- How to brush your dog’s teeth
- Toilet training your puppy
- Play biting
- Leaving your dog home alone
- Loose lead walking
- How to teach a good recall
- Crate training
- Teaching your dog to give you things
- Choosing a puppy
- Arthritis in Pets
- If your pet has fits
- Feline Leukaemia
- Feeding Your Rabbit
- Pesky FLEAS
- Dog dental care
How to brush your dog’s teeth
Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best way to keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. Without proper dental care, bacteria will collect on your pet’s teeth leading to plaque, tartar, infection pain and rotten teeth. This will usually require an anaesthetic to treat. By following these steps you can get into a regular brushing routine with your dog and avoid dental disease and unwanted expense as well as having a happy healthy dog with nicer breath!
Like anything you want your dog to learn, training is the key to getting your dog used to having their teeth brushed. Any training is best started from a young age but results can be achieved however old the dog is when you start.
You will need a pet toothbrush or you can use a children’s toothbrush because the bristles are soft and the heads are small. There are many toothbrushes available and the most important thing is to pick the right size brush for your pet. This usually depends on the size of the head of the brush, so small dogs have a small brush, large dogs have a large brush.
Dogs love a regular routine so a great way to incorporate brushing is to brush once a day before a meal. This has two benefits, firstly it fits into your day and means that brushing becomes an extra minute of your dog’s dinnertime and secondly your dog will begin to associate brushing with a great part of the day – dinner time!
- The first step is to introduce the toothbrush around dinner time, start to wave the toothbrush around as you prepare your dogs meal, make sure they see the brush and that you say something associated with brushing such as “teeth”. As with any training you will need to repeat this every day for one to two weeks.
- The next stage is to touch the dog on the head or nose with the brush just before putting the bowl of food down and inviting them to eat. This helps dogs to gradually get used to the brush coming towards them and they associate it with food.
- As the dog begins to get more confident with the brush you can begin to lift the lips and start touching teeth with the brush; this is gradually increased until you are brushing the teeth.
- It is important to take one step at a time and not to push your dog too hard in one sitting.
- Remember to say “teeth” and praise your dog for good behaviour.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
- The front teeth (incisors and canines) are very sensitive, so ALWAYS work from the back of the dog’s mouth to the front so you leave the sensitive teeth till last.
- Try and do your brush training at the same time every day so your dog can get into a routine. Before a meal is best.
- Remember that this is training, so it is important to praise your dog when they give you the result that you want, i.e. sitting nicely and not struggling when brushing.
- NEVER punish your dog if they struggle or run away when the toothbrush comes out. Animals don’t brush their teeth in the wild and many pets find the sensation a bit strange, getting cross or shouting at your dog is only going to make the issue worse. If your dog is having trouble getting used to brushing then don’t push or force them to have it done, always make your stages gradual and be gentle with them, if they are getting really upset then try going back a stage.
- Pets mostly have two sides to their teeth, the outside side nearest the cheek and the inside side nearest the tongue. Generally the action of the tongue will keep the inside side clean.
- You need to brush every day, just once a day.
- Do not use human toothpastes as these are not designed to be swallowed.
- Sometimes, however hard we try, our dogs will not accept teeth brushing and if your dog becomes aggressive and tries to bite then it is time to admit defeat. There are many other products on the market to help keep your dog’s teeth clean and it may be that you have to use a couple of different methods to achieve results.
Our nurses are available for advice and free dental checks to help you keep your dog’s teeth clean.
Toilet training your puppy
Toilet training a puppy seems to present all sorts of problems to dog owners. This advice sets out a programme of training that is effective and stress free for both you and your pup.
Some points to be aware of before you start.
- Young pups are not physically developed to go for long periods without toileting.
- Dogs are creatures of habit – they will tend to “perform” in the same place over and over again.
- Paper training is ineffective – it involves teaching your dog that it is acceptable to go in the house (on the paper) and then trying to change this behaviour at a later date.
- Punishment does not work – if you punish a young pup for going in the wrong place, you may teach them to fear you. This could result in a dog that simply will not go when you are close by, but will happily “perform” on the best carpet when left alone.
THE BENEFITS OF USING A CRATE
Housetraining is high on the list of benefits to using a crate. Dogs are “den” animals and readily adapt to sleeping and resting in a crate that replicates a den. Keep the crate in a busy convenient location such as the kitchen or any other room where the family spends a lot of time.
AN EFFECTIVE PROGRAMME
The key features of this programme are:
- Reinforcement and reward
The programme requires you to take your pup out to where you want him to perform
- When he wakes up
- When he starts to move about after resting
- After he drinks or eats
- After play or exercise
- If he sniffs the ground and/or circles
- If he becomes excited e.g. when visitors call
- AND every half hour
This means that you will be taking the pup out many times during each day. If he “performs”, you must reward him with treats, play and praise. On those occasions when he does not “perform”, let him return quietly indoors. This is not a waste of time – simply a way of making sure that he is in the right place when he needs to be. The pup will soon start to move towards the door when he needs to toilet – so watch carefully and be sure to give him lots of reward for “telling” you.
You can encourage the pup to perform by tossing a few pieces of food nearby the place you want him to use as a toilet. Sniffing for the food will often trigger him to go. You may feel that this seems a lot of work but you will reap the benefits very quickly. As your pup becomes more predictable in his behaviour, you should give him a signal (e.g. “hurry up” or “be quick”) that can be used as a command to perform when he is older and has more physical control.
If you are feeding your pup regularly, you will soon pick up on his toilet pattern. So observe your pup carefully and adjust your programme accordingly. Under no circumstances should you ever punish your pup.
CLEANING AWAY THE ACCIDENTS
Do not use any cleaning agent that contains ammonia or bleach, as this will not remove the smell of uric acid. In fact it will add to it. This will attract the puppy back to the same spot, and the smell will stimulate a dog. There are specific products available from your vet or pet store, or you can use biological soap powder or warm water with vinegar.
Despite the above advice, some problems can still occur: Some nervous puppies or those who are not very confident may find it difficult to relax enough to toilet outside. This will be overcome by good socialisation but you should also make sure that you do not become anxious or show any annoyance with the pup.
Health problems can result in inappropriate toileting, but this is rare and can be treated quickly and effectively. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, please seek advice from a veterinary surgeon. AS WITH ALL TRAINING AND TEACHING, PATIENCE AND CONSISTENCY ARE VERY IMPORTANT.
THE ABOVE PROGRAMME HAS PROVED EFFECTIVE MANY TIMES OVER.
USED PROPERLY IT WILL TEACH YOUR PUP QUICKLY AND WITHOUT STRESS FOR EITHER YOU OR THE PUP.
