Neutering and Spaying
Looking After Your Pet on Bonfire Night
Remember, remember the 5th of November…
Unfortunately, this time of year is impossible to forget for most pet owners.
People knocking on the door wearing Halloween costumes, the banging of fireworks and flashing lights can be terrifying for pets and cause them to behave in ways that are unpredictable. This not only poses a risk to the safety of our pet, but also to us and other people, especially if they become unusually aggressive.
Cats and dogs are particularly susceptible to severe anxiety induced by fireworks, but so are many small furry pets, such as rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs.
We have specific advice for each type of pet below, but please call our veterinary team if you have any concerns about your pet during firework season.
Do you dread firework season because of the effect it has on your pet? Every year thousands of pets suffer from the unfamiliar sights and sounds of Halloween and Bonfire Night, but for some pets this time of year can be particularly debilitating.
Firework phobia is a treatable condition in most cases through exposure to recordings of similar sights and sounds, and in severe cases it may be possible to refer your pet to an animal behaviourist. Please make an appointment with one of our veterinary surgeons if you feel that your pet may require more intensive support during firework season.
Advice for Dog Owners
Dogs can react very badly to Halloween and Bonfire Night so it’s a good idea to be aware of the signs. Typical behaviours that suggest your dog is afraid include:
- Trembling and shaking
- Clinging to owners
- Excessive barking and/or whining
- Cowering behind furniture
- Pacing and panting
- Trying to run away
- Toileting in the house
- Refusing to eat
- Increased aggression
If your dog starts to exhibit any of these behaviours, it’s a good idea to be prepared with anxiety reducing methods that will alleviate their distress:
- Keep your dog indoors – make sure you walk your dog before the fireworks are being let off and trick or treaters are doing their rounds, which is usually in the late afternoon and evening. If you have to take your dog out, keep it short and on the lead just in case they start to behave aggressively. Don’t leave your dog either tied up or off a lead in the garden and never force your dog to face its fears as it will only become more frightened. We also advise against taking your dog to a fireworks display even if they don’t whimper and whine. You may think your dog is happy, but more subtle behaviours such as excessive yawning and panting can also indicate that they are afraid.
- Be prepared – find out when and where fireworks events are occurring in your area and ask neighbours about their intention to host private events. Try to plan your walks around these displays. We also advise that you feed your dog before the fireworks start as severe anxiety can make them lose their appetite.
- Secure your home – make sure that all windows and doors are closed to minimise the noise of fireworks coming in from outside. We also recommend that you close your curtains to further muffle the noise and block out any scary flashes of light. If your dog is used to the sight and sound of the TV or radio, then turn them on as this can be soothing.
- Create a safe den – dogs love small cubbyholes to hide and feel secure in. This can be a particularly good way of calming your dog during firework season. Ideally, the den should be constructed in a room that your dog associates with pleasure, such as the room they eat in. Make the den as small and as comfortable as possible by providing soft, cosy bedding on the bottom and around the sides. It is also a good idea to put pieces of your unwashed clothing in the den so that they can smell your scent, which will help them to feel more comfortable and relaxed. Make the entrance to the den as small as possible and try to create a flap with a blanket or piece of clothing. Allow your dog access to the den at all times. If your dog likes to hide under furniture, you can create the den there by making it more cosy with duvets, pillows, etc. as well as giving them unwashed clothing to snuggle up to.
- Behave normally – your behaviour is also very important as your dog is well in tune with you and will pick up on anything odd. It’s hard to witness your dog in distress, but it’s vital that you remain calm and happy, as this will send positive signals to your dog. Let your dog whine, pant, pace and hide in a corner if they want to. Trying to relax them by stroking their head is fine, but if they want to hide, don’t try to coax them out as that can make them more stressed. Be with your dog and aware of their need for comfort; ignoring them will only make things worse. Never shout or scold an anxious dog for whining, destructive behaviours or toileting in the house as this will only make them more afraid. Praise and reward them for calm behaviours. Finally, we advise that you keep to your normal routine as much as possible as too many changes can increase your dog’s distress.
- Investigate calming products – if you know that your dog is particularly sensitive to fireworks, there are a wide range of diffusers, collars and natural calming medications on the market that can help to ease your dog’s anxiety. We normally recommend that these are started several weeks before firework season for optimum affect. We also stock calming vests at the Practice, which are designed to mimic the experience of being held. This is a particularly good solution to keeping your dog calm when the fireworks are going off, especially if you cannot be with them at the time. Please contact our veterinary staff who will be able to assist you on the best calming products for your dog.
