Purchasing a puppy during a pandemic!
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a year we won’t forget and we are still only half way through! Here at Mid Sussex Vets we are seeing a lot of new puppies for their puppy vaccinations, infact we are seeing new puppies pretty much on a daily basis! The puppy cuddles have brought us a huge amount of joy, during a very unsettling time.
Many of you have been planning the purchase of your new puppy for a long time, whilst some of you have decided due to lockdown and restrictions, now is the time to get a new puppy, when you have more time to spend with them. In this month’s blog, we will cover how to care for your puppy during a lockdown and what additional things you’ll need to consider.
Getting a new puppy is a very exciting time. In normal circumstances, we would have you in for either a new puppy registration check, or for their first set of vaccinations and we could discuss caring for a new puppy, answer any questions you may have, weigh your new puppy and meet you face to face. Sadly we are unable to do this at the moment, so we wanted to say “hello” to any new clients and provide you with a bit more information about your new addition in your family.
First of all we will look at flea and worm treatment. We use Nexgard spectra and Droncit for parasite control. Nexgard Spectra is a monthly chewable tablet, that prevents fleas, lungworm, mites and lice, a large number of worm species and ticks! The only worm it doesn’t treat is tape worm, which we protect against using Droncit- a single dose tablet that is given every 6 months . Your puppy will take the Nexgard Spectra like a treat, so it is very easy to administer.
As you know, puppies are continually growing through their first 12 months. The parasite control we dispense is dosed dependent on their weight. Before lockdown we would ask you to pop in with your puppy every month to be weighed so we can dispense the next months’ worth of medication. Due to the guidelines set in place by our governing body the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the social distancing rules, unfortunately we are no longer able to do this. This is a shame for us and your puppy as it was a great way of getting your puppy used to coming in to the veterinary clinic for socialising and desensitising. We will ask you if it is possible to weigh your puppy at home for us using home scales or using scales in the pet shops. If you are unable to do this, we will be able to weigh your puppy for you in reception but unfortunately you will not be allowed to come into the building and we will have to designate a time to do this.
It is very important to socialise your puppy. Due to the current pandemic, there is a concern that puppies will not be socialised fully which could then lead to behavioural issues for them in later life. The first 3-14 weeks of a puppy’s life are a critical time for your puppy to get used to change, people, objects and other animals. We would normally run a puppy socialisation class here at the practice but have had to suspend these for now. This is a real shame as they are a great way of introducing your puppy to other puppies, teaching your puppy how to behave at a veterinary practice, having a qualified veterinary nurse carry out a nose to tail check and also a chance for us to answer any questions you may have. So what can you do during lockdown?
It is important to get your puppy used to you handling them. We strongly believe in positive reinforcement, so when your puppy allows you to handle them nicely, reward them with a treat! As your puppy cannot come in here for a mock examination, you can get your puppy used to one at home.
You should check inside your puppies’ ears regularly, so they get used to the sensation and don’t associate it with a negative action. Unfortunately, many dogs will experience problems with their ears at some point in their lives due to ear infections, ear irritations or a general build-up of discharge. By touching and looking in your puppies ears from a young age and rewarding them with lots of praise and treats, it will make it an easier process for examining and treating any potential ear problems in the future.
It is also a good idea to get your puppy used to you looking in their mouth. Just start by lifting their gum slightly and then rewarding them with plenty of treats. Gradually build this up over time so you can look at all their teeth. Many dogs will develop a build-up of plaque on their teeth over time which could then lead to dental problems. One way of preventing this is by manually brushing your dogs’ teeth with a doggy tooth brush and special doggy tooth paste- so teaching your puppy that it is OK to look in their mouth and that they will get a reward from it will help you in the future!
It is important to show your puppy lots of different objects, whether that be umbrellas, bikes or hats! You can do this in the safety of your home- have some fun with it and have dressing up days. You can wear different styles of hats, scarves and even glasses. Reward them for their positive behaviour around the new looks! You can show them bikes in the garden, umbrellas, push chairs and wheelbarrows.
Once your puppy has had their second vaccination and waited 10 days, they are then safe to go out and about exploring! Obviously due to the lockdown this has to be done following social distancing, but this doesn’t mean you can’t get your puppy outside, experiencing new sites and smells. I’m sure members of the public will be desperate to stroke your puppy, but unfortunately they must stay 2 metres away. Your puppy will still be able to see your new people and pick up on their different smells.
Due to the risks of the virus, we are strongly advising you to not let your puppy run up and socialise with other dogs out on your walks, but they are still able to physically see other dogs from afar. There is however a positive side to this. Your puppy will become bonded with you and you can reward your puppy for focusing his/hers attention onto you when other dogs are around. This bond should also help make it easier to teach a strong recall for when the restrictions are lifted and you and your puppy can go out and about as normal. It will also teach your puppy not to jump all over strange dogs- something not all dogs appreciate!
If you have a friend with a dog, who has a large garden and you can socially distance yourself from your friend, you could allow your puppy to play with their dog if you then wipe your puppy and their dog down with special dog disinfectant wipes afterwards. The reason for this is there is a potential risk of the virus being able to survive on an animal’s fur, if the animal has been in contact with a Covid positive person.
Due to the current lockdown, many people are working from home or furloughed, so they are able to spend more time with their puppy. This is great when it comes to training as you will have plenty of opportunities to teach them new things, however please remember that puppies tire very easily and have short attention spans, so it is best to train little and often. Whilst out in the garden, you can start teaching your puppy to walk on a lead, carry out recalls which will be essential for off lead walking when it is possible, how to sit, lie down and any other tricks you may like them to learn such as ‘paw’. There are lots of brilliant channels on YouTube from dog behaviourists who can guide you on how to do this.
Because people are spending more time at home, your puppy will be highly stimulated throughout the day. Make sure you give your puppy plenty of time to rest. Puppies are very much like babies and get over tired very easily. People are often surprised at just how much sleep puppies need during the day. They can sleep for up to two hours at a time during one of their naps, but don’t worry this is perfectly normal.
The final point we would like to talk about is preventing separation anxiety due to purchasing a puppy during a pandemic! As mentioned earlier, a lot of people are working from home or furloughed so they are at home all day. Although this means your puppy has lots of company, it could lead to separation anxiety when normal activity is resumed and people return to work again, meaning your puppy will be left for longer periods of time.
First of all you need to decide where your puppy will be left on his/her own. Many people have crates for their puppies where as some people will have designated areas such as a utility room. You need to prepare the area the puppy will be left in. If this isn’t their crate, then using stair gates to section off the room is often a good idea instead of shutting a door. It is less scary for the puppy and means they can see more. Put a comfortable bed in the designated area and their favourite toys to play with. It is also advised to have a radio on in the area where your puppy will be left so they have some background noise and company. It may help to put an item of your clothing in their designated area, so they feel secure and comforted.
So how do you train your puppy to be alone when you are still at home? At random points during the day, put your puppy either in their crate or in the designated room with a treat such as a Kong, filled with something yummy to distract them. Put the stair gate across or shut the crate door and leave the room. A few minutes later come back and open the door, allowing the puppy the option to stay in the area or leave. You can then gradually start to increase the length of time that your puppy is left on their own. Once your puppy is happy being left for a while whilst you are in the house, you can then start building it up to short trips out of the house.
When you return, you should greet your puppy in a friendly, calm and predictable manner, even if they have toileted or chewed something when you were out. You shouldn’t punish your puppy on returning to the home. Dogs associate punishment with what is happening at that exact time and so will not link the punishment to what they had done previously to you returning home. By punishing them, you are likely to make them anxious about your return, which consequently could make them carry out negative behaviour such as toileting or chewing something. Remember it’ll take time and patience for your puppy to be fully toilet trained and comfortable whilst being left- just take things gradually and use plenty of rewards!
We hope that the above information will help to settle your new puppy into their new home. If you are struggling with behavioural issues, there are many well respected and qualified dog behaviourists in the area. Make sure you do your research first and make sure they are fully qualified.
Although it may seem like a lot to take in, remember to enjoy your puppy! You now have a new member of the family to love and build a life time of memories with. If you need any advice, then please do call us at the practice and one of the qualified Veterinary Nurses or Veterinary Surgeons will be able to assist you. We will look forward to meeting your new best friends in the not too distant future.
A Miracle Amongst the Mayhem
It’s a funny world for all of us at the moment, a world full of sadness, worry and stress amongst other negative feelings, but also it is a world of peacefulness, kindness, understanding and hope.
Here at Mid Sussex Veterinary Clinic we have seen some changes to the Veterinary World too. Our face to face communication has been taken away, we are no longer allowing anyone to enter our clinic, even the postman isn’t allowed in! We are always at the end of the phone to offer the warm, friendly, caring and personal welcome you and your pets are used too. Any questions, concerns or queries just ask!
