Episode 3 Trust Me, I'm a Vet


Episode 3

Steve Leonard and his team find the best way to de-stress your cat, reveal why your recycling bin is a danger to your dog and witness a groundbreaking operation to save a horse.


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Transcript


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We Brits have a staggering 50 million pets.

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And from dental chews and flea collars

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to vaccinations and vet bills,

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we're now spending £40 billion a year on their health.

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But what do they really need to have a long and healthy life?

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Your pet can't tell you, but science can.

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I'm Steve Leonard, and in this series and joined by a team of vets.

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We're going to seek out the latest veterinary research

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to find out what's really good and bad for the nation's pets...

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Campylobacter.

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One of those words that you do not want to hear.

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..and do some brand-new science of our own

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to tackle the biggest issues in animal health today.

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So the experiment's been a great success.

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We'll talk to world-leading experts to give you the knowledge you need.

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How important is it to prevent overheating?

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And cut through the myths and misconceptions

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to bring you the very best advice.

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Each time, we'll be based at one of the UK's top vet schools

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to seek out the latest research

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from the front line of veterinary medicine.

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This week, we are at Bristol University's Langford Vet Hospital.

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Welcome to Trust Me, I'm A Vet.

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BARKING

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The Langford Vet Hospital at Bristol University

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is one of the busiest in the country.

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They see a huge variety of animals here,

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from dogs and cats to horses and exotic pets.

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In this programme, we'll run a unique experiment

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to tackle one of the biggest health problems racing the nation's cats -

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stress.

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And I'll join the world-leading equine team here at Bristol

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to witness a pioneering treatment used in human medicine

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that's now saving horses' lives.

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Our team of vets will also be out and about across the UK

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seeking out the latest veterinary research.

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We'll lift the lid on the hidden danger for dogs

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that's lurking in our homes.

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And the radical new thinking on how to look after

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the nation's most intelligent pet.

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But first...

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PHONE RINGS Good morning. Helen speaking.

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How can I help?

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Stress is increasingly being recognised

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as a major health issue for the nation's pets.

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And in particular for our cats.

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It's thought as many as one in five pet cats

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are living in a state of stress. CAT MEOWS

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I know, Boris.

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And it can cause some pretty severe symptoms.

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Just as in humans, stress is now known to cause

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serious illness in cats.

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And it can lead to a whole host of behavioural problems.

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So Alice Rhodes is going to run

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a unique Trust Me, I'm A Vet experiment

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to find the best way to de-stress your cat.

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Of all our pets, cats often appear to be the most chilled out.

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But in fact stress has reached epidemic levels,

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and research has revealed that there is one overriding cause.

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The majority of cats in the UK live in multi-cat households,

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over 4.5 million of them.

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But cats are in fact quite solitary animals,

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and being surrounded by other cats can stress them out.

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So, while you might think having more than one cat

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means they'll be good company for each other...

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It might actually be a source of serious stress.

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And the signs aren't always obvious.

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So how can you recognise it and what can you do about it?

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To find out, we're about to run a brand-new study.

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We want to find the best way to avoid your cat becoming stressed.

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So we've recruited three multi-cat households

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whose cats are all displaying different signs of stress.

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And we're going to test three different stress-busting methods

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in all their homes.

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First, the Humphreys.

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One of their cats, Salt,

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is constantly showing signs of aggression

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towards his housemate Pepper.

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It's not only stressful for Pepper, being on the receiving end,

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the aggressive behaviour suggests that Salt too

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is stressed by Pepper's presence.

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From the start, really, they didn't get on.

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He'll chase her at least once a day. He'll swipe her.

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If she's asleep and he decides he wants to sleep there,

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he'll chase her away.

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It's not ideal. I suppose you'd really like it to be resolved,

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-if you could.

-Yes, it would be far nicer if they could get on.

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Next, the Jacksons.

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Two of their cats, Ralph and Gulliver,

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are showing another classic sign of stress.

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They seem constantly engaged in psychological warfare.

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The atmosphere's extremely tense

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when they do start going at each other,

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so it's kind of hard to kind of get them out of it, as well.

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I've tried distractions, I've tried shaking the treats,

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and they both just seem locked in this kind of zone

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where they just don't want to get out of it.

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Finally, the Hopkins.

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Susan has four cats, one of which, my namesake Alice,

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spends most of her time cowering under the bed.

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This isn't shyness.

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It's another sign of stress.

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Now she is scared of her own shadow.

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It's like being in a battle all the time

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and not knowing how long this very unpleasant truce

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is going to last for.

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So, what's the best way to de-stress our feline families?

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We've brought in world-renowned veterinary behavioural specialist

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Dr Sarah Heath.

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Over the next six weeks,

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she's going to help us test three different methods

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that the latest research suggests can reduce cats' stress.

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Hello. Hi, Jill?

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First up, a major source of conflict between cats

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is being made to share their space for eating, sleeping

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and going to the toilet.

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So our first stress buster will be to put their bowls,

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beds and litter trays as far away from each other as possible.

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Cats are a solitary feeders.

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That means they need to be able to eat on their own.

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From a cat perspective,

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this is really quite a threatening area in which to be eating.

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And we've got a cat flap -

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potentially a point of intrusion by another cat.

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So we really need to move these out of this room

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and put them in distinctly separate places.

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So they'll be given separate feeding bowls

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and the locations selected to reduce their anxiety while they eat.

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It's a nice location because when the cat's eating,

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they're going to have their back to the activity.

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So they're going to be eating in a protected area.

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That will allow Salt or Pepper to eat in a more relaxed way.

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Yes. That's the aim.

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They'll also be putting distance

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between the cats' beds and litter trays.

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All our families will start by making these changes for two weeks.

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Next, they'll add in method number two - new toys.

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The idea here is that our cats will have a new outlet

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to express their wild side.

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If we can tip the balance into a situation

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where there's more positive emotion,

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that is going to help reduce the tension.

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A few of the toys are designed so that you can put some food inside,

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so they'll also encourage the cats to forage for food around the house.

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It's giving them a more natural feeding experience

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and satisfying their predatory behaviour.

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Finally, after another two weeks,

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our families will add method number three - introducing smells.

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These diffusers look like air fresheners...

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..but actually release a natural scent called a pheromone,

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one that the cats should find soothing.

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Smell's really important to cats,

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so were going to use this in your household

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to produce a scent environment

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that encourages all of your cats to feel safe and secure.

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One diffuser on each floor of our houses

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should be enough to help create a calming environment

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for all our cats.

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Before they start,

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all our owners are completing a questionnaire

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recording their cats' behaviour,

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which will allow us to assess their levels of stress.

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Then they'll all introduce the same three stress-busting methods,

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one every two weeks.

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They'll repeat the stress questionnaire every week,

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and we're setting up cameras all around their homes

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to see if we can spot any changes in the cats' behaviour.

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I think all the methods the families are using a really interesting.

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It'll be fascinating to find out if they work

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and if one is more effective than the others.

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Now, Judy Puddifoot's been uncovering the latest science

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that could help us avoid the one thing

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that makes many people fear dogs.

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It is estimated that one in four people in the UK

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have been bitten by a dog,

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and over 10,000 people a year are admitted to hospital

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because of a dog bite.

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But I've come across some fascinating research

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that could help us avoid it happening.

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In fact, dogs will give us plenty of subtle warning signs

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that they're becoming uncomfortable and may be about to bite,

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but they go unrecognised by the people around them.

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So what are these signals and how can we recognise them?

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Time to learn some dog.

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There are some very obvious signs that a dog is gearing up to bite,

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but studies have shown there are others that are far harder to spot.

