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Milton Keynes Veterinary Group is awarded internationally-recognised Cat Friendly Clinic status

We are proud to announce that Milton Keynes Veterinary Group have achieved accreditation as a Cat Friendly Clinic (CFC). The CFC programme has been developed by the International Society of Feline Medicine, the veterinary division of the leading feline charity International Cat Care, and accreditation has been made available in partnership with Purina. It aims to promote well-being and high standards of care for all cats visiting or being hospitalised in a veterinary clinic.

What-is-a-Cat-Friendly-Clinic

Under the programme, we had to prove rigorous adherence to a set of criteria which includes provision of facilities and demonstration of staff activities and attitudes aimed at reducing stress in cats, both as in-patients and out-patients. The criteria includes having separate dog and cat waiting areas, feline-friendly hospitalisation cages, and veterinary equipment specifically for treating cats. Most importantly, staff are trained in approaching and handling cats sensitively and respectfully, and in maintaining high standards of veterinary care, including continuing to update their knowledge of feline medicine as new treatments and information become available.

Caroline Stevens, the clinic’s Cat Advocate, was proud to receive Silver accreditation, “We wanted to make sure that a trip to see our vets was as stress-free an experience as possible for our cat patients and their owners. Cats can get very anxious when taken out of their usual environment, and this can make their owners reluctant to seek veterinary attention when their cat needs it. By undertaking Cat Friendly Clinic accreditation, we’ve committed to delivering high standards of cat care, with compassion and expertise. Our Cat Clinics at Stoke Road have proved hugely popular since we introduced them in October 2013.”

Taking-your-cat-to-the-clinic

The International Society of Feline Medicine launched the Cat Friendly Clinic initiative three years ago, to encourage veterinary practices everywhere to make best efforts to improve the welfare of cats in their care. The programme advises practices on how to make their environment as welcoming to cats as possible, as well as providing support in staff training, handling techniques and cat-specific client care.

cat-friendly

Cat owners can find out more about International Cat Care and the Cat Friendly Clinic initiative at www.catfriendlyclinic.org. Milton Keynes Veterinary Group’s website can be found at www.mkvetgroup.co.uk

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A day in the life of a veterinary nurse

Firstly, it is imperative to point out that no two days at work are the same for a Veterinary Nurse. A day as an operating nurse at our Walnut Tree hospital starts early in the morning, when we come in and start the day with the most crucial job of all. Putting the kettle on! That being done we start to prepare the operating theatres where our patients will be undergoing surgical procedures that day, ensuring that everything is prepared and safe. The oxygen and nitrous oxide levels will be checked, specialist dental suit prepared and the laboratory machines tested. At this time our patients who will be staying with us for the day begin arriving, and we begin the admission process. This typically involves speaking with the owners, running through what will be happening during the day including any risks or concerns and then finally signing the consent form. We often spend time asking about your pets recent behaviour or any medical problems they have been experiencing, and trying our best to re-assure you that they are in safe hands.

cat-hosp

We will take your pet through to our prep room, take a weight for them and often take a blood sample for pre-operative blood tests or place an intravenous cannula. The blood sample will be run by our in-house machines (also operated by a registered veterinary nurse) and the results shown to a Veterinary Surgeon. Your pet will be settled and made comfortable in either our dedicated canine or feline ward whilst the Vet Nurse calculates and draws up the most suitable Pre-med that the vet has chosen. This usually consists of an anti-anxiety drug and a pain relief combined so that your pet is feeling calm whilst with us and the pain relief has time to work before anything begins. The surgery and prep area is then set up with appropriate anaesthetic equipment, which is all safety checked by our nurses. The nurse and vet who will be working together will discuss your pets specific case before they begin and then change into their surgical scrubs.

chance

The patient will then come through into the prep area where they are anaesthetised for surgery. The nurse will assist the vet by holding the patient, raising a vein if needed and keeping your pet calm and reassured through this experience. Once the anaesthetic begins the nurse is responsible for monitoring the vital signs which include: heart rate, pulse rate and quality, respiratory rate and effort, mucous membrane colour, capillary refill time, body temperature and depth of anaesthesia. This information is related to the veterinary surgeon throughout the surgery. The final stage or preparing the surgical patient is to clip and surgically prepare the skin surface. This involves using a special solution containing Chlorhexidine and a concentrated surgical spirit to ensure the area is sterile before surgery begins. The nurse will connect the patient to a specialised anaesthetic monitor in theatre which will display: an ECG of the patients heart, the level of oxygen in the blood, a graphical display of each breath the patient takes, how much oxygen they take in and how much carbon dioxide they breathe out. Combining this with the information the nurse can get from checking the patients vital signs (discussed above) is the safest way of monitoring anaesthesia.

