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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Winter Weather Pet Care

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Just like us, the colder months can be a challenge the health and well-being of our pets. Most animals will bound through the chillier months in full health, but we need to be mindful that changes in temperatures and shorter days can have a real impact on the health and happiness of some of our family pets, especially the smaller or more frail ones.

Continue reading

Warm Weather Pet Care

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With summer in full swing most of us are spending more time outdoors enjoying the warm weather (when it occurs!) Your pets will hopefully be enjoying the weather too but there are a few things you can do to ensure they stay comfortable and safe in the summer months.

How To Keep Your Pet Cool On Warm Days

  • Provide fresh drinking water at all times. It is really important to check water bowls and bottles frequently and freshen the water as necessary. If you are taking your dog out in hot weather it is a good idea to take water and a bowl with you.
  • Provide access to a shaded area and make sure your pet can get out of the sun if he or she wants to, watch out for pets who may be sun-worshipers and try to encourage them into the shade if possible. Make sure rabbit hutches and runs are moved to shaded areas too. If it is too hot outside bring your pets inside.
  • Use pet-friendly sun cream on your pet to prevent sunburn. This is especially important for pets with white ears, pink noses and/or hairless tummies.
  • Provide cooling places and objects such as a wet towel on 0729the ground for dogs to lie on or access to nice cool kitchen tiles. You can freeze water in plastic bottles or ice packs and wrap these in a towel then place near to your pet – rabbits and dogs love lying on or against these in the hot weather (just make sure the icy surface is not directly next to their skin. (Make sure your pet is not going to chew these objects though – especially ice packs as they may contain chemicals) You can also use old ceramic tiles that have been chilled for small animals to lie on.
  • Use a fan to cool and move the air, but make sure your pet can get out of the air flow, cannot touch the fan and cannot chew the electrical cable.
  • Good Ventilation and air flow is very important for outside hutches and pens as well as indoor pet cages.
  • Think about the best times for exercising dogs. Early in the morning and later in the evening will often be slightly cooler. A good rule of thumb is if the pavement is too hot for you to touch your wrist to for more than a half a minute, it is too hot for your dog’s paws.
  • Move cages containing indoor pets away from windows and/or direct sunlight, these can soon heat up to unbearable temperatures.
  • Avoid long journeys in cars if possible and definitely do not leave your pet in a parked car, caravan or conservatory (see our heatstroke article)
  • Use water to help your pet cool down. Some dogs like to play in paddling pools, but they should always be supervised and heavy exercise should be avoided during the hottest part of the day. Some pets like a gentle spray with some water to help keep them cool but if your pet does not like it, don’t do it.
  • Check Habitat Temperatures Carefully For tropical fish tanks and reptile vivariums as these may get too hot if the external temperature rises.
  • Don’t forget the wildlife. Small, shallow bowls of water dotted around your garden will help out greatly.
  • Watch your pet for signs of heatstroke. This can happen to any species of pet, but is more common in animals that are overweight, senior, hyperactive even in hot weather, short nosed breeds, or animals that have existing health problems with their heart or lungs. Symptoms of heatstroke can include rapid or frantic panting, excessive thirst, anxious behaviour, rapid heart/pulse rate, dizziness and/or disorientation, collapse. See our article on Heatstroke for more information 
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Cats with white ears and/or pink noses can be susceptible to sunburn and subsequently skin cancer

Summer Hazards

Barbecues and Parties

These will be on the agenda for a lot of households but, while they are fun for us, they are a scavenging hazard for ourpets! In the summer months veterinary practices often see a lot of pets with tummy upsets or burns after scavenging food, as well as pets that need operations to remove things like corn cobs, bones and wooden meat skewers that have been eaten and got stuck in the stomach or intestines.

If you have a nervous pet who becomes  distressed when you have lots of visitors, make sure he or she has a room they can retreat to where they will be undisturbed.

Flystrike

This is another common summer problem. It occurs when a fly lays its eggs on an animal and the maggots that hatch eat the flesh of the animal. Flystrike mainly affects rabbits, but other pets including dogs and cats can and do get affected.  The flies are attracted to soiled bottoms, poo and wounds, so make sure you check your pet daily and keep hutches, cages and bottoms clean. Flystrike is a veterinary emergency, so if you suspect your pet has flystrike contact your vet quickly.

