Get in on the action for Walk Your Dog Month in West London

It’s that time when many of us make New Year’s Resolutions – often involving the words ‘diet’ and ‘exercise’. But it’s not just humans that tend to get a little heavier and a little less active during the festive season – our canine companions are likely to enjoy a few extra treats and more hours lying around too.

So it’s a no-brainer that January is Walk Your Dog Month, and, encouraged by our head nurse Georgie, all the team at Notting Hill & Barons Court Vets will be getting behind this initiative. We don’t need to tell you the importance of exercise when it comes to your pet, but we have got a few reminders about some of the less considered benefits. As always, we’re here to offer advice and support when you contact us.

Contact us for advice on dog exercise

There are many benefits to getting out and about in the great outdoors, especially on those wonderful crisp winter days we hope we’re looking forward to. Aside from the smug feeling you get of having got your daily steps in and the joy that seeing your dog racing around and socialising can bring, regular exercise helps ward off some common canine illnesses.

Lack of exercise is a major contributory factor to obesity in dogs, which in turn can lead to the likes of high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis and a generally shorter life expectancy. The same goes for humans too, of course, so those regular dog walks are doing both of you good.

Quite often people cite a busy working life as one of the reasons they don’t walk as often as they could, so Walk Your Dog month is the perfect time to find a way around that excuse. Give yourself something to aim for – a regular slot, a set minimum walking time.

It’s a new year so why not start a search for some new walking locations? Download some country or coastal walk maps from the internet and ask around when you meet other walkers out. You may be surprised by how many local walks there might be that you didn’t know about – it could be a journey of discovery for both of you.

If you’re at all worried about starting a different exercise regime for your dog, we are always happy to advise when you contact us on 020 7229 9797 or book an appointment to come in and see our nurses or vets.

Contact us for advice or to make an appointment

If you’ve ever had a gym workout put together especially to suit your unique physical needs, you’ll know how beneficial such a routine can be. So why shouldn’t a similar regime work for your cat?

Notting Hill Vet’s team know how important it is for cats to stay active, and want to share some suggestions for how you can create what amounts to a home gym for your favourite feline. It’s a terrific way to kickstart your New Year with your companion and help it get fighting fit for months to come.

As always, we’re here to help, so if you have any questions about exercise for cats or what might not be safe if you think yours may be a little overweight, we encourage you to contact us for advice or to make an appointment.

Contact us for advice on cat exercise

Create a home gym for your cat

Many cats love to play chase – it’s not just for dogs – so grab a few ping-pong balls or roll up some bits of paper and encourage your cat to fetch. Treats might help with this but remember you’re not trying to feed them up, so use sparingly.

Cat towers are a staple in many pet owners’ homes, but can often go unused unless your cat is encouraged to get to grips with the climbing and jumping. Again, strategically placed treats or maybe a smattering of catnip will help in getting them to explore their tower more often.

Moving lights are endlessly fascinating to cats, and while you can buy lasers that will do the job, a mirror paired with sunlight or a lamp will do the job without the expenditure. There’s little more entertaining to watch than a cat trying to hold down a beacon of light.

Cats are renowned for being curious creatures and few owners will not have witnessed the hilarity of their pet diving instantly into any boxes or bags that cross their paths. You can capitalise on this and get their cardio up by bouncing balls into open boxes and watching as they rush around after the ricochet.

Finally, if your pet is a house cat, why not think about getting it out and about? You can buy cat collars and leads and it’s no longer such an uncommon sight to see cats being walked by their owners.

Hopefully some of these suggestions will help put you and your cat on the road to increased energy and exercise, but if you have any queries or concerns about exercising your cat, our vet Emma will be happy to discuss them with you, so please call us on 020 7229 9797 to have a chat or make an appointment.

Contact us for advice

The idea of helping a rabbit to exercise may seem an odd one, but like all pets they need physical stimulation, especially if they spend most of their time in their hutch and might be prone to overeating.

So our vet Emma suggests some ways in which you can encourage your pet to move around a bit more, in line with what is always one of the dominant themes of the New Year – keeping fit. If you’ve any questions or concerns you can always contact Notting Hill Vet’s team for advice or to make an appointment.

