Caring for our older pets they may be wise but they may also be stiff!

As our pets get older, they’ll need a little more TLC than younger pets. Their joints may not be as good as they used to be, they might start to slow down and generally rely on you a bit more.

For a lot of pets, just like people, an inevitable part of ageing is stiff joints.
But slowing down and stiffness in old age doesn’t mean that your pet has to suffer. There are lots of things you can do to keep your pet comfortable and active throughout their golden years.

What is Arthritis

Arthritis (osteoarthritis) is a condition that affects joints and causes them to become swollen and painful.

Bones in a healthy joint have a smooth surface, which allows them to glide past each other when moving around. A joint with arthritis has an uneven and worn surface, which means that instead of gliding, the bone surfaces rub against each other, causing swelling and pain.

Over time, arthritic joints become gradually thickened and stiff because and they start to produce new bone that isn’t needed. The extra bone causes more pain when your dog moves around.

I thought I could share some tips for taking care of your four-legged friend’s joints as they get older.

Learn the signs

Knowing the signs that your pet’s joints are starting to get stiffer is really important in taking care of them.
Some common signs are:

  • Limping
  • Walking slower than usual
  • Not using the stairs or steps, or jumping up on the sofa
  • Swollen joints
  • Difficulties when squatting down to toilet

Get a check-up

There are other reasons your pet could be slowing down other than getting stiff joints, so it’s always best to go and see your vet first just so they can rule out other illnesses.

Try supplements

If your pet’s joints are starting to get stiff, supplements might help. They contain ingredients that may help soothe stiff joints as well as keeping joints healthy.

Yumove Lintbell

Don’t stop exercising

If your pet is slowing down, it might be tempting to just give in and let them become a bit of a couch potato, but this won’t help their joints!

The less your pet uses their joints, the stiffer they’ll get. You might have to change your exercise routine a little (shorter but more frequent walks or shorter play sessions) but try to avoid stopping altogether.
Swimming is great for arthritic dogs as it’s puts less strain on their joints.

If your pet can’t walk far you could drive them to a park rather than walk them there. Try to stick to flat walking routes.


Keep them slim

A podgy pet means more pressure on their joints, so if you want to look after your pet’s joints one of the best things you can do is keep them a healthy weight. Remember to feed them the right amount and make sure they stay active. A dog should have a waist and you should be able to feel their ribs if you feel their sides but you shouldn’t see their ribs this is what we call a body condition score.

The right food

To make sure your dog is meeting all their nutritional needs you must feed them a balanced complete dog food and it should be age appropriate I.e Puppy, adult or senior.

Make sure they’re comfy

Make sure you have a warm, cosy space for your pet to snuggle up with a soft, padded bed or some blankets to lie on.

You can also buy special orthopaedic beds for pets that help take pressure off their joints when they’re lying down.

Make their life easier

There are a few changes you can make around the house to make life easier for your older pet:

  • Floors. It’s a good idea to think about your flooring – laminate and tiled flooring tends to be slippery so can make it more difficult for your pet to get up and walk around. You could consider putting down non-slip rugs or carpet runners. Alternatively, try to keep your pet in parts of the house that have carpets.
  • Trips to the toilet. Remember that older pets can sometimes struggle to hold their toileting for as long as they did when they were younger. Give them lots of opportunities to go outside.
  • Getting up and down. Furniture can be a problem too – lots of older pets struggle with things that used to be a breeze, so watch them as they move round the house and if they’re having difficulty you can step in. For example, use small steps to help them get on and off furniture, stop them from accessing high shelves or put cushions on the floor near furniture or windowsills in case of a fall.
  • Stairs. Stairs can also be challenging for some older pets so think about how you could help especially if they usually sleep upstairs. You may need to consider moving their bed downstairs.

Lastly please don’t let your pet suffer with their arthritis there is lots of medication available that can help them.

Vomiting and Diarrhoea

Vomiting and Diarrhoea (specifically Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis)

There are many reasons why dogs can show signs of vomiting and diarrhoea:

• A change of diet 

• They’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have i.e. a toxin/poison or a foreign body e.g. A corn on the cob, a sock or a dummy teat.

