Uh oh, I found a lump on my pet!

It’s quite common for owners to find new lumps on their pets during routine grooming or cuddle-time and start feeling a little worried. What could the lump be? And what’s the best course of action, monitoring at home for a few weeks or a vet check? Here’s some solid lump advice from our experienced vet team.

What could the lump be?

Lumps on or underneath your pet’s skin can have a number of different causes. Some of the most common types of lumps we see in dogs and cats are infections, tumours, inflammation, cysts or calluses.

  • Infections
    Infections involving the skin can manifest in different ways. Some of the most common types of infection that can cause discrete masses are:
    – Abscesses
    – pockets of infection that can form beneath the skin due to penetrating injuries, such as cat bites or foreign bodies (e.g. grass seeds), or from tooth root infections.– Pyotraumatic dermatitis, also known as “hot spots” – these areas of inflamed, oozing and painful skin occur when your pet scratches or nibbles at an area of skin irritation, and often develop secondary infections.
  • Tumours
    Tumours on or beneath the skin can be benign (i.e. not spreading or causing your pet to become unwell) or malignant (aggressive tumours that can spread around your pet’s body and cause other health problems).– Common benign tumours are lipomas, benign sebaceous gland tumours, skin tags, papillomas (warts), or histiocytomas

    – Common
    malignant tumours are high-grade mast cell tumours, squamous cell carcinomas, soft tissue sarcomas or melanomas

     

  • Inflammation
    It’s common for dogs and cats to suffer from episodes of hives, which are skin swellings caused by mild allergic reactions to insect bites or contact with certain irritating plants, foods or chemicals.
  • Cysts
    Sebaceous cysts are skin swellings that occur when sebaceous glands (oil glands) in the skin become blocked and clogged with sebum.
  • Calluses
    Calluses are areas of thickened skin over pressure points, commonly developing on the elbows of large to giant breed dogs who lie on hard surfaces.

What’s the best next step for pets with lumps?

It’s a great idea to book your pet for a veterinary check of their lump, if:

  • The lump has been present for at least four weeks, or
  • The lump is growing or changing (e.g. becoming red or ulcerated), or
  • The lump is causing your pet discomfort, or
  • You are feeling worried!

At your pet’s appointment, we will perform a general check of your pet and examine the lump itself. In some cases, we will discuss further testing of the lump to confirm a diagnosis. This may involve fine needle aspirate testing (collecting a sample of your pet’s lump using a fine needle, and examining the collected material under the microscope), or booking your pet for a proper surgical biopsy performed under anaesthesia. 

Once we confirm a diagnosis, we can make informed recommendations as to whether your pet would benefit from any further testing or treatment.

So, do your pet a solid and have that lump checked!

Vaccination and parasite control routines for ‘less than cooperative’ cats

Whilst our domesticated feline friends may like to think of themselves as little wild jungle cats, they still require our assistance to stay healthy, starting with the protection of a regular vaccination and parasite control program. Here’s how you can practically achieve optimal protection for your resident feline, even if they are acting a bit like a jungle cat!

Feline vaccination

The F3 vaccination is recommended for every cat who comes into contact with other cats, whether at home, outdoors or in boarding. This vaccine helps to protect them against the effects of feline panleucopaenia (similar to parvovirus in dogs) and two of the most common causes of cat flu – feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus.

To keep optimal immunity, most cats require a series of three kitten vaccinations ( at six-eight weeks of age, 10-12 weeks and 16-18 weeks) and then an annual booster.

If you know your cat becomes very fearful during car journeys or shows anxious or aggressive behaviours in the clinic, have a chat with our friendly veterinary team. Depending on your pet’s particular demeanour, we may be able to recommend calming scent pheromone sprays for the journey or sedative medications that you can administer at home (directly into your cat’s mouth or via food) to reduce their anxiety.

Feline parasite control

We recommend regular flea control for most cats, even if they live indoors, as fleas can be brought in by other household pets or on human shoes. 

Any cat that goes outdoors or into boarding is recommended to be on a regular, year-round routine of flea and worming prevention and, if applicable to your local area, tick prevention as well. There are effective topical products that cover fleas, ticks and some common intestinal worms (which last from one-to-three month’s duration). Depending on your pet’s lifestyle, we may also recommend the addition of a worming tablet every three months.

Whilst this may sound easy in theory, we understand that not every cat will be cooperative!

