Vet4Life COVID-19 (Coronavirus) April 2021 Update

Following the Government’s recent guidelines, we can confirm that our practices now offer a full range of services for our patients, whilst still adhering to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Many of the same high-quality services, provided by the same friendly caring people, remain available – they will just be delivered in a slightly different way.

As a practice, we have adopted a contactless approach to appointments. We will continue to provide the same high-quality services with the same friendly, caring people, just delivered in a way that protects our clients and teams from local outbreaks of COVID-19.

We are working in smaller teams to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and therefore lead times for appointments may be a little longer than usual. Please bear with us at this time – we will do our best to make your appointment as smooth as possible.

Guidance for attending your appointment:

To keep everyone safe, please help us by:

  • Maintaining social distancing
  • Wearing a face covering where possible. If this is not possible, please contact us before your appointment so that we can discuss how best to support you and your pet
  • Sanitising your hands before and after your pet’s appointment
  • Using contactless payment methods wherever possible
  • Maintaining a safe distance from the practice entrance until you are contacted by a member of our team. If you are on foot, please ensure you are wearing suitable outdoor clothing to remain warm in cold weather spells. If you arrive by car, please remain inside the vehicle awaiting further instruction

When attending an appointment with your pet:

  • Be aware that our teams will be in full PPE at all times
  • Please phone us from outside the Practice to inform us you have arrived
  • A member of our team will alert you to when they are ready to collect your pet and how best to do this safely and without contact (i.e asking you to stand away, whilst your pet is retrieved from the car)
  • The vet will contact you by phone should they need to discuss anything with you during the consultation
  • Once the consultation has been completed, a member of our team will return your pet to you in a safe, contactless way, talk you through the appointment and arrange for payment to be made

We have made these changes as our patients, clients, and staff’s health and well-being is our number one priority.

Thank you for your continued understanding during this time. We remain committed to delivering the best care for your pet, and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

May and Spring Bank Holiday opening hours

With two welcomed bank holiday weekends in May, we wanted to let you know that our opening hours will vary from our usual times. Please see below our opening times and our out of hours contact number:

May Bank Holiday – Closed

Spring Bank Holiday – Closed

Out of hours contact numbers

For Teddington clients:

VetsNow
Depending on location, our clients can contact or attend either the VetsNow Sutton or VetsNow Staines branches.

Sutton
Address: VetsNow Sutton, Inside Maven Veterinary Care, 609-613 London Road, North Cheam, SM3 9DF

Telephone: 02081 270 393

Staines
Address: VetsNow Staines, Inside Willett House, 138 Kingston Rd, Staines Upon Thames, TW18 1BL

Telephone: 01483313439

 

For Shepperton clients:

VetsNow Staines
Address: VetsNow Staines, Inside Willett House, 138 Kingston Rd, Staines Upon Thames, TW18 1BL

Telephone: 01483313439

 

For Surbiton clients:

VetsNow Sutton
Address: VetsNow Sutton, Inside Maven Veterinary Care, 609-613 London Road, North Cheam, SM3 9DF

Telephone: 02081 270 393

 

Ear mites in cats and dogs

The ear mite, Otodectes Cynotis, is a mite that lives on dogs, cats, rabbits, and ferrets. It is typically found in the ear canal but can also live on the skin of your pet. Ear mites are caught through direct contact with another carrier animal. The mite may be seen as a white speck, about the size of a pinhead, moving against a dark background.

Ear mites are a common cause of ear disease and infection in pets. They are the second most common external parasite found on pets; the top spot belongs to fleas. Infestation is very common in puppies and kittens, but the signs of infestation can be seen at any age. Symptoms vary in severity from one pet to another and may include:

  • Irritation of the ears causing head shaking and scratching
  • A crusty rash around or in the ear
  • Skin lesions near the ear and surrounding skin
  • A discharge from the ear
  • Hair loss resulting from excessive scratching or grooming
  • In heavy infestations, ear mites may start to invade other parts of your pet’s body.

Your vet will make a diagnosis by looking for signs of mite infestation. This may be done either by examining the pet’s ears with an otoscope or examining discharge from the ear. They are usually detectable by the mess they make inside an infested animal’s ear canal—a dark, foul-smelling accumulation of wax and mite debris in which the ear mites thrive.

