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Posts Tagged ‘Dogs’

Lungworm Awareness Month

Are your pet’s protected?

March brings us Lungworm Awareness Month – are you aware?

What is Lungworm?
Lungworm otherwise known as Angiostrongylus Vasorum in dogs, and Aelurpstrongylus Abstrusus in cats. This parasite resides in the heart and pulmonary arteries and can therefore be fatal. There has been an increase in recorded canine Lungworm cases, but it is still less common than other dog parasites such as fleas, ticks and worms that inhabit the gut. Feline lungworm cases are currently rare, but more cases are confirmed each year.
How can your pet get lungworm?
Dogs become infected by this parasite through the ingestion of infected slugs and snails. You may not necessary see your pet ingest any slugs or snails, as they may do it accidently when eating grass or drinking from outdoor water bowls. Cats who hunt birds and rodents will be at a higher risk of ingesting this parasite.
How will your pet be affected?
Canine symptoms can vary between cases, the most common signs are: coughing, lethargy, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, excess bleeding from minor wounds and seizures. Felines may never show signs that they are affected by Lungworm, however if symptoms do occur they can include coughing, difficulty breathing and poor body condition.
How can it be diagnosed?
Lungworm can be diagnosed by:
  • Blood test
  • Faecal test
  • X-ray
  • Bronchoscopy
What’s the treatment?
Treatment is available for Lungworm cases in the form of a monthly prescription spot on treatment, which kills the L4 Lungworm larvae as well as other intestinal worms and fleas. However, in severe cases, this condition may be hard to treat.
PREVENTION IS KEY with this parasite. Here are some tips to help
  • Pick up the poop – Lungworm larvae is passed out in your pets faeces and therefore picking up after our pets prevents spread of the parasites
  • Pick up their toys – Toys that left outdoors will be exposed to slugs and snails, increasing the risk of parasite spread
  • Don’t leave their food and water bowls outside – These will be exposed to slugs and snails increasing risk to your pet
  • Monthly prescription spot on worming treatment will protect your pet against Lungworm and reduce its spread. Not all spot on treatments treat against Lungworm, so please contact us for advice. This treatment is included in our Dog Pet Health Care plans.
If you have any questions, our staff will be willing to help.
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Fireworks -It’s that time of the year again!


As the clocks go back and the nights draw in, it can be a very distressing time of the year, for both pets and their owners. Over 40% of dogs in the UK are reported to suffer with a fear of fireworks. It should also be remembered that cats will also suffer with the fireworks.

Animals who do differ with firework phobias will display a range of problems, varying from those animals who simply bark at the fireworks to try and make them go away, those that hide from them, those that show obvious signs of distress, right through to those that appear to “freeze”. For us as owners, these signs can be greatly distressing to see. Yet for the animals this fear will not only cause emotional trauma, but often lead to physical injuries as well.

So what do we, as pet owners, do to try and reduce the problems our animals suffer due to firework phobias? Simply put, there is not one simple solution. Yet, by adopting numerous strategies, we should be able make this time of year easier for our cats and dogs.

The following strategies may apply to a greater or lesser extent to certain individual situations, and often many different approaches need to be taken at the same time.

1. If at all possible avoid the fireworks, which is easier said than done these days. If you do have a friend who lives in a remote area consider spending time with them on the worst of the fireworks, for example when the local display is on. Sadly, we all known that now firework “night” seems to last many weeks.

2. To reduce the impact of the sound of fireworks you can try to create competing noises such as loud music. Remember not to play this too loudly as this noises itself may end up causing anxiety.

3. It may seem obvious, but do close blinds and curtains well before any fireworks start to reduce the effects the sights the fireworks have on our animals.

4. Absolutely avoid any form of punishment. This will simple lead to more anxiety and even cause your pet to become aggressive.

5. Comforting you animal when they are scared is a controversial area. Definitely try to be at home during any known firework events. Although you shouldn’t pet or over fuss your animal when they are worried, as this can reinforce the fearful behaviour, it may help some pets to hold them firmly and lean into them, while using long, firm massaging strokes, rather than normal petting.

