Ear mites in cats and dogs

The ear mite (Otodectes Cynotis) is a mite that lives on dogs, cats, rabbits, and ferrets. It is typically found in the ear canal but can also live on the skin of your pet. They are caught through direct contact with another carrier animal and may be seen as a white speck, about the size of a pinhead, moving against a dark background.

Ear mites are a common cause of ear disease and infection in pets. They are the second most common external parasite found on pets after fleas. Infestation is very common in puppies and kittens, but the signs of infestation can be seen at any age. Symptoms vary in severity from one pet to another and may include:

  • Irritation of the ears causing head shaking and scratching
  • A crusty rash around or in the ear
  • Skin lesions near the ear and surrounding skin
  • A discharge from the ear
  • Hair loss resulting from excessive scratching or grooming
  • In heavy infestations, ear mites may start to invade other parts of your pet’s body.

We will be able to make a diagnosis by looking for signs of mite infestation. This may be done either by examining the pet’s ears with an otoscope or examining discharge from the ear. They are usually detectable by the mess they make inside an infested animal’s ear canal—a dark, foul-smelling accumulation of wax and mite debris in which the ear mites thrive.

If one animal in a household is diagnosed with mites, all pets should be treated simultaneously. Prompt veterinary care can prevent a serious ear disease called otitis externa—an infection of the outer ear that, if untreated, can lead to more serious problems, permanently affecting the animal’s hearing and sense of balance.

A variety of different treatment options are available to your pet. Some are topical medications, while others may be spot-on treatments or tablets. We will determine the most appropriate treatment for your pet. Prevention is a matter of monthly topical anti-parasite application and keeping your pet’s ears clean.

Separation from your pet

How do you feel about the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions? Relieved? Anxious? If we could ask our pets the same question, we’re fairly certain their answers would put them in one of two camps; those who are 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 their ‘pack’ (your family) start going back to school and 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 take longer than others to learn, and they feel anxious when they spend time away from us.

Dogs who are scared of being left alone might express their anxiety by misbehaving. Some become destructive and chew household items or furniture; others become very vocal and bark or whine continuously until we return home – which will be distressing for them, and probably your neighbours too; and some may even go to the toilet inside the house – which is out of character for them. Your dog may show one or even all of these symptoms.

There are a few things we can do now to prepare our pets for the end of lockdown. These ideas might also help dogs who struggled with separation anxiety before the lockdown began.

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. This is especially important for dogs who like to physically touch or be near to us at all times…. our four-legged shadows!

  • Spend time in a different room to 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 his/ her own bed and not always next to you on the sofa.
  • 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 pack member 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.

How else can we help our dogs adapt to life after lockdown?

Exercise

If you plan to increase your dog’s daily exercise after the lockdown has ended, make sure you do so gradually. We’ll all be trying to lose our lockdown-pounds and increasing the amount of exercise we do is a great way to achieve this. Make sure you and your dog take things slowly to avoid injuring body parts which haven’t been used for a while!

Puppies

If you have a puppy or young dog, introduce them to places that you couldn’t visit during the lockdown period. 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.

And what about cats?

For the vast majority of adult cats, their life during lockdown was probably not massively different from their usual routine. They may have felt inconvenienced by more attention from their humans, but many cats avoided this by seeking out new sunbathing/ hiding/ sleeping places!

If your cat has lived indoors during the lockdown, 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. As soon as we can, we’ll resume all vaccinations, so we’ll contact you when your cat is due for a check-up and booster.

For new kitten parents, please arrange for us to vaccinate, neuter and microchip your new addition before letting them go outside. Because of the lockdown, your kitten might be older than usual before this happens. It’s especially difficult keeping young cats indoors during the summer months so we’ll do all we can to ensure they’re ready for the butterfly-chasing season!

All pets

It will take all of us some time to get used to our daily routines again after lockdown has ended. If your pets have enjoyed lie-ins and late nights, it’s helpful to resume your usual routine before you go back to work. Your pet will feel more secure, knowing what time dinner is served!

If you’d like further information about any aspect of caring for your pet after the lockdown has ended, please contact us.

Protect your dog against Kennel Cough

Does your dog come into regular contact with other dogs? Maybe out on walks, at the park, or when they’re staying in kennels? If so, we’d highly recommend a Kennel Cough vaccine or booster. And, with our new oral vaccine, it’s now even easier to protect your dog.

