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Are you and your pet prepared for Fireworks season?

It might seem early but now is the best time to start thinking about the fireworks period. Fireworks often start well in advance of the traditional 5th November, and can easily continue on through to the New Year. Recent studies show that the majority of dogs will react to fireworks in some way, and often we see this as acceptable. Yet for approximately one in ten dogs, they will develop a true phobia. Equally, many dogs tend to show progressively distressing behaviour towards fireworks year on year. Dogs initially showing mild to moderate fear may progress to severe phobias later in life unless proactive measures are taken as soon as possible. To take action NOW is the key to dealing with this distressing condition.

Behavioural therapy
A long term goal should be to generally improve our dogs’ reactions to fireworks. One of the proven techniques to achieve this is Sound Desensitisation and Counterconditioning. The tools required for this are now available free of charge on www.dogstrust.org.uk. There are free downloads for the sounds required and very thorough instructions on how to undertake this type of therapy. This technique has strong evidence in helping dogs with firework phobias (and can in fact be extended to other noise phobias such as storms and gunshot noises), but should only be started once all chance of fireworks happening have passed. The complete program should be expected to take from three to six months and needs to be undertaken thoroughly. To undertake the full program takes time and commitment, yet should truly help your dog long-term.

Long term therapies
For some of our dogs a firework phobia may be just the tip of the iceberg. It may be part of a more generalised phobia or anxiety condition. If your dog shows severe responses to firework noises, or perhaps is fearful of every day noises, such as doors slamming or traffic, then it may be sensible to speak to one of our vets to discuss approaches which may help with broader behavioural concerns. These can take several months to be take effect, so again now is the best time to consider these type of treatments.

Coping strategies
Most dogs will be aware of and react to fireworks. Many have developed their own ways of coping with them. Yet for others they have no way of coping with the extreme noises from fireworks. This will often result in our dogs frantically pacing around the house in a very distressed manner, or they may simply try and hide, often unsuccessfully. One proven technique for helping our dogs to cope is the combination of providing a safe den, alongside the use of either pheromone collar or plug in. Remember, there is good evidence that these techniques significantly help dogs with firework phobias. Again, we should consider “training” our dogs to feel positive about using a den, and so they should be put in place at least one to two months before the fireworks start, and to positively reward our dogs for using them. The den itself can even be used throughout the year to act as a coping mechanism for other phobias such as thunderstorms.

Short term therapies
For pets where we have not had enough time to undertake the above strategies, then we may need to use medications to help at the time of the fireworks, for example New Year’s Eve. The aim of these should be to reduce anxiety and fear rather than to simply sedate. For some of these medications there is no predictable dose for each individual dog. Therefore, they will need to be tried before the time of the fireworks as a change of dose may be required depending on how your individual dog responds.

In summary, we need to plan ahead with dealing with firework phobias. This is not a problem to be dealt with on the 4th of November! Take action NOW to really make a difference for this truly distressing condition which many of our pets suffer with. If you need any help or guidance, please contact us for an appointment. Further advice about the firework season can be found at www.adaptil.com or www.petremedy.co.uk.
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Does your pet have bad breath?

This could be a sign of dental disease. Dental disease in pets is very common, however it is a disease that can be prevented.

We are focusing on Dental Disease and Prevention during the month of September.

Signs of dental disease can include:
  • Bad Breath
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Difficulty eating
  • Red or inflamed gums
  • Brown discoloured teeth
  • Facial swelling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Mobile teeth
We are offering a FREE DENTAL CHECK* for your cat or dog with one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses who will examine your pet’s teeth and discuss about prevention of dental disease. Appointments are available at our Walnut Tree Hospital, Stoke Road Surgery and Willen Surgery.

Our practice has dental facilities at our Walnut Tree Hospital and Stoke Road Surgery including dental radiography. Dental x-rays allow us to detect hidden disease within the teeth and below the gum line to ensure your pet gets the maximum benefit from their procedure.

* If your pet is found to be ill during the free dental check, treatment costs will be incurred. Dental treatment will be chargeable.
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Top tips on keeping your dog’s teeth healthy

  1. Provide your dog with a daily dental routine. It is best for start from a puppy. Tooth brushing is the single most effective method however other methods can also be combined. Pick a suitable time in your routine and keep as your usual time.
  2. If your pet is older, you should still begin daily dental care, however it is best to have a dental check prior to beginning to make sure there are no issues.
  3. Make sure your pet has an oral examination every year at their annual check-up.
  4. Provide chews and toys that are recommended and are safe for your pet. Avoid abrasive objects such as bones, hard nylon chew toys or tennis balls as these often cause damage to teeth and gums.
  5. Feed a diet formulated to reduce dental plaque and keep teeth healthy.
  6. Dental chews can be used to reduce plaque and tartar build up however these should be accounted for within their day’s diet to prevent obesity.
  7. Keep the session short from a few seconds to a couple of minutes.
  8. Repeat each stage daily then move onto the next stage when you dog is comfortable.
  9. Train at a pace that suits for dog.
  10. Give lots of praise and reward for GOOD behaviour.
We are offering a FREE DENTAL CHECK* for your cat or dog with one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses who will examine your pet’s teeth and discuss about prevention of dental disease. Appointments are available at our Walnut Tree Hospital, Stoke Road Surgery and Willen Surgery.
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Heat Stroke – what to look out for!

