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, take your shoes off and try walking or standing on the pavement – you will soon know if it would burn their paws! 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 they are fully vaccinated (you can get the extra kennel cough vaccine for your dog), flea treated and wormed before they go in, you don’t want them to come out sick or infested! We have our own Kennel and Cattery in Chingford, East London for peace of mind.

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. Pets must have a passport 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.

Tips on keeping your dog safe in warm weather

With the weather warming up it’s important to understand the potential dangers heat can cause our four-legged friends. Just like humans, dogs can get heatstroke when they overheat — follow these steps to keep your dog safe.

Tips on keeping your dog safe during warm weather

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 Bayer’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.

Give your puppy a good start during lockdown

Many people will have got a puppy during this period of lockdown which makes socialisation training a little more difficult than it would be in normal times. However, there are a number of steps you can take despite this, to ensure they have a great start to their new life with you.

Between 12 and 18 weeks of age, puppies can be very sensitive to the world around them. They may feel scared of being away from their litter and in a completely unknown new environment. At this age they need to be introduced to any new people, environments and situations in as positive a way as possible. This will help their understanding of the world as they grow up.

Dogs may otherwise grow to be fearful of the world around them. This can lead to unwanted behaviours later in life such as guarding, aggressive responses and anxiety in certain situations.

Exposure to the outside world

It is very important that you differentiate between puppies who have been vaccinated and those who have not.

  • Those who have been vaccinated can walk around on the lead.
  • Those who have not yet been vaccinated should always be carried in your arms, in a bag or in a pram.

Puppies need to be exposed to the world outside their homes so that they can get used to sounds, sights, smells, situations and interactions with different people and animals.

Puppies who don’t experience this exposure can become easily frightened and, in a worst case scenario, can become agoraphobic. If your puppy has been vaccinated, take them for short walks to experience traffic, meet new people and other dogs.

Always carry treats, and, when they meet something or someone new, feed them a few treats so that they make a positive association. Keep exposure time short though. Only up to 10 minutes at first to prevent them feeling overwhelmed. ‘Over-socialisation’ can actually have the opposite effect.

Gradually building up their exposure by a few extra minutes each day will help. For those unable to leave the house, sitting and watching, listening and sniffing the air from the front door (on a lead or being held), or at a window will provide your puppy with important information about the life outside the home.

Learning to be alone

You need to be very mindful of ensuring that puppies learn to cope well with being left alone after the lockdown finishes, and when life returns to normal. Providing different activities every day will help with a puppy’s sense of independence.

You could provide them with stuffed toys, chews, safe things to destroy like cardboard or paper and activity feeders. There are hundreds to buy online and there are many websites that show you how to make homemade toys (something children can join in doing). This way your puppy will learn that they can have fun on their own.

Teach your puppy to be alone by using barriers, pens or crates but be careful to only leave your puppy alone for a few seconds at first. Then increase the time slowly, otherwise they may become frightened and develop separation anxiety.

Separation can also be practised when your puppy is very sleepy. Put them into their bed, pen or crate and quietly leave the room but always listening to check that they are not showing any signs of distress.

New things

Introducing puppies to something new each day will help to build resilience when encountering something out of the ordinary and help develop natural inquisitiveness about novel sights, sounds and smells. Finding and sharing all sorts of unusual items (hats, scooters, bags, balls, suitcases, shopping trolleys, gym equipment etc) is a great way of doing this.

You can also turn everyday objects, such as chairs or tables, upside down to make them look different and put normal things in strange places. For example, put a dining room chair in the garden or bathroom. Let your puppy explore by themselves and avoid forcing them to get too close to something they are unsure about. Let them take their time and do things at their own pace.

Sounds

Many dogs become fearful of strange sounds because they have not been exposed to them as puppies. Positive exposure to many different noises can help your puppy cope at times such as, for example, during the firework season. Being stuck at home provides an excellent opportunity to work on this! The Dogs Trust provides a great variety of sound effects and free booklets on how to work with puppies to lessen their sensitivity to sounds.

You can also use real noises at home by banging doors, dropping or banging spoons against pots and pans, shouting, vacuuming and introducing animal noises on TV etc. Always try to give a reward to your puppy when exposing them to a new noise in order for them to develop a positive association with it.

Clothing

Dogs can often find people wearing strange clothing, or looking different from what they are used to, quite frightening. Help your puppy get used to the ‘different’ by introducing them to things like fake beards, glasses, big floppy coats, umbrellas, woolly hats, scarves, walking sticks, sunglasses, long skirts, helmets and hi-visibility clothing.

Travelling in the car

If you have a car then this is a good time to get your puppy used to travelling. The safest place for a dog to travel is either by being suitably restrained in the cabin with a seat belt or pet carrier, or in the boot of a hatchback with a dog guard. Give your puppy their meal in the boot/crate, sit next to them, providing treats from the back seat. Do all of this initially with the engine off. When your puppy grows comfortable with this, switch the engine on and do the same. Then go for very short trips – just around the block to begin with.

If there are two of you, one can sit in the back, dropping treats whilst the other drives. If there is only one of you give the pup a stuffed toy for the journey for comfort. Increase the frequency and length of trips very slowly, by no more than a few minutes at a time and until your puppy is completely at home with car travel.

Being handled

It is important for a puppy to learn to be handled by humans. They need to get used to being handled for veterinary examinations, bathing, towelling, grooming, nail clipping and general everyday husbandry.

Every day, for a couple of minutes, handle a different part of your puppy’s body whilst giving them treats. Keep it short and if they wriggle, let them go. Never pin them down, force them or hold them too tightly as this will make them fearful and may lead to fear aggression in the future.

Aside from stroking you could tickle them between their toes and in their pads, hold their claws gently, lift up their ears, lift up their lips and eyelids and lift up their tail.

For getting used to bathing and grooming, first gently brush and/or towel them. Put your puppy first into an empty bath and throw treats into the bath. Then turn the shower on and give them treats. You could also pick up your puppy and put them on a table and let them eat treats there too whilst gently introducing a brush or towel.

Children

Children will often see puppies as new toys and can overwhelm your new arrival. Keep playtime with children very short, for no more than a couple of minutes. Don’t let the children just carry the pup around with them and avoid all rough and tumble play.

Puppies need a lot of sleep and must be allowed somewhere quiet where they are undisturbed for naps every couple of hours at the most. Make sure that children understand this and leave your puppy alone when asleep.

Encourage children to play appropriate games such as find it or gentle fetch and also encourage them to take part in basic training.


If you need further advice or would like to book your puppy’s initial vaccination with us, find and contact your local Goddard vet today.