Useful Information Subcategories

Further information on the following topics can be found by clicking on the relevant headings below.

What does this mean?

There are some costs that are often overlooked when buying a pet. These are costs such as vaccinations, and flea / worm treatments.

It’s important that you book in regular health checks for older pets with the nurses, so that illnesses can be detected early and are more likely to be treatable and affordable.

Book in to see one of our nurses for a complimentary consultation so that we can get the right plan for you and your pet.

Nutritional Advice
Diet is crucial for the good, lifelong health of your pet. We can offer you advice on feeding that is appropriate for their species and lifestyle. We also recommend cost effective alternatives to what is commonly available. Regular consultations and weight checks are provided by our nurses for those pets struggling to maintain a healthy weight.

Puppy and Kitten Health Checks
The nurse offers a complimentary examination to make sure the new member of your family gets off to the best start possible.

Annual Health Checks
We recommend your pet sees the vet at least once every year. This would normally take place when your pet’s annual booster vaccinations are given.

Senior Health Checks
Kidney disease, arthritis and dental problems are only some of the conditions that can affect a pet as it ages. We offer a full clinical examination with blood and urine tests to identify and tackle problems early.

Dental Health Checks
We recommend that you book in for regular, complimentary follow-up visits after dental treatment with one of our nurses. This will enable us to monitor progress and advise on how best to look after your pets gnashers.

Keeping your pets free from fleas and other parasites is an important part of keeping you, your family and your pet healthy. Most people don’t attach that great an importance to parasite control, and think that products bought over the counter at a supermarket will do the job. In most cases they will not.

Control of parasites has become much more complicated than before due to the spread of dangerous species of parasites not previously found in the UK and increased resistance to older products. Prevention is the key to keeping your pet and family healthy.

The simplest way to get it right is to book in to see one of our nurses. We can then tailor a regime that offers the appropriate level of protection for your pet’s lifestyle. Remember, just because you don’t see any worms, doesn’t mean your pet doesn’t have any.

Dogs and Cats

There are several types of worm we need to protect against:

Roundworm

• These common worms are very widespread.
• They can be transmitted from a nursing mother to its offspring through the milk.
• They are a major cause of illness in puppies aged under 6 months, so frequent worming of young dogs is essential.
• The species found in dogs (and very rarely, the cat variety) can occasionally cause a serious illness in humans, more commonly in children which may cause blindness.
• It is estimated that between 8 and 12 people have their vision seriously damaged in the UK each year, as a result of this parasite with the majority being children between 1 and 4 years old.
• It is vital that all dogs are treated against this at least every 3 months, more often where there is contact with children.

Lungworm/Angiostrongylus/French Heart worm

• These names all describe the same worm.
• It infects dogs, but not cats.
• This type of worm did not exist in Britain until the early 1990's, and awareness of it is low.
• It is slowly becoming established in the UK.
• It is more common in Southern parts of England, but is becoming more common in Northern areas, with more and more cases being reported each year.
• It causes very serious illness, and often death.
• The main symptoms are breathing problems, or due to poor blood clotting - haemorrhages of the brain and other organs often occur with infection.
• Slugs, snails and frogs spread the infection, and it occurs in foxes as well as dogs.
• Most worming products are not effective at controlling this parasite.
• One of the few effective products is called Advocate - more information can be found on the manufacturer's dedicated website: http://www.lungworm.co.uk

Tapeworm

• There are several species that can infect dogs and cats.
• Most products available over the counter are not effective - even when they are described as 'dual wormer' or against 'round and tape worm'.
• The most common species are spread by fleas, so flea control is an important part of control.
• Some species can occasionally cause disease in humans, this is rare, and usually seen in areas where there is a lot of sheep farming.
• Effective treatment should be given to cats and dogs every 3-6 months, depending on their likely exposure.

Fleas

• A blood sucking external parasite.
• The need to feed on blood to breed.
• They breed very quickly, so a small problem can quickly become an infestation.
• They can spread common species of tapeworm.
• Either directly cause, or trigger 70% of dog and cat skin problems.
• It is thought that they spread a blood parasite in cats known as Bartonella, which is the germ that causes 'cat scratch fever'.
• Many products available are ineffective, and some are very toxic to cats.

Ticks and infection with Lyme Disease + Babesiosis

• Lyme disease is becoming an increasingly common disease spread by ticks. If you think you or your dog may be exposed to ticks, please click here for more information on Lyme disease.
• Babesiosis has recently been reported in the UK. It is a very serious and often fatal disease seen in dogs bitten by infected ticks.
• Ticks are found in grassland, and moorland. Areas with bracken and heather are common habitats.
• If your dog gets ticks - please get a tick removing tool, and speak to us about ways to help control them. Non veterinary products are not effective methods of control.

It is a legal requirement that all dogs over the age of eight weeks are microchipped. The chip is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades. Every vet and rescue centre in the UK has access to a microchip scanner. This means that there is more likelihood of getting your pet back in the event of a road accident or if it gets lost - even without its collar.

High value pets should always be microchipped as proof of ownership. Unfortunately, dog and cat-napping does take place, particularly of expensive and desirable breeds.

If your pet wears a collar, it is a good idea to put a tag on it. We would advise your name and contact telephone number on one side and vet contact details on the other.

When the nights draw in and the firework season begins it can be a time of anxiety for our pets.

