Read tips, guidelines and advice about caring for and training your pets, plus all the latest news from Very Important Pets

Everything you need for your new dog

8th February 2018Dog Care, Pet CareLeave a comment

Last month we covered cats, so this month we are covering everything you need for your new dog – whether you are getting a puppy or a rescue dog. Just like cats, dogs will need you to be prepared in order for them to be able to settle in quickly and easily.  Our handy guide will help ensure you are ready for the big day and have everything you need.

A blanket / bed / crate  – For puppies especially it is sometimes useful to take a blanket with you to collect them, this blanket will be the first smell they will associate with their new surroundings and should be then kept with them as their own. In some puppies it can act as a security in their new environment. Some people opt to use crates when they first bring their new puppies home, over their first few weeks it will be where they sleep and spend time when you are not at home, it should be kept as a positive environment and somewhere they can go to feel safe.

Food – As with all animals it is important not change their food when you first get them, find out in advance their current food so you can source this before their arrival. After they have settled, if you wish to change their food you can slowly start to transition them over gradually.
Bowls – For the food and water! If you already have an existing pet in the home, the new addition will need all of their own supplies, it is not suitable for them to share and can induce behavioural problems. If you are getting a larger breed of dog, you may choose to use a slow feeding bowl – this can help prevent your dog from eating excessively quickly. Eating faster than normal in larger breed dogs can be a worry as they are more prone to GDVs (Gastric Dilation Volvulus – a potentially fatal emergency) which can be brought on by this.

AdaptilAdaptil is an artificial pheromone recommended by dog experts and Veterinary Surgeons. Adaptil (available as a plug in diffuser and room spray) produces a smell which can only be smelt by dog helping them to feel safe and secure in their environment. Adaptil is an essential when creating rehoming an older dog or a nervous / timid dog.

Harness – At Very Important Pets we encourage the use of harnesses to help protect your dog’s spine and throat area, this can be especially important if they are prone to pulling. If you are welcoming a rescue dog into your home, try to find out where they are used to and how their walking is before purchasing an appropriate harness or collar.

Toys – Toys are essential for dogs to learn and stay mentally stimulated, it will also help keep mischievous puppies out of trouble.  It is essential dogs learn to be happy in their own company, as well as with you, so good robust toys can be good to help with this. We also advise purchasing toys that can played with the family, this will help to ensure early bonding with all members of the family.

Poo Bags – an absolute essential to have from day one!

Taking on a new dog is an exciting but busy time, being well prepared can ensure it all goes as smoothly and stress free as possible for all involved. During the first few weeks try to avoid additional stress around them and never use negative reinforcement or punishment (with any animal), soon they will adjust to their new forever home and become one of the family.

If you are bringing a new puppy into your home, once they are settled, you may want to think about enrolling them into puppy classes with Very Important Pets, these classes aim to teach your puppy core socialisation skills.

Choosing the right pet for your family

2nd February 2018Cat Care, Dog Care, Pet CareLeave a comment

Owning a pet is one of the most rewarding experiences, but with the joy they bring, from you they need dedication. Every pet is different and comes with individual needs and requirements, all of which need to be taken into consideration when choosing the right pet for you and your family. So how do you choose the right pet? We have compiled this list of tips to help.
golden retriever - choosing right pet

Think of the pet first

After making the decision to get a pet many people already have an idea of what animal they would like to have. Do your best to not act on impulse with these thoughts, just because they are your favourite animal or breed, it does not mean they are right for you or your family. You may think a rabbit is best for your young children, however rabbits are prey animals and many do not like to be picked up and cuddled. Maybe you have thought about a hamster, but not considered the fact that they are nocturnal and will not want to play during the day, where as rats love social interaction during the day and maybe a much better pet for your family.
It is exactly the same for breed, a dog maybe perfect for your home, but every breed is individual with their own personality traits and needs, a Border Collie will require extensive walks and runs daily to manage their requirements, they may not be a suitable match for some less able to assist with this.

When choosing the right pet for your lifestyle it is important to put the animal before your own desires, to ensure you can give the pet everything they need to live a happy life.