We have been informed by our governing body what we can and can’t do whilst we remain open, we are no longer allowed to see your pets for routine appointments such as 6 month checks, nail clips and weight checks. This is hard for us. We like to see you and your pets regularly so that we can pick up on any illnesses or concerns early.
We have learnt to adjust to the new way of working. Your pets are having to come in on their own without you. This just highlights to us how you, our clients appreciate the care we give your pets. The trust you have for us is just amazing and we are grateful for the support you have all given us at this time.
Marie is quickly learning how to diagnose from a photo sent via email or assess the way a pet is walking from a video that has been sent to us. Some of these photos and videos have given us a giggle, pets aren’t the best when it comes to performing when asked!!!
Some dogs are just running into the building with not even a look back at their owner stood in the car park. They run in all happy to see us, have their treatment and run back out again! New puppies and kittens are going to think our uniform of gown, gloves and masks is normal… we do wonder how they are going to react to us when we are dressed ‘normally’ Cats and Rabbits are of course a little easier because they come already contained in a basket! No trying to coax them up the steps!!
Amongst our weird crazy world we have seen what we are calling a miracle…. Lewis is a 10 year old Springer Spaniel who came to see us with a high temperature and just not feeling that great. We x-rayed him to find an abdominal mass most likely to be a splenic tumour. His gums were almost white in colour, not the usual healthy pink that we like to see. The owners had a difficult decision to make, do we try to operate to remove the mass or do we make that awful decision that as pet owners, we all dread. Lewis’s owners decided to go ahead with surgery, knowing that this was very high risk for him, due to his current state of health.
His owners say ‘Our dog Lewis recently underwent emergency surgery at Mid Sussex Vets during the Covid 19 restrictions. We were nervous leaving him at the door but Marie and her team kept us informed on his condition every step of the way and then follow up calls monitoring him once he was home. Even with all the restrictions in place we knew he was getting the best care’
He had a high temperature and pale gums, his breathing pattern wasn’t normal and his heart rate was increased – all these signs make the anaesthetic very high risk, an anaesthetic that the nurses dislike the most.
But unbeknown to us Lewis was a fighter and was not going to give up easily- it was indeed a splenic mass that Marie surgically removed. It had ruptured and was bleeding into his abdomen. His anaesthetic as predicted wasn’t easy, but once the mass had been removed almost immediately, his vital signs became normal again…… we could all breathe a little better, we got over the first stage but we still had a long way to go.
Recovery is often the most crucial time, following surgery some patients can go into shock, but not Lewis!!! We let him recover in the prep room so we could keep a really close eye on him, monitor his blood pressure amongst other parameters… so there he was lying on a padded bed looking stable and peaceful…. We all relaxed a little more…
But Lewis didn’t want to lay around, he was up on his feet and asking to go home!!!
He was discharged later that day, he was a little unsettled at home but Lewis’s owners gave him all the love in the world and he returned to see us a few days later as a completely different dog.
We received this lovely message from his owners:
‘Thank you Mid Sussex Vets for saving his life and giving us more time with our beloved dog’
In this strange and worrying time it’s nice to believe that miracles can happen and we believe Lewis is proof of this.
Take Care Everyone and Stay Safe xx
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Meet Mid Sussex Vets
We are registering new clients almost every day, so we thought it would be a good time to welcome new clients and tell them all about Mid Sussex Vets and give a recap to all our wonderful existing clients about who we are and what we do.
Below is a quick summary of why you should choose Mid Sussex Vets as your veterinary practice of choice. Below this list is an elaboration into each detail.
– Independent Veterinary Clinic.
– Staff longevity.
– Friendly and welcoming staff who are all pet owners themselves. All our staff are very experienced.
– Registered Veterinary Nurses on reception instead of receptionists.
– Large, bright reception area.
– A separate cat waiting area.
– Two spacious consulting rooms.
– An in-house pharmacy- if we don’t not have the desired medication in stock, we can order it to arrive the next day.
– Purpose built operating theatre.
– We can carry out key-hole procedures such as spaying here.
– In-house ultrasound machine and digital x-ray.
– In-house laboratory.
– Separate cat ward and dog kennels.
– An isolation ward.
– Free registration check.
– Free puppy and kitten registration checks.
– Free Puppy socialisation classes.
– Monthly pet care plan.
Mid Sussex Veterinary Clinic has been open and running for 11 years! We are proud to say that we are an independent veterinary clinic– this means that the owner of the practice- Marie Arkell, runs the clinic and works here most days, rather than us being owned by a corporate organisation. Corporate companies often have a huge influence on how the clinic is run and have a big say in most areas of the business.
There are very few independent veterinary clinics left in the South of England, so we are very proud to be one of them. Almost half of the veterinary practices across the UK are now owned by corporate companies and this is expected to rise to almost 70% of practices within the next 5 years!
By being an independent practice, we can run our practice to the highest standard of care and take on board what our clients are looking for in a veterinary clinic. We do not have sales targets to obtain or a quota of tests that need to be run each month; we can put our clients and most importantly our patients first and do what is right for them, case by case.
So, who works here at Mid Sussex Vets?
We have 2 veterinary surgeons and 6 registered veterinary nurses who work here. Unlike in many veterinary practices, all our members of staff are permanent, have all worked here for a long time, are all very experienced and are all pet owners themselves. This means that you really get to know the team and we get to know you very well. We have a very friendly atmosphere here and you will often find our nurses in reception making a fuss of our patients when you walk in! It also means, if you and your pet bond to one particular vet, you can usually always see the same vet.
Who are our vets?
Marie Arkell opened Mid Sussex vets in 2009. She works here 4 days a week and does both consulting and operating. Marie is particularly interested in keyhole surgery- which is something we offer here at Mid Sussex Vets. Marie has a lovely dog called Pip, she is a real golden oldie.
Alison Bennett is our other full time vet. She also works here 4 days a week and does both consulting and operating. Alison started working here in 2017. Her special interest is cardiology and ultrasonography. Alison has a cheeky cat called Eddie.
We also have two fabulous regular locums who cover shifts when required. Both of them have their own pets and are friendly familiar faces here at Mid Sussex Vets.
And who are our nurses?
Wendy Line is our wonderful Head Nurse and Practice Manager. Wendy has been working here for 9 years. Wendy is particularly interested in emergency work. In her spare time she does dog agility- she has 3 dogs- Jax, Mr Twix and Betty and a three legged cat called Lenny.
Michelle Ward is here full time and has worked here since 2016 and has a particular interest in behaviour and training. Michelle competes in scent work competitions and agility competitions with her dogs. Michelle started agility competitions in 1995! Michelle has her hands quite full- she is the proud owner of 9 dogs!!She also runs the puppy socialisation classes we have here.
Cami Jarrett is our other full timer. She has worked here since 2019. She has a special interest in exotic animals. She also helps run the puppy socialisation classes. Cami has a horse called Rupert.
Lottie Newman-smith works here two days a week. She has been working here since 2016. She has a special interest in emergency work and toxicity cases. Lottie has a cat called Kevin.
Claire Kirbyshire works here on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She has been working here since 2018. Claire has a keen interest in behaviour and psychology of pets. She has a pointer called Stanley.
Julie Davies works here two days a week. Julie has been working here since 2016 and has a special interest in laboratory work. She owns a lake with lots of wild ducks on it!
As the business has grown we have been able to increase the number of staff employed here. We are all passionate about our profession and true animal lovers.
Why choose Mid Sussex Vets?
There are so many reasons why you should choose Mid Sussex Vets. Firstly, we have a large car park right out the front! It is stressful enough bringing your pet to the vets, without then struggling to find a parking space.
We have a large, spacious reception/waiting room. This means you have plenty of space and your pets aren’t on top of each other. Some dogs get overwhelmed when they are crammed in a small area with other dogs. We also have a separate cat area, where you can put your cat carrier up out of the way of nosy dogs. We provide blankets you can cover their carrier with and a calming pheromone spray.
At Mid Sussex Vets we don’t have receptionists- all our nurses take turns do doing reception shifts. This means that if you phone up with a query, question, for information or advice, you can be assured that you are getting reliable and knowledgeable information.
We have two spacious consulting rooms and behind them is our pharmacy. We stock a large variety of medications here, however if your pet needs something we don’t have in stock, we can order it and it will be delivered the next day.
We have a purpose built operating theatre. We have a multi-modal parameter machine that measures animal’s blood pressure, carbon dioxide output, oxygen saturation, temperature and ECG which measures the hearts electrical activity. We have a heated operating table, ensuring your animal will be nice and warm during their procedure. We also have our keyhole “tower”. This means that we have a special camera and viewer for carrying out keyhole procedures and we have an adapter so we can use the camera for looking in your pets ears if they have an ear problem. We are hoping to get an endoscope later on this year.
