Q&A with Jade Statt, Co-founder and clinical director at StreetVet

StreetVet is a registered charity that offers free accessible vet care to pets belonging to those experiencing homelessness in the UK.

The team of 650 volunteer vets and vet nurses provide support for homeless pet owners who cannot afford private veterinary treatment and educates them on the responsibilities and care of animal ownerships.

Vet and Co-founder Jade Statt answers our questions about their crucial work…

What drove you to set up StreetVet and help homeless people and their pets?

As a vet I had always wanted to volunteer my skills to give back and it wasn’t until a chance encounter with a homeless gentleman and his dog in 2016, that I realised what a need there was to provide accessible vet care to those experiencing homelessness in the UK.  Up to 25% of those experiencing homelessness have dogs and these pets play such a huge part in their lives providing loyalty, companionship, purpose and most importantly unconditional love.

What support does StreetVet offer to homeless pet owners?

We outreach regularly on the streets in 17 locations across the UK offering free accessible vet care. Anything that can be done in a veterinary consulting room, StreetVet can do on the streets; prescribe medications, vaccinate, microchip, take blood, test urine but sometimes the most valuable service we can offer is just to be there and listen.

We provide pet essentials (food, toys, leads etc) and if we examine a pet that needs further surgery or investigations then we arrange and fund this at a local supportive veterinary practice.

I was naïve to this when I first started “StreetVetting” but many of our clients will forgo seeking help for their own medical conditions as they do not want to leave their dogs.  It has taken time to build trust but now that StreetVet is more known within the homeless community, we are able to offer finite boarding for pets so owners can go into hospital and get the treatment they need.

Most recently, we were awarded funding to put into action a very exciting project aimed at helping our clients to access hostels. Only 10%* of hostels in the UK are pet friendly and so currently owners are being expected to choose between a hostel room or their pet. At StreetVet we aim to help keep our clients and their pets together wherever possible and so we have launched the StreetVet Accredited Hostel Scheme to try and give hostels as much support as possible to start saying yes to pets.

How has the pandemic impacted or changed how you work?

The pandemic affected StreetVet in a similar way to all charities – reduced funding, increase in costs and a decrease in resources as many of our volunteers were home schooling, working long hours in practices or shielding. We normally connect with our clients at a weekly outreach, commonly alongside soup kitchens, so this was totally disrupted. Calls to our emergency number increased by over 100% at the start of the pandemic as our clients relied on us for regular dog food and medications for chronic conditions.  Our priority was to deliver our service as best we could, and we just had to adapt.

Did you see an uptake of homeless people and their pets during the pandemic?

Sadly yes – we have had feedback from some of our locations saying they are registering new clients every week whereas previously they might be looking at a new client registration every few months.

How does the Hostels scheme aim to further help pets on the streets?

As above. The hostel scheme provides 360 wrap around support for hostels to adopt positive pet policies.  From education and training for hostel staff, regular food and pet essential deliveries to pet policy provision and free veterinary care. The feedback from our lighthouse accredited hostel in Hertfordshire has been incredibly positive and we are very excited to be hiring a project coordinator dedicated to rolling this scheme out across the UK.

To find out more about StreeVet and their Accredited Hostel Scheme visit www.streetvet.co.uk/streetvet-accredited-hostel-scheme/.

Co-founders Jade Satt and Sam Joseph

 

 

5 ways to save money on pet care without skimping on quality

Our four-legged friends are masters at melting hearts, all they need to do is give us those wide, innocent eyes and that longing gaze, and even the toughest pet-parent crumbles.

In fact, according to PDSA’s Annual Animal Wellbeing Report, over a quarter of British owners admit to pampering their fur babies, spending on average £1,150 per year or £95 a month on food, vaccinations, treats and other expenses — a big dent to your wallet.

Whether you dote on your cat, spoil your pup or indulge your gerbil, animals are important and beloved members of our families, and we all want to give them the best care possible.

That’s why Vetscriptions have put together this list of their top five penny-pinching tips to help you save money on pet care while still prioritising their health and happiness.

1. Shop around for the best pet insurance

For peace of mind, get pet insurance. While forking out a few quid every month may seem counterintuitive when trying to look after the pennies, if your little buddy needs any major veterinary procedures in the future, insurance can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds.

Shop around first before settling on a policy, as there’s little point in picking one simply because it’s cheapest if it doesn’t cover your pet’s particular needs. A side-by-side comparison of plans will help highlight differences in premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other details. Also, enrol your pet when they’re young to prevent any conditions they develop as they get older, limiting coverage and increasing the price.