Think about your lifestyle

How much time do you have for this animal? If you are going to be out at work all day will there be someone around to look after a dog? Or can you afford day care for them every day?
Do you often go out straight from work? How would your cat feel about being left alone large proportions of the day and do they have free access to the outside?
While our lives do not need to revolve around our pets they need to become a big factor in it and something that should be thoroughly thought about before impulse buying a pet.

Tan White Guinea Pig - choosing right pet

Think about cost

The current average cost of owning a dog is £1183 per year and that is without any unexpected Vet visits. A rabbit costs on average £500 a year and they should always be kept in pairs.  Pets are massive financial commitment so it is important to look into all the cost your chosen pet might need before purchasing to ensure it fits within your budget.
At Very Important Pets we will always recommend purchasing pet insurance to help cover for any unexpected illness or injury. Many Veterinary practices also now offer ‘health care plans’ to help spread the cost of routine needs such as a vaccination and preventative healthcare.

Think about a rescue

Each year over 50,000 dogs alone are given up to rescue centres or abandoned, rescuing a pet and giving them their forever home is a wonderful thing to do. Rescue centres and facilities are set up for all domestic species, and many will have an appointed person who can discuss your lifestyle to match you with your perfect pet.
Rescue pets are a great choice as they have often already established their personalities, and you may incur less costs as often they will already be neutered, microchipped and possibly vaccinated.

Read Next: Everything you need for your new catchoosing right pet - ginger cat



Everything you need for your new cat

5th January 2018Cat CareLeave a comment

Everything you need for your new cat - tortie adultBringing home a new kitten or cat is an exciting time for everyone involved but it is also important to be prepared to help them settle in as quickly and easily as possible. To make this process easier for you, we have a created this handy checklist to ensure you are prepared for the big day and have everything you need for your new cat.
Everything you need for your new cat-grey kittenA Cat Carrier – Make sure you have something safe and secure to bring your new cat home in. They may be scared so a secure locked carrier is the safest way to stop them potentially escaping, it will also need to be used for future vet visits. If you have a carrier that has been used before, ensure it is thoroughly cleaned to remove smells of another cat.

A blanket / bed – For kittens especially it is sometimes useful to take a blanket with you to collect them, this blanket will be the first smell they will associate with their new surroundings and should be then kept with them as their own. In some kittens it can act a security in their new environment.

Food – Ask the breeder or rescue centre what food the cat is currently on, use this food for the first few days while they are settling in, once settled you can gradually introduce a new food if needed, never suddenly change a cats food.

Bowls – For the food and water! If you already have an existing pet in the home, the new addition will need all of their own supplies, it is not suitable for them to share and can induce behavioural problems. Also, always purchase separate food and water bowls rather than conjoined bowls – cats prefer to eat and drink in different locations.

Feliway Feliway is an artificial pheromone recommended by cat experts and Veterinary Surgeons. Feliway (available as a plug in diffuser and room spray) produces a smell which can only be smelt by cats helping them to feel safe and secure in their environment. Feliway is an essential when creating a multicat household, rehoming an older cat or a nervous / timid cat. Feliway is also designed to help with unwanted scratching and spraying.

Litter tray and litter – Again it probably best to find out the type of litter the cat is used to, as some may find a change stressful. Multicat households need one litter tray per cat and these should be kept in different locations in the home. Try to decide where you want the litter tray to be kept and try not to move it; this may cause confusion to your cat.

Toys- Toys are essential for cats to learn and stay mentally stimulated, they also help to ensure mischievous kittens do not find their own entertainment. Try a variety of different toys and see what you cat prefers, try to keep them on rotation so they do not get bored with them.  Spend time playing with your new cat with these toys, this will increase your bonding with them as well.

See also: Boredom busters for cats – The best cat toys 

Introducing a cat into your family is a fun and exciting time and most cats adjust very quickly. For some the process may take slightly longer, especially those that may have been rehomed. During the first few weeks try to avoid additional stress around them and never use negative reinforcement or punishment (with any cat, kitten or animal), soon they will adjust to their new forever home and become one of the family.Everything you need for your new cat - tortieshell



Choosing the right Veterinary Surgery

4th January 2018Pet CareLeave a comment

The London Animal Hospital, Camberwell

With new Veterinary surgeries constantly opening up it is hard to know which one to choose. People have a variety of reasons for choosing their surgery, distance, recommendations or perhaps cost, but it is important to do some homework before deciding the best option for your pet.

