Pet Care

Super Star Pet Picture - January Sixtyplusurfers

Angela Farrey's dog, Mario is our Super Star Pet for January

Angela Farrey's dog, Mario is our Super Star Pet for January

Our cute pet picture has been sent in by Sixtyplusurfers reader, Angela Farrey

Get Your Pet Picture in the next Star Spot in our February 2019 issue.

“This is a picture of Mario in the Snow!” explains, Angela.

Thank you to Angela for sending in your cute picture of your adorable dog, Mario.

We can see that Mario has had lots of fun in the snow, all wrapped up warm in a cosy dog coat.

The tiny paw prints are so sweet …. !

Would you like us to feature your pet in our February 2019 issue?

Then send us your very best pet pictures and we will select one to be the Super Star Pet Picture, for everyone else to look at and love. 

This competition is just for fun, and gives you a chance to put your pet in the spotlight.

We’ll feature a different picture each month!

If you’d like us to feature your pet, then mail your picture in JPG format to:

sixtypluscomp@hotmail.co.uk

Make sure you put ‘Super Star Pet Picture’ in the subject field

(There are no prizes for this competition)

Dora's Diary

A Monthly Dog Blog

Hi folks. I hope your Christmas was fun-filled and that you didn’t over-do the mince pies, the Christmas cake and the mountain of turkey – from the roast to cold left-overs, to curried to fricasseed. 

Boy, we had a huge bird I can tell you. But I was able to help out. Heaps for me. And Bossman did tend to pile it into my bowl. And I did tend to polish it all off with a smack of the lips and a loud burp. Maybe a bit greedy. But then it’s only once a year, isn’t? 

Trouble is, I’m paying the price for all that over-indulgence. As I lie on my back, gently snoring on the sofa beside Bossman, I feel a little uncomfortable. A little too full in the belly. A belly that’s expanded somewhat over the festive season to judge from the roundness of my waist. I wouldn’t say I was obese. Just erring on the side of portly.

Mind you, pet obesity is a rapidly growing problem in the UK. The problem is that it can creep up unawares. According to those in the know, you should be able to feel your dog’s waist and see it outlined from above. And you should also be able to feel your pooch’s ribs without there being an excessive layer of fat. The same with cats. I haven’t yet had Bossman prod and poke me around. But I guess it’s only a matter of time before he decides that he should.

Quite right too. Letting me put on the pounds could lead to all sorts of health problems. Some of them quite serious. Take diabetes for instance. Many overweight humans go down with that. And so can dogs. Just imagine, having to have a jab of insulin every day. The very thought makes my blood run cold.

And there’s a host of other conditions as well. Heart disease. Breathing problems. High blood pressure. I could even get an increased risk of developing some cancers. Blimey. It’s really food for thought. And that word ‘food’ is the root cause of it all.

Okay, there is a breed disposition to putting on weight. Beagles, cocker spaniels and dachshunds are more susceptible. But that doesn’t apply to me. I’m a Yorkie-cross. Not prone to getting fat. Mind you, I have had the op. You know – had my bits removed. Been speyed. Neutered dogs are more likely to put on the pounds. But that’s really just an excuse. It’s food that’s at fault. Eating too much of it.

I blame Bossman. Putting temptation in my way. Overindulging me with too many Christmas goodies. Such overfeeding can happen all the year round. Often, owners don’t follow feeding guidelines. They guess what’s the right amount or feed on demand when they think their pet is hungry.

The occasional titbit does no harm. It’s when those titbits become pet treats throughout the day – cheese, chips, crisps – that the weight creeps up as pets do really struggle to burn off all those extra calories. So bye-bye my favourite titbit. Cheese. Especially Cheddar.

And talking of burning off, the only way to do that is to provide plenty of exercise. Across the country, six million dogs go for a daily walk shorter than an hour long and a quarter of a million dogs don’t get walked at all.

“So Dora,” declares Bossman. “It’s time for walkies.”

I adore my outings. So I’m up and out of the door in a flash.

That’s a weight off my mind if not off Bossman’s waist as he staggers to his feet to follow me.

