Once you get your newly adopted pet home and start to get them settled, it’s time to get them in for a wellness exam at the veterinarian. Ideally, this happens within the first week of coming home. This visit is a great time to help your dog or cat have positive associations with trips to the vet so they don’t develop life-long fears.
Not only does this help to establish a positive association with the veterinary practice, but your veterinarian will check to ensure your newly adopted pet is healthy. They’ll establish a health baseline, which helps them to monitor your pet’s health and alert them early if something goes wrong.
What to expect at your pet’s first vet visit
The first visit is different than future visits because your veterinarian will take time to get to know your pet’s medical history, do a more thorough examination to help establish your adopted pet’s normal, and discuss ways to keep them healthy.
Review of medical records. Medical records can help alert your veterinarian to any preexisting conditions that your pet has, and any care that they have received before. Remember to bring their records to the visit if you have them!
Thorough physical exam. Your veterinarian will check your cat or dog’s eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and a whole bunch more. This helps to make sure your pet is healthy and establishes what’s normal for your pet. Because every pet is unique, this baseline will help with future vet visits, often saving you time and money.
Lifestyle discussion. Your vet will likely talk to you about your new pet, how best to take care of them, and how to integrate them into your home. This is your opportunity to ask any questions you have about your new dog or cat. Write them down before your appointment to make sure you don’t forget anything!
Parasite prevention. Preventing fleas, ticks, heartworms, and internal parasites will help to keep your pet healthy. Your veterinarian will recommend a parasite prevention protocol, which may include oral medication, injections, or topical applications.
Diagnostic testing. Your veterinarian may want to test your pet’s stool for evidence of intestinal parasites like worms, coccidia, and Giardia. Veterinary staff will let you know if you should bring a stool sample to the appointment. Typically a sample the size of your thumb is enough.
Vaccines. Depending on what vaccinations your pet received before getting adopted, your veterinarian may recommend additional vaccines to protect them from disease.
Spay or neuter discussion. If your pet wasn’t neutered at the rescue or shelter, or if they are too young, your veterinarian may discuss when to schedule the procedure.
First puppy vet visit
A puppy’s first vet visit may also include discussion about socialization and training in addition to the general items above.
Vaccine schedule. Depending on your puppy’s age and how many rounds of shots they’ve already received, your veterinarian will provide a schedule of remaining puppy shots they’ll need to keep them healthy.
Socialization discussion. Socialization is so important for your puppy to grow into a confident dog. Your veterinarian may talk with you about puppy socialization classes or give you ideas of things to expose your puppy to (like people, vacuums, floor surfaces, etc.) during their crucial imprint period.
Training discussion. Your veterinarian may talk about the important skills for your puppy to learn or offer suggestions for classes and dog trainers you can work with.
First kitten vet visit
The first kitten vet visit is a great time to start desensitizing them to their carrier and helping them have a positive experience at the vet practice. This visit may also include kitten-specific items in addition to the general list above:
Vaccines. Depending on your kitten’s age and how many rounds of shots they’ve already received, your veterinarian will provide a schedule of remaining vaccines they’ll need to keep them healthy.
Blood tests. If your kitten wasn’t previously tested for FeLV (feline leukemia virus) or FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), a feline retrovirus blood test will likely be recommended.
Socialization discussion. Your veterinarian may offer suggestions on how to socialize your kitten to new people, animals, and environments.
2020 has been a strange year for everyone, that is for sure!
We hope 2021 will resemble something closer to “normal” and we want to share with you our exciting plans for 2021, including exclusive offers and monthly events!
So, what’s coming in 2021?
- 12 months, 12 offers – that is right! Save money every month on procedures, consultations, nurse clinics, products and more!
- Home delivery service for preventative treatment through our Well Pet Club! Not only can you save up to £120 a year through our Well Pet Club, coming very soon we will be able to offer a home delivery service!
- Online repeat prescription requests! We understand that many of us lead such busy lives and it is often 9pm before we get to sit down and then realise we forgot to order “poppy’s” medication! Well, coming soon we will be able to offer online prescription requests (please allow 48 hours for your medication to be ready to collect)
- Exciting in house advances! Our veterinary surgeon Dr Alex Hirst is making great progress in gaining his Orthopedic certificate which will mean we can take on more complex surgeries!
- We will soon be able to offer daily Laparoscopic keyhole surgeries! Our popular monthly surgery will soon become a daily surgery. We know this is great news for many as this popular surgery has grown and grown over the last 12 months!
