Travel, Ticks, Tapeworms and Treatments

Travelling abroad with your pet dog (and in some cases, cat) is great fun for them and you, but there are risks.


A tick

A recent survey, The Big Tick Project, showed that 76% of dogs travelling abroad returned with ticks.  This highlights the real threat of dogs travelling to the Continent coming back with a tick. Ticks have been found to be carrying diseases such as babesiosis which can also infect humans. Babesiosis causes lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, jaundice, raised temperature and anaemia. It can also affect cats but is less commonly reported. Babesiosis is endemic in mainland Europe but outbreaks have been reported in Essex and Hertfordshire – highlighting the importance of remaining vigilant for ‘exotic’ tick species and associated disease. These reports come from untravelled dogs.

There are other tick born diseases to watch out for too……

Ehrlichiosis produces signs of fever, weight loss, bleeding disorders and nervous problems.

Tick Treatments

So if you are taking your pet abroad it is important he or she is protected. A flea and tick killer is essential and we would recommend a pill rather than a spot on which can be washed off if your pet gets wet. There are pills that last a month but also one that lasts 3 months.

Travel and Brexit

With the Brexit extension, granted in April 2019, existing rules for pet travel are still in place which means that cats, dogs and ferrets from the UK can still travel to all EU countries and some additional countries and return to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS).

For PETS the pet must have a microchip implanted; be vaccinated for rabies (not before 12 weeks of age); and have a PETS passport. Following the initial rabies vaccination there is a 21-day wait period before the pet can travel (this waiting period doesn’t apply to booster vaccinations).

For dogs only, there is also a requirement for a veterinary certified tapeworm treatment 24-120 hours before return to the UK.

Uncertainty still exists on the likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, and to keep up to date with the most current Brexit situation visit:

Other diseases which can be caught in Europe


This is a worm that can cause coughing, exercise intolerance and difficulty breathing. It is spread by mosquitoes and sandflies. This disease used to mainly be found in southern Europe but is now spreading to the north-eastern and central European countries.

Prevention is by keeping pets indoors at peak fly feeding times, such as early evening and there are collars that will repell the sandfly and mosquitoes.

A monthly worm pill treats this disease but only some worm pills cover against this parasite, make sure you have the right one.


We all know about this disease which can cause excitability, seizures and paralysis, however the more common form is called dumb rabies and signs include progressive paralysis, distortion of the face and difficulty in swallowing. It is spread by the bite of an infected animal. Vaccination is the best way to prevent this terrrible condition.


This disease is also common in the UK, signs can be vague but can produce acute kidney and liver disease as well as vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and jaundice. These bacteria are viable in soil or water for over 6 months and infection is transmitted through contamination with urine or eating infected mice/rats etc.

Prevention is by vaccination. There are different strains of letpospirosis on the continent so make sure your pet is vaccinated appropriately.


Leishmaniasis is a disease which kills over 65,000 people each year globally and is being seen with increasing frequency in the UK in travelled dogs. It less commonly affects cats. This year there have also been cases of leishmaniasis diagnosed in untravelled dogs within the UK.

Clinical signs are ulcers, arthritis, anorexia and bleeding. Sandflies are the only known way this disease is spread. To reduce the risk of dogs developing this disease various things can be done;

  1. Reduce the chance of the dog being bitten by sandflies and contracting the infection by using a special treated collar..
  1. Vaccination can also be carried out against this disease.

Echinococcus (tapeworm)

This is a very serious disease and infectious to humans too, it is found in dogs and foxes and spread by small rodents. Dogs rarely get clinical signs but it can cause serious disease in humans. This disease is not in the UK but is present in Europe. Prevention is by worming and returning dogs have to have a veterinary-certified tapeworm treatment 24-120 hours prior to embarkation back to the UK. The disease can take one month to develop so we recommend monthly treatment whilst abroad and also one month after returning to the UK.


It is important to consult your vet well in advance of travel but we also recommend a post-travel check on return from holiday. This allows pets to be checked for ticks and to ensure adequate worming treatment is given 1 month post-travel.


