Advice for keeping your dog healthy

Here is some information about our canine friends, both in good health and when they are unwell. Please remember that reading this is no substitution for seeking the advice of a veterinary surgeon.

Please contact us to discuss any concerns you may have about your dog's health, we are here 24 hours a day, every day of the year.


Why vaccinate?

Vaccination is important to protect your dog against a number of potentially fatal diseases. Many diseases are highly contagious and can be spread rapidly between dogs whilst out on walks or in kennels. When your dog receives a vaccination, he/she will also receive a thorough health examination and you can discuss any health concerns you may have with the one of our Vets.

When to vaccinate?

Puppies can be vaccinated from 6 weeks of age, but they cannot be fully immune until 12 weeks. The primary vaccination course requires two injections to be given 2-4 weeks apart, so we recommend doing this at 8 and 10 weeks of age. The course can be started later but your puppy will not be protected from the diseases until a week after the second injection. They should not be taken on walks or mix with unfamiliar dogs before this time.

Adult dogs that haven't been vaccinated can receive an out-of-date booster at any time. They will need to have an initial dose of the vaccine, followed by a second dose 2-4 weeks later. To provide lifetime protection, your dog will need to receive annual booster vaccinations.

What can we protect against?

  1. Kennel cough. Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease of the dog’s respiratory tract. Affected dogs develop a harsh dry cough, much like whooping cough in humans. The coughing can last for a few weeks and during this time, more serious complications can develop, including bronchopneumonia. Vaccination is intended to reduce the severity of disease and decrease virus shedding.
    Kennel cough is passed from dog to dog via airborne droplets and can be picked up in kennels, shows, training classes and even when out walking in the park – anywhere dogs can get nose to nose contact. Many boarding kennels insist on this vaccine but please ensure you check with your kennel as many stipulate vaccinations at least 3 weeks before a stay.
    This vaccine is administered as drops up your dog’s nose. Full cover takes a minimum of 3 days and should be given at least 2 weeks apart from your dog’s annual vaccination.
  2. Leptospirosis. We routinely vaccinate against four forms of this bacterial disease. One is picked up by dogs when swimming or drinking water from watercourses contaminated with the urine of infected rats. This bacterium attacks the liver and kidneys; dogs become jaundiced and often die. It can also be transmitted to humans with fatal consequences. The second is caught from the urine of other infected dogs. It targets the kidneys but sometimes damage only becomes evident as the dog becomes older and develops kidney failure. Further forms of the disease have since been discovered and we can now offer an upgrade vaccination.
  3. Parainfluenza. This virus is one of a number of infective agents passed on through airborne droplets causing Infectious Bronchitis, better known as ‘Kennel Cough’. Symptoms are a harsh hacking cough with gagging/retching, sometimes giving the appearance of something stuck in the throat, which can lead to bronchopneumonia. The yearly routine booster vaccination includes the Parainfluenza part of the protection against kennel cough, but your dog will still need a separate Kennel Cough vaccine to give greater protection.
  4. Infectious canine hepatitis. This is caused by a virus which attacks the liver, kidneys, eyes, and lungs. The disease can be rapid, causing death in 24 to 36 hours. Alternatively, the dog may recover but may have ongoing liver problems and shed the virus for many months, posing a threat to other unvaccinated dogs.
  5. Canine distemper (HardPad). The distemper virus can cause pneumonia, vomiting, diarrhoea, and eventually brain damage and fits. In some circumstances the footpads and nose can become cracked. The disease is often fatal.
  6. Canine parvovirus. Parvovirus is a viral infection, causing vomiting and diarrhoea and is particularly dangerous to young dogs. Infected dogs will become seriously ill and can become fatally dehydrated.
  7. Coronavirus. This common virus affects dogs of all ages, with puppies being particularly susceptible. It can cause diarrhoea and other digestive upsets. Coronavirus has also been shown to increase the severity of other viral diseases e.g. parvovirus.
  8. Rabies. Although this is not routinely needed in the UK, dogs need to be vaccinated against rabies prior to obtaining an EU Pet Passport and travelling abroad. Vaccination can be carried out from 3 months of age.

To save money on the cost of vaccinations, take a look at our Pet Health Club


Spaying a female

Why should my bitch be spayed?

