How to reduce stress in multi-cat households

How to reduce stress in multi-cat households

Are multi-cat households more stressful? Having more than one cat in the home can lead to feelings of stress, frustration and issues with aggression. Here you can find tips on how to reduce stress, aggression and other multi-cat issues.

Is it normal for cats to live with other cats?

Whilst the wildcat ancestor of our domestic cat would live a completely solitary life, our modern domestic cat can be more adaptable, depending on the availability of food and other important resources. This is known as a flexible approach to sociality; if there are enough resources to go around, cats are more likely to form close bonds, or at least learn to tolerate each other. Cats that get along, or at least tolerate each other, have lower levels of stress and less chance of aggression.

How can multi-cat households be made successful?

For the highest chance of a successful multi-cat household, we need to try our best to emulate a more solitary life in the home environment. This can be done by ensuring there are enough of the cat’s core resources, which translates to one resource per cat, plus one more for choice. The main resources are:

  • Food which should be given in a bowl that allows a cat to keep a lookout of their surroundings

  • Water which should be given away from feeding areas

  • Litter trays which should be kept away from areas of food and in a low stress location

  • Scratching posts

  • Sleeping areas which should ideally be raised and away from areas of conflict

  • Toys

  • High-up resting areas

How else can we reduce stress and related aggression?

Closely bonded pet parents are also an important resource for our feline friends! We can help reduce conflict and stress by providing opportunities to interact with each cat alone. A great way to reduce issues is by planning dedicated play-time with each cat, as well as play time with all the cats, to increase positive associations and reduce aggression. As toys can become a source of conflict, we can use multiple toys to play with the cats and ensure there are plenty of hiding places such as boxes or chairs available. High-reward treats can be given during these sessions to increase positive associations between the cats and reduce issues long term.

A pheromone based product such as Feliway Friends can also help reduce stress in multi-cat households. It works by emitting a synthetic copy of the cat appeasing pheromone, which is naturally secreted by a mother cat’s mammary glands after birth. It can help cats to become more accepting of each other, reducing conflict in the environment.

What is the best food for my dog

What is the best food for my dog?

This is a particularly contentious issue as there are many very strong opinions amongst dog owners. What does make a good dog food? And, how should dogs be fed? This article looks at the different food types available and how to best choose the type of food for your individual dog.

Many food brands claim that we should be feeding dogs like their ancestors, wolves. However, dogs were domesticated between 14,000 and 29,000 years ago and are a sub-species in their own right. There is a huge amount of variability in digestive function between dogs and wolves, as well as lifestyle, shape, size and health conditions that need to be considered. Although we can take inspiration from what wolves eat in the wild, we need to be mindful to consider all the factors that are different in domestic dogs.

What should I be looking for in my dog’s food?

  • You should feed your dog a ‘complete’ diet. This is a diet that contains all of the nutritional requirements needed by your dog for growth and maintenance, such as protein, vitamins and minerals. A complete diet is important in preventing nutritional deficiencies.

  • Science-based food brands – the pet food industry and pet food brands are highly regulated. Brands, such as Royal Canin and Purina, must undergo rigorous testing and quality control in order to meet industry requirements on nutrition and hygiene on their products

  • Palatability – it is important your dog likes the food and eats well. Their diet must provide all the nutrients required for growth and maintenance. Therefore, your dog needs to be eating sufficient quantities or the right diet for their life-stage

  • Safety – it is important that the food is safe for your dog to eat. It must be properly stored, without containing mould, sharp bones or pathogens that could make them or you unwell

  • Suitable for your dog’s life stage – dogs go through different stages of life. At each stage your dog’s nutritional needs will differ. For example, a growing and energetic puppy is going to require different nutrients, to a less energetic, senior dog. Therefore, the diet must be appropriate for your dog’s age

  • Lifestyle – working dogs and athletes, such as agility dogs, will need different formulations and different caloric requirements to sedentary dogs

Types of dog food

 

Kibble/Dry

Kibble diets come in many flavours, sizes and brands. This type of diet is also referred to as dry dog food or dog biscuits. These are generally complete diets

 

Wet/Canned

This type of diet can come in trays, pouches, tins or cans that usually have a long shelf life. Some food brands will provide these diets as complete diets, others will only be supplementary tasty toppers to improve eating behaviours.

