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Rick's Animal Corner

In Sickness & in Health

Other Useful Facts
The Story of Fidget the Rottweiler
In Sickness & in Health
Do animals show remorse?
Accommodation, Exorcise & Feeding
Ben Who Became Ben Hurr
Your Responsibility to Animals in your care under Welfare

Illness or disease, Providing medication & assessing sick & healthy animals:

Examples of Zoonosis:


  • Ringworm
  • Mange
  • Mad cow Disease
  • Distemper
  • Colds & Flu (Humans to Ferrets)
  • Leptospirosis known as, Lam-post Disease (Between Dogs & Rats)
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Tetanus


A mother & young may also be restricted for health reasons. With newborn or very young, their immune system will not have developed fully & the young might not have had their first vaccination. Young, elderly & infirm animals are less likely to be able to avoid dangerous situations. Having had surgery for whatever reason, you might be advised by the vet to restrict exercise. Too much stimulation & quick movement might damage stitches/surgery.


The types of preventative care for maintaining the health & wellbeing of animals, keeping your animals in good health:


        Feed appropriate & correct amount of food

        Provide fresh water daily

        Monitor the weight of your animal(s)

        Groom fur/hair, clip nails & clean teeth

        Ensure the vet gives annual vaccinations/boosters

        Ensure appropriate exercise & space is given to prevent obesity. Toys will help mental & physical stimulation.


The vet will undertake more advanced health checks & if needs be, the vet will use x ray & other equipment. 

It is important you also give your animals health checks, as you are likely to establish health problems if any by checking the animal from head to toe & health checking topically as you are likely to find lumps that could be abscesses or tumours & loss of hair/fur if any. If you notice any signs of abnormalities, Never delay taking action by contacting the vet. If regular medication is required, ensure this is applied. Regular worming to young dogs, cats & other animals alike is essential. Neutering/spaying is vital if breeding is not intended. Even when your animal(s) get to a stage in their lives where you should no longer breed from them, it is recommended they be ­ (Neutered males) (Spayed females). Un-neutered males can be susceptible to Testicular Cancer & females are at risk of Uterus Cancer. Spaying/neutering shouldn’t be carried out on a dog, cat & some other animals until they are at least 6 months old.


Special dietary needs: Your vet will advise you of this with what sort of food & quantity to give. Some of the problems could entail:

  • Heart, Liver problems
  • Obesity
  • Weight Loss
  • Allergy
  • Dental Problems
  • Pregnant & mother with young


Note: Working dogs usually require a special diet.


How may you adjust the environment for the health & wellbeing of animals?  You must ensure an animal lives in the appropriate environment governed by their needs:



Take into account the type of animal(s) you are keeping & their circumstances. Young, elderly, infirm, pregnant, weaning or ill animals. You will have to consider their environment & if the environment they live in is contributing to illness or stress. This could mean altering temperature, keep noise at a minimum & keep ill animal(s) away from stressful situations. Ensure they live in the appropriate accommodation. It might be necessary that you isolate an animal.

Enough space for exercise, living & sleeping quarters is essential. Correct temperature, ventilation, lighting & correct bedding are essential. It is important to keep accommodation secure, clean & tidy as this will help prevent infection. There are special pet disinfectants on the market which can be used with hot water when cleaning out accommodation & surrounding area for animals. Most good pet shops will stock disinfectants. Trying & Parvo are two very good types to consider. Never use domestic bleach as this will be too strong & could burn the animal.


Should your animal(s) become ill, you should take the following actions:


        If appropriate, isolate

        Keep in a temperature suitable to their needs

        Monitor animal(s) if they are eating & drinking normally

        Monitor & observe behaviour pattern

        Do a health check with out stressing the ill animal

        Look for signs of discharge from the eyes, nose, mouth, anus & genitals

        Look out for possible diarrhoea & sickness


In case of ill health & or a health emergency, try to establish the cause & observe signs of the problem. If the animal is on medication, there is a chance that medication has been missed by accident. This could have a detrimental impact in that it could cause serious illness. If you are unsure of what to do, urgently seek help from your supervisor if you are in a working environment then get professional help (veterinary) if needs be.


Isolation: You may have to isolate animals to reduce the spread of

illness/disease being passed on to others. If isolation is appropriate, it’s likely that you will have to use separate feeding utensils. This means washing & keeping them stored separately. Using separate dog & cat collars, dog leashes is important to avoid the spread of infection such as mange & other contagious infections.


Quarantine: This is different in that quarantine is where you keep animals separate from others for a set time to assess whether they have disease/illness or not.



Signs of poor health:


Posture: This may be affected if an animal is ill. This could result in the animal being unable to stand, sit or walk strait or walk with difficulty or appear off balance.


Appearance: The animal may show a number of signs such as, Discharge from eyes, nose, ears, anus or genitals. This may smell bad & the colour of the discharge could be green, yellow or red. Coat may look dull, may have loss of hair or may be matted & tangled. The animal may be over or under weight. There may be swelling of the stomach or there may be lumps or sores upon the animal.


Movement: This may be affected if the animal is in poor health. The signs may be the animal might be limping or slow moving resulting from injury or illness. There may also be no movement or less movement than usual. There may also be excessive movement such as twitching or scratching. This may be caused by irritation or pain.


Behaviour of the animal can indicate the health of the animal. If the animal is showing indifferent behaviour or acting unusual, this could be due to illness or worry. The animal may be unwilling to be handled & could become irritable. The appetite of the animal maybe affected, as eating & drinking patterns could change.


