COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – an update for our clients.

Getting your rabbit pre-winter ready

Rabbits are experts at hiding illness, so daily and weekly checks at home should be backed up with regular visits to see one of our nurses. Whilst the exact frequency of your furry friend’s vet visits will depend on a number of factors, we normally remind owners in spring and autumn. Ideally, we’ll get to see your rabbit at least once a year and just before winter is an ideal time to make sure they’re prepared for the colder months ahead.

Typical vet visits for your rabbit may involve annual vaccinations and dental check-ups, but it’s useful to remind owners what they should be looking for in between vet visits.

Below is a list of the essential areas we check when you bring your pet rabbit to our surgeries. We’re sharing this because rabbits are generally pretty good at keeping themselves clean, so if you spot anything mentioned in this list, it really is worth bringing them in.

Seven essential things for your rabbit health check list

  1. EyesYour rabbit’s eyes should be clear, bright, and free of discharge. Pull up the eyelid and the eye tissue should be pink. If it’s red or pale, or there is discharge from the eyes, call us.
  2. EarsThe inside of your rabbit’s ears should be clean and clear of wax/dirt. Check inside the ear with a penlight. Ask us to show you how to clean your rabbit’s ears on your next visit.
  3. NoseThis is really simple; your rabbit’s nose should be free of any discharge whatsoever. If you do see discharge from the nose, call us.
  4. TeethThese are really important. Check your rabbit’s teeth by carefully pulling the upper and lower lips back. You should see the upper front teeth aligning with the lowers and a slight overbite. If the teeth are too long or the bite isn’t good, we may need to trim them, and we’ll probably need to talk to you about their diet.
  5. FeetThe most common problem with a rabbit’s feet is sore hocks or heels. If you see foot sores, especially open sores, call us.
  6. NailsNails shouldn’t be too long. If they are, then it’s a simple job to clip them at home. Ask us to show you how to safely clip your rabbit’s nails on your next visit.
  7. Fur & SkinYour rabbit’s coat should be soft, shiny, and free of matted hair. If you back-brush the coat with your hand, the skin should be clear of dust and flakes.

 

As well as the essential list above, if you bring your rabbit in for a pre-winter health check-up we’ll be looking at areas such as their mobility, and talking to you about their eating and toileting behaviours. If you’re not sure when they were last seen, or, if you know it was over a year ago due to the disruption in 2020/21, then please do book an appointment.

Six actions cat owners across Wiltshire and Somerset should take to prepare for fireworks season

 

In a survey conducted by the PDSA, 40% of pet owners said their pets feared fireworks. The fact is, fireworks are not just limited to the weekends around Bonfire Night (November 5th) anymore.

Our ‘Cat Friendly Advocates’ here at Garston Vets have put together some seasonal advice for cat owners across Wiltshire and Somerset on how to help their pets cope with the now year-round risks posed by loud and sudden noises.

If none of the ‘natural’ measures recommended below do the trick, you should talk to us about other options like pheromone sprays and diffusers for cats. These remedies can help even the most nervous cats.

Enquire about pheromone sprays for cats

The problem with sudden noises, like fireworks, is that they put your cat into ‘fight or flight’ mode. More often than not this means they bolt off, increasing their chances of getting lost or injured. These behaviours are more prevalent at times of the year when sudden noises are everywhere, but they can actually be triggered at any time.

Use the tick list below and follow our advice to maximise the chances of your cat surviving a sudden noise scare in one piece.

Four things to do when you know it’s going to be noisy

  • Encourage earlier meal times. We recommend introducing earlier mealtimes for your cat around the middle to end of October as it starts to get dark earlier. This should get them into the routine of coming back into the house before it’s dark and the noises start.
  • Keep your cat indoors when it’s dark & noisy. When you know it’s going to be noisy, keeping them indoors at night reduces the risk of them getting injured if they bolt. Restrictions like this can be stressful for cats so you should let them back out to roam when it’s safe.
  • Do not try to coax your cat out of hiding. If your cat has been spooked by the noise and is hiding, leave them where they are. A searching hand will not be welcome and it’s better to let cats ‘sit it out’ where they feel safe.
  • Give them a treat. A stuffed chew-toy or a puzzle-ball can keep cats occupied for hours. Any novel stimulation can help take their mind off noise, which can significantly reduce stress.

