Posts Tagged ‘cats’

How to Have a Pet-Friendly Christmas

For most humans, Christmas is when we meet up with friends, celebrate with rich food and drink, put up sparkling decorations and have a wonderful time! However, for our pets, it can be really tough. Stress from strangers in the house, a change of routine, unexpected hazards from decorations and tasty foods that prove to have nasty toxic side effects. So, what can we do to make the festive season pet-friendly?


MINIMISE STRESS

“God rest ye merry gentlemen let nothing you dismay…” But all those merry gentlemen certainly can dismay our pets! Almost all of them find the presence of strange people in the house stressful. Dogs may respond to this by aggression, destructive behaviours or hiding; rabbits freeze and try and stay motionless; whereas cats are more likely to start urine spraying, hide or just vanish for the duration. However, even an apparently excited and waggy dog may not be as happy as they seem – while some dogs genuinely do love company, others try and cope with the stress by being extra friendly.

Ideally, you should avoid putting your pet into a stressful situation at all. This means allowing them to have their own quiet space, away from people, minimising the amount of interaction with strangers (so those festive cat and dog costumes probably aren’t a good idea) and, as far as possible, keeping to their normal routine.

However, they aren’t going to be able to avoid the holiday season completely, so you will also have to look at managing their stress. For dogs and cats, the best approach is the use of pheromones – Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs. Sadly, there aren’t any products designed specifically for rabbits, but if your pet is really suffering, whatever their species, bring them down to see us and our vets can prescribe anti-anxiety medications that are very effective in the short-term.

AVOID ORNAMENT INJURIES

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly…” And fir trees, glass and plastic ornaments, ribbons, tinsel, lights and candles. All lovely to look at, all potentially dangerous! Cats often like to play with bright shiny things, but they can easily get themselves cut (on a broken glass bauble, for example) or burned by candle flames or hot fairy lights. Cats also love to play pounce with tinsel and ribbons, but if swallowed they can form a “linear foreign body”, cutting into the intestinal walls. find out more about what you can do with advice from Cats Protection

Dogs, on the other hand, are more likely to try eating things – and any ornament can cause an intestinal blockage, or break and cut the mouth or bowel.

Christmas trees are a particular threat, as to cats they are nice climbing frames (potentially resulting in it raining cats as well as needles), while to dogs they are a convenient urinal (which may result in electric shocks in a rather unfortunate location).

The simplest way to avoid injuries is by preventing pets from having any unsupervised contact with ornaments or decorations!

PREVENT POISONING

“So bring us a figgy pudding, so bring us a figgy pudding, so bring us a figgy pudding and bring it out here…” Sadly, so many of our festive favourites can be toxic to our pets. Most people know how dangerous chocolate is for dogs (and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is). However, did you know that coffee, peanuts, Macadamia nuts, onions, and even raisins and dried fruit are all poisonous to dogs and cats? So no slices of Christmas pudding, mince pies, festive nuts, sage and onion stuffing for our pets! The Dogs Trust have created a Doggy Christmas Menu – especially designed with dogs in mind!

In addition, cooked bones are highly dangerous as they can splinter in the mouth or gut, leading to sharp wounds and even perforated bowels. So, watch out for left-over turkey carcasses!

Finally, be very careful not to give them too much rich food and treats – dogs and cats do not thrive on rapidly changing diets, and a sudden change can lead to nasty vomiting and diarrhoea. Likewise, rabbits shouldn’t have too many seeds and treats, but make sure they have plenty of good quality hay.


Christmas with pets can be great fun for both of you, but you do have to take certain precautions! If in doubt, contact your local Goddard vet for more advice.

Top tips to keep pets safe this winter

If it’s cold for you, it’s cold for your pet – that’s the key message from the British Veterinary Association (BVA)* as it urges pet owners to take extra precautions to ensure dogs, cats and other small pets are kept safe from hidden and potentially fatal hazards as snow flurries and icy conditions are forecast in many parts of the country.


As with humans, pets can fall ill upon exposure to extremely cold temperatures for extended periods. To avoid this, vets advise that dogs are walked for shorter periods of time than usual, but more frequently if required, and to consider putting a coat on old dogs or those with thin fur to keep them warm. Keep older cats inside during an extremely cold spell and ensure that even healthy young cats have easy access to shelter and warmth.

Dogs

When walking your dog in ice and snow, do not let it off the lead and avoid walking in areas where ponds or lakes may have frozen over – animals often don’t understand the difference between solid ground and ice and can fall through. In this situation, vets urge owners to call the emergency services for professional help rather than going in after their pet. Although distressing, it is never worth risking your own life as well as your dog’s. It’s also important to wipe your dog’s paws and belly on returning home from a snowy walk to remove any ice or salt, and to regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes.

