Find out more• Free weight clinics
• Changing your pet's food
• How to clean your pet's teeth
• Why vaccinate?
• Vomiting in dogs
• Feeding your pet rabbit correctly
• Flea and Worm Treatments
• New puppy advice
• Post-operative care of your pets
• Behaviour in dogs
Out of Hours
Poole House Veterinary Hospital
Tel: 01543 262464 / 262433
With recent studies showing up to 30% of all British pets are obese, its time to start thinking about the waistlines of our furry friends. We at Melbourne Vets would like to help by offering FREE weight clinics to all the animals in our care.
Just ask at reception for an appointment for an informal, non-obligatory discussion about your pet's weight problems. With good quality dietary advice which doesn't involve just simply saying "feed your pet less", we can individually tailor a weight loss plan, alongside regular weigh in sessions, which fit in with you and your pet's lifestyle getting great results that can last.
changing your pet's food
Animals do not need variety in their diets. Dogs are prone to digestive upsets such as diarrhoea on varied diets or table scraps. These problems usually appear in middle- aged dogs that may, by then, be difficult to accustom to a more healthy diet.
Both dogs and cats are prone to becoming finicky eaters when fed a varied diet, causing problems for their owners later on. So don’t switch foods every other week. If you do need to change from one product to another, do so gradually by mixing the two diets together for a few days. This will help prevent diarrhoea from a too sudden change in food. Don’t base your food choices on what you would like to eat, as many pet food manufacturers would like you to do.
Dogs are colour blind, so they don’t care whether their food is red or brown. They also don’t care if it looks like beef stew or little pork chops! The fancier the food looks, the more you are paying for unnecessary artificial colouring, flavouring and preservatives. A dry food is best for your pet’s teeth and gums, so the majority of your dog or cat’s nutritional needs should be met with a DRY type food.
Canned foods are much more expensive to feed, as you are paying for a lot of water and extra packaging. Many people like to supplement their pet’s diet with some canned food, and this is fine as long as you pick a good one, and don’t overdo it.
Canned foods are more likely to have excesses of protein, which can cause or contribute to kidney disease as your pet ages, as well as being worse for your pet’s teeth.
how to clean your pet's teeth
Apply the pet toothpaste to the soft-bristled pet toothbrush and then push it down into the bristles.
Choose a time when your pet is settled. Sit him down quietly, either on the floor or a table/counter surface for a small dog or cat. Without restraint, allow him to lick the toothpaste first.
Place one hand across the bridge of the nose (muzzle) with a finger or thumb under the chin to keep the mouth closed. Gently lift the top lip and insert the toothbrush inside the cheek. The most important place to brush is at the gum line.
Move the brush in gentle circular motions with emphasis of the stroke away from the gum line. DO NOT scrub the teeth.
The goal is to brush the outside surfaces of all the teeth in a systematic way. If, initially, your pet does not co- operate for long enough; start each session by brushing at a different position in his mouth.
The back (molar) teeth should be cleaned first, especially the upper ones; next the canine teeth and finally, once your pet is happy to accept this, the front teeth.
Brushing the inner surfaces of the teeth can prove to be difficult. If you are unable to do this, don’t despair. Providing the rest of the teeth are reasonably clean, the tongue will do quite a good job of this.
If your pet has inflamed gums (gingivitis), our vet may advise that you use a dental gel or solution containing chlorhexidine to improve the gums. Chlorhexidine works best when combined with daily tooth brushing to remove the debris.
Remember, there is no point wrestling with your pet. Try the make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Reward him with a small treat and lavish praise if he behaves well.
Vaccination is vital in protecting your pet from various diseases that cause pain, distress and can be fatal. Annual vaccination appointments also provide an opportunity for regular health checks for your pet.
Vaccinations for cats and dogs usually consist of a primary course of 2 vaccinations to stimulate an immune response, followed by annual boosters as the initial immune response gradually fades over time.
For dogs, the first vaccination can be done as early as 6 weeks, with the second vaccination given 2-4 weeks later. Core vaccinations for dogs are distemper, parvovirus, canine infectious hepatitis, parainfluenza and leptospirosis.
Melbourne Vets also recommend vaccinating your dog against kennel cough, which can be done at the same time as your dog's regular booster. If your dog travels abroad with you, they are likely to require a rabies vaccination for their pet passport - ask your vet for further information.
Cats can be vaccinated from 9 weeks of age, with a second vaccination 3-4 weeks later. Core cat vaccinations include feline herpesvirus and calicivirus (two agents responsible for cat flu) and feline panleukopaenia virus which causes feline infectious enteritis. We also recommend vaccinating your cat against the feline leukaemia virus, a virus which suppresses the immune system and is potentially fatal.