Two actions to help cats with noise phobias year-round

  • Tag and microchip. Ensuring your cat is both microchipped and wears an identity tag, makes it much easier for you to be reunited if the noise has caused them to run to un-familiar surroundings.
  • Create a safe space. A natural reaction when any animal is scared is for them to retreat to their ‘den’. You should provide a safe, comfortable, and quiet space for every pet – including cats.

If all else fails – consider cat pheromones

Just as with dogs, pheromone diffusers can be used to help calm even the most stressed cat when things get really bad. Diffusers can take a couple of weeks to take effect so it’s important to start using them in advance of known noisy periods, or as soon as you notice your cat becoming anxious.

If the natural steps listed above don’t quite do the trick, contact our practice on 01373 452225 to discuss your cat’s particular needs.

Garston Vets explain how to desensitise your dog to fireworks

 

Fireworks are now a common feature at birthdays and weddings, as well as a key part of many seasonal celebrations like Bonfire Night. Add that to the fact that an estimated 3.2 million households got a pet during lockdown, then the coming weeks could be problematic. As November approaches, there will be many pet owners in Frome, Melksham, Trowbridge, Warminster and Westbury, who could be soon dealing with dogs scared by loud noises for the first time this year.

One of the easiest ways to help stressed dogs (and other pets) is to think about using pheromone diffusers in your home. There are also other medicinal options available for animals that show significant noise anxiety.

Make an appointment to discuss ways to help your pet with firework anxiety

However, as the ‘Firework Season’ approaches, responsible dog owners should, at the very least, be creating a ‘den’ (a safe place) for their dog with familiar smelling blankets and toys (adding your own unwashed clothing can be comforting). Making sure all windows and doors are shut when it gets noisy outside is a good idea too.

That said, if you’re looking for a longer-term solution to help your dog deal with sudden noises like fireworks, it might be worth considering desensitisation training for dogs. Here’s a quick guide to how that works.

Before you start, you will need these four things…

  1. A quiet space – You’ll need to introduce your dog to this calm place a few weeks before you begin the training.
  2. Example noises – Audio recordings of fireworks and other loud noises. You can get these in many places online.
  3. Treats – A selection of your pet’s favourite treats and toys.
  4. Time – This process takes two or three half hour (approx.) sessions over several weeks.

And this is the five-step process you should follow…

  1. Play the noise quietly – In their calm place, play the noises you are using at a low level so that your pet either doesn’t respond at all, or just turns towards the source. Do this for periods of up to 30 seconds.
  2. Reward good behaviour – After each reaction, give them a tiny piece of their favourite food, about the size of a pea.
  3. Slowly increase the noise – Once they stop reacting to the loud sounds and do other things while the sounds are playing, slowly (session by session) increase the volume. With each increase in volume give your dog up to 30 seconds to get used to the new level and continue to offer the treats after each noise.
  4. Vary the volume – After two or three sessions (assuming your dog is reacting well), start to vary the volume. There should be a general increasing trend, but make the volume lower as well as higher, as this will give you a longer lasting and generally more effective response.
  5. Take your time – Take it easy and don’t rush the process. Like all of the most effective training, it takes time and regular practice to get the response you want to loud noises. Repeating the training every now and then will help too.

So, there you have it, some excellent advice for dog owners new and old, to get your pets used to sudden loud noises and condition them to deal with ‘Bangs’ over time. As ever, if you need any help, you can always contact us to discuss your dog’s particular needs.

The most important behaviour Wiltshire and Somerset rabbit owners must recognise

If your rabbit stops eating or begins to eat less, it can be fatal! So, if you notice a change in their eating behaviour you should contact us immediately on 01373 452225 – time is of the essence.

Make an emergency appointment

As your rabbit will tend to hide health problems for as long as they can it’s important you bring them to see us at the first sign that something’s changed as by then, they may already have been suffering for a while.

Rabbits must eat regularly to keep their digestive system ticking over yet many things can cause your rabbit to suffer from reduced appetite. Dental disease and gut problems are the most common but there are others. As you should always keep rabbits in pairs, signs of one eating less can be hard to spot. Even if you do spot that there’s more food left over it can be hard to figure out which one is not eating. For that reason, we’d also recommend you look out for the following signs and behaviours that indicate your rabbit may be in distress.

