Pet Of The Month December 2013

Pet Of The Month December 2013

This lovely girly is Apple-Pie, a 4yr old Pointer.
Apple-Pie had a bad road traffic accident in August and was immediately referred to the Royal Veterinary College for surgery to fix her badly broken left hind leg. Apple-Pie had to have her bones pinned and an external fixator applied to keep the pins in place, to enable her bones to heal. (follow this link for more info on external fixation
In september the metal work was removed and a plaster cast was applied to Apple-Pie’s leg which had to be changed on a regular basis.
Apple-Pie has had to put up with multiple surgeries, dressing changes for her wounds and medications for infection since the RTA. Throughout all of this she has been a wonderful patient and has been very well behaved during her visits to the surgery. Thankfully the dressings are now off and she is recovering well.


Make Some New Years Resolutions To Help Keep Your Pet Fit And Healthy


New Years Resolutions

  1. Make a note in your new diary of the important healthcare dates for your pet such as his or her booster vaccination date and parasite treatment application reminders.
  2. Speak to your veterinary nurse about on-going preventative health care such as safe and effective flea and worming treatments. Buy the treatments in advance so that they are ready for use when your pet needs them. We now offer free text reminders for flea and worm treatments, so let us know if you would like to opt in.
  3. Weigh your pet regularly to ensure that you are feeding the right amount of food, you are giving the right dose of flea or worming product and that your pet is not becoming overweight.
  4. Get into the habit of checking your pet’s mouth regularly. Your pet’s teeth should be nice and clean with little or no plaque on them and healthy gums should be pale pink. Our veterinary nurses offer free dental checks and can advise you about caring for your pet’s teeth and gums with daily brushing.
  5. Find time each day to interact with and play with your pet. Grooming or stroking your pet is a great way of bonding and it also allows you to check for any lumps or bumps that may have appeared. Play is very important for pets and new toys don’t have to be expensive. You can use home-made items such as paper balls and kitchen roll tubes filled with a few treats for cats and small furries. For dogs, hide and seek games with people, toys or treats always go down well.
  6. Enrol your cat, dog or rabbit into the Castle Vet’s Pet Health Club and ensure they receive the best healthcare on time every time. You can make substantial savings on your pet care and each new member will receive a £10 voucher. For the full range of member benefits and prices visit our website or telephone the practice.
  7. Give your pet the opportunity for exercise and mental stimulation.

Healthy Exercise

We all know that exercise and mental stimulation are good for us; they can help us maintain a healthy weight, give us energy, keep joints flexible, make us feel better and help us to live longer. The same is true for our pets, so make sure that you give your pet the opportunity to stay fit and healthy.

Rabbits, Guinea Pigs and Ferrets can be encouraged to exercise and forage for tasty food quite easily by hiding tasty treats around their hutch and exercise area. Tasty treats and veggies can be suspended from the top of the hutch or enclosure to provide tasty and stimulating entertainment (this should be done under supervision to ensure your pet doesn’t get tangled in any string). Plastic tubing and cardboard boxes can be used to provide stimulation and encourage exploration and play. Many of these pets will also enjoy walking on a harness if you introduce it slowly and carefully, but be mindful of other animals that may be around such as cats and dogs.

small furries activities 2Rodents and other small furries can be encouraged to exercise using wheels or exercise balls, where appropriate. You can also provide small cardboard boxes or tubes for them to climb in and out of or chew and treats can be hidden around their cage to encourage exploration. You could also invest in some plastic tubing to run around the outside of their cage to allow more space for exercise. Remember that rodents such as rats are highly intelligent and can be taught many simple tricks, using food rewards, that will keep you and them entertained.

rodent exerciseDogs can be great fun to exercise and their enthusiasm will encourage you to be more active too. Exercise for your canine companion will greatly depend on what you and he can cope with, but can be anything from leisurely walks in the park or around the block, to racing after a ball or a frisbee and playing with other dogs. If your dog isn’t used to lots of exercise, build up slowly over a few days to avoid any health problems or injuries. It is a good idea to warm up your dog’s muscles properly, with at least 10-15 minutes on-lead walking, before allowing him or her to race about. For extra mental stimulation and boredom prevention, try changing your walking route occasionally to keep things varied and interesting for your dog. If you can’t get outside with your dog a 10-15 minute training session, teaching a new trick or improving an old one is really good mental stimulation for your dog.

