Why should I pick it up?

Dog fouling, it’s not just a ‘litter’ issue, it’s against the law!

We’ve all been there, that familiar squish underfoot and immediately identifiable pungent odour that wrinkles the noses of even the strong stomached, you’ve trodden in someone else’s dog poo!! But apart from the obvious annoyance, wiping of shoes on the grass and trying to get it out of the cracks in your trainers, why is it such a problem?

Unfortunately our four legged friends can be quite merrily carrying around diseases and parasites that not only pose a risk to their doggy friends, but to us and particularly children. There are around 6.8 million dogs in the UK, with an estimated production of 900 tonnes of faeces everyday!! That’s a lot of poo!

Apart from the potential risk of some stomach churning bacteria such as Campylobacter, which could lose you a few days sitting on the toilet, or worse a trip to hospital, the biggest public health risk is a parasite called Toxocara canisT. canis is a type of intestinal roundworm, they are the ones that look like spaghetti (I hope no one is reading this over dinner). A responsible pet owner should worm their dog (and any cats out there) every 3-6 months with a reliable worming product, you won’t always see worms in their poo even if they have them.

Young children are more at risk from T. Canis which is transmitted either directly from dog faeces or a contaminated environment. Each female T. canis can lay up to 700 eggs a day and when a dog defecates they are passed out into the environment where the eggs can survive for up to three years in soil. During warmer weather the eggs develop into larvae which when ingested migrate through the body. When ingested by a dog the worm follows it natural life cycle and ends up as an adult in the digestive system (where it can cause irritation, diarrhoea and vomiting). However people are not part of the worms’ normal life cycle and so when the larval stages are ingested by us they can cause nasty reactions and tissue damage. The larvae sometimes migrate to the liver and can cause abdominal pain and fevers, or can migrate to the eyes and cause visual impairment or even blindness by damaging the retina (the back of the eye).

So the moral of the story is, always carry poo bags with you when out walking your dog (we know it’s easy to forget sometimes) and more importantly pick up your dogs’ poo and dispose of it appropriately!! It is becoming increasingly common for used poo bags to be left lying around, if you’ve bothered to pick it up please put it in a poo bin! The local authorities are also happy for it to be disposed of in general public bins if a poo bin is not available.
It is also important to regularly worm your dog against these parasites, ideally every 3 months with a reliable worming product. Speak to your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets for more information, you’d be amazed how excited they get over a humble dog poo!

More information available at www.gspca.org.gg/page/dog-faeces-facts

Toxic plants

Spring is on its way and along with the sunshine are some springtime garden hazards for your pets you should be aware of.*

  • Azalea/Rhododendron: (Rhododendron spp) Highly poisonous to cats and dogs, even if just a few leaves are eaten.
  • Daffodil: (Narcissus) All parts of the daffodil are harmful. Dogs sometimes eat the bulbs, but even a small bite can kill a small animal. Even drinking the water in which cut daffodils have stood is potentially hazardous.
  • Geranium: (Pelargonium spp) All parts of geraniums are poisonous to both dogs and cats. Also present in summer.
  • Hyacinth: (Hyacinthus orientalis) The bulbs are poisonous to both cats and dogs.
  • Hydrangea: (Hydrangea) Bulbs are toxic to both cats and dogs as they contain cyanide. Also present in summer and autumn.
  • Iris and gladioli: (Iridaceae) All parts of these are toxic, but the bulb is most dangerous as it contains a higher concentration of chemicals.
  • Ragwort: (Senecio jacobaea) All parts of this plant are poisonous, and even small doses can be fatal to cats and dogs. Also present in summer and autumn.
  • Rhubarb: (Rheum) Rhubarb leaves are poisonous to dogs and cats, whether they are cooked or raw. Also present in summer.
  • Snowdrops: (Galanthus) While all the plant is toxic, usually the bulbs are most toxic to pets. Also present in winter.
  • Tulip: (Tulipa) The bulbs are the most toxic, however all parts of the plant can be toxic in large quantities.