  1. Slobbering / dribbling / wet chin
  2. Abnormal droppings
  3. Weight loss
  4. Grinding teeth or overgrown teeth
  5. Wet / dirty bottom
  6. Withdrawal or hiding away
  7. Head tilt
  8. Noisy breathing
  9. Bald areas or hair loss
  10. Crust or wax in the ears

What you should do if you spot a change in your rabbit’s behaviour

If you spot any change to the way or amount your rabbit is eating, or if you spot any of the ten signs above, you should call us. You’ll need tell us what’s changed and we’ll advise if you should bring your rabbit in to see one of our vets.

Book a rabbit check-up

Garston Vets’ tips on reducing separation anxiety in dogs

With the end of the summer holidays combining with more people returning to work, many dogs are going to miss the extra attention and companionship they’ve enjoyed. Suddenly they’re alone and this change can create a lot of stress.

To help ease the transition, the Garston Veterinary Group team would like to suggest their 6 top tips tips on reducing separation anxiety in dogs. Read them then talk to us if you’d like more information on any of our advice. Also, if you have any tips, please do share them on our Facebook page as it would be great to hear what works for you.

Share your tips on Facebook

Our top six tips on reducing separation anxiety in dogs:

Watch for the signs – If your dog has separation anxiety, you (or your neighbours) may observe one or more of the following:

  • Barking and howling whilst you are out – neighbours will often tell you
  • Destructive behaviour – chewing household objects or generally making a mess
  • Toileting inside – urinating and defecating in the home
  • Panting and shaking – restless, stressed and anxious behaviour

 

If you see any of these behaviours, consider the following:

  1. Walk your dog before going out – If your dog has been exercised, they’re more likely to rest and relax once left alone.
  2. Leave your dog some enrichment activity – Giving your dog a food or other enrichment puzzle can give them something to do, to distract them as you leave.
  3. Don’t make a fuss when you leave – Avoid touching, talking and eye contact when you depart and return. This way your dog won’t see your comings and goings as a big deal.
  4. Stay calm at all times – Be an assertive pack leader, so your dog feels reassured. If your dog has been naughty while you’re out, don’t get angry.
  5. Ignore your dog – On arriving home, ignore your dog and behave calmly, until they also become relaxed and calm themselves. This shows that you, the pack leader, are not stressed and will not react to their attention-seeking behaviour.
  6. Use a pheromone diffuser – A dog-appeasing pheromone diffuser (often known as a DAP diffuser) can be plugged in around the house to help calm your dog naturally. If you’d like to know more, ask our head nurse Sarah or anyone else in our team.

Ask us about DAP collars

If you’re struggling to get the results you want, remember that we’re always here to help. Just pop into our practice or give us a call on 01373 452225, and we’ll see how we can help.

 

‘Pain’ behaviours that every cat owner in Wiltshire & Somerset should be able to spot

Every cat lover should ensure their pet stays in peak condition and the best way to achieve that, in our opinion, is with regular check-ups. If your cat hasn’t seen a vet for a while why not contact us to book an appointment.

Make an appointment for a cat check-up

However, regular healthcare will only go so far. From time-to-time cats, like the rest of us, have an accident, feel under the weather or just begin to feel a bit older as common long-term conditions like arthritis set in. It’s because of this that many cat owners ask how they can tell if their pet in pain.

How to tell if your cat is in pain

Assuming their day-to-day healthcare needs are being met, here’s a list of the top six behaviours every cat owner should be on the lookout for.

  1. Vocalisation – If you notice your cat meowing or purring more than normal then you should keep a closer eye on them.
  2. Reduced appetite – A change in feeding habits is another early sign that something has changed.
  3. Changes in daily habits – Look out for you cat becoming withdrawn, hiding away and or stopping grooming as well as changes in their toileting habits.
  4. Altered activities – if your cat is pacing, restless and can’t settle in a comfortable position or wants to play less than normal. See if you can also spot any of the other behaviours on this list.
  5. Uncharacteristic aggression – Your, usually friendly, cat may growl, hiss or lash out when handled.
  6. Abnormal posture – A cat in pain may avoid putting weight on sore limbs causing an un-usual stance.

