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

Preparing Your Pet Rabbit For The Summer Months

4th May 2019Pet CareLeave a comment

The summer months are nearly in full swing and the temperatures are on the rise. During the hot summer months, it is important that you keep your pet rabbit out of the heat. Rabbits can be hardy pets but they do much better in the cold months than the hot summer.

Rabbits start experiencing heat-related stress when the temperature goes up in the summer and the sad truth is they can die from heat stroke. Therefore it always best to keep them cool in the hot and humid months.

Top Ways to Keep Your Pet Rabbit Cool this Summer

Place the Cage in the Shade

Ensure that the rabbit’s cage and play area are in the shade. If the rabbits are indoors, you can position their cage away from the sunlight. If the rabbit cage is outdoors, you should place it under shaded trees. If natural shade is not available, you can utilize sun umbrellas to keep the rabbit out of direct sunlight.

Trim Excess Hair

Give your rabbit a short summer haircut. Trim and remove as much excess hair as possible. This will help them stay cool.

Lightly Moisten the Rabbit’s Ears

Rabbits don’t sweat the way humans do. The body surface heat is primarily released through the ears. Lightly moisten the rabbit’s ears, head, neck, and the inside of the hind legs with a wet cloth.

All that it takes is a little bit of water to cool down your pet. If you suspect overheating, you can use this method to cool the rabbit.

A Cool Place to Lay On

Offer your rabbit a cool place to lay on. Ceramic tiles and marble will stay cool even in summer. You can cover the rabbit hutch with ceramic tiles. They not just keep the pet cool but are also easy to clean.

Keep them Comfortable

Always ensure that your rabbit has enough water. Change the water at least twice a day so that it remains cool and fresh. Keep a watch on the water level. When the pet has access to water, they will not get dehydrated.

Signs Your Pet Rabbit Is Overheated

  • Quick shallow breaths.
  • Panting.
  • Salivation.
  • Lack of consciousness.

Things to do if you think your rabbit has heatstroke. 

If the rabbit is overheated, you should avoid lowering the temperature by putting them in cold water. This can send their system into shock. Bring the pet into an air-conditioned cool room so that it feels comfortable and cools down.

  • Contact your Veterinary Surgery immediately. 
  • Wrap moist towels around the pet’s body. Ensure that the towel is moist and not wet. Use a wet cloth to moisten the ears, head, and neck.
  • Offer water to the rabbit but never force it to drink it.
  • Even if your rabbit has cooled down and has become active again, you should still take them to the Vets regardless. 

Always keep your pet rabbit healthy and clean. Keep your pet’s living space free of waste. Flystrike is also an issue for rabbits during the summer months and all rabbits should be checked twice daily at least. 

A Guide to Choosing the Right Pet Insurance for You

25th April 2019Pet CareLeave a comment

It’s fair to say searching for pet insurance can be a bit of a minefield! How do we know what the best policy is for our pets? There are multiple different insurance companies to search through and what’s more, within each company there are even more different types of policies to choose from. 

keepingcatsafeinthe summer - ginger cat

What can pet insurance cover?

Depending on your insurer and the cover you have purchased your pet insurance can cover a range of things from an accident, dental treatment or to a lifetime illness like diabetes. Naturally not having a crystal ball we cannot predict what unexpected issues might arise in our pets so it is important to know what cover you want and what is affordable for you. 

So what do the cover types mean?

Lifetime

Lifetime pet insurance is the most comprehensive pet cover you can get, and could pay vet fees for your cat for the whole of your pet’s life. Lifetime cover can be the most expensive pet insurance, but it gives you peace of mind that ongoing conditions are catered for forever.

Time Limited

Time limited pet insurance, which can also be called 12 month or annual policies, cover you for vet fees over a 12 month period from the date your pet’s illness or injury first appeared for the time period stated.

After this, if your pet still needs treatment or medication you’ll be responsible. This is the most basic of illness-related pet insurance but can be invaluable if you can’t afford the more expensive covers, such as lifetime pet insurance.

Per Condition

Per condition policies are also known as Benefit Limited or Maximum Benefit policies. These policies impose a maximum benefit per condition so if your pet develops an ongoing illness such as diabetes, once the maximum cover amount is reached, that condition will then be excluded from any further claims.

There is often no time limit applied to these policies and the time taken to reach the maximum for each condition will vary depending on the nature and severity of the condition itself but once the maximum amount has been paid out you will need to be prepared to fund the ongoing treatment yourself. Each condition will have its own limit, so it is feasible that you could be claiming for more than one condition at the same time.

