Should you neuter your pet?

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.  This article will describe the pros and cons of neutering and hopefully give you all the information you need to make your decision.

What is neutering?

Neutering is the general term used to describe the surgical removal of the sex organs in animals to prevent them from breeding. Neutering or de-sexing are terms that can be used for both male and female animals.

Spaying: When we spay a female animal, we perform an ovario-hysterectomy , which is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus. The surgery involves a small abdominal incision in the dog, rabbit and guinea pig just below the umbilicus, or a small flank incision in the cat (unless the owner specifically requests an abdominal spay).

Castration: When we castrate a male dog, cat, guinea pig or rabbit we remove the testes to prevent reproduction. The surgery involves a small incision just in front of the testicles in the dog, guinea pig and rabbit or a small incision into each side of the scrotum in the cat. Sometimes male animals have a problem called cryptorchidism, in which one of the testicles has not descended properly, in these cases they may require abdominal surgery to remove the retained testicle.

Image

The first picture shows where the operation site would be for a female dog, guinea pig and rabbit . The second picture shows the operation site for a female cat. The third picture shows where the operation site would be for a male dog, guinea pig  and rabbit. The fourth picture shows the operation site for a male cat.

The reasons for neutering

There are many reasons to recommend that dogs, cats and rabbits are neutered; it benefits their health and helps reduce pet overpopulation. So many animals end up in rescue centers, or are even put to sleep, because there are just not enough homes available for them. Each year, approximately 150,000 stray or abandoned animals are taken in by animal welfare organisations in the UK, such as the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, who try to find homes for them.

Image

The health benefits of neutering

Female animals

  • Prevents “heat” or oestrus (also known as being in season)
  • Prevents unwanted litters
  • Prevents hormone fluctuations that cause false pregnancy
  • Prevents Pyometra, a serious and potentially fatal womb infection
  • Prevents mammary (breast) cancer.
  • Prevents uterine and ovarian cancer.
  • Prevents the urge to escape and find a mate during heat.
  • Prevents unsociable behaviour during heat (Think PMS!)
  • Prevents genetic problems, deformities and bad temperaments being passed on.
  • Prevents urine spraying and marking behaviour that sometimes occurs in entire female rabbits (does).
  • Neutered female cats cats are less at risk of diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia (FeLV), which are highly infectious and incurable diseases.
  • Enables some animals to live in mixed-sex groups without fighting and/or pregnancy

 Male animals

  • Lowers the risk of serious conditions such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis and hormone-related (testosterone) diseases such as perianal adenoma in dogs.
  • Eliminates the risk of testicular cancer, a common cancer in entire dogs.
  • Removes sexual urges and the need to escape or roam to find a mate. Entire male cats can have huge territories and are more likely to get into fights.
  • Reduces certain types of aggression in male dogs
  • Prevents genetic problems, deformities and bad temperaments being passed on.
  • Neutered animals are less likely to mark their territory with strong smelling urine.
  • Neutered male cats cats are less at risk of diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia (FeLV), which are highly infectious and incurable diseases.
  • Neutered male rabbits and guinea pigs are less likely to show aggression towards other males
  • Enables some animals to live in mixed-sex groups without fighting and/or pregnancy

Image

Problems that can occur in un-neutered animals

Pyometra: This is an infection of the uterus (womb) in female animals. The uterus fills with pus, and toxins quickly spread throughout the body causing the animal to feel very unwell. If this condition is not treated quickly it can be fatal.

Mammary (breast) Cancer: Mammary cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal mammary gland cells. If left untreated, certain types of breast cancer can metastasize (spread) to other mammary glands and organs throughout the body. While any pet can develop mammary tumors, these masses occur most often in older female dogs and cats that have not been spayed.

Ovarian Cysts: The symptoms of ovarian cysts will depend on the type of cyst but can include; swelling of the vulva, due to the high amounts of estrogen in the body, vulvar discharges that may contain blood and occur outside the regular bleeding in the heat cycle, hair loss, irregular heat cycles or lack of heat cycles, extended heat cycles, abdominal swelling due to pus or fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity.

False Pregnancies: False pregnancy is a term used to denote a common condition in a non-pregnant female animal that is showing symptoms of pregnancy or nursing without producing babies. Symptoms usually occur after her oestrus (heat) is over and is thought to be caused by a hormonal imbalance. Symptoms can include; behavioral changes, mothering activity, nesting and self-nursing, restlessness, abdominal enlargement, enlargement of mammary glands, vomiting, depression, loss of appetite (anorexia), fur plucking (rabbits).

