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Posts Tagged ‘Cats’

Bang! Whoosh! Pop! : Preparing for Fireworks Season

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. In extreme cases noise-cancelling headphone can be used. “Mutt Muffs” are available through www.safeandsoundpets.com.
  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, form massaging strokes, rather than normal petting.
  6. Create a “safe haven” cover 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 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.
  10. Dietary supplements such as omega-3 supplements, zylkene and calmex again 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!
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New Cat Clinic Day at Stoke Road

Due to the success and popularity of our cat clinics on Tuesdays at our Stoke Road branch, we are adding an additional cat clinic day every THURSDAY.

Introducing AMANDA ROSS, our new Thursday Cat Clinic Vet
Amanda qualified from Edinburgh University in 2001 and joined us in June 2017. She began her career in a practice in her hometown of Leeds before joining a mixed practice in Bedford in 2002. Initially, she worked with large animals as well as small but gradually moved towards concentrating solely on small animals. She holds an ESVPS Certificate in Small Animal Medicine. She has become particularly interested in feline medicine and is very much looking forward to running the Cat Clinic at the Stoke Road branch on Thursdays. Outside work, Amanda enjoys spending time with her husband and two small children, as well as their cat Jamie and their newest addition to the family, a rehomed tortoise called Margo.
The clinic is open for:
  • Vaccinations, Consultations, Repeat Prescription Checks, General Health Checks, Surgery, Dentistry
And also nurse clinics including:
  • Nail clipping, Minor dematts, Blood Pressure Checks, Diabetic Clinics, Weight Clinics, Microchipping, Second Vaccinations, Behaviour clinics and many more
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Thinking of taking your pet abroad?

The Pet Travel Scheme allows you to take your pet on holiday with you to both EU and non-EU countries without the need for a stay in quarantine.

The aim of the Pet Travel Scheme is the prevent spread of Rabies Virus and Echinococcus Tapeworm and maintain the UK as a rabies-free country.
This scheme is overseen by The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and more information can be found at www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad/overview.
Different rules apply to different countries and therefore it is important to check the rules before travelling.
These rules do not apply for travel between the UK and the Channel Islands or the Isle of Mann.
The common diseases your pet could be exposed to whilst abroad can include:
  • Enrlichiosis – a type of bacteria which targets the blood and is transmitted by ticks
  • Hepatozoonosis – a microscopic parasite which targets various internal organs in the body
  • Heartworm – a larval worm which develops and lives in the heart and lungs
  • Babesiosis – a microscopic parasite which targets red blood cells and is transmitted by ticks
  • Leishmaniasis – a microscopic parasite which targets multiple organs of the body including the skin and is transmitted by flies
  • Tapeworm – a microscopic parasite picked up within the environment that is transmissible to humans, if contracted your pet is unlikely to show any symptoms
  • Rabies – a virus which targets the nervous system. It can be potentially fatal and can be transmitted to humans. It is transmitted between animals and therefore is compulsory to have your pet vaccinated when travelling
Requirements to take your pet abroad
  • Your pet must be microchipped
  • Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies by one of our veterinary surgeons. Your pet must be at least 12 weeks of age and the vaccination must be repeated every 3 years
  • Your pet will received an EU Pet Passport. Any veterinarian can administer the rabies vaccination and place the microchip but only an LVI (Local Veterinary Inspector) can complete the passport. MK Vet Group LVIs are Philip Hanlon, Philip Kilkenny, Debbie Kilkenny, Steve Bonthorne, Sonia Moulton, Doug Brain and Marina Crockford
  • Your pet will be able to travel 21 days after administration of the rabies vaccination
  • You must take your Pet Passport with you whilst abroad
  • Dogs must be seen by a LVI in the country you are visiting 24-150 hours before returning to the UK. Your pet will be administered tapeworm treatment and your passport signed at this appointment
  • You must travel using an approved transport company and via an approved route, details are available on the Defra website
If your pet is traveling to a listed country, you will follow the same process as listed above but may also need to complete a declaration form to prove you do not intend to sell or re-home your pet.
If you are travelling to a non-listed country, your pet will need to follow the same process as listed above with the addition of a blood test 30 days following the rabies vaccination and completion of a declaration form to prove you do not intend to sell or rehome.