- Tails and tales – our monthly blog and newsletter will be launching in January and we are very excited! If you are not signed up to our mailing list, we would highly recommend you do so! Next time you call us, ask to receive “marketing” emails, or if it is easier, then please fill in our form
Make sure to sign up to our newsletter or as ever, keep checking our Facebook page!
Here’s to 2021….
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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!
What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is an airway infection that causes a dry hacking cough in dogs. Similar to human flu, kennel cough can be caused by a number of different germs (viruses and bacteria). It’s most common in areas where lots of different dogs gather (such as walks, kennels and dog events) and can survive in the environment for several weeks. Kennel cough spreads by direct contact between dogs, in the air and on surfaces (such as food bowls and leads). Dogs with kennel cough should be kept away from other dogs and public spaces while they are coughing, and for two to three weeks afterwards.
Coughing is the most common symptom of kennel cough, but in more severe cases, it can cause symptoms such as a high temperature or a reduced appetite.
Symptoms of kennel cough
Symptoms of kennel cough usually take 3-14 days to develop and then last for 1-3 weeks. Most dogs develop a hacking cough and stay otherwise quite well, but puppies, older dogs, and poorly dogs can develop more serious symptoms such as:
- A reduced appetite
- Low energy (lethargy)
- A high temperature (fever).
- Illustration showing spread of kennel cough
- Kennel cough is highly contagious and can spread in the air. Click to enlarge.
When to contact your vet
There are many different conditions that can cause coughing so it’s a good idea to have your dog checked by your vet if they have a severe cough or have been coughing for more than a few days. We have to follow strict protocols when we suspect a pet has Kennel Cough but you will be advised of this when calling to make your appointment.
How much does the vaccine cost?
Firstly, it is not a “vaccination”. We can administer and oral solution or a nasal spray, depending upon what your dog may tolerate better. For members of our Well Pet Club, the cost is £28.01. For non members the cost is £35.00. Just like the booster vaccination, your dog will be protected for 12 months.
Halloween poses a number of health and welfare risks to dogs, from eating foods that can be toxic to man’s best friend, such as chocolate and some sweets, as well as objects like decorations!
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is poisonous to dogs, as well as other animals such as cats, rodents and rabbits. Generally speaking, the darker and more expensive the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and therefore the more poisonous it is. White chocolate contains very little theobromine and so is unlikely to cause chocolate poisoning, but is still very fatty and can make your dog ill. Chocolate can initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but is a stimulant and so can cause your dog to become excitable, as well as develop muscle twitching, tremors, fitting and life-threatening problems with their heart.
If available in large quantities, some dogs may gorge themselves on sugary sweets kept aside for, or collected by, trick or treaters. After eating lots of sugar, or even lots of fat, dogs can develop pancreatitis (an inflammation of the pancreas), which may cause them to be off their food, develop vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and go into organ failure.
Some sugar-free sweets and chewing gums contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol, which can be very poisonous to dogs. Xylitol is more commonly found in food products in America, but is beginning to appear in sugar-free products in the UK as well. Xylitol can cause an otherwise healthy dog’s blood sugar level to drop to dangerous levels and can also cause liver failure.
If eaten, sweet wrappers, lollipop sticks, food containers/boxes, or even small parts from a Halloween costume can all cause an obstruction in your dog’s gut. This can be very dangerous and may require surgical intervention. Signs of an obstruction may include your dog being off their food, vomiting, lethargy and not defecating or finding it difficult to defecate.
What to do if your dog has eaten something it shouldn’t
- Call us immediately
- It is important that we make an informed decision as to whether your dog needs to be clinically assessed or treated. Where possible please make sure you have the following information to hand:
- what your dog has eaten
- how much has been eaten
- when it was eaten
- Do not try and make your dog sick – trying to do this can sometimes cause other complications, which can make your dog unwell
Our dedicated vets are on call 24/7, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have eaten sweets we highly recommend calling us as this can be a potentially fatal situation.
Caring for older dogs
On average dogs live for around 12 years, although many live for much longer. Over the years you can expect your dog to change, not just physically but mentally also. What once interested, may no longer do so. How do you cope with the changes?
Keeping your older dog comfortable
Older dogs may need more rest. Somewhere quiet where they won¿t be disturbed in a soft, cosy bed away from draughts. They may need to go to the toilet more frequently. Incontinence or changes in how often they go to the toilet should be discussed with your vet.
