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Frequently Asked Questions

On this page we have tried to put together the answers to some common questions you may have about your pets. We also give the practice policies on various important areas for looking after your pet. If you cannot find the answer to your question on this page please give us a ring at any one of the surgeries and we shall try to get you the answer you need. The subjects covered are :

 

Fleas; Worming; Dog Neutering; Cat Neutering; Dog Vaccination; Cat Vaccination; Rabbit Vaccination; General Anaesthetics; Insurance.

 

If you have a specific question relating to the health of your own pet, please contact your veterinary surgeon direct. We regret that we cannot give advice to clients of other practices on specific matters of veterinary health care.

Below are a selection of questions asked by clients and pet owners, we hope they help

Fleas

 

Fleas can range from an annoyance to your pet to an all out problem for the family. The flea season tends to run from April to October, with the worst being when the weather is hot and humid. However, as most people now have carpets and central heating, it is not unknown for fleas to live all year round in the house. Every female flea lays 100-200 eggs when on your pet and these will fall off onto the areas where the dog or cat lies or sleeps. Therefore to acheive the best level of flea control you must deal with both the adult and young stages of the fleas lifecycle.

As well as causing an irritation to your pet, fleas can also cause severe allergic reactions leading to nasty skin infections. They may also carry tapeworm pass this to your pet. Most commonly fleas are seen along the back of the pet and they will scratch along there. In pale coloured animals you may see 'black dust' which is flea dirt.

We recommend either Frontline Combo or Stronghold to treat your pets. Both of these products will kill both the adults and eggs/larval stages. Hair and skin that falls off the pet will act on the stages in the house. For cats we also have a 6 monthly injection which 'sterilises' the flea so that it's eggs are non-viable. In a sereve outbreak you may also have to spray the house.

If your pet has open wounds or is scratching excessively, we would recommend bringing them in to see a vet as they may require further treatment.        

 

Worming

 

As much as we love our pets, they can carry some nasty parasites. There are a number of worms that can infect them, the main ones being Roundworms and tape worms. Why do we worry about this? Well, firstly a heavy worm burden can cause health problems for your pet. Secondly, some worms are contagious to humans and in children can cause serious problems and even blindness. If your pet has worms when it passes faeces they will contain worm eggs which are very hardy and can stay in the ground for a long time. They are then passed to other dogs or to people through contact and ingestion. One dog can pass millions of eggs a day in its faeces.

Regular worming with the right preparation will give you the best chance of keeping your pet worm-free, and reducing the chances of contaminating the environment. A selection of worming preparations are stocked at the surgery, but most are not available for general sale, eg in supermarkets and pet shops. As well as working better, they can also be safer too. Worming recommendations vary according to the age of your pet, and his or her weight.No starvation or special feeding is required, but do follow the dosage instructions carefully and keep all medicines out of children's reach. Always spray regularly for fleas, to reduce tapeworm infestation.

We recommend that you worm your pet every 3 months. If they are regular hunters it may be necessary to worm them every month. The wormer will only kill adult worms in the animal, it does not last for 3 months, however this time fits in with the lifecycle of most worms and should prevent infection and passage of eggs.

 

Dog Neutering

 

Neutering is the term used for the surgical procedure to prevent animals from breeding. In females this is called spaying and in males, castration. The procedure involves removing the organs responsible for breeding. Neutering is performed for a number of reasons, mainly based on the sex of the animal. Female dogs come into season on average every 6 months. This involves a period of 2-3 weeks during which she is very attractive to male dogs. For the first half of this season there will be a bloody discharge from the vulva. Some bitches, after a period of 4-6 weeks, will have a false pregnancy where they may produce milk and their behaviour may change. Neutering will stop the seasons the accompanying changes. A neutered bitch will never get a potentially fatal condition called pyometra where their womb becomes infected. There is also evidence that shows neutered bitches have a lower incidence of mammary tumours.

Male dogs mature around 6-8 months of age. At this point they will become very attracted to dogs in season and will mark their territory by urinating. They can often run off looking for bitches in heat and may disappear for days. Neutering prevents this.

Dogs may be castrated at any time over 6 months of age. Bitches need to be neutered at a time that fits in with their natural cycle to make the surgery as safe as possible. We recommend doing this either 4 weeks after their season has finished or else between 3-5 months after a season. Unless there are any complications, which are rare, neutered dogs go home the same day as their surgery. Normally within 1-2 days they are back to normal, although we recommend keeping them quiter until the stitches are removed 10 days later. Male dogs may be fertile for up to 6 weeks after castration.  