We have a specific x-ray room, which has lead lined walls and digital x-ray. This means we can take accurate x-rays and have a special viewer so we can zoom in or out on the x-rays and also alter the density of the picture, making it clearer to identify any potential problems. We have a portable ultrasound machine, which we use for basic examinations, such as looking at bladders. If you pet needs a specialist ultrasound, we have an external ultrasonographer who comes to Mid Sussex Vets with his own specialist equipment.
We have a separate cat ward for when your cat has to come in for the day. This is a nice quiet room, away from noisy dogs and we have a Feliway pheromone diffuser plugged in at all times. We have a foldable examination table in there, so we can examine and treat your cat in the cat ward, without having to stress them out by moving them from room to room.
We have a large kennel room, with one very large walk in kennel, two medium sized kennels and 3 smaller sized kennels. Attached to the kennels is our final room- the isolation ward. This is where we keep any patients that could be infectious to other animals.
We offer new clients a free registration check when they register with us. This means we can meet and greet you and your pet, weigh your pet and give them a check over and you can discuss any potential problems or worries you may have. We also offer a free puppy or kitten registration checks– we know that have a new kitten or puppy can be an exciting but also a little overwhelming at times, so we can talk through parasite prevention, feeding and diet, socialisation, guidance on insurance and basic behavioural advice.
This takes us nicely on to our Puppy Socialisation Classes– these are run every Tuesday from 1.30-2.30pm and are FREE. These are a 4 week rolling class for puppies that have had their first vaccines and had a check over with one of the Vets here. These classes allow your puppy to socialise with other puppies without having to wait for their second lot of vaccines. In these classes, we mimic a veterinary examination- so we get your puppy use to be checked over in a consult room, without having any nasty needles! We get them to go onto the weighing scales, get them use to going into a strange crate, discuss behaviour and do basic training such as teaching your puppy to sit, lie down and do basic recalls in the reception area.
We also offer a monthly Pet Care Plan. This is a monthly direct debit, which breaks up the cost of your routine veterinary bills. It covers the cost of your pet’s yearly vaccination, a years’ worth of parasite prevention control (flea, tick, lungworm cover etc) a 6 monthly health check (so your pet gets two check overs with a vet a year) and 10% off everything else! This includes 10% off food, treats, toys, procedures and medications.
Thank you for taking your time to read this month’s blog. We hope it has given you a deeper insight into what we do here at Mid Sussex Vets and what we can offer our wonderful clients. If you have any questions at all about anything featured in this blog, please don’t hesitate to call us at the practice on 01444 363636.
What happens out the back…
Have you ever been at the vets with your beloved pet, when the vet mutters the words ‘I’ll take him/her out the back and get the nurse to help me’?
Your heart sinks, you start to worry, do you trust them enough to care for your pet in the correct manner?
This month’s blog hopefully will help you to see what happens ‘out the back’ and how we treat your pet when you are no longer in sight. We will explain why we do this and how so many pets are easier to handle when away from their owner.
The rule doesn’t apply to all pets and actually some of them are much better when their owner is with them! We do try to work with you and your pet to create a stress free visit as possible.
We also see owners that are more than happy to leave their pet with us and sit in reception. This can be for a variety of reasons:
You may have a needle phobia and wish to not be present when the injection is administered to your pet.
You may already know that your pet ‘behaves’ better when you are not in sight.
Teddy a regular patient to Mid Sussex Vets is the perfect example of a dog that behaves better when his owner is not in sight!
Teddy’s owner says ‘ Teddy is now a 8 year old Cockapoo and still a baby. Loves cuddles and 100% attention, hates loud noises and anything that resembles pain (even a leaf that gets stuck to his paw can bring on a meltdown)..they say pets are like their owners?? Teddy has been visiting Mid Sussex since a puppy, having had some complications regarding diet as a youngster. He is part of the family and gets excited when arriving (before it dawns on him that all the great love and attention also has a purpose)’
‘the team know that Teddy cannot have treats, so cuddles are the currency. The personal touch comes though when injections are needed. The team know that extra cuddles causes more anxiety and a firm control “leader of the pack” approach is needed. He now takes these essentials in his stride’
Please don’t be afraid of letting us know in advance of your worries – we can try and help so both you and your pet have a pleasant visit to see us!
If you think about how your pets feels when they are bought in to see us, it doesn’t (hopefully!) happen that often, it’s a not regular trip out of the house! Especially for cats who have probably planned their day already and going to the see the vet was definitely not on the agenda!!
An unusual trip in the car for a pet that is not used to travelling, being met as they walk through the door by other pets, people and unusual smells all adds to increased anxiety. Without actively knowing or showing it, owners can become quite anxious too! By the time you reach the consulting room the levels anxiety have increased and we haven’t even said hi to your pet!!!
Pets have a close bond with you, they read your every thought and feeling, they know when you are worried or upset. They may want to protect you and act in a way that is an unusual behaviour for them.
As a Veterinary Practice with only qualified experienced staff employed we see this all the time. We can see when you or your pet are becoming more anxious, at this point we may ask you to wait in the consulting room or reception and take your pet away from you.
‘Teddy goes into the back for treatment, to save our personal stress and to stop that transmitting to him. He bounds back afterwards like the permanent puppy he is’
Our prep room area is a large room with ample lighting and all the equipment we need to do what is required. It also has a cupboard full of nice tasty treats for those pets that can have them!!
Our animal loving Registered Veterinary Nurses have years of experience of handling all types of pets in a confident manner. When handling animals in a confident way it lowers the animals anxiety and enables us to do what we need to.
Teddy’s owner has complete trust in our team:
‘It’s not great having your pet out of sight and needing treatment, but we are relaxed in knowing that the team are professional and caring and Teddy is in safe hands.’
January 13th 2020
Alabama rot- the story so far
Alabama rot is another term used to describe cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV). It is a relatively new, lethal disease that was once regional but sadly cases have been reported in a number of places in the UK including down here in the South of England.
What is Alabama rot? It is a disease caused by damage to the blood vessels of the skin and kidneys. The disease causes small blood clots to form in the blood vessels, blocking them which can then lead to damage of the affected tissue. When affecting the skin, it causes lesions and ulcerations and unfortunately when it affects the kidneys it can lead to kidney failure.
What causes Alabama rot? Unfortunately nobody knows the cause of this horrible disease, but there any studies being done to try and determine the cause. Scientists believe there could be a link between muddy wet ground and disturbed soil that could lead to the disease due to the cases that have been confirmed.
What can I do to stop my dog from getting Alabama rot? As we do not know the cause of the disease, we recommend washing off any dirty water and mud from your dog’s legs and paws after a walk. It has still not been confirmed that it is environmental causes that lead to the disease, but it seems likely.
Where have there been confirmed cases of Alabama rot? Vets4pets have put together the map below, highlighting where the confirmed cases are.
What signs shall I look out for? Check your dog for skin lesions and ulcerations. They have often been found on the limbs of dogs, however they have been found on the body and the face of dogs. You may also notice redness and swelling of the skin. It is important to remember that the majority of skin lesions are not Alabama rot, however because of the uncertainty of the disease, if you are at all worried, it is best to bring your dog to us to be examined.
Dogs can also develop lethargy, vomiting, anorexia which often coincides with the beginnings of kidney failure. We therefore recommend if you are at all worried, that we take a blood test to monitor their kidney function. Sadly, the kidney failure happens rapidly and can be lethal.
How is Alabama rot treated? If the disease has caused skin lesions, then the vet will prescribe the correct medication, whether that be antibiotics or pain relief. In some cases, the lesions will need to be dressed. If suspected kidney failure has occurred, your dog will need very intensive management and may be referred to Anderson Moore’s veterinary specialists.
Research: There are a number of research projects running to help identify and manage the disease.
The Alabama Rot Research Fund (ARRF) is a National charity aiming to raise awareness and funds for Alabama Rot (CRGV) research:
December 4th 2019
Tis the season for toxic treats!!!
Christmas is now fast approaching and we are all getting into the Christmas spirit. It is a time for togetherness, family and friends, presents and gifts and lots of delicious food and treats. Your dog is very much part of the family and likes to be involved with the festivities, however some of your Christmas treats are in fact toxic to our canine companions.
We have decided to put together two case studies for this month’s blog. Both Murphy and Huxley are patients with us at Mid Sussex Vets and have already helped themselves to some treats that are toxic! Read on below to find out more and to learn about what needs to be done in these situations.
*WARNING- GRAPHIC IMAGE ATTACHED, DO NOT READ WHEN EATING YOUR DINNER!*
First on the naughty list- Murphy
Theobromine (Chocolate) Toxicity
Murphy is a lovely, young, bouncy cavachon who decided to raid his owner’s handbag when she wasn’t looking and helped himself to a delicious bar of Green and Blacks dark chocolate! Murphy clearly has expensive taste.
Fortunately his owner noticed quickly and phoned us straight away. Chocolate is toxic to dogs due to theobromine which is present in chocolate. There are higher levels of theobromine in dark chocolate compared to milk chocolate. It is important to let us know what type of chocolate and how much was eaten. The dose rate that needs to be treated is 3.5g/kg or higher of dark chocolate eaten or 14g/kg or more of milk chocolate eaten. By telling us how much was eaten and what type, we can calculate severity of theobromine toxicity and act quickly and correctly.
Chocolate toxicity can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, lethargy, panting, hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors, convulsions and seizures.
It is important in any potential toxicity cases to act fast. Once Murphy’s owner had phoned us, she brought him straight down to the clinic where we had everything waiting for him. The first port of call is to induce emesis (vomiting) as this will empty the stomach of the chocolate and prevent further absorption- it is not the nicest thing to do but it is vital in reducing the potential damage caused by the toxin.
Once Murphy’s owner had signed an admission form, we were able to take Murphy through to the treatment room and give him a special injection (apomorphine) which induced vomiting. This isn’t the most glamorous part of our job here- as you can see from the photo below, nurse Cami had to hold back Murphy’s ears whilst he was sick and try and aim it onto the incontinence pads! You can see from the colour of the vomit, just how much chocolate Murphy had eaten!
*WARNING, GRAPHIC IMAGE BELOW!*
Once Murphy had stopped vomiting and had lots of cuddles and fuss, he was reunited with his owner. We then dispensed activated charcoal for Murphy to go home with, to start in an hours’ time. It is pre made up in a bottle and he is to have 4 doses either syringed directly into his mouth, or mixed in with his food over a 24 hour period. The activated charcoal has special absorption properties that stop the toxins being absorbed into the blood stream. Once the charcoal has made its way through the intestines, it’ll cause the faeces to turn black.
Murphy’s owner called the next day to say he was back to his normal bouncy self!
Hopefully Murphy has now decided expensive chocolate isn’t his favourite snack!
Next on our Naughty list is- Huxley
Huxley is a lovely, male brindle whippet who is 6 years 7months old and has acquired a taste for raisins! Huxley has come in twice over the past two months due to his love of raisins.
Fortunately the owners knew that raisins are toxic for dogs. Unlike with chocolate toxicity, there is no known dose rate for toxic levels when ingesting raisins- this means that one dog could eat a handful of raisins and be absolutely fine and another dog could eat just a couple and develop renal failure. This is the same as grape ingestion in dogs.
Raisin toxicity is different from chocolate toxicity. Clinical signs can develop between 6-24 hours post ingestion. These are vomiting and diarrhoea, hyper salivation, vomit with blood present, blood in the faeces, anorexia, weakness, lethargy and sadly in some cases acute renal failure (kidney failure.)
The first time Huxley came to us, he had eaten some raisin wheat cereal- the quantity was unknown and it wasn’t brought to the owners’ attention straight away. Once the owners found out about this, they did the right thing and called us and then brought Huxley straight down to the clinic.
Once Huxley was admitted for the treatment of raisin toxicity, he was given the same injection as Murphy to make him vomit. Once poor Huxley had been made to vomit, we then had to put Huxley onto a drip. The reason for this is that raisin toxicity can lead to renal failure, so it is vital to put the patient onto a high rate of fluids to flush the kidneys out, minimising any damage that could be caused. A blood test was taken to check his kidney function and a follow up one was take 72 hours later to check for any damage- fortunately for Huxley his kidneys were safe! He was also given activated charcoal to absorb any toxins that are in his gastrointestinal system. It is recommended that in cases of raisin toxicity, dogs are to receive 48 hours of intravenous fluids, so Huxley was then transported to our out of hours emergency centre to continue his treatment.
Huxley recovered well and was back to normal. Last week, Huxley made a reappearance at Mid Sussex Vets due to getting his nose into more raisins! This time the owners were there and brought him straight down to us.
As he was brought down straight away, we induced vomiting again (poor Huxley!) and he was put onto a drip for the day at a high rate. We were happy to send him home that evening and to have repeat kidney bloods taken in 72 hours’ time. Luckily again, Huxley’s kidneys were fine and he was back to his normal, lovely self. Raisins have now been well and truly banned from their household, so no mince pies this Christmas!
As much as we love Huxley, we hope to not be seeing him back again anytime soon for eating things he shouldn’t!
Here is a list of toxic/ dangerous treats to be avoided this Christmas:
- Raisins (mince pies and Christmas pudding)
- Tinsel (some cats decide they would like to twinkle inside and out and try to eat tinsel! This can lead to an intestinal blockage which often requires emergency surgery.)
- Cooked bones (these can splinter when ingested, causing internal damage and often require emergency surgery. They can also cause pancreatitis.
- Xylitol (artificial sweetener, often found in sweets, chewing gum and toothpaste.)
- Poinsettia plants
- Holly berries
IF YOUR PET EATS SOMETHING AND YOU ARE UNSURE IF IT IS TOXIC PLEASE CALL US AT THE CLINIC OR CONTACT THE ANIMAL POISON LINE
HAVE A TERRIFIC TOXIC FREE CHRISTMAS!!
November 7th 2019
LOOKING AFTER YOUR OAP (OLD AGE PUSS!)
The life span of a cat can vary from individual to individual, with the average age being 12-14, but some cats live well into their late teens or even early twenties! A cat is considered to be senior in age once they reach 10 years old. As with humans, when your cat reaches its golden years, they can begin to develop a few health problems- so what are these potential health problems and what signs should you be looking for?
Weight loss- Weight loss can be caused by a number of things. It could be gradual or quite sudden. It is important to keep an eye on your cat’s weight and to bring them in to see us if you think they have lost some. If you are unsure if your cat has lost weight, the nurses will happily weigh your cat for free if you don’t want to book an appointment with the vet right away.
Conditions that can cause weight loss are kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, dental disease or hypertension.
High blood pressure/ hypertension- As cats get older they become more susceptible to developing high blood pressure. Clinical signs you may notice are weight loss, an increase in appetite, hyperactivity, depression, lethargy and sudden onset blindness. If you suspect your cat may be developing high blood pressure, we can take blood pressure readings here at the practice. If your cat does develop high blood pressure, we can prescribe them medication to keep the blood pressure at a normal level.
Polydipsia and polyuria– This is also known as an increase in thirst and an increase in urine output. These often go hand in hand. If you suspect your cat is drinking more, it is useful for you to put a measured amount of water in their water bowl and record how much is drunk over a 24 hour period. If you suspect your cat is urinating more, we can obtain a urine sample and run a test in house to measure the urine concentration.
Conditions that can lead to polydipsia and polyuria are kidney disease or diabetes.
Arthritis- You may notice that your cat becomes reluctant to jump onto things such as your bed, the window ledge, the kitchen work top etc. They may wake up in the morning and appear to be stiff and slower than usual and then pick up during the day. These could be signs of arthritis. There are joint supplements that can help reduce the side effects of arthritis and if your cat needs prescription pain relief, we can prescribe that for them.
Long, thick, claws- As cats get older, their claws can become thicker and due to your cat being less active, their claws can grow longer and sometimes grow round, right into their pads. They may start getting stuck onto furniture or your clothing and if the claw has grown right round, you may notice them limping or licking their paw a lot. The nurses here are able to cut your cats nail for your and if your cat gets particularly stressed coming into the vets, they can show you how to cut the nails so you can buy a pair of nail clippers and clip them at home.
Poor coat condition- You may notice that your elderly cat’s coat condition changes- it can become matted, dull and dandruff may develop. Some cats become stiff in their old age and therefore find it uncomfortable or in some cases painful to groom around their back end. This can then lead to matted fur and dandruff. It is advisable to groom your cat if they are unable to, which will prevent the matts and increase the blood circulation, reducing the dandruff. In some cases they may not tolerate you grooming them or the fur may become too matted to brush out- in this case we can book in a time slot to de-matt your cat using clippers. Occasionally we are unable to do this consciously, so we have to book them in to have a light sedation so we can fully de-matt the fur.
Dental disease- As cats get older, they can start to develop dental disease. This is due to a build-up of plaque which then leads to tartar, causing the tooth to become diseased. Cats are very stoic animals and often don’t show when they are pain so it is hard to identify dental disease. Signs to look out for are that they become picky eaters, often picking up biscuits and then dropping them again. They may go off their food entirely in some cases and you may notice them salivating. They often develop halitosis with dental disease. If you notice any of these signs, it is worth bringing your cat in for a dental check. If they do have dental disease, they often require a general anaesthetic to scale and polish the teeth and in some cases extractions are required. Owners can be reluctant to put an elderly cat through an anaesthetic, but all precautions will be in place to minimise any anaesthetic risk. We advise for cats over the age of 9 to have pre anaesthetic bloods before any anaesthetic to check their kidney and liver function and we have them on intravenous fluids as well as being monitored for their blood pressure, heart rate, anaesthetic depth etc throughout.