2. Buy pet medication online

Never mind your pet — the cost of veterinary prescriptions can make owners feel ill too. Luckily, you can find plenty of the same medication brands sold to you from a clinic for a much lower price online.

3. Hand make toys and treats

Instead of unnecessarily stretching the purse strings on repeat purchases, use the web’s wealth of DIY tutorials to craft toys and treats at home. Here are a couple of ideas to inspire you:

  • Kitties love anything they can swat or pounce at, so crumbled up balls of tin foil and paper go down a treat, while cardboard boxes provide safe havens for them to hide inside. If you’ve got a weekend free, attach shelves to a wall for your cat to climb and explore or make scratching posts out of planks of wood and sisal rope.
  • Wear out boisterous pups with an old fleece blanket fashioned into a tug-o-war toy or cut pieces of PVC pipe into an agility jump for the back garden. If you’re green-thumbed, cultivate a vegetable patch for plenty of fresh goodies to supplement their diets or find a recipe online and cook up your own doggy biscuits, ice pops or even doughnuts.

4. Skip the groomers

One of the easiest ways to save yourself a small fortune is to have your pet groomed less frequently, or better yet, do it yourself. While you might not be keen on the idea of trying to trim your howling moggie or panicking pooch, if you’re patient and take your time, it can actually be great for bonding. For a perfectly coiffed pet, remember to brush and comb them before bathing to remove tangles, use products appropriate for their age and species, and be extra careful when clipping nails to ensure you don’t cut into the quick.

5. Prepare for the future

Thinking forward regarding pet care is ultimately the best way to save your coppers. Rather than only visiting the vets in an emergency, keep on top of your pet’s vaccinations and remember to give them their preventative treatments for ticks and fleas. Ensure you feed them a good diet and make sure they get regular exercise to ward off obesity — even caged birds need to be allowed to fly for supervised periods. Most importantly, learn your pet’s patterns as this makes it much easier for you to spot changes in their routine and catch signs of sickness quickly before it becomes costly and dangerous.

Vetscriptions are the UK’s leading fulfiller of veterinary prescriptions, supplying the same pet medication as veterinary clinics, from the same manufacturers but at prices that are at least 40% cheaper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top tips to maintain healthy teeth and gums in pets

Just like us it’s important for our four-legged friends to follow a daily dental routine. Your pet’s teeth have a lot of work to do, if they aren’t properly cared for, it can cause problems.

Poor dental care doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth, the bacteria generated by gum disease could eventually enter their bloodstream and potentially damage their heart, liver or kidneys.

Signs of poor dental health in pets can include, bad breath, yellow and brown tartar, bleeding gums, a sore mouth, drooling, loose teeth, pawing at the mouth or difficulty eating. To help pet owners maintain their pet’s dental health, we share some tops tips:

Teeth brushing

Brushing your pet’s teeth regularly is the best way to keep their teeth clean and healthy. Be patients and take things slowly and get them used to having their teeth cleaned over a few weeks. Let them taste their new pet safe toothpaste so they think of brushing their teeth as a treat not a chore. Cleaning dogs teeth is an important part of their dental routine and one that needs to be done daily.

Start their dental routine early

Starting your pet’s dental routine from an early age will get them used to having their teeth brushed without any fuss. However, it’s never too late to start your pet’s dental routine, older dogs or cats can also be trained to have their teeth brushed.

Use a pet-friendly toothpaste

When brushing dogs teeth make sure you use a pet-friendly toothpaste and toothbrush. Most human toothpaste contains fluoride, which is poisonous for pets. Many human toothpastes also contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Xylitol can cause blood sugar drops in dogs, as well as potential liver damage. If you’re unsure, your vet will be able to advise which toothpaste is best for your pet.

Toys

You can buy toys that are designed to clean dogs teeth as they chew on them. Be careful not to get toys that are too small and can be swallowed or get caught in your dog’s throat.

Dental chews

Dental chews or treats and specialist foods can also help to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Be careful not to feed them too many of these, include them in their daily calorie intake to prevent any unwanted weight gain.

Treats

Don’t feed them too many sugary treats, as this can cause more bacteria to build up on your pet’s teeth.

Food

Dry food could be a better option than wet food for your pet’s teeth as soft food can get stuck to the teeth and cause decay.

Bones

Don’t feed your dog bones as these can damage their teeth. Bones can also break into splinters which can damage their gums and throat.

Visit your vet

Regular vet visits can allow them to keep an eye on your pet’s oral health, as well as other health issues that may arise. If you don’t feel confident brushing your pet’s teeth, your vet will be able to offer advice on how to do this to best suit your pet’s needs and reduce any stress.

