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.

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/

Greenside Vets COVID-19 Update 25th January

Following the recent ‘stay at home’ and lockdown orders issued on 4th January 2021, we are continuing to offer as full a range of services as possible for our patients, whilst adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines.

As a practice, we have adopted a contactless approach to appointments. We will continue to provide the same high-quality services with the same friendly, caring people, just delivered in a way that protects our clients and teams from local outbreaks of COVID-19.

We are working in smaller teams to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and therefore lead times for appointments maybe a little longer than usual. Please bear with us at this time – we will do our best to make your appointment as smooth as possible.

Guidance for attending your appointment:

To keep everyone safe, please help us by:

·        Maintaining social distancing

·        Wearing a face covering where possible. If this is not possible, please contact us before your appointment so that we can discuss how best to support you and your pet

·        Sanitising your hands before and after your pet’s appointment

·        Using contactless payment methods wherever possible

·        Maintaining a safe distance from the practice entrance until you are contacted by a member of our team. If you are on foot, please ensure you are wearing suitable outdoor clothing to remain warm in cold weather spells. If you arrive by car, please remain inside the vehicle awaiting further instruction

When attending an appointment with your pet:

·        Be aware that our teams will be in full PPE at all times

·        Please phone us from outside the Practice to inform us you have arrived

·        A member of our team will alert you to when they are ready to collect your pet and how best to do this safely and without contact (i.e asking you to stand away, whilst your pet is retrieved from the car)

·        The vet will contact you by phone should they need to discuss anything with you during the consultation

·        Once the consultation has been completed, a member of our team will return your pet to you in a safe, contactless way, talk you through the appointment and arrange for payment to be made.

We have made these changes as the health and wellbeing of our patients, clients, and staff is our number one priority.

Thank you for your continued understanding during this time. We remain committed to delivering the best care for your pet and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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.

Nutritional advice for cats and dogs

When we think about weight management in pets it can be easy to focus on their exercise routine and how active they might, or might not, be. However, getting them out for their daily walk is only part of it, and in fact, what they eat from one day to the next plays an equally important role.

We all know that the better our diet and the healthier our food, then the higher the chance of us having a better quality of life. Well, the same goes for our pets! By ensuring that our animals’ diet is a balanced one packed with the highest quality ingredients and best nutrition, we can make a direct positive impact on their health. The result can mean reduced allergies that cause skin and ear problems, better gastrointestinal health, and stronger bones and muscles. Better nutrition also provides long term benefits by causing less stress on our pet’s organs and boosting their immune systems.

Below, we take a look at the main components that can make up a pet’s diet:

Carbohydrates
These can have differing levels of importance for dogs. They rely on them to provide a quick energy source but also require slow-release complex carbohydrates to ensure they have sustained energy across their day. Cats also use carbohydrates as an additional energy source, however, it is not their primary one, therefore, if their diet has higher levels of carbohydrates compared to other components such as meat, it can be less digestible for our felines.

Proteins
Both dogs and cats require protein in their diets to assist with the growth and repair of the body. When considering proteins, it is best to focus on the ingredients of food and look for named meat or fish sources higher up in the listings. This can signify higher quality food containing more usable proteins that your animal will find easier to digest. One thing to remember for cats is that they will use protein as one of their primary energy sources so will require more of it in their diet than dogs. For their bodily systems, especially the heart, to function properly they also need the protein ‘Taurine’ in their food.

Fats
These are considered a primary energy source for both dogs and cats. They can be present in different forms, however, causing varying levels of digestibility. The key factor is the quality of the fat – ingredients that specify where the fat has come from, e.g. chicken fat, will be easier for your pet to digest. Poorer quality fats, such as beef can contain more fatty particles, which increases the level of cholesterol in your pet’s body and the risk of health conditions that affect the heart and circulatory system.

Fibres
Fibre in your pet’s diet plays an important role in aiding gut mobility and maintaining moisture levels, ensuring they have healthy stools. It can be found from various sources in their diet including vegetable, plant, grain and fruit and is classed as either Soluble or Insoluble. For both dogs and cats, it is important that there is a balance of both types of fibre to support the digestive system. Foods containing prebiotic fibres will also boost your pet’s immune system by increasing the good bacteria in the gut.

Oils
As with some of the other components, it is advisable to scan the ingredients of any food you are considering for named sources of the oils included. Oils provide those essential fatty acids that your pet needs (such as Omega 3 & 6) and these tend to be more readily available in meat and fish-based oils as they are more natural and are easier for your pet to digest. Lower quality oils, such as Rapeseed or Canola, can lead to digestive tract irritation as they have fewer Omegas readily available.

Like us, an animal’s diet can change dependant on their life stage. It is possible to find food that is suitable for your pet across all of their life stages, however, below is some guidance to consider:

Puppies and kittens
Being so young and small, it comes as no surprise that puppies and kittens will require more energy to help them with their growth process into adults. The fuel needed for this will be found in diets containing more fat and calories.

Senior pets
With older pets, the emphasis changes when it comes to components of their diet. The levels of fat and calories need to be reduced as their lifestyles are less active and their metabolisms are slower than when they were younger. Protein levels should also be reduced to maintain kidney function. Joint care supplements are also important in senior pet diets to ensure their joints are soothed and protected after many years of hard work.

Weight control pets
When considering weight management for our pets, light foods can be an option. These contain fewer calories and fat to keep excess weight to a minimum, as well as higher levels of fibre. They may also include ingredients that help your pet to break down body fat easier and switch on the genes for weight loss.

When taking all of the above into account, it can be a minefield trying to pick the right diet and food for your pet, especially with the wide range available nowadays. Therefore, if you need any advice regarding the most suitable diet for your pet, or would like to discuss their weight management, please get in touch with us to find out how we can help.

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