Friends and family week

New for 2021, we are excited to announce our newest incentive of “Family and friends of the Well Pet Club”.

What does family and friends week mean?

If you are a member of our Well Pet Club, you can share your benefits* with friends and family! If any of your friends or family sign up to our Well Pet Club during this week they will receive a welcome bonus!

Benefits during Well Pet Club family and friends week

  • 20% off primary puppy or kitten vaccination
  • 20% off Kennel Cough vaccination
  • 10% off dietary products
  • 10% off neutering
  • 10% off Laparoscopic keyhole spays
  • 50% off a nurse consultation (nail clips, anal gland expression, weight checks)

Welcome bonus 

  • £15 off first consult with one of our Veterinary Surgeons
  • Free Puppy and Kitten health checks

 

Family and friends week could save you and your friends or family up to £150 off the usual price of each benefit. We pride ourselves on offering the best service and the best products. Family and friends week is an opportunity for us to give something back to our loyal WPC members and to extend our reach to your family and friends.

Dates are to be confirmed so please check back every month for further updates! In the meantime, please read the terms and conditions below.

 

Terms and conditions.

The benefits stated can only be used once per benefit per owner that is registered to our WPC. If you are interested in joining our WPC so you can offer these benefits to your friends and family, simply click here or give your surgery a call and we can sign you up over the phone! It takes around 3 minutes and all we require are your direct debit details and then for you to complete the email that is sent to you. Benefits are instant to your family and friends. Note, the additional benefits and benefits to your family and friends are only valid during our family and friends week. 

*The benefits you will receive are stated in this post and do not apply to any of our other services. If you require to be seen by a Veterinary Surgeon, a consultation must be booked and will be payable in full. Note, if you sign up to our Well Pet Club we will deduct £15 off your first Veterinary Consult. 

**We must register your friends and family to our practice to receive these benefits. It is required by veterinary law that we have a full clinical history of the pet in our care. If your friend or family is travelling a distance or out of the area to use these benefits, they could in theory register with our practice to receive these benefits then go back to their usual vet. We would simply send the history back to their registered vet. By law, we cannot administer medication without your registered Vet’s permission and a full clinical history. 

***If your friends or family are registered at another vet then we must request a clinical history before we can see the pet. However, if they are not registered at a vet then we can see the pet. This offer is for the benefits listed ONLY. Any medication or treatment will be a separate charge and that will be made clear upon the appointment. 

 

 

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12 months, 12 offers

New for 2021, we are delighted to announce 12 months, 12 offers.

Every month of 2021, we will be offering discounts on services or products. We constantly try and promote the very best treatment for your pets and we proud of the work we do. To help with the cost of premium health care we will be offering over £1,000 in savings throughout the year! Stay posted each month to find out what the specific offers are and how much you could save!

Month Promotion 
January Weight awareness
February Dental awareness
March Puppy and Kitten awareness
April Parasite awareness
May Microchip awareness
June Adopt a cat month
July Adopt a dog month
August Immunization month
September Animal pain awareness
October Firework awareness
November Pet diabetes month
December Anxiety and Christmas

 

People with unusual face coverings.

What if my dog gets scared of face masks?

HELPING PETS ADJUST TO SEEING FACE MASKS

Life has changed dramatically both on a global scale and in our day to day lives over the past 3 months. Our pet’s lives have changed too. Many dogs are getting more exercise, health concerns previously unnoticed are being identified by pet parents, and our cats, well they just want their house back and you out of it. The increased exercise and focus on medical health is wonderful for our pet’s emotional health, but there is one change our fuzzy family may struggle to understand and that is the face mask.

The wearing of masks is a new normal. If we humans are still getting used to the appearance of the face mask in public, what do our pets thinks? Anything visually new or distracting can incite fear in our dog, cat, horse, pet bird, or other animal we socially interact with frequently.

Dogs may exhibit postures of fear, vocalize, move away, cower, or even growl. Cats may startle, run, vocalize, or hide. Our beloved pets’ level of confidence and security is in part linked to daily ritual. Changes in environment, caregiver, and appearance can be scary. We can help your pet adjust to that change and diminish the nervous behavior that a mask may cause.