Make sure everything your dog needs is easily accessible so they don’t have to go too far to find their water, food, toys and bed. Smooth, slippery floors can be difficult for older dogs to walk on, so put a rug or carpet down to give them something to grip.
Feeding a senior dog
As they get older a dog’s dietary requirements change. It varies with breed and size, but at around seven your dog might benefit from gradually moving onto a diet designed for senior dogs. A vet can advise what’s best.
Monitor how much your pet is eating and drinking – mention any changes in their eating habits or weight to your vet as there could be an underlying medical reason.
If you have other, younger dogs in the house, make sure your senior dog can access their food without having to compete.
Changing needs of older dogs
Although they may be slowing down, senior dogs still need regular exercise and mental stimulation – walking them little and often will help keep their weight down and toys and puzzle feeders can keep them entertained. Wearing a coat when out and about can help keep them warm and dry.
Gentle grooming can help you spend quality time with your dog which also gives you the chance to check for lumps and bumps, aches and pains.
If your dog seems stiff or has trouble with things like getting out of bed and going upstairs, your vet may advise some treatments that can help.
Health and welfare
Older dogs may have poor hearing and/or sight, so ask the family to avoid sudden loud noises so that they don’t get startled. If your dog appears to be ignoring you it could be because their hearing has deteriorated. Ask your vet to check them over.
Senior dogs may need their nails trimming more often if they’re exercising less. This is something your local vet can do for you.
If you have any concerns about your older dog, always check with a vet. Changes in behaviour may be signs of underlying issues, not just down to `old-age’ – so make sure to take them for a regular health check.
2020 has been a very peculiar year for everyone and not always for the best. We don’t want to dwell too much on the negatives so we have been working behind the scenes to come up with some fantastic prizes for our Christmas competition this year. So far, it is looking really good! We will be announcing our prizes and how to enter the competition in November, so watch this space!
So … Whats coming up at Orchard House Vets?
You may remember at the start of 2020, we had a filming crew at our surgeries who were making a film for our website. We are delighted to announce in the next couple of weeks we will be releasing the footage! You may spot a few familiar faces ..
Last year our winner received an afternoon tea for 2 at The Beaumont Hotel, £50 cash and a pet hamper worth £35. This year we are going even bigger and offering multiple winners multiple wonderful prizes! Keep a close eye on our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates. We will be revealing the competition in November.
Christmas card competition
We will be posting on our Facebook and Instagram pages for you to share the best pictures of your pets. We will be selecting 12 runners up who will have their pets feature on our Christmas card, and one lucky winner will receive a prize of a one hour pet photo shoot with professional photographer, Ed Charlton. Ed will provide digital copies of the photographs taken and we will shortly be announcing details of how to enter this competition!
Laparoscopic keyhole surgery
We introduced Laparoscopic keyhole spay surgery in 2019 and have had wonderful feedback from the service. The feedback has been so good that we have decided to run more regular surgeries! Details will follow later in the year but this is a very exciting time for us as so many of you have used this service so far.
12 months of promotions
In 2021, we are going to offer specific promotions every month. We will be releasing more information in December but we are very excited to offer our wonderful clients discounts throughout 2021 and to promote the very best care for your pets.
Orchard House Vets awards
We will be holding our own awards in 2021 and we couldn’t be more excited about this! We will be asking for nominations from clients for some of our categories and our team will vote for some of our categories also. The categories will be as below and will be announced in mid 2021!
- Orchard House Vets staff of the year
- Orchard House Vets patient of the year
- Testimonial of the year
- Pet friendly business of the year
- Pet service of the year (kennels/catteries, groomers, dog walkers etc)
Orchard House Vets – a day in the life
We will be giving clients a backstage pass to our surgeries so you can see first hand the hard work and dedication that goes into our veterinary practices, and what goes on as soon as the consulting room door is closed. We will be shadowing different members of the team, having interviews with them and also asking clients to be involved by sending in questions which our staff will answer directly.
Orchard House Vets – in the community
At the moment, it is a little hard to predict the future and what we will be (and won’t) able to do. However, before lockdown we started planning for our practice to be out in the community. We will be approaching local charities to see how we can help them and our staff will be undertaking fundraising events, so watch this space!
We want to connect more with our clients and we are passionate about the care we provide our patients. We want to do even more and are always happy for suggestions on our services and our community presence. We would like to share the ways you can connect with us.
Contacting us directly with suggestions, feedback, testimonials and any events you may have planned.