• There maybe an underlying health condition like organ failure.

• Worms 

• Stress/anxiety 

I wanted to write specifically about haemorrhagic gastroenteritis because I’ve seen such a rise in cases whilst I’ve been working at the vets. 

My dog, Peggy was poorly last week with HGE. Luckily she recovered without veterinary treatment. I was very close to taking her to work and I actually got as far as the car park but decided to give her one more day of monitoring at home and thankfully she perked up. 

With a new local lockdown and concerns of another country lockdown I thought this information might be helpful. I have seen first hand how tricky it can be to get a vet appointment.

What is HGE?

No one is completely sure what causes HGE yet, but specialists think it is likely to be a nasty bacteria that attacks and damages the lining of the guts.

Symptoms of HGE include:

Dogs with HGE often become poorly very quickly. They can look perfectly normal one day and extremely unwell the next. Fortunately, most dogs with HGE will make a full recovery a few days after treatment from a vet. Symptoms of HGE are very similar to symptoms of parvovirus.

Blood and gut lining in diarrhoea

Treatment

A vet examination to asses hydration level, gum colour, and to feel the dogs tummy, temperature, pulse and respiration rate check. 

Treatment for HGE usually includes:

  • A drip to give lifesaving fluids
  • Anti-sickness medication
  • Small bland meals frequently throughout the day
  • Antibiotics – although they aren’t always needed
  • X-rays and / or blood tests for more information
  • Most dogs with HGE are put into an isolation kennel away from other dogs to help stop the spread of HGE to other vulnerable dogs in the hospital.

Outlook

Fortunately, most dogs treated for HGE make a full recovery within a few days and usually show a big improvement within 24 hours of receiving veterinary treatment.

If your dog isn’t treated quickly, HGE can become a very serious condition and in some cases can cause death.

What can I do at home if my dog starts with Vomiting and Diarrhoea?

As long as your dog has been eating normally and not a puppy or very small breed, you should with hold food for 24 hours.

You should offer water and encourage your dog to drink little amounts but more frequently.  
If you let your dog drink too much at one sitting then they will likely vomit it all back. You could try to bring the water bowl closer to your dog and even try them with ice cubes. 

After you have withheld food for 24 hours you should offer a bland diet. 
Most vets have veterinary prescription diets specifically for upset tummy’s these are my first choice but if you can’t get hold of any then cooked chicken and boiled rice or scrambled eggs is the next best thing. 

You should feed them this diet for four/five days and don’t suddenly stop you need to slowly reintroduce your pets usual diet mixing it in with the bland diet.

Feed small amounts but more frequently to avoid over loading the stomach. 

You can assess your dogs hydration in two ways:

  1. Use your finger to touch the gum line, your finger shouldn’t stick to the gum it shouldn’t be tacky. 
  2. Skin tent this is when you lift up skin at the back of the neck it should go straight back to normal position. If it stays in place like a coat hanger then your pet is dehydrated. 

Monitor your pet, are they lethargic? Measure their water intake. 
When they toilet, assess what they pass.  

* Note if you are ever unsure it is always best to contact your vet for advice *

Photography Tips

Our pets are adorable and it’s no surprise we want to capture their beauty, but they aren’t always cooperative and it can be difficult to get a nice photo of them.

We’ve laid out some top tips below that will help you capture the shots that will get you more fur and less blur!

I realised when I started writing this blog that I should perhaps write tips for taking photos using your phone and tips for using a camera.  All of the tips collectively will make you capture that show stopping shot. 

We use a DSLR Camera to capture our images here at Wishbone Weddings but I know lots of people use their phone. 

Its said that the best camera you can have is the one you have in your hand. 