Hopefully now you know the signs to look out for, you can prevent or control any condition that may arise in your cats senior years. Elderly cats are still full of life and can provide you with excellent companionship and cuddles!
October 7th 2019
Shoctober- Don’t let fireworks appear with a bang.
Summer is well and truly over and with the colder, darker nights drawing in, we need to think ahead to the upcoming festivities such as bonfire processions, firework displays and New Year’s Eve celebrations.
For many animals, fireworks are very much a phobia so we have put together some handy tips to keep your pet as stress free as possible this firework season.
It has been shown that 40% of dogs have a firework phobia- so what can you do?
Prior to firework season
Noise phobia CDs– Many places online such as Amazon, stock firework phobia training CDs. They come with a full list of instructions but in order for them to be as effective as possible, it is best to start using them a few weeks in advance before firework season starts. They have firework sounds recorded on them and you start by playing the CDs very quietly in the background whilst you are playing with your dog and doing nice things with them so they learn to ignore the sounds. You slowly build up the volume of the CD over a number of weeks, until they are played at full volume without any reaction from your dog.
Thundershirts– These are anti-anxiety vests for both dogs and cats. They work by providing a gentle, constant pressure which provides a calming effect. It has been shown that over 80% of dogs respond to the thunder shirts. They have been proven to be effective against generalised anxiety, fireworks, fear of thunderstorms and separation anxiety. Like with the noise phobia CDs, we recommend you get your dog or cat use to wearing the shirts before the desired effect – ideally a couple of weeks before hand. On the day that the fireworks are due, put the thundershirts on your pet when they are nice and relaxed in the afternoon.
Check your microchip details are up to date- October is a good time to check that your pet’s microchip details and up to date and that they are wearing a collar with an ID tag on. Whilst we hope no pet will escape or run away when startled by a firework, it is essential to check that your pet can be tracked if found if they do manage to get loose.
Purchase calming supplements or pheromone diffuser- Here at Mid Sussex vets, we stock Nutracalm capsules. These capsules are made of natural products which help reduce stress levels, calm behaviour, are fast acting, have an anti-sedative effect and can be used in dogs and cats. The capsules are easy to administer- either whole wrapped in something yummy, or opened and sprinkled directly onto food. They are to be given 1-2 hours before the desired effect. We also stock Pheromone Diffusers which can reduce anxiety by releasing a natural scent into the environment. These should be plugged in before firework season, ideally by mid October.
Before the fireworks
Walk your dog before dusk- This should hopefully mean there is no risk of a firework going off during your walk.
Ensure your garden is secure- Make sure the garden is fully secure and the gate is closed. You may let your dog out for a bed time toilet break and then a firework may go off!
Feed your pet in the afternoon- Some animals may become too anxious to eat once the fireworks have started. They may also become nauseous during the fireworks, so best to feed well before this happens.
Top up their water bowls- Anxious dogs and cats may have a tendency to drink more during periods of stress.
Close all windows and lock cat flaps- It is best to bring your cat inside before the fireworks start. Make sure all windows and doors are closed including the cat flap so they don’t try and run away in a panic.
Bring any small furries inside- Don’t forget rabbits and guinea pigs! Fireworks can be equally stressful for them, so it is best to bring them inside. It is best to cover their cage/hutch with a big towel so they cannot see any flashes from the fireworks. Provide them lots of places to hide in their hutch as well.
Make a safe den- Make a safe space for your dog or cat. Often they like to have a covered area with towels or blankets so they can hide. You can put their favourite bed and toys in there for them.
During the fireworks
Turn on the radio or television- By having a radio or the television on loudly, it distracts your pet and minimises the sounds of the fireworks.
Act natural- Carry on as you would do normally. If you react different or anxiously, your pet will pick up on it and it will make them even more worried that something is going to happen. Positivity is key!
Reward- Reward your pet for calm behaviour with treats or toys.
Never tell your dog off- Telling your dog off will only make them more distressed.
Allow your pet to hide- If you pet wants to go and hide, then allow them to. If they come to you for comfort, give them lots of attention and fuss.
We hope you find these tips helpful and if you have any further questions or would like some more in depth advice, please give us a call.
Hope you all have a restful Firework Season!
September 3rd 2019
Losing a pet……It’s hard to say goodbye…
As a pet owner we all have to eventually say goodbye to a much loved pet and companion. This is the hardest part of owning a pet, they have been there for you through life’s ups and downs, when you are upset they offer comfort and make you smile, when you are happy they are happy with you!
For us working in the Veterinary Profession we see the whole time scale from the tiny puppy or kitten just starting out in the world to the oldest pets that have had a wonderful life where they have been cared for and loved.
We are also pet owners, as well as your Vet or Veterinary Nurse, when the time comes to say goodbye we can relate to what you are feeling and thinking. We try to make this time as peaceful as we can, whether at home or at the clinic. We are happy to discuss your needs for this final goodbye.
This is a difficult subject to approach but we thought it was an important one that all pet owners can relate to.
In this month’s Blog one of our Veterinary Nurses tells her own story of saying goodbye…..
Hattie was one of ‘those’ dogs, when I picked her up she was mine, she knew she was mine, she followed me everywhere! When she grew up she was everybody’s friend, drawing them in with those gorgeous eyes. She always came to work with me, travelling to London on the train, then living at a practice, eventually she came to work with me at Mid Sussex Vets!! We did agility together; we went to the pub, friend’s houses and if I was there Hattie was there right by my side! She followed me round the house, standing in the way, laying behind me in the kitchen so I had to avoid tripping over her every time I moved!
She had a few funny turns at the age of 12 followed by two vestibular attacks, each time I prepared myself for what might be but she recovered, back to walking with my other dogs, running about and getting in the way! She was truly amazing and obviously wanted to enjoy every second of life.
Unfortunately she eventually had a tumour which Marie removed, she recovered! It came back and we removed it again but this time it had spread. I knew the time was near, she wasn’t eating much (she ended up eating what I had for dinner most nights!) but in my eyes she was still happy and had a good quality of life. Walking with my other dogs, greeting me as normal, she seemed happy.
Then one evening she vomited liquid and the small amount of food I’d been trying to get her to eat. She looked at me and I knew she was telling me to say goodbye. So we had one final night together followed by a nice walk in the sunshine. She was put to sleep at home, where she belonged.
She was 16 when the time came to say goodbye. That’s such a long time to have a pet for, she was in my heart where she will stay forever and it was very hard to say goodbye.
When she had gone, even with two other dogs, my house felt empty, I missed her everyday and still do. But I know in my heart that the correct decision was made at the right time for both of us. For me reaching the decision was the hardest part, once I’d made it I felt relieved, I owed her that decision for all the amazing years she gave me.
Once the decision has been made, you’ve said goodbye, the only question that remains is what happens to your pet afterwards…
People have different feelings on this and you have to do what is right for you.
Some people opt to bury their beloved pet at home; others request that they are cremated.
We use a lovely Pet Crematorium in Surrey.
The staff at Mid Sussex Vets have all visited the crematorium, although not a nice thing to do, it was important to us to know that your pet was cared for as well after death as before.
You can either have your pet cremated with others and the ashes are buried at the crematorium in the garden of remembrance or they can be cremated individually and their ashes returned to you.
The garden of remembrance is open to the public to visit.
For ‘Hattie’ I opted for an individual cremation and her ashes returned in a heart shaped urn. I have this in my garden at home with a shrub I have planted in her memory.
Whatever you decide to do is very personal to the individual person. We as a Veterinary Practice and the staff at the Crematorium understand this so will help you with whatever option you decide.
If you are a pet owner who is going through this at the moment, recently gone through it or are still struggling with your loss, we are here for you. There is also help available from the following websites:
August 7th 2019
Blue-Green Algae – A Real Threat?
Summer is here and what better way to enjoy the sunny weather than by going for walks with your dog and letting them have a cool down in water? However, there could be a hidden danger that is lurking on the surface that you should be aware of. Blue-green algae can be found in water and may have serious consequences if your dog comes into contact with it. Are you aware of the risks of blue-green algae and how to avoid it?
What is Blue-Green Algae?
Blue-green algae is also known as cyanobacteria, which is a type of bacteria, that when present in water may show a blue or green colour. Though it is worth knowing that blue-green algae can be present even in clear water so the colour of the water cannot be used to determine whether water is safe for your pet.
There are many different species of blue-green algae and most of them do not produce toxins. The species of blue-green algae that will cause your dog to become ill are the ones that do produce toxins and only a small amount of toxin needs to be ingested to cause a problem. In a single water source there can be a mix of both non-toxin producing and toxin producing species growing together. The only way to know which species of blue-green algae is present is to test the water.
