Like any pet, guinea pigs can have health problems that require urgent veterinary attention. As part of National Pet Month, which promotes responsible pet ownership, the clinical team at Travel Vet have put together a list of emergency conditions and lifesaving advice for guinea pig owners.
This is not a comprehensive list; it is better to err on the side of caution and phone our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary surgery for advice if you notice anything of concern with your guinea pig. Any non-descript symptoms such as lethargy, depression, and a decrease in appetite should always be acted on.
Call us if you need us on 01753 316081.
Life-threatening guinea pig health problems
Gut stasis in guinea pigs is a very serious, life-threatening condition caused by other stressful or painful conditions. Common factors include a sudden change in diet or a lack of fibre, an obstruction in the gut, dental disease, traumatic injury, dehydration, boredom, or loneliness. The gut comes to a standstill and the normal passage of food through the gut does not occur.
Symptoms of gut statis include not eating, passing less or no droppings, a bloated or painful abdomen and not wanting to move. This list is not exhaustive, so you should phone our veterinary surgery straight away if you have any concerns on 01753 316081. Treatment can include medication to help the gut to move again (unless there is an obstruction in the gut), often pain relief too, alongside fluid therapy and syringe feeding. While this can help to get the gut moving again, any underlying health problems that contributed to the gut stasis will need to be addressed.
If you notice your guinea pig has breathing problems, you should phone our Staines-upon-Thames surgery immediately. They might be breathing more quickly or more laboriously than usual, possibly alongside a discharge from their nose, sneezing, a loss of appetite, and lethargy (amongst other symptoms). Our Vets will carry out a clinical examination and may do further diagnostic tests. There are several things that can cause respiratory problems in guinea pigs including pneumonia, which can be fatal, so early diagnosis and treatment are vital.
Like any pet, guinea pigs can suffer from injuries due to trauma. The cause of trauma can be unknown, or due to falling, being dropped by accident when handled, fighting with other guinea pigs, or attacks from larger pets. If you witness any trauma occurring, or you see any signs of injury such as wounds or lameness, you will need prompt guinea pig health care from our Vets – contact us.
If you have a female guinea pig that you know to be pregnant, or think may be pregnant, it is advisable to monitor her carefully throughout the pregnancy – especially when she is close to giving birth. This is particularly true if she is over seven months of age and has not given birth previously; her pubic symphysis will have fused and so the birth canal will be too narrow for a natural birth. Therefore, a C-section will be needed to ensure the safety of your guinea pig and her pups. There are other potential complications with giving birth so it would be prudent to have a conversation with one of our Vets in advance about what to look out for.
As we mentioned earlier, this is not an exhaustive list of guinea pig health problems and like any pet, acute illnesses can occur at any time – poisoning from plants or food is definitely one to watch out for. The best advice that Travel Vet’s clinical team can give guinea pig owners, is to stay vigilant and if you notice anything unusual or concerning, call us.
Call us on 01753 316081.
You’re doing an excellent job caring for your rabbit, but there’s no harm in discovering ways to do better by your pet, your pocket, and the planet. Our Head Vet Emma, has come up with some interesting ideas to get your new year off to a great start.
Read our top tips for rabbit owners
1. Get your rabbit vaccinated
If your rabbit’s booster is overdue or they’ve never been vaccinated we recommend making this a top priority. Rabbit vaccinations protect against deadly diseases – Myxomatosis and both strains of Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD-1 & RVHD-2). Our Vets will give your rabbit a nose-to-tail health check at the same time, getting them ready for the year ahead.
2. Switch to loose fruit & veg at the shops
Ditch the plastic packaging and opt for fresh food items that are sold loose. You can always take your own food containers and those re-usable material fruit & veg bags.
3. Choose local, seasonal produce or grow your own
Buy in-season produce grown in the UK and reduce your carbon footprint by avoiding imported goods. Go one step further and visit your local farm shop in Middlesex – most grow produce on-site or nearby and use local suppliers. Alternatively, why not grow your own and save money too? Your rabbit will thank you for the fresh ‘garden-to-bowl’ goodies.
4. Make DIY rabbit toys out of eco-friendly materials
Save money and be more eco-friendly by making toys for your rabbits – Emma asked Travel Vet’s nursing team to share their ideas:
- Foraging trays: cardboard, scrunched up newspaper, hay, and rabbit food/treats.
- Digging box: large cardboard box, soil, rabbit-friendly plants and treats.
- Treat roll: toilet/kitchen roll cardboard tube, timothy hay, rabbit treats to hide inside.
- Veggie kabob: metal hanging treat holder (search ‘rabbit kabob’ on Amazon), rabbit-safe vegetables cut into chunks – go steady on the carrots as these are sugary.
5. Get an eco-friendly rabbit hutch by choosing pre-loved
Check freecycle, Facebook market place, Shpock, eBay, and other places offering pre-loved a.k.a. second-hand goods. You’ll extend the life of a rabbit hutch or run that would otherwise be thrown away, and you could even upcycle your new item into a 5-star rabbit retreat!
6. Adopt rather than buy a companion for your bunny
Did you know that some animal rescue shelters rehome rabbits? Adopting a pet rabbit is a wonderful option as you get to give an abandoned pet a second chance in life. As rabbits need to live in pairs, why not contact your local animal shelter first? The Blue Cross also rehome rabbits – learn more.
We hope you enjoyed reading Emma’s top tips for rabbit owners and are ready to put your new year plan into action. Here’s a quick reminder to;
You could help other rabbit owners in Middlesex too by sharing this post on your social media profiles. Just hit the share buttons in this article or copy the link.
