Don’t leave your dog alone in a car.
If you’re going out in the car, think very carefully about what you are going to do with your dog. You should never leave a dog alone in a car.
It can get unbearably hot in a car on a sunny day, even when it’s not that warm. In fact, when it’s 22°C/72°F outside, the temperature inside a car can soar to 47°C/117°F within 60 minutes.
Unlike humans, dogs pant to help keep themselves cool. In a hot stuffy car dogs can’t cool down – leaving a window open or a sunshield on your windscreen won’t keep your car cool enough.
Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke. For example, dogs with short snouts, fatter or heavily muscled dogs and long-haired breeds, as well as very old or very young dogs. Dogs with certain diseases are more prone to heatstroke, as are dogs on certain medication.
If dogs are unable to reduce their body temperature, they will develop heatstroke. Signs to look for include: heavy panting, profuse salivation, a rapid pulse, very red gums/tongue, lethargy, lack of coordination, reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances.
If your dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move him/her to a shaded, cool area and ring your vet for advice immediately. Heatstroke can be fatal and should always be treated as an emergency.
Dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature gradually lowered:
• Immediately douse your dog with cool (not cold) water, to avoid shock – you could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, or use a spray filled with cool water and place your dog in the breeze of a fan.
• Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water.
• Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle – never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver.
Once you have cooled your dog down you should take him/her straight to the veterinary surgery.
The warmer weather that we experienced last week has triggered a huge surge in flea activity over the last few days.
Fleas reproduce faster in warm conditions. Historically flea levels should be very low at this time of the year as the weather should be cold and our houses used to also be cold.
Over the last 50 years or so, as more and more people have installed central heating and our houses are warm in the winter as well as the summer fleas have become more prevalent in the winter months. Even so, flea activity usually increases gradually as the temperatures rise in spring.
This year, temperatures have rocketed to the kind of levels normally seen in high summer and this has led to an explosion in the flea numbers. By early last week, we started to see the first couple of cases and by the end of the week, we were seeing over 20 cats and dogs per day with flea infestations.
Fleas cause a distressing itch and typically the fleas collect at the tail head and on the face or neck. They cause the pet to scratch and this can lead to self-trauma to the skin which can become inflamed and sore. Many animals are allergic to flea bites and can develop a generalised skin disease and secondary bacterial infections can result from the broken skin.
Sometimes it is possible to see the fleas but often they can be difficult to detect.
Flea control must include using something to kill the fleas on your pet and also any eggs that may have been laid in your house. Since each flea can lay up to 500 eggs, treating the adults alone is unlikely to control the problem.
We regularly see animals that have been treated for fleas with products that are not effective. Buying ineffective products is waste of money for the owner and prolongs the animal’s discomfort. Contact your vet for effective treatment to prevent fleas before they infest your pets and your home.
Last Monday morning, surgery was suddenly interrupted when a collapsed German Shepherd Dog called Ziggy was rushed in.
Ziggy is a fine looking breeding bitch and had suffered complications in labour over the weekend, when a pup became stuck. A routine caesarean operation had been performed and when awake from the anaesthetic, Ziggy and her new pups were discharged.
When Ziggy was brought in on Monday, she was very ill. Her gums were very pale and her temperature was below normal. She was unable to stand and her breathing was very fast and shallow. It was clear that unless we acted quickly, Ziggy was not strong enough to hold on much longer.
I admitted Ziggy and the nursing team and I quickly started her treatment. Firstly, we inserted an intravenous catheter and set up a drip. We used a special fluid called a plasma volume expander to help to support her circulation. I also took a blood sample from her. The sample was rushed to our in-house laboratory and tested using the biochemistry and haematology analysers. Results were processed within 6 minutes. The test confirmed that Ziggy was extremely anaemic. An ultrasound scan was performed on her abdomen where we could see free fluid. Ziggy was then prepared for a procedure called abdominocentesis which involves a sampling needle being passed into her abdomen and we were able to confirm that the fluid in her abdomen was blood.
German Shepherd dogs can have a defect in their blood clotting mechanism which reduces their ability to form blood clots, in a similar way to people with haemophilia. Samples were taken to investigate her clotting ability and they confirmed that Ziggy did indeed have a clotting defect. The blood supply to the womb of a pregnant bitch is enormous to support the growing pups and I was suspicious that there was continued blood loss from the womb because her blood would not clot properly.
The difficulty was how to deal with the problem. Ziggy was too weak to anaesthetise and attempting further surgery would be likely to disturb any fragile clots that had formed. After discussion with the owner, we made the difficult decision not to undertake further surgery, but to manage Ziggy’s circulation with a blood transfusion and further I.V fluids.
Slowly, over a period of days, Ziggy has gradually improved. Fortunately, while still reduced, she does have some clotting ability and at the end of the week, she was able to go home. She will, of course, have to avoid further surgery where possible in the future, and special precautions will need to be taken if this necessity arises.
Bramble, our 3 year old Black Labrador was mated at the beginning of October after previously rejecting a series of suitors. Bitches are pregnant for 63 days and I ultrasound scanned her at 3 weeks and confirmed that she was definitely pregnant.