This advice is taken from The association of pet dog trainers. For more great tips go to www.apdt.co.uk
Puppy teeth – yes indeed they do hurt!
Puppy biting is a perfectly natural behaviour. Puppies use their mouths to explore their surroundings; nothing is sacred from puppy teeth. They also use their teeth when playing. Fortunately this is something they usually grow out of when they lose their puppy teeth at around sixteen weeks.
Puppies themselves learn that their teeth are sharp when they are still with their mother and littermates. They begin to hurt their mother’s teat when feeding and she will get up and walk away. The pup learns there is a consequence to using teeth. They also learn the consequences of using their teeth too hard when playing with their littermates. If they use their teeth too enthusiastically the game will end one way or another. Either their littermate will yell in pain and stop playing or they may end up fighting.
Remember that dogs only have one defence if they are in pain, frightened or cornered and that is to use teeth. This does not make a bad dog it is simply dog behaviour!
Your job is to teach the dog that teeth on human skin are not allowed! You also need to teach him to have a soft mouth.
To help him learn to inhibit his bite you need to act like a playmate.
Never use your hands or body as a toy when playing with your puppy. Instead use a suitable toy.
If your puppy catches your skin or clothes when you are playing yell ‘ouch’ – a good high pitched yell is needed as though he really hurt you. Get up, move away from your puppy and stop playing. Redirect his teeth onto something more acceptable, a stuffed Kong, the cardboard innards of toilet roll or kitchen roll, a toy or a raw hide chew. (Don’t give your puppy cheap plastic toys to chew as they can be dangerous if swallowed.) Many puppies under 14 weeks will back off when you yell then come back and lick you. Praise and redirect the play onto something appropriate. Some puppies will see the yell as a cue to lunge at you even harder. These puppies are usually over stimulated, over tired or perhaps Terriers! Do not shout at your puppy, use a water pistol or scruff shake simply remain calm, get up and walk away.
Insure your puppy is getting enough rest during the day – especially if you have children. Place your puppy on a good diet as some diets have been implicated in effecting behaviour. Make sure that everyone in the household treats your puppy the same way.
Children should always be supervised when they interact with your puppy as young children tend to flap their arms around squealing which only excites the puppy.
Stopping a puppy play biting takes time and consistency.
Puppies will latch onto to anything that moves – your trouser leg, the bottom of your dressing gown and your toes! Why?- because it gets a reaction from the owner. If this happens; stop walking. Do not get into a game of tug with your trouser leg or dressing gown. Try and redirect your puppy onto something more acceptable.
Being proactive instead of reactive will safely teach your puppy where and when he can use his teeth.
This advice is taken from The Association of Pet Dog Trainers. For more great tips go to www.apdt.co.uk
Leaving your dog home alone
One of the most appealing qualities of a dog is the desire to enjoy the company of other dogs and of their owners and other humans. But there are potential problems for the owner who does not take steps to build a healthy relationship with their dog nor teach their pup to be relaxed when left alone In many cases the importance of this aspect of caring for your pet dog is not apparent until things go wrong. In extreme cases, owners require professional help when their dog engages in such things as destructive chewing; whining or howling; urination and defecation; when left alone. As always, prevention is better than cure and this sort of behaviour can be avoided by the following: –
- GOOD SOCIALISATION. Take every opportunity to introduce your pup to new experiences, new people and new places. Seek out your local APDT member for advice and enrol in a puppy class. Your aim should be to build confidence and avoid over attachment to one person. Introduce your dog to your friends and neighbours and teach it to be relaxed with other people.
- CRATE TRAINING. The crate offers many benefits. It prevents your pup following you all around the house; enables you to be separate but still in sight; gives the pup its own space and place of comfort and safety. Even older dogs can be introduced to a crate. Make sure the crate is comfortable, covering it with a blanket and give your dog a food-delivering toy, such as a Kong, while the dog is crated.
- POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT. The most stressful time for our pup is immediately after you leave. A simple training programme will help. Start by walking a distance away from your pup; turning to walk back; greet calmly and reward a good response (if your pup becomes over excited, ask for and reward a sit or a down). Then leave the room, pause briefly out of sight and return as before. Gradually increase the duration of absence. When your pup is secure and relaxed when you are out of sight, go out of the house and return as before. As before, gradually increase the duration of absence. Putting your jacket on before leaving will strengthen the effect of this exercise.
- A CALM EXIT. Do not make a fuss before going out. Too much attention may increase your pup’s insecurity when the attention is removed. Your pup will not understand your words but will have a heightened sense of something going to happen.
- A CALM RETURN. While it is nice to be greeted by a dog that is clearly delighted to see you, do not make too much fuss when you return this attention.
There is no single way to teach a dog to be relaxed when alone. Each dog is different and must be treated differently, but the points listed above will help you teach your dog to be content when left alone.
This advice is taken from The Association of Pet Dog Trainers. For more great tips go to www.apdt.co.uk
Loose lead walking
Most owners look forward to being able to take their dog out for a walk, but if the dog pulls all the way it is very tempting to make the walks shorter and shorter. The best thing is to teach your puppy always to walk on a loose lead and then he will not get into bad habits.
This is not the same as expecting your dog to ‘heel’ (walk closely by your side) but means that there should always be a bit of slack in the lead so you do not finish a walk feeling like your arm has been pulled out of its socket!
In the past this was often ‘taught’ by yanking on a dogs lead each time he pulled. This can have the opposite effect to what you hope for i.e. the dog learns to pull harder – you yank dog, dog yanks you. It can also do a lot of damage to a dog’s neck and throat while he is ‘learning’. You will often see adult dogs being yanked and checked in this way – proving that the method certainly hasn’t worked for them.
Nowadays we approach it in a rather different way – we explain to the dog that being on a loose lead, walking near to your side is more rewarding that pulling. So, how do we do that? As with all the exercises we reward the dog for doing the right thing. There are a few ways of doing this, two are outlined here. For these exercises your puppy/dog should be wearing a flat collar or fixed harness and a standard (or training) lead. Do NOT use a choke chain or extending lead. The first hurts and has no place in training and the second will allow your dog to rush off too far.
Lure and reward
The dog can walk on your left or on your right. For ease of explanation I will explain as if your dog is going to walk on your left – if you want him to walk on your right, just reverse the instructions. It is a good idea to get your dog used to walking nicely on both sides, but don’t let him cross sides mid-walk as this can easily trip you up if you are caught unawares.
Very important: If at any time during the exercise your dog pulls, stand still and keep the hand holding the lead in the same position. Your dog is pulling for a reason – to get somewhere faster, to investigate a smell, to reach another dog etc. If you let him pull you towards his target then you are rewarding him for pulling.
