Introducing a new pet into the household

Getting a new pet is an exciting experience, and naturally, you are keen to get them back home to begin life as part of the family. However, for your new pet this can be a very stressful occasion, therefore it is important to ensure that you have fully prepared for their arrival and take things nice and slow to make their integration into your home a successful one. We have put together some top tips below that we believe will help you through the process:

1. GIVE THEM SPACE

Dogs

It’s important that your dog can settle in their new surroundings, and the best way to do this is to ensure that they have their own quiet space, where they will feel safe and secure and can use as their place to sleep. Undertaking some crate training could be a good idea, as the dog can associate the crate as their own personal den. Be sure to leave the door open to begin with so they can get in and out, and never use the crate as a way of punishment. Make this area more comfortable for them by covering their bed with an old duvet or blanket. A plug-in pheromone diffuser could also help – these imitate the chemicals that a mother dog would release, providing familiarity for your dog.

Cats

Set up a dedicated room in the house, before you collect your new cat, that includes everything they will need such as litter tray, choice of sleeping places, scratching post, access to high spots, separate food and water areas and selection of toys. Once home, allow your cat to explore their own area and when comfortable in their own space, and provided you have no other pets, you can allow them to explore the rest of the house of their own accord. Make sure windows and doors are closed so they cannot get outside, but always ensure they have access to their safe place in case they need to retreat.

2. MEETS & GREETS

Dogs

It’s understandable that you will be keen to introduce your new companion to family and friends, but this needs to be handled in the right way. It is important to socialise them with as many people as possible, however stagger any introductions so that they are not overwhelmed and, where possible, hold these in an open area such as your garden so that your dog doesn’t feel trapped and you are able to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Cats

You can start to introduce your cat to other family members once you feel that they are confident with you, but it is important not to overwhelm them with new people and experiences. If you have children in the house, ensure they remain calm when meeting the cat for the first time. Always allow your cat to come to them, and show them the correct way to gently touch and stroke it – as even the friendliest cats can react if they are pulled and pushed too much.

3. GIVE IT TIME

Dogs

This is a new situation for both you and your dog therefore allow plenty of time (usually four to six months) for them to settle in and re-adjust to being part of your world. They will need time to build that new relationship with you, so take things one step at a time, rewarding co-operation with a small treat.

Cats

Although the first few hours once bringing your cat home can affect how they accept their new life, be sure to be patient and never rush your cat in to doing things. It is always stressful for a cat when changing environments therefore expect for it to take at least a couple of weeks for them to feel relaxed in your home.

4. OUTSIDE THE HOUSE

Dogs

As well as settling your new pet in to your home, it is important to familiarise them with the surrounding areas that they are likely to encounter on their walks. However, before taking them out, make sure to check that their vaccinations are up to date to avoid any infections and that they are micro-chipped.

Cats

After about three or four weeks your cat should have adjusted to their new surroundings and be familiar with where their food is coming from. This a good time to think about letting them go outside to explore. Kittens should always be supervised, and you should not let your cat outside on their own until they have been neutered and micro-chipped. Until your cat is used to coming back freely, it is worth only letting them out when they are hungry so that you can tempt them back with food.

If your new pet is not your first, then the above tips can still apply, but more thought needs to be given about how both are kept separate and the best time and process for introducing them to each other. More information on this can be found at:

https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/introducing-cats
https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-care/dogs-and-cats-living-together
https://icatcare.org/advice/helping-your-new-cat-or-kitten-settle-in/

If you would like to register your new pet with us, or have any questions about vaccinations or neutering, please contact us for friendly advice.

How to teach your dog to walk on a lead

Training a dog to walk on a lead comfortably and safely is one of the most critical skills that you will teach your dog as a responsible pet owner.

Before you start, make sure you have the right equipment for training your dog. We recommend that you speak to us about the best type of harness and lead suitable for your dog’s breed. By getting the right equipment, you will ensure you get off to the best start and make the training much easier for you both.

