Tooth Problems Of Rabbits and Small Pets

rabbits and rodents

At Castle Vets we see many rabbits and rodents with a variety of different 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 pets are unable to grind their teeth down through feeding and chewing.

Symptoms of a dental problem

  • Decreased appetite, your pet may stop eating completely or only manage very small amounts at a time.
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at or rubbing their face on things
  • Swellings around the jaw area or under the eye
  • Weight loss
  • Runny eyes (one or both eyes may be involved)
  • Discharge from the cheek or jaw area
  • Overgrown teeth may be visible

If your pet is showing any of these symptoms, please book an appointment with your vet straight away.

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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).

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Spring Time Pet Care

Kitten Spring

Spring has arrived in Berkshire; the weather is getting warmer (and hopefully staying that way), the daffodils and crocuses are starting to appear and there is blossum on the trees. This is a great time of year and many people will be starting to spend more time outside, whether it be pottering around in the garden, walking around local parks or going out into the beautiful Berkshire countryside. 

General Care

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Many pets will be starting to shed their winter coats as the weather gets warmer. Help them along by giving them a brush (if they will tolerate it) to help get rid of their undercoat and any loose hairs and prevent knots from forming.

Just like people, cats and dogs can develop allergies to plants, pollens, grasses, and other substances in springtime. Pets with allergies often have symptoms similar to those seen in humans with symptoms such as itchy skin, ear problems runny eyes, hair loss, inflamed skin and respiratory problems.

Take care not to leave caged pets such as birds and rodents directly in front of the windows. The sun can warm up cages very quickly, causing pets to overheat even at this time of year.

Unfortunately spring, as with all of the other seasons, can bring with it some problems for our pets.

In The Home

At this time of year a lot of us decide to spring clean the house or do those fun DIY jobs that we have been putting off, such as putting up shelves, re decorating and hanging new pictures.

Pet-Friendly

If you are planning to do a bit of spring cleaning around the home, make sure that you keep all of the cleaning liquids, sprays and cloths out of reach of curious pets. Be careful with dilution rates of floor cleaners as these can irritate delicate paws if they are too strong.

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Similarly if you plan to start a DIY project at home, make sure your pets are well out of the way first and that they don’t get the opportunity to play with or ingest any of the bits and pieces you will be using. Paints, solvents and glue are all highly toxic to pets and nails or bits of plastic can be easily swallowed.

In The Garden

Spring plants look lovely as they start to emerge, but remember that a lot of them can be toxic to our pets. Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths and Lilies can all cause problems, so keep an eye on your pet. With some plants it is just the bulbs that are toxic but with others it is the leaves, flowers or pollen that are toxic. If you notice you pet chewing flowers it is wise to prevent access.

Many fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides can also be poisonous to pets; Permethrin is a substance used in a lot of insecticides and is highly toxic to cats. If you are using these ensure that your pet is out of the way when they are applied and that they are stored in a safe place.

Cocoa Shell Mulch is a potentially lethal hazard. Dogs are attracted to these shells by their smell, but they contain theobromine which is very poisonous to dogs. If you own a dog it is much safer to use an alternative such as tree bark.

Common symptoms of poisoning include

images• Drooling
• Vomiting
• Diarrhoea
• Lack of coordination
• Ataxia (unsteady on legs)
• Collapse.

If you notice any of these symptoms contact your vet.

Insect stings and bites usually happen only happen to over-curious pets. Pets are generally stung or bitten on the muzzle area (face) or the feet. Stings and bites normally only cause small localised swellings or irritation, but they can be serious in pets who are stung many times, have a bad allergic reaction or who are stung near the throat. Veterinary advice should be sought for any stings or bites your pet may get.

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Out and About

8530_157143041544_4089746_nIf your dog has been fairly inactive in the winter months, before you start going for long countryside walks or take up jogging with your pet, it is best to gradually increase the amount of exercise you give him or her, to help rebuild muscle tone to avoid any exercise-related injuries.

Swimming can be great fun for dogs that enjoy it, but remember that the weather still isn’t very warm at them moment so make sure that you dry your dog off properly after a swim and that you only allow them to swim in safe places.

Dog owners should remember to keep dogs on leads when walking near farmland as there will be many young Lambs and calves about with protective parents. The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 makes it an offence for any dog to be at large (i.e. not on a lead or under close control) in a field of livestock or be chasing or attacking livestock.

