Category Archives: Pet health care advice


We have recently seen and treated two dogs with leptospirosis infections. Both dogs are thankfully doing very well but these cases highlight the importance of awareness of this disease.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease with several strains causing severe liver and kidney damage. It can be spread by rats, dogs, horses and pigs in their urine and is common around water courses both in towns and countryside alike. Leptospirosis can be transmitted to people, sometimes with fatal consequences. The signs of leptospirosis in dogs can be very variable, and in some cases dogs don’t show any obvious signs at all. When symptoms do occur they can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhoea, loss of appetite, lethargy, and jaundice (yellow tinged gums).

Leptospirosis is treatable, but it is much safer to ensure your dog is vaccinated to give protection. This year we have introduced a new and more advanced dog vaccine. This provides broader protection for Leptospirosis covering four, rather than the usual two, strains of this widespread disease. To upgrade the Leptospirosis protection your pet will need an L4 Upgrade injection 3-4 weeks after the usual booster to establish immunity. After this a single combined booster each year will maintain the complete protection. You will be offered the choice to do this at your booster appointment. If you have any questions about our new vaccination protocol please don’t hesitate to ask a member of staff.

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Body condition scoring

Our final weight loss blog is on body condition scoring.

Weight alone can be misleading because dogs vary so much in size- a Great Dane will obviously weigh a lot more than a Yorkshire Terrier! For this reason body condition scoring can be really helpful.

Body condition scoring was developed as a way to standardise the assessment of whether animals are underweight or overweight. It is based on a scale running from 1-5 where 1 is an emaciated animal and 5 is grossly obese. The place on the scale on which the animal falls is determined by assessing several criteria. These are:

– How easily felt the ribs are
– How obvious the waist and abdominal tuck are – How much excess fat is beneath the skin
– How much muscle mass is present

 It has been shown that the body condition score, or BCS,  is related to the percentage above which dogs and catsare overweight and consequently can be used to suggest a target weight for dieting overweight pets. Since even within individual breeds there are a range of shapes and sizes that dogs come in, body condition score allows target weights to be tailor made rather than just suggesting the breed average. Once on a diet, body weight is used as a precise measure of the progress you pet is making.

Click to enlarge. Image courtesy Hill’s Pet Nutrition®

This diagram gives the basic principle of how to body condition score your pet. If you are unsure, or would like to discuss your pet’s BCS, please talk to one of our nurses.

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Canine weight loss tips

It is estimated that 35% of all dogs in the UK are overweight. This is worrying because obese dogs are much more likely to develop health problems such as diabetes, arthritis, respiratory conditions and heart disease.

In this blog, Kenilworth veterinary nurse Poppy shares some of her top tips to encourage your dog to lose weight.

Stop with the treat drawer. Those puppy dog eyes are too hard to resist and one more treat won’t hurt, right? But these extras soon add up and cutting these out is one of these easiest changes you can make.

Never give human food. One cookie is the calorie equivalent of eating a hamburger! Dogs just can’t process human food like we can and rich foods can make them unwell too.

Get the whole family on board. A diet will not work unless everybody sticks to the correct routine- no more sneaky biscuit before bed!

Increase play. Not only will this burn those calories but it will also increase your bonding with your dog.

Measure his or her food out as to what the food manufacture recommends. Weighing your dog’s daily allowance is a much more accurate way than using measuring cups or guessing!

Come and speak to us in the surgery. All of our surgeries run weight clinics where we can give you specific advice tailored to your dog’s needs. Your nurse can check your dog’s body condition and advise you on how much they need to lose. They will also advise you how to tweak your feeding and exercise regime to help your dog to lose weight.

As mentioned above, one of the most useful ways we have to monitor an animal’s weight is by using body condition scoring. In our next blog we will discuss body condition scores so you can tell if your pet is overweight, and track the success of their weight loss program. 
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How to get your cat moving and shed the pounds

In our second blog on obesity in cats, veterinary nurse Maddi discusses ways to keep your cat active and cut the calories.

Getting your cat to lose weight can be a very difficult task, especially if your cat is particularly lazy!

As you may expect, the best way for your cat lose excess weight is to help him eat less, and do more. However, as with so many things involving our feline friends, this is often easier said than done.

Arguably the most important aspect of effective weight management is the quality and quantity of food that your cat fed. There are a wide variety of wet and dry foods available which have been specifically tailored to help with weight loss. Often these contain higher levels of fibre to help your cat feel fuller for longer.

Portion size is also very important, and spreading your cat’s recommended daily allowance through three or four small meals is a good way to control your cat’s hunger. This can be effectively achieved through the use of an electronic feeder to minimise the impact on your busy working day.

Of course, it is also vital to cut out any unnecessary treats, including titbits of human food (which is very fatty!) as these will only add to the calorie consumption.

Once you have chosen a suitable diet for your cat, we then need to encourage your cat to move more. This can be done in various ways.

One important way and probably the most enjoyable is to play with your cat. Cats will usually have a favourite type of toy that they enjoy playing with, but it is a good idea to change the type of toy you play with so that the cat doesn’t get bored. Try to avoid using treats to encourage them to play as this will add to the calorie consumption. One way around this is to take treats out of your cats daily allowance of dry food.

If treats are the only way you can get your cat moving, then it is important that you compensate for this in the main meals of the day. It is best to  Puzzle feeders and treat balls are useful if you are going to use treats and for solo play as they make the cat work for their treat!

Another way to get your cat moving is to move their main meals around the house so they are not always fed in the same place every day. This will encourage natural foraging for food.

Remember, the move your cat moves the more willing they will be to move!

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Why big cats equal big problems

Big cats equal big problems. In the first of our blogs on obesity in cats, veterinary nurse Maddi explains why cats become overweight, how to tell if your cat is overweight and the health problems it can cause.

Obesity in cats is a very big problem. It is estimated that 25 to 30 per cent of cats in the UK are obese. In the short-term and in severe cases it results in mobility and joint problems such as arthritis. If left untreated obesity may also lead to more severe health concerns such as diabetes or cystitis.


Determining your cat’s level of obesity is something you can do easily at home by using the body condition scoring system. In a healthy cat, it should be possible to feel the ribs and spine under the skin with the flat of your hand. A well-defined waistline should also be evident, without any sagging or drooping. If you are concerned your cat may be overweight, or you are unsure, discuss this with your vet or vet nurse- understanding your cat’s body condition will us to advise you on the best course of action.


The reason for obesity is usually due to an excess of calories, which most commonly come from unnecessary treats and fatty human food. It is worth mentioning that neutered cats require 20% less calories than entire cat which is a common oversight and source of weight gain. There are a wide range of foods available which are developed with different life stages in mind, so be sure to check and adjust your cat’s diet accordingly. Of course, as well as too many calories,  a lack of appropriate exercise will also contribute to obesity in particularly lazy cats!


Just like humans, some cats are naturally more prone to obesity than others, but the need to control your cats weight is still very important to ensure a happy and healthy life. If you notice that your cat is larger than average, or excessively lazy, then there are several steps that you can take to help reduce his risk of problematic weight gain, including strict control of calorie intake, and encouraging regular exercise to help trim and tone those baggy waistlines.


In the next blog we will look in more detail at ways to help your cat lose weight.

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