Vets urge tortoise owners to microchip escape-prone pets

We’re urging tortoise owners to microchip their escape-prone pets in a bid to reduce the number which end up in rescue centres every year.

They may seem unlikely escapees, but hundreds of the reptiles go missing across the county every year. Tracking down the owners can then prove extremely difficult if the animals aren’t microchipped.

We had a recent visit from Susie the tortoise, who escaped twice from her home despite her owners trying to ‘tortoise-proof’ their garden.

Vet Chrissy Kleespies implanted a mini microchip – which is smaller than a grain of rice – in Susie’s leg, meaning she can now be identified should she find her way out again.

Emma Blackman, practice manager at our Basildon branch, is encouraging other owners to follow suit.

She said: “When Susie came in we suggested she should be chipped because she’d escaped a couple of times, despite the garden being tortoise-proofed.

“We hear lots of stories of tortoises being found in other people’s gardens, but because they’re not microchipped, they don’t know who they belong to.

“Microchipping them is important, especially if they spend a lot of time outside.”

Jane Williams, founder of tortoise husbandry and welfare specialists Tortoise South East, deals with dozens of calls each year from owners whose pets have gone missing.

Jane said the animals often turn up in unusual places, with one recently being found at the side of the busy A11 dual carriageway.

She said: “It’s very difficult for most people to identify their tortoises if they go missing, and without microchipping it is virtually impossible to prove one is yours.

“Every year we’re contacted by frantic owners who have lost their tortoise. They have a stronger attachment to them than you might imagine, as some have been passed down over two or three generations.

“We’ve had 15 or 20 tortoises come in this year and many of them have come from vets when owners can’t be traced.”

To help tackle the issue, we’re offering a tortoise health check and chip with Chrissy during September for £45.

Included in the fee is a 20-minute appointment, a health check, a chip (providing your tortoise is appropriate size) and advice on tortoise husbandry and hibernation.

For more information on microchipping, contact Cherrydown Vets on 01268 533636.

For more information on Tortoise South East, visit www.tortoisesoutheast.co.uk.

Snakes and adders are not a game!

Adder coiled on the woodland floor
Adder coiled on the woodland floor

With the summer upon us, we are urging pet owners to beware the threat of adders after treating a dog which had been bitten by one of the snakes while out for a walk with his owner.

Adders, which are the UK’s only native poisonous snake, hibernate over the winter and emerge during the spring, putting dogs at increased risk during the summer months when the weather is generally warmer.

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown, said: “This is the first adder bite case we have treated at our Basildon practice this year.

“Adders generally hibernate from October to April, waking up when the weather warms up and they can bask in the sun. Unfortunately, our patient unintentionally stumbled upon an adder while out for a walk and was bitten on one of his front legs.

“Adders only tend to bite in self-defence, for instance when they are stepped on accidentally or disturbed by an inquisitive dog, but when they do, bites can be dangerous as they can induce lameness, vomiting and changes to the heart beat, blood pressure and breathing rate.

“Visually, bites typically result in swelling which is dark in colour and which can quickly become severe. If your dog has been bitten by an adder you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible. We treated the dog for shock and swelling, as well as administering anti-venom.”

Statistics show most adder bite cases survive, with one study suggesting fewer than one in 20 treated dogs died as a result of a bite.

Advice on adders:

  1. Your dog is most at risk of being bitten by an adder when the snakes are basking in the sun
  2. Dogs are most frequently bitten in the early afternoon when adders are most active after the midday heat
  3. If you see an adder in your garden, or when out for a walk, it is advisable to leave it alone. The adder is a protected species and it is illegal to harm or kill them
  4. If your dog is bitten by an adder, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible – using a tourniquet may cause infection or restrict circulation, causing further complications

Free hay and health checks for your rabbit

bunny

Here at Cherrydown Vets, we are offering free hay and health checks with our nurses, for local pet bunnies during this year’s National Rabbit Week, which runs from June 17 to 25.