Prostate problems (dogs): Enlarged prostate occurs in more than 80% of un-neutered male dogs past the age of five. Some dogs with an enlarged prostate have difficulty with urination or bowel movements.

Testicular cancer (dogs): About 7% of un-neutered males develop a testicular tumor. Fortunately it seldom spreads. Although castration has a complete cure rate of approximately 90%, neutering prevents it entirely. If your dog has one or both testicles tucked up inside his body (called cryptorchidism) he is far more likely to develop a testicular tumor compared to a dog with descended testicles; this condition can also be passed on to offspring so a cryptorchid dog should definitely be neutered.

Behavioural problems and injuries: Roaming is the main problem for both un-neutered males and females as they are likely to want to try and find a mate. This can lead to road traffic accidents, fighting with others and injury. Dogs often have problems with recall and focusing on their owner if they are being led by their hormones. Some animals will also demonstrate hormone-related aggression.

Image

Neutered rabbits can live together happily

Common myths about neutering

“It changes the pet’s personality”
The only behaviour changes are likely to be positive ones. Neutered animals often make better companions and are more affectionate. Pets are less likely to roam, which means less chance of getting lost or hit by a car, they are also less likely to mark territory or get in fights.

“Neutered pets become fat and lazy”
While it is true that a neutered animal needs fewer calories in the diet, it is ultimately overfeeding and/or a lack of exercise by the owners that causes obesity in animals. Make time for walks and play, and ask your veterinary nurse about reducing calories once your pet has been neutered.

“My pets are brother and sister so they won’t mate”
The fact that they are related to each other will make no difference to your pets, they will still mate and produce offspring.

“My pet is a pedigree and shouldn’t be neutered”
Your pet is a companion, not a financial investment or status symbol. Unless you are planning on showing your pet and plan to breed, you should consider having it neutered. Remember that one in four animals handed in to animal shelters is a  pedigree.

“I don’t want my male pet to feel deprived or less masculine”
You shouldn’t confuse human sexuality with an animal’s hormonal instincts. Neutering won’t cause any negative emotional reaction in your male pet. In addition, it greatly reduces the risk of prostate and testicular diseases in dogs and the possibility of FIV & FeLV and fight related wounds and abscesses in male cats.

“It’s too expensive to have my pet neutered”
The surgery is a one-time cost and a small price to pay for the health of your pet and the prevention of life threatening illnesses, not to mention preventing more homeless animals. Our pet health club offers a 20% discount on neutering and there are also several animal charities that may provide assistance with the cost of neutering.

“Having a litter is good for her and it will be a great experience for the family”
Motherhood will not make your pet healthier or happier (and some animals make terrible mothers!). In fact, early spaying greatly reduces the likelihood of mammary cancer, and eliminates potentially life threatening infections of the uterus and ovaries.

If you are thinking about letting your pet have a litter, is important that you think things through properly and ensure that you make the health and welfare of your pet and its offspring an absolute priority. Breeding because you think a male and female will produce cute offspring or because you think you will make some money is extremely irresponsible. Care must to be taken to ensure you can find good homes for the whole litter, that you will not be allowing genetic/hereditary problems to be passed on to the offspring and that you can afford to look after the mother and her offspring properly.
Before you let your pet get pregnant, think about the following things

