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

Responsible pet ownership – caring for small furries

April is National Pet Month and a time to focus on responsible pet ownership. You might think owning a small furry pet like a hamster, guinea pig, gerbil, or chinchilla, is pretty straight forward and doesn’t take much responsibility. Right?

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It’s true, small furry pets do spend most of their time in cages and hutches. However, in order to give them the healthy and fulfilling life they deserve, would-be owners should educate themselves on what their preferred species’ needs are, before making a purchase. Garston’s nursing team has this advice:

Responsible pet ownership – caring for small furries:

– Healthcare: Your small furry pet won’t need annual vaccinations (except rabbits), but they will benefit from annual or bi-annual health checkups. If you spot unusual behaviours, lumps or bumps, or a reduced appetite, you should contact your vet for advice.

– Nutrition: Do some research into what a healthy and balanced diet looks like for your particular species of pet. Diet is very important for oral health too as small furries need the right type of food to look after their teeth.

– Enrichment: Boredom and loneliness can lead to self mutilation and health issues. Enrich your small furry pet’s life with regular human interaction, toys to play with, and challenges that mimic those they’d experience in the wild – give them obstacles to move, climb on, and chew through to make themselves a comfortable home. Remember though, most small furries are nocturnal and should not have their daytime sleep disturbed.

– Handling: Getting your small furry pet used to being handled is important so that a) you can enjoy some quality time with them, b) you can clean out their housing without causing them stress, and c) both you and the vet can check them over without upsetting them, or being bitten.

– Company: If you’re able to, it’s a good idea to keep small furry pets in pairs for companionship. Research which pairings work best for your species, and talk to a vet about neutering.

– Environment: Whether an indoor cage or outdoor hutch, your pet’s housing should be warm, well ventilated, and safe from predators. Give them a comfortable bed and somewhere to hide out too.

– Hygiene: Remove soiled bedding and droppings daily. Give bowls and toys a weekly clean. Once a month, remove everything and clean it (including the housing itself) with warm soapy water if possible or a pet-safe cleaning spray.

Get in touch with our nursing team if you have any questions about this topic.

Thinking of buying a new kitten?

April marks the start of National Pet Month, a UK-wide initiative aimed at raising awareness of responsible pet ownership. So Sarah Church, our head nurse, and their team, thought that they would take the opportunity, to mark last year’s introduction of Lucy’s Law, on buying new pets, and offer advice on the best way to get a new kitten.

They’ve given you some quick pet purchasing pointers below as well as creating a handy infographic for you to download and share with friends and family who may be considering buying a new kitten during the last throws of lockdown and beyond.

Download Our Tick-List

Garston Veterinary Group’s four top tips for anyone considering buying a new kitten.

1. Before going straight to a licensed breeder consider buying a rescue pet. The RSPCA’s ‘Find a Pet’ service is a great starting point
2. If you’re planning to get a new kitten from a breeder then do your research and check they are legitimate
3. Take your time, perhaps wait until lockdown rules allow you to visit the breeder or rescue centre a few times
4. Never, ever, buy from someone ‘online’ who then offers to hand it over somewhere ‘Convenient’, like a car park or motorway services

Please do download and share our full list of buying advice from the link below. By sharing & following these pointers, we can all help stop the illegal trade in puppies and kittens.

Our Buying A New Pet Download

What is Lucy’s Law and what Does it Mean?
When Lucy’s Law was enacted the in April 2020 the Government made a statement that said…

‘Lucy’s Law’ means that anyone wanting to get a new puppy or kitten in England must now buy direct from a breeder or consider adopting from a rescue centre instead. Licensed dog breeders are required to show puppies interacting with their mothers in their place of birth. If a business sells puppies or kittens without a licence, they could receive an unlimited fine or be sent to prison for up to six months.

We’re Here to Help
If you’ve just bought a new pet and you’re not sure if the supplier met the new standards, then don’t worry. Just give us a call and bring your new puppy or kitten in for a check-up. We’re here to help whenever you need us.

