Saturday, 24 February 2018

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 .

  • 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.


   So wrap up warm and head outside!




      
                




Sunday, 4 February 2018

All you need is love - and a healthy heart!




With February being the month of love we think it is a good time to talk about heart health. We would also like to invite our clients to bring their pet in for a


 FREE heart check with a vet.





The check up includes a complete physical examination. The vet will use a stethoscope to listen to your pet's heart and evaluate the sound and rhythm, strength and heart rate. Your pet's pulse will be assessed. The vet will also listen to your pet's breathing rate and lung sounds. Should the vet detect any abnormalities such as a heart murmur or abnormal rhythm, they may recommend further tests.


The offer is available until 31st March - please book an appointment!


Tests commonly used to identify the cause of symptoms are:

πŸ’œ Echo-cardiogram  (ultrasound scan of the heart )
πŸ’œ Chest x-rays
πŸ’œ Electrocardiograph  ( ECG)
πŸ’œ Blood pressure monitoring
πŸ’œ Blood tests.

Should your pet require any of the above heart related tests, this will be at a 10% discounted rate.

The science part.

Just like humans, an animal's heart acts like a pump to push blood around the body. The heart's pumping power lies in its muscles. These are normally thick and powerful, helping the blood reach as far as the outer extremities of the body. The right side of the heart sends blood to the lungs where it picks up oxygen. The left side of the heart pumps the blood around the bodyInside, the heart is divided into four chambers. In between the upper and lower chambers are the heart valves, which open and close in sequence to make sure that the blood flows in the right direction.


Matters of the heart!

πŸ’–The normal heart rate of a dog is between 60 – 140 beats per minute. The smaller the dog, the higher the heart rate!
πŸ’–A cat’s heart rate is between 110-180 beats per minute.

πŸ’–The heart is part of the circulatory system, along with the lungs and blood vessels. 

πŸ’–The heart acts like a pump to drive the blood around the body. With each heart beat, it delivers blood rich in oxygen and nutrients to all the vital organs and tissues, keeping our pet's fit and healthy.

Heart disease
                                                     
It is estimated that heart disease can affect up to 10% of dog and cats in the UK. Some heart diseases may be present when the animal is born (congenital), however the majority develop in adulthood (acquired). Heart disease can also be secondary to another condition such as high blood pressure, thyroid disease, infection and anaemia.

Dogs and cats are most commonly diagnosed with one of three heart conditions:

*Degenerative valve disease (Endocardiosis) -

This is the most common heart disease of dogs.
This leads to degeneration and thickening of the heart valves. The mitral valve is mostly affected and as such the condition is also known as mitral valve disease. The heart valve becomes leaky and allows blood to flow in the wrong direction through the heart. It most commonly affects small breeds as they reach middle-older age, however it may be detected in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel at a younger age.

*Dilated cardiomyopathy -

The heart muscle becomes weak and stretched, decreasing the heart’s ability to pump blood through the body. It typically affects medium - large breed dogs.

*Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy -

This is more common in cats. The heart becomes thickened, making it difficult to pump the blood properly through the body.     


Heart disease can be present in our pets for a long period of time before they show any signs of a problem. The body is good at compensating for any slight changes to blood flow and heart contraction early on, until eventually clinical signs develop. This is why it is important that your pet has regular visits to the vet, at least annually, as early detection of heart disease will help make it easier to manage.


New studies have shown, in some cases, starting heart medication before the signs of heart disease develop can delay the onset of symptoms.


Some of the signs of heart failure you could see at home may include:
*A decrease or reluctance to play or exercise
*Lethargy, being more tired than usual
*Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, especially with exercise or excitement

*Rapid/fast breathing  - often noticeable when the animal is resting.
*Poor appetite
*Weakness
*Restlessness - taking several attempts to get comfortable.
*Coughing 
*Weight loss (Spine is more prominent as are the bones of shoulders and hips)
* Swelling of the abdomen - becoming 'pot-bellied' in appearance. This is due fluid build up as the heart begins to fail.
* Pale gums rather than the normal pink.

(These symptoms can also be seen in other diseases, which is why it is important that if you notice any changes in your pet's health or behaviour,  you bring them in for a health check).

                                                                                             
While there is not a cure for heart disease, the aims of treatment are to slow down the progression of the disease, manage the symptoms and help maintain the pet's normal quality of life;  the earlier this treatment is started the better. 


Regular check- up appointments are essential to ensure that any changes in the animal's condition are identified early and medication adjusted or introduced accordingly.                          
   














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     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.