Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Parasites, Your Pet, Your Family and the Environment

Our dogs and cats are an important part of our families and households but, depending on their lifestyle, they can encounter parasites that may pose a risk to either their health or to ours. It is important to understand the risks, monitor for infections and to help prevent disease in both our pets and our families, and to protect the environment in regard to the use of parasiticides (the medicines used to treat fleas, worms, ticks etc).

At Goddard Veterinary Group, we recommend twice-yearly preventative health checks, one with the Veterinary Surgeon at vaccination time, and one at a nurse check six months later. These appointments are the ideal time to discuss your pet’s lifestyle and their personal risk profile for picking up parasites. Preventing disease is better for your pet, your pocket and the environment than treating a disease once it is established.

Puppies and Kittens

Young animals have immature immune systems and are more at risk of life-threatening disease from parasites than adult cats and dogs. The veterinary surgeon will perform a full examination at the time of your first appointment and we ask you please bring a list of any treatments that your breeder or rescue centre may have given your puppy or kitten before rehoming.

Commonly seen parasites in puppies and kittens are:

  • Roundworm – young animals are high risk of carrying roundworm which is a gastro-intestinal worm that can cause illness in young animals and blindness in people. Puppies can contract it in utero from their mother before birth. You may not always see evidence of roundworm, but occasionally they may pass in your pet’s faeces or be seen in vomit and look a bit like spaghetti.
  • Fleas.  These are often carried from their mother and can cause significant anaemia (red blood cell deficiency) in young animals.  See below for how to detect fleas on your pet.
  • Ear Mites. These are not uncommon in young animals and can cause a lot of irritation around the head. Our vet will examine the ears at their initial check-ups to check for signs.

Dogs and Lungworm

Lungworm is a serious illness that can be fatal to your dog if it goes undetected and untreated. 75% of foxes in London are believed to carry lungworm and it passes through slugs and snails and into your dog as larvae.  Slugs and snails can be picked up when your dog chews grass and possibly from drinking from puddles or from dog bowls where slugs have been.

We recommend regular monthly prevention for but all but the most house-bound dogs in London.  Preventative treatments are only available through a veterinary prescription and are not available in products sold over the counter or online without a prescription. We can offer prescriptions for either a Spot-On treatment or a chewable tablet.  

If you dog is not on regular prevention, we will recommend a lung worm test prior to any surgery or if you dog is showing signs of being unwell.

Fleas – a problem for your pets, for you and your house

Fleas are probably the most common parasite we see and can cause immense irritation to you and your pet. They can also spread disease to people such as Cat Scratch Fever if we are bitten by them, and your pet can develop Flea Allergic Dermatitis. The risk of fleas increases in multi-pet houses, for pets that go outdoors and those that socialise with other pets.

The big issue with fleas, is that only the adult fleas live on your pet, and they account for only 5% of the flea population. The flea eggs, larvae and pupae live in the environment – they like a warm climate and fed off the dander (flakes of skin shed in your pet’s hair or fur). The pupae can hibernate for months and hatch as the adult flea when they feel warmth and vibrations of a mammal. The greatest risk of picking up fleas is over the spring and summer months, and then again when we turn on our central heating. Once a flea population is established in your house, it can take months to treat.

How to detect if you pet has fleas:

  • Purchase a flea comb from your vet or a pet shop.
  • Run the comb through your pet’s coat along the back, especially over the top of the tail.
  • Shake any contents of the comb onto a wet tissue or paper towel.
  • If you see black spots that turn red with blood, that is flea dirt.

We have a range of preventative treatments including ‘Spot-Ons’ and tablets and our veterinary team will make a recommendation to you based on your pet’s lifestyle and risk factors. Once an infection is confirmed on your pet, we will also recommend you treat your house, furniture, car, garden sheds and anywhere you pet may have been indoors that could keep the flea lifecycle going


Ticks are another blood sucking parasite that can be picked up when your pet goes for walks in grassy areas.  They can cause irritation and also transmit disease to your pet. They are mostly seen where other host animals live, such as deer, sheep and cattle. Dogs and cats living near some of London’s parks or those that travel outside of London are most at risk.

Do not remove a tick by pulling on it. The head parts will remain and can transmit disease or cause irritation and do not use spirit on it. Use a tick hook to twist the tick off with head parts attached. Tick hooks come with instructions for use.

Prevention. We recommend regular prevention if your pet is at increased risk of ticks, but not all pets will need it. Tick treatments are often combined with some flea treatments so check with your veterinary team if your flea treatment also covers for ticks. Tick treatments are available as a Spot On or as a tablet.

Roundworm – an intestinal worm in dogs and cats

As for puppies and kittens, adult cats and dogs are at risk of picking up roundworm. They live in the gastrointestinal tract, and you won’t often see visible signs. They can cause disease in people known as Toxocariasis and those most at risk are children and the immunosuppressed.

