Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Ten tips for keeping your pet safe this summer

We know you want to do all you can to keep your pet healthy, happy and safe this summer. There are a few things to think about to keep them from harm — we’ve listed our top ten tips below!

Tip number 1: Barbecues

  • Burns are common in both dogs and cats. Make sure your pet can’t get near the barbeque until it has cooled down.
  • Skewers and chicken bones in leftovers or in the bin are a big problem for dogs if they get to them. They may not even realise they have eaten them with the meat but they can do massive internal damage. To prevent this, make sure that skewers or chicken with bones aren’t left in your dog’s reach, or are put in a container. It’s also wise to take the bin out straight away to stop them from getting to any meat and skewers left in there. We know they’ll sniff them out otherwise, given the chance!

Tip number 2: Heatstroke

  • Hot cars are a common cause of heatstroke in dogs, which can be fatal. Never leave a dog in a car in hot weather, even if it is shady and you only intend to be 5 minutes. It isn’t worth the risk.
  • Shade and water is key at this time of year to prevent heatstroke. All of your pets should have this at all times in hot weather. If you are going out with your dog consider taking an umbrella and a pop-up water bowl so that they can rest in the shade and have a drink wherever you go.

Tip number 3: Hot pavements

Hot pavements can burn dogs’ paws. Ideally only take your dog out for a walk in the morning or evening when it is cooler. Also, you can try and walk on the grass instead. If you are unsure if it is too hot, follow the 7 second rule – you will soon know if it would burn their paws! Place the back of your hand on the pavement for 7 seconds, if it’s too hot for you – it’s too hot for them.

Tip number 4: Summer travels

It’s very important that when you are going away, your pet will be safe — if they’re coming with you or not!

  • If your pet is on regular medication, then make sure that you come to see us before you go away so you don’t run out.
  • If your pet is coming with you on holiday and you are travelling by car, then you need to schedule in lots of breaks (ideally at least once an hour) so that your pet can get out of the car, go to the toilet and just stretch their legs. Always make sure there is plenty of water for them to drink. Be prepared for travel sickness, many dogs and cats get travel sick. If they are beginning to look unwell then pull over at the next services to let them get some air and start to feel a little better. A long journey can be much more stressful than we can imagine, you can use pheromone sprays to reduce stress – get in touch with our team if you’d like more advice.
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Tip number 5: Staying in the cattery or kennels

Make sure your pet is fully vaccinated, flea treated and wormed before they go in, you don’t want them to come out sick or infested! If your dog is going to stay with a sitter, or dog walker it’s advised that your dog gets the kennel cough vaccine, which is a quick and painless spray up the nose.

Tip number 6: Going abroad with your pet

If you plan to take your pet abroad then you will need to come in and see us in advance of your trip. Pets must have an Animal Health Certificate to travel and to qualify they will need a rabies vaccination and wormer in advance of the trip. Our vets will also give you advice about travelling and others risks when abroad.

Tip number 7: Flystrike

Rabbit owners, this one’s for you! Flystrike is where flies lay eggs on moist areas (often the back end), which then hatch to become maggots. This is very painful, as the maggots eat their way into the poor rabbit’s flesh. Any rabbit in the summer is at risk of flystrike, especially those with a wet or dirty back end as this attracts the flies. If you notice your rabbit has flystrike, ring us straight away. To prevent this, you need to check your rabbit’s bottom every day and clean it up. This should stop the flies from being attracted to that area and means you can catch it early if there is any flystrike.

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Tip number 8: Fleas

Fleas are very common at this time of year and if you have a pet that goes outdoors then it is inevitable for them to get fleas. You can’t always see fleas on your pet when they have them, so it is always best to treat whether you can see them or not.

  • It is important that you treat your pet regularly (once a month normally but check the product you are using) and ideally with a prescription-strength product bought from us – that way you can be sure it is safe to use and is going to work!
  • If your pet already has fleas your house will also be infested. You will need to wash all bedding at a high temperature, hoover thoroughly including crevices in sofas and treating the house with insecticidal flea spray.

Tip number 9: Ticks

These little bloodsuckers carry some very nasty and potentially fatal diseases such as Lyme disease and, more recently, babesiosis. This is mostly a risk for dogs that go walking through long grass (don’t forget about those pesky grass seeds either!). To prevent diseases from ticks, you can regularly treat for ticks (you can get a combination product with the flea treatment) and check your dog over every time you come back from a walk. We can always give advice on tick removal and there are specific tick removal tools, this allows you to be sure you have removed it all and have not left the mouthparts in.

