We will publish a regular Newsletter here on our website to keep you up-dated with developments in our veterinary practice and other news and features that we feel might benefit you.
Do please come back to this page to receive an up-date information, tips and facts as well as on what's going on at the surgery.
Understanding the Risk of Weight Gain
Weight gain is the result of an increase in body fat which is often due to a lack of exercise especially when combined with eating too much. Unfortunately this can cause an array of health problems, particularly in the elderly. This includes but is not limited to:
However, weight gain can be avoided with a few simple steps such as choosing an appropriate dietry food, portion control, choosing an appropriate treat if you reward your pets this way and exercise. Make sure you weigh them regularly and record it to track their progress.
We'd like to wish every a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from our whole team here at Hatchmoor Veterinary Practice. We hope you have a wonderful holiday and would also like to remind you of the dangers to your pets at this time of year.
Decorations - Christmas tree decorations can cause a nasty accident or fatality to your pet. Cats and young pets especially will show a great interest in decorations hanging from your tree. Try to use unbreakable decorations and nothing too small.
Plants - Don't forget that seasonal plants such as holly, poinsettia, ivy and mistletoe are all extremely toxic.
Chocolate - Do not hang your chocolates from your Christmas tree; they are highly toxic and your pet will be tempted if they can see or smell them.
Tinsel - Avoid tinsel or ribbons as tehse are dangerousto the gastrointestinal tract if your pet swallows them.
Presents - For your pets' safety this Christmas always buy your pets' presents from a reputable pet shop or veterinary clinic.
Cables - Cover up electric cords and flashing tree lights so your pet can't chew them and electrocute themselves.
Security - Christmas tree needles are very sharp and can easily get stuck in your pets' paws or throat. Sweep tree needles up regularly or fence off your Christmas tree to seperate your pet and tree.
Tree - Make sure your tree is well anchored so your pet cant pull it over.
Lights - Try using fairy lights that don't flash as some pets when up close can get very scared or they can attract the attention of some.
Travel - Leaving your pets at home will require the help of a responsible and sober friend or neighbour to visit, feed and care for.
Berries - Holly, Mistletoe, lillies and yew trees are poisonous to pets and must be kept well out of reach.
Anti-Freeze - Another common danger at this time of year is anti-freeze which is extremely palatable to cats and will cause irreversible kidney failure if your cat even just licks their paws after walking through a puddle of it. Check all outside areas your cat visits and garages.
Baubles - Brightly-colourled baubles are intriguing and exciting objects for pets who may try to eat them and cause them all sorts of internal problems
Noise - Remeber, loud noises will panic your pet, such as Christmas crackers, balloons and champagne bottles.
Paper - Remove your Christmas wrapping paper (and toys) from the floor to avoid your pet chewing or swallowing it.
Illnesses linked to raw pet food
Raw pet food diets have become increasingly popular over the last few years but it is important to remember that raw pet foods do have the potential to cause human disease!
If contaminated products are consumed or handled, and if secondary transfer occurs from contact with contaminated surfaces, there is a high risk of disease. Last year the cases of E-coli infections from raw meat-based pet food rose according to Public Health England. Although cases like this are still rare it is vital for owners choosing to feed their pet on a raw meat-based diet to observe high hygiene practices when handling raw food daily. An investigation done by the Public Health England last year found that there was evidence of raw pet food as a risk factor for transmission of diseases such as gastroenteritis caused by salmonella, listeria and campylobacter.
Dental disease... the silent problem
Most of the time our dogs and cats will appear to eat happily but this does not mean they are not experiencing pain, rather their instincts for survival mean they must not show any signs of pain. Older animals may seem to be ‘slowing up’ and it is natural to assume this is a normal part of ageing, but dental infections like gum disease can make animals more lethargic. Often once they are treated and bad teeth removed they are much livelier.
