Archive for the ‘Pets’ Category

Spring Dangers & Threats to Your Pet

Spring is an exciting time of the year. The weather is improving and the prospect of enjoying time outdoors with your pet is becoming more of a reality after months indoors. 

It is important for all pet owners to know the potential dangers springtime can bring to their pets and the best ways to avoid harmful accidents. Read some of our helpful tips on keeping your furry friend away from danger. 

Outdoor Pet Dangers

There are many items that can be found in your garden during spring that can be highly toxic and in some cases deadly, to your pet – even in the smallest of quantities. 

Lily Plant

Any part of the lily plant can cause kidney failure in cats, so think twice about having them in your home if you are a cat owner.

Plant Bulbs

Many plant bulbs can be toxic to pets if chewed or eaten so be careful if planting them this Spring. We would much prefer to see some photos of your blooming garden than a necessary trip to one of our practices with your pet. 

Slug Pellets

Slug pellets containing metaldehyde are extremely toxic – ingestion of even small amounts will cause severe seizures.

Adders

While seemingly less likely than the other outdoor threats, Adders need to be considered by all pet owners whether in their gardens or out on walks. As the weather gets warmer, Adders wake up from their winter hibernation. Our overly inquisitive pets can encounter the UK’s only venomous native snake in many different scenarios and can attract a nasty bite if you aren’t too careful. 

Ticks 

One of the most problems you will come across as a pet owner is Ticks. As our pets begin to go outside more in the spring it is easy for them to pick up tics in woodland, vegetation or even your garden. As spring is the most common time of the year for ticks, they are worth watching out for. 

easter treats and foods harmful to pets

Food Dangers For Pets

Chocolate

Probably one of the most well-known dangers to pets from food. Chocolate is a common pet poison – the higher the cocoa content, the more danger it poses! As chocolate becomes plentiful around Easter be wary of your pets inquisitive nature to hunt out treats. Make sure it is stored away properly and children know it can harm pets. 

Raisins, currants and sultanas

Similar to chocolate, raisins, currants and sultanas can be found in a variety of Easter treats. These can cause kidney failure in dogs. While there is no defined dose that will prove deadly to your canine member of the family, it is important to ensure their contact with any dried fruit is significantly limited. 

Xylitol (E967)

The sweetener can be found in many confectionery items and causes a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels (and occasionally liver failure) in dogs.

Mouldy Food

If garden composting this Spring, keep pets away from mouldy food which can cause seizures and liver problems if ingested.

Other Dangers

Spring is not the only time of the year our pets are in danger. There are different threats to their health and safety throughout the year. Read our handy guide to keeping your pets safe at Christmas

It is also important to keep your pet’s health under consideration as the weather gets warmer into the summer months. Look at our tips for keeping your dog cool in the warmest part of the year. 

SPEED to help pets against toxic

There are many things around the house that are poisonous to our pet friends, use our Poisons Guide if you think your pet has eaten something poisonous that is not listed above, or get in touch immediately with your local Goddard vet.

 

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.

Travelling with your pet

Are you planning on travelling with your pet? From 1st January 2021, post-Brexit rules have changed the way you can travel with your pet.

Please do familiarise yourself with the most up-to-date requirements issued by the Government here.

It is important to note that if travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland a current EU Pet Passport issued in Great Britain will no longer be valid from 1 January 2021 onwards and an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) will be required instead.

The other steps are similar to the current process for taking your pet to the EU and the process will be:

  • You must have your dog, cat, or ferret microchipped.
  • Vaccinate your dog, cat, or ferret against rabies. (Your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated.)
  • Wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel.
  • Then book an appointment with one of our Official Veterinarians (OV) to get an AHC issued for your pet, no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.

Please do therefore ensure you plan ahead and speak to your vet well in advance of your planned travel date.

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.

Christmas Pet Dangers

Do you know the pet dangers hiding on your Christmas shopping list?

Human Medication

In the run up to Christmas, many of us may be reaching for the ibuprofen or paracetamol to cure a fuzzy head. Make sure to keep human medication away from your pets — dogs and cats are very sensitive to the effects, much more so than us. Many over the counter and prescription drugs, whilst beneficial for us, can be very harmful or even deadly to pets even in small doses. Always consult your vet for advice before giving any medication to your pet.

Xylitol

Could your good intentions be unintentionally harmful to your dog?
Xylitol is often used in baked goods around Christmas time in an effort to fight the festive flab. However, it is extremely toxic to dogs if ingested, even a small amount can be fatal. Xylitol (also known as E967) can be found in many products including sweets, baked goods, jams, peanut butter, dental hygiene products, chewing gum, etc. Ingestion in dogs causes a rapid drop in blood sugar which can lead to lethargy, wobbliness, confusion, vomiting, collapse and tremors/seizures. Some dogs may also go on to develop acute liver failure. Cats luckily do not appear to be affected.