  • Have you ensured that your pet is healthy, vaccinated and is not going to be passing on genetic or hereditary problems to the offspring? Have you had the appropriate health screening tests carried out such as checking for hip dysplasia and eye problems in dogs (further information can be found on The Kennel Club website), viruses in cats and dental misalignment problems in rabbits?
  • Is your pet’s temperament good? Do they have any fear or aggression issues?
  • Is your pet fully grown and mature enough to have a litter?  Usually between 18 months and 3 years old, but this is dependent on species and size, so ask your vet or veterinary nurse if you are not sure.
  • Can you find an appropriate mate? It is vitally important and you ensure that the mate is healthy and has also had the appropriate vaccinations and health tests. Just letting your female pet out to get mated by any roaming male suitor is highly irresponsible, she may end up with disease or illness (particularly in the case of cats) that can not only make her sick, but could be passed on to her offspring.
  • If your pet has difficulties giving birth you may end up paying for a very expensive caesarean operation. This could result in complicated surgery for the mother and you may end up with no babies or, worse, the mother could die too! (Pregnancy complications are not usually covered by pet insurance). For your information, the dog breeds most likely to require a Caesarean Section are the English Bulldog, Boston terrier, French Bulldog, Mastiff, Scottish Terrier, English Bull Terrier, Miniature Bull Terrier, Clumber spaniel, Pekingese and Chihuahua (as well as crosses of these breeds).
  • If the mother cannot or will not feed her litter are you prepared to hand-rear them and to give them food every 2 hours for 24 hours a day until they are weaned?  
  • Food and care of the litter will be expensive until they go to new homes. Can you afford the cost of feeding, worming and possibly vaccinating them all? If the mother and/or her offspring become unwell can you afford the veterinary treatment that they will need? The puppies will also need to be microchipped and registered before they go to a new home (this applies to all litters, whether planned or accidental).  
  • Do you know how to look after your pet during pregnancy and raise, habituate and socialise the offspring properly, before they go to their new homes?
  • Can you find good homes for all of the litter? What will you do if you can’t find homes for them or if they are returned to you because their new owners cannot keep them? Are you comfortable with the fact that you could be adding to the many thousands of animals in rescue centres that cannot find homes? 

Image

Should you have your cat neutered?

We do generally recommend that cats are neutered, unless you have a registered pedigree cat that you are planning to breed from. This is because the vast majority of cats cannot be ‘chaperoned’ in the same way that dogs are and, when they are let outside, they are generally left to their own devices; making pregnancy in females highly likely and also increasing the risk of disease transmission through sexual activity and wounds, as well as injuries from territorial fighting. So unless you can prevent this by keeping your cat indoors and well mentally stimulated, or by cat-proofing your garden to prevent your cat getting out and other cats getting in, then neutering is usually the best option for your cat.

Should you have your rabbit or guinea pig neutered?

Whether to neuter your rabbit or guinea pig will very much depend on their housing circumstances and group dynamics. Female rabbits can often become territorial and aggressive from 4-6 months of age,  they may have repeated false pregnancies, and may growl at, bite and scratch their owners as well as other rabbits. Spaying reduces (and sometimes eliminates) these problems.  Male rabbits can be territorial, aggressive and spray urine. Neutered males of both species are often much happier and relaxed, they can also live with a spayed female or even another neutered male. Since rabbits and guinea pigs should be kept in groups of 2 or more, neutering of one or all is usually the best option.

Should you have your dog neutered?

It is up to you as the responsible owner to decide whether or not to have your dog or bitch neutered. At Castle Vets we generally do not recommend that male or female dogs are neutered until they have finished growing and have reached maturity, which is usually between 8 months and 2 years old, depending on the breed (bigger breeds take longer to fully mature). However, we also understand that some young and hormonal dogs can be a real handful, so we will neuter at a younger age if you request it.

We have discussed the risks of not neutering above, but here are some of the benefits seen in dogs that have delayed neutering until they have reached maturity, or have not been neutered at all

  • Fewer fear-related behavioural problems, especially in male dogs (1)
  • Lower risk of Hip Dysplasia and Cruciate Ligament damage in larger breeds (2)
  • Lower risk of some cancer types such as hemangiosarcoma and lymphosarcoma (3,4)
  • Lower risk of hypothyroidism (4)
  • Lower risk of obesity (although frankly this has more to do with what and how much is fed by the owner)
Being a responsible owner of an unneutered dog
  • Male dogs: If you own a dog and do not want to get him neutered, you need to make sure that you can prevent him roaming the neighbourhood and running away every time a bitch comes into season locally. It is as much your responsibility as the owner of a bitch in season, to prevent an unwanted mating. You also need to ensure that he has had proper socialisation, training and behaves well around other entire and neutered male dogs. If you can do this then you may not need to neuter your dog.
  • Bitches: If you own a bitch and do not want her neutered, you need to be sure that you can prevent her from being mated and becoming pregnant potentially twice a year and that you can cope with her seasonal bleed twice yearly as well (which can be very messy in some bitches). You will need to be careful about where and when you take her for walks during her season; she will still need exercise, but will be very attractive to any unneutered male dogs in the area. You also must never leave a bitch in season unattended outside, even in your own back garden, unless you are 100% sure that she cannot get out and other dogs cannot get in (you would be surprised at the length some male dogs will go to for a bitch in heat!)

