Deaf awareness week – the important role of dogs

We love dogs; they’re amazing companions – fun, loving, and they bring us lots of joy. But for some people their dog is more than just a pet – they’re a lifeline. Most of us are familiar with Guide Dogs, who are bred and trained to help people with visual impairments navigate their way around outdoors. But did you know that Hearing Dogs also exist, to support people with hearing loss?

As it’s Deaf Awareness Week, we found out more about the essential role dogs play in the lives of deaf people.

Through many years of experience, the teams behind breeding hearing dogs in the UK have settled on four perfect breeds who are best suited to carrying out the role and help change the lives of deaf people. Those breeds are labradors, cocker spaniels, miniature poodles and mixed breed cockapoos. This is due to their personality and traits, which include being gentle but active and alert.

Similarly to Guide Dogs, hearing dogs are bred specifically into the programme, with the intention of them becoming working dogs and being matched with a person in need. Their training includes learning to respond to common, and not so common sounds like alarm clocks, doorbells, fire alarms and even text messages on mobile phones – all noises that a deaf person wouldn’t hear, and that could be potentially dangerous or even life threatening if they were missed.

Hearing dogs learn through reward-based training. When dogs display behaviour in line with what’s expected of them in their ‘job’ they get lots of fuss, treats and cuddles. When they don’t display the correct behaviour they’re simply ignored. Hearing dogs in training are never punished for the ‘wrong’ behaviour. This results in calmer, happier dogs, who go on to be dedicated and relaxed companions. Once matched up with an owner, the dog’s training will be further tailored to meet that person’s needs.

Hearing loss can occur from birth, or later in life, and can be very isolating and lonely. As well as providing essential listening skills for their owners, hearing dogs can bring companionship, confidence and independence. Hearing dogs can be matched with people of all ages; from children and teenagers, through to older people. Parents can also benefit from being alerted to cries from their children if they fall or have a bad dream.

To find out more about hearing dogs, how they are trained, and to read real life stories from people of all ages, visit their website: www.hearingdogs.org.uk

Protect your pet from the sun

As we head into the summer months and temperatures start rising, it’s important to remember that your pets are most vulnerable at this time to many injuries and illnesses which are brought on by hot weather, including sunburn, footpad burns, dehydration and the most dangerous of all, heatstroke. While heat stress is more common during the summer months, it can occur at any time throughout the year.

A state of hyperthermia, heatstroke occurs when a pet’s core body temperature exceeds the normal range. Heatstroke occurs when heat generation exceeds the pet’s ability to cool itself down and lose the heat.

All pets are susceptible to heatstroke, but some are more prone than others including;

Dogs and Cats – pets which are overweight, have a thick heavy coat or are of a flat-faced breed, which is prone to breathing difficulties, are all more prone to heatstroke.

Rabbits and Guinea pigs – Rabbits and guinea pigs of any age are susceptible to heatstroke because they have very few ways of getting rid of excess heat. As prey species, they are experts at hiding any evidence of distress. Long-haired breeds, pregnancy and being overweight are some of the factors which make certain individuals more prone to heatstroke.

To help protect your pets during warm weather spells, and minimise the risk of any sun-related injuries, here are a few simple things you can do at home:

Water

Ensure your pet always has access to fresh water. Like humans, our pets are susceptible to dehydration if they don’t drink enough water. Do not wait for your pet to appear thirsty or beg for water, ensure that it is readily available in a shady area, out of direct sunlight, and ensure their bowls are clean so that it stays nice and fresh, and they want to drink from it.

Exercise

Beat the heat and exercise your dog during the coolest part of the day. You should try and get out early morning or late evening and keep extra strenuous exercises to a minimum throughout periods of hot weather. When taking your dog for a walk you should ensure you have a fresh supply of water with you. If your dog isn’t used to going for long walks, is overweight or suffers from breathing difficulties, please avoid exercising them when it’s particularly hot.

Time out

It’s important that your pet has access to a cool area in the house or hutch out of direct sunlight to go and relax.  Also ensure the area has an ample amount of airflow and remains well ventilated throughout the day.

If your rabbit or guinea pig are kept in a hutch then you should move this into a shaded area, or inside of the house, depending on where their hutch is located.

Sun Cream

Just like us, our dogs and cats can get burned when they endure prolonged sun exposure, and as a result, can suffer from red, inflamed skin which is painful and irritated; resulting in scaly skin, and hair loss. Use a pet-safe sun cream recommended by your vet, especially on pets with thin or white fur, focussing primarily on their nose and ears to protect them from harmful UV rays.