Cats

Cats are especially at risk of poisoning from antifreeze, which can be fatal for them even in small amounts, especially if veterinary treatment is not sought immediately after ingestion. Store and use antifreeze products carefully, clean any spillages thoroughly, and contact your vet immediately if your cat develops symptoms of antifreeze poisoning, such as vomiting, depression, lack of coordination, seizures and difficulty breathing.

Small Pets

Small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs that usually live outdoors are vulnerable to the cold and damp despite their furry coats. Owners with outdoor hutches and runs should make sure that their pets’ living space is well-protected from snow, frost and winter rain and kept dry. Give rabbits and guinea pigs extra bedding to keep warm and check their water bottle or bowl regularly, as these can freeze when the temperature drops.

Here are some other top tips to keep pets safe this winter:

  • Provide a warm, draught-free shelter: Make sure your pet’s bed is in a draught-free, warm spot off the floor in the house. For outdoor pets, the hutch or run should be in a sheltered position, away from wind, rain and snow at least 10 cm off the ground.
  • Take precautions during and after walks: Dogs need to be exercised; however, during the colder months, try to walk your dog for shorter periods. Wipe your dog’s paws and belly on returning home from a snowy walk to remove any ice or salt, and to regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes.
  • Avoid antifreeze poisoning: Wiping your pets’ paws can prevent them from ingesting toxins that they may have stood in whilst outside. Antifreeze in particular is highly toxic for cats even in small amounts, with almost one in six vets (17%) reporting treating cats for antifreeze poisoning over the 2018 winter season. Apart from use in car radiators, some cases that vets saw were thought to be from ingesting diluted antifreeze used in ornamental water features to protect the pumps.
  • Temperature control for small pets: Keep the temperature of rabbit and guinea pig homes between 10?C and 20?C for rabbits (the lower temperature assumes rabbits are healthy and kept with other rabbits, with lots of bedding for warmth) and 5?C to 20?C for guinea pigs, avoiding too many fluctuations in temperature.
  • Provide extra bedding for rabbits and guinea pigs: Make sure your rabbits and guinea pigs have extra bedding to keep warm during colder weather – line hutches with plenty of newspaper, provide lots of hay and cover with an old duvet/blanket/tarpaulin. If the weather becomes very severe, consider moving outdoor pets inside to a well-ventilated space with light and room to exercise – but never place them inside a garage in use, as vehicle exhaust fumes are harmful to rabbits and guinea pigs.

If you would like some more advice on how to keep your pet safe this winter, contact your local Goddard vet.

*The BVA is the largest membership community for the veterinary profession in the UK. They represent the views of over 18,000 vets and vet students on animal health and welfare, and veterinary policy issues to government, parliamentarians and key influencers in the UK and EU.

How to apply spot-on flea treatments for cats

Spot-on treatments for cats can be used to treat or prevent a wide range of parasites that can cause irritation, illness, and infection in your pet or in you and your family. Spot-on treatments are usually applied once a month and it’s important to understand how to apply them accurately and safely. Keeping up with your cat’s worm and flea treatment is important if you want to protect them from parasites.

Always check the label before applying it to your pet to make sure it’s the right one for the pet you are treating and using it at the recommended frequency.

Applying the treatment doesn’t have to be complicated. Watch our step-by-step video or follow the steps below.

Top tip: Don’t forget to remove your cat’s collar before you apply the medicine, as it could get in the way of the treatment working correctly.

Guide to applying spot-on flea treatment to your cat

Here at the Goddard Vet Group, we strongly advise using a prescribed monthly spot-on treatment for your cat. You should speak to your vet about the right one for your pet, and make sure that you read the label thoroughly before applying it.

  1. Simply remove the tube from the packet, and then unscrew the top and use the end of the lid to open the pipette.
  2. Part the hair and then apply the treatment directly to the skin at the back of your pet’s neck, just above their shoulders. This is so that your pet won’t be able to rub or lick it off. There’s no need to rub it in either, as the treatment will naturally disperse across their skin.
  3. Most cats will be fine to have their treatment applied whilst resting on their bed or sitting on your lap. However, if not, you can ask someone to gently hold your cat and distract them with some treats whilst you apply the treatment. Using a food paste that they enjoy and can lick while you apply the treatment will help to make it a stress-free experience.

Helpful tips when applying spot-on treatment to your cat

  • If any of the treatment transfers onto you, wash it away with soapy water. The solvent in spot-on treatment may stain or damage certain materials including leather, fabrics, plastics, and finished surfaces. Allow the application to dry before permitting contact with such surfaces.
  • Make sure you make a note of when your pet’s next treatment is next due, so you can keep them protected.
  • For further support in applying your cat’s spot-on treatment, you can watch the video above.