Tip number 10: Suncream

In the summer months, the UV rays from the sun can be a problem for our pets, just like us. There is a form of skin cancer that can be caused by too many UV rays, especially in our white (or pink nosed) pets. You can buy pet-friendly sun cream at most pet supermarkets and this only really needs to be applied to the nose and ears (especially important in cats).

How to protect your dog from grass seeds

At this time of year grass seeds are a common problem and can pose a real threat to dogs if left unfound or untreated as the seeds can work their way into the skin and become infected or cause lameness. The tops of long grass stems found in gardens or parks can become very dry during the summer months and will easily attach themselves to your dog’s fur as they walk past, without you even noticing. Paws, ears and under the armpit are the most common affected areas, so what can you do to protect your dog from grass seeds?


How do I tell if my dog has an issue with a grass seed?

Your dog may show signs that it is being irritated by a grass seed such as:

  • excessively biting or licking the affected area, especially in between the toes
  • shaking their head if there is a grass seed in the ear, or pawing at the head
  • sneezing excessively if there is a seed up the nose
  • a closed, uncomfortable eye

If the grass seed has pierced the skin, you may notice swelling around the affected area.  Occasionally, the only sign of a grass seed infection might be lethargy or loss of appetite if the grass seed has penetrated into the internal body cavities of the chest, throat or abdomen.

Are all dogs affected by grass seeds?

Yes, all dogs can be affected by grass seeds, but especially those breeds that have longer fur and feathered toes. It is best to check your dog over as soon as you get home from your walk to catch any stray seeds that may have attached themselves and dispose of them.

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What if I cannot remove the grass seed?

A grass seed that is seen on the surface of your dog’s fur is easily removable, but if you notice the grass seed has burrowed its way into the skin or if you think you dog has a grass seed in their eye or ear, contact your local Goddard Veterinary Practice immediately.

How can I protect my dog from grass seeds?

  • Try and avoid letting your dog roam or jump around in long grassy areas
  • Check your dog over with your hand when back at home, paying attention to the feet, the inside of the ears and the armpit
  • Brush out any seeds you may find and dispose of them in a bin
  • Look out for any signs that a grass seed may be irritating your dog
  • Have your dog regularly groomed if the coat is prone to matting, or has a long coat.

Long grassy areas are also a haven for ticks and fleas, so be sure to keep your preventative treatment up to date and dog protected.

I need more advice, what should I do?

Call and speak to one of the team for advice or book an appointment. We’re here to help.

Neutering Your Female Dog (Spaying)

Why is it important?

There are many reasons to consider neutering your female dog (spaying) and studies in the USA have shown that neutered female dogs (bitches) live longer than unneutered bitches.  Neutering does come with some risks and we will discuss the advantages and disadvantages below and let you know what to expect with the surgery and the recovery from the procedure.  There are a lot of people and websites who will tell you that you must have your bitch spayed, or that you mustn’t. In this guide, however, we’ll look at all the pros and cons, so that you can make your own mind up.  There is also no ‘one size fits all breeds’ and we recommend discussing the procedure and the timing of it for your dog with your veterinary surgeon.

What is spaying?

Spaying a bitch is a surgical procedure performed under general anaesthetic where the ovaries (and, usually, the uterus or womb) are surgically removed. It’s a fairly big operation though young dogs tend to recover remarkably quickly from the procedure.  

So, what are the advantages – why do people do it?

Advantage 1

Ending her cycles. Most bitches will come into season roughly every six months (although it may be longer for large and giant breeds) and the season usually lasts for 3 weeks. When they’re in season, or ‘in heat’, they pass a bloody discharge from their vulva, which can be really messy. In addition, every male dog in the vicinity is likely to be queuing up at your back door trying to mate with her! Some bitches also undergo quite dramatic personality changes, and they may suffer from ‘False Pregnancies’ in the couple of months following the season and even start to produce milk. If they get ‘caught’ by a dog, it’s likely to be a real pregnancy and then you have to look after and find homes for all the puppies! Spaying completely removes her cycle (it cannot occur) and she cannot become pregnant.

This means you’re not going to be part of the overpopulation problem, with dogs stacked up waiting for rehoming in shelters and rescue centres.

Advantage 2

Reducing the risk of reproductive tumours: Spaying bitches before the first or second season, or before the age of 2.5 years, may be associated with a reduced risk of developing malignant mammary tumours later in life. This reduction in risk appears to be most marked in the bitches spayed before their first season, followed by those spayed before their second season.  Vaginal tumours are almost exclusively seen in unspayed female dogs over the age of 10. Ovarian tumours and uterine tumours can also occur in unspayed female dogs and are difficult to detect before they become untreatable.