GINGIVITIS (GUM INFLAMMATION) is the first stage of dental disease in our dogs and cats. It is caused by plaque build up on the tooth surface. Plaque is a sticky accumulation of bacteria. These bacteria cause inflammation of the gum. Most pets with gingivitis will give you no indication that there is disease there- but bad breath will be a sign...it is not normal for dogs and cats to have smelly breath! If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to.... PERIODONTITIS...This stage of the disease is now irreversible. This is where the inflammation has progressed and becomes more aggressive, destroying the attachment of the tooth, the tooth becomes mobile and teeth may eventually fall out. The bacterial infection has become more destructive, when this happens it is like a massive infection that the body is continuously trying to fight and the bacteria will enter the bloodstream every time the animal chews, eats and swallows! Most animals can cope with this and destroy the bacteria, but this becomes more difficult the older the animal becomes. Potentially the bacteria can cause infections inside the body, for instance in kidneys, liver and the heart. In many cases it may still be difficult for you to know there is a problem, because your pet may still seem fine.
Dogs and cats cope very well with very few teeth but what can you do to prevent dental problems? Regularly brushing with a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dog and cats is the best thing to keep your pets mouth healthy. Dogs tolerate regular brushing if they get used to it form a young age...so starting from a puppy is a good idea. If brushing is not possible then encouraging dogs to chew as much as possible will help keep teeth clean!
Most moggies will not tolerate a toothbrush in their mouth so regular vet checks to keep an eye on their oral health is recommended so any problems can be dealt with promptly.
Alabama Rot or Not?
We have heard a lot recently in the media about the unexplained disease commonly referred to as Alabama rot. It is officially known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy. It is a serious disease which has only recently been recognised in dogs in the UK. It causes lesions on the skin and occasionally in the mouth, which can look like bites, sores, wounds or stings. Any age, sex, or breed of dog can be affected and unfortunately some dogs go on to develop life-threatening kidney failure.
Alabama rot was first identified amongst greyhounds in the state of Alabama in the 1980’s. After this flair up, the number of reported cases dwindled and as no clinical research was carried out, the disease was almost relegated to history. Because no one has been able to determine what causes the disease it is now only recognisable by its collection of clinical symptoms.
What is it?
Alabama rot is a disease that causes damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. It causes tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels which blocks them and can ultimately lead to damage of the affected tissue. In the skin, this causes ulceration; however, in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure).
What signs should I look out for?
The sores can present as lesions, swellings, red patches of skin and may be open and ulcer like; there will usually be localised hair loss. A few days after these lesions appear the dog will show signs of reduced appetite, fatigue, depression and vomiting.
Should I avoid walking in certain places?
It is suspected that the disease spreads from muddy and wooded areas -dog owners who do walk their dogs in these places are advised to wash off any mud as soon as possible and regularly check over their dogs for any unusual sores/ marks on the skin.
Cases have been reported from across many different counties in the UK, but because the cause of Alabama rot still remains unknown it is very difficult to give specific advice about prevention and at this stage it is not necessary to avoid walking your dog in particular locations. The best outcomes seemed to be achieved by understanding what to look out for and catching it early.
It is also important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be Alabama rot however; the lesions can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites, so if in doubt it is always best to seek veterinary advice
Zuma’s leg is saved!
An injury to one of Zuma’s fore legs left a nasty wound with bone exposure. He was brought into us from the North Devon Animal Ambulance. We feared that Zuma may have to have his leg amputated and live the rest of his days on 3 legs. At only three years old and otherwise so fit and well this was going to be a last resort. We wanted to give Zuma the best chance. After weeks of hospitalisation here at Hatchmoor Vets, careful wound management and lots of food (Zuma likes his food!!!) we are please to say that things are looking good. The once infected wound is now free of infection and is healing really well. The protruding bone is now covered with healthy tissue and he is using his foot normally. Zuma has been a model patient and has always let the vet team here care for his wound and re-bandage without any need for sedation (which is quite uncommon in our feline friends). All he asks for in return is a cuddle and a BIG bowl of food!
Zuma is well on the road to recovery ....
Why are vaccinations for dogs so important?
During their early weeks puppies are usually protected by antibodies passed on by their mother. However, with time these antibodies are lost and your puppy will need to develop its own immunity. Vaccinating your pup and keeping him up to date with a yearly booster will protect him from a number of nasty diseases...
Distemper is a highly infectious viral disease of dogs which can cause mild signs in some individuals including high fever, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea, but may be fatal in others. Vaccination has resulted in huge decreases in the incidence of this disease but in other countries, like Finland, the disease is still a major cause of death in dogs.
