Category Archives: Pet health care advice

Alabama Rot

 

You may have heard a lot of talk about Alabama Rot recently following several cases in the last few months, mainly around the North East, South Wales and the South West. This blog will give you some further information on the condition and what to be aware of.

What is it? 

Alabama rot is a skin and kidney disease of dogs. Dogs of any age or breed can be affected. It is an extremely rare condition that has affected only a small number of dogs in the UK. The cause of Alabama rot is unknown although there appears to be a link with dogs walked in some woodland areas. Although we don’t know the exact cause, we know that Alabama rot cannot spread to other dogs or to people from an affected dog.

What signs would I see?

You might see a lump or patch of red skin often on the legs of your dog. Sometimes the skin can have an ulcer or open sore. The signs of kidney disease can be a reduced appetite or your dog being unusually quiet or tired. These signs can be seen with a number of other illnesses and are not necessarily an indication of Alabama rot.

Can I prevent it? 

Because the cause is unknown there are no recommendations for how we can prevent the disease occurring. It has been suggested to bathe any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk; however, at this stage it is not known if this is necessary or of any benefit. Cases have been reported in many different areas in the UK and there is no current advice for dog owners to avoid any particular locations. No environmental cause for this disease has been proven.

What should I do if I am concerned?

If you notice any other the signs mentioned- unexplained skin lesions, particularly if your dog is also unwell- then please contact us as soon as possible. Your vet can carry out some tests that will help to identify the cause.

It is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected. Most skin lesions will not be caused by this disease and most cases of kidney failure will have another cause.

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Posted in General News, Pet health care advice |

Free dental checks and 20% off dental treatment

Dental health is really important for our pet as they rely completely on us to make sure that their teeth are in good order. They are not able to brush their teeth twice daily and take themselves off to the dentist every 6 months as we do, so we must take care of their teeth for them.

Poor dental hygiene can be a source of chronic pain and discomfort for many pets. Most owners are unaware of this discomfort because most animals will not cry out in the presence of such pain – they just tolerate it.

If there is an infection in the mouth it can allow bacteria into the body via the blood stream and cause infections elsewhere. Kidney, heart, lung and liver problems can all be caused by poor oral health. Bad teeth can therefore just be the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

Any of the following may indicate that your pet has a dental problem: 

  •   Halitosis (bad breath)
  •   Sensitivity around the mouth / pawing at the mouth
  •   Loss of appetite
  •   Bleeding, inflamed and/or receding gums
  •   Tartar (brownish hard material)
  •   Loose or missing teeth.
  •   Difficulty chewing & eating food or dropping food

The first thing to do is to look in your pet’s mouth. Halitosis (bad breath) is caused by bacteria in the mouth, so this may alert you to the presence of dental disease.

Tartar is the hard brown accumulation which occurs on teeth. It is caused by mineralisation of plaque which in turn is caused by bacterial action against food particles in the mouth. The presence of tartar leads to gingivitis (gum inflammation). The gums become red, sore and prone to bleeding when touched. Tartar and gingivitis will eventually lead to periodontal disease where inflammation and infection cause destruction of the tissue around the tooth. Affected teeth loosen and may eventually fall out.

If the disease is severe, affected animals may eat on one side of their mouth, lose weight or generally fail to thrive. Older cats especially may start to look rather tatty as they may start to groom themselves less enthusiastically.

When dental disease is suspected you should seek veterinary advice.

Between now and the end of March we are offering free dental checks with a vet or veterinary nurse who can check your pets teeth and give you advice on preventative dental care.

For pets requiring further treatment, we are also offering 20% off dental treatment until the end of March.

Please give your usual surgery a call if you would like further information.

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Laparoscopic (key-hole) spays

Neutering a female dog can either be performed via the traditional method, where the abdomen is opened and the uterus (womb) and ovaries are removed, or using laparoscopy. This involves two small incisions made in the skin, through which the instruments and camera are inserted. The ovaries are removed leaving the uterus in place.

As with conventional spays, we recommend that this procedure is performed either when your dog is 6 months of age or 2-3 months following a season.

We offer this procedure to our Avonvale patients and also to those referred to us by their usual veterinary practice.

Advantages of laparoscopic procedures

  • Reduced pain from surgical wounds (so your dog is more comfortable)
  • Smaller surgical wounds
  • Fewer stitches
  • A faster return to normal activity
  • Reduced scar tissue formation

What to expect when your pet comes in

Your pet will be admitted by one of our nurses on the day of the procedure. It is important that they have had no food since midnight but can be allowed water over night.

Once admitted they will receive a general anaesthetic as with all operations. The fur on the stomach will be clipped and the skin cleaned ready for the operation.

Two small incisions will be made in the skin and the cameras and instruments inserted through these. Once the ovaries have been remove these little holes will be closed, normally with dissolvable stitches that are buried beneath the skin. Your pet will be discharged on the same day.