Other than walking there are plenty of other activities you can get involved in to improve your dogs fitness including swimming, agility classes, obedience training, rally O and heel work to music.

Dog activitiesCats can take laziness to dizzying heights; snoozing in the afternoon sun, taking cat naps after strenuous activity such as visiting the food bowl or the litter tray, and helping you watch the telly while curled up on your lap. There are plenty of things you can do to encourage your feline friend to exercise, but remember cats prefer short, frequent periods of activity, usually limited to 5 minute bursts.  Good cat toys include empty cardboard boxes (some with cat-sized holes and some without) to encourage play and exploration or some paper bags with treats inside. Climbing towers and scratch posts can be made at home or purchased from pet shops and cats love to be up in high places, so even providing access to a shelf or the top of a cupboard can help them achieve this. Dangling toys attached to string or ribbon and batting toys, such as rolled up paper and ping-pong type balls, also work really well and can encourage even the laziest cat into activity. You can also train your cat to perform tricks if your cat is willing and you can find the right food motivation.

cat activities

Useful Links

Agility clubs This website has information about agility and lists of local clubs
Pets In Practise Our local dog training club offers dog training, kennel club good citizen scheme, and Rally classes
The Kennel Club  Offer lots of information on dog related activities
Cat Clicker Training A good article on training your cat
Cat Entertainment How to make a box tower for your cat
The Hay Experts  Some ideas on activities and equipment for small pets

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Keeping your pets safe this Christmas

Now we are on the countdown to Christmas, many of us will be putting up the tree and decorations over the coming weeks. Your pets can also find this time of year exciting, with novel games like “Climb the weird indoor tree” and “eat the Christmas decorations as fast as you can” I’m sure you will agree that you would prefer to spend Christmas celebrating with your family, rather than visiting the vet; so here are our tips for having a pet safe Christmas.

Dangerous Foods

Be careful what you feed your pets over Christmas because lots of festive treats can be harmful to our pets.  It may also be tempting to give your pet lots of treats over the Christmas period, but any sudden change of diet may lead to digestive upsets and very poorly pets. Be on the look out for well-meaning visitors giving extra tit-bits to your pets and remember that over indulgence can also lead to an unhealthy weight gain.Some examples of potentially harmful foods are

  • Chocolate
  • Christmas pudding
  • Nuts
  • Raisins
  • Fruit cakes 
  • Onions 
  • Alcohol 
  • Meat bones

Some Christmas foods and drinks are highly toxic to pets

Christmas Decorations

Shiny ornaments and decorations can be very attractive to curious pets who could suffer serious injuries from chewing and ingesting these decorations.  Any decorations should be kept out of reach of curious pets when possible.

  • Tinsel can be very attractive to cats and dogs but if it is eaten, it can cause blockages which often require surgery to remove.
  • Ribbons and string can cause intestinal obstructions if swallowed and are a choking hazard to pets if they get caught around the neck.
  • Potpourri contains oils that can be toxic to pets if eaten.
  • Ensure that the base of your Christmas tree is as sturdy as possible and discourage your pets from climbing it.
  • Tree needles can be toxic and cause mouth and stomach irritation. Even needles and the wire of artificial trees could pose a problem.
  • Chewing on electrical cords of lights can cause problems ranging from burned mouths, to electrical shock and death.
  • A lot of Christmas plants are toxic to pets including Mistletoe, Holly and Poinsettia, which can all can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Ivy leaves and berries are particularly hazardous to rabbits.
  • If you have a real tree make sure your pet cannot drink the water in the bucket/stand. Many people use preservatives to keep their tree alive that are highly toxic to pets.
  • Never leave lighted candles unattended or within reach of your pet. If knocked over they can cause burns or lead to a fire.
  • Make sure your pet is always supervised when in a room with Christmas decorations

