HEAlth advice for DOGS

"Woman and Man's Best Friend" 
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Abbey Vets: Health advice for dogs
Neutering your dog

To spay or not to spay?  

If you are not intending on using your dog for breeding purposes, we advise that they are neutered.

Neutering is a routine, safe procedure performed under general anaesthetic.  In male animals we remove both testicles (called a castration). In female animals we remove both ovaries and the uterus (called an ovariohysterectomy or ‘spay’). Neutering is routinely discussed during your puppy's primary course of vaccinations as there are good medical evidence that early neutering is more healthy but saying that, it can be performed at any age.  

Entire bitches come in to season roughly every 6 months. During this time they will be susceptible to advances from entire male dogs, which can result in unwanted pregnancies. Caring for puppies is a time consuming and potentially costly commitment and should be appropriately planned for. Having your bitch spayed will eliminate this risk.  It will also eliminate the risk of your bitch developing a potentially life threatening infection in the uterus called a pyometra. This risk increases the more seasons they have. Spaying prior to the first season also dramatically reduces the risk of your bitch developing mammary (breast) cancer. Therefore we usually recommend spaying at 5-6 months old. However, every bitch is different and we recommend an appointment with one of our vets so they can discuss what is best for your pet and can perform a health check prior to the operation.  

Entire male dogs are likely to wander off if there is an in-season bitch near by. This can lead to them becoming lost, getting into fights and road traffic accidents. Having your dog castrated at a young age will reduce this risk. It also eliminates the risk of developing testicular tumours and will reduce the risk of developing prostate diseases and tumours later in life. It can also be beneficial in reducing certain behavioural issues. We generally recommend having your dog castrated from 5-6 months of age, however; again we recommend a consultation with a vet to discuss the operation.

Dental care for your dog

Question: What is the most common disease seen by vets?

Dental disease is a so common in dogs it has almost become part of the language - halitosis is "so-called doggy breath".  But let us be quite clear that it is not normal for your pets to have bad breath!  The smell is caused by plaque build, gum and dental disease and preventable or treatable infection.

It can be prevented by limiting the amount of plaque build up on your pet’s teeth. If left untreated it can lead to permanent problems with the teeth, gums and bone of the jaw.  

Tartar contains bacteria, which will attack the surrounding gum tissue causing painful inflammation (gingivitis) and infection that can track down to the tooth roots. Infection can build up in the roots causing an abscess to form.  Inflammation and infection also erodes and weakens the tissues and as the disease progresses teeth will loosen and fall out. If the bacteria build up in enough numbers they can enter the blood stream and cause damage to other major organs such as the heart and kidneys. If your dog has significant dental disease, you may notice a foul smelling breath, discomfort when eating, unusual swellings on the jaw or nose, salivation or pawing at the mouth. However, most of the time there are no outward signs at all and disease it picked up during routine health checks or other consultations. This is one reason why it is important for your dog to have regular health checks with the vet.  

Using a toothbrush to regularly brush your dog’s teeth is the best way of preventing plaque build up and dental disease. It is a good idea to get your dog used to brushing from an early age. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are available at all of our branches. We are happy to organise a free consultation with one of our nurses to show you how to brush your dog’s teeth effectively. If your dog will not tolerate tooth brushing there is a special diet your dog can be on to reduce plaque build up. This is a dry food with slightly larger and tougher kibble, which helps in breaking down plaque and contains a formula, which prevents the build up of bacteria. This can be fed as a complete diet or added as a component of your dog’s current diet. There are also products which you can add to drinking water such as ‘aquadent’. This aids in preventing bacteria and plaque build up and needs to be added to the water daily.

Dr. Mike shows us in his special way how to brush your pets teeth!

Changes to our canine vaccination protocol

There have been reports of new strains of Leptospirosis in our surrounding areas. The ‘Lepto 2’ vaccine used in your dog’s current vaccination protocol may not protect them from these emerging new strains. To address this increased risk of Leptospirosis we are upgrading our vaccination policy to include the newly available ‘Lepto 4’ vaccine.  

For vaccinated adult dogs upgrading at the time of their annual booster, this will mean they need to return 4 weeks after their booster for a second Lepto 4 injection. They will then be protected against the additional strains three weeks later. This will all be done at the usual booster price. Should you wish to upgrade your pet’s vaccination status to include the Lepto 4 vaccine prior to their annual booster, a course of two injections, 4 weeks apart will be required and will incur a charge.  

For unvaccinated puppies, the new Lepto 4 vaccine will automatically be a part of their primary vaccination course. The vet will discuss this during your initial consultation.


A genuine life saver

We still regularly see cases of disease that are completley preventable with vaccination.  Most recently we have had both Parvo-virus and Leptospirosis cases in dogs living in Monmouthshire, Blaenau Gwent and Powys.

Making sure your dog is vaccinated against infectious diseases is an important part of pet ownership.  Vaccination provides your dog with immunity (the ability to fight infections) by exposing them to a safe dose of the disease in question.   This immunity does not last forever and will wane over time. Therefore we advise your pet have annual ‘booster’ injections to maintain their immune status. These appointments are also a good opportunity for your pet to receive a full health check and detect any early signs of diseases or problems.

The diseases routinely vaccinated against in dogs include;

For dogs that are regularly exposed to unfamiliar dogs (eg. At a boarding kennel, dog shows, agility classes, dog parks) we also recommend vaccinating against;

For any questions regarding vaccinating your dog or to check your dog’s vaccination status please contact the clinic.