For dogs, we want to start by showing your dog a mask and offering a treat reward. You can hold it up to your face then back to your lap while offering that favorite treat. If your pet exhibits nervous behavior, then slow the process down or even stop the training session. Eventually you want to be able to hold the mask to your face and remove it repeatedly. Follow this step until you are wearing a mask while petting your dog, with the goal of moving around your home and outdoors all while your pet is cool, calm, and collected.  Talking to them during this process can help reassure them that they still know you, even with the mask on.

Once your dog is used to this you can hit the streets. On walks have treats ready and your basic sit-stay training on point. If your pet is exhibiting nervous behavior when you encounter a mask wearer, put him or her in a sit, distract with a preferred treat, and allow that person to pass you. If possible, cross the street yourself before the sit and wait. Then with an energetic “good dog” proceed on your walk. This is the basic training tenant of all things that are big and scary for dogs.

For cats that may be more aggressively or fearfully reactive the training is similar. With cats, it may be more useful to start by wearing the mask. Periodically leave a high value treat near your cat while continuing your normal home routine. Let your cat investigate you. Do not force social interaction on your pet. Again, talking during this time will help the cat remember that it is still you under the new mask.

These are the very basic principles of desensitizing your pet to a visual stimulus. For a more thorough behavior plan contact us!

 

Christmas dangers for our pets

Christmas is a magical time but also a time that we need to be a little bit more alert to the dangers that the holiday can bring to our pets.

Chocolate

With households often full of chocolate (and food containing it) throughout the Christmas period, it is important to keep these out of reach of pets. Even if it is wrapped and under a tree, dogs can sniff them out and will gladly help themselves. Chocolate contains the stimulant theobromine which can cause seizures and heart rhythm abnormalities.

Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies

Raisins, sultanas and grapes are key ingredients to many favourite Christmas treats and these can also be deadly if eaten by dogs. Sultanas, raisins, and grapes can cause acute kidney injury, which can lead to kidney failure, if eaten by our four legged friends. As well as Christmas puddings, fruitcakes and mince pies, panettones and trifles are a Christmas-time canine risk.

Nuts

With nut consumption peaking at Christmas times, there are associated risks for pets. The nuts and shells can be a choking hazard and can also cause intestinal problems. Macadamia nuts present an additional risk to dogs as ingestion has been associated with vomiting and weakness.

Bones

Bones from meat, poultry or fish present a dangerous threat to pets. Cooked bones are brittle and therefore can splinter when chewed. This can lead to the digestive tract being pierced or an obstruction. As well as not feeding scraps with cooked bones in, ensure pets do not tear open bin bags or scavenge bones from bins.

Sweeteners

Sugar substitute sweeteners are not only used in tea and coffee but also in many tasty treats, such as cakes, biscuits, mints, jam and peanut butter. Most are non-toxic to pets but xylitol is one that is commonly used which can be life-threatening to dogs. Affected dogs present with low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) and this can loss of coordination, collapse and seizures within half an hour of consumption. Liver failure can follow.

Onion (including gravy)

Onions and products containing onions, such as gravy and stuffing, can cause gastrointestinal upset and lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia in cats and dogs. The related vegetables leeks, garlic and spring onions can also have the same effects.

Rock salt (grit)

The substance used to de-ice roads and pavements commonly called grit contains sodium chloride (salt), which can be hazardous to pets. If dogs and cats get it on their paws or fur their inclination will be to lick or chew it off, but this poses a risk. Ingestion of salt by pets can result in a high blood sodium concentration and this can lead to vomiting, lethargy, convulsions and kidney damage. If your pet has been walking on grit, then it is a good idea to wipe their feet and clean any exposed fur (such as on their legs or tummy). Dogs might also consume it by drinking puddles of melted snow.