Eggs can be passed into the environment and survive a long time – that is why its important to pick up dog’s faeces and dispose of it in bins and not let pets play in sand pits or children’s playgrounds. Urban areas are reported to be at higher risk of roundworm than in country areas due to a higher density of pets and foxes. Your vet will recommend a regular worming program passed on your pet’s lifestyle. Cats that hunt, dogs that scavenge and feeding pets raw food will all increase the risk of roundworm.

See Feline Endoparasites: what is inside my cat and see Toxocarisis from the NHS for more on the risks to people.


Figure 1-Lifecycle images from ESSCAP Guideline 01 Sixth Edition May 2021


There are a range of tapeworm species your pets can catch and three are a concern for human health:

Echnicoccus Granulosos in dogs: Can be picked up by eating raw offal and transmitted to people leading to large internal cysts known as hydatid cysts. Dogs that are scavengers, who travel to farming areas, or  are fed raw food are at increased risk.

Echnicoccus Multilocluaris: Very common in Western Europe. Any dog that that travels to the EU must be treated before returning to the UK and we recommend treating again a month after returning.

Dipylidium caninum: If we accidentally ingest an adult flea this tapeworm can cause mild gastrointestinal symptoms.

Frequency of tapeworm treatment will be dependent on the lifestyle of your pet and whether they hunt, travel abroad, are feed raw food or live with immunosuppressed family members.

This covers the most commonly seen parasites in the Greater London area. However, there are a range of other creepy crawlies you and your pet may encounter and regular health checks are the best way to get an early diagnosis.

How to use parasite treatments safely:

All our parasite treatments will be dispensed with a data sheet that explains safe handling guidelines and we recommend reading these, especially if it is the first time you have used the treatment.

The British Veterinary Association advises the following to protect your pet, yourself and the environment from possible adverse effects of parasite treatment.

Keeping Pets Safe

  • Only use products for the animal they’re prescribed for — they may harm others.
  • Use the right product for the species — e.g. never use a dog product on a cat.
  • Follow your vet’s advice on treatment frequency and when to finish the course.
  • Avoid your pet’s eyes, ears and mouth when applying spot-on treatments and make sure other animals can’t groom or lick them.

Keeping People Safe

  • Check the label to see if you are sensitive to any ingredients.
  • Seek medical advice if you experience any adverse reactions.
  • Avoid contact with your skin, eyes or mouth.
  • Do no stroke or groom your pet until Spot-On treatments are dry.

Keeping the Environment Safe

  • Discuss treatment options with your vet to minimise environmental risks.
  • Check instructions before your pet is washed or swims. The medicine can wash off, stop working and harm wildlife and the environment.
  • Dispose of the packaging safely and return unused products to your vet.
  • Always pick up your pet’s poo and dispose of it responsibly.


See our videos on our website at for the most effective way to apply a Spot-On:

How to Apply a Spot On to a Dog

How to Apply a Spot On to a Cat

Always remember to follow the label and data sheet instructions on handling, swimming or bathing your pet after application.


Giving a tablet to your pet can be challenging but the parasiticide tablets we recommend are flavoured and chewable or can be wrapped in a treat to help with administration.

See our guide on ‘Giving your cat medication‘ for further information.

Don’t forget to bin and bag faeces when using an oral parasiticide tablet.

Tick Bites: When to worry, and how to prevent them

Ticks are widespread in the UK. They are actually arachnids rather than insects and, like spiders, adult ticks have 8 legs and vary tenfold in size from 1 millimetre to 1 centimetre. Ticks hatch from eggs and develop into larvae, then nymphs, and finally into adults. At each stage ticks have to attach onto and feed from an animal (their host), to develop into the next stage. The younger stages of ticks, like larvae, prefer to feed on small animals like birds and rodents. However, the older stages can attach onto and feed on larger mammals, such as dogs and cats, and also humans. For this reason, these unwelcome hitchhikers are something you should be aware of.

How do animals get ticks?

Whilst they could be found in some gardens, particularly in more rural areas, ticks are most commonly found in vegetation in areas such as woodland, meadows and moors.  When they are looking for a new host to attach to, they are described as ‘questing’ and will wait on low branches and leaves to attach to any animal brushing past.

Is there a particular time of year that my pet is likely to be affected?

Ticks are most active in spring and early summer, and then again in early autumn. They are generally dormant in cold weather. However, with global temperatures on the rise, they are likely to be active for a greater proportion of the year.

Why should I worry about ticks biting my pet?

