Parvovirus – an update

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


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


These include;

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


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


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

Disease Progression

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


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


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

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

cat on car roof

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

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

How to Spot Signs of Stress in Your Pet

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

Symptoms to look out for include:


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


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

Noise Anxiety

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

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

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

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

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

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


What Can You Do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


One mouse has the same calories as a square of milk chocolate & other Feline Facts

Cat Behaviour Explained

We all see our cats every day doing the things they do, we often interpret them as ‘loving us’ (which of course they do!) but there are reasons behind their behaviour.

A cats mood can be told from his or her facial expression; ear position, pupil dilation, lip licking and tail position. However, they communicate mainly by scent and have few facial expressions compared to dogs. When a cat rubs against your legs they are rescenting you to smell right. If you’ve just come in from outside, your legs no longer smell ‘correctly’ so he or she has to rub scent onto you. Of course to us this is a ‘loving’ gesture.

Scratching posts also help cats scent, some cats like to stand on their hindlegs so posts should always be as tall as your (extended) cat. We can help cats with scenting in the surgery if we give them two beds and wash one at a time, it means your feline friend always has something that smells ‘right’ in their hospital cage.

Solitary Felines

In the wild (and domestic cats look very like their wild cat ancestors, unlike dogs which we have changed a lot in many cases) cats are solitary animals, they don’t have a pack or a hiearchy like dogs. So when they meet other cats they often don’t know how to react, which is why they fluff up their tales and stand looking at each other deciding what the best course of action is. Even cats that live together may not accept each other, if they fully accept one another they will groom each other and curl up together. Infact any touching of another cat is an acceptance, otherwise they are just tolerating each other. In the same house, two cats will often sleep and inhabit different areas to keep their ‘solitary status’.

Food and Water

Wild cats, when eating like to be able to see what is going on around them, so they prefer not to eat from a bowl whilst facing a wall. They will hunt more or less all the time as they don’t want to be hungry and never know when the next meal is going to arrive. When hunting and eating, they get a feline ‘high’ so giving cats hunting games with toys, searching through cardboard boxes, toilet rolls or egg boxes (for food) keeps them very happy. Cats have poor long distance vision so like these ‘toys’ to be close and a cat that is bored or frustrated is more likely to be aggressive.

Drinking is usually done from running water, again in an open area so they can keep watch. They also prefer the water bowl to be away from the food bowl area.


Sleeping (cats do this a lot)

Wild cats sleep up high and rotate from one place to another, this helps to stop parasite build up and is repliacted in our homes. Cats also like to hide (they are prey as well as predator in the wild) so a den is appreciated but in places where they have more than one exit so they can escape if necessary.

Toilet Behaviour

Toileting is done at the edge of their territory, naturally this would be in sand so this is a good material to use on the home too, but it must be the child safe sand, builders sand can be very sharp. They do like to be in a secure place for this. Some cats are not comfy having a roof on their litter tray, or don’t like a steep step in, the wrong type or litter of the tray in the wrong place. Multi cat households should have one tray per cat and one extra.

Does Your Cat go to the Toilet in Strange Places?

This syndrome is known as ‘Inappropriate Elimination’ and can be exhibited by both male and female cats.

Sometimes Inappropriate Elimination happens because your cat is confused about house training or is using the faeces or urine to communicate with other pets or humans. It can also occur if the cat is stressed about, for example, new pets or babies, tradesmen working in the house or the owner has been away on holiday.

Cats sometimes spray, usually near doors or windows to communicate with cats that may be wandering through the garden.. This ‘spraying’ is normal cat behaviour, although humans are not usually impressed by it!

What to do about Inappropriate Elimination?

The first thing to do is have your cat checked by a vet, there are medical problems that can produce this behaviour, such as diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid illness, bladder stones or cancer, old age (a form of dementia), epilepsy, incontinence, arthritis (this can make it painful for a cat to climb into the tray). or other painful conditions, constipation to name a few.

There are also lots of behavioural causes; your cat may have a problem with the litter tray – its cleanliness, location, type of litter, getting in and out of the litter tray or sharing the tray with other cats. General stress or poor house training can also play a part as well as territorial marking.


We would always get a full history, this can often give us clues as to the cause, but laboratory testing, X rays and other procedures for the problems mentioned above will also be used. If we can rule out a medical problem then the cause is likely to be behavioural and we can address that.


Obviously if there is a medical issue we will treat this appropriately. If not we look at behavioural solutions. these include;

  • Neutering (if not already done)
  • Cleaning areas well (washing powder and alcohol are a good combination)
  • Stopping the cat access previously used areas
  • Reducing stress using pheromones or medicines
  • Deterring other cats from entering your cat’s territory
  • Providing a safe escape area in your home for your cat where it can be entirely on its own
  • Chaning litter tray arrangements (see above)

Cats that ‘Inappropriately Eliminate’ can become resented by their owners and it is a not uncommon reason they are euthanased. If your cat exhibits this behaviour, click here to contact the team at Withy Grove, and let a vet check it over as soon as possible, many causes can be successfully treated.


Does your dog have an itch problem caused by an allergy?

Owning a dog with a severe allergic itch problem can be upsetting and frustrating for the whole family, not to mention distressing for your beloved pet.

Itchy Dog?Itchy Dog?Itchy Dog?

Depending on the cause of the allergy, some dogs are itchy all year round and some only itch at certain times of the year.

The good news is that innovative and effective therapies are available to ensure that neither the dog or family need suffer as a result.

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You may be concerned that in the past you have been unable to resolve the problem, but with understanding of allergic conditions improving all the time, effective treatments and solutions are available.

Signs your dog may have an allergy affecting the skin

What is an allergy?

Dogs, just like people, can show symptoms of allergy when their immune systems recognise certain everyday substances as foreign. Even though these substances are harmless to most animals, a dog with allergies will have an extreme reaction to them. The skin is one of the most common organs to show symptoms of allergy.

What is an allergy?

What are the skin symptoms of allergic skin disease?

  • Red, itchy skin
  • Increased scratching
  • Chewing, especially around the base of the tail and paws
  • Itchy ears and recurring ear infections
  • Constant licking

Dogs with an allergic skin condition may also suffer from skin infections, which may cause hair loss, scabs or crusts on the skin.

What can dogs be allergic to?

A few common allergens include:

  • Various types of pollen
  • Fungal spores
  • Tree bark
  • Flea bites
  • Allergens in food
  • House dust mites
  • Grasses

There are many others and your vet may need to run an number of tests to find out the true cause of the allergy.

What are you and your dog looking for from an itch treatment plan?

FAST relief from itching

  • Starts to work within the first few hours
  • Reduces the redness and soreness caused by scratching


  • Can be used for short term (seasonal or acute) allergies and longer term (ongoing) allergies
  • No interruption of other vital medications your dog may need
  • Doesn’t interfere with important tests your vet may run to determine the cause of the itch


  • Infrequent, unwanted or inconvenient side effects


  • Simple daily medication
  • Easy to give, with or without food

Other owners’ experiences

“We nearly lost Eric because of his allergies. We had years of frustration as a result of trying different therapies which didn’t help Eric’s itching at all. I thought we would never solve the problem and would have to end his suffering. Then my vet changed the care plan to a simple daily medication. Eric was like a different dog! His itching stopped overnight and his sore skin calmed down and repaired within days. The results have transformed our lives… and Eric’s.”

Lesley, owner of Labrador, Eric

“Daisy was scratching from quite a young age. After a series of blood tests and skin tests, Daisy was diagnosed with an allergy to dust mites. Some treatments helped with the itch, but she gained weight and had other associated problems, so we had to stop them.

We tried constant baths with medicated shampoos and at times she scratched so much that she got skin infections and needed antibiotics. It was very difficult. Then I heard about a different approach from our vet. Within 3 or 4 days, we could see a marked improvement and in 2 weeks, we could see it really was working. She’s a happy, itch-free dog again.”

Debbie, owner of Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Daisy

When you suspect allergic dermatitis

Start From Scratch

Ask your vet today about fast relief from allergic dermatitis. Click here to get in touch.