Love and licks

Dora

P.S. My Bossman is Malcolm Welshman.

His memoir, An Armful of Animals, is available from www.amazon.co.uk  £7.99 Kindle price £2.99 

Malcolm Welshman has his own website at www.malcolmwelshman.co.uk   

Road Safety for Dogs

Road Safety Tips
for Dog Owners

Every year PDSA vets see hundreds of pets that have been involved in horrific road traffic accidents – and the longer evenings in winter might bring added danger.

The vet charity is warning that it’s not just humans who are at risk from the perils of road traffic – our four-legged friends are too.

With large numbers of vehicles and even cyclists out on the roads, it’s difficult to entirely protect our dogs, but PDSA says the risks can be significantly reduced if owners take some simple but effective precautions.

PDSA Vet, Olivia Anderson-Nathan says, “The simplest step you can take is to keep your dog under close control and on a short lead whilst walking when it’s getting dark. Even if your dog is really well behaved and always comes when they’re called, it only takes a moment’s distraction or a little fright for an accident to happen.

“A good quality lead, attached to your dog’s collar or harness will mean you can keep your dog close to your side while you’re walking next to busy roads. Extender leads can actually be more dangerous – they don’t give you the control you need if your dog suddenly dashes off.”

Other top tips include:

Teach your dog road awareness – If your dog knows a few simple commands – like ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ – you can help them learn some road sense which will help to keep them safe.

As you walk towards the curb, keep them on a close lead and ask your dog to ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ until the road is clear and safe to cross. When it is safe, calmly give the command to ‘walk’ and carefully cross the road. Don’t forget to give them a healthy treat and praise once you’re safely across the road.

Teach your dog a few commands – These can include ‘stop’ and ‘come here’ in case they run towards a road. Teaching them a command like ‘wait’ or ‘stop’ could help to put your dog’s brakes on in an emergency. ‘Come away’ or ‘come here’ will then bring your dog away from danger.

Stay safe, stay seen – Wear a high visibility jacket yourself and use a reflective or high-vis collar and lead on your dog when you have to walk them in the dark. This means you can both be seen when there’s less light and can reduce the risk of a road traffic accident when walking near roads.

Collar, tag and microchip – Unfortunately, accidents can happen. It’s really important that you can be contacted in an emergency if your dog does get into an accident on the road. By law, your dog must be microchipped – and ensure the chip is registered to your most up-to-date address. They also legally need to wear a collar and identification like a tag – showing your name, address and contact number – whenever they’re out and about.

Pet Insurance – If your dog is in a traffic accident, they could have some serious injuries. Emergency vet bills can quickly add up. Pet insurance can help you cover the cost of any accidents and unexpected treatment. Make sure you look into the small print of any insurance you take out so you’ll have peace of mind that it will cover you for everything you and your dog might need.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

For more information about PDSA click on www.pdsa.org.uk

New Year Pet Resolutions

Is Your Pet on
the Porky Side?

After the indulgence of Christmas, you may be considering shedding a few pounds in the New Year. PDSA is asking owners to consider if their pets might also benefit from a bit of a lifestyle makeover.

Around four out of every ten UK cats and dogs are thought to be overweight or obese, which can lead to some serious health problems including heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and some cancers. Too many calories and not enough exercise are the key culprits, but the good news is that owners are usually in control of these factors. So there are some simple changes you can make to improve your pet’s health and happiness.

The first thing to do is to find out whether your pet is a healthy body shape.  PDSA’s website has a handy guide with helpful pictures on how to check dogs, cats and rabbits (www.pdsa.org.uk/healthypets).

As a general rule, you should be able to feel their ribs and spine if you run your hands down the top and the side of your pet’s body gently. If you have to press down to feel them, they are probably overweight.

With a healthy body shape, you should be able to see an ‘hourglass figure’ from above as your pet’s shape should tuck in at the waist. If they are very fluffy you can smooth down their hair to see if they have this shape underneath. Your vet or vet nurse can also show you how to do this. This assessment of a pet’s shape is called Body Condition Scoring and is a really helpful tool to help you figure out if your pet is the right weight.

