Parvovirus – an update

Parvovirus is still common around Preston, we see cases on a regular basis. This is a distressing and often fatal disease so information about treating it and, more importantly, prevention is vital.


Parvovirus is (not surprisingly) caused by a virus, or to be more precise, several variants of a virus. It is a worldwide problem, the most serious strain is called CPV2 and this also has various variants which differ in distribution and seriousness. There is evidence that the virus is still developing new strains so we have to keep our vaccines up to date to ensure protection. CPV1 usually causes just mild diarrhoea.


These include;

  • Sudden onset diarrhoea and vomiting. Diarrhoea is often bloody.
  • Raised temperature.
  • Depression and dehydration.
  • Death, particularly in young dogs. (Puppies 3-8 weeks old, and occasionally older dogs, can just die suddenly with no signs at all as the virus damages the heart muscle).


We have an in-house (faeces) sample test at Withy Grove which gives us a diagnosis in minutes.


Parvovirus is a very resistant virus. It can survive high temperatures, drying out, acids and can live for years in the environment. It is killed by many (but not all) disinfectants. Ask us for advice about what is best to use. There is evidence that cats can act as a reservoir of infection (one of the theories is that canine parvovirus actually began as a mutation of the cat parvovirus). Infection is by ingestion of virus from faeces or the environment. Infection is much more likely from the environment than from contact with an infected dog. This infection is usually via food or water contaminated by faeces containing the virus. Incubation period is from 2-6 days.

Disease Progression

The virus strips the lining from the gut wall which can then allow secondary bacterial infection to take hold. The virus can cross the placenta in pregnant bitches which can cause abortion or foetal infection. Massive amounts of virus are excreted in the faeces and after recovery this excretion can continue for up to 8 weeks so the dog is a source of infection to others). Damage to the gut wall can mean it takes months for a dog to fully recover.


The mainstay of treatment is keeping the dog alive and assisting his or her immune system. This involves aggressive fluid therapy (in isolation of course to prevent infection spreading), drugs to help kill the virus, antibiotics against secondary infection, pain killers and medicines to control the vomiting and diarrhoea. We have isolation facilities and the nurses are trained in how to care for your dog and keep the isolation effective. Treatment can be costly and sometimes the disease is fatal whatever we do. Pet insurance covers treatment costs.


VACCINATION!! The parvovirus vaccination is very effective and protection lasts for some years (at Withy Grove our vaccination protocol boosts parvovirus protection every 3 years). Any antibodies in the mothers milk will stop a vaccine working so it is vital that the last puppy vaccination is given after 10 weeks of age when these antibodies will have all gone. Prompt cleaning with a disinfectant that is effectives and removing faeces and vomit as quickly as possible helps.

Parvovirus is a very important infection, the virus can change over time so revaccination with up to date strains is vital as is making certain all dogs are vaccinated. If the percentage of dogs vaccinated falls then the chance of our canine friends catching this distressing disease increases. Contact us to discuss this further.

Wallace and Vomit

wallace the west highland terrier


Meet Wallace. He is a happy little six-year-old West Highland White Terrier and he was presented to us because he was vomiting but still pretty happy in himself. This vomit was more like regurgitation, he was hungry but brought back any food or water pretty much immediately he swallowed it. This usually means there is a foreign body somewhere in the upper part of the digestive tract. In the early stages these dogs are still quite bright (unlike in a severe infection, for example).

X Rays

Radiographs showed there was something stuck just where his oesophagus enters the stomach. There is a natural constriction in the oesophagus here so it is easy for objects to get trapped in this spot. The problem we have is that anything stick here is difficult to get at. The oesophagus is a very unforgiving organ to do surgery on, it heals very badly and incising into it can often end up with complications which can be fatal.

wallace the westie's x-ray at withy grove vets

Wallace’s X-ray. The piece of bone is circled.


We tried to see and remove the object with our endoscope. We have a camera and some grasping forceps, we pass these through his mouth and down to where the blockage is, it looked like a piece of bone but it was too firmly wedged for us to remove without causing excessive damage.

wallace's endoscopy at withy grove vets

The piece of wedged bone as viewed down our endoscope


The next option was surgery, we operated on Wallace, opening up his stomach and trying to pull the bone through into the stomach from the inside. It was still firmly wedged, we eventually managed to get it out with one vet pulling from the stomach and another pushing it using a stomach tube passed through Wallace’s mouth.


Removal left a lot of damage to the oesophagus, we can see this with our endoscope so aftercare for Wallace was critical. He was fed and watered entirely intravenously for 2 days to give the damaged area a chance to recover. Pain relief is also vital and we usually use an anti-acid drug to stop stomach acid being refluxed into the oesophagus and causing more irritation to an already damaged area. Wallace has since made a full recovery.

wallaces throat after surgery


Bones and Dogs

Every year we see a steady stream of problems caused by dogs eating bones, they include constipation, stomach upsets, vomiting, gut blockages, broken teeth etc. Many can be sorted out but they can be fatal problems too.

Dogs love chewing on bones but they don’t need them. there are many safer chews out there. They also don’t do much to keep teeth clean. You should also remember that although ‘wild dogs’ eat bones, they are much bigger which means the chances of a piece of bone getting stuck are much reduced, they also chew their food differently from domestic dogs.

If you feel you have to give your dog bones then get the right sort, from a pet shop, don’t give bits of bone left over from cooking.

Anyway, we wish all our clients and pets a happy and successful 2018 from all of us at Withy Grove Vets!



Happy Christmas to all our cats. dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, ferrets, degus, owls, budgies, parrots, snakes, fish, hedgehogs (apologies if I’ve missed any) and their owners.

Be Careful this Christmas

Watch out for potential hazards to your pets this Christmas, as findings released by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveal that in the North West 80% of vets saw at least one case of toxic ingestion in pets during the last festive period.

Across the UK, chocolate poisoning in dogs remains the most common cause of toxic ingestion at Christmas, with 74% of vets seeing at least one case. Raisin or sultana poisoning is also prevalent (54%), with vets reporting a significant increase in cases over the last two years.

Several vets in BVA’s ‘Voice of the Veterinary Profession’ survey said that, despite owners’ best intentions, their pets had been poisoned after gifts or festive treats containing chocolate or raisins were placed under the Christmas tree, with the owner unaware of the potential peril for their pet lurking beneath the wrapping. Many cats also suffered toxic ingestion last Christmas, with a quarter of vets treating cats for antifreeze poisoning.

BVA President John Fishwick said:

‘Christmas is typically a fun and chaotic time for families, but the presents, treats and decorations can often prove dangerous for our pets if we are not careful. Many pet owners are aware of the risks of chocolate or other festive foods being toxic for their pets but, as our survey shows, it’s easy to be caught out by a kind gift left under the tree which curious animals can find hard to resist. Our advice is for present-givers to tell owners if there is anything edible in gifts and to keep such presents safely out of reach of your pet. If you suspect your pet may have eaten something it shouldn’t, please contact your local vet immediately.’

Keeping your pets safe

To keep Christmas merry for the whole household, Withy Grove recommends you ensure your home is safe for four-legged friends by following these five simple tips:

  1. Protect your pet from poisons – a number of festive treats and traditions are toxic to cats and dogs. They include;
  • Chocolate and liquorice (common Christmas gifts)
  • Raisins and sultanas (used in Christmas cake recipes)
  • Certain nuts (especially peanuts and Macadamia nuts)
  • Xylitol-sweetened foods
  • Onions, avocados and grapes
  • Alcohol
  • Plants including poinsettia, holly, mistletoe, lilies (and daffodils)
  • Cleaning and DIY products such as white spirit and lubricating oils
  • Car anti-freeze
  • Human medicines

Substances with low toxicity that could cause drooling, vomiting or diarrhoea include:

  • Blu-tack or other similar adhesives (used to put up decorations)
  • Charcoal and coal
  • Cut-flower and houseplant food
  • Expanded polystyrene foam (used for large present packing)
  • Matches
  • Wax candles and crayons
  • Silica gel (found in packaging)
  1. Keep decorations out of reach – ribbons, wrapping paper, baubles, tinsel and tree lights can all prove irresistible to cats and dogs but can be very dangerous if broken, chewed or swallowed. Batteries for Christmas gifts also need to be kept safe as, if ingested, they may cause severe chemical burns to the mouth, throat and stomach.
  2. Forget festive food for pets, we all enjoy a richer diet over Christmas, but fatty foods and Christmas dinners shouldn’t be shared. They can trigger, sickness and diarrhoea or other conditions from gastroenteritis to pancreatitis, so try to stick to your pet’s regular diet and routine. Bones including turkey bones should not be given to pets as they can splinter and puncture the digestive tract (see my next blog for an example!). Make sure any bones are disposed of in a bin that your dog won’t be able to access.
  3. Give toys not treats, we all want our pets to share the fun and many of us include a gift for our pet on the shopping list. But too many treats can lead to fat pets which can have serious consequences for their health, so consider opting for a new toy, or a long walk (usually enjoyed more by dogs than cats!) if you want to indulge your pet this Christmas.
  4. Know where to go, even with all the care in the world, animal accidents and emergencies can still happen. Make sure you’re prepared, all vets must have a 24 hour emergency cover, phone our normal number , 01772 330103, if you need assistance and you will be put through to our on call service. The only two days we don’t have a surgery at Withy Grove are Christmas Day and Boxing Day. If you are away from home, use the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons ‘ Find a Vet’ facility at

For more information on pets and poisons download the free Animal Welfare Foundation ‘Pets and Poisons’ leaflet at

withy grove vets - rogue the greyhound

Removal of a Rogue tooth

Rogue looking a bit worried before the operation.

Rogue is a two year old Doberman. She came to us recently because her owner had noticed that she had a fractured tooth. This tooth is the main chewing tooth at the back of the mouth, there is one in the upper jaw and one in the lower jaw and they are known as carnassials and are particularly useful for chewing meat. Dogs don’t look after their teeth like we do so tooth fractures are not uncommon if they chew stones and sticks etc. If the root cavity of the tooth isn’t damaged then we can often leave the tooth in place, it will always be more prone to future decay as the enamel has been damaged but as long as we keep an eye on it to spot early signs of progressing disease it can stay where it is.

In Rogue’s case she had opened the root cavity so we have to remove the tooth. It was probably painful but cats dogs and cats are remarkably good at disguising this sort of pain and keeping eating. If left the decay would have got into the gums and bone and caused more pain.

Tooth Removal

Rogue duly came in and the tooth was removed under general anaesthesia. The carnassial tooth is particularly well attached as it needs to be for it’s use, it has three roots, two at the front and one at the back. Taking out a three rooted tooth is extremely difficult and the chance of doing excessive damage to the surrounding bone, or worse of fracturing the root and leaving a bit behind is high. To get round this problem we cut the tooth on half with an air pressure driven burr and then take the tooth out as two teeth, one with one root and one with two roots.


After, the tooth removed.

Before, the offending tooth is the large one on the upper jaw.

It can still be difficult to remove but we have a very powerful air-driven dental machine that helps enormously. After we had removed the tooth we scale and polish the rest. We always do this after any dental procedure to keep the teeth and gums as healthy as possible, this is particularly important as we have to anaesthetise animals to perform a scale and polish (as they won’t sit still with their mouth open!).



Anyway, Rogue made a full recovery assisted by some pain relief and is now ready to resume her superhero duties.

The offending tooth, cut in two to remove. The front portion on the right has two roots and the back portion, one.

Does your dog enjoy a trip to the vets?

One of the day to day issues we have to think about is that a lot of dogs just don’t like coming to the vets!

A survey of owners found that 38% said their dog hated trips to the vets and 26% said they got stressed thinking about taking their canine friend!

Obviously, if your dog is ill then we need to see it, it is easier for us at the surgery where we have all the kit we need, and trained staff, rather than doing a house visit. So we all have to make visits as stress free as possible for dogs and owners alike. Dogs learn easily so if they have had a previous bad veterinary experience it re-enforces unease.

Anxious Canines

You can leave your anxious canine in the car until we’re ready to see you, just come in and tell reception you’ve arrived. We can see your dog outside the surgery, at the side of the building for example. You can request an appointment at the beginning or end of surgery when there should be few other animals around. Bringing more than one person with each dog helps, dogs draw reassurance from ‘their’ pack. It also allows one person to care for the dog whilst another deals with our staff.

Dogs want to co-operate but they have a basic drive to succeed and survive which can override co-operation. They also like to have a choice, not always the case at the vets!


If a dog feels threatened, it has four responses, usually done in order;

‘Freeze’ to hope the threat passes.

‘Communicate’ to ‘make friends’ with the threat.

‘Avoid’ the threat (this isn’t possible in a vets!).

‘Actively Avoid’ the threat. This involves running away (difficult in a vets) or in extreme cases, aggression. If aggression works (i.e. it makes the vet go away) then a dog remembers this as a success!

Dogs that are excited when they come to the vets (straight from daycare for example), or in pain (a reason for coming to the vets) tend to react worse. This is one reason why sometimes we don’t examine a dog on the first visit, just give pain relief then see the next day.

Your dog might be very well behaved away from the vets but when he or she is here they may struggle to cope as their training is no longer appropriate. Dogs in a vets may release ‘alarm’ pheromones which are designed to survive all weathers so can be difficult to clean away. There are new smells (disinfectants etc), new sounds (often ones we can’t hear)and new social situations. With this lot it is no wonder your pet can be distressed!

Nerves and anxiety are genetic so we can help to breed them out . Puppies under 6 weeks old don’t have a ‘fight or flight’ reflex (they would be protected by their mum in the wild) so it is an ideal time to introduce them to new situations which they then accept as they get older

Some dogs won’t take treats from a vet, but if told to sit by the owner they then will as they have been given reassurance and guidance.


Every time a vet or nurse handles your dog we shape their behaviour. We have to recognise signs of distress in our patients and work to allay them as much as possible. We offer a complimentary health check for any new pet and free puppy parties which let your pet experience the surgery in a situation where nothing ‘bad’ happens.

We try and make all visits as enjoyable as possible, please tell us if you think there are ways we can improve.

cat on car roof

Remember, Remember the 5th of November (and other days too!)

Pets can experience stressful episodes in the same way we do. Fireworks are an obvious example but moving house, going to a kennels or cattery, building work etc can be stressful to our pets. Cats and dogs like their home life to be ‘the same’ much like ourselves!

How to Spot Signs of Stress in Your Pet

You know your pet better than anybody and will often notice changes in behaviour in traumatic situations, such as Bonfire Night.

Symptoms to look out for include:


  • Trembling and shaking
  • Clinging to owners
  • Barking excessively
  • Cowering and hiding behind furniture
  • Trying to run away
  • Soiling the house
  • Pacing and panting
  • Refusing to eat


  • Cowering and hiding behind or on top of furniture
  • Trying to run away
  • Soiling the house
  • Refusing to eat

Noise Anxiety

Specifically on Bonfire Night your pet may have ‘Noise Anxiety’.

This is anxiety to sudden or sustained loud noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms, parties, gunfire, engine noises and construction work. The reaction can be to the first time the noise is heard or repeated exposure which can make the situation worse each time.

Anxiety is a reaction to an anticipated danger. Anxiety includes physiological signs (e.g. increased respiratory and heart rates, trembling or paralysis, increased salivation or sweating, gastrointestinal disturbances) and behavioural sign which may include changes in activity (e.g. immobility, pacing, circling, restlessness); changes in distances to supportive stimuli (e.g. remaining close to a person); or changes in appetite.

Fear is an emotional response caused by a specific stimulus (e.g. an object, noise, social situation) that a pet perceives as a threat or danger

Even low levels of triggering stimuli almost always provoke an immediate behavioural response which may take the form of a panic attack.

Regardless of the triggering stimulus, the perception of fear and anxiety is equally negative for the dog (or cat) that experiences it and, if it does not have an adequate coping mechanism, its welfare may be compromised.


What Can You Do?

As we approach bonfire night, if you know your pet gets stressed you need to start thinking about what to do now.

There is a wide range of advice available, some things you can manage at home;

  • Make your pet a safe, warm den
  • Keep curtains closed and family present.
  • Soundproof the room as much as possible
  • Have the TV or radio on.
  • There are desensitizing programs that expose your pet to gradually increasing noise in a controlled and comfortable way, this again has to be started some weeks before Bonfire Night.
  • Have your pet microchipped in case he or she does run away.

