Cats are notorious for being able to hide pain and illness very well. As cats ages faster than humans, a lot can happen in a short space of time but by monitoring your cat closely, you can help to identify any changes sooner and get them the help they need.
The team at The Travel Vet have some advice for cat owners on how to spot common cat health concerns at home in between annual and 6-monthly vet checks.
If you have any concerns about your cat’s health right now,
Common cat health problems
Vet Emma Fisher lists common ailments that affect cats below:
- Dental disease
- Skin problems
- Joint disease/Osteoarthritis
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Urinary problems
Many of these ailments can affect cats at any stage in life, and some are more likely to affect them in their older years. Emma explains that equally you should not overlook any symptoms whatever age your pet is. Some of the most common symptoms of something changing can be:
- Behaviour changes
- Toileting changes
- Appetite changes
- Water intake changes
- Weight loss/gain
- Skin/coat changes
By regularly checking over your cat at home, you can help monitor for changes but also learn what is normal for them. Emma advises performing this 6-point cat checklist regularly at home to spot any irregularities:
6-point cat checklist
- Nose – clean, clear, and subtly moist
- Eyes – bright and clear; no discharge or redness around the eyes
- Mouth – healthy looking teeth with no breakages or tartar build up, and healthy pink gums
- Ears – clean and clear with no discharge, swelling, nasty smells, or constantly scratching
- Coat/skin – shiny healthy coat with no dandruff, parasites, bald patches, lumps, or bumps
- Weight – healthy lean weight; can feel rib cage but not see it; can see a defined waist
If you spot any changes on your cat that you are concerned about, it is best to get them checked by Emma or any of the Vets at our Spout Lane North surgery. The chances are it is something simple, but it is better to get it looked at and get your cat the treatment they need.
Cats are very unique and sensitive animals that take great pride in looking after their fur. Occasionally however they can start to overgroom themselves. Vet Emma Fisher explains that there are various reasons why a cat may overgroom, some of these are medical and some behavioural. Keep reading to learn why your cat might be overgrooming.
If you are concerned about your cat’s health or behaviour, book a consultation at our Staines-upon-Thames surgery.
So, what do we mean when we say a cat is overgrooming?
Some cats can become particularly obsessed with grooming a particular area until they have removed all the hair there, which can sometimes break the skin and make them sore.
Overgrooming in cats due to stress
Emma shares that some cats overgroom as a form of stress relief, which is known as psychogenic alopecia. As the cat grooms they get a release in hormones that makes them feel happy. The causes behind this are often new stressors around the home such as;
- Change in routine
- New furniture
- New pet in the house
- New family member
- Moving home
It can often be a very small change that causes a cat to become stressed and start overgrooming.
If you are concerned that your cat is overgrooming due to stress it is important to understand what has changed. Emma recommends helping your cat to feel calm and settled by:
a. Ensuring your cat’s routine is kept regular
b. Minimising furniture moves or if possible, place something with your cat’s scent around any new items
c. Ensuring easy access to basic amenities such as litter trays, food, and water bowls
There are plug-in pheromone diffusers that can also help de-stress a cat. It may be worth discussing with Emma or another of our experienced Vets how the diffusers work and if they would be suitable for your cat.
Medically induced overgrooming in cats
Whilst overgrooming in cats is commonly related to stress, Emma explains that it can be medically induced too. This is often caused by parasites such as lice, fleas, mites, and ticks irritating or causing an allergic reaction. Prevention is better than cure when it comes to parasites so keeping on top of routine parasitic treatments is important to reduce opportunities for your cat overgroom. Speak to our Staines-upon-Thames team about the latest products in parasite prevention.
It is also important to be aware of other things that can cause hair loss in cats as it may not be down to overgrooming. If you notice bald patches on your cat with no indication of overgrooming, this may be caused by alopecia or another medical/nutritional issue causing hair loss. It is important to get this investigated by one of our Vets.
