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Pet Advice

Top tips for you and your pet

Pet Advice

Top tips for you and your pet

  • Dental Disease
  • Ear Problems
  • False pregnancy
  • Feline Leukaemia
  • Fleas
  • Kennel Cough
  • Neutering
  • Rabbit Fly Strike
  • Thyroid Diseases
  • Weight
  • Worms
  • Summer Weather
  • Winter Weather

Dental Disease

Dental disease

Did you know that in recent surveys 85% of dogs and 70% of cats over three years of age have some form of dental disease? A healthy mouth typically has shiny white teeth surrounded by firm pink (or pigmented ) gums.

Plaque is an invisible film composed of bacteria and other substances which forms naturally and continuously on the surface of the teeth and gums.

As plaque accumulates, toxins produced by the bacteria cause a marginal inflammation of the gum tissue - called gingivitis. At the same time, the plaque usually becomes mineralised to form calculus (tartar) on the tooth surfaces.

If the infection continues unchecked, bacteria start to penetrate below the gumline, destroying the tooth supporting structures - a condition called periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a far more serious condition and if left untreated, leads to tooth loosening and eventual tooth loss as the disease progresses.

However the effects of dental disease don't just affect the mouth. Persistent gum infections leak bacteria and toxins into the bloodstream, where they can cause problems in many other body organs - most notably the liver, kidneys, heart muscle (myocardium) and lungs.

As you can see, dental disease causes far more than just bad breath! The persistent drip feed of bacteria and toxins into the bloodstream can make your pet generally unwell over a long period of time.

If you would like further information on caring for your pet's teeth or would like a check-up for your pet, please contact us to arrange a suitable time.

Ear Problems

Ear Problems

It is difficult to talk about ear problems in our pets without understanding a little of the anatomy of the ear.

In simple terms the ear consists of the pinna (or flap), the external ear canal, ear drum, middle ear and inner ear.

Thankfully the majority of our pets have healthy ears but when problems do occur, most of these are associated with the external ear canal.

Disease of this area is technically called Otitis Externa.

In the healthy ear, the opening to the external ear canal is lined with healthy looking pink skin, with a fairly wide opening to the external ear canal.

The major signs of otitis externa include head shaking, and pain and redness of the external ear canal.

Additionally, a discharge may be present.

Causes of Otitis Externa commonly include ear mites and bacterial and fungal infections.

Additionally - particularly in the summer months - grass seeds may become trapped in the external ear canal causing a sudden onset of head shaking.

If you would like any further information or an examination of your pet's ears - please contact us to arrange a suitable time.

It is worth being on the lookout for the grass seeds (awns) of the meadow grasses.

These are encountered whilst out on walks and commonly work their way into pads or become trapped in dogs ears, usually causing severe head shaking.

In view of this, thorough inspection of the coat for grass awns is strongly recommended following walks.

False pregnancy

False pregnancy

UN-SPAYED female dogs (bitches) usually come into season (heat) twice a year. About six weeks after the end of their season some of them will start showing signs of pseudo or false pregnancy.

Most affected bitches will start lactating, resulting in swollen mammary glands. Many will also start nest making and carrying toys around as if they were puppies.

These signs are usually accompanied by other behaviour changes and often loss of appetite.

If your pet suffers from the misery of false pregnancy, please ask us for further information on both treatment and prevention of this frequently very distressing condition.

Feline Leukaemia

Feline leukaemia

Feline Leukaemia is an infectious disease caused by the Feline Leukaemia virus (FeLV) which can damage the immune system or cause tumours in cats.

Feline Leukaemia is now the most common infectious cause of premature death in cats in the UK.

Studies have shown that up to 1 in 20 apparently healthy cats are infected with FeLV, and it has been estimated that two thirds of cats will have contact with an FeLV infected cat at some stage in their lives.

Infected cats spread the virus in urine, saliva, blood and other body fluids.

Any contact with an infected cat can result in infection, but the virus is most commonly spread by grooming, fighting, or sexual activity.

Although the virus does on occasions cause true leukaemia, on many occasions the effects are more related to suppression of the cats immune system.

However the good news is that there are now very effective vaccines against the virus.

Please contact us for further information, or for an appointment.



The Flea Lifecycle

The flea season traditionally occurs during the warmer summer months, but conditions in many homes today provide a comfortable flea breeding ground all year round.

Fleas depend on your pets for survival, and feed off their blood, often causing severe skin irritations.

The adult fleas also spend much of their lifecycle living in your environment - in your pet's bedding, in carpets and on furniture.

The adult female fleas lay hundreds of eggs, which drop off our pets to lie dormant around the home.

These lurk unseen in carpets, bedding and furniture, until they hatch - days, weeks or even months later.

The eggs hatch into larvae which may spend several weeks feeding in the environment before turning into pupae, where they can remain dormant for many months.

Pupae are very sensitive to the presence of pets and humans, and can rapidly hatch out into adult fleas - completing their lifecycle. In just a few weeks two fleas can multiply to 2000!

