Sunday, 20 November 2016

Brrrr.......Bunnies and guinea pigs in Winter.

Winter tips for outdoor pets





Winter can be a difficult time for our outdoor pets. It is important to take steps to ensure that they remain happy and healthy throughout the cold months.







Hutch position;

If possible, move the hutch indoors to a cool room of the house or into a shed, porch or unused garage. Do not put the hutch in the garage if you park a car in it. The exhaust fumes are dangerous for them.

If it is not possible to bring the hutch inside,then ensure that the hutch is in a sheltered area of the garden. It needs to be raised off of the ground, so if the hutch has not got long legs, place some bricks underneath. This will help to prevent the damp from the ground affecting the bottom of the hutch.

Protect from the elements;

Rabbits and guinea pigs need protection from draughts and damp!

Check the hutch walls and roof to ensure that there are are no gaps through which rain and wind can get in. Put sheets of newspaper and a blanket or duvet onto the roof and let it hang down the back and sides of the hutch to provide extra insulation.Then protect it by securing a waterproof plastic sheet over the top (tarpaulin is a good choice) or you can purchase a waterproof hutch cover from a pet store. 



Make the inside of the hutch warm;
  • Use layers of newspaper to line the base of the hutch. Newspaper is a good insulator.
  • Place a thick layer of super absorbent litter like Excel bedding and litter or Smartbedz on top of the newspaper. It will help to absorb urine and keep the hutch drier and warmer.
  • Provide lots of extra hay as bedding so that they can snuggle into it.
  • A cardboard box with a hole cut in one side and filled with some hay will give them somewhere a bit more insulated to sit. (Make sure that they have enough room in the rest of the hutch to stretch out).
  • A pet-safe microwaveable heat pad is a safe option to add warmth on an icy night.

The front of the hutch;

During the daytime your rabbits and guinea pigs will welcome some fresh air and winter sun so leave the front uncovered. Ensure that the hutch has a bedroom section that they can retreat into. Should the weather be poor, a clear plastic or perspex sheet can be placed over the mesh front so that your pet can still see out, light can get in, but it keeps the wind and rain out. 

The hutch front should be covered overnight.

When covering the hutch front, It is important to make sure that there is sufficient ventilation - allow air to circulate through the hutch. Don't seal the hutch off completely.


Each day;

Your outdoor pets must be checked regularly, at least three times a day (or more).

  • Ensure that the hutch is not leaking and is still protected from the elements( e.g covers are in place and haven't blown away).
  • Check that their bedding is dry - damp, soiled bedding must be changed promptly.
  • A bottle snug
  • Provide them with fresh food (nuggets and hay) and fresh veggies.
  • Check water bottles frequently in case they have frozen. The drinking spout needs to be checked too as it can ice up. Have a couple of spare bottles available so that they can be swapped over if necessary.A bottle snug is a good idea to help prevent the water freezing - the water should still be checked.
  • Observe your pet to ensure that they have eaten and been to the toilet and that they are bright and alert. Any concerns should not be ignored.
  • If they appear sleepy or not really reacting to anything, you must book an urgent appointment with the vet.
Remember that the hutch still needs a thorough clean each week.



Tarpaulin


Exercise;

Exercise is still important during the Winter. Bring them indoors to a cool room for a run around, or let them have a short time in the garden ( as long as the grass is not soaking wet). Covering a run with tarpaulin provides a dry sheltered area for exercise. Position the run so that it gets the warm winter sunshine.
Try to prevent your pet from getting too wet or cold. Should they get wet, towel them dry and allow them to warm up naturally indoors.




Remember, your pets still rely on you for their regular routine. So even though it’s wet, miserable and cold out there, everything should remain as close to normal as possible.This includes feed time, play time, snuggle time, and cleaning time.


Image result for rabbit winter with owner

   So wrap up warm and head outside!




      
                




Monday, 24 October 2016

Fireworks are no fun.

With many pets anxious and fearful of loud noises, the firework season can result in some stressful evenings for pets and owners alike.

Signs to look out for in your pet include panting, trembling, pacing, seeking people, hiding or trying to escape, refusal to eat, inappropriate urination or defaecation, vocalisation,  as well as changes in facial expression and body language indicative of stress.