Canine behavioural problems that neutering cannot solve

There are some canine problems that are often misinterpreted as being caused by the dog’s sex hormones and unfortunately neutering will not solve these problems. In some cases your vet may be able to give your dog an injection of a hormone suppressing drug that will mimic the effects of neutering and enable you to see if neutering will have any effect on the behaviour.

  • Over excitability and unruly behaviour: This problem is commonly due to adolescence and/or a lack of training and these dogs often respond really well to reward-based training and appropriate mental and physical stimulation. Increasing the amount of daily exercise and, if possible, giving them more opportunity to exercise off-lead can make a huge difference to these dogs.
  • Predatory hunting, herding or chasing behaviours: This is down to the breed/type of dog and what it has been bred to do rather than a hormonal issue. These problems often need the input of a qualified behaviourist to help you and your dog.
  • Fearful, unconfident dogs: Anecdotal evidence from many qualified animal behaviourists suggest that neutering these dogs may actually make the situation worse. Seek out advice from an appropriately qualified canine behaviourist to help you if your dog is fearful.
  • Bitches that show signs of aggression or reactivity when not in season: Spaying is unlikely to improve the behaviour and there is a small risk that spaying could make the behaviour worse. We advise that you speak to an appropriately qualified canine behaviourist to help you if your dog is showing signs of aggression.

What happens when your pet is neutered ?

At a good veterinary practice the following should happen when your pet is neutered

  1. Your pet will usually be admitted at the practice between 8am and 9am (dogs and cats will need to have an empty stomach – so no food after 10pm the night before).
  2. Your pet should be given an injection of a mild sedative and a long acting pain relief injection.
  3. Your pet should be placed in his or her own kennel with a nice snuggly blanket to sit on (or something to hide under if they are a cat)
  4. After the sedative has taken effect, your pet will be given an anaesthetic and some hair will be clipped away from the surgical site.
  5. The vet will perform the surgery whilst a veterinary nurse closely monitors the anaesthetic and records your pet’s breathing rate, heart rate, colour and reflexes throughout the whole of the surgery.
  6. After the operation a veterinary nurse will watch and monitor your pet closely until he or she is fully awake. We will then contact you to let you know how your pet is and when you can pick him or her up from the surgery.
  7. When your pet goes home they should have a buster collar or a medical pet t-shirt to prevent them from interfering with their wounds
  8. Your pet may have some medication to take for the next few days, so a veterinary nurse will explain how and when you should give this to your pet. Make sure your pet receives all of his or her medication, don’t stop it because your pet looks fine.
  9. You will need to take your pet back to the practice 3 days later for a check over and then 7 days after that for any sutures to be removed.

Always check with your veterinary practice that either a veterinary nurse or vet will be monitoring your pet’s anaesthetic and vital signs throughout the procedure and will be monitoring your pet carefully as he or she wakes up after the operation.

Problems that could occur with the procedure

Every anaesthetic and surgical procedure carries a small risk, whether it be on an animal or a human. At castle Vets your pet will have a thorough health check prior to the operation, to ensure that he or she is healthy and well enough for the procedure to take place on that day.

Postoperative infections are very rare but if one does occur, your pet will be examined and given any necessary treatment and/or medication to help them get well again.

Occasionally a patient may need to be re-sutured if they pull out their stitches, which is why we always recommend they go home with buster collars to prevent this;  We even offer a refund if your pet does not need to use the collar because we would rather they had one just in case.
Image

References

1. Association Pet Behaviour Counsellors
2. Slauterbeck, et al Canine Ovariohysterectomy and Orchiectomy Increases the Prevalence of ACL Injury
3. Gretel Torres de la Riva, et al Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers
4. Laura J. Sanborn, Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs

We hope you find this article useful and informative. Please contact Castle Vets if you wish to discuss neutering your pet.

Advertisements

Rabbit & Rodent Dental Problems

rabbits and rodents

At Castle Vets in Reading, we often see rabbits and rodents with a variety of dental problems. The teeth of most animals (including humans) stop growing after the initial development period, but rabbits, chinchillas, guinea pigs and rodents have teeth that grow continuously throughout their lives, which means dental problems will develop if these animals are unable to grind their teeth down through feeding and chewing.