Most topical products are designed to be administered to the skin at the back of your cat’s neck/scruff area, where they can’t lick it off. It can really help to perform a gentle towel wrap restraint of your cat if they get wriggly, as demonstrated in this video. It may also help to distract them with a tasty lickable treat pouch during the process, and remember to always have a treat ready for your cat afterwards as a positive reward!

Administering tablets to cats requires gentle restraint and correct technique. Here is a video that demonstrates good techniques for giving tablets to your cat. It can also help to coat tablets in butter, or to hide unpalatable tablets in flavourless gelatin capsules, which can be purchased at a pharmacy.

If you’re really struggling to administer routine treatments to your cat, have a chat with our team. Depending on the particular treatment, we may be able to recommend an easier, alternative product. Otherwise, our experienced nurses and vets are always happy to provide hands-on help for you and your pet in-clinic. Together, we can keep your little jungle cat happy and healthy!

Is it an emergency?

Seeing your pet afflicted with any unwellness or injury can be very worrying and may leave you feeling helpless or uncertain, especially if you’re unsure whether their condition warrants an emergency or after-hours veterinary assessment.

With this in mind, we’d like to provide some general information about common emergency symptoms, so you can feel informed about the best course of action should your pet ever be similarly affected.

Weakness, collapse or a sudden inability to walk

If your pet collapses or seems generally weak, this can indicate a severe illness causing shock (low blood pressure), such as dehydration from gut upset, blood loss from internal bleeding or heart disease. It can also indicate a snake bite, tick paralysis or a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting, or even brain/spinal problems.

In very young animals (especially toy breeds), reduced food intake or nutrient absorption (which occurs when they have had vomiting or diarrhoea, or a high parasite burden) can lead to low blood sugar, which can cause weakness and even seizures.

An obvious traumatic injury

If your pet has just experienced a significant trauma, such as a high fall or being hit by a car or bike, they should be assessed urgently, as bruising injuries to the lungs or internal organs can worsen over several hours. Pets should also be assessed urgently if they have a wound that is steadily dripping blood.

Breathing difficulties

Breathing difficulties can be caused by problems with the airways or within the lungs, or issues affecting the chest. They can cause pets to have an increased breathing rate, more noticeable chest or abdominal breathing movements or even begin gasping for breath.

Brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog breeds often have narrow nostrils, excessive tissue in their throat and narrow windpipes. These breed-related issues can be worsened by significant heat or stress, causing sudden breathing distress.

Common lung issues include congestive heart failure (where fluid accumulates in the lungs) or pneumonia.

Issues affecting the chest include trauma (such as being hit by a car or a small pet being attacked by a larger dog), or bleeding within the chest due to rat bait poisoning.

Inability to pass urine

An inability to pass urine can be caused by severe kidney damage (e.g. lily poisoning in cats), or more commonly an obstruction of urinary flow, caused by inflammation or bladder stones blocking the urethra. Trauma causing spinal issues or bladder damage may also cause urine to be retained within the body.

Pets may strain when attempting to pass urine, or just become very lethargic due to the build-up of waste products in their bloodstream.

If you spot your pet struggling to pass urine, or if the urine is blood tinged please get them into the vet straight away.

Ingestion of a toxin

If you know that your pet has eaten something potentially toxic (e.g. human medications or rat bait), it warrants an urgent phone consultation with us for further advice. Depending on what your pet has eaten, and when, we can recommend appropriate treatment or monitoring.

Severe pain

Any cause of significant pain (especially pain of the neck or spine, or pain within the belly) lasting for more than five minutes warrants an urgent veterinary assessment.

If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, we advise calling us for urgent advice. Rest assured, our team are always here to help your pet and set your mind at ease.

Daily care of your pet’s mouth

Regular veterinary care is important for keeping your pet in good health. During your pet’s six-monthly veterinary health checks, we will perform a general physical assessment and make recommendations on any preventative therapies or proactive treatments that we feel your pet would benefit from.

Just as important, however, is the daily care that your pet receives at home! Here are some basic things you can do to support your pet’s long-term health, starting with their mouth!

Choose the right food

We recommend that dogs and cats are fed at least the majority of their diet as a premium veterinary brand food. These dry and canned foods are complete and balanced, having been carefully formulated by PhD certified or board-certified veterinary nutritionists and food scientists to meet guidelines for ingredient quality, food safety and adequate macronutrients (protein, fats and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) necessary for long-term health.

