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Preparing our pets for Fireworks season: Pheromones and Medications

Various medications are available to reduce our pets’ anxieties. These medications are used alongside a behaviour modification plan such as the desensitisation and counter conditioning described in our previous posts, and need to be started weeks or months prior to the fireworks starting. Often at the hospital we asked at the last minute to supply something to help to calm pets. Medications are available that reduce anxiety in the short term, and will help at the time but have no lasting effect – your pet will again suffer with the same fears next year. A key point for owners is not to be scared to use these drugs. By not medicating animals when appropriate we may be simply prolonging their suffering.

Pheromone treatments area available such as Adaptil for dogs and Feliway for cats. These are available as a plug-in, collar and now a tablet and may help some animals, but not all. Dietary supplements such as omega-3 supplements, zylkene and calmex again may help some dogs with mild phobias.

It is now possible to purchase a tight fighting wrap such as an Anxiety Wrap which is design to apply constant pressure to help relax muscles. Studies suggest these may help some, but not all, dogs. They are available through www.anxietywrap.com.
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Preparing our pets for Fireworks season: Counterconditioning

Following on from our previous blog regarding desensitisation in preparation for the fireworks season and once this desensitisation stage is completed. We can adapt this to include the counterconditioning process, by which we make a positive association to the sounds your pet is sensitive to.

This can be done by providing rewards whilst playing the sounds your pet is sensitive to, in order to start to reinforce positivity with these sounds. Each time the volume is increased and they settled, they are rewarded. Make sure these are rewards that your pet really likes! These processes do require time to counteract these behaviours.

If you have any further questions regarding the fireworks season please do not hesitate to contact us.
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Preparing our pets for Fireworks season: Desensitisation

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. Some pets may be sensitive to noises such as the sound of fireworks. These pets will have a heightened fight or flight response to these sounds causing a behavioural response.

In order to help correct this behavioural response, desensitisation and counterconditioning approaches can be used.

The first process is desensitisation, the aim of this process is the lower how sensitive an animal is to a particular noise such as fireworks.

Start by playing the noise your pet is sensitive to, such as fireworks at a low volume, gradually increasing by a small level each time, each time waiting for them to settle. If they become agitated then reduce the volume down to a volume where they settle again.

This process is ideally completed on a gradual basis over a period of few weeks, then can begin implementing counterconditioning.

Look out for our next blog on counterconditioning later this week.
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Tips on keeping your dog’s teeth heathy

  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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Dental Month – Fractured teeth

Fractured teeth are a common injury in cats and dogs, with the majority involving fractured canines of the upper jaw. Damage is commonly caused by falls, running into objects, clashing teeth and road traffic accidents. In dogs, other objects that can damage teeth include raw hide, bones, sticks/branches, rocks, ice and other hard objects.

The radiograph to the right shows a case of pulpitis in a cat. The pulp cavity is the hollow area inside a tooth filled with sensitive pulp tissue (blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue). This commonly occurs when the tip of the tooth is fractured, allowing bacteria to enter the pulp cavity. Swelling of the pulp tissue prevents blood entering the root canal and the result is ‘death’ of the tooth. On the radiograph we can see widening of the pulp cavity compared to the normal tooth on the right, with evidence of an abscess at the apex of the root. On this occasion the affected tooth was extracted. It is important to note that this problem was found during a routine dental, and the patient did not show any obvious mouth pain at the time, but the owner reported marked improvement in his demeanour and appetite following surgery. Due to high pain threshold and other instinctive behaviours, our patients rarely shows signs of pain and will often hide pain very well.

It is therefore important to never ignore a broken tooth in your pet.
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