Bodily functions of the animal could be an indication of illness. Unusual faeces patterns or diarrhoea could show that an animal is unwell. The animal may be constipated or unable to pass water. Any abnormal actions such as these would need further investigation. The animal may not be able to control their toileting & become incontinent or appear in discomfort whilst passing urine or faeces. The animal may vomit & not hold down their food.

Note: Some animals can’t vomit.




Applying medication


Orally (also known as per os P/O)

  • Tablets
  • Liquids
  • Capsules
  • Granules


Advantages: Less invasive, less chance of injury, owner can administer, can be put into food (Ensure it is eaten). Such medication can easily be reversed within timescale by using Soda Crystals


Disadvantages: Can get bitten, animal could spit it out, take longer to take effect or owner may forget to administer.


Applying medication to a dog usually takes one person. However some dogs & other animals such as a cat may struggle if it’s not used to this so assistance may be required.


Method Grasp upper jaw with thumb & forefinger behind canine teeth. Lift head, nose pointing to the ceiling & lower jaw will drop slightly. Open lower jaw with 3rd & 4th fingers of your other hand, place tablet/capsule at the back of the tongue then close mouth & keep head raised until medication is swallowed. TIP! Sometimes dripping a small amount of fluid into the mouth will encourage the animal to swallow. If applying liquids or powders, these can be mixed with food. Liquids can also be given orally with syringe but persevere as animal may struggle.


Applying by syringe: Hold muzzle (jaw) in a natural position, place the hub of the syringe between the teeth, & dribble the fluid into the mouth allowing the patient to swallow of its own accord.



  • Suppository
  • Fluids
  • Liquidised drugs


Advantages: Can be applied quickly & can be applied by owner.


Disadvantages: Animal may bite. Unwilling owner may not apply. The liquid could be messy to apply. 


Applying medication in this way will usually require two people as one person may need to restrain & hold the animal.


Method of holding/restraining: Place one arm under the neck with the forearm positioned so that it is virtually impossible for the animal to turn round & possibly bite. The other arm should be placed underneath the abdomen to prevent it from sitting down during this procedure. The animal should be placed close to the chest of the person holding/restraining to limit movement & this will give some comfort to the animal. The enema should be lubricated & inserted gently to avoid any discomfort to the patient. Never stand directly behind the animal.


TOPICALLY (Application of drugs directly to the body surface): Creams, drops, sprays, liquids & powders. Such medication may be applied directly into the ears, eyes, nose or skin/coat. Methods may vary according to the drugs & guidelines given by the vet. Important, always apply the correct amount of drugs directed by the vet & ensure this is done at correct times.


Applying medication to the eye(s), gently hold eyelid open & never touch eye with finger. Apply drops or cream from above & hold nozzle a short distance away from eye. Clean the eyelids with a clean swab.


Ear(s) Hold head still without discomfort to the animal & insert nozzle but only go as far as you can see & do this gently. Then clean outer ear with fresh swab if needs be.


Never touch the animal with the applicator as this could spread the disease. Never apply too much pressure when applying medication. Wear surgical rubber gloves as this will prevent any trace of germs.


PARRENTALY (by injection): This is usually carried out by a vet.

S/c subcutaneous meaning under the skin.

I/v into the vein (intra-venous)

I/m into muscle (intra-muscular)


Things to consider before deciding on administration route:

The urgency of situation, temperament of animal, type of medication & the competence of the handler.


Post medication the animal should be closely monitored for any complications:

Excess salivating is normal especially in a cat that may be stressed. This is normal after a bitter medication given. However, this should be monitored especially if it shows no sign of stopping.


Haematoma’s around intra-venous injection sites are common but, should be avoided.

Sloughing of the skin or cysts is abnormal. 7 could mean a reaction to the drug. Retching & vomiting should be noted as the animal may have a reaction to the drug.

Choking or difficulty in breathing could mean something has inadvertently gone into the respiratory tract.


               Medication Pharmacology

Medicinal products are divided into 4 categories



(General Sales List) meaning that an item can be sold by anyone i.e. pet-shops can sell the following products including; Ear cleaners, Un-medicated shampoo, vitamin drops, dog, cat & other pet foods e.g.


                         P.S ­ (Pharmacy)

Items that can be sold to the general public over the counter by a registered pharmacist. Products include flea & warming products e.g.



­ (Pharmacy Merchants List) meaning that these belonging in the P list above but may be sold by agricultural merchants registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society e.g. warmers, powders.



(Prescription Only Medicines) Meaning that, medication can only be given by prescription from a vet. These can include Insulin, antibiotics, valium, any drug to be injected, painkillers, medicated shampoo, ear, eye or nose drops, diet, steroids & anaesthetic. ALWAYS check dosage (How much to give & when to give medication). Such information will be displayed on the label of bottle/tube. Medication given will give details of any possible side effects, what side effects to look for & the label will display the date proscribed. It will also have a use by date that is vital. Always check you are giving the correct medication to the correct animal if of course you are applying drug(s) to more than one animal. Always check each medication provided is for the correct animal.


Coming of medication & withdrawal Symptoms

When an animal is coming of medication, it will probably be a gradual process in a similar way to when the animal was introduced to the new drug. It was more than likely to have had the drug built up into its system gradually. The difference being that you will decrees the drug gradually in the way you increased it when the drug was proscribed & the vet will instruct you on this. There may be some withdrawal symptoms coming of the drug as there may have been some symptoms when being introduced to the drug but this is to be expected as the vet will explain & the possible symptoms to look for.


                              (See poster for more information on health check)



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