- Microchipping and Id Badges – given that all dogs in the UK must be microchipped by law, it is likely that you have already had this done. However, given that dogs can be more likely to escape and run away during firework season, it might also be a good idea to clip ID badges with your details onto their collars or harnesses.
If you have any questions or concerns about your dog during firework season, we strongly recommend that you contact the practice and our veterinary team will be happy to help you.
Advice for Cat Owners
Similar to dogs, cats can also react very badly to the loud, unfamiliar sounds and bright lights created by fireworks. The signs that your cat is afraid include:
- Vocalising (meowing)
- Trying to escape
- Not eating
- Urinating and defecating in the home
- Excessive grooming
- Running away
If you notice your cat behaving in this manner during the firework season, we have the following tips that should help to reduce your cat’s distress:
- Keep your cat indoors – this is especially important after dark when most firework displays begin. Set up a litter tray indoors if your cat is used to having garden access. Close all doors, windows, draw the curtains and lock any cat flaps to reduce the noise from the fireworks outside, but to also prevent your cat from trying to escape. If your cat is used to having the TV and/ or radio on, then this can be soothing, while also blocking out some of the noise.
- Create hiding places – cats normally love to curl up on their favourite sofa or rug in front of the fire, but when they are afraid, they prefer to hide. You can prepare for fireworks season by creating dens and cubbyholes for your cat. For example, allowing them access to under your bed, or purchasing an igloo style cat bad and placing it either under a piece of furniture or on top of wardrobe. Some cats like to be high up when they’re afraid, which is why so many of them get stuck up trees!
- Your behaviour – your behaviour can also have an impact on how distressed your cat can be during fireworks season. It’s very important that you try to remain calm and normal. We understand that it’s distressing for owners to see their cats terrified at this time of year, but your cat will sense your fear and this will only worsen their anxiety. However, it’s also important that you let your cat roam freely and hide if they wish too. Trying to be overly reassuring by picking them up, holding and stroking them can make matters worse. Let your cat hide and come out when they feel safe to do so.
- Consider calming products – there is a wide range of cat calming products in the form of herbal remedies, diffusers and vests that are specifically designed to reduce anxiety in your cat. We normally recommend that these are started a few weeks before fireworks season so as to have the optimum relaxation effects. Our veterinary staff will be happy to assist you on getting the right calming products for your cat.
If you have any questions or concerns about your cat during firework season, we strongly recommend that you contact the practice and our veterinary team will be happy to help you.
Advice for Small Furry Pet Owners
Small furry pets such as rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils often get overlooked during fireworks season, but they are also easily frightened by loud bangs and whizzes and need to be treated with special care. Signs that your small furry pet is afraid include:
- Hiding or trying to run away
- Chewing cage bars
- Over grooming
- Reluctance to move
- Repeated circling of the enclosure
- Being excessively jumpy with bulging eyes
- Being aggressive
- Drinking excessively
- Changes to toilet habits, either more or less frequent
If your notice these behaviours in your pet during firework season, there are things that you can do to reduce their distress:
- Bring your pet indoors – hutches and cages should be brought inside to either the home or a garage. Similar to the advice for cats and dogs, we suggest that you close all the windows and draw any curtains to block out the unfamiliar sights and sounds. If you cannot bring your pet indoors, we recommend that you cover their cage with duvets and blankets to muffle out the sounds and make them feel more secure; but remember to leave a small area uncovered for ventilation and to allow your pet to peer out.
- Increase comfort – give your small furry pet lots of extra bedding that they can burrow into and get cosy. You could also give them another place to hide by placing a cardboard box full of hay inside their enclosure with holes cut in the side that are big enough to allow them access into and out of the box.
- Create soothing distraction – similar to the advice for cats and dogs, small furry pets can also be soothed by calming music on the radio or a having the TV on in the background.
- Calming remedies – there are various products such as diffusers and sprays that can help to relax your small furry pet during the firework season. Please contact our veterinary team who will be happy to assist you on the best calming products for your pet.
If you have any questions or concerns about your small furry animal during firework season, we strongly recommend that you contact the practice and our veterinary team will be happy to help you.
It’s important to begin dental care with your pet from a young age in order to prevent complications later in life.
Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth and puppies have 28 deciduous teeth. Puppies tend to lose their deciduous teeth between 3-6 months however this can vary.
Adult cats have 30 permanent teeth and kittens have 26 deciduous teeth. Kittens lose their deciduous teeth between 3-6 months, but like puppies this can also vary.
The Build up of Dental Problems in Pets
Similar to humans, pets can suffer from a build up of plaque on their teeth. Plaque is a soft, sticky deposit that accumulates on teeth and contains millions of bacteria.
Plaque is easily removed by daily brushing, but if it combines with minerals in food and saliva, it can form into a hard, brownish rock type material that we commonly know as tartar.