Common causes of dental problems

  • Insufficient gnawing materials – these are needed so that the pet can grind and wear their teeth down naturally as they grow.
  • Poor nutrition during development can lead to dental and bone abnormalities.
  • Poor nutrition after the growth period leads to dental abnormalities.
  • Traumatic injury and/or broken teeth can lead to malocclusion (teeth not aligning properly).
  • Cavities and periodontal disease caused by a poor diet and bacteria passed on from owners.
  • Genetic abnormalities passed on from the parents (this is becoming much more common in rabbits because of poor breeding standards by irresponsible owners).

Continue reading

Holiday Plans For Your Pets

Holiday Plans For Your Pets

With the summer holidays upon us once again, you may already have your holiday arranged, but are your pets ready for that “restful” break you are planning?

We humans love our holidays because they are usually a welcome break from our normal daily routines, but it can be a very stressful time for our pets who may find a change to their normal routine very unsettling and this may present itself as behavioural changes and even a loss of appetite.

Your pet will deal with their change in routine far better if they are fit and healthy, so a veterinary check before you go away can be helpful in spotting any problems that may arise whilst you are away, it is also a great idea to let your veterinary practice know that you will be on holiday in case they need to see your pet in your absence or discuss your pets clinical notes with another vet. If your pet needs to take regular medication you will need to make sure that you have enough to last.

Kennels and Catteries

If your pet will be staying at a kennel or cattery, make sure that you arrange to visit it beforehand; You should be able to inspect it for cleanliness and see how happy the other boarders are. You will also be able to discuss the individual care your pet will receive and what their daily routine will be.

Many pets don’t mind going into kennels and there has been recent research that suggests some dogs find it really exciting. Some pets, however, really do not like the extreme change and sometimes noisy environment of a boarding kennel or cattery and can be very distressed by the whole experience.  Before you leave, make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date as they will not be allowed to stay in kennels if they are not, it is also a good idea to make sure your pet’s preventative flea and worming treatments are up to date before they go into kennels.

Kennels and cattery

Pet Sitters

Some pets cope much better if they are looked after in their home environment and many companies now offer pet sitting services. Someone will either pop in to see your pet once or twice daily or move into your home until you get back to provide 24 hour care. these services are becoming more and more popular with pet owners and are a great alternative to the stressful kennel environment.

Dog sitters

Another option for dogs is that they go and stay in someone’s home until you get back from your holiday. After a chat with you about your dog’s requirements and favourite things a host or carer takes your dog into their home for the duration of your holiday.

Pet Sitter

Whichever type of care your choose for your pet, make sure that you let your veterinary practice know how long you will be away for and that you give permission for someone else to authorise treatment for your pet in case they cannot get hold of you in an emergency.

Taking your pet with you 

If you are lucky enough to be taking your pet on holiday, remember to take food, toys, bedding and insurance details with you. Ensure your dog or cat  is wearing an id tag with your contact details on it at all times, in case he or she gets lost (This is a legal requirement for dogs in the UK when in a public place). If your pet is microchipped you may be able to update your pet’s id chip details to your holiday address and contact number. It is also a very good idea to know where the local veterinary practice is and their phone number in case of emergencies.

Dog owners should make sure that they know of any local rules and regulations regarding where and how dogs can be walked – this is especially important on beaches and protected areas.

Remember not to leave your pet alone in a car or caravan, especially sunny days as they will get far too hot.

250px-QuickCollarNeck_wb

Pet Holiday check List

  • Your vet’s contact details or contact number of a local vet
  • Pet insurance details
  • Collar with id tags
  • Lead
  • Id chip details updated as necessary
  • Food and bowls
  • Bed/bedding
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Let your usual vet know if you are going away and your pet is in someone else’s care
  • Recent photo of your pet in case he or she runs away from where you are staying
For more advice or an appointment for a health check please contact Castle Vets on 0118 9574488

Cold Weather Pet Care

GPig in scarf

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.

Pets kept outdoors

If you have rabbits, guinea pigs or ferrets that are kept outside in the garden, make sure you keep a close eye on them during the colder months. It is important to ensure that you are providing enough bedding for warmth and that they are in a secure and waterproof environment.