6. Create a “safe haven” by covering an indoor crate with a blanket and put their bedding and one or two familiar toys inside. This will become a darkened den for them in which to hide, but it’s a good idea to try to get them used to this area before firework season.

7. In many situations the most helpful method to help control firework phobias is through the use of a technique called desensitisation and counter conditioning. Essentially, this is getting your pets used to the sounds of fireworks by playing a CD at a volume that doesn’t provoke a fearful reaction, and rewarding them for this non-reaction. The volume is gradually increased, and a strict programme followed over several weeks to months. This needs to be, therefore, started well before firework season and should not be undertaken if fireworks are likely to start soon. One of the most successful programs is Sounds Scary and is available through www.soundtherapy4pets.co.uk for less than £10. If your pet suffers from firework phobia we would strongly recommend purchasing this now and to start the program in the New Year once all the fireworks have finished, and to then consider repeating the program next summer.

8. Various medications are available to reduce our pets’ anxieties. These medications are used alongside a behaviour modification plan such as the desensitisation and counter conditioning described above, and need to be started weeks or months prior to the fireworks starting. Often at the hospital we asked at the last minute to supply something to help to calm pets. Medications are available that reduce anxiety in the short term, and will help at the time but have no lasting effect – your pet will again suffer with the same fears next year. A key point for owners is not to be scared to use these drugs. By not medicating animals when appropriate we may be simply prolonging their suffering.

9. Pheromone treatments area available such as Adaptil. These are available as a plug-in and collar and  may help some dogs. We also now stock Pet Remedy plug-in’s that contains a blend of essentials oils that are Valerian based.

10. Dietary supplements such as zylkene  may help some dogs with mild phobias.

11. It is now possible to purchase a tight fighting wrap such as an Anxiety Wrap which is design to apply constant pressure to help relax muscles. Studies suggest these may help some, but not all, dogs. They are available through www.anxietywrap.com.

12. To date there has been no study which has successfully shown any definite beneficial effect for behavioural change for any homeopathic treatment studied in companion animals.

The expected outcome for helping animals with firework phobia should be good if we follow and commit to a thorough desensitisation program. This will take time and patience. It has also been recognised that many animals who suffer with firework phobia also experience other behavioural issues such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder or Separation Anxiety. If you feel this may apply to you and if you are truly committed to your animal’s emotional well-being, there are many qualified people to help both you and your pet. Don’t be frightened to ask for help!
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Blue-green algae

Following water safety checks at Caldecotte Lakes (North and South) on 19th July 2016, a potentially toxic bloom of blue-green algae has been reported to the Environment Agency.

As a precautionary measure, notices are being posted at the lake warning that contact with the algal scum should be avoided.

What are blue-green algae? Blue-green algae naturally occur in inland waters and blooms can form when their numbers become excessive. It is these “blooms” that give the water a blue-green appearance or a “pea soup” like colour. The behaviour of these algae is erratic and the level of its toxicity can fluctuate; it can appear one day, be dispersed by the wind and, mix and re-accumulate at any time.

How can blue-green algae affect you and your animals? Blue-green algal blooms can produce toxins hazardous to both people and animals. Not all blue-green blooms produce toxins, but it is not possible to tell which are dangerous without testing, and therefore all blooms should be considered potentially toxic. Dogs that enjoy swimming and playing in lakes and ponds may be exposed to blue-green algae.

Symptoms of poisoning include:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood in stool or black, tarry stool
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Shock
  • Excessive secretions (e.g., salivation, lacrimation, etc.)
  • Neurologic signs (including muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, paralysis, etc.)
  • Blue discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes
  • Difficulty breathing
Aggressive, immediate treatment is necessary to help treat this quick-acting, potentially fatal poison. If there are any signs of illness in your animal after contact with the water, contact us immediately on 01908 397777. 
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Babesia infection in dogs

What is Babesiosis?

Babesiosis is a malaria-like disease caused by a microscopic parasite (Babesia Canis). The parasite is carried and transmitted by ticks.

What has changed?

