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Covid 19 advice for all clients

BVA Advice for all clients regarding behavioural changes in pets

We are living in very unusual times. Social distancing and staying at home due to COVID-19
restrictions is having an impact on everyone. It is inevitable as we change our routines that
the animals who live with us are affected too. Changes in routine, reduced opportunities to go
outside and more noise and activity in the home can all have an impact on the way our pets
feel and behave. In some cases, increased stress can lead to changes in behaviour that are
problematic or difficult to live with. Your veterinary practice is the first point of contact if you
start to see changes in your pet’s behaviour. Below are some tips on what to look out for and
what you can do to help your pet cope.
What changes might affect my pet?
All animals are individuals, and they will respond to changes in different ways. COVID-19
associated changes that might affect your pet include:
• Everyone in the family being at home all the time
• Lots of noise and activity at times when its normally quiet (e.g. with children being at
home during the day)
• Family members being ill, worried or stressed by the current situation
• Changes in routines, and things not happening when pets expect them to
• Family members spending more time with pets, and interacting with them in different
ways (such as children wanting lots of cuddles)
• For dogs: reduced exercise, ability to run freely off the lead or play with other dogs
What should I do if I’m worried about changes in my pet’s behaviour?
The first place to seek advice is your veterinary practice. Contact them by telephone. Please
do not go to the practice premises without speaking to the practice first, as they will be
following government guidance on social distancing. It is important to speak to your vet first
because changes in behaviour can often be a sign of an underlying health problem. Your vet
may give you advice directly on the phone, ask to see your pet remotely or arrange to see
your pet at the veterinary practice if they consider it necessary and urgent within the current
guidelines. They may refer you to another vet specialising in behavioural medicine or to a
suitably qualified behaviourist if they are not able to provide the necessary specific advice
within the practice.
What behaviours should I look out for?
Different pets will respond in different ways to stress. It is a good idea to speak to your vet if
your pet’s behaviour has changed from normal, and particularly if you notice any of the
following signs:
• Growling, snarling, hissing, spitting, scratching, biting or other signs of confrontation
towards family members or other animals.
• Trying to stop family members from leaving the house or room, for example by standing
in front of the door, miaowing or barking.
• Dogs starting to lunge and bark at other dogs or people when out for a walk since being
exercised on the lead more than usual
• Avoiding contact with family members of other pets. This might include hiding or
running away, or just not wanting to play or interact as usual. Turning away or backing
off when you approach is another sign to watch out for.
• Being particularly ‘needy’, such as following you everywhere around the house or
always trying to get into your personal space, dogs jumping up or pawing at you or
licking you, barking when you’re busy doing something else,
• Being less active or playful than usual, such as not wanting to take part in games, or
becoming reluctant to spend time with family members or being reluctant to get up
when lying down. You may also notice increased staring at people or other animals,
standing still for long periods (apparently listening or watching nothing) or sniffing of
the environment
• Unusual and/or repetitive behaviours that do not seem to make any sense. For
example, spinning in a circle, chasing lights or shadows or chasing tails.
• Changes in appetite (either very hungry or not wanting to eat) or starting to eat unusual
things, such as fabric or plastic.
• Not sleeping at night or being sleepy in the daytime. This might include waking up
during the night and pacing or making noises (such as barking, whining or miaowing)
• Changes in toileting habits (e.g. wanting to go outside more to wee, or soiling in the
house)
As well as changes in specific behaviour patterns it is also useful to look out for other subtle
changes in your pet’s body language and behaviour including:
• Changes in behaviour when interacting with family members, such as licking lips,
yawning more than usual, drooling, lifting a paw, crouching or cringing, or becoming
tense and stiff.
• Increases in behaviours such as stretching, scratching or licking/chewing themselves
excessively.
• Dogs ‘shaking off’ as if they were wet
What can I do to help my pet cope?
There are lots of things you can do to help your pet cope in these difficult times. There are
some ideas below, and some ideas of where to look for more information.
• Think about your daily routines. Some pets worry more about change than others –
but for those that don’t cope, try to keep feeding, walking and play times to the same
time each day and avoid sudden changes. Others may thrive on having different things
to do during the day. Watch your pet’s response to change to find out what works best
for them.
• Consistency is always important for our pets. This is particularly important when
interacting with your pet – try to make sure all family members react in the same way
to avoid confusion. It is confusing for pets if things suddenly change, for example if
they are usually allowed upstairs during the day, but because a family member is
working from home they are not allowed at the moment. Where possible make changes
gradually and make the new alternative rewarding for pet
• Watch your pet’s body language carefully – they are very good at telling us when they
have had enough, but we do not always notice. Ask all family members to respect
when pets take themselves away for some quiet time.
• Plan your day to include some quiet time for pets, when everyone in the household
settles down. This is particularly important if your pet is used to having the house to
themselves during the day.
• Ensure that your pet can always access a safe and comfortable resting place. Check
that everyone in the family knows to not approach your pet when they are in their safe
place or den.
• If your pet is worried by any normal household events, such as vacuuming, make sure
they can still take themselves away from these, even with a busy household
• Consider the noise and activity levels in the house. With children at home during the
day, they may be doing online exercise classes, singing or dancing inside (or adults
could be doing this too!). This could either be worrying or exciting for your pet. For
most pets, being in another part of the house when very noisy activities are happening
is the best option.
• It is essential to ensure emotional and physical safety for everyone so remember to
ensure that your pet is not put in difficult situations where it may feel overwhelmed
• Whilst your pets may enjoy you being around all the time now, it is important that they
do not start to rely on your company. Make sure they are prepared for when you have
to go back to work by building in periods of physical separation from them during the
day. This could include going through your normal ‘leaving routine’ and settling them
down before going to a home office for a while, or just having intermittent periods when
they are in a different part of the house from family members.
• The majority of dogs do not enjoy being kissed, cuddled or hugged. With more people
about in the household, make sure that your pet does not get overwhelmed with too
much close contact. Watch their body language when interacting, and allow them to
move away if they do not want to join in.
• Continue to provide the same level of exercise where that is possible. Try not to
increase the level of exercise without veterinary advice.
• For dogs, the restrictions of only going out once a day, and the need for this to often
be only on the lead, will inevitably reduce the amount of exercise they are getting. If
there is more than one adult in the household, each taking dogs out separately will
increase exercise but be aware that this may lead to your dog having excessive levels
of exercise, which may be detrimental. This is particularly relevant if your dog has
problems with chronic pain or is old and has issues with arthritis. You can ensure that
walks are as interesting as possible by varying routes and introducing games or
training sessions into the walk. Where outdoor exercise is limited, it is also important
to engage pets in other activities inside. This might include:
o Puzzle feeder devices or food filled toys - If your pet has not used these before
it is best to introduce the easiest ones first so they do not get frustrated.
o Play sessions at times throughout the day, with suitable and safe toys. Match
the amount of play to the age, health and normal activity levels of your pet and
remember short frequent play sessions may be more beneficial than long and
intense ones.
Your pet is an individual and you know them very well. If you notice something unusual in their
behaviour speak to your veterinary practice.
Further information
Advice about dealing with restricted opportunities for walking dogs is available in the book
No Walks No Worries by Sian Ryan and Helen Zulch and published by Hubble and Hattie
(ISBN-13:978-1845846053).
Further information about caring for your pets during the COVID-19 situation can be found
on the websites of:
RSPCA https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/blogs/details/-/articleName/how-to-carefor-your-pets-if-you-re-ill-or-have-to-self-isolate-due-to-coronavirus
Dogs Trust https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/news-events/news/2020/advice-for-dog-ownerswho-need-to-self-isolate-and-stay-at-home
Cats Protection https://www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice/coronavirus
International Cat Care https://icatcare.org/advice
Written by RCVS recognised specialists in Behavioural Medicine
Sarah Heath FRCVS, Daniel Mills FRCVS, Lorella Notari MRCVS and Rachel Casey MRCVS