Contact us for advice on rabbit exercise

Jumping, running, burrowing – all these are activities that rabbits naturally undertake in the wild, so it stands to reason that they should enjoy similar activities in their domestic surroundings.

If you’re able to prepare an outside area you can create a run for your rabbit in which they can do what comes naturally. And offer them some extra encouragement to explore by adding in some makeshift tunnels or some cardboard boxes stuffed with hay in which they can forage. These also make great hiding places as rabbits do sometimes get scared and need to find a safe space.

If you don’t have an area where they can dig – or don’t want holes all over your garden – a litter tray or similar filled with earth or sand makes a handy substitute.

There are plenty of rabbit-friendly toys available and if you mix these up they will provide a point of difference and encourage your bunny to remain interested in its surroundings. For extra encouragement you could try hiding some of their favourite treats around the play area.

Remember that exercise is important to help keep your pet in shape and avoid the nasties that can accompany being overweight, including arthritis and heart problems. It also keeps your pet mentally alert, staving off boredom that can lead to bad habits such as overgrooming. If you are concerned about your pet’s weight and would like some advice, the team at Notting Hill & Barons Court Vets are always happy to chat when you call on 020 7229 9797.

Contact us for advice

It’s easy to assume your cat is healthy – but as you see them so regularly, it’s easy for their weight to creep up (or down) without realising.

Overweight cats are more susceptible to health problems, while underweight cats may have an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. It’s therefore important to keep a close eye on their body condition.

At our 106 Talbot Road practice, our vet nurses offer body condition checks – so why not make a new year’s resolution to book an appointment for your cat this January?

Book a health check for your cat

Discover your cat’s body condition score

A vet nurse will assess your cat on a scale of one to five, ranging from very thin through to obese, explaining the health problems that can come with those extremes. We’ll also advise how to keep your cat at a healthy weight*.

If you’d like to know more, you can also check out our body condition score chart.

Plus, here are a few tips for keeping your cat at a healthy weight:

  • Choose the right food
    Take into account the age, lifestyle and health of your cat. A 12-year-old overweight cat with diabetes needs a different diet to a plump, 6-year-old, neutered tom cat.
  • Count calories
    Work out how many calories your cat is likely to use each day, then feed slightly less than this to reduce your cat’s weight.
  • Increase activity
    • Use toy mice or feathers to encourage your cat to chase
    • Feed your cat in different locations to encourage foraging
    • Provide climbing and scratching posts
    • Scrunched up paper balls are fun to play with
    • Cardboard boxes and paper bags around the house are great to explore and hide in

Ask us for more advice

Winter’s a tricky time when it comes to staying in shape – the cold makes us want to exercise less and eat more. And our rabbits can fall into the same trap – whether they live inside or outside.

If your rabbit has put on a bit weight, our nurses at Notting Hill & Barons Court Vet’s can offer free advice when you book an appointment.

Book a vet nurse appointment for your bunny

Meanwhile, the team has some tips on how you can check your rabbit’s weight yourself and keep up its exercise regime. They can even create a bespoke diet to help get your rabbit back into shape.

Checking your rabbit’s weight

It’s important to make sure your rabbit isn’t overweight, as that can cause other problems, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Heart, liver, and kidney disease
  • Diarrhoea
  • Heat stress in hot weather
  • Splayed legs
  • Arthritis
  • Breeding and birthing problems

A simple check to see if your rabbit is overweight is to feel for its spine. If you can easily feel it, your pet may be underweight. If you can feel it after pressing a little, gently, it is probably normal. But if you can’t feel it at all, it is probably overweight.

Exercising your rabbit in Notting Hill

If your rabbit lives outside you may want to bring it into the house for the winter and let it run around a rabbit-proofed room for a few hours a day to get companionship and stimulation.

Even if you have other animals, such as dogs or cats, in your home, you can make a safe run for your rabbit indoors with, say, a large dog crate.

You could also bring it into another inside space such as a shed, where it will be warmer – but make sure it has an exercise area that is well insulated. Also, make sure it has plenty of toys to provide encouragement to exercise.

Finding the right diet

If the calories have still taken their toll and the weight’s not shifting, diet is important to get your pet back to its trim state.

Our team at Notting Hill & Barons Court Vets will happily develop a diet for your rabbit’s specific needs, so feel free to give us a call and make an appointment for dietary advice.

