Preventative medicine for older cats
Cats are very secretive creatures and are very good at hiding early signs of ill health, which if caught early enough, can be managed much more efficiently. Diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease and hypertension are relatively common diseases that can be present for some time before clinical signs are noticed and left untreated can lead to permanent organ damage. Often the first sign of a problem in cats is irreversible organ damage, most commonly to the brain, heart, kidneys and eyes. This means routine screening is an essential part of preventing some of these problems.
At St Clair, we provide an annual health check free of charge with every booster vaccination. This clinical examination may highlight any areas of preventative care that may be required such as dental treatment or flea treatment but cannot see what is going on inside the cat.
The International Cat Care (formerly the Feline Advise Bureau) recommends that all mature cats (over the age of 7) should have in addition to the annual health check, a urine test and blood pressure test carried out. These are non-invasive tests that can highlight that there is an underlying problem developing and can be carried out at the same time as your vaccination as part of a senior pet nursing clinic for only an additional £20.
Senior cats (over the age of 11) should, in addition to the above, also have an annual blood screen to check underlying organ function. Geriatric cats (over the age of 15) should attend the practice every 6 months for blood pressure and urine testing in addition to the annual blood screen and health check to catch any underlying problems early.
Blood screening tests are more expensive and range from £50-150 depending on the test required. The veterinary surgeon at St Clair can often work with you and your budget to decide which blood test is going to be most important given the risk factors for your cat and that is usually determined by the results of the blood pressure and urine tests.
If you are interested in providing the gold standard of treatment for your cat as it gets older, make sure you discuss this with a member of staff at the practice and consider bringing a urine sample with you to any appointments that can be analysed to provide some baseline figures for your pet.
Rory Thomson BVMS MRCVS
The joys of owning a new puppy …….
Yesterday I added a new member to my animal family, Maxi, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier puppy.
Maxi is a boisterous, friendly 6 month old puppy and he is absolutely adorable. Unfortunately, Maxi has not been socialised with other dogs so is very nervous around them. It is very important to socialise dogs from a very early age. This is how they learn important social skills and positive experiences which will last a life time. However, it also works both ways and they can also be affected by early negative experiences. This is why early socialisation can be the key to having a happy, friendly puppy.
I already have 2 dogs, a cat a husband and 2 children at home who are well socialised (well the animals are anyway!) So I knew that Maxi would be accepted and would become part of a loving family.
Maxi first met our two boys aged 9 and 11 and he absolutely loved them, he made himself right at home straight away by jumping onto the sofa, something which I rarely allow!.
Next came the part which had to be done with precaution, introducing him to my other pets. As Maxi hadn’t come into contact with many other dogs it was a situation that could have been a negative experience for him. I needn’t have worried though. Maxi was introduced first to Tyler as she is my elderly lady who loves a more laid back approach to life. Maxi was hesitant at first but as soon as Tyler gave him a lick he reciprocated the kisses. George, my terrier was a little more of a challenge as he is very excitable and Maxi was a little nervous of this. We spent the evening giving treats and praise to them all and took everything very slowly. After a lovely long walk they had become firm friends.
Next Maxi was introduced to Chyna, the cat. Living in the house of a Veterinary nurse, all of my pets are used to the strays, rescues and foster animals I have brought home over the years. Chyna being no exception. She takes everything in her stride and will make sure Maxi knows that she rules the roost!. Maxi showed little interest in Chyna as he had previously been socialised with cats, so the meeting was swift with a little hiss from Chyna as Maxi got a little too excited.
We spent the evening playing and making sure everyone was relaxed and at ease. Max cuddled into our youngest little boy and was soon snoring away.
Next came bed time !!!!!!! Having already been told Maxi had never slept alone, or spent anytime apart from his previous owners, we knew that this was going to be our biggest challenge and something that was going to be a difficult task.
Maxi had been allowed to sleep in his owners’ bedroom on their bed. This is something that should never be advised although a lot of people do allow this. In our house the dogs and cats sleep in the dining room and are not allowed to venture upstairs unless we give permission.
Sleeping with your pets and never leaving them can lead to separation anxiety issues and this is very hard to correct. We see a lot of animals that have this condition and it can make owning a dog an unhappy experience. With basic rules, training, socialisation, stimulation, the correct exercise and diets and more insight and understanding into how to look after a puppy, these circumstances and problems that we become responsible for, can be avoided.
Maxi had a restless night as did we! He spent the night howling and crying. It’s not all puppy cuddles and cuteness believe me.
We made sure Maxi was not alone and he spent the night with George, Tyler and Chyna and before we went to bed we had a trial run to see how he would react. He found it hard to settle but we persevered and sure enough by 1 am he finally slept. He woke us up with a swift bark in the morning to let us know he needed out for a wee.
It will be a long process before Maxi feels at ease being left alone for periods during the day, and also at night, but with the right training and socialisation I am sure he will become a more confident happy dog.
Puppies as well as other pets grow into adults, and what we teach them stays with them for life. It is so important when taking on a new pet to research the breed. Make sure you have the time, commitment and financial security to dedicate to these loving animals. Shelters, rescues and many fosterers are full to the brim with unwanted pets bought as presents, or bought by people who do not realise the dedication they need. Please think carefully and make sure you research any breeders thoroughly. Having a pet is a luxury but their care and treatment is a basic necessity.
Owning a pet can brighten even the dullest day and they will give a lifetime of their love and loyalty. Make sure you can give them the same back.
Natasha Banks – RVN Senior Vet Nurse
Interesting welfare law that a lot of pet owners break ………..
I have recently read a section of the transport legislation and thought it was quite interesting. The legislation describes specific conditions where animals are unfit for transport and one of these specific conditions
“dogs and cats of less than eight weeks of age, unless they are
accompanied by their mother”
This means that legally no puppy or kitten can be transported if they are less than 8 weeks of age unless they have constant access to their mother. There is an exception for those puppies or kittens that are orphaned and that the transport is to protect their welfare.
Although this law does seem a bit extreme, it does help to highlight the importance of allowing puppies and kittens time with their mother. Breeders have a responsibility to the welfare of the animals under their care to ensure that these animals are not rehomed until they are properly weaned. Common sense on everyone’s behalf has to be taken into consideration when it comes to buying, selling and transporting young animals and the UK has some of the highest welfare standards in Europe. I do however feel that the welfare laws need to be tightened when it comes to the selling of puppies in this country. Although the transportation of 7 week old puppies without their mother is illegal, it is still perfectly legal to run a puppy farm. Puppy farms are commercial dog breeding facilities operated with an emphasis on profits, often at the expense of animal welfare.
From experience I can say that a lot of puppies purchased over the internet, through social networking sites, from a guy in the pub etc. and picked up at a service station or home delivered “for your convenience”, do not tend to be as healthy as they first appear, and may be coming from one of these “puppy farms”. They rarely have the proof of vaccination that you have been promised. The pedigree papers are rarely in the post and although treated for parasites “last week”, many have heavy parasite burdens that I have known to be fatal.
I would also urge all clients looking to purchase a puppy to make sure they are able to visit the puppies in the environment they are coming from and be able to see at least one of the parents. Even if you are able to see the puppy in this environment, do not feel obliged to purchase the puppy. Often I find when clients are faced with puppies kept in poor conditions, they buy the puppies to get them out of this environment. By doing this you are encouraging a poor breeder to continue breeding and
potentially leaving yourself with a very ill pet requiring expensive veterinary treatment.
Rory Thomson BVMS MRCVS