Fly

Grass Seeds and Plant Awns

These can be a real nuisance at this time of year and we  see a lot of patients (particularly dogs), with grass seeds and plant awns embedded in various parts of their bodies. Check your pet’s coat daily and remove any seeds or awns that you find. (You can read more in our Grass Seed article)

If you have any questions regarding your pet’s care or would like any advice then please contact the practice on 01189 574488 or through our website

Did You Know That Pets Are Good For Your Health

Castle Vets No Text PHC

We all know that our pets make us feel good when we have them around but did you know that owning a pet can also improve your health and happiness? It only takes a few minutes of interaction with our pets to help us feel less anxious and less stressed. Our bodies actually go through physical changes in that time that make a difference in our mood; the level of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is lowered, and the production of serotonin, a chemical associated with well-being, is increased.

Fitness

People who own dogs tend to be more physically active and less obese than people who don’t. Taking your dog for a 30 minute walk twice a day will keep you moving and ensure that you meet the minimum recommendations for healthy physical activity.

Continue reading

My Tips For A Pet Safe Christmas

PS XMAS

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 may also find this time of year very exciting and even come up with some novel games like “Climb the weird indoor sparkly tree”, “eat the Christmas decorations as fast as you can” and “eat the lovely goodies that our humans thoughtfully left out for us“.

Veterinary practices usually see an increase of poorly pets over the Christmas holidays, with illnesses ranging from stress and tummy upsets to more serious problems such as intestinal blockages and accidental toxin ingestion/poisonings.

I’m sure you will agree that you would prefer to spend the holiday season celebrating with your family, rather than visiting the veterinary practice; so here are my tips for having pet safe celebrations. Continue reading

National Pet Month – Pets Are Good For Your Health

Castle Vets No Text PHC

We all know that our pets make us feel good when we have them around but did you know that owning a pet can improve your health and happiness? It only takes a few minutes of interaction with our pets to help us feel less anxious and less stressed. Our bodies actually go through physical changes in that time that make a difference in our mood; the level of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is lowered, and the production of serotonin, a chemical associated with well-being, is increased.

Fitness

People who own dogs tend to be more physically active and less obese than people who don’t. Taking your dog for a daily 30-minute walk will keep you moving and ensure that you meet the minimum recommendations for healthy physical activity.

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Keep fit and socialise

A Healthy Mind

One key to a healthy mind is staying engaged with others. Pet owners have a tendency to want to talk with other pet owners, and dog owners in particular often like to stop for a chat in the park with other owners. Pets help us to overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation and help keep depression at bay. Whether it’s getting out to walk the dog, chatting to other pet owners or just talking to your pet at home, even the smallest pets make great companions and help you feel more engaged with the world. Some mental health therapists use dogs in therapy because a dog in the office can help some people relax.

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Even the smallest pets are great company

Stress, High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

A few minutes alone with a pet cat or dog might do more to help people’s stress than talking about their troubles with their best friend or spouse. Researchers have examined the effects of the presence of friends, spouses and pets on the level of stress associated with certain relatively unpleasant tasks. They found that compared with human support, the presence of pets was associated with lower perceived and actual responses to stress. Having a pet also has the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients. A three-year study involving over 5000 participants showed that pet owners had lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels than non-pet owners, even after smoking and weight were taken into consideration.

Stroking a pet can lower your blood pressure and heart rate

Stroking a pet can lower your blood pressure and heart rate

Heart health and strokes

Research has shown the long-term benefits of owning a cat include protection for your heart. One 20 year study, showed that people who had never owned a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who had. Another study showed that dog owners had a significantly better survival rate one year after a heart attack. Overall, pet owners have a lower risk of dying from any cardiac disease, including heart failure. Cat owners also have a lower stroke risk. Research by the University of Minnesota concluded that owning a cat can significantly lower your risk of suffering a stroke. They interviewed more than 4,000 patients and found the non-cat owners were 30 to 40 per cent more likely to have suffered a stroke than owners of dogs and other pets.

Pain

It could be partly due to the lower blood pressure and heart rates associated with owning a pet, but studies have shown that pet ownership can make you more able to deal with pain . A recent study found that stroking a dog could halve the amount of painkillers needed by a patient recovering from a joint replacement operation. Other research has found that women coped better with the pain and fear of breast cancer if they owned a cat or a dog (the benefits were greater than if they had the support of a loving husband!). People who own a dog have also been shown to recover more quickly after surgery. Pet owners were also found to use the medical services considerably less frequently than non-pet owners.

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A natural painkiller or strong distraction?