Laser Therapy Reduces Pain and Speeds Healing

Withy Grove is excited to offer our clients Companion Laser Therapy. Laser therapy provides a non-invasive, pain-free, surgery-free, drug-free treatment which is used to treat a variety of conditions and can be performed in conjunction with existing treatment protocols.  Relief and/or improvement is often noticed within hours depending on the condition and your pet’s response.

Whether your pet is rehabilitating from trauma or injury, healing from wounds, or simply aging, your companion can benefit from this innovative approach to treating pain.

Applications for laser therapy include:

  • Treatment of arthritis, degenerative joint disease, or hip dysplasia
  • General pain management (sprains, strains, and stiffness)
  • Post-surgery pain (spays, neuters, orthopaedics, and other surgeries)
  • Skin problems (hot spots, lick granulomas, infections)
  • Dental procedures
  • Fractures and wounds (bites, abrasions, and lesions)
  • Ear infections

How does it work?

Laser therapy stimulates the body to heal from within. Non-thermal photons of light are administered to the body for about 3 to 8 minutes and absorbed by the injured cells. The cells are then stimulated and respond with a higher rate of metabolism. This results in relief from pain, increased circulation, reduced inflammation, and an acceleration of the healing process.Dog being treated with laser therapy

What can my pet expect during a laser therapy treatment session?

Simply put, it provides relief. As the laser is administered, your pet will relax and enjoy the treatment. The almost immediate relief of pain will allow your pet to be comfortable and any anxiety that your pet initially experiences will dissipate.

Occasionally, angry cats will start to purr and canine companions will actually fall asleep during their therapy session. Frequently, after therapy, we hear: “He’s acting like a puppy again” or “She can actually jump onto the chair again.” Pain relief is provided in just a few minutes of therapy and that alone improves the quality of life for your companion.

What are the signs that my pet can benefit from Companion Laser Therapy?

Many of our laser therapy patients are older animals with musculoskeletal ailments. Some signs that your senior companion is experiencing pain or discomfort are:

  • Abnormal sitting or lying posture
  • Circling multiple times before lying down
  • Restlessness
  • Whining, groaning or other vocalizations
  • Limping, unable to get up or lie down
  • Difficulty getting into car or downstairs
  • Lack of grooming
  • Won’t wag tail
  • Licking or biting area
  • Lack of appetite
  • Trembling

Dog's leg getting laser treatment


Contact our practice today to schedule an appointment or obtain additional information.

Could your dog or cat be suffering?

FREE arthritis checks and 33% off Synoquin joint supplements for the month of April!!

We all know arthritis is a painful and joint stiffening condition, but could you tell if your cat or dog had the same problem?

Signs in Cats and Dogs.

Older pets may limp, be stiff when they first get up, struggle to get up steps or jump into a car. Cats may have trouble getting into litter trays which can lead to them urinating or defaecating in unusual places.
We assume our pets ‘slow down’ as they get older, but cats or dogs that spend more time sleeping or don’t want to walk very far may have arthritic pain. This is especially true with cats who may spend a lot of their day asleep anyway!
Pets can also shift the weight around their four legs making lameness harder to spot.
Once treated an arthritic pet can become ‘younger’ again as they are brighter and happier!

Often the only way to tell if your pet has arthritis is to put him or her on painkillers and if you see them brightening up and happier then that is the diagnosis!

For the month of April we are offering FREE arthritis check ups for your pet as well as 33% off Synoquin Joint supplements.


Many older pets may have other conditions so it is essential before setting off on a course of treatment that a full clinical examination is carried out.
There are many drugs available (pills, injections and liquids) but also nutraceuticals (such as Synoquin), specially formulated diets, weight control, exercise and laser therapy as well as treating any other problems.
We have a physiotherapist, Donna, who comes into the practice, and can help with mobility problems.

Don’t let your older pet be uncomfortable, give us a ring for an appointment, we can check them over and advise on treatment options and lifestyle changes if required.

Why does my dog bark when I leave the house?

Most dogs live happily in our lifestyles but sometimes they will bark when left alone, either if we go out or we leave them in another room, for example. A more severe version of this is they can get destructive, chewing up furnishings. Another unpleasant problem can be urinating or defaecating in the house or compulsive licking or chewing at themselves. These are all examples of separation anxiety.

