Effective Kitten Litter Training Tips from Towcester Vets

Emptying your kitten’s litter box may not be the highlight of your day, but investing time in training your kitten to use it correctly can save you a lot of hassle down the line. Our nursing team have compiled some invaluable advice on litter training your kitten effectively and instilling good habits for life. Read on for our nursing team’s expert tips:

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Litter Box Choice and Care

When it comes to getting the set up right, our nursing team have this advice for new kitten owners in Northamptonshire.

First, choose a litter box that mimics a cat’s natural environment by considering factors like size, material, and accessibility. For example, selecting a larger litter box with low sides can resemble the open space that cats prefer for eliminating. Additionally, opting for unscented, clumping litter can replicate the texture and consistency of sand, which many cats prefer for covering their waste. Avoid covered litter boxes, which may make your kitten feel trapped.

Place the litter box away from food and water bowls and keep it clean. Remove soiled clumps from the litter tray at least twice a day and wash it out at least once a month. Cats are sensitive to odours, so a heavily soiled litter box may discourage your kitten from using it.

If you have more than one cat, our veterinary nurses advise that you should have one litter box per cat, plus an extra box. This means if you have two cats, they should ideally have three litter boxes, three cats should have four litter boxes, and so on. Having multiple litter boxes ensures that each cat has access to a clean and private space for elimination, which can help prevent territorial issues and encourage good litter box habits.

3 Easy-to-follow Litter Training Steps:

  1. Show your new kitten where their litter tray is as soon as they arrive – you may need to move this to an area your kitten feels comfortable in so keep an eye on them.
  2. Place your kitten in their litter box after an event i.e. after they have eaten, played and slept.
  3. Be persistent and patient to ensure good, lifelong habits. Litter training your kitten will not happen overnight but they will eventually learn to associate this time with going to the toilet and will take themselves to the litter box after each event.

Thanks for reading our article on litter training your kitten, we hope you found the advice from our nursing team helpful.

Help others by sharing our tips with friends and family who may be welcoming a new kitten into their home!

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Towcester Vets Guide to a Safe Summer by the Sea with Your Dog

Summer is all about having fun in the sun, rolling in the sand, and splashing in the sea – especially when your furry friend is in tow! To ensure your dog stays safe at the seaside, Towcester Veterinary Centre shares top tips for a worry-free beach day below.

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Towcester Vets knows that a bit of sun-smart planning can make all the difference for a safe summer with your pooch. So…

  • Feeling hot? Consider leaving your furry friend to relax in a cool spot at home, especially if they are really young, old, have a very thick coat or a health condition.
  • On long days out and holidays with your dog, factor in time out of the sun together or schedule beach outings during cooler times of the day i.e. early morning or late afternoon.

Ready to hit the beach? Here are some tail-wagging tips from our veterinary team;

Our Top 10 Tips

  1. Sun Protection & Shade: Consider lightweight, UV-protective gear and dog-safe sunscreen to prevent sunburn. Set up camp in shaded areas to shield your furry friend from the sun’s rays.
  2. We advise dog owners to be aware of the signs of heatstroke in dogs which include excessive panting, drooling, restlessness, red gums/tongue, lethargy, vomiting & diarrhoea. If your dog is struggling, take them out of the heat, wet their fur with cool water, encourage drinking and get prompt vet advice.

  3. Watch Those Waves: Assess water conditions before letting your dog take a dip. Stick to calmer waters and keep a close eye on your pup while they paddle.
  4. Prevent Saltwater Intake: Discourage your dog from drinking saltwater, as excessive consumption can lead to health issues. Ball games in the sea can result in dogs gulping saltwater.
  5. Stay Hydrated: Bring plenty of fresh water for your dog to drink and offer regular hydration breaks. A collapsible water bowl is a convenient accessory for beach outings. A top tip for spotting dehydration in dogs is to pull up a pinch of skin and let it drop. If it doesn’t go back to normal right away, your dog is likely dehydrated.
  6. Protect Those Paws: Sand and hot surfaces can scorch sensitive paw pads. Consider doggy booties or schedule beach visits during cooler times of the day.
  7. Watch Out for Hazards: Keep an eye out for sharp debris that could harm your pup’s paws. Take a stroll along the shore to ensure the area is safe before letting your dog off-leash.
  8. Sand Safety for Dogs: Keep an eye on your pup to ensure they’re not ingesting sand, which can lead to digestive issues or blockages – rinse off sandy paws after beach play. Sand in the eyes can cause problems too so wipe it away with a damp tissue if it’s irritating your dog.
  9. Know Your Dog’s Limits: Not all dogs are natural swimmers. Recognise your dog’s comfort level and never force them into water if they seem anxious or tired.
  10. Practice Proper Beach Etiquette: Foster a happier beach experience for all by abiding by local beach restrictions, cleaning up after your dog, and being mindful of other beachgoers and their pets.
  11. Rinse & Repeat: After a day of beach fun, our vets recommend rinsing off your pup with fresh water to remove salt & sand. Pay extra attention to their paws, ears, and underbelly to prevent irritation.

