Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Your puppy’s first vaccination appointment

We’re delighted to welcome you and your puppy for their first vaccination appointment and health check. We thought it would be useful to give you an idea as to what to expect at your appointment so you can prepare any questions you would like to raise with your vet in advance. If you have any questions before then though, you are welcome to either phone us in practice or drop our central clinical team a line on 020 8506 9944 who will be delighted to help.

Bringing your puppy to your appointment

Until puppies are fully protected by vaccination, it is important to keep them as safe as possible and to reduce their risk of exposure to some unpleasant viruses. Please carry your puppy to the practice and keep them either on your lap or in a carrier with some comforting bedding. To keep all other pets in the practice safe, please always use a short lead and harness or collar.

What will happen at the appointment?

1. Full health assessment

After welcoming you both, your vet will first ask you some questions and make full clinical examination of your puppy.  They will ask you details about your puppy’s eating and toilet habits as well as how active they are, in order to better understand how your puppy is developing and to help identify any areas of concern.

2. Vaccinating your puppy

If your puppy has not yet had its first vaccine…

    • Your vet will then administer your puppy’s first vaccination. This will protect against four important diseases: Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Parvovirus, Canine Infectious Hepatitis and Leptospirosis.).
    • Your puppy will be given two, sometimes three vaccine doses, the second of which will be two to four weeks after the first. Puppies will need to be at least 10 weeks old at the time of the second vaccine. Please ensure you book a date for this second dose before you leave the practice.
    • After the second vaccination at, or after 10 weeks of age, your puppy will need to wait another week before going for walks outside of your house and garden. If your vet advises the need for a third vaccination (which is sometime needed to complete the course of protection against Leptospirosis, you should not allow your puppy near waterways, muddy areas or areas where rodents may be for a further two weeks.

If your puppy has already had its first vaccine elsewhere…

    • We use Nobivac® vaccinations. Please let us know before your appointment, by emailing us a copy of the vaccination certificate if your puppy has had its first vaccination elsewhere.  The brand of vaccination and the timing of that vaccination will influence when we need to see you, and what vaccinations your puppy will need.

Other vaccines and boosters

    • Your vet may also recommend an additional parvovirus vaccination at 16 weeks of age to boost immunity if we have concerns about increased risks to your puppy.  There will be an additional charge for this vaccination.  
    • Additionally, we recommend vaccination against Kennel Cough, especially if your puppy will be either mixing with other dogs, going to day care, or boarding kennels. Your vet will advise you at what age we recommend kennel cough vaccination for your puppy.

Yearly boosters

    • A yearly booster jab will be needed to ensure protection against disease is maintained. We’ll remind you via email or text when your puppy’s annual booster jab and annual health check is due.

Will it hurt?

    • In the majority of cases puppies will not even notice the injection. Sometimes it may cause a sting or discomfort at the time of injection that will make your puppy wriggle or cry out.  You may notice a small swelling at the site of injection and this can occasionally be hard or painful to touch for 3 days. 

3. Healthcare Advice

At your appointment your vet or nurse will talk with you about a number of common healthcare- related considerations to help you make the best choices for your puppy. These will include:

Parasite Control

  • If your puppy has already had flea or worming treatment given by the breeder or yourself, please bring details of what product was used and when it was given, to your appointment.
  • Puppies are very susceptible to the effects of worm and flea infections and adult dogs also require regular worm and flea control to prevent serious illness, poor health and to keep your family safe.
  • At the appointment your vet will assess your puppy’s health, weight and lifestyle and will recommend a regular program of both treatment and prevention.
  • The most effective parasite treatments are often only available by veterinary prescription. We don’t recommend over-the-counter products or online products bought without a veterinary assessment and weight check. 
  • There is a particular problem with lungworm in Greater London and this can only be prevented by regular treatments prescribed by a veterinary surgeon.


