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Pet Advice

Our team can provide support, helping you care for your pet.

Pet Advice

Our team can provide support, helping you care for your pet.

We love all of our furry friends who come into see us at our clinics, so here you will find plenty of advice on helping to keep them well from their head to the tip of their tails!

  • Arthritis
  • Dental Awareness
  • Feline Stress
  • Is your pet having surgery?
  • Pain Relief
  • Parasites

Arthritis

What is arthritis? 

Arthritis is the term given to an inflammation of the joints, although it is more commonly used to describe osteoarthritis which is known as the “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis. It is a chronic condition characterised by the breakdown of the cartilage in the joints. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints. As the cartilage wears out and becomes thin it allows the bones to rub together resulting in stiffness loss of movement in the joint inflammation and pain.

Arthritis in cats

Cats are very agile but over the years this high level of activity can take its toll and cause wear and tear on their joints. Consequently, many older cats are living with very painful arthritis, the hips and the elbows being the most affected joints. As cats are small and agile, they can cover up mobility difficulties caused by arthritis and unlike dogs, cats with arthritis do not generally limp. Instead, cats affected are more likely to show subtle changes in their lifestyle or behaviour.

Diagnosing arthritis

The only way to reliably diagnose arthritis is to radiograph the joints. This does require an anaesthetic, or at least a deep sedation, in order to position the body correctly and for our companions to stay still enough to get diagnostic radiographs. If the vet does suspect arthritis then he/she may offer solutions to relieve the symptoms without the need to x-ray, which may include joint supplements, pain relief, acupuncture or K-Laser therapy and/or a change in diet.

How can we help?

Our nursing team offer clinics and if your dog or cat is displaying any of the behaviours mentioned, or you suspect that he or she may have arthritis, then we would advise that you make an appointment to come and chat to us to discuss how we can help your dog or cat live an active and pain-free life. We also offer urinalysis as part of our cat friendly well-being clinic‘s, which can give us a good indication of how well your cat's kidneys are functioning and how well they may cope with treatment. This can also be important in understanding whether your cat has an underlying kidney condition that is making him/her display the behaviours you may see rather than arthritis. In the event that your cat needs pain relief, certain pain management drugs can affect the kidneys if they are already compromised and we would therefore recommend an alternative. We offer a wide range of conventional drug free complementary solutions to complement any conventional therapies we may also offer, and cats can cope very well with K-Laser therapy with great results.

Dental Awareness

We often don’t realise our pets are having dental discomfort until they stop eating tougher foods that they need to chew. This, or that they have bad breath! It’s so common that we see dental problems in our companions on a daily basis, and often carry out dental procedures on our daily theatre schedule.

Signs of dental disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Dribbling, pawing or rubbing the mouth
  • Sore mouth
  • Difficulty eating
  • Selective eating
  • Eating at one side of the mouth
  • Loose teeth or tooth loss
  • Yellow or brown tartar on teeth
  • Facial swelling
  • Behavioural changes such as not wanting the head or mouth touching or just in general being subdued and quiet

Should you notice any of the above signs in your pet then please book an appointment with the vet or nurse to have the teeth examined. At Towerwood Vets we believe that prevention is better than cure and we have a variety of methods to carry out at home that may prevent your pet developing serious dental disease which in turn can prevent the need for dental surgery and will keep your pet pain-free and healthy.

The gold standard of dental homecare is brushing your pet’s teeth. For this to be fully effective it needs doing daily, but as many times a week as you possibly can is better than not at all. We appreciate that you have busy lives and that is why on the days you cannot brush we have alternatives to use. It is much easier to get your puppy or kitten used to toothbrushing but that does not mean to say that you can’t teach an old dog, or cat, new tricks. Just remember that you need to slowly introduce teeth cleaning to your pet over at least a week.

In addition to brushing your pets teeth, there are lots of other holistic ways to help their teeth and gums. Many of our team have their own pets on a raw food diet, and this can help immensely with teeth cleanliness and dental care.

Feline Stress

Cats are solitary survivors although they are not antisocial. History taking is very important when dealing with behaviour problems. Drawing a timeline with behavioural factors such as environmental changes on the top and physical factors and clinical symptoms underneath can help us understand what may be causing stress to our cats. It will help to ascertain when the physical symptoms started and what they coincided with. Our Gold Standard Cat Friendly team can help with this, two of our clinic nurses have done further certificates and diplomas in cat behaviour and medicine, so do get in touch if you are worried about your cat.

When adding new kittens to your household, socialisation and training is paramount to introducing cats to living with humans, so:

  • Touch kittens all over
  • Lift them frequently
  • Gently restrain them
  • Socialise them to several different people, i.e. more than four in a controlled gentle and nonthreatening way
  • Handle kittens for an hour in total daily, in short but frequent sessions
  • Have the queen present if she is well socialised and chilled but not if she is stressed by the situation
  • Littermates will increase confidence of small kittens hence in litters of one only the kitten will tend to be timid
  • The boldness trait is important for sociable cats and is inherited from both the Tom and the Queen
  • Puzzle feeders are great for kittens on a biscuit diet, or lick mats for wet or raw food diets. This way your cat has to work for its food providing mental stimulation in the process.

