Having previously held a waiting list for new clients, we are pleased to now be able to open this up. If you were on the waiting list a member of the team will be in touch shortly. If you would like to register your pets with us please contact us by phone or email and we will be happy to register you. Thank you.
RHD or VHD, rabbit or viral haemorrhagic disease
There are two strains of this disease; RHD2/VHD2 is a newer strain that all rabbit owners may not yet be aware of. I hope the following answers any questions you may have.
Q: Is it contagious?
A: Yes! Very.
Q: What signs should I look for?
A: There are few signs and, most likely you will find your rabbit has died without any previous signs of illness. Very rarely your rabbit can go off its food, be lethargic, feverish and have seizures.
Q: How is the virus spread?
A: Contact-with infected rabbits, if that rabbit has touched anything, you, hay bales, anything in its environment, then that person or thing can spread the virus.
Q: I think my rabbit has had this virus and died, can I get a new rabbit now?
A: Not until the environment has been completely decontaminated.
Q: How do I prevent myself spreading the virus if I think/ know my rabbit has died from it?
A: Try not to take other rabbits in and out of your premises. Wear separate clothing, including shoes when dealing with rabbits. Spray the bottom of your shoes with a disinfectant that kills viruses.
Q: My rabbit has died from this disease, should I wait before getting a new rabbit?
A: If possible wait four months before introducing a new rabbit to the affected, decontaminated environment.
Q: My rabbit has died from this disease, should I vaccinate my remaining rabbits.
A: Yes, although this may not prevent their deaths if they are already infected.
Q: What can I use to disinfect the environment?
A: I am not personally recommending any particular disinfectant and always follow manufacturers guidelines. In this situation one would opt for a disinfectant that is viricidal, i.e. kills viruses, perhaps Virkon (Vetoquinol) or F10.
Q: My rabbit has been vaccinated, is he/she now safe?
A: Rabbits have routinely been vaccinated against myxomatosis and RHD1/VHD1 for a while, this does not protect them against RHD2. The vaccine against RHD2/VHD2 is a SEPARATE vaccine. Ask your vet if your rabbit has been vaccinated.
Q: Can the myxomatosis, RHD1 and RHD2 vaccine be given at the same time?
A: No, the myxomatosis and RHD1 are given together, but the RHD2 vaccine must be at least 2 weeks after this.
Q: How often should I vaccinate my rabbit against this new disease?
A: The timing varies depending on the area, vaccine used and if you deal with a lot of rabbits (e.g. a rescue centre of breeder) or just have one rabbit, so speak to your vet to find out what is best for your situation.
We hope this information helps if you have a rabbit or have lost a rabbit recently. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further queries.
In the beautiful summer weather, it is lovely to be outside a bit more and to see our pets enjoying themselves outdoors as well. For this newsletter our animal behaviour consultant Susan Gammage has kindly provided some tips for a happy dog walk:
Points for a happy dog walk
Take some tasty treats with you on your walk, providing a surprise treat every now and then will help ensure your dog comes back to you.
If you know your dog is worried by traffic, other dogs or has a very poor recall you can hire a field that you can have the private use of, details available at www.dogwalkingfields.co.uk
Have your dog wearing a well-fitted harness takes any pressure off a dog's neck and ensures they have free movement of their shoulders. Priory clinics stock a range of Haquihana harnesses which ensure pressure is properly distributed on the dog's sternum and thorax only, even if they pull. Hillside would of course be happy to bring these to any consult, if you let us know in advance that you would be interested in looking at them for your dogs.
Sometimes let your dog choose where the walk goes, it can be interesting for you to see where your dog chooses to walk and interesting for your dog to choose the route of your walks.
For puppies, it is suggested that they are walked for five minutes of exercise per month of age twice a day. We need to consider when we first start walking our puppies there will be many sights, smells and events that they will have never met before. Initially, we would be looking to habituate our puppies to all these sights, smells and events. Taking walks slowly, at the puppy's pace and ensuring they are comfortable, both physically and emotionally, throughout the whole walk is very important.