All year round plants which are hazardous

  • Aloe Vera: Usually kept all year round as a houseplant, it’s not overly poisonous to pets but can cause diarrhoea if they consume too much.
  • Cherry laurel: (Prunus laurocerasus) This hedging plant is often used in gardens and public parks. Be careful how you dispose of hedge cuttings as the most common cause of dogs being poisoned by the plant is from eating or chewing these leaves.
  • Ivy: (Hedera) Dogs are more likely to eat ivy than cats and it can cause poisoning.
  • Laburnum: (Cytisus alpinus) All parts of this plant are poisonous, but especially the seeds. Even chewing and spitting out laburnum bark or twigs can affect a dog.
  • Oak: (Quercus pedunculata) Leaves can be harmful to pets if eaten.
  • Lilies: (Lilium) All lilies, including Tiger, Easter, Stargazer and Arum, are potentially poisonous, especially to cats. Pets can be poisoned by eating or chewing the leaves, stems or flower heads. Even the pollen can be harmful, as cats may lick this off their fur after brushing against the flower head. Always make sure lilies in the house are kept in a place where your cat cannot access.
  • Philodendron: (Philodendron and related species) All parts of this ornamental houseplant are poisonous. Commonly, pets might chew or eat the leaves, which can irritate the eyes and mouth causing excessive dribbling. Rarely, swelling due to the irritation can prevent breathing and be fatal.
  • Potato: The leaves on potatoes can be toxic to cats and dogs. Raw, green or sprouting potatoes can also be harmful.
  • Sago palm: (Cycas revolute) All parts of this plant are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Tomato: Leaves and unripe fruit on tomato plants are toxic to cats and dogs.
  • Yew: (Taxus baccata and related species) Nearly all parts of the plant are harmful, including dried clippings. Ingesting a small amount of leaves can kill a dog.

*Information taken from PDSA Poisonous plants website article

Remember your rabbits! Although feeding greens and plants to your rabbit adds variety and interest to their diet it is important to remember that some plants can be very harmful if eaten, causing illness or in some cases death.
The following plants are poisonous to rabbits and should be avoided-
Carnation, Buttercup, Foxglove, Clematis, Deadly nightshade, Lobelia, Woody nightshade, Elder, Yew, Rhododendron, Privet, Geranium, Ivy, Lily of the Valley, Lupin and Iris.

This is not a comprehensive list and many more plants can be poisonous to our pets.

Winter Tips For Your Pets

Wash their paws

As the weather turns colder, rock salt is often used to help de-ice roads and paths. Unfortunately this can be toxic to our pets. Rock salt is a mixture of salt and grit which easily attaches to pets’ paws and is then licked off. It is very important to remember to wipe your pet’s feet and their fur on their tummy after they have been for a walk or spent time outside. Grit can also be abrasive and damage the skin on their paws.

Beware of antifreeze

Along with rock salt, antifreeze and de-icer is frequently used at this time year. This substance is especially sweet tasting to pets and they will happily ingest it if it is left lying around in containers or accidently leaks from a car. Only the smallest amount is required to cause poisoning which leads to acute kidney failure and in the majority of cases, death in a very short amount of time. Contact your vet immediately.

Don’t let your pets eat snow

Snow might be a novelty but hidden objects or chemicals might be in the snow! Snow can also cause stomach upsets and even hypothermia.

Try not to let your pets walk on ice

Dogs can easily slip and injure themselves on ice. Worse still they might fall into icy water under frozen lakes or canals.

Keep them warm

Older pets with arthritis will feel more discomfort in the cold so make sure they are kept as warm as possible especially when going outside. The smaller the pet, the more likely they are to suffer with the cold weather due to the increased skin surface area to volume ratio. Make sure your small furries are kept warm and provide extra bedding in their hutches. In the wild, rabbits especially would protect themselves by sheltering in their burrows. Check water bottles daily to ensure they don’t freeze.