Photography Tips using your Phone

  • Take lots of Photos, this is the first rule of photography.  
    The more you take, the better your chances of getting a few amazing shots.
  • Pay Attention to your background is there anything that could take that shine away from your photo, for example a dirty bin or plug sockets etc. 
    Simple backgrounds like a sandy beach or green trees, make your dog stand out more.
  • If you want action shots it’s best to take your photos before the 3 mile run, if you want a serene portrait make it after. 
  • Most phones will have an option to use burst mode, which means they take a few photos in one click of the camera, one after the other. This is good for fidgety pets who don’t stay still, or if you’re trying to get an action shot of your pet. You can go through all the photos your phone took afterwards and pick out the best (least-blurry) one.
  • Tap to set focus and exposure!! 
    If you tap a spot on your screen (in this case, probably your pet’s face), that is where the camera will focus and meter for proper exposure. Most of the time, your camera is pretty good at guessing, but you want better photos ALL the time, so help it out and let it know what part of the scene is most important to you. For portraits, whether they are of pets or people, focus should almost always be on the eyes.
  • Try to have a steady hand hold your camera as still as possible to prevent blurry photos.  Try hold your camera phone with both hands and keep your elbows tucked in against your sides, for extra stability.

    You can introduce unwanted movement just by tapping the screen to release the shutter.  
    Did you know that on most smart phones, you can use the volume buttons on the side as a shutter button? That will allow you to hold the phone much steadier, with both hands. (Also great for a cheeky selfie)

  • Something we are always on the look out for are stray hairs, eye gloop, shoe string saliva.   After all our Wishbone Wedding Adventurers need to be looking their best at their parents wedding.
  • There are hundreds of editing apps, try them out see which one works best for you.  Experiment and find your style. 

Photography Tips using your camera  

Lighting

Wherever your pet is, you want your source of light to be your side of the camera not right behind them.  If you take a photo of your pet say, in front of a window with light coming in from behind them, you might find they end up looking very dark and almost silhouetted. 


Window light can create a softer light and has a tendency to bring out the sparkle in your pet’s eyes much better than artificial overhead lights can.

Just remember try to make sure that you are the same side as the light so it lights up your pet’s beautiful face.

When heading outside, look for a spot of full shade to prevent awkward shadows. (On a cloudy day, this soft, shady light is everywhere).



Get Low 

Getting down on your pets eye level will create a more personal pet portrait, as it brings out unique personalities and highlights a more intimate perspective. If you shoot from your eye level, the pet will look smaller and it will be harder to look into those eyes in the shot.

To really make those puppy dog eyes pop, make sure the camera focuses on the eyes by using single point autofocus area and moving the focal point over one of the pet’s eyes.

 

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Forget The Flash

Pets are more sensitive to bright flashes they may be spooked by it or feel unsettled which is the last thing you want.

Treats & Toys

My absolute top tip – food bribes.  
Does your dog have a favourite treat or toy?
Maybe even a word that grabs their attention. Rewarding sit and stays with treats or holding their favourite toy up near the camera not only does it help you to get those lovely shots but your pet will be enjoying himself too.  Make it fun give them some treats play with them and keep sessions short. 

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Use a fast shutter speed, Continuous focus and burst mode

Since many pets have a hard time sitting still, use a fast shutter speed. Set your camera to shutter priority mode or set a shutter speed of at least 1/250 if possible, and even faster for action shots of a game of fetch. Turning the burst mode on will take a sequence of fast shots to up the odds of getting a perfectly-timed shot. Prevent soft images by using continuous autofocus mode, not single.

Practice when your pets sleeping

It might sound creepy but you could take photos of your pet when they are napping as they will be nice, still and settled.  Just try not to disturb them.  Turn off your shutter sound if possible.


I hope these tips help.  Happy Snapping! 

Isolation

Isolation and restrictions have meant that Peggy can’t have her usual 400 walks per day. 

Jokes aside dogs like routine unfortunately this has been taken out of our control for now so it’s important that we focus on things we can control like encouraging our pups to be mentally stimulated. 

Enrichment prevents boredom and destructive behaviour, encourages calmness and keeps their mind sharp.

I wanted to share some enrichment ideas and tips. 

Let’s fight boredom and turn this negative uncertain time into a positive time for you and your pup.  It is a good excuse for some precious bonding time. 