By following these simple tips, you and your furry friend can enjoy a safe and fun-filled day at the beach. So, lather on that sunscreen, grab your beach gear, and get ready to make unforgettable memories together!

Is your Cat a Law Breaker?

From the 10th of June 2024 it becomes a legal requirement for all cats in England to have a microchip placed by the time they reach 20 weeks old. Microchipping has been compulsory for dogs since 2016. Is your pet microchipped?

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a tiny silicone device with a glass coating, approximately the size of a grain of rice. The chip contains a unique identifying number which can be read with radio waves from a microchip scanner and then can be used to access the owner’s details on a database.

Why do we recommend them?

Cats love adventures! It is amazing how far they will explore away from home, and although they will normally return home without incident sadly sometimes they get involved in accidents, get spooked by dogs or hitch lifts around the country in delivery vans! As a country of animal lovers, our hurt or lost pets are often taken to the vets where staff can scan them and identify if they have a microchip placed within minutes.  Staff are then able to contact the owner and arrange reuniting them.

What happens if cats don’t have microchips?

We will always endeavour to work with the finder to locate a cat’s owner via social media, posters, door knocking, but sadly we still have a great many cats who appear very much loved that we don’t manage to reunite. Although these cats go on to find lovely second homes, we know their owners are missing them. A microchip can help prevent this heartbreak.

How is a microchip placed?

A microchip is inserted just below the skin using a needle. It is a very quick procedure and does not require a sedation or anaesthetic. It can be performed by Veterinary Surgeons or Veterinary Nurses (or other suitably trained individuals) within a standard consultation. With the distraction of a few treats many animals barely notice the procedure.

When can microchips be placed?

Kittens can have microchips placed from about 6 weeks old although many have them inserted alongside their vaccination appointments or while they are under anaesthesia for neutering. The new law means they MUST have a chip placed by 20 weeks (about 4 and a half months) old.

How long do microchips last?

The lifetime of the pet. Older style microchips would occasionally migrate under the skin to a different area of the body but that is very rare with modern microchips and they very rarely fail. We would always recommend asking the vet to scan your cat at their routine appointments to check the chip is working as it should.

Keeping details up-to-date

It is vital that the information on the microchip database is kept updated should you rehome the pet, move house or change phone number. If you aren’t sure whether your pet’s details are up-to-date please contact our team and we can check for you.

The staff at Towcester Vets will be happy to answer any questions you may have about microchips, help you update your details or make an appointment for your pet to be microchipped, please contact us if we can help.

Our six dog-friendly UK staycation hot spots

If you haven’t booked your dog-friendly UK holiday for 2024 yet, our Towcester Vets team have pulled together some fantastic destination ideas that your whole family can enjoy.

A UK staycation has many benefits including an abundance of pet-friendly accommodations, parks and days out, they’re cost-effective compared to travelling abroad and you’ll likely have easy access to veterinary care (just in case).

Although, to help you avoid an emergency vet visit when you’re on holiday, check out Towcester Vets quick guide:

How to avoid vet visits on holiday

Best UK dog-friendly holiday spots for 2024

As voted for by Towcester Vets team:

1. Dog Friendly Holidays in Bude

Bude in Cornwall is a fantastic place to take your dog on holiday. There are several Bude beaches packed with soft sand for your dog to roll about in. Summerleaze Beach and Crooklets Beach do have restrictions between May and September (10am-6pm), but that just means if you go outside of these times, you’ll have more beach space to enjoy! Bude has lots of dog-friendly restaurants and cafes, and you can take your dog into many shops. Here’s a look at more dog friendly beaches in Bude and more things to enjoy: Dog friendly Bude

2. Dog Friendly Holidays in Anglesey

Anglesey is a real treat. Situated on the tip of North Wales, you and your dog will have over 125 miles of coastal paths to explore. Set your dog’s senses alight with walks through fishing villages, woodlands, over cliff tops, and head down to the many dog-friendly beaches. Here are even more things to do in Anglesey with your dog: Dog Friendly Anglesey

Have you been to Bude or Anglesey with your dog? Share your experiences with us via our social media channels.

