New arrivals

Getting a new pet is an exciting time, and there will be a lot to think about. Once you have collected your new puppy or kitten, please bring them in to see us! We offer a free puppy or kitten check with the veterinary surgeon before they start their vaccinations and we are happy to discuss any of your concerns. As well as giving your puppy/kitten a health check we can give you advice on the following –

Vaccinations:

In the early stages of life, puppies and kittens gain immunity against disease from their mother’s milk. This protection starts to fade when they are around six weeks of age and without vaccinations, they are left vulnerable to some potentially deadly diseases. Puppies can be vaccinated from 8 weeks of age, and kittens from 9 weeks. Annual booster vaccinations and six monthly health checks are a good way of protecting your pet, and for picking up any health problems early on.

Worming:

Regular worming is absolutely vital in the early weeks of your puppy’s/kitten’s life. Not only are they more likely to pick up worms than adults, (because of their curious natures) they are also more vulnerable to their effects because of their immature immune system. Puppies and kittens should be wormed monthly until they are 6 months old.

Microchipping:

Is now compulsory for all dogs in the UK 8 weeks or older. This means that in the majority of cases it will have been done by the breeder, but if not, it is a quick and relatively painless procedure and vital to ensure your pet is permanently identifiable. It’s not the law to have a cat microchipped but we strongly advise it, especially since cats often wander.

Pet Health Club:

It’s worth looking at our Meridian Pet Health Club when getting your new arrival. It’s our monthly plan to spread the costs of your pet’s preventative health care. Leaflets are available at reception.

Socialisation:

The early experiences a puppy or kitten has of people and their surroundings have a huge impact on their behaviour and personality for the rest of their lives. It is vital puppies and kittens stay with the litter and mother until at least 8 weeks of age, to learn good manners and behaviour.

After their first few weeks, puppies and kittens should have regular contact with all kinds of people: adults (both men and women), children and the elderly. They should ideally be reared in a home environment so they get used to the sights, sounds, and smells of family life. Once puppies are fully vaccinated, it’s a good idea to get them out and about – gradually introducing them to loud noises, cars, horses, fire engines – pretty much everything and anything!

Rabbits

Rabbits are very popular as pets, and just as with other pets, they need regular vaccinations and health checks to keep them fit and well. They can be vaccinated against two potentially fatal infectious diseases:

Myxomatosis – is a viral infection spread by blood sucking insects such as fleas and mosquitoes. The virus multiplies on the skin leading to blindness and difficulty in eating. Rabbits become very ill and sadly many die.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease – can be spread directly between rabbits or indirectly, via contaminated hutches, bedding or food. Symptoms include loss of appetite, nose bleeds, lethargy, and sudden death.

Rabbit dental problems – a growing issue!

You may be surprised to learn that one of the most common health problems in rabbits is dental disease.

Rabbits have continuously growing teeth, with both the cheek teeth and the incisor (front) teeth growing by as much as 1-2 mm per week! This enables wild rabbits to graze all day on grass, and other abrasive foods, without wearing out their teeth. The incisor teeth should meet, thereby ensuring that as your rabbit chews, they will wear down. If they become misaligned, they will continue to grow and will grow over each other, leading to eating problems.

The cheek teeth, are grinding teeth. However, if they become overgrown, they frequently develop sharp spikes which can lacerate the tongue and cheeks, making eating very painful. Signs commonly include “slobbers” with saliva wetting around the mouth and chin, a decreased appetite and often marked weight loss. So, what can be done to help?

Feeding your pet rabbit, the correct diet is very important. Their ideal diet includes plenty of hay or grass (high in fibre), together with a selection of fresh food and a small amount of commercial rabbit food. High fibre diets promote dental health, reduce obesity and keep them occupied for several hours each day!

Commercial rabbit foods are now available as extruded pellets and this helps to avoid the problem of rabbit’s selectively feeding – leaving vitamins and minerals uneaten. If you are worried about your rabbit’s teeth, we would be pleased to check them for you and also advise you on diet regimes aimed at promoting optimum dental health.

Housing: rabbits thrive inside, but as outdoor pets, it is important to ensure that all hutches are warm, dry and clean and have plenty of hay and bedding. Water bottles should be changed daily.

Neutering can help rabbits become more social pets and live happier together. Un-neutered male rabbits, for example, do not live well with other rabbits.

Summers Coming

Fingers crossed for a good summer this year. Most of us, and our pets love the warm weather, but it brings with it its own particular set of challenges and potential problems.

Heat Stroke is an extremely serious problem and can even be fatal.

Although all dogs are at risk, the shorter-faced breeds like Staffies, Pugs, Bulldogs are most vulnerable, and the danger greater if they are overweight. To prevent problems, avoid exercising your dogs in the midday heat and make sure they don’t over-exert themselves. If you become worried, move them to a cool, shaded place and give them lots to drink.

Sun rays! Most cats are real sun worshippers, which doesn’t tend to be a problem as their fur acts as a thermal regulator to slow down the process of heat absorption. Problems arise when cats have white ears or noses. These areas are vulnerable to sunburn because the hair is so thin which can trigger skin cancers. To protect your cat apply high factor waterproof sun lotion to their ears and noses.

Grass seeds are a big summer problem! Grass seeds can easily become trapped in the coats of pets, especially dogs. They then migrate and become lodged in a variety of places including the ears and between the toes. It is always a good idea to groom your pets regularly, and especially after walks, to keep a close eye out for grass seeds.

BBQs! Lovely weather and longer evenings often mean lots of barbecues, and dogs often have a great time hoovering up the left-overs! This can cause stomach upsets or serious blockages requiring surgery to remove bones, kebab sticks, and sweetcorn cobs.

Please keep your pets away from the barbecue.

Allergies? For sensitive dogs with allergies, the flowers and grasses that thrive in the summer month can cause real problems. Dogs can break out with nasty skin rashes especially on the feet, stomach, and ears and these can be very itchy. If this becomes the case make sure they are up to date with their anti-parasite treatment since fleas can often be the cause and bring them in to see us for a check-up as there are a lot of drugs available now that can help improve the situation. Enjoy the summer months, have fun and keep your pets safe.

Remember we are here to help so if you have any concerns please give us a call or ask a member of staff.