Where is Blue-Green Algae found?
Blue-green algae can be found across the UK in any fresh water source, though it is more common in still water, such as ponds. It grows well when there it less rainfall and when the weather is hot, so it is common from the end of spring and throughout summer. If the right nutrients are present in the water and the conditions are favourable, then it can grow quickly and form ‘blooms,’ where the bacteria collects in groups throughout the water. Blue-green algae is found in its highest concentration around the edge of the water, so animals can easily come into contact with it if drinking from the water and your dog does not necessarily need to swim in the water to be in danger.
What will happen If my dog comes into contact with it?
If your dog ingests the blue-green algae toxin then signs of illness usually start quickly, within 1 hour of exposure. However, signs can sometimes start after just 15 minutes. An affected dog will need urgent veterinary treatment and we would recommend bringing your dog in to the practice immediately so one of our vets can provide treatment. If you are on holiday when this happens then they should be taken to the nearest vets for emergency treatment.
The effects that the blue-green algae toxin has on your dog depends on which species they have come into contact with. Some of the toxins produced affect the liver and can go on to cause liver failure, while other toxins affect the nervous system and can cause seizures. Common signs that you may see include;
Vomiting and diarrhoea
What treatment will my dog be given?
Once you have brought your dog into us, one of our vets will assess your pet. There are a range of treatments that the vet may try, depending on the signs that they are showing, including;
Making your dog vomit
Giving activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of the toxin
Washing your dogs coat to prevent any further ingestion of toxins
Performing blood tests
Giving your dog fluids
Treating any signs of seizures
Unfortunately, if your dog is suffering from blue-green algae toxicity then the prognosis is poor and it can rapidly become fatal.
How can I avoid Blue-Green Algae?
If there are areas of water that you suspect may contain blue-green algae then it safest to avoid them and to be careful that your dog does not come into contact with this water, either by swimming or drinking the water. It may mean that you need to keep your dog on a lead to prevent them from accessing the water.
When out walking, take notice of any signs that tell you that there is blue-green algae in surrounding water. Social media and local news articles may also tell you of any areas of water that have tested positive to blue-green algae.
To avoid your dog drinking from water that may be contaminated with blue-green algae, we would advise taking fresh water out with you so always have something safe for your dog to drink. If your dog is a keen swimmer, then we would advise keeping your dog on a lead in areas where they may be likely to go for a swim if you are unsure of the water status. If your dog has been for a swim, it would be sensible to wash your dog afterwards, as blue-green algae can also get on to the coat of your dog and washing will prevent them from ingesting anything through grooming.
The Threat of Blue-Green Algae
Blue-green algae can be a real threat to many animals, though it is most commonly a risk to dogs with their inquisitive nature and love for water. The potentially fatal consequences resulting from your pet coming into contact with this toxin mean it is not worth taking the risk of letting your dog swim if you are unsure whether the water is safe.
If you have any questions about blue-green algae, or are suspicious that you walk your dog in area with this toxin, then contact us for further information and one of our team will be happy to answer your questions.
July 1st 2019
STICKY SITUATIONS AND HOW TO AVOID THEM!
While many dogs love chewing and playing fetch with a stick, injuries from sticks are fairly common, can cause lots of complications and in some cases can be fatal.
So how can a simple stick harm my dog?
A solid bit of stick can get wedged across the roof of the mouth, between the upper teeth. This can be distressing for your dog and you may find them pawing at their mouth. Occasionally the stick could be removed consciously, but it is generally advised to remove the stick via sedation or anaesthetic.
A dog running at speed to catch a stick may misjudge the distance and fall onto it. The stick could potentially penetrate the skin in the mouth, neck or throat which often needs surgical intervention. You can also get complications of splinters and broken off fragments of wood.
Stabbed in the chest
In some cases the stick can unfortunately penetrate the chest area, ending up alongside the rib cage or into the armpit area. In some cases it can end up in the chest cavity where the lungs, heart and major blood vessels. In these cases, surgery is always required and can be very challenging.
What signs shall I look out for?
Often dogs will paw at their mouth if something is stuck or cough/ wretch. They may have difficulty swallowing, be salivating, become lethargic and have an area of swelling. If the stick has caused an infection they often develop a fever as well and become inappetant.
What shall I do if I think my dog may have a stick injury?
If you can see the stick protruding DO NOT REMOVE IT. Although this is often our first instinct, this can cause further damage and will cause haemorrhage. Phone us and bring your dog to us straight away.
If you suspect a stick injury, please make an appointment to see us. In some cases, sedation is required to properly asses the area and any damage that is caused and it will be necessary to flush the area out and provide anti biotics and pain relief. In less severe cases, your dog may be treated medically once assessed.
But my dog loves playing with sticks
There are plenty of dog friendly toys out there for your pooch to play with. Some companies even make stick shaped toys! When going out for a walk, make sure to bring a couple of toys with you for your dog to play with- they can be used to tempt them away from pesky sticks and a lot of fun for your dog.
Here is Kyan playing with a
THANK YOU FOR READING OUR JULY BLOG STARRING JAX, POPPY, PEGGY AND KYAN!!
June 5th 2019
All about Rabbits!
10 top tips for a healthy rabbit
Are you a rabbit owner? or considering getting a rabbit as a pet? Here are our top 10 tips for keeping your rabbit happy and healthy
- A touch of luxury. We now know that a hutch is not enough, a rabbit needs space to run, play, sleep, eat and toilet. This cannot be achieved in the smaller, traditional enclosures. Size really does matter and the RSPCA suggest that for a pair of rabbits, an enclosure must be at least three metres in length and a metre wide. The sleeping area must be at least one metre square too, and the whole thing should be bigger for larger groups. Providing enough headroom is vital too because rabbits will also need to stand on their hind legs. For the health of both their mind and their body, we must encourage them to carry out as much natural behaviour as possible and exercising naturally forms part of this. It’s interesting to consider how different winter is for the domestic rabbits compared to the wild rabbit who burrow down below the permafrost. They sleep in proximity to other rabbits for body heat. It is likely that in winter you’ll need to bring your rabbit out of draughts and the cold, into the warm, whilst ensuring they still get plenty of exercise on a daily basis.
- Rabbits can hide their true feelings. As prey animals, rabbits will often mask when they are in pain so as not to appear weak and vulnerable. They will often hide their true state for long periods until they are very unwell and unable to do so anymore. It’s important to keep this in mind if you think your rabbit has suffered an injury or is showing other physical signs of illness. If you’re ever in doubt, our team are always here to advise you!
- Your rabbit needs a social life. Think about it; rabbits don’t live alone in the wild and their domesticated counterparts aren’t all that different from them, they like a companion too. They become quite depressed on their own and are usually visibly unhappy, if you know what signs to look out for. Rabbits need rabbits rather than pets of other species. Traditionally for example, Guinea pigs have been thought to make good companions. But a rabbit needs a friend of their own kind, who speaks their own language, albeit body language. Not just any friend will do either, it is important to make the right fit. If you’re introducing a new rabbit please ask us for advice and remember it is sensible to introduce them through a fence first to observe for signs of hostility. After all, the only thing worse than no friends is the wrong friend. To avoid your rabbits ‘creating’ their own colony for company, it goes without saying that you must consider the sexes of the rabbits you intend to house together. If you have one of each, then at least one of them will need to be neutered. It is also worth talking to us about same-sex pairs being neutered too as they might get along better with fewer hormones flying around.
- Stimulate their minds. Rabbits are intelligent creatures and their world can be relatively small when you consider that they only have their enclosure to roam. So it’s down to you to provide environmental enrichment to keep their mind occupied. Toys and obstacles in their cage are a classic and easy intervention. Scattering food to mimic foraging requirement will keep them busy far longer compared to providing food in a neat bowl. Go one step further and hide their food in treat balls or homemade equivalents such as toilet roll tubes. You can indeed teach an old rabbit new tricks, it’s amazing what they can learn. Perform and reward is always the best way to achieve these things so why not research online to what other people have trained their rabbits to do.
- Remember their three a day. Diet can make or break the health of a rabbit and it’s vital to get it right. We do not recommend the mixed muesli type foods due to them allowing selective feeding, which means that a rabbit can pick out the tasty, sweet elements and leave the healthy bits of these flaked diets. For the health of the gut and a rabbit’s continuously growing teeth, hay and grass should be the majority of a rabbit’s diet with a hay-based pellet food also available. Because variety is the spice of life, along with the hay and pellets, adding in a handful of veg per bunny each day will provide all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients required keep them well. There are a surprising number of vegetables safe to rabbits so you can mix this up each day to keep their interest.
- Protect from harmful disease. There are some nasties out there that your rabbits are at risk from which can cause great suffering. The main three are myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease strains 1 and 2. All of these diseases usually result in death and all can be vaccinated against.