Once again, please do share this article and our free download with friends and family and help stop the sale of kittens from high volume, low welfare sources.

A new dog owners’ guide to responsible petcare in Somerset

Given the number of people who got a dog during lockdown, National Pet Month could not have come at a more appropriate time for this article. What better time to gently remind new owners that along with their wonderful new companion come a few responsibilities?

Our head vet Andy and the team have listed a few need-to-knows for new owners . We’ve also included a link to a really useful download from the Dog’s Trust, that we think you might want to share.

Get the Dog’s Trust ‘New owner’ Ticklist

So, here are our top tips on how new dog owners can meet their responsibilities safely and appropriately…

1. Understand your legal responsibilities
Owners must ensure their dogs are safe at all times and not creating a nuisance or danger for anyone else. Your dog must have a collar with an identity tag that must clearly state your name and address (and ideally a phone number). It is also now a legal requirement that your dog is microchipped. Finally, don’t forget that, according to The Highways Act, dogs must be suitably restrained when travelling in cars.

2. Guidelines to follow when you’re out
• Always carry poo bags, use them & dispose of used ones appropriately
• Plan ahead to check that your dog can accompany you wherever you’re going
• Never leave your dog unattended in a car – even in winter
• Keep your dog on a lead whenever there’s livestock within sight
By showing consideration for the communities around Somerset, you’ll be ensuring everyone enjoys your pooch as much as you do.

3. Professional healthcare for your dog
We obviously believe that some level of veterinary care is essential for every dog. If you’ve taken the trouble to register with us, then you can expect us to keep your pet’s vaccinations, worming, flea and tick treatments up to date during regular check-ups. If you know someone with a dog who’s not registered with a vet, then why not share this story with them.

4. Home healthcare
There are certain things you can do at home to keep your pet in good condition between check-ups. Grooming your dog helps to keep their coat clean and healthy. Dental hygiene is important too, so teaching your dog to have their teeth cleaned is worthwhile. Getting your dog used to being around people, handled, brushed and if needed, having their nails clipped, encourages their socialisation and can be a great way to bond.

5. Maximising your dog’s wellbeing
Providing a healthy, happy, safe and secure environment is an investment that will pay you back handsomely, so understand that …

• A ready supply of fresh water for your dog is essential
• Feeding them a balanced diet, will provide for their nutritional needs
• Giving your dog their own bed in a quiet spot gives them a chance to relax
• Dogs benefit from having a basic structure to their day. Try and stick to the same routine for feeding, toileting, playtime & walks.
• Dogs are social animals, so, find out what type of contact your dog likes and enjoy regular time with them.

Those are just the basics, don’t forget the team at Garston Veterinary Group are here for advice whenever you need it, just drop us a line on 01373 452225 or pop in. In the meantime, please do share this article with any new dog owners you know and let’s mark National Pet Month by helping everyone enjoy their new furry friends.

 

Vet Sustain – Garston Go Green!

It is no secret that the healthcare industry is far from sustainable. In 2018, human healthcare alone contributed 6.3% of England’s total carbon footprint. The NHS has committed to net-zero emissions by 2040 and it has become increasingly apparent that the veterinary sector must follow suit. Vets need to consider the vast amount of single-use plastic they throw away each day, the impact of anaesthetic gases on our atmosphere, the ecological consequences of antibiotic misuse and the nutritional demands of our ever-increasing pet population.

Vet Sustain

In October 2019, a group of UK vets launched ‘Vet Sustain’ – the world’s first organisation dedicated to supporting veterinary professionals in being a leading force for sustainability. Shortly afterwards, with the support of the partners, a group of like-minded colleagues set up a ‘Green Team’ at Garston Veterinary Group. Drawing inspiration from the wealth of resources developed by Vet Sustain, Garston has already become one of the first UK veterinary practices to make huge leaps forward in reducing their carbon footprint. This has included streamlining our recycling and heating processes, reducing our electricity and paper consumption, and phasing out the use of nitrous oxide (a potent greenhouse gas used in anaesthesia).

