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Pet Information

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Pet Owners FAQ

Here you can find the answers of the most common pet owners questions regarding our services

Dogs

Puppies

Vaccination is a safe and effective way of preventing deadly diseases. Vaccine protocols differ depending on the area, occurrence of disease, and populations at risk. Unfortunately, we still see many patients that are not vaccinated which then get deadly diseases, including parvovirus (cat flu, “katgriep”) and distemper (“hondesiekte”). Rabies is also becoming a threat in our area. We therefore recommend the following vaccine protocol:

Age Vaccine
1st puppy vaccination 6 – 8 weeks 5 in 1
2nd puppy vaccination 10 – 12 weeks 5 in 1
3rd puppy vaccination 14 – 16 weeks 5 in 1 + Rabies
Annual booster 12 – 14 months 5 in 1 + Rabies

 

Core vaccines (5 in 1) for dogs cover canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, infectious canine hepatitis (adenovirus 1 & 2) and canine parainfluenza virus. By law, all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies.

If your dog is likely to be going to a kennel whilst you are on holiday or if it regularly meets other dogs (at training or at shows) we also recommend a Kennel Cough vaccination. This can be administered from 12 weeks of age.

Sterilisation is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs of dogs. In females, the ovaries and the uterus are removed (spaying) and in males, the testicles are removed (castration or neutering). The City of Cape Town’s bylaws state that all dogs that are not registered breeding animals must be sterilised.

Thousands of unwanted dogs are destroyed every year. Every pet owner can play their part in preventing the birth of more potentially unwanted puppies. Studies have also shown that spaying and neutering can enhance a pet’s health and quality of life.

Female dogs experience their first heat at about 7 – 9 months old, and then every 6 months thereafter. The heat cycle can last up to 21 days and the most common signs are swelling of the vulva, vaginal bleeding and increased anxiousness or aggression. Female dogs benefit from sterilisation because it eliminates the heat cycle, reduces the chance of aggression, and guards against serious illness such as infection of the uterus, and mammary gland (breast) cancer.

Male dogs become sexually mature at 7 – 9 months, often seen by them starting to mark their territories by spraying strong smelling urine on furniture, clothes and around the house. The mating instinct can become so strong when a bitch nearby is on heat, that many male dogs will attempt to escape the property. This often leads to dog fights and increases the risk of serious injury, for example, being hit by a car. Early neutering (before sexual maturity) removes the mating urge, reducing the marking of territories and eliminates the need to try to escape. Un-neutered (intact) males are also at risk of developing serious illness such as prostate and testicular cancer and infection of the prostate.

General guidelines

Age Benefits
Small and medium breed dogs 6 months

· Reduces the chance of unwanted litters

· Eliminates the risk of uterine infections and mammary cancer

Large and giant dogs 12 months

· Reduces the chance of unwanted litters

· Eliminates the risk of uterine infections

· Reduces the change of cruciate ligament ruptures

All male dogs 6 months

· Reduced urine marking

· Reduced aggression

· Reduced wandering that can lead to injury

· Eliminates the risk of reproductive cancer and infection

 

There are many misconceptions regarding sterilisation. Many people believe that it is good for female dogs to have a litter as this “calms her down”. Studies have shown that this is not true. The “calming down” simply coincides with sexual maturity – it has nothing to do with having a litter of puppies. Some owners also want their male dogs to “experience” mating as this will decrease the mating urge. Studies have again shown that male dogs never lose the mating urge once it is established.

Lastly, sterilisation does not cause a dog to become fat. We know that it may cause a drop in their metabolism, but weight can easily be controlled by proper nutrition and exercise.

Good quality nutrition plays a vital role in the development and growth of a puppy. Puppies need good quality protein from animal sources. Balanced minerals and vitamins are essential for growth and bone development. Good quality carbohydrates give enough energy to play, and sufficient amounts of essential fatty acids ensure a strong immune system. Fats and oils are required to absorb certain vitamins and minerals and are used for energy.

You can have too much of a good thing: too much protein can cause strain on the kidneys; too much calcium and phosphorus cause puppies to grow too quickly; and too many carbohydrates also accelerate growth in large breed puppies which can be detrimental to joint development.

When feeding a good quality diet, no further supplements are required. Supplements should only be used if recommended by a veterinarian for the treatment of specific conditions. Even more importantly, calcium supplementation should not be given.

Adult Dog

  1. You are what you eat.

“You are what you eat,” is true no matter the species, age or breed. Therefore, we advise feeding a well-balanced, scientifically proven, quality controlled dog food. Our general advice is to feed the best quality of food that fits your budget. Be sure to watch the portion size to prevent obesity. We welcome any discussion on the specific needs of your pet.

  1. Exercise for health.

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Exercise is important to improve your pet’s physical health by keeping them fit and at the correct body weight. But regular exercise also improves their quality of life by making them feel happier. This is a wonderful bonding time for you and your pet. When using public areas, be sure to confirm that dogs are allowed there.  We stock a large range of leads, harnesses and collars to make walking your dog a breeze. Be sure to check out our range of toys to help you and your dog get active.

  1. Regular checks.

We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to bring your pet in for annual health check-ups. It happens too often that we see pets in the end stage of a disease when it is too late to help them. This is terribly heart-breaking for you, your family and for us. Your dog can’t tell you if they are feeling unwell or in pain, but an annual check-up can detect diseases early thereby ensuring that your pet lives a long and happy life.