Here are also a few websites which we would recommend a look at: The Blue Dog
For those of you with young children or anyone who teaches children, this is a great project which aims to promote safe relationships between children and dogs. They provide education resources for schools and have also produced an app with games showing children how to live safely with dogs. More details can be found at http://www.thebluedog.org and https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/the-blue-dog/id1290238272?mt=8
Yellow Dog UK
Dog walking etiquette can be challenging at times. Generally, if a dog is on the lead, it is advisable to give the dog distance and keep your dog and other people out of their way, until you have checked whether they are happy to be approached. However, there are many reasons why dogs are kept on leads and so to help make things clearer Yellow Dog UK was started.
The aim is that if a dog definitely needs space they will have a yellow ribbon on their lead, or a yellow bandana. If you see this, then do not allow your dog to approach and keep people away too. The dog may be scared of animals or people, undergoing training, have an injury or any other reason for needing some space.
If there is no ribbon, then still be cautious with dogs on a lead, but the yellow gives a highlight to dogs which need special care.
More information on the scheme and an online shop for yellow doggy products can be found at https://www.yellowdoguk.co.uk/
Friends or Foes?
Not to forget cat, Cats Protection produces well-made YouTube videos which provide helpful advice. One we especially like is called ‘Friends or Foes’ and describes signs to look for when deciding if cats living in the same household are getting on or not. Cats can have very subtle signs of stress and distress, so it is important to watch for the clues they give out.
If you have recently added a new addition to your household or are just wondering how friendly two or your cats are, this video is worth a watch. The video can be found at https://youtu.be/bPqreEUV5vM
Getting a new pet
That’s fantastic, but, stop a second, how much thought have you put into it?
Did you think this through?
Here’s a handy 5-point checklist so you can choose the right pet for you
1. Research. Ask friends. Spend time with the type of pet you’ve chosen. Read websites. Talk to your vet, they have many useful tips, for example did you know, a guinea pig fed only rabbit food can get vitamin C deficiency and become lame or that a cat fed only dog food can get taurine deficiency and become blind.
2. Make a list of what you want, then decide on the right pet for you. Do you want an animal that lives for 7 years or 20 years? Consider the pets new environment- a flat, house, garden, children.
3. Budget. How much does it cost to feed every month, vet visits, parasite treatment? Check if your local vet has a monthly payment plan that covers microchipping, vaccinations, parasite control, vet checks; this allows you to easily budget and often to get discounts.
4. Purebred, crossbreed or rescue pet. Looks aren’t everything. A dog with crossed eyes and a continuously open mouth with its tongue hanging out, is not necessarily smiling, it may be struggling to breathe.
5. Time to walk for miles, time to play, time to clean out a cage every day. Look at your time budget.
Mother and puppy, happy, healthy and clean.
When you collected your new pet, did you see both parents, were the surroundings clean? If you don’t see at least the mother, alarm bells should be ringing.
Have you got health, insurance, and vaccination certificates? Do you know the right questions to ask?
Do you know the appropriate certificates your chosen breed should have? Don’t rely on the breeder to tell you, do your research. If you refuse to take animals without these, if forces breeders to take better care of their animals and breed healthier animals.
For example, for a Japanese Shiba Inu, the parents should have a certificate from the BVA (British Veterinary Association) to say both parents are free from glaucoma, and a Labrador Retriever should have certificates related to elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia and eye conditions such as retinal disease and cataracts.
For dogs, cats and rabbits above a certain age, they should have up to date vaccination certificates.
Many good breeders sell their animals with 4 weeks insurance. That way you are covered if your pet gets ill and you can continue the insurance policy and relax knowing your pet is covered for vet bills.
Let’s look at some scenarios where the new pet checklist was not followed.
1. A fluffy, cute spaniel puppy whose parents are working spaniels. No one wants to walk it, train it, or go to agility. The result, a barking unhappy dog and very angry neighbours.
2. Grandma is lonely and just had her hip replaced, so the kids got her a Labrador puppy- because she used to have one years ago. She can’t walk or afford it. It becomes bored and destructive.
