National Pet Month April 2017


NPM 2017

National Pet Month has been going strong in the UK for 27 years! It is all about celebrating the wonderful impact pets have on our lives and promoting responsible pet ownership. It is supported by veterinary teams, animal therapy providers, animal charities, animal experts and pet shops from all over the UK.

  • Promote responsible pet ownership
  • Raise awareness of the benefits of owning a pet
  • Increase awareness of the roles of pet care specialists
  • Highlight the value of assistance and working companion animals.

There will be events going on for pet lovers this month, including the All About Dogs Show at Newbury Showground 8th-9th  April. You can access lots of pet care information on the Castle Vets Blog and free webinars about pet care are available to pet owners from Pet Webinars , with topics including pet care, diabetes, vaccines, hyperthyroidism and reptile care.

Top 10 Tips For Responsible Pet Owners

1. Think carefully before getting a pet and learn about its special requirements

The prospect of getting a new pet can be very exciting and it is a wonderful feeling to be a proud owner. Anyone who has taken on a pet will know that within a matter of hours you are completely hooked, but there are a few things to think about before your commit to and bring home your new bundle of fun and cuteness.

  • Are you ready for a pet and who in the household will look after it ?
  • The species, size and breed of pet need to be considered carefully to ensure they will fit into your lifestyle. For example, if you want something as energetic as a Husky,  Collie, Labrador or Dalmation, you need to make sure you have time to exercise it properly for at least 2-3 hours a day. If you want Rabbits (you have to have at least 2 together), you need to make sure you have space for a large hutch and a large run and/or secure garden. Some cat breeds really don’t enjoy being left alone all day and may become destructive.
  • The potential costs involved with keeping a pet can be huge! The average annual costs of owning a pet have been estimated at £1000 – £1500 for a dog, around £1200 for a cat, £400 – £500 for a ferret, £500-£600 for a rabbit and £300-£400 for a guinea pig.
  • Your pet will need exercise, no matter what species it is. Do you have enough time to devote to ensuring that you can meet your chosen pet’s requirements? Can you provide suitable housing and exercise areas for your pet?

Read our articles Think before you buy that pet and How to choose a new pet and where to get it from before your rush into a decision.

breeds copy

2. Ensure your pet is sociable and well trained

All pets can be trained and socialised, but it does take time and effort on your part. Dogs in particular must have the correct socialisation and training to ensure that they are well mannered and under control around other animals and people; this is as important for the small breeds as it is for the larger ones! You can read more about training your pet in this article

3. Provide a nutritious, well balanced diet to ensure your pet remains fit and healthy

It is very important that your pet receives the correct type and amount of food appropriate for his or her species, size and age. You must also ensure that your pet is not too thin or does not become overweight. Ask your veterinary nurse if you have any questions about what and how much your pet should be eating. Have a look at these articles for general advice on feeding Rabbits and Guinea Pigs.

fatpet

4. Provide suitable housing and bedding

It is important to provide a safe, comfortable living area for your pet at the correct temperature for their species. For dogs and cats, this is usually as simple as providing a cosy bed in an area of your home. For other species, always buy the biggest cage, hutch, tank or vivarium that you can afford and have space for. Did you know that many of the rodent cages, reptile tanks and rabbit/guinea pig hutches that are sold in pet shops are far too small? As a general rule every cage must be tall enough for the animal to stand up fully on his or her hind legs to stretch up completely.

  • Rabbits should have a hutch that is big enough for him or her to hop 3 times across the length and enable them to stand up on their hind legs for the average pair of rabbits this means a hutch that is at least 6 ft x 2 ft x 2 ft plus an exercise run of at least 8ft x 6ft.
  • Guinea Pigs need a hutch that is at least 4 ft x 2ft x 1.5 ft, plus an exercise run
  • Rats need cages that are a minimum of  2.5 ft x 1.3 ft x 1.5 ft for a pair of rats
This rabbit hutch is far too small!

This rabbit hutch is far too small!

5. Clean up after your pet and worm it regularly (where appropriate)

Ensure that you clean up any urine and faeces daily from litter trays, hutches, cages and vivariums, as well as cleaning up after your dog on walks. Doing this will help prevent illness, infection, parasites and disease from occurring or being transmitted between pets (and potentially people).  Check your pet’s bottom/genital area every day to ensure this is free from faeces and urine and clean them up if necessary. Worming is very important for dogs and cats and should be done at least 4 times a year. Read our article for more information on Why worming is important.

6. Protect against disease

We recommend that dogs, cats and rabbits receive their annual vaccinations to protect them against highly contagious and potentially fatal diseases. Some diseases, such as Leptospirosis in dogs, can also be transmitted to humans (although it is rare). There is a lot of debate over whether vaccinations are always necessary for your pet, so please read our articles on why we recommend them, before you make up your mind.