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Covid 19 advice for puppy owners

BVA Advice sheet for puppy owners

If you do not have a puppy at the moment but are thinking about getting one, we suggest you
not to do so at this present time. There are significant restrictions on the ability to follow best
practice regarding rearing of young kittens at the present time and it would be better to wait
until the current COVID-19 situation is resolved and social distancing measures are no longer
necessary.
If you have recently welcomed a puppy into your household, then you may be worried about
the impact of the restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak on your puppy’s development
and well-being. These guidelines are intended to help you and offer advice at this
challenging time.
Physical health considerations
There are necessary alterations in availability of routine veterinary services, including
vaccination, at this time and it is very important that you contact your GP veterinary practice
to discuss what is available in terms of caring for your puppy’s physical health. Please do not
go to the practice premises without speaking to the practice first as they must operate within
the government guidance on social distancing and non-essential contact.
Physical needs of your puppy
If your puppy has not been vaccinated, or you are self-isolating, you may find that you are not
able to take your new puppy outside in the same way due to the current government
restrictions. It is important to remember that physical exercise can still be provided for your
puppy at home and you can continue to make preparations for when the time comes that going
for a walk becomes possible. You can start the introduction of a collar and lead and ensure
that this is a positive experience for your puppy. Take short walks around your property and
in your garden, provided that you have a private outdoor space which is not shared with other
dogs from neighbouring properties.
Emotional needs of your puppy
The first few months of your puppy’s life set the tone in terms of their behavioural and
emotional development. Socialisation and habituation are important learning processes at this
time. They enable your puppy to accept the people, animals, objects and experiences in their
environment as normal and above all to be happy and relaxed around them.
Learning about the environment
There are a number of ways in which appropriate exposure to the physical domestic
environment can be provided within the household. For example, your puppy can see and
hear the vacuum cleaner, lawnmower, hairdryer and other household appliances and can be
given a range of different toys to introduce unfamiliar movement, textures and sounds in a
non-threatening way. The most important thing is that your puppy is always happy and relaxed
when these things are introduced, and is not overwhelmed by them. So work at your puppy’s
pace.
If you are self-isolating or your puppy has not been vaccinated during the COVID-19 situation
you will not have the opportunity to take your puppy to locations outside the home.
Nonetheless there are still ways in which the external physical environment can be brought to
your puppy. For example, sound files of a large number of different sounds in the outside world
can be freely downloaded and used (e.g. Sounds Sociable from the Dogs Trust Website
(https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dog-behaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets).
There is an accompanying booklet for Sounds Sociable that you can also download and this
gives additional advice. If you live in a household with babies and small children it is very
important for your puppy to learn that the noises that they make are also normal. Sounds files
called Sounds Soothing are also available from the Dogs Trust website link above and can be
used to introduce child related noises in a way that encourages your puppy to be happy and
relaxed in their presence.
Even if you are self-isolating, a limited degree of exposure to the outside world can be
achieved, while maintaining safeguards for your puppy’s physical health, by taking your puppy
to the door of your property. It is very important to make sure that they are suitably and
adequately controlled to ensure that they cannot get out before you open the door. The puppy
can sit at the door threshold and be exposed to sounds and sights outside, but obviously these
will vary considerably depending on where you live and are likely to be somewhat limited at
the moment given government restrictions on outside activity.
If you are not self-isolating and and you have a small puppy whom you can easily and
comfortably carry (from their perspective as well as yours), it is possible to take the puppy out
when you go for your one daily session of outside exercise, even if they are not yet fully
vaccinated. It is important to follow government advice and stay close to home but you can try
to vary your route so that your puppy gets a variety of experiences. Allow them to watch people
and dogs (from a safe distance of a minimum of 2 metres) and get used to traffic and different
sounds. It is important to be careful not to overwhelm your puppy and remember that if they
are not happy and relaxed they are not benefiting from the experience. If your puppy is
showing any sign of struggling, you should go home immediately. Make sure that you continue
to observe the social distancing guidance and you stay at least 2 metres away from any other
people. If you find that the sight of your puppy is encouraging other people to come too close
to you, you need to step back, and return home. Vaccinated puppies (and older dogs) can be
walked on a lead close to your home provided that the social distancing guidance is followed.
Under current restrictions it is not possible to take your puppy out for trips in the car for the
purposes of habituation but you can still get your puppy used to the car while it remains
stationary on the driveway or outside your home. Put your puppy in the car regularly and
practise turning on the engine. As always it is important that your puppy is happy and relaxed
during this experience and you can help to achieve this by giving them a tasty chew or food
dispenser, such as a Kong®, while they are in the car.
Providing appropriate experiences while staying at home
The most significant restriction for puppies during this COVID-19 situation is in terms of the
limited variety of people that they can encounter. It is very important to follow government
advice and therefore your puppy will only be able to directly interact with yourself and members
of your immediate household. This is not ideal but there are a couple of ways in which you
can provide a wider experience for your puppy, while observing social distancing rules at all
times.
1. If you have a garden and neighbours who are dog friendly you can speak to them over
the fence (provided that you are 2 metres apart) and your puppy can see and hear
them, but not physically interact with them. You can play with your puppy or give them
something tasty to chew on while you chat with your neighbours. This will help your
puppy to be relaxed and also decrease the potemtial for them to get frustrated because
they cannot physically interact with the people.
2. You can alter your physical appearance and that of your household members by using
glasses, hats, different clothes, walking sticks etc. You will still smell and sound the
same so this is only a limited exposure to human variation but it is a start. Remember
the most important thing is that your puppy is happy and relaxed when encountering
you in these different disguises. If your puppy is overwhelmed or appears worried at
any stage you should remove the disguise immediately, and allow the puppy to calm
down in its own time. Do not make a big fuss at this time as this may make matters
worse. You can however drop some treats onto the floor or a favourite toy and wait
for the puppy to access these in their own time.
Other ways in which you can help to ensure appropriate emotional development for your puppy
during the COVID-19 situation include:
1. Ensure your puppy gets used to being left alone. This is more difficult while people are
restricted within their homes but you can create some time alone for your puppy by
them being in a different room if that is possible. If you do not have another room you
can have short periods of time when you do not interact with your puppy and you can
consider a playpen or indoor pen for your puppy to make this easier to achieve. When
your puppy is alone remember to take steps to make sure that this is a positive
experience for them, for example by providing them with a toy to play with or a tasty
chew or Kong. Introduce periods of separation gradually and keep them short but
frequent initially.
2. Get your puppy used to novelty – you can get your puppy used to different items and
surfaces at home. Initially put out some different surfaces on the floor in your home
and place some of your puppy’s daily food ration on the floor around them. Various
items can be used, such as car mats, bathroom mats, carpet tiles etc. but make sure
they are safe for your puppy before using them. Leave your puppy to investigate the
different items of their own accord. Once they are used to the items being present you
can place some of the food on the item to encourage your puppy to walk across the
different textures.
3. Get your puppy used to handling – you can still create a positive association with
handling whilst you are at home, in fact you may have even more time for this than
before! Start off with really gentle stroking, and build up to brushing etc. followed by a
treat. You can also introduce health handling and procedures in the same way, such
as tooth brushing, looking at eyes and ears, opening the mouth and examining feet.
Even though you are at home and may have more time please remember that handling
should be done in short frequent sessions and not for long durations. It is also
important not to be too intense and to stop if your puppy shows any signs of being
overwhelmed or worried. The most important thing is that your puppy is always happy
and relaxed.
4. Use your time together to teach your puppy the things you want it to do when it is an
adult. You can train them to verbal cues using food rewards and there are many good
examples of this on social media. In the interests of helping your puppy’s healthy
development, do not use training that involves physical correction (such as pushing
your putting into a sit) or any form of aversive training aids, such as rattle cans, water
pistols etc, or loud verbal correction, even if it also uses rewards. At the present time,
face to face training classes are not available but some reputable and suitably qualified
dog trainers are providing remote advice using suitable technology. Ask your
veterinary practice to advise you where you can access this information from reliable
and trustworthy sources in your local area. Finally, remember, it is not just about
obedience training, it’s about getting a well-behaved and sociable puppy, i.e. one who
does more of what you want when you want it, without being asked. So look out for
behaviours you like, and remember to reward them. There are some videos about
training and problem prevention available at https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/helpadvice/training
Establishing a good relationship with your puppy
In addition to the need for appropriate socialisation and habituation, the early months of life
are also crucial for establishing a good relationship between you and your puppy. Being
consistent and interacting with your puppy in ways that enable them to learn to predict what
you are going to do and what you want are key to this. Avoiding any interactions which your
puppy finds unpleasant, such as shouting or using things like water pistols or rattle cans, and
using things that your puppy finds rewarding, such as food treats or play, is also really
important to developing a heathy relationship. If your puppy does show signs of being scared,
however unjustified that may seem, you should not ignore your puppy. Quietly acknowledge
them but then show, through your own behaviour (a happy voice and playful action), that this
is really nothing to be scared about. Do not however force your puppy to engage in the activity
or interaction; instead let it do things at its own pace.
Written by RCVS recognised specialists in Behavioural Medicine
Sarah Heath FRCVS, Daniel Mills FRCVS, Lorella Notari MRCVS and Rachel Casey MRCVS