Is your pet having surgery?

Learn more about what will happen if your pet is having surgery here.

Pre-operative information

At Towerwood Vets we know only too well what a stressful and sometimes upsetting time it can be for anyone who has to leave their pet with us to have a general anaesthetic and/or an operation. This is why we have put together this information sheet which will not only advise you on the steps you need to take to carry out prior to the operation but also the sequence of events to expect once you arrive at the surgery.

The night before surgery

We ask that you do not feed your pets after 8pm the night before his or her scheduled surgery. You are still allowed to provide water overnight unless specifically asked not to but no food or treats.

If your pet is a rabbit, guinea pig or other small mammal, than this rule does not apply and they must have food and water available to them all night.

Cats are best kept indoors overnight with a litter tray, seeing as they seem to have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing when they are due to visit the vets. This will also ensure that they cannot obtain anything to eat, including mice, whilst out and about. If your pet is on regular medication, please continue this as normal unless advised otherwise.

The morning of the surgery

On the morning of the surgery please ensure that your dog has the has had the opportunity to empty his/her bladder and bowel prior to admission. Please avoid bringing them in wet, or covered in mud, as this makes it more difficult for our team to clean the surgical site. Please ensure that you bring a telephone number that we can contact you on at all times during the day of your pet’s operation. A lot of people do not know their mobile number so please write it down in advance on a piece of paper and hand it to the nurse who admits your pet.

On arrival at the practice

When you arrive at the practice you will be greeted by either our receptionist or one of the nurses. You will then be taken into a consulting room by the admit nurse who will ask you some health-related questions about your pet. We then will ask you to sign a consent form and we will provide you with an estimate of the cost of your pet’s surgery.

The consent form

Our consent form is a legal document. It has three parts to it and requires three signatures. The first signature required is to give us permission to carry out the operation written down. It you are unsure what you are signing for then please ask the nurse to explain to you the operation your pet is scheduled for.

The second signature we require gives us permission to use a sedative and or a general anaesthetic. Certain procedures can be done only using a sedation but if the procedure is lengthy, painful or intrusive then we will always use a full general anaesthetic.

The third signature gives us permission to use medications that may not be licensed for your pet species, but that there are no alternatives to in veterinary medicine, and that we use safely and routinely every day. Please ask if you are at all unsure as to what you are signing for.

General Health

If your pet seems unwell or his/her condition has deteriorated since the vet last saw him/her, then please tell the nurse. This includes any bouts of vomiting or diarrhoea, any coughing or any pre-existing conditions like epilepsy or heart related problems. If your pet takes regular medications, then please let the nurse know what medication your pet takes and when the last dose was.

Please let the nurse know if you would like your pet’s nails clipped, de-matting, micro chipping, teeth cleaning, anal gland emptying, or anything else done whilst your pet is asleep. These are sometimes things that are much easier to do when your pet is fast asleep, and we will be more than happy to do them if it is safe to do so.

Your Contact details

The nurse will ask you for a telephone number that we can always contact you on. It is vitally important that we can contact you at any time during the day to discuss your pet while he/she is in with us. If you leave us a mobile number, please ensure that you have your mobile to hand and switched on throughout their stay with us. If you leave a home number and need to pop out, just give us a ring to let us know how and where we can contact you if we need to.

Pre-anaesthetic blood test

At Towerwood Vets we offer our patients undergoing anaesthesia a pre-anaesthetic blood test. A pre-anaesthetic blood test adds to the cost of the operation but it can be invaluable, especially in older or more vulnerable pets. Advances in anaesthesia and surgery have made routine procedures safer with a lower rate of complications, however problems can arise because of pre-existing conditions not evident during pre-anaesthetic consultations. This is especially true in older animals, but even young animals can be born with, or develop, an underlying condition that may only be evident on a blood test. This can include liver and kidney conditions and problems associated with clotting and anaemia. If a problem is detected on the blood test we can alter the anaesthetic regime by changing drug doses that we may give, give supportive intravenous fluids if necessary or if it’s not safe to go ahead postpone the operation until the pre-existing condition is under control. The earlier we discover any abnormalities the more we will be able to help in the long term.

What happens when my pet is in the kennels?

Once the consent form is signed and the nurse has taken your contact number, they will take your pet to be weighed before transferring him/her to a comfortable kennel. The operating veterinary surgeon will give your pet a full health check, including listening to your pet’s heart and taking a body temperature, before giving him/her a mild sedative. The sedative has pain relieving properties and ensures that not only do we need less anaesthetic drug but that the anaesthetic goes as smoothly as possible.

Depending on the procedure a small amount of fur may be clipped from either, or both, of your pet’s neck and foreleg. This is for taking bloods and then giving the anaesthetic, but it will begin to grow back very quickly.