To help your pet cope with this time of year, here are some helpful steps you can take at home;

  • Providing your dog with a safe retreat or denMany people will create a den by using a dog crate covered with a blanket but a space under a piece of furniture could do the job equally well. Allow them freedom to access and leave the den at all times and provide positive experiences whilst they are using it, like a favourite toy or treat. Provide a cosy bed or blankets in which they can hide and feel secure. Cats tend to find their own safe haven such as under a bed.    
  • Take your dog for a walk early in the evening before the fireworks start.
  • Ensure your pet is safely inside and secure doors, windows and cat flaps.Cats will need a litter tray.
  • Is your dog or cat micro-chipped in case they do escape?
  • Try not to leave your pet alone when fireworks are going off. Pets may hurt themselves or cause damage if they are not supervised.
  • Shut curtains, keep lights on and switch on the radio or TV to help muffle out the sounds of the fireworks.
  • Behave normally and praise your dog if they are relaxed.
  • Ignore any fearful behaviour such as panting, pacing and whining. 
  • Don’t get cross or punish your pet, regardless of their behaviour, as it will only make them more distressed.
  • Cats prefer to be left to cope on their own - let them find a hiding place and leave them undisturbed.

Calming products;      
There are some excellent natural calming products available to help manage stress in dogs and cats.  Feliway for cats and Adaptil for dogs are some of the best known – they mimic the comforting pheromones, which are naturally produced by the animals.
     
We stock a product called Pet Remedy which is a blend of essential oils that can help to calm anxious and stressed animals. It is available in a diffuser or spray format and starts to help immediately. 
Cost:

  • Pet calming plug-in diffuser - £18.72
  • Pet remedy refills (2 pack) - £18.72
  • Pet calming spray 15ml - £5.26
  • Pet calming spray 200ml -  £16.20


New medication
Also, for those dogs that get particularly worried by fireworks, a new product is now available to help those dogs with noise phobias. It provides a calming effect without sedating them. It is a gel that is applied to the gums, so it can be administered at home. Your dog should be able to function normally, and of course, be less concerned about the noises.
Your dog will require a  health check with a vet before the gel can be prescribed.

 Please ask us today about the best option for your pet.


Behaviour modification

Other than changes to the home environment, or medication, you can try behaviour modification to ease your pet's fear. This is more of a long-term management option which can be very effective. A process called 'de-sensitisation' teaches your pet not to react to the fear stimulus and then eventually to associate it with something positive.Ask your vet about sound therapy and for further advice on behaviour modification.



Tips for outdoor rabbits and guinea pigs;
  • If the hutch is attached to a run, make sure that your pet is back in their hutch before it gets dark and close off access to the run.
  • Provide plenty of extra hay in which they can burrow and hide. A cardboard box ,with a hole cut in the side for access and filled with hay, makes a good hiding place.
  • Turn the hutch to face a wall or fence to help block out the flashes,  or cover the hutch. Do however ensure that there is enough ventilation.
  • If you can, move the hutch indoors to a cool part of the house or into a shed for example.
  • You could always bring them inside for a cuddle (if they are used to this) or pop them in a pet carrier indoors with plenty of hay during the worst period of the fireworks.



Disclaimer

The contents of the Arden House Animal Hospital website are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Veterinary Surgeon with any questions you may have regarding your animal’s medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.




Friday, 21 October 2016

Take the fright out of Halloween - Tips for keeping your pet safe.


Halloween has become more popular each year with parties being held, fireworks being let off and children out trick or treating. Here are a few reminders to ensure that your pet stays safe.

    Image result for halloween pets
  • All the noise and excitement of Halloween can be distressing for animals so provide them with a safe, quiet area in which to retreat, complete with their favourite toys.
  • Take your dog out for a walk before the evening activities get under way.
  • Keep your cat indoors.
  • Keep all edibles out of reach of your pet , especially chocolate.
  • Keep pets away from the front door. Children in costumes can scare a pet and with the door opening and closing frequently, you don't want them escaping.
  • Do not dress your pet up unless they are completely comfortable with this and ensure that the accessories are kept simple. Supervise your pet at all times.
  • Take care if you are using candles - wagging tails and swatting paws can knock them over.
  • Keep glow sticks and glow accessories well away from pets. Even though they aren’t necessarily toxic, if chewed on they can cause your pet to salivate excessively and act abnormally.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Pet Hall of Fame - Honey

At the end of April, Honey was admitted to the hospital after suffering from back pain and hind leg weakness due to a slipped disc in her spine.