If one animal in a household is diagnosed with mites, all pets should be treated simultaneously. Prompt veterinary care can prevent a serious ear disease called otitis externa—an infection of the outer ear that, if untreated, can lead to more serious problems, permanently affecting the animal’s hearing and sense of balance.

A variety of different treatment options are available to your pet. Some are topical medications, while others may be spot-on treatments or tablets. Your vet will determine the most appropriate treatment for your pet. Prevention is a matter of monthly topical anti-parasite application and keeping your pet’s ears clean.

Protect your dog against Kennel Cough

Does your dog come into regular contact with other dogs? Maybe out on walks, at the park, or when they’re staying in kennels? If so, we’d highly recommend a Kennel Cough vaccine or booster. And, with our new oral vaccine, it’s now even easier to protect your dog.

Kennel Cough, or infectious tracheobronchitis, is a very contagious respiratory disease. It’s transmitted by close contact with an infected dog and can be associated with boarding kennels, therefore it’s especially important to ensure your dog is covered if you’re planning a trip away.

Contact us today for an appointment or to book click here.

What are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

The primary sign to look out for is a deep hacking cough, which can sometimes lead to retching, sneezing, snorting, gagging or vomiting.  In some cases, you may only notice your dog starting to cough after excitement or exercise and you may also notice a discharge coming from your dog’s eyes or nose. Some dogs may get a fever, and in very rare cases may progress to pneumonia.  Symptoms will start after three to 10 days – and can go on for up to three weeks.  Often the cough is worse at bedtime causing sleepless nights all round.

How is Kennel Cough diagnosed?

Diagnosis is often based on the clinical signs and the history given by the owner, also if the dog is housed together with lots of other dogs that are all presenting similar signs, it makes the diagnosis of kennel cough more probable. If a gentle palpitation of the throat causes a retching cough, Kennel Cough is likely.

What treatment is available for Kennel Cough?

There is no specific treatment for viruses involved in Kennel Cough, but antibiotics are sometimes used to treat bacterial infections. Infected dogs should be rested and isolated from other dogs for around 14 days. In most cases, dogs will recover from Kennel Cough within three weeks. Ensure they are living in a well-ventilated area and avoid the use of a lead and collar. To aid recovery, your dog may be prescribed cough suppressants or anti-inflammatories. Sometimes antibiotics may be required to target Bordetella Bronchiseptica.

What’s the best way to prevent Kennel Cough?

The best way to prevent Kennel Cough is through vaccination. The vaccine is a quick and painless procedure for your dog in the form of a nasal spray or your dog may benefit from the new oral solution that’s now available at Vet4life Vets.  The oral method is easier to administer and therefore may reduce stress for your dog and you as the owner.

The Kennel Cough vaccination is given once a year. Depending on individual circumstances it may not be given at the same time as their annual booster. Please contact us if you’d like more detail.

If you’re going on holiday, it’s important that your dog is vaccinated against Kennel Cough. Often, kennels will not accept your dog otherwise. Prepare in advance as the vaccination should be given at least one week before their stay for the nasal method and three weeks for the oral method.

If you are concerned your dog may have caught Kennel Cough over the summer and is presenting symptoms, speak to a member of the team for advice.  Alternatively, if you would like to arrange a Kennel Cough vaccination for your four-legged friend, click here to book or just give us a call.

Don’t forget, if you’re a Vet4life Family member, you can benefit from a 20% discount.

Preparing your pet for life after lockdown

How do you feel about the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions? Relieved? Anxious? If we could ask our pets the same question, we’re fairly certain their answers would put them in one of two camps; those who are looking forward to the peace and quiet and those dreading not being with us 24/7.

If your pet falls into the first category, they’ll probably resume their daily napping-schedule quite happily. The pets (mostly dogs) who might struggle are those who rely heavily on contact with us in order to feel secure. Young dogs and puppies, who have never been left at home, might also feel anxious when their ‘pack’ (your family) start going back to school and work.

What is separation anxiety?

Most dogs learn at an early age that, when we leave the house, we’ll always return. Knowing this helps them to feel secure when they’re alone. Some dogs take longer than others to learn, and they feel anxious when they spend time away from us.