Tartar is firmly stuck onto teeth so can only be removed through scaling and polishing. In pets, this procedure requires a full general anaesthetic, so we strongly encourage owners to develop a good dental health regime to avoid dental surgery in their pets.
Gum Disease is another dental health problem common to pets that results from an accumulation of plaque and tartar that promotes bacterial infection in the gums. The gums become inflamed and painful, which leads to tissue destruction and pus formation in the cavities between the gums and teeth. The infection usually starts at one tooth, but if left untreated, will quickly spread around the mouth resulting in pain and tooth loss.
Gum disease can be a very serious infection and if it enters the blood stream may result in heart, liver and kidney problems.
Recognising Dental Health Problems in Pets
Pets can be both good and bad at letting us know when there is something wrong with them, and dental issues are no exception. However, there are symptoms that are common to both cats and dogs that owners should be aware of. These include:
- Bad breath
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing the mouth
- Red, bleeding gums
- Discomfort when eating
- Reduced food intake
- Weight loss
If your pet is showing any of these symptoms and you are worried about their dental health then please contact us straight away. Remember, we offer free nurse dental checks at the practice so it will cost you nothing to put your mind at ease.
Preventing Dental Health Problems in Pets
There are a number of measures that can be taken by owners to reduce the likelihood that their pet will suffer from dental health problems. These measures are relatively inexpensive and their use will be beneficial to both you and your pet. These include:
- Get into the habit of brushing your pet’s teeth on a daily basis. Some animals are extremely averse to brushing, so it is best to start this as young as possible. We recommend that you implement brushing gradually and build up to increase the chance of success.
- There are a huge variety of pet dental products on the market such as chews, gels and special foods. We recommend that you experiment with these to find those that are best suited to your pet. Our veterinary nurses will be happy to help advise on dental health products and tailor them to suit your pets needs.
- Feed your pet a high quality dry food diet. Dry food pellets are good for your pet’s teeth as simply chewing helps to reduce the build up of plaque.
- Similar to humans, pets that are given too many high sugar treats will suffer the consequences in the form of tooth decay. You should generally avoid giving your pet human food, especially if they are also unhealthy to human teeth.
If you are concerned about your pet’s dental health, please contact the surgery and book them in for a free dental health check. For any other dental queries, please contact a member of our veterinary nursing team.
Knowing what to do to help your pet if there is an emergency can be very helpful to both you and your pet.
Here are a few pointers to help you care for your pet in an emergency until veterinary care is obtained.
The best thing to do is seek immediate veterinary advice, but in the meantime it is vital to prevent blood loss.
- Clean the wound with tepid water. If only a slight graze, clean regularly and monitor.
- If actively bleeding, place a clean cloth, cotton wool or some lint over the wound and apply some pressure. This can be done by tying a bandage around the area. Never use an elastic band or constricting material as this may cut of the blood supply leading to further complications.
- It is important that you stop your pet from licking any wound as it can cause infection and further break down of the wound.
- If the wound is getting worse and/or your pet becomes unwell, please call us immediately. Remember, phone advice is free so do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions or concerns.
It is very common for your pet to be stung by bees and wasps, especially in the late summer months as they are dying off and more prone to flying at a low level.
Your pet is often very good at letting you know when they have been stung as they usually draw attention to the area and cry out in pain.
If you suspect your pet has been stung, the first thing to do is check to see if the sting is still present and, if so, remove it if possible.
If the sting is present, it’s likely that a bee has stung your pet, if not, it’s likely been a wasp sting.
For Bee Stings – Add small amount of water to some bicarbonate soda to make a paste and apply to affected area.
For Wasp Stings- Make a solution of half vinegar and half water and bathe the area. Bathing the stings may help calm the uncomfortable sensation.
Some animals have potentially fatal shock reactions to bee and wasp stings. If you feel that your animal is having a severe reaction to a sting then please call the practice immediately for advice.
It is also important to seek immediate veterinary advice if you suspect that your pet has been stung around the head, neck or mouth as this can make shock reactions more likely.
If your pet collapses and starts to twitch uncontrollably, it is likely that they are having a seizure or fit.
As devastating as this is to witness for any owner, it’s important that you try to remain as calm as possible. Your pet is very good at sensing your emotions, so if you are feeling stressed, they will be too.
If you witness your pet having a seizure please do not try to comfort, restrain or move them as you run the risk of injury to yourself and your pet.
If possible, remove items around your pet, such as chairs and tables, which pose a threat of injury while fitting.
It is important to create a dark, quiet and calm environment by closing the curtains or blinds and turning off the lights, as well as any other surrounding stimuli, such as televisions or radios.
