Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Stress-Free Vet Visits For Your Cat

Taking your cat to the vets can be a stressful experience for both you and your pet, but for some cats even just visiting us for a routine appointment can be an ordeal. If your cat is also ill or painful then it can be additionally stressful for them, but there are steps you can take to make it easier for them to cope. With a bit of planning ahead, a visit to our vets can be a much less traumatic experience for your cat.

Preparing for a vet visit

Cats like routine and can easily become stressed in new situations, especially if they have previously had a negative experience. However, there are things you can do to prepare your cat for a visit to our practice that will give them a more positive experience and reduce any future stress:

Familiarising your cat with their carrier

A pet carrier is essential for safely transporting your cat and should always be used when bringing your cat to us. However, if the only time your cat sees their carrier is when they are going somewhere stressful, then they will quickly learn to associate the carrier with negative experiences. It can then start to be difficult to get them to go inside.

To reduce any negative association that your cat may have with their carrier, you need to use the carrier as part of their daily routine, so they will become familiar with it. This means that the carrier needs to become part of your cat’s normal furniture. You may need to feed your cat inside the carrier, or let them use the carrier to sleep in, allowing them to become comfortable using it on a daily basis. It can take time to adjust to the carrier being part of everyday life but eventually they will become more comfortable using it, resulting in them being calmer when they need to use the carrier for travelling.

What to put in the carrier?

To make the carrier more appealing and familiar for your cat, there are items you can add to it. By lining the carrier with your cat’s favourite blanket or item of bedding, you can ensure that they have a familiar scent inside the carrier. Some cats are also comforted by their owner’s scent, so you could add an item of your clothing to give your cat extra reassurance. If your cat is being hospitalised with us then you can also bring along one of your cat’s blankets that we can add to their bed to make their stay more comfortable.

Feliway

Cats can communicate using pheromones which are released when your cat is happy and content. Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that mimics the happy and content signal a cat will produce. This means it can be a useful product to use that will help settle your cat and keep them relaxed in a variety of situations. Before using the carrier it can be useful to spray the carrier and any bedding or covers with Feliway, 15 minutes before you need it. This can help keep your cat calm while in the carrier, during the journey, and while at our vets. You can also repeat the use of Feliway in the carrier if you are picking your cat up from us after a hospital stay. Using it in your home once you get back from your visit, to help your cat settle after their journey, can also be helpful. One of our team would be happy to discuss with you the use of Feliway and how it may be helpful for your cat.

Travelling to the vets

Now that your cat is familiar with their carrier and is ready for their visit to see us, it is time to think about how you can make your cat’s journey to the vets as stress free as possible. Cars are scary for a cat, with the noise and motion being upsetting for many individuals, but there are ways you can make the journey more comfortable for them.

Car journeys

Once your cat is inside the carrier, you should try to make them feel as secure as you can. Cats can become stressed by travelling and unfamiliar environments, so you can reduce this stress by covering the carrier up with a blanket or towel. Once in the car, the carrier should be secured so that it does not move around. Using a seat belt is a good way of keeping the carrier safe in your car. Cats also prefer the carrier to be kept level, so using extra towels to keep the carrier in a suitable position will also help keep your cat relaxed. If it is a hot day then make sure that the car is at a comfortable temperature for your pet. Be careful that they are not left inside the car by themselves for any length of time, as the car can heat up to dangerous levels very quickly. Remember to keep your cat secure inside the carrier throughout the journey and not to let them out inside the car. A scared cat may try and escape which can be dangerous for them in an unfamiliar environment.

At the vets…

The waiting room

The waiting room can be a very stressful place for your cat with all the different scents present and other pets that may be there. It is important to remember that meeting a dog will be very unsettling for your cat, so you should try to avoid any encounters with dogs if you can, particularly if your cat is nervous. Once in our waiting room try to sit separately from any dogs, and let one of our team know if this is not possible so we can help you.

Continue to keep the carrier covered over so that your cat still feels secure. Cats usually feel safer at a higher level so avoid placing the carrier on the floor and instead use one of the chairs to put the carrier on, to keep your cat more comfortable. For your cat’s safety keep them inside the carrier at all times while in the waiting room, where they will feel secure.