If your pet has any special dietary requirements, we’d recommend having a chat with our vet team for more personalised advice. We can make recommendations on appropriate prescription diets for particular health concerns, or provide advice on how to select a quality commercial diet for your pet. For pets on home-cooked diets, we can refer you to a certified veterinary nutrition service to help ensure that your pet’s diet is complete and balanced in the long term.

Good dental hygiene

Regular home dental hygiene is important for keeping periodontal disease at bay – this is the gum and jaw inflammation and infection that naturally develops if teeth are not kept clean. Periodontal disease will cause chronic pain for your pet (not to mention stinky breath) and can also release bacteria into their bloodstream, affecting the health of other organs, such as the heart and kidneys.

The best home dental hygiene routine involves daily care for your pet, as well as occasional veterinary dental cleaning procedures. 

Depending on your pet’s temperament, home care will involve daily brushing (which is the gold standard of care) or prescription dental diets, chews or food/water supplements. Ask our team for more personalised recommendations on maintaining your pet’s dental health!

Monitoring EDUF

EDUF refers to your pet’s eating and drinking levels, and the quality and quantity of their urine and faeces. Monitoring these activities at home can often give you clues as to any potential unwellness in your pet, especially with more subtle internal illnesses which may not show other obvious symptoms in their early stages.

For instance, a persistent increase in drinking levels can be seen with health issues such as chronic kidney disease, liver disease, Cushing’s disease in dogs, hyperthyroidism in cats or diabetes.

If you notice any changes in your pet that concern you, it’s best to book an appointment with our knowledgeable team for a further assessment.

By taking good care of your pet’s mouth on a day-to-day basis, feeding a quality diet, and monitoring EDUF, you can help ensure their general health and quality of life – and that’s the tooth!

The trouble with leftovers

Two years ago, a couple of days after Christmas, Pepper seven-year-old female Schnauzer was acting quieter than usual. She had left half her breakfast untouched, which for Pepper was highly unusual. Over the next few hours, Pepper became increasingly lethargic and began vomiting. Pepper’s concerned owner, Bec, decided to take her to the vet for an assessment.

Pepper was examined and found to be dehydrated with a very sore tummy. She was still nauseous, retching as her tummy was gently palpated. The vet asked Bec if Pepper might have had access to any Christmas leftovers, citing a few common culprits, such as:

  • Fatty leftovers – such as Christmas ham, turkey or nuts – which can cause gut upsets or pancreatitis
  • Cooked bones, which can cause gut damage, obstructions or constipation
  • Potentially toxic foods – such as raisins, grapes, chocolate, coffee or any foods sweetened with xylitol – which can cause vomiting

Bec told the vet that on Boxing Day, she had given Pepper a bowl of leftover Christmas ham as a special treat. She admitted that Pepper could have also sneakily eaten other leftovers out of the family’s waste bin, including the string netting from a turkey. 

Blood tests showed that Pepper had a mild elevation of her liver parameters, and her blood sample was unusually cloudy and fatty. An extra in-house blood test to screen for pancreatic inflammation indicated a positive result. Thankfully, an x-ray did not uncover any signs of ingested foreign objects.   

Bec was advised that Pepper was likely suffering from pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas that can be triggered by a fatty meal, with symptoms including lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea and tummy pain. Unfortunately, Schnauzers are particularly predisposed to this condition.

Pepper was treated for her pancreatitis and was much brighter the next day, once again showing her characteristic interest in food. After two days in hospital, Pepper was sent home with anti-nausea medication, pain relief and a prescription low-fat diet to help her inflamed pancreas to settle. 

Thankfully, Pepper made a full recovery. Now, Bec is extra careful with the foods and treats she gives to Pepper, to ensure Pepper never goes through that again.

So remember, whether it’s Christmas Day, Boxing Day or any other day of the year, fatty leftovers are simply a no-no for your pet – and always ensure your table scraps are securely stored in a bin away from any covert diners. 

Cat anxiety: Not feline very good!

Did you know that many cases of feline anxiety may sadly go unrecognised? 

This is because cats, not being pack animals, won’t always seek social support as a dog would, and instead may mask feelings of stress to avoid appearing “vulnerable”.

What are the potential symptoms of anxiety in a cat?

In more introverted cats, anxiety symptoms can be quite passive and may simply involve the cat seeming a bit quieter, hiding more or eating less.

Some cats may show more overt signs of distress, such as overgrooming (creating bald, irritated skin patches), toileting inappropriately around the house or becoming hypervigilant and “jumpy”.