Batteries

It’s time to wrap those Christmas toys and gadgets – don’t forget the batteries! However, pets are inquisitive and may think nothing about swallowing batteries, which can cause significant damage to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract! Large, chewed or punctured alkaline batteries often require intervention, and the lithium disc or ‘button’ batteries pose the greatest risk of all. Always contact your vet if you think your pet may have ingested a battery.

christmas_pet_dangers_medicine_chewing_gum_batteries

Mouldy Food

Mould ingestion can be lethal to pets. It usually happens when dogs raid the kitchen waste recycling caddy, so keep them out of reach this Christmas period where there is likely to be an increase in food waste. If your pet ingests mouldy food seek treatment without delay. Symptoms can occur rapidly and include:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • excessive salivation
  • whole-body muscle tremors
  • hypersensitivity to touch/noise
  • seizures

Plants

Many Yule time plants can be hazardous to pets if chewed — luckily in the majority of cases symptoms are mild and self-limiting and may include salivation, oral irritation and vomiting/diarrhoea. To be on the safe side, keep plants out of reach of inquisitive pets and consult your vet if ingestion does occur.

Decorations

If you are decorating your Christmas tree this weekend beware of the potential dangers to your pet. Pets can be attracted to shiny lights, tinsel and baubles! Swallowed or chewed decorations can lead to cuts or intestinal blockages, and chewed fairy lights can pose an electrocution risk.

christmas_pet_dangers_mould_plants_decorations

Salt

Homemade salt dough decorations are pretty but poisonous! You might be decorating your Christmas tree this weekend, but these decorations can be hazardous for inquisitive pets. Due to the high levels of salt needed to make salt dough, ingestion of just one of these homemade decorations is enough to cause serious poisoning. Symptoms can range from vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased appetite, lethargy, incoordination, excessive thirst or urination. In severe cases, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death are possible. Please avoid putting these around your home at Xmas if you have pets.

Onions and Garlic

Did you know that onions and their relatives are toxic to dogs and cats?
The Allium family (onions, garlic, spring onions, chives, leeks etc) cause red blood cell destruction in cats and dogs — which can result in lethargy or collapse. Even 1 or 2 garlic cloves can be enough to cause serious problems in a cat. Exposure can also occur chronically i.e. small amounts every day can build up to cause an issue. Gravy is often a sneaky culprit at Christmas time — instant gravy can contain a high amounts of onion/garlic powder, so avoid giving it as a treat!

Nicotine

The weekend is here and it’s Christmas party time! However, our own bad habits can be bad for our pets too. Nicotine poisoning can occur in pets so keep cigarettes and vapes out of reach — the flavoured liquid used in E-cigarettes can be particularly attractive to dogs. With significant ingestion, symptoms occur quickly and include drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, excitability/agitation and neurological signs. Always visit your vet if you think your pet has ingested any nicotine.

christmas_pet_dangers_salt_onion_nicotine

Chocolate

Keep those Christmas chocolates out of your pets reach! Chocolate is poisonous to pets, and dogs are usually the main culprits. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine which dogs and cats are unable to process properly. Theobromine acts as a stimulant leading to clinical signs of:

  • vomiting and diarrhoea
  • increased thirst/urination
  • hyperexcitability/agitation
  • rapid heart rate
  • seizures

The darker the chocolate the higher the theobromine content therefore the more toxic it is. White chocolate is safe however it may cause gastrointestinal upset due to its high fat content.

Alcohol

With the Christmas season in full swing what happens if your pet gets their nose into your alcoholic tipple? Alcohol should not be consumed by pets as their livers are not equipped to break down alcohol as easily as human livers are. We all know how awful we can feel after a heavy night, but our pets are much more prone to alcohol toxicity with potentially life-threatening consequences.  Alcohol toxicity can also occur from ingestion of unbaked bread dough — as the yeast ferments in their stomach, alcohol is created and is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Grapes and their dried fruits

Grapes and their dried fruits such as raisins, currants and sultanas (whether raw or cooked) are known to cause fatal kidney failure in dogs — so keep Christmas treats such as mince pies, puddings and cakes out of reach. Even ingestion of just a few grapes is enough to cause severe illness so always consult your vet if your dog ingests any amount.

christmas_pet_dangers_chocolate_alcohol_grapes

If you are concerned that your pet may have ingested any of these items, get in contact with your local Goddard vet or hospital as soon as possible.