An unstressed dog.

What is separation anxiety?

This disorder is caused by distress at being parted from their owner. It seems to be more common in some breeds than others and may partly be the result of poor socialisation in puppyhood. Dogs are naturally pack animals and don’t like being separated from their ‘pack’ (that’s you!).

The condition is more common in dogs that have been repeatedly re-homed or moved to new owners when they were less than 1 year old, probably because these animals feel very insecure. The problem becomes worse because when someone re-homes a dog from a kennel and finds out it is destructive, the poor dog is often returned to the kennel for re-homing again which makes the problem worse.

What triggers separation anxiety?

The problem can start after a period of separation e.g where the dog has been in kennels and then returns to the house. Dogs are also more likely to show separation anxiety when their owner returns to work after a long period at home, e.g. after maternity leave or the school summer holidays. The poor dog has been used to plenty of attention and company and all of a sudden he is alone in a quiet empty house. It is a more common problem in young dogs who can start to get anxious when they sense their owner is about to leave.

When their owner returns many dogs are submissive and cringe amid the debris because they have previously been punished by an angry owner coming home to the mess.

Is there treatment to help my dog?

There is help at hand but you must be prepared to put a lot of time and effort into helping your dog overcome his or her fears. Never punish your dog if you come home to a mess – this will only make the problem worse. Your dog is destructive because he is anxious about being left alone. If you punish him he learns to associate the combination of you and the mess with punishment. When you are gone he is left in the house alone and becomes destructive. Now he is alone with the mess and becomes more anxious because when you appear and there is mess he is punished. Basically, treatment is aimed at gradually getting your dog used to longer and longer periods alone. Your vet will be able to give you advice about managing the problem and, in particularly tricky cases, may recommend that you and your dog talk to a qualified dog behaviourist. With personal advice and some effort most dogs improve over time.

There are drugs that your vet can prescribe to help your dog overcome his anxiety. These drugs can make treatment with behavioural management work more quickly.

 The idea is to reduce your stress levels as well as your dog’s!

Pyometra, what’s all the pus about?

Pyometra means ‘pus in the uterus’. Infection gets in (usually when the bitch has a season) then festers away for some weeks until a large abscess is formed in the uterus. There are two types of pyometra, a ‘closed’ one means the pus stays in the uterus, this is dangerous because as the volume of pus increases and the walls of the uterus become devitalised by the infection, the uterus can rupture creating a life threatening peritonitis. The other form is an ‘open’ pyometra. In this form the cervix at the entrance to the uterus opens up so pus drips out of the dog’s vulva. All very unpleasant. This form can also be fatal if left untreated as the infection gradually creates a septicaemia.

Which dogs are more prone?

Older bitches are usually more likely to get this condition, as are bitches that have never had a litter, but it can occur in any bitch. We usually see signs a few weeks after the bitch was in season. Pyometra also occurs in cats but is rare as most cats are spayed when young.


An open pyometra is usually obvious from the discharge. In the closed ones (and the early open ones) the bitch will be quieter, usually drinking more as toxins from the infection damage the kidneys (this damage is usually reversible if the condition is treated). Vomiting, diarrhoea and a high temperature are all possible too. Without treatment both forms of pyometra are usually fatal.


The signs give us a good idea, a blood test will usually show kidney damage as above and an increased white cell count as the body’s reaction to the infection. A blood test is also important to identify if there are any other problems in the bitch which may affect the treatment we choose. An ultrasound scan usually confirms the diagnosis.


The best treatment is to spay the bitch, thus removing all the infection. This is obviously a more risky operation than in a young fit animal; the cases are usually older, usually ill, usually have kidney damage (see above) and may have other age related conditions. Also, we are removing an infected abscess from the bitch. However, the surgery is successful in the majority of cases. There is a hormone injection that helps the uterus to improve and this, in combination with antibiotics will help, and in some cases, cure the condition.

Obviously, having the bitch spayed at a young age totally prevents pyometra from occurring.