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Covid 19 advice for kitten owners

BVA Advice sheet for kitten owners

If you do not have a kitten at the moment but are thinking about getting one, we suggest you
do not do so at this present time. There are significant restrictions on the ability to follow best
practice regarding rearing of young kittens at the present time and it would be better to wait
until the current COVID-19 situation is resolved and social distancing measures are no longer
necessary.
If you have recently welcomed a kitten into your household, then you may be worried about
the impact of the restrictions related to the COVID-19 outbreak on your kitten’s development
and well-being. These guidelines are intended to help you and offer advice at this challenging
time.
Physical health considerations
There are necessary alterations in availability of routine veterinary services, including
vaccination and neutering, at this time and it is very important that you contact your GP
veterinary practice to discuss what is available in terms of caring for your kitten’s physical
health. Please do not go to the practice premises without speaking to the practice first as
they must operate within the government guidance on social distancing and only essential
contact.
Physical needs of your kitten
As a result of the necessary changes and resulting restrictions on vaccination and neutering,
you may find that you are keeping your kitten as an indoor cat at the moment when it had been
your intention for them to live an indoor-outdoor lifestyle. This gives you extra responsibility to
ensure that the indoor environment is meeting the environmental needs of your kitten and
compensating as much as possible for the lack of experiences that would normally be provided
by the outside world.
Emotional needs of your kitten
The first few months of your kitten’s life are very important in terms of their behavioural and
emotional development. Socialisation and habituation are important developmental processes
at this time. They enable your kitten to accept the people, animals, objects and experiences
in their environment as normal and above all to be happy and relaxed around them.
Learning about the environment
There are a number of ways in which appropriate exposure to the physical domestic
environment can be provided within the household. For example, your kitten can see and hear
the vacuum cleaner, lawnmower, hairdryer and other household appliances and can be given
a range of different toys to introduce it to novel movement and textures and sounds. The most
important thing is that your kitten is always happy and relaxed when these things are
introduced and is not overwhelmed by them.
If your kitten has not been vaccinated or neutered during the COVID-19 situation they may not
have the possibility of gaining access to locations outside the home. Nonetheless there are
still ways in which the external physical environment can be brought to your kitten. For
example, sound files can be freely downloaded and used (e.g. Sounds Sociable and Sounds
Soothing from the Dogs Trust Website (https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/help-advice/dogbehaviour-health/sound-therapy-for-pets). Please do not be put off by the fact that the files are
on the Dogs Trust site! Sounds Sociable and Sounds Soothing are also relevant for your kitten.
Sounds Sociable consists of a large number of different sounds in the outside world. Not all of
them are appropriate for kittens so please read the accompanying booklet carefully and select
the appropriate tracks. PLEASE NOTE THAT THE TRAFFIC RELATED SOUNDS SHOULD
NOT BE USED FOR KITTENS, as you want them to remain wary of traffic. The accompanying
booklet does have more advice regarding puppies than kittens but the instructions as to how
to use the sound files applies equally when using the product for kittens. If you live in a
household with babies and small children it is very important for your kitten to learn that the
noises that they make are also normal. The Sounds Soothing files can be used to introduce
child related noises in a way that encourages your kitten to be happy and relaxed in their
presence.
Under the current restrictions it is not possible to take your kitten out for trips in the car for the purposes
of habituation but you can still get your kitten used to the car while it remains stationary on the driveway
or outside your home. It is also important to start the process of getting your kitten used to the cat carrier
in order to prepare them for the time when they will need to go on a journey, for example to the vet
practice or cattery. Put the cat carrier out in the home with a comfortable blanket inside. If the lid is
removable then take this off so that the bottom of the carrier is acting like a cat bed. The idea is for your
kitten to view the carrier as a safe resting place. You can enhance the perception of it as a safe place
by pre-treating the blanket with Feliway Classic® spray before putting it in the carrier. It is very important
that you never use this spray when your kitten is present as the hiss and scent of the carrier liquid may
upset them. Once your kitten is happy to explore the carrier you can begin using trails of food to
encourage your kitten to walk into it, firstly without the lid and eventually with it in place. The next stage
is to get your kitten used to being in the carrier when the door is closed. It can be useful to put
a scatter of food treats or a mat smeared with food inside the carry so that the door can be
closed while your kitten is engaged in the pleasant activity of eating the food. Initially you can
open the door just before your kitten finishes the food and then gradually extend the time
between finishing the food and the door being opened. Take it slowly and always work at your
kitten’s pace. Once your kitten is comfortable when enclosed in the carrier you can carry the
carrier around the house very briefly before putting it down and letting your kitten out. Finally
you are ready to put your kitten, inside the carrier, into the car. You can do this regularly while
the car is stationary at your home and practise turning on the engine. As always it is important
that your kitten is happy and relaxed during this experience and you can help to achieve this
by placing a few small food treats or a mat smeared with a small amount of food into the carrier
with your kitten.
Providing appropriate experiences while staying at home
The most significant restriction for kittens during this COVID-19 situation is in terms of the
