The bond between a pet and its owner is very strong and provides huge rewards. Along with the rewards comes the responsibility of caring for a living creature that depends upon you for all its needs. Caring for your pets needs means providing a good diet and living environment. Register your pet with your local vet even if it is perfectly healthy, you will know where to go in an emergency and your vet will be able to give you advice on routine health care.
The key to recognising illness in your pet is to know what your pet is like when it is well. Often an owner will be able to detect subtle changes in their pet's behaviour or appetite that indicate illness well before anyone else can. Your partner in caring for your pet should be your veterinary surgeon. Regular visits to a vet for routine health checks and preventative health care such as vaccination or dental care allow you and your pet to build a relationship with your vet. Early detection of clinical diseases will allow your vet to give more effective treatments. Most pets live with us as part of the family - maintaining their health also means there is less risk of them passing on disease. The chance of you catching a disease from an animal is small but there are some diseases that people can get from animals (zoonoses). A healthy pet is unlikely to pass on disease.
If you are not already a Chantry Vets client we would love to welcome You and Your Pet to one of our surgeries, please CLICK HERE to register your pet online.
Your questions answered
What are the signs of good health?
A healthy animal will have bright eyes, clean ears, eyes and nose and be interested in what is going on around it. The amount of food an animal eats varies a lot between individuals - if your pet's weight remains constant then they are eating the right amount of food. You should be concerned if your pet's appetite or water consumption suddenly changes, or your pet suddenly starts to gain or lose weight. When in good condition a pet's coat should be shiny, soft and free of parasites.
How do I keep my pet in good health?
To keep your pet in good condition it must be fed a healthy diet and allowed regular exercise. Mental stimulation in the form of an interesting environment and opportunities to play are also important. The closer your pet's diet and environment is compared to how it would eat and live in the wild, the healthier and happier it will be.
What is a healthy diet?
A healthy diet is a balanced diet containing all the nutrients your pet requires. Not all small pets requirements are the same. For example, mice, gerbils, hamsters and rats are omnivores, which means that, like us, they naturally eat mainly vegetable matter, but to keep in good health require some food of animal origin as well, eg cheese, insects, meat, egg, etc. Guinea pigs, rabbits and chinchillas, however, are herbivores, which means they only eat vegetable matter, eg grass, hay, fresh fruit and vegetables.
How can I maintain my pet's health?
There are a number of measures that can help prevent your pet developing diseases. You should discuss the special needs of your pet with your vet.
It is a sad truth that the number of pets born every year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of healthy animals are destroyed and many unwanted animals are abandoned and left to fend for themselves. Having your pet neutered will help to reduce the number of unwanted animals and can also help to safeguard your pet's health and welfare. Neutering is a common procedure in rabbits; guinea pigs and chinchillas can also be neutered. It is less common to have other small pets like rats and mice neutered and most people tend to keep them in groups where all animals are the same sex.
Dental care
All rodents and rabbits have front teeth that grow continuously, so a high fibre diet is essential to allow the teeth to wear down naturally. Fresh grass or hay is a good source of fibre and should form the majority of the rabbit's diet. You could also provide something for your pet to gnaw on, for example a wood or hide chew toy. This will help to keep your pet's teeth in good condition and prevent dental problems. If you notice that your pet's teeth are growing too long, your vet will be able to trim or file them down with a dental drill.
Most small pets do not require vaccinations against disease. However, rabbits are susceptible to two fatal diseases, Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) for which a safe and effective vaccination is available. Make sure your rabbit is regularly vaccinated against these diseases if you want them to stay fit and healthy.
Ferrets also require vaccination against Distemper, this is a fatal disease and regular vaccination is required to keep your ferret safe and healthy.
How do I know if my pet is unwell?  
If your pet has a poor coat condition, dull eyes, dirty ears, eyes or nose it may indicate that they are unwell. Changes in behaviour (a normally happy and affectionate pet may become grumpy and avoid human contact, preferring to hide away by itself), altered appetite or water consumption should also alert you to the possibility that there may be a problem with your pet. Most animals recover from illness in 24-48 hours - if your pet does not seem to be improving in this time or is getting worse then you should contact your vet.
Is your Dog in Good Shape?
Can I feel my dog´s ribs?
The Body Condition Score (BCS) is a measure that tells you if your pet is at or above its ideal weight. One way vets test for your own pet's body condition is by checking just how easy it is to feel their ribs.
Select your pet then drag the slider to the left or right until the picture resembles your dog.
Remember a dog's overweight condition can increase the risk of developing serious health conditions including diabetes, arthritis, cancer or heart disease. It will also limit his energy. Talk to your vet about your dog's ideal weight and avoiding these risks.
Please CLICK HERE for more info.
What causes weight gain?
Your vet has probably already discussed with you how easy it is for even the most diligently cared-for pet to put on weight. 

As well as the obvious potential causes - eating too much, excessive snacking or exercising too little - there can be other contributing factors:

  • As pets age, they become less active and therefore need fewer calories
  • Some breeds are more predisposed to weight gain than others, including Labrador retrievers, cocker spaniels and mixed breed cats
  • The process of neutering or spaying alters the metabolism of pets, making them prone to weight gain
  • Occasionally weight gain is associated with specific medical conditions that require particular treatment 

You can check your pet´s Body Condition score and check for other signs that indicate if your pet is overweight. Please CLICK HERE for more info.

  • Collar needs loosening
  • Slow movement
  • Difficulty in walking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Mood swings
  • Sleeps more than usual
Your dog´s ideal weight?
Ideal weight may vary by breed and individual, always discuss your pet's weight with your vet. Please consult your vet before starting any weight loss programme for your dog. 

Chantry Vets within "Free Nurse Clinics Voucher" offers to weight your pet FREE of charge. You can get the best advice of your pet´s weight by our qualified nurse. Click here if you want to Book Online Free Nurse Clinic.



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