What good pet nutrition looks like and why it’s important

As responsible pet owners, we take on the duty of caring for our furry companions in the best possible way. A significant part of this responsibility is ensuring that our pets receive proper nutrition.

Good pet nutrition for dogs and cats is the foundation of their health, happiness, and longevity. In celebration of Responsible Pet Ownership Month, our team at Towcester Veterinary Centre have some helpful advice for you below, so let’s explore what good pet nutrition looks like and why it’s of paramount importance.

Book a nutrition appointment with a vet nurse

A protein rich diet & adequate hydration

Protein is a vital component of a pet’s diet, helping to build and repair tissues. Look for pet food with a high-quality protein source, such as meat, poultry, or fish. Fresh, clean water is just as crucial as food. Ensure your pet has constant access to water, especially in warm weather or if they are on a dry kibble diet. Our vet’s top tip is to add a splash of water to your pet’s bowl of food to increase their hydration levels.

Properly Balanced Nutrients

Good pet nutrition means a diet that is well-balanced in macronutrients (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). A balance of these nutrients supports overall health and prevents deficiencies or excesses. One of the most convenient and reliable ways to provide balanced nutrition is through high-quality complete pet food for dogs or cats. Our team can advise on the most suitable pet food brands, call us on 01327 350239.

Age-appropriate food and feeding routine

Pets have different nutritional needs at different stages of life. Choose complete pet food specifically formulated for your pet’s life stage, whether they are a kitten, puppy, adult, or senior. These formulas are designed to provide the right balance of nutrients, so follow the feeding instructions to work out how much food your pet needs and how often.

Depending on your dog or cat’s lifestyle, they may need an increase or decrease in the amount of food they consume to ensure they stay at a healthy weight. Towcester Veterinary Centre’s nurses can help you work this out and give your pet regular weight checks – book a nurse appointment for your pet.

The importance of good pet nutrition

  • Health and longevity: Proper nutrition can prevent or manage various health issues, including obesity, allergies, and digestive problems.
  • Energy and vitality: Pets with balanced diets are more active, playful, and enthusiastic about life – prepare for some exciting adventures in and around Northamptonshire with your dog!
  • Weight management: Maintaining an ideal body weight is essential for your pet’s overall health. Good nutrition, combined with portion control, helps prevent obesity and related health problems. Come and see our nurses if you’d like help with this.
  • Strong immune system: Proper nutrition supports a robust immune system, helping your pet resist illness and recover faster when they do get sick.
  • Shiny coat and healthy skin: A well-balanced diet enhances the appearance of your pet’s coat and keeps their skin healthy, reducing the risk of dryness, itching, and allergies.
  • Improved digestion: Good pet nutrition promotes healthy digestion, reducing the likelihood of stomach upset, diarrhoea, or constipation.

Good pet nutrition is at the core of responsible pet ownership, and it plays a pivotal role in our pets’ health and wellbeing. By selecting high-quality complete pet food, considering their life stage, and monitoring their diet, we can help our furry friends to thrive and enjoy happy, healthy lives by our sides.

Join us in celebrating Responsible Pet Ownership Month and book a consult with our nurses to ensure your pet’s diet is the best it can be.

Book a nutrition appointment with a vet nurse

Why neutering is the responsible choice for cat owners in Northamptonshire

Cat owners cherish the companionship and love their feline friends bring into their lives. However, with the joy of having a cat comes the responsibility of ensuring their wellbeing and contributing to the welfare of the feline community.

One of the most responsible choices cat owners in Northamptonshire can make is to opt for neutering their cats. In this article, the team at Towcester Veterinary Centre will explore why and how it benefits both individual cats and the larger feline population.

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Cat neutering – why it’s the responsible choice

1. Preventing unplanned litters & curbing overpopulation

Perhaps the most compelling reason to neuter your cat is to prevent unplanned litters of kittens, not just for your home, but for the wider cat population. Cats are prolific breeders, and one unspayed female cat and her offspring can produce hundreds of kittens in just a few years. Overpopulation is a serious issue in the cat world and so by neutering your cat, you are actively contributing to controlling the feline population and reducing the number of homeless kittens in and around Northamptonshire.

2. Promoting health and longevity

According to our Vet, cat neutering offers several health benefits. It significantly reduces the risk of uterine infections and certain cancers in females and eliminates the risk of testicular cancer in males. Neutered cats are also generally healthier and live longer lives.

3. Behavioural improvements

Neutering can lead to positive changes in a cat’s behaviour. Male cats tend to be less aggressive and territorial, while females are less likely to yowl or exhibit restlessness during their heat cycles. Neutered cats often make for more pleasant and well-adjusted pets.

4. Reducing roaming tendencies

Unneutered male cats have a strong instinct to roam in search of mates. This behaviour puts them at risk of accidents, injuries, and encounters with other animals. Neutering can reduce this desire to roam, keeping your cat safer.