Take a note of the time of the incident, the approximate duration of it and any other observations that you feel might be important, such as twitching and stiffening of the legs.
Report the incident to your vet as soon as possible.
Eye problems are common in pets and are usually accompanied with swelling, redness and discharge.
If you suspect that your pet has developed a problem with their eyes, we strongly recommend that you seek veterinary advice as soon as possible as eyes are very delicate and prone to rapid deterioration.
Until veterinary attention is obtained, it’s important to keep the eyes lubricated to prevent drying out. This can be done by bathing with a clean cloth that’s been soaked with cooled boiled water.
If your pet has only a very slight discharge from their eyes, they can be treated at home by bathing in salt water twice per day. Again we recommend that you use cooled boiled water with one teaspoon of salt to a pint of water and a clean cloth.
If no improvement or the condition appears to be worsening, please seek immediate veterinary advice.
Ear infections are also common in pets and cannot be treated without veterinary attention.
If your pet is excessively rubbing their ears, or appears to have developed a sudden hearing problem, we recommend that you inspect the inner ear on both sides and look for redness, swelling and even discharge. Please contact us immediately if any of these are present.
It’s extremely important that you do not try to bath or pour liquid in the ears as this can often do more harm than good. As with eye health, ear infections can lead to permanent problems if left untreated.
If your animal develops violent and sudden head shaking, it is likely that they have a foreign object stuck in the ear canal. Please do not attempt any sort of home treatment in these circumstances and seek immediate veterinary advice.
Keeping your pet cool and well hydrated during the warm summer months is vitally important.
Pets are not as efficient at losing body heat as their owners and this makes them more prone to heat stroke.
Brachycephalic breeds such as Boxers, Pugs and French Bulldogs are particularly at risk so extra care and attention is required with these breeds.
The signs that your pet is overheating include:
- Heavy panting or rapid breathing
- Excessive thirst
- Glazed eyes
- Bright or dark red tongue and gums
- Staggering and stumbling
- Increased pulse and heartbeat
- Excessive drooling
- Weakness and collapse
Heat stroke is easily preventable in pets by minimising exercise at the warmest times of the day, keeping them in shaded areas and making sure that water is always available.
It is vitally important that you never leave a pet in a car on warm days, not even for short periods and with the windows left open. Cars tend to retain heat, which creates the right environment for heat stroke to develop rapidly.
There is an emerging market of cooling vests, mats and toys that are designed to regulate your pets temperature during the warmer months. We have a small selection available for purchase in the practice so please contact us for advice.
Unfortunately, accidents do happen and pets get overheated despite our best efforts to protect them. If you suspect that your pet is overheating you should:
- Move them immediately to a cool shaded area
- Place all 4 paws in cool water
- Soak towels with cold water and place over your pet’s body and head, as well as under their arms and groin area. If using cool packs, please make sure they are covered with towel
- Fill a bowl with water and encourage drinking
- Contact us immediately as further care may be required
There are many everyday household items such as foods, medicines and flowers that pose a serious toxic risk to your pet, which can often be fatal if not treated immediately.
Most of these pet toxins are items that we don’t think twice about having in our homes. Some of the top offenders include:
- Human medications
- Chewing gum
- Mouldy foods
If you think your pet may have ingested any of these substances please contact us immediately. The quicker your pet receives treatment, the more likely they are to walk away unscathed and with no lasting health complications. Do not attempt to make your pet sick by yourself.
It is important that you provide us with as much details of the incident as possible. If you can, please have the product specifications to hand including it’s strength and ingredients. It is also helpful to know how your pet was exposed (was it ingested, inhaled, or absorbed on their skin?), the approximate quantity it was exposed to and how long ago the incident occurred. The more details you have, the faster we can initiate treatment and the greater the likelihood of success.
Please contact us for advice if you have any questions or concerns about household toxins and one of our veterinary staff will be happy to help you.
Neutering is a surgical procedure also known as spaying for female dogs and castration for male dogs.
We recommend that all bitches not intended for breeding should be neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and potential health complications later in life.
Male dogs can be castrated if required or at the owners request. If performed at the correct time, castrating male dogs can improve their temperament and reduce unwanted behaviours.
Female dogs reach puberty at any age between 6 and 23 months depending on breed and size. We generally advise that neutering be performed soon after 6 months and prior to the first season. If your dog has already had a season then we recommend that neutering be performed 2 months after that. This should be discussed with one of our vets in order to decide what’s best for your dog.
What does Spaying Involve?
Spaying is a surgical procedure that involves the complete removal of your dog’s ovaries and uterus. It is a fairly routine operation that we perform daily at the practice, however, this does not mean it should be taken lightly as it involves major surgery.
