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Posts Tagged ‘Dogs’

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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Could your dog be a life saver?

As one of the nurses working at Milton Keynes Veterinary Groups main hospital, I am excited to be working with Pet Blood Bank UK to register the hospital and hold dog blood donor sessions.
Pet Blood Bank UK is a non-profitable charity which provides a national canine blood bank. Just like people, sick dogs sometimes require blood transfusions, with one single donation saving the lives of up to four dogs. My own dog, Westwood (pictured above) was a donor for Pet Blood Bank UK and donated several times. Unfortunately, as he is now receiving immunotherapy injections, he is no longer able to donate. In order to hold sessions at the practice, we must provide Pet Blood Bank UK with a list of 50 possible dog donors. Pet Blood Bank UK will then contact owners directly to arrange appointments. Dogs can donate up to four times a year.

To be a donor, you dog needs to be:
  • Fit and healthy
  • Between 1-8 years of age (extra-large breeds need to be slightly older before they can donate)
  • Weigh more than 25kg
  • Have a good temperament
  • Have never travelled abroad
  • Vaccinated
  • Not on any medications (there are a few exceptions)
There are certain dog breeds that frequently have a Negative blood type and there is a higher demand for these donors. For this reason we are encouraging the breeds below:
  • Airedales
  • American bulldogs
  • Boxers
  • Dobermans
  • English bull terriers
  • Flat coat retrievers
  • German shepherds
  • Greyhounds
  • Lurchers
  • Mastiffs
  • English pointers
  • Weimeraners

The comfort and health of our donors is very important to us and Pet Blood Bank UK. All dogs will be weighed and undergo a physical examination by a Pet Blood Bank UK veterinary surgeon each time they donate. Dogs will also be microchipped if they are not already. A small blood sample is obtained to check your pet is healthy, determine their blood type, and to ensure they are not showing any signs of dehydration or anaemia before their donation.
If all is well then 450mls blood is collected. Dogs are gently restrained on their side, and blood is taken from the jugular vein in the neck. The actual donation only takes 5-10 minutes, although you should allow around 40 minutes in total for your appointment. A light dressing will be applied to your dogs neck after donation and their pulse is checked.
Dogs are then given lots of praise and cuddles, followed by a well-deserved drink and bowl of food, and a doggie bag of treats to take home. You will be asked to sit with your dog for a short period of time prior to them having a final check before they are sent home to take it easy for the rest of the day.

For more information, or if you are interested in registering your pet becoming a blood donor, please contact the surgery on 01908 397777 and ask to speak to Jess.


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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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