The Garston team have embraced the move away from single-use plastic – phasing in washable fabric theatre hats and masks, increasing recycling efforts and promoting the use of environmentally-friendly products such as bamboo toothbrushes and paper bags.

Garston’s Green Team – future vision

Our main vision for the future is to try and get as many of the great ideas suggested by our Green Team up and running as we possibly can! These include creating bee-friendly garden areas for our native bees and looking at how we manage clinical waste, as well as improving the initiatives that we have already put in place.

Thank you for your support.

8 bee sting first aid tips for cat owners in Somerset

A buzzing bee whizzing through the air must seem like a fun game to a cat, until they get stung. Head nurse Sophie Church wants cat owners in Somerset to learn some basic first aid so they know what to do if their cat gets stung by a bee.

Contact us in an emergency

If you can, try to determine whether your cat was stung by a bee, wasp, or hornet. Quickly search the area where it happened for the insect.

Wasps are long and thin, have little or no hair, and are distinctly bright yellow and black. Bees are typically furry. A hornet is much larger and more aggressive. Our nurses have found some fun facts and advice on how to tell the difference:

Fun facts from the BBC

Advice from the British Pest Control Association: bpca.org.uk

If your cat is unfortunate enough to get stung by a bee or another buzzing insect, Sophie has these first aid tips:

  1. If the insect is still attached to your cat, use something flat like a credit card to scrape it and its stinger away. Be careful not to get bitten or scratched by your cat, you may need a friend to help hold them.
  2. If you didn’t see the incident occur, look out for excessive licking of an area, which could also be red and swollen.
  3. Apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the area to reduce the swelling, and prevent your cat from scratching it – a cat head cone would be ideal.
  4. You can apply a home remedy to reduce pain and neutralise the sting;
    a. Bee/hornet sting: a thick paste of water & bicarbonate of soda/salt.
    b. Wasp stings are alkaline: lemon juice or vinegar.
  5. Contact your vet quickly if your cat experiences severe swelling or agitation, hives, excessive drooling, collapse, or seizure.
  6. Monitor their health and behaviour for 24 hours and keep up with hydration and food intake.
  7. You may also want to contact your vet for advice if the sting is near your cat’s eyes (can affect vision), and mouth or throat (can affect breathing).
  8. Some antihistamines for humans can be used, however, never give your cat human medication without instructions and the correct dosage from your vet.

In case your cat ever gets stung by a bee and requires urgent treatment by a vet, pop our emergency number in your phone: 01373 452225

Learn how to remove a tick from your dog safely

Whatever you do, don’t yank that pesky tick straight out of your dog! It might seem like the obvious thing to do especially if your dog is agitated, but pulling a tick straight out can cause the head to detach, which can lead to more irritation and increases the risk of disease transmission.

This may sound horrible, but it’s a common problem during spring and summer. Our head nurse, Sarah Church explains.

Download tick guide

What you need to know about ticks:

  • Ticks mostly live in woodland, long grasses and fields, more so where sheep or deer graze. Although most prevalent in spring and summer, they can be problematic throughout the year in some areas.
  • Ticks can vary but are typically small, oval & flat. Unfed they’re about the size of a sesame seed and can swell to coffee bean size after a feast of blood.
  • They latch onto pets (and people) by inserting their mouthparts into the skin to suck blood. Many produce a sticky glue-like substance to stay attached.
  • A tick bite can cause irritation, as well as anaemia and temporary paralysis in rare cases. Ticks can also spread lyme disease, which affects humans too. Left untreated, lyme disease can lead to a serious, debilitating chronic illness with complications for life. Headaches are a common initial symptom in humans.