The key to controlling fleas is to break their lifecycle. We have a very extensive range of effective flea products - both for your pet and your home.

Please contact us for the best form of flea control to suit your own requirements.

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough

Kennel Cough is a highly contagious cough in dogs. The cough is typically a harsh dry "honking" cough, which can sometimes be slow to clear up, even with antibiotics.

Wherever dogs congregate - out on walks, in a kennel situation, or at a dog show - these are all ideal situations for the very rapid spread of the infectious organisms which cause the cough.

However help is at hand! We recommend the use of a vaccine in the form of nasal drops. This is very effective vaccine against the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica - one of the major organisms causing kennel cough. Protection lasts for a year.

Please contact us for further details.



Should I have my Dog neutered?

Did you know that apart from preventing unwanted pregnancies there are many other benefits to having your dog neutered?

An un-neutered female dog usually comes into season (heat) twice a year. Seasons typically last for about 3-4 weeks and during this time she will become receptive to the advances of the male dogs in your locality. She may also roam - seeking a mate, and despite your best efforts accidents do happen!

Neutering (called spaying in female dogs) involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus under a general anaesthetic.

The most obvious benefit of being spayed is that your dog will no longer have to endure the frustration of coming into season or run the risk of a phantom pregnancy.

Spaying also removes the possibility of life threatening uterine infections (pyometras) and reduces the risk of developing potentially fatal mammary tumours later in life.

Entire (un-neutered) male dogs are often driven to distraction when a local bitch is in season. They may escape and may be involved in a road traffic accident or go missing permanently.

Neutering a male dog involves removal of both testes under a general anaesthetic.

As well as making your dog less likely to stray, it also eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer, reduces the incidence of prostate gland problems and can be of help in controlling excessive sexual drive and with certain behavioural problems.

Please don't hesitate to ask us for any further information on neutering your pet!

Should I have my Rabbit neutered?

Just as there are major benefits from having your rabbit vaccinated against infectious diseases, so there are also several benefits associated with having your rabbit neutered.

The operation itself, which requires a general anaesthetic, can be carried out from about four months of age onwards.

In male rabbits (bucks) the testicles are removed, whilst in female rabbbits (does) the ovaries and uterus are removed.

The most obvious benefit is of course that you can prevent unwanted pregnancies. Additionally, because reproductive organs have been removed, rabbits are protected from cancer of these organs.

Finally, neutered rabbits tend to be calmer, less prone to aggressive or destructive behaviour and can be kept in social groups without fighting.

If you would like any further information on the benefits of having your rabbit neutered, please don't hesitate to ask a member of staff!

Should I have my Cat neutered?

The mating season in cats usually starts in March and ends in September. Female cats are known as induced ovulators which means they will "call" (be in season) sometimes for weeks until they are mated.

Whilst calling the queen's behaviour changes. A few of the signs include her becoming more affectionate, weaving in and out of your legs, rubbing against you and shaking her pelvis. When stroked she will react by raising her bottom, shaking her tail and emitting a loud yowl rolling about on the floor. All this behaviour is normal however it is often mistaken as pain.

Cats can be neutered from 4 months of age to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. The mating season can often be fraught with dangers as your cats may fight, stray and put themselves at risk of infections or disease. This applies to both males and females.

If you would like to know more about having your cat neutered and helping reduce the rising population of unwanted cats please contact us to discuss it.

Rabbit Fly Strike

Rabbit Fly Strike

A particular problem facing all rabbit owners during the warmer summer and autumn months is the possibility of fly strike.

Rabbit rear ends often become damp and this moist area attracts flies which lay their eggs there. These eggs hatch into maggots which are capable of burrowing through the rabbit's skin and into the underlying flesh. This is a very painful and serious condition which frequently, very sadly, results in death.

Throughout the summer months, rabbits should be turned upside down and inspected daily for fly eggs and maggots. Soiled bedding should also be removed on a daily basis to minimise flies being attracted to the hutch.

If you are in any doubt - please contact us at once.

A product called Rearguard is available to prevent fly strike. A single application lasts for 10 weeks. Please ask us if you would like further details.

Thyroid Diseases

Thyroid Diseases

Did you know that thyroid disease is surprisingly common in dogs and cats?

The thyroid gland consists of two lobes - one located on each side of the trachea (windpipe). The gland produces thyroid hormone which regulates your pet's metabolism - too much thyroid hormone speeds up the metabolism, whilst too little slows it down.

Over Production of Thyroid Hormone (Cats)

Over production of thyroid hormone is termed hyperthyroidism and is a relatively common condition in cats over 8 years of age. Affected cats tend to burn up energy too rapidly and lose weight despite an increased appetite and food intake. In addition excess thyroid hormone usually increases the heart rate, potentially leading to abnormal thickening of the heart muscle and increased blood pressure.

As well as the above, a variety of other signs may also be seen including hyperactivity, vomiting and diarrhoea. However the good news is that in most cases, hyperthyroidism in cats can be very successfully treated.