 

Fresh/Homemade

You can buy ingredients to make your own dog food at home. However, this is only advisable if formulated by a qualified veterinary nutritionist to ensure it is a complete and balanced diet. These homemade recipes can be labour intensive and expensive, but can be a lifeline for dogs with health issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). There are also a few brands, such as Butternut Box, now providing fresh homemade food. These recipes are formulated by vets, and are therefore complete, balanced and pre-cooked

 

Raw (fresh or frozen thawed)

Raw diets are made from uncooked animal and vegetable products. As with the homemade diets, it is important to use a complete formulation. For further information, see our article on raw feeding. If opting for a raw diet, the frozen-thawed option is slightly safer

Freeze-dried raw food

  • Freeze-drying is a process where the raw food is frozen initially and then the moisture is removed at very low temperatures. It is technically a raw diet as the food has not been cooked

  • This process preserves more of the nutrients in the raw ingredients when compared to dry dog food, homemade diets or dehydrated dog food

  • However, this process doesn’t necessarily kill all of the bacteria or pathogens that can be found in raw meat. Some food brands will also use pasteurisation methods, such as high-pressure pasteurisation, prior to the freeze-drying process, which will kill any pathogens

  • These are fairly new diets and there isn’t much scientific evidence behind them at the moment. However, anecdotally they are believed to be more palatable for fussy eaters as they preserve the taste of the meat ingredients, and better for dogs with a sensitive digestive system that require minimally processed food

Air-dried or dehydrated raw food

  • As with freeze-dried raw food, both these types of dog food also involve processes to remove the moisture content. The main difference is the temperature at which this process is carried out. Some food brands will opt for air-drying, others will dehydrate the formulation at a low heat

  • These processes are supposed to remove pathogens from the raw food making it safer. It also makes the packaging lighter and is more convenient to feed than the fresh raw or frozen thawed raw diets

  • This is another fairly new diet that hasn’t been around for long and there isn’t a huge body of evidence to show the pros and cons

Semi-moist

  • Semi-moist dog foods are usually kibble-based but they contain a higher water content, generally providing a softer texture.

  • They can be beneficial for fussy eaters or dogs struggling to chew on harder food, but they are known to quite often contain more sugar, salt and chemical preservatives

Cold-pressed

  • These diets involve a process where the ingredients are ground and pressed whilst being cooked at lower temperatures than those used in making conventional kibble or dry dog food diets

  • This process preserves more of the vital nutrients and flavours of the original ingredients. It can therefore also be beneficial for fussy eaters

Other things to consider

  • Convenience – Is this dog food easy to get hold of on a regular basis? Is it easy to store, prepare and feed?

  • Sustainability – more dog food brands are considering where in the modern world they get their ingredients from. It is important to consider the provenance of the protein, for example if the diet is salmon-based, is this sustainably caught salmon?

  • Environment – it is worth taking into account the impact of your dog’s food packaging on the environment. For example, individual plastic trays of wet food are not ideal, and if you are using these it is important to recycle the plastic waste

  • Affordability – it is important to choose a dog food you can support on a long-term basis, while trying to provide your dog with the best you can afford, as this will likely save on certain health issues later down the line

As you can see, there really is a huge range of dog foods on the market in all sorts of flavours and formulations. Your best option is to buy the highest quality dog food you can afford for your puppy, for at least the first 12-18 months of their life, or adult dog. If this becomes financially unsustainable for you then consider a mid-range diet once they reach adulthood. Initially, you may need to try a few different diets, with different ingredients or different types of food, to find which suits your individual dog the best.

Christmas cat kitten

How to celebrate a safe Christmas with your cat

Christmas is a cosy time with decorations, candles and plants – but it can also involve a lot of risks for your cat. Here we share our best tips on how to avoid the dangers of Christmas and what to do if an accident does happen!

Prepare well in advance

During Christmas, many families have more things at home, such as Christmas decorations, candles and plants, but also more food and goodies than usual. Here we give some tips on what your cat should avoid, as well as what can be good to have at home to be prepared!