Dogs who are scared of being left alone might express their anxiety by misbehaving. Some become destructive and chew household items or furniture; others become very vocal and bark or whine continuously until we return home – which will be distressing for them, and probably your neighbours too; and some may even go to the toilet inside the house – which is out of character for them. Your dog may show one or even all of these symptoms.

There are a few things we can do now to prepare our pets for the end of lockdown. These ideas might also help dogs who struggled with separation anxiety before the lockdown began.

Encourage independence

We can teach our pets to feel secure when we’re out by gradually spending longer periods of time away from them when we’re at home. This is especially important for dogs who like to physically touch or be near to us at all times…. our four-legged shadows!

  • Spend time in a different room to your dog and gradually increase the length of time you’re apart. Don’t fuss your dog when you leave or when you return. By staying calm, you’re signalling to your dog that it’s no big deal for them to spend time alone.
  • Encourage your dog to explore your garden, or outside space, alone.
  • Make sure your dog takes naps in his/ her own bed and not always next to you on the sofa.
  • If you always leave your dog in the same room or area, use these spaces during daily family life. Your dog will be less worried about being left in a familiar space.
  • Introduce interesting toys (such as food-filled chews) to your dog when you’re at home. Lengthen the time your dog has access to these ‘special’ toys while you gradually move away to other parts of your home. The benefits of this are twofold; your dog’s focus is directed away from you, and the action of chewing is something that relaxes most dogs.

Build resilience

If your dog is particularly attached to one person, it’s a good idea to share the load of their daily care. This helps your dog to feel secure even when their favourite pack member isn’t at home. Ask other family members to become involved with your dog’s feeding, walking, snuggling and playtimes.

Your dog will gradually learn to feel safe with whoever they’re spending time with.

How else can we help our dogs adapt to life after lockdown?

Exercise

If you plan to increase your dog’s daily exercise after the lockdown has ended, make sure you do so gradually. We’ll all be trying to lose our lockdown-pounds and increasing the amount of exercise we do is a great way to achieve this. Make sure you and your dog take things slowly to avoid injuring body parts which haven’t been used for a while!

Puppies

If you have a puppy or young dog, introduce them to places that you couldn’t visit during the lockdown period. The more smells, sights, and sounds your dog experiences as a youngster, the less they’ll fear as an adult dog.

Please contact us to ensure your puppy has received the vaccinations and preventative healthcare they need to keep them safe when they start going out.

And what about cats?

For the vast majority of adult cats, their life during lockdown was probably not massively different from their usual routine. They may have felt inconvenienced by more attention from their humans, but many cats avoided this by seeking out new sunbathing/ hiding/ sleeping places!

If your cat has lived indoors during the lockdown, it’s worth checking they’re up to date with their preventative healthcare before they go outside again. We can provide you with your cat’s usual flea and worm treatments so please let us know if you’ve run out. As soon as we can, we’ll resume all vaccinations, so we’ll contact you when your cat is due for a check-up and booster.

For new kitten parents, please arrange for us to vaccinate, neuter and microchip your new addition before letting them go outside. Because of the lockdown, your kitten might be older than usual before this happens. It’s especially difficult keeping young cats indoors during the summer months so we’ll do all we can to ensure they’re ready for the butterfly-chasing season!

All pets

It will take all of us some time to get used to our daily routines again after lockdown has ended. If your pets have enjoyed lie-ins and late nights, it’s helpful to resume your usual routine before you go back to work. Your pet will feel more secure, knowing what time dinner is served!

If you’d like further information about any aspect of caring for your pet after the lockdown has ended, please call us for a chat.

Bacterial skin infections in dogs

Bacterial skin infections can have many causes, such as allergies. Regardless of the reason, skin infections require swift action by pet owners as they cause itching and pain. Some dogs are more vulnerable to develop bacterial skin infections than others.

It’s important to check common areas like the paws, groins and armpits. Skinfolds are particularly prone to skin infections, and dogs with heavy pendulous ears are very susceptible to infections. These infections happen because long, heavy ears can promote bacterial growth. However, any dog can develop a skin infection, so you should be on the lookout for warning signs.