We are making the offer to encourage a greater awareness among rabbit owners of the importance of making sure their pets have plenty of hay in the diet. Every rabbit attending a health check will receive a free bag of hay.

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown, said: “Eighty-five to 90 per cent of a rabbit’s diet should be hay and they should eat approximately their body size in hay and fresh grass every day.

“Rabbits will not eat soiled hay, so their feeding hay needs to be kept separate from their bedding and should freely available at all times.

“Eating plenty of hay also helps ensure proper dental wear. Rabbit teeth grow constantly and chewing on hay keeps them worn down to the right level. In addition, rabbits need the long fibre that hay and grass provide to keep their intestines in good working order.”

Rabbits produce a special type of poo – caecotrophs – which they eat. Feeding them plenty of hay means that this poo tastes as it should and encourages rabbits to eat it which is vital for their general health.

“Not eating enough hay can cause dental disease, which can lead to tooth root abscesses and dental spurs injuring the tongue and cheeks,” said Kevin. “It can also cause gut stasis, a potentially life-threatening condition where the intestines stop working.”

He also warned about the dangers of providing rabbits with a museli-type diet. As well as leading to the problems caused by a lack of hay, they have shown to be severely detrimental to rabbits’ health by increasing the risk of obesity, dental disease, reducing water intake which can lead to urinary problems, an imbalance of vitamins and minerals due to selective feeding and slowing intestinal movement and increasing risk of gut stasis.

Switching a rabbit from a muesli to a hay and pellet-based food should be done gradually over 14 to 28 days.

To book a free rabbit healthcheck call Cherrydown Vets on 01268 533636 or e-mail enquiries@cherrydownvets.co.uk.

Hamster Lavender loses leg after cooker calamity

Vet surgeon Amy Andrews with Lavender after her operation
Vet surgeon Amy Andrews with Lavender after her operation

When the Weeks family brought little Lavender, a four-month-old Syrian hamster, into our out-of-hours service, it was obvious she had caused herself some damage.

The family had been left baffled when Lavender was not in her cage and had apparently gone missing from their Wickford home.

However, after a hunt for the newest member of the family – which included leaving treats out to entice the friendly rodent out of hiding – the Weeks were alerted to a squeaking noise coming from behind the kitchen oven late at night and discovered Lavender was trapped.

The family immediately contacted our out-of-hours service and vet surgeon Amy Andrews assessed Lavender, before carrying out an extremely rare operation to amputate her severely damaged hind leg – in the process saving her life.

Lavender, who has recovered remarkably well, is now getting used to life with three legs but the accident doesn’t seem to have diminished her appetite for exploring.

Owner Michelle Weeks said: “We noticed she was missing first thing in the morning and had searched all over the place, leaving treats out, but it was about 10pm when we heard a noise from behind the oven and found her trapped.

“My son had to lift the oven for me to get behind and get her out. It was obvious she was hurt as her leg was facing the other way but you wouldn’t know it from her demeanour as she didn’t make a sound.

“We took her to Cherrydown’s out of hours service and they explained the risks of the operation but it was an easy decision for us. Lavender is only a few months old and my daughter Lily adores her so we said to go ahead.

“She has made a great recovery and has soon got used to life with three legs. She is still all over the place, although we have closed off the top two tiers of her cage so she is just on the ground floor for now!”

Vet Amy said due to the unusual nature of the operation the theatre was full of vets and nurses.

She said: “Receiving an emergency out-of-hours call for a hamster is quite a rarity. When Lavender arrived, it was clear her injury was very serious.

“Lavender’s owners had to make the choice of either taking the high risk of a general anaesthetic to amputate her fractured leg or make the sad decision to put her out of her pain.

“Just giving a general anaesthetic to such a small pet can be very risky but Lavender woke up quickly and went from strength to strength over the next couple of days, learning to manage with three legs.”

