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Care of your cat or dog

Some thoughts by Dr Nevill

Whether or not to vaccinate is one of the first questions I am asked. I started practice before the common use of domestic animal vaccines, but now they are universally available, I do believe in them and the good that they have achieved. However I do believe that they are routinely put in too early and often too intensely.

Nowadays we have the luxury of being able to choose titre testing for canine diseases to determine whether or not a vaccine is needed, and I believe that although this is more expensive, it is more satisfactory.

Similarly, having seen the devastating effects of parasitic worms, I do believe in worming not only the pets in my household but my grandsons and myself.

You are the pack leader for your animal family, and as such you must choose the position your chosen furry friend will fill, create security, and give clear (not angry!) instructions to make your expectations produce results.

Exercise and fun are important. For felines this means enriching their environment with elevated sitting areas, hanging toys and climbing poles if there are no trees.

For dogs probably the most important factor in their life is having a job, even if it is cat watching or monitoring the front door. Training schools are everywhere and dogs love to go for a special day out. Weekly adventure walks are bonding experiences with new places and new people to meet.

Diet is the basis for health, and while acknowledging the convenience of cans and dry food, we advocate an all or mostly raw diet. If you bone out a herbivorous animal together with the large grass eating stomach, you will find about 1/3 indigestible skin and bones, 1/3 meat, and 1/3 edible bowel with its plant contents. We consequently suggest that meat for your carnivorous pet should be fed roughly half and half with mixed complex veggies. In old or sick animals this ratio can be increased to 2/3 complex veggies. Add bones twice weekly

In this modern age with rampant 'pickitarianism' there are so many BADDIES; gluten, milk, sugar cooked fats etc to add to lists of common intolerances. Reducing complexity of bowel flora is most commonly held to be the culprit, causing increased bowel sensitivity and permeability. Complex raw carbohydrates are the food for the good bacteria to make vitamins and anti inflammatory substances like butyrates. We work with the energetics of food to tailor the diet for each specific animal. So HOT animals are fed a COLD diet which is most likely to balance them.

Healthy chewing and safe bones in the diet are encouraged to prevent dental caries.

Both dogs and cats are efficient predators with acute senses. They observe the people around them and repeat behaviour which produces rewards. They read body language far better than we ever can! If we find irritating behaviour in our pets we should first look at how our own behaviour has reinforced these.