As the year turns, the leaves fall, and the weather gets colder, it’s really important to make sure we’re prepared for the winter - especially as many forecasters are predicting another cold spell again this year. Our dogs and cats are mostly snuggled up warm indoors - but had you thought about the impact of severe cold weather on smaller pets? In this blog, we’re going to look at what you can do to help them make it through the winter in comfort and health.
What do we mean by small pets?
Also known as “small furries”, the term is mainly used to describe smaller pet mammals - rodents (such as guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats, hamsters, gerbils) and sometimes lagomorphs (rabbits). In this blog, we’re not going to be focussing on the needs of small pet birds, although their requirements are similar.
Protection from the cold and the wet is absolutely essential.
Many small pets are fairly well adapted to deal with cold...
At this time of year, there’s loads of information out there for dogs who are scared of loud sounds, or cats who are afraid of fireworks… but what about the “small furries”, all those other pets? Are they immune to stress and alarm? No, they aren’t - so this blog is dedicated to them and their loving owners. Remember, size doesn’t determine how scared you get!
This is a vet term, sorry! In general, we mean small pet mammals. For the purposes of this blog, it means rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, and any other more exotic small mammal (such as a tenrec or chinchilla) that is kept as a pet.
We can group these animals together because (with the honourable exception of the rabbits!) they are all rodents; and tend to have basically similar biological and emotional needs. While some are social and some are solitary, and their dietary requirements are...
As you are likely already aware (from the tens, if not hundreds of emails in your inbox) there is a new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect on the 25th May 2018.
The principles of the GDP regulation is to ensure that businesses such as ours safeguard our clients' information and that we use that information responsibility and legally.
If you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Canine Parvovirus (more commonly known as “parvo”) is a highly infectious, potentially lethal infection of dogs. We tend to see it in puppies causing severe intestinal disease, but any unvaccinated dog is potentially at risk.
What causes it?
A virus called (unsurprisingly!) the parvovirus – more specifically, Canine Parvovirus 2. There are a number of different strains out there, but CP2b is probably the most common. The virus attacks the intestinal tract and the immune system; some strains also attack the heart muscle (although this is relatively rare).
How is it spread?
The virus is very resistant, and can live in the environment for a very long time (perhaps as long as a year in some situations). It can be spread directly from dog to dog, but more often a dog contracts the virus when they come into contact with faeces from an infected dog – either directly or even on someone’s shoe. The virus is relatively difficult to destroy as well, so if you...
RHD stands for Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease; it is also sometimes known as VHD (Viral Haemorrhagic Disease) or RCV (Rabbit CaliciVirus). Whatever it’s called, it’s a really unpleasant disease and is usually fatal. In recent months, the disease has been in the news as a new strain (RHD2) has recently arrived in the UK.
It’s a virus, technically part of the Calicivirus family. It’s a pretty tough virus too; it’s able to survive being frozen and remains in an infective state for up to 3 months at room temperature! As a result, it easily spreads from wild to pet rabbits, being carried on clothing and shoes, or even hiding away in hay or bedding. This means that all bunnies - even house-rabbits - are potentially at risk.
As the name suggests, the disease causes haemorrhages (bleeding). This is because the virus invades the cells that line the blood vessels, the endothelium. Once inside the cell, the virus hijacks the...
While it’s a big day for him, it’s important to remember that for us, this is a very routine procedure - in fact, it’s the most common surgery we perform! As a result, it’s something we’ve got very good at and there’s a very, very low risk to your pet. In this blog, we’re going to look at neutering dogs, why, how and what to expect.
What is neutering?
Neutering, or “Altering”, a dog is a procedure where we permanently render him infertile (unable to sire puppies), and also remove his ability to produce the male hormone, testosterone. The technical name for the operation is “castration”, and involves surgical removal of his testicles.
There are three main reasons:
First of all, take it seriously! Cats do not cope with long-term (chronic) stress very well, and it can significantly harm their mental and physical health. The other thing to remember is that things that we often find relaxing (having friends and family around, or eating a meal together) are innately stressful to cats. In this blog, we’ll look at how to recognise stress in your cat, some of the the possible causes of stress, and finally how to manage it.
Acute, or sudden, stress is easy to identify from a cat’s body language:
This is sometimes characterised as the “fight, flight or fright” response - the cat is...
If you want to travel abroad, you need to take a passport - to identify you, and confirm that you have the right to travel. The same goes for your pet - if you want to take them abroad, they need a Pet Passport, or they won’t be allowed back into the UK at the end of the holiday!
Why do animals need a Pet Passport?
Essentially, to minimise the risk that they will bring dangerous infectious diseases into the UK. At the moment, the Pet Passport Scheme is focused primarily on preventing the entry of Rabies and the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis.