Babesiosis has been diagnosed in UK dogs before but in all those cases the dogs contracted the infection abroad. For the first time there is an outbreak of Babesiosis in the UK. Four dogs in Harlow, Essex, with no history of foreign travel have contracted the disease. Unfortunately, one of these dogs has died.

How is it transmitted?

Babesia Canis is predominately transmitted by the Dermacentor reticularis tick (Ornate Cow tick). In warmer climates (Southern Europe) it is also transmitted by the Rhipicephalus sanguineus tick (Brown Dog Tick).
It is the D. Reticularis tick that was implicated in the recent outbreak in Essex. Importantly, D. Reticularis is not widespread in the UK, with only very limited confirmed populations in isolated areas in the UK.
The Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicehalus Sanguineus) is not currently established in the UK but there are reports of dogs returning from abroad carrying it and subsequently establishing in households.

What are the symptoms of Babesiosis?

The infection results in anaemia following destruction of the patient’s red blood cells. Signs of infection include pale gums, high fever, weakness, red urine and collapse in severe cases.

How is it diagnosed?

Vets can in most cases diagnose the infection by looking at a blood smear. There is also a PCR blood test available if the blood smear results are inconclusive.

How is the disease treated?

There is effective treatment for the infection. It normally consists of two injections given two weeks apart. More severe affected cases might need supportive care, which can include blood transfusions.

How can I protect my dog?

Regular control of ticks by using an effective product is the best way to protect your dog. It takes at least two days for the tick to transmit the parasite to a dog, so we advise you examine your dog carefully after walks, particularly in woods or fields. Any ticks found should be removed with a tick remover to ensure all parts are removed successfully.

Can the disease be transmitted to humans?

The is no risk to humans from Babesia Canis.

What is the prognosis?

Early diagnosis is the key. With appropriate treatment 85 to 90% of patients should recover from the infection.

Should I be worried?

It is very important to point out that the tick implicated in the outbreak is at the moment only found in very limited areas in the UK. You can find an up to date distribution map here.

What will we do?

We will monitor the situation closely and keep you up to date on any new developments in the outbreak. Milton Keynes Veterinary Group has recently taken part in the ‘Big Tick Project’, run by Bristol University. In total vets across the country have collected 6, 372 ticks for analysis for tick borne diseases, including Babesiosis and Lyme disease. The results of this study will be available later this year and we will update our clients on the results.

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Spring Surprises!

As the winter draws to a close and the days become warmer pets start to spend more time outside enjoying the Spring sunshine (hopefully!) and longer daylight hours.

However Spring brings some unexpected problems for our pets:-

  • Chocolate – keep all those Easter eggs well away from dogs as the theobromine in chocolate can be toxic at relatively small amounts especially dark chocolate or those with a high cocoa solids content

  • Chocolate

  • Lilies – many people decorate their house with lilies at Easter time. However the leaves, flowers and pollen can cause kidney failure in cats and is often fatal. Please avoid bringing these into your house if you have cats.

  • Lillies

  • Hot Cross buns – raisins and grapes can cause acute renal failure in dogs. It does not affect every dog but it is impossible to know which dogs are susceptible and in those dogs that are affected even a small amount can be fatal.

  • Buns

  • Gardening – bulbs can be poisonous in dogs and cats so if digging up a flowerbed make sure you dispose of any carefully! Also take extreme care if using ANY pesticides.
  • Slugs and snails – they love the wet, warm weather Spring brings and in this area they can carry Lungworm. This parasite infects dogs causing blood clotting problems as well as coughing and other symptoms and can be fatal. Dogs are infected by eating the slugs or snails. Regular treatment with an anti-lungworm insecticide such as Advocate can prevent it.

  • Lungworm

  • Grasses and pollens – as the garden springs into life skin allergies can be more common. Watch out for itchy skin, rashes and sore eyes. Ears can also be affected.
  • Lamb bones – we enjoy a lovely roasted leg of lamb at Easter, but dogs should not have cooked lamb bones as they splinter, and any fatty left-over meat could cause an upset tummy.

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