Hepatitis is a disease affecting the liver, kidneys, eyes and lungs. The disease can develop very quickly and some individuals may die within hours of becoming unwell.
Parainfluenza is a highly contagious viral disease that contributes to the problem of kennel cough. It can be transmitted by nose to nose contact or by sharing of dishes between a healthy dog and an infected dog. Signs include a dry, hacking cough with nasal or eye discharge.
Parvovirus is a small, but extremely hardy virus that can survive in the environment for long periods of time - months or even years. Signs are bloody diarrhoea and lethargy.
The disease first emerged as an epidemic in the 1970s, killing thousands of dogs before an effective vaccine became available. Although no longer present in epidemic proportions, parvovirus is still relatively common in unvaccinated dogs.
Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that are spread via the urine of infected animals. It is can be spread to humans by contact with infected urine.
There are two forms of the disease which are commonly seen:
Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae (Weil’s disease)
The rat is the main carrier of this bacteria. Transmission to dogs is either directly via contact with infected urine, or indirectly via contact with contaminated water eg: drinking or swimming in infected water. The symptoms can vary from mild signs of lethargy and depression, to more severe signs such as abdominal pain, jaundice, liver damage and even death.
The dog is the main carrier of this bacteria. This form of disease primarily affects the kidneys and clinical signs can vary from mild and non-specific, to kidney failure or sudden death. Dogs that recover from either form of the disease can become carriers and shed the bacteria in their urine.
Tetanus.....and the importance of vaccination for horses
What is tetanus?
The disease Tetanus is caused by the toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetanii which can be found in soil and droppings anywhere in the ground. These bacteria can survive in the environment for long periods of time. It enters the body through wounds. Puncture wounds on the sole of the foot are common sites of infection and the bacteria will multiply rapidly in the damaged tissues.
Infection can also be acquired after eating contaminated soil or droppings, through gastric or intestinal ulcers. In foals, infection can occur via the umbilicus.
What are the symptoms?
Tetanus toxin attacks nerves controlling the muscles of the body. This causes progressively worsening muscular stiffness and spasms so an affected horse will become stiff and have difficulty moving and eating. Their third eyelid starts to protrude across the eye and often they will sweat and their tail will be held out straight. Any stimulus such as loud sound, bright light or touch can exacerbate the signs. In advanced cases the horse will collapse with spasms, convulsions and unfortunately resulting in death from respiratory failure.
Can tetanus be treated?
Sadly the chances of recovery are extremely poor. If diagnosed early, treatment is aimed at destroying the bacteria so that no more toxin is produced and reducing the effects of the toxin that has already been produced. Large doses of antibiotics are used.
How can tetanus be prevented?
Thankfully tetanus is an easily preventable disease. Vaccination with ‘tetanus toxoid’ should be used for all horses and ponies. The initial course of two injections is given approximately four to six weeks apart followed by boosters at two-year intervals.
Foals cannot respond to vaccine given before approximately four months of age. As protection before this age foals usually receive tetanus antitoxin soon after birth. They also receive some protection from the first milk from its mother if the mare is well vaccinated.
As well as vaccinating, good first aid can help prevent tetanus. Wounds should be cleaned as soon as they occur and steps should be taken to encourage drainage of deeper injuries. Paddocks, stables and stable yards should be kept safe, clean and clear of dangerous items that could cause injury.
Minimising stress in moggies
Our feline friends are much more subtle than our canine companions at showing us if they are stressed and some will display this as aggression or shyness...often leading to owners thinking that they are grumpy or nasty cats! Try to think about what could be making your cat unhappy and how you could make it better...often there are simple things that can be done that can make a big difference!
What are the signs of stress in cats?
So what can I do to reduce stress in my cat?
While some cats will get on perfectly well living with feline friends and enjoy the company, it is important to remember that cats are naturally solitary animals and many will prefer to be the only pet. Some cats become stressed when they are living in a multi cat household.
So if your cat lives in a multi cat household....
Last but by no means least.... rule out medical issues! If you suddenly start experiencing aggression between your cats where none existed before there may be a medical reason. Pain and illness can make cats irritable, as it does with humans! So if you are concerned always seek veterinary advice.
Should I worry about my dog catching kennel cough?