Use Of Off-Licence Medicines

There are certain situations where the best treatment for your pet may require the use of medicines which do not hold an appropriate licence for the species concerned. In this case we might therefore recommend using such a medicine ‘off-licence’ but these will be prescribed in accordance with the cascade.

The cascade is a sequence that all veterinary surgeons must follow when treating animals. For more information visit The Veterinary Cascade

Each vet must firstly look for:

  • alternative medicines that are used in other animal species for the same condition,
  • then medicines for different conditions in the same species
  • finally medicines authorised for human use

There are a lot of human medicines that are extremely useful in the treatment of pets. Most of these medicines have been in general veterinary use for years, for example anti-histamines, adrenaline, digoxin and diazepam etc. Most of these off-licence medicines are widely used in the veterinary field; there are documented dose rates and they are known to be safe. Our use of off licence medications will be based upon our knowledge of the use in animals and an assessment of the risks and benefits involved. These medicines will only be used when they are indicated and deemed necessary and no licensed alternative exists.

Due to the cost of obtaining a licence for full use in a particular species, there are only a few drugs actually licensed for use in the smaller and exotic pets (e.g. rabbits,birds etc.)

The consent forms we ask you to sign for treatments for your pets gives a current or lifelong agreement for the use of an unlicensed product depending on the situation. If you require further re-assurance about our off-licence consent forms please ask to speak to one of our vets.

Please note the following important information

  • Any drug dispensed (whether on or off-licence) will be dispensed with instructions for usage and, if applicable, special storage
  • Please handle all drugs carefully (particularly if you know yourself to be allergic to some drugs)
  • Keep out of the reach of children
  • If you have any medication left over we will be happy to dispose of it safely at no cost to you 

Veterinary Cascade

What is the Veterinary Cascade?

The Cascade is a legislative provision in the Veterinary Medicines Regulations 2005 (VMR) that allows a veterinary surgeon to prescribe unauthorised medicines that would not otherwise be permitted.

Why would my veterinary surgeon prescribe a cascade drug for my pet?

The principle of the Cascade is that, if there is no suitable veterinary medicine authorised in the UK to treat a condition, the veterinary surgeon responsible for the animal may, in particular to avoid causing unacceptable suffering, treat the animal.

How does the veterinary surgeon decide what cascade drug to use?

In accordance with the following sequence, in descending order of priority:

A veterinary medicine authorised in the UK for use in another animal species or for a different condition in the same species.

If there is no such product, the next option is either-

A medicine authorised in the UK for human use, or

A veterinary medicinal product (VMP) not authorised in the UK but authorised in another Member State (MS) for use in any animal species (in the case of a food-producing animal the medicine must be authorised in a food producing species) in accordance with an import certificate issued by the VMD.

If there is no such product, the last option is a medicine prescribed by the veterinary surgeon responsible for treating the animal and prepared extemporaneously by a veterinary surgeon, a pharmacist or a person holding an appropriate manufacturer’s authorisation. In exceptional circumstances, medicines may be imported from Third countries through the VMD’s import scheme.

Food producing animals

Food producing animals may only be treated under the Cascade with medicines which contain pharmacologically active substances listed in the Table of Allowed Substances in Commission Regulation EU (European Union) No.37/2010, in the interest of food safety. EU Commission Regulation No. 37/2010 can be found on
http://ec.europa.eu/health/files/eudralex/vol-5/reg_2010_37/reg_2010_37_en.pdf

A veterinary surgeon prescribing for, or administrating a medicine to, food-producing animals under the Cascade is required to specify an appropriate withdrawal period to the animal produce. When setting the withdrawal period, a veterinary surgeon must take into account known information about the use of a product on the authorised species when prescribing to another species under the Cascade. Unless the medicine indicates a withdrawal period for the species concerned, this should not be less than:

-7 days for eggs and milk

-28 days for meat from poultry and mammals

-500 degree days for meat and fish

For more information on the veterinary cascade visit https://www.gov.uk/the-cascade-prescribing-unauthorised-medicines

If you have any concerns over the medication your veterinary surgeon has prescribed for your pet please contact your veterinary surgeon immediately.