3. Dog Friendly Holidays in the Peak District

The Peak District has so much to offer, including over 100 dog-friendly pubs to enjoy a hearty meal and a refreshing drink in after your adventures. Visit the Peak District National Park with your dog for an excellent choice of walks such as the Monsal Trail between Chee Dale and Bakewell, and the challenging Kinder Scout, with Mermaid’s Pool and Pym’s Chair along the way. Check out these Dog-Friendly Pubs in the Peak District.

Want to know how to avoid vet visits on holiday?

4. Dog Friendly Holidays in the Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons National Park might not seem like your typical summer holiday destination, but this really is a hidden gem with plenty of dog-friendly walks and attractions. Plus, it’s the perfect base to explore the Welsh countryside and places like Rhossili Bay (which dogs are allowed on all year round) on the south coast. There’s plenty of dog-friendly accommodation in the Brecon Beacons too. For something extra special, our team suggests looking at Sugar & Loaf Cottages

Have you been to the Peak District or Welsh Brecon Beacons with your dog? Share your experiences with us!

5. Dog Friendly Holidays in Northumberland

The UK’s northeast coast has it all – long stretches of golden beaches, stunning scenery, and a seemingly endless choice of unique walking trails for you all to enjoy. Northumberland’s dog-friendly beaches all year round include Alnmouth Beach, Beadnell Bay, Embleton Bay, Seahouses and Spittal Beach.

6. Dog Friendly Holidays in Galloway & Dumfries

Southern Scotland is a beautiful destination for your 2024 dog-friendly holiday. Choose from acres of forest, sandy beaches, river walks and plenty of castles to explore. Dumfries & Galloway is an ideal place to stay as it gives easy access to the surrounding areas. Read this guide on top things to do in Dog Friendly Dumfries & Galloway

Before you go, remember to download Towcester Vets quick guide:

How to avoid vet visits on holiday

The Crias are coming!

Cria season is fast approaching and while we hope everyone’s births are plain sailing, here are a few top tips to ensure your new arrivals remain happy and healthy. Crias should be up within 60 mins and feeding within 2-4 hours. Crias are born without any antibodies to protect them from infection and the only way to get these is to suck colostrum from their mum. The gut starts to lose its ability to absorb these antibodies after 8 hours and after 24 hours, cannot absorb any at all. It is therefore vital that crias are up and sucking as soon as possible. Crias who don’t get enough colostrum are susceptible to infection. It is always best to check if crias have had enough colostrum at around 36-48 hrs if there is a suspicion that they’ve not suckled well. If the intake is low and the farm has a plasma supply, we can give a plasma transfusion at this point, before the cria gets sick, rather than dealing with a crashing cria later on.

Plasma is part of the treatment of these animals but it is far better to give this to a stable cria to top up, rather than as part of an intensive treatment plan in a cria with septicaemia. The recovery rate in these animals, even with plasma, is low. Crias who have assisted births, are of low birth weight (less than 7kg) or are born with signs of prematurity (floppy ears or lax tendons) should be more closely monitored. Weighing crias in the first week of life is also essential, as weight loss or failure to gain weight can be the first sign of problems. These crias should also be checked so we can take action early if needed! If you need plasma for your crias, we hold a day every year in January to take blood from donor animals to produce plasma. This takes place at one of our equine sites to keep costs down. If you would like to register your interest for 2025, please call the surgery.

Haemonchus Contortus: the Barber’s Pole Worm

Over the Summer and Autumn of 2023, we saw lots of cases of Haemonchus Contortus in sheep, goats, and alpacas. Haemonchus, also known as the Barber’s pole worm, lives in the abomasum of small ruminants, feeding on blood. Each worm can ingest up to 0.05ml/day, so a sheep with 5000 worms may lose 250ml of blood daily. Each adult female worm can produce 5,000-15,000 eggs a day, so high levels of infection can occur very quickly. This leads to anaemia, weakness, collapse, and death if left untreated. In more chronic cases, fluid builds up under the jaw (‘bottle-jaw’) and animals lose condition. Diarrhoea does not normally occur. Adult animals do not develop a strong immunity, so all ages are at risk. There is also evidence that the worm is adapting to climate change to survive at a wider range of temperatures, so vigilance is required all year round.

Monitoring for Haemonchus requires three key strategies:

1.Worm Egg Counts

Regular worm egg counts should be carried out to assess worm burden. Haemonchus usually presents with exceptionally high worm egg counts.