limited number of different people that they can encounter. It is very important to follow
government advice and therefore your kitten will only be able to directly interact with yourself
and members of your immediate household. This is not ideal but you can provide a wider
experience for your kitten. You can alter your physical appearance and that of your household
members by using glasses, hats, different clothes, walking sticks etc. You will still smell and
sound the same so this is only a limited exposure to human variation but it is a start.
Remember the most important thing is that your kitten is happy and relaxed when
encountering you in these different disguises. If your kitten is overwhelmed or appears worried
at any stage you should remove the disguise immediately.
Other ways in which you can help to ensure appropriate emotional development for your kitten
during the COVID-19 situation include:
1. Get your kitten used to novelty – you can get your kitten used to different items,
surfaces, sounds etc at home. Make sure that anything new is introduced gradually
and ensure that your kitten is happy and relaxed at all times. If your kitten is
overwhelmed or appears worried at any stage you should stop.
2. Get your kitten used to handling – you can still create a positive association with
handling whilst you are at home, in fact you may have even more time for this than
before! Cats are independent animals and it is important that they are introduced to
the touching that humans like to engage in. Picking cats up and cuddling them is not
something that they naturally find pleasant so introducing these forms of handling in
very gradual steps when they are very young is beneficial. Likewise, human handling
for the purposes of grooming and checking the coat for medical reasons can be a
challenge for some cats. Start off with really gentle stroking, and build up to brushing
etc. followed by a treat. You can also introduce health handling in the same way, such
as tooth brushing, looking at eyes and ears, opening the mouth and examining feet.
Even though you are at home and may have more time please remember that handling
should be done in short frequent sessions and not for long durations. It is also
important not to be too intense and to stop if your kitten shows any signs of being
overwhelmed or worried. The most important thing is that your kitten is always happy
and relaxed.
Establishing a good relationship with your kitten
The early months of life are crucial in establishing a good relationship between you and your
kitten. Learning about normal cat behaviour and communication is very important as well as
finding out about the specific things that cats need in order to be emotionally, as well as
physically, healthy.
Cats need predictable and consistent human interactions. Some of the challenges in terms of
introducing your kitten to handling have been mentioned above. At this time when more people
are in the house and they are likely to be in closer proximity to the kitten for longer durations
it is important to remember that cats appreciate their own space! Many cats have been
practising social distancing for a long time! Remember that speaking to your kitten will often
be more appreciated than touching them and when children are at home during this COVID19 situation it is important to pay particular attention to their interactions with the kitten. Very
gentle handling is needed and any grabbing at or pulling on the kitten must be avoided. Cats
do not deal well with rapid or unpredictable movements and it is helpful to ensure that people
are calm, quiet and slow and smooth in their movements around your kitten.
Your kitten will need the opportunity to display play and predatory behaviour - playing with
objects is very important for kittens and you should provide sufficient appropriate toys to
ensure that your kitten does not start to play with inappropriate or unacceptable items in your
home. Toys should enable your kitten to rehearse predation style behaviours such as stalking,
pouncing, batting and carrying of items. Cats do not benefit from rough or teasing physical
play with people so concentrate on playing with your kitten using toys and do not be tempted
to use your fingers or toes to get a reaction from them.
Ensuring that your home meets feline environmental needs
In addition to ensuring that human interactions with your kitten are predictable and consistent
it is also important to ensure that the home provides the following important things for your
kitten:
1. A safe and secure place to rest – cats need the opportunity to spend time alone in a
place where they will not be disturbed by people or other animals. They like to have
access to high up locations and to feel protected when they are resting. Beds with
raised sides, tunnels or boxes can all provide this sense of security. If you have dog,
you may find it helpful to provide a baby gate that your kitten can pass over or through,
so that they will be able to avoid any unwanted attention from the dog and feel secure.
A baby gate is also useful to make sure that the dog does not disturb the kitten when
it is using the litter facilities or trying to eat or drink.
2. An environment that respects the cat’s important sense of smell - humans do not rely
very much on their sense of smell in terms of feeling safe and secure within their home
but cats do. It is important to avoid intense smells which your kitten may find
unpleasant, such as citrus scents, alcohol smells and bleaches. It can also be helpful
to provide signals which your kitten will find comforting and reassuring. Pheromones
are signals that cats use to communicate with one another and with themselves and
there are products on the market that can be used to increase this form of
communication within your home. Ask your veterinary practice for advice about these.
3. Easy access to all essential things they need to survive, such as food, water, litter
facilities. It is important that these are each provided in a separate location and that
those locations are quiet and undisturbed. More advice about how to distribute these
resources for your kitten within your home is available from your veterinary practice.
Written by RCVS recognised specialists in Behavioural Medicine
Sarah Heath FRCVS, Daniel Mills FRCVS, Lorella Notari MRCVS and Rachel Casey MRCVS

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Arthritis and your dog

Is your dog one in a million? Of course he is! But did you know that over a million dogs in the UK are suffering from arthritis?