  • We advise neutering of most puppies from 5 – 6 months of age. For larger breed dogs we may advise delaying neutering until 12 – 24 months of age depending on the breed. Your vet will discuss this in more detail with you.
  • Neutering your female dog (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.  
  • Neutering your male dog (castration): Castrating a dog is a very simple surgery because his reproductive organs are conveniently located outside his body. In the procedure, his testicles are removed (so it is not the same as a vasectomy, where the testicles remain in situ but the tubes carrying sperm from them are cut) preventing him from making either sperm or testosterone.


  • It is a legal requirement for all puppies over 8 weeks old to be microchipped. This can be done at your vaccination appointment but may have already been done if you’ve bought your puppy from a breeder. If so, please make sure you contact the microchip company to change the registered contact details to your own.

ProActive Pets

  • Goddard Vet Group offers its own preventative healthcare plan which means you can save money on the cost of routine vaccinations and flea and worm treatments as well as spreading payments for them throughout the year by direct debit.
  • As well as saving at least 21% on the costs of vaccines and parasite control, you’ll also benefit from discounts on pet food, neutering, dental treatments and over-the-counter purchases at your practice. It also includes the cost of microchipping.
  • Ask us when you come into your appointment should you wish to join or to find out how much more you could save.  You can sign up in practice on the day of your dog’s vaccination to take advantage of an immediate 30% discount.  You may of course decide to join at any time you wish, though discounts will only apply from the date that you start of your membership.


  • We recommend that you consider pet insurance to cover unexpected sickness or injury which can be costly. (This is different to preventative healthcare which is not insurance).
  • If you’ve not already organised pet insurance, ask us at your appointment about setting up an initial 4 weeks of free cover once the vet has assessed your puppy to be fit and healthy and free from pre-existing conditions.
  • Should you wish, we can pass your details to a pet insurance provider to provide your dog with an immediate temporary four-week insurance policy.
  • The company can provide information about its policies which you are under no obligation to take up. Activating this free insurance can help cover the cost of unexpected veterinary treatment during this period and give you peace of mind whilst you decide which, if any, policy or insurance company is best for you.


  • We advise a good quality complete puppy food such as the Royal Canin range which is stocked in our practice. If your breeder has given you food, then it is best to continue with this initially, unless any concerns are raised by your vet. Many home-cooked diets that are followed by breeders may not give adequate nutrition to a growing animal and we’ll advise on appropriate diets for the age and breed of your puppy.
  • If you would like to change to a different food then you should do so gradually over the course of about seven days, changing the proportions of new to old food each day. Sudden changes to diet can cause diarrhoea in puppies. Be careful with the treats that you are giving, some may not be suitable for puppies and again, can cause diarrhoea.
  • Do not give your puppy human food and ensure they always have access to clean and fresh drinking water.

Dental Health

  • Whilst your puppy is young it is the best time to get him/ her used to being handled. It is a good time to start ear cleaning and teeth cleaning so your puppy gets used to these preventative care procedures and they may help reduce the occurrence of ear infections and dental problems in the future.
  • Dental problems commonly affect dogs later in life, so starting teeth cleaning early on can certainly be beneficial. 

Puppy Training

  • The first weeks and months of your puppy’s life are vital for setting them up with the behaviour and routines that will help you and your family set them up for life as a happy and contented dog.
  • We recommend the PDSA website which has a number of training guides, from toilet training to walking on a lead and the Dogs Trust now offers virtual puppy training classes if you cannot get to a local class in person.


  • For video consultations and online chat from the comfort of your own home, why not download Petsapp to your Apple or Android device and connect with us?
  • You can then message us, send photos and videos, make payments via Android and Apple Pay or by debit or credit card, order pet food and parasite control, request repeat prescriptions and, if necessary, arrange a video consultation with our vet or nurse.

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.


Lungworm: What are the risks?

Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) is a parasitic worm that can cause serious health problems and even be fatal to dogs. It was first seen in 1975 and used to be confined to certain areas of the UK. It has now been re-labelled an emerging disease. The risks of infection are higher in the south, but it has now spread throughout much of the UK. On a positive note, if caught in time, it is treatable, and can also be prevented. 

What is lungworm and why is it so dangerous for my dog?

Lungworm is a type of parasitic worm affecting dogs, and also foxes, who are often implicated in spreading the disease from area to area. With the number of urban foxes in London, it means there is a relatively high risk of infection. 

Once infected, adult lungworm live in the host dog’s heart and the major blood vessels supplying the lungs, where they often cause a host of potentially serious problems. The developing larvae cause inflammation of the lung tissue leading to coughing as well as less specific signs such as lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea. Presence of lungworm can lead to clotting issues signified by nosebleeds, bleeding within the whites of the eyes or skin, or blood in the urine or faeces. If not treated it can be fatal. This type of lungworm thankfully poses no risk to humans.

How do dogs get lungworm?

Only snails and slugs carry the infectious late-stage larvae. When a dog (or fox) eats a snail or slug (either on purpose or accidentally), the larvae migrate from the gut wall through the liver tissue and into the bloodstream on its way to the heart (the right ventricle and pulmonary arteries, to be precise) where they mature into adults. There they breed, and their eggs hatch into larvae which enter the airways. From the lungs, the larvae are coughed up, swallowed, and passed within faeces, finally infecting passing slugs and snails. 

Slime trails can also contain larvae, making anything the snail or slug has crawled over a risk. This includes bowls, toys and grass, which a dog may eat. Young dogs may be more at risk, purely because they may be more curious. 

Although a dog cannot directly catch lungworm from another dog or fox, an infected fox (or dog) in the area can infect local snails and slugs, thus increasing the risk for everyone in the locality. 

How common is it?

Once rare in the UK, it has spread into new areas and now cases are being reported across the country, including the Midlands, north of England and Scotland, as well as expanding in the already established hot spots in the south of England and Wales. You can check your local area using Elanco’s Lungworm Map.

Researchers have recently found that while the number of infected foxes has grown rapidly in Britain, the growth was most significant in Greater London, with approximately three in every four foxes found to be carrying lungworm. Land type, dog density and climatic factors may be involved, but the simple presence of foxes locally increased the risk of lungworm infection in dogs five-fold. 

It is not just Greater London where lungworm prevalence in foxes is on the rise. Bristol University published a study in 2015 which found 18.3% of foxes across the UK were found to be carrying lungworm. This was more than double what was found in a similar study published 7 years before.

These foxes infect local slugs and snails, putting our pet dogs more at risk. Not all slugs or snails contain lungworm larvae, but according to an almost unbelievable Countryfile statistic, an average British garden is home to more than 20,000 slugs and snails. The risk of a dog encountering a lungworm host is therefore high.

It’s also thought that more people now travel around the UK with their pets, spreading this parasite further and further to local fox populations and thus, if preventative measures are not taken, also to the local dog population. It is now accepted that it is endemic across much of the UK. Wider recognition, vigilance and testing throughout the veterinary profession may also explain some of the increase in reported cases. Ticks, fleas and canine lungworm are all likely to benefit from milder winters and warmer summers, thus climate change may be another factor in the emergence of this disease. 

One in five practices in the UK have reported at least one case of lungworm. Importantly, as lungworm can be difficult to diagnose, confirmed cases may not represent all cases actually seen. Our vets may recommend using blood, faecal or lung fluid samples to look for evidence, alongside tests to check for other causes of signs such as a cough or bleeding. We can get false negatives with these tests so sometimes we recommend treating for lungworm to cover all bases.

How is it treated?

Thankfully, lungworm often does not require invasive or costly treatment if caught early. It may be as simple as changing from one anti-parasite product to another (moxidectin-based spot-ons will kill the parasite, and both moxidectin and milbemycin spot-ons and tablets will prevent it from developing). However, if the symptoms are advanced or the level of infection is severe there is a greater likelihood of permanent damage.

How do I reduce the risks?