You may have heard the term ‘compulsory cat microchipping’ in the news last year. You may have even popped it on your long list of things to do. In this article, our head vet Emma, explains why making cat microchipping a top priority in 2022 will give you and your cat the best start to the new year.
Compulsory cat microchipping
In spring of last year, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) announced that cat microchipping would become compulsory in the UK as part of a larger animal welfare action plan. The move was aimed at making more cats identifiable, in turn helping with issues such as cat thefts, strays, and deceased cats left by the road following traffic accidents.
It’s only a matter of time before this new law starts being enforced and like compulsory dog microchipping, non-compliance will carry a fine of up to £500 – which wouldn’t be a great start to the new year for pet owners in Middlesex!
Important reasons to microchip your cat
Besides avoiding a potential fine, getting your cat microchipped can make all the difference if the unthinkable should happen. Cats go missing for several reasons including:
- Wandering off and getting lost
- ‘Helpful’ passers-by thinking the cat looks lost and taking them to a vet or rescue centre
- Pet theft – which has increased dramatically since the first lockdown
- Road traffic accidents – sadly, not enough drivers stop to report the accident or help the cat.
Emma explains that a microchip can’t prevent your cat from going missing or getting injured; it will however, significantly increase the chances of you being reunited with them. If your cat is found and taken to a vet practice, a rescue centre, or picked up by the local animal warden, these organisations will use a cat microchip scanner to obtain ownership details.
According to a news article in the Hereford Times last year, 60 cats or dogs go missing every hour in the UK. Every year, tens of thousands of cats are reported lost and 25% of those are never reunited with their owners – two large factors in this are:
- Many cats still aren’t microchipped
- For those cats with microchips, some owners forget to update their details if they move house or change phone numbers
At what age should cats be microchipped?
A good time to have your kitten microchipped is during their neutering procedure at around 4 months old, before they venture outdoors. Older cats can be microchipped at any age and it is a quick and harmless procedure. Our experienced vets and nurses can give you more advice on this so please do get in touch.
How much does it cost to microchip a cat in Middlesex? About the same as it would cost you to buy a posh hot chocolate each week for a month.
So, are you ready to get your cat’s new year off to the best start?
We’re all for new year resolutions that will help pets and planet. Head Vet Emma Fisher and the rest of our dog-loving team in Staines-upon-Thames, have some thought-challenging ideas to share with you on the topic of dog treats.
Before we dig in, if you think your dog could be overweight, our Spout Lane North nursing team can help. Book a weight check and get a body condition score, advice, and support for your dog’s weight-loss journey ahead.
What are overweight dog problems
Carrying excess weight will affect your dog’s health and quality of life. Overweight dogs can struggle with mobility, sore joints, and injuries. They are also at risk of developing diabetes and other serious health complications. A large contributing factor to weight gain is treats – to be more accurate, people giving dogs treats.
As January is a common time for new year weight-loss resolutions, we thought we’d encourage pet owners to focus on their dog’s weight too… whilst trying to live more sustainably of course. Read Emma and our team’s top tips below for better treat options.
Seven dog treat ideas for 2022
- Dogs don’t ‘need’ treats; there’s an interesting thought! Here’s another – your dog won’t love you any less if you don’t give them a treat. Be more purposeful with them i.e., use treats in training and to reward positive behaviour, such as recall on walks. Keep an eye on how many you’re giving as they quickly add up when you’re having fun.
- Your dog will still enjoy a treat if it’s not of the high-calorie, artificially coloured variety. Choose a low-fat dry kibble to use as treats, or, switch to carrots, cucumber, apple (not the core), and other healthy fruit and vegetables that aren’t toxic to dogs. Here’s a guide on fruit & veg your dog can eat from the PDSA.
- When buying dog food and treats from a shop check for eco-friendly packaging. Is it recyclable? Is there a better option? Also ask yourself, “does my overweight dog need it?”
- Avoid the pick & mix stand in your local pet shop as you can’t always check the ingredients and fat/sugar content and it’s easy to get carried away. If you do use it, take your own tubs.
- If you’re switching to carrots and other healthy veg & fruit treats, buy loose items without plastic packaging. Alternatively, why not buy some seeds and grow your own in Middlesex?
- Can you walk to the shop for treats? Lower your carbon footprint and give your overweight dog some exercise. You could also take a backpack to avoid plastic shopping bags.
- Have you thought about making dog treats at home? You’d be in control of the ingredients and baking goods often come in recyclable packaging (flour, eggs, etc.). Search for ‘healthy dog treat recipes’ and grab your apron.
If you have any more tips for switching to healthier and more sustainable dog treats, we’d love you to share them on our Facebook page to help other dog owners. Share on Facebook.
Not sure if your dog is overweight? Book a weight check with our Staines-upon-Thames nursing team and let us help you make 2022 a healthier year for your dog.
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.
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:
- Cleaning up and disposing of your dog’s poops.
- Keeping your dog on a lead (unless you see a sign saying otherwise) and under control.
- 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.
If your dog has been spending more time home alone lately and you notice any unusual behaviours, book a Vet appointment with our team.
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.
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.
– 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.
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.
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.
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
- Eyes – Your 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.
- Ears – The 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.
- Nose – This 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.
- Teeth – These 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.
- Feet – The most common problem with a rabbit’s feet is sore hocks or heels. If you see foot sores, especially open sores, call us.
- Nails – Nails 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.
- Fur & Skin – Your 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.