How can Goddard Veterinary Group help?

If you have any questions or concerns about what kind of spot-on treatment your cat should be on, then our vets will be more than happy to advise you. Your pet needs to be protected from a wide range of parasites and we know that it can be overwhelming when choosing which parasite remedies are right for your pet. We can help you by reviewing the risks and offering advice based on your pet’s lifestyle.

Additionally, if your cat has had an adverse reaction to the fleas or the treatment, and you need to see a vet, you can find your local practice here.

Helpful resources

If you would like to know more about the parasites and how to reduce the risk to our cats and family please click on the links below:


Frequently asked questions

Does it matter where you put flea treatment on a cat?

It is important that when applying spot-on treatments for fleas that you apply the treatment to a place where your cat can not reach it. The back of your cat’s neck is the most advised place, this ensures that it cannot be licked off and ingested.

Can I use the same spot-on treatment for cats and dogs?

No. A dog’s spot-on treatment used on a cat can prove fatal for the cat. Additionally, a cat spot-on treatment for a dog will not come in a high enough dosage, as dogs are normally larger than cats. Always make sure you use the correct treatment for the correct species.

How long does it take for spot-on treatment to work?

Spot-on treatment can take up to 24 hours to begin taking full effect and killing the fleas. During this time it is normal to see the fleas on your pet and to notice them jumping about.

How often should spot-on treatment be used?

Most spot-on treatments need to be administered once per month. With central-heating fleas can still be active in the winter months, so it is important that a regular cycle of treatments is used throughout the year to ensure the protection remains consistent. Before applying the treatment it is important to read the instructions to apply the correct dosage for your cat and at the correct frequency for the brand used.

Does spot-on treatment protect my cat from ticks?

Not all spot-on treatments protect against ticks. Your vet may recommend a monthly tablet to replace the monthly spot-on, or a collar for the warmer times of the year when tick numbers are high, please ask your vet for more information on protecting your cat from ticks and the incidence in your local area, or areas you plan to travel to with your pet. To learn more about ticks, or how to remove them the PDSA has a very useful guide.

How to Fit an Elizabethan Collar to Your Cat

Buster collars are a common sight to see with pets leaving a veterinary practice and are used most often following a surgical procedure. In this guide, Goddard’s very own Sam Green will demonstrate how to assemble and fit a buster collar to a cat with the assistance of Doda.

What is a Buster Collar?

A Buster Collar, also known as an Elizabethan Collar, is a protective shield worn around the neck of a pet to prevent biting or licking at a surgical wound that could cause the removal of stitches or infections. Buster Collars are most commonly plastic but can be bought as inflatables for additional comfort.

Why Does My Cat Need A Buster Collar?

Following any surgical procedure, your cat’s natural reaction will be to attempt to lick and clean the wound left behind. This is an instinctive reaction, but one that can be harmful to the recovery of your pet. By licking or nibbling at the area it is possible to dislodge stitches added by the vet or to cause infections in the wound. Both of these will cause negative reactions and delay the healing process from the procedure.

Assembling A Buster Collar

After a surgical procedure, you will be given a buster collar for your pet. Collars are available in a range of sizes with smaller ones often an ideal size for a cat. To assemble the collar you will need a stretchy bandage or length of fabric, alternatively, you can connect the collar to your cat’s quick-release collar.

When the collar is assembled it can be gently slid over your cat’s head and into place. This can be a good time to offer a treat as a way to reinforce this as a positive experience. Ensure the collar is fitted appropriately for your cat but that it also allows free movement and is not too tight that it may be excessively uncomfortable.

Bring the bandage to the back of your cat’s neck and tie a loose bow to fix the collar into place Just like a collar, it is recommended that at least a two-finger gap is left to make it comfortable for your pet.

How Long Should the Collar Stay On?

Buster Collars should remain on until all stitches have dissolved or been removed by a vet. During this period your cat should remain indoors to avoid unnecessary activity that lengthens the recovery period or re-opens the wound.

If you are unsure if the time is right to take off your pet’s buster collar, contact your local Goddard Veterinary Practice to get the advice of a veterinarian.

Tips on exercising your pet

In order to be happy and healthy, pets have needs that can be broken down into 5 areas: health, behaviour, companionship, diet, and environment. Owners need to provide these needs. It is not only ethically right to do so, but also our legal responsibility. Follow our tips below on exercising your pet.