Spaying is performed as a day operation in the practice. Your dog will be pre-medicated with sedatives and pain killers and then given a general anaesthetic for the duration of the procedure. An incision will be made on your dog’s lower abdomen to perform the operation and will be subsequently stitched to promote healing.
Your dog should be kept calm and comfortable to aid recovery and exercise should be restricted for at least 10 days. The veterinary surgeon who performs the spay will advise on the best post-operative care and stitch removal following surgery.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Spaying my Dog?
We often get asked this question by concerned owners who’ve been exposed to varying, usually conflicting advice from books, friends and online sources. We would recommend that all owners of female dogs consider spaying because the advantages of the operation far outweigh the risks involved.
Advantages of Spaying your Dog
- Unless you intend to breed your dog, removing the means through which it can get pregnant is good news to owners because it completely prevents unwanted pregnancies as well as false pregnancies developing (more information on false pregnancies is provided below).
- Dogs, like humans, bleed regularly, which is what we refer to as being in season. If your dog is spayed, she will not come into season and you will not have to keep her on a lead, use nappies or clean the blood stains around your home.
- Removal of the ovaries and uterus means that your dog is completely prevented from developing uterine and ovarian tumours.
- Your dog is also completely prevented from developing serious uterine infections, such as Pyometra.
- Spaying your dog has been found to significantly decrease the risk of tumours developing in the mammeries. Research has found that they younger the operation is performed, the better they are protected from mammary tumours.
Disadvantages of Spaying your Dog
- Spaying is an operation that involves general anaesthetic and major surgery, both of which can be a risk to your dog.
- Having a reproductive cycle burns calories to complete. If your dog has been spayed, it will not experience a season and will not burn these extra calories. Therefore, weight gain can be an issue in spayed dogs, but this is easily controlled with diet and exercise.
- Spaying your dog will alter their hormones, which can on ocassion result in a change in coat texture. Again, this can be minimised through diet and vitamin supplements.
Please talk to any one of our vets if you would like more information on spaying your dog.
This is a common condition in non-spayed dogs in which they show all of the symptoms of pregnancy, such as lactation and nursing, without having been mated.
The symptoms usually appear around 2 months after your dog’s season is over and can include:
- Abdominal enlargement
- Nest making
- Nursing soft toys
- Mammary development
If your dog is non-spayed and develops these symptoms, please contact the practice for advice.
Similar to females, male dogs reach puberty at any age between 6 and 23 months, depending on breed and size. However, unlike spaying, dog castration is not something we feel is absolutely necessary if you don’t want to breed your dog. We often advise that castration, if required, be performed from the age of 6 months. This should be discussed with one of our vets in order to decide what’s best for your dog.
What does Castration Involve?
Castration is a surgical procedure that involves complete removal of your dog’s testes. Similar to spaying, it is a fairly routine operation, but it still involves surgery so shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Castration is performed as a day operation at the practice. Your dog will be premeditated with sedatives and painkillers and then given general anaesthetic. A small incision will be made midline from the underside of your dog up to the scrotum in order to remove the testes. The incision will be subsequently stitched to promote healing.
Similar to spaying, your dog should be kept calm and comfortable to aid recovery and exercise should be restricted for at least 10 days. The veterinary surgeon that performs the castration will advise on the best post-operative care and stitch removal following surgery.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Spaying my Dog?
As with female dogs, owners of male dogs have many questions and concerns about castration. They are often concerned that it will seriously alter their dog’s personality. However, there are potential benefits to castration for some dogs and these can be discussed with one of our veterinary surgeons.
Advantages of Castrating your Dog
- Dogs are animals and animals are driven to procreate. Intact dogs can be prone to going missing and roaming the streets to look for a female in heat. Castration can help to reduce and even eliminate these behaviours as removal of the testes stops the production of testosterone, which means your dog is less driven to procreate.
- Occasionally, dogs develop habits from their hormonal driven behaviours and even when the testes are removed, they continue to display the same behaviours. If your dog has been castrated and continues to roam and show a special interest in female dogs, they will be physically unable to procreate no matter how excited they get. Therefore, castration completely prevents your dog from fathering unwanted pregnancies.
- Being a male dog means protecting the pack and some male dogs are particularly dominant and aggressive. This is primarily caused by the hormone testosterone. When the testes are removed by castration, your dogs testosterone levels will diminish, which can lead to a marked decrease in dominant and aggressive behaviour.
- As well as being dominant and aggressive, some male dogs like to mark their territory by urinating around your home. Their drive to procreate can also make them prone to mounting behaviour. You might find that your dog takes an interest in everything: your sofa, your cushions and even you! Castration can help to reduce these behaviours by removing the testosterone that underpins them.