Unfortunately, a significant state of stress can also affect a cat’s immune system, and may potentially trigger other health issues, such as:

  • Feline idiopathic cystitis – painful urinary tract inflammation that causes symptoms similar to that of a UTI
  • Recurrent “cat flu” symptoms, involving eye or mouth ulcers, conjunctivitis or nasal discharge
  • Gut upset – seen as vomiting and/or diarrhoea, particularly in cats who already had sensitive guts
  • Obesity, which increases the risk of conditions such as diabetes

What are some common causes of anxiety in cats?

In some cases of cat anxiety, there is an obvious stress factor associated, such as building work, the introduction of a new pet, housemate or baby to the household, or the loss of a beloved human or animal companion.

However, cats can be quite sensitive to changes in their social environment, and can potentially have anxiety triggered by more subtle factors, such as human emotional upset within their household, or changes in routine.

A very common reason for stress in cats is aggression between them and another cat within the household or neighbourhood. This does not always involve obvious hissing or fighting, and can sometimes just be seen more subtly as two cats glaring at each other in an unfriendly manner, or blocking each other’s access to litter, resting or feeding facilities!

What should I do if my cat seems anxious?

If your cat is showing any behavioural changes suggestive of anxiety, it’s best to book an appointment with our vets for further assessment, so we can confirm the problem and look for any potential associated medical issues.

In many cases, we will recommend environmental interventions to help reduce your cat’s anxiety, such as:

    • Supporting your cat in “avoiding” the stressful factor – ensuring each cat in the household has access to their own litter tray (plus an extra one), as well as a separate food and water bowl, and several comfortable, private hiding spots in quiet or elevated locations to retreat to if required
    • Trialling the usage of calming pheromone products, such as Feliway
    • Frequently offering (but not forcing!) gentle, pleasant interactions with your cat, such as grooming, playing with interactive toys, or petting

If your cat is very anxious, we may also discuss the usage of an anti-anxiety medication to help them recover.

With appropriate, understanding management, we can help your concerned cat to feel content and paw-sitive again once more!

Atopy management

Has your pet been diagnosed with an underlying allergy as the cause of their recurrent ear or skin irritation? 

Whilst this can be disappointing news to receive, you and your pet can take comfort in the fact that we are very familiar with the management of allergies!

Types of allergies

There are four main types of allergies that can cause recurrent skin or ear disease in pets. These are:

  • Atopy (food +/or airborne) – allergies to airborne materials such as pollens or dust mites
  • Food allergies – allergies to food components, usually particular proteins, such as beef or dairy
  • Contact allergies – when your pet reacts to direct contact with particular plants or chemicals
  • Flea allergies – allergies to the saliva in flea bites

If we suspect underlying allergies as the trigger for your pet’s skin or ear disease, we will perform some treatment trials to help determine the cause. This will include a thorough flea control program, a hypoallergenic dietary trial and a check of your pet’s environment for any common irritating plants.

These steps will help to test for flea allergies, food allergies or contact allergies as the trigger for your pet’s irritation. If your pet is deemed to not be affected by any of these allergies, their problem is likely to be atopy. Atopy can be a frustrating problem to deal with, as there’s nothing you can directly control in your pet’s environment to fix the problem!

There are, however, many effective management options that we can recommend to help your pet, depending on their particular symptoms and temperament, and your budget.

Allergy testing and immunotherapy

The gold standard option for atopy treatment is a referral to a specialist dermatologist for special skin testing. This testing can determine exactly which environmental materials your pet is allergic to, so they can be started on an allergen-specific immunotherapy program. This involves regular injections, which over six months to one year can reduce or cure your pet’s allergies. This option however is not financially possible for all owners, and doesn’t work for every pet.

Medical management of atopy

For many pets, a great option for control of their allergy symptoms is the use of regular anti-inflammatory medications.

Traditionally, steroids such as prednisolone have been used (as tablets or injections). Whilst effective and relatively inexpensive, steroids can unfortunately have significant side effects on some pets, such as immune suppression or gut irritation.

If your pet’s symptoms are localised to small areas of their body (e.g. their paws or ears), topical steroid sprays, creams or ear drops can provide effective control of inflammation, whilst minimising any potential side effects.

More recently, anti-allergy medications, such as Apoquel tablets and Cytopoint injections, have provided an effective way of managing allergy symptoms, with reportedly low long-term risks.