Poisons

Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol)

During the winter months antifreeze is often used during the cold weather along with screen washes and de-icers. These products contain ethylene glycol or methanol which are poisonous but unfortunately appear quite palatable to our pets.

Pet owners and people who use these products should ensure that they are stored well out of the reach of pets and in secure sealed containers. Numerous poisoning cases especially in cats occur because antifreeze has been left outside for cats to drink in people’s gardens.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Loss of balance/unable to walk properly
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Convulsions/severe twitching
  • Kidney damage

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your cat has been exposed to ethylene glycol. Symptoms can start within 30 minutes of ingesting ethylene glycol but it can take a couple of days before kidney failure is seen. Unfortunately treatment is not always successful and euthanasia can be the kindest option.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Ethylene Glycol Poisoning

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Household Products

Chocolate (Theobromine)

Chocolate is one of the most common causes of poisoning in dogs. Generally the higher the percentage of cocoa or the darker the chocolate is the more poisonous it is to dogs. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine and in large quantities this can cause problems with their heart and central nervous system.  Dogs should never be given chocolate as a treat and all chocolate should be kept well out of the way from inquisitive dogs.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • An increase in thirst
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Hyperactivity
  • High temperature and blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythm and tremors
  • Seizures
  • Coma and death

If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate and you are concerned please contact your vet immediately. Make sure you have the details of the chocolate consumed to hand as this will help your vet calculate whether the amount that has been consumed is toxic or not.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet -Chocolate

Grapes and Raisins

It is not very well known among pet owners that these fruits can be poisonous and many people do give them routinely as treats. It is not known why grapes and raisins can be poisonous to some dogs but it has been found that in certain quantities dogs developed acute kidney failure.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Depression
  • Acute renal failure

You should seek immediate veterinary advice if you suspect your dog has ingested a quantity of grapes or raisins and you are concerned.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Grapes and Dried Fruit

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Harmful Foods

Human Pain Relief Medications

Pet owners often give human painkilling medication to their pets in an attempt to relieve pain without seeking advice from a veterinary surgeon. Human preparations should not be given to animals as this is highly dangerous, especially for cats as just one paracetamol tablet is enough to cause severe illness or death. On occasion dogs have been poisoned by ingesting Ibuprofen and other pain relief tablets that have been left within their reach.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding from the gut
  • Severe stomach ulceration
  • Kidney and liver failure

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you have administered or your pet has ingested any human medical preparations.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Ibuprofen

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Paracetamol Poisoning In Dogs

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Paracetamol Poisoning In Cats

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Human Medicines

Lillies

Although lilies are very pretty flowers to look at and have in our gardens and homes, they are extremely toxic to our pets, especially cats. This can include the Easter, Stargazer, Tiger and Asiatic lilies. Kittens can be prone to being poisoned by them due to their naturally inquisitive behaviour and habit of eating things. Older cats are at just as much risk from lilly poisoning when they brush against the flowers causing pollen to rub off on their coats. This is then ingested when they groom themselves. As little as one leaf can cause kidney failure in a cat.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Depression
  • Respiratory problems
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Kidney damage

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lilly. Check the labels on the flowers for warnings of toxicity to animals.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Lillies

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Plants and Poisons

Onions and Garlic

These ingredients regularly feature in our own food but can be toxic to dogs and cats. They contain a chemical compounds which provide the odour and taste we associate with these foods. If your pet absorbs these chemicals it can cause damage to their red blood cells resulting in a life threatening condition called haemolytic anaemia. Any type of onion or garlic product can cause a problem for pets, cooked or not. Poisoning usually occurs after a large quantity is ingested or if repeatedly eaten at regular intervals. Symptoms can be seen within 24 hours but it is more common to occur over a few days.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia (not eating)
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your dog has ingested onions or garlic and you are concerned.