It is important to keep your pet's vaccinations up to date, as a delay in their booster allows for a decrease in immunity, and may mean that your pet needs to restart their primary vaccination course.
Most of the objections put forward against neutering are unfounded worries. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to speak to us. Male dogs can be neutered from 6 months to:
• Stop or reduce male sex-hormone driven behaviours
• Reduce wandering/roaming/straying (also reducing car accidents)
• Reduce the chances of a dog bite
• Reduce aggression towards other dogs
• Reduce territoriality
• Reduce prostatic disease (something very common in older entire male dogs)
• Remove the risk of testicular cancer (especially common in retained testicles) Bitches should be neutered from 6 months or if they have had a season then 4 weeks after a season or 4 weeks after a false pregnancy.
Early neutering will:
• Dramatically reduce (by 70%) the risk of mammary cancer.
• Stop unwanted heats/seasons - the inconvenience of three weeks of bleeding and attractiveness to male dogs. Bitches in season have been known to scale metre high fences to get out.
• Reduce the risk of false pregnancies, a very common and distressing condition.
• Remove the risk of a pyometra - a life-threatening womb infection very common in older or middle- aged entire bitches.
• Reduce the number of unwanted puppies
• Increase the likelihood of obesity - it is important that neutered bitches are fed slightly less (approx. 10%) than entire bitches. Their weight is in your hands and they will only get fat if they are overfed.
• Increase the chances of a urinary leakage problem - this can occur in entire bitches too, and can be managed by drops.
We are now promoting early neutering in cats
This means we are happy to neuter them as early as 4 months of age (owned cats) or 3 months of age (feral cats).
For more information about early neutering see: //www.cats.org.uk/
vomiting in dogs
Vomiting and/or diarrhoea are two of the most common ailments we see at Mercia Vets. All dogs will occasionally vomit. In the wild they feed their young with regurgitated food and so vomiting is physiologically almost normal under certain circumstances.
The general rule is that if the vomiting is only occasional, of recent duration and if your pet is reasonably bright, then probably there is not too much to worry about. A pet that is about to vomit will start to salivate or lick their lips constantly.
This is also a sign of feeling nauseous.
Causes of Vomiting
Swallowed 'foreign bodies' can be anything from a sock or your child's toy to the most common - the end of a dummy. Many smaller foreign bodies will cause initial vomiting but then pass on their own accord. However, they occasionally become lodged and become a surgical emergency.
Parasites such as roundworm are often the culprits in causing partial blockages in the intestines, especially in puppies. If you have not wormed your dog or cat in the past 3 months it may be worth doing so with a broad spectrum wormer.
Dietary problems are a common cause of vomiting whether they are primary (over eating, gorging, too rich, too fatty food) or secondary to some other cause of vomiting such as a bacterial infection.
Metabolic diseases such as kidney disease or liver disease can lead to vomiting. They usually present with other symptoms as well and your pet will need to be booked in.
Poisons. It depends on the type of poison. Always bring in a sample of the vomit or a sample of whatever plant/chemical you have seen your pet eating. Infections of the stomach (gastritis) often effect the upper intestine so that your dog may also present with diarrhoea.
Gastric ulcers occur in dogs. If your pet vomits blood on several occasions and / or black, tar like faeces (digested blood is present) are passed, then this is an emergency and your pet must be booked in straight away.
A major emergency in dogs is gastric dilatation and torsion syndrome. This usually occurs in giant and deep chested breeds such as German Shepherds. Your dog may try to vomit but only produces phlegm, not food. This is an ACUTE emergency and immediate surgical care is required.
how to correctly feed your pet rabbit
Rabbits have a unique dental and digestive system. For these to function properly, your rabbit must have a diet that is high in fibre, low in protein and low in energy.
As pet owners, we like to think that we are doing the best for our rabbits and are all too ready to provide them with a diet that is too rich and contains insufficient roughage. Without the fibre, you will have constant teeth and digestive problems which mean a very poor quality of life for your pet rabbit.
A diet of grass or hay and occasional vegetables, with added complete food being fed only in small quantities and not as a large or major part of the diet, and a constant supply of water is all that a rabbit needs.
Anything beyond that is a 'treat' and should be given in limited quantities, completely avoiding sweets and chocolates which build up harmful bacteria in the rabbit gut and can kill. Rabbits in the wild are grazers. If the diet is inadequate, these are the problems you may see:
• chronic soft faeces instead of hard normal pellets
• teeth problems which can be so severe as to form an abscess. If this happens, it may be too late for treatment to be successful
• eye or tear duct infections which are secondary to teeth problems as the tooth roots grow abnormally and affect the tear duct.