Symptoms of skin infections include redness, itching, hair loss, bumps, pustules, and spots. Your vet may be able to diagnose by looking; however, a conclusive diagnosis requires the examination of hair, discharge, and skin cultures. Some of the tests and procedures your vet may conduct include:

  • Skin scrapes and hair plucks.
  • Swab of the skin or pus to look under the microscope and culture for bacterial growth.
  • Looking down the ear with an otoscope to evaluate the ear canal.

If your dog is diagnosed with a bacterial skin infection, your vet will direct you to keep the affected areas as clean as feasible. In certain dog breeds, it may be necessary to have their hair clipped to allow air to areas to assist in the healing process. In many cases, prescription antibiotics will aid in recovery. Your vet may also suggest topical creams or shampoos.

One of the most critical aspects of skin infection treatment is routine bathing which is beneficial because it:

  • Helps clean the skin, removing scaling and dirt that contains bacteria.
  • Can reduce any foul odours stemming from an infection.
  • May reduce itching and scratching.

Your vet can direct you on the appropriate frequency of bathing for your pet and the type of dog shampoo to use. Bathing too frequently can irritate your dog’s skin, so the right balance is critical. Dog hygiene can be enhanced with the use of rinses and sprays in between baths.

How to prevent skin infections in dogs?

If you have a dog breed that is particularly susceptible to skin infections, consider speaking to your vet for a year-round plan to reduce the risks. Dogs with many skin folds might need maintenance treatment to keep these areas from becoming too moist and could require special wipes or shampoos to keep them clean. You can implement a routine where you inspect your dog for any visual signs of infection frequently.

If you suspect your pet has a skin infection, talk to your vet for a diagnosis and treatment plan.

Top tips for new puppy owners

Tips and advice for new puppy owners

As we get closer to COVID-19 related restrictions being slowly relaxed you’ll be looking forward to getting out and about more with your new puppy. Or, perhaps you’re thinking of buying a new puppy as life returns back to some kind of normal? Whatever your circumstances, we’ve put together a few tips for all new puppy parents.

First things first – vaccinations

It’s essential for the health of your puppy that they have had their vaccinations before embarking on any outdoor adventures. Initial vaccinations are usually given at 2-4 months of age, with a second vaccination 2-4 weeks later. Taking an unvaccinated puppy outside puts them at risk of canine diseases such as parvovirus and distemper which can, in some cases, be fatal. It’s better to wait until you can be sure of your puppy’s safety and wellbeing. Get in touch with us to book your puppy’s vaccination course – we’ll be happy to advise on timings and answer any questions you may have.

You may be interested in joining our Vet4life Family plan – as a member you’ll get vaccinations, monthly flea, tick and worm treatments and other benefits and discounts included for one monthly fee.

Normal puppy development

Puppies are the most receptive to new experiences between 3 and 18 weeks of age, so there’s plenty of time for you to help them develop before you even leave the house. During this time their brains effectively process any new sounds, smells and situations they encounter. The memories of these experiences, good or bad, are stored away for future reference. As puppies mature, they rely on these memories to help them ‘risk-assess’ new situations so they can react accordingly. Adult dogs who lack a memory bank of positive experiences, are more likely to react inappropriately in a new situation by showing nervous or aggressive behaviour.

Separation

In the early days of puppy ownership, you’ll probably spend a lot of time with each other as you get to know them and watch their personality emerge. It is hard sometimes to separate but it is important to teach your new puppy how to be on their own. Separation anxiety can be a difficult problem if allowed to develop. To prevent issues developing as your puppy grows, we recommend the following:

  • Make sure your puppy has a safe space such as a crate or a bed
  • Spend increasingly longer periods of time in different rooms so your puppy learns to feel safe alone and knows you’ll always return
  • Encourage independence – as your puppy gains in confidence, allow them to explore the garden alone
  • Provide interactive, interesting toys for your puppy to play with while you’re apart.

Noise

  • Gradually introduce your puppy to different noises around the house so they begin to accept, and not be scared of, a range of sounds. Make the experience positive for your puppy by rewarding them with a small treat each time you introduce a new noise. You could try: dropping items, banging doors, singing and shouting.
  • Sitting with your puppy near an open window or door is a good way to introduce them to traffic noise.
  • If your puppy is happy to be carried, you could both enjoy short walks together (while observing social distancing measures!)

Handling and grooming

It’s a great idea to help your puppy get used to being handled at a young age. Introduce a gentle grooming brush and spend a few minutes each day examining your puppy’s mouth, ears and paws.

Play

Puppies learn a lot about social interactions through play. Short periods of energetic play are a good way for puppies to learn the basics such as ‘fetch’ and ‘hide and seek’. You could introduce your puppy to walking on a lead and practise in the garden in preparation for when you can venture further afield.

Socialising with other puppies and dogs

An important part of development for your new puppy is socialising with other dogs. Where possible, and in line with government guidelines, try to meet up with friends or family who have canine companions so your puppy will get to know them and how they behave. This will be essential for the future, when you encounter other dogs on walks and public outings.

Children

If your puppy lives with children, this is a great opportunity for everyone to be involved in your pup’s socialisation and training. It’s helpful to teach children how to recognise when your puppy is tired. Tired puppies can become grumpy; they need a safe, quiet, space for uninterrupted rest.

Dress-up

When you’re out and about with your vaccinated puppy, they will encounter many different people with different appearances. It’s a good idea to try to emulate this during the early days whilst you’re at home. Try out hats, sunglasses and veils; allowing your puppy to approach you in their own time and rewarding them when they do.

Cars

If you plan to take your puppy out with you in a vehicle, it’s a good idea to introduce safe travel to them early on. Get them used to a travel crate in the boot, or a doggy-seatbelt, even if you don’t actually drive anywhere. Gradually spend longer periods of time with your puppy in the car and give plenty of praise and treats each time. Feeding meals in the car is a good way for your puppy to develop a positive association with your car. You could start the engine too to introduce your puppy to the noise and vibration of a car.

If you’d like further advice on your puppy’s development, including the use of crates, diet, insurance or anything else, please call us. Our vets and nurses are happy to discuss any concerns you have. We’re very excited to meet your new additions and watch them grow into happy, healthy dogs.

Neutering puppies and kittens

Did you know…neutering can have significant healthcare benefits for your pet? Here are just a few of the benefits…

Kittens

It is usual for male kittens to be castrated from around four months of age before they start developing habits such as urine marking around the house. Female kittens come in to heat every three weeks and become pregnant very easily. Therefore, we advise spaying from around four months of age.

Puppies

We usually recommend female dogs are spayed before their first season at six months of age, except for certain larger breeds; in which case we recommend before their second season. As well as preventing unwanted pregnancies, early spaying has been proven to result in a huge reduction in the occurrence of mammary tumours in older female dogs. It also prevents life-threatening uterus infections. This protection is dramatically reduced after the second season.

We usually start talking about castration for male dogs from six months of age, before they start to develop male traits, such as roaming and urine marking. This also reduces the risk of developing prostate problems, anal tumours and testicular cancer. Also, by having them castrated at a young age, this may reduce the risk of them being stolen for breeding.

If you would like to find out more, please get in touch with us. We’ll talk through the options and discuss what’s best for your pet, considering their age and breed.

You may also be interested to know that as part of our Vet4life Family, there’s a 10% discount on neutering included. Click here to find out more.

Keeping your dog safe whilst out and about this summer

If you’re planning on getting out and about in the UK this summer, whether just for the day or for a longer period, we have some tips and advice for you and your pet.

With so many dog-friendly campsites, holiday cottages, hotels and caravans available, your dog will enjoy the adventure just as much as you. Dog-friendly beaches and parks are the perfect settings for your canine companion who loves to play; but you should always take care to ensure you and your dog are prepared in advance.

Before setting out, you should ensure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and that they have had their flea, tick and worming treatment. We can advise on the best treatments to protect your dog, to keep those pesky minibeasts at bay. Remember if your pet is signed up to our Vet4life Family, their flea, tick and worming treatment is included.

ENSURE YOUR DOG IS MICROCHIPPED! 

A new or unusual environment could confuse your dog and if the worst happens and you get separated, it’s important that you can be reunited quickly and easily. All dogs must be microchipped by law, and you could be fined up to £500 if they are not. Before leaving, please take 5 minutes to check that your contact details stored on the chip are up to date and a mobile number is available, particularly if you are not at home, so that you can be contacted wherever you are.

Read more here >>

TRAVELLING BY CAR  

Planning your journey before your departure is important to ensure you know where you can stop to allow your dog to stretch their legs, get some fresh air and have some fresh clean water.

It’s also very important to ensure your dog is correctly restrained if you’re taking them out on the road – for both their safety and yours. A travel cage, harness or dog guard can keep your dog secure for travel; make sure it’s correctly fitted and from a recommended manufacturer.

Regulate the temperature in the vehicle and ensure your dog isn’t in direct sunlight whilst you’re moving or stationary, as overheating can lead to heat stroke.

If your dog has not been on many car journeys, or is not used to travelling in the car, we would recommend taking them on some shorter journeys beforehand in preparation.

Further details here >>

VISITING THE BEACH 

As soon as the sun comes out, many of us will head to the beach. Do check in advance that dogs are allowed, as some have a dog-free policy in place at certain times in the year.

It is also important to be aware of the potential dangers the environment can bring. Eating sand and drinking seawater can be dangerous to your dog, so do be aware of what they’re up to whilst you’re enjoying yourselves.

Find out more here >>

PROTECT YOUR PET FROM THE SUN

Like humans, dogs can be affected by high temperatures. Sunburn, footpad burns, dehydration and heatstroke can all occur, causing discomfort and potential fatalities. If you’re feeling the effects of a hot summer’s day, your dog will be too. Ensure you have a supply of cool, fresh water and stay out of direct sunlight where possible. To protect your pet, we would advise keeping your pet indoors between 10am and 3pm when the sun is at its strongest.

Click here for more information >>

Click here to have a read through our list of our top 10 summer hazards, for some other things to consider to keep your pet safe.

As always, if you need any help or advice, please get in touch with us.

Here’s to a happy and healthy summer for you and your dog!

 

Keeping your dog safe during car travel

It’s hard not to smile when you see a dog with its head out of the window in a travelling car. They look so happy and carefree! But travelling with an unrestrained dog could be a real risk – to them, to you, and to other drivers.

If you’re going to be out and about on the road with your dog this summer, here are some things to consider to keep everyone safe.

What does the law say?

Whilst it isn’t illegal to travel with an unrestrained dog, it is advised against it in the highway code:

“When in a vehicle make sure dogs or other animals are suitably restrained so they cannot distract you while you are driving or injure you, or themselves if you stop quickly. A seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard are ways of restraining animals in cars.”

UK Highway Code, rule 57.

We recommend restraining your dog while travelling. It will keep them safe and secure in the unfortunate case of an accident. It will also stop them from distracting the driver by moving around the vehicle and blocking the view, for example.

Select the right type of restraint for your dog

Acceptable vehicle restraints include a travel cage or carrier (good for smaller dogs and short journeys), or a specially designed harness or seat belt. If you choose a travel cage, this should be placed in the footwell of the front seat or secured with the seatbelt on the rear seat. Never put animals on the front seat of a car. A harness should be properly fitted in the rear of the vehicle, and secured with a seat belt. There should be sufficient room for your dog to comfortably move, but not so they can escape.

Larger dogs may be more comfortable travelling in the boot of a hatchback car. You can use a dog guard to stop them jumping over the headrests. Ensure your dog has plenty of space.

Make sure your dog is comfortable

Give your dog some home comforts for their travels; add blankets and their favourite toy to carriers or cages. If you’re going on a long journey plan regular stops for water, snacks, toilet breaks and stretches. Be sure to keep your dog on a lead as they leave the vehicle; if they’re in an unfamiliar place with other people and traffic there’s a chance they could panic and run away.

Regulate the temperature inside the car; don’t open windows too much or have air conditioning blowing directly on your dog. Of course, it goes without saying, NEVER leave your dog in a warm car. Temperatures can quickly rise even on cooler days; leading to heatstroke, dehydration, and even death. If your dog becomes distressed in a hot car, passers-by are encouraged to dial 999, and the police will act to release the dog – even if that means damage to your vehicle.

What’s more, if you fail to properly restrain your pet, it could invalidate both your car insurance and your pet insurance.