Rabies spreads easily in saliva from carnivores (e.g. dogs or cats) to other animals (especially humans), and although there is a human vaccine, once symptoms appear, the disease is virtually 100% fatal. 50,000 people die each year from rabies - we are lucky not to have it in the UK, especially as it’s a really nasty and gruesome death. In all of medical history, only three people are known to have survived clinical...
This is a really common question, and (as usual…) the answer isn’t straightforward. In general, however, neutering will have no effect on your dog’s personality, but it may influence his mood and make some behaviours more or less likely.
What are the effects of neutering?
Castration (surgical neutering for male dogs) involves the removal of both testicles. This obviously eliminates the dog’s fertility (as he can no longer make sperm), but it also stops him from making the male hormone, testosterone. Testosterone has a wide range of effects, including producing of secondary sexual characteristics during puberty (such as a deeper bark, increased muscle mass, bigger bones, and larger head - just like in humans!). However, the effects of testosterone on behaviour are much more subtle.
As a puppy, before and just after birth, testosterone levels are quite high, “pre-programming” the brain for certain characteristics, before dropping off to virtually...
Leptospirosis, or “Lepto”, is an infection (primarily of dogs) caused by a group of spiral bacteria called Leptospira. There are many different types (or “serovars”) of Lepto, including canicola and icterohaemorrhagiae (which were historically the most important ones) and newer types such as bratislava and grippotyphosa which have only recently been recognised as causing disease in dogs.
The bacteria are spread in urine - from infected dogs, foxes, cattle and, importantly, rats; they are also zoonotic (in other words, they can infect humans). Unfortunately, after infection, some dogs become carriers - they may appear healthy, but they are spreading the bacteria every time they go to the toilet.
Most dogs will have a high fever, but the disease can cause a wide range of other symptoms, depending on what organ system(s) are most badly affected:
It is perfectly possible to formulate a healthy diet for a dog - but it’s not as easy as most people think! For example, if you just feed raw meat and bones, your dog will get some potentially serious nutrient deficiencies, because dogs are adapted to eat a mixture of whole animals, roots and berries - unlike cats they aren’t true carnivores, but facultative omnivores like us.
Usually - but not entirely. For starters, there are many foods that, although perfectly safe for us, are potentially lethal to dogs. Most people know about chocolate, but there are a range of foodstuffs - including coffee, onions, garlic, leeks, chives, raisins, grapes, peanuts, and macadamia nuts - that are toxic to dogs.
The next problem is that, although their digestions are very similar to ours, their metabolic and nutritional requirements are very different - especially in terms of their protein and fibre requirements.
In the practice, we’re always recommending people to take out pet insurance - but sadly, the Association of British Insurers reports that only 25% of dogs and 14% of cats are insured. When we talk to people about it, there are three different reasons they give for not insuring - are they being sensible or not?
1 - The vets will bill me more if I’m insured.
This really, really isn’t true - but we keep hearing people claim it. In fact, it’s illegal for us to charge more if you’re insured, and the vet who actually did the work has to sign a legal document confirming that they didn’t bill the work any higher than usual. The difference is that if the patient is insured we can do a better job - the tests and treatment that should be done, rather than only those that must be done.
In some ways, we can compare this to a building job - if the roof of your house leaks, you can either put a tarpaulin over it (nice and cheap, and will keep you waterproof)...
We are delighted to offer new puppy training courses. Our First one will start on the 7th of February for 5 weeks. If you have or are getting a puppy, please contact Hillcrest to put your name down on this course or a future one. We look forward to meeting you and your puppy soon.
Simple answer - no. Although human medications are often cheaper than the veterinary equivalents, it’s often really unwise to use them - not only is it illegal, but it is also dangerous to your animals.
How can it be dangerous if it’s a proper medicine?
Just because it’s a proper medicine that’s safe for humans, doesn’t mean it’s safe for animals! There are two reasons for this:
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We wish to make wholesalers, veterinary surgeons, retailers and pet owners aware that the VMD has been notified that Bio-Tech Solutions Ltd has issued a recall of:
Armitage Pet Care Flea and Tick Drops for Dogs 702 mg spot-on solution (Vm 20205/4003)
Armitage Flea Drops for Cats and Kittens
An unknown quantity of the Armitage Pet Care Flea and Tick Drops for Dogs containing permethrin has been distributed in packaging labelled Armitage Flea Drops for Cats and Kittens.
Exposure to even small quantities of concentrated permethrin can cause severe and fatal poisoning in cats.
If you have one of the products, do not use it on your cat.
Return the product to the place of purchase or contact the company:
John Tharratt, Bio-Tech solutions Tel 08704 450154 or email JTharratt@btsl.uk.com.