To prevent these problems, it is vital to feed a simple diet that is almost the same as that of a wild rabbit. Rabbits are called Lagomorphs which means that they are similar to rodents in that their teeth grow continuously.
They are adapted to a life of grazing and chewing and therefore constant wear on the teeth. A diet lacking in fibre will mean that less time is spent chewing food, less wear on the teeth and so overgrown teeth will be the end result. Offer a small portion of dried food and leave the discarded ingredients in the bowl until they are all eaten. Only by doing this will your rabbit get a truly balanced diet.
One thought is not to leave concentrate feed down for any longer than 8 hours a day. Try to buy pellets that are high in fibre (18% or more). The best food to buy are the pellets where all the nutritious ingredients are blended together so that the rabbit eats all the food and does not become a selective feeder.
Vegetables - Look to provide your rabbit with a small amount of different leafed and rooted vegetables, but stay away from beans and rhubarb. Never give vegetables that have come straight out of the fridge as they can cause quite a shock to your rabbit's system.
Always wait until they are at room temperature. Many rabbits have too little calcium in their diet which can result in brittle bones and teeth. Feeding green stuff such as fresh grass, cabbage leaves and dandelion leaves can help correct this.
However, feeding too much green stuff invariably results in soft stools indicating an imbalance in the gut flora. If this happens, stop feeding the vegetables immediately, clean your rabbit's bottom and be prepared to book an appointment with us if it doesn't clear up in a couple of days. Water Your rabbit should have access to fresh water 24 hours a day.
If you keep your rabbit in an outside hutch throughout the winter, change the water twice or three times a day to prevent it freezing.
They are small, simple and the best way of ensuring that your pet is returned to you if lost.
All dogs in England must be microchipped by April 2016 or owners will be fined.
We recommend a tag on your pets collar AND an ID chip. The chip is placed under the skin with a small injection. No anaesthetic is needed. each chip has a unique code which, when scanned, allows your contact information to be gained from a central database.
fleas and worms in your pet
A regular flea prevention and worming routine is important in keeping your pet fit and healthy. Your pet can encounter worms and skin parasites anywhere out on a walk where other animals have been or even in your own garden.
What worms are out there? There are many different types of worms that can infect your dog and cat in the UK or if your pet travels abroad with you.
The main species in the UK are roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm, hookworm, heartworm and lungworm. Some of these can be potentially harmful to humans as well, namely roundworm and tapeworm.
How does my pet get worms? Most transmission of worms is where the eggs or larvae are shed in the faeces of infected animals and are ingested by your pet as they graze or snuffle in the grass.
Once inside the pet, these mature into adult worms, which shed more eggs, and so the cycle continues. Worm eggs can also be brought into the house on shoes and transmission of some worms is via an intermediate host such as snails or fleas so indoor pets can be affected too.
What skin parasites should I be concerned about? Cats and dogs can be affected by a number of skin parasites including fleas, lice, mites that live on the skin or in ears and ticks. These can be contracted from other affected pets, from wildlife ie foxes, or from the environment (this includes your home if one of your pets has brought in fleas!).
Signs can include itching (but not in all cases), hair loss, head shaking, reddening of the skin or even sightings of the parasites on your pet.
Speak to us to advise you on the best course of treatment for your pet
welcome to your new puppy
Advice with your new pet:
• The first night in its new home is usually the most stressful night for any breed. Make it as comforting as possible with a ticking clock wrapped in its blanket or leave the radio on to soothe it to sleep.
• Choose washable bedding.
• Confine your puppy to a section of the house so that you have control over its toilet training.
• Make sure kitchen rubbish is out of reach as are any other visible dangers such as large houseplants or pots.
• Some clients prefer to bring their new pup in a pet carrier to the vet. They feel safer in the car when they are very young and they are not exposed to any sick animals in the waiting room.
• Choose enough toys so that your furniture remains untouched by tiny teeth. Be careful not to give them toys that look like the items you want them to avoid chewing such as a shoe. Balls and knotted ropes are good but avoid games that encourage your puppy to fight with you and that makes it growl.
• If your puppy continuously tries to chew your hands, discourage it by squeaking to give it a fright and distract it. Make a fist to hide your fingers and hide your hands if it perseveres. If encouraged you may end up with a biting dog.
• Your pup can be fitted with a collar from when he is very little. It should fit snugly but allow for 1 - 2 fingers width of space between collar and neck. Loosen the collar as he grows.
• Choose a good quality food that you want to keep him on.