 Many cats are natural hunters and there is little you can do to stop them doing what comes instinctively to them (collars with bells may work for some cats but mine is still able to catch birds with a very loud bell on his collar!). At this time of year there are lots of newborn rodents, birds and bunnies around, which can make easy prey for even the laziest hunter. If you have a cat that likes to hunt make sure his or her worming treatments are up to date.

Useful Links

Poisonous plants and household substances – Dogs Trust

Poisonous plants – International Cat Care

Poisonous plants – House Rabbit Society

Please contact us at Castle Vets if you have any questions you can reach us by calling 0118 9574488, visiting the Castle Vets website or by joining the Castle Vets Facebook page.

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Keeping your pet safe during the holiday season

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 find this time of year very exciting and even come up with some 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 the holiday season celebrating with your family, rather than visiting the vet; so here are our tips for having pet safe celebrations.

Dangerous Foods

Be very careful what you feed your pets because lots of festive treats can be harmful to our pets.  It may be tempting to give your pet lots of treats over the holiday 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 lead to an unhealthy weight gain. Make sure any festive treats and snacks for the family are kept well out of your pet’s reach.

Some examples of potentially harmful foods are

  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Sweets
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Fruit cakes, mince pies, Christmas pudding
  • Onions
  • Alcohol
  • Meat Bones

Some Christmas foods and drinks are highly toxic to pets

Decorations

Shiny ornaments and decorations can be very attractive to curious pets who could suffer serious injuries from chewing and ingesting them.  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.
  • Pot-pourri 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 festive 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 these will be very appealing to your pet.
  • 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.
  • 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.

christmas-tree

Routine

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 or 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 festive extras to the bowl, as this may cause a tummy upset and could result in a trip to the vet.

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Fancy Dress

Christmas jumpers and Santa hats are popular with many of us at this time of year and because we consider our pets to be important members of the family, this trend is sometimes extended to them as well. With plenty of cute festive outfits being widely available from pet stores it can be fun to dress up your pet if he or she will tolerate it, but please remember that when wearing a pet coat, jumper or festive outfit that your pet could easily overheat in the extra layers; 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.
  • Ensure your pet is not uncomfortable whilst being dressed up; if he or she just sits in one place and refuses to move, walks around hunched up or is pawing at the offending article, please remove it.
  • Watch for signs of overheating
  • Ensure your pet’s outfit doesn’t get tangled or caught on anything

Christmas fancy dress cat

Visitors

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. Speak with your veterinary nurse for more information.
  • 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.

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Travel

If you are travelling around to visit relatives and friends, 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 and 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 and is 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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Before you get a new pet – THINK!

lots of pets

It is a wonderful feeling to be the proud owner of a new pet and 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.

1. Cost

piggy bank

Can you afford the costs necessary to give your chosen pet the correct care? The average annual costs of owning a pet can be quite high and have been estimated at £1000 – £1500 for a dog, £1000 for a cat, £400 – £500 for a ferret, £500 for a rabbit and £400 for a guinea pig. (For cats and dogs that amounts to approximately £12000 – £18000 over a lifetime!) You will need to think about the costs of providing food, bedding, Housing for small animals, a bed, routine vet bills and pet insurance for accidents and illnesses.

2. Size of the petsize of pet

Do you have enough space at home and in the garden for your chosen pet? Even small pets like hamsters and rats require fairly big cages. Where will your pet eat, drink and sleep? The size of the pet will also effect how expensive it will be  for vet bills, insurance, food, housing and equipment.

 

3. Coat types and grooming

Most pets will require grooming and/or bathing of some sort and you will need to check their coats, mouths, ears, eyes and bottoms every day to make sure they are clean and healthy.
Pets with long coats will require daily grooming to prevent matting and you will need to consider if you will have the time to do this. Some animals shed lots of fur which may not be good for allergy sufferers.

long haired pets

4. Breed of pet

Different breeds of animals often have very different personality traits so you should consider what your pet has been bred to do in the past before making your decision; for example everyone loves the look of the stunning Dalmatian or the handsome Siberian Husky, but you might not realise that these dogs were originally bred to run for miles and have huge amounts of stamina so, therefore, require lots and lots of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them happy and prevent unwanted behaviours. Terriers have been bred for their ability to dispatch rodent pests quickly so don’t be surprised at their feisty and bold behaviour. In the cat world the Siamese can be very vocal, Maine Coons are known for being very affectionate and Bengals can be very destructive when they get bored. With rabbits the Dwarf-Lop is generally friendly and outgoing where as Netherland Dwarfs can be very skittish and are generally unsuitable for children.