Additionally, we can recommend supportive aids, such as essential fatty acid supplements, prescription diets and soothing shampoos that can provide safe “background” support for your pet’s skin health and comfort.

So, if your pet has been diagnosed with a skin allergy, rest assured – our veterinary team can provide valuable assistance in order to bring relief to both you and your pet!

Dental Duties

Veterinarians frequently recommend pet “dentals”, but what does this procedure actually involve? Read on as we explain more about what happens during a dental procedure, and how we can help keep your pet’s pearly whites clean and healthy!

Anaesthesia

For a thorough dental treatment, we recommend that animals have a general anaesthetic for their comfort and safety. This allows us to properly clean several millimetres below the gum line, a place where bacteria-filled plaque can hide. 

Additionally, a general anaesthetic means that your pet is not stressed or feeling any discomfort or pain during the procedure. They’ll receive a pre-anaesthetic sedation or ‘pre-med’, which includes some relaxing pain-relief medication to ready them for a comfortable little snooze! 

Periodontal probing and charting

The first step of a dental procedure is to probe around your pet’s teeth with a special measuring instrument. Unusually deep gum pockets around your pet’s tooth roots suggest periodontal disease – which means there is permanent inflammation and damage.

These findings, along with any other notable changes – such as missing or damaged teeth, will be noted on your pet’s dental chart, allowing us to record any symptoms of dental disease.

X-rays

If the initial examination reveals any obvious abnormalities in your pet’s mouth, dental x-rays may be recommended. Just like when we x-ray an injured leg, it’s important that we look below the surface to properly diagnose the issue!

Dental x-rays help us find ‘hidden’ problems such as dental abscesses, resorptive lesions (similar to cavities) and jaw bone changes, such as those involved with tumours.

Scaling and polishing

Your pet’s teeth will then be given a thorough clean by ultrasonic scaling to remove any plaque and hard tartar deposits. After this, the teeth will be polished with an electric polishing device and a very fine gritty paste – this smooths the outer enamel layer to slow the reformation of plaque.

Extractions

If our examination reveals any significant tooth damage which is painful or will cause issues, and cannot be repaired, we will recommend that the tooth be extracted.

If teeth are already loose, they are removed using fine instruments to carefully sever any remaining attachments. If teeth are still firmly fixed (e.g. broken teeth), they may require a surgical extraction. This involves using a special dental drill to section multi-rooted teeth into pieces, and carefully remove small amounts of surrounding bone. In the case of large extractions, the extraction site will be carefully stitched closed afterwards, with dissolving stitches.

Pets undergoing extractions generally receive ‘local anaesthetic’ injections or nerve blocks – these are numbing injections administered into certain locations in the mouth to block sensation for several hours, preventing any pain. Depending on their particular procedure, your pet will also be sent home with 1-5 days of additional pain relief, which helps to ensure that they experience minimal discomfort during the healing process.

As you can see, each dental procedure involves a thorough assessment and treatment of any dental issues. This helps to ensure that your pet’s mouth remains comfortable and healthy, helping to maintain their overall wellbeing and quality of life!

Recurrent “sensitive stomachs”

Signs of poor digestive health in your dog or cat can be uncomfortable for your pet and be a cause of concern for you. Some owners write these signs off as a ‘sensitive stomach’, and either tolerate the symptoms – feeling as though that’s normal for their pet, or try various different diets in the hope that this may help settle their pet’s tummy issues. But when do recurrent vomiting and/or diarrhoea signs warrant veterinary diagnosis and treatment?

What symptoms can occur with poor digestive health?

Poor digestive health can cause symptoms, such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal stools – diarrhoea, foul-smelling stools, or stools with blood or mucus
  • Straining to pass stools, which may come out as small “blobs” of soft material
  • Excessive flatulence
  • Poor or picky appetite
  • Weight loss or poor growth in young animals

What can cause intermittent tummy upsets?

Symptoms of an upset stomach can be caused by various problems affecting the gut itself. These can include:

  • Chronic gut infections, such as giardia or worms
  • Food responsive gut issues (e.g. food allergies)
  • Bacterial imbalances in the gut
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Gut tumours

Signs of vomiting and/or diarrhoea can also be caused by other common illnesses around the body that can cause nausea, such as:

  • Kidney disease
  • Hormonal imbalances (e.g. hyperthyroidism)
  • Liver disease
  • Pancreatic inflammation or insufficiency

How can we diagnose what is causing a pet’s upset tummy?