Collecting your companion

The nurse will ring you on the telephone number that you have provided us with as soon as your pet is awake following his/her anaesthetic and you will be able to collect your them from that time up until when we close. When you collect your pet the nurse will explain everything to you, including how the operation went, what medications he/she has had and any medications for you to give at home, plus all of the after-care advice you may need. You will also receive a post-operative care sheet to take home which covers all the aftercare discussed.

If you think of any questions during the day related to your pets or his/her operation, then please feel free to ask the nurse at this time when we will do all we can to answer them. We want you to feel relaxed about your pets anaesthetic and/or operation so if any time either before, during or after booking your pet in for surgery, you would like to speak to a veterinary surgeon or a veterinary nurse to discuss any worries you may have, then please do not hesitate in getting in touch.

Pain Relief

We ensure that all our patients who have had surgery receive pain relief as part of the pre-medication protocol. This lasts for 24 hours following administration. We strongly believe in ensuring that patients are pain-free and happy which will help them recover faster from their operation.

Some surgical procedures will require additional pain relief, and in those cases we would automatically dispense pain relief for your pet to go home with following his/her operation. Every pet is different and every pet responds to pain differently. Whilst our pain relief protocol is sufficient for most pets, some may benefit from a longer course of treatment. Below are some of the signs of discomfort that we would ask you to look for in your pet post-operatives.

  • Cats and dogs may look hunched if they are in discomfort
  • Dogs may refuse to walk or stop and sit down after a few steps
  • Cats and dogs may lick excessively at the operation site
  • Dogs may whine and cry and/or pace
  • Cats will have very squint/slit like eyes when they’re in pain
  • Cats may be aggressive
  • Cats and dogs may not want to eat if they are sore
  • The only sign may be that your cat or dog is much quieter than normal

Parasites

How do I know if my pet has fleas?

It can be hard to spot fleas on your pet as they stay close to the skin surface away from the light. The most common places to see fleas are under the jaw/neck area and towards the back end where your pet cannot reach to gnaw or scratch. It is often easier to find flea dirt (flea faeces). This looks like a tiny black or brown speck, if you comb them out and place them on wet tissue or paper, a red or brown ring will appear around the specks. Flea dirt can also be seen on your pet or in their bedding.

Your pet may also begin scratching themselves or gnawing at the skin. This is due to the fleas physically biting the skin which is uncomfortable and the flea saliva acting as an irritant. If fleas are on your pet or in your home, you may also suffer from fleabites which appear as itchy red lumps on the skin.

Controlling fleas

It is paramount to keep fleas under control at all times of the year, as any animal is susceptible. A flea infestation is not only uncomfortable for your pet, but it can also lead to other health issues such as flea allergic dermatitis, tapeworm infestation and anaemia (particularly in young or small animals).

When managing and controlling fleas it is important to consider the environment as well as all of your other family pets (not just those diagnosed with fleas). Your home can be treated with a household spray at least annually and all pets can be treated with a flea prevention treatment prescribed for them according to your vet’s instructions. Note that commercial preparations are usually species-specific and can be toxic to other animals. There are now many different forms of treatments to suit your pet including tablets, spot-on, sprays and injections. Here at Towerwood Vets we can also offer advice on how to use a more holistic approach to flea control in the home and on your pet, using essential oils or more gentle spot on treatments for milder infestations.

A heavy flea infestation can take a long time to eradicate due to the nature of the flea's life-cycle in the environment. Top tips when treating a home include vacuuming (emitting vibrations) and occupying the area (so there is a carbon dioxide) to stimulate the eggs to hatch so that they can be treated. Remember to repeat vacuuming and empty the vacuum bag or cylinder each session to remove any potential un-hatched eggs.

Worms

Worms are endoparasites, they live inside the animal’s body. Your pet can contract worms in several different ways including ingestion of worm eggs (they can be present in faeces, grasses and urine or from grooming other animals) from their mother (through the placenta or from feeding) or from other hosts carrying worm eggs, such as fleas. It is important to remember that worms can not only cause serious health problems in pets, but some worms also pose a threat to human health, particularly in the elderly, very young or those with a compromised immune system. The most common types of worms found in cats and dogs are tapeworms and roundworms (roundworms are a human health risk). 

How do I know if my pet has worms?

It can be difficult to tell if your pet has worms as they are inside the body, however there are some signs to look out for. These include worms present in faeces or vomit (these may be entire or segments and may look like spaghetti or grains of rice), irritation of the bottom or worms seen around this area, and weight loss in severe infestations.

Worm Egg Counts

At Towerwood Vets we offer worm count faecal testing which aims to show if your dog or cat has worms present. Many of our clients want to reduce the amount of commercial preparations they give to their pet regularly, rather than blindly giving treatments without being more aware of their pet’s current gut balance. A worm egg count aims to indicate whether a worming treatment is necessary at that moment in time. We offer faecal flotation testing in house, or we can recommend a suitable service that you can use to test a faecal sample from your pet which can give you a more comprehensive analysis.