- Similar to spaying, complete removal of the testes will prevent the development of unwanted and potentially fatal disease such as testicular tumours. Removal of the testes also prevents the development of testosterone related diseases occurring later in life, such as perineal hernias, prostatic diseases and anal adenomas.
Disadvantages of Castrating your Dog
- Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that castration will solve problem behaviours. While these behaviours are primarily driven by the hormone testosterone, your dog may have developed habits of behaving in a particular way and will continue to do so even when they are no longer producing this hormone. Some owners find that castration eliminates unwanted behaviours, whereas some find that they are still present, but to a lesser degree and others report no change at all. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine whether castration will help your dog or not. Castrating younger dogs can increase the likelihood that problem behaviours will be eliminated because young dogs have not had enough experience of testosterone in order to develop habits. However, even this is not fool proof and some dogs who are castrated at 6 months old continue to develop unwanted behaviours.
- Similar to spaying, castration will affect your dogs metabolism so they will be more prone to weight gain. If you do decide to castrate your dog, you will have to be very careful about overfeeding and make sure he gets plenty of exercise.
- Castration is an operation that involves anaesthetic, open surgery and the removal of organs, all of which carry a certain amount of risk.
- As with spaying, the removal of the testes disturbs your dog’s hormonal balance, which can have positive effects on their behaviour, but may have a negative affect on the texture of their coat. However, similar to female dogs, this can be treated with diet and supplements.
- If your dog is especially nervous, castration can make them worse due to the lack of testosterone. In such cases, it’s best to discuss castration with one of our veterinary surgeons.
If you have any questions or concerns about castration, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Worm, Flea and Tick Treatment
Dogs are very susceptible to contact with worms, fleas and ticks. They are naturally drawn to strong smelling substances such as rotting food and faeces, the ingestion of which can cause worms.
Dogs also love being in the outdoors and can contract fleas from other animals and infested environments.
Ticks are usually picked up from running and playing in areas with long grass.
In order to prevent problems arising from these parasites, we strongly advise that you discuss parasite prevention with one of our veterinary staff.
Parasite prevention should be started when your dog is a puppy and continue throughout their life. However, parasite prevention can be started at any age so if you have an adult dog that is not being protected, please speak to one of our veterinary staff for advice.
The sooner you start parasite prevention the better, as they can be particularly difficult to treat if your dog gets infested, as well as increasing your dogs susceptibility to more serious health complications.
Most breeders will have wormed your new puppy before you take it home and if not, they will likely advise you on when to start. If you have a puppy and have not been informed about worming, please contact us and one of our nurses will advise you when you bring your puppy in for it’s first appointment.
The most common worms your puppy may come into contact with are roundworm, tapeworm and lungworm. Between the ages of 8 weeks and 6 months, we recommend that you worm your puppy on a monthly basis.
We supply worming medications in both tablet and spot on forms. Tablet wormers can be reduced to every 3 months when your puppy reaches 6 months of age, and continue in this fashion for the rest of their adult life. However, if you live in an area where lungworm is a serious concern, then we recommend that you continue worming your dog on a monthly basis. One of our vets will advise on the most suitable type of wormer for your dog.
If you are using a spot on worming treatment, this should continue monthly for the rest of your dog’s life.
Fleas and Ticks
Similar to worming, it is likely that your breeder will have discussed flea and tick prevention when you collected your new puppy. If not, then one of our nurses will advise you on the best prevention treatments to suit your puppy’s needs.
As soon as your puppy is allowed on common outdoor ground, they are immediately at risk of infestation by playing with other animals, or being walked in environments with flea larvae (eggs) and ticks. Therefore, we recommend that you start flea and tick parasite prevention from the age of 12 weeks and continue for the rest of your dog’s life.
Flea and tick prevention medicines come in a variety of forms, including tables, spot on treatments and injections. This allows us to tailor your dog’s flea and tick treatment to their individual needs.
Most flea and tick prevention treatments should be administered on a monthly basis, but certain types such as Bravecto, are effective for up to 3 months.
Some owners stop tick prevention treatments during the winter months, but we would advise against this as with milder winters, ticks are now seen on dogs all year round.
Due to the wide range of flea and tick preventative medications, we recommend that you speak to one of our veterinary staff to select the most appropriate products for your pet.
Feeding your pet the correct balance of nutrients is vitally important for their growth, weight, ability to repair and regenerate, as well as their overall health.
All foods can be broken down into nutrients, which are substances that provide nourishment essential to maintaining life. The three main nutrients found in food are carbohydrates, protein and fat, but foods also contain many micronutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals.