She required strict rest so her owner decided to leave Honey with us in the hospital for a few weeks. She was put onto treatment to relieve the pain and to reduce the inflammation. Although a little tentative to begin with, Honey started to enjoy a cuddle with the nurses as she gradually started to feel better in herself. It was lovely to see her greeting us with a waggy tail and she was quite happy to potter about in the garden with the nurses. She went home on the 6th June and all was well until she suffered a set back two weeks later. Poor Honey was in a lot of pain and she was having difficulty standing. After some emergency treatment, it was decided that Honey needed to be referred to a specialist veterinary hospital for further treatment. At the referral hospital Honey was given an MRI scan that revealed some disc extrusion in her lower back (lumbar spine) that was pressing on her spinal cord. She required immediate surgery to remove the disc material and relieve the pressure. Honey also suffers from a heart condition so it was an anxious wait for Honey’s owner as she underwent the operation. This brave little dog recovered very well from the surgery and she continued to receive nursing care at the referral hospital for a further 5 days. Honey's surgeon was really pleased with her progress and on the 1st July, Honey was allowed home. She was discharged with a strict exercise regime that started with 4 weeks of confinement in which she was only allowed out into the garden on a lead for toilet breaks.

 Although Honey’s owner knew she’d miss her terribly, she decided that she’d benefit from another stay with us. Honey’s owner was also in the middle of finalising her house sale, so having Honey stay with us to recuperate was one less thing for her to worry about. 

Honey settled in well but was a little apprehensive of being touched. With a little coaxing and some juicy chicken treats, she gradually gained confidence and was soon back to her happy self. On the 6th August, with her owner’s move complete, Honey went home - to her new home in Somerset.
We are so pleased to hear that Honey continues to do well – she especially enjoys her walks on the downs and when she’s walked far enough, she travels in style in her pet stroller! Well done brave gorgeous girl xx




Thursday, 25 August 2016

Pet of the month Hall of Fame - Mimi

Gorgeous Mimi was rushed into our Ruislip hospital after being hit by a car one Thursday morning. Vet Rachel examined her and found that she was in shock and in pain around her back end. She was admitted to the hospital, placed onto a drip and given pain relief.
Concerned that Mimi's pelvis might be broken, she was scheduled for an x-ray the following day once we were happy that she was stable from the accident itself. Brave Mimi was given a general anaesthetic so that we could take the x-rays and the results revealed that she had broken her pelvis in several places. The good news was that Mimi was able to walk ok and go to the toilet normally. We sent her x-rays to a specialist orthopaedic surgeon for their opinion and it was concluded that the best course of action for Mimi was rest, with restricted and controlled movement. 

Mimi stayed in hospital with us for a few days so that we could manage her pain and she soon started to feel more comfortable, showing us her adorable, happy personality. Mimi is now back home with her owners and we are continuing to monitor her progress.

She is doing very well and despite all that she has been through, she remains a beautiful bubbly Bichon!
    


Saturday, 13 August 2016

Feeling the heat!

While people regulate their body temperatures by sweating, a dog goes about it in a different way! Dogs do not sweat in the same way that people do, although they do produce very small amounts of sweat from the pads of their paws (as do cats). The main way in which dogs regulate their body temperature is by panting, which draws cooling air into the body to drop the core temperature, and also by drinking water, which again hydrates and cools the body. 



What is Heat Stroke?
Heat Stroke (hyperthermia) is a condition that occurs at a point where an animal can no longer regulate their body temperature or cool themselves down. Their temperature becomes dangerously raised. It generally occurs in the summer months when the outside temperatures are high. Dogs that are overweight or ones that have a thick coat are particularly vulnerable as are short nosed breeds such as a Pug, Boxer, Pekingese and Bulldog.