Always supervise pets around Christmas decorations

Gifts Under The Tree

Gifts under a tree can prove very attractive to pets for chewing or playing with so make sure that your pet is supervised at all times

  • Avoid putting any food gifts out until right before your family will be opening them, as food items are very appealing to our pets.
  • Rawhide or other edible items for pets left under the tree can be very tempting.
  • Companies often package rawhide and other pet gifts wrapped in ribbon, so make sure to remove this packaging before you present gifts to your pets.
  • Perfumes and after-shaves usually contain ethanol and essential oils which can be very toxic.
  • Batteries for toys or other gifts can be toxic and cause intestinal obstruction, so keep them in a safe place until they are ready to be inserted into the gift.



Most pets are creatures of habit so try to keep your pets routine the same as normal if possible. With lots of excitement and visitors it is often easy to forget to walk the dog, let the cat outside. A dog that is tired after a good run will be happier to sit or lie quietly and get into less trouble than a bored one. Try to keep your pets feeding times the same and don’t be tempted to add too many rich Christmas extras to the bowl, as this may cause a tummy upset and could result in a trip to the vet.

walkies copy

Fancy Dress

Christmas jumpers and Santa hats are popular with many of us at this time of year and can help us get into the Christmas spirit. Because we consider our pets to be important members of the family, this trend is sometimes extended to our dogs and cats, with plenty of cute Christmas outfits being widely available from pet stores. It can be fun to dress up your dog or cat if he or she will tolerate it, but please remember that when wearing a doggy or kitty coat or jumper, your pet could easily overheat in the extra layers so these extra items should be removed after a few minutes, especially if you are indoors. Any dress up outfits should still allow your pet to move around freely and be able to eat, drink and go to the toilet.

Christmas fancy dress cat


Sometimes lots of visiting people can be very stressful for our pets.

  • Make sure your pet has somewhere to retreat to if it all gets a bit too much.  Provide a quiet room away from the commotion with water and food available.
  • Provide your cat with a litter tray if he or she is nervous of visitors, so that he or she does not have to worry about asking to be let out.
  • Don’t force your pets to be sociable and petted by visitors if they seem uncomfortable.
  • Brushing up on obedience training before the holidays may help a dog who has become a little rusty.
  • Be sure to inform your visitors of any household ‘rules’ or problem behaviours concerning your pets, for example, jumping up on the sofa, sneaking out the door or stealing food from the table.
  • If your pet gets distressed when you have visitors you can use Feliway (for cats) or Adaptil (for dogs), these give off pheromones which help calm cats and dogs during stressful periods.
  • For dogs who may not behave or could be aggressive, placing them in a separate room, using pet gates, or sending them to stay at a friend’s house during a party, may be necessary and sometimes, boarding a dog in a kennel may be the safest alternative.



If you are travelling around to visit relatives and friend, make sure that suitable provisions have been made for your pets.

  • A bed or a travel crate is a good idea so that your pet has their own area to rest in.
  • Remember to take your pet’s food with you and a couple of bowls.
  • Find the number of a vet local to the place you are visiting and take a copy of your pet insurance policy, in case of illness or accidents.
  • Make sure your pet is micro-chipped or is at least wearing a collar with a suitable id tag, just in case he or she runs off.
  • If your pet gets distressed about travelling and visiting strange places you can use Feliway (for cats) or Adaptil (for dogs), these give off pheromones which help calm cats and dogs during stressful periods.
  • Remember to allow your pet time alone and a place to retreat to. This is especially important with dogs if there is another dog in the house that you are visiting (or if other dogs are visiting you).

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