Remember that it’s important to take your pet for a check-up before starting them on a diet. Your vet can check for any underlying health issues that could be causing fluctuations in weight. Pets also shouldn’t lose weight too quickly. Over-restricting calories can be particularly dangerous for cats and rabbits, and a vet or vet nurse can advise a target weight and weekly weight loss targets that won’t harm your pet, as well as an appropriate exercise regime.

If after a consultation the vet or vet nurse does advise that your pet needs to lose weight, they will be able to give you plenty of information on how to succeed.

Here are a few tips from PDSA vets and vet nurses to help beat the bulge:

Cut out the treats – Even a small treat can significantly increase a pet’s calorie intake. So don’t give in to their ‘puppy dog eyes’ – find different ways to reward them, such as play or grooming sessions.

Increase exercise – It’s tempting to cut down on walks in bad weather, but it’s important to ensure you and your pets stay active all year round. Dogs need at least one walk a day including time off the lead when safe, although it’s often better to do more frequent walks rather than just one long one. The extra exercise might even help you towards your health goals too! Cats can be encouraged to play hunting-style games using fishing rod-type toys.

Weigh out food – It’s surprising how easy it is to overfeed pets when you judge amounts ‘by eye’ or use scoops. Follow the feeding guidelines on the packaging if your pet is a healthy weight or check with your vet if they’re overweight and weigh out the exact amount you need using a set of scales. Split this into two or more meals a day, depending on your pet’s preference and needs.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

For more information visit about the PDSA www.pdsa.org.uk

Kittens find a home

Abandoned RSPCA Kittens In Recovery 

These 10-week-old  kittens – named Holly, Ivy, Mistletoe and Poinsettia – were found in Hounslow, Essex, dumped with their Mum.

They have since been recovering at RSPCA Southall clinic and now they have been neutered. It’s a happy story for the kittens and they and were given new homes for Christmas.

Together, we can help give animals in the RSPCA care a safe and comfortable home.

Will you support us and help deliver kindness in the winter?

For details visit www.rspca.org.uk

How to Get a Cat Sitter

Is a Cat Sitter a Good Option for You?

By Kathrin Burckhardt and Julie Barnes

Cats!  There’s nothing quite like them.  They can be wonderful company, highly entertaining and they each have their own unique personality.  They are an ideal pet for the more mature animal lover; they don’t need walking or cleaning, they are company without (always) being too demanding and you can be sure of a warm welcome when you come home.

While cats are very independent animals, they do not like to be left alone for too long. It doesn’t hurt to ask your neighbour to put down some food if you are staying with a friend overnight, say, but if you want a week or fortnight’s holiday, you may well feel awkward about calling on neighbours or friends to look after puss.  Also, you know they will only get cursory attention once or twice a day during the time you are away.

Most cats are not keen on cattery environments which can be stressful and feel a little like a punishment for your pet.

So, why not alleviate the guilt and consider a cat-sitter?

Ready to drop by your home and pamper your furry loved one at agreed times during the days you are away, a cat sitter will follow any specific cat caring instructions. That way you can be sure your cat will be properly cared for and won’t get lonely while you’re absent.

And it’s simple.  Just enter your postcode on Cat in a Flat’s website and you will be matched to a wonderful community of cat sitters that live nearby. All cat sitters offer daily visits and some even offer to stay over. You can also filter your search by the cat sitters’ reviews, rates, experience and police checks, giving you many options to find the ‘purrfect’ sitter.

Cat in a Flat’s mission is to help cats stay in the comfort of their own homes by connecting cat owners with trusted, local, cat-loving sitters.  The sitter will also send regular updates and pictures of the cat – so owners know that all is OK and they won’t miss their kitty – too much!

All cat sitters are fully insured, undergo all the checks and are required to write a full, personal profile, giving you peace-of-mind when you are away. No more stress, no more fuss and no more guilty trips to the cattery.

Booking a cat sitter is also a great way to meet local cat-loving people. Most of the cat sitters who have joined are cat lovers who can’t have a cat of their own, perhaps because their partner is allergic, or their landlord doesn’t allow it. These people miss the companionship of having a cat in their lives and look forward to making new furry friends in their neighbourhood.