Protecting your pet from disease isn’t all about vaccinations; you can also protect your pet from disease by

  • Taking him or her to the vet for an annual health check. This will enable the vet to check your pet over and pick up any problems early and before they become too serious.
  • Check your pet over thoroughly every day. Look out for lumps, cuts, scratches and lameness as well as any behavioural changes that may indicate a problem.
  • Ensuring you prevent parasite infestations such as  worms and fleas which can have a big impact on the health of your pet. Speak to your veterinary nurse about which products are best suited to your pet.
  • Ensuring your pet does not become obese. Excessive weight puts pressure on the organs and joints in an animal’s body, making everything work harder and increasing the risk of disease.

cat ok

7. Prevent unwanted litters and neuter your pet when appropriate

The decision about whether to have your pet neutered or not is likely to be one of the biggest that you make as a pet owner. There is no doubt that neutering your pet can have really great benefits to their health and you will also be doing your bit to help the growing crisis of the thousands of pets already in rescue centres around the country, because there aren’t enough homes to go around. However, for many different reasons, not all pet owners (especially dog owners) will want to have their pets neutered and as long as these unneutered pets are managed responsibly, this decision is fine. We want you to be well informed so read our article on The pros and cons of neutering for more information.

8. Groom your pet regularly

Grooming your pet will not only keep his or her coat looking lovely, but also remove any uncomfortable knots and enable you to check for any lumps, bumps, cuts and scratches. Grooming can be a very good bonding exercise and most pets will tolerate it well if started at an early age.

600px-cat-being-groomed

9. Ensure your pet is properly identified

Microchipping

It is particularly important to have dogs and cats microchipped, but did you know that almost any species of animal can be microchipped?

  • on 6th April 2016 it became a legal requirement for ALL dogs in England to be microchipped and registered on an approved database.
  • Puppies must be microchipped and registered by the breeder before they go to their new home and by the time they are 8 weeks old (this applies to all puppies, whether intentionally bred or an accidental litter).
  • When the puppies or dogs of any age go to a new home, the new owner will need to transfer the microchip details to their own name and address by filling out a form with the current owner.
  • It is the responsibility of the owner/keeper of the dog to ensure that the database information such as name address and contact numbers are kept up to date.

Identification Tags 

  • It is a legal requirement for every dog to be wearing an identification tag/disk with the owner’s contact number, address and postcode on it, when the dog is out in a public area. This applies even if the dog is already microchipped and there is a very large fine for non-compliance.

10. Ensure you can control your dog

It is against the law to let a dog be dangerously out of control. This now applies to both private property and public places. You can be prosecuted and you dog could potentially be put down if he or she is proven to be out of control!

  • You must be able to control your dog at all times, this means being able to call your dog back to you and making sure that he or she responds to you.
  • Your dog must not jump up at or chase other members of the public. Even the friendliest or smallest of dogs can cause damage by jumping up at someone, especially a child or an elderly person.
  • If there is any possibility that your dog is might attack another dog or a person he or she must be muzzled in public places.
  • You must not train or encourage your dog to attack/threaten people or other dogs.

Please read our article if your would like to know more about the laws of dog ownership in the UK

11. Take out pet insurance if possible

Pet Insurance can help cover against any unexpected and costly veterinary fees if your pet is injured or becomes unwell. Most types of pets can be insured, but it is worth doing plenty of research and looking around before you commit to a particular pet insurance company. You can read our article for more information about pet insurance.

cartoons_f05

The veterinary nursing team at Castle Vets offer free consultations, by appointment, for you to discuss any aspect of your pet’s care and wellbeing to ensure that you meet all of his or her individual needs. Our nurses are also happy to help anyone who is thinking about getting a pet and can offer advice about what type and breed of pet may fit in with your lifestyle, how to look after a pet properly and the costs that may be involved with pet ownership.

You can find out more about events that may be happening near you by visiting the National Pet Month Website or via their Facebook page

Advertisements

Barking Dogs & How To Prevent Your Dog Becoming A Nuisance

barking dogs

Although barking is a normal dog behaviour, it can be a real nuisance for some, especially if you have to listen to it for long periods. Dogs may bark, howl or cry for a variety of reasons, but most often it is because they are bored, frustrated, alerted to something or distressed, so it is important to try and find out the cause of your dog’s behaviour if possible.

Complaints often arise about dogs that bark too much and especially, about those dogs that are left at home alone for long periods and bark once their owners have left the house. The most recent PDSA PAW report   estimates that over 2 million dogs are left at home for 5 hours (or more) on weekdays, but unfortunately many owners have no choice because they have jobs to go to.

If your dog is upsetting your neighbours, the first thing to do is talk to your neighbours and above all stay calm. Remember that any type of continuous noise can have a really negative impact on people’s lives and you have no idea how bad the problem is, if you are not there to hear it. Ask your neighbours to tell you and/or make a note of when the barking happens and for how long, as this may help you identify triggers (such as the post arriving or school children walking by) and enable you to provide distractions for your dog during those times.