Situations that can quickly lead to heat stroke;

  • Too much exercise or vigorous play during the hotter parts of the day.
  • Not drinking enough water or lack of access to drinking water. 
  • Being out in direct sunlight and unable to find shade. 
  • Being enclosed in a car, shed or other overheated enclosure where the temperature is hot and there is not enough fresh air.

Preventing heat stroke

It is vital to monitor your pet closely when it is hot to see how they are coping with the heat. Some of the precautions to take during the summer include:


Not walking your dog or encouraging vigorous play during the hottest part of the day;  walk in the early morning and the evening when the weather is cooler.
Ensuring that your pet has access to clean, fresh water at all times. Take water out on dog walks with you so that you can give them a drink.
  •  NEVER leaving your pet shut in a car, shed or other small space for any amount of time, even for just a few minutes.
  • Making sure that your pet can get out of direct sunlight if needed, ensuring that they have access to cooler, shaded areas - some dogs insist on lying in the sun, discourage this!
  • Groom your pet regularly. A healthy, groomed coat helps your pet to regulate their body temperature and cope with the heat in summer.
  •  Remember that some dogs, particularly those with white fur or pink skin may be prone to sunburn -  take this into account when taking them out in the sun. Cats with white ears are also prone to getting sunburn on the ear tips.  You can buy pet safe sun cream - always read the label.
  • Keeping your pet indoors in a cool well ventilated room or providing shade for them to retreat into during the hottest part of the day is advised.


Identifying heatstroke in dogs;

Even if you take all possible precautions and do what you can to help your dog keep cool, it is important to be able to identify the symptoms of heatstroke in the early stages in order to take prompt action. Heatstroke can quickly progress to become a life-threatening emergency.

During the early stages of heatstroke your dog may appear restless and generally unhappy, but can appear listless and lethargic too. They will also be panting excessively and for a prolonged period of time, or panting recurrently without apparently getting any relief. As heatstroke progresses, their gums will become red and tacky, and they might be foaming at the mouth or salivating excessively. A high body temperature and elevated heart rate also accompany heatstroke in dogs. Heatstroke often progresses very quickly, and can soon advance to confusion and disorientation, collapse and fitting. The dog may also vomit or lose control of their bowels and bladder.
     Heatstroke is a veterinary emergency, and not a condition that can be left to resolve itself.

     What to do;
  •      Immediately move your dog to the shade or indoors to a cool area.
  •      Apply cool or tepid water (not ice cold as this can be counterproductive), either directly or with wet towels to the stomach, inner thighs, head and footpads.(Do not cover the dog with the towel as this can cause them to warm up).
  •      If a hose pipe is available, use a fine, gentle spray to wet your dog.
  •      Offer your dog water to drink but don't let them drink too much at once. Small sips are ideal.
  •      If you have a fan, direct it onto your dog.
  •      CALL YOUR VET for further advice and to arrange for your pet to be checked, (even if they appear to be recovering). 

     

     Cats and the heat

     Cats will generally cope better with hot temperatures. They usually seek out somewhere cool to rest. Cat paw pads have sweat glands and this is how they cool down. Cats also lick the fur over their bodies to distribute saliva that will evaporate to cool them, much like sweat would do. A heat stressed cat will pant and this should not be ignored.


A cat can succumb to heatstroke and show similar symptoms to a dog. Again it is vital that you move them to a shady, cool area and apply a cool wet towel/flannel to the groin, paws and neck. Offer small amounts of water to drink. CALL YOUR VET.
   

      Rabbits and Guinea pigs

      Don't forget your small furries! Rabbits and Guinea pigs are unable to sweat! They must have plenty of shade and good airflow. Position enclosures /hutches in a cool place out of the direct sun such as under a tree and create more shade by adding tarpaulin or a towel. Provide more shady spots within the enclosure using a cardboard box with a couple of openings cut into it for added ventilation. Provide fresh water at all times in both a drinking bottle and ceramic dish.

 Signs that a rabbit or guinea pig is hot include lethargy, breathing heavily, puffing, a wet nose, drooling, weakness, reluctance to move.
  