  • Puzzle games and interactive feeders.  I bought Peg a puzzle game from Aldi she wasn’t that into it however she loves her interactive feeder that my husband purchased from amazon.  It is a tumbler shaped transparent feeder.  Peggy has quickly learnt that if she taps it with her paw or noses it then her kibble slowly falls out of it. (I will show a video of her using it)
  • Kongs filling up a kong with your pets food keeps them busy and makes them work for their food.  You can also fill a kong with pet friendly peanut butter or Liver paste. 
  • Use an empty toilet roll. flatten one side of the toilet roll and tape it down with masking tape. Fill the toilet roll with treats or meat.  Flatten the other side same as before then cut a hole in the middle to get their senses going they can then shred the cardboard to find the treats. 
  • Snuffle mats are a homemade toy that provides dogs with an opportunity to sniff and search for hidden treats. The snuffle mat consists of fleece strips tied on to a rubber mat with holes in it. The loose ends of the fleece are on top and provide the hiding spots for the treats.
  • Egg Box simply sprinkle treats into an egg box and close the lid 
  • Doggy Massage there are lots of videos online showing you how to do this not only  is it great bonding for you and your pooch but it’s also very relaxing for him/her. 
  • Podcasts for your dog I’ve spoke about these is the past they can be found on Spotify ‘My dogs favourite podcast’ Give it a listen. 
  • Get the doggy toy box out
  • Fetch in the garden 
  • Sensory bubbles some dogs love to chase bubbles from a bubble blowing wand or bubble machine 
  • Social distancing walk – Try to Mix up your walks by choosing different routes I recently learnt that letting your dog sniff different scents on a walk can help tire them out almost as much as physical exercise.

The South Causey Inn

The North East boasts some of the best wedding venues in England. Wishbone Weddings have chaperoned at lots of these amazing places.

Peggy and I have decided to visit some of our favorite venues to show you why we love them so much and to share with you some venues we haven’t worked at yet but would love to……plus its just a good excuse to get out and about in the gorgeous countryside!

First on the list from our tour of the North East is the South Causey Inn.

The South Causey Inn is set in the beautiful Beamish Valley in Stanley near Durham. The best way to describe this venue would be rustic, cosy and relaxed.

Weddings take place in either the Durham Suite or The Old Barn at present but there is also a new renovation place for a further exciting space for future weddings. We’ll update this page as soon as it opens.

The Old Barn is a spacious private area with its own chapel room where ceremonies take place. The wooden beams and wooden flooring add a touch romance to the venue and the quirky antique decoration has become a real theme throughout the venue and hotel.

The views from the old barn are something else. It looks out at the beautiful Beamish Valley countryside making it a photographers dream with a sprawling countryside which looks impressive whatever the weather.

The Durham suite once a stone stable block has been converted into a perfect space ideal for hosting a perfect wedding. I do love the decor in the Durham suite, along with a homely feel and gorgeous natural light throughout it makes for a really impressive place.

We have been lucky enough to chaperone 10 dogs to their parents wedding at the South Causey inn and each time we are made to feel very welcome by the friendly and professional staff.

The venue is super dog friendly and when you visit you will more than likely see some of the resident dogs milling around the grounds. Dogs are allowed in the bar area, the snug and the hotel has several pet friendly rooms.

The South causey Inn holds a monthly dog walk which takes place at 10 a.m on the first Saturday of every month. Peggy and I have enjoyed these walks and even on occasion have taken photos for the whole group attending. We love to explore the Beamish Woods and nearby Causey Arch.

Peggy loves nothing more than a dip in the hotels lake and I enjoy nothing more than a nice cup of tea at the at The Hotspot bar. The Hotspot Bar is an original 1960s Bedford TK Fire Engine that has been converted into a state of the art bar.

Some photographs I took at the South Causey Inn dog walk

Dental care

Peggy set some New Years Resolutions and one of them was to brush her teeth more regularly so I thought I’d share some vet nurse/dog owner tips on how is best to achieve this.