2.Body Condition Score

Regularly body condition score or weigh animals to identify weight loss as early as possible.

3.Eye Colour

Assess the degree of anaemia by examining the colour of the eye membrane. This can be scored with the FAMACHA© system from 1 (normal pink colour) to 5 (white indicating severe anaemia). This should be routine practice in all alpacas and goats, and carried out regularly in sheep if the farm is known to be at risk.

It is essential to worm in-coming animals whilst in quarantine to prevent introducing Haemonchus to the farm. Haemonchus can be treated with most broad-spectrum wormers, as well as narrow-spectrum products containing Closantel. To discuss this further please get in contact with Towcester Farm Vets and we will be happy to chat about a control strategy for your farm.

Post movement reminder!

We are still hearing that farmers are unaware of the post movement testing required for cattle moving from higher incidence areas of England and Wales into the annual surveillance areas of the Edge Area. Cattle require testing 60-120 days after their arrival. This affects farms in Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire but not Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, or Bedfordshire.

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 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 TB Hub. 

Advice for conquering canine cabin fever

Dog boredom can be a bigger problem than you might think. Unless your dog is a working breed, it’s inevitable they’ll spend some time alone. The same toys and routine can sometimes cause your dog to become bored too. To help you provide more enrichment opportunities and conquer canine cabin fever, our vets have pulled together some practical ideas for you below.

If you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour and wellbeing, book a check-up with our vets right away.

How to tell if your dog is bored

Dog boredom can quickly turn into problematic behaviours. It can also cause your dog to become anxious and stressed, affecting their happiness and wellbeing.

If your dog is acting differently but doesn’t seem unwell, they might not be getting the stimulation they need. We advise you to keep an eye out for these bored behaviours:

  • Chewing
  • Restlessness
  • Sighing
  • Constantly seeking attention/pining
  • Engaging in destructive behaviour
  • Following you around with a toy when you are home
  • Barking excessively
  • Chasing their tail
  • Digging

Your dog could also be anxious if they are:

  • Barking and howling whilst you are out – neighbours will often tell you
  • Chewing household objects or generally making a mess
  • Toileting inside
  • Panting, shaking and restless

Book a behaviour and wellness check at Towcester Vets if your dog’s behaviour is worrying you.

How to overcome dog boredom

The good news is that overcoming dog boredom is possible. Here are some practical ideas from our dog-loving team at Towcester Vets:

  1. Exciting Adventures: Shake things up by adding new or longer walks to your dog’s routine. Try using obstacles you find on-route, such as trees to weave around and benches (or low curbs for dachshunds and other small dogs) to jump on. Not only will your dog burn off that excess energy, but you’ll also uncover exciting new places to explore together in and around Northamptonshire.
  2. Playful Learning: Playtime isn’t just about having a blast; it’s also a fantastic way to help your dog learn new skills and channel their inner predator in a positive direction. Try hide & seek with toys or treats, puzzle toys and teaching your dog new commands and tricks.
  3. Dog Agility Classes: You never know, your dog might be the next star of Britain’s Got Talent for their outstanding dog agility skills…or they might just have the best time whilst exercising and learning this new activity.
  4. Puppy Preschool & Dog Training: Who says learning can’t be fun? Our vets suggest enrolling your pup in a puppy preschool or a structured class where they can learn obedience, communication, and socialisation skills. Owners can brush up on their skills too!
  5. Buddy System – The More, The Merrier: If you’re a one-dog household, why not arrange playdates with your friends’ dogs? Your dog will gain essential social skills and it will be tail-wagging fun for everyone involved! Plus, your dog will have less time to be alone and bored.
  6. Hangouts With You: With an abundance of dog-friendly cafes, shops and other establishments in your local area, there are plenty of places you and your dog can hang out together, reducing the amount of time they are alone. Top tip: garden centres and pet shops have all the smells your dog will love!

Remember, dogs need rest too, especially the young and old. How much exercise and mind-stimulation your dog needs will depend on their breed, age, health condition, and their individual personality.

If your dog is showing signs of stress and anxiety, or you have any concerns, be sure to book an appointment to ensure nothing else is going on. You may need to enlist the help of a professional behaviourist, and our team are here to help every step of the way.

Book a dog behaviour and wellness check

Towcester Vets shares a simple home check for overweight rabbits

Just like in humans, an unhealthy weight and body composition in rabbits can lead to range of health problems. Our team of vets share a simple test you can do at home to check whether your rabbit could be carrying more body fat than is healthy.