Update your pet’s medicine box

Feel free to check your cat’s home pharmacy before Christmas. If your cat gets a stomach upset, you may wish to have some pre-prepared highly digestible food, electrolyte supplements and probiotics, at home. These are available from your vet or at a pet pharmacy.

Do not leave dangerous temptations around

Remember not to leave food, sweets, candles or presents, ribbons or string lying around where inquisitive cats can find them. You may wish to inform guests and teach children in advance that certain types of food and items can be dangerous to cats, to help avoid accidents.

Register your pet with FirstVet

Register and add your animal to your FirstVet app so that you have quick and easy access to an experienced vet 24/7 and 365 days a year – even throughout Christmas and New Year.

Simple tricks to keep your cat entertained and relaxed

  • New toys: try to play with your cat for a few minutes a day. This can reduce the likelihood of them investigating the Christmas tree, for example, and getting into trouble
  • Food toys: try serving your cat’s food in an interactive toy or puzzle, to provide mental stimulation and keep them occupied for longer
  • Personal space: when having guests at home, ensure that your cat’s litter tray is in a quiet place where it is easily accessible. Make sure they also have a quiet place to go – preferably a place where the cat can be higher up and where they have a view of the room

Tip! If you know that your cat gets stressed by new people, try using a Feliway pheromone diffuser. Spray and plug-in diffuser options are available, as well as other aids, such as nutraceuticals (Zylkene). Start using them a few days before you plan to have visitors.

Common poisonings during Christmas


Christmas food

Christmas food often has a high fat and/or salt content, and is rarely suitable to share with our cats. If a cat gets leftover food that is very fatty or salty, there is a risk of a stomach upset, with vomiting and diarrhoea, or unnecessary strain on their kidneys. Many Christmas foods also contain onions and garlic, which can lead to anaemia in dogs and cats.

Chocolate

Chocolate can cause major problems for cats, including the risk of a stomach upset, salivation, an irregular heart rhythm and, in the worst case, life-threatening heart problems, coma or seizures. If you are unsure whether your cat has eaten chocolate, or how much they have eaten, you should always contact a vet for emergency advice.

Plants

Cats may want to investigate indoor plants. Several of the plants that you may have at home at Christmas are toxic to cats. If you notice that your cat is interested in a certain plant, it may be wise to move the plant to a cat-proof place, or remove the plant altogether. Make sure that suspected poisonous plants, as well as cut flowers, are placed where cats cannot reach them. Plants that can cause poisoning include: lilies, amaryllis, Christmas rose and poinsettia.

How to celebrate a safe Christmas with your dog

How to celebrate a safe Christmas with your dog

Christmas is a cozy time with decorations, candles and plants – but it can also involve a lot of risks for your dog. Here we share our best tips on how to avoid the dangers of Christmas and what to do if an accident does happen!

Prepare well in advance

During Christmas, many families have more things at home, such as Christmas decorations, candles and plants, but also more food and goodies than usual. Here we give some tips on what your canine friend should avoid, as well as what can be good to have at home to be prepared!

Update your pet’s medicine box

Feel free to check your dog’s home pharmacy before Christmas. If your dog gets a stomach upset, you may wish to have some pre-prepared highly digestible food, electrolyte supplements and probiotics, at home. These are available from your vet or at a pet pharmacy.

Do not leave dangerous temptations around

Remember not to leave food, sweets, candles or presents, ribbons or batteries lying around where inquisitive dogs can find them. You may wish to inform guests and teach children in advance that certain types of food and items can be dangerous to dogs, to help avoid accidents.

Register your pet with FirstVet

Register and add your animal to your FirstVet app so that you have quick and easy access to an experienced vet 24/7 and 365 days a year – even throughout Christmas and New Year.

Simple tricks to keep your dog entertained and relaxed

  • Exercise: ensure that your dog gets out for a walk twice each day. In adverse weather, try to play games with your dog indoors instead. This can reduce the likelihood of them investigating the Christmas tree, for example, and getting into trouble
  • Food toys and treats: try serving your dog’s food in an interactive toy, such as a KONG, puzzle ball or snuffle mat, to provide mental stimulation and keep them occupied for longer
  • Personal space: when having guests at home, if your dog gets stressed, ensure that they have a quiet place to go that is easily accessible

Tip! If you know that your dog gets stressed by new people, try using an Adaptil pheromone diffuser. Spray and plug-in diffuser options are available, as well as other aids, such as nutraceuticals (Zylkene). Start using them a few days before you plan to have visitors.