bulldog-pup

Once the surgery is completed a nurse will recover that patient from anaesthesia, again monitoring all vital signs and alerting a Vet to any potential problems. The monitoring continues until they are back on their feet. Temperature, consciousness level, pulses, respiration and the condition of the wound are recorded and acted on. Once your pet is recovered a nurse will call you to arrange a time for them to come home. The surgical team will typically go through this multiple times in a day (cleaning the theatre between each patient), until all of the operations are completed. The surgical theatres are then thoroughly cleaned, the surgical instruments are cleaned and packaged ready to go through an auto-clave (for sterilisation) and the prep room cleaned down. When an owner arrives to collect their pet, a nurse will go through all of the post-operative care in detail. Any questions concerning the aftercare are answered and the patient is returned to the owner. Each day as a Veterinary Nurse is different, no two pets are the same and each one of our patients is treated as an individual.


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Adders – What is the risk to my dog?

Identification: Most adders are distinctively marked with a dark zigzag running down the length of the spine and an inverted ‘V’ shape on the neck. Males are generally white or pale grey with a black zigzag. Females are pale brown with a darker brown zigzag. Adders are viviparous – they give birth to live young.

The Adder (Vipera berus) is the only venomous snake native to Britain. Adders will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or stepped on. No one has died from an adder bite in Britain for over 35 years. With proper treatment, the worst effects in humans are nausea and drowsiness, followed by swelling and bruising in the area of the bite.

What is the risk to my dog?

The adder is a timid and non-aggressive snake, and will only bite when provoked. They hibernate over the winter and emerge in early spring as the temperature increases.

Unfortunately dogs are the animals most likely to be bitten due to their natural curiosity. But adder bites are rarely fatal in dogs.

The severity of the clinical signs varies and depends upon the location of the bite (facial bites are more serious), the size of the patient (small dogs are more likely to be seriously affected), the amount the dog moves after the bite (movement increases venom uptake).

The most common signs are significant swelling at the site of the bite, with systemic signs of depression and lethargy.

  • Less than 5% of patients display more severe signs
  • 96-97% make a full recovery, usually within five days

If your dog is bitten by an adder you should seek prompt veterinary attention. Do not attempt first aid measures such as applying a tourniquet- This is ineffective and can cause further harm to your pet. Carry your dog (rather than allow him to walk) to try and reduce the spread of venom around his body.

Prevention
  • Keep to the paths – snakes tend to live in the undergrowth
  • Use a short lead if walking in an area where adders might be present – this will also protect the young of ground-nesting birds
  • If you encounter an adder – leave it alone and give it the opportunity to escape to safety

Adders are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to kill, harm or injure them, and to sell or trade them in any way.

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Pet Obesity – So what’s the issue?

Pet obesity is a pressing issue for the UK’s 24.5 million pets. It is estimated that 45% (just over 11 million) of domestic pets are overweight or clinically obese. A recent study of pet owner perception showed that 63% of pet owners believed their pet to be the correct weight, despite other views from veterinary professionals. This is not surprising as weight gain happens over a long period of time and as the owner sees their pet every day, quite often the drastic change in weight goes unnoticed.

The causes and contributing factors leading to obesity are:

1. Eating too much and excessive snacking
2. Exercising too little
3. Being less active with age
4. Breed Disposition
5. Neutering
6. Certain medical conditions

Just as with people, an overweight or obese animal has a much greater risk of developing serious and/or debilitating health conditions.

Major health risks and concerns include:
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Urinary crystals/stones and blockages
  • Heart Disease
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Cruciate Ligament Disease
  • Skin/coat issues
  • Decreased Life Expectancy of 2.5 years on average

Our pets are part of the family, of this there is no doubt, and it’s easy to want to express affection for a much-loved pet by rewarding them with tasty treats. Recent findings show that nearly half (48%) of pet owners are treating pets more than twice a day. Over the last five years there has been a 28% increase in cat and dog owners feeding pets table leftovers. These acts of apparent kindness can put your pets at risk; treating with leftover food is a leading cause of pet weight gain (approximately 78% for dogs).
It is important to note that animals have very different metabolisms to ourselves; feeding a dog the size of a West Highland White Terrier just 1 small cube of cheese a day is the same as a human eating 1 Big Mac! Equally, feeding a 5kg cat 1 glass of milk a day is the same as a adult human eating 3 Big Macs in one sitting!

What you can do to keep your pet trim

1. Don’t guess: Follow packet feeding guidelines to determine how much food your pet should be getting daily. If you are unsure, then contact the food manufacturer directly or contact your veterinary practice.

2. Remember! Guidelines are just that, quite often we find that feeding amounts and exercise regimes need tweaking from pet to pet.

3. Weigh the food: Use scales to accurately weigh out your pets daily allowance of food; you can then separate this amount into the number of meals your pet needs per day.

4. Treat responsibly: Prepared treats are best aligned to you pets needs. Please remember that a treat should be earned and the calories must be deducted from your pets overall daily allowance.

5. Don’t overfeed: Be aware of how much you are feeding your pet as a family. In a busy household, it can be beneficial to run a rota system or have a check list so your pet is not being fed the same meal twice.

6. Exercise, exercise, exercise: Make sure you are exercising your pet in accordance with its needs. Most dogs should have at least 1 hour of exercise per day; just because you have a small breed of dog, does not mean it doesn’t need to be walked.

Cats should ideally have 40 minutes of high intensity activity per day. Please remember that cats are predators, and the way to get them to play is to let them use their hunting talents. Take a laser pointer and skitter it across the floor like a bug. Get a wand toy that looks like a bird and pretend to land and take off. In the wild, a cat will only stalk prey for about three to five minutes; after that, he’ll give up and go search somewhere else. So don’t try to play longer than the genetic capacity of the cat. When he’s beginning to lose interest, change to another game or let him rest.
Pet rabbits need 4 hours of exercise per day, therefore rabbits that live outside require constant access to a large run in order to run, jump and play.

7. Monitor your pets weight: This will help you nip any worrying weight gain in the bud. You can weigh your pet at home, if they are small enough to fit on human scales, or if your morning walk brings you and your dog past your veterinary surgery, just nip in and use the scales in reception.

I’ve got an overweight pet, HELP!

Here at Milton Keynes Veterinary Group, we offer free of charge nutrition clinics which are run by two of our RVN’s; Louise and Laura both have keen interests in pet nutrition and consult every Wednesday and Friday at our Walnut Tree Hospital site.

In the clinics the patient typically gets a full physical exam; they get weighed, measured and their Body Condition Score is assessed. A full history is also taken from the owner at the first appointment so a better understanding of the pet and owners’ lifestyle can be gained and an individual feeding and exercise plan that fits in with that lifestyle can be designed. The patients are typically seen back at the clinic every 4-6 weeks until they reach their healthy weight.

The nurses cater for most animals and in clinic we routinely see dogs, cats and rabbits of various breeds, shapes and sizes and sometimes the odd guinea pig or 2.

Louise says, I enjoy the owner and pet interaction and I feel that I get to know the pets and their owners very well as we see each other monthly for at least 6 months to a year. The most rewarding aspect of the clinics is seeing a pet become healthier and happier due to reaching its target weight and knowing that they will be living a longer life in their loving home.

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Antifreeze Poisoning in cats

With the recent cold snap many of us will be putting antifreeze in our cars. Antifreeze can be found in brake fluid, hydraulic fluids and even in decorative snow globes. Occasionally gardeners may also add it to their water features.

Ethylene Glycol is a common component of antifreeze. Ingestion in cats, of even small amounts, as little as a single teaspoon, or even from grooming contaminated fur, can be damaging.

Every year thousands of pets are accidentally poisoned with antifreeze. Onset of irreversible renal damage is rapid, requiring early aggressive treatment, but even then may not be successful in preventing problems.

Clinical Signs

Initial signs of antifreeze poisoning are depression and lethargy, with animals often appearing uncoordinated or drunk. These signs can last for a few hours. The next stages of poisoning are characterised by excessive thirst, vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, and renal failure, followed ultimately by death.

If your cat has ingested antifreeze they must be taken to the veterinary surgery immediately. The main aim of treatment is to decrease the absorption of ethylene glycol from the stomach and intestine and to increase its excretion through the kidneys. Unfortunately the prognosis is extremely guarded, even with treatment.

How to avoid Accidental Poisonings

*Use a less toxic alternative: Propylene Glycol antifreeze is more expensive but less toxic for pets and other wildlife, so if you have a cat, consider using this instead.

* Always keep antifreeze in a clearly labelled and sealed container, away from pets and their environment.

* Clear up any spillage immediately and make sure that your cat can’t access that area until it is completely clean.

* Always dispose of antifreeze safely and responsibly.

If you are concerned that your cat may have been exposed to antifreeze then please contact your veterinary surgery immediately. The sooner veterinary treatment is received, the better their chances of survival.

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