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.

Options

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.

Collars

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.

Pills

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.

Injection

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.

Symptoms

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 www.lungworm.co.uk

 

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).

Symptoms

In cats (hyperthyroid)

Usually older cats

Weight loss

Increased appetitie

More active (like a kitten again)

Defaecating in the house

Diarrhoea

Poor/unkempt fur

In dogs (hypothyroid)

Weight gain

lethargy

Dull hair coat

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

Diagnosis

Usually by a blood test.

Treatment

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.

Prognosis

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.

 

 

BOAS constrictor (of breathing)

In the veterinary profession and elsewhere people are raising awareness of the issues brachycephalic animals face as a result of their breeding. Brachycephaly refers to a short skull shape, which gives the appearance of a flattened face. It can affect dogs, cats and rabbits.

Dogs

In the past ten years there has been a rapid rise in the number of canine brachycephalic breeds in the UK such as Boxers, French Bulldogs, Pugs etc They look cute and have great personalities!

Problems which can affect these dogs include:

Anatomical defects of the upper airway causing breathing difficulties often associated with overheating, sleep apnoea and regurgitation eg. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)
Eye disease
Inability to give birth naturally (requiring Caesarean section)
Skin infections
Dental problems

Zoe’s boxer has a nice long nose (and tongue!)

These breeds are normally happy and bouncy and cope with their problems well so often we don’t think anything is wrong, but we can make life much better for them, both by selective breeding and by treatment. Respiratory sounds by these dogs, such as snorting and snoring, are not normal, but instead are clinical signs of compromised breathing.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has been working as part of the Brachycephalic Working Group (BWG), comprising the British Small Animal Veterinary Association, leading UK dog welfare organisations, the Kennel Club, scientific and social researchers and relevant breed club representatives, to produce a framework for a partnership approach to improving brachycephalic dog health and welfare. BVA have created a campaign called BreedtoBreathe

For people getting a new puppy it is important that they come from parents who have good shape and they understand the potential health problems of brachycephalic conformation, talk to us for advice.

Treatments

As most of the problems produced by BOAS come from upper airway obstruction, the main aim of treatment is unblocking and widening the airways. This is usually achieved by surgically widening the nostrils and shortening the soft palate at the back of the mouth. In most instances, dogs having undergone surgery will be sufficiently improved for the rest of their lives but a few will deteriorate again with time.

We are very lucky that our surgery certificate holder, Suanne, can perform these procedures. If you own a brachycephalic dog she can do a BOAS assessment for you to see if surgery would help. We can also advise on conformation if you are thinking of breeding from your dog or getting one of these breeds as a puppy.

Cats

Cats with short noses can have breathing issues too as well as runny eyes that stain the face. Surgery isn’t usually used for these cases but we can often improve things with medicines and other treatments.

A very handsome brachycephalic cat.

 

Rabbits

 

Rabbits have been bred with shorter noses, again for their looks. This can lead to problems with the teeth not being aligned properly. A rabbits teeth grow throughout its life and as a result , if the teeth don’t meet properly to grind themselves down, they can overgrow which can result in painful spurs on the teeth or incisors that just keep growing until they interfere with eating. We treat these rabbits by dental procedures, either trimming the teeth or spurs, or removing the teeth.

 

Laparoscopic (keyhole) Bitch Spays Now Available at Withy Grove

Endoscopy Surgery Being Performed on a Dog

Suanne performing endoscopy on a dog.

We are delighted to announce that Suanne, or surgery certificate holder, is now fully trained up and performing Laparoscopic bitch spays as well as other procedures.

Laparoscopic is ‘keyhole’ surgery and involves using a camera and small instruments used through a ‘channel’ to

perform the surgery. This normally means there are two incisions but they are both very small.

This technique is widely used in human surgery.

Advantages

  • Small wounds (1 – 2cm) and less tissue handling means less discomfort and a lot less pain after the operation
  • Surgery is quicker so recovery is much quicker. Dogs can be back to normal exercise in half the time compared to normal surgery
  • Surgery is more precise so only the areas we want to operate on are involved
  • Less risk of side effects such as infection, bleeding and wound breakdown
  • It is much easier to survey the rest of the abdomen to check it is normal as everything is in the ‘right place’
Dog prepped for surgery

Instruments are inserted using equipment on the left.

