Dental care is for everyone.
This week is about dental care for dogs and cats, as dental health for rabbits and rodents is a different bale of hay all together.
If we’re being honest, there aren’t many of us who are on the ball and in the know when it comes to our pet’s dental health. When it comes to dogs, many owners feel that they can just give them a ‘specially designed’ dental chew every day and they all good, right?
Well, maybe not. Good oral hygiene is an important and often overlooked part of your pet’s overall health and wellbeing, whether they’re a little nipper, golden oldie, cross breed or top-notch pedigree.
Think about the last time you had a tooth ache, I try not to myself, but my point is you were probably miserable. Luckily for you, you are a human with thumbs and the ability to decide to take some painkillers or tell people to watch out because you’re not in a bad mood, you’re in pain; and you have reluctantly booked into the dentist this afternoon.
Now imagine you’re a cat or dog suffering the pain of a tooth ache or sore gums. This not only has health and welfare implications but can also lead to serious behaviour problems. A good example of this is a condition in cats (particularly noted in Burmese cats) called ‘Feline orofacial pain syndrome’ quite the mouthful I know; but this is where dental problems are causing the cat so much pain that they paw at their own faces over and over and over again, until it is so raw that it often bleeds!
There are some other signs that your pet could be suffering for dental discomfort such as:
For an older cat or dog, it can be stressful for both you and your pet to take a look at what’s going on. I know the only way my cat would let me see her teeth was if she was going to plant them in my hands during play time!
But there are some early warning signs to watch out for:
Even the saying ‘getting long in the tooth’; this apparent growing of upper canine in old pets is caused by periodontal infection forcing the tooth out of it socket.
A dental infection can also have affects on other body systems, if there is a high bacteria level or if the pet is immune compromised or suffering from another illness. So as any dentist will tell you, prevention is better than cure and maintaining regular oral hygiene routines will help keep those tails wagging.
Here are the things that I do for my dog’s Dental health:
There is a product that I’m going to start using next week- Beaphur tooth gel.
This product is suitable for cats and dogs, and cleans teeth without the use of a brush. The gel contains enzymes that fight the bacteria that cause bad breath and breaks down plaque. Any plaque that’s not brushed away would combine with calcium to form tartar, but this gel has ingredients that bind to calcium, to prevent further formation of tartar. This product can be used 2-3 times a week, so I’m hoping that it will be an easy addition to the pet’s routine.
I’ll let you all know how it goes!
A special thank you to Beaphar Uk training for the graphic and teeth pictures
Why worming your pets regularly is important as a preventative and not just a treatment.
I’d like to tell you about a friend of mine and her little dog, we’ll call her dog Daisy for this story. When Daisy’s owners went on holiday, their daughter, my friend was looking after her when she noticed kept shuffling her bottom along the floor. She contacted her parents to find out when Daisy was last wormed but as they were on a long-haul flight she didn’t hear back straight away. After we had a chat about Daisy, she decided to give to give Daisy a one does wormer and soon after Daisy’s poo revealed a rather large worm burden. Unfortunately, Daisy was still fussing around her back end and seemed uncomfortable. So, having still not heard back from her parents, my friend decided to take Daisy to the vet. Upon examining her the vet found that during her bum shuffling episodes Daisy had caused cuts and grazes to her genitals and anal area. She had been licking them and making them even worse. In addition, she also needed to have her anal glands expressed, antibiotics and a cream which had to be applied twice a day. When the parents were able to get in contact, they simply said that they only gave Daisy a worming treatment when they saw that she was itching her bottom.
Unfortunately, this treating worms, once symptoms become noticeable, rather than preventing them seems to be quite common. A lot of owners seem unsure about how often they should be worming their pets or why it’s so important.
The most common parasitic worms are round worms and tape worms. All dogs and cats are susceptible to worms through out their life and they can pass them on to other animals and even people!
There are three main reasons that pet owners must treat their dogs and cats against worms regularly:
You may have seen a few weeks ago I did a blog about plastic pollution, particularly plastic waste in the pet product industry. Here at the Pet hotel I often find myself trying to reduce our waste, not an easy task when you consider how many pets live here as well as the humans!
But really we all know that waste and over consumption is a problem and what I feel (and I think other people do too) is that we are tired of hearing about all the problems, all the shocking images of rubbish strewn beaches. What we really want now are solutions!
There are my top 3 things that I have already done here at The Pet Hotel, that I think can be helpful for every pet owner. There are loads more but it's easy to be overwhelmed and it's much more achievable to make small changes stick. Some them will actually save you money as well as reduce your impact on the environment.
2. Home made cleaner and disinfectant - This one is really easy and will save you money! I make my own cleaning spray for use for both the pets and around the house. The key ingredient is distilled white vinegar, buy the largest quantity you can manage, as this will give you the biggest saving. I buy around 20litres at a time on line, so far I have not needed to buy any more and that was over a year and half ago. I reuse the spray bottles from the cleaners I already had after they were empty and rinsed them out. For a general purpose spray you only need about 1 part vinegar to 10 parts water. Now if the thought of a vinegar smells puts you off (generally it makes me want chips!) you can add a few drops of essential oils (and really you just need a few drops) to get that nice smell. I put in used lemon and citrus peels in mine, which I collect from my local cafe!
If you're spending money on new cleaning sprays, for that "clean fresh" smell you really are just wasting your money and contributing to more plastic and chemicals being used and produced.
3. Switch to a green energy supplier - Honestly this is one the best things we have done to reduce our overall foot print. As it turned out for us the cost of the tarif was actually less than we were paying with our previous big supplier. They supply 100% renewable electricity and 10% green gas. For every unit of or energy that we use they make sure a unit is produced and put back into the grid by a renewable source. They source energy from solar, wind and hydro generators from across the country. The green gas they supply goes from renewable sources too, like farm and food waste.
They buy the energy from independent energy generators across the UK and where ever possible they have a direct relation with these generators to purchase their output. To cover any shortfalls, they purchase renewables from the wholesale market. Their energy sources vary from solar and wind to hydro or anaerobic digestion.
If you'd like to find out more about switching energy energy supplier please get in touch via the contact page :)
Another Friday is here already. It has been a really busy week here at R and R. On Monday I traveled up to Sandown park for PATS trade show, where suppliers, manufactures and industry professionals all get together to network, show off new products and ideas and make orders.
Its a great way to see whats going on in the pet world as a trader. I also get to catch up, all be it briefly with reps from companies that I don't get to see much of now.
There were a few products that really caught me eye and whilst I don't have pictures of them all to share just yet, I'm pretty sure that once you see them in use you will love them:
Projects in the pipeline.
So I have a few projects currently in the pipeline for R and R, the one I want to talk about is the refurbishment and build of a multi level hutch and run for my male guinea pigs. Since Donatello passed away, it has been painfully obvious how much Raphael is missing his friend. I also have 2 other single male guinea pigs and another single boy, who comes on his holidays with us who lost his friend and is lonely too. The plan is to build a hutch and run that they can all live together in but have plenty of room and hidey holes if they want some space. I have had a few people tell me that Male guinea pigs can't live together, that they will fight to the death! But it has been my experience that it really depends on the piggies themselves, they are all unique and whilst I'm not 100% sure that it will work as I have planned ( it rarely does) I do know that I would rather give them the opportunity for companionship then not try at all and let them spend the rest of their lives on their own.
You can follow the project on my justgiving page here
So this Monday was the last day of Benji’s 28 day course of treatment for a parasitic infection called E.cuniculi. Last week I went into some depth about what the condition is and how it affects rabbits. Link here. I apologies if this week’s blog seems a bit rambling, but I wanted to be as honest as possible about my particular experience. Now that Benji has made it to the end of the treatment, I wanted to share some of those experiences with you. Seeing that your rabbit has head tilt can be very unsettling, but it is by no means the end of the road. What this process has taught me is the importance of catching this illness early. The damage caused by the parasite can not be fixed but the quicker you can start treatment the less damage there will be and the fewer affects for your bunny to live with.
So, I do think it is worth getting to see a rabbit savvy vet as soon as possible and I really do mean as soon as possible, the same day, although that isn’t always possible. I didn’t notice that Benji had head tilt until late in the evening. It came on suddenly and I was able to get an emergency appointment the following afternoon.
Having said that you don’t need a prescription to get Panacur, which is the treatment used to treat this illness, so if your going to need a lot you don’t have to buy it all from the vet. I have since found it for sale online at about half the price at the vet. Luckily the medication isn’t expensive, it only cost £8.50 from the vet and in total I bought 4.
Your vet can do several other checks, as ours did to eliminate any other possible causes, such as ear infection and looking into the eyes, as well as accurately weighing them (you’ll need this to know how much medication to give). Your vet can listen to their heart and take their temperature. It could be very tempting, given that you can buy Panacure ‘over the counter’ so to speak to make your own diagnosis and start treatment; and no one will know your rabbit as well as you but I for one was very glad that we took Benji as soon as we did.
Luckily for us Benji is already living inside but unfortunately around the same time that he become sick our boiler gave up the ghost! The vet had advised us to keep him warm as his temperature was a little low. It’s important that poorly rabbits aren’t expending any unnecessary energy just to maintain their body temperature. Such would hamper their recovery. Benji has a medium sized dog crate that we leave open for him under the stairs with his litter tray at the back. we covered it with blankets and put an extra thick layer of newspaper under his mat. The old camping adage “one underneath is worth two on top” applies! If you have an outside rabbit who is poorly, I highly recommend that you bring them inside, regardless of the weather. It may not be suitable in the long term but having them in with you, not only keeps them warm and dry (away from draughts mind and not in front of a radiator) but means you are more likely to be aware of any changes and act quickly. We gave Benji a little hottie heat pack on a few of the nights though he didn’t seem too fussed.
Benji had also lost a little bit of weight, not much but we didn’t want him losing any more. I noticed that he seemed to favour the larger pellets that I gave him, usually as tip bits, although they are a complete nugget so I decided to start switching him to the science selective adult. I wouldn’t have normally thought changing food whilst a pet was poorly to be a good idea but he was far keener on them and has actually been eating an entire portion each day. The other addition I made to his diet was to add Alfalfa hay to his meadow hay. I have spoke about this product before and how it has really helped me with a severally poorly rabbit before.
Mostly Benji was easy to give his medication to. There were a few times when he kicked forward with his back legs and caught me on the arm. He also bit the syringe a couple times but that actually makes it easier to get it in his chops. One of the things I did find difficult was making sure I had put the right amount in, you need to make sure that you can see the marking on the tube as you are administering it. A couple of times he seemed to spit a lot out or it ended up on his face. On the face is ok as he’ll clean it off himself and eat it anyway.
It’s important that if you think your rabbit is not responding to the treatment or is getting worse that you get them back to your vet. I have noticed that Benji now doesn’t seem to bother going on his litter tray, he just seems to wee wherever he is. I don’t know if this will be permanent, so we may have to make some adjustments to his housing to help keep him clean.
I’ll keep you all updated as to how Benji is getting on post treatment.
So for the past 2 weeks, my mini lop Blu has been living in our front room, since he lost his friend and the n the weather got very cold. He has turned out to be a bold and confident little bunny. A little too confident perhaps, he has also developed a taste for the end of the sofa! Now I can't can't show a picture because he has gone for the end where there's a gap just big enough for him to fit between the sofa and the cabinet. So as well as blocking up these areas, I've made him several different feeders and toys to try and keep him ocupied.
Here are just a few of the things that I came up with, these were all things that I already had around the house.
Commonly referred to as E.cuniculi. As you may have seen from my Facebook page and my blog, my house rabbit Benji developed head tilt just over two weeks ago. (looking on the bright side)
The most common cause of head tilt in rabbits is caused by the parasitic infection of E.cuniculi. I have come across E.cuniculi in rabbits before but never in my own rabbits so rather than just talk about Benji’s 28-day treatment plan, I decide to do some further research into this disease and share it with you.
whilst we refer to a rabbit as having ‘head tilt’ or E.cuniculi the disease that the parasite causes is called encephalitozoonosis – you can see why we just call it head tilt! The infection affects the spinal cord, the brain and the kidneys.
A quick side note here; the information I have gathered has come from papers and studies written by vets, for vets and students. I’ll put some links to those below if you want to have a read.
E.cuniculi is a parasitic protozoa. A protozoa is a single celled, microscopic organism. They multiply within their host which causes serious and sometimes life-threatening infections.
So how is it spread?
The general consensus from the information that I have read agrees that rabbits become infected from ingesting the parasite spores that have been shed in the urine of infected rabbits, including wild rabbits and rodents. Although less common, infection can also occur from inhalation of the spores and from mother to young during pregnancy.
Can humans get this disease? Well…
If you have ever heard of zoonotic diseases you may have noticed the zoonosis part of encephalitozoonosis!! So, the answer is yes!
But please don’t panic, the only people who are really at risk are those who are extremely immunocompromised.
what are the signs? Before doing research for this blog, I thought that the first sign of head tilt was, well head tilt! However, I have since found out that hind leg weakness is a common sign, which Benji does have, something that we had put down to Benji’s age but took him to see a vet anyway and our vet thought was linked to his irregular heart rhythm. If it becomes advanced a rabbit can become paralyzed or roll around uncontrollably, which I can tell you from personal experience working with adoption rabbits, is horrible to see and must be awful for the rabbit. This symptom is thought to be caused by swelling around the parasite in the spinal cord causing damage to the nervous tissue. This damage can not be repaired. There are a few other symptoms and a rabbit may show some or all of them including:
Strangely one study showed that around 52% of healthy rabbits carry the parasite but may never suffer symptoms. It’s still not really understood why some rabbits get symptoms and other don’t. A much smaller percentage, around 6% develop signs of infection and when sever clinical signs develop it is recommended that that the rabbit be put to sleep.
What can you do? Whilst there is a test for E.cuniculi it’s not really very useful as I said more than 50% of rabbits seem to have the parasite. The best advice I can find is to quarantine new rabbits from existing ones. Be sure to thoroughly disinfect when using a used hutch. These spores are pretty resistant to environmental changes so a good 1-10% bleach solution is a good idea.
If you just got a rabbit, no matter where it came from, it would be advisable to give it Lapizole (Panacure) for 28 days. You don’t need to get this from the vet, pet shops that sell licenced medication should stock it but there’s no harm in a vet check with a new pet. I know it sounds like a lot but if the rabbit does have the parasite it can kill it off before any symptoms and irreversible damage is done. Not only will I be treating Benji until February, I will also treat my four other rabbits this year. I can tell you now, some will be more trouble than others, there will be blood – Mine!
Even if your rabbit doesn’t have any of the parasite there should be no adverse effects from giving Panacure. It would also be wise to wash any greens that have been gathered to feed your rabbits that may have come into contact with wild rabbits,
I will keep you updated on my Panacure progress.
So plastic pollution is big news at the moment as it should be. As consumers we have power over what we use and buy but single use plastic is everywhere and so much of it is not recyclable.
With this is in mind we started a non-recyclable plastic collection at the beginning of the year. Using a jar or bottle you collect all your plastic waste that can not be recycled. This way you can actually see how much plastic you are consuming, the tiny plastic film on the new peeler I bought, the wrapper on the celery, that used sandwich bag!
It was only a day or so before I started to look not just at the packaging on my own food and products but the pets as well. The dogs have raw bones and frozen nuggets that come in plastic bags. The reptiles have bugs that come in plastic tubs or frozen food in plastic wraps. Even the long stem feeding hay that I get for my two sensitive tummy rabbits comes in a bag which can not be recycled. The Christmas toy I got for my dogs didn’t have a plastic label or plastic wrapping but it did have a plastic tie which attached the toy to the label. It might seem like a tiny little thing but how many tiny little bits are there?!
The moment you start paying attention to it you realise that plastic really is everywhere! I had quick whip round my main pet areas; the freezer, the pet room, the treat box etc and in every area there were several products that come in plastic packets or wraps. Some of the packaging, like the feeding hay clearly says on it that it is not recyclable but many other of the products had no information at all. It seems strange to me that there was a complete lack of information. The more you think about it the more overwhelming it becomes and I know that it can seem as though we can’t possibly make a dent in the problem alone, ‘a drop in the ocean’ as they say.
But maybe if we all make a small change, if we all ask our suppliers and manufacturers of our pet products “why is this in plastic?”, “can it be recycled?”, “maybe you should collect all the plastic waste from your products and pay to safely dispose of it!” I’m not trying to sound pretentious, I am just as much a consumer as anyone.
So I had already planed this weeks blog, which will have to be slotted in at another time.
On Monday night I saw that our house rabbit Benji had a noticeable head tilt. Not the worse that I have seen on a rabbit but it was unmistakable and he definite didn't have it earlier.
I made an emergency appointment at their first opening which was at 4:45 the next day. In the meantime Benji was still alert and eating and moving with direction and purpose, although he veared off to the left as he hopped away from me. I also had to remove the large water bowl as despite having the entire width of the hallway to circumvent the bowl he stumbled through it, leaving me worrying that he might accidentally drown himself in the night! So I gave him a breakfast bowl and covered every conceivable hard object and piece of furniture in a cushions and blankets, effectively turning the hall way into a soft play!
Upon seeing the vet, luckily the same vet who had noted his irregular heart rhythm on his visit not so long ago, was very thorough in examining him. She watched him hop around and as the night before he moved with purpose and clear direction, just a slight left incline. In extreme cases rabbits roll around with out any ability to control their movement. She looked with with a light in the dark in his eyes, which we both thought didn't quite look right; and despite some disgruntled ear flicking with his dumbo lugs she managed to look down into his ears, which were clear. The vet agreed with my suspicion that he most likely had E.cuniculi, a parasitic infection that attacks the brain and and nervous system. This infection is the most common cause of head tilt in rabbits. we can only hope that we have caught it early enough for the treatment to be effective. he has began a treatment program of panacur paste in the mouth in the mouth once a day for 28 days.
Fingers crossed, I'll keep you up to date with his progress on our facebook.
As we start the year, perhaps feeling a little heavy than we did before the festive season its important to remember our pets may follow our habits when it comes to food and exercise.
We love to treat our pets, it may be new toys every week, or a treat when you go out, when you come home, when they've been good, when they did a weewee outside; but there are a growing number of pets in the UK that are overweight and obese.
It’s important to remember that these conditions are harmful and some of the effects it has on your pet’s body are long and arduous to change and some are irreversible.
We should be aware of what our pets ideal weight should be and know whereabouts your pets current weight is (this is also important when you want to buy and use flea and worm treatment).
For some mixed breeds it can be hard to know what their ideal weight should be but if you are unsure have a chat with your vet. Many vet practices and even pet shops offer free weight checks.
If your new years resolution is exercise more and eat better then take the opportunity to see if your, dog, cat or rabbit could do with the same treatment. It’s not as simple as just feeding your pet less, though many of us will admit that we don’t measure our pets food, we simply fill the bowl! But take the time to check your pet foods recommended feeding guidelines and check if it gives different guidelines for active and low activity pets. Just remember, even if your pet seems very ‘hyper’ or has lots of energy, it’s not the same as being a high activity pet.
It may sound obvious but if your pet needs to loose a little weight, make sure you are feeding the amount for their ideal weight not their current weight.
There are a few really easy ways that you can help your pet stay active and trim a little off, whilst keeping their brains active too!
-Make sure your feeding the correct amount and remember that if you are giving any treats, including dental chews, you will need to reduce the amount of complete feed you give so you don’t exceed your pet’s total intake.
-If you don't want to cut out treat all together have a look on the pack to see how many it recommends you can give daily (You may be surprised by how few it is!).
-Consider not using or reducing the amount of treats you give, you can even use some of their regular food to give out as a reward, this makes it really easy to make sure your only giving the recommended amount each day.
-use a puzzle feeder to stimulate their brain and get them working a bit for their dinner, take a look on our facebook page for videos on how to use puzzle feeders and feeding balls.
Here is a broad and fairly simple guide to gauge if your pet is a healthy weight with out the weights, which be more suitable for you if you have a cross breed.