How to safely transport guinea pigs

Guinea pigs, like all small furries, are not natural travellers. Taking them away from home can be stressful for everyone. So, if you need to get your guinea pig from A to B this summer, why not follow our Vet Emma’s advice on minimising stress and maximising the chances of a successful trip for you and your pets?

Emma’s Small Furry travel tick list:

1.Get a suitable pet carrier

Your furry pal is going to need a place to rest, hide, and maybe even play. Get a highly rated pet carrier and make sure it’s big enough for them to move around in, but small enough so they don’t get thrown around. It’s got to be chew proof too.

2. Get them used to it

Don’t wait until the day and just put them in and go. Your pets will be much less stressed if you get them used to their travel carrier by letting them play around in it for a week or two before you travel. You could also start with short journeys around the block to see how they handle it and if you need to make any changes to their setup.

3. Plan ahead

Before you travel, have a think about the trip. Do you have enough food & water? Can you travel at a cooler/quieter time of day? How will you clean up any mess? Can you take a route that doesn’t have speed bumps or involve a fast road? Taking a few minutes to think these things through will make the trip less stressful.

4. Stick together

If your pet has a pal, then make sure you take them both on the journey. They will naturally lend each other support.

5. Taking your pet on public transport

If you’re planning on using public transport, first check their rules of carriage, then do a few practice-runs at quiet times. Finally, make sure you travel when it’s cool.

There you go, for the very few times you’ll be moving your guinea pig, you now have all the basic info you need to make the journey less stressful for everyone.

The advice above is good for most small furries. However, if you do feel like you need species specific advice, please call our team at Travel Vet on 01753 316081 and we can talk through your pet’s specific needs.

A rabbit microchip? Staines-upon-Thames Vets have this advice

You are probably familiar with dogs and cats being microchipped, but what about rabbits? With it being National Microchipping Month in June, our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary team are here to tell you everything you need to know about microchipping rabbits.

Contact us about rabbit microchipping

Is your rabbit secure in your home and garden? You would hope so, but rabbits are inquisitive creatures and their curiosity can get them into trouble.

What would you do if your rabbit got lost? Rabbits do not typically wear a collar & ID tag so with no identification, anyone finding your pet would not know who or where to return them to. This is why microchipping rabbits is a good idea.

What is rabbit microchipping?

Microchips are tiny electronic devices that contain all the data needed to trace you if someone finds your lost pet. A microchip is about the same size as a grain of rice. It is implanted just under the skin (usually between the shoulder blades) via an injection. Microchips are designed to last for life and should cause no bother to your pet. If an animal is deemed large enough, our team at Travel Vet can microchip them – ask us about microchipping your rabbit.

How is microchipping helpful?

A microchip stores a unique code, which is matched to the owner’s details on a central online database. Travel Vet and other veterinary practices, as well as some animal rescue centres, have special microchip scanners to reveal the code. If you do not keep your contact details up to  date on the central database, it may not be possible to reunite you with your rabbit.

Benefits of rabbit microchipping

Microchipping is currently the most effective way to reunite pets with their owners if they are brought into a vet practice or animal shelter without an ID tag – this could be due to a successful escape attempt or if a stolen pet is recovered. With no way to identify the owner,  pets are typically put up for rehoming.

Pet theft isn’t just a dog and cat owner issue. Since the start of COVID, pet thefts across a variety of species have risen. In 2021, Darius – the world’s largest rabbit – was stolen from his garden hutch in Worcestershire. Read the BBC news story about Darius here.

The Government Department of Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published a Pet Theft Taskforce policy paper in September last year, which outlined measures being taken to tackle the rising number of pet thefts. One of the proposed measures is to have vet  practices scan all new pets at their first appointment.  You can read the full DEFRA report here.

The bottom line is, without any form of identification, pets have little to no chance of being reunited with their owners should the worst happen. Rabbit microchipping is a low-cost, simple way to give your pet rabbit a traceable form of identification and give you peace of mind.

Get your rabbit microchipped

Lifesaving guinea pig advice from Travel Vet

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.

See our location & contact information

Life-threatening guinea pig health problems

Gut Stasis

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.

Respiratory problems

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.

Trauma

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.

Birth

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.

Get advice on hamster parasites from head vet Emma Fisher

Hamsters can be a joy to live with, with their cute little faces and amusing antics. However, like most pets (and humans), hamsters are susceptible to parasites.

Our Head Vet Emma Fisher explains that hamster parasites are common. Parasites are organisms that live on or inside hosts, getting their supply of nutrients from the host and causing them irritation and potential harm.

Generally, parasites are not extremely dangerous for hamsters, but they can cause itchiness, constipation, and weight loss amongst other health issues. Read Emma’s information on hamster parasites below and contact us if you need further advice.

Contact us for advice

Emma examines four hamster parasites

  • Tapeworms

    Dwarf tapeworms are the most common internal hamster parasite; when contracted they live in the small intestine often without causing major issues. Emma advises that large tapeworm burdens can cause internal blockages/constipation, which you would see as a reduction in stools or a swollen/discoloured abdomen or anus, and weight loss, which need to be dealt with promptly.

  • Pinworms

    Mouse pinworms are less common that tapeworms and will live in part of the large intestine if your hamster becomes a host. The most common issue with pinworms is itching of the anus.

  • Hamster mites – Demodex

    The most common external hamster parasites are Demodex mites – two species of tiny mites that cause itching and hair loss when they infect hair follicles. Other signs are dry and scaling skin, scabbing, and dandruff.

  • Ear mites – Notoedres

    The Notoedres family of ear mites can be miserable for hamsters. Infestations can cause crusting/lesions on the hamster’s ears, face, genitalia, and feet. Hamster mite treatment should be started as soon as possible so do contact us for advice.

Diagnosing hamster parasites

Emma wants hamster owners to know the importance of getting their pet checked out by a Vet as soon as possible if there are signs of parasites. External hamster mites can sometimes be spotted on the skin as well as causing the above symptoms.

If you suspect hamster mites or worms, give us a call on 01753 316081 and we can book you in with a Vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Can you prevent hamster parasites?

Making sure your hamster and their environment are clean is the best way to prevent hamster mites and worms. Hamsters are usually pretty good at cleaning themselves, but a sand bath will aid this – water or powder baths are not advised. A clean hamster cage will be sanitised regularly with pet-safe products, and free of soiled bedding, stools, insects, and flies. It is also important to keep rodents away from your home as much as possible as these can be hosts to parasites.

So, there you have it, Emma’s guide to hamster parasites. Remember we are here to help, so be sure to contact us if you need further advice.

Contact us for hamster advice

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

Emma has six rabbit owner tips to help you in 2022

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.

Call us about vaccinating your rabbit

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;

Call us to check or book your rabbit’s vaccination

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.

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

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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