Exercise fits into 4 out of the 5 welfare needs…

  • It helps maintain our pets’ health. It’s estimated that 46% of dogs seen in practice and 34% of cats are overweight or obese. Interestingly, research shows only 15% of owners describe their dogs as overweight and 54% of cat owners don’t know their cat’s weight.
  • Exercise is essential for pets’ mental health too, providing them the ability to carry out natural behaviours. This can help prevent unwanted behaviours that can otherwise build up.
  • To allow your pet to carry out their natural behaviours they need to be given plenty to do. This is known as enrichment. Providing a safe and enriched environment is our responsibility.
  • Many of our pets prefer to exercise and live with company. In some cases companionship is actually essential for wellbeing.

Tips for dogs

ALL dogs need walking daily, but statistics say 13% are not. Different breeds, ages and personalities need varying amounts of exercise. Our team can recommend what your pet needs. A fit Labrador needs at least 2 hours of exercise daily whereas a Yorkshire terrier may only need 30 minutes. Puppies and elderly or debilitated dogs will need special consideration.

Time off-lead gives opportunities to sniff and explore which is important for mental health. Dogs appreciate a varied route for different experiences but if recall is an issue, a large garden or enclosed play area is ideal. Always keep dogs on the lead in built-up areas and use high-vis jackets during the dark nights.

If your pet is getting tired you have done too much. If they are full of energy then you may have not done enough. Dogs love human companionship, so playtime indoors or outdoors is also important. When alone, you can keep dogs occupied and exercised by using puzzle feeders. Sticks can cause serious injuries so perhaps instead throw a ball (but one that is big enough to not be swallowed).

Tips for cats

Outdoor cats scratch, stalk, pounce and batt outdoors, but it’s still important to provide opportunity for these behaviours indoors. If cats are indoors this is essential. Cats all have individual preferences. If your cat doesn’t want to play, try different toys. Interactive toys provide companionship and bonding time, and you can change the pace and speed of play. Cats exercise in short bursts, so 5-10 minutes frequently throughout the day is better than one long period. As cats naturally hunt at dawn and dusk they may prefer these times for play.

Putting part of your cat’s food ration inside food puzzles can keep them mentally amused and exercised when alone. Research shows puzzle feeders can reduce stress, contribute to weight loss, decrease aggression towards humans and other cats, reduce anxiety and fear, and eliminate attention-seeking behaviour and inappropriate toileting problems. You can buy puzzle feeders or make your own – try putting kibbles inside plastic bottles with holes cut in them. The cats can then roll them around and retrieve; or perhaps within a constructed toilet roll tube tower for your cat to reach into and grab.

Tips for rabbits

The more space rabbits have, the happier they are. Outdoor runs should let them sprint and stand up without touching their ears on the bars so should be at least 3 x 6 x 10 ft. This space includes an attached enclosure (6 x 2 x 2 ft) so they can enjoy the outdoors and run about when they want. Rabbits like to play and dig so make sure they have lots of toys.

Wild rabbits spend 80% of their waking time foraging. Food can be hidden and dispersed to encourage exercise. Research shows rabbits suffer from stress and loneliness if kept alone and rabbits love to play and exercise together. They actually value companionship as much as food. If you have a single bunny, talk to us about finding them a buddy.

Tips for small pets

Hamsters travel great distances at night in the wild. They need as large a cage as you can provide (at least 60 x 30 x 30cm). Many breeds dig, so an area of deep sawdust will satisfy this need. Most love climbing on different levels, but make sure levels are not too tall as a fall may cause harm. Hamster wheels should be solid as spokes can cause injury, and wide enough so the hamster doesn’t bend its back when moving. Restricting access to wheels to 3-4 hours ensures they don’t keep going until they are exhausted.

Hamster balls with no way to escape may also cause exhaustion, so always supervise if using these. Food can be hidden to promote foraging behaviour through the night and boxes, tubes and ladders provide stimulation for exercise and climbing opportunities. Remember, although many breeds of hamsters like company, the Syrian hamster does not. Syrian hamsters are happy to exercise alone, or with their humans.

For guinea pigs, RSPCA recommendations are minimum size hutch of 4ft by 2ft but, like rabbits, the bigger the better. Like rabbits they also need companionship, and ideally constant access to a large grassy area so they can decide when they want to go out. Hiding food can increase exercise through foraging and, like any pet, toys will increase exercise and mental stimulation.

Rats’ cages should be at least 50 x 80 x 50 cm and they need at least an hour’s playtime outside their cage per day, in a safe rat-proofed room with no cracks or wires to chew. Boxes or tubing provide extra entertainment and, although they enjoy human company, it’s unfair to keep them alone.


As all pets have different needs, do speak to us to ensure yours is getting the right amounts of the right exercise.