Healthy teeth and gums
Dental and gum disease

What you will need:
• A toothbrush a children’s toothbrush works well. I use a dual ended dog toothbrush from Virbac. One end of the toothbrush is big and the other end is smaller it just helps get to those back teeth.

• Dog toothpaste (do not use human toothpaste) Dog toothpaste tends to be flavoured appropriately and doesn’t contain lots of salt. I use Virbac Enzymatic toothpaste which is chicken flavoured (Yuk!)

• A quiet place with no distractions

• Time and patience

Take care when putting your fingers into your dogs mouth. I do not recommend it if your dog is likely to bite or become aggressive.

  1. Start by allowing your pet to taste the toothpaste from your finger.
  2. Gently hold his/her muzzle and insert your finger under the top lip on the side of the face.
  3. Rub your finger tip on the teeth.
  4. Introducing the toothbrush to the canine teeth to begin with (Canine teeth are the larger pointy teeth)
  5. Wet the toothbrush with water add the toothpaste
  6. Hold his/her muzzle to gently keep the mouth closed this is to stop him/her chewing when the toothbrush is introduced.
  7. lift the top lip on one side of the mouth gently start to brush the teeth
  8. Brush the upper teeth first then allow the mouth to open so you can brush along the gum line of the lower teeth.
  9. Remember increase the brushing gradually and stop if your dog is becoming stressed.
  10. Repeat on the other side.
  11. Now lift the the top lip at the front of the mouth these teeth are called incisors. Brush the top and lower set of incisors. We leave these teeth until the end as they are more sensitive.

Brushing the teeth is classed as gold standard the best way to keep your pets teeth clean however there are many products on the market that work well.

Vetaquadent – This is a solution that you measure correct amount and add it to your dogs drinking water it doesn’t have a scent or taste but it has anti-plaque ingredients.

Logic gel – Malt flavoured toothpaste that has enzymes which control the amount of bacteria responsible for the development of plaque and bad breath. No need for brushing but comes with a finger toothbrush to help apply the product.

PlaqueOff – A food supplement containing natural seaweed – shown in clinical trials to reduce plaque accumulation. This product is particularly good if your dog has a lot of plaque as it helps change the texture making it soft and easier to remove.

Chews and and toys help keep teeth clean too as they rub the teeth.

cheese!

Christmas

Christmas is such a magical time of year but It can also be a very dangerous time for your pooch. I don’t mean to be a bah humbug but the veterinary nurse in me just can’t help wanting to prevent things going wrong for you and your pet.

TOXIC FOOD

  1. Christmas puddings and Mince pies contain grapes, currents and sultanas which are all toxic to dogs. Take care if you’re planning on leaving a mince pie out for Santa just make sure it’s out of your dogs reach.

2. Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine which is toxic to dogs, be careful not to put chocolate gifts under the tree incase your dog decides to eat them.

3. Alcohol is much more toxic to dogs than to humans so mop up any spillages and never leave left over drinks lying around.

4. Macadamia nuts can cause weaknesses, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia within 12 hours after ingestion .

5. Blue cheese, dogs are sensitive to an ingredient called roquefortine C

6 Artificial sweeteners one in particular called Xylitol is extremely toxic to pets it can be found in some cakes and sugar free gum. It causes liver disease and blood clotting issues.

7. Onions can cause stomach irritation which can lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia.

8. Cooked Bones all bones can become brittle and splinter easily this can pierce your dogs digestive system or cause an obstruction. To avoid this make sure you prepare the meat away from your dog and dispose of carcasses in the outside bin.

DECORATIONS

Christmas Trees – Pine needles can cause stomach upset, cuts in the mouth and in severe cases can puncture in the intestine. Try to hoover often keep the tree watered or buy an artificial tree.

Fairy lights – If your dog tries to eat or play with the lights then they may be electrocuted. You should try tape loose wires to the floor.

Poinsettia, Ivy and Mistletoe – All are mildly toxic they can cause drooling and vomiting.

Tinsel – It will make any vet/ vet nurse sigh if your dog eats this! As it can make its way into the intestines and you can’t just pull it out in one go as it can cheese wires the intestines so you have to make lots of little incisions in the intestines to remove bit by bit.