The consulting room

Once inside the consulting room, if the doors are secure, then it can be useful to let your cat out to explore, allowing them to adjust to their new surroundings. By giving your cat time to walk around the floor is a good way to let them settle. If your cat is visiting us for a procedure, such as a nail clip or blood test, then our vet may ask a nurse to help hold your cat to make the procedure as safe and comfortable for your cat as possible. If your cat is particularly nervous then one of our vets would be happy to give you advice on how to keep them calm.


We understand that visiting our vets can be scary and stressful for your cat, so we try to make the experience as comfortable and stress-free as possible. If you have any questions about how you can help keep your cat calm and settled during their visit, then one of our team will be happy to help you.

Pet Eye Health Awareness Week

Can you recognise the seven common signs of poor pet eye health? We are taking part in National Pet Eye Health Awareness Week (20-26 September) in partnership with TVM UK who have shared the most important things to look out for.


Asymmetry

Careful observation of the way your pet looks and acts and what is classed as ‘normal’ for them is a first critical step for responsible pet care. Regarding eye health, any perceived changes in your pet’s eyes can be a good indication of whether or not a trip to your vet is warranted. Do both eyes look like each other, are the face and head symmetricalAsymmetry when comparing right to left?

Useful Observations:

  • Do they both look shiny and clear, not dull, cloudy or dry?
  • Are the pupils the same size and shape?
  • Is one eye squinting?
  • Is one eye runny with watery or sticky discharge?
  • Is the colour the same? Does one look red? Has the iris suddenly changed colour?

If one eye is showing differences to the other eye, or any of the above clinical signs, please get your pet checked by your vet as soon as possible.

Irritation

Eyes are extremely sensitive and easily irritated – did you know that the cornea has around 20-40 times more nerve endings than the tooth root! And most of us know how painful tooth ache is…

If you believe that your pet is suffering from eye irritation you should contact your vet for advice as irritation can be a sign of eye pain or itchiness.Irritation

Symptoms that may suggest that your pet is suffering from eye irritation:

  • Pawing/rubbing at their eye/s
  • Redness
  • Squinting or excessive blinking
  • Excessive tear staining
  • Sticky or runny discharge
  • Light sensitivity
  • Swollen skin around the eyes
  • Dullness or cloudiness of the eye
  • Different pupil sizes

Some common reasons which may cause eye irritation in your pet:

  • Allergies
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Foreign object in the eye
  • Eyelid Abnormalities
  • Trauma
  • Corneal scratches/ulcers
  • Irritants – smoke, shampoo etc
  • Dry eye (poor tear film)

Eye problems can be very painful and go from bad to worse very quickly so don’t delay in seeking advice and treatment from your vet!

Blindness

Like us pets often experience gradually failing eyesight as they approach their senior years and due to compensation using their other, superior, senses like smell and hearing, gradual sight loss may not be easily noticed by pet owners.

However, there are many other conditions which can cause your pet to go blind relatively suddenly at any age, so it important to be vigilant of sudden changes or symptoms.Vision Loss

Symptoms of acute eyesight loss you may notice are:

  • Changes in appearance of the eye
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Clumsiness – bumping into things
  • Easily startled or nervous
  • Slow and cautious movement
  • Getting lost outside
  • Unable to find toys, food dishes, water etc.
  • Not wanting to go out at night

Conditions causing blindness are serious and need urgent treatment if there is any remaining chance to prevent total, permanent vision loss.  Blindness can also be a result of many systemic diseases which can be damaging to other organ systems so it extra important to get your pet checked and treated.

Conditions that can cause blindness:

  • Tumours in the eye
  • Eye injuries
  • Glaucoma
  • Brain disease – Aneurism, Stroke, Seizures, Tumours or Infection
  • General Disease – e.g. diabetes, hyperthyroidism
  • Cataracts – more common in: Miniature Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Boston Terriers and Siberian Huskies
  • Corneal disease
  • Dry eye
  • Retinal Disease
  • Inflammation inside the eye

Tear Staining

Tear stains are those reddish-brown marks that can appear on the fur around your pet’s eyes. These stains can be unsightly and noticeable, especially on pale fur.