The majority of the time, tick bites will not harm your pet. Rarely, bacterial infections or abscesses will develop at the site of a bite. This is more likely to occur if a tick has been improperly removed, with part of the tick being left in the skin. However, the main reason for wanting to prevent tick bites in dogs is that they have the potential to act as vectors (spreaders) of infectious disease.

What diseases can be spread by ticks?

In the UK the most common disease that ticks transmit is Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Dogs that are bitten by an infected tick do not always become ill. We know this because many dogs in the UK have antibodies in their blood to the bacterium, suggesting they have been exposed, without ever showing signs of being unwell. However, some dogs do become ill, and this can occur weeks to months after being bitten. Signs of Lyme disease in dogs can include painful swollen joints, a fever and lethargy. It can also go on to cause glomerulonephritis, a condition affecting the kidneys.

Lyme disease can also affect humans, often showing as a characteristic ‘bulls-eye’ rash in the area of the bite. This rash is not generally seen in dogs.  Humans can initially suffer from a flu-like illness, but can also be affected by heart rhythm abnormalities, neurological problems and arthritis. In some people, this can become a long-term illness.  Whilst there is no evidence humans can be directly infected by dogs carrying Lyme disease, dogs could bring infected ticks into your home and garden.

Babesia is another parasite that can be transmitted by ticks to your dog. It can cause damage and destruction of red blood cells in the bloodstream, sometimes causing severe anaemia (low red blood cell count), as well as bleeding disorders and organ failure, and can be fatal. Until fairly recently, Babesiosis was a disease only seen in the UK in dogs that had travelled from continental Europe. However, in recent years, several cases of Babesiosis have been seen in dogs in the South East of England that have never travelled abroad, sparking concern that this infection is now beginning to establish in ticks in this country.

Dogs and humans can also contract a disease called Ehrlichiosis from ticks, though this is also rare in the UK.

How can I prevent my pet from getting ticks?

It is important to check your dog daily for ticks and remove any that are found, particularly at times of the year when ticks are most active and when your dog has been walked in areas that are high risk. Be sure to check them all over, including their feet, groin and armpits. Cats can also be affected by ticks but are quite good at grooming them off. If your cat gets ticks, they are most likely to be found on areas of the body they cannot clean so easily, such as on the head.

There are a variety of preventative tick treatments available that will repel ticks, kill them once they have attached, or both. Infected ticks do not spread infections such as Lyme disease until they have been attached to the host for around 48 hours. Effective tick treatments will kill ticks much quicker than this, meaning they are killed before they can transmit disease to your pet. Many of these treatments also prevent flea and other parasite infestations. Our practice staff would be happy to discuss with you what treatment would be best suited to use for your pet as part of their routine parasite prevention, so please do get in touch!

What should I do if I find a tick on my pet?

The easiest way to remove a tick is by twisting it off using a special tick remover. Properly removing a tick in this way reduces the risk of leaving the tick’s mouthparts still attached.  Ticks should never be removed by squeezing or pulling, nor by being burnt.

If you are unsure or worried that your pet has a tick, book an appointment with your local Goddard vet.

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.


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.

Spring Dangers & Threats to Your Pet

Spring is an exciting time of the year. The weather is improving and the prospect of enjoying time outdoors with your pet is becoming more of a reality after months indoors. 

It is important for all pet owners to know the potential dangers springtime can bring to their pets and the best ways to avoid harmful accidents. Read some of our helpful tips on keeping your furry friend away from danger. 

Outdoor Pet Dangers

There are many items that can be found in your garden during spring that can be highly toxic and in some cases deadly, to your pet – even in the smallest of quantities. 

Lily Plant

Any part of the lily plant can cause kidney failure in cats, so think twice about having them in your home if you are a cat owner.

Plant Bulbs

Many plant bulbs can be toxic to pets if chewed or eaten so be careful if planting them this Spring. We would much prefer to see some photos of your blooming garden than a necessary trip to one of our practices with your pet. 

Slug Pellets

Slug pellets containing metaldehyde are extremely toxic – ingestion of even small amounts will cause severe seizures.


While seemingly less likely than the other outdoor threats, Adders need to be considered by all pet owners whether in their gardens or out on walks. As the weather gets warmer, Adders wake up from their winter hibernation. Our overly inquisitive pets can encounter the UK’s only venomous native snake in many different scenarios and can attract a nasty bite if you aren’t too careful. 


One of the most problems you will come across as a pet owner is Ticks. As our pets begin to go outside more in the spring it is easy for them to pick up tics in woodland, vegetation or even your garden. As spring is the most common time of the year for ticks, they are worth watching out for. 

easter treats and foods harmful to pets

Food Dangers For Pets


Probably one of the most well-known dangers to pets from food. Chocolate is a common pet poison – the higher the cocoa content, the more danger it poses! As chocolate becomes plentiful around Easter be wary of your pets inquisitive nature to hunt out treats. Make sure it is stored away properly and children know it can harm pets. 