Walking on a loose lead is hard work for your dog so make sure the treats are high-grade, at least to start with. If your dog is not food-motivated then use a toy by all means but it does make things slower as each time you reward you have to stop and have a game. So, if he finds food rewarding (and most do if you choose the right food) try and use that.
Hold the dogs lead in your right hand, have some treats ready in your left hand. Get your dogs attention and, using the treat lure him into position (ask him to follow the treat) until he is standing beside you, facing the same way as you are, then give him the reward.
Using the food in your left hand lure him forwards a step or two and as long as the lead is loose reward him. Take a few more steps, reward again, and repeat for as long as he is walking with a loose lead. You may find he dashes off after getting the reward – do not move! Stand steady, when he stops pulling get his attention and lure him back into position beside you, couple of steps, reward.
If you are clicker training you will know that it is important to ‘mark’ the exact behaviour i.e. walking without pulling, before rewarding. You may find it easier to use your click word rather than the clicker itself – you have lots of things in your hand anyway! If you are not clicker training I would still suggest that you mark the behaviour. To do this – as your puppy is walking on a loose lead – say ‘Good’ or ‘Yes’ and then feed him a treat when he is standing still. In this way he will know that he is getting a reward for walking nicely, but by feeding him when he is standing still you are lessening the risk of him choking on the food. If you just fed him when
he was standing still (without marking the behaviour) then he will think that you want him to keep stopping.
When your dog is able to walk two or three steps on a loose lead you can start to increase the distance between treats – reward for three of four steps walking nicely, then maybe four or six, then for three again gradually stretching out the distance between treats but remember to not just increase the gaps, surprise him by sometimes rewarding for just a couple of steps.
Once your dog is able to walk about ten paces without pulling you might want to put in a cue word – ‘walk nice’, ‘with me’ or similar works quite well. With this exercise it is important that you say what the dog is doing rather than what you want him to do i.e. if he is walking nicely, say so. If he is pulling and you say ‘walk nice’ (before he understands the cue) he will think that ‘walk nice’ means pull like a train! On the same note, if you do not have time to stand still if he pulls or reward lots of nice walking – perhaps you are rushing to meet the children or similar – then when he does pull it is better to say ‘pull’. In this way he will associate the word with his action. Or you could get a training harness and put this on him when you are not able to do the training. A training harness is one that restricts his forward movement when he pulls.
Remember that this is a training exercise and like all training is very tiring to start with. It might be an idea to introduce the exercise to your dog in the living room, or in the garden before actually taking him out to practise. Keep the training short, just a few minutes at a time to start with. If you take him on a full walk using this exercise you will have a very tired puppy at the end of it and then the training will not be so much fun for him.
The second method you might like to try is: Red Light/Green Light
This exercise is based on the understanding that each step you take energises the dog.
Stand still and wait for your dog to loosen the lead – reward. Give him the reward beside you – in this way he will learn that being beside you is a good place to be Take one step – your dog may well rush off – stand still and again wait for him to come back and stand beside you. This may take several minute, be patient – reward Take one step – this time your dog should come back to your side a bit quicker – reward. When you can take one step without the dog rushing off, you can try two steps. Do not be surprised if he dashes off again. Stand still and wait for him to come back. Reward by your side, two steps, wait, dog returns, reward. When he can walk two steps without dashing off increase to three, he can cope with three steps increase to four etc
When you take the first step it can take quite a long time for your puppy/dog to loosen the lead/come back to you but if you are patient he will stand still eventually. Do not be tempted to pull him back, just wait. The time it takes for him to loosen the lead will lessen each time. But when you add in another step the time may increase again. You might need to take just one step at a time for several steps, but again as the exercise progresses so the intervals between increasing the steps will get shorter and shorter.
As with the previous exercise do not introduce your cue word until he is managing at least several paces, and do not continue the exercise for more than a few minutes.
Taking your dog for a walk should be enjoyable for both of you. Remember that he is going out not just for the exercise but for stimulation – let him have time to sniff where other dogs have been. Just don’t let him pull you to the places and do expect him to come away from the smell when you ask him to!
This advice is taken from The Association of Pet Dog Trainers. For more great tips go to www.apdt.co.uk
How to teach a good recall
Here are a few general points that will highlight basic principles that apply to all dogs, and this is followed by exercises that have been found to be very effective in teaching “the recall”.
- Never ever call your dog to show annoyance. Always be show you are absolutely delighted that he has returned.
- Before returning, your dog must turn away from whatever he is doing. Remember that some distractions, particularly smells and sounds, are beyond our awareness AND may be more interesting than you.
- Avoid calling your dog back to “do nothing”
- Teach your dog that coming back does not always mean ‘end of fun’. Call him back often when out walking; put him on the lead, then let him go free; offer him a variety of rewards when he comes back and generally motivate him to WANT to come when called.
- Try different signals as well as just calling him. A whistle can be very effective.
- As with all training, work slowly and steadily; make it enjoyable; don’t get frustrated – just take a break and start again later; don’t repeat something that isn’t working and always remember your dog is an individual.
There are many ways to teach your dog to come back.
The simplest and easiest way is to: –
- Teach your dog to enjoy being held by the collar. Do this simply by gently holding his collar, click and treat (C/T)
- When he is relaxed about this, call him to you in your home, grip the collar (C/T)
- Next try calling him from further away, still in your home; then extend to calling him from another room. Make sure you do this as a game.
- Now try the same routine in your garden
- Now try the same routine in a different place – but no distractions
- Gradually increase the number of locations
- Introduce distractions
- Teach the dog to touch the palm of your hand. Each time he does so, click and throw the treat away. He will run out, take the treat and return to repeat the action. As he runs back be sure to encourage him and use your “recall word”
- If he is oriented to a particular toy. Call him, show him the toy and encourage him to come so he can play with it (and you). This works very well if your dog likes a tug toy.
- Have someone stand a distance from you. That person should hold the treats and your dog should be aware of that. Call your dog. At first he will stay close to the treats but will eventually give up. As soon as he comes to you, your helper should immediately give you the treats so you can reward the dog. This will teach your dog that he gets the reward by going to you and not seeking out the treat.
These are just some ways to achieve a secure recall. Use them – and any others you know – but seek at all times to make it a positive experience for the dog. Make him want to be with you.
Why use a crate?
- A crate is a safe, secure area for your puppy to be, when you can’t give him your full attention
- It can help speed-up house training
- Its somewhere for your puppy to go when he needs time out
- It’s a secure den for your puppy to retreat to, safe in the knowledge that he can relax and won’t be disturbed. (You should ensure children and other pets leave puppy alone when he is in it.)