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I've come to meet researcher Dr Carri Westgarth

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at the University of Liverpool Vet School.

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She's researched hundreds of cases of dog attacks

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and is going to decode the hidden signs that a bite may be coming.

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There's a general pattern of signals that dogs will use

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and we call this the Ladder of Aggression.

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This starts with lower-level and more subtle behavioural signals,

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and then they will progress to more intense behaviours.

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Stiffening up, growling, snapping and biting.

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So potentially when we see a dog that's becoming growly,

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showing its teeth to us, we may actually have missed

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many other times a dog's tried to communicate to us

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-that it's not happy.

-Absolutely.

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So, what exactly are these early warning signs?

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To find out, we're going to one place most dogs seem to hate.

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The vet waiting room.

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We are recording their behaviour so that Carri can view it

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and show us what to look out for.

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The greyhounds are doing a bit of panting.

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Bit of lip licking.

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And they're giving the occasional yawn, as well.

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Most of us may not think twice about the dog yawning or licking its lips.

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But, in fact, research has shown that these can be clear signals

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of growing anxiety,

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and they're the first rungs on the Ladder of Aggression.

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The black and white spaniel is sort of climbing up its mum's legs.

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Yes, it looks like she's looking for reassurance.

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She's doing quite a lot of lip licking, as well.

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She's cowering her body down a little bit.

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Her tail's quite low and tucked under,

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showing that she's a bit overwhelmed by this situation.

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So, after barely any time in the waiting room,

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we can see that the dogs here

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are already showing some early warning signs.

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Any significance in the other spaniel being up on the chair?

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She might feel more secure up high -

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she can see what's happening, who's coming.

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If we can recognise these lower-level signals

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to say that he's not quite happy with that situation,

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then we can prevent the dog from escalating

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and we can prevent dog bites from occurring.

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If you spot these very early signals,

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the best solution in an unfamiliar environment

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is to reassure your dog and make it feel comfortable.

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But if the early warnings are ignored,

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dogs will generally carry on up the ladder.

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And the higher they go,

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the more serious the dog's potential reaction can be.

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Carri's got some clips to show us what to look out for.

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It's quite still.

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Its ears are down.

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It's showing the whites of its eyes.

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So, immediately, from me looking at that as a vet,

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that dog is giving me what we affectionately call "the eye."

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I certainly would not be trying to approach that dog.

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A dog with its years back in a stiffened position and staring

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has moved up to the middle of the Ladder of Aggression.

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It's preparing to take action.

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In this situation, don't attempt to touch the dog,

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and avoid sudden movements if you're near.

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This could cause the dog to progress even further up the Ladder.

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It's raising its lips and growling.

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So we're much better on the Ladder of Aggression with this, aren't we?

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If anybody puts their hand in there, you'd definitely get bitten.

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Yeah, OK.

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Growling is one of a dog's last warnings.

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Carri's final clip shows what could happen next.

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So, this is a clip of a model on some sort of photo shoot

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and she's trying to get the dog to sit still for her.

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It's licking its lips, its ears are back,

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it's doing lots of panting.

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She is handling the dog quite roughly, isn't she?

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Yeah, trying to get it to sit the way she wants it to sit.

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And again and again, the dog tries to get away.

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So, essentially, the handler here

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is ignoring all of these lower-level signs

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a dog is quite distressed in that situation.

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Yes, and she's got it by the collar.

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Eventually, there's a very gentle mouth at her arm,

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and then it does that a bit more firmly.

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But it is trying to get away, but it's being forced to stay there.

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Although not every dog will follow

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the exact pattern of behaviours on the Ladder,

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this research gives a really good idea of what to look out for,

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especially the earliest signs that may be easy to miss.

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And the best thing you can do

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is try to avoid your dog getting on the ladder in the first place.

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So, if you recognise that your dog is frightened of something, think,

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"How can I teach him to like it instead?"

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Training with tasty food rewards can help change a dog's emotion

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from negative to positive.

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When we think about some things that cat might like,

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a few spring to mind like catnip, milk and...fish.

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But some surprising new research

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suggests that we should be thinking twice about how much fish

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we feed our feline friends.

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With over 7 million cats in the UK,

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cat food is staggeringly big business.

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£1 billion every year.

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And among the bestsellers are the varieties containing fish.

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There's no doubt cats love it.

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But, in fact, fish is a fairly recent addition

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that we humans have made to their diet.

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In nature, cats are land hunters that mainly eat meat.

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We tend to think of fish as a healthy alternative,

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but Trust Me, I'm A Vet has uncovered important new research

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that suggests too much of it might actually harm your cat's health.

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The discovery came when Mike Davies and David Garner

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at Nottingham University investigated some mysterious cases

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of cats that died of unknown causes.

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They found that many of them had severe kidney damage.

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So, what are we looking at here, David?

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-So here we got a slide of a normal cat kidney.

-Mm-hm.

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This cat was perfectly healthy,

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and I'll just show you the clear contrast.

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Oh, yes, that's very different, isn't it?

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What's going on here, then?

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So, what you can see are lots of deeper red scarring tissue

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and much less functional kidney tissue.

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The team wanted to know what could be causing this kidney damage

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in so many cats,

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so they tested some tissue samples in the laboratory

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and discovered something entirely unexpected.

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Cats are carnivores, they tend to have a high meat diet.

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We expected to see more iron.

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What we actually saw was that we see much higher levels of arsenic

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-in their kidneys.

-Arsenic?

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So, arsenic, obviously I know arsenic as a poison.

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So, how has that got into a cat's kidney?

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The only real route of exposure for that would be through diet

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or what they drink. And drinking water, tap water, is very, very low.

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It would seem that the only real source of arsenic

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would be through diet.

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A recent study of wild cats that hunt for their food

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has shown that there is no arsenic in their kidneys.

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This suggests it must be coming from something

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that only domestic cats consume,

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and the Nottingham team are investigating what that could be.

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There are two natural ingredients that we know can contain arsenic.

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One is rice, in some situations,

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and the other is fish, some fish.

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So, a possible source of the arsenic could be the fish in pet food.

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To investigate further,

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the Nottingham team have tested 177 different pet foods.

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Some with - and some without - fish.

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We've analysed a variety of pet foods available which contain fish.

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We have found some of them are quite high in arsenic.

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Of the pet foods they tested,

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the 10 with the highest levels of arsenic were all fish-based.

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The kind of arsenic you find in fish

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is not the most toxic form of the chemical,

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and in moderate amounts is unlikely to harm your pet.

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The Nottingham team believe that health problems,

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like the kidney damage they've seen,

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might arise if it's part of a cat's diet every day.

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Though not enough research has been done in cats yet,

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there is evidence from human medicine

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that consuming arsenic in the long term can be harmful.

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Arsenic does accumulate in the body over time,

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and in people, recently they've shown there is a correlation

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between high arsenic and kidney disease,

0:18:450:18:47

so that's why we're interested in what's going on in the cat,

0:18:470:18:50

because cats get lots of kidney disease

0:18:500:18:52

and a lot of cats are fed fish-based foods.

0:18:520:18:55

Guidelines exist for how often humans should eat fish each week,

0:18:560:19:00

but there are no equivalent guidelines

0:19:000:19:02

on how often our pets should eat fish.

0:19:020:19:05

So you might decide you want to vary your cat's diet

0:19:050:19:08

to make sure it's not eating fish every day.

0:19:080:19:10

Maybe feed it fish once, twice, few times a week.

0:19:120:19:16

Unfortunately, that might not be as straightforward as you think.