Tinsel and ribbons

Given the chance, cats and kittens will play with ribbons used to wrap presents. These can be swallowed and become entangled in the cat’s intestines, causing life-threatening blockages. Playing with tinsel can cause the same problems in cats and other animals, including ferrets.

Christmas trees, baubles and fairy lights

Many cats and kittens will feel compelled to climb Christmas trees, endangering themselves. It is advisable to ensure trees are securely based so that they are less likely to be felled by a curious cat. Limiting access to rooms containing a tree when unsupervised is a good idea. Pet ingestion of pine needles can cause stomach upsets and intestinal problems.

Baubles are of particular fascination to cats. Glass baubles can shatter, creating sharp shards dangerous to animals and children. Dogs have been known to chew baubles and other decorations. This can lead to lacerations in the mouth or intestinal blockages.

Fairy lights pose the possibility of pets getting tangled up in wires, which can cause an animal to panic and injure themselves. If swallowed, bulbs can pose threats to pets.

Edible decorations are always going to be of interest to pets, and even placing them out of their eye-line won’t stop them from investigating further.

Other plants

Some plants brought into the house at Christmas, including holly, ivy and mistletoe, can be toxic to pets and lead to vomiting. If you do have them around the house it is best to keep them out of reach.

Toys

A dog might take an interest in a toy long after a child has discarded it. Small parts can be swallowed and cause intestinal blockages and larger toys may be chewed up and lead to the same problem, as well as mouth lacerations. Keep an eye on where children leave new toys and put them out of reach from pets. Puppies and younger dogs are far more prone to eat first and ask questions later, even if it is not food.

Batteries

With lots of new toys and gadgets around, there are likely to be more batteries around the home than normally. If chewed and swallowed they can cause an obstruction, chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning. Even small coin-shaped disc batteries are a threat to dogs as they can damage the oesophagus.

If you think your pet has ingested any of the things mentioned above, contact your local vet immediately.

 

Dark Chocolate.

Chocolate and my dog

Christmas is on the horizon and chocolate will be in abundance! But what should we do if the worst happens and your dog manages to eat some? How can we be prepared for this if it happens?

What does chocolate do to dogs?

Chocolate contains Theobromine. Humans can break down Theobromine easily as we have the correct enzyme, but our dogs can’t. This means it builds up to dangerous levels in the blood.

Theobromine acts like caffeine, so essentially dogs who eat chocolate have a massive caffeine overdose. Mild toxicity includes vomiting/diarrhoea, tremors and high heart rates. Large doses ingested can result in seizures, heart arrhythmias and even death.

My dog has eaten chocolate, what now?

  1. Check if the dose was toxic

Dogs can have a small amount of chocolate and still be fine, but it depends on the type of chocolate and the size of your dog. Contact your vet with this information and they will be able to advise you.

  1. Get help where it is needed

Depending on the level of toxicity, you will need to act differently:

No treatment necessary

  • If the dose of Theobromine ingested is less than 20mg/kg, your vet can help you work this out.
  • The amount ingested by your dog is not enough to cause any major concerns.
  • If we want to be extra safe then giving activated charcoal (Carbodote) will bind any chocolate already in the stomach/intestines rendering it harmless. It can be mixed into food, or syringed into the mouth.

Emergency treatment advised

  • If the dose of Theobromine ingested by your dog is greater than 20mg/kg, your vet can help you work this out
  • The amount ingested could be potentially toxic. It is important you contact your local vet immediately and get your dog seen.
  • They will likely give an injection to cause your dog to vomit up any chocolate that is still in the stomach. They likely will also recommend activated charcoal to be used after this (Carbodote). In severe cases, your dog may be hospitalised.

We hope this information is helpful. Remember it is always safest to contact your vet if you are concerned in any way about your pet. They can give you the most tailored advice for your individual dog.

 

Veterinary Receptionists

Anyone who has ever worked in a Veterinary practice will testify that Veterinary receptionists are the glue that holds the practice together. They are the first voice a client hears, they are also the first face the client see’s as they walk through the door. That contact could be for a number of reasons and Veterinary receptionists are so versatile and provide the first line of care and comfort for all kinds of situations. Be it a very serious emergency and comforting a client who is understandably hysteric, to welcoming a puppy or kitten into the practice with cuddles.