Cars, Caravans and Conservatories

Never leave a pet in a car, caravan or a conservatory. Temperatures, even on a cloudy day can rocket, even If you think it’s ‘just a few minutes’ heatstroke can happen quickly and can be fatal, and a minute maybe just too long, as temperatures in such environments can rise dramatically within a very short space of time. If you have to travel with your dog in a car, you should ensure there is fresh air circulating through the vehicle, either from an open window, or air conditioning. If you see a dog in a car, which looks distressed, you could call 999 immediately, as recommended by the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations.

Keeping your pet cool

If you’re seeking some further ideas for ways to keep your cat or dog cool, and entertained at the same time, you could make some frozen treat cubes, let them play with a cold/damp towel, provide a cooling mat, place fans around the house, provide a paddling pool, or put some toys in the freezer to cool them down. Do not use ice, or ice-cold water as this can cause shock.

If you have a rabbit or guinea pig, you could freeze a water bottle and wrap it in a towel. They can then snuggle up to the bottle to cool down. You may also choose to give them some fresh vegetables. Before putting them in their hutch, wash them and leave a little water on them to add to their water intake. If your pet gets too hot, you should wrap them in a damp towel, and continue to change it regularly and monitor their symptoms. It is important to note that you should not use ice-cold water or ice as this could shock their body and worsen the problem.

Here are some of the symptoms you should look out for with heatstroke in dogs:

  • Distressed breathing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Heavy Panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargic and weak
  • Collapsed or stumbling
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors

Although being very similar to a dog’s symptoms, a cat’s symptoms can be a lot more subtle and include:

  • Distressed breathing
  • Heavy Panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Appears drowsy – may pace
  • Collapsed or stumbling
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors

Some of the symptoms you should watch out for in a rabbit include:

  • Red ears
  • Bright red tongue
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Lethargic
  • Muscle tremors
  • Appears drowsy

To identify if your guinea pig has heatstroke you should watch out for the following:

  • Bright red tongue
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Lethargic
  • Muscle tremors
  • Appears drowsy

If your pet is presenting symptoms or you are concerned about your pet and heatstroke, you should contact the practice immediately.

Local Dog Walking during lockdown

If there is one thing that many dogs look forward to each day, it is getting out of the house for a walk. Whereas this used to be plentiful, the arrival of COVID-19 and the resulting Government measures that followed, has caused changes to the routines of both pets and owners alike.

So, to make sure you (and your pet!) can get the most out of ‘walkies’ we have put together five handy tips:

  1. Using the lead

With the advice being to keep your dog on the lead when out walking, this might be not what your dog is used to. They might start pulling ahead on the lead or start trying to grab the lead with their mouths. Scattering treats on the ground as you are walking or holding a treat in your hand, may mean they focus their attention on them and not the lead or giving them their favourite toy to carry in their mouths might keep the lead free. Training your dog to walk on a loose lead will make the walk more enjoyable for both of you – especially if you are out with young children too.

 

  1. Keeping the walk fun

To keep the walk interesting for your dog, you could practice training exercises using a long lead and harness and their favourite treat or toy. Getting them to come back to you when called will allow you to keep on top of social distancing, but also gives your dog an element of freedom, while still on their lead, to explore when no-one is around.

 

  1. Maximise opportunities for a walk

With the Government measures currently allowing a person to leave the house for one piece of exercise a day, this provides your dog with at least one walk daily. However, if there are more adults in the house, or others willing to help, then each of them could separately take a walk – meaning plenty of fresh air for your dog!

 

  1. Finding the best routine

It sounds a bit strange, but at a time when ours have drastically changed, routine could be exactly what your dog needs! That means sticking to a similar time each day for their walk or keeping the preparation the same. On the other hand, if your dog isn’t too fussed by routine, different sights and smells each day might make it more interesting and help you find places to walk where less people are around.

 

  1. Going off the beaten track

With popular dog walking areas locally to you making social distancing more of a challenge, the temptation to find quieter walking routes might take you in to the countryside. There is nothing wrong with this but remember to follow the designated footpaths, closing any gates behind you and not straying into fields of crops. There is also plenty of young wildlife and livestock about that can be frightened by your dog, so it is important to obey any signs you see.  Be mindful that we are in tick season too, and those quieter wooded areas are the ideal habitats for ticks this time of year! Please contact us if you need to purchase the relevant treatment.