- It’s the perfect way to protect your house from damage, due to inappropriate chewing!
- A safe secure way to transport your puppy and keep your car clean!
- Acclimatises your puppy to a crate for visits to vets or groomers.
- Ideal to use for those breaks away, its familiar to puppy and the holiday home is safe from your puppy!
How big should the crate be and where should it be?
- The crate should be big enough for your puppy to fit in comfortably when he is fully grown, room to stretch out and have a water bowl and interactive toys in.
- You need to place it in a convenient, but quieter part of the house, so puppy can still see and hear what’s going on, but is able to relax as well.
- Also a good idea to have it reasonably near an exit to the garden, for quick access, or carry him out to the garden in the early stages to save any accidents.
Introducing the crate
- The crate needs to be as comfortable and inviting as possible for your puppy to build up positive associations with it. Put a soft towel or vet bed in the base, both easily cleaned. Always have fresh water available; place a couple of safe toys in the crate; a stuffed Kong is useful.
- Put some newspaper in the base, separate from the vet bed (half and half if possible). If your puppy does need to toilet and cannot attract your attention, he will not want to go on the vet bed, but will probably have used newspaper for this purpose before he joined your family. Change this paper each time it is soiled (wait until your puppy is away from the crate, do not comment or criticise the puppy for using the paper. He has to go somewhere if you are not available to let him out).
- Initially leave the crate door open so the puppy is free to come and go, use tasty food treats to encourage him – start with them near the door and gradually move them further back once he is happy entering. You can introduce a word such as kennel or bed at this stage, so that he can begin to associate the word with the action!
- Do not rush this stage – if your puppy is not happy to go into the crate, do not force him, that will set up bad associations. Take your time in ‘explaining’ to him that it is a safe and fun place. Most young puppies are very happy to go in the crate, especially if they have been used to spending time in a whelping box whilst with their littermates.
- Do this several times during the day. Feed him his meals in the crate. Stuff a Kong with tasty treats and put that towards the back of the crate, if he is comfortable at this stage, you can push the door too. Stay around at this stage and try to ignore what he is doing, so he doesn’t think it is a big deal.
- Depending on how comfortable your puppy is at the above stage you can begin to close the door for short periods at a time, always ensure puppy has been toileted before, so you know he won’t need to go out for a little while, also a good idea to have a little game with him first, so he is tired. Again use a Kong or put his meal in with him.
- Begin to go about your day as normal with puppy confined, if he begins to whine or bark, remember to ignore him. Only go back to him when he is quiet, if you go back to him when he is being noisy, he will learn to keep barking for longer and longer periods until you return!
- As long as you are careful to ensure good positive associations with the crate, your puppy should quickly become happy to relax as soon as he enters the crate. Puppies quickly learn to sleep through the night in the crate and are usually clean very quickly.
- On returning to the crate to let puppy out, try to be calm and not make it a really exciting time, this may lead to unwanted vocalising/whining as he anticipates his release!
- Take puppy straight to his toileting area to help speed up his house training.
Your puppy should not be left for long hours at a time in his crate, 3-4 hours during the day is a maximum. Initially he will need to come out of his crate frequently during the day (every half hour/hour or so) to toilet, but as he gets older he should be able to go for 2 – 3 hours before he is going to need to relieve himself. Once he is used to the crate, he should happily go through the night. If he does whine and fidget during the night, get up and take him to his toileting area, keeping it as calm and low key as possible and as soon as he has performed return him to bed.
The crate is not for use as a punishment, but can certainly be used for time-out if puppy has become unruly or is over-tired. It is also a good idea to use the crate at (human) meal times to avoid over excitement at these times; use a stuffed Kong with part or all of his meal to keep him occupied.
Teaching your dog to give you things
Teaching your dog or puppy to relinquish something is a very important exercise and should be taught as soon as possible. If your dog/puppy learns you do not take things away that he wants, but you will exchange them for something better, this helps to prevent guarding.
Whenever your dog/ puppy picks something up praise him and give him a signal that tells him you will exchange the item for something else he finds rewarding. The signal can be any word such as: mine, thank you, give, etc. Show the dog the reward, this will depend on what your dog finds rewarding, and, at this stage, must mean more to him than the item he already has possession of. Give the dog/puppy the reward in exchange for the item he already has.
When playing with toys it is important that your dog/puppy learns to give you the toy when you want it but it is certainly not necessary for the human to always have possession of the toy at the end of the game. Sometimes it is fun for your dog to win the toy at the end of the game. If you teach the dog/puppy that most fun comes from sharing the toy with you he will bring the toy back to play with you again.
To recap – if the dog/puppy has an item you want:
- Show the dog the reward (close to the nose)
- Give the release signal
- When the dog releases the item, give him the reward.
- If you are teaching your dog to play with you – restart the game by giving your dog a different signal, (get it!, let’s play!, yours!, etc) and start playing with the toy again.
It is important not to get hold of the item until your dog releases it. It can often help to sprinkle a handful of treats, as a reward, onto the floor next to your dog’s nose when starting to teach this exercise.
As your dog/puppy starts to understand the exercise he will probably start to bring you various objects he finds. Never discourage this, it is much better to have a dog who wants to give you items than a dog who wants to run off with possessions or guard them.
If you are already experiencing guarding problems with your dog/puppy please speak to an APDT,UK dog training instructor or behaviourist.
Choosing a puppy
Finding the right pup for and your family should be something that is done with a great deal of thought and care.Here are a few things to think about before acquiring your puppy.
- It is important before you go and buy a puppy to think about the level of activity you are prepared to give your pup and the dog it will become.
- Some breeds of dog need more exercise than others.
- How much space do you have in your home and garden?
- The sex of the dog may be another thing you will want to decide on.
- If you are going to buy a cross breed it can be interesting to have a look at any information about the breeds involved in the cross (if you know what the crosses are).
- If the dog is purebred then you want to think about what breed of dog you are interested in and find out everything you can about the breed The Kennel Club can be helpful with telling you just what the breed should look like (the breed standard).
- Think about the type of coat the dog may have. Will it shed, will it require a lot of grooming, and will it require professional clipping and/or grooming?
- Find out about the health issues related to the breed you are interested in. For example is this type of dog prone to skin disease or eye problems
Breeders and the puppy’s parents
With information you have gained about the breed of your choice you should now be prepared to go and visit the breeder’s home and to ask questions. A good breeder will also want to ask you questions so that they can decide if you are suitable for their pups.
Breeders should be approachable, willing and able to give you the information you require about the puppies and their parenting. They should also be able to supply you with information on; worming, inoculations, and feeding.