Try the simple self assessment test to find out if your dog may be one of them.

  1. Does your dog have difficulty standing up after a period of rest, or sleep?
  2. Does your dog seem to have ‘slowed down’ and become less keen to exercise?
  3. Does your dog have difficulty jumping up, getting into the car, or climbing stairs?
  4. Has your dog been showing signs of lameness?

If you have answered YES to any of these questions, your dog could have arthritis and would benefit from a checkup. Please ask at Reception for an appointment.

Please call or ask at reception for an appointment.

The Three Point Plan

Just like arthritis in humans, this can affect one or more joints causing them to become inflamed and painful. Affected dogs are reluctant to move the painful joints and they may become stiff, especially after a period of rest. They may have difficulty climbing stairs, getting into the car or jumping onto to sofa, or they may simply not seem to enjoy walks and games as much as they once did.

Many caring owners don’t realise that their dog is suffering from arthritis, putting the changes in their dog’s behaviour down to old age.

A three point treatment plan can relieve the signs of arthritis and help restore your dog’s enjoyment of life. Most dogs respond extremely well to treatment and owners are frequently astonished and delighted by the new lease of life that treatment gives to their friend. Often it is only after owners see the changes following treatment that they realise just how much their dog’s quality of life has been affected.

The three point treatment plan can relieve signs of arthritis and restore your dog’s enjoyment of life. The three elements of this plan are :

  1. Weight Control
  2. Exercise Control
  3. Pain Relief

Starting an arthritis care programme NOW will not only improve your dog’s quality of life in the short term, but it will help your dog to remain mobile and slow the progression of the disease in the future.

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Care of your pet's teeth

Dental care for your pet

Dental disease is very common in cats and dogs. Surveys show that after the age of three years, about seven out of ten pets have some kind of tooth disorders, and if left unattended these may cause irreversible damage to your pet’s teeth, gums and jaw bones. The good news is that dental disease can easily be prevented by stopping the build up of plaque.

How do I know if my pet has tooth disease?

Plaque is a yellowish white deposit made up of bacteria and debris that forms around the surface of the teeth. In time it hardens to become a yellowish brown tartar (sometimes called calculus) at the base of the tooth, which will gradually spread until it may cover the whole of its surface. As well as the visible tartar, there may be other indications of disease: foul breath is very common and the pain resulting from advanced dental disease may cause difficulties in eating. If your pet dribbles excessively, and sometimes this is flecked with blood, or if he shows signs of pain and discomfort such as head shaking and pawing at his mouth, your pet would benefit from a dental check from the vet.

How does dental disease affect my pet’s health?

The tartar hidden below the gum line is the most common cause of problems. It contains bacteria that attack the surrounding gum tissue, causing painful inflammation (‘gingivitis’) and infection that can track down to the tooth roots. Pus may then build up in the roots and form a painful abscess. The inflammation wears away tissue from the gum, bones and teeth and, as the disease becomes more advanced, the teeth will loosen and fall out. Bacteria, and the poisons they produce, can also get into the blood stream and cause damage throughout the body in organs such as the kidneys, heart and liver.

How can dental disease be treated?

If your pet has advanced disease and is in obvious pain, we may need to take x-rays of his head, under general anaesthesia, to see whether there are any deep abscesses. We may prescribe antibiotics before doing dental work if there are signs of infection. Any loose teeth will have to be removed because the disease here will be too advanced to be treated successfully. Your pet will be given a general anaesthetic so that we can remove the tartar, usually with an ultrasonic scaling machine, then the teeth will be polished to leave a smooth surface, thus slowing down the build up of plaque in the future. To keep your pet’s teeth in good condition it is likely that they will need regular scaling and polishing in the future, in some cases at intervals of between six and twelve months.

How can dental disease be prevented?

There are a number of products available to help you with prevention and control. Some are listed below:

  • Tooth brushing
  • Dental chews
  • Dental gels
  • Special foods

Will a change in diet help control dental disease?

In the wild your pet’s teeth would be much cleaner because its diet would contain harder materials than are found in commercially tinned or packaged foods. Dogs and cats naturally eat the bones, fur, etc of their prey, which wear away the deposits of tartar. Replacing soft foods with dry or fibrous materials will slow the build up of plaque, as the extra chewing involved helps control infection through the production of saliva (which has natural antibiotic properties). There are special diets and treats available to help maintain clean teeth, please ask your vet for further advice. We do not advise that dogs are given bones as these can cause other problems such as vomiting, diarrhoea or intestinal blockage

What else can I do to keep my pet’s teeth clean?

Ideally your pet should get used to having its teeth cleaned from an early age. Wrapping a piece of soft gauze around your finger and gently rubbing the teeth should get the animal used to the idea. You can then move on to using a toothbrush specially designed for pets or a small ordinary toothbrush with soft bristles.We can supply you with suitably flavoured toothpaste that your pet will enjoy, and there are also some mouth washes and antibacterial gels that can help reduce plaque deposits and prevent infection. Do not attempt to use human toothpaste which will froth up in the mouth, your pet will not like the taste and it could do it serious harm as it is not designed to be swallowed.

What if my pet doesn’t like having its teeth brushed?

At first your pet may resist but with gentleness, patience and persistence most pets can be trained to accept having their teeth cleaned. A regular brushing every day or at least three times a week will significantly reduce the risk of your pet suffering serious problems.

Our staff are always here for you if you have any questions or concerns about your pet(s), so please do not hesitate to drop into our surgery, give us a call on 01457 852367 or e-mail enquiries@victoriavets.co.uk, and we’ll always do our best to help.

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First aid for your pet

First Aid and Common Worries

Blood in Faeces - If you find that your dog or cat has blood in their faeces, try to determine whether it is fresh blood (red) or digested blood (black). This will help identify where it is coming from. If possible get a sample and bring it to us to test /identify. A very small amount of fresh blood may be due to your pet straining to pass faeces. Observe them over a short period to determine whether it occurs more than once. Blood in faeces is abnormal so it is advised to get them seen by a vet here at the clinic.