The nutritional needs of your pet will differ depending on species, age, breed and activity level. It’s vitally important that you feed your dog correctly to avoid the inevitable health complications associated with over and underfeeding.
Many people mistakenly believe that dogs are carnivores and should only eat meat. However, dogs are actually omnivores so feeding them a purely meat-based diet, can pose a serious risk to their health.
Dogs require at least 6 essential nutrients in their diet that is vital for their health and well being:
Around 60-70% of your dog’s body weight is composed of water so ensuring that your dog is adequately hydrated is essential for their health. A 10% decrease in your dog’s body water can cause illness, where as a 15% decrease can result in death.
Most of your dog’s water requirements will come from what they drink so it is essential that you have a bowl of fresh, cold water available for them at all times; however, your dog’s water intake can also be supplemented with food.
Wet dog food contains a higher percentage of water than dried food. Dogs who eat dried food usually drink more water than those on a wet food diet to compensate.
These are energy providing nutrients that also play a role in the health of your dog’s intestine. The amount of energy your dog requires will depend on their age and activity levels. Puppies require more energy to play and grow than older dogs that are generally less active. In young adult dogs, the amount of carbohydrate is fundamentally determined by how active they are: working dogs require more energy than toy dogs, for example. Feeding your dog more carbohydrates than it is going to burn off in exercise, will undoubtedly lead to weight gain.
Carbohydrates are also broadly separated into sugars and starches. Sugars are quickly digested and released rapidly into the blood stream. The pancreas responds by producing insulin, which binds to the sugars to break them down.
Regularly eating high sugar foods will cause spikes in your dog’s sugar levels. This consequently puts pressure on their insulin stores and puts them at risk of developing diabetes. For that reason, we strongly advise that dogs should never be fed high sugar human foods, such as biscuits, crisps, sweets and cakes.
Starchy carbohydrates, on the other hand, take longer to break down so sugar is released slowly into the blood stream. This puts less pressure on the pancreas as it can produce insulin at a steadier rate.
Most complete dog foods contain starchy carbohydrates in the form of bran and beet pulp, which will give your dog energy without putting them at risk of developing diabetes.
Another primary function of carbohydrates is to maintain a healthy bowel. Carbohydrates contain fibre, which helps to keep your dog regular and it’s stools healthy.
Most dog foods contain fibres that are moderately fermentable, such as beet pulp, rather than those that are highly fermentable, such as wheat bran. This is because moderately fermentable fibres promote healthy gut bacteria in the small intestine to reduce diarrhoea, while minimising the negative effects of more fermentable fibres such as flatulence and excess mucus.
Another advantage of fibre is that it slows the release of sugar into the blood. Therefore, fruits such as apples and berries are composed mainly of sugar and water, but their fibrous skins and seeds make them healthy high sugar foods that are good to feed your dog in moderation. Too many fruits in your dog’s diet can upset their digestion leading to diarrhoea.
The good news is that most dried and wet dog foods contain the correct proportion of carbohydrate for your dog, so as long as you stick to those, you should have no concerns about your dog’s carbohydrate intake.
These are the building blocks in your dog’s nutrition that are required to produce healthy cells, hormones, enzymes and antibodies, as well as being essential for the growth, maintenance and repair of your dog’s tissue and organs.
Protein in dog food is usually obtained from animal sources such meat, poultry, fish and eggs. Animal proteins are healthier for dogs than plant proteins because they have a complete amino acid profile.
Most dried and wet dog foods have the correct proportion of protein required to keep your dog healthy.
We strongly advise against feeding your dog fatty, salty meats such as bacon and pork, as well as raw meats and raw eggs, which puts your dog at an increased risk of developing food poisoning.
These are the most energy dense of all of the main nutrients containing approximately 9 calories per gram, compared to 3.5 calories per gram of carbohydrates and 4 calories per gram of protein.
However, fat is essential in your dog’s diet and required for the absorption of vitamins and minerals. It is also vital for insulation and protection of your dog’s internal organs.
A diet that is too low in fat can lead to skin and growth problems. Thankfully, most dried and wet dog foods contain the correct proportion of fat required to keep your dog healthy.
Dogs require vitamins to ensure that their bodies are functioning correctly. Some vitamins are required for absorption of nutrients and metabolic function.
Most of these vitamins cannot be produced in the body and are, therefore only obtained through the food we give our dogs.
Both dried and wet dog foods contain the correct proportion of vitamins for a healthy adult dog, so there is no need to supplement unless a deficiency has been diagnosed by one of our veterinary surgeons. In such circumstances, they will advise you accordingly on the supplements required by you dog.