Kennel Cough, or infectious tracheobronchitis, is a very contagious respiratory disease. It’s transmitted by close contact with an infected dog and can be associated with boarding kennels, therefore it’s especially important to ensure your dog is covered if you’re planning a trip away.

Contact us today to arrange an appointment

What are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

The primary sign to look out for is a deep hacking cough, which can sometimes lead to retching, sneezing, snorting, gagging or vomiting.  In some cases, you may only notice your dog starting to cough after excitement or exercise and you may also notice a discharge coming from your dog’s eyes or nose. Some dogs may get a fever, and in very rare cases may progress to pneumonia.  Symptoms will start after three to 10 days – and can go on for up to three weeks.  Often the cough is worse at bedtime causing sleepless nights all round.

How is Kennel Cough diagnosed?

Diagnosis is often based on the clinical signs and the history given by the owner, also if the dog is housed together with lots of other dogs that are all presenting similar signs, it makes the diagnosis of kennel cough more probable. If a gentle palpitation of the throat causes a retching cough, Kennel Cough is likely.

What treatment is available for Kennel Cough?

There is no specific treatment for viruses involved in Kennel Cough, but antibiotics are sometimes used to treat bacterial infections. Infected dogs should be rested and isolated from other dogs for around 14 days. In most cases, dogs will recover from Kennel Cough within three weeks. Ensure they are living in a well-ventilated area and avoid the use of a lead and collar. To aid recovery, your dog may be prescribed cough suppressants or anti-inflammatories. Sometimes antibiotics may be required to target Bordetella Bronchiseptica.

What’s the best way to prevent Kennel Cough?

The best way to prevent Kennel Cough is through vaccination. The vaccine is a quick and painless procedure for your dog in the form of a nasal spray or your dog may benefit from the new oral solution that we now have available.  The oral method is easier to administer and therefore may reduce stress for your dog and you as the owner.

The Kennel Cough vaccination is given once a year. Depending on individual circumstances it may not be given at the same time as their annual booster. Please contact us if you’d like more detail.

If you’re going on holiday, it’s important that your dog is vaccinated against Kennel Cough, otherwise kennels may not accept your dog. Prepare in advance as the vaccination should be given at least one week before their stay for the nasal method and three weeks for the oral method.

If you are concerned your dog may have caught Kennel Cough and is presenting symptoms, speak to a member of our team for advice.  Alternatively, if you would like to arrange a Kennel Cough vaccination for your four-legged friend, just give us a call.

 

 

Bacterial skin infections in dogs

Bacterial skin infections can have many causes, including allergies. Regardless of the reason, skin infections require swift action as they can cause itching and pain. Some dogs are more vulnerable to develop bacterial skin infections than others.

It’s important to check common areas like the paws, groins, and armpits. Skinfolds are particularly prone to skin infections, and dogs with heavy pendulous ears are very susceptible to infections. These infections happen because long, heavy ears can promote bacterial growth. However, any dog can develop a skin infection, so you should be on the lookout for warning signs.

Symptoms of skin infections include redness, itching, hair loss, bumps, pustules, and spots. We may be able to diagnose by looking; however, a conclusive diagnosis requires the examination of hair, discharge, and skin cultures. Some of the tests and procedures we may conduct include:

  • Skin scrapes and hair plucks.
  • A swab of the skin or pus to look under the microscope and culture for bacterial growth.
  • Looking down the ear with an otoscope to evaluate the ear canal.

If your dog is diagnosed with a bacterial skin infection, we will direct you to keep the affected areas as clean as possible. In certain dog breeds, it may be necessary to have their hair clipped to allow air to access areas to assist in the healing process. In many cases, prescription antibiotics will aid in recovery, however, we may also suggest topical creams or shampoos.

One of the most critical aspects of skin infection treatment is routine bathing which is beneficial because it:

  • Helps clean the skin, removing scaling and dirt that contains bacteria.
  • Can reduce any foul odours stemming from an infection.
  • May reduce itching and scratching.

We can direct you on the appropriate frequency of bathing for your pet and the type of dog shampoo to use. Bathing too frequently can irritate your dog’s skin, so the right balance is critical. Dog hygiene can be enhanced with the use of rinses and sprays in between baths.

How to prevent skin infections in dogs?