5. A more peaceful home

Unspayed female cats can exhibit vocalisations and behaviours that can be disruptive during their heat cycles. Neutering can create a more peaceful and harmonious living environment for both cats and their owners! If you have a multi-cat household, our team can advise you of more ways to keep the peace.

Get in touch for more advice.

6. Responsible Ownership

Being a responsible pet owner means taking steps to ensure the health and wellbeing of your cat, as well as being considerate of the broader feline community. Neutering is a responsible choice that aligns with these principles.

The take-away message from our article is that neutering your cat is about more than controlling the feline population; it’s also about promoting the health, happiness, and longevity of your beloved pet. It’s a choice that reflects your commitment to responsible pet ownership and compassion for the welfare of cats in Northamptonshire and beyond. Thanks for reading!

If you found our article informative, why not share it with your cat-loving friends?

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Why dog neutering is a must on the cusp of puppy season

Spring marks the beginning of a beautiful season in Northamptonshire. It also marks the onset of ‘puppy season’ when the attraction between unneutered male and female dogs will undoubtedly ramp up.

Unplanned litters can be a challenging responsibility. That’s why dog neutering is a crucial step to prevent these. In this article, our Vet will explore the reasons why dog neutering is essential for responsible pet ownership and the wellbeing of our furry friends.

Call Towcester Veterinary Centre on 01327 350239 to chat about dog neutering appointments available at our Burcote Road location.

Book a dog neutering consultation

Preventing unplanned litters

Spring is a time when dogs are more likely to roam in search of mates. This increases the chances of pregnancies, which can lead to a number of issues for owners of female dogs, as well as overcrowded animal shelters and homeless puppies (mostly) from strays. To help reduce the influx of spring puppies, being proactive with neutering will actively contribute to reducing the strain on animal shelters and charities across Northamptonshire.

Health benefits for dogs

Neutering can provide several health benefits for dogs. It can help to reduce the risk of certain reproductive cancers and eliminates the possibility of uterine infections in females. Neutered males are less likely to roam, reducing their risk of accidents and injuries and becoming separated from you. Contact us to book a neutering consultation.

Behavioural improvements for dogs

Neutering can also lead to positive changes in your dog’s behaviour. It can often reduce territorial marking, aggression, and the desire to roam. This can result in a happier, more well-adjusted pet. Also, without having to worry about pregnancies or mating behaviours, you can provide better daily care and attention to your pet. Being ‘in season’ and phantom pregnancies are no fun for pet or owner.

Financial & health problems

Unplanned litters can lead to unexpected financial burdens, including giving them the best puppy nutrition – ask our team about this. Plus, you will need to ensure they are in good health to be adopted by a new a family, and you will have to carry out the correct research to find their perfect homes. This can be a strain on finances and time. Neutering your dog is a cost-effective way to avoid these unexpected expenses and potential health problems for your female dog during the birth.

In conclusion, neutering your dog is an essential aspect of responsible pet ownership, and it becomes even more critical during puppy season. So as spring arrives, Towcester Veterinary Centre is asking owners to consider the benefits of dog neutering and to play their part in creating a better future for our four-legged friends. Contact us on 01327 350239 to discuss dog neutering today.

Book a dog neutering consultation

Post Movement TB testing

We are now undertaking regular post movement testing for clients after the new rules came in in August 2023. All animals moving from higher incidence areas of England and from Wales into the annual surveillance areas of the Edge Area require post movement TB testing 60-120 days after their arrival. This affects farms in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire but not Oxfordshire and Warwickshire. Post movement testing has been required in Bedfordshire for a few years.

It can be confusing to work out if an animal requires post movement TB testing. Generally, it affects animals coming from herds that are testing every 6 months. However, some herds in the High Risk Area (HRA) can be testing annually if they have not had a breakdown in a number of years. Animals from these herds would still require post movement testing. There is an online look up tool where you can check the CPH number of the herd and it will tell you the testing interval for that area. This can be found at on the APHA website at apha.defra.gov.uk/tb-test/index.asp. Excellent information on post movement TB testing rules is also available on the TB Hub. It is the keeper’s responsibility to organise and pay for the testing. If testing is not carried out movement restrictions will be applied to the herd until all cattle that should have been post-movement tested are tested with negative results. The test will be regarded as overdue, which may trigger reductions to any basic farm payments. APHA will be monitoring compliance and notifying anyone failing to carry out the required testing.

Fly Control Products

Following our successful talk in November on alternative fly control, we are pleased to announce we are now able to sell fly buckets and bait traps from Bestico. Fly traps are an alternative to using pour on or spot on products which can have a negative effect on the beneficial insect populations during the summer. Fly buckets are the best alternative option for herds that graze in the summer, other options using parasitic insects to control nuisance flies are available for herds that house all year. If you are interested in options for housed cattle, we would advise booking a visit with Bestico so they can assess your farm and offer a tailored plan for which type of insects would offer the best solution.