Rabbits are highly sociable animals and in the wild they live in large groups called colonies. Domestic rabbits also thrive – just like humans – when they have a friend. Without a companion, rabbits can quickly become sad and lonely whereas living with a companion can have a hugely positive impact on your bunny’s wellbeing.
Travel Vet’s team offer some thoughts below on how to ensure your rabbit has the right companion. We’re also keen to hear what you think about this topic so please let us know and ask questions on our Facebook page.
Finding & introducing the right pal
Best place in Staines-upon-Thames to get a rabbit
It’s a good thing to welcome a rescue rabbit into your family and a rescue centre is the ideal place to find a companion for your pet. One bonus of this approach is that your new rabbit will probably be neutered and vaccinated already.
Pairing male and female rabbits
Getting two rabbits to live together is called bonding, mixing, or pairing. Usually, the best rabbit pairings are male and female, but two neutered male or female rabbits can also live harmoniously. It’s important that neutering is undertaken before the rabbits are matched. This is essential to avoid the rabbits having babies and will reduce the chances of them fighting with each other.
Managing the rabbit age gap
According to our Staines-upon-Thames Vet Nurses, the age of your rabbit’s new companion matters. Older rabbits may be less energetic and will prefer a friend of a similar age. For a younger rabbit, an equally exuberant mate will help them to feel comfortable with each other.
How to introduce a new rabbit
The process of introducing a new rabbit to your existing pet should be carefully considered as a new rabbit suddenly appearing can result in aggression. Minimise stress by putting the rabbits in adjacent enclosures so they can get used to each other’s scent. Once the rabbits are more familiar with the sight and smell of each other, they can be placed together for a brief period of time in a neutral area. Increase time spent together gradually and they’ll get used to each other and will be able to share a space. The aim is to build the relationship slowly so that friendship will blossom.
There are more ways you can help your rabbits bond and be happy. So, if your rabbit is alone and you have questions about getting a companion, why not post them on our Facebook page? We’ll answer them there, which will make it easy for you to share our advice with others.
Dogs are very complicated animals that have a lot of emotions. It can often be very difficult to fully appreciate exactly how your pet may be feeling and what can sometimes trigger unwanted dog behaviours. The team at Travel Vet have some helpful advice on dog behaviour below including where to seek help in Staines-upon-Thames.
The first port of call if you are seeing unwanted dog behaviours should be your Vet. They will give your dog a full health check to see if there are any medical issues that could be a factor. Book a consultation with one of our Vets here in Staines-upon-Thames.
What your dog is trying to tell you
Facial expressions and body posture can say a lot about how a dog is feeling in a scenario. This is a good place to start when trying to understand your dog better.
Take a look at the Guide (link below) created by the RSPCA; you can see that when a dog sits with a relaxed body posture, smooth hair, mouth open and relaxed, ears in a neutral position, a wagging tail and eyes in a normal shape, they are happy. With a few subtle changes, such as a lowered head, ears back, tail tucked in and not making eye contact, the dog is worried.
By understanding these expressions and postures and the subtle changes between them, you can get the best picture of how comfortable the dog is and how you should then approach them.
Unwanted dog behaviours
Vet Emma Fisher advises that whilst understanding posture and emotions of pets is important, there are behaviours that may be dangerous or unwanted such as:
- Food aggression
- Barking aggressively at other dogs/people approaching
- Jumping up
- Fear of certain things
- Reactive at other dogs in different scenarios
- Not wanting to be handled in certain ways
The list of unwanted behaviours can be extensive and subjective as behaviours can be interpretated and tolerated differently. This will depend on who you are, your lifestyle, and what your expectations of your pet are.
Sometimes, a bit of help can be needed to make sure that behaviours are not becoming uncontrollable and causing a pet distress, and to train your pet to behave in a more desirable way.