Rat Bait

This is a relatively common type of poisoning. Typical ingredients include warfarin and bromadiolone. These anticoagulant rodenticides do not produce signs of poisoning for several days after it has been ingested and they cause internal bleeding which can be fatal. The rat bait interferes with the body’s ability to produce clotting factors.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Weakness
  • Pale gums and lips
  • Nose bleeds
  • Bloody urine and faeces
  • Bruising on their body

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your pet has ingested rat bait. Remember to ensure you take the container or details of the ingredients in the bait as this is vital information for your veterinary surgeon.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Rat Bait

Slug/Snail Bait (Metaldehyde)

Metaldehyde, the common ingredient in some slug baits is an extremely serious type of poisoning and is usually fatal without urgent emergency treatment. Pets are attracted to the bait due to the resemblance to kibble.

Signs of poisoning include:

  • Salivation
  • Twitching
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of balance
  • Fever
  • Fast heart rate
  • Respiratory failure

You should seek immediate veterinary treatment if you suspect your pet has ingested slug bait. Remember to ensure you take the container or details of the ingredients in the bait as this is vital information for your veterinary surgeon. You should never use slug bait containing Metaldehyde if you have pets.

Useful Links:

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Slug Bait

Veterinary Poisons Information Leaflet – Pesticides and Garden Products

Pet Insurance

People tend to think it’s only older pets that get ill and therefore younger pets don’t need pet insurance but we know from the patients we see each day that that is not the case.
In fact, the younger your pet is when you insure them the better as it means you are less likely to have any existing conditions, which may not be covered by the policy and you can then receive more help covering the cost of any future treatment your pet needs.

It is important to note that not all pet insurance is the same. There are many different types of policy available and the level of cover provided can vary considerably. The four main types of policy are as follows:

Accident: provides cover for accidents only and no cover for illness
Time-Limited: provides cover for a set amount of time (usually 12 months) and after this period
the condition is excluded
Maximum Benefit: provides cover up to a maximum amount of money per condition and once
this limit is reached the condition is excluded
Lifetime: provides a set amount of money each year which is refreshed each time you renew
your policy allowing you to continue to claim for ongoing conditions

As you can see from the information above, the type of policy you choose can have implications for the veterinary care of your pet and the costs you will face so it’s important to choose the right cover.
Sometimes, the cheapest insurance can cost you more in the long run. When shopping around for a policy, we suggest that you ask the following questions to allow you to compare the overall value you are getting, not just the price:
1. Does this policy cover congenital, hereditary, hip-related, dental and behavioral conditions?
2. Is there a time or monetary limit on how long this policy will cover ongoing conditions for?
3. If I claim, will my premium increase?

Unlike other forms of insurance it is not easy to switch pet insurance in the future as any pre-existing conditions your pet has are likely to be excluded so it’s important to do your research and choose the right cover from the start.

Top Tips For Firework Night

What can I do?

Is your pet afraid of fireworks? You are not alone – recent research suggests that almost half of the pets in the U.K. show some level of fearful response to loud noises. Planning ahead can be helpful. See Fear of Fireworks.

On fireworks night:

Provide a den or hiding place – Animals naturally hide when they are scared and it can help to provide a ‘safe place’ which they can squeeze into, like an understairs cupboard or an indoor kennel with blankets over the top and inside, leaving the door ajar. An ideal place is somewhere near the centre of the house, or somewhere they have previously hidden. Cats will often hide under the bed and emerge once they feel it is safe. Never try to remove your pet from their ‘safe place’ as they may be fearful and this could lead to aggression.

Muffle the sound of fireworks – Close all the curtains, shut outside doors and windows, and have your pet as near to the centre of the house as possible. By closing the curtains you are removing potential additional problems from flashing lights etc. Put on the TV or radio to mask the bangs.

