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Bonfire and Christmas Celebrations

FIREWORKS

The time of year again when the noises and vibrations of fireworks can traumatise pets. Here are some tips on keeping your pet as safe and comfortable as you can over the winter seasonal period:

RABBITS AND GUINEA PIGS

Any out door animals hutch/cage should be put into a unused garage of garden shed off the floor.

Cover the cage with a suitable blanket and make sure that there is a gap for ventilation.

Supply your pet with some vegetables and hay to distract the noise from the fireworks and celebrations.

Check on your pet as often as you can to make sure that your pet is not showing signs of distress. If  it does then you may have to bring it into the house.

Bringing outdoor pets into a home should be avoided as the sudden change in temperature going into the home, then return the pet back outside, can lead to death from exposure to the elements. If  you are going out celebrating yourself and you have outdoor pets then bringing them indoors may be the only option, but you may not be able to return the pet back outdoors until the spring.

DOGS AND CATS

As with outdoor pets cats and dogs can also become afraid of the fireworks.

CD's are available nowadays to help train and reduce the anxiety of you pet before the real fireworks begin. This can be done while playing with or generally training you dog.

A walk should be made earlier in the day than usual, and not less than an hour before feeding.

Make sure your pet has its food at least an hour and a half before nightfall so it gives your dog a chance to go to the toilet before the fireworks start.

With indoor pets it is a good idea to supply the cat or dog with a hiding space such as a cage carrier with a blanket over the top and favourite toys and treats to occupy them through the noise. I find a kong toy with treats in works perfectly as it is a long distraction.

Soothing sounds from a radio or a bit of light music can reduce fear levels.

Do not pat or fuss your pet if he/she starts to show signs of fear as you will be rewarding the behaviour and it is most likely to get worse. Distraction is the best reward with a game. Ignore the fearful behaviour if possible. Sometimes dogs can become that fearful that in very bad cases it can lead to other unwanted behaviour so it is best to monitor your dog or cats behaviour and take the dog or cat to its quiet zone when fear seems to be setting in

Do not let children handle your pet in this situation as fearful pets can bite or become aggressive. Natural instinct for animals is generally fight or flight and if they feel they cannot run they may well decide to fight whatevers in their way as they know no other way to deal with the situation.

If any of you pets go into any sort of shock or gets over stressed it is best to consult you vet immediately as they may be able to come out to give a sedative or calming tablet over the period.

LOOKING AFTER OUTDOOR PETS IN THE WINTER MONTHS

Whether you keep rabbits or guinea pigs outdoors it is vital that they are safe, secure and warm over the cold period. Follow these instructions to make sure your pet is happy and will not become ill over the winter.

Make sure their living quarters is of solid wood with two compartments, a larger one made of a wooden frame and mesh and the smaller one having a solid wooden door. The cage should have a divider inside to separate compartments with a small bolt hole. If the hole is too big warm air will escape. Their living quarters should be kept in an all wooden shed which can be insulated inside by tacking a roll of bubble wrap over the inside wall and the windows to help maintain an even temperature.

I also suggest you can put bubble wrap over the top and sides of the living quarters. It is a good insulator. A couple of blankets over the front of the cages is good for nighttime and can be kept partly over the front of the cage during the day.

Make sure the pet/s are kept warm with a layer of newspaper, then dust extracted, soft wood shavings or better still hypoallergenic CareFresh bedding which is suitable for rabbits and rodents, and then chopped soft dust extracted straw which is good for warmth (coarse long dusty straw should not be used as it causes eye infections and eye ulcers). Hay must also be given daily as part of the pets diet whether it be a rabbit or guinea pig.

If you are crafty you can create a inside woodened framed mesh door to your shed and lino the floor for easy cleaning and use the shed as an exercise area when your pet cannot be exercised outside. I suggest a 6ft x 4ft shed to be able to give enough exercise over the winter period.

FEEDING: You may have to increase you pets food intake a little over the winter period as it will need a little extra to keep it well insulated. More hay is OK as well as a little extra root vegetables. If you find your pet is putting on a little too much weight cut back on the food until you have a balance. You donot want your pet becoming fat you are just increasing the intake a little as they are using it to keep warm and will seem hungrier. come the spring plenty of outdoor exercise and going back to the normal feeding routine will soon take off the excess calories.

If your pets water bottle freezes up this is a sign that it is too cold to keep your pet outdoors for the winter. Pets can become hypothermic and freeze to death if they are exposed to the cold air for too long.Temperatures vary depending on which country you are in. In England and Wales you can get away with keeping your pet in a shed outdoors but if you are in some parts of North America it may be too cold for a small pet to survive a winter outside. In such cases you can bring your pet indoors and house it in a wire top cage (ferplast is an ideal make). Wooden hutches can bring in bacteria and smell in such conditions.

Your pet should be positioned away from a radiator/central heating or draughts and cooking fumes and gas appliances.

Be bedded on newspaper topped with shavings and fed its normal diet. It/they should be allowed regular exercise outside its cage daily.

CARING FOR OUTDOOR ANIMALS OVER THE SPRING AND SUMMER MONTHS

At this time of year the weather is getting warmer during the day and we may have numerous heatwaves.