Common poisonings during Christmas

Christmas food

Christmas food often has a high fat and/or salt content, and is rarely suitable to share with our dogs. If a dog gets leftover food that is very fatty or salty, there is a risk of a stomach upset, with vomiting and diarrhoea, or pancreatitis, which is a painful and dangerous condition. Blue cheese may smell delicious for dogs but it contains roquefortine C, which is made by a fungus that is used during production. If ingested, it can lead to tremors and seizures for up to 48 hours. Many Christmas foods also contain onions and garlic, such as traditional stuffing or chutney, which can lead to anaemia in dogs and cats.

In a nutshell, many nuts are hazardous to dogs. They can cause a blockage in the intestine if swallowed. Walnuts are susceptible to mycotoxin contamination, which can cause seizures, tremors or other neurological symptoms. The mechanism of macadamia nut toxicity is not known, but ingestion can also cause tremors, vomiting diarrhoea and weakness.

Chocolate

Chocolate can cause major problems for dogs, including the risk of a stomach upset, salivation, an irregular heart rhythm and, in the worst case, life-threatening heart problems, coma or seizures. If you are unsure whether your dog has eaten chocolate, or how much they have eaten, you should always contact a vet for emergency advice.

Plants

Dogs may want to investigate indoor plants. Several of the plants that you may have at home at Christmas are toxic to dogs. If you notice that your dog is interested in a certain plant, it may be wise to move the plant to a dog-proof place, or remove the plant altogether. Make sure that suspected poisonous plants, as well as cut flowers, are placed where dogs cannot reach them. Plants that can cause poisoning include: lilies, amaryllis, Christmas rose and poinsettia.

7 ways to give your dog a very happy Christmas

7 ways to give your dog a very happy Christmas – and most of them won’t cost you a penny!

Christmas is an exciting time for humans and is also a time when we can do something special for the dogs in our lives. Christmas is a time that we can show our dogs how loved and appreciated they are.

1. ROUTINE

Just because you’re planning a Champagne brunch, doesn’t mean your dog will be happy to skip breakfast. Maybe one member of the family should be given responsibility for checking the dog’s not been forgotten, and that they’re not getting into trouble stealing food that might be dangerous or chewing presents left lying around.

2. CHOICE

Some dogs love being part of any excitement going. Others not so much. Make sure your dog has access to a quiet comfortable corner if they need a break.

3. FOOD TREATS

Food is a large part of our Christmas Day, don’t leave your dog out. Perhaps start their day off with a frozen stuffed Kong. It will keep your dog happily occupied while you get on with your own food prep.

4. PRESENTS

Let them unwrap their own presents – much like toddlers, the paper and boxes they come in can be as rewarding as the contents. Don’t forget crackers. The inner tube from a kitchen roll, filled with a few treats or a toy, wrapped up with paper twists at the end makes a Christmas cracker fit for any dog to tug, chew and eventually eviscerate.

5. YOUR ATTENTION

Whether it’s playing games or spending time stroking and talking to them – take the cue from your dog – your attention is what your dog really wants (although, that piece of turkey you mentioned would be good too …).

6. GO ON A SNIFFARI

Yes, it is a thing! Your dog’s main sense of the world comes through their nose. Today in particular, let your dog be a dog. Don’t hustle them along on a walk – let them choose the route and give them time to sniff the environment, the trees, the lampposts.

7. ENTERTAINING THEMSELVES

Give your dogs something to keep their brains and noses enjoyably occupied. There are any number of puzzle toys, snuffle mats, treat dispenser balls and electronic devices available. Or make your own. This is where the recycling – the acres of wrapping paper and empty boxes – come into their own: hide treats in scrumpled up paper on the floor or in a dog-sized box.

You’ll find lots of ideas for things to make, cook and do with dogs and kids throughout the holidays in Dog Home School for Kids from The Dog Coach Online. Wishing all of you and your dogs a very Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for the New Year.

cat carrier

Choosing a cat carrier

Cats often have negative associations with their carrier, especially if it means a trip to the vet. This may make it difficult to get them to enter the carrier, therefore making it harder and more stressful for the owner to bring the cat to the vet. What causes these negative associations? Here we look at what to consider when choosing a carrier and how best to train your cat.