Under production of Thyroid Hormone (Dogs)

Under production of thyroid hormone is called hypothyroidism, and is a relatively common condition in the older dog. Lower levels of thyroid hormone result in a decrease in the metabolic rate, usually leading to weight gain (with no increase in appetite) and general lethargy.

Other signs often include coat problems and recurrent ear and skin infections.

Diagnosis of hypothyroidism is often more difficult than hyperthyroidism.However, once a diagnosis has been made, daily treatment with oral thyroid supplements is usually very effective in treating the condition.

If you are concerned that your dog or cat is showing any of the signs described above, please arrange for us to examine your pet.



Have you looked at your pet recently - could your faithful friend lose a few pounds?

Obesity (which literally means increased body fatness) is a problem that is on the increase, and something that is easily overlooked since weight gain is usually a gradual process.

Obesity occurs when the level of energy intake in the food is greater than the level of energy used in daily life. This excess energy is laid down as fat.

Obesity is known to cause or worsen certain conditions including: arthritis, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, intolerance to heat, and increase anaesthetic risks - to name just a few.

What can be done?

Veterinary Centres are here to help! We are happy to weigh your pet, and advise you on your pet's ideal weight.
We will also check for any other signs of illness or disease, since obesity can also be an indicator of other underlying health problems.

If your pet needs to lose weight, we can advise you on the most suitable diet and exercise programme to ensure this is successful - please contact us for an appointment.



Does my pet have worms?

The answer may well be yes - many dogs and cats have worms at some stage in their lives!

Worms can cause a variety of signs including a dull coat, swelling of the stomach, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and occasionally chest problems.

There are two major types of worms - roundworms and tapeworms.


These can grow up to 18 cm in length, and live in the intestines. They shed thousands of eggs in the pet's faeces, infecting the environment. The eggs can remain dormant in the environment, for years, waiting to be accidentally eaten either by your pet - or a child.

In children they may cause potentially permanent eye damage. It is for this reason that we have a responsibility to both regularly treat our pets with wormers and clean up after our pets.

Typical roundworms : e.g. Toxocara canis


These live in the intestines and can grow up to five metres in length. They have a more complex life cycle - outlined below.

The adult tapeworm sheds segments in the faeces; these segments in turn lay eggs, which are then ingested by an intermediate host.

These include fleas, and small mammals (typically mice).

The intermediate host swallows the tapeworm eggs, which develop into larvae inside the intermediate host.

Eating an infected intermediate host infects your pet - cats catch infected mice, and dogs and cats frequently swallow fleas.


Lungworm larvae are carried by slugs, snails and frogs. If your dog comes in contact with an infected garden pest it can become infected. During 2013 we had several confirmed cases of lungworm two of which proved fatal. Infected dogs can expel the larvae in their faeces.

We now recommend monthly treatment as routine prevention with other flea and worm treatments. Please check that the products you use protect your pet.

To summarise, there are just three simple rules:-

  • Regular worming
  • Use flea control
  • Clean up faeces

We have simple and effective wormers for both tapeworms, roundworms and lungworms and we are happy to advise you on the most effective form of worm control for your pet.

Summer Weather

Summer weather

With the onset of warmer summer weather, it is worth remembering that our pets tolerate the heat less well than ourselves.


Despite appearances,pets tolerate heat less well than us.

In terms of walks, it is generally a good idea to exercise dogs in the early morning and evening, when the weather is cooler.

This is particularly true for older dogs, and for dogs with heart or respiratory problems.

Regarding cars - never leave a dog in a car on a hot day. The temperature in a car (even with a window open) can quickly soar to extreme levels, resulting in heat-stroke and death.


Moving on to cats - if your cat likes sunbathing and has white ears - beware sunburn. Repeated episodes of sunburn may lead to localised skin cancer of the tips of the ears - as in this picture.

This can be prevented either by keeping white eared cats out of the sun, or by applying total sun block cream to the ears during the summer months.

A pet sun screen can be ordered. Please ask if your pet needs this.

If your cat has white ears and you would like them checked, please contact us to arrange a suitable time.


Winter Weather

Winter awareness

The onset of colder winter weather brings with it a new set of hazards for our pets.

When out on walks, it's great to enjoy the winter weather, but beware of frozen ponds and lakes which are a hazard to both pets and their owners.

At this time of year many people will also be topping up the antifreeze in their car radiators.

Antifreeze usually contains ethylene glycol which is very toxic to both humans and pets.

Spilt Antifreeze can kill your pet

Ethylene glycol has a sweet taste and any spillage is very attractive to dogs and cats who will readily drink it.

If ingested, even small amounts can cause serious kidney failure and usually death.

Thus it is very important to ensure that any spilt antifreeze is cleaned up.

Chocolate can kill your pet

Additionally, don't forget that chocolate - especially the plain variety, can be very toxic to dogs.

If you want to feed your dog chocolate, specially formulated pet chocolate is the only safe option!

Small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs are very susceptible to cold and damp weather.

With this in mind, move their hutches into a sheltered area or garden shed, give them extra bedding and check water bottles regularly to ensure they don't freeze.