Book a rabbit weight review with a nurse

Why excess body fat is a problem for rabbits

Towcester Vets nursing team explain why it’s important to make sure your rabbit isn’t carrying too much body fat as this can cause health problems, such as:

  • Behavioural changes
  • Dental issues
  • Digestive disorders
  • Heart & respiratory issues
  • Heat stress in hot weather
  • Increased risk of flystrike (from not being able to reach their bottom to clean it)
  • Lethargy
  • Mobility issues, joint strain and arthritis
  • Reduced quality of life and a decreased lifespan
  • Reproductive complications
  • Skin conditions
  • Splayed legs
  • Urinary problems

Try this simple test on your rabbit

You could try the below if your rabbit is happy for you to do it:

  1. Spine: Run your fingers lightly along the spine; if it feels softly rounded, that’s ideal. If the bones are too prominent or sharp, your rabbit could be under-weight. If the spine is difficult to feel, there is probably too much body fat.
  2. Ribs: Feel along your rabbit’s sides with both hands; being able to feel their ribs under a slight layer of fat is ideal. If the ribs are difficult to feel, your rabbit may be overweight.
  3. From Above: A pear-shaped body with a slimmer waist and shoulders is ideal. A rectangular or boxy shape suggests excess fat.
  4. From The Side: A gentle upward curve towards the chest and shoulders is ideal. A straight line from the belly to the chest indicates excess fat.

If you think your rabbit could be carrying too much body fat, book a weight review with Towcester Vets nursing team soon.

How Towcester Vets nurses can help

Our veterinary team are highly experienced in caring for rabbits and helping owners manage their pet’s weight. Our nurses will first confirm if your rabbit is overweight and what their ideal weight and body composition should be. Then, from tailored diet and exercise plans to regular weigh-ins and support, you can count on our veterinary nurses to help you help your rabbit reach new goals.

By addressing these issues sooner rather than later, you can help prevent and manage obesity in your rabbit, and promote better health and longevity.

Towcester Vets talk trauma, poisoning and more cat emergencies

As the weather warms up this spring in Northamptonshire, pet owners will want to be aware of potential emergencies that can arise for their beloved feline companions. Cats can be curious creatures, and sometimes their adventures can lead to unforeseen accidents or health issues. In this article, our team at Towcester Vets highlight some common cat emergencies to watch out for this month and what you should do if you encounter them.

Call us on 01327 350239 in an emergency.

See all our contact information

Five common cat emergencies

1. Traumatic Injuries

With the arrival of spring, some cats may spend more time exploring the great outdoors. Unfortunately, this can increase their risk of traumatic injuries, such as being hit by a car, falling from heights, or getting into fights with other animals. Signs of trauma in cats can include limping, difficulty breathing, bleeding, or visible wounds.

2. Poisoning

Springtime brings with it a variety of new plants and flowers blooming in gardens and parks. Some of these plants may be toxic to cats if ingested, including tulips, daffodils, lilies and crocus. Common signs of plant poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, drooling, and seizures.

3. Heatstroke

As temperatures rise, cats can be susceptible to heatstroke, especially if they are left in hot cars, are shut inside hot rooms, porches and conservatories, or get trapped in greenhouses without access to shade and water. Signs of heatstroke in cats include excessive panting, drooling, lethargy, vomiting, and collapse. If you suspect your cat is suffering from heatstroke, move them to a cool, shaded area, offer water to drink, and contact your nearest clinic immediately.

4. Urinary Blockages

Male cats, in particular, are prone to developing urinary blockages, especially if they have underlying urinary tract issues such as bladder stones or urinary tract infections. Signs of a urinary blockage in cats include straining to urinate, frequent trips to the litter box with little or no urine produced, vocalising while urinating, and signs of discomfort. A urinary blockage is a medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention to prevent serious complications.

5. Respiratory Distress

Cats can develop respiratory issues due to allergies, infections, or underlying health conditions such as asthma. Signs of respiratory distress in cats include laboured breathing, wheezing, coughing, nasal discharge, and blue-tinged gums or tongue. If your cat is having difficulty breathing, call us immediately.

Call Towcester Vets in an emergency

In any emergency situation involving your cat, it’s crucial to act quickly and seek veterinary attention ASAP. Our experienced team at Towcester Vets are here to help. If you encounter any of the emergencies mentioned above or have concerns about your cat’s health, don’t hesitate to call us immediately on 01327 350239.

We’re available to provide emergency care and support for you and your feline companion, ensuring they receive the timely treatment they need to stay happy and healthy. Your cat’s wellbeing is our top priority.

See all our contact information

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