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5. Time

Do you have enough time to keep your chosen pet properly exercised and mentally stimulated? Exercise is really important for the health, fitness and well-being of your pet and you will also need to spend time with your pet so you can play with it and provide any training it might need.
All dogs need at least 2 20 minute walks a day (most breeds need much more than this) and the opportunity to run about off the lead in a safe area and meet other dogs if they are socially inclined. Depending on the breed of dog you choose, you may need to provide activities such as agility and training classes to keep it fit and stimulated.
In an ideal world a cat should be able to get outside, but if you have decided to keep your cat indoors then you must provide adequate mental stimulation for it and it will need much more of your time than an outside cat would to prevent boredom.
Rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets need an outside enclosed run or they can be exercised on harnesses in safe areas.

Exercise

6. Genetic and hereditary Problems 

cat ok

Some breeds of animals have inherited genetic problems and this should be researched before you get a pet as these problems can cost a lot of money to treat, for  example hip dysplasia, heart disease, respiratory problems, eye problems and dental problems. If you are buying from a breeder you should always ask if the parents have been tested for disease and problems associated with the breed.

Looking for and choosing your new pet

Before you get a new pet we recommend that you take your time to find and get to know a good breeder or if you are getting a pet from a rescue centre, try to get as much background information as you can from the staff.

Many animals are being bred purely for profit (‘farmed’) without care for their welfare, health or temperament and are usually passed on to a seller or dealer before being sold on to the public. Avoid buying pets from pet stores or places that have many litters of pets for sale (this even applies to birds, reptiles, rabbits and other small mammals); it is worth paying a little extra to obtain an animal from someone who has put a lot of time and effort into ensuring the health and wellbeing of the parents and offspring.

If you are getting a puppy or kitten make sure you see the mother with her babies and check that she has been regularly vaccinated; cases of poor health and diseases such as Parvovirus in puppies and Flu in kittens obtained from unscrupulous breeders, are often seen in veterinary practices and very young animals have tragically died, leaving new owners distraught and heartbroken.

Pedigree Breeders

These are ideal if you are looking for a specific breed of pet. A good breeder may do a home check and will ask lots of questions to make sure you can provide a suitable home for your new pet. Do your research regarding the average cost of the breed you are interested in and expect to pay quite a lot for rarer breeds. The Kennel Club has a list of breed clubs and breeders for puppies and is a good place to start looking.

Hobby and ‘Accidental’ Breeders

These may be owners who have decided to breed a one-off litter from their pet or their pet has had an accidental mating. most of the guidelines for pedigree pets should apply when you are visiting and asking questions of the owner. If the pets are crossbreeds you should also try and find out what the breeds are so you will have an idea about how big your new pet may grow.

Guidelines for choosing your pet

  • Always visit the ‘breeders’ home to meet the litter.
  • Always see the mother with her litter – do not accept any excuses for the mother not being there.
  • Handle the litter (as long as they are over 4 weeks old)
  • Check that the litter and mother looking healthy and happy
  • In the case of puppies and kittens, are they happy to come over and interact with you?
  • Expect lots of questions from a breeder that cares about where the pets are going to and how you will look after them.
  • Ask about the type of food they will be weaned on to
  • Ask whether the parents have been routinely vaccinated, flea treated and wormed
  • Don’t be overwhelmed by the cuteness of the animals in the first litter you visit! If things don’t feel 100% right to you walk away, the right pet is worth waiting for.

Cat specific checks

  • Ask if the parents tested for Feline immunodeficiency virus and Feline Leukaemia before mating
  • Have they been raised indoors or outside? Indoor raised animals are much happier with the day to day sounds of a busy household and the coming and going of people and other pets.

Dog specific checks

  • Handle the mother so you can get an idea of her temperament (it is not always possible but if you get the opportunity, meet the father too)
  • Ask about how the puppies will be socialised and what experiences they will have had before they come home to you (will they have seen lots of people, travelled in a car, experienced household noises such as the washing machine and vacuum cleaner?)
  • Have they been raised indoors or outside? Indoor raised animals are much happier with the day to day sounds of a busy household and the coming and going of people and other pets.