In fact, many retired people enjoy becoming cat sitters themselves. If they have a lot of spare time on your hands and the children have left the nest, they can meet some lovely people locally by cat sitting. Not to mention they can set their own availability and rates to make some extra money on the side. It also helps you feel connected to the younger generation through the love of cats. It’s a very lively, caring community and everyone is welcome.

Charlotte is 64 and has a lot of spare time, her children are grown up and don’t live nearby. So she found life could sometimes get a bit lonely. Since she joined Cat in a Flat as a cat sitter, she’s made a few new contacts in her neighbourhood. The occasional cat sitting request gives her a great sense of purpose and talking material.

Chris was over the moon that she could finally go away on holiday again. Her cat was diabetic so she struggled to find someone experienced enough to help. Until she met Maria through Cat in a Flat. Maria’s own cat was also diabetic so she knew exactly what to do.

Jennifer had always used a cattery in the past but noticed a huge difference in her cat’s behaviour after giving Adam a try. Monty did not give her the usual silent treatment upon her return and seemed so happy and content, that she was worried he preferred the cat sitters company to her own.

So, when you plan your next holiday, why not add ‘clicking’ your way to a cat sitter to your preparation list.  Or if you get a last minute offer of a long weekend away, you don’t need to say no, just click for peace of mind for great care for your cat, so you can both have a great time while you’re away.

About The Authors

Kathrin Burckhardt and Julie Barnes are the Co-Founders of Cat in a Flat. Cat in a Flat is a trusted cat-sitting community created by cat lovers for cat lovers. Its mission is to help cats stay in the comfort of their own homes by connecting cat owners with trusted, insured, local, cat-loving sitters. For details visit https://catinaflat.com

Social Media

www.facebook.com/catinaflat

www.instagram.com/catinaflat

https://twitter.com/catinaflat

Choosing a Pet Bed

How to Choose the Right Bed for Your Dog

Charley Chau offers their guide on how to choose the right bed for your dog and get the best out of your purchase.

With a plethora of choice of dog beds of varying price points and styles, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to pick the right bed for your dog. There’s obviously their comfort to consider but with the dog (and their bed) often taking residence in heart-of-the-home rooms such as the lounge or kitchen, what is looks like is also a key consideration. A dog bed is one of the more expensive items you will need to purchase for your pet and with our four-legged friends averaging 12 to 14 hours sleep each day, it’s important that it performs over time too.

British company Charley Chau take a dog’s sleep seriously, designing luxury dog beds and blankets that are cosy, stylish and practical. With more than fifteen uniquely styled dog beds and blankets made to the highest standards using soft-furnishings quality fabrics that are designed to look fabulous in your home, they are well-schooled on pairing pets with their perfect bed. So, whether you have a dinky Dachshund or a whopping Great Dane, Charley Chau shares their advice on how to choose the right bed for your dog and how to get the best out of your purchase.

Size Matters

Just as we humans appreciate a little more space, so do our dogs. Select a bed that will give them enough space to curl up or stretch out as the mood takes them. A bed that’s too small for your dog and forces them to curl up small may not do your dog’s joints any good in the long run.

Charley Chau recommends measuring your dog when standing from the tip of their nose to base of tail, and from top of skull to the floor. The sleeping area of their bed should be at least the size of your dog’s measurements but ideally around 25% bigger to allow for space to move around comfortably, especially if the bed has firm or solid sides.

Shape

Observe how your dog likes to sleep and choose a bed shaped to suit their preferred sleeping style. Dogs that love to sprawl often prefer simple flat, mattress style beds. Dogs that curl up into tiny little balls usually love round or oval beds – bear in mind also that some dogs curl up because they are cold, or as a way of shutting out the noise and buzz in a busy household. If you have a dog that likes to stretch and curl depending on how they’re feeling then a rectangular bed with sides usually does the job, or a larger round bed with enough space to stretch.