  • It’s advisable to add an anti-lungworm preventative into your anti-parasite routine wherever you live, but especially here in London. Not all wormers prevent this type of worm, and treatments are a prescription-only medication, needing to be given monthly to successfully prevent infection. Please speak to a member of our team for more information on protecting your pet. 
  • Remove snails and slugs in your garden when possible, and try to prevent your dog from swallowing them. Don’t leave toys out overnight as your dog may inadvertently eat a hiding slug or their slime. Wash outside water bowls regularly and always pick up your dog’s poop to limit the spread of disease. 
  • It’s not advisable to use slug bait as certain types of slug bait are very toxic to dogs if eaten.
  • There are many conditions in dogs that cannot be prevented, so despite its potentially serious nature, the silver lining with lungworm is that it’s risk can be removed relatively easily.

If you require further advice of information, please contact your local Goddard vet today.

Top tips to keep pets safe this winter

If it’s cold for you, it’s cold for your pet – that’s the key message from the British Veterinary Association (BVA)* as it urges pet owners to take extra precautions to ensure dogs, cats and other small pets are kept safe from hidden and potentially fatal hazards as snow flurries and icy conditions are forecast in many parts of the country.

As with humans, pets can fall ill upon exposure to extremely cold temperatures for extended periods. To avoid this, vets advise that dogs are walked for shorter periods of time than usual, but more frequently if required, and to consider putting a coat on old dogs or those with thin fur to keep them warm. Keep older cats inside during an extremely cold spell and ensure that even healthy young cats have easy access to shelter and warmth.


When walking your dog in ice and snow, do not let it off the lead and avoid walking in areas where ponds or lakes may have frozen over – animals often don’t understand the difference between solid ground and ice and can fall through. In this situation, vets urge owners to call the emergency services for professional help rather than going in after their pet. Although distressing, it is never worth risking your own life as well as your dog’s. It’s also important to wipe your dog’s paws and belly on returning home from a snowy walk to remove any ice or salt, and to regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes.


Cats are especially at risk of poisoning from antifreeze, which can be fatal for them even in small amounts, especially if veterinary treatment is not sought immediately after ingestion. Store and use antifreeze products carefully, clean any spillages thoroughly, and contact your vet immediately if your cat develops symptoms of antifreeze poisoning, such as vomiting, depression, lack of coordination, seizures and difficulty breathing.

Small Pets

Small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs that usually live outdoors are vulnerable to the cold and damp despite their furry coats. Owners with outdoor hutches and runs should make sure that their pets’ living space is well-protected from snow, frost and winter rain and kept dry. Give rabbits and guinea pigs extra bedding to keep warm and check their water bottle or bowl regularly, as these can freeze when the temperature drops.

Here are some other top tips to keep pets safe this winter:

  • Provide a warm, draught-free shelter: Make sure your pet’s bed is in a draught-free, warm spot off the floor in the house. For outdoor pets, the hutch or run should be in a sheltered position, away from wind, rain and snow at least 10 cm off the ground.
  • Take precautions during and after walks: Dogs need to be exercised; however, during the colder months, try to walk your dog for shorter periods. Wipe your dog’s paws and belly on returning home from a snowy walk to remove any ice or salt, and to regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes.
  • Avoid antifreeze poisoning: Wiping your pets’ paws can prevent them from ingesting toxins that they may have stood in whilst outside. Antifreeze in particular is highly toxic for cats even in small amounts, with almost one in six vets (17%) reporting treating cats for antifreeze poisoning over the 2018 winter season. Apart from use in car radiators, some cases that vets saw were thought to be from ingesting diluted antifreeze used in ornamental water features to protect the pumps.
  • Temperature control for small pets: Keep the temperature of rabbit and guinea pig homes between 10?C and 20?C for rabbits (the lower temperature assumes rabbits are healthy and kept with other rabbits, with lots of bedding for warmth) and 5?C to 20?C for guinea pigs, avoiding too many fluctuations in temperature.
  • Provide extra bedding for rabbits and guinea pigs: Make sure your rabbits and guinea pigs have extra bedding to keep warm during colder weather – line hutches with plenty of newspaper, provide lots of hay and cover with an old duvet/blanket/tarpaulin. If the weather becomes very severe, consider moving outdoor pets inside to a well-ventilated space with light and room to exercise – but never place them inside a garage in use, as vehicle exhaust fumes are harmful to rabbits and guinea pigs.