If you have a dog breed that is particularly susceptible to skin infections, consider speaking to us for a year-round plan to reduce the risks. Dogs with many skin folds might need maintenance treatment to keep these areas from becoming too moist and could require special wipes or shampoos to keep them clean. You can implement a routine where you inspect your dog for any visual signs of infection frequently.

If you suspect your pet has a skin infection, contact us for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Tips and advice for new puppy owners

As we get closer to COVID-19 related restrictions being slowly relaxed you’ll be looking forward to getting out and about more with your new puppy. Or, perhaps you’re thinking of buying a new puppy as life returns back to some kind of normal? Whatever your circumstances, we’ve put together a few tips for all new puppy parents.

First things first – vaccinations

Before embarking on any outdoor adventures, it’s essential, for the health of your puppy, that they have had their vaccinations. Initial vaccinations are usually given at two to four months of age, with a second vaccination two to four weeks later. Taking an unvaccinated puppy outside puts them at risk of canine diseases such as parvovirus and distemper which can, in some cases, be fatal. It’s better to wait until you can be sure of your puppy’s safety and wellbeing. Get in touch with us to book your puppy’s vaccination course – we’ll be happy to advise on timings and answer any questions you may have.

You may be interested in joining our Pet Health for Life plan – as a member, you’ll get vaccinations, monthly flea, tick, and worm treatments, and other benefits and discounts included under your monthly fee.

Find out more about our Pet Health for Life plan here

Puppy development

Puppies are the most receptive to new experiences between 3 and 18 weeks of age, so there’s plenty of time for you to help them develop before you even leave the house. During this time their brains effectively process any new sounds, smells, and situations they encounter. The memories of these experiences, good or bad, are stored away for future reference. As puppies mature, they rely on these memories to help them risk-assess new situations so they can react accordingly. Adult dogs who lack a memory bank of positive experiences are more likely to react inappropriately in a new situation by showing nervous or aggressive behaviour.

Separation

In the early days of puppy ownership, you’ll probably spend a lot of time with each other as you get to know them and watch their personality emerge. It is hard sometimes to separate but it is important to teach your new puppy how to be on their own. Separation anxiety can be a difficult problem if allowed to develop. To prevent issues developing as your puppy grows, we recommend the following:

  • Make sure your puppy has a safe space such as a crate or a bed
  • Spend increasingly longer periods of time in different rooms so your puppy learns to feel safe alone and knows you’ll always return
  • Encourage independence – as your puppy gains confidence, allow them to explore the garden alone
  • Provide interactive, interesting toys for your puppy to play with while you’re apart.

Noise

  • Gradually introduce your puppy to different noises around the house so they begin to accept, and not be scared of, a range of sounds. Make the experience positive for your puppy by rewarding them with a small treat each time you introduce a new noise. You could try dropping items, banging doors, singing, and shouting.
  • Sitting with your puppy near an open window or door is a good way to introduce them to traffic noise.
  • If your puppy is happy to be carried, you could both enjoy short walks together (while observing social distancing measures!)

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.

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 introduce your puppy to walking on a lead and practice in the garden in preparation for when you can venture further afield.

Socialising with other puppies and dogs

An important part of development for your new puppy is socialising with other dogs. Where possible, and in line with government guidelines, try to meet up with friends or family who have canine companions so your puppy will get to know them and how they behave. This will be essential for the future when you encounter other dogs on walks and public outings.

Children

If your puppy lives with children, this is a great opportunity for everyone to be involved in your pup’s socialisation and training. It’s helpful to teach children how to recognise when your puppy is tired. Tired puppies can become grumpy; they need a safe, quiet, space for uninterrupted rest.

Dress-up

When you’re out and about with your vaccinated puppy, they will encounter many different people with different appearances. It’s a good idea to try to emulate this during the early days whilst you’re at home. Try out hats, sunglasses, and veils; allowing your puppy to approach you in their own time and rewarding them when they do.

Cars

If you plan to take your puppy out with you in a vehicle, it’s a good idea to introduce safe travel to them early on. Get them used to a travel crate in the boot, or a doggy-seatbelt, even if you don’t actually drive anywhere. Gradually spend longer periods of time with your puppy in the car and give 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. You could start the engine too to introduce your puppy to the noise and vibration of a car.

If you’d like further advice on your puppy’s development, including diet, insurance, introducing a crate, or anything else, please call us. Our vets and nurses are happy to discuss any concerns you have. We’re very excited to meet your new additions and watch them grow into happy, healthy dogs.