If they are Kennel Club registered obtain a certificate or a written document that says they will forward it to you as soon as it is received from the Kennel Club.
Always visit the breeder’s home. Do not to have the puppy delivered because you will never really know what the mother is like in temperament nor will you know what type of environment the pup was brought up in. It is important to meet the mother of the pups and if possible the father. Visiting also means you have a chance to talk with the breeder, look at any paperwork, see how the mother is with you and the pups, how the pups are with each other and their environment.
It is not always possible to see the father because they don’t always belong to the owner of the mother. However, it is necessary to see how sociable they or at least the mother is with people. Does the mother look like the breed? Are the parents clean, healthy, and happy? Do the parents have any obvious physical, temperament, or behaviour problems? Are the parents cowering away from you, are they aggressive or do they run away from you? Are the parents barking at you? Puppies can grow up to be like their parents so if you see any of the above problems it is possible that the puppies will grow up with the same problem.
The parents of the pups should be at least 12 months of age when the puppies were conceived. The larger breeds should be at least 2 years of age, as they take longer to grow and mature. Bitches should have had at least one season before being bred from. Bitches should not be bred from after the age of 8 years and should not have produced more than 6 litters.
- The puppies should look clean, happy and healthy. Their environment should be clean and warm with warm bedding and fresh water.
- They should be moving around normally and not sitting in an unusual manner (could indicate underlying hip problems).
- They should be eating a well balanced diet.
- Find out how often they have human contact; it should be frequent throughout the day.
- Are the puppies kept in the house? If not are they warm, dry and experiencing the normal background noises in a home such as the radio, people talking, and walking, sounds of the kitchen etc.
- Have the puppies been experiencing an enriched environment (this is when the pups are given different toys to play with and areas to explore)? Puppies need to explore (small areas) and have things to play with in order to simulate them mentally, which will help their brains to develop normally. However, they should not be given too many things or too large an area to explore because this could be over whelming and frighten them. But it is important for them to have a few objects and small amounts of new experiences, which will stimulate all 5 senses to help them to develop mentally and physically. New experiences must be given carefully to the new pup
Remember if you don’t like what you see make your excuses and leave.
At 4 weeks the puppies should be weaned onto a solid diet.
Find out what food the puppy is eating.
Puppies should legally not be sold at less than 6 weeks old.
Ideally a puppy should be 8 weeks of age when they go to a new home this allows for the mother to have completed her disciplinary training of the pups such as teaching bite inhibition. This time is a very important learning time for the pups they learn how to interact and communicate with other dogs properly. However, not every mother is good at discipline and in large litters the mother can not always get around to them all so if they are left with their siblings too long some may become bullies. Therefore puppies are usually recommended for sale at 8 to 10 weeks of age.
Once the decision has been made the breeder should supply you with all the necessary paperwork and a diet sheet telling you exactly what, how much, and when the pup is fed. It is very important not to change the diet immediately as this can cause stomach upset.
Remember it will be stressful for the pup to leave its family and to go into a new home with virtual strangers. Allow your pup time to adjust to its new environment and people. Try and keep everything calm and gentle in order that every new experience for your new pup is a nice one. It is important for the puppy’s happy adjustment that the puppy’s new life is not overwhelming.
DEVELOP A GOOD PUPPPY SOCIALISATION PROGRAMME
Look at different breeds and gain some knowledge of them before making a final choice on breed or breed type.
Once breed is chosen gain more knowledge of the breed
Plan for the puppy’s arrival
a) Puppy proof any areas the pup will be allowed in e.g. make areas safe where there are electrical wires, make sure valuables are always out of reach, make garden escape and danger proof etc.
A puppy needs
b) Food – nutritionally balanced diet
e) Physical contact
f) The best of physical care
g) A calming environment
h) A good balance of mental and physical exercise
Give the puppy his own bed and a space where he can always have a quiet time and space to himself.
a) A pup must be allowed to sleep and rest
Puppies need supervised and appropriate play with children and adults in order that they do not get overexcited and wound up.
Puppies should not be over walked, too much exercise can cause stress physically and mentally on a pup.
Create a kind regime for toilet training
Do not let other dogs, children or adults harass or play roughly with the puppy. Handle puppy daily and start grooming with a soft brush in order that this will be accepted for life
Puppies need the freedom to make choices
Create an enriched environment; this helps the puppy to gain knowledge and confidence through exploration and to make their own choices. However, care must be taken that the puppy is not given too much too soon. This should be done gradually, perhaps introducing something new each day, but care must be taken not to give inappropriate experiences.
Puppies need things to chew once teething starts, make sure they always have appropriate items to chew in order to keep them from chewing your things. Also consider giving occupying toys, as these are not only great for the food reward but can be mentally stimulating.
If pup shows fear of a situation, another dog, another animal, a person or anything, do not force pup to confront it. Try not to make any soothing tones or mollycoddle the pup because this will only feed the pup’s fears. Let the pup make the decision whether to investigate or not, give praise when they do.
Pups should see different kinds of people e.g. short, tall, fat, thin, different colours, with glasses, without glasses, with and without beards or hats and be handled by different people but supervise this and make sure the pup is happy with the person and the situation – not all at once of course.
Pups should learn about different textures underfoot, different times of day, different weather, different sounds, smells, tastes, things to touch and things to see e.g. vets, towns, the countryside, people’s homes and gardens, the sea, children playing etc.
Puppies need good experiences but not too much too soon. Puppies are like sponges up to the age of 12 weeks, so care should be taken as to just what they do absorb. The puppy should not be flooded with too many new things or people at once. The pup should be made to feel comfortable with non-threatening situations.
Puppies need warmth, love, kindness, understanding, company and knowledgeable care. Puppies need good experiences in order to grow into well-balanced dogs.
All pets are likely to come across fireworks in their lives and most owners will be all too aware of the great stress and upset it causes. Fear is a natural reaction to a loud unfamiliar noise and we should expect our pets to respond in a way that their instinct tells them to, by becoming alert, hiding e.t.c. What we don’t want is for that natural fear to turn into a phobia – where pets become overwhelmed by fear and are inconsolable and remain very fearful for days after the event has happened.
With good preparation and the right techniques we can help our pets deal with fear in the right way and prevent long term phobias from developing.
Dogs are one of the most common pets that we see having problems with fireworks. Signs of fear that may be displayed by your dog during fireworks night are –
- Trembling and shaking
- Barking, howling and crying
- Clinging to owners
- Trying to run away
- Cowering and hiding
- Urinating and soiling in the house
Try to take your dog for a walk in the day, well before the fireworks begin. Keep all your doors and windows shut in the house to prevent escape and keep the curtains drawn. It can help to play music with a repetitive beat at a medium volume to help mask out the bangs – ESPECIALLY if you have to go out.