Personal recommendation
Recommendations are a really useful way of finding a Vet. Ask friends or family where they are registered and more importantly ask if they are happy there, before following their recommendations it is also important they are suitable for your animal. Perhaps you have a pet Gecko, ensure the recommended vet is confident and has experience with treating reptiles.

Generally people choose a local vet, not only does it make it convenient for routine appointments it may also be crucial in an emergency situation. Think also about location, does the practice have onsite parking or free parking nearby?
Does the practice offer in an in house emergency out of hours service? If not, where is this provided? Is it easily accessible? Does your chosen practice provide routine weekend appointments or is it an additional fee?
Do they offer other services that you may need? Such as puppy classes or Nurse appointments?

Price varies at every Veterinary Surgery and many things contribute to the pricing, such as location, staff overheads, facilities available, drug supplier, and staff qualifications. When deciding on your surgery, the practice should be able to give you estimates on routine procedures and we advise this is something you look in to. Do they offer a care plan package for routine pet requirements? These packages can often help spread costs (not to be confused with pet insurance).

It is important that both you and your pet feel comfortable and happy with where you choose. What is there manner like when you first visit? Do they seem genuinely interested?
It is normal for Vets to need to gently restrain or use a muzzle for pets at times but there is never an excuse for rough handling.
Did they take time to explain everything properly or did you feel rushed?

Choosing a Vet is a big decision and one that should be thought about. Hopefully you will find a Vet your pet will stay with for their whole life and it will make a potentially scary situation feel so much more comfortable for them.

See our list of preferred Veterinary Surgeries in the area here and be sure to check out our Vet of the Month feature on Facebook.

Cuffe Vets, Fulham



How to help get your pet back into shape

3rd January 2018Cat Care, Dog Care, Pet CareLeave a comment

Pet obesity is a growing issue in the UK, with a recent survey stating that 3.8 million of the UK’s dogs are overweight or obese.  Pet obesity can lead and contribute to a long list of health implications including Arthritis, Diabetes Mellitus, heart problems, plus a shorter life expectancy. However, it is reversible, and you can take simple steps to help them get back into shape as well as a better quality of life.

Firstly we have to say that all family members need to be on board and want to help with the process, you do not want one person undoing all the good work by secretly giving treats.  If you have numerous people in your house hold, why not create a food chart which you can stick on the fridge, therefore what your pet has already eaten that day can easily be seen – meaning no accidental over feeding.

See also: How to tell if your dog is over weight

Increase exercise
This may seem like an obvious one, but every healthy dog should be having two twenty minute walks per day. At the minimum ensure your dog is receiving this and then start to gradually increase by 5-10 minutes. If your dog is older or already has a pre-existing health conditions discuss exercise with your Vet before increasing the amount.
Keep cats stimulated with toys, cats love to play, so use this as a way to increase exercise, laser pens and treat balls can be great for this. If your cat is food-orientated, try sneaking in extra exercise by placing their food bowl at the top of the stairs, even just climbing one flight of stairs extra a day will help make a difference.

Swap treats for attention
People often mistake an animal seeking attention as a request for additional food – especially with cats. Next time your pet gives you the puppy dog eyes, why not use it as an opportunity for an extra cuddle or take a couple of extra minutes to play with them to provide mental stimulation.
If you are currently using treats to aid training your dog, try to use them wisely and lower their meal intake accordingly to compensate for the additional food. If possible, try training your dog with a toy as the reward instead of a treat.Change the food
A lot of food brands now offer a ‘low fat or calorie’ range, so if you find you are struggling to shift the weight on their normal diet you may opt to change to one of these (all diets should be changed gradually over the course of a week). With all pet food, it is important to ensure you are following the feeding guidelines on the packet, instead of estimating how much they need per day, if you feel you are struggling with this most veterinary surgeries offer free weight clinic appointments with the Nurse, and it may be something you want to consider.

As with humans, your pet should lose weight gradually over time to ensure it is lost healthily, it may seem like a long process, but when you start to notice the spring back in your pet’s step it will all be worth it.