Advantage 3

Eliminates the risk of Pyometra – a serious infection of the womb which, in the majority of cases, requires emergency surgery. If untreated, it is usually fatal. Two-thirds of unneutered bitches over the age of 9 will develop endometrial hyperplasia and these dogs have a higher risk of developing pyometra. 

Advantage 4

Lifespan – research in the USA that looked at the health records of over 2 million pets showed that neutering had a significant effect on the lifespan of neutered bitches, with neutered dogs living on average 7 ½ months longer than unneutered bitches.

Disadvantage 1

Urinary Incontinence occurs in approximately 0.7% of dogs and the incidence is significantly higher in neutered bitches.  Some breeds are more prone to urinary incontinence and there is a greater risk of developing urinary incontinence within two years of neutering if neutered before 6 months of age. Overweight dogs are at greater risk of developing incontinence. Urinary incontinence can be managed medically but will need lifelong treatment.

Disadvantage 2

Weight gain.  After neutering, dogs will be more prone to put on weight. It is important to ensure they are being fed an appropriate diet and not being overfed. Obesity can increase the risk of a number of diseases including joint problems in large breed dogs and breathing problems in flat-faced breeds.

Disadvantage 3

Hormonal coat changes.  A few dogs also show a change to the quality of the coat – this is actually pretty rare and usually really minor.

Disadvantage 4

Orthopaedic disease. Some large breed dogs which are prone to joint disease may have a higher risk of joint disease if neutered.  This is particularly a concern with early neutering and we recommend, if you have a large breed dog, discussing the age of neutering with your veterinary surgeon. 

Disadvantage 5

Risks of the surgery – a bitch spay is a very commonly performed procedure however it does come with some risk of complications.  The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons surveyed practices in 2018 and 75% of procedures were complication-free, with the majority of complications being minor and either require no intervention or some additional medication.  Only 1% required further surgical intervention and there was a 0.2% rate of loss of life (compared to 0.1% in male dogs).

Age at Neutering

In most dogs, particularly small and medium-sized breeds we recommend neutering from 6 months, before their first season. With some large breeds, we may recommend waiting until they have had a season or reached skeletal maturity. This is best discussed with your veterinary surgeon.

Can I have my dog spayed when she is in season?

Unfortunately, there is an increased risk of bleeding when a bitch is in season and also of her developing a phantom pregnancy.  Therefore, we need to wait 10-14 weeks after the last day of her season before performing surgery. 

How is it done?

Unlike neutering a dog, which is a very simple operation (his reproductive organs are easily accessible!), spaying a bitch requires entering the abdomen. In most cases, this is done as an ‘open’ surgery, where she will have a general anaesthetic, then the surgeon will open her abdomen and remove her ovaries and uterus. There is an increased risk of bleeding internally from a bitch spay, and they can require greater post-operative monitoring. However, most dogs will be home with you on the evening of the surgery.

A female dog will need to be closely confined for the first 3 days post-surgery with no leaping, jumping or climbing stairs and lead walks only for 10 days. For a more detailed description of what to expect on the day of the surgery please see our page on neutering male dogs.

Laparoscopic Spays

An alternative to an open spay is the laparoscopic bitch spay, where we use keyhole surgery just to remove her ovaries – this has a much faster recovery time and seems to provide all the advantages of traditional surgery.  We do not recommend laparoscopic spays for dogs under 5kgs or bitches that have had more than five seasons as they have an increased risk of pre-existing uterine disease which would require removal of the uterus.  Laparoscopic spays are performed on a referral basis at our Veterinary Hospitals and are more expensive than a regular spay.

In conclusion…

Spaying your dog is an important decision – there are hundreds of thousands of unwanted dogs in the UK, so reproductive control is really important. It also genuinely does save lives. However, there are disadvantages too, so it’s important that you make up your own mind. If you would like to discuss this further with your vet, get in touch.

Don’t forget, ProActive Pets members, receive 20% off routine neutering!

Beware of Heatstroke in Dogs

Did you know that dogs are at much higher risk in hot weather than humans are? As a result, they can easily suffer heatstroke in hot weather (and it’s not always just in summer), becoming ill, or even fatal consequences from overheating.

Why don’t dogs cope well with the heat?

Humans can lose heat by sweating – as the water in sweat evaporates, we cool down. We also wear loose-fitting clothing, that acts as a barrier to the sun’s rays, and traps a layer of cooler air between us and the outside air.

Dogs, however, are descended from wolves – animals that are well adapted to live in cold, arctic countries. They only have sweat glands on the tip of their nose and on their pads, and their coats are designed to keep heat in, not out. As a result, they struggle to lose heat when their body temperature rises – the only way that they can cool down is by panting.

