Obesity in pets has become an increasing problem in recent years, with almost 50% of the pet population being overweight. Carrying all this extra weight can cause a multitude of health concerns for pets, including arthritis, diabetes, heat intolerance and increased pressure on the heart and lungs.To try and tackle the plus size pet population we offer free nutritional consults, with two of our specially trained veterinary nurses, Charlotte Barker RVN CertVNECC and Laura Sandall RVN. Both nurses have many years of experience and have managed to lose 100s of kilos from many pets!
Many owners understandably are very apprehensive about coming along to a weight consult. Our aim is to put both you and your pet at ease. It often becomes an extremely positive experience for your pet as they gain confidence about coming to the practice, because in these consults they just get lots of love and attention while you and the nurse do the talking! When you are booked in for a weight consult, it follows a fairly routine pattern, we discuss what food your pet is currently getting, including any treats or extras they may get. This is very important as it allows us to understand why and how your pets weight has become an issue, and also helps us to work the new regime around what you already do and what suits you and your pet. Once we have discussed all of this, we may alter the amount of the current food your pet is getting, or we may suggest a diet specific food for weight loss, this is often the Hills Metabolic diet. Once you are set up with your new food, or new feeding guidelines for your current food, we ask that you come back monthly so that we can weigh, measure and monitor your pets weight loss. This allows us to ensure that they are losing the weight in a healthy and stable way and also allows us to tweak any issues you may have as and when they come up!
The Hills Metabolic food that we often recommend is a fantastic weight loss tool, as it doesn’t just offer a lower calorie diet, it contains many features that help get the weight off and keep it off, while keeping your pet happy and satisfied. Hills have formulated it to work with your pets metabolism, increasing the fibre content to help keep your pet feeling full between meals. There are also specific blends available that contain joint support supplements (for dogs), or urinary and stress supplements (for cats).
The lovely little dog featured in this photo is Lottie. Lottie came to see Charlotte in January 2016 as the vet was concerned about her weight. Charlotte started her on the Hills Metabolic mini diet, and after nine months Lottie had lost over 25% of her body weight and is now a perfect healthy pup! Lottie’s owner also reports that she is much more active, bright and happy since losing the weight. Charlotte still sees Lottie every few months just to ensure that all the hard work stays and she maintains her new slim figure!
Our nutritional consults are available with Charlotte on a Wednesday between 10am-6pm at Walnut Tree, and between 3.30pm-4.30pm on Thursdays and Fridays at our Willen branch, and with Laura on a Monday at Walnut Tree between 9am-4.30pm, and on Tuesdays between 3.30pm-4pm at our Willen branch. If you have any questions about the nutritional consults or would like to book your pet in to see us, please do not hesitate to contact us.
As most of you know, people can be blood donors but did you know that dogs can be blood donors too?
The Pet Blood Bank is a charity that provides a canine blood bank service for all veterinary practices across the UK. Run as a voluntary scheme just like the human blood service, dogs from all over the country give blood at many of their sessions.
We are excited and pleased to announce our next Pet Blood Bank donor session will be on Saturday 13 May
If you are interested in registering for future sessions, your dog needs to be:
•Fit and healthy
•Between one and 8 years old
•Weigh more than 25kg
•Have a good temperament
•Have never travelled abroad
•Not on any medication
Jess McCarthy, veterinary nurse and session co-ordinator said: My own dog, Westwood, almost needed a blood transfusion in an emergency situation as a young dog, I was so grateful that the vets were able to save his life. And as thanks I am now committed to raising awareness and finding donors for the Pet Blood Bank. In fact once Westwood recovered fully, he became a donor himself.
All dogs will be weighed and undergo a physical examination by a Pet Blood Bank UK veterinary surgeon each time they donate. Dogs will also be microchipped if they are not already. A small blood sample is obtained to check your pet is healthy, determine their blood type, and to ensure they are not showing any signs of dehydration or anaemia before their donation.
If all is well then 450mls blood is collected. Dogs are gently restrained on their side, and blood is taken from the jugular vein in the neck. The actual donation only takes 5-10 minutes, although you should allow around 40 minutes in total for your appointment. A light dressing will be applied to your dog’s neck after donation and their pulse is checked.
Dogs are then given lots of praise and cuddles, followed by a well-deserved drink and bowl of food, and a doggie bag of treats to take home. You will be asked to sit with your dog for a short period of time prior to them having a final check before they are sent home to take it easy for the rest of the day.
For more information, or if you are interested in registering your pet to become a doggie blood donor, please contact the surgery on 01908 397777 and ask to speak to Jess, or register directly with Pet Blood Bank 1
Update 15/0102016: In the last 2 weeks the disease were confirmed 2 in backyard flocks, one in Wales and a second in North Yorkshire
Update 17/12/2016: Bird flu found at a turkey farm in Lincolnshire.
DEFRA, the government’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has issued instructions to all poultry keepers to keep them indoors and away from wild birds. This instruction relates to both commercial poultry farmers and owners of backyard flocks. The order has now been extended until 28 January 2017.
Chief Veterinary Officer, Professor Nigel Gibbens said:
- Bird keepers should remain alert for any signs of disease, report suspected disease immediately and ensure they are maintaining good bio-security on their premises.
- Even when birds are housed a risk of infection remains so this must be coupled with good biosecurity – for example disinfecting clothing and equipment, reducing poultry movement and minimising contact between poultry and wild birds.
What is “Bird Flu”?
Avian influenza refers to the flu viruses that occur naturally in wild birds like ducks and geese. They are very contagious and can also infect poultry and other animals.