PRESENTS

Batteries – Can cause chemical burns and metal toxicity always try to keep out of reach.

Silica Gel – commonly found in packaging they are not toxic but have been known to cause blockages in the gut.

Happy Easter Holidays

Just a friendly reminder to keep your chocolate out of reach from your doggies.

I wanted to share this article with you all as it is really informative.

• Why is chocolate toxic to dogs

• What to do if your dog eats chocolate

• What happens if your dog eats chocolate

• What are the main signs of chocolate poisoning

• Chocolate toxicity treatment

There is also a handy chocolate toxicity calculator

Chocolate toxicity calculator

A Day In The Life Of A Veterinary Nurse

I qualified as a Veterinary Nurse in 2006 and began my career working in a mixed practice which meant that I would treat domestic pets but would often visit farms, dealing with livestock and horses.

After a few years I was ready to expand my nursing skills.  I applied to work at a referral veterinary hospital which means it specialises in certain procedures e.g.; eye surgery/treatment, bones, soft tissue, reproduction and medicine.

I have been a locum nurse and travelled around the country working in several practices, (including with the Supervet from the TV) before settling into the very busy veterinary hospital where I work now and have done for the past seven years.

Although there are many challenges that come with the job, nothing beats that feeling you get when you nurse your patients back to health.

My current hospital is extremely busy.  To stay on top of the patients and work that builds up, we have a weekly rota.  Each week the nurses rota changes, which means you may be one of the three nurses working in theatre (helping with operations) or perhaps you’re the Consulting nurse (This means you carry out Nurse Appointments)

Other shifts include; dispensary nurse (dispensing medication), the inpatient nurse (looking after unwell pets and recovering pets after their general anestheics/surgery).

Arrival 8:30 a.m

Upon arrival, the first duty would be admitting the patients and administering injections where they are necessary. This is called a pre-medication (sedative and strong pain killer) to help calm the patients and gives a smoother anaesthetic and recovery.

The patients that have been hospitalised overnight are handed over by the night shift team and are checked by the day shift team, then a nursing care plan is put into place.

9:00 a.m

At 9am it’s time to organise the order of procedures, set up theatres and prepare what is needed for each procedure. It may be that we are repairing a fracture or we could be carrying out a routine procedure like neutering (Spey or castrate).

Veterinary Nurses are allowed to carry out minor surgeries e.g. wound stitch ups, applying dressings, take and develop radiographs, place Intravenous lines (drips) take bloods, monitor anaesthetics, administer medications to name a few.

1pm -2pm (Lunch)

2pm onwards

We would try to complete the procedures for the day and to attend to any extra admissions from the consulting vets and veterinary nurses.

We will also then discharge any patients ready to leave, taking time to explain to their owners their aftercare instructions and to book any follow up appointments deemed necessary.

Emergencies can be rushed into the hospital at anytime.

At the end of each day it is common practise to thoroughly clean the theatres, preperation area, x-ray roo, laboratory and kennels.

We would also need to clean and sterilise the surgical instruments so they are ready for the next day.

Peggy’s Local Boozer

Today we visited Jesmond Dene, the Dene is one of our favourite places to walk.  I love that it is located close to Newcastle’s busy city centre, yet the park is so peaceful and tranquil.

Peggy loves exploring the many bridges and walkways and she especially enjoys paddling in the river at the bottom of the wooded valley.

I cant help but think its her favourite place because its close to her local boozer.

 

Peg’s local is basically a dogs pub that allows humans too, it has a super chilled vibe and is renowned for its amazing burgers!

Peggy ordered a Sundays roast,  described as soft chicken breast & Yorkshire pudding in cat flavored gravy.  She washed it down with doggy beer called ‘bottom sniffer’

Other bar snacks are available, like, Dog pop corn,  Dog ice cream and Natural Choice Sticks.

The Brandling Villa

Peggy stop messing around!! I think she’s tipsy she is copying the pose from the wall art!

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