So what is kennel cough? Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease which circulates in the dog population. Kennel cough is so named because the infection can spread very quickly among dogs in the close quarters of a kennel or animal shelter. Kennel cough is caused by both bacteria and viruses which cause inflammation of the trachea and bronchi.
How can my dog catch kennel cough? Despite the name, less than half of outbreaks arise in kennels. Your pet can encounter the disease in more common circumstances such as, the park, the street, at dog shows, in training classes.....or anywhere where your dog may meet another dog! It is spread through airborne droplets produced by sneezing and coughing. These agents also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces.
What are the signs?
How is it treated? Any dog that is suspected of having kennel cough be isolated from other dogs for 14 days, however they are usually only contagious for the first 7-10 days of illness.
A course of antibiotics can reduce the duration of the disease but symptoms will often still show. Most dogs recover from canine kennel cough within 3-4 weeks. If a dog has a compromised immune system or is extremely young or old, it may take up to 6 weeks for a complete recovery. However, your pet may still be a carrier of the disease several weeks after he has recovered.
Should I vaccinate my dog against it? If you are thinking of putting your dog into a kennel most will insist on a kennel cough vaccination prior to admitting a dog for boarding. This is an additional vaccination to the annual booster injection and needs to be administered by your vet at least 7-10 days prior to going into kennel. Unlike the annual booster which is given by injection the kennel cough vaccination is squirted up the dog’s nose!
Since the chances of exposure and subsequent infection rise as the dog comes in close proximity with other dogs, the decision to vaccinate or not to vaccinate varies with each individual circumstance. Generally, if your dog is not boarded or going to field trials or dog shows, you may not have a high level of need for vaccinating your dog against Kennel Cough. On the other hand if you plan to board your dog, or protect it from exposure, remember to vaccinate ideally a few weeks prior to potential exposure to allow full protective immunity to build up.
Preventing mammary tumours in female dogs
The most common malignant cancer of dogs will affect up to 60% of susceptible animals if no preventative action is taken. Mammary tumours in bitches can be almost entirely prevented by a simple operation at a young age.
Having your bitch spayed (neutered) is a surgical procedure where both the uterus and ovaries are entirely removed. This means there is no chance of these organs ever becoming cancerous.
Mammary tumours are caused by the hormonal changes each time a bitch comes into season. Unbelievably a bitch that has had five or more heats is two thousand times more likely to develop this cancer later in life than a bitch spayed before her first heat! Spaying after two heats reduces the risk to one quarter of that of an entire bitch.
In many breeds there is no benefit in your bitch having her first season. It is only Dobermans or Old English Sheepdogs, that should have their first season before being spayed. Researchers have found that letting these two breeds have their first season decreases the risk of incontinence in later life. This is only the case for these 2 breeds.
Female puppies can be spayed from 6 months of age. Their first season will normally occur when they are between 8 and 11 months old. She will come into season approximately every 6 months (twice yearly).
(If you are waiting for your puppy to have her first season then wait 6 weeks after she has finished her season before having her spayed).
As additional advantages, spaying also prevents pyometra (a serious infection of the uterus that is common in older entire bitches), this is a very serious condition, which puts your pet’s life at risk and requires emergency surgery. Spaying avoids the mess and inconvenience of heats and any risk of accidental pregnancy. Some bitches will suffer a 'false pregnancy' after being in season, where her body thinks it is pregnant. This can cause mammary development, behavioural changes and even abdominal swelling. This can be stressful for both bitches and owners, and again is something that can be avoided by spaying.
Spaying is an important health benefit to your female dog, and the fewer heats she has had before she is spayed the greater the benefits!
Jump on board our BRAVECTO BIG FLEA AND TICK SCHEME!
Bravecto is a unique treatment that protects against fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks. Available as a tablet for dogs and a ‘spot on’ for cats. Your pet will need a health check by the vet to ensure they are in tip top health before the vet can prescribe this product. Join our Bravecto loyalty scheme...once you have had 3 doses of Bravecto within a 12 month period you can get the 4th dose for free! Call in at the surgery for more information.
The importance of vaccination for your rabbit
So what should my rabbit be vaccinated against??
Viral/ Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (V/RHD) is an infectious viral disease that attacks and causes massive haemorrhaging of the internal organs of rabbits. VHD has a very short incubation period of up to 48 hours.