0:19:160:19:19

We at Trust Me, I'm A Vet

0:19:220:19:24

wanted to find out how easy it would be to avoid daily fish for your cat

0:19:240:19:28

if you chose to.

0:19:280:19:29

So, we've looked into exactly how pet foods are labelled.

0:19:290:19:33

We found that, remarkably,

0:19:330:19:35

cat food labelled as being "with beef"

0:19:350:19:38

is legally required to contain

0:19:380:19:40

only 4% beef.

0:19:400:19:42

Same goes for chicken, lamb, pork.

0:19:430:19:47

And the rest of the meat?

0:19:470:19:49

Well, you've guessed it -

0:19:490:19:50

much of it could in fact be fish.

0:19:500:19:53

And it's not just cat food.

0:19:540:19:56

The same is true of dog food.

0:19:580:20:00

This does not mean that those foods will necessarily contain

0:20:000:20:04

harmful levels of arsenic.

0:20:040:20:06

In fact, the vast majority will not.

0:20:060:20:08

But if you'd prefer not to feed fish to your pet every day

0:20:080:20:12

to reduce the risk of long-term exposure to arsenic,

0:20:120:20:15

then, when looking for alternatives, check the labels really carefully.

0:20:150:20:19

You might be feeding more fish than you realise.

0:20:190:20:22

Still to come...

0:20:240:20:25

the ground-breaking treatment that could save horses' lives.

0:20:250:20:30

We lift the lid on a serious health hazard for dogs.

0:20:300:20:34

And should you have your cat neutered?

0:20:340:20:36

We'll bring you the latest research.

0:20:360:20:38

It seems that there is no end to the variety of animals

0:20:440:20:47

that we pet mad Brits are choosing as our companions.

0:20:470:20:50

Over the 20 years I've been qualified as a vet,

0:20:500:20:52

the number of more unusual pets like Mabel here have soared.

0:20:520:20:57

But whether their natural habitat is a jungle or a rainforest

0:20:570:21:00

or a desert, trying to recreate a part of that in your living room

0:21:000:21:04

is a challenge.

0:21:040:21:06

Vim Kumaratunga's been delving into some new science

0:21:060:21:10

that's making us vets rethink how we should care

0:21:100:21:13

for probably the most intelligent animal kept as a pet.

0:21:130:21:16

There are over 40,000 African grey parrots kept as pets in the UK,

0:21:180:21:23

and recent research has revealed

0:21:230:21:25

that they're more intelligent than we ever imagined.

0:21:250:21:28

In one study, they were shown to have the reasoning powers

0:21:280:21:31

of a three-year-old child, and they crave social contact.

0:21:310:21:35

Perhaps no great surprise pet parrots kept alone in small cages

0:21:370:21:41

routinely suffer from stress and related health problems.

0:21:410:21:44

So, how do you keep such an intelligent pet

0:21:450:21:48

mentally and physically healthy?

0:21:480:21:50

Before you get your parrot, there's one key thing to find out.

0:21:500:21:55

If you're buying a young parrot,

0:21:550:21:56

make sure it's been raised by its parents for as long as possible,

0:21:560:21:59

rather than hand-reared, because this allows normal behaviours

0:21:590:22:02

to be expressed and could prevent future behaviour problems.

0:22:020:22:05

Once you've got your parrot, how you house them is crucial.

0:22:070:22:10

-Hello.

-Hi, Elaine. Nice to meet you.

-Nice to meet you.

0:22:130:22:15

'Animal behaviourist and self-confessed parrot devotee

0:22:150:22:18

'Elaine Henley has identified three key things

0:22:180:22:22

'that African greys need most,

0:22:220:22:24

'and, unusually, has dedicated her entire home to providing them.'

0:22:240:22:29

Number one, space.

0:22:290:22:31

Rather than a small cage,

0:22:320:22:33

parrots will be healthier and happier

0:22:330:22:36

kept in large enclosures like this.

0:22:360:22:38

But Elaine goes a lot further.

0:22:380:22:40

So the cage door's open.

0:22:400:22:41

Your parrots have free run of the house the majority of the day.

0:22:410:22:44

Yes. The parrots are probably out of their cages

0:22:440:22:47

more than they're inside their cages.

0:22:470:22:50

If you do give your parrot time out of the enclosure,

0:22:520:22:55

there are some unexpected dangers to be aware of.

0:22:550:22:58

If your bird is going to be in the kitchen, use aluminium,

0:22:590:23:02

copper or stainless steel pans,

0:23:020:23:04

because nonstick cookware can release fumes deadly to parrots.

0:23:040:23:09

And no matter how much space they have,

0:23:090:23:12

indoor living in the UK won't give your tropical parrot

0:23:120:23:16

enough ultraviolet light to stay healthy,

0:23:160:23:18

so you'll need a good quality UV lamp.

0:23:180:23:21

The second crucial thing parrots need is mental stimulation.

0:23:230:23:27

You should give them access to objects

0:23:270:23:28

that can allow them to satisfy their natural urge

0:23:280:23:32

to chew and explore.

0:23:320:23:34

Hanging toys will keep them interested.

0:23:340:23:36

Puzzle toys will allow them to exercise their mental abilities.

0:23:360:23:40

But don't crowd the cage with so many

0:23:410:23:43

that they can't fully stretch their wings.

0:23:430:23:46

Parrots have a tendency to pull to bits pretty much anything

0:23:490:23:52

they can get their beaks on,

0:23:520:23:54

and in Elaine's home, nothing is off-limits.

0:23:540:23:56

But while it's an unusual degree of freedom,

0:23:580:24:01

Elaine is often working to rehabilitate animals

0:24:010:24:04

whose health has suffered through being kept in conditions

0:24:040:24:07

that are too confined and lack the mental stimulation

0:24:070:24:11

that such an intelligent animal needs.

0:24:110:24:13

One of her African grey parrots is Roy.

0:24:130:24:16

Elaine rescued him after he'd been kept for years in a garage.

0:24:160:24:21

Looks like he's going to be a more knowledgeable Roy

0:24:210:24:23

with all the Encyclopaedia Britannicas

0:24:230:24:25

-that he's been chewing up.

-Oh, yes.

0:24:250:24:28

A lot of people get a parrot,

0:24:280:24:29

they don't realise how difficult they can be to live with.

0:24:290:24:33

They perhaps get annoyed that the parrot's chewing,

0:24:330:24:35

so then they start to leave them in the cages for longer and longer

0:24:350:24:39

and longer on their own.

0:24:390:24:40

Then by the time they let them back out again,

0:24:400:24:42

the parrot's going stir crazy,

0:24:420:24:44

so what they do is to re-home them to another.

0:24:440:24:48

And before you know it,

0:24:480:24:49

you've got an animal who's extremely distressed,

0:24:490:24:52

being passed around from pillar to post,

0:24:520:24:54

and it's a huge vicious circle.

0:24:540:24:56

Roy's story is all too common.

0:24:580:25:00

If you're going to keep a parrot at home,

0:25:010:25:03

it's vital to give them enough space and mental stimulation.

0:25:030:25:06

But of all the things an African grey needs,

0:25:080:25:11

one of the most important is company.

0:25:110:25:13

In the wild, they spend their days in constant contact with other birds

0:25:170:25:21

foraging together, and they will nest in flocks of several hundred.

0:25:210:25:26

So if you're keeping them at home,

0:25:260:25:28

it's actually better if you have more than one,

0:25:280:25:31

rather than a solitary pet.

0:25:310:25:33

Elaine keeps three African greys.

0:25:330:25:35

And she also makes sure she has plenty of interaction with them,

0:25:370:25:41

as pet parrots are known to fare better

0:25:410:25:44

if they spend time in their owner's company.