Get vet nurse advice

January is the most popular time of year for fresh starts – especially of the health and fitness variety.

But if you already have a dog, why pay a gym membership fee? Instead, make life better (and healthier) for both of you by getting fit together.

At Notting Hill & Barons Court Vets, we’re encouraging people to get creative with their daily dog walks and try new challenges.

You need to make sure your planned activity suits your dog, of course – so if you have any concerns about your dog’s age or fitness level, please talk to Georgie or another of our vet nurses for advice.

Book a vet nurse appointment

Dog owners are statistically more likely than other people to exercise frequently, but depending on diet and other factors, it may still not be enough – and there are lots of overweight dogs out there, too.

Overweight dogs (and overweight humans) are more likely to develop health problems, especially as they age, so it makes sense to take action if you can.

We’ve listed our five favourite dog-based exercises for you to try…

  1. Upgrade your daily walk
    A one-hour walk can burn up to 200 calories, so don’t scrimp on the distance – and remember, a longer walk can be more rewarding, too. Warm up in winter months by exploring new routes that you and your dog can enjoy together.
  2. Doggy jogging
    Providing they’re fit enough, your dog will almost ALWAYS be excited to run with you – unlike fellow humans. It might take a bit of training to get the pacing right and make sure you don’t trip over each other, but it makes for a great bonding activity, too.
  3. Dog agility classes
    Whether you buy equipment for your garden or start visiting a dog club or training centre with the right gear, agility training is fun and stimulating for both you and your dog. Why not ask us about dog agility classes near Notting Hill?
  4. Bikejoring
    New to you? It means you get on your bike and cycle while your dog runs ahead, pulling you in a harness. It’s mainly one for the bigger dogs, but there’s no reason you can’t train almost any breed to join in the fun. Why not find out more.
  5. CaniX
    Another one that might be unfamiliar, CaniX involves running events countrywide, starting at 2K. And you’re bound to find a weekend event near you.

And remember, if you have any questions, the team at our friendly vet practice is here to help.

Get dog exercise advice

Would you like a contented cat this Christmas?

We’ve got lots of great festive gift ideas – so Georgie and our other vet nurses have put together a little list of favourites to help your Christmas shopping.

If you’ve got other ideas that you’d like to run by us, or you need specific advice about your cat, please also feel welcome to visit our friendly vet clinic in Notting Hill or give us a call.

Contact us for cat advice

So, here’s our rundown of gifts to make your feline friend purr with delight…

  • Catnip toys – The chemical in catnip makes cats feel excited, so a small toy filled with it is bound to give them hours of fun.
  • Cat treats – Christmas is often a time of over-indulgence, so it’s important not to overdo it – but a few festive treats will help your cat get into the seasonal spirit. Try some varied options to see what they like most.
  • Scratching posts – Give your cat AND yourself a treat with a new scratching post. For them: An entertaining new pastime. For you: Choose a style to suit your décor and limit scratch damage to your furniture.
  • Interactive toys – Upgrade your cat’s playtime with some interactive toys, like chasing balls through tubes, catching butterflies or working out puzzles to get hidden treats. It’s also handy for you, as you know your cat is having fun while you get on with other things.

Don’t forget to ask us if there’s anything you’re unsure about, or a particular challenge you want to solve with a gift.

Ask us about cat gifts

Christmas is a time for indulgence and that can go for your pet rabbit too – especially as they are renowned for having a sweet tooth.

But that doesn’t mean they can hoover up anything – they love a variety of foods but should always eat a natural, vegetarian diet that is high in fibre.

When feeding rabbits treats, it can be easy to overindulge them, so make sure you’re just giving them something small that’s in moderation with their normal diet. If you have any questions we’re here to advise you – just contact us for more information.

Contact us for advice on rabbit treats

You may feel tempted to give your rabbit some of your own Christmas treats but our vet, Emma, warns you should never do that as they may be dangerous. Chocolate in particular is bad for bunnies.

Instead, why not take a look at this list from Notting Hill & Barons Court Vet’s and create a festive feast for your pet that’s healthy too?

What can I feed my rabbit as a treat?