• Dry foods tend to be better for their teeth - especially in the smaller breeds that live longer and can suffer with dental disease if they only eat a soft food diet. Puppies have a tiny stomach so divide their feeds up into 4 meals initially.
• Always provide fresh water.
• Large breed puppies should be fed a puppy food specially designed for large breed dogs. They can grow too quickly on a normal high protein puppy food and suffer with joint disease. The large breed puppy foods balance the ratio of protein and carbohydrate so that your pet does not grow too fast.
• Start training your puppy at an early age to build up a good relationship with your new companion.
• Make sure they are wormed too with their first vaccination if the breeder has not already done so as most puppies will have worms from their mothers.
• Any sign of fleas will need treatment too by us. Frontline spot on can start from 6 weeks of age.
• Start basic discipline which involves being consistent with what you say and do. Be patient as dogs have short memories.
• Correct your puppy when his behaviour is inappropriate but lavish him with praise as a positive reinforcement when it is right. Never resort to physical punishment.
• Once vaccinated, you can start to socialise your pup but do not overdo the exercise. Your puppy will probably love being out and want to go for a lot further than it should. Over-exercising at a young age could adversely affect his growth especially in the larger breed dogs.
• Puppies need to know their place in the pecking order at home. They will be much happier, better adjusted pets if you can follow the following simple guidelines, designed to mimic the wolf pack principle of "the top dog (the alpha male) goes first, feeds first, and leads". Feed your pup after you have eaten
Most of all, enjoy your time with your new pet. You will forget the time when you didn't have such a devoted, non-judgemental, faithful, happy companion in your life.
post-operative care of your pets
Your pet has had an anaesthetic and may be sleepy for up to 48 hours. (Allow peace and quiet during this time). A mild cough may be present. This is due to a tube having been placed in his trachea during the anaesthesia.
• Keep your pet warm, dry and comfortable; avoid placing bed in extremes of temperature or in a draught.
• Avoid activity such as climbing stairs and jumping onto furniture. Your pet’s judgement may not be as accurate after an anaesthetic and he may stretch the stitches.
• Allow only short walks on the lead until stitches are removed.
• If accepted, give only light meals (e.g. prescription diets) for the first 24 to 48 hours unless otherwise specified.
• If your pet has undergone a surgical procedure, please check for abnormal events such as swelling of the wound, bleeding or other discharge, vomiting and interference of the stitches. Contact the surgery or come in for a check in such cases.
• Stitches are to be removed in 10 – 14 days.
• The stitches placed in a cat spay wound may be dissolving. If they are still present in 3 to 4 weeks, then return for a check-up to have them removed.
• Check dressings/casts/splints at least twice daily for abnormal smells, discolourations, discharges, discomfort, etc.
time to let go
Pet death is an inevitable part of pet ownership because of their relatively short lifespan. Despite this inevitability, it may be one of the most significant losses you could experience due to the depth of the human-animal bond.
For many people, their pet's passing away is less stressful than the death of a human member of their immediate family, but more stressful than the passing away of other relatives. You may find that the death of your pet elicits strong feelings that often parallel the grief response to the loss of a human companion.
You will find that you will most likely experience difficulties and disruptions in your lives after your pet dies - it is only normal and important to be aware of it. One significant difference between humans and your pet dying in the UK, is the option of euthanasia.
Euthanasia literally means 'good death' and can only be administered by a registered veterinary surgeon. As a result, vets experience the death of their patients five times more than doctors and are directly involved in the decision process. We are morally and ethically obliged to put an end to an animal's suffering and pain.
Once this decision is made, we are together with you, the owner, put in the uncomfortable situation of having to plan the death of what is effectively a family member. We experience your immediate displays of grief even when the euthanasia has progressed so peacefully and smoothly .
Expressing grief is so important as it means that you have accepted what has happened and can open up. Tears are important.
top tips for preventing behavioural problems in dogs
• Set rules immediately and stick to them.
• Avoid situations that promote inappropriate behaviour.
• Observe your pet and provide what it needs to be cared for and attended to.
• Supervise your new pet diligently through undivided individual attention and training. Restrict your pet’s access to a limited area of the house until training is complete.
• Encourage good behaviour with lavish praise and attention.
• Correct bad behaviours by providing positive alternatives. (e.g. a toy for a slipper, a scratching post for a sofa).
• Never physically punish or force compliance to commands. This may lead to fear biting or aggression.
• Don’t play roughly or encourage aggression or play biting.
• Expose pets to people, animals and environments where you want them to live.
• Ask to see any of our veterinary surgeons or nurses if serious or unresolved behavioural problems exist.