Why isn’t panting enough to stop them from getting overheated?

Panting works fairly well for a short time – but it uses up a lot of water. Sooner or later, the dog will become dehydrated and won’t be able to salivate anymore, then their temperature climbs rapidly and dangerously.

What effect does overheating have on the dog?

Well, firstly, it leads to dehydration – many dogs who die of heatstroke actually die of shock as their body becomes dehydrated, leading to the collapse of their circulatory system. However, in exceptionally hot weather, even well-hydrated dogs can die, as their body temperature climbs faster than they are able to lose heat.

In this situation, the high body temperature literally cooks their blood, brains, and internal organs, resulting in abnormal clotting, brain damage, multi-organ failure, and then death. While a dog’s normal temperature is about 38.5C, a core temperature of 41C can lead to permanent brain damage, and the higher it goes, the more severe the damage and the faster it occurs.

What are the major risk factors?

The biggest risk is hot weather, but of course, in the summer, it’s hot throughout much of the day! The other major risk is breed – short-nosed dogs like Pugs and Bulldogs find it much, much harder to pant effectively than their long-nosed cousins. This is because their short noses lead to long soft palates and narrow nostrils, restricting airflow.

Other important factors include lack of shade and lack of water. In the midday sun, in summer, dogs can become dangerously overheated in minutes if they cannot find shade. Exercise in the heat of the day is also a problem – the more a dog exercises, the more heat their body generates, so the faster they reach the danger zone.

Most dogs, with adequate water, can maintain their core temperature up to an air temperature of about 32C – in short-nosed breeds, however, even this may be a struggle, so you need to be extra vigilant.

So what are the symptoms of Heatstroke?

The most common symptoms include:

  • Exceptionally heavy panting
  • Serious drooling or (if they’re dehydrated) sticky, or even dry gums
  • Lethargy or unusual drowsiness
  • Wobbliness or difficulty balancing
  • Abnormal behaviour
  • Vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Muscle tremors, twitching, or seizures

What should I do if my dog seems to be overheating?

As a matter of urgency get them into the shade, then call us for advice! It is best to cool them down, but slowly – if you pour cold water or ice onto them, they can go into shock or even cardiac arrest. Ideally, offer them water to drink (a little at a time), and if possible get airflow over their body (a breeze or fan).

Then get them to us as soon as you can.

Can it be treated?

It depends on how severe it is – we will work to gradually reduce their temperature, and help to treat the dehydration and shock. However, in many cases there will be permanent brain or organ damage; sadly, most studies put the mortality rate at about 50%.

How can I keep my dog safe?

Prevention is the key! On a hot day…

  • Always allow your dog access to shade
  • Make sure your dog always has water available
  • Keep at-risk dogs, especially short-nosed breeds, indoors out of the heat during the day
  • Spray hot dogs with cool water before they become ill, to help them cool down
  • NEVER leave a dog in a car, even in the shade as temperatures can rise to dangerous levels within minutes
  • Exercise your dog in the early morning or late evening, when it’s cooler
  • Watch out for the warning signs…

If you think your dog is at risk of heatstroke, call us for advice or help.

Top tips for welcoming a new puppy into your home

Pet Corner: Written by Goddard Veterinary Group’s Guest Social Editor, Nacho from The Four Legged Foodies


Once you’ve decided to get your puppy, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget what a big impact your new arrival is about to have on your life. I moved in with my new family in April and although they already had Archie, it’s been almost 11 years since he was a puppy and my humans realised, they’d forgotten how challenging those first few weeks/months can be!

Here are my human’s top tips for welcoming a new puppy into your home:

Before Puppy Arrives

As well as the obvious long list of things you will need to purchase like a bed, toys, treats etc, there are also a few other key things to get in place before you bring your puppy home.

Register with a vet

Find your nearest Goddard Veterinary Group practice, let them know you have a pup on the way, and arrange an initial visit within his first few day’s home. The sooner your pup gets used to the vets the better and if his first visit is just meeting some friendly people and getting treats, he will always be happy to return.

Set up insurance

The minute the breeder hands over the pup to you, he is your responsibility so insurance needs to be set up in advance with that date as the policy start date. And it’s not just health issues you need to consider. Dogs are also very accident-prone and if yours has an accident like being hit by a car, you may not just have a vet’s bill but also a claim for damage/injury to the car owner. All pet insurance policies include third-party liability cover up to £2,000,000. Do your research to find the best policy for you.

Decide on house rules

Will pup be crate trained? Will you use that crate at other times or just overnight? Which room will the crate be in? Will pup be allowed upstairs/on the sofa/on your bed? What times will you feed him?

