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.

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.


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


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.