- Parasite prevention. Rabbits have their very own species of flea (Spilopsyllus cuniculi) but are also susceptible to cat and dog fleas as well so it’s important to treat your rabbit and the environment if your rabbit picks up these itchy parasites. The most common mite, known as ‘walking dandruff ’, can appear on a rabbits back and normally looks like white, scruffy skin. These mites, along with biting lice which are visible to the naked eye, can be a sign of something more serious going on with your rabbit that has left them run down and susceptible to parasites. If you notice any of these parasites or others, be sure to contact us!
- Examination nose to tail. In order to keep your rabbit in tip-top shape, home health checks should be on the agenda. Start at the nose and work your way through the mouth, eyes, ears, feet, skin and coat, and bottom, letting us know about anything untoward and unusual. In warner weather, it’s even more important to check around your rabbits’ bottom twice daily. If your rabbit it unable to groom this area for any reason, flies can quickly move in and cause flystrike in our rabbit friends. This is an urgent and often fatal condition, so prevention is important. Not only is this the gold standard of home healthcare, you’ll also be delighted to see how your rabbit becomes more comfortable being handled and how your friendship will blossom.
- Microchip your rabbit. If your rabbit should escape their enclosure, the easiest and most reliable way of ensuring they are returned home safe to you is to microchip them! If they should become injured during the escape, getting in touch with you quickly is an important step in the treatment process.
- Insurance for assurance. By following these tips, your rabbit has a drastically reduced risk of developing preventable diseases and conditions. However, unexpected accidents can still happen and by having your rabbit insured, you can have peace of mind that your rabbit can receive the best treatment without any limitations. With people more likely to claim on their pet insurance than on their car or home insurance, it’s certainly an investment worth considering!
We hope you have enjoyed reading our Blog all about Rabbits!!!
May 2nd 2019
Have you ever wondered which laws are involved regarding veterinary medications, who can prescribe them and who is allowed to supply them? There are some very strict legal limitations that’s vets have to abide by in order to supply them and how frequently they can be dispensed. Please read on to find out about these legal constraints.
Who can prescribe what?
Animal medicines are divided into five major categories- POM-V, NFA-VPS, POM-VPS, AVM-GSL and SAES. POM-V drugs are prescription only and can only be prescribed by a vet. When we talk about “prescription medicines” this is what we mean. Examples of this would include most painkillers and all antibiotics. Before a vet is able to prescribe any prescription medications, the patient must be under their care and the patient must have had a clinical assessment done within 6 months of the medication being prescribed.This also applies to any repeat medications or medications for a new condition. A POM-V medication can only be supplied by a vet or pharmacist although the medication can be dispensed by a veterinary nurse once it has been approved.
Often clients ask why you can buy some medications i.e flea and worm treatments, in places such as supermarkets. These medications fall under the category of AVM-GSL, which means they have no controls over who can buy and sell them and are not as effective as the POM-V medications.
Why cant I just have human products, which do the same thing?
Unlike human doctors, who are encouraged to prescribe cheaper generic products, it is in fact illegal for a vet to prescribe a human medication if there is a veterinary alternative. This is a system called the cascade, which means that a vet is legally obliged to first use a medicine licenced for that disease in that species (e.g. a cat medicine for the use in cats). If there isn’t a licenced medication for that particular case, they can use medicine for a different species or similar disease condition. If there isn’t an alternative then human medication can be used.
While it is legal to use the cascade to avoid allergies or multi-resistant bacteria developing, we are not permitted to use it on the basis of cost. One of the easiest ways for a vet to get struck off the veterinary register is by breaching medicine laws.
Why do I have to keep seeing the vet even if nothing is changed?
For prescription only medicines, the animal must be directly under our care, which means it has to have been seen within 6 months. If a patient hasn’t been seen within 6 months, we are not permitted to prescribe repeat prescriptions.
Why is it cheaper to buy medicines online?
There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, we are unable to bulk buy medications in the same way that online pharmacies can- manufacturers are able to offer bulk discounts to the online pharmacies that are able to stock for example £100,000 worth of flea products. Secondly, an online pharmacy has much lower overheads than we do- all they need is a warehouse, a vet or pharmacist and people to package the medications up. Often online pharmacies will sell medication at less than market value to attract clients, who will then go on to purchase other products from them at the market value. At a veterinary practice, we have equipment to pay for and maintain, our fantastic members of staff, electricity to pay for and of course our expertise. By buying your medication from us, we know you and your animal, we are able to answer any questions you may have regarding the medications and the length of time your animal needs to take it and of course we can provide your animal with the love and fuss and even the treat that they deserve.
Want to learn more?
The main legislation controlling veterinary medicines is the Veterinary Medicines Regulations. There is also some good material from the regulator- the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
April 9th 2019
Imagine you are constantly alert in case you are being hunted. You rely on your sense of smell and your keen ears. Your territory is your safe space, and you know everything in it- every little change could indicate a predator. Now imagine somebody picking you up and taking away those comforting smells and bombarding you with new noises. They take you to a room full of potential predators, but you can’t get away- you’re trapped in a small box.
It’s easy to see why vet visits can be stressful for cats. They’re much less used to travel than dogs and, as prey species, would prefer to stay in a familiar and safe environment. But there are things we can do to make the visit more comfortable for them, and we’ve recently completed some changes to the practice to help us become more feline friendly.
Next time you come for a visit, you’ll see our ‘Kitty Corner’. This is a cat-only waiting area, so please feel free to use this to wait with your cat- they’ll find it more comfortable if they’re away from the dogs. Cats prefer to be up high, especially in a scary situation, so we have added ‘cat parking’ shelves; simply place your carrier on the shelf and cover with one of the towels or blankets provided. We also ask our dog-owning clients to respect the cat-only waiting area and try to keep their dogs from upsetting our feline friends.
There is also a bottle of Feliway spray provided. Feliway is a synthetic copy of the pheromone that cats leave behind when they rub their faces on objects. It says ‘this is part of my safe space’, so can help cats relax. We recommend that you spray a little of the Feliway spray on the towels provided before placing them over the carriers. You can also spray the carrier directly to make it feel safer.
We know hospitalisation can be stressful- for you and for your cat- so we’ve also completed our cat-only ward to keep stress levels to a minimum. This new ward is out of sight (and smell) of the dogs, and the kennels are placed so that cats cannot see each other either. Cats are provided with a bed and a blanket that they can hide under if they wish. For very scared cats, the kennels are big enough that their carrier can go into the kennel with them. Sometimes this little bit of home is just what they need, especially as it makes such a good hiding place!
The cat ward has a Feliway diffuser plugged in at all times (so the whole ward smells ‘safe’) and also has an examination table so that cats don’t have to be transported to the busy prep room for every examination. Our vets and nurses have been trained in feline-friendly handling techniques, including using towels to allow cats to ‘hide’ whilst the examination is taking place. If your cat is looking a little stressed we change approach to make them more comfortable, where possible. We’re doing everything we can to make this experience as nice as possible for your cat, but there are a few things you can do at home to help as well.
- Please make sure your cat has a secure carrier in good condition.
- We recommend carriers that can be taken apart to allow access to a cat that is reluctant to come out- it’s far kinder to examine them in the carrier than pull them out through a small door.
- Your cat should have access to the carrier at home so that it becomes a ‘normal’ part of daily life. Cats can be fed in the carrier, or a nice cosy bed can be placed in there- anything to make the carrier less frightening.
- Spraying the carrier with Feliway spray will help it to blend in to your cat’s surroundings.
- When a visit to see us is necessary, we recommend placing something that smells of home- such as an old t-shirt or a blanket in the carrier with your cat. This will help them to feel safe.
- A towel or blanket should be placed over the carrier so that the cat feels safely hidden.
- Don’t forget to spray the carrier with Feliway at least 30 minutes before travel so that it has time to reach full effect before you load your cat.
- When you arrive at the clinic find a quiet space in our kitty corner to place your cat.
We look forward to seeing you and showing off our lovely new facilities. In the meantime, if you have any questions about feline-friendly handling or how to make visiting the vet more comfortable for your cat then please give the clinic a call and we will do our best to help.
March 4th 2019
The Trouble with Ticks
The trouble with ticks is that, until recently, they haven’t been that much trouble. Fleas have been top of our anti-parasite agenda for years, but now, partly due to climate change, ticks finally deserve a bit of extra attention.
With the results of the Big Tick Project showing our area as high risk for ticks, we have made the decision to add tick prevention to our pet health care plan. But what are ticks and should you be worried?
What is a tick?
Ticks are small parasitic arachnids – they have eight legs – that feed on the blood of mammals. Once hatched, a tick’s life cycle is simple. They jump onto a mammal, bite, and fix there for a couple of days whilst feeding on the mammal’s blood. Once they’re full they drop off, hide in the undergrowth and go through a moult – essentially growing a larger shell – before repeating the process. Once they are adults the ticks mate, then the female falls off and lays her eggs in the grass ready to start the cycle again.