What to look for when choosing a cat carrier

Slats on the side – a carrier with slats on the side will allow the cat to feel more secure compared to a carrier which has slats all over it. The slats allow for air to circulate and treats to be given to the cat and a blanket can be used to cover the whole carrier when you transport the cat

Roof opening – a carrier that opens fully at both the top and the front allows the cat to enter and exit the carrier in two different ways. This is especially helpful with cats that are not yet comfortable with using the front door. A roof opening also allows a vet to examine the cat without taking them out of the carrier which can be good for nervous cats

Material and size – carriers made of strong plastic are ideal as they are easy to clean, and prevent escapes. The carrier should be big enough for the cat to lie down, stand up and turn around in

Familiar bedding – cats are very territorial and rely on scent to feel comfortable and secure in their environment. Placing familiar, comfortable bedding in the carrier will help the cat to feel more at ease when travelling in the carrier. A synthetic facial pheromone, such as Feliway, can also be sprayed on the bedding 15 minutes before the cat enters the carrier.

Questions to ask if you cat is experiencing problems using the carrier:

  • Is the carrier too small? Without enough space to move or having a lack of control over their environment may make a cat feel uncomfortable
  • Is being handled in the carrier uncomfortable? A cat may associate rough handling with the carrier itself
  • Does the cat have negative associations with the carrier due to previous illness? For example, the cat may have been in pain when they were put in the carrier, and therefore associate the carrier with this feeling
  • Does the carrier smell different to their usual territory? For example, if it is kept in a shed, a different smell may make the cat feel anxious

How to improve your cat’s emotional response towards the carrier

  1. Ask yourself why the cat may have negative associations with the carrier. If the cat has been forced into the carrier, or had a negative experience with a carrier, it’s usually best to source a new carrier to re-start the training process.
  2. Have other cats used the carrier? If cats share a carrier, albeit at different times, and they do not have a good relationship, this may cause issues with entering the carrier. Cats leave chemical messages (pheromones) for other cats, so they may pick up negative signals if another cat has used the carrier. In this case, wash the carrier with a warm solution of biological washing powder (approximately 10% washing powder) to remove any pheromones
  3. When starting to train your cat to use a carrier, ensure the process is not rushed. If possible, start before any vet visits are needed. The top of the carrier can be removed or opened, and the carrier can be placed in an area of the house that the cat feels comfortable in. Synthetic facial pheromones (for example, Feliway) can be sprayed on a favourite blanket inside the carrier. Try placing a treat(s) and/or catnip in the carrier and leave it there for the cat to investigate freely
  4. If the cat does not choose to go near the carrier, try moving their favourite bedding a little closer and give them a treat when they go near or on the blanket. In this way your cat will learn to relax near the carrier. Slowly place the blanket closer to the carrier over time until the cat is comfortable sitting on the blanket in the open carrier. This helps to form positive associations with the carrier
  5. This same technique can be used when it’s time to add the roof, and eventually the door, to the carrier. The roof should be placed on the carrier when the cat is not in the carrier. If the cat is not comfortable with entering the carrier yet, a ‘lure’ can be used to encourage them. Do not use a lure if they are very anxious. A lure could be a treat or toy placed inside the carrier. Once inside, a treat should be given to mark the correct behaviour. Build this training up over time with the cat spending increasing amounts of time in the carrier, before repeating the process with a door attached

When should you contact your vet?

  • If you have any concerns or questions about your cat
Posted in Pet

Pros and cons of keeping a cat indoors

For most cat owners, it is an important decision on whether you should keep your cat indoors or allow them access to the outside world. There are pros and cons of both options which this article will discuss.

The benefits of keeping a cat indoors:

  • The risk of physical injury is lower in indoor-only cats and these cats may live longer. Physical risks that they will avoid include road traffic accidents, falling from trees, drowning, attacks from other animals and aggressive encounters with other cats in territorial disputes (unless they are living in a multi-cat household with incompatible cats).

  • The risk of someone else physically harming the cat or stealing it is eliminated if they do not go outside.