Getting help for your dog in Staines-upon-Thames
Pet owners may start by looking for help from a behaviourist or a dog trainer – two very different professions. It is important to understand the differences between both to understand who you may need help from. A behaviourist is looking at why an animal performs a certain behaviour, often a behaviour that is unwanted and if left could cause further complications later. A trainer is looking to teach a dog how to do certain behaviours, this could be anything from the basics of ‘sit’ and walking on a lead, to more advanced commands.
If your pet is doing something that concerns you then you will most likely need to seek a behaviourist. However, it is very important that your dog is assessed by a Veterinary Surgeon first before seeking a behaviourist’s services. This is because many unwanted dog behaviours such as reactivity and aggression can start because of pain or another type of medical issue. For example, if your dog knows they have sore elbows and a dog coming near them to play will cause them pain, your dog may become reactive because of this.
Contact us to book a Vet consultation for your dog at our Staines-upon-Thames practice.
Once your pet has been assessed by one of our Staines-upon-Thames Vets, a decision can be made on whether the problem behaviour is truly a learned behaviour, or if there is any indication of a medical issue behind it.
If you do need to search for a dog behaviourist or trainer in Middlesex it is important to understand that these professions are not regulated. Therefore, you want to be confident that whoever you are taking your dog to is adequately qualified and experienced.
The Animal Behaviour and Training Council (ABTC) and the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB) are good places to start as their members are certified and accredited to a certain level.
Ultimately, it will be extremely beneficial to you and your dog to make sure you understand what they may be trying to tell you. Simple expressions can show you when a situation could escalate.
If you ever have concerns about your dog’s behaviour, book an appointment with one of the Vets at our Staines-upon-Thames practice to get initial advice. It is best not to leave these things to fester as problems can become worse down the line and cause further stress to both you and your pet.
Guinea pigs, like all small furries, are not natural travellers. Taking them away from home can be stressful for everyone. So, if you need to get your guinea pig from A to B this summer, why not follow our Vet Emma’s advice on minimising stress and maximising the chances of a successful trip for you and your pets?
Emma’s Small Furry travel tick list:
1.Get a suitable pet carrier
Your furry pal is going to need a place to rest, hide, and maybe even play. Get a highly rated pet carrier and make sure it’s big enough for them to move around in, but small enough so they don’t get thrown around. It’s got to be chew proof too.
2. Get them used to it
Don’t wait until the day and just put them in and go. Your pets will be much less stressed if you get them used to their travel carrier by letting them play around in it for a week or two before you travel. You could also start with short journeys around the block to see how they handle it and if you need to make any changes to their setup.
3. Plan ahead
Before you travel, have a think about the trip. Do you have enough food & water? Can you travel at a cooler/quieter time of day? How will you clean up any mess? Can you take a route that doesn’t have speed bumps or involve a fast road? Taking a few minutes to think these things through will make the trip less stressful.
4. Stick together
If your pet has a pal, then make sure you take them both on the journey. They will naturally lend each other support.
5. Taking your pet on public transport
If you’re planning on using public transport, first check their rules of carriage, then do a few practice-runs at quiet times. Finally, make sure you travel when it’s cool.
There you go, for the very few times you’ll be moving your guinea pig, you now have all the basic info you need to make the journey less stressful for everyone.
The advice above is good for most small furries. However, if you do feel like you need species specific advice, please call our team at Travel Vet on 01753 316081 and we can talk through your pet’s specific needs.
After two years of summer ‘staycations’, this year we’re expecting a lot of people to be considering longer holidays away from home. For cat owners, this raises the age-old challenge of how to look after their cat during the holidays.
As you basically have three options – live-in care, day visits, or using a cattery – we thought we’d ask the nursing team at Travel Vet to offer a few tips on what to look out for, depending on the option you choose. If you’re opting for a cattery, and you don’t already know your cat’s vaccination status, call us to check.
Whichever cat holiday care option you decide on, you should make arrangements early to give yourself the best chance of finding the perfect solution for your cat. Use our cat holiday checklists below to help with your research.