Seizures

Seizures (fits) can be caused by a number of factors and are traumatic to see if you have never witnessed one before. If your pet is a diagnosed epileptic, or has a history of seizures you may have some rectal medication that you can give to help stop the fit. If not you should contact us immediately for advice but do not try to restrain your pet – you may get bitten or scratched. If possible remove any objects that your pet may knock themselves on whilst fitting to limit any injury.

Road Traffic Accident

If your pet is sadly involved in a road traffic accident (RTA) then there is only one course of action. Phone us immediately (or the nearest veterinary clinic if away from home) and make an emergency appointment straight away. Try to move your pet as little as possible whilst in transit in case there are any broken bones.

Cut Foot / Pad

It is not unheard of for your pet to cut themselves when out and about on a walk etc. Sometimes they will bleed heavily in which case you should apply pressure to the area to prevent excess blood loss and phone us for an emergency appointment. If it is a minor injury it is likely to still require an appointment for a dressing as feet are notoriously difficult to heal without assistance.

Vomiting and Diarrhoea

Vomiting and diarrhoea can cause dehydration and loss of important salts /potassium etc. Severe bouts of either may make your pet feel extremely unwell. It is important to not let this go untreated for more than 24hrs and do not starve your pet for any longer than this. It may be caused by a bacterial infection (gastro‐enteritis) or it may be due to a metabolic illness within the body. The young and very old pets are more likely to suffer from dehydration than an adult, however no matter the age it is best to get them treated sooner rather than later. If they continue to vomit after 24hrs they may need medication / treatment. Remember that cats may bring up hairballs so check first.

Blood in Urine

It is highly recommended for us to examine your pet as soon as possible if you notice that they have blood in their urine. This can be caused by a number of reasons ranging from trauma to bladder stones and blockages. If an animal struggles to urinate it can impact on their kidney function if left untreated, so if you see any straining or passing of blood phone us immediately for an appointment.

Lump Found

It is important to run your hands over your pet regularly to familiarise yourself with what is normal for your pet and what is abnormal. If you locate a lump(mass) on your pet, it is advisable to get it looked at by a vet and they can advise you as to the best course of action. This may be removal, draining or medication. It is not advisable to assume that it is not a potential problem.

Worms

It is very important to ensure a suitable worming regime is in place if you have a new puppy and kitten as they will be affected by a worm burden quicker than an older animal. It is important to treat for both roundworm and tapeworm. If you notice that your cat or dog is not overweight but has a ‘pot‐bellied’ appearance then it may be due to a worm burden. Similarly if you notice ‘ricelike’ segments around your pet’s bottom then this indicates a tapeworm burden. (These segments carry the eggs of the tapeworm) Remember that just because you do not see any evidence around the bottom of your pet does not mean they do not have worms. A heavy burden can cause weight loss despite an increasing appetite but if you are unsure it is better to bring your pet for an appointment as these clinical signs may be confused for those of other conditions.

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Halitosis

Does your pet’s breath smell?

Bad breath is often a pointer to poor oral hygiene. This in turn leads to a build up of dental plaque and tartar. The consequences of these are gum infections and tooth decay.

We are very keen to promote good preventative dental care. Our staff are trained in dental hygiene and can help you select a programme best suited to you and your pet.

We are sure that prevention is always better than cure, since severe dental disease may only be resolved with a full general anaesthetic and even extractions.

There are a number of products available to help you with prevention and control. Some of these are listed below:

  1. Dental chews.
  2. Tooth brushing.
  3. Dental gels.
  4. Special foods.

Please feel free to ask for advice on any of the above methods of dental hygiene.

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How to tackle fleas

Fleas are very undesirable parasites which feed off our domestic pets - their natural hosts. When environmental conditions are optimal, the flea population will grow at a very rapid pace, and once you have a flea infestation, it is very difficult to get rid of the problem.

Fleas can cause enormous problems to pets by spreading worms and other diseases, causing itchiness, irritation and in some cases resulting in severe allergic reactions. It’s also very embarrassing when they start biting your human guests at dinner parties!

Flea eggs hatch when the correct surrounding temperature and humidity are reached. This starts at the beginning of spring and results in a massive flea population by the end of summer and early autumn. Flea eggs laid in the autumn will hatch the following spring - or if indoors, whenever you turn on your central heating.

To achieve optimal flea control, preventive treatment should be provided throughout the year. If you are unfortunate to get a flea infestation on your pet and in your home, we are always available to give thorough advice on how to eliminate the problem effectively and safely.

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How to tackle worms

Worms – what you need to know

Don’t be alarmed if your pet does become infected with worms - all pets are affected at some stage of their lives. Indeed, they may well be regularly re-infected unless a routine worming program is adopted; the good news is that this is relatively simple and inexpensive to do.

If the infection is treated early, worms are unlikely to cause any serious harm to your family or your pet, but an infestation will affect your pet’s general health and so should be treated quickly. In rare cases, some types may be passed onto humans, and can cause blindness in children (toxocara also known as roundworm).

What are worms?

There are two main types of worms that affect pets, roundworms and tapeworms:

Roundworms – white in colour and, as the name suggests, round; often looking like a spaghetti strand. You may notice these in your pet’s faeces, or if the infestation is particularly bad, the animal may vomit them up.

Tapeworms - flat and ribbon like, you might see rice-like segments of them around your animal’s bottom. Tapeworms have a direct life cycle link with fleas, therefore if your animal has a tapeworm infestation it will also need to be treated for fleas.

What are the symptoms?

Both roundworms and tapeworms live in the intestines and use your animal’s food as a source of nutrition. As a heavy infestation can cause injury and disease to your pet’s gut lining, you may notice some changes in their well-being. Obvious symptoms to look out for include: coughing, weight loss, loss of appetite, dehydration, diarrhoea or blood loss (anaemia), and the animal may also have a “pot bellied” appearance.

How often do I need to worm?

If your animal actively hunts for rodents, small mammals or birds (which are an indirect source of infection), it is very important to maintain a regular worming regime:

Adult pets
We recommend worming every 3 months unless you have small children in the house when monthly treatment is recommended

Puppies and kittens
Wormers should be given every 2 weeks until 12 weeks old, then once a month until 6 months old, and then follow the adult worming schedule.

As wormers do not protect your animal from becoming re-infected, it is very important to maintain a regular worming routine.

What sort of wormer should I use?

