Diabetes Awareness

diabetesNovember is national pet diabetes month and with many illnesses, the earlier the problem is diagnosed and treated, the better.

Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose, or sugar, in your dog’s blood. Diabetes results when the dog’s body makes too little insulin or when the body has difficulty responding to the insulin properly. Canine diabetes is quite common—anywhere between 1 in 100 to 1 in 500 dogs develops diabetes and those numbers are expected to increase. Any dog can develop diabetes but breeds that are most at risk are thought to be; Dachshunds, Cocker spaniels, German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, Toy poodles and Terriers. Diabetes in dogs is more common between the ages of 4 and 14 years old.

Knowing the signs of diabetes is the first step in protecting your dog’s health. If any of these signs describes your pet, speak with your veterinary surgeon about the possibility of diabetes: drinking more water than usual (polydipsia), urinates more frequently or has accidents in the house (polyuria), always seems hungry but maintains or loses weight (polyphagia) and has cloudy eyes (a sign of cataracts).

When testing for diabetes this can be diagnosed from a simple urine test which tests for glucose and ketones in the urine. If this is positive then the vet will monitor glucose levels with a blood test. Insulin is usually given to dogs and cats that have diabetes and this will be administered by either once or twice daily injections which you will shown how to administer by a vet or a nurse, sometimes it may be necessary for your pet to stay in the surgery for a few days to stabilize them depending how well they are when they are diagnosed and how they respond to insulin.

Diet plays a vital role in helping to keep your dog’s diabetes regulated. Ideally, your dog should be fed exactly the same diet every day and at the same times of day. A diabetic dog’s diet usually includes a source of good-quality protein, in addition to complex carbohydrates and dietary fibre to help slow absorption of glucose from the digestive system. It also usually has a low fat content.

Overall, a palatable and nutritious diet that minimizes fluctuations in blood glucose and helps your dog maintain a healthy weight is important for managing diabetes. Your veterinary surgeon can recommend a diet that’s best suited to the needs of your dog.

If you are concerned that your pet may have diabetes then please give us a call.

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.

Seasonal Canine Illness

autumnWe have seen rising cases over the last few years of what appears to be ‘Seasonal Canine Illness’ in dogs during the months of August through to November. Although the cause is not yet known we do know that these dogs have been walked in woodland. Most of the cases are seen in our Bourne practice and a few these dogs had been walked in Bourne woods and Sandringham a few days before clinical signs were present – usually 24-72 hours.

Dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes can be affected by this mystery illness and sadly this can prove fatal in some dogs, especially those with compromised immune systems and the older or very young dog.

Clinical signs mainly include vomiting, diarrhoea, trembling, loss of appetite and lethargy; if you notice this in any dog especially one that has been walked in woodland then please do contact your veterinary practice immediately. There have been far less fatal cases of this in the last couple of years as people are hearing more about it and becoming more aware of the urgency to seek medical advice.

With the correct treatment which can sometimes involve a hospital stay; most dogs will recover well within a few days with intravenous fluid therapy and drugs to control the vomiting and diarrhoea, this sometimes takes about a week but sometimes a bit longer depending on the individual dog.

The Animal Health Trust in Newmarket has been conducting research into this illness for the last few years and we hope that soon they may be a step closer to finding out how we can prevent this. Until then if you are walking your dogs in woodland please keep a close eye on them and watch that they don’t pick anything up to consume. As we don’t know if this could be from a mite picked up in these areas it is a good idea to use a preventative topical preparation against mites, fleas and ticks; please contact your vet to be prescribed the best product for this.

For any further information please contact your veterinary practice to have a chat with a vet or a veterinary nurse.

Cat charities estimate 4.3m kittens born in UK this year!

kittens augIt’s kitten season again and we have had a few babies so far this summer bought into the practice after being found outside alone. It is so important to neuter your cats especially at this time of year when the females are in season and the males are out an about all the time. A female cat can give birth to around 5 kittens each time she has a litter and these kittens will next year also have kittens of their own if they are not spayed and castrated.