0:25:440:25:47

It's estimated that there's over 1 million parrots living in homes.

0:25:470:25:51

I think we owe it to the parrots to give them the best possible life.

0:25:510:25:56

While Elaine's commitments to her parrots might seem more

0:25:560:25:59

than most owners can handle,

0:25:590:26:01

the principles are crucial if we want to keep such intelligent pets

0:26:010:26:05

physically and mentally healthy.

0:26:050:26:07

Parrots need plenty of space,

0:26:090:26:11

stimulation,

0:26:110:26:13

and the company of other parrots,

0:26:130:26:15

or if they can't get that, yours.

0:26:150:26:18

A recent watershed case has brought to light a deadly condition

0:26:270:26:31

that can strike quickly and put your dog's life at risk.

0:26:310:26:35

It's called mycotoxicosis.

0:26:350:26:38

It happens when an animal comes into contact with powerful toxins

0:26:380:26:42

produced by fungi.

0:26:420:26:44

And surprisingly, there's something that can cause it

0:26:440:26:46

sitting in most of our kitchens.

0:26:460:26:49

Until a few years ago, very few of us had one of these.

0:26:510:26:54

Now they're in almost every home,

0:26:540:26:56

and the latest evidence shows that food that's been sat in one of these

0:26:560:27:00

for a few days could be deadly for your pet dog.

0:27:000:27:03

Everyday foods like bread, cheese and pasta

0:27:050:27:08

aren't toxic to your dog when they're fresh.

0:27:080:27:11

But when this happens and they begin to go mouldy,

0:27:110:27:14

they can go from harmless to poisonous in just a few days.

0:27:140:27:18

The mould that grows as some of these everyday foods decompose

0:27:190:27:23

can produce highly potent poisons called mycotoxins.

0:27:230:27:27

Research has identified several hundred of them

0:27:270:27:30

that could lurk in the food

0:27:300:27:32

and remain on surfaces the mould has touched.

0:27:320:27:35

Most are not lethal to dogs, but in a small handful of cases,

0:27:360:27:40

they can lead to severe mycotoxicosis.

0:27:400:27:43

A high-temperature, salivating, vomiting, uncoordinated movements

0:27:430:27:49

and trembling are all signs that your pet might be affected.

0:27:490:27:53

In what's come to be seen as a highly significant veterinary case,

0:27:530:27:57

three months ago, Sarah Dent spotted some of these symptoms

0:27:570:28:00

suddenly appear in her white cockapoo Dexter.

0:28:000:28:03

I went down to check on him and stroke him, and he was shaking.

0:28:030:28:07

I panicked, realised he'd been outside in the rain, he was wet.

0:28:070:28:12

Went to the back garden,

0:28:120:28:13

and I found the recycling caddie open on the lawn,

0:28:130:28:17

and it had mould in it from the bread that I'd put out that day.

0:28:170:28:21

It had been emptied.

0:28:210:28:23

I noticed it had been licked clean,

0:28:230:28:24

and we grabbed Dexter and just went to the vets as fast as we could.

0:28:240:28:28

And how soon after you saw Dexter was sick

0:28:280:28:30

did you manage to get him down to the vets?

0:28:300:28:32

I would say it was about 15 minutes.

0:28:320:28:36

I was able to tell them en route what had been in the bin,

0:28:360:28:39

and it just so happens that week I just had bread in there.

0:28:390:28:42

-I didn't realise just how bad bread mould was.

-Mm.

0:28:420:28:45

'Dexter was treated immediately at his local veterinary practice.'

0:28:450:28:50

Why are these specific kind of toxins that were in the bread,

0:28:500:28:53

why are they so dangerous?

0:28:530:28:54

These toxins, once they're eaten,

0:28:540:28:57

they get into the blood quite quickly

0:28:570:28:59

and cross into the brain reasonably quickly, as well,

0:28:590:29:02

so you normally see signs such as the tremors

0:29:020:29:05

or the muscle contractions within 15 to 30 minutes

0:29:050:29:08

after them being eaten.

0:29:080:29:10

Once the tremors were under control and he was conscious again,

0:29:100:29:13

he was monitored throughout the night

0:29:130:29:15

and given certain medication

0:29:150:29:19

to try and remove as much of the toxins from his blood as possible.

0:29:190:29:24

'But Dexter's condition worsened.'

0:29:240:29:27

He started to have problems with his pancreas,

0:29:270:29:29

and they tried very hard to save him for ten days.

0:29:290:29:33

Unfortunately for Dexter and for us, he never made it.

0:29:330:29:37

So, before this happened, presumably,

0:29:390:29:41

you hadn't even thought about the bin being dangerous to your dogs.

0:29:410:29:44

I had no idea that there was a type of mould that would kill them,

0:29:440:29:48

could kill them so quickly.

0:29:480:29:50

The warm, moist conditions in a food bin are an ideal environment

0:29:520:29:56

for the mould that produces mycotoxins.

0:29:560:29:59

Odourless and tasteless,

0:30:010:30:03

there's nothing to trigger your dog's senses

0:30:030:30:06

and warn them of the danger.

0:30:060:30:07

And whilst not all mouldy foods will contain them,

0:30:090:30:12

the most harmful can be deadly.

0:30:120:30:14

So, what can we do to avoid the risks?

0:30:170:30:20

The best advice is to make our food recycling bins

0:30:200:30:23

as dog-proof as possible.

0:30:230:30:25

Many food waste bins are lockable

0:30:260:30:29

and are, in fact, designed to be fox-proof.

0:30:290:30:32

But in Dexter's case, when the bin blew onto the ground,

0:30:320:30:36

the handle was knocked loose and the lid opened.

0:30:360:30:39

So I'd suggest the safest thing is

0:30:390:30:42

to keep your food waste bins out of reach or locked away.

0:30:420:30:45

And remember, even an emptied bin can still contain residues of mycotoxins,

0:30:460:30:52

so do give it a good clean regularly

0:30:520:30:54

with an antibacterial spray or wipes.

0:30:540:30:57

There are around a million horses kept as pets

0:31:090:31:12

or for competitive riding here in the UK,

0:31:120:31:14

and as many as 40,000 of them may be suffering from a condition

0:31:140:31:18

called headshaking.

0:31:180:31:20

It's a serious neurological condition

0:31:200:31:22

whose key symptom is extreme movements of the head

0:31:220:31:26

that the horse can't control.

0:31:260:31:28

This is thought to be a response to severe pain

0:31:280:31:31

caused by a malfunction of the nerves

0:31:310:31:33

that give the horse sensation in its face.

0:31:330:31:35

It usually affects horses aged between five and 12,

0:31:380:31:42

often without warning.

0:31:420:31:43

Until now, there's been no cure,

0:31:450:31:48

and in the most extreme cases the only option has been

0:31:480:31:51

to put the horse down.

0:31:510:31:53

But now a pioneering new therapy adapted from human medicine

0:31:530:31:57

is being developed here in Bristol,

0:31:570:31:59

and for the first time offers real hope for horses with headshaking.

0:31:590:32:03

One of them is Ted.

0:32:060:32:08

When she'd had Ted for just a few months,

0:32:080:32:10

his owner Tarri began to notice some strange behaviour.

0:32:100:32:14

When I was riding him,

0:32:140:32:15

I began to notice that he was shaking his head up and down.

0:32:150:32:19

It was so severe that I had to get off

0:32:190:32:22

because his head was coming up so far,

0:32:220:32:24

I was worried I was going to get hit in the face.

0:32:240:32:27

When a horse behaves like this,

0:32:290:32:30

it's easy to assume it's just being uncooperative or stubborn.