As with humans undergoing laparoscopic procedures we will ask for consent to convert to a conventional approach during the procedure if necessary. This is extremely unlikely to happen and would only be performed if unforeseen circumstances arise where it would be safer for you pet to do this.

Post operative care

Your dog will be sent home with a plastic collar to wear. This will prevent them licking at their wounds and introducing infections. This should be worn at all times unless they are under your direct supervision.

Most animals are a little quiet after an anaesthetic and can have a reduced appetite for up to 24 hours.

They should be kept on the lead for 3 days, at which time they will have a post-operative check with one of our nurses (or back at your normal vets if they were a referral). They will examine the wounds and make sure everything is healing well and after this they can resume normal exercise.

A pain killer (metacam) will be dispensed when your pet is discharged. This should be given for 2-3 days after the operation.

If you would like to find out more or have any questions please give us a call on 01789 561010

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice, Stratford News |

No eggs-cuses for chocolate toxicity over Easter

Don’t under estimate the temptation of chocolate for dogs and keep it well out of reach especially at Easter. It’s not just a dodgy tummy that we worry about.

Chocolate contains theobromine which a dog cannot digest and so it becomes toxic to them. Theobromine affects the liver and in large quantities can be fatal. The higher the cocoa content of chocolate the higher the risk of liver problems so dark chocolate is more potent than milk chocolate.

Any chocolate can have toxic effects depending upon the size of your dog and the quantity they have consumed. If you think your dog has managed to eat any easter eggs do contact us for advice. The most important information we will ask for is the weight of your dog, the type of chocolate and the amount eaten.

If your pet does eat something it shouldn’t have, give us a call. Our 24 hour emergency service will be operating as usual throughout the Easter weekend so you will be able to contact an Avonvale vet at any time if your pet needs urgent medical attention.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice |

Myxomatosis

Myomatosis is a disease that affects rabbit. It causes puffy, fluid filled swellings. They can get “sleepy eyes”, swollen lips and swellings around their rear ends. In some the swelling is so severe that it can cause blindness. Most rabbits will then stop eating and drinking and can develop breathing problems.

It is spread by blood sucking insects, such as mosquitoes and fleas, and also by direct contact between rabbits. Most infected rabbits die within 12 days.

There is no treatment for this disease but fortunately we are able to help protect rabbits by vaccinating them. A vaccine once a year can help keep them safe. Call us today to book your rabbit in for a health check and vaccination.

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Tips for healthy teeth

 

  • Regular tooth brushing is the best way of keeping your pet’s teeth clean. Both dogs and cats will generally allow tooth brushing once they are used to the idea but it may take a few weeks to establish a regular routine. It’s very important to use a pet toothpaste as human toothpaste can be dangerous for pets
  • Diet can be very important in preventing tartar build-up on teeth. Try to feed your pet good quality dry foods rather than soft foods, as the latter tend to stick to the teeth, allowing the rapid build-up of tartar. Some diets are especially formulated to help keep teeth in the best possible condition. If you are considering changing your pet’s diet, please speak to our vets and nurses for advice.
  • Start early as some pets can be a little shy of their mouth being opened. A gentle mouth examination should be part of your general puppy training (along with looking in the ears and looking at the feet – all sensitive areas) to get your pet used to this type of handling. Our nursing team will show you how to do this when you attend routine puppy checks or one of our puppy parties.
  • Regular check-ups with your veterinary practice are essential for your pet’s oral health.

Throughout March we are offering free dental checks with a qualified veterinary nurse who can check your pets teeth, give you advice on preventative dental care and provide you with a complimentary finger brush to help you get started.

If your pet requires further treatment, we are offering a 20% off dental treatment during March.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice |

Dental Awareness Month

Our pets rely on us to make sure that their teeth and oral health are in good order. They are not able to brush their teeth twice daily and take themselves off to the dentist every 6 months as we do, so we must take care of their teeth for them.

Poor dental hygiene can be a source of chronic pain and discomfort for many pets. Most owners are unaware of this discomfort because most animals will not cry out in the presence of such pain – they just tolerate it.

If there is an infection in the mouth it can allow bacteria into the body via the blood stream and cause infections elsewhere. Kidney, heart, lung and liver problems can all be caused by poor oral health. Bad teeth can therefore just be the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

Any of the following may indicate that your pet has a dental problem: 

  •   Halitosis (bad breath)
  •   Sensitivity around the mouth / pawing at the mouth
  •   Loss of appetite
  •   Bleeding, inflamed and/or receding gums
  •   Tartar (brownish hard material)
  •   Loose or missing teeth.
  •   Difficulty chewing & eating food or dropping food

The first thing to do is to look in your pet’s mouth. Halitosis (bad breath) is caused by bacteria in the mouth, so this may alert you to the presence of dental disease.

Tartar is the hard brown accumulation which occurs on teeth. It is caused by mineralisation of plaque which in turn is caused by bacterial action against food particles in the mouth. The presence of tartar leads to gingivitis (gum inflammation). The gums become red, sore and prone to bleeding when touched. Tartar and gingivitis will eventually lead to periodontal disease where inflammation and infection cause destruction of the tissue around the tooth. Affected teeth loosen and may eventually fall out.