Dog and cat tears naturally contain high amounts of porphyrins – these are iron containing compounds derived from red blood cell breakdown in the body. When tears sit on the skin the porphyrin staining will intensify in the presence of light.

Not only that, when tears sit on the skin around the eye, they make it damp which favours local bacterial growth – some bacteria can produce their own porphyrins therefore contributing to tear staining.Tear Staining

Tear staining is more likely to occur in certain breeds where tears find their way onto the face more easily, rather than draining normally down the tear ducts. For instance, this may be due to the shape of the face, abnormalities of the tear ducts, or small hairs around the corners of the eye that wick tears onto the face.

In most cases tear staining is largely a cosmetic problem and your pet will lead an otherwise normal life, however some patients with tears stains may have underlying eye problems which mean they overproduce tears due to ocular irritation. These tears can then spill over onto the face resulting in tear staining. It is important to ensure underlying reasons for tear staining have been ruled out by a vet as, if ignored, the underlying problem may progress and be harder to treat.

Redness

Your pet’s eyes are as sensitive as your own, and are just as susceptible to irritation, allergies, injury, and disease. One of the earliest signs of many eye problems is a red eye. If your pet’s eyes appear visibly red or swollen get them checked ASAP by your vet as some causes of a red eye are not only painful but can lead to permanent blindness if left untreated (such as glaucoma).Redness

Common causes of redness:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Allergies or irritants
  • Foreign object in the eye
  • Dry Eye
  • Injury
  • Uveitis (inflammation inside the eye)
  • Corneal Ulcers
  • Glaucoma
  • Cherry Eye

Dull, Cloudy or Colour Change

Healthy eyes should be bright, clear and shiny- if your pet’s eye suddenly looks cloudy or opaque this is a sure sign of an eye problem which needs to be examined by a vet!

Most often cloudiness is noticed in the cornea (the clear window at the front of the eye) or the lens- vision may be affected to varying degrees depending on the underlying cause.Dull, cloudy or colour change

Conditions most likely to cause cloudy or opaque eyes:

  • Cataracts
  • Uveitis- inflammation inside the eye
  • Pannus- autoimmune inflammation in the cornea, German Shepherds are predisposed
  • Injury or damage to the eye/s
  • Corneal ulcers or scratches
  • Dry Eye
  • Glaucoma

Nuclear Sclerosis is considered a normal ageing change in older pets where the lens takes on a cloudy or blueish haze – it doesn’t affect vision but can often be confused with cataracts on first glance. Your vet can easily distinguish between the two conditions by doing an eye exam.

Runny or Sticky Eye

Eye discharge is a common problem in pets. Some types are completely normal, while others may be associated with potentially serious health concerns. In order to determine when you need to take your pet to the vet, you’ll need to understand the various types of eye discharge and what each may mean.

5 most common types of eye discharge:

  •  A little ‘gunk’ or crustiness – generally made out of dried tears, oil, mucus, dead cells, dust etc. Typically, clear or a slightly reddish-brown colour that accumulates at the inside corners of the eyes. Most evident in the morning and is perfectly normal, with the amount produced each day being relatively constant. It should be easily removed with a damp cloth or eye cleansing solution made for pets. The eyes shouldn’t be red and shouldn’t exhibit any signs of discomfort.
  • Watery Eyes – Excessive eye watering (AKA epiphora) is associated with many different conditions that can range from being relatively minor to more serious. Below are some of the common causes of watery eyes in pets:
    • Allergies
    • Irritants
    • Foreign body in the eye
    • Anatomical abnormalities (e.g. rolled in eyelids)
    • Blocked tear ducts
    • Corneal wounds
    • Glaucoma (increased eye pressure)

Your pet may have simply received an eyeful of pollen or dust, and the increased tearing is working to solve the problem. If eyes continue to water or your pet develops red, painful eyes or other types of eye discharge, make an appointment with your vet.Tear Staining