Specialist Beds

Some dogs may need a specialist bed to suit particular needs or a particular environment. If your dog is a burrower and loves to snuggle under blankets consider a Snuggle Bed style bed with a stitched in blanket top for them to climb under. Older dogs with stiff joints may require the support of an orthopaedic mattress such as a memory foam mattress – make sure you choose a solid memory foam, not a “memory foam crumb” made up of left over bits of foam.

Raised dog beds can help to keep your dog out of cold draughts (even warm rooms can be draughty) and prevent damp mattresses, as well as being a good solution for older dogs who are finding it difficult to get in and out of beds at floor level. Some dogs love the safety of a crate, especially when travelling in the car, and dog crates can be dressed with bumpers and a comfy mattress to increase the cosy factor.

Practical Considerations

An average dog spends 12-14 hours asleep each day, and most dogs spend even longer in their beds just hanging out watching the world go by. A dog picks up a lot of muckiness through the day, and much of it goes with them back to their beds so it’s really important that your dog’s bed is fully machine washable – both the outer covers and the mattress inners.

All Charley Chau beds are available with spare covers to make wash day less of a rush, plus Waterproof Bed Liners are available as an option to help maintain a cleaner dog bed for longer – the liners act as a barrier to help keep dust, dirt and animal dander out of your dog’s mattress and are important for beds that are too big to fit in a domestic washing machine. Blankets dropped into your dog’s bed can also help to keep your dog’s bed cleaner for longer providing you wash the blankets regularly.

Seasonal Considerations

Managing your dog’s bedding for different seasons can help keep your dog more comfortable throughout the year and can also help minimise the amount of washing that you need to do. In cold weather a soft, cosy blanket is a welcome addition for most dogs as they will dig a little nest and curl up in the blankets if they are cold. In wet seasons, darker coloured fabrics on your dog’s bed will be more forgiving of wet paws and damp coats.

Waterproof Bed Liners can also help protect mattresses in wet weather as wet dog coats can take some time to dry out properly. In warmer weather make sure that your dog bed is made with a breathable fabric, and bear in mind that pale colours absorb and radiate less heat so they tend to be more comfortable in hot weather.

Quality

Spend wisely. When it comes to purchasing a bed for your dog, always buy the best you can afford otherwise you might fall quickly into the ‘pay half price, spend twice’ trap. Most dog owners have experienced buying a cheap dog bed that has gone lumpy and bumpy after its first wash and thrown it out after just a few months’ use so buying cheap is often a false economy.

Also beware that a “luxury” label and price tag to match, sadly, are not guarantees of quality – some brands simply put smart looking fabrics onto a dog bed made in the same way as a cheap, poor quality dog bed. Always read up on a dog bed and make sure that any claims about comfort and quality are substantiated in terms of the way that the bed is designed and constructed, the fillings used, and the quality of the fabrics used to finish the beds.

Interior Styling

First and foremost Charley Chau always advises that a dog bed should be as comfortable as caninely possible, and designed to be fit for purpose. This is the start point for all Charley Chau dog beds before we move onto interior styling. Charley Chau was founded by accident because we became fed up with buying poor quality dog beds that were an eye sore in our homes!

Dog beds are soft furnishings in the home and Charley Chau believes they should complement and enhance a home interior. That’s they use only soft furnishings quality fabrics in Charley Chau beds, including upholstery quality fabrics such as our Weave and Velour collections, and why we use Farrow and Ball paint to finish our bespoke Raised Wooden Dog Bed. Dog bedding doesn’t have to be boring and functional – it can be gorgeous and practical too!

Discover the ultimate in canine comfort at www.charleychau.com

Sixtyplusurfers Competition

 Win a Silver Dog
Bone Keyring

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Hersey & Son, London Silversmiths, to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a gorgeous Silver Dog Bone Keyring.

This charming small dog bone keyring can be used as a name tag for your dog’s collar or use it to hold your household keys, making it an ideal present for both dogs and dog lovers.

Hersey & Son can also engrave your dog’s name on the bone, or just a telephone number, if required.

This canine treasure is the smaller of Hersey & Son’s two dog bone keyrings, and measures 33mm wide.