  1. Weight management

Obesity will shorten your pet’s lifespan and decreases their quality of life. Small breed dogs can live up to three years longer by merely being at their ideal body weight. Being overweight can lead to diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Many owners aren’t aware that their pets are overweight and that they are slowly killing them with kindness. That is why we offer FREE weight checks and we will help you get your pet to their goal weight. Keeping them slim is such an easy way to keep them around for longer. Book your weight check-up today!

  1. Dental care

Dental disease can lead to many health problems and can shorten your pet’s life. The first step to preventing this is to feed them a good quality diet and to avoid table foods. Home care goes a long way to preventing dental disease, which can include regular brushing, using dental rinses and using dental cleaning chews. Your pet’s teeth will be checked at every annual visit. We can clean your pet’s teeth as well as remove any painful or loose teeth. Cottage Vet stocks a wide range of products which can aid in home care for your pet. Please feel free to ask us for more information!

  1. Attention

Finally, your dog needs you…they thrive on a relationship and time spent with you. Every happy pet has a committed owner that pours love and attention on them.

Senior Dog

As your dog ages, their metabolism changes and at times organs can be put under strain. Thus, a balance of good quality nutrients becomes even more important as they get older.

Moderate amounts of animal-based protein are recommended. This is to relieve the strain on the kidneys, and to ensure sustained lean muscle mass. Certain minerals such as phosphorus and sodium should also be limited to maintain kidney health. Higher levels of antioxidants, vitamin E, and omega 3 fatty acids all aim to slow the aging process. Good quality diets also focus on maintaining joint health with added glucosamine, chondroitin, essential fatty acids and collagen. Palatability of good quality food has also been improved over the last few years, which encourages our older pets to eat enough.

As your dog ages, their metabolism changes and at times organs can be put under strain. Thus, a balance of good quality nutrients becomes even more important as they get older.

Up to 80% of senior pets have arthritis and experience chronic pain. Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint, which usually causes pain and swelling. There are several types of arthritis, including rheumatoid, degenerative, and infectious arthritis, each with its own cause. An arthritic joint can cause immense pain, especially in the morning or after rest and during cold weather, so keep your eyes open for any of the following signs that your pet may display:

  • Becoming less active
  • Gets up slowly
  • Walks stiffly or limps
  • Has swollen joints
  • Yelps, especially when moving
  • Hesitates or refuses to walk during exercise, or to climb stairs
  • Has a fever
  • Seems depressed
  • Bites or growls when you touch their back or legs

An examination will help us to detect and determine the type of arthritis and the extent that it affects your pet. Ideally, the earlier one treats arthritis, the easier it is to manage, thus regular examinations are advised. Some types of arthritis may require blood tests, radiographs (X-ray), and joint fluid analysis to help determine the cause and severity of the arthritis.

Cottage Vet is able to require all of the above in-house for your convenience!

 

The most common form of arthritis in older pets is joint degeneration owing to wear and tear, or malformation of a joint (such as hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia). It can be very subtle and develop slowly over time. Large breed dogs are most often affected, but this doesn’t mean that small breed dogs are not affected.

Each type of arthritis has its own treatment. Septic (infectious), or rheumatoid arthritis can be effectively managed with the correct antibiotics or cortisone. Degenerative arthritis can also be well managed, but the changes in the joint are inevitably irreversible. Management may include:

  • Weight reduction
  • Exercise adjustment
  • Diet
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Pain medication
  • Surgery

  1. Weight reduction: Reducing the load on the joints can greatly improve the effectiveness of medications and markedly decrease pain. Overweight dogs require more medication, at higher doses. This can cause a greater chance of side effects and it is also more expensive. Click here for more information on our weight loss clinic.
  2. Exercise adjustment: Walking and swimming are excellent exercises for dogs with arthritis. It alleviates joint stiffness, builds muscle mass, and helps with weight loss. High impact exercise such as running, jumping, walking on soft surfaces (like the soft sand on the beach) and uphill can have detrimental effects and should be avoided. It is very important to adjust the exercise specifically to the pet, i.e. if Fifi is lethargic or painful after her walk, next time walk slower or not as far. Animal physiotherapists can help guide exercise and recovery programs.
  3. Diet: In recent years dietary management has greatly improved our management of arthritis. This is mainly achieved with high quality protein and addition of Omega 3 fatty acids. We recommend a well-balanced, scientifically proven diet such as Hill’s J/D or Hill’s Metabolic+Mobility.
  4. Nutraceuticals: Nutraceuticals are a pharmaceutical-grade and standardised nutrient that may help some patients, although the results are quite variable. Agents include Omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and collagen. It is important to realise that nutraceuticals are usually not enough to control the pain caused by arthritis by themselves and should be used in a holistic approach to managing arthritis. They can also be used to delay the onset of arthritis.
  5. Anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): are the cornerstone of the treatment of arthritis. They decrease the inflammation and have a pain control function as well. As these medications are required chronically, the newer generation medications have been developed specifically with long term use in mind. There are, however, many misconceptions about using these medications e.g. that they can cause kidney failure. Please feel free to discuss any of these concerns with us. To ensure that your pet is achieving adequate pain control and to monitor for side effects, 6-monthly check ups with blood tests are required.
  6. Additional pain medication is available and should be considered when the anti-inflammatory drugs alone do not control the pain adequately.
  7. Surgery: There are multiple surgical options for the treatment of arthritis which can be considered at any time. The procedures are highly dependent on the joint affected, and can include joint replacement, removal, and fusion.