  • Spaying reduces behavioural problems, such as straying from home, and some dominance problems.
  • It prevents diseases being passed on to offspring.
  • It prevents life-threatening uterine infections (pyometra) developing later in life. This is a common cause of death in middle-aged bitches.
  • It has a protective effect against breast cancer, another common cause of death. The earlier a bitch is spayed, the greater this effect.
  • It prevents false pregnancy and uterine infections.
  • It prevents unwanted pregnancies.

What happens when my bitch is spayed?

We recommend that she comes in for a complimentary pre-neuter check-up with one of our veterinary nurses prior to her operation, to check that she is in good health and ready to have her operation.

The spay operation involves the administration of a general anaesthetic and the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus through an incision made on the flank or belly. The fur at the site of the incision will be shaved before surgery.

She will be admitted early in the morning of her operation and will stay with us for the day. She will be able to return home later on – the same day – and we advise that she is kept quiet. The skin sutures are generally removed after 7 to 10 days.

When to spay?

The ideal time to have your bitch spayed is halfway between her first and second seasons. However, even middle-aged bitches will benefit from being spayed. A general rule of thumb is to have her spayed 3 months after her season.

Laparoscopic (keyhole) Spay

This minimally invasive procedure involves removing the ovaries (ovariectomy) using a camera and vessel sealing device through keyhole incisions.

This allows for smaller incisions, thus smaller scar and a shorter recovery time for your bitch when compared to the conventional procedure.

Laparoscopic surgery does costs more than a traditional spay because it requires specialised training and the use of highly specialised equipment that includes a high-end camera and computer monitor.

We are able to discuss both options of spaying as you require.

Castrating a male

Why should my dog be castrated?

  • Castration can reduce behavioural problems such as aggression, libido and straying from home. The earlier he is castrated, the more likely this is to succeed.
  • It prevents diseases being passed on to offspring.
  • It removes the risk of testicular tumours.
  • It will reduce the risk of prostate problems in later life.
  • It prevents unwanted litters of puppies.

What happens when my dog is castrated?

We recommend that your dog comes in for a complimentary pre-neuter check up with one of our veterinary nurses prior to his operation, to check that he is in good health and ready to have his operation.  

The castration operation involves removing both testes under general anaesthetic through small incisions into the scrotum. Usually, the skin incisions are so small that sutures are not required. He will be admitted early in the morning of his operation and will stay with us for the day. He will be able to return home later on the same day and we advise that he is kept quiet. Although castration helps reduce behaviour problems, it will not adversely affect his character.

When should I have my dog castrated?

The ideal time to have your dog castrated is very soon after he has reached sexual maturity i.e. about 1-year-old. If your dog has retained testes, it is essential that they are removed because they very often become cancerous.

Will my dog have different needs once it has been neutered?

Once your dog has been neutered, there is a stronger tendency for him/her to become obese and so you will need to adjust the amount of food you provide. We recommend feeding a 'neutered dog' diet, designed to meet the different nutritional requirements of a neutered dog. One of our vets or nurses will be only too happy to give advice.

For any further information, please feel free to contact us.

To save money on the cost of neutering, see our Pet Health Club

Fleas and Worms

There are a number of parasites found in pets, some are passed from the mother to offspring and some are picked up from the environment. It is important for the health & wellbeing of your pet - as well as you and your home - that he/she is properly treated. Prevention is definitely the most effective method and regular flea and worm control will protect your pet and reduce environmental contamination.


The larvae of these worms are often passed across the placenta from mother before birth or via the milk when suckling; they migrate around the body until they become adult worms in the intestines. Once these worms have reached maturity, they start producing large numbers of eggs. Animals re-infect themselves by ingesting these eggs during grooming. Heavy worm burdens can cause poor growth and diarrhoea. Humans too can be at risk from these worms, especially children, who inadvertently ingest the eggs after handling pets or playing in contaminated gardens or play areas. Roundworms cause Toxocariasis. This usually affects children under the age of 10 years, where the larvae can cause organ damage, particularly to the eye, resulting in impaired vision.


These are flat segmented worms which need an intermediate host, generally a flea or a small rodent, to complete their life-cycle. They attach themselves to the small intestine and can grow up to 5 metres long. They appear as flat ribbon-shaped pieces or pale segments the size of a grain of rice in the faeces. Pets can become infected whilst grooming, by ingesting fleas which are carrying tape worm larvae or, in the case of cats, by catching infected prey such as mice. These larvae soon turn into adult worms.


The larvae of these worms are carried by slugs and snails and can be ingested by dogs unsuspectingly whilst licking or eating grass. Disease appears to be most common in young dogs and can be fatal. Signs vary from coughing and breathing problems to bleeding and neurological problems.