Dogs may really benefit from making a den. This can be under a table, behind a sofa, in a cupboard/wardrobe. Pad it with old blankets to help sound proof it. Let your pet have access to the den in the weeks coming up to fireworks night, putting their favourite blankets/toys inside and feeding them in the den can all help your pet make positive associations with the den. Your dog may have already a chosen area they want to hide in, that is fine – they should not be forced to come out.
Signs of scared cats –
- Cowering and hiding behind or on top of furniture and surfaces.
- Trying to run and hide
- Soiling/wetting in the house
- Not wanting to eat
- Loud meowing
- Rapid breathingMouth breathing/panting – usually a sign of extreme stress and panic.
Keep all windows, doors and cat flaps shut to prevent escape and keep the curtains drawn. Cat flaps should also be blocked off with a board and chair as some cats will break through a locked cat flap. Playing music with a repetitive beat at a medium volume can help to mask out the loud bangs, ESPECIALLY if you have to go out.
Dens can also help with cats, using a smaller space. Where possible and its safe to do so, a raised den is ideal. Large cardboard boxes are useful for this.
Rabbits are quite often forgotten on fire-works night but are just as likely to become frightened of fireworks as dogs and cats. Signs of a scared rabbit –
- Stamping hind feet
- Being very still
- Trying to dig/escape
- Rapid breathing
Try to bring rabbits indoors where possible, if it really isn’t possible then partly cover the hutch with thick blankets to help with sound proofing. Provide plenty of bedding for your rabbit to hide in.
Other small pets and birds
Make sure other pets that live outdoors- guinea-pigs, bird’s e.t.c. are accounted for on fireworks night. Use thick blankets to partly cover hutches and aviaries and provide hide boxes and plenty of bedding for pets to hide in. Where ever possible, pets should be moved indoors.
Puppies and Kittens
Remember – young pets may be extremely sensitive to fireworks and careful planning is essential. Sound therapy C.D.’s work by playing noises that pets may be frightened of in low volumes to gradually desensitise them. Working with this therapy at a young age is an excellent way to help your pet have many stress free years of fireworks nights. It can be used with older pets too.
Points to consider
- Pheromone diffusers can really benefit your cat or dog by reducing anxiety and promoting calm whilst fireworks are going on. Ideal for new puppies and kittens for their first fire-works experience.
- Remember that any pet can be unpredictable whilst they are scared – they may bite and scratch, never try to restrain them while they are scared.
- Try not to fuss your pet while they are scared, they can sense your concern and anxiety and it may make them worse. NEVER punish or shout at them for unwanted behaviour, i.e. crying, soiling in the house – they are just frightened.
- Make sure that your pets are microchipped, so if they accidently escape, they can be returned to you.
- If you feel that your pet cannot cope or already has a fireworks phobia – feel free to come and speak to one of our vets.
- If you are setting off your own fireworks, spare a thought for near by wildlife, farm animals, horses and other peoples pets – ALWAYS ALERT YOUR NEIGHBOURS
- If you are having your own bonfire make sure it’s a safe distance from any animals and check it before hand to ensure that any hedgehogs have not crawled in to hibernate or birds have not nested inside.
- Sound therapy C.D.s offer your pet a real long term solution to fireworks fears.
Arthritis in Pets
What is arthritis?
Arthritis means “inflammation of the joint”. It has many causes including:
- Old-age degeneration – most common
- Past trauma
- Congenital defects (e.g. hip dysplasia)
- Immune-mediated diseases
Unfortunately nearly all cases of arthritis are incurable but there is a lot we can do to relieve the clinical signs, slow the inevitable progression and improve your pets quality of life. Arthritis should not be ignored even if it is a common old age change.
What are the signs of arthritis?
At Honeybourne we realise that you know your own pet and therefore would be the best person to spot any change in their normal behaviour. Dogs of any age can develop arthritis – and often they will not show obvious signs of pain. The changes to watch out for include:
- Pain or lameness
- Stiffness after exercise or getting up
- Reduced stamina
- Less keen to go for walks
How do we diagnose arthritis?
We can get a high level of suspicion of arthritis from your pet’s age, localisation of pain, symptoms and history of past trauma. Only by taking x-rays can we differentiate arthritis from ligament or muscle damage, joint infections, bone fractures etc. In some complicated cases joint fluid samples or other imaging techniques may be necessary. By getting an accurate diagnosis and stage of advancement we can then formulate the best management plan.
How do we manage arthritis?
This 4-point plan will help to keep your pet active and comfortable:
It is vitally important that we manage your pet’s weight as excess weight can worsen the pain caused by arthritis and will speed up the disease process. Please discuss weight issues and dieting with our trained nurses.
Gentle exercise is also important to mobilise the joints and so reduce pain and stiffness. It is important that exercise is little and often. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. Animal hydrotherapy units are springing up around the country.
There are several different medications that reduce the inflammation in the affected joints or help to repair the damaged joint cartilage and we can discuss the most suitable for you and your pet.
- Anti-inflammatories (including Metacamâ and Rimadylâ)
- Cod liver oil
- Polysulphated-glycosaminoglycans e.g. Cartrophenâ
- Neutraceuticals/Food supplements e.g. glucosamine (Synoquinâ), green-lipped-mussel extract, shark cartilage.
Magnetic collars are now made for dogs and cats (and horses) and have gained popularity due to their lack of side effects. Most pet shops/superstores stock them. Please let us know if you have difficulty in finding one.
If your pet has fits
1. What is a fit?
A fit is the expression of abnormal electrical activity occurring in the brain. This electrical activity wipes all the brain’s “programmes” and causes random activity such as loss of balance and consciousness, paddling limbs, champing jaws, profuse salivation (which is not swallowed therefore looks “foamy” and sometimes urination and defecation as well as some vocalization (barking or whimpering or even screaming). The fit can be generalized, or partial (i.e. involve only certain parts of the body like the face or the limbs on the same side) or consist of extremely abnormal behavior such as star gazing, fly catching or unprovoked aggressive behaviour out of which your pet cannot be called.
2. Does it hurt?
As most of the time the animal’s mental status is affected, they are not aware of their surrounding and fits do not tend to be painful. The screaming or whimpering associated with some types of fits is the expression of an inappropriate activity of the center of vocalization situated in the brain rather than an expression of pain.
3. What is the cause of fits?
Three different categories of diseases can be the origin of fits:
- Epilepsy: The most frequent cause of fits in cats and dogs. Usually diagnosed in young healthy individuals (between 10 months and 5 years of age), perfectly normal between the fitting episodes.