3. Indoor rabbit, no time to spend with it or housetrain it. The bored rabbit bites through the electric wires along the floor. A very expensive rewiring job and an unwanted rabbit.
4. You get a big dog from a friend out of the back of a van; mum has her hands full with the kids, no time to train it or clean up after it. You’ve just enabled a puppy farm, acquired a dangerous aggressive puppy that will grow into a dangerous giant dog, with parvo virus, that develops bloody diarrhoea, vomiting and a big vets bill.
But let’s say you did your research
1. You’ve never had a pet before, you work long hours and have two kids in primary school, a limited budget and they both want a pet. You look at your budget, read up about pets and feeding with your kids and after buying the cage and food, get them a guinea pig each. Result, two happy children, happy guinea-pigs and each child looks after their own pet.
2. You’re a student in a flat, you want an intelligent pet that you don’t have to walk, and you have space for a large cage. After research, looking at your budget and spending time with friend’s pets, a pair of rats are your perfect choice, they have personalities and provide companionship. It’s a win.
3. No walking or time for training, budget allows for insurance and pet food, kids are used to animals, no other pets currently in the home, this family chose an older rescue cat. It gardens with mum, watches tv with the family and takes turns on everyone’s bed.
4. Older couple with a roomy house and garden that go on walking holidays. They have the budget for insurance. They chose a snappy, ill rescue spaniel. But they were able to afford its medicine, and time to make it healthy, happy and one of the friendliest dogs you will ever meet. Lucky dog, in a different home, well, you can imagine that outcome.
Good luck, I hope these tips helped. Hillside look forward to meeting you and your new pet
Advice for winter pet care
Winter brings special challenges for pet care, with short days and cold, wet weather. Here are some ideas to help keep you pets safe and warm over these next few months:
- Ensure your cat has no access to antifreeze. Ethylene glycol, also known as antifreeze is used in screen wash, de-icers, car radiators and in garden water features to prevent them freezing. Animals, especially cats like the taste but the chemical is very toxic and drinking it can be fatal. When using antifreeze, please make sure none is accessible after use.
- Animals, including cats will find warm places to shelter on cold days so it can be worth tapping the bonnet of your car before starting the engine to disturb any sleeping temporary residents!
- After walks rinse off your dog's feet to remove mud, salt and grit or snow. Especially with long haired dogs, these can get lodged between their toes and become painful. Trimming the fur between digits can help prevent some of this problem as well.
- Just as with ourselves, some dogs will need extra protection in the cold weather so especially if your dog if short-haired, do make sure they have a well-fitted dog coat when going out to keep them comfortable on walks. Having a high visibility coat and/or a light on your dog’s collar is also an excellent idea for walks in the dark so they can always be seen.
- If your dog has arthritis they may benefit from extra warmth at night as well, either with extra bedding or using dog pyjamas to help them feel more comfortable on cold nights.
- Dogs still need exercise daily throughout the year but there may be some days that their exercise becomes restricted due to the weather so consider reducing their food to prevent weight gain if needed. It is tempting to give extra treats to compensate for reduced walks but much better to use new toys instead to encourage more play indoors.
- Dogs often still like to swim even in colder months but take care around frozen lakes and rivers as the ice can be treacherous. Keep dogs on leads if you think they might try to jump in where it is not safe.
- Temperatures can drop very quickly in cars during the winter so always take your dog with you rather than leaving them in the car for any length of time.
- Check cats’ paws as well, especially long haired cats as snow, ice and sometimes mud can form balls between the digits which will become painful if left. For some cats cutting this fur back level with the pads can be helpful but this is usually not needed.
- Provide a litter tray even if your cat normally never uses one, as going outside in snow and ice may be too much for some cats. Offering a litter tray at least gives them a choice in very inclement weather.
- Many cats decide the warm indoors is a better place to be over winter so exercise less outside. Try to encourage more exercise by providing extra toys and spending time playing with your cat indoors to balance this. Also consider reducing the amount of food offered, if needed to prevent weight gain.
- Make sure outdoor rabbit's hutches are topped up with extra bedding in cold weather and when cleaning out their hutch, that you do this in the morning to give them plenty of time to create a nest before going to bed.
- Move hutches out of wind and direct rain and/or provide a cover to give protection from the worst of the weather and ensure their bedding remains dry.
- Rabbits still need daily exercise through the winter so make sure you have an area they can stretch their legs even if they cannot get onto lawn each day and just as with dogs and cats, provide new toys for them to play with to give extra stimulation and play.
-Outdoor rabbits may need extra food during the winter to help them maintain their weight as although they may exercise less, they will be using energy to help keep themselves warm.
What will your dog be doing this bonfire season?
Repeatedly scratching and whining at the door, running from room to room crying, shivering, or even worse, running away?
It’s a fact, not all pets like loud noises and the the repeated bangs during firework season can be very frightening to your pet.
But, good news; you don’t have to helplessly stand by whilst they suffer.
Know the signs of fear, stress or anxiety
• attention seeking
• escape behaviour
• loss of house training
Things you can do at home
What not to do
What your vet can do to help
If you think your cat or dog really will not cope your veterinary surgery can prescribe a sedative for short term use. These drugs can calm and relax your pet.
Be aware that not all sedatives are suitable for all breeds and all ages of dogs and some sedatives can actually make your cat/dog more excited so try them in advance.
Vets usually recommend more natural sedatives for your dog/cat, such as pheromones (e.g.Adaptil, Feliway) which can be in the form of plug in diffusers, collars or pump sprays. These need to be started before the actual day of the fireworks.
Or Nutracalm capsules containing a powder which can be added to the food
Call 01737390065 or email Hillside Mobile Vets at email@example.com if you have any queries. Have a safe and happy firework season
Due to popular demand we have decided to focus our spring newsletter on Rabbits. We hope you enjoy and find the information both useful and interesting. Please do let us know if there are any subjects you would like us to cover in future newsletters.
Rabbits are now the third most common pet in the UK. They are a social species and should ideally be kept in pairs. Rabbits are active and inquisitive animals and their living accommodation should reflect this. They can be kept in hutches, indoors, in large garden runs or using a combination of these spaces. Whichever you choose, as a minimum, their accommodation needs to provide them enough room to be able to stretch out, stand on their hind legs without their ears touching the roof, turn around and hop 3-4 hops, but preferably much more space would be provided.
Rabbits need to feel secure from predators and be able to shelter from rain and wind, whilst still having space to explore, play, forage and display their natural behaviours. They are most active in mornings and evenings and enjoy playing with toys during these times as well as foraging for food. Toys can include cardboard boxes which double as shelters, wicker balls stuffed with hay, and tunnels.
Rabbits are intelligent and can be trained to use a litter tray which can be especially useful if housed indoors. However they will still need to be protected from chewing wires and other dangerous items as their inquisitive nature can overcome them at times!
Disease prevention is very important for all of our pets and with rabbits three main areas can be concentrated on. These are diet, infectious disease and fly strike.
Correct diet in rabbits is vital to prevent problems such as gut stasis, obesity, loose stools, fly strike and dental disease. Rabbits are herbivores and should be fed a diet consisting of 80% hay and grass, supplemented with 15% fresh leafy greens and 5% pelleted diet.
Getting this diet right ensures the rabbit eats enough fibre daily to wear down their teeth. As rabbit teeth grow constantly throughout their lives, and without enough fibre to chew, tooth overgrowth can lead to pain and lifelong problems. The fibre in their diet is also vital to produce ceacotrophs which are an initial type of faeces the rabbit needs to eat in order to gain full nutrition from their diet. If there is not enough fibre in their diet they will not eat their ceacotrophs. Another reason to feed a correct balance is that if rabbits become overweight, they cannot reach their bottoms to eat these ceacotrophs.
The other important part of disease prevention for pet rabbits is to ensure they have an annual health check with your vet and that they are vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD and RHDV2).
Myxomatosis is an viral disease which has been present in the wild rabbit population in the UK for approximately the last 50 years. The disease is spread by biting insects carrying the Myxoma virus eg rabbit flea, Chyletellia fur mites and mosquitos. Direct rabbit to rabbit transmission can also occur. The clinical signs include pronouced swelling of the eyes and face, lethargy, loss of appetite, depression and in nearly all cases the rabbit dies within 4-10 days. This disease can be seen at any time of year but is most common in the spring and autumn months. There is no cure but there is a vaccination which provides protection. The virus is able to change year by year making annual vaccination of your pet rabbit especially important.
Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD) is another fatal disease that only affects rabbits. It only entered the country during the early 1990’s but has since spread across the country. RHD is highly infectious and causes sudden death. The calicivirus affects the liver and causes blood clotting problems so bleeding is seen. Death can occur within hours of the onset of illness. The virus kills has 90% of infected rabbits. There is no cure for this infection but you can protect your rabbits with annual vaccination. In 2010 a varient of RHD was identified which has been named RHDV2. This is less lethal with 5-70% of rabbits dying if infected but many surviving rabbits are left with liver damage. RHD usually would not infect very young rabbits, but RHDV2 will and there is no cross protection between the two variants. This means vaccination for one varient does not protect a rabbit from the other. The virus is spread by many different routes making prevention of spread very difficult. There is a dual vaccine for Myxomatosis and RHD which offers protection agaist RHD but not RHDV2. A vaccine against RHDV2 is also available and can be given 2 weeks apart from the other vaccine. RHDV2 has only been identified in the UK since 2015 and the vaccine is also new so is imported under special licence from Europe into the UK for vaccination of our rabbits.
One last area of preventative care for rabbits involves daily checking of your pet. Rabbits should always have clean dry fur and if they develop sticky wet feaces, an injury or any other lesion which creates matted fur they become more suspetible to fly strike. In warm, humid conditions flies will lay eggs on the soiled fur (particularly around the bottom), these can hatch into maggots within hours. The maggots cause skin damage and tissue trauma and can kill your rabbit. Checking your rabbit once daily, as a routine and twice in the summer will allow cleaning of any dirty areas before problems arise. If your rabbit frequently has a mucky bottom then booking a check-up with your vet would be recommended to establish the cause and work out a solution. Preventative insecticides are available through the practice for situations where there is an increased risk of fly strike. Fly strike is an emergency. If you suspect your rabbit is affected please phone us immediately to arrange an urgent appointment
Rabbits are a very special species which with correct understanding of their needs make fabulous pets. Please do not hesitate to contact us at Hillside Mobile Vets for further advise about your rabbit if you have any concerns, or would like to book an annual health check and vaccination.
Fly strike in rabbits
Fly strike in rabbits
Referred to as fly strike or myiasis, this is when flies lay their eggs on your rabbit and these hatch into maggots which eat your rabbits flesh.
Sounds horrible? It is and it’s serious.
If you see maggots on your rabbit take it to your veterinary surgeon.
In mild cases the vet will need to clip and clean the affected area, remove the maggots and give your rabbit antibiotics.
In more severe cases, your rabbit may need surgery.
Severely affected cases can be fatal.
Can you prevent this? Hopefully yes.
Check your rabbit frequently. Make sure your rabbit is cleaning itself. Check its rear end is clean . Use fly screens on the hutch and runs. Get an insect repellent from your veterinary surgery to apply to your rabbit.
Special points of interest:
Check your rabbit twice a day
Fly prevention is better than cure
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your continued support of Hillside Mobile Vets during our transition to ownership by Priory Vets last year. Georgie, Melanie and Laura were really pleased to meet so many of you and your pets over the last few months. Sadly Melanie has left the team but some of you may have already met her replacement, Nicola Brooks-Williamson who has already started working with the team.
Services offered by Hillside Mobile Vets continue to include vaccine, routine health checks, prescription checks, flea and worm treatments, nail clips, blood sampling and blood pressure monitoring. In addition to these services we are able to offer some more specialist services. Georgie is an acupuncturist so if you have any concerns about the mobility of your dog, cat or rabbit it may be worth calling us to talk about the options. Georgie trained as a veterinary acupunturist in 2007 and has been using acupuncture as part of her treatment plans ever since. She is a member of the Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists.
Nicola is an ophthalmology certificate holder so any eye problems with your pets will be superbly managed by Nicola.
This is the first of what will be a regular newsletter from us, where we aim to give you updates on subjects relevant to your pets. Please let us know if there are any subjects you would like covered in the future.
How many times have you heard someone say, "he's old," or "I'll just wait until they're dead." Shocking if they were talking about elderly relatives, less shocking if they're describing your pet? As a vet, to me it is a shame that people say this all too often about their pets. Why? Because medicine and anaesthetics have moved on. There is always a risk with an anaesthetic, but nowadays they are safer and shorter. Take Gravy, he is nearly 15. He has had a pacemaker put in and leads a happy, active life. Before he was lethargic whilst out on his walks and taking lots of breaks, but he wasn't just old. Now he runs across the fields.
Or look at Sam, he had his 14th birthday in November, his arthritis does not bother him on his personalized treatment plan. For him a combination of weight control, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), supplements and a specialized diet work best, but every dog or cat or even rabbit should be individually assessed.
Using Acupuncture To Treat Arthritis
Although sadly there is no cure for arthritis, there are several treatment options available to support our pets, enabling them to continue to enjoy an excellent quality of life for as long as possible. These include exercise plans, joint supplements, non-steroidal ant-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioid pain relief, acupuncture and laser therapy. Every pet is an individual, experiencing arthritis differently, so will need a medical review by your vet once arthritis is suspected. This will allow a personalised plan to be set up between you and your vet detailing the best treatment for your pet at that point in time. This should then be reassessed regularly to ensure that the plan remains appropriate and to discuss if alternative or additional support would be benefitcial. Many of the treatment options can be used together and the support they offer can build on the pain relief offered by other treatmens, making packages of support greatly beneficial especially to patients with moderate to severe arthritis.
Acupuncture is a treatment which has evolved from the ancient art of placing very fine needles into specific locations on the body called acupuncture points,to alleviate pain, treat and prevent disease. It has been practiced by the Chinese and other Eastern cultures for thousands of years and may be used to treat a wide variety of illness including arthritis.
When considered from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view, acupuncture works by addressing imbalances in Yin and Yang, improving flow of Qi ('energy') and blood. This all aims to restore equilibrium between physical, emotional and spiritual factors enabling restoration and maintenance of heath. This is a very holistic method of practicing medicine. The Western approach to acupuncture has been to research the effects of acupuncture scientifically. It is now recognised that the the patient's own opioid responses are activated by acupuncture, providing natural pain relief. In addition there are normalising effects on parts of the patient's nervous system which explain the systemic effects seen from acupuncture treatment. This research supports acupuncture to be used in a holistic manner as shown in TCM. Treatment plans for arthritic pets would always consider the patient in a holistic way so acupuncture fits in well with these plans.
For patients with arthritis, acupuncture can offer pain relief and improved mobility either as a sole treatment, or in conjunction with conventional medicine such as NSAIDS and/or opioid pain relief.
Acupuncture is extremely safe when practiced correctly and is well accepted by the majority of animals. Most animals, even cats and rabbits, will readily accept acupuncture treatment. The needles used are inserted into points on the animal that are not painful. The needles are usually left in place for up to 10 minutes, although this will vary depending on the case.
Every animal is different and will respond differently to acupuncture. On average five weekly treatments are required initially then additional 'top-up' treatments may be needed to maintain the therapeutic effects long-term with chronic conditions such as arthritis. Every pet will have a treatment plan tailored to their individual needs.
If you are interested in arranging a geriatric or arthritis assessment for your pet, please contact the clinic as both Nicola and Georgie would be very happy to visit for this. If you would like any more information about acupuncture and whether this would be suitable for your pet, either for arthritis or for another condition, please contact the clinic so we can arrange for Georgie to visit to discuss this further.