Flea control

Fleas are the most common external parasite seen in veterinary practices in the UK. Fleas are easily and quickly spread between animals and can also live in the environment for long periods of time, including in carpets and furniture.

You can protect your dog from flea infestations by regularly using the flea treatment available at the clinic. Most flea treatments are required monthly but this does vary depending on the product used.

See this You Tube video by world expert Dr Mike Dryden on Fleas and Ticks  

Signs that your dog may have fleas are;

However, sometimes dogs do not show any outward signs of having fleas. A good way to check if your dog has fleas is to comb the hair over the back with a flea comb or another very fine-toothed comb. If you then wipe the debris from this comb onto damp white paper/tissue, you will identify flea dirt if the flecks of dirt from the comb turn red. You may well not see any live fleas, in fact, if you do see live fleas this is often an indication of a heavy infestation. If you find that your dog has fleas, using one of our flea products will kill them within 24-48 hours.

However it is very important that you treat any other pets you have with a species-specific flea product at the same time. It is also important that you use a product to treat your carpets, floor and furnishings to kill any fleas living in your house. If this is not done, untreated fleas from other pets or from your house can re-infest your pet once the flea treatment has worn off and they may start biting you and your family instead. Flea infestations can be frustrating and difficult to get rid of. Therefore once you have controlled the fleas among your pets and house, it is important to regularly treat your pet with a suitable flea product to prevent an infestation re-occurring.  

For advice on which flea product to use for your pet or if you are worried your dog may have fleas, please contact the clinic.

Tick control

Ticks are brown, oval shaped insects that attach to your dog by their mouthparts when they bite and feed off their blood. When they are attached to your dog they can sometimes look like a small warty growth. Ticks are particularly prevalent in forested land, heathland and moorland areas. However, they can still easily be picked up in suburban parks. Dogs are particularly prone to getting ticks as they are often rummaging in the undergrowth of such areas.

If you think your dog has a tick, it can be removed by a qualified member of staff at the clinic. You can also give your dog a tick treatment, which are available at the clinic in tablet or ‘spot-on’ form. Please do not be tempted to pull the tick off. If you do this, the mouthparts of the tick will be left under your dogs skin and can cause an infection.

Parasite information from Dr. Mike Dryden can be seen here.

Worm control

Regular worm control is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Not only can a worm burden cause health issues for your dog but some worms can also infect people and their larval stages can cause numerous health problems including blindness, with children being the most at risk.

Therefore regular worming with a suitable product is essential to ensure the health of you and your pet. The most common intestinal worms can be categorised as roundworms and tapeworms.

Worm control regimes depend a lot on the age and life-style of your dog. Free advice on a suitable worm control plan for your dog is available upon consultation with one of our nurses. Worm control is also discussed in detail with the vet during your puppy or kitten’s primary vaccination course and at annual boosters.

Summer Hazards

Now that summer is officially here we are experiencing some unusually hot days. This hot weather can create new risks to your dog’s health including heat stroke, sunburn and dehydration.  

Dogs can get dehydrated very quickly in the heat. Therefore it is important to make sure they always have access to fresh, clean water. It is important they have access to shade at all times if they are outside so they have somewhere to retreat to. Avoid over exercising in the middle of the day. Longer dog walks should be saved for the early morning or evenings. Dogs with flat faces such as Pugs, Bulldogs and Boxers are particularly at risk of over heating which can lead to life threatening breathing difficulties and heat stroke.

If you are concerned your dog is over heating, we recommend covering them in cold, wet towels in a calm, quiet and shaded environment while you contact the clinic for advice.

NEVER leave your dog in a parked car for ANY length of time. Cars become excessively hot even if it isn’t that hot outside. Leaving your dog inside a parked vehicle can result in fatal heat stroke within minutes.  

Dogs with white fur and/or pink noses and ear tips are also susceptible to sun burn. Please ensure you apply sun block to pink areas to avoid painful sunburn and the development of skin cancer.  

Care should be taken when using pesticides and insecticides in your garden. These can be dangerous if your dog ingests them. Avoid using these chemicals or source pet friendly versions.  

If you are having a barbecue or garden party please make sure your dog is supervised at all times. Barbecues can cause serious burns and injuries if knocked over or jumped on and a sizzling sausage can be very tempting. Please also be cautious of giving your dog meat from the barbecue. Ensure that food has cooled enough for your dog to eat otherwise they can cause serious burns to the mouth and food pipe (oesophagus). Make sure your guests aren’t getting carried away feeding your dog. Burgers and sausages are much more fatty than your dog’s normal diet and can cause gastroenteritis or pancreatitis if large volumes are eaten. One treat from the barbecue shouldn’t cause a problem but it could soon mount up if everyone is doing it! Please also make sure you fully dispose of food waste. Many dogs will scavenge through bin bags. Corn cobs pose a particular risk as they very can commonly become stuck in your dogs gut and an operation is needed to remove them.

Finally, longhaired dogs may benefit from having their fur stripped or clipped during the summer months. This can dramatically improved their comfort during the hot weather and make managing them in the heat a lot easier.

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Abbey Veterinary Centres established as one of first veterinary surgeons in Wales

Veterinary Surgeons with special interests in all aspects of medicine and surgery

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