There are many products on the market, the main differences being in the way that the medicine is administered, so choose one that works for you and your pet:

Tablets - Single dose, multipurpose wormers. We believe that these are the most effective way to worm

Granules - These are odourless and tasteless, and can be easily added to your pet’s food

Liquid suspension - Good for puppies and kittens, but larger quantities are required in adults. Spooning the liquid into the animal’s mouth can get messy, and this method is often not well
tolerated either by owner or pet!

Paste - Less messy than suspension, well tolerated by most animals and particularly good for puppies and kittens.

‘Spot on’ drops - Highly effective against tapeworms in cats, and very easy to apply; simply squeeze a drop onto the back of your pet’s neck.

‘Spot on’ combination drops - Highly effective against roundworms and fleas and are useful if you have small children and need to worm monthly for roundworms. Still need to treat tapeworms every 3 months

Injection - Only effective against tapeworms and needs repeating every month

Reducing the risk of re-infection

Apart from regular worming, there are several other things you can do to stop worms being passed from animal to animal, or from pet to owners:

Always clean up your pet’s faeces, either bury them or place in a sealed plastic bag and dispose of them in a dustbin. If your cat uses a litter tray, remove faeces daily and disinfect the tray every 3 – 4 days

Check your pet for signs of fleas and adopt a regular flea treatment regime

Try to discourage your animal from hunting rodents e.g. keep cats inside at night or place a bell on their collar

Make sure that children wash their hands after playing in a garden or other open areas that may be used by animals as a toilet.

Cover sandpits – a particular favourite of cats!

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Pet insurance - the facts

Our practice strongly advises that you seriously consider insuring your pet

The true cost of veterinary care can be a surprise to many people. Pets, just like their owners, can develop illnesses that need lifelong treatment, such as diabetes or skin conditions, from a very young age. Not all pet insurance is the same, so it's important to choose your policy carefully.

When shopping around ask insurers the following 5 key questions:

  • Will this policy cover ongoing conditions for the rest of my pet's life?
  •  Does this policy cover congenital and hereditary illness?
  • Does this policy cover dental treatment and behavioural problems?
  • Will you place exclusions at renewal on this policy?
  • Will you increase my premiums or excess if I claim?

 

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Rabbit Info

Rabbit diet and health

This information is aimed at helping clients on keeping their pet rabbit as healthy as possible by feeding a nutritionally balanced diet. Deficiencies of particular nutrients in a rabbit’s diet can cause specific health problems. The most important element of a rabbit’s diet is fibre. If a rabbit’s diet does not contain the right quality and quantity of fibre, it can suffer from dental and gastrointestinal problems. It is also important to include other nutrients in the diet, such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Calcium, which can help in the prevention of muscular, nervous and vascular problems, as well as the preclusion of uroliths.

In addition, the right diet is an important factor in helping to prevent the increasing problem of obesity. Some manufactured rabbit foods contain unnecessary levels of sugars to help improve palatability, so it is important to select a diet that provides the ideal amount of calories. In addition, root vegetables such as carrots are high in sugary starch, so owners that experience obesity problems with their rabbit should be advised to avoid such foods. Obesity can predispose to serious health problems including arthritis, osteoporosis, faecal retention around the perineum, urine scalding, fly strike and metabolic disease, so it is important for owners to keep an eye on their rabbit’s weight and feed an appropriate diet.

The natural diet

In its natural habitat, the rabbit eats grasses, weeds, leaves, and the bark of shrubs, bushes and trees. Recommending a natural diet raises a number of issues that should be considered when advising the domestic rabbit owner:

  • Availability of good quality, natural grasses, plants and bark
  • Risk of feeding poisonous plants
  • Owner requiring a more convenient option
  • The pet rabbit feeding selectively
  • Owner’s propensity to ‘treat’, causing obesity
  • Selecting food items the rabbit prefers, affecting nutritional balance

In an ideal world, a natural diet is the best option – but can owners realistically meet the nutritional needs of their pets in this way? It is often best to recommend feeding high quality hay such as alfalfa (or if not available, Timothy hay), topped up with a higher quality, high-fibre extruded mono component food, which the owner can purchase from most specialist pet stores. In addition, it is recommended to feed a selection of ‘green’ foods daily including broccoli, cabbage, parsley, watercress, celery leaves, endive, raddichio, bok choy, dock, basil, kale, carrot tops and beet tops. Your clients can easily purchase these from the supermarket, but they should be advised to wash them first before feeding. Some plants (including lettuce), are toxic to rabbits, so plants not on the list above should be avoided. Fruit should be regarded as a treat item and fed in limited quantities only as it is high in simple sugars and can lead to gastro-intestinal disturbance and dental problems.

Extruded mono component food

Mono component nutritionally complete foods are extruded, pelleted or baked biscuits that contain all the nutrients a small animal needs in each bite-sized piece, to ensure that a balanced diet is fed and selective feeding is prevented.

Fibre – making the right choice

We know the rabbit requires high levels of fibre – at least X% – but is there a difference in the quality of fibre available…

Alfalfa is the ultimate source of fibre, with higher levels of digestible and indigestible fibre than grass. The plant structure and high lignin content of alfalfa is also beneficial in promoting dental wear. Alfalfa also contains very good levels of essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. This is because alfalfa is a member of the legume family, which are capable of fixing their own nitrogen due to the presence of special bacteria that live in nodules on the roots of the plants. The roots of alfalfa plants can reach depths of 4 metres, which means they can pick up lots of minerals which, when fed as a hay or as the principal fibre source in a mono component product, are passed on in the rabbit’s diet. Alfalfa is especially plentiful in calcium, which is also essential to keeping a rabbit’s teeth strong and healthy. Alfalfa is also low in anti-nutritive factors and therefore enables the rabbit to obtain more nutrients than grass alone. It helps to defend against pathogenic bacteria in the gut and is lower in sugar than other forages to help prevent obesity.

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Safety Tips

Chocolate Poisoning

Chocolate is one of our favourite treats but for dogs it is poisonous and given in large amounts can be fatal. One of the ingredients is theobromine which is dangerous to dogs. Many pet owners like to give their dogs chocolate or sometimes they help themselves. Very rapid first aid advice and treatment is required for animals who have eaten large amounts. Dark chocolate is much worse as it contains higher levels of theobromine.

Christmas and Easter tend to be the time where dogs will seek out boxes of chocolates and Easter eggs but please be extra careful all year round and store your chocolate out of reach of all animals. If your pet eats any amount of chocolate please ring us for advice on 01457 852367.

Feeding Bones

Many owners like to feed their animals a raw meat diet and give their dogs bones to eat. Bones can become stuck in their stomach or intestines if the dog can’t pass them naturally. This can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and pain. We would then have to surgically remove the bone and it can be a traumatic time for pets and their owners. Not only can it be traumatic but very dangerous for your animal. The bones can cause very serious problems and sometimes be fatal. So please be extra careful when giving your pets bones from your Sunday lunch. We would recommend a complete diet such like Hills and all our staff are fully trained to give nutritional advice.