 Immediately move them to a cool area and apply cool water to their ears, groin and feet.
Offer them water to drink. CALL YOUR VET.



Click the link below for some tips on summer outdoor bunny care
(courtesy of www.rabbit welfare.co.uk)


How to keep you rabbit cool in summer

Lastly, ensure that rodent cages and bird cages are kept out of direct sunlight and are not left in a conservatory.


    
     Disclaimer
     The contents of the Arden House Animal Hospital website are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Veterinary Surgeon with any questions you may have regarding your animal’s medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.




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Monday, 20 June 2016

The footballer's injury


Cruciate ligament rupture is the famous knee
injury of professional footballers. Dogs (rarely cats) can damage this ligament too but the nature of this injury in dogs is very different to that of humans. 






What are cruciate ligaments? 


The knee (stifle) is a complex joint comprised of the patella (kneecap), cartilage called the menisci that cushions the knee, cartilage lining the joint and a series of ligaments connecting the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). Together, these components enable the joint to function properly. The knee has two essential stabilising ligaments that cross over one another inside the knee joint. They are called the cranial cruciate ligament and the caudal cruciate ligament.

The cranial cruciate ligament is most commonly ruptured (torn).


 

Causes and signs of knee ligament damage; 

1. Ageing of the ligament (degeneration); - Cranial cruciate ligament disease.
This is the most common cause in dogs. As the ligament weakens over time, the dog will slowly become lame as a result of  the disease. They may be reluctant to get up, run or climb stairs and the limp may worsen after exercise and improve after rest. The knee is often swollen with varying degrees of pain, and muscle wastage can occur where the dog is not using the affected leg properly.

Factors that may contribute to degeneration and failure of the ligament include;
  • Obesity- excessive weight puts an extra strain on the knee joints.
  • Individual conformation - The shape/structure of a dog's legs.
  • Genetic factor - Some breeds of dog are particularly prone to cruciate injury (including Rottweilers, Labradors, Boxers, West Highland White Terriers, Newfoundlands).


2. Trauma;
Rupture of a healthy ligament (like in people) is rare in dogs.
This is usually as a result of a sudden twist of the hind leg or over-extension of the knee. This could occur if a dog suddenly changes direction whilst running for example.
Following trauma to the knee, a dog will have a sudden onset of lameness and usually hold the foot of the affected leg off the ground.


Diagnosis: The vet will carry out a thorough examination of your dog, looking at how they walk, and manipulate the knee joint to test for instability and looseness. In some cases, examination of the joint is necessary under sedation to enable the detection of more subtle instability of the knee as occurs with a partial tear of the ligament. Secondarily, an x-ray will be taken to provide additional information -  to see if there is fluid accumulation in the joint, the degree of arthritis and to rule out other possible causes.



Surgery is generally recommended for cruciate ligament rupture since it is the only way to permanently control the instability in the stifle joint & to evaluate the structures within the joint. There are different surgical options - stabilising the knee using an artificial replacement ligament, essentially mimicking the action of the original cruciate ligament, and techniques that involve cutting and re-positioning the Tibia (shin bone) to alter the mechanics of the knee joint to improve functionality. Referral to a specialist is required for the latter. The best option for your pet depends on many factors such as your pet’s activity level, size, age, conformation, and the degree of knee instability. Sometimes small dogs can be managed satisfactorily with out the need for surgery, depending on the severity of the injury. Recovery from cruciate surgery can take anything from 4-6 months and it is vital that you work closely with your vet and follow the rehabilitation plan. 

While prevention of injuries is difficult, there are some factors that can decrease the likelihood of cruciate ligament damage. First and foremost is avoiding obesity and secondly a good fitness level of regular (but not excessive) exercise is advised. Please speak to your vet or nurse!

In conclusion, cranial cruciate ligament disease is a common condition affecting the knee joints of dogs. There is no one perfect solution and unfortunately arthritis will gradually progress whatever the treatment. However, with carefully selected management, most patients can continue to enjoy a good quality of life.




Disclaimer

The contents of the Arden House Animal Hospital website are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Veterinary Surgeon with any questions you may have regarding your animal’s medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.