For the 10 days before whelping we had been quite concerned about Bramble. She started to get very large and uncomfortable and was reluctant to eat. Since this was her first pregnancies, the changes to her body were quite bewildering for her and as her milk started to come in, her temperature shot up and she felt very sorry for herself.
The high temperature worried me as I was concerned that something may have gone very wrong with the pups however an ultrasound scan confirmed good strong heart beats in the pups. I prescribed a course of antibiotics and some medication to lower her temperature and the fever passed and she started to look much brighter.
Finally!!… on Thursday morning Sarah, my wife, rang me at the surgery to say that Brambles waters had just burst. Sarah sat with her and by the time I managed to get home at lunch time, 2 pups had been born. While I was back at work, I got regular updates as further pups were born. In all, Bramble had 6 Black Labrador puppies – 2 dogs and 4 bitches. The pups are all of very similar sizes and are very lively.
Bramble was a little bit bewildered by the first pup but has now taken to motherhood fantastically well. She is incredibly gentle and attentive and the pups alternate between frantic feeding and very deep sleep. We weigh them regularly and, as expected, their weight dropped very slightly in the first 24 hours but it has now stabilised and they are starting to grow and get stronger.
The puppies eyes will open in a couple of weeks so we will have 8 pairs of Labrador eyes watching us eat our Christmas Dinner this year!!
Morning surgery was well underway the other day. The appointment book was full with the usual selection of booster vaccinations, scratching dogs and vomiting cats. It had been a typically busy surgery with all three consulting rooms being occupied until one vet had to leave to start his list of large animal visits leaving just myself and my colleague to finish surgery before starting on the operating list.
road traffic accident…..
I had just started explaining the benefits of our in-house insurance policy when the door of my consulting room opened and a worried looking receptionist peered round the door. “Excuse me” she said “Please could you come straight away”. I made my apologies and followed her into the waiting room and then into the vacant consulting room next door.
A distraught young couple were in the room hugging a bundle of blood stained fleece material. Inside the fleece was a small black and white cat which was wide eyed and breathing rapidly through an open mouth.
Quickly, the story was recounted: while driving to work, the couple had spotted the young cat at the side of the road and recognised that it was distressed. They stopped, scooped up the cat and rushed it down to the surgery. On examination, it had splintered claws on all four feet; this is often an indication of a road traffic accident. Feeling down the legs, I could not detect any obvious breaks but the cat was certainly dangerously shocked as it was very pale, its heart rate was over 200 beats per minute and it was breathing at over 50 breaths per minute. That level of shock is very dangerous and we had to act quickly.
As I examined the cat, one of our nurses scanned the cat for a microchip, as happens in all such cases, where the ownership of a patient is unknown. Fortunately, the scanner bleeped indicating a chip was found. A quick call to the microchip database and the owner was identified; 2 minutes later, the owner had been contacted and brought fully up to date. The cat was placed on an intravenous drip to treat the shock and when stable, was X rayed and treated successfully before being re-united with her owner.
Identifying the owner quickly is essential in such instances; the microchip allowed us to contact and inform the owner, enabling us to get consent to treat this cat rapidly, alleviating great suffering, and ensuring the best possible outcome. I am pleased to say she has made a full recovery!
It has been a big week for one of our youngest pets Lily, owned by Robert White. The Border Terrier pup is just over ten months old and Robert decided it was time for her to be speyed. Depending on the circumstances, he tends to advise allowing puppies go through just one heat before having the procedure, as speying helps to reduce the risk of mammary tumours if it is carried out while the bitch is still young.
Leading by example, Robert allowed Lily to go through her first heat in the summer – much to the delight of some of the local dogs when they spotted her in the woods and had to be restrained!
He performed the operation himself on Friday morning (October 21st) and it all went “exceptionally well”. She was looked after by the nurses at Thongsbridge when she came around from the op and then taken home later that afternoon for a spot of pampering.
Robert’s wife Wendy had even bought Lily a new sheepskin bed and placed it next to the Aga to make sure it was nice and cosy. She was rather sore for the rest of the evening and much quieter than normal, but that’s to be expected following such big operations.
The next morning Robert went out to work and returned home prepared to be in Lily’s bad books. But he needn’t have worried, because as soon as he walked through the door she skipped over to him and was as affectionate as always. Later that afternoon Lily was showing such good signs of improvement that Robert and Wendy decided to take her for a short walk, which she coped with incredibly well and without any complaints.
By Sunday Lily was almost back to her usual self and even managed to walk down the stairs when Robert’s back was turned (after happily allowing him to carry her everywhere for the past few days).
Robert says: “I’m really pleased with the way Lily has recovered so quickly from the op, but it’s important to remember that the wound can take some time to heal, so make sure your dog takes it easy in the weeks following the procedure.”
A couple of weeks ago, during a busy afternoon surgery, I was presented with a 12 week old British Bulldog puppy called Rollie. Most puppies at that age are very cute but Rollie, with her folds of excess skin and her huge wide eyes was instantly a hit with our nurses and receptionists.