Giving Human Drugs to Animals

Sometimes within practice we may use human medication such as aspirin to help with a medical condition but it’s never a good idea to medicate your animals without seeking our advice first. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen are highly poisonous to cats and dogs and should never be given as can be fatal. Please keep all your medication out of reach of pets and locked safely away in a cupboard.

Stick Throwing

Throwing sticks for dogs can be very good exercise and a way of teaching them to fetch. However they can cause terrible injuries. Parts of a stick can break off and cause deep wounds in their mouths (or even be ingested causing internal injuries) so please use specially designed toys for playtime to prevent any unwanted trips to our clinic!

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Urban Myths

All of the following are urban myths and are NOT TRUE!

  • Dogs & Cats should always have wet noses
  • All ginger cats are male
  • Putting butter on your cats paws to stop them running away after moving house
  • Tortoises can survive on salad & veg
  • Cats should be put out at night
  • All hamsters are aggressive
  • Snakes are slimy
  • Cats have 9 lives
  • Cats always land on their feet
  • There is a ‘flea’ season
  • Fish can’t ‘feel’
  • Fish have a 3 second memory
  • Scooting along the floor means your pet has worms
  • Its right to always let your bitch have their first season
  • Neutering a male dog changes their personality
  • Spaying any animal means it will put on weight
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Vaccinating your pet

Vaccinations – what you need to know

At Victoria Vets, we strongly recommend that your cat, dog or rabbit undertakes a comprehensive programme of regular vaccinations throughout its life to protect it against many serious diseases, and keeping your pet as healthy and happy as possible. Without vaccination, many insurance policies refuse cover, so your policy may be invalid.

Why do I need to vaccinate my pet?

When animals are very young, they receive some natural immunity to a number of infectious diseases from their vaccinated mother, via her first milk. However, as the animals grow and are weaned, this immunity fades, and it is therefore important to provide continued protection through early vaccination and then by regular boosters throughout its life. If you wish to use kennels or catteries, or to take your pet abroad, you will have to provide evidence of a complete vaccination history.

What diseases do we vaccinate against?

Cats

Cat flu (Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Disease). This condition is still common in the UK and can be very serious for infected cats, especially kittens and senior cats.

Cat Parvo / Infectious Enteritis. Often fatal, this awful disease is now relatively rare thanks to widespread vaccination.

Feline Leukaemia. This serious viral disease suppresses the cat’s immune system, causing secondary infections and tumours.

Rabies. This fatal disease is thankfully not present in the UK. If you wish to take your cat abroad, you must vaccinate against rabies.

Dogs

Distemper. This serious respiratory disease is related to the measles virus in humans and without protection from vaccination, as many as one in five dogs that catch the disease will die.

Parvovirus. This nasty infection attacks the gut and suppresses the immune system.

Rabbits

Myxomatosis. This well-known disease is now relatively rare amongst the UK pet rabbit population, thanks to effective vaccination programmes. It is spread by biting insects carrying the Myxoma virus.

Viral Haemorraghic Disease (VHD). This disease progresses rapidly in affected pets and can cause death within 2 days. Vaccination offers protection against this distressing disease, which has no cure.

How often does my pet need to be vaccinated?

Your pet will require an initial vaccination programme starting around the age of 8-9 weeks, and normally consisting of two staged injections two to three weeks apart to provide comprehensive protection. Annual boosters must be given to ensure that your pet remains protected throughout its life, and we will always send you a reminder when this is due.

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Weight Watchers for Pets

Government statistics show that human obesity has reached crisis point, with around two-thirds of people living in Britain either overweight or obese. The problem extends to our pets, one in three household pets is now overweight, which equates to a staggering seven million animals.

Despite this weighty reality, research released today by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) reveals that an alarming eight out of 10 dog, cat and rabbit owners believe that their pet is
just the right weight.

A quick test to see if your dog is overweight!

Very Thin
Easily visible ribs, lower back and pelvic bones. No visible covering of fat, obvious waist and abdominal tuck. Absence of any muscle mass.

Thin
Easily felt ribs, minimum covering of fat, waist easily noted when viewed from above and visible abdominal tuck.
Ribs felt but with an excess covering of fat. Waist still observed from above but not as prominent. Abdominal tuck may be absent.

Obese

Ribs not easily felt under a large covering of fat. Waist and abdominal tuck not discernible. Fat deposits on lower back and base of tail. May observe signs of obvious abdominal distension.

Ideal
Ribs felt but without excess fat covering, waist noted behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from the side.

Lean and Trim

The main reasons for keeping your pet lean and trim are:

Obesity can reduce life-expectancy

Diabetes is very common - it affects 1 in every 200 dogs and 1 in every 400 cats, and many of these cases are associated with obesity. It has even been shown that 61% of obese dogs have poor glucose tolerance and high insulin concentrations in their blood (both signs of a pre-diabetic state) long before clinical signs of diabetes, such as increased thirst, occur. Orthopedic problems are made much worse if an animal is overweight. That isn’t surprising because the additional weight puts unnecessary stress and strain on the bio mechanics of limb and joint function. It has been estimated that 24% of obese animals have some form of locomotion problem. Veterinarians have many anecdotal reports about obese animals scheduled to have major surgery for their orthopedic conditions which did not require surgery once they lost weight.

Excess body weight increases workload for the heart and almost doubles the risk for circulatory disease to develop.

The risk of developing skin disease is increased in obese individuals. Overweight animals have difficulty exercising because of the effects on locomotion,. and also due to the effects of excess body tissue on respiration - making breathing difficult. Reproductive problems in males and females is often associated with excess body weight.

There is evidence that obese animals have a lower immune resistance to infectious diseases.

Obese animals have altered metabolic rates and their individual “set point” for body weight is higher than it should be. This makes achieving and maintaining weight loss very difficult for owners
once obesity is established. Obese animals have a higher anaesthetic risk, and a higher risk for wound breakdowns following surgery.

At Victoria Vets we can help to keep your pet fitter by advising on diets. Remenber losing weight does not just mean cutting calories. We also have to ensure that the balance of essential vitamins and minerals remains correct. There are prescription diets especially formulated to meet this need.

Our staff are trained to help with this important aspect of pet healthcare and would like to offer your pet(s) the chance to enrol in our “Weight Watching Club” free of charge. Each pet will be given an individually tailored diet plan to help him or her achieve their target weight and be weighed at least monthly.

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