  • Protection from infectious diseases such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).

  • Some breeds or types of cats may be at higher risk of challenges in the outside world. For example, hairless cats are at risk of exposure to higher and lower temperatures and direct sunlight, white cats are more at risk of skin cancer and long haired breeds are more at risk of matted fur by being in the outside world. These risks can be minimised or removed by keeping them indoors.

  • An indoor-only lifestyle prevents cats from hunting wildlife, which is not necessarily a positive for the cat. However, this is a positive for the wildlife population and can be an ethical decision for some owners concerned for the wildlife population or who experience pressure from neighbours to keep the cat indoors.

The downside of keeping a cat indoors:

  • There is less opportunity for the cat to perform natural predatory and exploratory behaviours which can lead to boredom and frustration. These behaviours can and should be mimicked in the indoor environment with the use of prey-like toys, puzzle feeders and scatter feeding.

  • Accidents within the home such as falling from windows, poisoning from cleaning products, medications or plants are still prevalent in indoor cats. These risks still apply to indoor-outdoor cats but there may be a slightly higher risk to cats who spend all of their time indoors.

  • Indoor cats will tend to be less streetwise if they do manage to escape from the house and may be at higher risk of startling from traffic, being involved in a road traffic accident or getting lost.

  • Indoor cats may perceive threats from seeing neighbouring cats enter their garden or pass the house without being able to chase them away, which can lead to frustration.

  • If an indoor cat is part of a multi-cat household, there is a risk of them experiencing negative emotions and subsequent inappropriate behaviours from sharing space with incompatible cats. This might include house soiling, increased marking or scratching behaviours and over grooming to name a few. This can still be the case with indoor-outdoor cats, but the pressure could be much higher on those cats not able to remove themselves from the house at times of high stress.

Posted in Pet
Conker poisoning in dogs

Conker poisoning in dogs

Conkers are the seed of the horse chestnut nut tree, a very common species in the UK, which are found lying on the ground in the autumn time. Similar to acorns, curious dogs may pick up conkers to play with. Read what our vet advises about conkers in our article.

Clinical signs of conker poisoning

The first signs of the toxicity are seen between 1 and 6 hours after ingestion, although signs can be delayed for 48 hours.

Signs of toxicity include:

  • Restlessness
  • Wobbliness
  • Muscle tremors
  • Drooling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting +/- blood
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased thirst
  • Reduced appetite

Cause of conker poisoning

Although conker toxicity is rare, accidental ingestion can lead to problems. The major toxic component of conkers is aesculin, which is found in all parts of the tree, including the leaves. The mechanism of toxicity remains unclear.

What can you do to help your pet?

Preventing your dog from eating conkers, whether you are outside or on a walk, is the best way to avoid conker poisoning. If you notice that your dog picks up, chews or swallows conkers, it is important to seek prompt veterinary advice.

Treatment of conker poisoning

The first thing that your vet will do is give your dog medication to induce vomiting to remove the stomach contents. They may also perform gastric lavage to wash out the stomach. In this way, as much of the potentially toxic material is removed from your pet’s digestive system.

The main treatment for conker poisoning is supportive treatment to manage the clinical signs, including fluid therapy and correction of electrolyte imbalances. In cases where conkers cause intestinal obstruction, surgery might be necessary.

Posted in Pet
prepare your dog for fireworks

How to prepare your dog for fireworks with training

Many dogs are afraid of fireworks – and why wouldn’t they be! Unfortunately, firework displays aren’t limited to 5th November, so it’s best to be prepared at any time from October through New Year’s Eve. If you already know your dog is terrified of fireworks, do speak to your vet or a dog behaviourist for advice. There isn’t a quick fix, and sometimes medication may be needed.

How to prepare your dog for fireworks with training

Dogs and fireworks: how to prepare your dog with training

There are things you can do to help an already anxious dog or to make sure a dog who hasn’t yet experienced their first fireworks season copes as well as possible.

  1. Safety first: keep your dog on lead, even in the garden, unless you’re absolutely certain they can’t get out. Check their collar or harness is secure, that microchip information is up to date, and that they’re wearing their ID tag. A frightened dog may scramble over a fence or tunnel through a hedge.