Basically, you’re looking out for any change in daily habits, but you have to look carefully as some cats are good at hiding injury and pain. A hang up from when wild cats needed to show predators how strong they were.

What you should do now

Again, assuming they are checked regularly by a vet, your best option is to get familiar with the way your cat behaves. Then if you spot one of the abnormal behaviours above, keep a closer eye on them. If that behaviour gets worse or if you beginning to identify other behaviours on the list, that’s the point you should be contacting us. Tell us what’s changed and we’ll decide if you should pop in for a check-up.

Make an appointment for a cat check-up

Flystrike in rabbits – How can owners prevent it?

Flystrike (or fly strike) can quite literally be a nightmare for rabbits and rabbit owners. Our Nurse Manager Sarah answers common questions and shares her top tips on fighting flystrike below.

Call us on 01373 452225 if you suspect flystrike.

What causes flystrike in rabbits?

Flies (especially bottle flies) like to lay eggs in warm, damp places. A rabbit that smells of faeces, urine, or blood is a prime target. If you’re wondering how common flystrike is in rabbits, they are the most at-risk small pet for this deadly condition. Why? Unfortunately, flies are also drawn to a rabbit’s scent glands.

Flystrike occurs when certain types of flies lay eggs on a rabbit, or in soiled bedding. The eggs hatch into maggots, which burrow into rabbits through open sores or moist areas (like the rear), eating flesh as they go. Pets that have digestive problems and struggle to keep themselves clean (due to illness, old age, arthritis, or dental issues) are most at risk.

Why do rabbits die from flystrike?

Flystrike in rabbits is a horrible condition that is often fatal. If the shock or infection doesn’t cause death, then euthanasia can be the kindest option to end their suffering. If you suspect your rabbit has flystrike, contact our vets quickly on 01373 452225.

Symptoms: how to tell if your rabbit has flystrike?

Flystrike progresses at an alarming rate and can cause death if untreated. You may notice:

  1. Your rabbit is quiet and lethargic.
  2. Your rabbit may be refusing food and drink.
  3. A strong smell coming from their hutch.
  4. Your rabbit is digging into corners for pain relief.
  5. Maggots and flies around your pet and in their hutch.

Fighting flystrike in rabbits – top tips to prevent it

Keeping your pet and their bedding clean and dry is the best flystrike prevention. Here are Sarah’s top tips to help you.

We suggest adding this Summer Rabbit Checklist to your phone:

  1. Check your pet’s rear end and fur (incontinence can attract flies) at least twice a day.
  2. Feed your rabbit a fibrous diet including hay, vegetables, and fresh water. This will help to:
    1. Keep their digestive system working well and avoid upset tummies and soiling.
    2. Keep them in shape so they can reach to groom all areas.
    3. Avoid dental issues, which can in turn cause upset tummies and soiling.
  3. Ensure your rabbit is producing and eating their caecal (soft poops) – call us if not.
  4. Clear your rabbit’s hutch of poo pellets and soiled bedding daily.
  5. Give them a gentle ‘butt bath’ with pet-safe shampoo if they’re not keeping clean.

If your rabbit has a condition that is causing soiling or incontinence and they are struggling to clean themselves, there are preventative treatments you can get for flystrike. Request an appointment with our nurses to learn more.

A simple monthly chew to protect your dog from fleas, ticks, lungworm and roundworm

At Garston Vets we have reviewed our flea, tick and worm products to ensure that we offer the most complete and simplest protection for your pet.

For this reason, we have made the decision to change our recommended parasite product for dogs.

We now recommend a simple, monthly product that protects against the 4 key parasite threats (fleas, ticks, lungworm and roundworm) in a single, monthly, tasty chew.

Why have we changed our recommended product? . .You now only need to give your dog this chew once a month. No other products are needed to protect against the 4 main parasite threats, making it easy for you to protect your dog and your family. Using a chew means that your dog can be stroked and cuddled straight away, plus swimming or bathing won’t affect the treatment working. The chew is tasty and can be given without food, in fact many dogs will take it as a treat! This means you can be confident that the full dose has always been given. We are sure that your dog will love this treatment just as much as you’ll love the convenience!