Symptoms may include a loss of appetite, lethargy, a high fever or spasms but sadly most commonly sudden death. VHD is often a very swift and sudden killer, giving little or no warning. Rabbits may die without showing any symptoms at all. Rabbits who do survive this disease are carriers and shed the virus for at least 42 days after. Unfortunately there is no known cure for VHD.
How it is spread...VHD can be spread via direct contact between rabbits but also via indirect contact by people, rodents, clothing or objects.
Myxomatosis is caused by the myxoma virus, normally the first signs of infection are puffy, fluid filled swellings around the head and face. If left untreated, a rabbit's symptoms will grow progressively worse causing painful skin irritation, lethargy and blindness. Ultimately, a severely infected rabbit will stop eating and drinking and may succumb to secondary lung infection.
How it is spread...Myxomatosis is commonly spread by fleas and other biting insects and but can also be transmitted by direct contact with other infected rabbits.
The virus incubation period may last up to two weeks after infection, so you may notice changes in your rabbit's behaviour or appetite before you notice other signs. Symptoms may appear gradually and can be mistaken for respiratory tract infection, pasteurella or conjunctivitis.
Myxomatosis is not immediately fatal: some rabbits can survive for months whilst infected, but will prove fatal for many within 12 days. Recovery is sometimes possible with intensive care. However, myxomatosis can be a very prolonged and extremely unpleasant disease and euthanasia is generally recommended.
So what CAN we do???....The importance of vaccination...
By vaccinating your rabbit you are giving him/her the best chance of defence against these awful diseases. The vaccination like all vaccines, works by ‘teaching’ the immune system (the body’s natural defences) how to defend itself against a disease. It contains a weakened strain of the myxoma virus which has been genetically modified so that it can produce a protein of the RHD virus. When it is given to rabbits the immune system recognises the myxoma and RHD materials as ‘foreign’ and makes antibodies against them. In the future, if the rabbits are exposed to any of the viruses, the immune system will be able to respond more quickly.
Rabbits can be vaccinated from 10 weeks of age and protection is key.
Cat versus human....the battle of giving tablets!
Good news for those of you who have a cunning cat who always seems to win the battle when it comes to you trying to give a worming tablet....as we have a simple way to keep your feline friend flea, tick and worm free. Broadline is a once monthly spot on treatment which helps to protect your cat from all worms, fleas and ticks.Your pet will need a health check by the vet to ensure they are in tip top health before the vet can prescribe this product. Its easy applicator is said to keep treating your cat "stress free". It comes in two sizes and can be used on kittens from 7weeks of age. You can buy an individual dose or they can come in packs of 3.
Did you know that neutering your kitten can be done from 4 months of age!
Traditionally neutering cats (that is spaying for a female and castrating for a male) has been done from 6 months of age. But it is now recommended that kittens are neutered at 4 months of age. It is very easy for a female kitten/cat (queen) to get pregnant. Queens are sexually mature from about 4 months of age and come into season every 18 to 21 days (about every 3 weeks) until they become pregnant! The timing of your kittens first season depends on her breed, the time of year that she was born and her individual development. Females can have up to three litters in a year!! (That’s a lot of kittens!!)
Ensuring that your male or female cat is neutered will prevent unwanted litters and help remove the problems associated with finding homes or increasing the stray cat population.
As well as preventing unwanted litters there are also health benefits to having your female cat neutered as females which are not neutered are more likely to suffer from pyometra (infection of the womb) later in life. Queens with infectious diseases may pass these on to their kittens and it is also worth remembering that pregnancy and birth are not without risk.
Now onto the boys!!....If you decide not to have your male cat (tom) neutered, there are many risks which will put him in a significant amount of danger. He will wander off to find females and this increases the risk of road traffic accidents. He may also fight with other toms to try and be “top cat” putting him at risk of infected fight wounds and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) and FeLV (feline leukaemia virus). Un-neutered male cats will often mark their territory by spraying inside the home, neutering will often stop this problem.
Neutering for cats is a routine operation, which requires a short anaesthetic. Almost all will be able go home later the same day and once home will only need to stay indoors for a couple days following surgery before they will be back to their normal cheeky selves!