The Dog Bone Keyring makes a beautiful gift and is wrapped in tissue paper and presented in its own attractive gift box. The gift box also includes a pouch, polishing cloth and care card.

For more information about the Dog Bone Keyring click on www.hersey.co.uk

For Your Chance to Win

Tell us what is the
Dog Bone Keyring
wrapped in?

         a) Silver foil
         b) Palm leaves
         c) Cotton wool
         d) Tissue paper

To Enter the Competition

Tell us what is the Dog Bone Keyring wrapped in? Then send in your answer together with your name, what you would like engraved on the keyring should you win the prize, your postal address and telephone number to the Sixtyplusurfers email address below:

sixtypluscomp@hotmail.co.uk 

  * Please label your entry
   Dog Bone Keyring Competition

* This competition is open to both our
UK and overseas readers

* Names and addresses of entrants will not be shared by third parties and will be deleted after the competition has closed

Winter Pet Care Advice

Winter Pet Care Advice from Kingsway Vets

With media hype if not the Met Office itself predicting an Arctic winter this year, we can’t be too chilled out about our approach to pet care in the coming months. Kingsway Vets offers their advice about taking care of your pets in the cold weather.

Remember our pets feel the cold and changes in daily routines as the days grow shorter, just as we do, so it’s important to ensure that we take care of their needs too as we don our thermals and waterproofs. Young and old pets in particular need a bit of extra help to keep warm and comfortable during the dark and chilly months.

Elderly pets suffering from joint pain from arthritis will be very susceptible and may need special treatment at this time, but all pets need extra care in winter. Follow these simple guidelines from Kingsway Vets to ensure the comfort of your animals:

Dogs

Depending on whether your dog generally lives indoors or outdoors will determine how long its coat grows in adapting to the environment.  A pet used to the glory of central heating will have a much thinner coat than a working farm dog living out in its kennel, because it needs to shed its coat to stop itself overheating.  Being aware of the contrast for the indoor dog is important – we wrap up warm before venturing out, but what about your pet?

Clipping – Certain breeds are likely to be clipped regularly, however this means they lose their natural waterproofing, so when they get wet on rainy days their coat will stay wet longer than it should. A waterproof coat is a good option.

Working dogs – Make sure your faithful servant has somewhere to shelter with a warm, draught free bed.

Swimming – don’t let your dog swim in very cold rivers or walk on icy canals or lakes. This may mean exercising restraint if your dog has been used to swimming in the summer or likes to chase ducks!

Cats

Litter tray – It’s perfectly natural for your normally well house-trained cat to get a bit lazy during the winter when it is cold and wet outside. Providing a cat litter option is a good idea and a better alternative than the cat holding themselves, which can cause cystitis, a common ailment in cats.

Monitor diet – if your cat becomes less active then it may require a reduction in the amount of food you provide to stop him or her becoming overweight curled up by the radiator all day.

Rabbits & Guinea Pigs

Hutch position – Move the hutch from outdoors to a shed or garage away from the elements, keeping it dry and draught-free.

Bedding – In the same way that we might switch to a warmer tog rating on our quilt, remember to give your small furry friends some extra bedding in the winter months.  Straw is ideal for this.

Water – Make sure your pets water bottle is insulated to stop it from freezing and check it regularly when the outside temperature is below freezing.

Exercise – While outdoor exercise may not be an option during the winter months, give your pet the chance to run around in an indoor area to stop joints from stiffening.

Food – Keeping warm will mean your pet burns more energy and will need to eat more. Provide hay as a staple with fresh greens and pellet food for variety and extra vitamins.

For more information about Kingsway Vets click on www.kingswayvets.co.uk

Pet Insurance

RSPCA Urges Owners to Insure their Pets

Pet insurance can help save thousands of pounds in vet fees

The RSPCA is raising awareness about the importance of  pet insurance as owners reveal their own nightmare experiences.

The oldest and biggest animal welfare charity is raising awareness on the importance of insuring pets to help with the cost of those unexpected accidents and illnesses and avoid hefty vet bills, sometimes costing thousands of pounds.