0:32:300:32:35

Particularly as headshaking is often at its worst

0:32:350:32:38

when the horse is being ridden.

0:32:380:32:41

But Tarri felt that something was wrong.

0:32:410:32:44

She called in the vet,

0:32:440:32:45

who suspected that the cause of Ted's headshaking was neurological.

0:32:450:32:49

The vet referred him to the specialists at Bristol

0:32:520:32:55

as a candidate for a cutting-edge therapy

0:32:550:32:57

that could potentially cure the problem.

0:32:570:33:00

It's a pioneering technique based on a treatment of nerve pain in humans,

0:33:000:33:05

but up until quite recently had not been tried in animals.

0:33:050:33:08

It's now giving hope to owners of horses with this condition

0:33:080:33:12

up and down the country.

0:33:120:33:15

In humans and animals alike,

0:33:150:33:17

pain can occur if the nerves involved in sensation become overactive.

0:33:170:33:21

In the case of headshaking, this occurs in the trigeminal nerve,

0:33:230:33:27

a key nerve in the face.

0:33:270:33:29

Veronica Roberts has adapted a technology

0:33:300:33:33

used to treat nerve pain in humans, called PENS therapy,

0:33:330:33:36

to stop the trigeminal nerve from misfiring.

0:33:360:33:39

What we're going to try and do with Ted is a new procedure

0:33:400:33:43

which we developed here.

0:33:430:33:45

It's based on a procedure used in people suffering neuropathic pain,

0:33:450:33:50

so pain from malfunctioning nerves.

0:33:500:33:52

The idea behind that is you put a probe under the skin over the nerve,

0:33:520:33:58

so lying directly on top of the nerve,

0:33:580:33:59

and stimulate the nerve electrically for a period of time.

0:33:590:34:03

And the idea behind that is to reset the nerve

0:34:030:34:06

back to functioning normally.

0:34:060:34:08

So, fingers crossed for Ted that this might be the solution.

0:34:080:34:11

Yeah, we hope so. We hope so.

0:34:110:34:13

Before she can treat Ted,

0:34:160:34:18

Veronica needs to confirm beyond any doubt

0:34:180:34:21

that his behaviour is caused by nerve pain.

0:34:210:34:23

Throwing his head up vertically is pretty dramatic.

0:34:260:34:30

A scan rules out other possible causes for Ted's condition,

0:34:300:34:33

such as a tooth infection.

0:34:330:34:36

So far so good. There's quite a bit to do.

0:34:360:34:38

Veronica diagnoses a clear case of nerve-induced headshaking,

0:34:400:34:44

so Ted's treatment is going ahead.

0:34:440:34:46

This will be the first session of three over the coming year.

0:34:470:34:51

First, Ted is sedated,

0:34:540:34:57

then he is led into position and his skin is prepared.

0:34:570:35:01

This is a sensitive area.

0:35:020:35:04

This is right over the nerve as it's exiting the bone

0:35:040:35:07

and obviously we know that he's got a really oversensitive nerve.

0:35:070:35:13

And it's strange to him, he's not used to being in this situation.

0:35:140:35:18

But the sedation's working well.

0:35:180:35:19

An electrical probe is inserted

0:35:210:35:23

and guided into the correct position on the nerve.

0:35:230:35:27

So you always check that the probe is sitting right on that nerve?

0:35:290:35:33

Yeah, we want it not in the nerve,

0:35:330:35:34

but as close as possible as we can to it.

0:35:340:35:36

The probe passes a precisely controlled electrical current into the nerve.

0:35:400:35:45

So, the machine's been activated,

0:35:450:35:47

and there is a current now going through his body.

0:35:470:35:51

It seems to be very well tolerated.

0:35:510:35:53

It'll just be very strange for him.

0:35:530:35:56

But he's coping very well.

0:35:560:35:59

So you're happy with him?

0:35:590:36:01

Yeah, he doesn't mind this at all.

0:36:010:36:03

And people say it's quite pleasant,

0:36:030:36:05

and I think the horses don't mind it.

0:36:050:36:06

After 20 minutes,

0:36:080:36:09

the probe is removed and reinserted on the opposite side of Ted's face,

0:36:090:36:14

where it is guided into position

0:36:140:36:16

over the other branch of the faulty nerve.

0:36:160:36:19

This ground-breaking treatment is still experimental

0:36:210:36:24

and it doesn't work in every horse.

0:36:240:36:28

It'll take several more sessions over the coming months

0:36:280:36:30

before anyone knows whether it has cured Ted's headshaking.

0:36:300:36:34

But one horse whose life has been transformed already

0:36:380:36:41

by the procedure is Dude.

0:36:410:36:43

Four years ago, he developed severe headshaking.

0:36:450:36:49

When other treatments failed,

0:36:490:36:50

his owner Amy was offered a programme of PENS therapy at Bristol.

0:36:500:36:55

At the time of the last treatment,

0:36:550:36:57

Veronica had said it could last a month, it could last three months.

0:36:570:37:00

She really didn't know.

0:37:000:37:01

And a month turned into two months, and turned into a year,

0:37:010:37:07

and then, lo and behold, three and a half years and here we are.

0:37:070:37:11

Now he's healthy, he's happy, he enjoys life,

0:37:110:37:14

he's exactly how he was before.

0:37:140:37:17

Veronica gave me back my horse.

0:37:170:37:20

I had a shell of a miserable horse when we first went,

0:37:200:37:24

and now I have a horse that's, well, full of life, full of beans.

0:37:240:37:29

She gave me the best present I could have ever had.

0:37:290:37:32

SHE LAUGHS

0:37:320:37:34

As vets, we're constantly looking for new techniques and interventions

0:37:360:37:40

to treat chronic pain in animals.

0:37:400:37:42

Sometimes that means even looking at therapies

0:37:420:37:45

that are still in their infancy, like this one.

0:37:450:37:48

But when you see an animal return to being ridden

0:37:480:37:50

with its headshaking gone,

0:37:500:37:52

it really hammers home that a novel therapy like this

0:37:520:37:55

in a condition as serious as headshaking

0:37:550:37:58

can literally be life saving.

0:37:580:38:00

Still to come,

0:38:030:38:04

if you're thinking of getting a dog,

0:38:040:38:06

the vets' guide to which breed you should choose...

0:38:060:38:09

..and what's the best way to de-stress your cat?

0:38:100:38:13

We'll have the results of our big experiment.

0:38:130:38:16

We all know our pets need exercise and play to be healthy.

0:38:240:38:27

But as a vet, I'm all too aware of some hazards you might not expect.

0:38:290:38:34

In my practice, I frequently see cases

0:38:340:38:36

of dogs who are harmed during play.

0:38:360:38:39

What starts out as fun can end up with joint damage,

0:38:390:38:42

overexertion or even serious injury

0:38:420:38:45

caused by the hidden danger of some toys.

0:38:450:38:47

So what are the most common accidents

0:38:470:38:50

that happen during exercise and play?

0:38:500:38:52

And what can you do to avoid them?

0:38:520:38:54

Probably the most common play-related cause

0:38:550:38:57

of a trip to the vet is a dog swallowing part of a toy.

0:38:570:39:01

So I've been joined by some local dogs and their owners

0:39:030:39:06

to play a guessing game.

0:39:060:39:09

I've got here a selection of toys

0:39:090:39:11

that you might choose to play with with your dog,

0:39:110:39:14

but there are a couple that you actually would be better off avoiding.

0:39:140:39:17

So come on over and have a look,

0:39:170:39:19

and choose which ones you think are safe

0:39:190:39:21

and which ones could be hazardous to your dog.