To aid Lavender’s recovery our vet nurse Bridie Currie made her a specially-designed tiny lavender-coloured buster collar.

An X-ray showing the damage done to poor Lavender's hind leg
An X-ray showing the damage done to poor Lavender’s hind leg

How to keep your pet cool this summer

Cat sun 2 (canva0

If you have a Dog……….

Dogs are not very good at keeping themselves cool so they will need your help. Ensure they have plenty of water, whether they are in the house or out on a walk. If you are at home keep the water in a heavy bowl so it can’t be easily knocked over

Don’t keep your dog in a car. You may think it’s ok to do this as you are leaving the window open, however, it’s not enough to keep the car cool. According to the RSPCA if it’s 22C outside, within an hour it can be 47C inside the car. Dogs die this way every year, please don’t let this happen to your dog.

Take your dog for a walk at cooler times of the day. Go in the morning and the evening instead.

If your dog is outside all day make sure there is plenty of shade as well as lots of water.

Regularly groom your dog. If you have a long haired breed, have the hair trimmed to help keep it cool.

Do you know the signs of heatstroke? Here is a checklist of what to look out for. Heavy panting, very red gums/tongue, excessive salivation, a rapid pulse, lack of co-ordination, lethargy, reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, vomiting, diarrhoea and in extreme cases loss of consciousness.  If you see your dog displaying any of these symptoms ensure you take immediate action. Try to cool your dog down gradually as heatstroke can be fatal.  Douse your dog in cool water (not cold or iced water) and let it drink small amounts of cool water (again not cold or iced) until their breathing is more normal.  Then take your dog to the vets to be checked to make sure everything is ok.

 

If you have a cat……….

Cats love the warm weather and are a lot better at keeping themselves cool. However, if it is excessively hot here are a few things you can do.

If you have a cat that likes to go outside, try not to let it out between 10am and 3pm so it avoids the hottest times of the day. If they are indoor cats keep blinds shut and curtains closed as this helps to keep the house cool.

Make sure your cat has access to plenty of water.

If you notice your cat is sleeping more it’s probably nothing to worry about. Cats are sensible and will nap more on a hot dayrather than spend their time running around. Maybe they are the more intelligent than dogs?

Pay attention to your cat’s feet. Cats and dogs have sweat glands in their paws. If you notice your cat is leaving wet paw prints it will need to have more water to replenish its fluids. You could try cooling your cat down by dipping its paws in water but it may not be pleased with you doing that.

If you see your cat panting, it doesn’t automatically mean it has heatstroke. Cats do pant but they rarely do it. However, if you think your cat is panting excessively check for other signs of heatstroke and take immediate action.

 

If you have a small furry pet……….

As always, make sure they have access to lots of clean water

Make sure you keep them clean.  When the weather is hot it results in more flies and maggots. This can lead to flystrike. This can fatally affect rabbits.

Keep your pet groomed and if it’s a long haired breed, have it trimmed to help keep it cool.

Keep hutches in the shade. It may mean you have to move it around during the day of you don’t have a permanently shaded spot.  Make sure the hutch is off the ground as this improves ventilation and can help to keep it cool.

Give small animals food that contains lots of water such as celery and apple. This will help keep them hydrated.

Spraying a water mist on larger animals such as rabbits is a good way to keep them cool.  Remember not to spray them in the face as they will not like it.

There are many other ways to keep your pet cool and a lot of them are common sense. A good way to look at it is if you are uncomfortable because of the heat there is a good chance your pet will be too.  If you need any extra information and advice please contact us  and we will be happy to have a chat.

Heat Stroke

dog sun (canva)

With temperatures soaring it is important to know about the effects of heat on your pets. With their thick coats they can find it very hard to regulate their temperature and this can lead to heat stroke.

A dog was brought in to us recently suffering heat stroke after going on a little walk on a warm but overcast day. The dog was overweight and had a dark coloured coat (which absorbs more heat) and these contributed to the dog developing heat stroke.

It can occur if an animal is exercised during warm temperatures, locked in a car or conservatory and is more likely in brachycephalic breeds such as pugs or bulldogs. Dogs can only sweat through their paws and lose most of their body heat by panting.

If you have a dog with heat stroke, often the first signs are panting and lethargy or collapse. It is important NOT to place the dog into cold water or put wet towels over them. The cold water can send them into shock and the towels can warm up and act as a barrier, making the animal even hotter. It is also difficult to prevent the temperature from dropping too low once the animal is wet.

Veterinary treatment should be sought immediately but there are first aid measures that can help….

· Wetting the paws and the ears with cool water

· Placing ice packs wrapped in a towel in the armpits and the groin area (large blood vessels run along these areas so it helps to cool the blood more effectively but the towel prevents cold burns)

· Using a fan or air conditioning.

Dogs with heat stroke can develop swelling of the brain if untreated, which may lead to seizures and death. If brought to a vets promptly, they will be placed on a drip, have ice packs placed in the armpits and groin, given medication to prevent intestinal damage, which commonly occurs with heat stroke and sometimes, oxygen therapy, particularly with bulldog type breeds.

Dogs recover quickly if there has been no permanent damage and often go home the next day. They commonly have diarrhoea, so will be given medication for this.

Prevention is better than cure so avoid exercising dogs in the heat of the day, take particular care with brachycephalic breeds and those with heart conditions. Make sure there is always access to water. NEVER shut your dog in the car, as even with the window open, the temperature can quickly rise. Keeping some long haired breeds closely groomed may be appropriate in warm weather. Products such as Kool coats can also help to keep your dogs temperature more comfortable.

 

DOG HEAT STROKE – Take Immediate Action

· Get into the shade

· Apply cool water to the inner thighs, stomache and foot pads

· Use running water

· Never submerge your dog in water – this could cool him too rapidly leading to further complications

· Use cool – not cold water – cold water causes blood vessels to constrict slowing the process

· Don’t cover the dog

· Offer small amounts of cool water to drink

· GET TO YOUR VET

Positive response required for blood donors

Here at Cherrydown, we are urging pet owners to sign their dogs up to become potentially life-saving blood donors.

Just as with humans, dogs often need blood transfusions when undergoing medical treatment and we are issuing a plea to owners in Essex to register their pets in a bid to boost current low stocks.

An ideal canine donor has a calm temperament, is fully vaccinated, over 25kg in weight and under eight years old.

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown, said: “Without blood donors, veterinary surgeons can’t undertake important and often life-saving operations, so we really do urge dog owners to find out more about how they and their pets can help.

“Dogs may feel a small scratch but, after this, the whole process is painless and pets always get a lot of cuddles and attention from our nurses, who are with them throughout.

“The amount of blood taken is small, so as not to cause an adverse effect on their own health and, after donating, a small dressing will be applied which can be removed after about an hour.”

Donating blood takes about 20 minutes and we offer a £35 credit to owners’ accounts – as well as a fresh chicken treat for dogs.

Anyone interested in finding out more should call us on 01268 533636 or email enquiries@cherrydownvets.co.uk.

Bella feline lucky after surviving high-speed fall

20170419_142311A lucky cat who was brought into us had a miracle escape when she fell from her owner’s moving car on a dual carriageway after clinging on for four miles.

Joanne Smith, 34, was travelling at 65mph on her way to a funeral when she noticed something black tumbling behind her Vauxhall Astra.

The mum-of-one, who was six months pregnant, was stunned when she saw the object get to its feet and realised it was her pet cat Bella.

Joanne quickly pulled over at the side of the A127 in Basildon, Essex, and rang family members to come to help find the two-year-old moggy.

She found the terrified cat cowering and meowing loudly in the central reservation and, after her brother had managed to stop traffic so she could scoop up Bella, brought her to our Basildon Cherrydown practice.

We carried out X-rays but found the cat didn’t have any broken bones or serious injuries.

Incredibly, Bella had only received a scratch to the back of her leg and lost her claws from where she had desperately tried to hang on to the car.

She was given a minor stitch-up and has since made a full recovery from the dramatic incident.

Joanne, who lives with husband Robert, 34, and son Jacob, five, in Basildon, said Bella had used up her nine lives.

The part-time receptionist said: “My friend’s dad had passed away and I was on my way to the funeral at about 3pm.

“The A-road was really busy and I had gone to the outside lane to overtake a lorry.

“Out of the corner of my eye I saw something black fall from the bottom of my car. I thought it was a plastic bag but then it rolled and rolled and got to its feet and I realised it was a cat.

“Then suddenly I had the awful realisation that it was my cat and she must have been under the car.

“Luckily she had stayed in the central reservation and when I got to her she was shaking and meowing. My brother somehow stopped the traffic and I picked her up and took her to the vets.

“She only had a little scratch on the back of her leg and all of her claws had been pulled out but that was it.

“She has definitely used up all of her nine lives, it is amazing there were no serious injuries.”

Our veterinary surgeon Sami Da Costa, who looked after Bella, said: “Bella is a very lucky cat. When she was brought into us she was understandably a little shaken.

“We carried out X-rays and tests but she didn’t have any broken bones and just required a minor stitch-up and some pain relief.”

Apply for pet passports in plenty of time

This little chap is waiting for his holiday - but does he have a passport and all vaccinations?
This little chap is waiting for his holiday – but does he have a passport and all vaccinations?

After a spike in the number of families taking dogs abroad during the Easter holidays, we are urging pet owners to get their applications in early for pet passports and vaccinations ahead of the summer rush.

After an unprecedented number took their dogs overseas during the three-week Easter break, we would warn owners not to leave it all to the last minute, as a rabies vaccination alone has to be carried out 21 days before departure.

Kevin Wood, clinical director of Cherrydown, said: “Anyone planning on taking their dog within the EU, or a non-EU listed country, will need to make sure their dog is at least 15 weeks old at the time of travelling, has been issued with a pet passport, has had a microchip implanted, is vaccinated against rabies and has been treated for tapeworm.

“For pets travelling abroad there are numerous factors to be taken into consideration and the situation can be complex, depending on which country, or countries, will be visited, so it’s important to get professional advice well in advance.

“Get in touch with us at any of our Basildon, Stanford-Le-Hope or Wickford branches.

To find out more information on getting your pet vaccinated, call us on 01268 533636.

ID Tags

david-schap-128015As you already know, if you have a dog it should be microchipped. This is because on 6th April 2016 it became compulsory for all dogs to be have a microchip implanted (you can read more about the regulation change HERE). We were recently asked if a dog needs a chip if it already has a collar and ID tag on. This has come up a few times so we thought it would be a good idea to write a blog on the subject as it seems to be a little confusing to some people.

All dogs need to have a microchip, unless a vet certifies it can’t for health reasons. Also, the Control of Dogs Order 1992 states that any dog in a public place must wear a collar with the owner’s name and address (with postcode) engraved or written on it. It can be on the collar itself or the details can be added to a tag. A telephone number is optional; however, it might be a good idea to have that on there as well. If your dog is in a public place and doesn’t have an ID tag on you could be fined up to £5000.

There are exceptions to this:

  • Any pack of hounds,
  • Any dog while being used for sporting purposes,
  • Any dog while being used for the capture or destruction of vermin,
  • Any dog while being used for the driving or tending of cattle or sheep,
  • Any dog while being used on official duties by a member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces or Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise or the police force for any area,
  • Any dog while being used in emergency rescue work, or
  • Any dog registered with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association

If your dog isn’t microchipped, please make an appointment to see us.

You can read more about the Control of Dogs Order 1992 by clicking HERE and if you have any questions regarding microchipping your pet please contact the clinic or leave a question on our Facebook page

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