With pets visiting the vets around twice a year on average, keeping an animal can become expensive and any ongoing and unexpected vet treatments can quickly add up.

Now the RSPCA is raising awareness about the difficulties owners can face without insurance.

Phil Sleight, from Surrey, was very worried when his cat Bella went missing for several days in August this year. She managed to drag herself back home but had most likely been hit by a car, or possibly fallen from a tree, and was suffering with a broken leg.

Phil says, “A few months after getting our cat Bella, we shopped around for pet insurance but with a combination of being busy working parents and forgetful, we just never got around to putting a policy in place.

“Bella is an active outdoor cat and is only two years old. She is in and out frequently but then one day she just didn’t come home. A couple of days passed and we were really worried so I went out looking for her after work but didn’t find her. We live next to a busy road and I did fear the worst but I couldn’t see or hear her on the side of the road.

“After being missing for three days, which felt like an eternity, I was sitting in the front room when I heard her meow. I raced to the front door and there she was staggering back. She looked awful, was covered in fleas and had a heavy limp. I took her straight to the local vet who examined her straight away. Whilst she was not bleeding externally, they said she was in need of a blood transfusion and had a broken leg. The x-ray revealed a number of breaks to her upper leg close to her hip which the local vet said was beyond his expertise to repair.”

Bella was referred to orthopaedic and neurology specialists Fitzpatrick Referrals clinic could help. Luckily, the veterinary practice were confident they could save her leg but as Bella was uninsured the family were faced with a big decision to make. Amputation would be a considerable amount of money itself but repairing the leg with metal rods would cost  in the region of £5,000.

Phil adds, “We were given a few nights to make a decision because the focus was finding a suitable blood donor. After a blood donor was found, I quickly made the decision to go ahead with the repair, which I funded by getting a bank loan. I just wanted to give her the best quality of life possible as she was still so young – even if it did break the bank! I thought I could earn that money back but she won’t grow another leg if we went down the amputation route.”

Thankfully the operation was a success and Phil was able to take Bella home that night. Although she was on cage rest for the next six weeks, she is now back to her normal, energetic self again.

He adds, “We just thought it would never happen to us. Needless to say, I have since taken out pet insurance and will encourage every other pet owner to do the same to avoid having to make that difficult decision.”

Caroline Allen, RSPCA Chief Veterinary Officer, was in a similar situation a few years ago when she decided to foster a dog in her previous job at a private vet practice. The dog Tilly had a severe skin disease so Caroline fostered her whilst she went through her treatment and ended up falling in love with her.

Tilly developed lameness and didn’t respond to standard treatment. Caroline paid for a CT scan at a specialist who found that she had a joint condition called OCD.

She says, “Inevitably, I fell in love with her but because we initially thought she was a temporary foster we didn’t insure her. Then because the lameness had started when she was still being fostered and wasn’t insured it was classed as a pre-existing condition and wouldn’t be covered. She needed arthroscopic surgery which set us back about £3,000.

The procedure was worth every penny and we were unlucky that the signs showed up in the foster period, but as a vet I felt pretty stupid for not getting her insured as soon as she settled in and captured our hearts.

“The RSPCA would always advise people to take out pet insurance. I think many people assume they won’t need it but you never know what is round the corner and insurance can save you thousands in the long-run.

“It is upsetting when a beloved pet becomes ill so it is essential that people do thorough research, including the cost of pet insurance and vet bills, before taking on any animal.”

A new RSPCA Pet Insurance product has recently been launched which aims to help owners protect their pets. RSPCA Pet Insurance is underwritten and provided by Covea Insurance PLC and offers a range of insurance products to meet your pet’s needs as well as different budgets.

Insuring with RSPCA Pet Insurance also means 15% of the cost goes to help animals in need who have been rescued or cared for by the RSPCA charity. There is also a 10% multi-pet discount and no upper age limits, as well as overseas travel cover.

RSPCA Pet Insurance is also offered free for the first four weeks for those who adopt a rescue dog or cat from the RSPCA.

For more information about RSPCA Pet Insurance click on www.rspca.org.uk  

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