  • Reddish-Brown Tear Stains – many pets, especially those with light coloured fur, develop a reddish-brown discolouration to the fur near the inner corner of their eyes. This occurs because tears contain a pigment called porphyrin that turns reddish-brown with prolonged exposure to air. In most cases tear staining is cosmetic and can be removed with eye cleansers however sometimes it may be due to underlying disease causing excess tearing so it is advisable to get tear stains checked by a vet.
  • White-Grey Mucus – Can be a sign of Dry Eye (AKA keratoconjunctivitis sicca), a condition where the tear film becomes inadequate. A normal tear film is vital for good eye health so the body tries to compensate by making more mucus to try and lubricate the eyes. Left untreated Dry Eye can result in severe discomfort and potentially even blindness.
  • Yellow or Green Eye Discharge – pets whose eyes produce yellow or green discharge often have conjunctivitis or an eye infection.

 

 

 

 

Top 10 tips for pets this firework season

From Bonfire Night to New Year’s Eve, over the years we’ve created a whole season of fireworks. Now, we’re all in favour of this, the more chances we get to celebrate, the better! But sadly many pets don’t feel the same way. In this blog, we’ve outlined our top 10 tips on how to keep your dogs, cats, and other pets safe this firework season.


TIP 1: DESENSITISE YOUR DOGS AND CATS

If your pet is afraid of the loud noises, start desensitisation therapy as early as you can. Try downloading firework sound effects from Dogs Trust and play them very, very quietly. Reward your pet for staying calm, and over weeks or even months, gradually increase the volume so they get used to the sound.

TIP 2: MAKE SURE THEY ARE MICROCHIPPED

Panicking pets tend to run, but they’re not so fussy where they run to! If they DO escape and are microchipped you can be sure you’ll be reunited again.

TIP 3: USE PHEROMONES

There are pheromone products available for cats and dogs such as Feliway and Adaptil. They are very effective at reducing stress and anxiety levels. Start using them at least 2-3 weeks before fireworks season starts if possible.

TIP 4: TRY OUT SOME CALMERS

There are a wide range of herbal and nutritional calmers on the market; some of which we stock and can recommend. Although the evidence for Zylkene isn’t conclusive, we think it really can help settle animals down if given over a prolonged period!

TIP 5: BUILD A NICE NEST

Your pets need to be kept safe and secure, with a suitable nest or den to hide in. This is especially important for dogs and cats, but also applies to rabbits and small furries kept in open cages or hutches. Make sure they can hide themselves away when the displays start!

TIP 6: KEEP YOUR ANIMALS SAFELY INDOORS

It may be a little tricky but make sure your cat and dog are safely inside. Not only will it stop them escaping (and then potentially coming to harm), but it will also muffle any scary sounds and frightening lights.

TIP 7: LIGHTPROOF AND SOUNDPROOF HUTCHES, CAGES AND AVIARIES

If possible, rabbits and other small pets in cages or hutches should also be brought inside — or at least, away from sight and sound of the fireworks. For example, a large hutch can usually be moved into a garage or shed. For cage birds, the aviary isn’t usually movable, but the bright flashes can panic birds into a smother. As a result, we recommend carefully covering the aviary (while leaving lots of air-holes!) to minimise any risk.

TIP 8: KEEP TO A NORMAL ROUTINE

Many pets are very sensitive to changes in routine and timing and can put them on edge. So as much as possible, keep everything the same. You really don’t need any extra stress — and neither do they!

TIP 9: DON’T REWARD FEARFUL BEHAVIOUR

Of course, if your dog is afraid, your cat is scared, or your rabbit is terrified, it’s only natural to try and comfort them. However, you need to be careful. Excessive fuss and treats can reinforce the fearful behaviour — as they learn this is what they need to do to get your attention! As a rule of thumb, make a moderate fuss of them if they come to you, but don’t go to them, or dramatically change the way you react. Remember, pets can pick up on our stress levels as well as vice versa, so it can spiral out of control!