Bucket traps are best used from April/May onwards. A bait block is needed for each trap which should then be kept topped up with water to attract the flies. Most people require two blocks for the grazing season, the first should be changed after around 60 days. The bucket can be washed at the end of the season to be stored and re-used the following year. Buckets cost £17.50 and bait blocks cost £19.90 (all prices ex VAT). Once ordered, products will be available within a couple of days. There is a small shipping cost so to minimise this we will try to place multiple orders at once so please get in touch early if you would like to order.

Mastitis sampling project

APHA is undertaking a ewe mastitis bacteriology project during the 2023/2024 lambing season.

The aim of the project is to improve surveillance of the different bacteria causing mastitis in ewes and to provide antimicrobial resistance data. In addition, samples will also be used to provide surveillance for other organisms that may play a role in ewe mastitis. Anyone experiencing issues with mastitis this year should get in touch for us to arrange these subsidised samples. Each farm can submit up to three samples. Samples need to be taken in a sterile manner to ensure we get the best results, so do get in touch for us to run through the best way to do this. The project will run until May 2024.

Nematodirus battus, keep an eye on the forecast this spring…

Nematodirus is a worm that can cause sudden death and significant growth reductions in lambs. It is different to other worms because the larvae survive within the egg on the pasture, allowing infection to pass from one lamb crop to the next year’s lamb crop. This means pasture that had ewes and lambs on in the Spring last year is high risk for Nematodirus this year. Mass egg hatching is triggered by a sudden increase in temperature. If the hatch coincides with the time when lambs are starting to eat grass, lambs may suddenly start dying. Worm egg counts will not be increased because the larval worm can cause significant damage before it develops into an egg-producing adult. This means we need another way of identifying when to take action. SCOPS run a forecast which predicts when the risk of Nematodirus is increased. It is advisable to keep a close eye on the forecast for your region to decide when the risk is high. At this point you may opt to move lambs to a lower risk pasture or use a wormer if moving is not possible. White (1-BZ) drenches are normally highly effective for treating Nematodirus so should be used as the first treatment of spring.

Find the forecast here: https://www.scops.org.uk/forecasts/nematodirus-forecast/

Further Bluetongue Update

A case of the notifiable disease, Bluetongue was confirmed in a cow near Canterbury, Kent, on 11 November, following routine testing. As of 4th Feb, there have now been 83 Bluetongue cases on 44 premises in Kent and Norfolk. Most cases have been in cattle but some have been found in sheep. Until recently all animals have been humanely culled however midge activity is currently very low making the risk of onward transmission much less likely. The latest cases have therefore not been culled but placed under movement restrictions instead.

Bluetongue is a viral disease transmitted by biting midges, which affects all ruminants (e.g. sheep, cattle, goats and deer) and camelids (e.g. llama and alpaca). The current strain circulating is BTV-3 which is different to the previous strain we had in the UK. Due to this being a new strain, the vaccine we had previously will not offer cross-protection against this new BTV-3 strain. Bluetongue does not pose a threat to human health, but it remains a notifiable disease and any suspicion must be reported to APHA on 0300 020 0301.

Symptoms of BTV-3 can vary across ruminants, with sheep generally exhibiting more overt symptoms than cattle. These include in sheep; drooling, mouth lesions, high fever, lameness, oedema (swollen heads) and sudden death. Cattle are not usually as severely affected but may show similar clinical signs as well as teat, eye, coronary band and nose lesions.

The advice for farmers is to beware if buying animals in from Europe, take action to report any signs, and remain vigilant.

For more information, please visit www.gov.uk/guidance/bluetongue or call the surgery.

Emergency preparation for pet owners in Northamptonshire

Blackouts, flooding, car breakdowns, getting snowed in… now is the perfect time for pet owners to start preparing for winter emergencies.

Once the snow and ice hits Northamptonshire, it is essential that you ensure the safety and wellbeing of your pets. Take a look at the advice compiled below from Towcester Veterinary Centre’s team and share with other pet owners in Northamptonshire.

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Call us on 01327 350239 if you would like more advice on this timely topic.

5 pet essentials for emergency prep

1. Assemble an emergency kit for your pet

Our Towcester vet team recommend you prepare a pet emergency kit with enough food, water, medications and first aid supplies to last them at least three days. Pack extra blankets, towels and have a pet carrier to hand along with your pet’s vaccination records and medical history. If your pet usually wears a jumper or coat on cold walks, pack a spare set of those too as well as a collar and lead.

You should keep this emergency kit accessible at home and take it on long (and motorway) car journeys.

