March is Pet Anxiety Awareness month. Anxiety in our dogs and cats can take many different forms. Common triggers may be fireworks, unfamiliar animals, trips to the vet, or being left home alone. Some dogs or cats that show anxiety around specific triggers are calm and relaxed most of the time, but some of our pets can also suffer from generalised anxiety just like people. For these dogs or cats medication can be really helpful alongside a behaviour modification plan which may include training exercises and changes to the environment.

Simple starters:

There are a few quick and easy things you can do at home to help your pet with anxiety. Providing a safe haven where your pet knows they won’t be disturbed can be really useful. This should be a super soft or orthopaedic pet bed in a covered area such as a dog crate, with the door always open. You can cover the top and sides with a thick duvet to help dampen sounds. The safe haven should be in an area that is always accessible to your pet, but away from any hustle and bustle, with a house rule that the pet is never disturbed if they choose to go in there.

It can help to plug in an Adaptil diffuser for dogs or a Feliway diffuser for cats. These release pheromones that help our pets to feel calm and relaxed. Zylkene is a supplement that can be given with your pets food to aid relaxation – this can be obtained online or from the veterinary hospital.

The use of interactive food toys can also be really helpful to relax our pets: there is lots of scientific evidence that sniffing helps to reduce anxiety in dogs. For dogs try the Kong classic, Kong wobbler and Kong quest, Snuffle Mats (see Amazon, Etsy, or make your own) and LickiMats. Cats can enjoy the Trixie cat activity feeding board, or simple treat balls which they roll to get the treats out.

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Helping with vet visits:

If your pet is anxious about going to the vets, it is worth calling us to discuss this with one of our team before your appointment. There are different medications for cats and dogs that can be given 2 hours before an appointment to help your pet feel calmer at the vets.

For cats who are worried about the vets it can help to leave their carrier out 24/7 in the home, with a soft bed inside. Take the front door off and place some towels covering the top to make an igloo. Your cat may eventually choose to sleep in here at home. Feliway (odourless pheromone) and/or Pet Remedy (valerian) sprays can also be used in the basket an hour before a vet visit.

It can help to get as much information as possible at home before coming for your visit. Take a video of the problem to show your vet.

For dogs who are anxious at the vets it can help if you bring some of their favourite food cut up into tiny pieces to give as treats, or bring a favourite toy for your dog. We always keep gravy bones and cooked chicken in at the practice. If your dog shows aggression at the vets it is really helpful to work on muzzle training them at home so that having a muzzle (I call them party hats) popped on for safety isn’t a stressful experience but something they’re quite used to. There is a great video about how to muzzle train your dog that you can watch here:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6BjPpXer8IE

Health and behaviour:

It is always worth a medical check over if your pet shows any behaviour problems, especially if these are out of character or develop for the first time in an older dog or cat. Chronic pain is a very common contributor to behaviour concerns: just like in people, our pets will be more anxious and have lower tolerance levels if they are feeling sore or achey. Dogs with arthritis may also feel pain when they have a normal startle reaction, which can contribute to the development of noise fears later in life.

If you think this may be relevant for your pet you can contact the practice to arrange an orthopaedic exam and general check over. We may also recommend basic blood and urine tests depending on the signs your pet is showing. For behaviour modification plans and medical help with behavioural concerns you can email: miribehaviourvet@gmail.com to arrange an in depth Zoom consultation lasting 1-3 hours for your pet.

Exciting news from VH

We have listened to your feedback and we have made a few changes to the VHCP ( Veterinary Hospital Care Plan).

You told us that affordable delivery of your flea, tick and worm products to your door every 3 months would be great- we can now offer this. PS The pricing for this is less than a cup of coffee a month.

You told us that you wanted puppy and kitten primary vaccine courses in the cost of the plan rather than being an additional cost- we’ve done this.

You told us that some of you wanted a text to remind you when to give your products-we’ve done this.

You’ve told us that making the information on it on our website more in depth would be useful- we’ve done this.

You’ve told us that you would like to know in pounds and pence the savings you will get if you join the VHCP- we’ve done this (our reception team now have this information to share with you).

So our plan is now bigger and better and still affordable. Let us know what you think.

vhvets.co.uk

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