TIP 10: COME AND TALK TO US

If your pet is really, really stressed and you’re worried they’ll hurt themselves — come and talk to us. Not only can we give you personalised and tailored advice, but our vets can, if necessary, prescribe anti-anxiety medications to relieve short-term stress, fear and panic.

Ten tips for keeping your pet safe this summer

We know you want to do all you can to keep your pet healthy, happy and safe this summer. There are a few things to think about to keep them from harm — we’ve listed our top ten tips below!

Tip number 1: Barbecues

  • Burns are common in both dogs and cats. Make sure your pet can’t get near the barbeque until it has cooled down.
  • Skewers and chicken bones in leftovers or in the bin are a big problem for dogs if they get to them. They may not even realise they have eaten them with the meat but they can do massive internal damage. To prevent this, make sure that skewers or chicken with bones aren’t left in your dog’s reach, or are put in a container. It’s also wise to take the bin out straight away to stop them from getting to any meat and skewers left in there. We know they’ll sniff them out otherwise, given the chance!

Tip number 2: Heatstroke

  • Hot cars are a common cause of heatstroke in dogs, which can be fatal. Never leave a dog in a car in hot weather, even if it is shady and you only intend to be 5 minutes. It isn’t worth the risk.
  • Shade and water is key at this time of year to prevent heatstroke. All of your pets should have this at all times in hot weather. If you are going out with your dog consider taking an umbrella and a pop-up water bowl so that they can rest in the shade and have a drink wherever you go.

Tip number 3: Hot pavements

Hot pavements can burn dogs’ paws. Ideally only take your dog out for a walk in the morning or evening when it is cooler. Also, you can try and walk on the grass instead. If you are unsure if it is too hot, follow the 7 second rule – you will soon know if it would burn their paws! Place the back of your hand on the pavement for 7 seconds, if it’s too hot for you – it’s too hot for them.

Tip number 4: Summer travels

It’s very important that when you are going away, your pet will be safe — if they’re coming with you or not!

  • If your pet is on regular medication, then make sure that you come to see us before you go away so you don’t run out.
  • If your pet is coming with you on holiday and you are travelling by car, then you need to schedule in lots of breaks (ideally at least once an hour) so that your pet can get out of the car, go to the toilet and just stretch their legs. Always make sure there is plenty of water for them to drink. Be prepared for travel sickness, many dogs and cats get travel sick. If they are beginning to look unwell then pull over at the next services to let them get some air and start to feel a little better. A long journey can be much more stressful than we can imagine, you can use pheromone sprays to reduce stress – get in touch with our team if you’d like more advice.
keep your pet safe this summer body

Tip number 5: Staying in the cattery or kennels

Make sure your pet is fully vaccinated, flea treated and wormed before they go in, you don’t want them to come out sick or infested! If your dog is going to stay with a sitter, or dog walker it’s advised that your dog gets the kennel cough vaccine, which is a quick and painless spray up the nose.

Tip number 6: Going abroad with your pet

If you plan to take your pet abroad then you will need to come in and see us in advance of your trip. Pets must have an Animal Health Certificate to travel and to qualify they will need a rabies vaccination and wormer in advance of the trip. Our vets will also give you advice about travelling and others risks when abroad.

Tip number 7: Flystrike

Rabbit owners, this one’s for you! Flystrike is where flies lay eggs on moist areas (often the back end), which then hatch to become maggots. This is very painful, as the maggots eat their way into the poor rabbit’s flesh. Any rabbit in the summer is at risk of flystrike, especially those with a wet or dirty back end as this attracts the flies. If you notice your rabbit has flystrike, ring us straight away. To prevent this, you need to check your rabbit’s bottom every day and clean it up. This should stop the flies from being attracted to that area and means you can catch it early if there is any flystrike.

keep your pet safe this summer footer

Tip number 8: Fleas

Fleas are very common at this time of year and if you have a pet that goes outdoors then it is inevitable for them to get fleas. You can’t always see fleas on your pet when they have them, so it is always best to treat whether you can see them or not.