  • Your pets will need a warm bed, so provide extra bedding and a thicker layer of the litter you usually use for the floor. Newspaper can also be used to line the floors underneath the bedding Check that your hutch is in a good state and properly waterproofed. If possible raise it up off the floor to prevent the base becoming damp and to keep your pets warm.
  • Large mesh doors can be partially covered with clear perspex, which will allow your pet to see out and the sun to come in but will provide a barrier against the wind and rain – ventilation is very important though, so leave several inches gap at the top for this. Covering the whole hutch with a specially designed cover or with a blanket, piece of carpet and a waterproof covering, will help keep the heat in and the weather out. Make sure that you leave the front open to ventilate during the day and at night cover the majority of the hutch leaving a small area open for ventilation. If it gets really cold, move the hutch into a shed or unused garage. (Never place a hutch in the same garage you store a vehicle in)
  • Staying warm in the winter can use up more energy and so pets spending a lot of time outside, may be burning more calories to generate body heat. It may be necessary to increase their calorie intake to account for the cold but please speak to a member of our practice team for more advice on the correct amount to feed your pet.
  • It is vital to ensure that your pet has access to fresh clean water and that water in bowls and bottles hasn’t frozen over night
  • Exercise is also important for pets housed outside. Encourage mobility and play with toys they can push around and tubes they can run through. It may be necessary to let them exercise indoors if it is too cold outside or if there is a frost or snow on the ground. Damp grass will also cause your pet to become cold very quickly.
We found these covers at www.rabbithutchworld.co.uk

We found these covers at rabbithutchworld.co.uk

Rodents, Birds, Reptiles and Fish
  • Make sure that any small mammals and birds are kept in a draft-free environment.
  • It is important to check that indoor pets don’t get too warm when you turn up your central heating. Take special care with pets like chinchillas that prefer cooler temperatures.
  • If you keep tropical fish or reptiles check their tank temperature daily as it may fluctuate with changes in household temperatures.
  • If you have a hibernating pet, make sure that you get the proper advice about maintaining their environment during hibernation.
  • If you have fish in a pond make sure to break any ice that forms over the top to allow air to circulate and prevent toxins building up.
colorfultropicalfishtank-613693

Check tank temperatures daily

Advice For Cat Owners

Many cats will be more inclined to stay inside during cold and wet weather, but exercise and mental stimulation are very important.

  • Encourage play and exercise using cat toys or home made toys like string and ping-pong balls. Activity can also be encourage using scratching posts, cat towers, climbing frames, or even just a few cardboard boxes with cat-sized holes cut out for hide and seek games.
  • If your cat does venture outside, it is worth considering a reflective collar so he or she can be seen more easily (make sure it has a quick release function for safety). If you don’t have a cat flap for your cat, put a cosy bed in your shed and leave the shed door or window open for them to access it.
  • At this time of year our vets usually see an increase of cystitis cases in our feline patients because they don’t want to go outside in the bad weather for a wee! Make sure that your cat has access to a litter tray if you notice that he or she is not going outside very much.
cat box tower

Mental stimulation and opportunities to play and exercise should be provided for cats who don’t want to go outside

Advice for Dog Owners

Dogs are creatures of habit and routine, so most will still expect their daily walks even in the most miserable winter weather. Dogs will feel the cold, just like we do so it is important to get them warm whilst out and about;

  • Make sure you do at least 10 minutes of on-lead walking before letting your dog off the lead. This will ensure their muscles are properly warmed up before they start racing about after balls or other dogs.
  • Playing activity games such as tug of war and fetch will help your dog stay warmer.
  • Going for walks in a local wood will help keep you both warmer because the trees will shelter you from the worst of the weather.
  • If your dog gets wet on the walk make sure they are properly dried off with a towel when they get home. This is especially important with older dogs and dogs with long or thick coats.
  • If you have been for a walk in the snow check your dog’s feet when you get home and remove any balls of ice stuck in the hair between their foot pads.
  • Miniature breeds, smooth-coated breeds and elderly dog will feel the cold more than others, so it may be worth investing in a doggy coat or jumper to keep them warmer on their walks. It is important to remove doggy coats and jumpers once they are back inside to prevent your dog from over-heating.
  • When dog walking in the evenings, make sure that both you and your dog are visible to others. We recommend a reflective and/or flashing collar, tag or lead for your dog so that he or she can be seen easily in the dark.
  • If you are unable to take your dog out due to bad weather, you can prevent boredom by stimulating their minds and keeping them active. Play hide and seek games with favourite toys and try food puzzles and activity balls to keep them alert and provide interest while stuck indoors.
dog coats and stim

Make sure your dog is warm and dry and help prevent boredom in cold weather

 

CV WP Logo Disclaimer

Winter Care For Pets

Image

Just like us, the winter months can challenge our pets health and wellbeing. While some pets will bound through the chillier months in full health, we need to be mindful that changes in temperatures and shorter days can have a real impact on the health and happiness of our family pets.

