Why guinea pig grooming isn’t just for long-haired breeds

Did you know that guinea pig grooming has many benefits for both short and long-haired breeds? It’s not just about detangling and de-matting those long locks! Travel Vet’s Nurses have some advice on why you should, and how to groom your guinea pig.

Download our grooming guide

We always love hearing from our clients and the wider guinea pig owning community. Head over to our Facebook page and ask us any grooming and small furry pet questions and we’ll be happy to help. Ask us questions on Facebook.

Why do guinea pigs need to be groomed?

Guinea pigs usually do a great job of grooming themselves to get clean. However, there are many benefits that come with regular grooming by their favourite human, such as:

  • Keeping your guinea pig free from tangles and dirt
  • Checking for skin lumps and bumps, hair loss, dental problems, and pests
  • Bonding time with your tiny companion
  • Help staying clean if they are elderly or unwell

How to groom your guinea pig

If you are wondering how often you need to groom your guinea pig and what’s involved, our Staines-upon-Thames nursing team have some helpful advice for you below.

  • Short-haired guinea pig breeds like the American Cavy only need brushing once a week to minimise shedding and keep them clean. Any more could result in loss of hair density and quality.
  • Long-haired guinea pig breeds such as Peruvians and Abyssinians generally need brushing 2-3 times a week to prevent matting and dirt build-up, which can lead to infection and parasitic ‘invasion’.

Depending on your pet’s breed and hair type, you can use the palm of your hand (add water if your guinea pig is shedding) or a metal narrow-toothed pet-flea comb. Be gentle, and brush in the same direction as your pet’s hair grows.

Not all guinea pigs will enjoy being brushed, however, it is an essential part of keeping them healthy. Try altering the frequency to avoid stressing them out. You could also gently stroke them from head to toe whilst brushing and feeling for anything unusual.

There is a little more to guinea pig grooming than just brushing – they will also need:

  • Monthly or bi-monthly nail trims
  • An occasional ‘butt’ bath
  • Weekly dental check & ear clean
  • Regular grease gland ‘clean-up’

Learn more about each of these tasks in our handy downloadable guide.

Download our Guinea Pig Grooming Guide

Must-have exercise and nutrition tips for dogs in Middlesex

Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand when you are trying to lose weight or just live more healthily. At Travel Vet in Staines-upon-Thames, we love dogs, and we love helping owners improve their dog’s health and happiness. Our team have put together some proactive dog nutrition and exercise tips to help you make a plan.

You can help other dog owners in Middlesex by sharing your dog wellness tips on our Facebook page:

Share your dog tips

10 top tips for creating a dog nutrition & fitness plan

  1. Choose a good quality, nutritionally complete, dry dog food that will support your dog’s health, life-stage, activity levels, and dental health.
  2. Some owners like to add wet food, look for one with good quality ingredients.
  3. Measure/weigh your dog’s food portions to ensure they are getting the right amount for their daily needs. Remember that more exercise may need more food. Ask us if you are unsure.
  4. Ensure your dog drinks plenty of water, you can always put some in with their food.
  5. Reduce treats and switch to healthier options like carrots and cooked green beans.
  6. Write down the exercises you want your dog to do and when, so you have a clear guide to keep you bothon track.
  7. Even if weight loss isn’t the focus, it is a good idea to write down weight goals (lose/gain/maintain) and measure changes every 2 – 4 weeks. This way, you can adjust the exercises or nutrition quickly if any issues arise. Pop into our Spout Lane North practice to get your dog’s starting weight. We can also do a body condition score to understand where your dog is at on the scale – just request a Nurse appointment.
  8. Increase the time, speed, and/or incline of your dog’s daily walk to burn more calories, give muscles more of a workout, and mix-up their regular routine.
  9. Try something new like dog agility if your dog is up to the challenge – be careful with older dogs and take it slow to start with.
  10. Consider a dog fitness app that lets you track routes, activities, and achievements.

Now you are ready to create your dog’s ‘healthier in 2022’ plan.

Don’t forget to make time for rest and recovery in your plan to avoid injury, burnout, or loss of interest for you both. Dogs do need daily exercise, so it is a good idea to do standard walks on some days (or all days if you have a very energetic dog) and try something more up-tempo on others. We hope you enjoy your new plan as much as your dog will!

Call us if you would like more advice or to book a body condition score appointment with our Vet Nurses on 01753 316081.

Help your friends and family, and other Middlesex dog owners by either sharing our article on your social media profiles or,

Share your own dog tips on our Facebook page

Dog friendly days out in Middlesex this December

The run-up to Christmas is usually a busy time spent out and about shopping for gifts & decorations and seeing friends & family. But does this mean your dog has to spend more time home alone? Dogs thrive on attention and time with their favourite human companions. A bored and lonely dog can develop behavioural issues like destroying your belongings, excessive barking, and soiling indoors.

The solution? Dog friendly days out!

This way, you can spend time with your dog AND tick off your pre-Christmas to-do-list at the same time. Our Spout Lane North team have listed some ideas for dog friendly places below; it’s a good idea to check the website and reviews to ensure they are dog friendly before setting off.

Share dog friendly places on Facebook

You can help other dog owners in and around Stanwell, Longford, and Colnbrook, by sharing your favourite dog friendly days out on our Facebook page.

Travel Vet’s top ideas for places you can take your dog:

  • Cafés, restaurants & pubs – With so many dog-friendly options in Middlesex, why not persuade your friends to meet you at one of them so your dog can hang out too? Remember though, six hours sat under a table in a rowdy pub while you drink and talk with your friends isn’t ideal either. We suggest reading some reviews first to see if the establishment is a good fit for you all.
  • Pet shops – Pottering around your local pet shop is a great way to make both you and your dog happy. While you’re buying pet products for your dog and as presents for your pet-loving friends, your dog can be basking in the heavenly smells a pet shop has to offer.
  • Garden centres – Many garden centres these days are dog friendly and of course free to visit. You can often get some lovely Christmas gifts there and enjoy some tea & cake. Your dog will enjoy wandering around, taking in the interesting sights and smells.
  • Markets & shops – Some fantastic Christmas gifts can be purchased at outdoor markets. Dogs are normally welcome but be careful if they are wary of large crowds. Plus, we bet there are more dog-friendly shops in Middlesex than you might think, where you can take your pal for a walk while you shop.
  • Dog parks & countryside walks – Catch up with friends and family by going for a dog walk. Everyone gets some fresh air and exercise, and your dog gets to be by your side.
  • Dog friendly attractions – You may be surprised how many places you can find to take your dog by searching for ‘dog friendly days out near me’. Perfect for that festive fix!
  • Dog friendly holidays – If you’re planning a Christmas break, check out the wide variety of dog friendly accommodation on websites like Airbnb and dogfriendlycottages.co.uk research local dog friendly attractions before you visit too.

To ensure you are welcomed back to these places time and time again, our team recommends:

  1. Cleaning up and disposing of your dog’s poops.
  2. Keeping your dog on a lead (unless you see a sign saying otherwise) and under control.
  3. Being courteous to business owners and other visitors by not letting your dog eat or urinate on any goods, furniture, or decorations.

We hope you enjoy some fun times with your canine companion this Christmas. Don’t forget to share your favourite dog friendly places on our Facebook page.

Share your favourites on Facebook

If your dog has been spending more time home alone lately and you notice any unusual behaviours, book a Vet appointment with our team.

Six common concerns for cat owners in Middlesex at Christmas

You’ve seen the memes with cats stuck in Christmas trees, but what else can go wrong during the festive season when you have cats? Head Vet Emma Fisher, shares common causes of Christmas cat injuries and advises how to avoid them.

Given how curious cats are, it makes sense to keep our number in your phone just in case your cat gets into any bother.

Call 01753 316081 for cat advice

Six common cat concerns at Christmas in Middlesex:

Road traffic accidents

With all the noise and commotion that comes with Christmas, including extra guests at your home, cats often roam outdoors to escape the mayhem. As it gets darker earlier during winter, your cat is more at risk of being hit by a car. Emma recommends fitting your cat with a reflective collar and providing ‘safe spaces’ indoors for your cat to take solace in when it gets too much.

Consuming harmful food & drink

Christmas can be a fun time of year for cats, with tasty morsels of food and leftover drinks all over the place to try. Some items such as pigs in blankets could give your cat an upset stomach, whereas toxic treats like chocolate or mince pies (containing dried fruit) could cause them severe harm. It’s wise to keep food, alcohol, and paracetamol (for the Boxing Day hangover) behind a closed cupboard, pantry, or fridge door and away from curious cats.

Plant poisoning

Poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe are festive favourites for many households. Unfortunately for cats, they can cause a variety of health problems ranging from nausea and vomiting, to collapse and seizures. Emma recommends keeping harmful Christmas plants out of reach, or not keeping them at all.

ANTIFREEZE ALERT

– This substance is highly toxic to cats but tastes sweet (so we hear). Clean up any spills and keep the container somewhere your cat can’t get to it – remember cats can climb!

Christmas tree injuries

Saying cats and Christmas trees don’t mix well is an understatement in some households. Cats love to play with delicate baubles and wires, climb the tree, eat the needles, and rub themselves against the branches – all of which can end badly. Emma has this advice for cat owners:

  • Consider choosing an artificial tree – real fir trees produce toxic oils that can harm cats when eaten or absorbed through the skin and eating pine needles can cause a lot of pain.
  • Smaller Christmas trees should cause less damage to your cat if they fall over – secure your tree to a wall or ceiling or use a heavy base to steady it.
  • Choose shatterproof or soft hanging tree decorations and nothing edible if you have pets.
  • Keep wires contained so they don’t look like string to play with to your cat.
  • Decorate your tree without your cat in the room and avoid leaving your cat alone with it.

Burns & scalds

Cats can easily get burned or scalded accidentally at Christmas time, with knocked over candles and cooking pans being the common causes. Avoid injuries by keeping candles out of reach, or your cat out of the room, especially the kitchen when you’re cooking.

We hope you found Emma’s advice useful. As always, if you have any concerns about your cat, get in touch with us here at Travel Vet in Staines-upon-Thames.

See our contacts, location and opening hours

Christmas foods that are toxic to dogs – a Vet’s guide

Should you give your dog human foods like roast dinner, mince pies, Christmas pudding, and trifle? No, is the short answer, as our team of Vets will tell you.

If you think your dog may have eaten something concerning, call us for advice or to arrange emergency care straight away.

Call us on 01753 316081

Many foods and drinks we consume over Christmas are toxic to dogs. Depending on the item, amount consumed and how long ago, combined with the size and health of your dog, the situation could be life-threatening. To put it into context, a single raisin could potentially kill a dog – they are that toxic.

To help you avoid harmful foods and find treats your dog can have this holiday season, our Staines-upon-Thames Vets have created these lists to help you.

Christmas foods your dog SHOULD NOT eat:

  • Christmas roast dinner – Skinless, plain turkey is fine in small quantities. However, most festive dinners are laden with fat and can include onion (gravy), chives, garlic, pepper, and lots of salt – none of which will do your dog any good. Likewise, your dog shouldn’t chew on cooked bones as these can splinter and damage your pet’s mouth and gut.
  • Pigs in blankets – The sausage meat may contain onion and spices, and along with the bacon will be very fatty. Eating foods high in fat can lead to a painful condition called pancreatitis.
  • Mince pies and Christmas pudding – These usually contain dried fruits like raisins and sultanas, which are highly toxic to dogs and consumption can be fatal.
  • Chocolate – All chocolate is toxic to dogs. However, dark and cooking chocolate are the most toxic as they contain the most theobromine per gram. Call 01753 316081 immediately and keep the wrapper if they didn’t eat that too.
  • Trifle and other sweet treats – Many dogs are lactose intolerant, and an overdose of dairy cream can cause an upset stomach. Fatty and sugary foods can cause weight, dental, and other health issues so it’s best to just avoid these types of human foods as dog treats.
  • Other harmful Christmas goodies include macadamias and other nuts, bread dough (yeast), cookie dough, grapes, corn-on-the-cob, alcohol, and anything containing Xylitol – an artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs.

Treats your dog CAN have:

  • Dog treats! It might sound simple, but dog treats are typically made to be nutritionally balanced, tasty, and safe for dogs. You can usually buy festive-themed treats at most pet shops in and around Stanwell, Longford, and Colnbrook, or make your own!
  • Safe human foods like raw carrots, cucumber, banana, and blueberries, and cooked butternut squash, green beans, and plain pasta in small amounts can make excellent dog snacks. They can also be heathier alternatives to some manufactured dog treats.

Try to remember that your dog won’t love you any less if you don’t give them some of your food, or if you swap cream cakes for carrots. And most importantly, dogs are cunning enough to help themselves if you leave them and food unattended…

Some final tips from our Staines-upon-Thames Vets – Always research new foods online to check they are safe for dogs – if in doubt, leave it out. Give new foods in small amounts first to check they agree with your dog.

If you have any dog food health scares over the festive season, contact us straight away.

See our contact information

Emma Fisher advises what to look out in your rabbit pre-winter

Rabbits are experts at hiding illness, so daily and weekly checks at home should be backed up with regular visits to our Spout Lane North surgery. 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.

Book a pre-winter rabbit check-up

Typical vet visits for your rabbit may involve annual vaccinations and dental check-ups, and we may recommend other types of treatments. Emma Fisher, our head vet, thinks 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 Staines-upon-Thames surgery. 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 on 01753 316081.
  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 glands, 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.

Book a health check for your bunny this autumn

Let our Vets prepare your cat for the coming season

When the days and nights start getting colder, the veterinary team at our Spout Lane North practice recommend bringing your cat to see us for a pre-winter health check, to make sure they’re in tip-top condition.

Autumn is a good time to make sure vaccinations and parasite treatments are up to date and nip any emerging problems in the bud, to avoid them worsening during the colder months. After all, it’s a time when we’re all at our most vulnerable.

Book a pre-winter health check

So, what will we look out for at your cat’s pre-winter health check?

1) Vaccinations and parasite prevention

The first thing we’ll do when you attend a pre-winter health check is to review the basics by weighing your cat and checking their vaccinations and parasite treatments are up to date.

2) Weight and body condition

If it’s appropriate, we may have a chat with you about making sure you don’t end up with an overweight cat. As temperatures fall, it’s tempting (and natural) for us all to eat more food (back in the day because we needed more energy in winter but now…) for comfort and warmth. Also, nowadays, treats typically become more frequent in the approach to Christmas. Your cat might eat up to 25% more food during this time than they would in other seasons.

3) Common cat health conditions

If you have an older cat, arthritis can strike during cold weather. Poor vision can also be an issue, especially as the nights draw in. But at any age, we can give your cat a thorough examination to spot signs of anything that may require treatment or extra care.

4) Teeth

Like vaccinations, a seasonal check-up is a great opportunity to make sure your pet has no dental concerns. Extra treats and other rich food over winter might pose a greater threat than usual so it’s a good idea to get ahead of any issues.

If there’s anything else that worries you about your cat during autumn and winter in Middlesex, please don’t hesitate to speak to Helen, our head nurse, or any of our team; we’ll refer you to one of our friendly Vets if we feel that more attention is required.

See if you cat is fit for winter

Five cold weather walking tips for your dog

As the leaves fall from the trees and you dig out your big coat, scarf and gloves, it’s important to spare a thought for your dog’s welfare during the colder months. Some breeds (and ages) of dog find low temperatures tougher than others, but any dog can struggle in freezing and snowy conditions, so it’s good to be prepared.

If you have specific concerns about how your dog is coping with the cold, please remember you can always ask the team at our Staines-upon-Thames vet practice for advice. In the meantime, remember it can be a good idea to take the colder days & nights as a reminder to book a pre-winter health check, to make sure any niggles or conditions are picked up at an early stage.

Book a pre-winter health check

Advice for cold dog walks

Here’s a reminder of what to consider when you walk your dog on colder days…

  • Visibility – As the nights get darker earlier, does your dog’s collar need a light or reflective material?
  • Recall – If your dog is unreliable at returning to you on walks, consider keeping them on the lead to avoid them getting lost in fog or snow. And, of course, check their microchip details are up to date.
  • Water safety – Keep well away from stretches of frozen water, in case your dog runs onto a fragile surface.

Post-walk care

After a wet, chilly walk, make sure that your dog is:

  • Warm and dry – Use a towel to soak water out of your dog’s coat and make sure they have a warm, dry bed to snuggle up in, away from cold draughts.
  • Free of snow or grit in their paws – Residual snow can get stuck between your dog’s toes and cause painful problems. There may also be salt or grit on the roads which can irritate their skin, so check and clean if necessary.

Plus…

Don’t forget:

  • EVEN in autumn & winter, NEVER leave your dog in your car – Just like in summer, extreme temperatures can develop quickly and your dog could get dangerously cold, or overheat if the sun is beating down on your car. In an emergency, call us without delay on 01753 316081.
  • Adjust food and indoor activity – If you’re going on fewer or shorter walks due to the weather, keep your dog active indoors and adjust their food to avoid weight gain.

 

Ask us for winter health advice

Travel Vet gets honest about cats

The natural behaviour of cats can be hilarious, mischievous, loving and annoying in equal measure, as any owner will testify. You only have to look at YouTube or Instagram to see how they amuse and frustrate with their antics.

Whilst we sit back and enjoy the entertainment, every cat lover should ensure their pet stays in peak condition with a regular check-up. If your cat has not seen a vet for a while then why not contact us on 01753 316081 to book an appointment now?

Book a cat check-up

In the meantime, we’d love to see the fun your cat gets up to. So, we’re inviting you to check-out our list of Ten Truths every cat owner will know below, and share a pic of them living one of these truths on our Facebook page.

Post your ‘Cat Truth’ picture to Facebook

  1. You can have a cat, or houseplants. Not both.
  2. You just have to accept that your sofa is now a scratching post. That’s never going to change.
  3. The one day you walk downstairs barefoot will be the day the cat has left a furball for you to tread on.
  4. If the cat falls asleep on you, you can’t move until it wakes. However long that takes.
  5. When you’re sound asleep, your feet are fair game.
  6. Cats will always prefer the box to the toy.
  7. They won’t often have a mad five minutes, but when they do it’ll be loud. And at 3am when the whole house is asleep!
  8. You no longer have your own food, just what the cat lets you eat.
  9. When they need to vomit, they’ll do it on your most prized possession.
  10. It doesn’t matter how naughty or destructive they’ve been, you’ll always forgive them – and never stop loving them.

Obviously, the above also applies to kittens, only with extra helpings of cuteness.

If you have a new addition to the household, you can make an appointment to register it with Travel Vet on 01753 316081. Let’s get a check-up booked in to make sure those endearing moments don’t get interrupted by an unexpected health issue.

Make an appointment for a cat check-up

Helen advises if rabbits, guinea pigs & hamsters need companions

Your pet’s companionship needs depend on a number of factors and getting those right are important to your small furry’s general wellbeing. To help you understand the basics, here’s the Travel Vet’ quick guide to the basic social needs of a few popular small furries.

If your pet looks to be under the weather and you’re already following the advice below (and satisfying their feeding grooming and shelter needs), then they may have a medical or a more complicated social issue. In either case please don’t delay, bring them in for a check-up and to get some advice.

Get small furry advice

Some animals need company more than others

Some small animals prefer to be alone, or find that human attention is enough, while others adore company from their own species. Read the basic advice below and if you’re still unsure whether you’re getting it right, you can always ask Helen or any of our vet nurses for advice. Our team can advise you on your particular pet, or if you’re thinking of getting one.

Rabbits

It’s essential for rabbits to be kept in pairs, as a minimum, as they are sociable animals who need friendship to thrive. Opposite genders tend to get on best, but don’t forget to neuter both, unless you want lots of baby bunnies. Neutering will also make for a more relaxed friendship on both sides. Rabbits appreciate human owners, but some dislike being handled. Figure out what your rabbit likes and always supervise children when they handle your rabbits.

Guinea pigs

Like rabbits, guinea pigs get lonely if they are kept alone, so you should try to find them a compatible friend. If you have two that tend to fight, they will still appreciate each other’s company. You could split their home with some mesh to avoid physical contact, rather than separate them completely. Guinea pigs are gentle, sociable animals that get on well with humans, which makes them ideal pets for children (again, with supervision please).

Hamsters and rats

Whether or not hamsters need company depends on their breed, as dwarf hamsters enjoy socialising, while Syrian hamsters need to live alone. It’s also important to remember that hamsters are nocturnal, so you may not see the benefits of their friendship during daytime hours. Meanwhile, rats get depressed without attention, so it’s important that they get companionship from both other rats and their human owners.

Call our vet nurses for advice

Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what’s wrong if a small pet seems unhappy. It’s definitely worth getting some advice if you’re about to buy new rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rates, mice, gerbils or any other small furry creatures. Either way, if you have a poorly pet or are about to get a new one, then please do give us a call on 01753 316081 and one of our team will be able to offer advice.

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