There are also other ways to manage the noise of fireworks (and stress generally);

  • You can use calming pheromones for cats (Feliway) and dogs (DAP), these can be plug in diffusers (like air fresheners), impregnated collars, or sprays. These products need to be started several weeks before they are needed.
  • There are calming medicines, some can be provided without having to see your pet, these also need to be given for a few days before November 5th for best effect.
  • Stronger sedative medicines are very effective but we need to see your pet and discuss their use with you. These are generally just given on the night.
  • There is also a calming diet which can be fed instead of your pet’s normal food during the stressful period.
  • We have a noise desensitizing gel which you apply to your dogs gums. Again you give for a few days prior to the night.
  • Tellington TTouch, a kind and respectful way of working with dogs which can be used to help them overcome a variety of health and behavioural issues such as; fear & shyness, noise sensitivity, excessive barking, excitability. nervousness, leash pulling, car sickness and jumping up.

TTouch recognises an inextricable link between posture and behaviour and uses body work, ground work exercises and specific equipment to release tension and to promote a feeling of calm and well being. This in turn helps dogs develop self confidence and self control and enables them to move beyond their instinctive and, often fearful, responses.

It helps to increase trust and understanding between both the dog and owner and benefits both the giver and the receiver giving us a greater appreciation for our animal companions.

TTouch workshops are run at Mucky Paws Pet Shop, the next one is on Sunday 22nd October. Places are limited, if you are interested contact: Mucky Paws Pet Shop & Mutz Cutz Grooming – 01772 339794

As you can see, there are several steps you can take to help your pets over this stressful time. Every pet and situation is different so it is important to plan ahead so please contact us now to discuss any of the above.


veterinary hmp stockist preston

We Are Now Stocking a New Diet for your Feline or Canine Friend: HPM Veterinary

Part of caring for your pet is making sure they have the right diet. There are masses of diets out there, wet, dry, raw etc and it is difficult to be certain you have chosen the right one. After much consideration at Withy Grove, we have started stocking a food called HPM. It is a diet based on what a cat or dog would eat naturally if they were hunters. I like to think of it as raw feeding but as a packaged diet.

Cat-On-Step-HMP-VeterinaryDid you know that 46% of adult cat foods contain a vegetable as their number one ingredient?

Cats are obligate carnivores and in the wild would eat very little if any vegetable matter. They require a low carbohydrate high protein diet which they would get as wild meat eaters. HPM is specifically developed to match these needs as close as possible. This matches your cat’s needs as well as being highly palatable.

This food naturally helps keep healthy weight, skin and coat, bladder and kidneys as well as supporting the immune system and being low allergen.

And, 66% of adult dog foods contain a vegetable as their main ingredient.


Although wild dogs eat a more varied diet, they are still carnivores and their diet should reflect this. Again, HPM is very palatable and with the main ingredients being pork, poultry and pea, balanced and low allergenic too.

Life Stages

For both cats and dogs there are different life stage varieties and for dogs large and small breed versions.

Both these diets we have offers on, puppy and kitten bags can be bought as ‘buy on get one free’ (small bag size only) and for the other life stages we have loyalty cards that get you a free bag after several purchases.

As with the other diet we sell (Hills) if your pet doesn’t like it then return the bag for a full refund!

Pop in and pick up a bag and give it a try, it could be just what your pet is looking for.

cat waiting area at vets in preston

Withy Grove Vets Open Evening — the hottest ticket in Preston

We’d love you to pop into the Withy Grove Vets Open Evening on Thursday 14th September 2017 from 7-9pm.

Premium pet healthcare has always been our priority.

But you have to see our superb new facilities before believing the best vets in Bamber Bridge just got even better.

You’ll be sure of a warm welcome — we’re excited to show off all the improvements we’ve made.

We’ve organised lots of exciting activities so you’ll definitely have a night to remember:

  • Goodie bags for all guests
  • Practice treasure trail
  • Guess the weight of the dog (without lifting it up)
  • Charity raffle — all proceeds go to worthy local causes
  • Refreshments — quench your thirst while you roam around
  • Meet friendly staff — including our awesome animal therapist Donna

Mix and mingle

You’ll rub shoulders with fellow pet owners and meet the cream of local pet businesses like Mucky Paws pet shop, Mutz-Cutz groomers and the K9 club.

So by the time you leave you’ll be plugged into Preston’s premier pet healthcare network.

Get the date in your diary today, we can’t wait to see you.

We’re sure our launch night will be a fantastic and informative night out— miss it and miss out.

Call 01772 330103 today for more details

If you know you and your family are going to attend, feel free to let us know so we can make sure you get a goodie bag! Email us at

See you soon!

Contact us