How to tell if your dog has been bitten by a tick:

After walks, check your dog all over for ticks (they’ll feel like small bumps), especially under the tummy, armpits, ears, head, neck, groin and feet. Your dog might:

  • be excessively scratching or biting at an area, or shaking their head
  • have an initial ‘bullseye’ rash around the bite site
  • have intermittent lameness
  • show fever or lethargy

To remove a tick safely you’ll need a tick removal tool that’s been specially designed to help you perform the necessary motion needed to get it out in one piece. These tools typically come in a pack of two sizes and can be purchased from most vet practices, pet stores, and some online retailers. Sarah recommends having a set in your pet first aid kit, and even your handbag and car.

The longer the tick is in your pet, the bigger the risk of disease transmission. If you’re struggling to get it out yourself, contact our nursing team for advice. 

Do you know how to check your rabbit for worms?

Unlike cats and dogs, rabbits generally don’t require regular worming treatments as an infestation of worms is less common. That’s not to say they’re immune to catching a dose of worms though. Andy has some advice for rabbit owners on what to look out for.

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The most common type of worm that affects rabbits is called the pinworm. Rabbits can become infected with pinworms by eating the faeces of another infected rabbit. Exposure typically occurs through the parent, or at the pet store, breeder, or shelter.

Pinworms, which can live in your rabbit undetected, aren’t a serious health threat and can’t be passed to humans (unless you eat undercooked rabbit meat). They can, however, cause itching and inflammation around your rabbit’s bottom.

Signs to look out for and how to check if your rabbit does have worms:

  • Scratching/biting and irritated skin at their rear end.
  • Poor coat condition.
  • Weight loss.
  • Small white worms (5-10mm long) on the anus or in the faeces.
  • Young rabbits (especially when weaned) can be more severely infected; signs include diarrhoea, lethargy and substantial weight loss.

Treatment:

  • Anti-parasitic worm treatment.
  • You’ll need to increase how often you clean your rabbit’s housing and remove all faeces in and around the hutch and where they eat, sleep and play, until the worms and irritation have cleared up. Rabbits eat some of their faeces (this is part of their diet) and can often re-infect themselves.

Although less common, there are two other types of worms that can affect rabbits. Andy explains:

Tapeworms can sometimes end up in rabbits (they tend to live in cats, dogs & foxes) if they’re grazing in areas contaminated by other animals’ faeces. It’s rare, but tapeworms can develop into cysts within rabbits and cause abdominal discomfort.

Stomach worms are also rare in rabbits. Weight loss is the main sign of an infection, as is seeing worms in your rabbit’s faeces if they’re carrying a large number of them.

If you suspect your rabbit might have worms, it’s a good idea to make an appointment as soon as you can.

Feline vaccinations 101 – what you need to know

Vaccinating your cat isn’t just about protecting them, it’s also about protecting other cats in the area. Some feline diseases can be devastating so vaccinating your kitten or cat is one of the most important things you can do for them. Garston Vets has the following advice for cat owners.

Check your cat’s vaccinations are up to date

Cat Vaccinations 101:

What age can kittens be vaccinated?

Kittens can be vaccinated from 9 weeks old, and should have a 2nd vaccine to complete their initial course at 3 months. You should keep your kitten indoors until both vaccinations have been done.

Vaccinations must be carried out by a qualified veterinary surgeon, who will also do a full top-to-tail health check to review your cat’s overall health and wellbeing.

What do feline vaccinations cover?

Cats are commonly vaccinated against:

  • Cat flu (feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus) – if your cat picks up the herpes virus they will carry it for life. Cat flu symptoms include runny eyes and nose, and can last anything from 5 days, up to 6 weeks in severe cases.
  • Feline infectious enteritis (parvovirus/feline panleukopenia) – almost all cases result in euthanasia. This virus causes severe disease for which there is no treatment.
  • Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) – attacks the cat’s immune system. Some cats can live with FeLV, but will probably have a shorter life. It’s not recommended to have positive and negative FeLV cats living together.

Why do I need to vaccinate my cat annually?

Protection from some vaccinations last for around 12 months so your cat will need a booster injection annually for optimum protection. Most adult cat vaccines give a tapered immunity for 3 months after their due date, but you should not wait longer.

