Your puppy or kitten’s first visit to the vets….

puppy and kitten packsGetting a new pet is an exciting time and there will be a lot to think about! Once you have collected your new arrival, please make sure you register him/her with a vet and book an appointment for an initial health check to make sure there are no problems. As well as giving your pet a check over, there are other things that will be discussed by the vet for you to have a think about.

Vaccinations are very important, in the very early stages of life, puppies and kittens gain immunity from disease from their mother’s milk. This protection starts to fade when they are about 6 weeks of age and without vaccinations, they are left vulnerable to some potentially deadly diseases. This is why it is so important to have your pets vaccinated as soon as they are old enough. Regular booster vaccinations, combined with a health check, are the best ways to protect your pet, plus at the same we can keep identify any emerging health problems.

Regular worming is vital in the early weeks of your puppy or kittens life. Not only are they more likely to pick up worms than adults (because of their curious natures) but they are also vulnerable to their effects due to their immature immune systems. A good breeder will worm their litters regularly from birth and you should continue this monthly until they reach 6 month of age, this can then be decreased in frequency.

Microchipping is law for puppies who are 8 weeks of age or older, the breeder should be the first registered keeper of the puppy so it is the breeder’s responsibility to have the puppy microchipped before homing. If for any reason this isn’t done then we can administer a microchip at the first vaccination appointment; this is a quick and relatively painless procedure and is vital to ensure your pet is permanently identifiable. For cats we advise microchipping either at the vaccination appointment or at the time of neutering if they are being kept indoors until then, which ideally they would be.

At the first appointment with your vet, they will also advise you on other topics such as diets and feeding, dental care, flea and tick control and pet insurance. We always look forward to meeting your new arrivals!

Does your pet have itchy ears?

cat scraching earEar disease is common in our pets and being able to quickly recognise the signs is very important. Anatomically, our pet’s ears are very similar to ours, with a canal extending from the ear flap into the skull and with a drum at the base protecting the middle ear. The main difference is that their ears are positioned towards the top of their heads rather than the sides and their ear canals are also longer than ours. Sounds travel down the ear canal and vibrate the ear drum, stimulating tiny bones in the middle ear, which in turn then transmit sounds into the inner ear and brain.

The vast majority of ear problems affect only the external ear canal but repeated infections and some growths will cause middle ear disease. Middle ear disease (which is more common in cats) can be a challenge to diagnose, and treatment is sometimes difficult. Signs of ear problems include; shaking their head and scratching and rubbing at their ears, discharge from the ears is also common with an ear infection and this can be black and waxy or creamy pus-like; this can also be a bit smelly!

Ear infections can be caused by objects getting into the ear canal (grass seeds are very common), skin allergies, excessive wetness after swimming, bacterial infections or ear mite infestations. Sometimes we may recommend sedating your pet to fully examine the ears and sometimes swabs sent to the laboratory are necessary. Treatments of ear problems usually involve topical liquids but these can be a challenge to administer in some pets! If these are prescribed and you think you may struggle then please talk to your veterinary surgeon or nurse about this as there may be an alternative.

To prevent ear problems it is important to identify the cause and start treatment as soon as possible to avoid longer term problems. Regular cleaning of the ears can help in some pets, once or twice weekly is usually sufficient, your vet or nurse will be happy to demonstrate how to do this at your pets next check-up.

How healthy is your dogs heart?

heart-disease-common-signs_enIt is estimated that heart problems can affect around 10% of all dogs in the UK. Some heart diseases may be present when the animal is born (congenital), however the majority of heart disease in dogs will develop in their adult years, with some breeds more likely to develop heart disease than others. The two most common types of heart disease we see in dogs are; Dilated cardiomyopathy and degenerative mitral valve disease. Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle; the heart muscle becomes thinner and loses its pumping ability, this is most commonly seen in larger breeds. Degenerative mitral valve disease is the most common heart disease we see and is more commonly seen in smaller breeds. In this type of heart disease, the mitral valve in the heart changes shape and starts to leak which causes a heart murmur; this can be minor to start with but can develop into congestive heart failure over time. It is estimated that 90% of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel’s have heart disease by the time they are 10 years old, 50% of boxers, Dobermans and Pinschers will by middle age develop heart disease and all small breeds of dog have a 75% chance of developing heart disease during their lifetime.

Signs of heart disease can include; coughing, fainting, collapse or hind limb weakness, a swollen abdomen due to a build-up of fluid, poor appetite, weight loss, no energy for exercise, laboured breathing and the gums may appear paler in colour. If you notice your dog showing any of these signs then contact your veterinary practice for a consultation with the vet, who may conduct further tests to work out if heart disease is the problem; with early diagnosis most dogs can carry on for many years with medications and regular check-ups. Even for dogs who are not routinely seen by the vet for vaccinations should ideally have a check-up with the vet annually, so heart disease and other health problems can be diagnosed and treated early to keep your dog living a long, healthy and happy life.