Illness

Interacting with your pet can help you feel so much better when you are unwell. Dog owners get less coughs and colds; saliva tests on children found that those in homes with dogs had higher concentrations of an antibody called Imunnoglobin A, which helps fight off coughs and colds, and took less time off school for sickness. Pet ownership has been shown to cut the risk of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, by 30 per cent, according to a study by the University of California. The longer you’ve lived with a cat or dog, the greater protection you have. Visits from therapy dogs help patients recovering from devastating illness or an event such as a stroke. Interacting with a pet can help a patient rebuild strength while recovering from a stroke or other illness and it also creates a feeling of calm; and studies have also shown that patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal present in the home.

Allergies and Asthma

Researchers have found that when children grow up in a home with a dog or cat they are less likely to develop allergies. In addition, higher levels of certain immune system chemicals show a stronger immune system, which will help keep them healthy as they get older. Pet allergies are one of the most common triggers of asthma, but researchers have studied the effects of having cats in the homes of infants at risk for asthma. What they found was that those children were significantly less likely to develop asthma as they got older. The exception was that children whose mothers have a cat allergy are three times more likely to develop asthma after early exposure to cats.

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The incidence of illness and allergies is sometimes reduced in pet owning families

Children and pets

Children can definitely benefit from working with and keeping a pet because taking charge of the jobs on a pet care schedule helps a child learn to plan and be responsible. Pets need to play, and playing with a pet is an great way to release excess energy, which means an easier time falling asleep at night. A pet will also give a child unconditional love and someone to talk to.  There has also been extensive research into how pets can help children with learning difficulties, ADHD, Asperger syndrome and Autism. (see our article on Children and Dog Safety) Dr June McNicholas, a health psychologist, presented findings of a study which examined 256 children (aged 5 to 11 years) in three schools in England and Scotland. The key findings were:

  • Absenteeism through illness was significantly less among pet-owning children
  • Children in reception and Year 1 classes had 18 per cent and 13 per cent better attendance respectively than non-pet owning children
  • Pet-owning children attended school for an additional three weeks extra school compared to non-pet owning children (aged 5 to 7 years).
Sylas and Xander 3

Pets can be great companions for children

Predictors of ill health

We are hearing reports about dogs that have alerted their owners to illnesses such as cancer by repeated sniffing or pawing at the area. There are dogs that can alert their diabetic owners to when they are hypoglycaemic and also dogs that can detect when their epileptic owners are about to have a seizure.

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A seizure dog looking after the owner

Pets are good for us 

It is easy to see why we own an estimated 8 million dogs and 8 million cats in the UK, with approximately 23% of households owning at least one dog and 19% of households owning at least one cat. There are also estimated to be approximately 1 million pet rabbits, 1 million pet guinea pigs, 800,000 pet reptiles , 800,000 pet rodents and 1 million pet birds.

Now, we are in no way suggesting that people rush out and get themselves a new pet, because pet ownership is a huge responsibility and they are certainly not cheap to feed and look after; but it does seem that if you are a pet owner it is great news for your health ….. If not always for your wealth, and as long as your pet doesn’t become ill, or get injured, or run off because we all know how stressful that can be!

SamTherapy_small For further information you can visit The Pet Health Council  PFMA Statistics

National Pet Month April 2015

National Pet Month April 2015

National Pet Month is supported by veterinary teams, animal therapy providers, animal charities, animal experts and pet shops from all over the UK. During national pet month we aim to

  • 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.

This year national pet Month will also focus on pets and the elderly enjoying later years together and will highlight the positive impact pets can have on older people.

There will be many events going on for pet lovers this month, including the All About Dogs Show at Newbury Showground 11-12th April. You can also access free webinars about pet care available to pet owners at http://www.petwebinars.co.uk, with topics including pet care, diabetes, vaccines, hyperthyroidism and reptile care.

Are you a responsible pet owner? Responsible pet ownership can include
  • Learning about your pet’s individual requirements and ensuring you meet them
  • Ensuring your pet has the correct sized living and exercise space – this is especially important for owners of small pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and reptiles.
  • Providing a nutritious and well balanced diet
  • Keeping your pet fit, healthy and at the correct weight
  • Protecting your pet against parasites and disease (ask your veterinary nurse for advice)
  • Ensuring your pet receives appropriate veterinary care if they become poorly
  • Neutering your dog, cat or rabbit to prevent unwanted litters
  • Ensuring that your dog is properly identified with a collar tag and microchip
  • Ensuring that your dog is sociable, well trained and under control in public places
  • Cleaning up after your pet

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 you can also follow them on their facebook and twitter pages.