If you would like some more advice on how to keep your pet safe this winter, contact your local Goddard vet.

*The BVA is the largest membership community for the veterinary profession in the UK. They represent the views of over 18,000 vets and vet students on animal health and welfare, and veterinary policy issues to government, parliamentarians and key influencers in the UK and EU.

Are wild mushrooms harmful to dogs?

Ultimately, of course, it depends on the mushroom! However, with an increasingly warm and wet autumn climate, mushroom populations are soaring. In fact, in September 2018 the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) actually issued a warning about the problem. Read on to find out if wild mushrooms are harmful to dogs and what signs to watch out for. 

If you think your dog may have eaten an unknown wild mushroom, contact us IMMEDIATELY for advice.

What is a wild mushroom?

This sounds really easy —  but do you actually know what those bulbous masses are? Fungi are a kingdom of life all of their own, as different from plants as plants are from animals. Most fungi live in the environment and form networks of fine fibres growing through the soil. The mushrooms we see are their fruiting bodies, part of their reproductive cycle, which develop spores and then distribute them into the wind to spread where they will.

These fruiting bodies are high in protein and often very nutritious, so make a nice snack for any passing critter. Most fungi accept this as one of those things that, as a non-mobile fungus, one must put up with. However, there are a number that resent their unborn offspring being gobbled up by animals, and produce a range of really quite nasty poisons to deter peckish beasts.

What do wild mushrooms do to dogs?

The majority of the 4000 or so species of UK mushrooms are harmless – they might not taste nice, but they aren’t actually dangerous. However, there are a number that produce toxins called mushroom poisons (interestingly, although very similar poisons produced by moulds are called mycotoxins, the term is not usually used for those produced by the mushroom fruiting bodies themselves). For centuries, if not millennia, the properties of these fungi have been known by healers, botanists and shamens, and used for a range of uses.

In dogs, we tend to see three groups of clinical effects:

Early onset vomiting and/or diarrhoea

These are usually the least harmful types of mushroom – as a general rule of thumb, the earlier the symptoms appear, the less dangerous the mushroom is. This is because it triggers vomiting and purging that remove any unabsorbed toxins from the dog’s system rapidly. If the dog is violently vomiting within six hours of eating the mushroom(s), then although they need to be seen by one of our vets (dehydration and salt imbalances from profuse vomiting can be dangerous in itself), the prognosis is usually fairly good.

Neurological effects

The most famous example is, of course, Psilocybe semilanceata, the “Magic Mushroom”, but there are a number of different psychoactive fungi in the UK. Unfortunately, dogs do not cope well with the effects of the active ingredients and may develop abnormal behaviour (well, of course!), self-injury, abnormal heartbeats and even seizures. In some cases, death may occur due to trauma while under the influence of the hallucinogen (for example, jumping from windows or running into solid objects), while in severe poisonings, the seizures may result in hyperthermia which may cause death from internal overheating (although fortunately this is relatively rare).

Liver and/or kidney damage

Sadly, many of the most dangerous mushrooms do not give easy tell-tail signs of poisoning until much later – possibly too late. These damage may damage the liver or kidneys, typically resulting in symptoms such as lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination (in kidney failure) and jaundice (in liver failure). Treatment requires intensive supportive therapy and often hospitalisation and the prognosis is guarded.

How do you know if a mushroom is safe or not?

The bottom line is that it’s very hard to tell – many harmless varieties have a poisonous twin that is almost indistinguishable. As a result, we strongly advise you not to let your dog eat wild mushrooms – full stop!