Accident Only Policies

These policies do what they say, provide cover up to a certain monetary limit or period of time (whichever comes first) for an accidental injury only. Claims for illnesses are not covered.

Pet Insurance vs. Self Insurance?

Many people prefer to ‘self -insure’ by saving a set amount each month to pay for potential vet bills. If this is something you do decide to do, there are a few things to be aware of:

  • You would need to be disciplined and think about how much you can afford to put by each month, and ensure it is put aside!
  • The money you save would be in addition to what you spend on routine things like vaccinations, teeth cleaning and flea treatment
  • The average cost of insuring a cat in a low-risk area is around £180 a year. If you saved this amount each year it would give you £1800 after 10 years. If your cat develops a chronic condition it could cost you thousands of pounds in treatment and it would then be very difficult to then find an insurer for your cat as the condition is pre-existing
  • What would happen if your cat got injured or unwell after one year of saving? £180 would not be enough to cover an operation, or long term medication which would mean you would need to fund this yourself

We recommend a lifetime cover policy as any illness/accident that isn’t already pre-existing should be covered by a lifetime plan. It’s also important to keep your pet insured for its lifetime as one of the most common mistakes people make is to insure their pets for the beginning of their life, luckily not needing to claim, deciding in their later years that it isn’t needed and then their pet develops a lifelong condition. 

For example if you have a 12 year old cat that gets hyperthyroidism, the condition could potentially cost over £5000 to treat. If you do not have insurance would you have the funds to cover this?

Whereas if you had insurance that might cost you £30 a month, with only the excess and possible % in contribution towards the bill, the ability to care for your beloved pet isn’t as difficult.

Pre-existing conditions

Pre-existing condition is where your cat has had an illness, injury or been seen for signs of possible illness or injury before the insurance policy started. You must declare any pre-existing conditions when trying to get insurance for your pet otherwise the policy might be void. If your pet does have a pre-existing condition don’t let this put you off, you might still be able to find a company to insure your cat, although it’s very likely that you’ll not get any cover for the pre-existing condition.

Pet insurance can be a bit of a minefield, but it is something, which we believe is essential. For the most current advice, we would always recommend discussing this with your Veterinary Surgery next time you visit.

A Guide to Chinchilla Cats

25th April 2019Cat CareLeave a comment

A part of the Persian cat family, the Chinchilla is one of beauty. Chinchilla cats are people-orientated making them a wonderful addition to any family home, give a Chinchilla cat a warm lap to snuggle on and they will be a friend for life.

The Facts

  • Temperament: Home loving and friendly
  • Social/Attention Needs: high
  • Average Life Span: 14 – 16 years
  • Coat length: Long
  • Grooming required: High, Chinchilla cats require daily grooming to avoid matting.

The Look

These strikingly beautiful white cats always have green eyes (emerald or blue-green) that look Kohl rimmed – often giving them the look of always being surprised. They are a mid-sized breed with a thick coat which requires a lot of tending to.

The History of Chinchilla Cats

Chinchillas are of the manmade variety and were developed from a silver Persian, Chinnie, who was born in 1882. She was the offspring of a blue Persian and an unknown stray tom. Breeders encouraged the colouring through outcrossing and Chinnie’s descendants began looking like the Chinchillas we know now in the early 1900s. The first standards were drawn up around the time that The Chinchilla, Silver and Smoke Cat Society (the name has since altered slightly) was established in 1908.

Health

All have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic. Problems that may affect the Chinchilla include the following:

  • Polycystic Kidney Disease

A Fun Fact About Chinchilla Cats

A Chinchilla cat was the feline companion of James Bond villain Bolfeld, who would curl up on his master’s lap as world domination was planned.

 

Caring for a Senior Dog – Helpful Tips and Tricks

25th April 2019Dog CareLeave a comment

As with people, dogs slow down with age. You may notice subtle changes in their personality or attitude, some may start to slow down on walks, become hard of hearing or even forgetful of routines they have had for years. Some changes are all part of the ageing process and are not cause for concern, but some changes can signify pain or illness and will need to be checked with a vet. Caring for an older dog can be very rewarding and does not need to be life-changing, but small changes can dramatically improve the quality of life in an elderly dog.

This is dependent on breed, as all breeds have different life spans, much of which is dependant on size – bigger dogs will age faster. However, most breeds are now considered senior from the age of seven. Many vets now provide senior clinics with a Veterinary Nurse to help you understand and recognise subtle changes your dog may start to show, that can indicate intervention may be needed. Just as people get older, we sometimes require additional supplements for support, supplements are also available for our pets.