A ‘retained testicle’

A ‘retained testicle’, this is one which hasn’t descended into its correct place, it is more prone to cancer so needs to be removed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disadvantages

  • A larger area of fur needs to be clipped
  • In the unlikely event of complications, conversion to open surgery may be required
  • Keyhole surgery is more expensive due to the training and extra equipment that is required
Blood vessels being cauterised

Blood vessels are cauterised to prevent any bleeding with this piece of equipment.

Other Laparoscopic Surgery

There are, of course, many other uses for this type of surgery. For example;

  • Bladder surgery
  • Biopsies such as liver and internal tumours
  • Ear surgery
  • Nose surgery
  • Finding and removing retained testicles
  • Looking in joints (arthroscopy)
Interested?

If your bitch is due to be spayed or you have any questions about this keyhole technique and how it can benefit your pet, give us a call and ask to speak with Suanne or get in touch online.

hedgehog in grass

Vets Go Wild (life)

Rescued Hedgehog

This little hedgehog has now been returned to the wild.

Every year we treat large numbers of wild animals brought in by the public or RSPCA. This year the dry weather has meant more dehydrated animals, particularly hedgehogs.

We have also had lots of birds, especially young ones. The advice is generally that young birds, unless obviously injured, should be left where they are. Their mothers are often around or they are learning to fly.

Over the years, along with the more common small birds and hedgehogs, we have also treated badgers, deer, weasels, foxes, swans, owls, birds of prey, ducks, bats, geese, rabbits, squirrels and probably many more that I can’t remember.

Rescued Duckling

This duckling had been attacked by a cat, sadly it died shortly after we admitted it.

When a member of the public brings in injured wildlife the first thing we do is get vet to check it over. If we are not busy we can often do this whilst you wait. If we are busy then we will ask you to leave the animal with us and we will examine it when we have a gap. We always take the details of who has found the animal and where it was found. There are two reasons for this; one so we can release them where they are in familiar territory when they are recovered, and two, so we can keep you informed as to their progress!

 

 

Rescued baby Swift

This baby swift (now christened Taylor) is currently doing well and being cared for by Matthew, our nurse.

Obviously, there are cases where we consider it better for the animal to be put to sleep if its injuries are too severe or we cannot see a way it can be returned to the wild.

Several of our nurses have been on hedgehog care courses, we have small dedicated cages for hedgehog in-patients as well as separate accommodation for animals that might be alarmed by the proximity of cats and dogs.

On top of all this we have contacts with local charities that will look after recuperating wild animals.

As agreed between the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association, we give emergency care for wild animals as a free of charge service.

Ollie gets dragged through the fence!

Ollie was sniffing around his yard when he heard another dog outside. So, being an inquisitive sort of canine he stuck his nose through a hole in the fence to have a smell of the new comer. Unfortunately the new comer was not as friendly as Ollie had hoped. It was a cross bred who was not very well mannered and proceeded to grab the newly exposed bit of Ollie’s nose and pull him through the fence.

Bites

Ollie was very lucky in that he could pull himself back through the hole with the help of his owner and he was safe. When he came to us he had a cut under his left eye, his lip was torn through on the left side and he had puncture marks on the right side of his nose. Under anaesthetic we clipped and cleaned the area and stitched the lip and eye wounds. Dog bites always inject bacteria under the skin so Ollie had to go home with antibiotics and pain killers. he has since made a full recovery.

Ollie’s bites to his eye and lip

Lucky

Both Ollie and his owner were lucky, dogs that get attacked in the open often cannot escape and can end up with horrible injuries (and even be killed). There is also the risk of humans getting badly bitten and requiring hospital treatment if they try to separate the fighting dogs. Of course it is human nature to try and rescue our dogs. often the dog that is attacked is a friendly, trusting animal and there can be lifelong psychological changes to dogs that have been attacked.

The wounds stitched up

Enjoying his recovery

Early socialisation and firm training will nearly always stop a dog being aggressive. If an owner has any suspicion their dog is aggressive to other dogs they have a duty of care to make sure their dog is exercised safely, either by keeping it away form other dogs, keeping it on a lead or even using a muzzle when the dog is out and about.

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.

Endoscopy

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

Surgery

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.

Recovery

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 www.findavet.org.uk

For more information on pets and poisons download the free Animal Welfare Foundation ‘Pets and Poisons’ leaflet at www.bva-awf.org.uk/pet-care-advice/pets-and-poisons

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!).

 

Recovery

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.