Cat sitting services in Staines-upon-Thames
Daily visits can be made by a neighbour or professional pet sitter. Live-in care is similar, but your cat will benefit from company and can live almost as normal. Check with the sitter to ensure they offer:
- Regular visits/interaction: Cats should be visited or played with at least twice daily so make sure this is agreed and your cat sitter is up for it
- Meals: The volume and routine should ideally be the same as if you were at home
- Water: Fresh water must always be available
- Litter: Cat litter trays should be cleaned twice daily, especially during warm weather
Choosing a responsible cat sitter in Staines-upon-Thames
You’ll feel much more reassured while you’re away if you know that someone with knowledge and experience is looking after your cat. Our vet nurse, Helen, says you should check:
- References: If it isn’t someone you know, get contact details for some of their clients
- Knowledge: Ask if they can spot signs of ill health and deal with specific issues
- Skills: If your cat needs regular medication, ensure they can administer it
- Quality time: The person should be happy to offer adequate companionship
- Insurance: If your sitter is a professional, they should be insured, so check their docs
Catteries in Staines-upon-Thames
If you’re going for the cattery option, then personal recommendation and a pre-stay visit to check the place out is a must. When you visit, talk to the staff and get a feel for how they will take care of your cat. They should be welcoming, ask plenty of questions about your cat, and allow you to have a good look around the cattery. When viewing the facilities, you should check:
- The general cleanliness of the units, litter trays, and feeding bowls
- Ask yourself if the cats look happy, content, and adequately stimulated
- Check indoor and secure outdoor areas for your cat to exercise (if they need both)
- Look for adequate ventilation and ensure the accommodation has a working smoke alarm
- Check for any obvious escape routes and raise them with the staff
Finally, properly run and licensed catteries should insist on seeing an up-to-date vaccination card, showing recent vaccinations against cat flu and enteritis. If they do not, go somewhere else.
With summer just around the corner, you may be thinking about holiday plans. If you are taking your dog away with you, planning what they will need for the trip ahead of time will help to ensure your holiday is ‘smooth sailing’ or at the very least, you’ll be prepared for most eventualities. To help you, the dog-loving staff at Travel Vet have put together some advice for your dog-friendly summer holiday below.
If you need to update your dog’s vaccinations, flea & worm treatment, or anything else before your trip, book an appointment at our Staines-upon-Thames vet practice.
Taking your dog on holiday this summer
Taking your dog on holiday with you can be an exciting idea; not only do you get the enjoyment of bringing them along for the fun and not being apart from them, but your dog will get to experience lots of new sights and smells! To help you prepare for a happy and easy dog-friendly holiday, take a look at Travel Vet’s list below.
Dog-Friendly Holiday Prep List
- Safety – Use a harness, seatbelt, and car seat, or a crate; ensure you can take toilet breaks without leaving your dog in a parked car on hot days
- Sickness – Get your dog used to car travel in advance; talk to us if they have severe travel sickness on 01753 316081
- Comfort – Plan plenty of toilet & refreshment breaks for your dog along the way; travel early or late to avoid the heat wherever possible
Suitable living accommodation that allows pets
- Safety – Will stairs or outdoor steps be a hazard? Is there an enclosed garden?
- Comfort – Where will your dog sleep and go to the toilet (if there is no garden)?
- Damage – Could your dog damage light-coloured furnishings?
- Camping – Will your dog be safe in your tent with you at night?
Essentials – Take first aid kits, local Vet contact details for your destination, food supplies, bowls, bedding, any medication they are on including scheduled flea & worm treatments, doggy shampoo and towels, plenty of poop bags, lead & collar (with ID tag), and anything else your dog usually has.
Sun safety – Take pet sunscreen, make sure your daytime plans don’t put your dog in the hot sun for long periods; always take water on your trips out and provide shade.
Daily plans – Are there lots of dog-friendly places to go? Check local dog beach bans. It’s normally a ‘no-no’ to leave your dog unattended in holiday accommodation.