If your pet suffers recurrent bouts of vomiting or abnormal stools, or if they seem very unwell during an upset tummy episode, it’s important to book an appointment with one of our vets for further assessment, because as you can see above, there are many potential causes!

If your pet is generally well, and in good condition, we may perform a few simple faecal tests to rule out infectious causes, such as worms or giardia. Then, we may start prescription veterinary diet trials, beginning with a highly digestible diet with altered levels of fibre for gut bacteria health. We may also suggest a probiotic for your pet, and other medications to manage vomiting or diarrhoea symptoms.

If your pet is more significantly unwell (e.g. losing weight, having severe vomiting or diarrhoea, or becoming lethargic), or not responding to the simple therapy above, then we are likely to suggest further testing. This can include blood tests, abdominal imaging (e.g. ultrasound) and sometimes surgical biopsies of the gut. We may also start your pet on a strict hypoallergenic dietary trial – this helps settle symptoms in pets who have allergies to certain proteins in some foods.

If testing shows that your animal has significant gut bacteria imbalances or inflammatory bowel disease, they may need more long-term medical treatment. This can include long courses of certain antibiotics or sometimes steroid anti-inflammatories.

Gut issues can be complicated, so it may take a variety of diagnostic tests and several treatment trials to diagnose your pet’s issue and find what therapy works best for them. However, once we do, your pet’s symptoms will be relieved, and they may surprise you by being a lot happier and more sprightly again! 

So, if your pet shows poor digestive health signs, it’s best to book them in for an appointment. Vomiting, flatulence and abnormal stools aren’t nice – for anyone!

Diets and exercise by lifestage

Like us, our pets can unfortunately fall victim to the ‘middle-aged spread’ and put on weight. This occurs due to the natural slowing of the metabolism associated with ageing, which can predispose your pet to excessive weight gain. For this reason, depending on the lifestage of your pet, we often recommend varying their dietary and exercise routines, to help ensure they stay at their healthy best!

Puppies and kittens

Puppies and kittens have high-energy and nutrient requirements for growth. However, young puppies and kittens also have small, immature digestive systems. 

For this reason, it’s recommended that your puppy or kitten is fed a balanced puppy or kitten veterinary diet designed for growth. These foods have higher energy levels and ensure the correct balance of nutrients such as calcium, phosphate, essential amino acids and vitamins – to ensure your pet develops a healthy musculoskeletal and immune system.

It’s best to keep growing animals in healthy, slim body condition – being underweight means your animal may not grow healthily, and being overweight can worsen certain developmental joint conditions, such as hip dysplasia.

At this age, it’s recommended to not over-exercise puppies (particularly larger breed types e.g. labradors), as they can be at risk of joint damage if exercised too vigorously during growth. As we all know, kittens do what they want exercise-wise, and luckily tend to be pretty hardy!

Adults

When your pet becomes an adult (10-12 months old for cats and smaller dogs, and 18-24 months old for dogs over 25kg), it’s best to transfer them to a high-quality, balanced adult diet, and follow daily feeding guidelines. This will help ensure that your pet does not start to gain weight now that they’re no longer growing.

Consider “indoor”, “neutered” or “healthy weight maintenance” diet types for less active pets. More active adult pets (e.g. working dogs) may require special ‘working dog’ diets to meet their higher energy requirements.

As long as you keep any exercise appropriate for your dog’s physical limitations (e.g. not exercising in hot or humid weather, especially if your pet is snub-nosed, overweight or has other health issues), adult dogs can enjoy most exercise activities freely, such as swimming, running, walks or ball games! Just make sure you gradually taper your pet up to very vigorous exercise, just as you would for yourself.

With indoor cats, aim for two five-minute toy play sessions daily, and encourage access to climbing frames and scratching posts.

Older animals

From eight-to-ten years of age, pets can start to slow down. It’s best to ask our vet team for individual advice regarding the best diet for your elderly pet, as some animals may need to be transferred to a “senior diet” with added joint support, reduced calories, or reduced protein, and some may require special prescription veterinary diets e.g. for kidney disease support.

Older animals should still receive gentle to moderate daily exercise that’s appropriate to their abilities. This helps to keep their muscles strong for joint support and gives them important mental stimulation. 

Whatever the lifestage of your pet, please feel free to ask our team for an assessment of your pet, so we can provide more specific advice around their dietary and exercise requirements. Like you, we want your pet to be looking and feeling their best!