Pet Advice - FAQs

A new puppy or a kitten?

If you're thinking about a new addition to your household then we can help, advise and assist in a number of ways. It's an exciting time and we hope our information sheets will answer a few of your initial queries. We're here to help; we offer free puppy parties to help with early socialisation which also provides a forum for discussion and guidance from our experienced nursing team. Click on the links below to view the relevant document.

A NEW PUPPY                             A NEW KITTEN


I want to take my pet on abroad on a holiday holiday - what do I need to know?

This can be answered in our useful document entitled PET PASSPORTS (click to read).


My dog has been "scooting" his behind on the ground. Does he have worms?

He may have worms but that is not necessarily why he is "scooting" (dragging his bottom on the floor). It is usually an indication that the anal glands are full and need to be looked at by one of our vets. Anal glands are small glands on either side of the rectum. They contain a fishy smelling substance which, before domestication, dogs and cats used to mark their territory. Pets no longer have active control of these glands and therefore they can become full and need emptying, sometimes as regularly as every 4 weeks.

Please call to book an appointment if your dog is scooting or seems irritated around his/her back end.There are certain parasites, such as tapeworms, that are visible to the naked eye; others must be detected under a microscope and hence we cannot always tell whether our pets have worms without checking a stool sample. As such, it is a good idea to routinely de-worm your pet every 3 months.


My dog has gained some extra weight in recent months. What is the best way to help her shed these extra pounds?

Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more dogs that are over- weight. Except for a few clinical conditions (Hypothyroidism, Cushings, and genetics) weight gain is a result of the unbalanced combination of calories and activity. This chart is a rough guide you can use to assess the body condition score of your dog.

The first step in helping your pet lose some weight is to understand exactly how many calories he/she is getting each day. This includes treats, table scraps and cat food, which we often forget about; this can make a massive difference to the total daily calorie intake!

Next, you need to increase your pet's activity level. Start slow, as you would do with your own exercise program, and build slowly. Remember that older dogs, or dogs with arthritis, will have some limitations and therefore calories will need to be monitored closely. Regular weigh-ins can help with motivation and it is essential to monitor your pet's weight gain/loss over time. We understand how difficult it can be to get your dog to lose weight, but do not panic; we are here to help. Please feel free to call one of our senior nurses to discuss our free weight loss clinics.


I have been using a flea product from the chemist on my cat every couple of months, but I'm still seeing fleas on him. I never see fleas on the dog so don't treat him. A friend mentioned that fleas are now resistant to fipronil. What should I do?

Firstly, on the question of resistance, C.felis (the cat flea) is thriving in the UK with successive mild winters and humid summers, and reservoir populations of fleas in central heated homes. Flea persistence in the environment and visible fleas in the pet after application of fipronil products has led to questions of resistance. However despite numerous large scale studies into its effectiveness there is currently no evidence to support this.There are however numerous reasons why the fleas may appear to still be present:

1) Not treating all pets in the home. For successful flea control one must treat all the animals in the household even if you are not noticing fleas on a particular pet.

2) Not treating consistently. Flea products only last for a specific period (e.g. Frontline Spot-On works for 5 weeks in cats and 8 weeks in dogs). It is recommended that you should treat your pet monthly if it is very sensitive to flea bites. Heavy flea infestations will require monthly treatment of all in-contacts to achieve control.

3) NOT TREATING THE ENVIRONMENT - approximately 90-95% of the flea population (eggs, pupae, larvae) live in the environment and not on your pet! There are numerous effective environmental sprays available to treat the carpets and soft furnishings so contact your vet to discuss which is appropriate for you. If you have any concerns about your flea treatment not working then please pick up the phone and give us a ring!


Why does my dog keep getting fleas? 