Keep them inside – Don’t let pets outside when fireworks are likely or during a display. Take dogs out for toilet purposes before it gets dark and then keep them in. A firework going off when they are outside can lead to a fear of going out. Make sure your cat is kept in after dark (with access to a litter tray) and ensure all escape routes such as cat flaps are blocked. It is also advisable to have your pets microchipped and ensure their details are up to date in case they do escape and become lost.

Feed your pets before the fireworks start– This can encourage them to rest and hopefully sleep. Giving your dog a stodgy, high carbohydrate meal before the fireworks for example chicken and pasta can help. This will help your dog feel sleepy and less responsive to the noise. Food filled interactive toys to help distract pets are also useful.

Don’t over fuss them – This can be difficult, but if they rely on you for comfort during scary events, they will be less able to cope when you are not at home and make matters worse in the long term.

Stay calm yourself – Most pets can sense when their owners are worried, and this increases their stress. Let them hide in the den or their ‘safe place’, and leave them there until the fireworks have finished and they come out. You can give your pet lots of fuss once they emerge.

Don’t get angry – Although your pets behaviour may be annoying, it is happening because they are scared and getting cross will only make them worse. Don’t try and take your pet out of its hiding place- this increases their stress and could lead to aggression.

Prepare for unusual behaviour – Fear can make your pet behave out of character. For example, if they anticipate that going into the garden predicts a loud noise, they may hide or show aggression to avoid going outside.

Don’t forget your small furries during fireworks– If they live outside partially cover cages and pens with blankets to help sound proof them and provide extra bedding for them to burrow into.

Talk to your vet – We can advise short-term measures which may include products like Nutracalm, Zylkene, Adaptil or Feliway. Thundershirts have also been found to help with mild phobias. They exert a gentle pressure mimicking gentle hugging to calm your pet without you comforting them. Sedative medications may be recommended for more severe phobias, particularly if they don’t settle but pace around in distress, shaking and salivating or panting. It is important to help reduce your pets’ stress during upcoming firework events and help prevent their fears becoming worse.

Your veterinary surgeon and veterinary nurse can also advise a long-term preventative approach for once the firework season is over. Fear of fireworks does not get better on its own- in fact they are likely to get worse over time and lead to other behavioural problems. The earlier you seek help the better the outcome is likely to be.

Fear Of Fireworks

Why is my pet frightened of fireworks?

Every pet is different but broadly speaking pets which are afraid of fireworks fall into one of two groups:

those which have had a bad experience with fireworks in the past (for example a rocket going off close to them) and associate the sounds with being frightened- learned behaviour

those which are afraid of all sorts of loud noises – noise phobia

Noise phobic dogs do sometimes require extra behaviour therapy as they often have high levels of anxiety in general.

What can be done to solve the problem?

As we all know, fireworks make distinctive noises. Many humans find the constant bangs and whistles around bonfire night unsettling, so imagine what it must be like to have the sensitive hearing of a dog. Unfortunately it is impossible to explain to a pet that the fireworks are just noisy and not a threat to them.

In the short term what we can do is follow the steps in our ‘Top Tips’ factsheet  to provide a secure area for your pet at home and help manage your pet’s stress by using pheromone treatment in the run up to the firework season.

In the long term, sound desensitisation has been shown to be very successful for animals with firework phobias. You cannot do this during firework season as it needs to be done when there are no fireworks going off. It is best started around springtime. It is really important to consider long term control as fear of fireworks generally gets worse if left and can lead to fears of other loud noises such as thunder.

Adaptil

Adaptil, a dog appeasing pheromone is very useful for helping to calm dogs naturally. They work by releasing appeasing pheromones into the home on a sustained basis. This can be used to good effect to reduce the anxiety provoking effects of fireworks.

In mammals, all nursing females release substances called appeasing pheromones, the function of which is to reassure their offspring. Canine appeasing pheromones are secreted by the mum 3 to 5 days after birth enhancing the attachment between the puppy and its mother providing reassurance and comfort. These pheromones have been proved to also provide comfort to adult dogs in times of stress.

Adaptil is available in diffusers, sprays, collars and tablets.