Euthanasia is painful to contemplate. Our pets are part of the family, and we love them so much that the idea of parting from them is something we find difficult to think about. Whilst losing a pet can be heart-breaking, euthanasia is a privilege that we can offer our pets to relieve them of undue suffering.

We would advise that your family has a discussion long before it is time on what you would like for your pet and how to make their last days dignified.

Questions to ask yourselves:

  • How are we going to assess our pet’s quality of life?
  • Are we willing to do everything we can to keep them going (e.g. hospice care) or will we make the decision to euthanase them earlier, should they fall ill?
  • How do you feel about chemotherapy?
  • How do you feel about euthanasia?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important that the whole family agrees on a general plan.

It is a huge responsibility to make the decision and it can be a huge burden. This is the time to partner with your veterinarian and have a frank discussion about your pet’s quality of life, how you feel about euthanasia, and about the best course of action for your pet.

In some cases, our pets are so ill that the decision to euthanase is the only possible option and it is clear that euthanasia will end any further suffering. But in many cases the situation is something of a grey area. Though we usually know that at some point we will have to bid them farewell, it is difficult to know when it is the right time.

Answering the following questions can assist in making this important decision:

  • Do they have an illness that we cannot treat, which has a poor prognosis?
  • Have they stopped eating, or is it difficult to get them to eat?
  • Are they vomiting often (more than twice per week)?
  • Are they in pain, and not responding to pain medication?
  • Are they secluding themselves and not interacting with the family?
  • Have they lost their enthusiasm for the fun things in life (e.g. can they still do what they like to do)?
  • Is looking after them becoming a burden, be it emotionally, financially or in any other way?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, we would recommend setting up an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss all the options for your pet. The vet may be able to suggest a different treatment plan or may then recommend euthanasia and will be there to walk you through the process.

How do I prepare for my pet’s euthanasia?

Each person is different and will deal with this differently. Listen to what your heart says and if your pet’s condition allows, take the time to come to terms with the decision. Some people like to do something special with their pets, for example, give them a special meal or take them to their favourite place.

Preparing your family for my pet’s euthanasia

It may help to deal with the paperwork and payment before bringing your pet in, to help you get through the euthanasia more smoothly.

Think about the following questions:

  • Do you want your pet euthanased at home or at the clinic?
  • Do you want to be present at the time of your pet’s euthanasia?
  • Who do you want to be present?
  • What would you like to do with your pet’s body (burial, cremation)?
  • Will I be able to drive home afterwards? Sometimes it is good to enlist the help of a friend or family member.

Please discuss your preferences with our receptionists and vets and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Be sure to take time to grieve. Losing a pet is like losing a family member and it takes time to come to terms with the loss.

What happens during a euthanasia?

Our staff have been through euthanasia with one or more of their own pets and we do understand the emotional turmoil one goes through. Your vet will be available to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to take your time and discuss your concerns. Many clients feel the need to justify their decision to euthanase the pet to their vet. However, please remember that we understand that you are showing your love to your pet by ending their suffering in a dignified manner.

Once you are at peace with your decision, your vet may decide to sedate your pet prior to euthanasia or she/he may immediately place a catheter in your pet’s vein to administer the euthanasia solution. We may need take your pet to another room to place the catheter. This is to reduce the stress on you and your pet.

You will then be given the opportunity to spend some more time with your pet and when you are as ready as you’ll ever be, the euthanasia solution will be administered. This is essentially an overdose of anaesthetic agent and your pet will go to sleep very quickly. Within seconds, his/her heart will stop beating. The vet will confirm this and will tell you when it has occurred. You can then spend some more time with your pet if you desire.

Many times, your pet may take a few gasps after their heart has stopped. This can be quite surprising, so it helps to be prepared for it. This is purely muscle relaxation and you need not be alarmed. Many people are surprised that their animal’s eyes remain open after euthanasia, this is just due to the way the eye muscles relax.

At our clinics after the euthanasia, we will arrange for a burial or cremation as per your choice. You may also choose to have your pet’s ashes returned to you.

“What we once enjoyed and deeply loved, we can never lose. For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”- Helen Keller

General

The first response to an animal emergency often begins at home, with you as owner. Your actions in the first few minutes can have a significant effect on the outcome. This table gives the basic first aid recommendations for most emergencies, but if you are at all unsure please phone the vet before doing anything.

Type of Emergency Signs Action
Poisoning (Observed) Observing the animal eating a poisonous substance

· Phone the vet straight away to get advice on whether or not to induce vomiting. Induce vomiting by pouring a handful of salt or washing powder to the back of the throat.

· Take to the vet straight away.

· Only induce vomiting if the animal is conscious.

Poisoning Suspected Sudden collapse, unresponsiveness, muscle twitching

· Do not make them vomit.

· Take to the vet immediately.

Motor vehicle accident Severe pain, unresponsiveness, open wounds

· Apply pressure to any active bleeding.