For many people, fireworks are a time for celebration and fun but pet owners can find it a worrying time as they are unsure of how to calm their pets during the firework season.

The simple tips below may help reduce stress for your pet if they are fretful during this time:-

• Make sure your pet always has somewhere to retreat to if they feel threatened and ensure they have access to this place at all times. For example, the corner of the living room or under the dining room table, perhaps even a cupboard. Use blankets to make these areas cosy and comfortable.

• Walk your dog during daylight hours over the firework season and keep your pets indoors when fireworks are likely to be set off.

• When it becomes dark close the windows and draw the curtains. Play music to disguise or muffle the sound of fireworks.

• If your pet shows any signs of fear try to ignore their behaviour. Leave them alone unless they are at risk of harming themselves.

• Never punish or fuss over your pet when it is scared as this reinforces their fears.

• Ensure that your dog or cat is kept in a safe and secure environment and can’t escape if there’s a sudden noise. Your pet should be microchipped as there is more likelihood of return should they escape or run away.

• If you have a rabbit or small animals that are kept in hutches outside then perhaps house them in a ventilated shed or garage so that the noise of fireworks is greatly reduced. Provide them with extra hay or bedding so that they have plenty of places to hide.

We hope that you find this article helpful and informative but if your pet still has problems with fireworks then please contact a veterinary professional to discuss other types of help available. This may include the use of a pheromone diffuser designed to combat stress related problems, or prescription drugs.

We advise that all pet dogs, cats and rabbits are covered by good quality pet health insurance, such as Pet Plan.

All responsible pet owners are aware that taking care of their pet’s health is essential. However, there isn’t a pet equivalent to the NHS. Charities such as the PDSA and RSPCA are sometimes able to offer assistance to owners on state benefits but their assistance is usually dependent on stringent means testing and only covers certain postcodes. Most households, even those on low incomes, are ineligible for their support.

The cost of caring for a sick pet can quickly mount up, especially if they need to see a specialist, or have long term conditions such as skin disease or diabetes. Pet Health Insurance will allow you to budget for healthcare.

However, be aware that many policies do not offer ‘lifetime cover’ – either by limiting the period they will cover a specific condition, or the total payable per condition. This means that you could end up paying for the majority of vet’s bills for long term conditions (many skin conditions, epilepsy, diabetes, heart disease etc.). We would strongly advise you choose a policy which does not impose these limits.

With comprehensive health cover from a good insurance provider, you will have peace of mind that whatever the circumstances.

Travelling abroad with your dog or cat within the EU

There are mandatory requirements to meet if you plan to take your pet overseas, and even more when you wish to re-enter the UK.

We offer the services of a fully trained Local Veterinary Inspector (LVI). An LVI is authorised by the government to perform the necessary checks, treatments and paperwork required for dogs and cats to enter and exit the UK. We will also be able to discuss possible health risks at your destination. These health risks are often overlooked, sometimes with terrible consequences.

For further information on the Pet Travel Scheme please link to the official Defra website:

http://www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel/pets/

Vaccinations have been one of the great triumphs in veterinary medicine. We can protect your pet from many deadly and highly infectious diseases (such as parvovirus, distemper and feline leukemia). If you do one thing only for your dog, cat or rabbit, then vaccination should be top of the list.

Saying goodbye to a cherished pet is tremendously hard, and knowing when the time is right can be hard to judge.

There are links to useful websites below, with information and advice on many aspects of saying goodbye.

http://www.livingwithpetbereavement.com/when.htm

http://www.livingwithpetbereavement.com/index.htm

http://www.livingwithpetbereavement.com/grieving.htm

Here at Walker Green we aim to make this painful time less difficult. If you think that your next visit may be the last for your pet then please let us know. We will try to arrange a time when the surgery should be quiet in order to give you the attention and privacy you deserve.

We would advise you to:-

• Discuss the procedure and options with a vet or nurse, in advance. Fear of the unknown is a large part of what you will have to go through, and knowing what to expect is often helpful.
• Think about (and discuss with significant others) what the best options are for you and your pet. For instance, do you (or anyone else) want to be present? What arrangements would you like us to make for your pet-home burial or cremation? How are you going to get home? (It may not be advisable to drive). Do you want to be accompanied or would you rather be alone when you return home?
• It is often a good idea to have a close friend with you for support or simply to drive you home.
• If you prefer, you can let us know you have arrived and wait outside the surgery or in your car.
• We have a discreet side entrance where you can enter or leave if you wish.
• Home visits can always be arranged provided you can give us sufficient notice.
• Individual cremations can be arranged and your pet’s ashes can be returned to you in a casket or for scattering.

If you are having difficulty coping, ask for help – sympathetic friends or family may be very helpful. Sometimes it helps to talk to someone you know less intimately, especially if they have experience of bereavement. Below are some contact details that may be helpful:

• Animal Samaritans Pet Bereavement Service: 020 8303 1859, www.animalsamaritans.org.uk

• EASE Preparing for Pet Loss Support Programme: www.ease-animals.org.uk - Offers on-line support for anticipated pet loss.

• Pet Bereavement Support Service: 0800 096 6606, www.bluecross.org.uk - Open every day 8.30am-8.30pm. Will put you in touch with your nearest telephone befriend-er.

• SupportLine: Email info@supportline.org.uk - Emotional support to children, young adults and adults on any issue. Also keep details of counsellors and support groups throughout the UK.