0:39:210:39:24

'The group are sorting the toys into two piles.'

0:39:290:39:32

'The dangerous bundle includes some toys

0:39:360:39:39

'that most of the time are lots of fun.'

0:39:390:39:41

OK, so I can see that some of the tennis balls are on both sides.

0:39:410:39:46

'Your dog might love a tennis ball,

0:39:460:39:48

'but they don't always love your dog.'

0:39:480:39:50

If they break up, they can be swallowed.

0:39:500:39:53

You're right, they can break up and it's all to do with quality.

0:39:530:39:57

The other thing is, when you're throwing them,

0:39:570:39:59

if the dog opens their mouth wide, they can lodge in their mouth.

0:39:590:40:02

'Toys with small detachable parts can cause similar problems.'

0:40:030:40:07

It is a nice resilient material.

0:40:070:40:10

The only thing that I would say you have to watch out for

0:40:100:40:12

with toys like this is that it does have little metal bells inside it

0:40:120:40:16

which we do sometimes have to fish out of dogs' insides.

0:40:160:40:20

'A toy that's good for one dog isn't always good for another.'

0:40:200:40:24

So this would be good for a small dog or a puppy,

0:40:240:40:27

but this little part of his tail would worry me a bit

0:40:270:40:30

for a larger dog such as Teagan

0:40:300:40:33

because he might be able to take that off and swallow it.

0:40:330:40:35

'Toys that won't break apart into small bits are safest.

0:40:370:40:41

'These could include a rubber bone,

0:40:410:40:44

'or invest in a bite-proof Frisbee made specially for dogs.

0:40:440:40:48

'Some types can be torn to bits far more easily than others.

0:40:480:40:52

'So always keep an eye on how your dog's toys are standing up

0:40:520:40:55

'to determined chewing.

0:40:550:40:58

'Buying your dog toys that are designed for its size and age

0:40:580:41:01

'will also help reduce the chances of an accident.

0:41:010:41:04

'Like this puzzle feeder for a puppy or a small dog.'

0:41:050:41:08

It's the right size for her.

0:41:080:41:09

Any bigger and she can't get anything out of it

0:41:090:41:12

and it's no good for her.

0:41:120:41:13

You're talking about her size, which is perfect,

0:41:130:41:15

cos she's a small dog and that is a small interactive feeding toy.

0:41:150:41:20

It's about what is appropriate for each dog,

0:41:200:41:22

their size and their stage in life.

0:41:220:41:25

'If a toy does get stuck in your pet's mouth,

0:41:250:41:28

'gently hold their mouth open

0:41:280:41:29

'and take the object out with your fingers.

0:41:290:41:32

'Don't use any kind of tool,

0:41:320:41:35

'as you could cause a serious cut if your pet moves suddenly.'

0:41:350:41:38

'And if your dog does swallow something that could harm them,

0:41:400:41:42

'take them to the vet.'

0:41:420:41:44

'A different kind of toy that's exploded in popularity

0:41:470:41:49

'in recent years is the ball thrower.

0:41:490:41:52

'These can give your dog hours of fun and keep them fit,

0:41:520:41:56

'but bear in mind the age of your pet.'

0:41:560:41:59

If you have an older dog with arthritis,

0:41:590:42:01

having them stop and start repeatedly to get the ball

0:42:010:42:04

can potentially damage their joints further.

0:42:040:42:07

And equally for young dogs where their joints are developing,

0:42:070:42:10

it may not be such a good thing to do repeatedly.

0:42:100:42:13

Absolutely fine for a fit, adult dog

0:42:130:42:15

who'll probably get a lot of pleasure out of it.

0:42:150:42:17

'For puppies and older dogs, gentler ball games are better.

0:42:170:42:21

'Finally, there's one type of injury that I see surprisingly often

0:42:220:42:26

'and can be very serious.

0:42:260:42:28

'And it comes from the age-old game of fetching a stick.

0:42:280:42:32

'Katie Bewley's dog Ernie ended up here

0:42:320:42:34

'at Bristol Langford Veterinary Hospital

0:42:340:42:36

'after some fun with a stick went wrong.'

0:42:360:42:39

It was the beginning of the summer holidays.

0:42:390:42:41

We'd gone to a friend's for a barbecue,

0:42:410:42:44

and one of the children threw a stick.

0:42:440:42:48

Ernie was six months old, playful, ran after the stick,

0:42:480:42:51

and it went straight through the roof of his mouth

0:42:510:42:54

into his spinal cord and left him partially paralysed.

0:42:540:42:58

So how did you feel when this all happened and you saw him like this?

0:42:580:43:02

Scared. It was horrific.

0:43:020:43:04

We thought he was going to die.

0:43:050:43:08

Surgeon Tom Shaw was one of the first to treat him.

0:43:110:43:15

We had a chat with the owners

0:43:150:43:17

about whether we were even going to attempt surgery or not

0:43:170:43:19

because of the risks,

0:43:190:43:21

but we decided that the risk of leaving the stick in place was

0:43:210:43:24

probably greater than the risk of removing it.

0:43:240:43:26

Eventually, we found the stick, pulled it out.

0:43:260:43:28

How big was that piece of stick you removed?

0:43:280:43:31

We've got it here.

0:43:310:43:32

Quite small,

0:43:330:43:35

-but big enough to do a lot of damage.

-Ooh.

0:43:350:43:37

-Wow.

-Can you see?

0:43:380:43:40

It's a couple of millimetres wide, about 1.5 centimetres long.

0:43:400:43:43

The spinal cord in a dog is only about one centimetre wide,

0:43:430:43:45

so you can imagine this being rammed through the spinal cord

0:43:450:43:47

is going to cause quite a lot of damage.

0:43:470:43:50

It was a five-hour operation.

0:43:500:43:51

There was no guarantees the next day whether he would make it.

0:43:510:43:55

It took roughly about four months for him to be independent on his own

0:43:550:44:00

after lots of hydrotherapy and physiotherapy.

0:44:000:44:02

Ernie is now back to normal

0:44:040:44:06

thanks to Katie getting him treated quickly.

0:44:060:44:08

So, do take care if you're playing with a stick,

0:44:080:44:11

and if an accident happens, take your dog straight to the vet.

0:44:110:44:14

All dogs need regular exercise and play.

0:44:140:44:17

They really can't do without it in order to stay healthy.

0:44:170:44:21

By being vigilant for unexpected hazards,

0:44:210:44:23

you and your pet can enjoy exercise safely.

0:44:230:44:26

Come on, then.

0:44:260:44:28

Come on, then.

0:44:280:44:29

While we've been in Bristol,

0:44:390:44:41

we've been hearing your pet-related questions.

0:44:410:44:45

And there's one question that we vets get asked again and again

0:44:450:44:48

by cat owners.

0:44:480:44:50

Should I get my cat Lulu neutered?

0:44:500:44:53

For us as cat owners, the most obvious benefit

0:44:530:44:56

to getting them neutered is avoiding the surprise

0:44:560:44:58

of an unexpected litter of kittens.

0:44:580:45:01

And that's a wider problem than you might think.

0:45:010:45:04

As many as 80% of litters across the country

0:45:040:45:07

are believed to be unplanned.

0:45:070:45:09

A cat can quite easily have three litters a year,

0:45:110:45:14

with five to six kittens in each litter.

0:45:140:45:16

They all have to find homes.

0:45:160:45:18

Sadly, many of them don't.

0:45:200:45:22

The latest research suggests that the stray cat population in the UK

0:45:220:45:26

is growing out of control.

0:45:260:45:28

Just to keep it stable,

0:45:280:45:30

30,000 more cats would need to be neutered every year

0:45:300:45:34

than is currently the case.