Under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, excessive and continual barking of dogs may be considered a Statutory Nuisance, and local authorities can take action to stop it, which can include a hefty fine for the owner, so it is important that you make every effort to prevent your dog barking and keep the peace with your neighbours.

Tips To Prevent Barking

  1. Only leave your dog for short periods and try to start this routine from home alone 2an early age. Get your dog accustomed to being left alone for short periods and gradually increase the length of time that he or she is left alone. Don’t leave adult dogs for more than 3-4 hours and puppies should only be left for an hour or so – if you are at work ask someone to check in on your dog during the day and let them out or walk them for you.
  2. Dogs often respond well to having stimulating and fun toys, such as a stuffed Kong or Puzzle Feeder, to occupy them whilst you are out and some even start to look forward to you leaving if it means they have access to a Kong with their favourite stuffing (my dog definitely does!)  Make sure that you initially supervise your dog with any new types of chews or feeding toys so that you know they won’t be swallowed whole or cause choking! Please do not leave your dog unsupervised with bones or rawhide-type chews.
  3. Exercise your dog properly and well before you leave for at least 30-60 minutes; this will ensure he or she is tired and ready to settle down when you go.
  4. Try creating a den for your dog as it will help them to feel more secure while you are out.
  5. A radio tuned to a talking or classical music station can provide company, soothing background noise and will also help block out any noises from outside. This is especially useful if you have a dog that is worried by loud and unexpected noises.
  6. A pheromone diffuser or collar such as Adaptil can help reduce anxiety and provide a calming environment for your dog.
  7. If your dog is barking at particular occurrences every day, such as when the post or milk is delivered, try to distract them at this time with a game or some treats.
  8. Some owners use webcams to monitor their pets. These can be a great idea and the ones designed for babies and small children often work over wifi and have a speakerphone so you can chat to your pet; this will depend on the individual dog though, as some may be even more distressed if they can hear you but can’t see or smell you!
  9. If your dog gets very distressed about being left, enrol him or her into a doggy daycare club or with a dog walker so that he or she has company all day.
  10. Vary your leaving routine and the amount of time you spend away from home if possible. Get rid of the predictive behaviour that can really get your dog worked up and distressed, for example putting your coat on and grabbing the car keys, but then sitting down and having a drink before taking your coat off again.
  11. Never shout at your dog for barking – you are just joining in and may make the situation worse.
  12. If your dog is barking at things when you are home, consider using positive training  to get him or her to be quiet on command. The following video is one of the better ones around to show how to do this, but remember it will take time to train your dog and won’t happen instantly.

 

If your dog’s barking is causing complaint and/or upset, I recommend you contact a suitably qualified canine behaviourist who will work with you to try and solve the problem. You can look for qualified behaviourists local to your area on the Association of Pet Behaviourists website

lonely dog2

ANTI-BARK COLLARS OR SHOCK COLLARS SHOULD NEVER BE USED! 

PUNISHMENT MAKES THESE SITUATIONS WORSE AND YOU COULD SERIOUSLY AFFECT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR DOG.

If you feel that you have absolutely exhausted all options and the anti-bark collar is the only thing left to try, please consult a fully qualified behaviourist first and NEVER leave the dog unsupervised while wearing one

Why Worming Is Important

Worming

Parasites are not something we really like to think about, but as responsible owners it is important that we safeguard our pets, and our families against them. A heavy burden of worms can cause suffering and illness in our pets, so it necessary to prevent this. Although it is rare, some types of worms also pose a risk to human health if the eggs or larvae are ingested. .

There are two main types of worms affecting dogs and cats  Continue reading

Lungworm in Dogs and Cats

Lungworm in Dogs and Cats

Lungworms are a group of parasites that can affect both dogs and cats. Lungworms are much less common than parasites such as fleas, ticks and tapeworms, but the associated problems with a Lungworm infection can be far more severe than with other more common parasites. Canine and Feline Lungworms cannot be transmitted to people.

In the past, Lungworms were only found in a few places in the UK, but over the last few years they have become much more widespread across the whole of Britain including the Thames Valley region. It is unclear exactly what has caused the spread of Lungworms (and other parasites) but increased movement of pets around the country, as well as an increase in wildlife in urban environments is thought to play a big part; it is also thought that the recent mild temperatures and rainy weather has helped the spread.

Lungworms infect dogs when they ingest the intermediate host which is a slug, snail, frog or other mollusc and infect cats when they ingest a rodent or bird that has previously ingested a slug, snail, frog or other mollusc carrying the Lungworm larvae.

Fortunately there are treatments available from your veterinary practice that are easily applied and will prevent this parasite from becoming a hazard to your pet. Continue reading