Parasite prevention – Up-to-date worming, flea, and tick control, and vaccinations
Overseas travel – Your dog will need an Animal Health Certificate, rabies vaccine (at least 21 days before travel), a health check by an Official Veterinarian (OV) qualified to certify pets ‘fit to fly’, and potentially other documents and treatments depending on your destination(s).
So, there you have it, Travel Vet’s comprehensive planning guide for a fun, safe, and easy dog-friendly holiday this summer. We hope you and your dog have a fantastic time away and our team look forward to hearing all about it at your next visit to our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary practice.
Remember, if your dog needs anything before you go, or you just want them to have a health check to put your mind at rest, get in touch to book.
You have probably heard the old saying about cats and curiosity being a dangerous combination, so how do you give them any kind of safety net as they embark on a life of adventure? Identification, that’s how.
June is National Microchipping Month, so whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat, read on to discover why all cats in Middlesex need a microchip, by law, in 2022.
Find your lost cat
While some cats probably shudder at the thought of leaving their favourite sofa, let alone the back garden, other cats can wander for miles. What all cats have in common though, is the ability to get picked up by a helpful passer-by or an animal warden for looking lost and taken to a veterinary practice or rescue centre.
Most cats don’t wear a collar and ID tag so without any form of identification, reuniting the two of you could be impossible. When the owner cannot be found, cats are typically put up for rehoming.
The team at Travel Vet recommend cat microchipping as the best way of ensuring your feline friend can be quickly reunited with you. Contact us to book a cat microchip appointment.
New cat microchip law UK
‘Lost & found’ isn’t the only reason our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary team recommend cat microchipping.
DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has announced that cat microchipping will become compulsory in the UK in 2022 as part of a larger animal welfare action plan. The move is aimed at making more cats identifiable, in turn helping with issues such as cat thefts, strays, and deceased cats left by the road following traffic accidents.
This new law, which will carry a fine of £500 for non-compliance, is welcomed by many cat charities including Cats Matter and Cats Protection.
As part of the legislative changes, all cats over 20 weeks of age (unless there is an animal health or welfare reason certified by a Vet) must be microchipped by law. This coincides with the typical age kittens can be neutered from, so both procedures can be done by our team here at Travel Vet before your kitten ventures outside. If your cat is already neutered, microchipping only takes a few minutes. Call us for more information on 01753 316081.
What does cat microchipping involve?
Microchips are tiny electronic devices, no bigger than a grain of rice, which are injected under the skin on the back of a cat’s neck. The procedure is quick and perfectly safe.
Your cat’s microchip carries your unique registration number, which links to a database where all your contact information is stored. One of our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary surgeons or nurses, and staff at some animal shelters, can scan the microchip and access the database to get your details.
It is likely to also be an offence to not keep your contact details up to date on the database, as it is with dogs. And why wouldn’t you? Out of date contact details are no use to your cat!
Don’t delay, book your cat’s microchipping today
At Travel Vet, we recommend that owners get ahead of this new law and get their cat microchipped as soon as possible. The unthinkable could happen today and a microchip could make all the difference in reuniting you with your cat.
If your dog has been microchipped, do they need to wear a collar and ID tag? If your dog always wears a collar and ID tag, do they need to be microchipped? Veterinary Surgeon Emma Fisher, is here to clear up any uncertainties on this topic.
The short answers are Yes and Yes, if you don’t want to risk being prosecuted and fined. But what are the other costs of non-compliance?
Why microchip dogs?
June is National Microchipping Month and the perfect time to remind dog owners about this topic. Since 2016, there has been a UK law on microchipping dogs from 8 weeks of age. This is typically done by the breeder, who must then update the microchip log with the new owner’s information.