Some pets will grow thicker coats to help them cope with the cold, but older pets, some of the smaller and smooth-coated breeds and small furries are not quite as lucky.

Outdoor exercise will be welcomed by some pets more than others with cats and older pets more inclined to stay inside. Try to encourage movement, play and mental stimulation for those pets who would rather be indoors.

Advice For Dog Owners

  • If you have an miniature breed, elderly or smooth-coated dog it may be worth buying them a winter coat to keep them warmer on their walks, as they will feel the cold more than others.
  •  Make sure you have done at least 10 minutes of on-lead walking before letting your dog off the lead. This will ensure their muscles are properly warmed up before they start racing about.
  •  When outside, even the younger dogs will feel the cold. Playing games such as tug of war and fetch will help your dog stay warmer.
  •  Going for walks in a local wood will help because the trees will shelter you from the worst of the weather.
  •  If you are walking in the dark it is worth investing in a reflective, flashing collar or tag for your dog so that he or she can be seen easily. 
  • If your dog gets wet on the walk make sure they are properly dried off when they get home. This is especially important with older pets.
  •  For days when you can’t get outside due to the weather it is important play with your pet to prevent boredom. Using food dispensing activity toys or doing some simple training will help with this.

Advice For Cat Owners

  • If your cat goes outside it is worth considering a reflective collar so he or she can be seen more easily
  •  For cats that do not have a cat flap think about putting a cosy bed in your shed and leaving the shed door or window open for them to access it.
  •  Although some cats may be very reluctant to leave the house in the winter, exercise and mental stimulation is very important. Use pieces of string, ping-pong balls and/or wind up toys to encourage play and exercise.
  •  If your cat is spending more time indoors you could also invest in a scratching post or indoor climbing frame and don’t forget the all important litter tray.

Advice for outdoor pets

  •  Make sure the hutch is in a good state and properly waterproof.
  • Hutches should be raised up of the floor to prevent the base becoming damp.
  •  Large mesh doors can be partially covered with clear perspex, which will allow your pet to see out and the sun to come in but will provide a barrier against the wind and rain – ventilation is still important though so leave several inches gap for this.
  •  Covering the whole hutch with old blanket/carpet and a tarpaulin/waterproof covering will help keep the heat in an the weather out. During the day leave the front open to ventilate and at night cover the majority of the hutch leaving a smaller area to ventilate. If possible you could move the hutch into a shed.
  •  Your pets will need a warm, snug bed so provide extra bedding, and a thicker layer of the litter you usually use for the floor. Newspaper can be used to line the floors/walls underneath the bedding.
  •  Staying warm in the winter takes more energy and so pets spending a lot of time outside, will be burning more calories in order to generate body heat. It may be necessary to increase their calorie intake to account for the cold but please speak to a member of our practice team for more advice on the correct amount to feed your pet,
  •  It is important to check that your pet has access to fresh clean water and that water bottles and dishes haven’t frozen overnight.
  • Remember that exercise will still be important for pets house outside. Encourage mobility and play with balls they can push around and tubes they can run through. It may be necessary to let them exercise indoors if it is too cold outside or if there is a frost or snow on the ground.

Antifreeze warning

With the return of frosty mornings, many of us who have early starts will be reaching for the antifreeze once more. Veterinary practices and charities alike are urging motorists, pet owners and manufacturers to be aware of the hidden dangers to pets from antifreeze poisoning. Unfortunately many animals find the taste of antifreeze very attractive, and ingesting even the smallest amount can lead to kidney failure and death, especially in cats.

It is therefore extremely important to take extra care when using antifreeze, to avoid spillages or leaks, either from bottles or from car radiators. Left over antifreeze and water coolant should also be disposed of responsibly.

One of the main manufacturers of antifreeze has taken steps to try and prevent poisonings occurring. Comma Oil, which supplies antifreeze to companies including Halfords, has added an ingredient to make it unpleasant to swallow the product. However, there is currently no legislation to make such additives a requirement. There is also no law governing how people should dispose of antifreeze when it is used domestically.

If you suspect your pet has come into contact with antifreeze, leaked water coolant you must get them to a vet immediately: