Dog Healthcare & Advice

Dog Healthcare & Advice

General care and advice for looking after your dog...

Please click on each link below to see further information.

  • Canine coronavirus (CCV)
  • Canine coronavirus (CCV)

    Canine coronavirus, sometimes called Corona, is a rare viral intestinal infection of dogs which is usually short in duration. The virus itself can cause mild transient diarrhoea in dogs, mainly in pups less than 12 weeks of age, and is certainly harmless to other species - however, most infections in dogs go completely unnoticed.

    How is canine coronavirus (CCV) spread?

    Infected dogs normally shed the virus in the faeces for one to two weeks, sometimes longer. The incubation period is one to five days.

    What are the signs and symptoms of canine coronavirus (CCV)?

    Diarrhoea is typically sudden in onset and can be accompanied by decreased appetite, vomiting and in the worst cases dehydration. Secondary complicating factors, in particular virus such as Canine parvovirus and parasites, can prolong the disease and can prove fatal. On its own Coronavirus rarely proves to be fatal.

    How do I protect my dog from canine coronavirus (CCV)?

    CCV is generally mild and self-limiting with spontaneous recovery occurring in 7-10 days. In the worst cases, dehydration can be a complicating factor and puppies in particular are susceptible.

    A combined infection with parvovirus can prove to be fatal therefore as long as your dog is vaccinated against parvovirus vaccination against coronavirus is therefore not essential.


  • Behaviour
  • Behaviour

    Good relationships between dogs and their owners are based on good communication. Between each other, dogs communicate in a number of ways ... but their body language is one of the most important. It's only natural, then, that they'll use the same methods to communicate with people.

    Improving communication between you and your dog

    Understanding your dog's behaviour and its body language forms an important building block for happy pet ownership. A well-adjusted and controllable dog that interacts well with people, other animals and its environment is a joy.

    Learning about how dogs communicate through body language will help you understand your dog's needs, and will help you teach him or her how to behave appropriately.

    Good behaviour should be rewarded

    Parents often don't remember to praise their children when they behave well, yet will never forget to tell them when they do not. We tend to do the same with our pets. We ignore them when they are quiet and well behaved and pay them attention only when they behave inappropriately. It's often best to do the reverse - praise and reward desired behaviour, and ignore the unwanted.

    First steps: Teaching your dog to sit

    One of the most important lessons your puppy or dog should learn is that he or she must sit before interacting with you or any other human. You can easily teach a puppy or even a mature dog to sit. Dogs can learn at any age, as long as lessons are repeated often enough and teaching sessions are short and fun.

    Step 1

    • To begin, take a very special food treat, like a small piece of cheese, and hold it between two fingers.
    • Place this hand close to the front of your dog's nose.

    Step 2

    • Raise the hand above his/her nose and then backwards. Your dog's head will move to follow the treat.
    • Eventually, your dog will sit, because it will be more comfortable.

    Step 3

    • As soon as this is done, say "sit" and give your dog a treat. As a dog always connects what they are doing with what you are doing at the same time, they'll associate the action of sitting with the word "sit" and a reward - at this stage, the food treat.

    Tips to stop your dog jumping up and barking

    Dogs, just like humans, are social animals and need interaction with others. So withholding your attention is a very effective passive punishment. For example, if your dog jumps up at you or barks excessively, cross your arms, turn your head away and remain absolutely silent until they stop jumping or barking. Don't try to push them away, look at or talk to them. They'll interpret any of these actions on your part as attention, or even play.

    When your pet does finally calm down and sit, reward them with your undivided attention and a treat of some kind.

    If, in the past, you allowed your puppy or dog to gain your attention by barking or jumping up on you, you must realise that if you subsequently decide to ignore such behaviour, your pet will only try longer and harder to regain that attention. An analogy in human terms would be a person who presses the button of an elevator whose doors do not open. He or she will press the button repeatedly, before giving up and walking down the stairs.

    For success - to fully change your dog's behaviour - you must ignore, and outlast, all their efforts.

    Eye contact exercises for your dog

    Dogs do react to eye contact. Call your puppy or dog by his or her name. As soon as they look at you, you should give them a special treat. Repeating this simple exercise at any time will teach your pet that it is worthwhile to pay attention to you. In fact, calling your pet's name is an effective way of interrupting, and thus eliminating, unwanted behaviour.

    Making an unusual sound is another way of interrupting their activity. Once your dog is paying attention to you, you can ask them to come or sit.

    How to play with your dog

    Puppies and dogs need to exercise and play and to have contact and interaction with both people and other dogs. Old slippers and socks are not suitable playthings. They should be taught to play with toys only and should learn that human hands, feet or any other body part are not toys.

    If your pet grabs a hand or foot, either intentionally or accidentally, such behaviour should be interrupted either by withholding your attention (ignoring them) or by making a high-pitched "ouch" sound. As soon as they let go, offer a large toy and resume playing.


  • Canine babesiosis
  • Canine babesiosis

    Particularly prevalent in France, babesiosis is a serious tick-borne protozoal disease caused by a parasite, Babesia spp., which destroys white blood cells. In Europe, babesiosis is mainly caused by Babesia canis canis and it is rare in the UK. However, the disease is being diagnosed more frequently in travelling animals, since the introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) in February 2000.

    Disease your dog can catch abroad

    The disease is seen worldwide in dogs of all ages, although there seems to be a higher incidence in younger dogs. There is a seasonal variation with a higher frequency recorded in the warmer months (September-April). British dogs are particularly vulnerable as they have never encountered the disease and therefore have no resistance.

    How is Canine Babesiosis spread?

    Canine Babesiosis is transmitted through tick-bites to dogs, in which they infect and proliferate in red blood cells. Ticks will feed for up to three days before they transmit infection. Susceptible dogs can die within a couple of days of the clinical signs appearing.

    What are the signs and symptoms of Canine Babesiosis?

    Signs of Canine Babesiosis include fever, anaemia, lethargy, presence of ticks, high temperature, blood in the urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes).

    How do I protect my dog from Canine Babesiosis?

    The primary goal in the treatment of babesiosis is to reverse the anaemia and eliminate or suppress the parasite. In complicated cases, additional intensive therapy is required, aimed at the particular organ affected. Blood transfusions in severely anaemic animals are not uncommon.

    If holidaying abroad with your pet, it is vital to protect your dog from ticks and check its coat every day. If you can remove ticks, within a day of attachment, the disease can be prevented. A collar containing deltamethrin also controls infestation with ticks for five to six months.

    How do I treat my dog with Babesiosis?

    If you have travelled abroad with your dog, possibly noticed an attached tick,and your dog is showing symptoms of the disease then you need to seek immediate veterinary treatment for them.

    Treatment of Babesia canis involves special medication with Diminazene aceturate or Imidocarb dipropionate.

    In addition your dog may require hospitalisation and a blood transfusion if the anemia is severe.


  • Canine Distemper
  • Canine Distemper

    Canine distemper virus is a highly infectious viral disease of dogs which can cause mild signs in some individuals, but may be fatal in others. Whilst vaccination has resulted in a decrease in the incidence of this disease in recent years, pockets of infection still exist, especially in large cities where there are many unvaccinated dogs. In other countries, like Finland, the disease is still a big killer of dogs.

    Which dogs are at risk of canine distemper virus

    Dogs less than one year of age are most commonly affected. However, those animals that have not been vaccinated or have weakened immune systems are also susceptible.

    How is canine distemper virus spread?

    The main source of infection is by inhalation of aerosol droplets during close dog-to-dog contact. Signs can take up to three weeks to appear. The virus cannot survive easily in the environment and can be killed by most household disinfectants.

    What are the causes of canine distemper?

    Canine distemper is a large virus related to the virus causing measles in man. It is a morbillivirus virus (this group of viruses also includes measles and seal distemper). Some strains of the virus may be more pathogenic than others. However, vaccination offers protection against all strains.

    What are the signs and symptoms of canine distemper?

    The early signs of disease are primarily respiratory with runny eyes and nose, and coughing. This is followed by depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and subsequently diarrhoea. In the later stages of the disease, dogs may develop thickening of the foot pads, known as 'hard pad', and nose. Dogs which survive may go on to show serious neurological signs including seizures (fits).

    The vet will probably suspect that your dog might have distemper from the symptoms, the dog's vaccination history and the findings on physical examination. A blood test will also show a severe decrease in the white blood cell numbers and possibly the presence of virus bodies in the cells - this will help to confirm the diagnosis.

    How do you prevent canine distemper?

    It is essential to vaccinate your dog according to your vet's recommendations. Puppies that are born to vaccinated dams usually have antibodies from their mothers (maternal antibodies) that protect them against infection during the first few weeks of their lives. Puppies are in danger after the level of maternal antibodies declines and that is when they should be vaccinated.

    How is canine distemper treated?

    There is no specific treatment for canine distemper, although supportive therapy in the form of intravenous fluids are often given to correct the fluid loss due to vomiting and diarrhoea. The best form of protection against this virus is through vaccination.

    You'll be pleased to know that there are some vaccines that offer a duration of immunity of three years, this means your dog is protected for a full three years.


  • Canine hepatitis
  • Canine hepatitis

    Infectious Canine Hepatitis (ICH), caused by Canine Adenovirus, is a disease which affects the liver, kidneys, eyes and lungs of a dog. The disease can develop very quickly and some individuals may die within hours of becoming unwell.

    Which dogs are most at risk of Canine Hepatitis?

    Dogs are most commonly affected by Canine Hepatitis in the first year of life, but unvaccinated dogs of all ages are susceptible to the disease.

    How is Canine Hepatitis spread?

    Canine Hepatitis is transmitted by direct contact with infected urine, saliva and faeces. Dogs that have recovered from this disease can still be infectious to other dogs for more than six months. Young puppies are particularly susceptible to the disease. The virus is relatively hardy and can survive for months in the environment under ideal conditions.

    What causes Canine Hepatitis?

    Infectious canine hepatitis is caused by canine adenovirus-1 (CAV-1), which is found world-wide and can infect most canine species, although some, including the domestic dog, are more sensitive than others.

    What are the signs and symptoms of Canine Hepatitis?

    Clinical signs of Canine Hepatitis develop after an incubation period of four-seven days and most commonly include lack of appetite, fever, pale gums, conjunctivitis, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Sometimes, the dog may later develop jaundice.

    In some dogs that recover, a clouding of the cornea occurs, known as 'blue eye' which usually resolves itself over time. Occasionally the disease is so severe that it can cause sudden death before any signs have developed.

    How to prevent and control Canine Hepatitis

    The best form of protection against Canine Hepatitis virus is through vaccination. You'll be pleased to know that some vaccines offer 'duration of immunity' of three years, which means your dog will have immunity for a full three years.

    Treatment of Infectious Canine Hepatitis

    Treatment will depend on the severity of the disease in the patient. Intravenous fluid therapy with glucose added may be required to support fluid and energy balance. Antibiotics are usually given to prevent secondary bacterial infections. As ICH causes bleeding disorders, known as coagulopathy, in the case that bleeding is severe a blood transfusion may even be required.

    Around 10-30% of dogs infected with this disease will die despite treatment, with puppies being the most vulnerable.


  • Canine leishmaniasis
  • Canine leishmaniasis

    Leishmaniasis is a zoonotic parasitic disease transmitted through the bites of the phlebotomine sand flies and is the third most important disease worldwide. Travelling abroad, especially to the Mediterranean, might expose your dog to this severe, often fatal disease.

    How is Canine Leishmaniasis spread?

    The disease is carried from dog to dog by a microscopic parasite calledÊLeishmania infantum, which is spread by sand fly bites. Dogs can be bitten up to 100 times an hour during the sand fly season, which begins in May and ends in September. When an infected sand fly bites a dog, parasites are deposited on the skin.

    A tiny skin lesion - called a chancre - appears at the site of the bite, usually in the muzzle or the ear. The parasite then invades the dog's cells, spreads into the internal organs and may begin to damage the immune system.

    What are the signs and symptoms of Canine Leishmaniasis?

    Signs of the disease are highly variable and in some cases, may take several years to manifest. Affected dogs may have a fever, show signs of hair loss (particularly around the eyes), lose weight and develop skin sores and nail disease. Unfortunately, over time, many organs may become involved leading to problems like anaemia, arthritis in many joints, eye and kidney disease.

    How do I stop my dog getting Canine Leishmaniasis?

    Treatment of Canine Leishmaniasis may be complex and often non curative, so prevention is best. You can help protect your dog from sand flies for the whole of the sand fly season, by using a collar containing deltamethrin, which also controls infestation with ticks for five to six months.


  • Common problems
  • Common problems

    Obesity in dogs

    Obesity is a big health risk to pets as it is to humans. An older dog is a less active dog, so adjustments to your pet's diet to reduce caloric intake are imperative. This will relieve pressure on the joints as well as manage the risks of a range of diseases as well as making a massive difference to an overweight dogs quality of life.

    A range of diets facilitating weight loss are available which modify ingredients with for example increased fibre, fatty acids and vitamins while decreasing sodium, protein and fat.

    Diabetes in dogs

    Diabetes is common especially in older dogs. It is a disease in which your dog's pancreas can no longer produce enough of the hormone insulin. More information can be found by clicking on the Diabetes section link on the right.

    Arthritis in dogs

    Arthritis' severity can range from slight stiffness and lameness, difficulty in rising to inability to exercise without pain and ultimately debilitation. Keeping animals as comfortable as possible is vital. Exercise is important to maintain muscle tone and mass, can be adjusted to his/her condition. Anti-inflammatory medication can help relieve the pain. Your veterinary surgeon will prescribe any necessary medication.

    Dogs and intolerance to the cold

    Intolerance to cold temperatures is more likely as dogs age. There can be a range of explanations including heart and respiratory disease, as well has metabolic and hormone problems to name just a few . Move the dog bed closer to a heat-source and bring them indoors on cold days.

    Tooth loss or decay in dogs

    Tooth loss or decay not only makes it harder to chew but also increases the likelihood of other potentially serious health problems problems. Care with diet, the use of dental chews as well as brushing and cleaning the teeth will help keep these to a minimum.

    Tumours

    Prostate enlargement and mammary gland tumours are mostly diagnosed in unneutered dogs. Have the prostate or mammary glands examined at checkups.

    Separation anxiety in dogs

    Separation Anxiety presents itself when older dogs can't cope with stress. A range of behaviours including barking and other vocalisatiom, destruction of the home, and loss of toilet control are common signs Appropriate advice on this issue including a range of management techniques designed to accustom the dog to being comfortable left alone. In some cases medication, supplements or pheromone products may be helpful in facilitating behavioural changes.

    Dog skin and coat problems

    Skin or coat problems in ageing dogs means the skin loses elasticity, making your pet more susceptible to injury while the fur can thin develop scurf or dandruff and become dry, dull or oily over time. This may occur as part of ageing but can also reflect underlying skin, metabolic or hormone problems. Veterinary advice should always be sought should such a change be noted. Regular grooming, appropriate bathing with suitable dog shampoos and essential fatty acid supplements are highly beneficial.

    Canine cognitive dysfunction

    This manifests itself in confusion, disorientation or decreased activity. Medication may help manage some of these issues.


  • Dental care
  • Dental care

    With major advances in treating serious infectious and other pet diseases, oral disease - most importantly periodontal or gum disease caused by the build-up of plaque and tartar - has become the number-one health problem for dogs.

    It is estimated that without proper dental care 70% of dogs will show signs of oral disease by the age of three. With your help, your pets can have healthy teeth and gums throughout their lives.

    Tips for better dog dental care

    To look after your dog's teeth, is relatively simple based on;

    • A nutritious diet
    • Chew treats
    • Regular brushing at home
    • Yearly dental check-ups by a veterinary surgeon

    The right diet to keep your dog's teeth healthy

    The wrong kinds of food can lead to dental disease in your dog. Feeding your dog a dry food rather than a moist, canned one will, through its mild abrasive action on the teeth, help remove the bacterial plaque that can harden into tartar.

    Dry food also provides adequate chewing exercise and gum stimulation. Avoid giving your pet sweets and table scraps as they may also increase plaque and tartar formation.

    Your vet may recommend the use of dental diet, a specially formulated dry fooddesigned to reduce plaque and tartar build-up, especially if a dog is prone to dental problems related to its breed or individual genetic history.

    How to brush your dog's teeth

    Dogs need to have their teeth brushed in order to eliminate the dental plaque that can cause tooth decay and the formation of tartar, which can lead to gum disease. You should begin a regular, daily brushing routine when your puppy is between six and eight weeks of age.

    Even older dogs can be trained to accept having their teeth brushed. You simply need to introduce the activity gradually and make the experience a positive one for your pet.

    Reassure and praise them profusely throughout the process and reward them with a very special treat when it's finished.

     

    Step by step guide to brushing a dog's teeth

    Step 1

    Start by dipping a finger in beef paste. Rub this finger gently over your pet's gums and one or two teeth. Repeat until your pet seems fairly comfortable with this activity.

    Step 2

    Gradually introduce a gauze-covered finger and gently scrub the teeth with a circular motion.

    Step 3

    Then, you can begin to use a toothbrush, either an ultra-soft model designed for people or a special pet tooth-brush or finger brush, which is a rubber finger covering with a small brush built in at its tip.

    Step 4

    Finally, once your pet is used to having his or her teeth brushed, you can start using a pet toothpaste in liquid or paste form. Most of these contain chlorhexidine or stannous fluoride - ask your veterinary surgeon for his/her recommendations.

    Don't use human toothpaste, as it can upset your pet's stomach. Your vet may also advise the use of an antiseptic spray or rinse after brushing.

    Book a yearly dental check-up for your dog

    Doing your best to ensure that your dog receives the proper diet and regular brushing at home will help maintain teeth and gums in top condition. To provide optimum dental care at home, you need to start with a clean bill of dental health.

    Your vet will give your dog a thorough examination of the entire oral cavity to determine whether there are any underlying problems and, especially important, tartar build-up.

    Brushing removes plaque but not tartar, so if your dog's teeth do have tartar, your veterinary surgeon will have to remove it with a professional clean and polish, usually accomplished under anaesthesia.

    After removing the tartar above and below the gum line, your veterinary surgeon will provide you with instructions for home care and follow-up.

    Do's and don'ts to improve your dog's teeth
    • Chew treats, including hard meat-protein biscuits and rawhide chews for dogs, can help remove plaque, and provide stimulation for the gums.
    • Watch out for wood - throwing sticks for dogs can result in splinters and gum damage. Pieces of wood can even become stuck in the roof of the mouth, perforate the oesophagus or if they manage to get into the gut, cause an obstruction.
    • Don't let your pet chew on hard materials like cooked bones or stones. They can wear down, even break teeth, damage gums and lead to infection or be swallowed and lead to blockages.
    Did you know?

    Puppies develop their deciduous teeth at two weeks of age, with their 42 permanent teeth starting to appear at three months.


  • Diabetes
  • Diabetes

    Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which your dog's pancreas can no longer produce enough of the hormone insulin.

    It is estimated that approximately one in 500 dogs and cats in the UK develop the disease.

    Middle aged to older dogs are more prone to developing the condition and un-spayed bitches are most commonly affected, however certain dog breeds including Australian Terriers, Bichon Frises, Cairn Terriers, Fox Terriers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Keeshonden, Poodles (toy, miniature and standard), Pugs, Samoyeds and Schnauzers (both miniature and standard) are at increased risk.

    What does insulin do?

    Every time your dog eats a meal, glucose is absorbed from the intestines and enters the bloodstream. Glucose (sugar) is the essential fuel of the body's cells and is needed for these cells to work and so for the body to function. At the same time, insulin is released by your dog's pancreas.

    Insulin allows the glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter cells (e.g. liver, kidney, and muscle cells) where it can be used for energy and growth. Think of insulin as a key that unlocks a door to let glucose into the cells. Insulin lowers blood glucose and allows it to enter cells, where it is used to produce energy.

    What happens in dogs without enough insulin?

    In diabetic dogs, the pancreas can no longer produce enough insulin (type 1 diabetes). Without insulin, glucose is no longer able to leave the bloodstream to be used as energy by the body's cells and the glucose in the blood will rise to an abnormally high level.

    The level will become so high that glucose overflows into the urine and your dog's urine will contain glucose.

    The body's cells cannot utilise the glucose they depend upon for energy. In order to compensate for this, other 'abnormal' energy producing processes start-up which do not depend on glucose (such as fat break-down).

    Unfortunately, these processes eventually create toxic by-products that can make your dog very sick.

    What are the symptoms of diabetes in dogs?

    Contact your vet if you have any concerns about your dog.

    Signs to look for are:

    • increased thirst
    • frequent urination
    • changes in appetite
    • weight loss
    • deteriorating coat condition
    • lethargy or lack of energy

    Can canine diabetes be treated?

    Your vet will discuss treatment options depending on the extent of the diabetes. This could include dietary changes as well as considering insulin injections to replace the insulin that your dog's pancreas can no longer produce.

    A good quality of life can be restored for the majority of diabetic pets given insulin treatment and appropriate care.

    For further information on diabetes, simply phone your vet to book a pet health check or visit www.diabeticpets.co.uk


  • Diseases
  • Diseases

    Being aware of the infectious and in some cases potentially fatal diseases your dog can catch at any age is a vital part of dog ownership. Spotting the signs that your pet is unwell and in need of veterinary care will not only help you give your dog a long, happy and healthy life. Knowing when to call your vet for advice and support could even save your dog’s life in an emergency. Understanding how dog diseases are transmitted will also help give you the information you need on how to protect your dog and prevent the spread of dangerous disease.

    Tick-borne Babesiosis is most commonly seen in France but increasingly British dogs who travel are at risk. Signs include a high temperature, blood in the urine and lethargy.

    Canine Coronavirus is a potentially fatal virus that causes diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss.

    Canine Parvovirus is highly contagious and symptoms include bloody diarrhoea and vomiting. The disease can be fatal especially in puppies and young dogs.

    Distemper is caused by a virus and like Canine Parvovirus is also extremely contagious. Signs include coughing, vomiting and diarrhoea.

    Just like in humans, Canine Hepatitis affects the liver with signs including fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

    Lyme Disease can develop after a tick bite, signs include joint pain, fatigue, depression, excessive thirst and loss of appetite. 

    Found on mainland Europe and a risk to pets travelling abroad from the UK, Rabies is a fatal disease caught from a bite or scratch by an infected animal.  Leptospirosis is a bacterial illness transmitted in the urine of infected wild animals such as rats. This can be a silent killer and may lead to kidney or liver failure. Kennel Cough is a highly contagious infection caused by the Bordetella virus with symptoms including a severe, honking cough, nasal discharge and watery eyes.


  • Dry eye
  • Dry eye

    Dry-eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is a common condition which reduces and eventually stops tear production. One in 22 dogs is affected and this figure is even higher for certain breeds.

    What breeds are most at risk of dry-eye?
    • West Highland White Terrier
    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
    • Cocker Spaniel
    • Shih-Tzu

    However, any breed, at any age, can be affected

    What causes dry-eye in dogs?

    The condition is almost always caused by destruction of the tear glands by the dog's own immune system. Damage to the tear gland is irreversible, and eventually it is destroyed completely. This means the animal cannot produce enough tears. Dry-eye is a painful and potentially blinding eye disease, and needs lifelong treatment.

    What are the symptoms of dry-eye?
    • Eyes red and inflamed
    • Uncomfortable eyes - your dog may rub its eyes, blink excessively or keep the eyes closed
    • Discharge from the eyes, seen in the corner or over the surface of the eye
    • Dry looking eyes
    • Pigment on the surface of the eye
    • Frequent eye infection or defects in the surface of the eye known as ulceration (more than two per year)
    Testing dogs for dry-eye

    However, in many cases the eyes can look quite normal despite very low tear production, and on-going destruction of the tear glands. For this reason, it is important to test dogs showing any of the signs above, and to test commonly affected breeds regularly. It is very important to diagnose the condition early, as treatments are less effective in advanced cases and fewer changes to the eye will have developed.

    Diagnosis of dry-eye is generally straight forward and is based on measuring tear production with a simple Schirmer Tear Test. This is a simple test which does not require an anaesthetic and the results are available immediately.

    How is dry-eye treated?

    Your dog must have treatment for dry-eye for the rest of its life, to prevent discomfort and undesirable changes developing, including blindness. Regular check-ups with your vet are an important part of this treatment.

    Your vet may prescribe a treatment which prevents further autoimmune destruction of the tear glands (and so preserves their natural function of producing tears) and also increases the production of natural tears and reduces painful inflammation.

    If you think your dog is showing any of the signs above or may have dry-eye, book a check-up now by contacting your vet.

    For further information visit - www.dog-dry-eye.co.uk


  • Ear and eye conditions
  • Ear and eye conditions

    Your dog’s ears and eyes can be at risk of infection. Monitoring any changes and talking to your vet if you spot any signs for concern will help protect your dog’s sight and hearing. The dog’s long ear canal can be vulnerable to bacterial infection. Watch out for any redness or discharge such as yellow pus which can be a sign of an allergy or infection. Changes to the eye, such as redness or watery discharge should be checked with your vet as they can both be the signs of infection that needs treatment or even a more serious condition that may lead to blindness.


  • Ear care
  • Ear care

    Healthy ears should be clean, odour-free, pale pink in colour and with a minimal accumulation of wax. You should check your dog's ears regularly.

    Ear disease in dogs

    Some breeds of dog are more susceptible to ear infection than others, including dogs with pendulous ears, for example the cocker spaniel, or dogs with hairy inner ear flaps. Dogs prone to allergies are also at risk.

    Unlike the human ear, your pet's ear canal is an L shape - deep and curved. This means the dirt and wax can accumulate and moisture becomes trapped. This is further complicated by heavy droopy ears - such as those seen in Springer Spaniels, as it is difficult for air to circulate. This provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and yeasts.

     

    Preventing ear problems in dogs

    Using an ear cleaning solution on an appropriate basis can be helpful in keeping your dog's ears healthy although this should be only done with guidance from your veterinarian as this could make an ear condition worse in some instances!

    How to put ear drops or ointment in your dog's ears:

     

    • Clean the external ear thoroughly with a moistened cotton ball using a veterinary-recommended solution - NEVER use water or a non-veterinary approved product
    • Gently pull the ear flap towards you and over the head in order to straighten the ear canal prior to applying the medication
    • Drop the medication into the lowest opening of the ear canal. Always ensure the right amount of medication is applied as insufficient amounts may not treat a condition properly.
    • Gently massage the ear area to help work the medication deeper into the ear canal. If there is enough medication in the ear, you will just begin to hear a 'squishing' noise as you massage. If you don't hear this noise then you have not applied enough medication.

  • Ear disease
  • Ear disease

    Ear disease or Otitis Externa means inflammation of the outer part of the ear passage (also known as the external ear canal). It is a very common condition and particularly so in dogs. However it is a complex disease which is often due to a number of triggers.

    How to detect an ear infection in your dog

    Unfortunately our pets can't tell us when they have a problem, so it is the responsibility of all of us, the owners, to recognise signs of ill health.

    Ear disease can manifest itself in many ways:

    • Excessive scratching and pawing of the ear and head
    • Rubbing the head on the floor or sofa
    • Unpleasant odour
    • Sensitivity to the touch - may cry out when ear touched
    • Shaking of the head or tilting head to one side
    • Black or yellow discharge in the ear
    • Accumulation of dark brown wax
    • Redness or swelling of the ear flap
    • Changes in behaviour such as lethargy, depression or irritability
    • Loss of hearing or balance and disorientation
    • Bleeding from the ear
    So what causes ear disease in dogs?

    The ear canal provides an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria and yeasts. However these organisms in their own right do not actually cause ear disease. They are what we term opportunists and they make the most of the situation created by other factors.

    There are many causes of ear disease. Common triggers include:

    • Anatomy of the Ear - especially droopy 'spaniel type' ears
    • Foreign bodies - grass seeds in the summer
    • Ear mites - more common in cats
    • Tumours
    • Allergic skin disease. Atopy triggered by a sensitivity to aeroallergens such as house dust mites and pollens is one example in which the ears are one of the body regions which are particularly prone to inflammation and itch
    • Swimming can lead to wetting of the ear canal. Recurrent wetting will change the microclimate to favour infection.
    • Bathing with the introduction of water into the ear canal. Always avoid the ears at bath time.
    How is ear disease in dogs treated?

    Ear disease is treated in a number of ways Ð dependant on the underlying cause and how long-standing it is. Your vet will recommend an appropriate regime that will best suit your pet. This may include an ear cleaner as well as a topical medication to use at home.

    Recurrent and neglected cases may require surgery to help manage the problems so it is always wise to attend to ear problems as soon as they are noted. A really important aspect of maintaining healthy ears is keeping your dog's ears clean.

    Animals that are prone to ear disease can really benefit from regular cleaning of their ears. This does not need to be performed any more frequently than every 48 hours. Your vet can advise you of the correct regime for your pet.

    Sancerum is a cleaner that can be used to maintain healthy ears. It helps to break down the wax and debris that can develop in your pet's ears. It also has a drying agent which stops the ears from getting soggy - this helps to keep the numbers of bacteria and yeasts under control.

    Other common ear problems in dogs

    Grass seeds stuck in the ears

    Grass seeds can be troublesome in the summer months. They can easily work their way down the ear canal and become trapped. They cause your pet considerable pain and discomfort as well as allowing bacteria and yeasts to invade. This then causes further pain and distress and the cycle continues.

    Other factors include ear mites which are found in the external ear canal, especially in cats, and cause considerable irritation and itching. Tumours can block the canal allowing wax and debris to accumulate. Swimming dogs get dirty water in their ears which results in a bacteria rich moist environment.

    Ear mites in dogs

    Ear mites are common parasites that are highly contagious, often spreading from dog to dog. Excessive itching is the most common sign. Ear mites create dark, crumbly debris that look like coffee grinds.

    Haematoma

    A Haematoma of the ear flap means blood has accumulated in the ear flap (pinna) due to vigorous head shaking or trauma to the ear flap which causes the small blood vessels to leak. This may be due to an underlying inflammatory or itchy condition either related to the ear or elsewhere on the body. Fleas are always an important consideration in such cases.

    Deafness in dogs

    Deafness is usually brought on by age, trauma, loud noise or infection but can also be hereditary or congenital. Unfortunately, once diagnosed in your dog, clinical deafness is a lifelong condition.

    Contact your vet

    If you notice any of these signs then you should contact the practice to make an appointment with one of the vets. It is very important that a vet examines inside your pet's ears to check the canal thoroughly. Putting drops into the ears without them having been checked by a vet can cause further complications if for example the ear drum has ruptured or there is a foreign body present.


  • Ehrlichiosis
  • Ehrlichiosis

    Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne disease. Infection with this parasite can cause anaemia, immunosuppression and compromise the blood's clotting ability. This disease is considered as deadly as babesiosis.

    A disease your dog could catch abroad

    The disease is particularly widespread in large parts of North and South America, Europe (Mediterranean basin and the Rhone Valley), Asia and Africa. British dogs are particularly vulnerable if they travel abroad as they have never encountered the disease and therefore have no resistance.

    How is Ehrlichiosis spread?

    Ehrlichiosis is transmitted through tick-bites to dogs, in which they infect and proliferate in monocytes, which leads to immune complex related diseases. Susceptible dogs can die within a couple of days of the clinical signs appearing.

    What are the signs and symptoms of Ehrlichiosis?

    Ehrlichiosis has an acute, subclinical and chronic phase. The acute phase starts with fever, anorexia, vomiting, swollen glands and bleeding problems (nose bleeds). This phase can take up to four weeks. Most dogs will survive this phase.

    Depending on a dog's breed and immune status, a subclinical and chronic phase will follow. In the severe chronic phase symptoms like nose bleed, neurologic signs, inflamed kidneys and arthritis are seen. Most dogs in this phase will not survive. German Shepherds are very sensitive to the infection.

    How do I protect my dog from Ehrlichiosis?

    If holidaying abroad with your pet, it is vital to protect your dog from ticks and check its coat every day. If you can remove ticks, within a day of attachment, the disease can be prevented. A collar containing deltamethrin also controls infestation with ticks for five to six months. 


  • Eye care
  • Eye care

    A healthy dog's eyes should be clear, bright and free from dirt, discharge and inflammation (redness) and the whites of the eye should be white not red or yellow.

    What are the symptoms of eye problems in dogs?

    Common symptoms of eye problems in dogs include:

    • Red inner eyelids
    • Matter 'stuck' on the surface or in the corners of the eye
    • Cloudiness within the eyeball
    • A dull eye surface
    • The 'third eyelid' coming across the eye which looks like a pink curtain or fold of membrane
    • Excessive tearing or unusual discharges
    • Tear-stained fur around the eyes

    Eye tests used to diagnose eye problems in dogs include:

    • Fluorescein stain to identify the presence of corneal ulcers or defects in the surface of the eye
    • Schirmer Tear Test to determine the level of tear production
    • Ocular pressure to detect glaucoma
    • Ophthalmoscope to see in the eye chamber
    Common eye conditions in dogs
    • Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the membrane that covers the inner lining of the eyelids. This inflammation may extend to involve the white of the eye. It may be caused by allergies or by bacterial, fungal or viral infections.
    • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca ('Dry eye') occurs when the tear glands do not produce enough tears. This results in recurrent or chronic conjunctivitis - persistently sore eyes - and if left untreated, may eventually lead to blindness. The sooner your dog is treated the better the prognosis so get them to the vet sooner rather than later. Certain breeds, such as West Highland White Terriers, Cavalier King Charles and Cocker Spaniels, seem to be more prone to this problem, though any dog may be affected.
    • Dogs which have been diagnosed with diabetes are a prime suspect if they have sore eyes.
    • Corneal Ulceration can occur when the shiny surface of the cornea is scratched or damaged leading to defects in the eye which are not always visible to the naked eye. Ulceration can be dangerous as it could lead to complete perforation of the surface of the eye, therefore it is always important to get your dog to a vet if they have sore eyes.
    • Epiphora occurs If your cat's eyes constantly "weep",due to an increased tear production or the normal tear flow through the tear duct is blocked. The fur around the eyes becomes "stained"due to the constant wetting effect which is often the sign that owners notice more often as a consequence of the problem.
    • Cataracts & Glaucoma Dogs, just like humans, can have these serious eye diseases. Cataracts, which cloud the lens inside the eye can sometimes be seen in elderly dogs. A thorough evaluation by your veterinary surgeon is necessary as surgery is the only treatment.
    • Glaucoma stems from too much pressure being exerted upon the eye's interior as a result of a decrease in the amount of fluid draining from it. This increased pressure can damage the sensitive retina inside the eye which can lead to blindness.

    How to put eye drops into your dog's eyes

    • In some cases you may need to muzzle your dog.
    • Remove any discharge from around the eye with a cotton ball moistened with warm water.
    • See the instructions on the bottle for dosage. Shake if necessary.
    • Use one hand to hold the bottle between thumb and index finger and place the other under your dog's jaw to support the head.
    • Tilt the head back and, to prevent blinking, use your free fingers to hold the eyelids open.
    • Hold the bottle close to the eye but DON'T touch the eye's surface.
    • Squeeze the drops onto the eye and once the drops are in, release the head.
    • Your dog will blink, spreading the medication over the eye's surface.
    • Make a fuss or give your dog a treat after application
    How to put eye ointment into your dog's eyes

    • In some cases you may need to muzzle your dog.
    • Remove any discharge from around the eye with a cotton ball moistened with warm water.
    • Check the instructions on the tube for dosage.
    • Gently pull back upper and lower eyelids.
    • Holding the tube parallel to the lower eyelid, squeeze the ointment on to its edge. DON'T let the tube touch the eye's surface.
    • Lightly massage upper and lower eyelids together to spread the medication.
    • Release the head. Let your dog blink.
    • Make a fuss or give your dog a treat after application


  • General care
  • General care

    We all love our dogs and want to do the very best to keep them happy and healthy. Having a dog in your life also brings responsibilities and if you are thinking of buying a dog, you need to weigh up the time and commitment involved. Our dogs are protect under the law within the Animal Welfare Act 2006 which means that anyone caring for a dog, even temporarily, has a duty to care for him or her properly. The Act covers the five welfare needs of our animals, which are the:

    • need for a suitable environment
    • need for a suitable diet
    • need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
    • need to be housed with, or apart, from other animals
    • and the need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

  • Heartworm in dogs
  • Heartworm in dogs

    Heartworm is mostly prevalent in southern France, Spain, Italy and the Mediterranean. Mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting the disease to dogs and many different species of mosquitoes can carry heartworm larvae.

    Disease your dog can catch abroad

    British dogs could be more vulnerable as they have never encountered the disease and therefore have no resistance.

    How is heartworm spread?

    The larvae of this worm (which eventually resides in the heart) are present in the bloodstream and can be transferred to an unaffected dog via a simple mosquito bite.

    The life cycle of heartworm is developed in the following stages:

    • Adult heartworms reside in the right heart chamber.
    • Heartworm larvae are released into the dog's blood and the mosquito ingests the larvae with the dog's blood.
    • After 10 to 30 days, the infective larvae appear in the salivary gland of the mosquito, so when the mosquito bites another dog, it transmits the infective larvae.
    • The larvae then migrate around the dog's body for about four months before reaching the dog's heart. The larvae mature into adult worms over the next three months.
    • The process repeats itself.
    Signs and symptoms

    Heartworm disease is caused by damage from the adult worms once they get into the blood vessels of a dog's lungs. The worms cause the blood vessels to swell and become scarred. As the blood vessels shrink in diameter, blood flow becomes restricted and blood pressure begins to rise. Eventually, the increasing blood pressure will lead to heart failure.

    What are the signs and symptoms of heartworm?

    Signs may take several years to manifest and include soft cough, tiredness, weakness, loss of weight and condition. Eventually heart failure may ensue.

    How do I protect my dog from heartworm?

    There are products available in the UK that may be obtained from your vet prior to your trip, or from a local vet on arrival. They kill the larvae after infection. An alternative would be to use a deltamethrin collar that prevent the mosquito from taking a blood meal.

     


  • Household dangers
  • Household dangers

    Just as parents 'childproof' their home, so should dog owners 'petproof' theirs. Just like infants and small children, four-legged members of the family are naturally curious and love to explore their environment with their paws, claws and mouths.

    But they can't know what is dangerous and what is not, so it's up to you to make your home a safe haven. The following tips can help ensure that your dog enjoys a long, happy and accident-free life in your care.

    How to make your home safe for your dog
    • Screen windows to guard against falls.
    • Don't let young dogs out on balconies, upper porches or high decks.
    • Many house plants, including dieffenbachia, elephant ear, spider plants and more are poisonous if eaten. Remove them or put them out of reach in hanging baskets.
    • Puppies love to chew when they're teething, so unplug, remove or cover electrical cords.
    • Don't leave a room where a fire is lit or a heater is being used unattended.
    • Plastic bags may be fun to play with, but they can cause suffocation.
    • Don't leave small, sharp, easily swallowed objects lying around.

    In the garage

    • Dogs like the smell and taste of antifreeze but ingestion is likely to prove fatal.
    • Tightly cover containers and wipe up any spills.
    • Paint, fuel and other dangerous chemicals should be stored out of reach.

    In the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom

    • Never leave ovens or irons on unattended.
    • Dangerous household chemicals such as bleach and ammonia should be stored out of your dog's reach.
    • Close washer and dryer doors - your dog might climb in and become trapped.
    • Keep toilet lids down - small dogs can drown if they fall in.
    • Make sure your dog can't get hold of medicines, shampoo, suntan lotions and other personal care items.

    In the garden

    • Some outdoor plants, like ivy and oleander, can be poisonous to dogs.
    • Keep your dog away from lawns and gardens treated with chemicals.
    • Store garden tools and chemicals securely. Keep garden sheds locked.
    • Cover pools and ponds - your dog might fall in and not be able to get out.

     

    Avoiding catastrophes

    • Eliminate hooks or similar objects placed at your dog's shoulder height - the collar or harness could become tangled and he/she could choke.
    • A tall perimeter fence around your property will minimise the risk of your dog running out into traffic or roaming far from home.

    At Christmas time

    • Tinsel and icicles, Christmas tree lights and glass ornaments will be sure to tempt your pet's curiosity - but all could be harmful if chewed or swallowed.
    • Poinsettia, holly and mistletoe are poisonous to your pets.
    • Raisins and chocolate are poisonous to dogs. Fatalities have been recorded when large quantities have been eaten.

  • Joint problems
  • Joint problems

    Canine osteoarthritis

    If your dog doesn't jump to greet you on your return home each evening, there may be a good reason - he or she may have developed canine osteoarthritis.

    Which dogs are at risk of canine osteoarthritis?

    A chronic, degenerative joint disease that makes movement difficult and painful, osteoarthritis mainly strikes dogs in their middle and senior years. However, younger animals can also be affected. In fact, studies show that approximately 20% of dogs have the condition in some form and, even though they are less prone, cats can also suffer from it.

    It can be heart-breaking to see your once lively, always active best friend begin to limp, or notice his or her obvious pain or stiffness when moving around. There is no cure for osteoarthritis. However, if it is treated promptly, there is a great deal that you and your veterinary surgeon can do to decrease your pet's discomfort and increase his or her mobility.

    What are the early warning signs of osteoarthritis in dogs?
    • Difficulty in walking, climbing stairs
    • Reluctance to jump onto the sofa or into the car
    • An overall decrease in activity, especially play
    • Resting more than usual
    • Slowness in getting up from a lying position
    • Dogs that "bunny hop" with the hind legs, rather than running normally
    • Slow or stiff movements upon waking, after a rest, or in cold weather which improves with continued movement
    • Beginning to limp
    • Swollen joint(s) that is/are warm to the touch and have a limited or painful range of movement
    • Licking at a joint
    • Personality change - your pet no longer likes to be touched or played with

    If you notice any of the signs above, don't just think that your pet is "slowing down with age". Take him or her to see your vet. The faster osteoarthritis is first diagnosed and treated, the better your pet's quality of life will be.

    What causes osteoarthritis in dogs?

    There are many causes of osteoarthritis in dogs, but practically all can be grouped into two main categories:

    1. Abnormal stress on normal joints

    • An injury that damages a joint
    • "Wear and tear" where joints are subjected to repeated loads or stress
    • Obesity: an excessive load is put on joints

    2. Normal stress on abnormal joints

    • Developmental defects that alter the shape or stability of a joint
    • Poor limb configuration: bow legs or knock knees can cause an uneven load on a joint
    • Genetic predisposition: some breeds of dogs are just more prone to osteoarthritis than others

    Hip dysplasia: Normal stresses on a dysplastic (malformed) joint will lead to arthritis. Whatever the specific cause, stress on a joint can begin a destructive cycle of inflammation of the joint area and damage to the cartilage that leads to pain for your pet. Some breeds are more predisposed to this condition than others, for example the German Shepherd dog and Labrador.

    What is the treatment for osteoarthritis in dogs?

    1. Weight control: Dogs that suffer from chronic pain caused by conditions like osteoarthritis often become inactive, which can result in obesity. Controlling your pet's weight will lighten the load on arthritic joints and make it less difficult to move around. Just as for humans, weight loss for animals involves both a well-balanced, calorie-reduced diet and regular exercise. Ask your veterinary surgeon for advice on the proper diet for your dog or cat.

    2. Exercise: Exercise is essential because it contributes to strengthening the muscles that support joints. Daily, moderate amounts of low-impact exercise also improves joint mobility and can help get a lethargic, arthritic pet active again. Dogs will benefit from such activities as walking and swimming just as cats can profit from play that keeps them moving without excessive jumping. Consult your veterinary surgeon about what amount and type of exercise would be best for your pet.

    Also, be aware that your dog or cat's osteoarthritic pain may be more severe at certain times than others. If this is the case, let your pet take a break from his or her exercise routine for a few days, until the painful flare-up subsides.

    3. Anti-inflammatory drugs: These combat inflammation in the joints, thus relieving pain, and increasing mobility. As joint pain may vary according to the amount of exercise, the weather or season, or for other, unknown factors, your veterinary surgeon may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) as treatment.

    Newer NSAID drugs are proving to be especially effective in reducing inflammation and pain to improve mobility without the significant side effects - including gastrointestinal problems - previously associated with NSAID use. Ask your veterinary surgeon for more information. Never be tempted to medicate your dog with human painkillers.

    4. Physical therapy: In addition to the above, your veterinary surgeon may also suggest physical therapy, cold or hot packs and baths, massage or acupuncture as well as glucosamine/chondroitin and omega 3 and 6 diet supplements as an aid to maintaining joint health. In occasional cases surgery may also be considered to be indicated to achieve the best outcome.

    Surgery

    Rarely, surgery may also be considered to achieve the best outcome.

    Bedding

    Thick and supportive bedding in a warm environment helps to alleviate the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis.

    How will osteoarthritis affect my dog?

    Osteoarthritis may progress very slowly (over several years) or very quickly (you might notice a major change in just a few weeks or months). It all depends on your pet's age, his or her activity level, the joints involved and the underlying cause. Some pets' pain and loss of mobility can be kept to a minimum for long periods of time with a simple regimen of weight control, moderate, regular exercise and the occasional use of anti-inflammatory drugs if flare-ups occur.

    For others, severe damage to the joints may occur rapidly and require long-term medication and other therapy. In either case, your veterinary surgeon can determine the best course of treatment for your pet's particular condition.

    There is no reason why, with your loving attention and committed care, as well as your veterinary surgeon's guidance, your osteoarthritic pet cannot have a happy, healthy and comfortable life for many years to come.


  • Kennel cough
  • Kennel cough

    Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious multifactorial disease of a dog's respiratory tract. It occurs where dogs are in close contact with each other - boarding kennels, rescue centres, shows, etc.

    Who is at risk of Kennel Cough?

    All dogs are at risk if they are in close contact with other dogs. With a high morbidity rate, clinical signs of kennel cough can be more severe in puppies, older dogs or debilitated individuals, including fatal bronchopneumonia. Any dog which comes into contact with other dogs is at risk. The disease is also not restricted to dogs, other species can become infected.

    How is Kennel Cough spread?

    Canine infectious tracheobronchitis is transmitted by coughing, sneezing or nose-to-nose contact. The disease can spread rapidly and can last up to six weeks.

    What are the causes of kennel cough?

    The pathogens listed below are the main causes of kennel cough. However, there are other viruses and bacteria which may contribute to the kennel cough complex.

    Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb)

    The commonest cause of kennel cough and from the same family as Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough in humans), Bb causes disease in a wide range of host species, including cats (where it is one of the causes of cat 'flu), pigs, rabbits and horses. Bb can infect other species commonly kept in contact with dogs and therefore interspecies transmission is possible in particular between dogs and cats. Bb can be shed for up to four months post infection.

    Canine parainfluenza virus (CPi)

    Often found together with Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb), CPi is present in mouth and nose secretions for up to two weeks post-infection. CPi alone can cause a mild cough and runny nose. However, the severity and duration of clinical signs are worse if CPi is in combination with Bb.

    Canine adenovirus 1 and 2 (CAV-1 and CAV-2)

    These two viruses are very similar, with CAV-1 the cause of infectious canine hepatitis and CAV-2 the cause of respiratory disease.

    Canine herpesvirus (CHV)

    Similar to herpes simplex (cold sores) and feline herpesvirus (cat 'flu), CHV only infects canine species. Pups can be infected in the womb, or immediately after birth from the dam. In latent carriers the virus may be re-activated after stress. In puppies less than two weeks of age, it presents as 'fading puppy syndrome'. Over two weeks of age and in adults, symptoms are usually mild respiratory signs of nasal discharge and coughing. Genital lesions may also be present.

    Signs and symptoms of Kennel Cough

    Clinical signs include a harsh dry cough, which may cause retching; tiredness, loss of appetite and a mildly raised temperature. Very occasionally, the disease can progress to pneumonia.

    Diagnosis and treatment of Kennel Cough

    Swabs from the nose or throat and washings from the trachea and lower respiratory tract can be used for identification of the causative agent. Cough suppressants can help relieve symptoms. Antibacterials can also be used to help alleviate clinical disease but may not be able to eliminate infection.

    Prevention and control of Kennel Cough

    Vaccination is obviously the best and easiest way to protect dogs against kennel cough, especially for dogs kept together in close proximity who are especially at risk. There is now an easy-to-administer intranasal vaccine available that mirrors the natural route of infection and protects for a full 12 months.

    It can be given to dogs of any shape, size and age, giving protection in just 72 hours. It is safe to use in puppies as young as three weeks of age and in pregnant bitches.

    Other preventative measures include adequate hygiene and ventilation, preventing contact between animals, isolation of affected dogs and avoiding contact with cats.


  • Leptospirosis
  • Leptospirosis

    Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that are spread via the urine of infected animals. It is a serious zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread to humans by contact with infected urine.

    There are two forms of the disease that are commonly seen:

    Wails disease (Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae)

    The rat is the main carrier of the disease. Transmission to dogs is either directly via contact with infected urine, or indirectly via contact with contaminated water eg: drinking or swimming in canals or rivers inhabited by infected rats.

    The symptoms can vary from mild non-specific signs such as lethargy and depression, to more severe signs such as abdominal pain, jaundice, liver damage and even death. Dogs that have been infected may go on to become carriers so shedding the bacteria in their urine.

     

    Leptospira canicola

    The dog is the main carrier of disease. This form of disease primarily affects the kidneys and clinical signs can vary from mild and non-specific, to kidney failure or sudden death. Again, dogs that recover from the disease can become carriers and shed the bacteria in their urine.

    Additional serovars

    In recent years serovars other than the two above (Renata can we explain what a serovar is) have been shown to trigger Leptospirosis and in some countries serovars other than the two listed above appear to predominate.

    Expert opinion now advises that leptospirosis vaccines now cover a wider variety of serovars to ensure protection is current and appropriate to the local disease risks.

    The Bratislava serovar appears to be a significant cause of the disease in the UK and in addition UK reports have also been received of dogs that have travelled to or from parts of continental Europe where Grippotyphosa is particularly common and succumbing to this form of the infection too.

    A new vaccine is now available that covers representative strains from all four important groups being diagnosed in the UK and Europe. Should you be concerned please discuss the risk of leptospirosis in your pet with the practice.

    Which dogs are at risk of Leptospirosis?

    All dogs that are exercised out of doors or have access to rodents or where they have urinated, as well as humans, are at risk. Given how this disease spreads most dogs are potentially at risk and therefore most dogs in the UK should receive an annual vaccination against leptospirosis. As such, it is important to protect animals from this bacteria through annual vaccination which not only provides disease protection but can also impact shedding of infection in urine, minimising the chance of spread of disease.

    How is Leptospirosis spread?

    After ingestion of the bacteria, the leptospires enter the blood stream via the mucous membranes. This is followed by a rapid replication in several tissues such as the kidney, liver and spleen. The bacteria is then excreted via the animal's urine back into the environment.

    How does the vet test for Leptospirosis?

    Your vet will suspect that your dog might have leptospirosis from the symptoms that you describe, your dog's vaccination history and the findings on physical examination. A blood test may show a severe decrease in the white blood cell number and/or damage to the liver and kidneys.

    Further analysis of the blood may also indicate exposure to Leptospirosis.

    Management of Leptospirosis

    Although leptospirosis can cause death in dogs, it is a treatable disease. However, treatment does not guarantee survival; individuals may require aggressive therapy such as a blood transfusion. Appropriate antibiotic therapy is also imperative.

    Vaccination to prevent Leptospirosis

    Prevention through vaccination is far better than cure. An improved leptospirosis vaccine is now available that offers a superior level of benefit and protection to dogs and humans alike. This vaccine is the only one of the market that has a licensed claim to inhibit renal shedding, which stops the spread of bacteria via the urine or infected animals.

    It is important to re-vaccinate your dog on a yearly basis to continue the optimum level of protection - studies have shown that protection starts to wane after 12 months.


  • Medication
  • Medication

    Just like you, your dog is going to get sick occasionally and you may come home from the veterinary practice with some medication to administer. Learning how to do it right will make the process easier both for you and your dog.

    Always follow the instructions given by your veterinary surgeon. Be sure to administer the full amount of medication over the number of days instructed by your veterinary surgeon.

    How to administer tablets or capsules to your dog

    Step 1

    Place the pill between the thumb and the index finger of one hand. Firmly grasp the upper jaw with the thumb and index finger of the other hand.

    Step 2

    Gently fold the upper lip over the teeth as you open the mouth. This will reduce the chance of being bitten.

    Step 3

    Rotate your wrist to tilt the head upwards. Use your middle finger to slowly open the lower jaw.

    Step 4

    Keep your middle finger over the small incisor teeth and deposit the pill as far back on the tongue as possible. Immediately close the mouth. Keeping your hand over the mouth, put the head down to facilitate swallowing.

    Step 5

    Stroke the throat or blow on the nose to encourage swallowing.

    How to administer liquids or syrups to your dog

    Step 1

    Firmly grasp the dog's muzzle with one hand while holding the syringe or dropper with the other hand.

    Step 2

    Gently squirt the medication into the pouch between the teeth and check.

    Step 3

    Hold the dog's jaw closed and tilt the head back slightly. Stroke the throat or blow on his/her nose to encourage swallowing.

    Step 4

    Should your dog gag or cough out the medication, lower their head and calm them down. Wait a few minutes and then try again. Medicating your dog - top tips:

    • Always read the label instructions carefully.
    • Ask your veterinary surgeon if the medication can be given with food or must be given on an empty stomach. If it can be given with food, just put the pill into a small piece of meat.
    • Get a friend or family member to help.
    • Medicate your dog on the floor or on a table with a non-slip surface.
    • When administering medication stay calm - your pet can sense if you are nervous making it more difficult to apply the treatment. Always praise and reward your pet with a treat.

     


  • Misconceptions
  • Misconceptions

    Kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis to give it its more correct title may be a relatively well known disease - with the distressing paroxysms of coughing that can persist for weeks it is perhaps not surprising that around 84% of dog owners are aware of the disease 1. Despite this familiarity many people remain confused about the causes of the condition, as well as how it is transmitted and prevented.

    Significant risk to dogs

    Kennel cough is a significant health risk for dogs that may be caused by a range of viruses and bacteria. However, surveys of respiratory disease outbreaks over many years reveal that the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb), as well as canine parainfluenza virus (CPi), are the most significant initiating infectious causes of respiratory disease. These bugs cause disease in their own right, but are also seen in combination with each other, as well as predisposing the dog to infection with other agents.

    Data from CICADA, a national survey of infectious pet diseases reported by vets suggest there may be at least 65,000 cases of kennel cough seen by veterinary surgeons every year1 making it the country's most widespread infectious disease of dogs. However despite the popular name for this disease it appears that more than half of reported outbreaks are likely to arise from day-to-day contact between dogs and not from kennels.

    For example, a telephone survey of 50 veterinary practices2 looked into the origins of 270 kennel cough cases that had been diagnosed over a period of 30 days.

    Not just a disease in kennels

    The 'at risk' environments identified and listed by the participating practices included the local neighbourhood or park (30%), training classes (10%), dog walking (6%), dog shows (2%) and, unfortunately, even the vet practice itself. Collectively, these at risk environments exceeded the 44% of reports where kennels were suspected as the source. Clearly, kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that readily spreads wherever and whenever dogs mix or congregate.

    Separate vaccination needed for Kennel Cough

    What is concerning though is that it has been found that 77% of dog owners think their routine annual vaccination provides adequate protection against kennel cough. In fact, none of the routine injectable booster vaccines provide comprehensive cover against the most important causes of the disease. Vaccination given as drops up the nose are available for both of these important causes and are able to stimulate the best protection by stimulating immunity at the point at which infectious bug's invade.

    However it is estimated that only 10% of dogs receive these kennel cough vaccines annually. So if your dog regularly mixes with or meets other dogs or attends places where dogs congregate such as training classes or local park, ask us about additional cover against kennel cough.

    1 You Gov survey, November 2009

    2 Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health telephone survey, November 2009


  • Parvovirus
  • Parvovirus

    Canine parvovirus is a small, but extremely hardy virus that can survive in the environment for long periods of time - months or even years.

    The disease first emerged as an epidemic in the 1970s, killing thousands of dogs before an effective vaccine became available. Although no longer present in epidemic proportions, parvovirus is still relatively common in unvaccinated dogs, and veterinary surgeons throughout the country regularly report outbreaks of the disease. Therefore, protecting your dog through vaccination is vitally important.

     

    Which dogs are most at risk of catching Parvovirus?

    All unvaccinated animals, particularly those in high-risk areas and young puppies, are at risk. Parvovirus causes enteritis, it is seen in any age of dog from about four weeks of age, but most commonly in dogs that are less than one year old.

     How is Parvovirus spread?

    The main source of infection from Parvovirus is via the faeces of infected dogs; the virus can also spread on shoes and clothing and on the coat and pads of dogs.

    Which virus causes canine parvovirus?

    The cause of canine parvovirus disease is a highly contagious DNA-containing virus. There are currently two types prevalent in the UK, namely CPV-2a and CPV-2b. The virus is transmitted through the mouth or nose from faeces. CPV can be passed out in the faeces of a dog within three-four days after infection and before clinical signs are seen.

    Canine parvovirus affects all breeds of domesticated dog, as well as wild dogs (including bush-dogs, coyotes, maned wolves) and the virus may also be transmitted to cats, ferrets and mink.

    Signs and symptoms of canine parvovirus

    The incubation period of CPV is generally four-seven days. Individuals normally have severe enteritis, however occasionally, animals may only have mild symptoms.

    Signs usually consist of depression, severe vomiting, refusal of food and water, abdominal pain and profuse smelly, bloody diarrhoea. This can result in rapid and severe dehydration, and ultimately death.

     

    What is the treatment for Canine Parvovirus?

    There is no specific treatment for canine parvovirus, so it is important to ensure that your dog is vaccinated in both puppyhood and adult life. Some of the vaccines on the market reduce clinical signs and mortality due to parvovirus, but they do not prevent shedding after infection occurs - this means the animal will still excrete the virus into the environment.

    Unfortunately, canine parvovirus is very stable in the environment, so any animal which sheds the virus not only contaminates the environment, but poses a risk to other animals as well.

    How do you stop your dog getting Parvovirus?

    You'll be pleased to know that some vaccines use a special strain (called C154) that sets the standard in terms of protection against canine parvovirus. It has proven protection against both types of virus (CPV-2a and CPV-2b) and offers a duration of immunity of three years. This means your dog is protected for a full three years against parvovirus.


  • Puppy care
  • Puppy care

    Hopefully you'll have anticipated your new arrival by 'puppy proofing' your home, and had lots of fun choosing the bed, blanket, toys and other supplies they will need. This frisky little creature is sure to bring you much joy. In return, you can make a major contribution to your puppy's longevity, happiness and quality of life by providing him or her with good nutrition, loving attention in a safe, clean environment and regular check-ups at your veterinary practice.

    Neutering your puppy

    Many veterinary surgeons believe that neutering not only helps solve the serious problem of unwanted dog overpopulation but also makes for friendlier, easier-to-live-with pets. Spayed female dogs are more relaxed, while neutered males are less likely to roam, 'spray' or urine-mark their territory, or fight with other males.

    Sterilisation also has health benefits - it helps to minimize the risk of cancers of the reproductive organs and the mammary glands in females and reduces the incidence of prostate and testicular cancer problems in males

    Spaying removes the uterus and ovaries of a female dog, often around the age of six months. A major surgical procedure, it is performed under general anaesthesia. Complications are rare and recovery normally is complete within two weeks.

    Castration, also carried out under general anaesthesia, removes the testicles of a male dog through an incision at the base of the scrotum. Usually performed when the puppy is about six months old, it necessitates only a brief hospital stay. Full recovery takes about seven to ten days.

    Your puppy's basic health check

    Your new puppy should visit a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. The first visit will probably include:

    • A thorough physical examination to determine his/her state of health.
    • Check for parasites (fleas, ticks, lice, ear mites, worms).
    • Initial vaccination and/or a discussion of the types of vaccinations your puppy needs and when they should be scheduled.
    • Discussion about whether your puppy should be neutered and when.

    This first health check will give your veterinary surgeon the information needed to advise you on your puppy's immediate diet and care. Plus, it will create a "knowledge base" from which, on subsequent checkups throughout your pup's life, he/she can better evaluate, monitor and manage your pet's health.

    Make your puppy feel at home

    Show your puppy the special places where he/she can eat, sleep and go to the toilet and, since they're probably quite overwhelmed, give them some quiet time to adjust to the unfamiliar sights and sounds of the new home.

    If there are young children in the home, make sure that they are taught that a puppy is not a toy but a living creature who must be treated with gentleness and respect.

    As early as 8 weeks old, your puppy is capable of learning specific lessons - so start home training and teaching simple obedience commands the day you bring them home. Your veterinary surgeon can suggest the best training methods and, if you wish, recommend a good obedience school. Your puppy will find learning fun and easy and, with your positive reinforcement, should remember lessons well.

    Giving your puppy the best start

    When is the best time to start caring for an ageing pet? When he or she is a puppy. Starting off your dog's life with good nutrition, regular exercise, scheduled veterinary appointments and a happy home life sets the blueprint for a high quality of life in older years. However, as your dog ages, much like humans, changes to the metabolism will occur. Paying attention to your dog's behaviour will make detecting problems easier.

    What you can do at home
    • Check your dog's mouth, eyes and ears regularly. Watch for loose teeth, redness, swelling or discharge.
    • Keep your dog's sleeping area clean and warm.
    • Groom your dog often. You'll detect any unusual sores or lumps and keep his/her coat healthy.
    • Make fresh water available at all times.
    • Maintain a regime of proper nutrition, exercise and loving attention.


  • Rabies
  • Rabies

    The British Isles has been free of rabies for many decades. The last case of classical rabies caught in the UK was in 1902 and since 1946 there have only been 22 deaths in the UK from rabies acquired abroad.

    Rabies is still a serious problem in most countries around the world with the exception of Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Isles, Scandinavia (excluding Denmark), Iceland, the West Indies and Atlantic Islands. In Europe and the United States, infection persists mainly in wild animals, for example foxes, bats, racoons and wolves. Humans are infected from contact with such animals. In contrast, in India and other Asian/African countries infection commonly occurs in dogs associated with humans.

    All rabies susceptible animals entering the UK are required to spend six months in quarantine, unless of course, they arrive in this country under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).

    In most countries rabies is, in fact, a notifiable disease and suspect animals must be kept in isolation.

    Which dogs are at risk of rabies?

    Rabies is a zoonotic viral disease which is almost always fatal and can infect all mammals, including humans. Dogs are the main vector for human rabies.

    How is rabies spread?

    Rabies is transmitted by the bite of an infected animal with high virus concentrations in its saliva.

    What is the cause of rabies?

    Rabies virus is a member of the Rhabdoviridae - an RNA virus. Both wild and domesticated animals can act as a natural reservoir for the disease, with human infection normally transmitted from dogs, cats, rodents and wild animals like bats, foxes and skunks.

    What are the signs and symptoms of rabies?

    The incubation period of rabies varies from nine days to more than a year. The delay in some cases is because the virus has to migrate from the site of initial entry into the body to the spinal cord or the brain.

    The average length of time for clinical signs to appear is four weeks after infection and can be seen in three phases:

    Phase one: Local irritation of the entry site, followed by fever, mild changes in demeanour, behaviour and temperament. Pupils will be dilated and eye reflexes slow. The sound of an animal's bark or meow may alter.

    Phase two: Aggression, lack of co-ordination, disorientation, seizures and fits, increased salivation and photophobia.

    Phase three: Paralysis, excessive salivation, respiratory failure, coma and then death.

    How can I protect my dog from rabies?

    The requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) are very strict regarding rabies boosters and if a pet owner wishes to keep their animal registered, its vaccinations must be kept up-to-date.

    Three of the four rabies vaccines in the UK have a duration of immunity of three years for dogs and cats. One is registered for ferrets. It is important to consider that if a pet is regarded as resident in a particular country being visited that the rules governing rabies vaccination in the country may be different from those needed for travel. Check with a veterinary surgeon in the individual county visited regarding their specific requirements should a stay longer than a short holiday be contemplated.

    For copies of leaflets and further guidance on taking pets abroad, please contact the Pet Travel Scheme Helpline on 0870 241 1710, or your local vet.


  • Senior dogs
  • Senior dogs

    Looking after an old dog

    As a result of advances in veterinary medicine, more knowledgeable care and improved nutrition, dogs are now living much longer, healthier lives. But, just as for humans, the passage of time has its effects, and you may begin to notice that your once-frisky pet seems to have slowed down a bit.

    Being aware of the natural changes that can occur as your dog becomes older, as well as what you can do to help keep your pet as healthy, active and comfortable as possible, can ensure that you both enjoy this final stage in your dog's life to the fullest.

    How and when will I know when my dog is getting "old"?

    As dogs move into the geriatric phase of their lives, they experience gradual changes that are remarkably like those of ageing humans: hair can turn grey, their bodies are not as supple and reflexes not as sharp as they once were.

    Hearing, eyesight and the sense of smell may deteriorate and energy levels, as well as attention spans, seem to diminish. In fact, the first sign of aging is often a general decrease in activity, combined with a tendency to sleep longer and more soundly.

    Such signs may begin to manifest themselves before 8 years in large breeds like Great Danes, while smaller breeds can remain youthful until 12 years and even longer.

    Furthermore, a healthy dog will most likely age later than one that has been affected by disease or environmental problems early in life. Again, as with humans, the ageing process will vary with the individual. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to judge when it's time to consider your dog a "senior."

    Check-up time now comes twice a year

    As your dog ages, regular checkups at your veterinary practice become more important than ever. In fact, at this stage of your dog's life, it is recommended that he or she receive a thorough examination every 6 months, as adult dogs can age as much as 3 years (in human terms) within the period of one calendar year. Besides the usual complete physical examination, your veterinary surgeon may conduct a urine and faecal analysis as well as an ultrasound or other imaging tests.

    Furthermore, many vets now recommend minimum yearly blood screens for senior pets.

    Keep your vet informed

    Most importantly, you should tell your veterinary surgeon about any noticeable change in your dog's physical condition or behaviour. A problem that you may assume is simply related to your pet's advanced age may actually be the result of a treatable medical condition.

    For example, your dog's reluctance to exercise may not stem from the normal decrease in energy that comes with age, but from arthritis or a heart condition - both of which can be managed with the proper treatment.

    Regular, semi-annual checkups can thus help your veterinary surgeon work out a suitable preventative health program for your pet and catch any problems sufficiently early to provide effective treatment. Working together, you can both ensure that your dog's senior years will be healthy and happy ones.

    Feeding an old dog

    As your pet ages, your dog's nutritional needs may also change. You may find that, although your pet is eating less, he/she still puts on weight. This could be due to a slowdown of metabolism or a decrease in activity. Excess weight can aggravate many canine medical conditions, including heart, respiratory, skin and joint problems.

    To help a portly pet slim down, try feeding smaller quantities of food or gradually switch to a diet that is lower in calories. Other dogs have entirely the opposite problem - they lose weight as they age, sometimes as the result of heart or periodontal disease or diabetes. In either case, ask your veterinary surgeon for advice about your pet's individual nutritional requirements.

     

    Put comfort on the menu

    You should also ensure that your dog is comfortable while eating. Most pet owners place food dishes and water bowls on the floor, but this may be a source of discomfort for a large or overweight dog, or for one whose arthritis makes it difficult - or even painful - to bend down.

    Many pet supply outlets have eating tables that are specially designed with cut-outs for food and water containers and available in various heights to suit various sizes of dogs. Or you can fashion your own inexpensive solution to this problem: for example, a plastic crate covered in a towel to absorb spills.


  • Skin conditions
  • Skin conditions

    Canine atopy, or allergic dermatitis, is the most common skin condition found in dogs.

    What is canine atopy?

    Atopy is an allergic skin disease. An allergy is an 'over-reaction' of the immune system to something it encounters, known as the allergen. In an ideal world, we would simply avoid the allergen. Unfortunately for dogs with Atopy, the allergen is usually something which is difficult to avoid.

    What causes allergic skin disease in dogs?

    House dust mites and pollens are usually the most common causes of canine atopy. Some dogs have a seasonal pattern to their atopy which can for example be worse in the summer months. For others, it can be a year-round problem.

    What are the symptoms of atopy?

    The allergic response to the allergen affecting your dog causes inflammation of the skin and itching. Commonly, the itching is worse around the face (especially the ears), front legs, paws and tummy. In some cases, the allergy leads to recurring ear disease. Repeated licking sometimes causes a pink discolouration to the area, as saliva may affect coat colour. This is often seen on the feet of affected individuals that habitually lick themselves.

    Hair loss and open skin wounds

    Persistent scratching can worsen the condition, leading to hair loss and open skin wounds that may become infected. This can be very distressing for both dog and owner.

    How is canine atopy treated?

    Like other allergies, treatment is difficult and many options may need to be explored before the best regime for your individual pet is found. Where possible, efforts to limit or avoid exposure should be tried, however this may prove problematic. There are many different treatments that can provide relief including shampoos, ear treatments, dietary supplements and products to modify your dog's immune response.

    Regular flea control

    Often pets need a combination of more than one product for optimal control of itching. In addition, dogs with atopy need regular flea control as well as good control of secondary skin infections.

    Contact your vet

    If you think your dog is showing any of the signs above or may have canine atopy, book a check-up now by phoning your local veterinary practice. There are many causes of redness and itchy skin, and your vet will recommend the best course of action for your dog.

     


  • Travelling
  • Travelling

    Before you plan a holiday with your dog, ask yourself will my dog be comfortable and happy on a trip? Some animals simply prefer to stay at home a 'homesick', possibly motion-sick pet will ruin everyone's trip. In such a case it's probably wiser to leave your dog with a friend, relative or hire a Ôdog sitter'. If that is not possible, you might consider boarding them atÊa clean, well-run kennel.

    Going abroad with your dog? Always plan ahead

    If you do decide to take your dog along, you must take as much care with the preparation of your pet's trip as your own. If you plan to travel by plane, bus, train or boat, find out if your pet will be welcome and what kind of reservations and transport arrangements must be made.

    If you'll be staying at hotels or campsites, you must check if animals are allowed or if kennel facilities are available. If you're staying with friends or family, make sure your dog is also invited.

    Travelling abroad with your dog

    Check the DEFRA website for the latest information on requirements for travelling for pets from the UK.

    Travelling by plane with your dog

    • Contact the airline with which you wish to fly well in advance - each has its own regulations and reservations for your pet will be necessary.
    • Be sure to ask about the airline's rules for dog crates or carriers.
    • Try to book a direct flight or one with a minimum of stops.
    • The airline may allow your dog in the passenger cabin if your crate or carrier can fit under the seat in front of you. If your dog must travel in the cargo hold, be at the airport early, place them in a travel crate yourself and pick them up promptly when you land.

    Travelling by car with your dog

    • If your dog is not used to being in a car, take him/her for a few short rides before your trip.
    • Dogs should NEVER be allowed to put their heads outside the window when riding in a car. It is dangerous for you, your pet and potentially other road users.
    • If you're taking a long drive plan 'snacks', exercise and rest stops about every two hours.
    • Always allow good provision of water.
    • Give the main meal at the end of the day. Dry food is more convenient but if your dog needs canned food, dispose of any unused portions if they cannot be refrigerated.
    • It is not recommended to leave your dog in a parked car for a prolonged period of time. If you must leave your pet in a parked car, lock all doors and open windows enough to provide good ventilation, without allowing them enough room to jump out or get their head caught. Remember, on hot days, the temperature in a parked car can rise to dangerous levels in just minutes and your dog could die of heat stroke.

    Travelling by bus and train with your dog

    • Not all bus/rail companies allow you to travel with your dog, so phone ahead for information.
    Top travel tips for travelling with your dog
    • Ensure your dog ALWAYS wears a collar with identification.
    • Pack their favourite food, toys, dishes, cool water and a lead.
    • Have your dog examined and vaccinated, if necessary, by your veterinary surgeon before a long trip.
    • If your dog must travel in a crate or carrier, make sure it is strong, large enough for them to stand up and turn around, has a place for food and water, is well ventilated, has a leak-proof bottom and closes securely.
    • If you are planning a trip abroad with your dog, contact your vet practice and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for advice, as the health and vaccination regulations of different destinations vary greatly. Click here to find out more on the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).
    • Consider whether there may be special health risks where your dog is travelling too- your vet will be able to advise on any additional precautions that you need to take.


  • Vaccinations
  • Vaccinations

    One of the most important things you can do to give your dog a long and healthy life is to ensure that he or she is vaccinated against both common and serious canine infectious diseases.

    Your dog's mother gave her puppy immunity from disease for the first few weeks of existence by providing disease-fighting antibodies in her milk. After that period it's up to you, with the help and advice of your veterinary surgeon, to provide that protection.

    How do vaccines work?

    Vaccines contain small quantities of altered or "killed" viruses, bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. When administered, they stimulate your dog's immune system to produce disease-fighting cells and proteins - or antibodies - to protect against disease.

    When should my dog be vaccinated?

    The immunity that a puppy has at birth only lasts for a few weeks. It is then time to begin vaccination. The first vaccination is usually given in two doses, the first dose at around the age of 6-8 weeks and the second about 2-4 weeks later. Thereafter, your dog will require annual 'booster' vaccinations for the rest of his/her life to maintain protection.

    Above all, follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinary surgeon - if there is too long an interval between vaccinations, your dog may no longer be fully protected.

    Your pet should be protected against those diseases which are most common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness or death. Such diseases include Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Infectious Tracheobronchitis (also known as kennel cough).

    Rabies may also be essential if your dog is travelling abroad - check with the practice and with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): Other vaccinations may be recommended, based on your veterinary surgeon's evaluation of the risks posed by such factors as your dog's particular heredity, environment and lifestyle.

    How effective is vaccination?

    Like any drug treatment or surgical procedure, the success of a vaccination cannot be 100% guaranteed. However, used in conjunction with proper nutrition and good hygiene, vaccination is clearly your pet's best defence against disease.

    Plus, when you consider what treating a serious illness can cost you and your beloved dog in terms of both money and distress, prevention through vaccination is extremely cost-effective.

    What diseases can you vaccinate your dog against?

    Canine Parvovirus

    Very contagious, debilitating and widespread, Canine Parvovirus emerged in many parts of the world in 1978. Spread through infected faeces, the highly resistant virus can remain in the environment for many months.

    Symptoms of Canine Parvovirus include high fever, listlessness, vomiting and blood-stained diarrhoea. Vaccination is the only certain method of preventing this potentially fatal disease, which is most severe in young pups and elderly dogs.

    Canine Distemper

    Vaccination against Canine Distemper, which is often fatal and hard to treat, is essential. Though very rare in the UK thanks to vaccination, Canine Distemper is still widespread in some parts of the world and continued vigilance with vaccination is needed to prevent the UKÕs dog population from becoming susceptible to the disease.

    Highly contagious, it is spread by discharge from the noses and eyes of infected dogs.

    Symptoms can include listlessness, fever, coughing, diarrhoea and vomiting. Convulsions and paralysis may occur in the final stages of Canine Distemper. Sometimes the disease is also known as ÔhardpadÕ on account of the thickened fissured footpads that develop over time as a result of the infection. The distemper virus attacks many organs, including the nervous system, which may be permanently damaged, even if the dog recovers.

    Infectious Canine Hepatitis

    Caused by canine adenovirus type I, Infectious Canine Hepatitis is transmitted among dogs by contact with secretions such as saliva, infected urine or faeces.

    The virus commonly attacks the liver, and also can potentially cause eye damage. The course of Infectious Canine Hepatitus can range from mild to fatal. Vaccination remains the best protection.

    A second virus, canine adenovirus 2 contributes as one of the possible causes of infectious tracheobronchitis (or kennel cough).

    Leptospirosis

    The most common form of the bacteria causing Leptospirosis is widespread in rats and spread in their urine into the environment where it survives well in damp conditions and in water courses, ponds and lakes. It can occur so suddenly that there is little chance of effective antibiotic therapy.

    Dogs infected acutely with Leptospirosis can suffer liver or kidney damage and will need a long period of treatment if they are to fully recover.

    Of just as much concern is the lower grade disease which may go undiagnosed. It is also a disease that can infect and prove fatal in humans so maintaining the best protection by vaccinating annually specifically against this disease is highly advisable.

    Kennel Cough (Canine Tracheobronchitis)

    Just as with contagious human respiratory disease kennel cough is easily transmitted from one dog to another, so vaccination is imperative if your pet will come into contact with other dogs in such situations as obedience training, the groomers, boarding at a kennel, neighbours pets or even just playing in the park.

    The disease is caused by various airborne bacteria and viruses. Bordetella bronchisepticais one of the main causes of this disease and together with the most common viral cause, parainfluenza, can be protected against with a separate intra-nasal vaccine administered as drops up the nose.

    The first sign in your dog will be a dry, hacking cough that sounds as if an object has got stuck in the throat.

    Other vaccinations

    After evaluating your dog's particular situation and risk factors, your veterinary surgeon may also recommend vaccination against other infectious diseases. These might include:

    Canine Coronavirus

    This virus attacks the intestinal system and occasionally proves fatal to puppies. Symptoms may develop quickly and can include vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, loss of appetite and depression.

    Rabies

    This incurable and fatal viral disease affects the central nervous system of almost all mammals, including humans. It is spread through contact with the saliva of infected animals through bites or any break in the skin. Though not present in the UK, this disease occurs widely throughout many other countries of the world.



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