- Primary brain disease, i.e. brain tumours, infections and inflammatory disease of the brain, congenital abnormalities, and trauma.
- Metabolic diseases, i.e. kidney and liver disease, intoxications.
4. What can be done about fits?
The treatment of fits varies greatly with the diagnosis and the cause of the fits. If a primary brain disease or a metabolic disease is diagnosed these need to be treated adequately. However sometimes despite adequate treatment of the primary cause, fits persist and need to be controlled. On the other hand Epilepsy has no know cause, therefore the only treatment recommended is anti-convulsant or “anti-epileptic” drugs to try to control the severity or the frequency of the fits. It must be understood that the aim of treatment is not always to stop the fits entirely but it is important that we reduce the severity or frequency to a level that you and your pet can live with.
5. What is Phenobarbitone?
Phenobarbitone is one of the most commonly used anti-convulsant drugs in cats and dogs. It comes in tablets and is a safe drug, under appropriate monitoring. A few other drugs are available to treat fits in our pets but as they are less safe and effective each drug must be used to its full potential before adding or changing to another drug.
6. What are the side effects associated with Phenobarbitone?
There are two types of side effects: The first you will observe at home, they include:
- Loss of co-ordination (balance), weakness in the back legs (sometimes front legs as well)
- Sedation (sleepiness)
- Increased appetite
- Increased thirst (and therefore increased urination)
The second category cannot be observed clinically and affects mainly the liver function. Therefore this has to be monitored by us on a regular basis by a blood test. This test needs to be performed at least twice a year and more frequently if there is any doubt.
7. When will Phenobarbitone be efficient?
Phenobarbitone takes about 2 weeks to reach a constant level in the blood. Very often side effects can be observed immediately. Please be patient and bear with these side effects for at least 2 weeks before deciding that this is not a suitable drug. Animals do get used to the drug and side effects subside progressively. The dose rate for Phenobarbitone is very variable and does not just correlate with your pet’s body weight. We aim to supply a dose of Phenobarbitone that gives a constant level of drug that is effective in reducing the fitting. This level should within a specific “therapeutic range”.
To know if we have prescribed the correct dose for your pet requires a blood sample. If the measured level is too high we may be able to reduce the dose of Phenobarbitone and therefore the severity of any side effects. As your pet ages, its body becomes more tolerant of the drug so dose rates may need to be altered. For this reason Phenobarbitone levels should be measured twice a year and more frequently if there is any doubt.
Second to road accidents, feline leukaemia virus is the most common killer of cats. About one in every six ill cats and one in every twenty healthy cats carry the virus.
How is it spread?
The leukaemia virus is passed from queen to kittens directly or via her milk. It is spread between other cats and kittens by fighting, eating together and grooming. Humans or dogs can not catch feline leukaemia virus.
What Happens When A Cat Is Infected?
Some cats will fight off the virus and remain healthy. The others can become infected and ill immediately or may remain as carriers (forever carrying the virus). These cats may spread the virus and can become ill at a later time, months to years later. In the mean time these cats appear quite normal. Cats that are already ill, immuno-compromised or elderly will be less able to fight off the virus and remain clear.
What are the signs?
Leukaemia virus suppresses the cat’s own immune system. This means that it can cause many symptoms. These include tumours, abortion, weight loss, fevers, mouth sores, persistent infections, anaemia and many other signs of ill health. Once a cat becomes ill with leukaemia virus there is no cure. The only way to discover if a cat is infected is by a blood test to look for the virus. A repeat test may be required in some cases. We will often suggest testing cats with the above symptoms and cats that seem unable to fight off minor infections.
How can leukaemia be prevented?
We now have an effective vaccine that will protect against leukaemia virus infection. It can not protect cats that are already carrying the virus. To be sure that a cat is clear of infection prior to Vaccination the cat can be blood tested. We recommend all cats be vaccinated against feline leukaemia.
We advise that cats known to be in contact with leukaemia carrying cats should be blood tested. As should any breeding cats or cats being introduced to closed, non infected colonies. A Positive blood result in a healthy cat means that that cat must be kept inside so that it does not spread the disease. A positive blood result in an ill cat is bad news and it is unlikely there will be much we can do to improve the cat’s quality of life.
Feline lmmunodeficiency Virus (FIV/Feline AIDS)
This virus, related to Leukaemia virus, causes similar signs. It is spread directly especially by fighting so is seen commonly in un-neutered male cats. Like leukaemia it is diagnosed by blood testing. There is no vaccine available. At present the best control is to isolate affected cats. Feline AIDS only affects cats. It will not pass to dogs or humans.
Feeding Your Rabbit
Feeding your pet rabbit high-energy commercial pet food can lead to tooth problems, boredom and even aggression. Here are some tips for a top rabbit diet…
In the wild, rabbits are essentially grazers, feeding mostly on grass and occassionally on leaves and low shoots. This natural diet is low in energy and high in fibre, keeping wild rabbits’ teeth and waistlines healthy.
Unfortunately, commercial pet rabbit foods are invariably low in fibre and very high in energy, leading to obesity and lack of wear of the teeth (how many rabbit owners reading this are are all too familiar with bringing their rabbit in to have his incisors clipped?!) These high energy diets also mean that the rabbits’ daily calorie intake can be rapidly met, leading to reduced time spent eating, which can result in boredom and even agression.
In addition, many rabbits are selective feeders, favouring the cereal component of their feed and leaving out the vitamin and mineral-rich grass pellets (this leads to even more problems with their teeth and skeleton).
Fortunately, some commercial diets are now formulated as all-in-one pellets to avoid this problem e.g. Suparabbit Excel.
The best diet for a rabbit is grass and good quality hay, with a small amount of a commercial diet to be given as a suplement. Fresh vegetables can also be given – it’s a good idea to suspend carrots from the hutch roof to act as an edible toy and to increase time spent eating.
Remember too, that sudden changes in diet should be avoided, as should the feeding of lawnmower clippings.
In conclusion, commercial diets should not be fed ad lib, as this leads to obesity and overgrown teeth. Instead, feed rabbits grass and a lot more hay with commercial diets added as a strictly rationed supplement.
Fleas – what are they and what they do?
Fleas are parasitic insects and there are many different species. In the middle ages, human fleas were a big problem and helped spread the bubonic plague. These days, with better standards of cleanliness, human fleas have become rare. Hospital doctors still see them in the chest hair of the homeless.