For further information please visit www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad, or contact the surgery and we will be happy to help.

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Lungworm Awareness Month

Are your pet’s protected?

March brings us Lungworm Awareness Month – are you aware?

What is Lungworm?
Lungworm otherwise known as Angiostrongylus Vasorum in dogs, and Aelurpstrongylus Abstrusus in cats. This parasite resides in the heart and pulmonary arteries and can therefore be fatal. There has been an increase in recorded canine Lungworm cases, but it is still less common than other dog parasites such as fleas, ticks and worms that inhabit the gut. Feline lungworm cases are currently rare, but more cases are confirmed each year.
How can your pet get lungworm?
Dogs become infected by this parasite through the ingestion of infected slugs and snails. You may not necessary see your pet ingest any slugs or snails, as they may do it accidently when eating grass or drinking from outdoor water bowls. Cats who hunt birds and rodents will be at a higher risk of ingesting this parasite.
How will your pet be affected?
Canine symptoms can vary between cases, the most common signs are: coughing, lethargy, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, excess bleeding from minor wounds and seizures. Felines may never show signs that they are affected by Lungworm, however if symptoms do occur they can include coughing, difficulty breathing and poor body condition.
How can it be diagnosed?
Lungworm can be diagnosed by:
  • Blood test
  • Faecal test
  • X-ray
  • Bronchoscopy
What’s the treatment?
Treatment is available for Lungworm cases in the form of a monthly prescription spot on treatment, which kills the L4 Lungworm larvae as well as other intestinal worms and fleas. However, in severe cases, this condition may be hard to treat.
PREVENTION IS KEY with this parasite. Here are some tips to help
  • Pick up the poop – Lungworm larvae is passed out in your pets faeces and therefore picking up after our pets prevents spread of the parasites
  • Pick up their toys – Toys that left outdoors will be exposed to slugs and snails, increasing the risk of parasite spread
  • Don’t leave their food and water bowls outside – These will be exposed to slugs and snails increasing risk to your pet
  • Monthly prescription spot on worming treatment will protect your pet against Lungworm and reduce its spread. Not all spot on treatments treat against Lungworm, so please contact us for advice. This treatment is included in our Dog Pet Health Care plans.
If you have any questions, our staff will be willing to help.
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Thiamine Deficiency in Cats

Following a product recall by retailers recently, there has been a lot of talk about Thiamine deficiency on social media and in other press. We appreciate that this can be a worrying time for owners and want to make sure you have access to all the facts to ensure your feline friends are happy and healthy.

What is Thiamine deficiency?

Thiamine is also known as Vitamin B1. This water-soluble vitamin is necessary for normal carbohydrate metabolism in cats, and is present in all high quality, well balanced diets. Thiamine deficiency is, therefore, often closely linked to diet, and can occur as a results of prolonged loss of appetite, or from feeding a diet which has inadequate levels of the vitamin present (commonly due to preservation, storage or production methods). Thiamine deficiency can also be seen in cats fed on raw fish diets.



What are the symptoms?

Early signs of Thiamine deficiency are generally non-specific, and can include anorexia, lethargy, excess salivation or vomiting. Further development can include neurological signs (including incoordination, circling, head tilt or abnormal gait), rapid onset of impaired vision, dilated pupils, vestibular signs, and even tremors or seizure activity.

Diagnosis and treatment for cats

Diagnosis is based mainly on the presence of clinical signs, specific changes in the brain seen on MRI scans, rapid clinical improvement once Thiamine supplementation has been administered, or evidence that cats have been fed a Thiamine deficient diet. Prognosis for cats with suspected deficiency is excellent if the disease is treated early. Treatment of suspected Thiamine deficiency is with administration of injectable Thiamine, followed by transition to oral supplements for one month, alongside changing the diet to a different high quality commercial food.

What to do if you think your cat might have thiamine deficiency

If you have been feeding your cat the recalled diet and your cat is not showing any clinical signs, stop feeding the diet and switch to another good well balanced food. If your cat is showing clinical signs contact your vet immediately as early treatment is key.

It’s our policy not to comment on food recalls, but you can find more information on the RVC website here
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