Hart Vets Bicester 01869 323223
Hart Vets Waddesdon 01296 651000

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Caring for your dog

  • Alabama Rot
  • Babesiosis
  • Dental care for dogs
  • Fleas and your dog
  • Neutering your dog
  • Worming your dog
  • Dog Vaccinations

Alabama Rot

Emerging diseases – Alabama Rot

Since 2012 around 100 dogs have died in the UK from confirmed Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), otherwise known as Alabama Rot. The cause of CRGV is not yet known.  It is thought that the disease may be picked up on the paws and legs on muddy walks, though this is not proven. There is no clear age or sex predilection. Cases seem to be more common between November and June. The disease was first reported in the New Forest area in 2012. Subsequently cases have been confirmed across the UK. A map showing confirmed cases is available on the alabamarot website.

Dogs typically present with one or more skin lesions which are usually 1 – 4 cm in length, commonly below the “knee” or elbow. The skin lesions may present as a focal swelling, a patch of red skin, or an ulcerated area. The skin lesions are a symptom of the disease process, not the result of a traumatic injury such as a cut. Affected dogs subsequently develop clinical signs of kidney injury over the following 2-7 days. Symptoms of kidney damage include tiredness, reduced appetite and sometimes vomiting. Although the illness is usually fatal, approximately 10% of dogs will survive with intensive veterinary care.

It is important to remember that CRGV remains a rare disease and only a very small number of dogs have been affected. Most skin lesions will not be caused by this disease, and most cases of kidney failure will have another cause.

If your dog is affected, early recognition of the disease is likely to lead to the best outcome. Until the trigger for the disease is understood it is not possible to give specific advice about how to avoid the illness. Further useful information on CRGV is available from AndersonMoores.

If you have any concerns that your pet may be affected then please contact us immediately.

Babesiosis

Babesiosis – an emerging disease in dogs

Recently five cases of Babesiosis have been confirmed in dogs in Essex. Sadly two dogs died. Significantly none of the dogs had travelled abroad. Babesiosis is present on the continent and it is feared that the infection is now establishing in Britain.

Babesiosis is caused by a parasite called Babesia that infects red blood cells. Dogs become infected when they are bitten by a tick carrying the parasite. Affected dogs become seriously ill as the parasite causes the dog’s immune system to attack its own red blood cells. Symptoms include pale gums, fever, rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss.

So far all the reported cases are in Essex in the Harlow area. Ticks retrieved from fields near Harlow have been found to be carrying the parasite. On the positive side, the type of tick that has been found carrying the parasite (shown below) is not common in the UK and is not reported in our region.

Products are available that greatly reduce the risk of a dog becoming infected with ticks. We recommend the use of Seresto collars for tick prevention. It is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected and so far the disease has only been reported in Essex.

If you have questions about Babesiosis and how to protect your pet, or if you are concerned your pet may have been infected, then please contact us.

Dental care for dogs

Signs & symptoms of poor oral health

If you think your pet has any of the following signs, please book an appointment with the vet or nurse:

  • Bad Breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bleeding and/or inflamed gums
  • Difficulty eating
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Excess drooling of saliva

Taking care of your pet’s teeth

Looking after your pet’s teeth is very important. Imagine how your teeth would look if you didn’t brush them every day! Dental problems are one of the most common conditions seen in veterinary practice and are an important factor in your pet’s health.

Daily brushing of your dog’s teeth is the best way to keep your dog’s teeth and gums healthy. Brushing reduces the build up of tartar and plaque on your pet’s teeth which, in turn, will prevent the development of sore gums and tooth problems. From the first day with your pet, you can introduce the idea of having your fingers in and around the mouth. You can then progress to using a finger brush, and then a toothbrush for larger puppies.

To be shown how to start brushing your pet’s teeth please make a free appointment with one of our veterinary nurses who will advise you on the correct technique and equipment – human toothpaste is not suitable for dogs because it contains fluoride. Pet toothpaste has an enzymatic action on the plaque and tartar and has a flavour which most pets like. Like humans puppies attain two sets of teeth. The dog’s baby teeth should be replaced at around six months of age by the permanent adult teeth. When your pet is teething the gums may be sore, so gentle brushing is advisable.

Your pet’s diet is also a major factor contributing to the health of your pet’s teeth. Dry food, biscuits and especially newer diets such as Hill’s Veterinary Essentials, are much better than wet foods at removing plaque and reducing mouth problems.

Fleas and your dog

Flea control

Fleas are only found on your dog for part of their lifecycle, while they are sucking blood from the skin. Fleas lay hundreds of eggs that drop off into the environment, especially in your home. These eggs hatch into larvae that feed on dead skin cells, in carpets and furnishings.The larvae form pupae which may hatch into fleas straight away or may lie dormant for many months in the carpets. New baby fleas climb to the top of the carpet fibres and lie in wait for the vibrations of oncoming creatures.

Why treat fleas

At best there will just be the itchy bites to cope with. However your dog could become allergic to the flea bites and develop “flea allergic dermatitis”, an itchy and scabby condition that also causes hair loss. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms and in severe infestations cause anaemia.

Flea treatments

These are divided into two categories:

  •     those that kill the adult fleas on your pet before they have the chance to lay any eggs
  •     those that stop the life cycle of the flea at the egg or larval stage so that new fleas do not hatch out and get onto your puppy.

There are a lot of products and the choice can be bewildering, so please discuss the best package for your household with us.

Neutering your dog

Neutering

Neutering means castration (removal of the testes) in a male and spaying (removal of the ovaries and uterus) in a female. This prevents unwanted pregnancy, curbs unwanted mounting behaviour and reduces the risk of certain diseases. Neutered dogs generally tend to be less aggressive towards other dogs and humans and they wander off less.

Spaying a bitch

We generally advise that bitches are spayed after their first season. The ideal time to spay is 3 months after a season because the womb has less blood supply at this time, making it less traumatic for the bitch.

Spaying is advised for non-breeding bitches as it prevents unplanned pregnancies and also has major health benefits:

  • Prevention of false pregnancies
  • Prevention of womb infections (pyometras) later in life
  • Spaying particularly before two years old reduces the risk of mammary tumours later in life.

The spaying operation involves a general anaesthetic and the surgical removal of both ovaries and the uterus through an incision made in the midline of the abdomen. We will ask you not to feed your pet from 8pm the night before the operation, to ensure that there is no food in the stomach when the anaesthetic is given.

Your dog will usually be able to return home the same day. She will have dissolvable sutures under her skin that will need checking after 7 – 10 days by one of our nurses. You will notice that some fur may have been shaved from one or both of the forelegs where the anaesthetic injections will have been given and from her abdomen where the incision will have been made.

Castration

Other than birth control, the main reasons for castration are:

  • Reducing the tendency to roam
  • Reduce aggressiveness to other dogs
  • Reduce unwanted hypersexual behaviour

Puberty occurs when a dog is six to nine months old. Some dogs may not show any behavioural problems and so castration may not be necessary.

Castration involves removing both testes under general anaesthetic through a small incision in front of the scrotum. We will ask you not to feed your pet from 8pm the night before the operation, to ensure that there is no food in the stomach when the anaesthetic is given.

Your dog will be able to return home the same day. He will have dissolvable sutures under her skin that will need checking after 7 – 10 days by one of our nurses. You will notice that some fur may have been shaved from one or both of the forelegs where the anaesthetic injections will have been given and from his underneath where the incision will have been made.

Worming your dog

What worms can dogs get?

Dogs can get three different types of worms: roundworms, tapeworms and lungworms.

Roundworms

Roundworms are spaghetti like in appearance, usually 8-15cm long, and live in the small intestine. They are not normally seen in the stools. The adult worms shed thousands of microscopic eggs each day which pass out in the dogs faeces and contaminate the environment. Puppies are usually infected from their mother via the placenta and through the milk.  Dogs are also infected by unwittingly eating the roundworm eggs, or by eating an “intermediate host” such as a mouse.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are long, flat and segmented. Infected dogs shed tapeworm segments containing microscopic eggs in their faeces. The most common dog tapeworm segments resemble grains of rice and can sometimes be seen moving around in the hair around your dog’s anal area. This type of tapeworm is often caught via fleas –  flea larvae eat the tapeworm eggs in an infected dog’s faeces – when other dogs pick up the fleas and eat them during grooming they also become infected. Another tapeworm species is transmitted via rodents and is less common.