Keeping your dog safe whilst out and about this summer

If you’re planning on getting out and about in the UK this summer, whether just for the day or for a longer period, we have some tips and advice for you and your pet.

With so many dog-friendly campsites, holiday cottages, hotels, and caravans available, your dog will enjoy the adventure just as much as you! Dog-friendly beaches and parks are the perfect settings for your canine companion who loves to play, but you should always take care to ensure you and your dog are prepared in advance.

Before setting out, ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and that they have had their flea, tick, and worming treatment. We can advise on the best treatments to protect your dog, to keep those pesky parasites at bay. Remember if your pet is signed up to our Pet Health for Life plan their flea, tick, and worming treatment is included.

ENSURE YOUR DOG IS MICROCHIPPED

A new or unusual environment could confuse your dog and if the worst happens and you get separated, it’s important that you can be reunited quickly and easily. All dogs must be microchipped by law, and you could be fined up to £500 if they are not. Before leaving, take five minutes to check that your contact details stored on the chip are up to date and a mobile number is available (particularly if you are not at home) so that you can be contacted wherever you are.

Read more here >>


TRAVELLING BY CAR  

Planning your journey before you leave is important to ensure you know where you can stop to allow your dog to stretch their legs, get some fresh air and have some fresh, clean water.

It’s also very important to ensure your dog is correctly restrained if you’re taking them out in the car – for both their safety and yours. A travel cage, harness, or dog guard can keep your dog secure for travel, however, make sure it’s correctly fitted and from a recommended manufacturer.

Regulate the temperature in the vehicle and ensure your dog isn’t in direct sunlight, whether you’re moving or stationary, as overheating can lead to heatstroke.

If your dog has not been on many car journeys or is not used to travelling in the car, we would recommend taking them on some shorter journeys beforehand in preparation.

Further details here >>


VISITING THE BEACH 

As soon as the sun comes out, many of us will head to the beach. Do check in advance that dogs are allowed, as some have a dog-free policy in place at certain times of the year.

It is also important to be aware of the potential dangers that such an environment can bring. Eating sand and drinking seawater can be dangerous to your dog, so do be aware of what they’re up to whilst you’re enjoying yourselves.

Find out more here >>


PROTECT YOUR PET FROM THE SUN

Like humans, dogs can be affected by high temperatures. Sunburn, footpad burns, dehydration, and heatstroke can all occur, causing discomfort and potential fatalities. If you’re feeling the effects of a hot summer’s day, your dog will be too. Ensure you have a supply of cool, fresh water and stay out of direct sunlight where possible. To protect your pet, we would advise keeping them indoors between 10.00am and 3.00pm when the sun is at its strongest.

Click here for more information >>

Why not have a read through the list of our top 10 summer hazards, for other things to consider to keep your pet safe.

Read the list here >>

As always, if you need any help or advice, please get in touch with us.

Here’s to a happy and healthy summer for you and your dog!

The importance of parasite prevention

Parasite prevention is an integral part of taking good care of your cat or dog. Parasites also pose a threat to human health, as some pet parasites cause zoonotic infections, which means they can be transferred from pets to people.

Where and when can my pet get infected by parasites?

Dogs and cats can get parasites in a variety of places — whether they go outside or not. Fleas and ticks can live outside year-round but are most abundant during spring and autumn. Other animals can bring parasites into your home, and once fleas get in the house, they can be a year-round problem.

How can I protect my pet from parasites?

Because parasites can be found all year long, it is important that your pet is always protected. We offer a series of popular prescription products that are easy to use and will help to protect your pet.

You can receive year-round parasite protection through our Pet Health for Life plan. The plan spreads your regular pet care costs with a fixed monthly fee which guarantees an annual saving on your preventative veterinary treatments.

Dangers of parasites

The harm from parasites to a pet’s health can range from minor irritation to severe conditions that can be fatal. Below are some common parasites found in the United Kingdom:

  • Ticks – Tick bites can cause allergic reactions or infections at the site of the bite. They can transmit infectious diseases such as Lyme Disease, Babesia & Ehrlichiosis.
  • Worms – There is a wide variety of worms, such as tapeworm, roundworm, heartworm, whipworm, and hookworm. These are common parasites in the UK and can affect your pet’s health. They also carry a human health risk, especially for children.
  • Lungworms – Lungworms are potentially deadly parasites that are carried by foxes, slugs, and snails. It is the first fatal parasite to be endemic in the UK.
  • Fleas – Fleas affect dogs and cats and can be seen all year round. They can also pass on tapeworms. Signs that your pet may be suffering from fleas include itching, scratching, and licking. You may also see ‘flea dirt’ – tiny dark specks that look a little like grains of soil and go red when wet. It is possible to see fleas with the naked eye!

