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!