Because of their sweet tooth, rabbits just love to eat fruit, so this is a great option for a treat. However, it’s always best to choose fresh fruit, as the dried versions tend to have higher sugar content. Here are some fruits that rabbits enjoy:

  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Apples (no seeds)

What to avoid when treating your rabbit

Do not feed your rabbit foods that are high in carbohydrates, like breads, crackers, pasta, pretzels, crisps or cereals.

With so much delicious fresh fruit now available all year round, you can make your rabbit feel like Easter’s come early this Christmas. And remember, you can always contact us if you have any queries about your rabbit’s nutrition.

Contact us with your rabbit treat queries

One of the best things about Christmas is the volume of yummy things around the house – and our dogs tend to agree.

However, some festive treats can be very dangerous for dogs, so it’s important to keep them out of reach.

We’ve listed some common offenders below, but if there’s anything you’re unsure about, remember that you can ask our vet nurses for advice.

Plus, if you suspect your dog has eaten or drunk anything that could harm them, don’t hesitate to call us on 020 7229 9797.

Contact us for advice

Foods that are toxic for dogs include:

  1. Chocolate – This much-loved sweet stuff contains a substance known as theobromine, which is poisonous for dogs and can make them extremely ill. Dark chocolate is the most toxic, but paler chocolates can also contain risky amounts. Unfortunately, dogs often love the smell of chocolate and will find it easily, so make sure it’s somewhere they can’t get it.
  2. Nuts – The fat in nuts can make them difficult for dogs to digest; and if they swallow nuts whole, they can cause internal obstructions, which can cause serious clinical problems.
  3. Raisins and grapes – These contain an ingredient which can cause kidney failure in our canine companions, so don’t give your dog any Christmas pudding or mince pies.
  4. Christmas dinner ingredients – Poultry skin and gravy are high in fat; while onions and garlic contain thiosulphate – both of which can cause vomiting and diarrhoea (and lead to more serious complications). Anything heavily spiced or seasoned can also cause problems, as your dog’s stomach isn’t used to it. Stuffing is a typical example.
  5. Cooked poultry bones – It might seem generous to let your dog chew on tasty bones, but they become brittle during cooking and can splinter inside your dog, causing injuries to their stomach and digestive system. Chicken and turkey bones are particularly dangerous.

In case you ever have an urgent problem, take a look at how we handle emergencies at our 106 Talbot Road clinic.

Get emergency vet care

We’re weather-obsessed in this country, and no more so than when it’s cold and wet. And it’s not just us – our small pets aren’t too keen either, but they can’t tell us about it… and sometimes it’s not obvious, especially with small pets.

Rabbits often struggle when the weather turns cold, so your expert vet team at Notting Hill & Barons Court Vet’s has put together some advice for you.

If you’re still feeling worried or unsure after reading this article, please feel welcome to get in touch and book a winter health check. This will put your mind at rest, as well as giving you some great ideas on how to make the transfer between seasons easier at home – for both your pet and you.

Book a rabbit winter health check

Minimising winter risks for rabbits

The most common problems are:

  • Cold temperatures
  • Rain and snow
  • Short days and long nights
  • Lack of grass and grazing
  • Respiratory infections
  • Overgrown teeth
  • Foot sores and pododermatitis
  • Lice and mites

You can minimise these problems by:

  1. Keeping everything clean, dry and free from wind or extreme cold. It may be best to move your housing and run into a more sheltered part of your garden, or inside.
  2. Providing extra lighting.With the longer nights drawing in,our head nurse Georgie recommends this to keep your pet active.
  3. Always supplying plenty of good-quality hay, which is essential to maintain gut activity and to help grind their teeth.
  4. Making sure you watch and observe. Check your rabbit at least twice a day for signs of infection or ill health, such as breathing problems or unusual discharge.
  5. Keeping an eye open for overgrown teeth. If you see abnormally long, twisted front teeth or saliva dribbling, it probably means the teeth need attention.
  6. Checking bedding, as damp or soiled shavings will cause foot infections. Keep all the floor space, food and water bowls clean.
  7. Checking for mites and lice – examine the fur of your pet at least once a week checking for any signs of dandruff, scurf or red skin.

If you notice anything that concerns you, consult the vet nurses 106 Talbot Road practice. They’ll usually be able to give you some quick, useful guidance, or refer you to a vet if they suspect it’s something more serious.

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