Lungworms

Until relatively recently few dogs were diagnosed with lungworm in the UK. However, a new and serious threat to dogs has emerged with the establishment of a lungworm called Angiostrongylus vasorum. Adult lungworms live in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of the heart. Affected dogs show a wide range of symptoms – some severe, including coughing, fits, bleeding problems, and lethargy. The lungworm parasite is carried by slugs and snails which act as an intermediate host. Dogs sometimes eat slugs and snails, but even snail slime trails left on grass and toys can be infectious.

What are the signs of having worms?

Most dogs show no obvious signs when they first catch worms. Heavy roundworm and tapeworm infections can partially block the intestines and cause weight loss, vomiting, anaemia and failure to thrive. Puppies often appear bloated and may have diarrhoea and/or blood in the faeces. Lungworm can cause coughing, blood clotting problems and even seizures.

Human health implications

Humans can be infected with roundworm (Toxocara canis) and tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum). Toxocara is potentially dangerous in children, where ingestion of the worm eggs may result in migration of the larvae through the body. If they go to the back of the eye they can cause blindness. Although this is rare, we advise you to be particularly vigilant about worming your dog if you have young children. Even if you don’t have children your dog may still go where children play.

How frequently should I worm my dog, and what with?

We advise breeders to treat puppies for roundworm at two and five weeks of age, and then again before the puppy goes to a new home. It is a good idea to ask the breeder if this has been done.

Puppies under 12 weeks of age should be treated for roundworms every 2-3 weeks.

The frequency and type of medication used for older puppies and dogs is determined by the lungworm risk and the environment the dog lives in. The range of products available and the different combinations of flea, worm and mange protection can be bewildering. Please discuss your requirements with us so that we can advise you on the best worm and flea treatment for your pet.

Dog Vaccinations

What vaccinations do dogs need?

All dogs should be vaccinated against Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Distemper and Infectious Canine Hepatitis. We also recommend that dogs are vaccinated for Canine Infectious Tracheitis (Kennel Cough / Park Cough).

When should puppies be vaccinated?

When puppies are newly born they acquire antibodies from their mother’s milk. Provided their mother was vaccinated, the antibodies given to the puppy will provide some protection against disease for the first few weeks of life. These antibodies however also stop vaccines from being effective in very young puppies. We therefore advise giving puppies their first vaccination between six and eight weeks of age, when their maternal antibody levels have dropped.

How often are booster vaccinations needed?

Booster vaccinations are needed on a yearly basis as the protection from the primary course of immunisation does not last forever. The cost of the vaccination includes a full health check and clinical examination by the vet, together with advice on your dog’s healthcare.

We recommend your dog is vaccinated yearly against Leptospirosis and Kennel Cough, and every three years for Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus after the initial booster. We will record your pet’s vaccinations on our computer system, so this will be done automatically for you.

What are the diseases we vaccinate against?

Parvovirus causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea in susceptible dogs, often resulting in death. This virus is highly resistant in the environment and direct contact with an infected dog is not needed. The incidence of Parvovirus is increasing and we unfortunately  see several cases of Parvovirus each year.

Leptospirosis can cause either a sudden severe disease with a fever, vomiting, dehydration (and often death), or a more chronic disease leading to progressive kidney and/or liver failure. The disease is usually caught by contact with contaminated water, but can also be caught directly by contact with infected urine. Leptospirosis is infectious to people and can cause serious illness (Weil’s disease). We use the Nobivac Leptospirosis vaccine which provides better protection against the different strains of the disease.

Distemper causes a fever initially, often with vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing and cracking of the nose. Hardening of the foot pads, fits and pneumonia sometimes develop. It is usually caught from contact with the ’aerosol’ produced when an infected dog coughs or sneezes.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis in an unvaccinated dog typically causes vomiting, abdomenal pain, low blood pressure, collapse and often death. A “blueness” of the eye may be noticeable. It is caught from contact with urine, faeces or saliva from an infected dog. In dogs whose vaccination boosters have lapsed it  can cause a chronic hepatitis resulting in liver failure.

Kennel Cough has many names, including Park Cough and Infectious Canine Tracheitis. It is not a single disease, but rather a group of diseases with very similar signs. The main infectious agents responsible are Parainfluenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica.  Affected dogs typically have a distinctive cough, which in mild cases is quite soft but in more severe cases is often described as “honking”. Kennel Cough is rarely life threatening, but the cough can be very unpleasant and persist for several weeks.