I have an indoor cat, do I need to vaccinate them?

There’s always a chance your cat could get outside, or another cat could get inside through a cat flap or open window. Also, feline infectious enteritis can be transmitted via contaminated objects including your shoes, clothes, and hands.

Book a cat vaccination

How to feed your dog – everything you need to know

It might sound like an odd question, but how do you feed a dog? Don’t you just throw some dog food in a bowl and put it in front of them? According to our head vet, there’s a little more to it than that.

The right type of food – Opt for a high-quality, commercial complete food, as they’re designed to give your dog all the nutrients they need. DIY, plant-based, and raw diets can all lack the vital nutrients your dog needs to live a healthy and happy life, as can some poor-quality commercial brands. Raw foods are especially concerning as they can contain harmful bacteria and parasites.

Match food to your dog’s needs – Many commercial complete dog foods are designed to support life stages (puppy, adult, senior), breed size, health conditions, and dietary requirements. If your dog has a health condition, such as kidney disease, talk to your vet about the right type of food for their needs.

Dry, wet, or both? – Dry kibble will give your dog’s teeth a workout, whereas wet food will add moisture to their diet. You may want to try a combination.

How much – Canine obesity is common and can reduce quality & length of life. Avoid this and other health issues by consistently giving your dog the right amount of food for their needs. Follow the packet guidelines and weigh your dog’s daily meals. How much they need also depends on activity levels i.e. a working sheepdog will require a lot more food than a less active dog.

How often – Twice a day is good for small/very active dogs to regulate glucose levels and keep energy up. Three or more smaller meals can benefit dogs who have trouble absorbing nutrients or maintaining weight. ‘Free feeding’ i.e. leaving a day’s worth of food out for grazing, can work for some dogs, however, most (especially puppies) will eat way more than they need.

Choose good snacks – Give your dog healthy snacks in moderation like carrot, cucumber and apple (not the seeds) and avoid scraps of human foods that will add extra calories and potentially harm them. Fatty and sugary foods can cause serious health issues and some foods are toxic to dogs, such as chocolate.

Make changes slowly – Avoid health problems and picky eating by changing your dog’s food slowly. Swap a bit of their normal food for the new food, and gradually increase the ratio over 1-2 weeks. Introducing new foods in small amounts should avoid tummy upsets, or at least let you know quickly what to avoid. This includes a complete flavour change if you’ve always stuck to one.

If you’re unsure about what, when, and how much to feed your dog, contact us.

Cat toys and other Christmas gift ideas

Christmas for our feline friends should definitely include some cat toys (who doesn’t like a toy for Christmas?!). But for the family moggy there are plenty of other things you might get them too. We have a selection of Christmas gifts for your pets in our reception but, in addition to these, our head nurse called a short but inspirational meeting and here’s a longer list of inspiration that we came up with.

Ask about gifts we have in stock.

Our Cat Toy & Christmas Gifts Ideas

1. Cat Toys – Cats love anything with catnip, especially if it’s small and moves. With our long-stay cat patients we often entertain them with small squeaky mice stuffed with catnip.

2. Food – Whatever you choose as a treat, do buy good quality, and don’t change your cat’s diet too quickly.

3. Bedding – There are some great new bedding ideas around, so why not treat your cat to a comfier Christmas?

4. Climbing frame – Cats just love to climb, so why not keep the Christmas tree safe and treat yours to its own specially designed climbing frame?

5. Water fountain – These are great for encouraging cats to take more water on board, especially if they eat dry food or have bladder or kidney disease.

6. Grooming tools – All cats like and need to keep their coat in tip-top condition, so what better gift than a new grooming brush?

7. Microchip or GPS collar – There are more ways than ever to keep tabs on our pets these days. Just google ‘GPS Cat collars’ and take your pick. Cool gadgetry.

If you need any advice on what’s suitable for your feline friend or if you’d like us to order anything special from our suppliers, please don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

In the meantime why not pop into or contact our reception team to see what cat gifts we have in the practice today.

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