Image Hamsters – A rough guide to owning Hamsters

Hamsters – A rough guide to owning Hamsters

Hamsters make good pets for adults and children, and can live for up to 2 – 2½ years.

Companionship

Hamsters are solitary animals, so prefer to live on their own. If kept as a pair, they are very likely to fight, as they are very territorial.

Housing

Hamsters are very inquisitive and like to explore every part of their cage, so it is important to give them a spacious cage to allow them to use up their energy! The cage will also need to be chew-proof, as hamsters will always look for a way out! They love burrowing, so ensure there is a deep base to the cage to allow for this, and ensure the cage is suitable for hamsters, as other cages might be too small.
In the wild, hamsters can run up to 10km a night, so give your hamster a wheel for them to run in. Make sure you buy one that is solid on the back and underfoot to prevent any injuries. Provide them with lots of wooden toys to gnaw on, and lots of other play things to bite, hide in, and generally run around with! Another fun game is to hide treats around the cage for them to forage and find.
You will need to have a deep layer of wood shavings for burrowing and use one area of the cage for a toilet. Have a nest box with nesting material inside. Do not use hay or straw for hamsters as it can damage their cheek pouches. Hamsters tend to use one area of the cage for urinating, so this area will need to be cleaned frequently (perhaps daily) and the whole cage will need to be cleaned once a week. Keep the cage away from direct sunlight and draughts, and away from loud noises (e.g. TV, radio).

Handling

Hamsters can be easy to scare, and will quite often bite when scared, so you will need to earn their trust before handling them. When you approach them, crouch down and speak very softly. Let them come to you – perhaps hold a treat in your hand for them to have, and be patient. They may not come to you the first time you try this. Once they are happy for you to have your hands near them, gently scoop the hamster into your hands and slowly lift them close to your chest or on your lap.
Hamsters are very docile and with very little taming, they’ll come to you and eat from your hand.
NEVER wake your hamster up abruptly and pick it up as this could frighten them and they may react by biting you.

Grooming

It is best to brush your hamster every day, especially if they are a long-haired breed. Not only will it help to keep them clean and healthy, but will strengthen the bond between you and your hamster.

Neutering

Neutering is not routinely performed in hamsters as any anaesthetic can prove risky for them. If you do not want your hamsters to have litters, then keep males and females in separate cages.

Feeding

You should be feeding your hamster a good quality pelleted food. Ensure you choose a ‘nugget’ food, rather than muesli-style. With the muesli-style diets, they pick out the parts that they like and leave the parts that they don’t, which means that they may not get all of their required nutrients. Nugget-style pellets prevent this selective feeding, as each pellet has an equal amount of nutrients. Finally, you can also give your hamster some fresh greens, but not too many! Try to choose foods that are low in fat, such as carrot and apple. Take care if you are thinking of changing foods, and always ensure you change foods over gradually over a period of 10 days.

Common Health Problems

Dental Problems:

Hamsters’ teeth grow continuously for their entire life, so it is important to give them the correct diet to ensure their teeth do not become overgrown.  Typical symptoms of overgrown teeth (if it is difficult to inspect your hamster’s mouth) are excessive drooling and loss of appetite. Providing wooden toys and treats to gnaw on can help to wear your pet’s teeth down.

Hibernation:

Syrian hamsters can catch a cold so it is important to keep their cage away from draughts. Ensure that they are in a warm area, even in winter as if they become too cold they can enter a stage of hibernation. If your hamster is becoming inactive and feels cold to the touch when handled, then warm them up by holding them in your hands, and move their cage to a warmer area. It may also be a good idea to provide extra bedding in the winter.

Wet Tail:

Wet tail is a condition that causes severe diarrhoea in hamsters. It can be caused by illness, inappropriate foods or stress (brought on by moving house or rough handling). If your pet starts showing signs of wet tail, contact your vet immediately.

Image Rats – A rough guide to owning Rats

Rats – A rough guide to owning Rats

Rats can make very friendly pets. They’re generally very clean, highly intelligent and are ideal for older children. Domesticated rats come in a wide variety of colours.
They tend to live between 2–3½ years and a healthy adult should weigh between 225–500g depending on sex and age.