Where can my dog get a tick?
The most common tick in the UK is the sheep tick, but don’t be fooled by its name. Sheep ticks can live on any mammal and are easily spread from one to the other through the environment. Dogs that catch ticks are likely to do so when in long grass or undergrowth, and the most common places for a tick to bite are the legs, ears and underside – anywhere that is easily reached when they brush through long grass.
Ticks like warm, wet weather, and unfortunately our climate here in the south means we have a high risk of ticks. Any walk over grass could result in a tick latching onto your pet to feed, and especially if the grass is long enough that the base never truly dries out.
Most ticks are only a couple of millimetres in size when they first latch onto your pet so they’re easily missed, but they’ll quickly grow as they feed on blood. If you do find a tick, it’s best to remove it, but please take care to do it correctly. If the tick breaks off in your pet’s skin it can cause infection, so it’s best to ask us for a demonstration of how best to remove them.
So, are they dangerous?
Much as we all dislike the idea of a tick feeding on our pets, there are also health concerns associated with ticks. Not only can your pet catch diseases from the tick, but pet owners are one and a half times more likely to catch a tick-borne disease than non-pet owners.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the area and can affect all mammals, although dogs and humans seem to be more susceptible than most. It is caused by bacteria that are injected into the body when the tick feeds. Symptoms include tiredness, lameness and fever, and a skin rash may be seen around the infected bite in humans. This doesn’t occur in dogs however, so if you’re worried about your pet it’s best to bring them in to get checked over.
Babesiosis is a new disease to the UK, despite being common in Europe, thanks to the fact the tick that spreads it isn’t widespread in the UK. The first case in a dog in the UK that hadn’t travelled to Europe was in 2016, but since then, there have been several cases in the South East. The disease is caused by a micro-parasite a bit like malaria that attacks the red blood cells causing anaemia, a high temperature, and lethargy. It can be fatal.
Ehrlichiosis is another similar disease that is now thought to be present in the UK. This is caused by bacteria that attack your dog’s white blood cells. It is currently rare but is thought to be ‘one to watch’.
What about Cats?
Cats rarely gets ticks, if you do find one on your cat then these are best removed with a tick remover. Some tick treatments are available, if you would like to find out more please call us to discuss.
If you have removed a tick from your pet and have become worried about them, we recommend booking a consultation with one of our vets to discuss your concerns
The good news is that ticks can easily be prevented with a regular anti-parasite treatment. There are lots of different anti-tick treatments available for dogs, and they come in many different formulations so you can find the one that works for you and your pet.
We are now including preventative tick treatment as part of our pet health care plan, which means that you can get regular tick treatment at a discounted price! If you aren’t sure whether your pet has tick treatment on board, or if you’d like to find out more about the anti-parasite medications we recommend, please get in touch.
February 16th 2019
Bailey the Bernese has a lap spay
Bailey’s owners both grew up with large dogs and knew that when they were ready to welcome a canine into their shared lives, it would definitely be a big dog. After much research and consideration of all sorts of breeds, true to form, they chose a truly huge breed in a Bernese Mountain Dog. Bailey the Bernese (now 18 months old) fits perfectly into their lives, going to work with her ‘dad’ and even sometimes entertaining the children within the school at which her ‘mum’ works. The kids there “go crazy for her” says her owner, due to her “constant ‘smile’ and her warm and inviting personality.” Bailey’s owners were so excited to pick up their bundle of fluff that they did so the very same day she turned 8 weeks of age, driving four hours to collect her. Since then she has developed into the “unbelievably friendly” companion they had dreamed of. In return for her devotion and companionship, Bailey’s owners want to do the absolute best for her, which is why they chose to have her spayed the laparoscopic way. At Mid Sussex Vets we share this ethos for all of our patients, and strive to give pets the best veterinary care, tailored to their individual needs. So we have invested in state of the art laparoscopy equipment that allows us to do just this. Laparoscopy provides a less invasive and less painful method of spaying with fewer complications for female dogs.
We asked Bailey’s owners about the experience of having her spayed laparoscopically and whether they would choose this option for future pets. When asked why they chose to have her spayed they replied;
“We always knew we wanted to have her spayed. We did lots of research and knew that there were health benefits associated with spaying”
When asked why they thought laparoscopic spaying was the right option for Bailey:
“We liked that it was a less invasive option usually with a quicker recovery time. Mid Sussex Vets spoke so calmly about it, explaining that it was a quick procedure and we liked that it was keyhole surgery with less pain”.
Bailey was admitted in the morning and had a vet check to ensure she was fit enough to undergo the procedure. All was well, so a premedication containing a mild sedative and pain relief was given, making her feel relaxed before she was given a general anaesthetic. Operated on by our skilled surgeons and monitored by our knowledgeable veterinary nurses, the procedure took place. Laparoscopic spaying is less invasive than traditional spaying and involves taking just the ovaries from the abdomen, leaving the uterus behind. Instruments are inserted through small incisions in the skin and are guided by a camera, meaning that structures within the abdomen aren’t ‘handled’ by the surgeon directly. The shorter, less invasive nature of the procedure, along with small incisions and reduced manipulation of organs, commonly means that there is less post-operative pain and that recovery time is much faster. So it is no surprise that Bailey’s owners found her recovery to be, in their words, “surprisingly quick”.
Post-operatively Bailey recovered in a warm and comfortable kennel and continued to be closely monitored by our caring and vigilant team. When sufficiently awake, she enjoyed some tasty, wet food and took a stroll outside to test the legs postanaesthetic. We like to know that our patients are bright enough to go home safely, which Bailey’s owners were pleased about, saying:
“Bailey was given plenty of recovery time at the vets and wasn’t rushed out.”
Bailey loves her long weekend walks where she enjoys meeting and socialising with other dogs; and what with going to work with her owners, she certainly leads a busy and interesting life! Her owners felt it would be beneficial for her routine not to be disrupted for too long. What’s more, no one likes to think of their pets as being in pain, so Bailey’s owners opted for laparoscopic spaying because it usually causes less discomfort. Fortunately, after her procedure Bailey’s owners found that:
“She recovered so quickly, she still ate well post-op and we had to keep her calm if anything”.
Indeed, Bailey had to be reminded that she’d undergone abdominal surgery and that she should take it easy for a few days! Bailey’s owners were pleased with the procedure from start to finish and delighted with her speedy recovery. When asked which method of spaying they’d choose for future female dogs, Bailey’s owner responded “I can’t recommend this type of spaying enough.”. It seems that Bailey was one happy customer, and we’re pleased that she could get back to spreading happiness to all who she meets as soon as was possible.
January 11th 2019
What’s the use of the Pet Care Plan?
We all know vet bills can be expensive (yes, honestly, we do!). Unfortunately, there’s no NHS for pets, so pet owners are often advised to ensure they have insurance in place to cover for accidents and emergencies (although that’s a topic for another post).
However, once you’ve got that sorted, what else do you need? We get a lot of people asking what’s the use of the Premier Pet Care Plan that we offer? After all, it’s an extra monthly sum – so in this post, we’re going to look at why it’s so helpful if you want to keep your pet’s health in tip-top condition!
What’s the difference between insurance and the
Pet Care Plan?
Insurance covers your pet for unexpected events – treating an injury, or illness, for example. However, it doesn’t cover the routine “preventative” treatments that help to keep your pet from developing problems. For example, did you know that one of the most common reasons animals come in to see us is for itchy skin – and that external parasites are a factor in most cases of skin disease? Or that puppies can be infected with worms even before birth?
That’s why preventative treatments like flea and worm medication are so important – and the Pet Care Plan exists to help reduce the cost of this essential but undervalued area of pet care.
Surely I can get flea and worm stuff cheaper than you
in the supermarket anyway?
Yes, you may be able to – but that doesn’t mean it’s going to work very well. There’s a reason that we recommend prescription-only flea and worm medicines: they are more powerful and more effective at keeping your pet parasite-free.
However, there are other types of preventative medicine. The Pet Care Plan also includes your pet’s booster vaccinations – the protection they need to keep them safe from infectious diseases such as Distemper, Parvo and Leptospirosis in dogs, or Panleukopenia or Cat Flu for cats. Some of these vaccines are normally repeated every 3 years, but others need boosting annually – we use a tailored approach to ensure that every pet has the best protection, for the minimum number of injections every year.
What else is included?
Check ups – you also get a FREE appointment with one of our vets, twice a year, to check how your pet is doing and to talk about any problems they might be having. A problem caught early is a problem that’s usually easier to solve.
Where can I learn more?
Get in touch and talk to one of our team! We’ll all be happy to help you give your pet the care they deserve – and save money while doing so too!