As a dog gets older the body starts to slow down and requires less energy – this is why at times there is a tendency for a dogs weight to increase in their older years. Hearing and sight start to deteriorate and their coat might not seem as shiny as it once was. Internally, organs may not work as efficiently as they once did and blood tests may be required to see how they are functioning.

However, due to the progression in Veterinary medicine, we are now able to support dogs through most of these changes and if a good quality of life remains dogs can go on to live many happy and healthy years.

caring-old-dog

Animals can also suffer from arthritis; you may notice your pet’s joints are more stiff in the morning or slightly worse during the colder weather. All joint issues should first be checked by a vet and an appropriate treatment plan can be decided, this may be in the form of medication, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy or even laser therapy.

caring-for-older-dog-carramp

You can help your pet at home by

  • Ensuring they maintain a healthy weight – excess weight puts additional strain on joints that are already under increased pressure.
  • Adjust walks according to your pet – A dog that once enjoyed a long 1 hour walk on pavement may now prefer and benefit from 3 shorter walks on softer ground.
  • Padded bedding – support joints with extra padded bedding, older large breeds can be prone to pressure sores on their elbows or hocks. A good strong pet bed like the Pet Fusion Ultimate Lounge has been designed to provide support and comfort for older animals.
  • Consider a pet ramp for a dog that frequently needs to be transported in a car, this will remove added pressure on joints when jumping in and out, and also save your back from lifting!
  • Keep an eye on nails – dogs that are no longer as active do not wear down their nails as they used to and ingrown nails are extremely painful. VIP’s provide an at home claw clipping service to take the stress out of additional vet visits.

This will differ for each dog, some dogs will be completely fine on the diet they have been fed their entire life and some will need to change. Many food companies now provide ‘senior diets’ these are carefully formulated for the older dog in order to support life stage changes and this may be something that is worth looking into. If your pet is losing weight with age a Veterinary Surgeon should be consulted to see if an underlying condition may be causing this. Always remember that diets should be slowly changed over a period of at least a week, a sudden change in diet may cause stomach upsets.

We would always advise that your dog visits the vet at least once yearly for a full examination, however in older pets, it is advised every six months, this will be a good opportunity to have their weight monitored, heart checked as well as have any concerns or queries questioned.

Always seek Veterinary attention if  –

  • Your Dog is eating less.
  • Your Dog is drinking more than usual.
  • Your Dog is losing weight.
  • You find any lumps or bumps.
  • Your Dog is becoming disorientated.
  • Your female Dog has any discharge from her vagina.
  • Your dog has any stiffness or lameness.
  • Your Dog has a cough.

We are extremely lucky that today our pets are living for much longer than they used to but with this, we always need to ensure they are supported through their older years so they can be as happy and as comfortable as all their lives.

A Guide to the Staffordshire Bull Terrier

11th March 2019UncategorisedLeave a comment

When looking for ways to describe the Staffordshire Bull Terrier often you will hear courageous, intelligent and a strong love of children. Despite often getting a bad reputation this loveable lively breed with steal the hearts of anyone who meets them making them the perfect family pet.

Facts about Staffordshire Bull Terriers

  • Temperament: Lively and loveable
  • Social/Attention Needs: High
  • Average Life Span: 11-13 years
  • Coat length: short and coarse
  • Grooming required: weekly

The Look of Staffordshire Bull Terriers

Smooth-coated, well balanced, of great strength for his size. Muscular, active and agile.

 

A small to medium sized breed with a short, easy-care coat. They are active and agile with a gentle personality. With a short, broad head and muscular body, he resembles the other bull breeds such but the SBT is a breed unto himself with distinct physical characteristics that set them apart – including size and ear shape.

Staffordshire Bull Terriers come in red, fawn, white, black or blue, or any one of these colours with white. As well as any of shade of brindle or any shade of brindle with white.

The History of Staffordshire Bull Terriers

The Staffordshire Bull Terrier comes from the Staffordshire region of, England. They were originally bred in the nineteenth century from crosses between Bulldogs and various other terrier breeds. The Staffordshire Bull was originally bred for the then-popular sport of bull baiting. Then, in the twentieth century, interest in the breed grew as a good family pet.

Health problems seen in Staffordshire Bull Terriers

All have varying incidences of health problems that may be genetic. Problems that may affect the Staffordshire Bull Terriers include the following:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Skin sensitivities
  • Hip Dysplasia

A fun fact about Staffordshire Bull Terriers

The Staffie gets around – even in the celebrity world! Celebrity owners include Vin Diesel, who has a Staffie called Winston.