All canine Wellness Plan members will automatically receive this product, unless we feel that there is a more suitable alternative for the patient.

Finding the right cat vet

When you search online for ‘find a cat vet near me’, how do you know they are the best people to care for your feline friend? A cat’s needs will change at different stages of their life, so finding a veterinary practice in that your cat can grow with is important.

Many of our cat clients have been with us for several years, right from the kitten stage. Keep reading to see how we can help you and your cat as they reach every milestone.

Book your cat in today

Why choose Garston Veterinary Group for your cat’s care:

  • We employ caring & compassionate ‘Cat People’ – Your cat is very special to us too, and we want to ensure they have everything they need to live a healthy & happy life. Numerous members of our team have undergone additional training in how to care for cats to the highest level, and you’ll both receive a warm welcome when you arrive.
  • You can count on us for tailored advice – Your cat is an individual, and will have different needs when they’re a kitten, adult, senior and geriatric. Talk to us about cat nutrition, grooming, behavioural enrichment, and anything else you want to know.
  • We’ve got preventative cat care covered – Our Wellness Plan is designed to provide all your cat’s preventative healthcare needs for twelve months at a time. The plan has been specifically designed so that your cat not only receives all the essential vaccinations and parasite protection they need, but also a whole range of additional benefits to ensure they remain in the best possible health, whatever their age. By paying monthly for your cat’s routine preventative care, you can save money too…for treats and cat toys of course!
  • We’re a Cat Friendly Clinic – We’re extremely proud to be an ISFM Accredited Cat Friendly Clinic, which recognises the specialist care and attention we give to our feline patients. Our team and facilities are assessed on a regular basis to ensure we continue to meet specific criteria.
  • Your cat’s comfort is important to us – For many cats, coming to the vets isn’t their favourite thing to do…we understand that. To help your cat, the two of you can relax in our comfortable waiting areas with cat friendly additions. We also have separate cat in-patient wards if they need to stay with us.

We’re here for you and your cat. Contact us to make a appointment.

You can help other cat owners who are looking for a local vet practice by sharing what you love about our cat friendly services on our Facebook or Instagram page.

How to make your dog’s day at Garston Veterinary Group

Dogs have been loving their visits to Garston Veterinary Group for over 100 years. We know this because of all the wagging tails, loving licks, and return visits. We’re pretty sure we know why… See if you and your dog agree with our list below.

Bring your dog to visit us

Six reasons why we think dogs love coming to visit us:

  1. Dog treats, obviously! – What vet visit would be complete, or satisfying, without a tasty dog treat, or two? We’ve always got plenty of dog treats on tap. Tell us if they don’t like a particular flavour and we will do our best to find something they will enjoy!
  2. Other doggy & human friends – We find most dogs love to mingle. A trip to our practice is a much-loved social experience with lots of dogs & people to meet. Even in the carpark during Covid-19 restrictions!
  3. Vets & nurses who speak ‘Dog’ – Our experienced team is always happy to get down to a dog’s level (Dachshunds included) on the floor to bond, play, reassure, and just because they know it makes dogs feel special. We have been doing this even more since Covid-19 regulations prevented clients coming into the surgery, as we know how worried you are about not being able to be their chaperone.
  4. Dog friendly advice and merchandise – We love sharing our canine knowledge and experience with owners, plus we have a great range of soft toys and healthcare products available for you to purchase to help your dog go home feeling positive about their visit to the vets.
  5. Massages…sorry, we mean health checks! – A thorough nose-to-tail health check can feel as good as a doggy massage, plus, being checked for health issues can only be a good thing.
  6. Comfortable kennels and overnight stays at our small animal hospital in Frome – When dogs stay with us, they get their own kennel with comfortable bedding to relax in. They also get lots of love and attention from our team around the clock. Even if it’s 2am, our night nurse is wide awake and caring for our patients to make sure that they get everything they need, including comfort walks in our grassed paddock.

Make your dog’s day with a visit to Garston Veterinary Group. If for nothing else, a weigh-in with doggy fuss and treats will get that tail wagging!

We’d love to see a photo of your dog enjoying their visit – why not share one on our Facebook or Instagram page?

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