0:45:340:45:36

But some people may worry that it's not in the best interest of their cat,

0:45:360:45:40

that somehow we're messing with nature

0:45:400:45:42

or that it may be harmful to them.

0:45:420:45:44

So, what's the truth?

0:45:440:45:45

-PHONE RINGS

-Good morning...

0:45:450:45:48

Here at Langford Vets in Bristol,

0:45:480:45:49

they carry out up to 100 neutering ops a year,

0:45:490:45:53

often in the nick of time.

0:45:530:45:55

Cats can get pregnant from as young as four months of age,

0:45:550:45:58

so if you're going to stop your kitten having an unwanted litter,

0:45:580:46:00

you'd better get cracking.

0:46:000:46:02

Young Lulu here is five months old and she is about to be neutered.

0:46:020:46:05

It seems like a young age, but it's actually the right time to do it.

0:46:050:46:08

There's also a common misconception that cats need to have a litter

0:46:080:46:11

before they're neutered,

0:46:110:46:13

but actually they can be neutered from eight weeks of age.

0:46:130:46:16

For dogs, the best time to neuter depends on breed,

0:46:170:46:20

so check with your vet.

0:46:200:46:22

But there is little evidence that neutering early has any ill effects your cat.

0:46:220:46:27

And, in fact, neutering brings some important benefits

0:46:270:46:31

for your cat's health.

0:46:310:46:34

It may sound surprising,

0:46:340:46:35

but neutered cats are actually less likely

0:46:350:46:37

to contract infectious diseases

0:46:370:46:39

and are not at risk of getting cancer of their reproductive organs.

0:46:390:46:43

And in male cats, they're less likely to fight and roam,

0:46:430:46:46

which obviously reduces their chances of getting injured.

0:46:460:46:49

Neutering can lower your cat's metabolism

0:46:510:46:54

and increase their appetite,

0:46:540:46:56

which puts them at risk of becoming overweight.

0:46:560:46:58

So don't be tempted to feed them more.

0:47:000:47:02

Post-neutering diets are available.

0:47:020:47:05

But overall, the effects on your cat's health are generally positive.

0:47:050:47:10

The surgery is over in minutes,

0:47:100:47:12

and a young cat like Lulu will recover quickly.

0:47:120:47:15

Lulu here is just waking up after her surgery.

0:47:170:47:20

So as far as you and your cat are concerned,

0:47:200:47:22

it's a good idea to get them neutered.

0:47:220:47:24

And of course, there's the wider benefit too.

0:47:240:47:27

Fewer unplanned litters means fewer cats who don't find a good home

0:47:270:47:31

and end up as strays.

0:47:310:47:32

So for the greater good of cats up and down the country,

0:47:330:47:36

getting your cat neutered is a no-brainer.

0:47:360:47:38

-There she is.

-Hey, Lulu.

0:47:400:47:43

You've been a brave girl.

0:47:430:47:46

In a moment, we'll be finding out the results of our big experiment

0:47:460:47:50

on the best way to de-stress your cat.

0:47:500:47:52

But first...

0:47:570:47:58

Shockingly, around 50,000 dogs are abandoned in the UK every year.

0:47:590:48:05

It's the extreme end of a problem that can start

0:48:050:48:08

when a dog and an owner don't quite suit each other.

0:48:080:48:11

So if you're thinking about getting a dog,

0:48:110:48:14

how do you avoid ending up with one that you struggle to take care of?

0:48:140:48:19

Dogs come in all different shapes, sizes, and personalities,

0:48:190:48:22

and they have different needs to keep them in good health.

0:48:220:48:24

So to be sure that you have a happy, healthy dog and a happy owner,

0:48:240:48:28

it's a good idea to make sure that you and your dog are a good match.

0:48:280:48:31

That may sound obvious,

0:48:330:48:35

but surprisingly one in five people who get a dog don't do any research

0:48:350:48:40

on what type might suit them.

0:48:400:48:43

In my experience, there are four key questions

0:48:430:48:45

that every prospective owner should consider.

0:48:450:48:48

Vets rarely get asked these questions until it's too late

0:48:480:48:52

and we're dealing with the problems that can arise.

0:48:520:48:54

So I want to give you my own vet's guide to choosing a dog.

0:48:540:48:58

One of the first things you should do is ask yourself

0:48:580:49:00

how much time you can dedicate to exercising a dog.

0:49:000:49:03

All dogs need daily exercise, some more than others.

0:49:030:49:06

Some of the more energetic breeds like collies and Springer Spaniels

0:49:060:49:09

could exercise for more than two hours a day.

0:49:090:49:12

If they don't get this,

0:49:120:49:13

they can become bored and frustrated

0:49:130:49:15

and their behaviour can be difficult to manage.

0:49:150:49:17

DOG BARKS

0:49:170:49:18

This can manifest itself as constant barking or destructive activity.

0:49:180:49:23

If you don't think you'll have enough time to exercise a dog,

0:49:250:49:28

then think carefully before you get one.

0:49:280:49:31

If you are less mobile, consider getting an older dog

0:49:310:49:34

which may not require as much exercise.

0:49:340:49:36

An important consideration is how easy or difficult it is

0:49:380:49:41

to train your dog, and this differs between breeds,

0:49:410:49:43

and some can be more stubborn than others.

0:49:430:49:46

Dogs that require more committed training are working dog breeds,

0:49:480:49:51

such as Huskies.

0:49:510:49:53

They can be difficult to train

0:49:530:49:54

because they are naturally strong willed.

0:49:540:49:57

Types of dogs that may be more amenable to training

0:49:570:50:00

include poodles, retrievers, and German shepherds.

0:50:000:50:04

The third key question is how well they'll integrate socially

0:50:080:50:11

with the whole family.

0:50:110:50:13

If you're looking for a family dog,

0:50:130:50:15

a crucial question is how happy they're going to be around people,

0:50:150:50:18

especially children.

0:50:180:50:19

This isn't just down to breed,

0:50:190:50:21

but also how well socialised they were as a puppy.

0:50:210:50:23

You can do things to help this by visiting breeders,

0:50:230:50:26

meeting the puppy's parents and speaking to your vet for advice.

0:50:260:50:29

Some breeds are better suited to a busy home.

0:50:290:50:32

Staffordshire bull terriers and Labradors consistently top the polls.

0:50:320:50:36

They tend to be loyal, attentive, relatively easy to train.

0:50:360:50:40

Finally, you need to take into consideration your own health.

0:50:400:50:44

If you suffer from allergies,

0:50:440:50:46

it's a good idea to get a breed like a cockapoo

0:50:460:50:49

that's less likely to trigger a reaction.

0:50:490:50:50

Most allergies to dogs are because of shed fur or dead skin cells

0:50:500:50:54

that end up in carpets, furniture or dispersed in the air.

0:50:540:50:58

Cockapoos, poodles and labradoodles shed far less,

0:50:580:51:02

so can be a good choice

0:51:020:51:03

if you want to minimise the chances of triggering allergies.

0:51:030:51:07

But there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic dog,

0:51:070:51:11

so try to spend time with the dog of your choice to check for reactions

0:51:110:51:15

before deciding for good and taking them home.

0:51:150:51:17

So, when choosing a dog, remember the four key questions.

0:51:210:51:26

The answers will really help point you towards a dog

0:51:260:51:29

whose physical and behavioural traits will work for you

0:51:290:51:31

and your dog.

0:51:310:51:33

It's always a good idea to talk to your vet first

0:51:340:51:37

before you make your choice,

0:51:370:51:38

and we won't even charge for the phone call.