Natural plaque remover

Consider giving your pet a natural supplement to support your pet’s teeth and gums. These should be used in conjunction with daily brushing rather than instead of to help minimise plaque build-up.  There are many natural plaque remover supplements for dogs and cats on the market, which can help support your pet’s oral health.

If you are worried about your pet’s dental health be sure to speak to your vet is best placed to offer advice dependent on their age and breed.

Surviving summer with pets

Summer months are a great opportunity to spend more time outdoors with our four-legged friends, either in gardens or local parks.

Warm temperatures and longer days mean that pets generally enjoy being outside more.  However, with warmer weather comes hazards for dogs and cats. During Summer months, it’s important to keep an eye on your pets to ensure they stay cool and safe.

We love nothing more than seeing our pets running around enjoying the long summer days and exploring outside. However, some pets can overheat and like us can even get sunburnt if they spend too much time in the sun.

To help pets stay safe in Summer and ensure we all get to enjoy the warm weather together, we highlight some hazards that owners should be aware of:

Heatstroke

Heatstroke is potentially dangerous for dogs and occurs when your dog cannot lose excess heat causing their body to reach dangerous temperatures. Being in an environment that is too hot or humid can lead to heatstroke, especially if your dog is running or playing. This can include, a hot day, being enclosed in a warm room (conservatories especially become lethally hot rapidly on sunny days) and being left in a car.

Hydration

Hydration is important all year round, but during hot Summer months, make sure your pet has constant access to fresh, clean water. You could add ice cubes to the water to help keep it cool during the day. If your cat spends more time outside, remember to leave a bowl of water outdoors for them, if they are unable to get back inside during the day. Dog hydration drinks can also be used to help top up hydration levels and compliment your pet’s daily water intake.

Fleas and ticks

Fleas are an all-year-round problem, but warmer weather can increase your pet’s chances of coming into contact with fleas, ticks and even worms. Be sure to keep up with your pet’s flea and worm treatment to make sure fleas don’t cause them any irritation.

Ticks are active as temperatures start to rise. Always check your dog for ticks following walks, especially in wooded areas and if your cat spends a lot of their time outside. During summer months, it’s important to check your pets once a day.

Travelling with pets

If you are taking your pet on holiday and travelling by car, make sure you are prepared before you leave. Take plenty of water for your dog and take breaks during the drive for toilet stops and to let your dog stretch. Never leave your dog alone in the car for any length of time, especially in extreme temperatures. Cars get very hot quickly in the sun and this could risk your pet’s health.

Keep pets cool

If it’s too warm for you, it’s too warm for your pet. In the home you could use a fan but be careful to keep wires out of the way, so they don’t get chewed. You could put down damp towels for your pet to lie on or fill a hot water bottle with cold water but be sure to keep an eye on them to prevent chewing.

To keep them cool in the garden, create a shady den to help your pet escape the sun. Make sure they have plenty of fresh water on offer – as well as water to use to cool off. You could use a small paddling pool in your garden to keep your dog cool in high temperatures.

Rabbits and small furries

It’s important to look after smaller pets like rabbits and guinea pigs in high temperatures just as much as dogs and cats. Make sure their hutch and play area are in the shade. For indoor rabbits be sure that their cage is not placed in direct sunlight. Ensure they have plenty of fresh cool water to stay hydrated. You could use a fan for smaller pets but don’t place them directly onto your rabbit and cover any wires in case they get chewed.

Sun protection

Like us, some pets can suffer from sunburn if they spend too much time in the sun. Pets with light skin and short or thin hair, such as white cats are more susceptible to sensitive skin from the sun. Try to limit the amount of time your pet spends in the sun or keep them inside on very sunny days.

You can use pet-friendly sun cream to protect them. Apply to the nose and ears or any areas where the fur is thinner and needs protection. Remember, if your dog goes swimming, to re-apply the cream frequently.

Exercise

Despite high temperatures, it’s still important to ensure your dog gets enough exercise. Be careful not to exhert them if it’s too hot. During particularly hot days avoid the hottest times of the day. Walk your dog in the morning or early evening when it’s cooler. The intense heat of midday can overwhelm your dog.

Pavements can also become extremely hot in high temperatures and if not protected will burn your pet’s paws. The test is, if you can’t hold your hand on the hot pavement for longer than five seconds then it is too hot for your dogs to walk on.

Microchipping

During warmer months with doors and windows left open, make sure your pet’s microchip details are up to date in case they escape and get lost. Microchips make it easier to reunite you with your cat or dog should they get lost. During summer months, gardens can look more inviting for your pet who may sneak out at any opportunity.

If you are worried about your pet’s health in Summer, speak to your vet who is best placed to monitor them.