Basic steps to lead training your dog

These steps follow guidelines from the Dogs Trust, an animal welfare charity and humane society which specialises in the wellbeing of dogs.

Step 1 – Allocate sufficient time for training your dog, as patience is essential. When you start walking with your dog, the second the lead starts to tighten, stop walking. Simply stand still and don’t move forward again until the lead is slack, then walk onwards.

Step 2 – Think of ways to reinforce positive behaviour whenever they are walking next to you on a loose lead. Keep some treats handy but out of the way. As your dog gets better, you can cut down on treats and phase them out completely. Remember to keep walking forwards as you give your dog treats to avoid stopping and starting. Consistency is key.

Step 3 – Train in a quiet and peaceful area. Walk up and down with no distractions so that your dog can get the hang of it quickly. It’s much easier for your dog to learn new behaviours in quiet places where they won’t be easily distracted.

It’s advisable not to take your dog out for training if they are agitated.

There are no shortcuts to training

Remember that the best advice for training your dog is consistency and patience. Some dogs master lead training quickly while others take their time. There is no right answer to how long it should take to train your dog. The important thing is to stay calm and collected. By doing this, your dog will gain confidence in you and is likely to accept walking on the lead more quickly.

If you are having some issues in lead training your dog, give us a call with the specific problem, and we will be happy to provide you with a few tips. Good training will make daily walks more fun for both ends of the lead.

Happy training!

Bonfire night preparation

Fireworks are used throughout the year to mark significant seasonal celebrations 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.

For further information visit https://www.scottishspca.org/news/fireworks-advice

Senior Pet Focus

As we age, we begin to experience certain health conditions that are linked to getting older. The same is true for our pets; the only difference being that they are unable to tell us if they are not feeling well. That’s why it is important to be looking out for any signs and symptoms that could highlight that something isn’t quite right.

Below we focus on several of the most common conditions that might affect our senior pets and what this means for both you and them:

Arthritis in dogs
In older pets, the years of wear and tear on the joints can cause them to become inflamed – resulting in movement becoming sore and difficult. Osteoarthritis, or arthritis as we commonly know it, is usually prevalent in the hips, elbows and knees, but can appear in any joint.

Kidney disease
Your pet relies on its kidneys to perform important tasks such as removing toxins from the blood, preventing water loss and regulating blood pressure and acidity levels. When they are not able to perform these tasks properly, this condition is known as kidney failure (or renal disease). Age can be a factor in developing kidney disease, with symptoms and severity differing greatly between cases.

High blood pressure in cats
Although high blood pressure can occur on its own, the commonest causes are kidney, heart and thyroid disease. As the body is working harder to circulate blood, this can lead to complications with the kidneys, eyes, heart and even the brain.

In all cases it is important to ensure that your pet has regular check-ups with us. If you are concerned that your pet may be showing any signs or symptoms mentioned above, then please contact us immediately for advice.

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.

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.

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.

If you are concerned your dog may have caught Kennel Cough over the summer 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.

Don’t forget, if you’re a Pet Health Plan member, the vaccine is included as part of your plan.

 

Basic First Aid for pets

Whenever your pet becomes ill or injured, it is always a stressful situation for both you and your companion. That is why we wanted to provide you with some guidance on how you can act, and what you can do to help, when these incidents occur.

The following is always important to remember in any emergency:

  • Always assess the situation before acting – as your pet is most likely in pain, and as a result frightened, they may act differently to usual if you try to touch the injured area (such as trying to bite).
  • Always contact us as soon as you can – we are best placed to provide you with any immediate action you may need to make.
  • Never administer human medicine to your pet as in most cases this can be harmful.

There may be occasions where you might need to provide basic first aid to your pet before they are seen by us.

Dealing with bleeds

  • Keep your pet quiet and calm
  • Stem any bleeding with pads and dressings
  • If advised by us, you can apply a bandage to the wound. If on a limb then the foot should also be included to avoid swelling.