These are just a few things to consider but whatever you decide for your own home, the key thing is to have everyone in your home on the same page. There is nothing more confusing for a pup to be encouraged on the sofa by one human, only to be told off by another.

Puppy proof your home

Your pup will be immediately inquisitive about his new surroundings when he arrives home and there are certain items you will need to protect from potential destruction and others you will need to remove for your pup’s safety. If this is your first dog, check out this list of hazardous items some of which can be fatal to dogs. This includes plants, food and chemicals.

Puppies also love to chew, especially until they get their adult teeth (around 30 weeks old) so you will need to remove anything precious or potentially dangerous such as electric cables. Make sure your pup has plenty of interesting chew toys to keep him occupied and keep his eyes off your designer shoes!

Book puppy classes

We highly recommend you take your pup along to classes even if you’ve had dogs for years and are confident in your training abilities. Puppy Classes will help you with basic training but they are also a great place for your pup to socialise with other dogs, humans and children. Good puppy classes with reputable trainers get booked up quickly so you will need to get your pup signed up in advance. Puppy classes are generally for pups up to 20 weeks old.

Puppy’s First Few Weeks

Getting Out and About

Getting your pup out into the world from day one, helps them to get used to the sights and sounds of your area and helps prevent them being fearful later on. We suggest you get your pup out on walkies even before they are allowed to walk on the ground by using a carry bag or sling or maybe a stroller for larger dogs.

Once fully vaccinated, it’s great to get your puppy used to the place where you are likely to walk most but in the early days of training that place needs to be carefully chosen. For example, our closest park is Richmond Park but the vast open space and extra dangers of wild deer and a busy road running through it are probably not the best place to practice recall. We have therefore chosen a small, enclosed recreation ground nearby for Nacho’s walks and any off-lead activities.

Establishing a Routine

You will need to let your pup know what their daily life is going to be like and the sooner you introduce them to these things, the better. If your pup is going to be left alone while you go out to work or play without them, then introduce this slowly over their first months if possible. Adult dogs should not be left home alone for more than 4 hours at a time and for pups it’s even less.

Other things that will become part of their routine you may need to consider include:

  • Introducing them early to their professional walker/carer, groomers and vets.
  • Getting them used to various modes of transport.
  • Taking them to dog-friendly places.
  • Allowing them to socialise with people and other dogs.
  • Introduce them early to anyone who will be a regular visitor to your home.

Being Social

No, we don’t mean setting up an Instagram account! Get your pup to meet as many doggies of all ages and sizes as you feel comfortable with. If you are a bit nervous about this, get some of your doggie friends to help you and always check with other owners that their dog is OK with puppies. Playing with other dogs is an important part of your dog’s development and older dogs can help your puppy learn what is acceptable.

Your puppy should also get used to humans of all shapes and sizes, especially any that will be part of their lives. Some common issues that dogs can develop are people wearing hats/helmets or high visibility clothes, children on bikes/scooters and, of course, the postman! The earlier you can get your pup to learn there is nothing to fear from any of these, the better. If you usually walk in a park, try mixing in some street walks so your pup can encounter a variety of sights, people and sounds such as these and also things like sirens and other loud city noises.

Provide Mental Stimulation

Puppies are inquisitive and constantly looking for mischief, on top of which they are desperate to chew, especially until they lose their puppy teeth. Giving them a variety of toys and games to keep them occupied will not only save your furniture and shoes from certain destruction but will also get them using their brains.

Providing puppies with ‘doggy jobs’ which involve a repetitive action such as licking, sniffing or chewing encourages your puppy to be calm, keeps them mentally stimulated and helps them settle. There are many excellent brain toys for your pup including K9 Connectables, Kong® and Lickimat®

Give Them Time Out

All that learning, playing and discovering his new world is hard work so you will need to factor in some rest time for your pup. Give him a safe place to rest, somewhere away from your other dog, your children and general activity in your house. Your pup will always be more interested in what’s going on around him and want to be involved so you will need to help him when it’s time to rest.

Creating a quiet VIP den area (very important pup) will help give them a quiet safe space they can go to to get away from it all – you can use crates, pens, underneath tables and corners to create a VIP area – just as long as it’s tucked away and quiet.


That’s all, for now, folks, thanks for reading! Keep an eye on Goddard Veterinary Group’s Pet Corner for more from me and my humans, in the meantime, why not visit us on Instagram?GVG Guest Social Editor

@the4leggedfoodies
@goddardvets

Nacho


Please note that any advice given is the view of the blog author and is not necessarily the view or advice of Goddard Veterinary Group. Always seek advice directly from your own vet.