Fleas can be a nightmare! Dogs may be re-infested from other cats or dogs in the house, or pick more up while out on walks. Also, fleas will typically lay eggs in cars and houses; these hatch out and the cycle begins all over again. Make sure that you treat your house and all the animals in it regularly (for many spot-on treatments this means monthly - check the instructions). For dogs that love swimming you may find that tablets are the most effective flea treatment because regular wetting through swimming and bathing can reduce the effectiveness of spot-ons.


How often should I worm my dog? 

Most healthy adult dogs should be wormed at least every 3 months.  If living with young children, who don't yet understand about hand washing, or with anyone who has a reduced immune system then we may recommend monthly worming.  Pregnant bitches and puppies should also be wormed much more frequently - call and ask us for advice on this.


Why does my older bitch occasionally wet the bed?

 The most likely cause would be Urinary Sphincter Mechanism Incontinence (USMI) which is a condition that occurs in older animals, especially if they are neutered. Usually it can be easily controlled with daily medication. However, it's important that we rule out other less common problems that might cause bed wetting such as infection, diabetes, liver disease and kidney problems. I would suggest that you book your bitch in to see one your vets and bring a urine sample along with you.

My dog is very elderly so does he really still need to come in for a booster vaccination?

It's especially important for elderly dogs to be vaccinated. Dogs of all ages are vulnerable to catching infectious diseases, but as dogs become elderly their immune systems become 'weaker' and less efficient at fighting infections. Remember flu vaccinations are most vital for elderly humans!A booster appointment is also a good opportunity to discuss any problems your dog may be experiencing as he/she becomes elderly, and for the vet to perform a thorough health check.


My previous dog was really scared about coming in to the vets. What can I do to stop this happening with my new puppy?

Firstly, we always try to make the vaccination experience as pleasant as possible for every puppy. We use cuddles and treats to make them think that our practice is a nice place to come. The vaccinations just involve a small scratch, and it's important that you do not worry about it yourself, because your puppy will look to you for reassurance. After the first vaccination we offer free, monthly Puppy Checks not only to weigh, and accordingly worm, your puppy but also to ensure he/she has some trips to the practice which are needle-free and treat-rich! This often helps to motivate our patients who then look forward to their visits. We also offer a free one hour puppy party to assist with socialisation for your puppy. The puppy party also provides an opportunity for them to get used to the veterinary practice while they are allowed to mix with other puppies in a controlled environment. 


My cat is 13 and has lost a bit of weight recently. That's normal in old age isn't it?

Absolutely not! Most cats are unlikely to lose weight unless they are on a strict diet or have an illness. Illnesses that cause weight loss in a cat often creep up on them without you really noticing. It's very important that if you think this is the case, we examine your cat in a consultation and discuss performing tests, even if they seem happy and healthy to you.


Is there anything we can do to help minimise the stress of the fireworks season for our pets?

Fireworks and pets Many of us enjoy this time of year and attending events, but for many animals it can be a particularly stressful time. Please click on the image to view our own advice to owners in preparation for fireworks at any time of the year. 





Do you have any advice on Pregnancy and Whelping bitches?

The apparent gestation period for bitches averages 63 days with a range of 56-72 days if calculated from the first mating. This large variation is mainly due to the long and variable oestrus period (season) of the bitch, and the long lifespan of eggs and sperm. If we measure progesterone during the bitch's season, it becomes much easier to accurately determine when she will give birth, as it is 63 days after ovulation (with a day either side as the range!). Please talk to us about measuring progesterone if you wish to get your bitch pregnant; it is a useful tool not only for determining when she will give birth, but also when to mate her for the best chance of a successful outcome.

Click the link here for our full guide on Pregnancy and Whelping.


What's toxic or poisonous to pets?

We've produced a one page guide to help identify some of the most common poisons. At a time of year when families are celebrating, December can pose more serious threat to our pets, as a bounty of food appears in homes. The colder weather also means that anti-freeze is more common and this can quickly lead to fatality if ingested. Click on the picture icon to see the full pdf version of Christmas poisons.