2. Stock up on nutrition and plan shelter

Stock up on an ample supply of your pet’s regular food and pick up some bottled water to put to one side. Also, invest in plenty of blankets and ensure your pet has a sleeping area away from cold windows. Heating pads can ensure your pet has a snuggly area to sleep (providing you have the power to heat them).

3. Refill medications and pet first aid kits

Towcester Veterinary Centre recommends stocking up on bandages and antiseptic wipes. Tweezers can also help if you need to remove splinters. If your pet is on medication, try to ensure you have a sufficient supply as you go into the colder months.

4. Plan travel safety and pet identification

Microchips are a legal requirement for dogs as is wearing an ID tag with up-to-date contact information in public spaces. Remember to have a spare lead and collar in your emergency pack in case you need to leave your home in a hurry.

Cat microchipping – book now – is now a legal requirement in England. However, Towcester Veterinary Centre highly recommends cats everywhere should be fitted with a microchip and wear a collar and ID tag with up-to-date contact information too in case you get separated.

It is also wise to ensure you have a pet harness and seat belt fitting or pet carrier in the car in case you need to travel in an emergency.

5. Ensure you have light and communication

Keeping a torch to hand and a charged mobile phone with a list of emergency contacts, including our number – 01327 350239 – is a sensible idea. You may want to look at rechargeable power packs and a phone charging kit for your car. Candles and matches can be good to have for blackouts at home too, but keep them out of your pet’s reach, ensure the room has ample ventilation, and avoid candles with essential oils that are toxic to pets.

As well as the points above, the team at Towcester Veterinary Centre highly recommends including some toys and a familiar blanket to help keep your pet occupied and comfortable should there be a winter emergency. Make sure you share our advice with other pet owners so that all pets in Northamptonshire will be happy and safe – no matter what the weather decides to do!

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Winter paw care: protect dogs in from road salt

As winter coats the roads of Northamptonshire with ice, you will often see the flashing orange lights of salt spreaders out and about to make the roads safe. You will also likely see salt being spread on pavements and car parks for the same reason, however, some of it can be difficult to spot.

While this solution is effective for human safety, it poses a hidden danger to our four-legged friends. Road salt, or rock salt, may keep roads and pavements clear and preventing slipping, but its impact on dogs can be quite hazardous.

Contact Towcester Veterinary Centre on 01327 350239 if you have any concerns about your dog’s health.

Call us with your concerns

What is road salt?

Road salt is typically composed of sodium chloride, calcium chloride, or magnesium chloride. It is used to lower the freezing point of water. When sprinkled on icy roads and paths, it prevents the formation of ice and helps make surfaces safer for vehicles and walkers.

The dangers of road salt for dogs

Paw irritation & dehydration

According to our vet the most immediate risk for dogs is the irritation road salt can cause to their paws. When dogs walk on salted surfaces, their paw pads can become cracked, dry, and painful. This can lead to discomfort, limping, and difficulty walking.

Road salt is a desiccant, which means it can absorb moisture from a dog’s paws and skin. Extended contact with road salt can lead to dehydration and skin issues.

Oral ingestion

Dogs are known for their inquisitive nature and may lick or chew their paws after walking on salted surfaces. In doing so, they can ingest road salt, which is toxic to dogs when consumed in significant quantities causing:

a) Digestive issues

Ingesting road salt can lead to gastrointestinal upset in dogs. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, and abdominal pain.

b) Salt toxicity

The most severe risk is salt toxicity, which can occur if a dog consumes a large amount of road salt. This can lead to symptoms such as excessive thirst, tremors, seizures, and, in severe cases, even death.

How to prevent road salt related issues

  1. Protective Paw Balm: Consider using a paw balm or wax to create a protective barrier on your dog’s paw pads before going outside.
  2. Booties: Dog booties provide excellent protection from road salt, keeping paws dry and safe.
  3. Avoid Salted Areas: Whenever possible, avoid walking your dog on salted surfaces. Choose areas with minimal salt use.
  4. Wipe Paws: After walks, wipe your dog’s paws with a damp cloth to remove salt and prevent ingestion.
  5. Indoor Rinsing: Rinse your dog’s paws with warm water when returning home to remove salt residue.
  6. Pet-Friendly Salt: If you need to use salt on your property, choose pet-friendly, non-toxic alternatives.
  7. Supervision: Always supervise your dog when they’re outside, especially around areas treated with road salt.

In conclusion, road salt is essential for human safety during winter but it poses several risks to dogs in Northamptonshire. By taking proactive measures to protect your dog’s paws and avoid salted areas, you can ensure their safety and wellbeing during the winter months. Remember that the team at Towcester Veterinary Centre recommend that a little extra care can go a long way in keeping your furry companion healthy and happy.

Call us with your concerns

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