 

A guide to supporting your senior dog’s joints & mobility

Just like us as pets age, they can become less mobile and suffer from joint issues like arthritis.

Joint problems are a common complaint from pet owners as their dogs age. Joint function can deteriorate with age which can have a huge impact on your dog’s quality of life.

Exercising your senior dog

There can be noticeable changes as your pet ages and physical changes and signs of mobility loss can become more apparent as they get older. Senior pets may slow down or need more rest than their younger counterparts.

Common signs include:

  • Slow to stand or stiffness as they stand after rest or sleeping
  • Lagging behind on walks, reluctance to exercise
  • Unwillingness to jump on furniture or into the car
  • Slow or refusing to go up or down stairs
  • Interacting less with family
  • Struggle to bend down to their food or water bowl
  • They may sleep or rest in easier to reach places

Regular and gentle exercise is important for senior dogs to help maintain their mobility and quality of life. Be sure to go at their pace and stop if they need to rest.

Walking

Be sure to take it slow and keep at your dog’s pace. Don’t push them too far or hard, stop and rest if they are struggling.

Training

You can teach an old dog new tricks. Training not only keeps your pet active physically; it also helps to support their cognitive function.

Swimming

Swimming is good for senior dogs as the water buoyancy supports their body weight and puts less strain on their joints.

Ball games

Your dog can still enjoy a game of fetch if they feel up to it. Be careful not to over-exert your senior dog. Despite their age, some dogs never lose their fun-loving puppy nature.

Tips to help your senior dog’s joint health

To help your senior pet’s mobility and support their joints, there are some positive things you can do, which include:

Keep walking

This will help to keep your senior dog active and help their muscles and joints. Think little and often as joints get stiffer when they are not used as much. Don’t stop walking. Your dog might not be able to go on longer walks anymore, but they still need the opportunity to get outdoors every day to sniff and stretch their legs. Keep the route short in case your dog gets tired and needs rest.

Ramps

These can be great around the home or for in the car. They can be used to help your dog get onto furniture or into the car without having to jump up, which can add pressure to their joints.

Soft floor coverings

Ley rugs on hard wood floors or use non-slip treats on hardwood stairs. You don’t need to replace all your floors but ensuring some areas in your home less slippery can make it easier for your old dog to get around.

Healthy weight

Keep an eye on your dog’s weight and try to ensure they maintain a healthy weight. As they get older and stop moving around as much, your dog may gain some excess weight. This can add pressure to weight bearing joints and cause a reduction in mobility. Speak to your vet who will be able to offer the best course of action if you’re worried about your pet’s weight.

Raise bowls

If your dog struggles to bend down, raise their food and water bowl to help with easier access.

Comfort

Provide your dog with a warm and comfy bed. Be sure to give them plenty of bedding to pad around their joints. If their bed is usually on a tiled floor, move it to a room that is carpeted and away from any drafts.

Indoor exercise

If the weather is too hot or cold outside, indoor exercises can benefit your senior dog. Puzzle toys and indoor games are a great way to keep your old dog happy and active and enjoy some quality time together.

Natural supplements

Giving your senior dog a daily joint supplement can help to maintain their mobility and flexibility. Key natural ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin and Boswellia extract can help to maintain your pet’s quality of life by maintaining optimum joint health.

Speak to your vet

Regular check-ups with your vet can help to monitor your dog’s joint health. Always check with your vet before starting a new exercise routine with your pet. They are best placed to monitor your dog’s health.

Advice from the expert: Senior rabbit care

By Emma Purnell, RVN Cert.Nut.

As we are taking greater care of our rabbits they are living longer which is wonderful, but does lead to some complications as they become more senior.

While in the past people expected their rabbits to be short lived pets, they are now routinely living to the age of 9 and above and the care of a young rabbit and a senior rabbit are very different.

At what age is a rabbit classed as senior? This is very difficult as it varies wildly between breeds. As with most species, larger breeds such as French Lops and Continental Giants have a shorter lifespan, being classed as senior as early as 3-4 years old, while the tiny Netherland Dwarf may not be classed as senior until 8! The best advice is to class every rabbit as an individual and to judge each on their own merits.