  2. Be there: your dog will find it far harder to cope alone. Ignore old-school advice that it’s wrong to comfort them. You will help by being a reassuring presence. And, just as you might with a nervous small child, be calm and comforting. If they seek your lap or a soothing hand, do offer it.

  3. Provide a ‘safe place’: many dogs will find it helpful to have a covered den in an area where they feel most comfortable. Where they feel safest when stressed is your dog’s choice – it might be in their crate, under a bed or behind a sofa. Wherever they are likely to choose, cover it perhaps with an old duvet to reduce the noise and flashing lights. Don’t shut them in as they may panic if they feel both scared and trapped. Close windows and draw the curtains if possible.

  4. Think about exercise and toileting: plan walks well before dusk in the hope of avoiding the fireworks, and try and get them to toilet before it kicks off as they may not be prepared to do so later. You may have to get up in the middle of the night or very early to take your dog out instead. It’s probably a good idea to leave newspaper or pads on the floor, just in case.

  5. Alternative sounds: play music or have the TV on. There are also sites where you can get music that’s specially written to calm dogs.

  6. Distracting your dog isn’t always possible but well worth trying. Have their favourite treats and good tasty chews available, play games, try gentle massages. But if they just want to hide away, allow them to do so.

  7. There are a number of products designed to calm pets. You can try Pet Remedy plug-in diffusers or sprays. Your dog may benefit from a body wrap such as a Thundershirt or hoodies designed to go over their ears – but get them used to these well in advance.

Remember, only your dog can decide what’s helpful! With a little preparation, hopefully your dog will get through it all relatively calmly.

Posted in Pet
Fever in dogs and cats

Fever in dogs and cats

Having a body temperature that is higher than normal is usually associated with fever. A fever is typically caused by inflammation or infection. A temperature rise is part of the body’s normal defence mechanism and fulfils an important function. A rectal temperature above 39.2 degrees C is considered abnormal in dogs and cats. In this article you can read more about symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of fever – and when it’s time to contact a vet!

Causes of a temperature

In addition to infection and inflammation, a high temperature can be caused by immunological diseases, traumatic tissue damage, tumours, heat stroke, seizures, allergic reactions, pain, stress or heavy exercise, as well as in response to certain drugs, such as vaccines.

Symptoms of fever in dogs and cats

  • Dull
  • Lethargy
  • Anxious
  • Increased breathing rate or effort
  • Reduced appetite
  • Drinking more
  • Trembling
  • Pinker or redder gums than normal
  • Increased heart rate

Diagnosis – how to find out if your pet has a fever

To know if your dog or cat has a high body temperature, you need to take their rectal temperature. You cannot accurately assess body temperature by feeling the nose, ears, tongue or paw. At rest, the normal temperature is around 38.3 degrees C. It is useful to take the temperature of your animal a couple of times when it is well, so that you know what is the normal temperature for your particular animal.

Tip! Here you can see how to take the temperature of your pet.

Treatment of a fever

If your dog or cat has a mild temperature rise (below 39.2 degrees C) but is otherwise in good health, you can often wait and keep a close eye on them for any other signs that might develop. It may also be a good idea to contact a vet for some advice. Ensure your pet is allowed to rest, stays hydrated and eats small regular meals.

If the animal is showing any of the signs above, or does not start showing signs of improvement, a vet examination is likely to be needed. Blood samples, and x-rays or an ultrasound scan may be the first steps to finding out what the problem is. The treatment will depend on what the cause is. Sometimes, your pet may need to stay at the clinic for monitoring and treatment, such as a drip (intravenous fluid therapy).

Can I prevent infections in my dog ​​or cat?

It is difficult to protect against all infections, just as with humans. Make sure that your dog or cat receives their recommended vaccinations and boosters. A healthy diet and body condition is also important. Knowing what is normal for your pet will help you to spot abnormal symptoms early. Avoid sharing water bowls, food bowls and toys with other animals outside the household will also help to reduce the risk of infections.

When should you contact a vet?

If your dog or cat has a high temperature and is feeling under the weather, or you notice any other symptoms, contact your vet for advice. You can start by booking a video appointment with one of our vets at FirstVet for an initial assessment. If the temperature is above 40 degrees C, you should see a vet as soon as possible.

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