With advances in veterinary medicine, most parasitic infections can be prevented with routine preventative care.

Alongside preventative treatments, it is also important to practice good personal hygiene, including washing hands after handling pets and before eating food. Grooming animals regularly helps to reduce the risk of coat contamination, and when going on walks, cleaning up pet faeces is vital as most intestinal worms are transmitted by worm eggs or larvae in faeces.

It is important to remember that parasite treatments are only to be given to the pet they have been prescribed for, as certain products can be fatal to other species. If you are unsure which parasite control products are the best for your pet, speak to one of our team members for advice.

May and Spring Bank Holiday opening hours

With two welcomed bank holiday weekends in May, we wanted to let you know that our opening hours may vary from our usual times. Please see below:

May Bank Holiday – Monday 3rd May
08.45 – 18.00

Spring Bank Holiday – Monday 31st May
08.45 – 18.00

Out of Hours service will be available by calling 01450 372038 as usual.

The importance of microchipping your pet

Keeping our pets safe is important to all of us as pet owners. They trust us with their care and protection and, as well as feeding, exercising and cuddling them, that includes identifying them so that we can be reunited if we are parted.

A microchip literally identifies your pet as belonging to you. It contains your details as an owner, which are stored on a central pet database. By scanning this microchip, a vet can get you and your pet back together as a family, whatever the circumstances may be.

You may be concerned that microchipping is an intrusive process, but the chip is tiny – the size of a grain of rice – and for cats and dogs the procedure takes seconds; it doesn’t even require an anaesthetic. It’s usually inserted under the skin in the scruff of the neck, and once it’s there, you (or your pet) won’t even notice it.

Hopefully you’ll never need to use the microchip, because your pet will live a safe, happy and long life with you. But there may be circumstances where you’ll be glad it’s there, such as:

Your pet is lost
It’s easily done – even the most careful of owners are at risk of their pet running away; whether it’s a dog that bolts out of the front door when you take a delivery, a rabbit that escapes its hutch, or a cat that gets stuck in a neighbour’s shed. When your pet is found, it will most likely be taken to a local vet practice or a charity rescue home. One quick scan of the microchip and a phone call later, and your pet is back where they belong – with you!

Your pet is stolen
It’s an unfortunate reality that some pets – especially purebreds with high value – are stolen to order and resold. Without a microchip you wouldn’t be able to trace them. With a chip your animal can be identified and brought back home.

Your pet is in an accident
Outdoor pets, especially cats, are prone to injury; whether that’s fighting with another animal or being involved in an accident. Injured pets found by members of the public are usually taken to a local vet practice, who will treat the animal whilst also trying to track down the owner. As long as your pet is microchipped and the details are up to date, you’ll be reunited with each other in no time.

There are certain things to consider about microchipping:

  • It’s a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped in England, Wales and Scotland.
  • It’s illegal for breeders to sell puppies over 8 weeks old that are not microchipped and on a registered database.
  • There is no legal requirement to microchip other pets, but it is strongly advised by animal charities, and by us here at Hawick Vets
  • Do remember to keep your details up to date if you move house or change telephone number, so that you can be contacted if necessary.

If you want to know more about getting your pet microchipped, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have.  There’s also some information available on the Government website which you may find useful https://www.gov.uk/get-your-dog-microchipped

Rabbit space requirements

When purchasing your pet rabbit, it is important to carefully consider the amount of space they require. The SSPCA advises the below as a minimum space requirement for two average-sized rabbits.

Of course, if you can provide more space, that is even better for your rabbit’s welfare.

 

 

Top tips:

  • It is important to note that space must be across a single level, therefore raised hutches within the space will not count towards the minimum space requirement.
  • If you can provide free-range space that is even better, but please ensure roaming is supervised.
  • The minimum height requirement is 1m
  • The main thing to remember is, the bigger the space, the more room they will have to exercise and keep in shape!