Most vets keep the cost of their neutering to a minimum to encourage owners to spay and castrate, there is also some help available through charities towards the cost if you are on benefits; this is not usually through the vets so you would need to contact them directly.

The procedure for both males and females is very quick; they are usually in and out of the vets on the same day. For males the procedure involves removing both of the testicles and he doesn’t tend to need stitches so after being kept in for a couple of days, he will usually be back to normal very quickly. For females the surgery is slightly more invasive and involves removing the uterus and ovaries, this is done by a small incision in the flank (side) of the cat but some vets prefer to make their incision on the underside of the abdomen. A small amount of fur clipped around where the incision will be made and some stitches will be in place, these are usually dissolvable but some vets still use non dissolvable stitches; these will then need to be removed in about 10 days. The females need to be kept indoors ideally until her stitches are removed and her exercise will need to restricted for a few days too.

Cats recover very well from these procedures and are usually much happier and healthier cats afterwards. For more information please contact your veterinary practice.

Stray Dogs

The law came into force in April 2016 that all dogs from the age of 8 weeks of age must be microchipped and the owner’s details must be up to date on the database that holds the microchip number for the dog. Ideally the breeder of the dog should be arranging to have their litter microchipped before homing them and their details should be the first details added to the microchip. The new owner will then add their details to the microchip as the ‘keeper’ of the dog.
We are still seeing a lot of dogs who are not chipped and having a few dogs handed into us as strays; without a microchip it can sometimes be hard to quickly trace their owners. When a stray dog is presented to our surgery we have a duty of care to that dog and we do our best to try and find the owners quickly. We feel that keeping the dog under our care is best in most circumstances as letting the dog leave again with a member of the public has in the past caused issues. If the owner of the dog comes to the surgery and we have let their pet go then rightly they will question why this was the case. Although it is lovely when people do want to take stray dogs home with them, they may not be easy to contact when the owners come forward, the dog may escape from their homes or something could happen to that dog accidently while in their care and ultimately if this happened the owners would be unhappy that we had let that dog leave the premises. If the dog is kept at the surgery for collection our staff can then microchip the dog when the owners come forward to avoid this happening again. We do understand that when a member of the public finds a stray dog they may be unhappy about leaving the dog at the surgery but we do feel this is the best for the dog and for the owner, if the owner doesn’t come forward and the person who presented the dog to the surgery wanted to take the dog home then we hand their details over to the dog warden and they are usually happy to arrange this. They have in the past carried out house visits so this can happen; this has to be a decision made by our local authorities and not by us as vets.
To avoid all this from happening and to avoid the possibility of a fine up to £500, please microchip your dogs!

The other side of the table

horseSeveral weeks ago one of our horses , an Arab called Sunflower, was diagnosed with sarcoids. She had quite a few of varying sizes in her pelvic and upper leg area . Sarcoids are common tumours in horses and are generally benign but can be locally invasive . One of these tumours was quite large and was getting bigger . In consultation with our horse vet we decided to have these masses removed by laser. This would require a sedation and a trip to the horse hospital.

As is the case for many people , this horse is very special to us, she really communicates and interacts with us and is very open to people. She had a fantastic upbringing at the stud that bred and backed her which has resulted in a horse that is not at all sceptical about any of life’s experiences.

We now had to hand our beautiful horse over to our vet and entrust her to his care. This reminded me that my clients do the same with me every day and the enormous responsibility that this is. Every animal I treat is somebodies special pet that we have to treat to the best of our ability .

We were very anxious during the wait for the surgery (we stayed with her before and after her operation ) and while she was being operated on. I have seen this same anxiety on the faces of my clients as the have waited for their pets surgery, now it was my turn.

All went well with her surgery and is now beginning to heal, she made it clear that this was painful for the first week and we had to extend her pain relief. Even though the treatment was needed we still felt upset that we had put her through all of this, which is a sentiment that many people feel after any traumatic surgery.

This whole experience has reinforced my understanding of what my clients experience when they entrust their pets to our practice.

(Photo for illustration purposes only)

Looking after our pets in the warmer weather

Heat stroke dogDuring the lovely weather we have been experiencing it is really important that we remember how the weather affects our pets. Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans; they release heat primarily by panting and they sweat through the foot pads and nose. In the hot weather please keep dogs cool, we don’t advise walking them until the weather has cooled down in the evenings and even then if it’s still quite warm then only short walks are advised. In the day time if you are outside with your dogs then have a paddling pool out for them to cool down and make sure there is plenty of space available in the shade. Temperatures in dogs vary but usually anything above 39 degrees Celsius is abnormal and organ failure can occur at around 41 degrees.

Signs of heat stroke or hyperthermia may include panting, salivation, a reddening of the gums, rapid heart rate, collapse, vomiting, muscle tremors and vomiting. If you are concerned that a dog may be suffering from heat stroke then it’s very important to get to your vet as soon as possible, wrap the dog in cool wet towels to try and lower the temperature on the way. Never leave dogs in cars on hot days, the temperature in a stationary car can get very high in a very short space of time, although it’s common knowledge not to do this sadly a few people still do. If you see a dog left in a car that you feel is in distress then call 999.

Dogs are not the only animals that can suffer in the heat, all animals can overheat and our small furies must not be forgotten about. Rabbits and guinea pigs living outside should have their cages moved into the shade and wrap their water bottles in something to keep them cool. A blanket can be used to put over the cage to keep them out of the sun and if they are in a run then again there should be plenty of space for them in the shade.

White cats can be prone to sunburn on the tips of their ears so you can use a little bit of sun cream as protection if they are out and about. Cats are usually quite good at regulating their temperature and will find shade when they are hot but they should be monitored and if they are showing any signs of heat stroke then immediately contact your vet and try and cool them down.

Enjoy the weather and if you have any concerns then contact your veterinary surgery who will be happy to help.

The wolf that lives with us

sheepLambing time is now coming to an end .It is lovely to see them in the fields around us. It’s always an uplifting sight and part of the joy of spring. Unfortunately there has also been an increase in the number of dog attacks on sheep in recent years .This has terrible consequences for both the sheep and possibly the dogs and owners.

I had first-hand experience of this several years ago. I was called out by the RSPCA to a field along the edge of the river Glen near Spalding. This field was long and thin. When I entered the field I could see a group of sheep huddled together right at one end. As I began to walk along the field I could see bodies of sheep littered around the field .There were also many bodies floating in the river where sheep had jumped in to escape but had drowned due to their heavy fleeces. The injuries were severe. Some of these poor creatures were still alive and had to be put to sleep. One I particularly remember was a lamb with half its face missing. As I came to the far end of the field I found two dogs laying resting on the ground .They were pleased to see me and happily allowed me to attach them to a lead .As far as they were concerned they had had a great time.

It is not the dog’s fault when these situations occur. We must always remember that there is a bit of wolf in all our dogs. It should come as no surprise that most of our much loved and friendly pets would chase sheep and even attack them if given the chance. It goes without saying that dogs must be kept under control near sheep .However many of these attacks are carried out by dogs that have escaped from their gardens while their owners are out. It is very important that your dogs must be kept in a secure environment. Farmers are allowed to shoot dogs that are worrying sheep. Also if a dog is seen attacking sheep the owner will be eligible for up to a £2000 fine and the dog will be taken away and put to sleep.

THIS IS NOT THE DOGS FAULT. The dog is only following an instinct. Many people do not believe that their dogs are capably of such a thing but many of them are. It is up to us as owners to take care and protect our pets from these situations. It does not just apply to sheep . Over the years I have seen distraught owners when their much loved dog has attacked chickens or pet rabbits or killed a muntjac deer while running in the woods. We have also heard of those horrible cases where babies are attacked. All these things are our responsibility and we must understand the wolf that lives with us.