We shout from the rooftops about how incredible our receptionists are and we get so much good feedback from our clients. So, what do veterinary receptionists do? We welcome you into the rewarding world of the Veterinary receptionist and give you an insight into a typical day! (Please note – we made this news article before Covid-19, our practices are currently not allowing clients into the building)

I started my shift at 8am and prioritised having the kettle boiled for the rest of the staff coming in! Next, I have to make sure our till is correct and the reception area is tidy for the first appointment at 8.30am. I then go through to see if the nursing team need any help with our medication order, or if I can set the consulting room ready for the Veterinary Surgeon. Once everything is ready to go, we open the door to the first client and welcome their pet into the practice!

By 9am, I have taken 25 phone calls which included a query on insurance, making appointments, a query regarding a passport and a serious emergency. This may seem like a varied morning but it is quite normal. By 11am, I have seen 15 clients and now have 8 insurance claim forms to submit!

We had a new client with their very nervous dog come in to the practice at 11.30am. I got cover for the reception desk and sat with the lovely dog, I even brought a few treats with me. I sat for around 10 minutes with treats in my hand and talked to the client about how they are finding a new dog, why is the lovely dog nervous and generally comforting them, as it can be equally stressful for a client if they have an anxious dog. After 10 minutes, the lovely dog came over and offered me a paw for the treats that he had been sniffing out. I gave him one treat and that seemed to spark a “best friend reaction”. He then wouldn’t leave me alone! I don’t know if I am a dog whisperer, or if they were just seriously good treats! I am happy, the client is also happy and hopefully next time the lovely boy will happily walk in and see us. If not, no problem – he can have another few treats and some time to settle in with us!

Our emergency has unfortunately turned fairly serious and we must refer her to a 24 hour care centre in Newcastle. My task is now to complete the admin work for a referral using an online portal and then liasing with the referral centre to confirm E.T.A. I have printed off directions and an insurance claim form for the client to take with them. I hope everything is okay!

1.30pm – Lunch! Not as exciting as it seems, I think I have a cheese sandwich and an apple..

3.30pm – We start consulting again and I am super excited because we have 8 puppies coming in for their first vaccination and at the same time we have a kitten and a puppy from the same household! They are joining the Well Pet Club, so I will have to remember the various amounts of benefits they get and also fill in the digital paperwork for them! The best part is when they need to read the declaration, 9 times out of 10 that means I “have to” hold their puppy or kitten 😀

6pm – Nothing but routine appointments this afternoon. 86 phone calls for me today and 22 emails! It has been fairly busy and I have just finished my 13 insurance claims Now it is time to close and get everything ready for the next day!

6.15pm – I spoke too soon! A poorly cat is coming down, so I am going to stay as we only have a vet and a nurse left and they may need some help, at least with cleaning!

7.25pm – The lovely cat is comfortable and we have just finished cleaning. Time for home!

 

There we have it! Tomorrow will be very different for our Veterinary receptionists, as will the next day. And as always, they will do it with a smile on their face and comfort in their voice. Veterinary receptionists – We salute you!

 

Cat scratching it's head.

Pyoderma

Pyoderma literally means skin infection with the formation of pus. This can occur in all pets and is uncomfortable and irritating. The cause can be simple, for example a bite or scratch or more complicated and signify hidden disease.

What causes pyoderma?

All skin is covered in a layer of bacteria. Healthy skin acts as a physical barrier to stop these bacteria entering the skin. Skin also has an effective immune system to manage any bacteria that enter the skin layers. Pyoderma occurs when the bacteria enter the skin and overwhelm the protective measures and cause infection.

There are many possible causes of pyoderma ranging from the very simple to more complex:

Wounds 

A sharp object, splinter, bite wound or scratch can penetrate the skin allowing entry of bacteria. Burns strip away protective upper layers of skin, in older or poorly mobile animals skin can be burnt by urine scalding. Pressure sores can also become infected in immobile animals. Dirty, matted coats can create areas of skin trauma and overgrowth of bacteria. Skin folds and other areas where haired skin chafes, such as the between the toes, can cause microtrauma to the skin.