A microchip might be tiny (about the same size as a grain of rice), but its purpose is mighty, explains Emma. If your dog should ever go missing and isn’t wearing their collar and tag, a microchip can make all the difference in reuniting you. Vet practices, dog wardens, and some animal rescue centres can use a microchip scanner to reveal the owner’s details. This is also really helpful when a stolen dog has their microchip routinely scanned.
For dogs picked up as strays or scanned by the dog warden for something else, owners have 21 days to get them microchipped before a criminal prosecution is actioned with a fine of up to £500.
It is also a legal requirement to keep your contact information up to date, and extremely helpful in reuniting you and your dog.
If for any reason your dog has not been microchipped, or you just want to have their microchip scanned and the details checked, contact our Spout Lane North team on 01753 316081 who will be happy to help.
Dog ID tags UK law
According to the Control of Dogs Order 1992, all dogs must wear a collar and ID tag when out in public, which must detail their owner’s name and address. This dog ID tags UK law applies whether your dog is on a lead or not. Contravention of this order is an offence and risks a fine of up to £2000.
If your dog is involved in an altercation, an accident, or runs off, a dog ID tag is the quickest way for someone to contact you about your dog.
Dog ID tags can be quite small, especially if you have a small dog. Emma advises that phone numbers can be helpful on there too and recommends having your own version of this engraved:
A phone number can be very useful on a dog tag – and don’t forget, the tag has two sides that can normally be engraved.
On the topic of dog thefts, which have risen significantly since the first COVID lockdown, some of Travel Vet’s clients have told us their top tips for dog ID tags:
- Don’t have your dog’s name engraved on their ID tag – this will and give thieves a head start
- Include CHIPPED & NEUTERED on the tag if it will fit as this may put thieves off – many dogs are stolen for breeding
So, why not put microchipping and ID tag at the top of your to-do-list, and give your dog the best chance of a swift reunion with you whilst staying on the right side of the law?
You are probably familiar with dogs and cats being microchipped, but what about rabbits? With it being National Microchipping Month in June, our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary team are here to tell you everything you need to know about microchipping rabbits.
Is your rabbit secure in your home and garden? You would hope so, but rabbits are inquisitive creatures and their curiosity can get them into trouble.
What would you do if your rabbit got lost? Rabbits do not typically wear a collar & ID tag so with no identification, anyone finding your pet would not know who or where to return them to. This is why microchipping rabbits is a good idea.
What is rabbit microchipping?
Microchips are tiny electronic devices that contain all the data needed to trace you if someone finds your lost pet. A microchip is about the same size as a grain of rice. It is implanted just under the skin (usually between the shoulder blades) via an injection. Microchips are designed to last for life and should cause no bother to your pet. If an animal is deemed large enough, our team at Travel Vet can microchip them – ask us about microchipping your rabbit.
How is microchipping helpful?
A microchip stores a unique code, which is matched to the owner’s details on a central online database. Travel Vet and other veterinary practices, as well as some animal rescue centres, have special microchip scanners to reveal the code. If you do not keep your contact details up to date on the central database, it may not be possible to reunite you with your rabbit.
Benefits of rabbit microchipping
Microchipping is currently the most effective way to reunite pets with their owners if they are brought into a vet practice or animal shelter without an ID tag – this could be due to a successful escape attempt or if a stolen pet is recovered. With no way to identify the owner, pets are typically put up for rehoming.
Pet theft isn’t just a dog and cat owner issue. Since the start of COVID, pet thefts across a variety of species have risen. In 2021, Darius – the world’s largest rabbit – was stolen from his garden hutch in Worcestershire. Read the BBC news story about Darius here.
The Government Department of Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published a Pet Theft Taskforce policy paper in September last year, which outlined measures being taken to tackle the rising number of pet thefts. One of the proposed measures is to have vet practices scan all new pets at their first appointment. You can read the full DEFRA report here.
The bottom line is, without any form of identification, pets have little to no chance of being reunited with their owners should the worst happen. Rabbit microchipping is a low-cost, simple way to give your pet rabbit a traceable form of identification and give you peace of mind.