It is important that all animals are kept cool in this period and they are given unlimited water as always, and are checked on a regular basis to make sure they donot become over heated.

To keep a rabbit or guinea pig cool make sure the rabbit has plenty of ventilation. It is better to keep the rabbit in a sheltered part of the garden away from direct sun and the rabbit should have access to an exercise run. A good idea is to freeze up 1 litre pop/soda bottles and place them both in the run and housing. It is not a good idea to keep the Rabbit or Guinea pig in a metal hutch, glass green house or corriguated shed as they will overheat.

In my wooden sheds where the rabbits have full run as a hutch, i put fans high up on the walls and make sure the window is covered in mesh rather than glass. This has a board over in the winter to keep in heat.

Dogs should also have a kennel if they live outside and unlimited water. I disagree with having dogs outside in general as they are meant to be kept as a family pet and should be socialised with the family.

Rodents should have their fluffy bedding removed to keep them from overheating. Chopped paper bedding made of vegetable plant fibres is the best and provides more ventilation. It is also a good idea to have a well ventilated cage, not a tank as bacteria builds up in the summer a lot quicker and moisture from urine can cause respiratory problems and the bacterium can also cause wet tail.

HEATSTROKE

If your pet, whether it be a Rabbit or a Dog shows signs of overheating, put a damp cold towel over the animal to cool it down and seek veterinary advice. Make sure the pet is out of direct sunlight.

FLYSTRIKE

Flystrike is very common in rabbits and rodents when the feaces is left to build up in the cage in the hot periods. It is caused as the fly lay their eggs in the feaces, which hatch and feed off the poo and attached themselves to the bottom of the animal eating from outside in. This causes pain and death to the animal if not treated promptly.

It is therefore advised that your pets housing is cleaned daily for the removal of feaces and sprayed with a pet friendly disinfectant. I also advise you check you pet bottom daily for stuck droppings or urine. If there is signs of infection or maggots seek veterinary advice for treatment.

EXERCISE AND GRAZING

It is vital that your rabbit or guinea pig is allowed to graze and have exercise daily in a sheltered run with water provided. Grass provides essential vitamins in the spring and summer months and also helps with natural dental wear as rodents and lagomorphs teeth constantly grow throughout their lives. Exercise helps the pet strengthen its muscles, burn off energy and help digestion/gut movement. Without this the pet with suffer from obesity, which can in course lead to organ faliure, digestive tract problems such as GI Statis where the gut goes into shutdown and causes pain and can lead to death and muscle deteriortation.

Please email me if you have any further questions or concerns about care swinnk8@aol.com

 

PET ADVICE

NEED PROFESSIONAL ADVICE ON ANIMAL CARE?

I am certified and have worked in animal care with and kept a wide range of small animals which include:

 reptiles, rodents, rabbits, coldwater and tropical fish, cats and dogs

 email me at the following address:
swinnk8@aol.com

or

swinnk8@yahoo.com

all emails will be read in confidence and are answered within 24 hours. all advice given is professional. 

Please provide details of type of animal you have, age, feeding and housing and general exercise and habits as this does help when giving advice.

 

DOES YOUR PET NEED TO SEE A VET?

If your pet is acting in an unusual way, has a lump or wound, is acting unusually lathargic,losing weight, being sick, drinking excessively or not eating, then it may need to see a veterinarian for treatment.
This is all part of having a pet. It does not matter whether it is a dog,cat,rabbit,rodent or even a fish.
Do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian for advice on getting your pet treated. If you are struggling to find the money to pay for treatment the PDSA will be able to help you if you live in an area with a pet aid practice and are recieving help with council tax or recieving housing benefit. They have a finder on their site to see if there is a practice in your area.
http://www.pdsa.org.uk/
Alternitively, you can speak to your vet to see if they can arrange a payment agreement for the treatment that you pet needs.
Under no circumstances should pets be left to suffer. a delay could be life or death for your pet

Leaving you pet to suffer is against the law and classed as Animal Cruelty for which you could be fined, banned from pets for life, go to prison and have a criminal record. There is no excuse for not getting you pet treated there is always help available.

CARING FOR YOUNG ABANDONED WILD ANIMALS

If you think you have come across an abandoned wild animal do not automatically touch it.

Contact your wildlife rescues centre for advice first.,Sometimes the animal has not been abandoned and the parents will be nearby. By touching the young you may discourage the parents to return and may even get bitten by the young, especially if it is a fox or badger cub.

http://www.animalrescuers.co.uk/html/wildcents.html

http://www.wildlifeaid.org.uk/

If you find an injured wild animal on the road do not touch it as it may bite, contact you local wildlife/rescue centre for advice(see above link) Abandoned wild rabbit advice can also be sought through these groups.

 CARING FOR STRAY CATS/DOGS AND STRAY SMALL DOMESTIC ANIMALS

If you find a domestic animal which is injured such as a cat or dog, speak to your local dog warden or the RSPCA/SSPCA to help rescue the animal. Donot attempt to touch the animal as you may get scratch or bitten. In countrys such as USA, South America and Europe stray animals can carry Rabies.

Rabbits and rodents found abandoned must see a vet straight away as they could be injured and/or have picked up diseases from wild animals. Always use gloves and protective clothing to handle any stray animal