Dealing with broken bones

  • If any serious bleeding, then this can be controlled as above.
  • You should not apply a splint as this can cause more pain to your pet and worsen the injury.
  • The best action (after phoning us) is to keep the animal confined ready to get to our practice as soon as possible.

Dealing with burns/scalds

  • The best action is to run cold water over any burn for at least five minutes before calling us, ensuring you keep your pet warm.
  • Do not apply any creams or ointments. However, a saline dressing could be applied if there is likely to be a delay in you getting to the practice.

Dealing with Heatstroke

  • Place your pet in a cool area that ideally has a draught and wet their coat with some tepid water (do not use cold water as this can slow down the heat loss process).
  • Offer your pet a small amount of water.

 

As mentioned, the best action is always to contact us as soon as possible if you have concerns about your pet, so that we can advise you on the next steps and ensure that your animal receives the treatment it requires.

We are always here to help, therefore please do not hesitate to contact us

Heat awareness for animals in hutches

Even though the height of summer is over, we have been known to have some very warm days in September! We all enjoy getting out in the sunshine (when it arrives!), however the same is not always true for our pets! It is possible for any animal to overheat in hot weather, however we often forget how tough it can be on our pets that live in hutches, such as rabbits and guinea pigs.

It can be easy to think that their hutches provide cover from the warm sun, but they can heat up very quickly and become uncomfortable for the animals. And let’s not forget all that fur that they can be carrying too!

Take a look at our 5 top tips below for helping your furry friend stay cool:

  1. It is always best to find a shady area in the garden to position their enclosure and any exercise runs, to keep them away from direct sunlight. Extra shade could be created by draping a towel or sheet over part of the run, maintaining a draught of cool air.
  2. Create an area for them that is nice and cool to lie on – this could be achieved by placing some ceramic tiles in their hutch/enclosure, however, ensure that these remain in the shade.
  3. It is important to remember that your rabbit or guinea pig is likely to drink more on hot days, therefore ensure they have access to fresh, clean water when needed. Keep checking the water throughout the day too so that you can top it up as required, but also so you can notice if anything is wrong (e.g. the bottle spout is blocked).
  4. A way to ensure that your pet is getting some added water in their diet is to feed them plenty of leafy green vegetables and safe fruit (such as tomato or cucumber).
  5. For those breeds that are long-haired, consider making them feel more comfortable in the heat by removing any excess hair with a brush.

With the above in mind, recognising the main symptoms of heatstroke for rabbits and guinea pigs is important to ensure that you can take action to prevent it, or if it occurs, get them the necessary treatment. Keep an eye out for:

–   Convulsions

–   Salivating

–   Reddening of the ears

–   Panting

–   Weakness and lethargy

If you feel your rabbit or guinea pig is showing any of the above symptoms, then use cool water to dampen their fur and contact us immediately.

Taking your cat to the vets

A visit to the vet can be stressful for cats, and therefore stressful for you too!

You will need a sturdy cat carrier to get your cat from your home to our vet practice. Make sure it has strong handles and fastens securely. A cat carrier will be an unfamiliar environment for your cat, so try to make it welcoming with some treats and toys, you could also use a pheromone spray to calm and help your cat feel at ease. Encourage them to get in and out of it of their own free will in the lead up to the appointment. That way it will be less daunting for them when you close the door for the journey.

At present we have additional measures in place due to Covid-19 for the safety of you, your pet, and the practice staff, which include having to wear a face covering and use hand sanitiser. When using hand sanitiser, please ensure it has dried on your hands before touching your feline friend as they may not like the smell of it!

One of our vets will examine your cat thoroughly. Next steps will depend on the reason you’re here – either for a routine examination or for the investigation of a problem. It’s important to get your cat checked out at least annually even if they seem in good health. This will enable us to pick up on subtle changes which might not be noticeable at home such as weight loss as well as allowing us to intervene early in any disease process.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask the vet or nurse. They’re here to help, and make sure you fully understand what’s going on. Whether it’s about terminology, medication, or even costs, they want to make sure you’re fully informed throughout the appointment.