However, our pets are not so lucky, and for them fleas are common. There are flea species around for all the popular pet species, though since cat fleas are happy to live on dogs too, they are the dominant species. Fleas are an major cause of tapeworms for our pets. Fleas need blood to reproduce and this is why they bite. Like a lot of biting insects, they inject their saliva into the blood of the host to stop the blood clotting. The saliva contains a large number of protein molecules which can alarm the immune system, creating an allergic reaction to the saliva. This turns an irritation into an extremely irritating and long lasting local reaction in the skin. If your dog or cat is allergic to flea saliva, one bite can have them itching for days. A high proportion of our pets are allergic to flea bites.
How do fleas breed?
Fleas need blood to lay eggs. It takes 24-48 hours to start producing eggs once they have bitten and fed on blood. Thereafter adult fleas lay about 50 eggs a day. These fall off your pet onto floors, beds & furniture. The eggs will then hatch into flea larvae, which then pupate, like a caterpillar and, eventually develop into full adult fleas. The adult fleas then hop back onto cats, dogs or humans to bite and start the cycle all over again. The eggs can develop into fleas in a few weeks, but the pupae can remain dormant for many months. As the fleas lay a large number of eggs just one or two fleas on a pet can quickly result in hundreds of thousands of flea eggs in the house.
How do pets catch fleas?
Pets pick up fleas from the environment. For fleas to come into your house, they must be carried in by a pet. This can happen if another dog or cat comes in your house, or if your dog or cat is untreated and visits another flea infested house and picks up fleas there. In centrally heated houses, this is a year round risk. In the summer, flea eggs, larvae, and pupae can develop outside, in areas frequented by pets, foxes and hedgehogs.
How can I tell if my pet has fleas?
Wet a piece of white paper then comb or brush your pets fur onto it. Flea droppings will show up as small black specks dissolving into red smears (dried blood).
Preventing and treating fleas.
Prevention is better than cure. To treat or prevent fleas we must stop them completing their lifecycle from egg->larva->pupa->adult->egg and so on. Fleas need blood to lay eggs and will bite within 5 seconds of jumping on your pet, so nothing can stop an active flea from biting. However once they have had their first blood meal, it takes 24-48 hours to start laying eggs. These facts are essential to understanding which treatments are effective. There are 2 methods used to stop fleas:
- Kill the adults before they lay an egg. Lots of things claim to kill fleas, but only those products that do so within 24 hours will be effective. There are spot on treatments, only some of which will work in ideal conditions. Be careful however, because some of these are harmful to cats, can irritate skin, and the vast majority of over the counter treatments simply will not kill fleas quickly enough. There is now also a highly effective pill available for dogs that kills fleas very quickly.
- Prevent the eggs and larvae from developing. This method will break the life-cycle, but it will not kill the adults, so whilst it is excellent at preventing fleas, something else must be used to kill the adults and stop the biting
If you already have fleas?
If you have seen fleas on your pet, your house will be full of them, as eggs, larvae and pupae. With a good household spray you can kill a lot of the eggs and larvae, but the pupae are in an impenetrable cocoon and cannot be killed. Furthermore they can stay that way for months. However they tend to hatch out when they sense the presence of pets by vibration, so if you vacuum the house, and then use a household spray, the adult fleas will be killed by the spray as they emerge.
Which products should I use?
The most effective flea treatments are only available from your vet. In many cases there are effective treatments which also treat for worms. These treatments are prescription only so cannot be named here. Ask our advise for the best way to treat parasites in your pet.
Dog dental care
Dental disease is the most common illness we see in older pets. Even at three years old 80% of dogs have gum disease. Tooth and gum problems can cause bad breath, tooth loss and pain when eating. Bacteria from affected teeth can spread, via the blood, to cause damage to other body organs like the heart, liver and kidneys.
Just a few minutes care a week, with occasional veterinary dentistry treatment, can vastly reduce the problems of dental disease.
Check your dog’s mouth at least once a month. The more you gently handle your dog’s mouth the more they will get used to it making tablet giving a lot easier! Warning signs of problems are…
- Bad breath – a sign of gum/tooth root disease.
- Redness or bleeding where the gum meets the teeth = gingivitis
- Yellow/brown plaque on teeth.
- Loose or decayed teeth
- Broken or Chipped teeth – painful and may develop root abscesses
If you find any problems contact the surgery to arrange a check-up as early treatment is often easier and more likely to save teeth.
Home Dental Care
Although most pets will need some dental treatment at the veterinary surgery the most important care is at home.
Do not use human toothpaste, ’bi-carb’ or salt, as swallowing these could be harmful.
For pets that won’t let you brush at all there are some alternatives. They are not as effective as brushing but are still very helpful.
Dental Chews will help clean off plaque from teeth. How well they work depends on the individual pet. Some dogs spend a long time chewing, others crunch through the chew in two bites. It is best to try them. Beware of really hard plastic chew, as these can cause tooth fractures.
Instead of chews we now have a complete food Hills T/D that cleans your dog’s teeth as they eat. It works best as a complete diet, but if it comprises just a quarter of what they eat it will help. The T/D biscuits have a slight “bite” to them so they scrape the tooth before breaking up unlike other brittle biscuits.
At least once a year (it can be at vaccination time) and when you find a problem, your pet’s mouth should be examined by a vet. They will be able to spot any problems with teeth and gums. They will then be able to advise the best treatment. They can also show you how to clean your pets’ teeth and discuss the alternatives if you can’t.
Veterinary Dental Care
Despite good home care we will occasionally need to give your pet’s teeth treatment at the surgery. This involves careful recording of any tartar, gingivitis and tooth disease. We make measurements of any gum pockets and may take x-rays to check the tooth roots. We then use an ultrasonic scaler to remove all the plaque from the teeth. Finally we use a rotary polisher to make the teeth smooth to slow down the build up of plaque in the future.
If any teeth require extraction we do this after the main tartar is removed. Cat and dog teeth are often very firmly attached so we use modern techniques of single root extraction and gingival flaps. These methods, using our specialist dental equipment, are gentler and safer than the old-fashioned ‘pull and tug’ extraction.
All scaling, polishing and extractions are performed under general anaesthesia. This allows us to make a careful and thorough job with minimal stress to our patient. It also allows us to guard against inhalation of water sprays and debris – a high risk if dentistry is performed in sedated or conscious animals.
Some complex dental problems such as misshapen bites can be treated at the surgery. Other problems requiring crowns and root canal fillings can be referred to veterinary dental specialists.
After dentistry we will often use antibiotics and painkillers to prevent any secondary infection and to make sure your pet is comfortable. Your pet will normally be able to go home on the day of treatment.
We will normally arrange a post-dental check-up so that we can make sure your pet is eating well and give advice about tooth cleaning and home-care.