs of OA, can be found on the Canine Arthritis Management (CAM) website.

 

 

Source: Davies Veterinary Specialists

Information for clients

Please note that we will be implementing a price change from 7th December 2020.

A price list will be available in practice. If you have any questions, please speak to a member of the team.

Thank you for your continued support

Hawick Vets team

Exercising your pet in the house during colder months

As the weather gets colder, you and your pet may be spending more time indoors on the sofa. The lack of exercise can have a negative impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of both you and your pet. With ongoing limitations to outdoor activities because of COVID-19, knowing how to keep your pet fit at home could help keep them healthy and happy.

As with any exercise, the amount and type of activity will vary according to the age, species, breed, and overall health of your pet. If you are unsure if these activities are suitable for your pet, please contact us.

Here are some ideas on how you can keep your pet healthy with some indoor exercises:

  • Brain games. You can get special interactive brain games for pets through major online pet supply retailers. These can help with their mental and physical wellbeing. You can also save money and create a game on your own. The simplest one could be hiding a favourite toy under a plastic bucket and mixing it up with other empty buckets. Then get your pet to try and pick the correct one.
  • Hide and seek. If you have a dog, you can play an exciting game of hide and seek with your pet. They will use a variety of their senses to discover where you have gone. When they find you, they will be extremely excited!
  • Laser pointer. Cats are natural predators and love capturing things. A laser pointer provides an outlet for cats to have fun chasing and “batting” about the moving dot. Please use laser pointers explicitly designed to play with cats, as some can be harmful to your pet. You should always avoid pointing the laser at their eyes. Low wattage lasers designed for cat toys should not be a risk if the light flashes across their eyes for a split second. Try pointing the laser at the ground in front of them or beside them. Please remember that they can also cause frustration as the laser can never be ‘caught’. Finishing your play session by aiming the dot on a small toy or treat can help alleviate this.
  • Introduce some new toys. There is a lot of research that suggests that pets love new toys. The festive season is a period where many pet supply retailers have many sales on pet toys. By adding new toys to their collection – it will maintain their interest and keep them active.
  • Rotate existing toys. As a pet owner, you can quickly build an extensive collection of toys that your pet eventually disregards. Rotate toys this winter so that they do not get bored of them – bringing one out of storage elicits a new bout of excitement and hopefully some exercise!
  • Puzzle feeder. You can make dinner exciting with puzzle feeders. There are some super engaging puzzle feeders available to buy that can be filled with your pet’s regular food, which make them use their brain before they eat.

Remember that your pet may have even less self-control than you do over the cold winter days during the festive season! Keep them from piling on the pounds by ensuring everyone within the household does not continually give food or treats to your pets. You can get your family or household members involved in playtime to keep everyone entertained, healthy, and happy!

If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, please give us a call.

Road Safety Week

From 16-22 November, it is Road Safety Week in the UK.

This week aims to inspire the country to take action on road safety, promoting lifesaving and awareness around speeding. When walking your dog you should be extra careful, especially during this winter season. Information on how to make sure your dog can be seen, and other helpful tips, can be found below:

  • Always make sure your dog is kept on a lead. For more tips on walking your dog safely, read our post here.
  • Make sure you teach your dog road awareness by training them when to “stop” and “come away”.
  • Wear light coloured or hi-vis clothing to ensure you and your dog can be seen.
  • Ensure your dog is microchipped so you can be reunited with them in the worst case of them going missing.

 

Source: https://www.pdsa.org.uk/taking-care-of-your-pet/looking-after-your-pet/puppies-dogs/road-safety-tips-for-dog-owners