The mobility of senior rabbits can alter for a variety of reasons, from a general calming down of behaviour as they mature to issues with health conditions. Arthritis and/or spondylosis can affect older animals and is a multifactorial condition which essentially leads to stiffness and inflammation of joints. This makes movement more uncomfortable and often leads to a restriction in activity levels. The typical signs seen in cases such as these are a gradual slow down (can be difficult to spot), changes to the way they move including an unwillingness to binky, reduced hopping, dragging legs and not using areas of their enclosure they might have before e.g. shelves, ramps etc. If you spot any of these signs it is important that you take your rabbit for a vet check as soon as possible, firstly to get a correct diagnosis as some of these signs can be linked to several problems, but also to ensure that the correct treatment is started as early as possible to reduce pain and discomfort. The veterinary surgeon may recommend x-rays and lifelong medication might be recommended. As well as medical treatment, changes need to be reflected in the environment and the diet as mentioned later. Areas of the enclosure such as ramps and steps might need to be adjusted to allow for any limited mobility.

Reduced activity may also mean prolonged periods sitting in one place, which can lead to pressure sores (pododermatitis) on hocks. Other factors which can lead to pododermatitis include rabbits being overweight and their breed – Rex rabbits have a thinner layer of fur on their heels making them more prone to issues. Providing soft bedding such as high-density polyester bed (e.g. Vetbed) can help to reduce that pressure and avoid issues.

Dental issues can be a problem for rabbits at any age and have often presented themselves before this point, but traumatic malocclusion can occur at any age. As with rabbits of any age, any reduction in appetite or faeces output, change in food choice, dribbling, weight loss, overgrowth of incisors or lumps along the jawline should be investigated by a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.

The diet of a senior rabbit should still be made up almost entirely of good quality hay, but the pellet food can be adjusted as senior diets are available – usually marketed from 4 years plus. The number of pellets needed for senior rabbits are variable based on the individual. It is generally recommended that an average adult rabbit has a tablespoon of pellets per kg body weight per day, for a senior rabbit with limited mobility this should be reduced to ensure they do not become overweight, however some rabbits can lose muscle mass as they age and may need more – again you can be led by your vet on the body condition score of your rabbit and gain advice to maintain their ideal weight. Being overweight as a senior rabbit can lead to issues with pressure sores as previously mentioned, but also issues with grooming. This can prevent them grooming properly, leading to a higher risk of flystrike (flies laying eggs on soiled areas of coat, hatching into maggots and eating into the flesh, often fatal).

Vaccination and flystrike prevention are still important in older rabbits, if anything more important as their immune system can decline with age and they can be at higher risk. These vaccination visits can also be a perfect opportunity to get your rabbits fully health checked by your veterinary surgeon and should be taken advantage of.

The same care should be provided for senior rabbits as any other rabbit in extreme weather condition, but they can be affected more severely so provide extra sources of warmth and insulation in cold temperatures and cooling packs with plenty of shade on hot days.

Regular checks should be made on rabbits of any age but these health checks become even more important as they get older. Sadly, as our rabbits become elderly we have to consider end of life care. While the decision to put a pet to sleep is difficult, if quality of life is affected to the point where the rabbit cannot behave in a normal manner without pain and discomfort euthanasia might need to be considered. If you want to discuss this further please contact your veterinary team who can help with this difficult time.

We are lucky that we get to keep our rabbit friends for longer but need to ensure we provide the best care at all life stages.

 

 

Q&A with Channel 4’s The Dog House

Wood Green, The Animals Charity – features on Channel 4’s ‘The Dog House’, offering a glimpse into how they match homeless dogs with hopeful new owners

As well as featuring on the popular Channel 4 TV show, Wood Green also rehabilitates and rehomes thousands of cats and small animals each year, as well as providing free advice and hands-on support to pet owners in need.

Sue Ketland, Dog Behaviour & Training Specialist at Wood Green answers our questions about why people should consider a rescue dog:

Why should people consider a rescue when deciding on a new family member?

Rehoming a dog from a charity like Wood Green is an incredibly rewarding experience. A good centre will guide prospective new owners through the selection process, to ensure the right match, and support them not only during the settling in period, but throughout the dog’s life. Dogs that end up in rehoming centres don’t always have the best start in life, so it’s wonderful to offer them a second chance at happiness.

As experts in rehabilitating and rehoming dogs, Wood Green are completely transparent and up-front about every dog’s medical and behavioural condition, as well as any ongoing needs they may have. Each dog is vaccinated, microchipped, wormed and neutered, and receives four weeks’ free pet insurance, so new owners have everything they need.

If you’re considering getting a dog, the first step is to think about exactly what you’re looking for in a new family member and how they will fit into your life. Check your local charities to see if they have anything suitable, but please bear in mind that many charities receive hundreds of enquiries for each available dog. If you aren’t able to rehome from a charity, it’s still possible to get a dog responsibly – just make sure that breeders are reputable and registered with The Kennel Club, or that you’re asking all the right questions in a private sale. At Wood Green, we’re happy to support people in their search for a new pet.