  • It is important that you treat your pet regularly (once a month normally but check the product you are using) and ideally with a prescription-strength product bought from us – that way you can be sure it is safe to use and is going to work!
  • If your pet already has fleas your house will also be infested. You will need to wash all bedding at a high temperature, hoover thoroughly including crevices in sofas and treating the house with insecticidal flea spray.

Tip number 9: Ticks

These little bloodsuckers carry some very nasty and potentially fatal diseases such as Lyme disease and, more recently, babesiosis. This is mostly a risk for dogs that go walking through long grass (don’t forget about those pesky grass seeds either!). To prevent diseases from ticks, you can regularly treat for ticks (you can get a combination product with the flea treatment) and check your dog over every time you come back from a walk. We can always give advice on tick removal and there are specific tick removal tools, this allows you to be sure you have removed it all and have not left the mouthparts in.

Tip number 10: Suncream

In the summer months, the UV rays from the sun can be a problem for our pets, just like us. There is a form of skin cancer that can be caused by too many UV rays, especially in our white (or pink nosed) pets. You can buy pet-friendly sun cream at most pet supermarkets and this only really needs to be applied to the nose and ears (especially important in cats).

Reasons to vaccinate your cat or dog

We all want the best for our pets, but is it really important to keep your dog or cat’s vaccination up-to-date? The short answer is yes!

Reasons to vaccinate your dog

Failure to keep your dog’s vaccine up-to-date puts them at risk of contracting the following diseases:

DISTEMPER

  • What does it do? The virus attacks the nose, lungs, stomach, intestines, brain, eyes, skin, and nervous system; the skin symptoms are why it is sometimes called ‘hardpad’, as the pads become thickened and crusted.
  • How bad is it? This can be a fatal disease for dogs and is closely related to measles. Between 20%-50% of infected dogs unfortunately will not survive.

CANINE INFECTIOUS HEPATITIS

  • What does it do? This is a really nasty virus that breaks down the blood vessels supplying the dog’s liver and often eyes.
  • How bad is it? Some dogs fight it off, others may die within hours – it’s incredibly variable.

PARVOVIRUS

  • What does it do? The virus attacks the gut lining, causing bloody diarrhoea, severe vomiting, severe dehydration, and then shock and death. It is usually most severe in puppies but any unvaccinated dog is susceptible.
  • How bad is it? One in five dogs dies from this disease even if they’re immediately taken into intensive care in practice. Any delay, however, increases that risk.

LEPTOSPIROSIS

  • What does it do? The bacteria are spread through urine (from infected dogs and from rats and cows) and when absorbed, infect the kidneys and liver.
  • How bad is it? This may result in permanent kidney and liver damage and there is also a risk to human health.

Reasons to vaccinate your cat

Failure to keep your cat’s vaccine up-to-date puts them at risk of contracting the following diseases:

FELINE PANLEUKOPENIA

  • What does it do? This highly contagious virus attacks the gut (causing vomiting and diarrhoea) and the immune system.
  • How bad is it? There is no cure which is why prevention is best. Unfortunately, around 20% of cats contracting this illness will die.

CAT FLU

  • What does it do? Cat flu viruses (feline herpesvirus and calicivirus) causes sneezing, runny nose, sore eyes, and, rarely pneumonia.
  • How bad is it? Very few cats will die of cat flu – although it does cause a lot of suffering. Surviving cats are often permanently affected with chronic nasal infections.

FELINE LEUKAEMIA VIRUS

  • What does it do? This virus inserts itself into the cat’s DNA and replicates. This results in the collapse of their immune system, and the development of cancer.
  • How bad is it? This is an important, and preventable, cause of disease and death in cats with 80%-90% of infected cats dying within 3 years of infection. 

These diseases are primarily spread from cat to cat, but some viruses can last for up to 6 months or longer in the environment, so when you enter your home it is possible you can bring in infected particles with you. This means that it is important to vaccinate your house cat too, as they can still be susceptible to these illnesses.

Don’t delay, if your dog or cat is due their vaccination, book an appointment with your local Goddard vet soon.