· Take to the vet immediately.

Seizures

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling over, legs and neck stiff, thrashing around, non-responsiveness, urinating, drooling or defecating.

· Keep the patient away from walls, swimming pools, stairs and objects that can hurt them.

· Do not stroke or wet them. Let the seizure pass and contact the vet as soon as possible.

· Do NOT put your hand in their mouth.

· Try to time the seizure and if it continues for longer than 2 minutes, pick the patient up and take them to the vet immediately.

Snake bites Seeing the incident or finding a dead snake and the patient seems not themselves.

· Bring to the vet immediately.

· Bring the snake as well (if it is dead) or a picture to aid identification.

· Do NOT approach a live snake.

Wounds Open skin with active bleeding

· Apply pressure to the bleeding area with a towel.

· Keep constant pressure while taking to the vet.

Choking Observation of choking with a blue tinge of the tongue. Animal is struggling to breathe.

· Push on the throat area from the chest to the jaw.

· If this is unsuccessful, apply quick strong forceful movements to the tummy below the ribs.

· Get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

Drowning Animal found in water, for an unknown amount of time. Can be responsive to completely unresponsive.

· If unresponsive, apply quick hard compressions to the chest with the animal lying on their side.

· In smaller patients you can also lift them up by their back legs to help water drain.

· Continue chest compressions whilst taking to the vet.

· If responsive, take to the vet immediately. All dogs that have a near drowning incident need to be examined by a vet.

Heatstroke Suddenly collapsed on a hot day, after a long walk or lots of playing, breathing very fast with very red or blue gums.

· If you have a thermometer, a temperature of more than 41 degrees Celsius (taken by placing the thermometer 1 cm into the anus) is diagnostic.

· Wet patient with cold water, place ice packs on tummy, and bring into the vet.

 

Things NOT to do in an emergency:

  • Do not panic (easier said than done!)
  • Do not give any medication, as this can greatly hamper the medication that we need to administer.
  • Do not give milk, or anything else to eat or drink if you suspect poisoning.
  • Do not try to dislodge something that is stuck in the throat if you are not certain that there is something or if the patient is coughing. If they are not struggling to breathe they are not choking.
Life stage Nutrition

It is important to ensure that each pet gets good nutrition during all stages of life. We believe good nutrition comprises of balanced ingredients that are scientifically formulated using Evidence-based Medicine, and not based on philosophies or ethereal concepts. There are a host of diets on the market these days, with many options to choose from. We recommend a diet that contains:

  • High quality natural ingredients,
  • Animal based protein that is well digested and absorbed (e.g. not feathers and feet),
  • Animal derived products that are derived from animals fit for human consumption,
  • No artificial flavourings, colours or preservatives,
  • And is rich in clinically proven anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Not all diets are created equal, so when comparing diets, it is best to compare apples with apples and your vet will be able to provide you with expert advice on the correct diet for your pet. The general rule is “you get what you pay for”, although just because it is expensive does not necessarily mean it is good. Be sure to ask us for a personalised recommendation of a diet for your pet’s specific needs.

The first year of a puppy’s life is very important as nutrition has a direct impact on their growth and development and can also have an impact on their future health. This is particularly true for large breed puppies that require very accurate formulations and mineral balances to slow down their growth rate for good joint development. Therefore, we recommend a size/breed appropriate diet to cater for each puppy’s specific needs. Puppy foods should be fed to between 12 and 18 months of age, depending on the breed of puppy and type of food chosen.

Once dogs reach adulthood their nutritional needs change. Good quality diets are formulated to maintain a healthy immune system, optimum weight and good body condition. Some dogs may require special diets if they suffer from medical conditions such as a skin condition or intestinal sensitivity.

At around 7 – 10 years (depending on the breed), dogs reach the senior stage of life. Their nutritional needs change again, with more emphasis on heart, kidney and joint health. Choosing the right food at this stage of their lives can have a dramatic effect on their health, wellbeing and longevity.

Special Needs Nutrition

We understand that not all dogs fit into the same mould. Some may require a little more, some a little less, some a little different. We are fortunate that special diets are available for those special needs fur kids. These diets are based on the same quality ingredients and Evidence-Based Medicine as the age specific dietary ranges. They are aimed at promoting health in a specific patient with higher than average needs. As an example: Patients with slightly sensitive tummies might benefit from special diets. Diets are also available for dogs that are prone to weight gain, dogs that shed a lot, dogs that have a high risk of joint problems, and dogs with a tendency to develop teeth problems.

Prescription Nutrition

Prescription diets are now available to manage, and at times cure, a wide variety of illnesses. These diets are becoming an integral part of managing disease thereby decreasing the need for drugs. A good diet alone can be used to help manage itchiness, allergies, intestinal upsets, brain aging, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, arthritis, obesity, pancreatitis, hyperlipidaemia and diabetes. These diets are formulated for a specific condition and they should only be used when prescribed by, and under supervision of, a veterinarian.