Fleas are the primary cause of skin problems in animals. Some pets suffer from an allergic reaction to the flea saliva and need only a couple of bites from a flea to trigger a severe reaction. Pet fleas can also bite people although they can’t live on us. If there are large numbers, you may spot one or two but they are designed to run rapidly through the hair, so it may be easier to look for flea dirt. This is black gritty material which, if placed on a damp tissue, will turn red.

Each adult female flea will take a blood meal, then mature and lay thousands of eggs which are shed into carpets, laminate floors and furnishings. These eggs hatch into larvae which feed on skin detritus and flea faeces. In the pupal stage they can lie dormant for up to a year until the correct conditions of warmth, humidity and vibration occur for them to hatch into adult fleas. This dormant phase can result in a severe flea epidemic, rapidly developing. Only adult fleas, which make up less than 5% of the total flea population, live on our pets. Consequently, correct environmental treatment is an essential part of successful flea control.


Ticks are not only a nuisance and an irritation to your pet but they can also, in some instances, transmit diseases. Ticks are generally found in grassland, scrub, shrubs and low-hanging branches, waiting for animals to brush against them so that they can climb on board. The tick then burrows its head parts into the skin to suck a blood meal and become engorged. At this point, they look like a silvery grey or brown bubble or wart like lesion. The commonest problem associated with ticks is the sores and secondary infections at the site of attachment. Please contact us if you think your pet may have a tick as they should not be pulled off.

Ear Mites

These mites are found in the ear canal and may occasionally colonise the adjacent skin of the head. The mites cause irritation of the lining of the ear canal which then becomes full of a crusty black discharge. It can give rise to intense irritation, causing head shaking, scratching of the ears and secondary infections.


This is caused by Sarcoptic mites which live under the skin. They cause intense itching, leading to hair loss and self-trauma. The mites are typically picked up when the dog walks over ground recently visited by foxes.

As with most things, prevention is better than cure. Regular worming and flea control will help to prevent many of the internal and external parasites that your cat can acquire. We can give advice on the most suitable worming and flea control for your cat and, if you find it difficult to administer the treatment, we offer complimentary appointments with one off our Veterinary Nurses, who will be able to do it for you*.

* worming and flea products will be charged for.

Dental Care

Taking care of your dog’s teeth is as important as looking after your own. Proper dental care is essential to keep your dog healthy.

How do dogs develop dental disease?

Saliva, bacteria and food particles combine to form plaque every day. Within 24 hours, the plaque may begin to turn into tartar, a hard yellowish deposit on the teeth. Plaque also causes gingivitis – an infection of the gum - that is the first stage of periodontal disease.

Gum disease is the most common condition in adult dogs and affects four out of five dogs over the age of three years of age. It is very painful, even if your dog may not show it. The major cause of gum disease is accumulation of plaque, which harbours a large amount of bacteria. These bacteria can spread to the lungs, liver, kidney and heart, causing infection.

Signs of dental disease:

  • Bad breath  
  • Yellow and brown tartar deposits on the teeth – normal teeth should always be white
  • A red line along the gum line (gingivitis)
  • Difficulty eating
  • Bleeding gums

How to look after your dog's teeth:

To help keep your dog's teeth healthy, we recommend the following:

  1. Regular tooth brushing - brushing will be easier if you begin while your dog is still young, although you may have success even if you start with an older dog, provided he doesn’t already have painful gum disease. You should only use toothpaste specially designed for pets to clean your dog's teeth. We sell a range of dental products at each of our surgeries. If you have difficulty brushing your dog's teeth, we also sell a range of dental products such as dental mouth washes, oral gels and granules to add to your dog's feed which have the same effect as brushing your dog's teeth.
  2. Feed a special food that works like a toothbrush - in addition to brushing or instead of, you can use a special food. We stock a range of specially formulated diets that help to clean your dog's teeth. The biscuit works like a toothbrush, by removing plaque as your dog bites into the kibble. It also has properties that prevent the build-up of bacteria in the mouth.
  3. Regular check-ups - every 6 months or AT LEAST once a year. Our vets will routinely check your dog's teeth at his yearly vaccination, in addition our nurses hold complimentary clinics to give advice on how to look after his teeth.

Prevention is better than cure

If your dog is already showing signs of dental disease, it may be necessary for his teeth to be cleaned by one of our vets under general anaesthetic. In the more advanced stages of dental disease, your dog may also require surgical extraction of his teeth. Please contact us to book a complimentary appointment with one of our veterinary nurses to have your dog's teeth checked.