Bulldogs belong to a group of dogs called the brachycephalic breeds. They have been bred over many generations to have a short muzzle. Many people think that this gives them a “human like” appearance. Unfortunately, while their external features have been modified by breeding, the structures deep in the throat have not, so the result is that the soft palate (the fleshy part at the back of the throat) is too long for the shape of the face.
As Rollie was carried across the waiting room in her owner’s arms, I could already hear the tell-tale bubbly rattle from her throat. Despite being bright and playful, Rollie’s chest sounded awful through the stethoscope and I had a bad feeling about state of her lungs. We admitted her immediately to the hospital and x-rays of her chest were taken within the hour. The X-rays revealed a severe pneumonia and because of the problems in Rollies throat, she simply could not cough up the fluid that was accumulating in her lungs. The X-rays showed that she was literally drowning in the fluid within her chest.
Swabs were taken and she was put onto powerful medication to deal with the infection and break up the mucous in her chest. Over the next few days, we kept a close watch on her progress and saw some of her signs ease a little but her chest continued to sound very noisy.
Despite the medication, she just could not cough up the mucus on her chest so the decision was taken to shorten her soft palate surgically. As soon as Rollie was anaesthetised and a breathing tube was inserted into her windpipe bypassing her soft palate, she immediately breathed more easily. It is vital that the correct amount of tissue is removed as removing too little would not achieve the desired effect and removing too much would mean that Rollie could not stop food entering the lungs rather than the stomach. A portion of the soft palate was removed from the back of her throat and as she came round from the anaesthetic, it was immediately clear that her breathing was improved.
It has taken a few days for her to make a full recovery but she is now back home, her breathing is much improved and she is just as cute as ever.
It does not take very many warmer days before we start to see cats and dogs being brought in to the surgery with Flea infestations.
Fleas are the most common parasite in household pets and every cat and dog is likely to be infested at some stage in its life. Fleas are very undesirable parasites which feed off our domestic pets – their natural hosts. When environmental conditions are optimal the flea population will grow at a very rapid pace and, once you have a flea infestation, it is very difficult to get rid of the problem.
Fleas can cause enormous problems to pets by spreading worms and other diseases causing itchiness, irritation and in some cases resulting in severe allergic reactions. It’s also very embarrassing when they start biting your human guests at dinner parties!
Flea eggs hatch when the correct surrounding temperature and humidity are reached. This starts at the beginning of spring and results in a massive flea population by the end of summer and early autumn. Flea eggs laid in the autumn will hatch the following spring or, if indoors, whenever you turn on your central heating.
The best flea control programme must be tailored specifically to your pet and its lifestyle. Your vet will be able to give that advice. We take into consideration many factors such as how many dogs and cats there are in your home, whether they go out and, if so, where and whether you intend travelling to Southern Europe or any areas of the UK affected by tick infestation. There are now a great number of very good products to suit different pets and owners. In general we recommend a spot-on product which is applied to the back of the neck on a monthly basis. Some spot-on products have the added advantage of providing protection against roundworms and lungworm.
Depending on you and your pet’s needs, there are also ranges of other products including: tablets that control and kill fleas, an injection for your cat that provides 6 months protection and sprays for your pet, carpets and floorboards. To achieve optimal flea control, preventive treatment should be provided throughout the year.
Working closely with your vet, who will give you advice on how to use these products effectively, you will be able to stop these nasty little insects making a meal of your pet and you!
Rabies is an extremely distressing disease which can pass from animals to people and still occurs occasionally on mainland Europe. The UK has been very effective in keeping rabies out through quarantine and more recently through the Pet Travel Scheme.
The Pet Travel Scheme was established some years ago to allow owners to travel to certain countries with their pet and re-enter the UK without quarantine restrictions. The scheme has been popular with people holidaying abroad and those with a second home overseas. Vets that have completed the LVI training are licenced by the UK authorities to issue pet passports. We have issued passports to several hundred animals in the Huddersfield area.
To obtain a Pet Passport there are a few steps you must follow:
- Firstly your pet must be permanently identified. In most cases this means he must have a microchip fitted. If he already has a chip, so long as the chip conforms to certain standards, he will comply.
- Next he must have vaccination injections against Rabies. This is an injection into the scruff of his neck just like his annual shot and is very safe. We must then wait for a couple of weeks to allow his immunity to Rabies to develop.
- The third step is to blood sample him. The sample is taken from the vein in the front leg and is sent to an EU-approved laboratory. The lab measures the antibody response to the vaccination to determine your pet’s level of protection from Rabies. A report is sent to your vet from the laboratory.
So long as the level of protection from Rabies is above a required level, your Vet can issue a passport which is a small book (similar to your own passport) containing details of the pet, the vaccinations it has had and the blood test results.
This book is shown to the authorities at the border controls as proof that the pet does not pose a risk as a carrier of rabies.
These steps must be carried out well in advance of first travelling because the passport only becomes valid 6 months after the date of positive blood sampling ( this is because the incubation period between an animal contracting rabies and first showing signs can be up to 6 months) This means that you need to plan your first trip well in advance.
Once your pet has a valid passport a booster vaccination within the required time frame (usually every 3 years) is sufficient to avoid the need for repeat blood tests.
Contact your vet for further information or go to the DEFRA website.