How important is it to find the right owner for the right dog?

Finding the right match is essential, as getting it wrong can result in huge emotional upset for both parties. We rehome around 700 dogs every year, and we’re really proud that 98% of these matches are successful – because we take the time to get to know every dog and new owner. The Dog House captures that magic perfectly. Not everyone gets matched with exactly the dog they expected, but in most cases it’s even better. On the other hand, it isn’t always meant to be – and it’s important to be honest and realistic when this is the case.

What are the key things the team look for when pairing up a dog with new owners?

We look for people who are patient, empathetic and listen to what we have to say about an individual dog. Many dogs at Wood Green have quite complex medical and behavioural needs, so they can take time to settle in and build trust with their new owners. It’s really important for us to find people who will embrace kind, positive training methods, and that people will remain in contact with us – either to keep us posted with their progress, or to allow us to help with any issues.

As for the rest, it completely depends on each individual dog and their age, breed type, prior training and prior life experience. We don’t exclude anyone based on blanket policies. Some dogs enjoy the company of children and other pets, whilst others don’t. Some dogs need lots of space and secure gardens to run around in, whereas others will be happy living in a flat with a daily walk to stretch their legs. Some are already quite well adjusted, but others need ongoing training that will impact the owner’s lifestyle. The personality fit is fundamental too. The perfect new home for a lazy Greyhound will be very different to a bouncy Border Collie puppy!

How do you prepare the dogs before they go to their new homes?

When any animal is brought into Wood Green’s centre in Cambridgeshire, our top priority is their health. We give them a thorough assessment for any medical issues or injuries, which could mean life-saving surgery or urgent treatment. Some pets arrive with us very anxious or scared, or with other behavioural needs. This is where the training specialists step in, to see how we can help.

We work together to map out an individual plan for every pet’s care – which can include diet, medical treatment, exercise, enrichment, training and fostering – to get them back on their paws. We don’t want to keep any dogs, cats or small animals at our centre for longer than necessary, but we need to make sure they’re ready before we start to rehome them. This could take days, weeks or even months.

How has the pandemic and restrictions changed the way you re-home pets?

Whilst the logistics are a little different, with conversations happening over the phone or email rather than face-to-face, the core rehoming process has remained the same during the pandemic. Prospective new owners get in touch with information about their set-up and what they’re looking for, and we’ll see which of our dogs, cats or small pets they could be a good fit for. If there’s a potential match, we’ll get in touch to discuss the pet in more detail and give the prospective owner the opportunity to meet the pet, and ask any questions they may have, before making a final decision. Throughout the past year, we’ve also continued to provide pet owners with free one-to-one behavioural advice, online training classes and a host of other services. These are available to all pet owners, not just those who rehomed from Wood Green.

 

Understanding separation anxiety in dogs

Stress and anxiety in dogs can be caused by a number of reasons, including being left home alone.

Separation anxiety is one of the most common reasons for dogs to become anxious. We all love our dogs and enjoy nothing more than spending time with them. However much we’d like to spend 24 hours a day with our four-legged friends, it’s not possible.

Some dogs if left home alone for a few hours they can become nervous and this can be shown in a variety of ways. This includes, trembling, whining, destruction of property and sometimes aggression.

Common causes of separation anxiety include:

  • Lack of training
  • Lack of socialisation
  • Changes in the home/environment
  • Fears about something inside the home

Some pet owners may put certain behaviour down to their pet is just misbehaving or boredom. It’s important to understand what could be causing this behaviour before trying to treat it.

Tips to help with separation anxiety

Prepare in advance

Get your dog used to you not being around by leaving the room for a while. Either close the door or use a stair gate. Build up the time you stay away and always return with a treat. Make sure other family members know to give them space to get them used to time alone.

Start a routine

Start getting your pet into a routine for when you have to leave them. Get ready for work and leave your dog in one room as you go to work in another. Leave them with enough to keep them busy and keep checking on them to make sure they’re not getting stressed. Getting them used to this routine will help to reduce stress when you have to eventually leave the home.

Distractions
Make sure that your dog has enough toys to play with, which would be a great distraction whilst you’re out. Stuffed toys with treats are a good way to keep them busy and happy during the time you are away. You could also leave the TV or radio on for background noise.

Exercise
Before you leave them alone, make sure your dog has had enough exercise. If you are going to be leaving them for a number of hours, take them for a long walk before doing so. This will help to get rid of excess energy and they may sleep whilst you’re out.

Safe zone
Create a safe zone or den for your dog to retreat to if they are feeling extra anxious. You could leave a jumper or t-shirt with your smell on for your dog, which is familiar to them. This will help to comfort them while you are gone.