Pedigree specific checks

  •  Ask about any genetic/hereditary problems in the breed and what tests have been done to ensure that the parents don’t have these. A good breeder will have no problems discussing these issues with you and will have had the appropriate tests done on the parents.
  • You will need to obtain a pedigree certificate and a contract of sale when you take your new pet home with you
  • A good dog breeder will ask you to spend time with adult dogs of the same breed and chat to other owners so that you know exactly what you are letting yourself in for! This is particularly important if you have chosen one of the less commonly seen breeds.

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Rescue Centers

These places have lots of pets in need of new homes and are a good place to start if you don’t want a pedigree animal. They may visit your home and ask lots of questions to make sure you can provide a suitable home for your new pet and that you understand how to care for it correctly.
Some places to try are
Woodgreen 
Battersea Dog and Cat Home
RSPCA 
The Blue Cross
Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue (Berkshire)
Cat Protection

Puppy and Kitten Farms or Mills

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These are commercial animal breeding facilities that are operated with an emphasis on profits above animal welfare and are often in substandard conditions regarding the well-being of animals in their care. The animals from these places are not looked after properly and will not have been bred for good health or good temperaments. Sometimes these animals are transported for huge distances to be sold by middle parties or pet shops to new owners.  Remember that NO responsible breeder would ever have their litter sold by a pet shop or anyone other than themselves.

  • Every animal purchased from an irresponsible breeder leaves a space for another to take its place. 
  • The trade in pet farms, pet mills and pet shops is consumer led.
  • Many animals become ill soon after purchase, some even die. 
  • You are the consumer – make a wise choice.
To avoid falling into the puppy/kitten ‘farm’ trap
  • Always see the mother with her babies – if you cant see the mother interacting with her offspring how do you know she is the mother? Don’t accept excuses about the mother being out for a walk or sick – if you don’t see the mother how do you know that she has a good temperament?
  • Never let the breeder bring the animal to you – if they offer this how will you know anything about the environment they have grown up in or the temperament or health of the parents?
  • Don’t buy animals from pet shops or garden centres – these animals are usually from puppy farms and kitten farms or from people that breed solely for profit. You will have no idea about their history, temperament or if their parents suffered from any genetic disease or ill health.
  • Always buy puppies and kittens that have been raised in a household environment rather than a kennel, shed or barn (these animals will not have been used to regular human contact or common household noises and events, which can make them fearful and nervous and can lead to behavioural problems)
  • Always make sure that the mother has been regularly vaccinated; diseases such as Parvovirus in puppies and Flu in kittens obtained from unscrupulous breeders, are often seen in veterinary practices and very young animals have tragically died, leaving new owners distraught and heartbroken.
  • Don’t buy from any breeder that has more than two bitches or queens with litters.

If you find yourself at what you suspect is a puppy or kitten farm, please do not buy a puppy out of sympathy because any purchase will only encourage these people to continue. If you feel that the adult dogs or puppies are being neglected in any way contact the RSPCA.

It is not acceptable to obtain puppies (or kittens) from “Puppy Farms” or other establishments who sell them on for these unscrupulous breeders. A national campaign called PupAid has been set up to raise awareness and stamp out unacceptable breeding practices.

 

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For further advice you can telephone the surgery and speak to, or make an appointment with, one of our veterinary nurses who will be happy to discuss breed types, personality traits of pets and where to look for a good breeder with you. You can contact us by telephone: 0118 9574488  or by visiting the Castle Vets Website

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National Pet Month 2014

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National Pet Month is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year; it began in 1989 as National Pet Week and has grown more and more popular every year. Veterinary practices, animal therapy providers, animal charities, animal experts and pet shops all over the UK support this annual event, with the aim of

  1. Promoting responsible pet ownership
  2. Raising awareness of the mutual benefits of pet ownership
  3. Increasing awareness of the role of pet care specialists
  4. Raising awareness of the value of assistance and working companion animals.

This years theme is Celebrating Our Pets. There are lots of events happening all over the UK for pet lovers this month, including the All About Dogs Show at Newbury Showground 12-13th April. You can visit the National Pet Month website to look for other events near you.