Raisins, currants and sultanas

Similar to chocolate, raisins, currants and sultanas can be found in a variety of Easter treats. These can cause kidney failure in dogs. While there is no defined dose that will prove deadly to your canine member of the family, it is important to ensure their contact with any dried fruit is significantly limited. 

Xylitol (E967)

The sweetener can be found in many confectionery items and causes a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels (and occasionally liver failure) in dogs.

Mouldy Food

If garden composting this Spring, keep pets away from mouldy food which can cause seizures and liver problems if ingested.

Other Dangers

Spring is not the only time of the year our pets are in danger. There are different threats to their health and safety throughout the year. Read our handy guide to keeping your pets safe at Christmas

It is also important to keep your pet’s health under consideration as the weather gets warmer into the summer months. Look at our tips for keeping your dog cool in the warmest part of the year. 

SPEED to help pets against toxic

There are many things around the house that are poisonous to our pet friends, use our Poisons Guide if you think your pet has eaten something poisonous that is not listed above, or get in touch immediately with your local Goddard vet.


Alabama Rot: What is it?

The autumn and winter are a risk time for Alabama Rot, or more properly CRGV, although there were still some cases being picked up in the summer. In this blog, we’re going to look at this mysterious disease in a little more detail.

What’s with the name?

Strictly speaking, Alabama Rot was a condition of racing greyhounds in the USA in the 1980s, and was linked to contaminated feed. However, you will commonly hear people using the term to refer to a modern disease in the UK. Technically, the condition being diagnosed in Britain at the moment is Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy, or CRGV. However, because “Alabama Rot” sounds scary, it sells more newspapers and hence it’s the name the media have chosen! As a result, that’s what most people call it.

But what actually is it?

It’s a disease that causes blood clots to form in the small blood vessels – typically in the skin and in the kidneys. These clots prevent blood from flowing to the local tissues, so they become starved of oxygen and die, resulting in symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

The first symptoms are ulcers – non-healing wounds that open up without injury. They usually affect the lower legs, but occasionally are seen on the underside of the belly, on the muzzle, or even in the mouth. They can easily look like scrapes or cuts. In the more severe cases, within 7-10 days, the kidneys start to fail, resulting in lethargy, reduced urine production, dehydration, vomiting, a metallic smell on the breath, collapse, and ultimately – in all too many cases – death. This is technically termed “acute kidney injury”, or AKI.

What is the treatment?

The key to treatment is early diagnosis, and then supportive care to help maintain kidney function. This is typically with hospitalisation and aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, keeping affected animals on a drip and managing their symptoms. However, sadly, in many cases kidney failure develops, and often it is so rapid, as to be untreatable, and many of these dogs are put to sleep to prevent further suffering.

What causes it?

No-one knows. Similar conditions are seen with some bacterial infections (e.g. some types of toxic E. coli), but if so, the bacterial cause has not yet been discovered. It has been suggested that a fish bacterium (Aeromonas hydrophila) might be responsible, but this has not been confirmed. Other possibilities that have been raised include food contamination, viral infections, or even a toxin in the environment, but so far there’s no evidence for these.

How can it be prevented?

Again – as we don’t know the cause, we don’t know! Initially, some people were recommending bathing those parts of your dog which become wet or muddy on a walk, but although this will help you detect the ulcers early, we have no evidence to suggest that it would prevent the disease. Some people are also avoiding walking their dogs in certain areas – but although an environmental cause has been suggested, there is no firm evidence as yet that particular areas are transmitting the disease, and most of the dogs affected have walked in areas where hundreds of others go, without the others being affected.

What animals are at risk?

Potentially any dog could develop the condition. That said, if one dog in a household is affected, others seem to be at higher risk – but once more, we do not know why. Fortunately, the disease cannot jump the species barrier, and there have been no reports of cases in humans, cats or other animals.

Should I be worried?

Not unduly so, no. Although CRGV is a very unpleasant disease, from the start of the “outbreak” in 2012 to January this year, there were only 122 confirmed cases – despite there being about 9 million dogs in the UK! It’s a really rare condition, and not something to panic about – especially when we compare it to infectious diseases like Parvo, degenerative ones like heart failure, and injury from cars, which kill many thousands of dogs each year.

What should I do?

Check your dog regularly for unexplained redness or sores on the skin. While most of these won’t be CRGV (again, we’d like to emphasise that it’s really rare!), they are potentially a warning flag. Early diagnosis gives the maximum chance for a successful outcome, so be vigilant, but do not be afraid!

If you find any suspicious lesions, or you’re at all concerned about your dog’s health, give your local Goddard Vet a ring for advice!