Dental X rays now available at Withy Grove and dentals HALF PRICE! in January

We are pleased and excited to now have installed a dental X ray machine. This piece of equipment is used much the same as a X ray unit at a human dentist.There are some differences; we have to X ray our patients when they are anaesthetised, partly so they stay still and partly so they don’t chew the delicate x ray plate!


We can use the pictures to assess lots of things to make dentals quicker and better for our patients. We get instant pictures next to our dental table and after our training earlier this week we will be able to X ray all the teeth in a mouth in a matter of minutes.
We can see how a tooth root sits in the bone (there is enormous variation between the teeth and the different dog and cat breeds). this makes extraction easier and less traumatic for the patient. It is much more accurate for us to decide if a tooth is viable or if we have to extract it. Something which beforehand was a decision based on judgement is now accurately determined. In cats teeth decay differently from dogs and humans (isn’t that always the way with cats!) which means some teeth that are decayed can simply have the crown cut off and we can leave to root to be absorbed naturally. Being able to identify which teeth these are makes it a lot less painful for the cat as well as a quicker procedure for us.


Any pictures we take we can transfer onto our main system and share them with you to discuss your pet’s oral health.
Another side benefit of this unit is we can now take much better images of cats noses, something which was very difficult before as we had to get the traditional large plate inside the (anaesthetised) cat’s mouth to get a good picture.

We will be doing dentals at HALF PRICE! if booked or performed in the month of January 2019 with a free dental check up to discuss your pet’s needs. If you want your pet’s mouth checked give us a ring now or you can book an appointment directly through our website.

Pet Travel Post Brexit

Like most of Brexit, what will happen to Pet Passports and the ability to travel to Europe with your pet after we leave the EU, is unknown. There are a few options of what could happen;

No Deal Brexit

If we have a no deal Brexit there is a chance that we will have to fulfill the conditions that other non EU countries do, which is a blood test at least 30 days after rabies vaccination to prove it has worked. Then wait for 3 more months before travelling. So that is 4 months wait in total. If the blood sample fails the blood test then a booster rabies vaccination will have to be given, another 30 days waited and the blood sampling re done, then have the 3 month wait. It has been suggested that to increase the chance of the first sample passing the test, a rabies vaccination booster should be given at the start of the 30 day period, regardless of when the pet’s current vaccination expires.

A further problem is that the blood test has to be done at an EU certified laboratory and the current UK labs may no longer be EU certified after Brexit. Defra will not give an assurance that a blood test done by such a UK lab would still be recognised as having been done in an EU-approved laboratory after a hard Brexit. So one way round this is to send the samples to a certified lab on mainland Europe (there is one in Germany that has been used).

A ‘Deal’ Brexit

The best case scenario is the Pet Passport scheme stays the same as now.

A Third Option

There is another option, because the UK is rabies free we could get an exemption to avoid the 3 month waiting period.

So What Should You Do?

The above is the most up to date advice issued this month.

So not much use at all.

The earliest anyone will have to do anything is the end of this month (4 months before Brexit) so everyone should wait until then in the hope that the situation becomes clearer.. It may be that if you want to be absolutely certain of taking your dog in the immediate weeks after Brexit you will have to have the blood test and need to start planning early.

How many ways are there to kill a flea?

Fleas are having a little population boom at the moment. Numbers increased dramatically when we had that hot dry spell. Now, as we all start turning on our heating, any eggs in the house are hatching and the fleas can multiply rapidly.


It has always been the case that you have to treat your pet, all the animals in the household and use a treatment to treat the house and bedding too. As the years have gone by the flea challenge has got worse with warm summers and warmer winters allowing the fleas to survive for longer. This has meant many traditional flea treatments have struggled. Because treatment has to be continuous it is vital to use a product that lasts until the next one is used.  Many shampoos only last for a few days as well as many pills. A lot of spot ons have decreased activity near the end of their treatment period too. Historically flea collars have not been very useful either.

The good news

There are a plethora of products that are effective, safe and long lasting;

Spot Ons

These have been available for some years, some of the older ones are not as effective as they used to be. Some of the newer ones treat some worms and ticks too and there is also one that lasts for 3 months.


Most flea collars are not very effective, there is one that is very good against fleas and ticks and it lasts for up o 8 months, (because of legal advertising restrictions, I can’t give you a brand name but give us a ring for details). Some of these products kill ticks too.

A female flea, you can see eggs inside her abdomen.


Giving dogs pills is generally easy and flea treatments given this way can’t be washed off, giving a cat a pill is some peoples preference as well. Many of the existing pills are effective but very short acting, however, a new pill gives a months cover against fleas and ticks, there is also a pill for dogs which lasts 3 months. Again, tick and some worm treatments are included in some of the pills.

You need to remember to treat the house, everywhere your pet goes.


There is an injection for cats only. It lasts 6 months.


Every pet is an individual and everyone’s situation is different. Feel free to discuss flea control with us.

Lungworm, a real and present threat

Most of us will have heard of lung worm in dogs (there is also one in cats although it doesn’t cause as serious a disease).

The worm

Dogs catch lung worm from snails and slugs, they can pick these up just from general rummaging around in the garden, but also they can swallow them from drinking dirty water, eating grass or because the snail or slug is on one of their toys. We think of slugs being those big horrible slimey things we see after rain but many are very tiny so we don’t notice them, but they are just as infectious to our dogs and much easier to be swallowed by mistake. It has also been shown that the lung worm larvae can be in the slime trails left by snails and slugs making this another potential route for infection.


A cough or some breathing diffculties are the most common signs but there can be no signs at all or in the worst cases the parasite can cause a bleeding disorder which can be fatal. The worst symptoms are usually in young dogs, partly because their lifestyle makes them more likely to pick up slugs and snails and partly because as dogs get older they develop an immunity to infection.

Treatment and Prevention

There are currently very few effective treatments available. Most routine wormers DO NOT cover against lung worm. There is a pill and a ‘spot on’ that do both work, they are both used monthly. We would treat most coughing dogs with one of these products routinely just in case the cause is lung worm. Obviously your dog’s lifestyle will make it more or less at risk from this nasty parasite so we always tailor our anti parasite treatments to the individual pet. There is a map of where lung worm has been positively identified available here. You will note that  there aren’t any immediate positives in Preston, but remember, the problem is nationwide and this map is only of laboratory tested positives. Many coughing dogs will be given treatments and get better without ever being tested!  The big worry for us is the small number of dogs that can die from this condition.


As ever, please ask us for more information about preventing lung worm in your dog. More information is also available at


Thyroid S.O.S. (Spot Our Symptoms)

One of the companies we deal with (MSD) is having an advertising campaign to help raise awareness of thyroid problems so this seemed like a suitable topic to write a short article on.

What are they?

Dogs and cats (and people) have 2 thyroid glands, they sit one on each side of the trachea but they are very loosely attached so can be anywhere from the top of the neck down to almost in the chest.

What do they do?

They control the rate at which our bodies metabolism works.

What goes wrong?

Thyroid glands can be either over active (so your body ‘speeds up’) or under active (so your body ‘slows down’). The cause of this can be changes in the way the thyroid cells work (we don’t fully understand why) and it can be caused by cancers, although these are frequently benign.

We also don’t understand why, but cats usually only suffer from overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and dogs usually only suffer from underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism).


In cats (hyperthyroid)

Usually older cats

Weight loss

Increased appetitie

More active (like a kitten again)

Defaecating in the house


Poor/unkempt fur

In dogs (hypothyroid)

Weight gain


Dull hair coat

Skin problems – hypothyroid dogs can have recurrent sore skins, itchiness, bad ears, thinning of the hair


Usually by a blood test.


This is usually straightforward in cats and dogs. Dogs have a pill or liquid in the food. cats have a wide range of treatment options including pills, liquids, dietary change, a gel that is applied to the ear and radiotherapy to kill off affected thyroid tissue. Cats can also have the affected thyroid gland removed.


Both cats and dogs with thyroid disease usually respond very well to treatment and tend to live out prettty normal lives once diagnosed and treated correctly.


As always, please ask us for more information.