Signs of heatstroke may vary from different animals, however these are the main symptoms to look out for: –

  • Faster, heavier panting
  • Signs of agitation
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased pulse / heartbeat
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness

What to do if you think your pet is suffering from heatstroke?

If your dog is suffering from heat stroke, they need to have their body temperature lowered gradually.
  • Move your pet to a shaded/cool area
  • Provide your pet with fresh, cool water in small quantities
  • Contact your vet immediately for advice
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Summer Dangers

During the warmer weather, we want you and your pets to enjoy it! However here are some things to keep them safe:
  • TICKS
    There are higher numbers of ticks during the summer months, and animals will be outside more often therefore a higher likelihood of picking up a tick along the way. It is a good idea to check your pet for ticks at least once a day. Dogs tend to pick ticks up more often than cats, but we advise to check your cat daily as well. Ticks can transmit a number of diseases, with symptoms that are hard to spot. Our staff would be happy to advise you on a safe and effective product to use against ticks.

  • TOADS
    The Common toad and the Natterjack toad are common within the UK, within the forests and wet areas. Toads are poisonous to pets as they release venom from their skin when licked or eaten. Exposures are normally seen between June and August time of the year. Signs may include: vomiting, frothing or foaming at the mouth, increased salivation, shaking, oral pain and collapse.

  • HOT WEATHER
    If your pet is exercised too much or they are left in a car, conservatory or enclosed space, temperatures can suddenly rise and lead to fatal heat stroke. Animals should not be exercised during the hottest part of the day and never be left in a confined space for any length of time.

  • PAVEMENTS AND ROADS
    Studies have shown pavements and roads can reach temperatures of 52oC on warm days, which is enough to severely burn your dog’s paws. As a test, place the back of your hand on the surface for seven seconds – if this is too hot for you, then it is too hot for your pet!

  • BLUE-GREEN ALGAE
    This is a bacteria which forms on top of ponds and lakes, which gives a blue-green scum appearance to the surface of the water. This bacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye unless it is clumped together. It is most commonly present in non-flowing fresh water such as lakes and ponds. Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, weakness, confusion, drooling and breathing difficulties. Therefore it is best to avoid water that may contain blue-green algae.

  • WATER INTOXICATION
    Water intoxication is fairly uncommon, however it is definite something to be aware of, if your dog spends lots of time swimming or playing in water. Symptoms of water intoxication include:
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Lethargy
    • Abdominal distention
    • Ataxia
    • Weakness
    • Coma
    • Seizures
    • Hypothermia
    • Bradycardia
    In a case, where you think your pet is suffering from water intoxication, please contact your vet immediately for advice.

  • FLYSTRIKE
    Our smaller pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs can be more at risk more quickly in the hotter temperatures. Flystrike is where flies lay eggs on the rabbit and the eggs will hatch into maggots. This condition can rapidly take effect within 24 hours and the maggots will eat into the living flesh if no action is taken. To reduce the chance of flystrike, check around their bottoms for fly eggs or maggots. This should be checked at least once a day. There are preventative treatments for Flystrike available – speak to a member of our staff for details.

  • BEE AND WASP STINGS
    The buzzing of a bee or wasp may not be a pleasant sound to us, however it may be intriguing for your pet, causing them to investigate and get stung. If your pet does get stung, please seek veterinary advice and treatment.

  • BARBEQUES
    During the nicer weather, everyone loves a BBQ, your pet included if they get some scraps! However this can be dangerous as some foods can substances toxic to our pets, such as grapes, onions, garlic and raisins. Bones and corncobs are also dangerous to our pets as if swallowed, they could be potential intestinal foreign bodies.

  • SAND
    Whilst digging, playing or repeatedly picking up sandy balls and toys, dogs often ingest sand. Sand can cause a blockage called sand impaction. Try to limit games of fetch on the beach, and make sure your pet has plenty of fresh water.

  • GARDEN PRODUCTS
    Ant powders, baits and gels contain chemicals which are highly toxic to dogs as well as weed killers and slug pellets. Always check the label, if the product states it is toxic to animals, opt for a pet-friendly insecticide/weed killer instead.

  • RAT POISON
    Rodenticide is used to prevent rats but is also toxic to pets, and can cause severe internal bleeding, vomiting, fits and changes in body temperature. Always opt for a pet-friendly product.

  • PLANTS AND FLOWERS
    There are many flowers and plants that are toxic to our pets, such as poppies, clematis, peony, foxglove, geranium, chrysanthemum, oleander and yew. If you are unsure whether your plants are safe, it is best to keep an close eye on your pet when they are in the garden and keep house plants out of reach.

  • GRASS SEEDS
    After walking your dog, it is a good idea to check their feet for any grass seeds. If these are left, they can track under the dog’s skin and causing swelling and lameness. They can also be found down dog’s ears so check around their ears also!

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