If the disease is severe, affected animals may eat on one side of their mouth, lose weight or generally fail to thrive. Older cats especially may start to look rather tatty as they may start to groom themselves less enthusiastically.

When dental disease is suspected you should seek veterinary advice.

Throughout March we are offering free dental checks with a qualified veterinary nurse who can check your pets teeth, give you advice on preventative dental care and provide you with a  complimentary finger brush to help you get started.

For pets requiring further treatment, we are offering 20% off dental treatment during March.

Keep an eye out for further tips and advice on dental care on our website and Facebook page.

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Arthritis in older pets

Now the nights are starting to draw in and the temperature is dropping, it’s important to keep our older four legged friends in mind. The colder weather can be hard on your pet’s joints, especially if they already suffer from joint disease such as arthritis.

Arthritis usually affects older animals and is caused by wear and tear on the joints, causing the cartilage which lines the joint to wear away. This causes pain and lameness, but the signs can also be more subtle. If you have an older dog, keep an eye out for stiffness, slowing down on walks and difficulty climbing the stairs or jumping into the car. In our elderly feline friends, we usually see difficulty jumping on to high surfaces and a reduction in activity levels, among other subtle changes.

imageIf you are worried that your pet may have the early symptoms of arthritis, make an appointment to see your vet who will be able to examine each joint for signs of stiffness and pain, and can prescribe medications to help reduce the inflammation and make your pet more comfortable, and supplements to improve the health of their joints. As well as medication, or instead of it in early stages,  weight control, physiotherapy, acupuncture and hydrotherapy can be extremely useful.

If your pet has been diagnosed with arthritis, there are several things you can do at home to help. When it’s cold and wet outside, take extra care to thoroughly dry your dog after walks, and consider using a coat to protect them against the worst of the weather. Allow cats access to the indoors and provide plenty of soft, warm bedding for your pets- hard floors can be harsh on older joints. Orthopaedic mattresses are widely available and can really help older pets. Lastly, the sporty among you will know the importance of warming up and warming down and it is no different for your dog- use 5 minutes at the start and end of a walk as a warm up and warm down period, where your dog is on the lead and not doing anything strenuous- controlled but regular exercise is best for dogs with arthritis.

If you have any concerns about the effects of aging on your pets and what you can do to help, pop in to your local branch and chat with a member of our staff, who are always happy to help.

-Becky Smith MRCVS

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Eyesight in Older Pets

As animals age, just as for people, there are normal changes that occur. By far the most common of these is a condition called nuclear sclerosis.

You may have noticed that, as your pet ages, the normally dark pupil starts to look cloudy. This may be more obvious in low light when the pupil is larger and more of the cloudy lens is visible.

imageThe lens is made up of layers of cells arranged somewhat like the layers of an onion. As animals (and us!) get older, the cells become packed together more tightly as new layers are added to the outer lens surface. The increased density of the lens causes it to look cloudy in dogs over about 7 years of age and the lens will continue to appear cloudier over time. Nuclear Sclerosis is easily mistaken for a cataract, a different problem that also causes the lens to become cloudy. While a cataract is an abnormality that can cause blindness and inflammation inside the eye, nuclear sclerosis is normal for an older dog, and the condition has minimal effect on vision.

Just as for middle-aged people who need reading glasses, a dog with nuclear sclerosis will not be able to see well up close. Going down stairs and catching a small treat may be more difficult, but they will still see that rabbit or football in the distance.

This and some other age-related changes in the eye are normal, very slowly progressive and should never cause significant problems. If you notice a major change in your dog’s vision, please give us a call.

-Mark Taylor MRCVS

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Chronic kidney disease in cats

Today is World Kidney Day, so today’s blog is about a very common problem we see in older cats- Chronic Kidney Disease. The kidneys’ job is to filter waste products from the blood. In cats, the kidney function deteriorates slowly over time, eventually leading to Chronic Renal Failure.

The most common and often first noticed sign is increased thirst. You may notice that your cat starts drinking from more unusual places such as taps, sinks and water butts. If your cat uses a litter tray in the house, you may see her using the tray more frequently too. Other signs can include a reduced appetite, vomiting and general malaise. 2012-04-24 14.05.36 copy

If your vet suspects kidney disease, they may suggest running a blood and urine test to confirm the diagnosis and also to check for any other problems such as an over-active thyroid or high blood pressure.

If your cat has been diagnosed with kidney failure there are many things we can do to help to slow the disease progression. The first thing we suggest is changing your cats diet to a special prescription food which helps support the kidneys. Medication can be used to treat secondary problems such as nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, poor appetite and urine infections.

Unfortunately, signs of kidney disease in cats often don’t occur until the disease is at a fairly advanced stage, so if you have any concerns about your cat’s health please give as a call to arrange an appointment with one of our vets.

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