Cats

Kittens

Vaccination is a safe and effective way of preventing deadly diseases. Vaccine protocols differ depending on the area, occurrence of disease, and populations at risk. Unfortunately, we still see many patients that are not vaccinated that contract these deadly diseases. We therefore recommend the following vaccine protocol:

Age Vaccine
1st kitten vaccination 8 – 9 weeks 3 in 1 + Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
2nd kitten vaccination 12 – 14 weeks 3 in 1 + FeLV + Rabies
Annual booster 12 – 14 months 3 in 1 + FeLV + Rabies

Annual check-ups and booster vaccinations, where appropriate, are recommended for all cats.

Core vaccines for cats are against feline panleukopaenia virus, feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus. Due to the extremely high incidence of feline leukaemia virus in our area, we have also decided to add this to the core vaccines for cats. Lastly, according to law, all animals should be vaccinated against rabies.

Sterilisation is the surgical removal of the reproductive organs of cats. In females, the ovaries and the uterus are removed (spaying) and in males, the testicles are removed (castration/neutering). The City of Cape Town’s bylaws state that all cats that are not registered breeding animals must be sterilised.

Thousands of unwanted cats are euthanased every year. Every pet owner can play their part in preventing the birth of more potentially unwanted kittens. Studies have also shown that spaying and neutering can enhance a pet’s health and quality of life.

Female cats experience their first heat at about 5 – 9 months old, usually in spring. The heat cycle usually lasts about 3 weeks, with one week of crying at night and looking for a mate, and 2 weeks of dormancy. This usually lasts throughout the spring and summer or until mating occurs. Cats on heat usually cry for mates, lift their rumps and tails when you scratch them near the base of the tail and show an apparent increase in affection. They are more likely to roam and to get into cat fights and motor vehicle accidents. Female cats benefit from sterilisation in that it eliminates the heat cycle, reducing the chance of roaming, and guards against serious illness such as infection of the uterus and mammary gland cancer.

Male cats become sexually mature at around 6 months old, which is often seen by them starting to mark their territories by spraying strong smelling urine on furniture, clothes and around the house. It is also usually at this stage that tom cats begin to roam. This often leads to cat fights, increases the risk of contracting diseases such as feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or could result in serious injury if hit by a car. Early neutering (before sexual maturity) removes the mating urge, reducing the marking of territories and reduces the urge to roam.

General guidelines for sterilisation
Age Benefits
Females cats (queens) 6 months

· Reduces the chance of unwanted litters

· Eliminates the risk of uterine infections and mammary cancer

Male cats (toms) 6 months

· Reduced urine marking

· Reduced aggression

· Reduced roaming that can lead to injury

There are many misconceptions regarding sterilisation. Many people believe that it is good for queens to have a litter as this “calms her down”. Studies have shown that this is not true. The “calming down” simply coincides with sexual maturity – it has nothing to do with having a litter of kittens. Some owners also want their tom cats to “experience” mating as this will decrease the mating urge. Again, studies have shown that toms never lose the mating urge once it is established. Lastly, sterilisation does not cause a cat to become fat. We know that it may cause a drop in their metabolism, but weight can easily be controlled by proper nutrition and diet. Thus, a diet adjustment may be needed after sterilisation.

“Good nutrition lays the foundation for good health,” certainly rings true for kittens. Feeding a good quality, animal-based protein diet to kittens is vital to prevent heart and bladder disease later in life. It also promotes a strong immune system. Ensuring that your kitten remains slim and trim will prevent obesity and diabetes as an adult.  Good quality animal-based diets may seem expensive, but luckily cats don’t eat that much, so it really is worth investing in their future.

Adult Cat

Nutrition

You are what you eat is true no matter the species, age or breed. Cats are not small dogs and neither are they vegetarians. Therefore, we advise feeding them a well-balanced, scientifically proven, quality controlled, animal-based protein cat food. Our general advice is to feed your felines the best quality of food that fits your budget. Also, watch the portion size to prevent obesity. Not all food is created equal, and not all cats can eat all foods. We welcome any discussion on the specific needs of your pet.

Exercise

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Exercise is important to improve your cat’s physical health by keeping them fit and at the correct body weight. Regular exercise also improves their quality of life by making them feel happier. This is the perfect opportunity for you and your cat(s) to bond. Many cat toys are available to encourage exercise and play, which is particularly important for indoor cats.

Regular checks

We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to bring your cat in for an annual health check-up. It happens too often that we see cats in the end stage of a disease when it is too late to help them. This is terribly heart-breaking for you and your family, and for us. Your cat can’t tell you if they are feeling unwell or are in pain but an annual check-up can detect diseases early ensuring that your pet lives a long and happy life.

Weight management

Obesity will shorten your pet’s life and decrease their quality of life. Being overweight can lead to diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Many owners aren’t aware that their cats are overweight and that they are slowly killing them with kindness. Indoor cats are particularly at risk of obesity and should preferably be fed diets specifically made for indoor cats. That is why we offer FREE weight checks and we will help you get your pet to their goal weight. Keeping them slim is such an easy way to keep them around for longer. Book your weight check-up today!

Dental care

Most cats over the age of 3 years have dental disease which can lead to many health problems and could shorten your pet’s life. The first step to preventing this is to feed them a good quality diet and to avoid table foods. Home care goes a long way to prevent dental disease, which can include regular brushing, using dental rinses, and using dental cleaning chews. Your pet’s teeth will be checked at every annual visit. We are equipped to do dentals during which teeth are cleaned and any loose or damaged teeth are removed. Cottage Vet stocks a wide range of products which can aid in home care for your pet. Please feel free to ask us for more information!

Attention

Last but not least, your cat needs you…they thrive on a relationship and time spent with you. Every happy cat has a committed owner that pours love and attention on them.

Senior Cat

With age comes a change in metabolism and at times organs can be put under strain. Thus, quality and balance of nutrients become even more important as cats get older. It is essential to change your cat onto a senior diet when they reach 7-10 years of age.

Moderated amounts of animal-based protein are essential for senior cats. This is to relieve the strain on the kidneys, and to ensure sustained lean muscle mass. Certain minerals such as phosphorus and sodium should also be limited to retain kidney health. Higher levels of antioxidants, vitamin E and essential fatty acids all aim to decrease the aging process. Good quality diets also focus on maintaining joint health, good muscle mass and appetite.

Your senior cat has very specific needs and it essential to have annual check-ups and to discuss their nutritional needs.

8 out of 10 senior cats have arthritis and are in pain. You might not be aware of this as cats are masters at hiding pain. Tell-tale signs of pain are:

  • Not jumping as high as before
  • Shaggy coat or increase in shedding, due to decreased self-grooming
  • Walks stiffly or limps
  • Suddenly become aggressive or moves away when you stroke their back
  • Refuses to allow you to brush them
  • Long nails
  • Sleeps more than before
  • Decreased roaming
  • Seems depressed

Each cat should be assessed for pain at every annual wellness check-up.

At Cottage Vet we assess for pain at every wellness check-up. But if you notice any of the above signs, please inform the assisting vet.

Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint which usually causes pain and swelling. There are several types of arthritis including rheumatoid, degenerative, and infectious arthritis, each with its own cause. An arthritic joint can cause immense pain, especially in the morning or after rest and during cold weather.

An examination will help us to detect and determine the type of arthritis and the extent of which it affects your pet. Ideally, the earlier one treats arthritis, the easier it is to manage, thus regular examinations are advised. Some types of arthritis may require blood tests, radiographs (X-ray), and joint fluid analysis to help determine the cause and severity of the arthritis.

Cottage Vet is able to require all of the above in-house for your convenience!

 

The most common form of arthritis in older pets is joint degeneration owing to wear and tear or malformation of a joint. It can be very insidious in onset, with slow progression. Overweight or obese cats are most often affected, but this doesn’t mean that lean cats aren’t affected by arthritis.

Each type of arthritis has its own course of treatment. Septic (infectious), or rheumatoid arthritis can be effectively managed with the correct antibiotics or cortisone. Degenerative arthritis can also be well managed, but the changes in the joint are inevitably irreversible. Management may include:

  • Weight reduction
  • Home improvements
  • Diet
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Pain medication
  • Surgery

  1. Weight reduction: Reducing the load on the joints can greatly improve the effectiveness of medications and markedly decrease pain. Overweight cats require more medication, at higher doses. This can cause a greater chance of side effects and it is also more expensive. Click here for more information on our weight loss clinic.
  2. Home improvements: Cats with arthritis won’t be able to jump or get outside as easily as they could before. Make sure that their food and water bowls are low enough for them to reach them. Consider getting a litter tray indoors. Build steps to help them get onto their favourite bed. An attractive indoor scratching post will help them wear down excessively long nails. Making sure they have a comfortable, warm bed will also help to relieve pain. They are not as lithe and agile as they used to be so ensure that they have a safe refuge from dogs and that they can’t wander into busy roads.
  3. Diet: In recent years dietary management has greatly improved our management of arthritis. This is mainly achieved with high quality protein and addition of Omega 3 fatty acids. We recommend a well-balanced, scientifically proven diet such as Hill’s J/D or Hill’s Metabolic+Mobility.
  4. Nutraceuticals: Nutraceuticals are a pharmaceutical-grade and standardised nutrient that may help some patients, although the results are quite variable. Agents include Omega 3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and collagen. It is important to realise that nutraceuticals are usually not enough to control the pain caused by arthritis by themselves and should be used in a holistic approach to managing arthritis.
  5. Anti-inflammatory drugs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are the cornerstone of the treatment of arthritis. They decrease the inflammation and have a pain control function as well. As these medications are required chronically, the newer generation medications have been developed specifically with long term use in mind. There are, however, many misconceptions about using these medications (e.g. that they can cause kidney failure). Please feel free to discuss any of your concerns with us. To ensure that your pet is achieving adequate pain control and to monitor for side effects, 6-monthly check ups with blood tests are required.
  6. Additional pain medication is available and should be considered when the anti-inflammatory drugs alone do not control the pain adequately.
  7. Surgery: There are multiple surgical options for the treatment of arthritis which can be considered at any time. The procedures are highly dependent on the joint affected, and can include joint replacement, removal, and fusion.

Kidney disease is one of the most common health problems in senior cats. Early detection and diagnosis is vital to extending your cat’s life.

Symptoms of kidney disease may be:

  • Drinking more water than before or asking for water in strange places (e.g. the bath)
  • Weight loss
  • Scruffy coat
  • Vomiting
  • Increased urination or urinating in strange places
  • Decreased appetite
  • Smelly breath
  • Weakness
  • Constipation

Kidney disease is diagnosed by using a combination of urine test and blood tests which allows staging of the disease, which will affect the treatment and prognosis. In certain cases, x-rays and ultrasounds may also be needed. This will impact the treatment options available.

Kidney disease cannot be reversed but it can be successfully managed if diagnosed and treated in the early stages. Good nutrition goes a long way in preventing kidney disease. It is essential to look out for early warning signs in order to implement a treatment plan before the kidneys fail completely.

Treatment includes a combination of dietary management and medication. Same cats may even benefit may need to be hospitalised for intensive treatment.

Unfortunately, the reality is that once kidney damage has occurred it cannot be reversed therefore cats with kidney disease will most likely to succumb to it eventually. Our treatment is aimed at keeping them happy, healthy and with a good quality of life for as long as possible. End-stage hospice care may be required and at this point it is important to discuss when euthanasia will be considered.

Euthanasia is painful to contemplate. Our pets are part of the family, and we love them so much that the idea of parting from them is something we find difficult to think about. Whilst losing a pet can be heart-breaking, euthanasia is a privilege that we can offer our pets to relieve them of undue suffering.

We would advise that your family has a discussion long before it is time on what you would like for your pet and how to make their last days dignified.

Questions to ask yourselves:

  • How are we going to assess our pet’s quality of life?
  • Are we willing to do everything we can to keep them going (e.g. hospice care) or will we make the decision to euthanase them earlier, should they fall ill?
  • How do you feel about chemotherapy?
  • How do you feel about euthanasia?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but it is important that the whole family agrees on a general plan.

It is a huge responsibility to make the decision and it can be a huge burden. This is the time to partner with your veterinarian and have a frank discussion about your pet’s quality of life, how you feel about euthanasia, and about the best course of action for your pet.

In some cases, our pets are so ill that the decision to euthanase is the only possible option and it is clear that euthanasia will end any further suffering. But in many cases the situation is something of a grey area. Though we usually know that at some point we will have to bid them farewell, it is difficult to know when it is the right time.

Answering the following questions can assist in making this important decision:

  • Do they have an illness that we cannot treat, which has a poor prognosis?
  • Have they stopped eating, or is it difficult to get them to eat?
  • Are they vomiting often (more than twice per week)?
  • Are they in pain, and not responding to pain medication?
  • Are they secluding themselves and not interacting with the family?
  • Have they lost their enthusiasm for the fun things in life (e.g. can they still do what they like to do)?
  • Is looking after them becoming a burden, be it emotionally, financially or in any other way?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, we would recommend setting up an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss all the options for your pet. The vet may be able to suggest a different treatment plan or may then recommend euthanasia and will be there to walk you through the process.

How do I prepare for my pet’s euthanasia?

Each person is different and will deal with this differently. Listen to what your heart says and if your pet’s condition allows, take the time to come to terms with the decision. Some people like to do something special with their pets, for example, give them a special meal or take them to their favourite place.

Preparing your family for my pet’s euthanasia

It may help to deal with the paperwork and payment before bringing your pet in, to help you get through the euthanasia more smoothly.

Think about the following questions:

  • Do you want your pet euthanased at home or at the clinic?
  • Do you want to be present at the time of your pet’s euthanasia?
  • Who do you want to be present?
  • What would you like to do with your pet’s body (burial, cremation)?
  • Will I be able to drive home afterwards? Sometimes it is good to enlist the help of a friend or family member.

Please discuss your preferences with our receptionists and vets and we will do our best to accommodate you.

Be sure to take time to grieve. Losing a pet is like losing a family member and it takes time to come to terms with the loss.

What happens during a euthanasia?

Our staff have been through euthanasia with one or more of their own pets and we do understand the emotional turmoil one goes through. Your vet will be available to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to take your time and discuss your concerns. Many clients feel the need to justify their decision to euthanase the pet to their vet. However, please remember that we understand that you are showing your love to your pet by ending their suffering in a dignified manner.

Once you are at peace with your decision, your vet may decide to sedate your pet prior to euthanasia or she/he may immediately place a catheter in your pet’s vein to administer the euthanasia solution. We may need take your pet to another room to place the catheter. This is to reduce the stress on you and your pet.

You will then be given the opportunity to spend some more time with your pet and when you are as ready as you’ll ever be, the euthanasia solution will be administered. This is essentially an overdose of anaesthetic agent and your pet will go to sleep very quickly. Within seconds, his/her heart will stop beating. The vet will confirm this and will tell you when it has occurred. You can then spend some more time with your pet if you desire.

Many times, your pet may take a few gasps after their heart has stopped. This can be quite surprising, so it helps to be prepared for it. This is purely muscle relaxation and you need not be alarmed. Many people are surprised that their animal’s eyes remain open after euthanasia, this is just due to the way the eye muscles relax.

At our clinics after the euthanasia, we will arrange for a burial or cremation as per your choice. You may also choose to have your pet’s ashes returned to you.

 “Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day… unseen, unheard but always near, still loved, still missed and very dear.”

General

The first response to an animal emergency often begins at home, with you as owner. Your actions in the first few minutes can have a significant effect on the outcome. This table gives the basic first aid recommendations for most emergencies, but if you are at all unsure please phone the vet before doing anything.

Type of Emergency Signs Action
Poisoning (Observed) Observing the animal eating a poisonous substance

· Phone the vet straight away to get advice on whether to induce vomiting. Induce vomiting by pouring a handful of salt or washing powder to the back of the throat.

· Take to the vet straight away.

· Only induce vomiting if the animal is conscious.

Poisoning Suspected Collapse, unresponsiveness, muscle twitching

· Do not make them vomit.

· Take to the vet immediately.

Motor vehicle accident Severe pain, unresponsiveness, open wounds

· Apply pressure to any active bleeding.

· Take to the vet immediately.

Seizures

 

 

 

 

 

 

Falling over, legs and neck stiff, thrashing around, non-responsiveness, urinating, drooling or defecating.

· Keep the patient away from walls, swimming pools, stairs and objects that can hurt them.

· Do not stroke or wet them. Let the seizure pass and contact the vet as soon as possible.

· Do NOT put your hand in their mouth.

· Try to time the seizure and if it continues for longer than 2 minutes, pick the patient up and take them to the vet immediately.

Snake bites Seeing the incident or finding a dead snake and the patient seems not themselves.

· Bring to the vet immediately.

· Bring the snake as well (if it is dead) or a picture to aid identification.

· Do NOT approach a live snake.

Wounds Open skin with active bleeding

· Apply pressure to the bleeding area with a towel.

· Keep constant pressure while taking to the vet.

Choking Observation of choking with a blue tinge of the tongue. Animal is struggling to breathe.

·         Push on the throat area from the chest to the jaw.

· If this is unsuccessful, apply quick strong forceful movements to the tummy below the ribs.

· Get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

Drowning Animal found in water, for an unknown amount of time. Can be responsive to completely unresponsive.

· If unresponsive, apply quick hard compressions to the chest with the animal lying on their side.

· In smaller patients you can also lift them up by their back legs to help water drain.

· Continue chest compressions whilst taking to the vet.

· If responsive, take to the vet immediately. All dogs that have a near drowning incident need to be examined by a vet.

Heatstroke Suddenly collapsed on a hot day, after a long walk or lots of playing, breathing very fast with very red or blue gums.

· If you have a thermometer, a temperature of more than 41 degrees Celsius (taken by placing the thermometer 1 cm into the anus) is diagnostic.

· Wet patient with cold water, place ice packs on tummy, and bring into the vet.

Life stage Nutrition

It is important to ensure that each pet gets good nutrition at all stages of life. We believe good quality nutrition comprises of balanced ingredients that are scientifically formulated using Evidence-based Medicine, and not based on philosophies or ethereal concepts. There are a host of diets on the market these days, with many options to choose from. We recommend a diet that contains:

  • High quality natural ingredients
  • Animal based protein that is well digested and absorbed (e.g. not feathers and feet).
  • Animal derived products that are derived from animals fit for human consumption.
  • No artificial flavourings, colourants or preservatives.
  • And is rich in clinically proven anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Not all diets are created equal, so when comparing diets it is best to compare apples with apples. The general rule is “you get what you pay for”, although just because it is expensive does not necessarily mean it is good. Be sure to ask us for a personalised recommendation of a diet for your pet’s specific needs.

Cats are not small dogs that climb trees…they have very specific nutritional needs to maintain optimal health. Fortunately, cats are small so feeding a good quality diet need not break the budget and can save you money in the long run.

Cats cannot be fed vegetarian or vegan diets. Cats require certain essential amino acids that are only found in animal-based protein, e.g. taurine. Feeding plant-based diets will result in multiple problems such as early-onset heart failure, kidney disease, skin disease and arthritis.

The first year of a kitten’s life is very important as nutrition has a direct impact on their growth and development and can also have an impact on their future health. This is particularly true for large breed cats (e.g. Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cats) that require very accurate formulations and mineral balances to slow down their growth rate for good joint development. Kitten’s food should be fed to between 6-12 months of age or until they are sterilised.

Once cats reach adulthood their nutritional needs change. Good quality diets are formulated to maintain a healthy immune system, optimum weight and good body condition. Some cats may require special diets if they suffer from medical conditions, for example, a skin condition or intestinal sensitivity.

At around 7 – 10 years (depending on the breed), cats reach the senior stage of life. Their nutritional needs change again, with more emphasis on heart, kidney and joint health. Choosing the right food at this stage of their lives can have a dramatic effect on their health, wellbeing and longevity.

Special Needs Nutrition

We understand that not all cats fit into the same mould. Some may require a little more, some a little less, some a little different. We are fortunate that special diets are available, for the special needs fur kids. These diets are based on the same quality ingredients and Evidence-Based Medicine as the age specific dietary ranges. They are aimed at promoting health in a specific patient with higher than average needs. As an example: Patients with slightly sensitive tummies might benefit from a special diet. Diets are also available for cats that; are prone to weight gain; have bladder problems; have a high risk of joint problems and cats at risk of kidney disease.

Prescription Nutrition

Prescription diets are now available to manage and, at times cure, a wide variety of illnesses. These diets are becoming an integral part of managing disease thereby decreasing the need for drugs. Diets can be used to manage itchiness, allergies, intestinal upsets, brain aging, kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, arthritis, obesity, pancreatitis, hyperlipidaemia, hyperthyroidism and diabetes. These diets are formulated for a specific condition therefore they should only be used when prescribed by and under supervision of a veterinarian.

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