Similar to vitamins, minerals cannot be synthesised in your dog’s body and so have to be obtained from the food they eat.
Minerals are compounds such as phosphorous, sodium and potassium that are required by your dog for healthy bones, teeth, organs and metabolism, as well as maintaining a healthy fluid balance.
Like vitamins, most quality dried and wet dog foods contain the necessary balance of minerals to keep your dog healthy.
Dog Feeding Guidelines
As we have already said, the correct balance of nutrients will depend on your dog’s age and activity level. Get this wrong and you risk your dog being over or underweight, as well as malnourished and putting them at an increased risk of developing health problems.
Feeding your Puppy
Puppies require up to twice the recommended energy intake of an adult dog and a diet that contains 25-30% protein, which is required for growth and development.
Due to their complex energy requirements, we strongly recommend that you feed your puppy a high quality complete puppy diet in either dried or wet food.
You should aim to keep them on their puppy food until they reach the age of between 9 and 18 months, which is when you should move them on to a complete wet or dried adult food.
The correct age at which your dog should move from puppy to adult food is determined by breed. Our veterinary staff will advise you on this and can also help you select a good quality complete food for your dog.
Puppies also require food that is spread throughout the day when compared to an adult dog. We recommend that you feed your puppy 4 meals per day up to 12 weeks of age, reducing this to 3 meals per day between the ages of 12 weeks and 6 months. From 6 months onwards, you can reduce this further to 2 meals per day.
Overfeeding at the puppy stage can cause your dog to grow too quickly, which can lead to problems with their bones and joints as well as other health complications. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you weigh your puppy’s food and remove the bowl after feeding rather than letting them graze all day.
Feeding your Adult Dog
Adult dogs are no longer growing so require less energy than puppies; however, they still require the correct balance of nutrients for healthy bodily function.
Similar to humans, your dog’s metabolism depends on how large and active they are. Large dogs have a higher metabolism than small dogs because they burn more energy just to move around. Similarly, active dogs have a higher metabolism because they exercise more compared to less active dogs. Therefore, the amount you feed your adult dog will depend on its size and activity level: larger, more active dogs require more food than smaller, less active dogs.
Overfeeding dogs is a more common problem in the UK than underfeeding and can lead to obesity and the numerous health problems associated with that such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and stroke.
Dogs, like their human owners, suffer from an unbalanced energy equation if more food is consumed than what they burn through activity and weight gain is the inevitable outcome. Therefore, even when your dog becomes an adult, you should continue to weigh their food.
We also recommend that you feed your dog according to how active you expect them to be on any particular day. If, for example, your dog is going on a long walk, then you should feed them a little more than day, but if they are spending most of the day in a car, then you should feed them less because they require less energy.
Most complete dried and wet dog foods have guidelines for feeding your dog based on their size and activity level; however, if you are unsure about how much you should feed your dog, please contact us and one of our veterinary staff will be happy to help you.
Changing your Dog’s Diet
Some foods don’t agree with some dogs so it could be that you have to change your dog’s diet. If your dog is prone to diarrhoea and/ or they are pretty flat after eating, then it could be that the food you are giving them, while nutritionally complete, is causing them to have adverse side effects.
We would normally recommend that you discuss any dietary issues with one of our veterinary staff who can help to rule out any other potential causes and advise on other types of food that may be better suited to your dog.
While variety in a human diet is required for health, routine is best for a dog because their digestive systems do not adapt easily to new foods. Therefore, if you decide to change your dog’s diet, this must be done gradually and ideally over a period of at least 7 days. This will allow time for their body to get used to the new diet and reduces the risk of an upset stomach.
Feeding an Older Dog
As a dog ages they will become less active and their body composition changes in that they lose muscle mass. Therefore, the nutritional needs for an older dog are different to those of younger dogs.
Older dogs should be fed less than younger dogs because they have an increased propensity for weight gain. However, they still have the same protein requirements as a younger dog so it’s important to feed older dogs optimum levels of protein to maintain muscle mass and to keep their tissue and organs healthy.
Senior dogs can also benefit from a diet rich in omega fatty acids to maintain a healthy skin and coat, as well as to help lubricate the joints and reduce/ prevent the development of arthritis.
Older dogs can be more susceptible to gastrointestinal problems than younger dogs so a food that promotes healthy gut bacteria will be beneficial. Foods that are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E and beta carotene can also help to fight the free radicals associated with aging in your dog.
The time to consider moving your dog to a senior diet depends on breed. Larger breeds usually age faster than smaller breeds so a senior diet should be considered at a younger age for large breeds. Please discuss any concerns you have about your senior dog with one of our veterinary staff and they’ll be happy to advise you on the nutritional needs of your older dog.