To learn more about Dental Health warning signs, please click here.


What is identichipping?

Identichipping is a simple, safe and quick procedure. It can make all the difference in being reunited with your pet, should they stray or go missing. The chip is the size of a grain of rice and the procedure, which is carried out by a vet or trained microchip implanter, takes only a few minutes and can be done as part of a routine consultation.

How does a microchip help to reunite a lost pet with their owner?

Once your pet is microchipped, you and your pet's details are stored in a microchip database along with the microchip's unique 15-digit code. When a missing pet is found, an animal professional (for example a vet or dog warden) will scan the pet, revealing the microchip's unique 15-digit code, and contact the microchip database your pet is registered with. The customer care staff will perform some security checks before releasing your contact details to the animal professional – so that your pet can be reunited with you.

Legal requirements

From the 6th of April 2016, all dogs must be microchipped and registered to an approved database by the time they are 8 weeks old. For every dog that is currently not microchipped, you will have until 6th of April to get them microchipped and registered on an approved database. If a keeper of a dog which is not microchipped gets served with a notice requiring them to have the dog chipped, they will have 21 days to do this. 

There are no exemptions regarding age. A dog will be legally exempt from being microchipped only when a vet certifies that it cannot be microchipped for health reasons. This needs to be done on a form approved by the Secretary of State. The government advises that the dog be healthy enough to be implanted and sufficient time is allowed for the database to process the registration in order to ensure that the dog is compliant with the regulations by the time they are 8 weeks old. Under the regulations, your dog is considered microchipped when you (1) implant the dog with a chip and (2) register your details on an approved database. If you do not get your dog microchipped or your details registered on an approved database, it will be considered as not complying with the regulations and a notice may be served. If the keeper does not microchip their dogs within 21 days of the served notice, you will be liable to pay a fine of £500. 

If any keeper subsequently moves, changes contact telephone number, etc. then the dog is no longer considered microchipped under the regulations; enforcement can be taken and a notice served. If the keeper does NOT get their details up to date within 21 days of the served notice, you will be liable to pay a fine of £500.


Your dog will have different nutritional needs throughout its life, therefore it is important to know what to feed it throughout the different stages of its life. Our vets and nurses are available to give advice and develop a tailored feeding regime for your dog.


Puppies need extra nutrients to help them grow. Most puppies start eating solid food between 3-4 weeks of age. A complete food, specifically designed to feed during the weaning period, such as Royal Canin Starter is recommended. From approximately 8 weeks of age, they should be fed an appropriate puppy life stage food such as Royal Canin Junior or Hills Science Plan Puppy, at least three times a day. Feeding can be reduced to twice a day when pups are four to five months old, and once a day when they are eight months or older. Fresh water in a clean bowl should be available at all times.

Adult dogs (over 12 months of age)

When your puppy reaches maturity, his nutritional needs will be different. Small breed dogs reach maturity at approximately 10 months of age, whereas large breed dogs take longer to mature and reach maturity at approximately 15 months of age. Once he has reached maturity, we recommend moving on to an adult food such as one of the Royal Canin or Hills Science Plan Lifestage diets, to provide him with a balance of specific nutrients, vitamins and minerals specific for his age and breed size. Small dogs have different energy requirements to large breed dogs so it is also important to consider this when selecting the most appropriate food.

Neutered dogs have different nutritional requirements to un-neutered dogs and they will be more prone to weight gain. They require on average at least 25% fewer calories than an entire dog. We therefore recommend feeding an adult neutered dog food to prevent obesity.

Senior Dogs

Older dogs are more prone to developing health problems. By switching to a senior diet, there is an opportunity to improve your dog's health, increase his lifespan and improve his quality of life. Older dogs are also more likely to become overweight or obese as they become less active. The Royal Canin or Hills Science Plan Senior foods are recommended as they are formulated to meet the specific needs of the older dog.

Knowing what food to feed your dog and how many calories it needs per day can be tricky, especially as feeding requirements can vary greatly from one dog to another. Our vets and nurses are specially trained to give advice on pet nutrition. We provide regular clinics to monitor your pet's weight and give advice on the most suitable diet for your dog. We stock a wide range of diets at each of our surgeries, suitable for all breeds, life stages and lifestyles. If we don't stock the food that you require, we can usually order it in for you by the next working day.

For any further information, please feel free to contact us.