Prevent accidents
Make sure they have had the opportunity to go outside and go to the toilet prior to you leaving the house.

Close curtains
If your dog can get distracted by outside noise or you live on a busy road, close the curtains to reduce any distractions which might make them anxious and bark for prolonged periods.

Ask someone to check on them
If possible, ask a friend or family member to stop by and check on your dog, even if it’s for 10 minutes to allow them to go to the toilet outside.

Pet proof your home
If you don’t want your dog to have the run of the house whilst you are out, be sure to close doors and block off areas you don’t want them to go. Be sure to check the area/room they will be in for any hazards to be sure they are safe whilst on their own.

Don’t discipline bad behaviour
If your pet has misbehaved whilst you are out and caused damage or toileted in the house, don’t discipline them on your return as this could cause further anxiety. It could also lead to your dog worrying about your return home.

Try natural supplements
A range of natural pet health supplements are available from vets or pet shops to help reduce stress for your pet. Nutracalm from Nutravet is a natural fast acting supplement for reducing stress & anxiety.

If you are worried about your pet or a change in their behaviour, speak to you vet who will be able to identify the cause of this.

 

 

Top tips for pets during Springtime

As we step into a new season and the weather gets warmer and days get lighter, your cat or dog will be able to enjoy more time outside in the garden or on walks.

As a pet owner you will understand that it is important to ensure that your pet stays safe during this time to prevent an unwanted trip to your local vet. Because you can’t watch your pet 24 hours a day, there are some things to look out for to ensure that they stay safe and healthy during this season.

Here are some tips to follow to help keep your pet safe and healthy during the Spring season:

Chocolate

Chocolate is toxic for dogs and should not be consumed. Be sure to keep all chocolate treats away from your dog and don’t let them pick up any scraps from the floor or other family members. When you are eating chocolate, keep some of your dog’s favourite treats to hand to stop them from begging and prevent you from being tempted to give them some.

Cold water

Despite the weather being slightly milder, the water in lakes and streams will still be too cold for your pet. Don’t let your dog jump in, as the shock of the cold water could cause them to freeze up and struggle to swim or cause them to develop hypothermia. Spring-cleaning Be aware of household cleaning products and don’t leave them lying around the house for your pet to get. Commercial cleaning products, almost without exception, contain chemicals that are toxic to your dog or cat. To prevent any problems for your pet, you could try switching to non-toxic household cleaning products.

Vaccinations

Make sure that your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date to safeguard them from Parvo or any other contagious diseases. Warmer weather and more contact with other pets could encourage these types of diseases to spread, so be sure to keep your dog protected.

Allergies

Just like you, your pet may need support for dry, itchy or sensitive skin, which could be caused by grass, pollen or even plants. To prevent your pet from scratching all through spring, speak to your vet early to lessen the severity and give early relief.

Grooming

Brush your cat and dog regularly to remove any excess hair that they will start to shed. This will also help to keep your pet’s coat free from dirt and distribute natural skin oils that help to make their coat shiny. Grooming your pet will also give you an opportunity to look out for fleas and ticks and maintain a healthy coat and skin for your pet. It will also help to prevent fur balls from building up in your cat’s stomach.

Bedding

To help maintain your pet’s healthy skin, be sure to keep your cat or dog’s bedding clean, as during this time they may shed more fur than usual. This will also help to reduce the amount of fur and dirt around the house.

Clean feet

During spring walks the weather might not always be dry and with rain comes mud. After your dog has been for a walk, be sure to clean their paws to prevent the mud from drying and getting stuck between their toes and in their fur.

Garden hazards

Be aware of hazards in the garden for your pet. This includes slug pellets, as they are toxic to your pet and could cause illness if swallowed. Some spring flowers are also toxic to pets and if swallowed could cause your pet to become unwell. These include, daffodils, tulips and crocuses. If you think that your cat or dog has eaten any of these, you should contact your vet immediately.

Flea prevention

Fleas can be all year round problem for pets and owners, especially during cooler months in central heated homes. It’s important to keep up-to-date with your pet’s flea treatment all year round and througout warmer months, especially as they venture outside.

Close windows

As the weather gets warmer, be careful not to leave windows open that your cat or dog can jump or fall out of.

Exercise

If your dog has been particularly inactive during the winter season, make sure you ease them back into their exercise routine. Start off slow to help rebuild muscle tone before engaging in strenuous outdoor activities.

How to prevent tick bites and Lyme disease in dogs and cats

Spring is nearly here and summer close behind. Apart from wonderful sunny days, relaxing walks in the countryside, fields and forests, there is a hidden danger lurking in these idyllic places for your dogs, cats and yourself.