The symptoms in birds typically include swelling of the head, eyelids, comb and hocks, nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, watery diarrhoea and sometimes sudden death.
How is it the virus spread?
Wild waterfowl are often asymptomatic carriers of the disease; the virus is transmitted via their faeces to other birds. The virus can also be carried on clothing or food bowls.
Is there any risk to humans?
Currently the threat to humans remains very low. Transmission to humans is rare and there is no evidence that this particular strain has managed to make the species jump yet. People who catch it usually have had direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments. There is no risk from eating eggs or poultry.
What can I do to protect my birds?
The advice is to house all poultry for the next 30 days where practical. If you cannot do this, isolate them from wild birds and their faeces. A covered run is better welfare for chickens than being shut in a dark shed. Close mesh may not be enough protection as a roof, polytunnels will work well. Free range hens will need entertainment if suddenly confined such as branches for extra perching, vegetables hung up etc.
What will we do?
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and post updates when new information become available.
You can find more information on the Defra website
As the clocks go back and the nights draw in, it can be a very distressing time of the year, for both pets and their owners. Over 40% of dogs in the UK are reported to suffer with a fear of fireworks. It should also be remembered that cats will also suffer with the fireworks.
Animals who do differ with firework phobias will display a range of problems, varying from those animals who simply bark at the fireworks to try and make them go away, those that hide from them, those that show obvious signs of distress, right through to those that appear to “freeze”. For us as owners, these signs can be greatly distressing to see. Yet for the animals this fear will not only cause emotional trauma, but often lead to physical injuries as well.
So what do we, as pet owners, do to try and reduce the problems our animals suffer due to firework phobias? Simply put, there is not one simple solution. Yet, by adopting numerous strategies, we should be able make this time of year easier for our cats and dogs.
The following strategies may apply to a greater or lesser extent to certain individual situations, and often many different approaches need to be taken at the same time.
1. If at all possible avoid the fireworks, which is easier said than done these days. If you do have a friend who lives in a remote area consider spending time with them on the worst of the fireworks, for example when the local display is on. Sadly, we all known that now firework ‘night’ seems to last many weeks.
2. To reduce the impact of the sound of fireworks you can try to create competing noises such as loud music. Remember not to play this too loudly as this noises itself may end up causing anxiety.
3. It may seem obvious, but do close blinds and curtains well before any fireworks start to reduce the effects the sights the fireworks have on our animals.
4. Absolutely avoid any form of punishment. This will simple lead to more anxiety and even cause your pet to become aggressive.
5. Comforting you animal when they are scared is a controversial area. Definitely try to be at home during any known firework events. Although you shouldn’t pet or over fuss your animal when they are worried, as this can reinforce the fearful behaviour, it may help some pets to hold them firmly and lean into them, while using long, firm massaging strokes, rather than normal petting.
6. Create a ‘safe haven’ by covering an indoor crate with a blanket and put their bedding and one or two familiar toys inside. This will become a darkened den for them in which to hide, but it’s a good idea to try to get them used to this area before firework season.
7. In many situations the most helpful method to help control firework phobias is through the use of a technique called desensitisation and counter conditioning. Essentially, this is getting your pets used to the sounds of fireworks by playing a CD at a volume that doesn’t provoke a fearful reaction, and rewarding them for this non-reaction. The volume is gradually increased, and a strict programme followed over several weeks to months. This needs to be, therefore, started well before firework season and should not be undertaken if fireworks are likely to start soon. One of the most successful programs is Sounds Scary and is available through www.soundtherapy4pets.co.uk for less than £10. If your pet suffers from firework phobia we would strongly recommend purchasing this now and to start the program in the New Year once all the fireworks have finished, and to then consider repeating the program next summer.
8. 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 above, 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.
9. Pheromone treatments area available such as ‘Adaptil’. These are available as a plug-in and collar and may help some dogs. We also now stock ‘Pet Remedy’ plug-in’s that contains a blend of essentials oils that are Valerian based.
10. Dietary supplements such as ‘zylkene’ may help some dogs with mild phobias.
11. 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.
12. To date there has been no study which has successfully shown any definite beneficial effect for behavioural change for any homeopathic treatment studied in companion animals.
The expected outcome for helping animals with firework phobia should be good if we follow and commit to a thorough desensitisation program. This will take time and patience. It has also been recognised that many animals who suffer with firework phobia also experience other behavioural issues such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder or Separation Anxiety. If you feel this may apply to you and if you are truly committed to your animal’s emotional well-being, there are many qualified people to help both you and your pet. Don’t be frightened to ask for help!
Some of you may already know our nurse, Caroline Stevens from our Cat Clinic at Stoke Road. She has been instrumental in us gaining International Society of Feline Medicine’s Cat Friendly Clinic Silver award, ensuring a calm environment for your cats to be treated.
For the last two years, alongside her hard work in the practice, Caroline has been studying for the RCVS Diploma in Advanced Veterinary Nursing, which we are pleased to inform you she has recently passed.
The Diploma is an advanced post-registration qualification which involved a combination of modules that she studied both on study weekends at Myerscough College and distance learning. Caroline selected clinical modules that reflected her interests, which included anaesthesia, medical nursing and surgical nursing.
Caroline will of course be able to apply her learning to her role as Clinical Coach for our nursing students.
We, as a practice, actively encourage continuous professional development and encourage personal growth across the whole practice team.
Congratulations, Caroline Stevens BSc(Hons) RVN DipAVN Dip HE CVN SQP