0:51:380:51:40

PHONE RINGS

0:51:450:51:47

Hello, ICU.

0:51:470:51:48

Earlier in the programme, we began an experiment

0:51:500:51:53

to tackle one of the biggest health problems affecting cats in the UK -

0:51:530:51:57

stress.

0:51:570:51:58

Cat stress levels are highest in homes with more than one cat.

0:51:590:52:02

So we recruited three multi-cat households,

0:52:040:52:07

and over the last six weeks, we've been testing

0:52:070:52:09

three different stress-busting methods.

0:52:090:52:12

First, all our households separated their cats' feeding bowls,

0:52:130:52:16

beds and litter trays,

0:52:160:52:18

putting them in different rooms.

0:52:180:52:20

The idea was to remove conflict over space

0:52:200:52:23

to meet the cats' basic needs like eating and sleeping.

0:52:230:52:27

At first, the three cats were really, really confused

0:52:270:52:29

as to where their bowls were going

0:52:290:52:31

because we had to separate them around the house.

0:52:310:52:33

Two weeks later, we added our second measure.

0:52:330:52:36

We gave all the cats new toys

0:52:360:52:38

to help them express their wild side

0:52:380:52:40

through play and foraging for food around the house.

0:52:400:52:43

Alice likes it, and I think it's given her a lot more confidence.

0:52:430:52:47

And for the final two weeks, we added our third measure.

0:52:480:52:52

We introduced smells, based on natural odours called pheromones,

0:52:520:52:56

that research suggests should have a calming effect on cats.

0:52:560:53:00

The pheromone plug-in seems to have chilled out Salty

0:53:000:53:03

a heck of a lot more.

0:53:030:53:04

So, the owners think there are signs of improvement in all three houses.

0:53:060:53:10

But what does the data say?

0:53:100:53:12

Throughout the six weeks,

0:53:130:53:15

all our families have been recording their cats' behaviour

0:53:150:53:18

with a questionnaire that measures cat stress.

0:53:180:53:20

And we've had cameras installed in all the houses

0:53:220:53:24

to look for any changes.

0:53:240:53:26

Now I'm back with vet and cat behaviour expert Sarah Heath

0:53:290:53:34

who has analysed the data to give us the results.

0:53:340:53:37

This is a graph that shows the changes in the stress scores

0:53:370:53:41

for the cats over that six-week period.

0:53:410:53:43

It seems to suggest that the overall trend is

0:53:430:53:47

a significant reduction in cat stress,

0:53:470:53:49

which is great, isn't it?

0:53:490:53:50

Absolutely, and as measured by these behaviours

0:53:500:53:53

that you've been monitoring, like staring and chasing,

0:53:530:53:56

we can see that there's a significant decrease

0:53:560:53:58

in those sorts of behaviours within each of the households.

0:53:580:54:01

I mean, that's amazing, actually seeing it on the screen.

0:54:010:54:04

The results show the measure that was most effective,

0:54:040:54:07

and generally caused the biggest reduction in stress,

0:54:070:54:09

was the first -

0:54:090:54:11

moving the bowls, beds, and litter trays

0:54:110:54:14

to avoid conflict over living space.

0:54:140:54:17

The toys and pheromones also helped,

0:54:180:54:21

but had a lesser effect.

0:54:210:54:23

The overall pattern was the same in all three of our households.

0:54:250:54:28

-Hello, Emma.

-Hi, come in.

0:54:300:54:33

At the Jacksons',

0:54:330:54:34

their cats saw a good overall reduction in stress levels.

0:54:340:54:37

This is where we are now.

0:54:370:54:39

With the biggest improvement coming right at the start.

0:54:390:54:42

It's gone really, really well.

0:54:440:54:46

There's hardly any tension now at all between any of the cats.

0:54:460:54:49

At the Hopkins', Susan's cats also had a great response

0:54:500:54:54

to our first stress-busting method.

0:54:540:54:57

And here, our second method, the toys,

0:54:570:54:59

also made a significant difference,

0:54:590:55:02

with only a slight improvement with the smells.

0:55:020:55:04

The overall improvement in stress levels is massive,

0:55:060:55:09

and that is particularly good news for Alice,

0:55:090:55:11

who used to hide under the bed all the time.

0:55:110:55:13

She seems much more content, much more confident in herself.

0:55:140:55:19

Overall, it's very peaceful.

0:55:190:55:22

I mean, you can even feel it now.

0:55:220:55:24

Can't hear a thing.

0:55:240:55:26

But in one of our households, the Humphreys',

0:55:300:55:33

there was a temporary glitch.

0:55:330:55:35

Stress levels actually went up for part of the experiment

0:55:350:55:40

as an unforeseen problem emerged.

0:55:400:55:43

It looks like it hasn't been totally plain sailing all the way.

0:55:430:55:46

To start off with, we weren't sure that anything was going to improve.

0:55:460:55:49

Sarah suspected this might have been because of a neighbour's cat

0:55:490:55:53

sneaking in through the cat flap.

0:55:530:55:56

I guess this is a problem that could arise

0:55:560:55:58

if you didn't have two cats in a household, you only had one.

0:55:580:56:02

Yeah, absolutely. That's a very important security issue

0:56:020:56:05

for the cats living in your house.

0:56:050:56:07

They need to know that their house is safe from intrusion,

0:56:070:56:11

so we've replaced that with a microchip-operated cat flap,

0:56:110:56:14

so that means it's very specifically programmed to your cats alone.

0:56:140:56:18

And it seems to have had the desired effect,

0:56:190:56:22

because the stress levels for Salt and Pepper

0:56:220:56:24

fell consistently afterwards.

0:56:240:56:26

The combination of measures has made a big difference

0:56:260:56:29

to the Humphreys' cats.

0:56:290:56:31

They will now tolerate each other

0:56:310:56:33

and not have the chasing and the hissing and the growling,

0:56:330:56:37

all those things that we were seeing six weeks ago.

0:56:370:56:39

Living more separate lives, they're actually both much happier.

0:56:390:56:44

So this seems to be a great overall result for the whole family.

0:56:440:56:47

Yeah, happier cats, so happier household.

0:56:470:56:50

With the limited number of households in our study,

0:56:520:56:54

our results are not scientifically definitive,

0:56:540:56:58

but they do support the wider work done by specialists like Sarah.

0:56:580:57:02

Each method Sarah introduced is based on the latest research

0:57:020:57:06

and each is proven to improve wellbeing,

0:57:060:57:09

whether cats are showing signs of stress or not.

0:57:090:57:13

But for our families,

0:57:130:57:14

what matters is that the strategies worked for their cats.

0:57:140:57:18

It's worth remembering that one of the biggest causes of stress in cats

0:57:190:57:23

is living with other cats.

0:57:230:57:25

So if you've got a cat that's happy on its own,

0:57:250:57:27

then think carefully before you get another.

0:57:270:57:30

If you already have more than one cat,

0:57:300:57:32

then the results of our experiment are really encouraging.

0:57:320:57:35

I've been really pleasantly surprised

0:57:350:57:37

by how quickly and easily methods can be put into place

0:57:370:57:41

to help reduce your cats' stress.

0:57:410:57:43

That's it from Bristol

0:57:550:57:56

and from this series of Trust Me, I'm A Vet.

0:57:560:57:59

For more information about some of the stories we've covered,

0:57:590:58:02

why not visit our website?

0:58:020:58:04

Steve Leonard and his team of vets investigate the best way to de-stress your cat, reveal why your recycling bin is a danger to your dog, and witness a groundbreaking operation to save the life of a horse suffering extreme nerve pain.