Self–trauma 

Any animal with a condition that causes itching is likely to cause wounds by scratching, biting or rubbing against objects. Many conditions cause itching.

  • Parasites – most commonly, flea or mite infestations.
  • Fungi – ‘ringworm’ is the most common fungal infection in pets.
  • Allergies – usually fleas, food or allergens in the air such as pollens, house dust mites.
  • Anal gland impaction
  • Ear disease

Illness

Malnutrition affects the ability of the skin to form a protective barrier. A balanced diet with adequate calories is important for skin health. Low levels of specific nutrients, for example, Zinc deficiency can also cause skin ulceration.

Diseases affecting hormonal balance such as an underactive thyroid and Cushings disease also result in skin disease

Autoimmune disease occurs when the animal’s own immune system damages an organ. The skin can be a target for autoimmune disease often resulting in pyoderma.

Suppression of the immune system with drugs such as chemotherapy drugs or steroids can affect the immune function of the skin. Long term illness such as cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, chronic viral infections can also compromise skin health.

Young animals

The immune system of young animals is not as well developed as in the adult. Their skin is also thinner. For example in puppies pyoderma (sometimes called impetigo) can spread more quickly and cause more severe disease than in the adult dog.

What does pyoderma look like?

There is a vast spectrum of signs of pyoderma, from a ‘hot spot’ to generalised hair loss and scaling. A hot spot is a small area of inflammation, it may look like ulcer which appears almost overnight. Animals do this when a condition is extremely itchy. It is an area of self-trauma. This is often seen with anal gland disease, fleas or ear disease.

In other cases, the skin appears red and inflamed. This is often seen most clearly where skin is poorly haired and thin, so on the belly, groin or in the ‘armpits’. A rash or pustules (pimples) may be seen. There is often hair loss or the hair is sticky as the skin crusts at the base of the hairs. There may be skin ulcers, craters of skin loss, varying in depth and a foul smell on the skin.

What can you do if your pet has pyoderma?

If a small area of skin is broken by a simple injury then clipping the hair away and cleaning twice daily with a weak salt solution will be sufficient. However, if your dog is scratching and uncomfortable or a large area is affected or you see pustules or smell pus, then visit your vet.

Superficial pyoderma

As we have seen pyoderma can occur for simple reasons. In these cases after your vet examines your dog they may choose to use a topical antibacterial gel, cream or shampoo. These cases are usually called superficial pyoderma as they affect only the top layers of skin. Sometimes other treatments are required, parasite treatments, medications to stop the itch-scratch cycle (anti-itch drugs) or antibiotic tablets. Superficial pyoderma should resolve in 2-3 weeks.

Deep pyoderma

If your pet has a deep pyoderma or your vet suspects an underlying condition causing the pyoderma then investigations may be required. Usually a bacteria called Staphylococcus causes pyoderma but sometimes other bacteria are involved. A tape strip test can be used to initially identify the presence and type of bacteria. Your vet may also send samples for culture to the laboratory. This means that the correct antibiotic can be used. Yeast infection is often identified at this time and may require treatment. A skin scrape can be used to identify parasites. Samples of hair and skin can be sent to the laboratory to check for fungal infection.

Complicated deep pyoderma

If no obvious cause is found then a skin biopsy and blood tests may be needed to rule out underlying disease or allergy.

Deep pyoderma will need a long course of antibiotics, these can be oral medication and shampoos or gels as well. Your vet may suggest a dermatology diet or a diet designed to remove foods your pet may be allergic to. Dietary supplements, such as omega 3/6 fatty acids may be recommended. Just as in superficial pyoderma, parasite control, anti-itch medication and other medications for underlying conditions may be required.

Pyoderma can be a frustrating condition for you and your pet but with perseverance and the correct care most cases will resolve completely.