Feliway

Feliway is a synthetic copy of the facial pheromone used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure. By mimicking this pheromone Feliway creates a state of familiarity and security in the cat’s local environment. Feliway can help to comfort and reassure cats while they cope with a challenging situation and help prevent or reduce the amount of stress caused by a change in their environment. It may also help reduce fearful reactions to loud noises and reduce stress due to indoor confinement.

Feliway is available in a diffuser or spray form.Your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets can provide you with information to help you use the products to their maximum efficacy.

Zylkene

Zylkene is a product which is derived from a milk protein. It has a similar post prandial calming effect that you would see in a puppy after it has received a milk feed from their mother. It has been shown to help pets manage stressful situations. Unfortunately animals cannot make the milk protein when they stop feeding from their mother but they can still respond to it in the same way.

Zylkene is available in a capsule form which needs to be given once a day. The capsules can be given whole or opened and the palatable powder mixed in with food or a treat. Zylkene is suitable for both short and long term use to reduce stress in cats and dogs.

Nutracalm

Nutracalm is specifically formulated to naturally calm anxious pets and to help reduce unwanted or unruly behaviour. Nutracalm contains various ingredients involved in helping to reduce stress and anxiety including L-Tryptophan and L-Theanine. It is available in a capsule form which needs to be given once a day. The capsules can be given whole or opened and the palatable powder mixed in with food or a treat. Nutracalm is suitable for both short and long term use to reduce stress in cats and dogs.

Please ask your veterinary practice for more information. Adaptil, Feliway. Zylkene and Nutracalm are all available over the counter.

Diets

Royal Canin manufacture a ‘Calm’ diet which can be used as a support for behavioural therapy. The diet contains active ingredients alpha-easozepine and l-tryptophan (a serotonin precursor that helps to support a relaxed mood) which are proved to be beneficial in anxiety disorders. Prebiotics are also included to help encourage friendly bacteria in the gut to reduce stress diarrhoea. The food should be used from 10 days before the expected stressful situation and Royal Canin claim that it continues to work two to three months after being consumed.

Sedatives

Unfortunately some pets do not respond to the natural products as their fear is too severe or they are noise phobic. In this instance sedative drugs may be required for a short period of time. These are available from your veterinary surgeon but they will require your pet to have had a recent health check and you may be asked to bring your pet in for a consultation. This is to ensure there are no underlying health problems which could be exacerbated by the medication. The most common drug used nowadays are Diazepam based medications. This is due to its ability to help reduce anxiety as well as make your pet sleepy. They also have some amnesic properties which can help reduce your pet’s memory of the event ensuring the phobia does not worsen. This is not recommended for long term use and desensitisation programs should be discussed with your veterinary surgeon and veterinary nurse.

Desensitisation and counter- conditioning programs

Desensitisation is the process where the response to a fear inducing stimulus is reduced by repeated neutral exposure. The program aims to help your pet learn to cope with fireworks by gradually allowing them to become used to the noises associated with fireworks. This will require a lot of time and commitment from you to work through the programme in full to be successful. Even the mildest noise phobia can take several months to treat. SoundTherapy4Pets have created a download available on ITunes designed to recreate the noises associated with fireworks in a random pattern. The program comes with in depth instructions which you must work through in order starting with a low volume and over time gradually increasing as recommended. Remember animals are far more sensitive to sound than people and they will hear at volumes so low that you may not be able to hear it. The program should only be started once the firework season is over.

Counter-conditioning is the process where your pet associates the sound with something enjoyable such as feeding or playing. This is carried out after desensitisation with the aim of replacing the fearful feelings with feelings of pleasure.

The desensitisation program should be used in conjunction with pheromone therapy and a range of downloads are available from Sounds Scary to help with other phobias such as traffic and children noise.

Useful links:
www.feliway.co.uk
www.adaptil.co.uk
www.zylkenepet.co.uk
www.nutravet.co.uk
www.royalcanin.co.uk/Calm