Dr Margit Gabriele Muller

Ticks are a tiny enemy, just 3-5 mm in size, but can lead to major problems in pets and humans alike, here Dr Margit Gabriele Muller, leading vet and author details…

What is a tick?

Ticks are tiny blood parasites. In the UK and Europe, hard ticks, from the species Ixodes Ricinus, are mainly found. They are brown, black and reddish in colour. They suck blood from their hosts and can range from a pinpoint size up to 3-5mm once they have fully fed on blood. As they have eight legs, ticks belong to the arachnids, the family of spiders. Ticks require a host such as a pet or human to be able to multiply.

Where are ticks found?

Ticks are commonly found in areas with grass, leaf piles, shrubs, underbrush, trees, and in the wilderness. In the UK, ticks are found all over the country, but the high-risk areas include Southern England and the Scottish Highlands.

How do ticks get transmitted?

Ticks are active when the temperatures start to rise. They search for a potential warm-blooded victim as soon as the temperature is above 4ºC. They either lie in wait in grass or leaves to climb up the legs of their victim or fall from branches. They love to bite their host in warm and moist body areas.

Bites are usually painless and therefore often go unnoticed. After ticks bite, they stay attached to the host’s body until they are soaked full in blood. Once they have finished feeding, which might take up to 10 days, the ticks have reached their full size and detach themselves and simply fall off.

How to check for ticks?

It’s essential to check your pet’s skin after outdoor walks. In dogs and cats, it is advisable to run your hands down the pet’s body to see if you can feel small lumps, especially in the neck, ears, head, and feet.

How can you remove ticks?

You can buy special tick removal forceps in veterinary practices or in pet shops. It is important to grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and to pull straight upwards. The pressure on the forceps should be distributed evenly without bending, twisting or tearing the tick. Recommended things like putting oil on the tick are not suitable and should not be performed.

After removing the tick, you must check that no parts of the head or mouth are left inside the skin as all parts must be removed completely. The bite must then be cleaned with either disinfectant or soap and water. The tick should be disposed properly by drenching it in alcohol and putting it in a sealed container.

How can ticks be prevented?

In dogs and cats, the best and most effective tick prevention is the year-long monthly treatment with a pipette of a special topical tick and flea prevention treatment. This is administered directly on the skin in the neck area. It is also advisable to avoid high risk areas and to not to go on adventures in deep scrubs and wilderness and to stay in the centre of pathways.

In humans, long sleeves and trousers that cover the arms and legs completely are a good way to avoid any skin contact for the ticks. Insect repellents with at least 20% DEET (diethyltoluamide) that are used on the rest of the visible skin are a good way to deter these blood parasites.

What is Lyme Disease?

Black legged ticks from the species Iodex that are infected with the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi can spread Lyme Disease to humans. Moreover, ticks can also transmit other kind of infectious diseases such as Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and tularemia to pets and humans alike. Laboratory tests such as blood tests can be used to detect the presence of antibodies to Lyme disease.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease and tick infestation in dogs and cats?

Dogs are more affected than cats. Symptoms usually develop within a week but can sometimes appear even months or years later and often no symptoms appear at all. Symptoms include fever, lack of appetite, tiredness and lameness. The heart, kidneys, joints, and nervous system can also be affected. Although ticks bite as single parasites, if a dog or cat have lots of bites it can possibly lead to anemia. A tick paralysis can also occur which causes wobbling of the legs, heavy breathing, vomiting and salivation.

What are the symptoms of Lyme disease in humans?

According to Public Health England, a maximum of 10% of ticks carry the bacterium that results in Lyme disease. An estimated 3,000 people contract this infectious disease every year in the UK. The onset of clinical symptoms of Lyme Disease don’t start immediately after being bitten.  Usually, symptoms develop within a week and can even appear after 3 months or more.

The most common symptom is a skin rash which affects 70-80% of patients and other early-stage symptoms can be like flu. Muscle and joint pains can develop or reappear after several months and even years.  Tick allergies and facial nerve paralysis on one or both sides of the face might also occur. If Lyme disease remains undetected for a long period of time, Late Persistent Lyme Disease may occur with serious and permanent nerve and brain damage.

What is the treatment for Lyme disease?

For both humans and pets, Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics that are susceptible to the bacterium. The antibiotic of choice is doxycycline and treatment lasts at least 4 weeks or longer. Supportive treatment for affected organs such as the kidney can be given, too.

Dr Margit Gabriele Muller’s book Your Pet, Your Pill: 101 Inspirational Stories About How Pets Lead You to A Happy, Healthy and Successful Life is now available on Amazon.