Companionship

Rats love the company of other rats, so it’s best to keep them in same-sex pairs or groups. Do not house with any other species as they may fight.

Housing

A wire cage with a plastic tray floor are the best cages for rats. Rats are extremely agile and can jump two feet or more, so a large cage is essential. Ensure you buy a cage made for rats, and not for smaller rodents such as mice or hamsters.
Provide your rats with lots of wooden toys to gnaw on, and lots of other playthings to bite, hide in, and generally run around with! Another fun game is to hide treats around the cage for them to forage and find. Rats love to climb, so provide branches to climb, or suspend rope from the roof of their cage for them to climb. They also love going through tunnels, so provide plastic or cardboard tubes for them to run through (and chew!).
You will need to have a deep layer of paper-based litter for burrowing and using one area of the cage for a toilet. Do not use wood-shavings or sawdust, as they can irritate rats’ eyes and noses. Have a nest box with nesting material inside, but do not use straw. Rats tend to use one area of the cage for urinating, so this area will need to be cleaned frequently (perhaps daily) and the whole cage will need to be cleaned once a week. Keep the cage away from direct sunlight and draughts, and away from loud noises (e.g. TV, radio).

Handling

Although rats are friendly once tamed, they can be timid to start with, so you will need to earn their trust before handling them. When you approach them, crouch down and speak very softly. Let them come to you–perhaps hold a treat in your hand for them to have and be patient. They may not come to you the first time you try this. Once they are happy for you to have your hands near them, gently scoop the rat with both hands.
NEVER wake your rat up abruptly and pick it up as this could frighten them and they may react by biting you.
NEVER pick your rat up by the tail.

Grooming

Rats are relatively clean animals so do not need to be groomed regularly.

Neutering

Neutering is not routinely performed in rats as any anaesthetic can prove risky for them. If you do not want your rats to have litters, then keep males and females in separate cages.

Feeding

You should be feeding your rat a good quality pelleted food. Ensure you choose a ‘nugget’ food, rather than a muesli-style. With the muesli-style diets, they pick out the parts they like and leave the parts they don’t, which means that they may not get all of their required nutrients. Nugget-style pellets prevent this selective feeding, as each pellet has an equal amount of nutrients. Finally, you can also give your rat some fresh greens, but not too many! Try to choose foods that are low in fat, such as carrot, apple and broccoli. They also love sunflower seeds, but these are quite high in fat so be careful not to give them too often. Take care if you are thinking of changing their diet, and always ensure you change foods over gradually, over a period of 10 days.

Common Health Problems

Tumours:

Rats are susceptible to tumours, especially mammary tumours in females. 90% of mammary tumours in rats are benign (not harmful), and they can grow quickly. Surgical removal can be performed when the mass is very small, but if left too long then surgery is no longer an option.

Respiratory Problems:

Breathing difficulties in rats are common and usually caused by poor living conditions. Always ensure you clean toilet areas every day or two, and the entire cage every week (at least).

If your pet is in any way unwell, contact your vet immediately to book an appointment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Mice – A rough guide to owning Mice

Mice – A rough guide to owning Mice

Mice can make very friendly pets, but do not attempt to keep wild mice! Domesticated mice come in a wide variety of colours. Males have a stronger smell and tend to be more aggressive towards each other, so for that reason females tend to make better pets.
They tend to live between 1 – 2½ years and a healthy adult should weigh between 20 – 60g depending on sex and age.

Companionship

Mice love the company of other mice, so it’s best to keep them in same sex pairs or groups. A breeding pair of mice can produce a litter every 3 -4 weeks, with an average of eight to ten babies per litter, and can become pregnant within 24 hours of giving birth. Therefore, we strongly advise keeping males and females in separate cages!

Housing

A wire cage with a plastic tray floor are the best cages for mice. Two mice will need a cage that is at least 60cm x 50cm in floor space, by 30cm high. They can squeeze through tiny gaps, so ensure the gaps between the bars are no wider than your little finger.
Provide your mice with lots of wooden toys to gnaw on, and lots of other play things to bite, hide in, and generally run around with! Another fun game is to hide treats around the cage for them to forage and find. Mice love to climb, so provide branches to climb, or suspend rope from the roof of their cage for them to climb. They also love going through tunnels, so provide plastic or cardboard tubes for them to run through (and chew!).
You will need to have a deep layer of wood shavings for burrowing and use one area of the cage for a toilet. Have a nest box with nesting material inside. Mice tend to use one area of the cage for urinating, so this area will need to be cleaned frequently (perhaps daily) and the whole cage will need to be cleaned once a week. Keep the cage away from direct sunlight and draughts, and away from loud noises (e.g. TV, radio).

Handling

Although mice are friendly once tamed, they can be timid to start with, and will quite often bite when scared, so you will need to earn their trust before handling them. When you approach them, crouch down and speak very softly. Let them come to you – perhaps hold a treat in your hand for them to have, and be patient. They may not come to you the first time you try this. Once they are happy for you to have your hands near them, gently hold the mouse by the base (not the tip!) of the tail gently but firmly and slowly lift the back end and gently slide your hand under the mouse’s body.
NEVER wake your mouse up abruptly and pick it up as this could frighten them and they may react by biting you.

Grooming

Mice are relatively clean animals so not need to be groomed regularly.

Neutering

Neutering is not routinely performed in mice as any anaesthetic can prove risky for them. If you do not want your mice to have litters, then keep males and females in separate cages.

Feeding

You should be feeding your mouse a good quality pelleted food. Ensure you choose a ‘nugget’ food, rather than muesli-style. With the muesli-style diets, they pick out the parts that they like and leave the parts that they don’t, which means that they may not get all of their required nutrients. Nugget-style pellets prevent this selective feeding, as each pellet has an equal amount of nutrients. Finally, you can also give your mouse some fresh greens, but not too many! Try to choose foods that are low in fat, such as carrot, apple and broccoli. They also love sunflower seeds, but these are quite high in fat so be careful not to give them too often. Take care if you are thinking of changing their diet, and always ensure you change foods over gradually, over a period of 10 days.

Common Health Problems

Tumours:

Mice are particularly susceptible to tumours, especially mammary tumours in females. 90% of mammary tumours in mice are malignant, and they can grow very quickly. Surgical removal can be performed when the mass is very small, but if left too long then surgery is no longer an option.

Respiratory Problems:

Breathing difficulties in mice are quite common and usually caused by poor living conditions. Always ensure you clean toilet areas every day or two, and the entire cage every week (at least).

If your pet is in any way unwell, contact your vet immediately to book an appointment.

Image Rabbits – Neutering

Rabbits – Neutering

There are many health and social advantages in neutering your pet, and we are happy to discuss this routine procedure with you and answer any queries you may have.

Like cats and dogs, we recommend routine neutering of rabbits.

Castrating males can help to calm them down, will eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and can prevent the rabbit from spraying everything, including you, with urine! We can castrate male rabbits from about 4 months of age.

Spaying females can help to reduce any aggressive and territorial behaviour. It also eliminates the risk of Uterine Cancer, which is extremely common in un-neutered female rabbits. We can spay female rabbits from 4-6 months of age.

Neutering male and female rabbits also makes litter training a lot easier and allows you to keep more than one rabbit together happily.

Image Rabbits – A rough guide to owning a Rabbit

Rabbits – A rough guide to owning a Rabbit

Rabbits are highly intelligent, social, sensitive and inquisitive animals. They are the third most popular pet after cats and dogs but are the most neglected with latest figures showing that 80% do not receive the correct care.
Although they are extremely cute and appealing to children, rabbits are not easy pets to look after. Contrary to popular belief they do not enjoy being handled and, having such delicate skeletons, can break bones easily. They require lots of care and time for the entirety of their lives, which could be up to 8-15 years!

Where to get rabbits

There are over 35,000 rabbits is rescue centres around this country looking for a new home. Most centres will neuter and vaccinate their rabbits before finding them a new home and often rely solely on donations and people’s generosity to fund this. Many rabbits are given up when the novelty wears off and the reality of their care sets in. These rabbits find themselves in rescue centres through no fault of their own.
If you are thinking of getting rabbits, why not visit your local re-homing centre and offer a needy rabbit a second chance in life?

Accommodation

The RSPCA and RWA (Rabbit Welfare Association) state that a pair of small to medium rabbits should have a minimum of 6ft long x 2ft deep x 2ft high hutch with an attached 6ft long by 4ft wide x 2ft high run. Of course bigger is better!

Socialisation – Rabbits need company of their own kind!imagesG84A34DC

Rabbits are highly sociable creatures and, in the wild, live in groups. A rabbit that is forced to live alone will become extremely depressed and will not be able to display its natural behaviour.
The most successful combination is a neutered male and a neutered female. New rabbits should always be introduced to each other on neutral territory (i.e. a place where neither of them has been before). Please speak to our nurses if you require more information.
Although it was common practice years ago, rabbits and guinea pigs must not be housed together. They have completely different dietary needs, and rabbits have also been known to seriously injure and even kill guinea pigs on several occasions due to their size and the strength of their back legs. Most importantly, rabbits and guinea pigs that are not given the opportunity to live with another of their own kind will never be truly happy as rabbits and guinea pigs cannot communicate with each other.

Health

St Kitts General-140
Rabbits are prey animals and, therefore, hide the fact that they are in pain very well. If you notice that your rabbit is acting differently or does not seem its normal self, it is better to get them checked by a vet. Rabbits teeth grow continuously and, if not worn down correctly, can form sharp spurs that dig into the rabbit’s cheek and tongue and cause immense pain. The grinding motion of the teeth when a rabbit eats hay is the best way to ensure their teeth wear down – another reason why hay is such an important part of their diet.
Rabbits have a very complex and delicate digestive system. They need to be able to graze all day in order to keep their guts mobile. If a rabbit stops eating for any reason, it must be seen by a vet straight away. If left untreated, the rabbit can go into stasis, where their digestive tract slows right down. This is very painful and can easily be fatal.
Unlike cats and dogs (and humans!), rabbits should not be starved before an operation. Therefore, if you bring your rabbit in for a surgical procedure, please feed them as normal and bring some of their food with them as we like to try and get them eating as soon as possible once they have woken up.
Encephalitozoon Cuniculi (EC) is a single-celled parasite that can cause complete paralysis, kidney and eye infection and death. Many rabbits have already been exposed to the parasite but may not show symptoms until later in life or when another illness or stress triggers the disease. It can remain hidden for years and can affect other animals and even humans. It is transmitted by spores in the urine and can be caught from dirty food and water bowls and unsanitary living conditions. It can also be passed from mother to babies when they are in to womb. Common symptoms of EC include excessive drinking and urination, weight loss, cataracts, head tilt, hind leg paralysis, tremors, kidney failure and, at worst, death.
The best way to treat EC is with a course of Panacur or Lapizole, administered orally once a day for 28 days. Your rabbit should be treated with one of these products if they are displaying any symptoms or at times of stress (i.e. after another illness, introducing rabbits to each other and after acquiring a new rabbit). It is also important to disinfect the rabbit’s environment and food bowls regularly.
Flystrike is a common condition in rabbits, especially in the warmer weather. Rabbits that are more at risk include those who are overweight (as they are not able to clean themselves properly), those who live in dirty conditions and those who are confined to small spaces with little room to move around. Flies will lay their eggs in warm moist areas (such as a rabbit’s dirty bottom). The eggs will then hatch and the maggots will eat their way into the rabbit’s body. If not treated early, Flystrike is fatal.

When to call the vet

Please contact us straight away if you notice any of the following:

  • If you notice any maggots on your rabbit
  • If your rabbit has not eaten or passed faeces
  • If your rabbit has any injuries or broken bones
  • If your rabbit has any scabs on their eyes and/or nose and swollen genitals – can be a sign of Myxomatosis.
  • If your rabbit is breathing through its mouth – this is a sign of severe respiratory distress.
  • If your rabbit is tilting its head to the side – can be a sign of EC.
  • If your rabbit is sitting in a hunched position – this is a sign of abdominal pain.
Image Rabbits – Vaccinations

Rabbits – Vaccinations

Your rabbits need protecting against two common diseases.

Myxomatosis is caused by a virus spread by blood sucking insects such as mosquitoes and the rabbit flea, which can affect both outdoor and house rabbits. Sadly, this can be fatal, so it is essential to provide all year round protection, as the virus can remain alive in the blood of hibernating fleas over the winter.

Viral haemorraghic disease.

VHD is spread via direct contact with infected rabbits and on our clothing, shoes and objects. This disease can be rapidly fatal in those pets that are not vaccinated. A rabbit will often show no signs of VHD

Two vaccinations are required and can be started from 5 weeks old. Our combination vaccination is given yearly and will help prevent your rabbits from contracting myxomatosis and VHD. The second vaccination is required for another variant strain of VHD called VHD2, annually or 6 months if considered to be in a high-risk area. The vaccines need to be administered at least 2 weeks apart.

Image Rabbits – Diet

Rabbits – Diet

Rabbits require a diet that is extremely high in fibre and should be at least 85-90% good quality hay and/or grass. They should have constant access to fresh water.

Traditional muesli mixes are very high in sugar, low in fibre and encourage selective feeding (the rabbit will pick out their favourite bits and leave the rest). This means that your rabbit will miss out on some essential nutrients.
The best dried food for rabbits comes in pellet form, such as Burgess Excel. Each pellet is nutritionally balanced to ensure your rabbit gets all the nutrients it needs in each bite. It is important not to feed too many pellets or your rabbits will not eat their hay. As a guide, a small to medium rabbit only needs an egg-cup full of dried food per day. Always check the packaging to ensure you are feeding the correct amount.
A small amount of fresh vegetables, such as spring greens, broccoli, basil, parsley, mint, cabbage and cauliflower leaves can be fed daily. Fruit and sweet vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips and apples should be fed in moderation (no more than once a week) as they are very high in sugar.

 

Image Dogs – Neutering

Dogs – Neutering

There are many health and social advantages in neutering your pet, and we are happy to discuss this routine procedure with you and answer any queries you may have.

 Dogs

Males can be neutered, also known as ‘castrated’, from 6 months of age. This is equally as important as spaying females, as it prevents testicular cancer. Neutering will also lower the levels of testosterone and help to prevent undesirable sexual behaviours. It will stop him from pestering females and possibly causing more unwanted litters! Neutering can also help to reduce urine marking and some forms of aggression which are influenced by the male hormones.

Bitches

Females can be spayed from 6 months of age. Neutering is important as it prevents uterine disease, reduces the risk of mammary cancer and prevents unwanted litters. It is a common concern that bitches need to have a litter of puppies or a season before they are spayed. However, neither of these provide any health benefits at all and will only add to the problem of rescue centres being overrun with unwanted puppies.

Please see our pre-operative and post-operative instructions for more information on what to expect when your pet comes in for neutering.

Image Puppies – A rough guide to owning a puppy

Puppies – A rough guide to owning a puppy

This information has been designed to give you a rough guide of what’s required when owning a puppy.
Unless you are concerned about your new puppy, we would recommend letting him/her settle in their new home for at least 5–7 days before bringing them in for their primary vaccinations and or health check. This gives them time to adjust to their new surroundings and lifestyle before subjecting them to another new and slightly daunting experience of coming to the veterinary surgery.

Settling inT496824

Getting your puppy into a routine is vital and start as you mean to go on. For example, it may be advisable to crate your puppy at night downstairs, this should be started and stuck to. Having them upstairs on the bed with you for the first few weeks can get the puppy in an unwanted routine! Unfortunately, your puppy may whine at night and it can make you feel responsible but remember they have just been taken from a safe and calming environment, they have left their litter mates and most importantly their mother. Try giving them a teddy or a warm hot-water bottle (wrapped in a towel) for comfort. You can also use an ‘Adaptil’ collar to help when first settling your puppy in. This collar releases a copy of the calming pheromones released by a lactating bitch. It can be very useful when socialising your puppy and introducing them to new things, as well as helping them settle at night. Ask a member of staff for more details.

Vaccinations

A puppy’s primary vaccination course is followed by a yearly booster, this will help protect them against the infectious diseases of:

  • Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Hepatitis
  • Leptospirios

The primary course consists of two vaccinations given 4 weeks apart. We can give an optional third vaccination at 16 weeks old. Please speak to your vet regarding vaccine protocols.

A yearly kennel cough intranasal vaccine is advisable for those that have close contact with other dogs such as in kennels, exercise areas, training classes and dog shows.

If you are considering travelling abroad with your pet, then a rabies vaccination is part of the criteria to obtain a pet’s passport.

Click here to visit our vaccination page

Insurance

We strongly recommend insuring your puppy, the earlier you take out a policy the better. To give you a chance to choose the right policy we offer 4 weeks free insurance through Petplan.
Click here to visit our Insurance page

Worms and fleas

Treating your puppy for worms and fleas is essential. Sometimes they have been treated by the breeder before you collect them, but you should always check this and, if possible, have evidence of this in their paperwork given to you. Recommendations for treating for worms in your new puppy is generally every two weeks until they are twelve weeks of age, every month until six months of age and then every 1-3 months throughout the rest of their life. Treating for fleas should be done routinely throughout the rest of their life. Depending on your choice of product that can vary between 4 weeks up to 6 months.

Click here for more information on fleas

Nutrition

Puppies should be fed little and often so their small stomachs don’t become overloaded. As a guide it is advised to feed 4 meals daily up to 4 months of age, 3 meals daily up to 6 months, 2 meals daily from 6 months old. Always make sure that any change in diet is made gradually over a period of 1-2 weeks.
Monitoring their growth is vital; if your puppy grows and puts on too much weight too quickly it puts stress on their immature bone structure causing problems for them.
It can be very confusing and a little bewildering to make a choice. Essentially premium diets contain better quality ingredients and tend to be better for your puppy as a rule. They usually require a smaller portion size compared to the cheaper alternatives due to the higher quality ingredients being used. In actual fact, the cost doesn’t differ too much at all.
Wet food can spoil quickly and attracts flies particularly in the warmer months, whereas dry food is more hygienic and can be purchased in bulk and stored easily. Many dry foods are specially formulated for age, breed and size of your dog. The kibble size and shape are tailored to individual needs.
It shouldn’t be necessary to supplement your puppy’s diet at all when feeding with a complete diet. Neither is it essential to give milk, your puppy will receive enough calcium in their food.
Giving treats as incentives are good for training purposes but should never be more than 15% of their dietary intake. Chews are good for puppies, especially during teething and for oral hygiene purposes. Some dental chews can be high in fat so be aware of this.

Puppy Training Classes

Many behavioural problems seen in older dogs could have been prevented if the dog had been given the opportunity to learn social skills, manners and communication by the age of 16 weeks.
Taking your puppy to training classes will allow them to meet other puppies and people of all shapes, ages and sizes in a fun and rewarding environment (for both you and your puppy!) Training with your puppy will also help you build an incredibly strong relationship with them.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Microchipping

Microchipping is the best way to identify your dog. It is a legal requirment to have your dog microchipped from 8 weeks of age. A tiny microchip is injected under the skin between the shoulder blades. This chip has a unique number which shows up when scanned. The number is registered along with your details on a national database. If your dog goes wandering and is taken to a vet or a rescue centre, they will be scanned and can then retrieve your contact details.
Microchipping can be done at the same time as vaccinations or neutering.

Please click here for more information about microchipping.

Image Dog Vaccinations

Dog Vaccinations

A puppy’s primary vaccination course is followed by a yearly booster; this will help to protect them against the infectious diseases of:

Distemper

Parvovirus

Hepatitis

Leptospirosis.

The primary course consists of two vaccinations given 4 weeks apart. We can give an optional third vaccination at 16 weeks old. Please speak to your vet regarding vaccine protocols.

A yearly kennel cough intranasal vaccine is advisable for those that have close contact with other dogs such as in kennels, exercise areas, training classes and dog shows.

If you are considering travelling abroad with your pet, then a rabies vaccination is part of the criteria to obtain a pets passport.