But what if you are walking a neighbour’s or relative’s dog as they can’t get out? The above tips can still apply but below are some other points to consider:

  • Linked to finding the best routine, agree the best time and how long the walk will last with the owner to avoid any confusion.
  • Work out how best to collect and return the dog that still allows you to obey social distancing guidelines.
  • Where possible use a different lead, ensuring that it is washed with soap and water after use.
  • Washing your hands before leaving home and again when returning is also best practice.

More information on the above can be found on both the RSPCA and Dogs Trust websites.

Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month

May is Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month. This campaign, led by the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), aims to raise awareness of the importance of the role of the veterinary nursing profession to the public.

Veterinary nurses are an integral part of the veterinary team at Vet4life, and are vital for the smooth running of any veterinary practice.  As well as providing expert nursing care for poorly animals, veterinary nurses also play a significant role in supporting pet owners in keeping their pets healthy.  They carry out essential clinical work and are skilled in undertaking a range of diagnostic tests, treatments and minor surgical procedures, with veterinary support.  Registered Veterinary Nurses have the technical knowledge and hands-on expertise to care for animals with skill and empathy.

The title of Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) can be used by nurses who have undergone extensive training and education. Once they’ve passed their final nursing exams, nurses are entered onto the VN register and are regulated by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). They follow the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses, which includes requirements to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to keep their skills up to date.

At Vet4life, we are extremely proud of our veterinary nurses. We have an amazing team who are dedicated to supporting our clients and their pets.  Even during this challenging time, some of our nurses are still working in-practice helping to support emergency and urgent cases.

To find out more about role of RVNs in veterinary practice, or if you are interested in finding out more about a career in veterinary nursing, visit the BVNA website at www.bvna.org.uk/a-career-in-veterinary-nursing/a-career-in-veterinary-nursing.

Ear cleaning Part 2

Lily, one of our Head Vets, will take you through the process of cleaning your pet’s ears.

Ear cleaning Part 1

Lily, one of our Head Vets, will take you through the process of cleaning your pet’s ears.

Celebrate our amazing team with us this World Veterinary Day!

The Vet4life veterinary team is here for your beloved pets, all year round, and despite the current circumstances remain committed to quality and excellence in everything we do – which is why we wanted to ‘paws’ this World Veterinary Day to say thank you.

By adapting our ways of working we’ve continued to provide the best level of care in these challenging circumstances while keeping the health and wellbeing of patients, clients and teams our number one priority.

There’s one thing we can all agree on – our veterinary teams play an important part in your pet’s lives. Since World Veterinary Day was founded, 20 years ago, by the World Veterinary Association, we have recognised this day as a moment to stop and acknowledge all the care and treatment they provide for our pets all year round. There are many different people involved in running Vet4life practices – so we want to thank all of our members of staff, who help deliver the services and care for our pets.

Each World Veterinary Day has an associated topic, and this year’s theme is ‘Environmental protection for improving animal and human health” which applauds the contribution veterinary professionals have in supporting sustainability and protecting the environment. It also allows veterinarians to share their knowledge and raise awareness of how harmful actions towards the environments can affect both animals and humans too.

Over the last month, your continued support and words of encouragement have been really rewarding – thank you for respecting our teams as they continue to do their best for both our patient and clients.

Want to celebrate World Veterinary Day with us?

There are so many ways that you can join in with the celebration, to show how much you appreciate your vet, and team – you may even be able to include your pet in the celebrations too!

  • Share your story of how our veterinary team has played an important part in your pet’s life.
  • Leave us a review on Google – we love receiving your heart-warming reviews.
  • Spend some precious time with your pet(s):
    o Take your dog for a walk
    o Enjoy some cuddles with your cat
    o Try some agility with your horse
    o Reward your pet with some healthy treats.

We’re sure you’ll join us, and celebrate our amazing veterinarians!

How to brush your pet’s teeth, part 2

Lily, one of our Head Vets, will take you through the process of brushing your pet’s teeth. It is an important routine to get into because, just like in humans, you can get build up of plaque on teeth which can lead to severe gum disease. Keeping those pearly whites for as long as possible is essential. All credits go to Talan, our four legged star!

How to brush your pet’s teeth, part 1

Lily, one of our Head Vets, will take you through the process of brushing your pet’s teeth. It is an important routine to get into because, just like in humans, you can get build up of plaque on teeth which can lead to severe gum disease. Keeping those pearly whites for as long as possible is essential. All credits go to Talan, our four legged star!

How to manage your pet’s weight

Our vet Joe talks to you about the importance of keeping your pet at a healthy weight. One of the ways you can check your pet is at a healthy weight is by feel, using something known as the Body Condition Score.