During National Pet Month you can access some free webinars about pet care, available to pet owners with internet access. Topics on the site currently include cat diabetes, dog diabetes, vaccines, cat hyperthyroidism and reptile care. These can be accessed by registering on the Pet Webinars site.

celebrating-our-pets

Are you a responsible pet owner?

One of the main aims of National Pet Month is to promote responsible pet ownership and offer help and advice on caring for pets and keeping them happy and healthy. Responsible pet ownership will ensure your pet stays happy and healthy and can include

  • Learning about your pet’s individual requirements and ensuring you meet them. Each type of pet will have it’s own special requirements whether it be a special type of food, home or even the need for mental stimulation through play, activity and training. Even goldfish need a stimulating and enriched environment.
  • Providing a nutritious and well balanced diet. Every animal needs a particular type of diet; you can ask your veterinary nurse for advice about what will suit your particular pet. It is very important not to let your pet become overweight as this will have an impact on their general health and lifespan.   Visit our article on overweight pets for more information
  • Keeping your pet fit, healthy; every animal needs exercise.  You can visit our article on keeping pets fit and healthy for some ideas but generally speaking,
    • Dogs can be taken out for walks to ensure they get their exercise.
    • Cats can usually be let outside, but if they are indoor cats, exercise can be encouraged with climbing towers, boxes and other play activities.
    • Rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets should have access to an outside area, or a secure run, in which they can stretch their legs and have a run about in. Rabbits and ferrets will usually be happily to walk on a harness if trained while they are young.
    • Rodents, other small mammals and birds should either have enough space in their cage for exercise or be allowed out into a safe space or enclosure for exercise.
  • Providing suitable housing and bedding for your pet. Each pet will have its own specific requirements and it is advisable to research these properly to ensure you meet your pets individual needs. If you are keeping rodents, try to get the biggest cage that you can afford to ensure that they have plenty of space to exercise. Did you know that most illnesses and problems in reptiles occur because they are kept in the wrong environment? If you are keeping pet reptiles do your research and make sure that you have the correct type of lighting, heat sources and substrate for their needs.
  • Providing environmental enrichment and mental stimulation for your pet.  Life would be very boring if you were staring at the same 4 walls every day with nothing to do. Keep small pets happy by providing environmental enrichment such as toys, tunnels, hidey holes and ladders in their cages. Dogs and cats can stimulated by playing with toys, interacting with their owners, going for walks and doing some training (yes cats can be trained to do tricks too!)
  • Cleaning up after your pet. It is important to keep your pets environment as clean as possible by cleaning up after them every day. If you have a dog you must pick up and dispose of any faeces while you are out on a walk.
  • Protect your pet against parasites and disease Your pet may require regular parasite control to keep them free from worms, fleas and other parasites. Vaccination and good health care will also help to keep them free of disease. Dogs, cats, rabbits and ferrets can all be vaccinated to prevent disease. Visit our article on Vaccination for more information.
  • Neutering your dog, cat or rabbit. Neutering will prevent unwanted litters and help reduce the number of stray and unwanted animals in rescue centres. Neutering reduces the risk of your pet running away and can also help prevent hormone related behaviour problems in certain animals.  visit our article on Neutering for more information.
  • Ensuring that your pet is properly identified. Your dog should always wear an id tag in public places. Microchipping is a safe and permanent way to identify animals and it will become law to microchip your dog in 2015. Did you know that we can microchip most types of animal including rabbits, birds and reptiles? Some people even have their valuable fish microchipped.  Visit our article on Microchipping for more information.
  • Ensuring that your dog is sociable, well trained and under control in public places. If you own a dog you must make sure that he or she is not a danger to people or other animals in public places. Puppy socialisation and Dog training classes are very important and will help you to achieve this.
  • Being financially responsible for your pet. Your pet is your responsibility and all pets cost money to look after especially if they become ill and need to see a vet. Pet insurance is available for dogs, cats, rabbits and exotic pets and is a great way to ensure that you can afford any unexpected veterinary fees if your pet becomes unwell. Before you take on or buy a pet, have a think about whether you can afford to look after it properly.

 

Castle Vets are offering free consultations with our veterinary nurses, by appointment,  to discuss any aspect of your pets care and wellbeing. We also offer free consultations for people who would like to know more about owning a pet before they buy one.

For more information or advice please contact us.

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

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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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