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.



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.


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.


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 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 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.


  • 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.












  • 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)

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.