If your cat is showing signs of stress after their appointment, be sure to give them plenty of fuss and cuddles when you get home – if they want to, of course! We all know that cats can be strong minded and very independent, so don’t force them if they don’t want to.

Are you a member of our Pet Health Plan?

For an affordable monthly fee your cat will receive all the benefits listed on our membership page. You can now even register online, so why not sign up today!

Seven interesting dog facts for you to ponder

We’ve “fetched” seven fun canine facts to share with you. You may know some of these already, and others may be new info for your trivia bank…

  1. Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not colour-blind. [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica]

Dogs are not colour-blind in the sense that they see more than just black, white and grey. However, the range they perceive is different from ours. Human eyes have three types of cones so we can see red, blue and green. Dogs are only able to discern yellows and blues. This is called dichromatic vision. Reds and greens are not distinguishable to dogs and instead appear somewhere on their yellow to blue spectrum.

  1. Human yawns are contagious for domestic dogs! It is four times as likely to happen when it is the yawn of a person he or she knows. [Source: Scientific American]

Dogs are amongst few species that have displayed signs of contagious yawning. The exclusive list contains humans, chimpanzees, stumptail macaques and gelada baboons.

  1. A Greyhound could beat a Cheetah in a long-distance race. [Source: Psychology Today]

Greyhounds are superb long-distance runners and can keep a speed of 35 mph for up to seven miles. Cheetahs, while incredibly fast, can only keep their speed for around 200 to 300 yards (274 meters) or less than two-tenths of a mile.

  1. A wet nose helps with scent detection. Your dog’s nose secretes a thin layer of mucous that helps to absorb scent chemicals. [Source: Vetstreet]

Dogs rely on scent to explore, and a wet nose helps to optimise the effectiveness of the dog’s olfactory system. A damp surface helps to attract and hold scent particles, making it easier to pick up odours while sniffing. There are up to 300 million sensory receptors in a dog’s nasal cavity; humans only have 6 million.

  1. Petting a dog can lower your blood pressure. [Source: WebMD]

While we all know that petting a dog feels good, but did you know that it can also lower your blood pressure? The petting action helps your body release a relaxation hormone and cuts down on levels of a stress hormone.

  1. Dogs have about 1700 taste buds! [Source: Woof Report]

As in the case of humans, your dog’s sense of taste depends upon special receptors called “taste buds.” Dogs have around 1700 taste buds while cats average only about 470.

  1. Dogs have at least 18 muscles in each ear! [Source: The Bark]

Up to 18 muscles control the ears of dogs while humans have only six and can only move their ears slightly. Dogs can tilt and rotate their ears to funnel the sound into the inner ear more efficiently.

Pet Travel to Europe from 1 January 2021

If you’re planning on taking your pet to an EU Country after 1 January 2021, there’s some important information you need to know.

Before your dog, cat or ferret can travel for the first time after this date, you’ll need to start taking the following steps four months before you’re planning to travel:

  1. Arrange for your dog, cat or ferret to be microchipped.
  2. Vaccinate your dog, cat or ferret against rabies – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before they can be vaccinated.
  3. Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its primary rabies vaccination (from a current series of vaccinations). Your vet may recommend a booster rabies vaccination before this test.
  4. Your pet’s blood sample will be sent to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
  5. You will then need to wait three months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you can travel.
  6. The vet will give you a copy of the test results and enter the day the blood sample was taken in an animal health certificate (AHC).

 

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to travel with your pet until you have a valid animal health certificate.

If the blood test result is unsuccessful, your pet will need a repeat vaccination and another blood test taken after a further wait of 30 days.

As long as you keep your pet’s rabies vaccination up to date, you will not need to repeat blood tests for further trips to the EU. However, you will need to get an AHC from your vet within 10 days each time you travel.

It is possible that as things progress, not all of this will be necessary but please ensure you give yourself enough time.

For more information or to make an appointment to start the process, please contact us.

More information can be found here on the GOV.UK website https://www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad