Brachycephalic dogs

Homemade dog biscuits

We have another dose of our monthly recipes! This one is a real treat for our canine buddies.

Beef flavoured biscuits

You can use half a beef stock cube but if you have left over stock from dinner, then use a little of that instead for even more flavour!

You will need

  • 300g Plain wholemeal flour (substitute for oats if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg(s) (free range)
  • 1/2 a low sodium beef stock cube
  • 150ml Water (hot)

Method

Preheat oven to 170C (150 °C for Fan Assisted Oven)

Dissolve the stock cube of your choice in hot water.

Add remaining ingredients

Knead dough until it forms a ball (approximately 3 minutes)

Roll dough until ½ cm thick.

Cut into slices or bone shapes (you can purchase a bone shaped cookie cutter to make shapes with)

Place dough pieces on baking paper

Bake for 20 -25 minutes (or until golden brown)

Rabbit microchipping

9 things you didn’t know about fleas

  1. Fleas don’t fly. Fleas are wingless (and therefore flightless) insects. Fleas are also very thin and can navigate through cat’s hair with ease.
  2. Fleas can jump 6 inches straight up. Although small in stature, adult fleas are still capable of jumping approximately 6 inches vertically. Whether your cat is walking outside, hanging out in your home, or visiting the kennel or groomer, all the flea has to do is jump on for a ride as the cat passes by. Cats can also be infested by exposure to other pets, stray animals, pet sitters and wildlife as the flea leaps from one to another.
  3. Fleas lay lots of eggs. It only takes one flea to cause an infestation. That’s because a single female adult flea can lay up to 50 eggs in one day.
  4. Fleas can drink 15 times their body weight in blood each day. Adult fleas are voracious blood-feeders, meaning they use the infested cat’s blood as their food source. This can cause the cat to become anaemic (low red blood cell volume). Since red blood cells carry oxygen around the body, blood loss means decreased oxygen to their muscles and major organs such as the brain and heart. For these reasons, anaemia may result in weakness and even death in extreme circumstances.
  5. Fleas can cause itching. Fleas affect cats in several ways, and every cat is different. Often the first symptom to be recognized by cat owners is excessive itching, biting, or scratching. Fleas jumping and moving around on the cat’s hair and skin cause irritation. As a result, you may see patches of hair loss or redness from scratching, which may become more evident as more hair is lost
  6. A single flea can cause flea allergy dermatitis. In some cats, it only takes one flea to cause a severe allergy known as flea allergy dermatitis, which can result in severe itching and scratching, hair loss, and redness
  7. Fleas can spread disease and parasites. Fleas can transmit bacterial diseases such as rickettsia, mycoplasma, tularaemia, and bartonella. They can also transmit parasites when feeding from cats or if swallowed, including intestinal parasites like tapeworms.
  8. Check your cat’s belly for fleas. Live, adult fleas are visible. Typically, they are best seen on less-haired areas of a cat’s body, such as their stomach, where you may see the brown/black fleas jumping quickly through your cat’s hair. Additionally, “flea dirt” may be detected when closely examining your cat’s coat. It’s essentially a flea’s faecal matter after digesting their blood meal. It appears as brown pepper-like specs in the fur.
  9. Flea eggs can land anywhere and everywhere. Here’s one last unsettling fact about fleas. Once a female flea lays her eggs, they almost immediately fall off onto carpeting, furniture, beneath cushions, or between cracks in wood flooring, as well as wherever your cat sleeps or rests. Therefore, a comprehensive flea-control plan is essential and needs to include treating both your cat and their environment to eliminate current infestations and prevent subsequent re-infestation.

Pet emergency care

Vet holding a syringe.

Diabetes

Diabetes is estimated to affect 1 in 150 cats, and 1 in 200 dogs in the UK, although it may be under-diagnosed. In both species it’s said to be on the increase.

Diabetes is exceedingly rare in Guinea pigs and rabbits. Obesity is thought to be the major cause of these isolated cases so keeping your small pet a healthy weight is ideal. A high proportion of Chinese hamsters are born with a genetic predisposition to develop diabetes.

We will concentrate on dogs and cats within this whistle-stop tour of diabetes. Although there is no cure, treatments for cats and dogs do exist.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is caused by a lack of the hormone insulin, or a lack of response to it. Insulin is produced by the pancreas and released into the blood after food. It allows glucose released into the bloodstream to be taken up by cells in the body and used for energy as well as keeping blood glucose levels steady. Lack of insulin, or lack of response to it, means cells will not be able to use glucose efficiently for energy and blood glucose levels increase (hyperglycaemia). There are two main types of diabetes, and dogs and cats suffer it quite differently.

  • Type-1 diabetesis the most common type seen in dogs and is due to failure to produce enough insulin. This is often because of irreversible damage to pancreatic cells by the immune system, but can be due to long-term inflammation of the pancreas, or end stage type 2 diabetes. It’s commonly called ‘insulin dependent’ as pets require insulin injections for successful treatment.
  • Type-2 diabetes, most common in cats, occurs due to a combination of reduced insulin production, and insulin resistance (where cells do not respond normally to insulin). Over time the pancreatic cells become exhausted or destroyed which ends in type-1 type diabetes, often the stage of diagnosis. There is a link between chronic pancreatitis and diabetes in cats.

Pets can suffer insulin resistance due to the effect of hormones, such as excess production of cortisol in Cushing’s disease in dogs, excess growth hormone production in cats, or progesterone in un-neutered female dogs. Unspayed females are twice as likely to become diabetic. Certain medication such as glucocorticoids can also cause resistance. In cats, insulin resistance is often due to obesity, which can increase chances of diabetes 4-fold.

In hamsters, diabetes appears to be related to an increased demand for insulin, exhaustion of supplies then a decrease in pancreatic cell mass causing a deficiency in insulin.

What signs might my pet have?

Diabetic animals will urinate more and subsequently drink more to make up for lost fluid. As the energy in food is not used efficiently, pets will be hungrier but lose weight. Most animals develop cataracts. As cells are starved of energy, fat is changed into ketone bodies, an emergency fuel, creating by-products that can make animals extremely sick. This late stage is known as diabetic ketoacidosis and is fatal if not treated. These pets will be lethargic, have a poor appetite and may vomit.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

Diagnosis is done by simply looking for high levels of glucose in the blood and urine alongside the classic signs. In cats and other species, stress can cause high blood glucose. In cats, if in doubt, there is another lab test that looks at average glucose levels over the previous few weeks. Other tests to look for associated issues may be needed.

How is diabetes treated?

Insulin

Most pets need twice-daily injections of insulin under the skin. Although this may sound scary, the needles are small, unnoticed by the pet, and are easy to give with practice and teaching. Some owners use an insulin pen, which makes it even easier. The dose is adjusted depending on your pet’s signs, urine, and blood results. It’s important to give the dose accurately as an overdose can cause an extremely dangerous, sometimes fatal, drop in blood glucose. Diabetic pets that show weakness or a drunken appearance immediately need sugar delivered orally followed by veterinary assessment.

Diet

Diet can help enormously in diabetic control. Recommended diets for cats and dogs are quite different. A high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet is now thought most beneficial for cats. High-protein diets increase their sensitivity to insulin and cause less of a glucose spike after eating. Dealing with obesity is vital given the link with diabetes. In dogs we know stability in feed type and timing is vital. Type of carbohydrate is important and there is a debate about optimal fibre levels. Sticking to prescription diets recommended by your vet is the best idea.

If your pet is really sick, they may require investigations and treatments as an inpatient. Pets may need tests for other related conditions such as Cushing’s disease if they do not respond to insulin as expected. If you have a female unspayed dog, then neutering will need to happen as soon as possible. Medications that may be impacting their sugar levels will need to be reviewed.

For hamsters, feeding a high-protein, low-sugar, low-fat diet, may help to prevent and control diabetes to a certain extent.

The outlook

Treatment requires a huge time and financial commitment.

Without treatment diabetes is eventually fatal. However if caught early and stabilised well, diabetics can have a good quality and quantity of life. If poorly controlled, diabetics can have a much-reduced lifespan and suffer complications that do impact on quality of life.

If diabetes is managed well initially in cats, irreversible damage can be limited and, once rested, the pancreas MAY recover so remission is possible, with occasional cats not needing insulin long-term. This is rare. For dogs, other than with un-neutered females where neutering can occasionally lead to a remission of diabetes, dogs will need insulin injections forever.

 

Older Golden Retriever Dog being petted.

Arthritis in dogs

Arthritis (also known as osteoarthritis, or OA) is an extremely common, painful disease that affects about 25 % of dogs. It doesn’t matter if the dog is young or old, big or small, purebred or mixed.

Unfortunately, OA is a painful, progressive disease that cannot be cured. But the good news is that pain can be managed with a prescription course, and your dog can be made more comfortable. We’re learning more every day about canine OA. So, let’s start with what’s known to-date about osteoarthritis.

‘Osteo’ means ‘bone,’ ‘arthra’ means joint, and ‘itis’ means inflammation. Altogether, osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition of one or more joints. OA is a result of poor joint structure from birth, traumatic injury or, most commonly, normal wear and tear on the joints as the dog ages. Obesity can contribute to OA pain or make it worse.

What are the signs and symptoms of arthritis in dogs?

  • Limping or lameness.
  • Stiff gait, likely to be worse after exercise and when first waking up.
  • Groaning or caution when laying down or getting back up.
  • Wary of you touching the joints affected.
  • Muscle wasting.
  • Tiredness.
  • Irritability.

The pain of OA is progressive: without intervention, it will worsen over time. But there are pain-management medicines made just for dogs. Most commonly, we will prescribe a canine nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Alternative treatments can be used including hydrotherapy which can ease pain. This will be discussed by your vet.

Bottom line: Your dog’s pain can be relieved. Remember, your dog’s history is key to determining an effective treatment plan, and YOU know a lot about your dog.