 

Ultrasound

Vets have had X-ray machines for many years, and X-rays are very useful – we can take a snapshot of the insides of our patients and look at bone and even (on a good day!) some of the soft-tissue structures, e.g. the size of the heart, or the lungs.

However, it has significant disadvantages. X-rays use ionising radiation, so although a one-off exposure of a cat or dog is fine, our vets and nurses dare not be in the room at the time except in the direst emergency, or we risk radiation injury (usually in the form of cancer developing). If we do have to be in there, we’ll be wrapped up in hot (and very, very heavy) lead gowns. Yes, of course we’ll do it if the patient needs it – but we’d much rather avoid it!

Finally, X-rays cannot distinguish between fluid and solid tissue. As a result, we cannot measure the internal diameter of the heart chambers, or look at the gut wall to see if it is thickened, or turned inside out (an intussusception). We cannot easily assess a tendon to see if it’s just stretched or if it’s torn all the way through and other reasons.

Ultrasound changes all that..

So, what is an ultrasound machine?

Essentially, it is a high-tech dolphin. Yes, that is what I mean, it isn’t some weird glitch on the webpage – it’s an electronic whale.

Ultrasound is sonar – like the whales squeak out high pitched sound and listens for the echo, the ultrasound machine emits ultra-high frequency sound waves (way, way higher than a dog, whale, or even a bat, can hear) which can pass harmlessly through the body. The patient won’t feel a thing and there is no detectable risk to them either. When these sound waves pass from one type of tissue into another, some of the wave is reflected back – and the ultrasound probe detects the echoes as they come in. A clever computer then puts them all together as an image on the screen, in real time.

There is just one major disadvantage to ultrasound – the sound is so high pitched, it doesn’t carry through air (or even through bone). As a result, the probe has to be exactly on the skin, and we use an “acoustic coupling gel” to get good contact with the skin and therefore a good quality image. However, this means that it is almost impossible to scan through a fur coat! That’s why we will often have to shave a small patch to scan through – the fur traps bubbles of air and even if we wet the area with spirit, we can’t always get a good enough look inside.

So, what do we use it for?

Well, there are four main uses for ultrasound in veterinary medicine.

Firstly, just like in humans, we can use it to look at the uterus – for example, at the puppies and kittens living there. This allows us to see whether a bitch or a queen is pregnant at a very early stage, and assess how healthy the babies are (by looking at their little hearts beating!). Even more importantly, we can examine the uterus in a sick bitch to determine whether or not she has a pyo (a potentially fatal womb infection). Here, we’re looking for two black circles (sometimes called “shotgun barrels!) which are the two horns of the uterus when they’re filled with fluid.

Secondly, we can examine other abdominal organs – the intestines, the kidneys, the bladder, the spleen and the liver. This way, we can check for tumours, twists, and other injuries, without having to open up the patient in surgery. We can even use the scanner to see if there is free blood or fluid inside the abdomen that might indicate internal bleeding; or guide a biopsy needle to a suspicious lump, without needing surgery.

Thirdly, we can examine tendons and ligaments. This is occasionally useful in dogs and cats (for example, in Achilles tendon injuries), but is usually more an equine vet thing!

Finally, and becoming increasingly important, we can look at the beating heart of a dog or cat. We can measure the amount of blood backing up in the atria (a marker of heart failure), see how thickened or thinned the walls of the heart are, measure the speed of blood passing through a narrowed vessel, or see blood leaking through a damaged valve. This has genuinely revolutionised cardiology for dogs and cats, and with more and better scanners always coming onto the market, it’s going to be more and more important.

So, why do we still have our X-ray machines?

Well, as we said, the ultrasound machine can’t look through air (so it’s useless for lungs) or bone (so it’s fairly rubbish for looking at fractures). It also can’t be used to count how many puppies or kittens there are in a patient – we still need X-rays to count them (and yes, it is safe for them as long as it’s only a single exposure).

Put together, though, the two machines can diagnose over 99% of the lesions, injuries and diseases we need to look at in practice – not bad!