 

Cat Neutering

 

Unlike dogs, female cats come into season in spring and autumn every 3 weeks. If they fall pregnant they will give birth after around 9 weeks. They can then become pregnant again in 3-4 weeks. As you can imagine, with an un-neutered female cat you could end up with a lot of kittens very quickly. For this reason we would highly recommend getting your female cat neutered. Cats mature around 6 months of age and can be spayed at any point after this age. Unlike dogs, there is no ideal time based on their season. We tend to perform the operation through the flank in cats.

Male cats, if not castrated, will tend to spray urine around their territory, including their house. This urine tends to be extremely smelly and unpleasant. They also tend to roam a lot further than neutered cats and will fight more. Again, they can be done at any point after 6 months.    

 

Dog Vaccination

 

There are a number of infectious diseases that our dogs can catch. Although most of them are rarely seen these days, the main reason for this is that people regularly vaccinate their dogs. Through regular vaccination we can keep these diseases at bay. However, if the number of vaccinated dogs drop below a certain level, there is a good chance one or more of these diseases will arise again.

Our vaccination protocol protects against

  • Canine Hepatitis : A viral disease affecting the Liver although it can affect both the kidney and eyes too (Blue eye). Dogs can appear normal and then suddenly go down hill. Vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy are seen.

  • Canine Distemper : This disease was known as HardPad as it can affect the dogs pads making them very hard hence the dog clicked as it walked. It also causes vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, sneezing, eye discharge and fits. It is frequently fatal, especially when fits are seen. It can also cause damage to the brain which will show up later in life

  • Parvovirus : This is a virus causing severe gastroenteritis, often with bloody diarrhoea. In severe cases the dog can show signs and be dead within 8 hours. Puppies with this disease can also develop secondary heart disease.

  • Leptospirosis : This is a bacterial disease which has two forms. The first carries a high fatality rate and often is caught from rat urine. It is very contagious and can affect man. The second will cause severe kidney damage. We unfortunately see a number of cases of this on the Isle of Man every year.

Puppies are given their first vaccination at 8 weeks and a second 2 weeks later. A booster is requried every year for leptospirosis and every 3 years for the others. Our vaccinations are trusted and safe.

 

Cat Vaccination

 

Like with dogs, there are a number of serious infectious diseases that we need to be aware of in our cat population. Some of these are still quite prevalent too.

Our vaccination protocol protects against -

  • Feline Enteritis : A viral disease similar to parvovirus in dogs. It is highly contagious and in younger cats usually fatal. In some cases the the animal will just drop dead with no apparent symptoms. It can affect cats of any age.

  • Feline Leukemia (FeLV) : This is a viral disease of cats that affects the white blood cells. It is the number one infectious killer of cats in the Western world. It can cause cancer in cats and also greatly lower their immune system so that they become highly prone to many other infectious diseases. It is a similar virus to the AIDs virus in man. Vaccination is a safe and effective way of preventing this infection.

  • Cat flu : This is a combination of a number of infectious organisims which cause flu like symtpoms in cats. As well as coughing, sneezing and eye discharge, this disease can also open the cat up to other diseases such as pneumonia. There can also be long term problems for cats who get this disease including eye damage and persistant chest infections. Infected cats can also become carriers and continuously pass the disease onto other cats.

Kittens start their vaccinations at 9 weeks of age and receive a second vaccination at 12 weeks. A booster is required every year for all diseases. We are happy with the safety and efficacy of all our vaccines.

 

Rabbit Vaccinations

 

Rabbits are becoming a more common sight in our surgeries as more and more people get them as pets. As they grow in popularity it is important to be aware that they also need a certain level of care. Vaccinations are part of this and there are two major infectious we need to be aware of in rabbits

 

Myxomatosis : This is unfortunately a man made disease introduced to the rabbit population many years ago to try and control the population. Since then it has spread far and wide. It is passed by rabbit fleas and affected rabbits present with a swollen face and severe discharge from their eyes. They are very weak and will soon die. It is highly contagious and tends to occur in cycles. Rabbits need to be vaccinated at 6 weeks and then either every 6 months or yearly depending on the level of infection present in the environment.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease : This is a fairly new disease and only appeared in the mid 1980's. It is highly contagious and will often cause sudden death. Clinical symptoms may be fever, restlessness, swollen face and convulsions. Rabbits should be vaccinated at 10-12 weeks of age and then yearly thereafter.

Although rabbits need yearly boosters of both vaccines, it is recommended that they are not given at the same time. Therefore, to ensure the best care for your rabbit, we recommend leaving 2 weeks between both vaccines.                                                                  

 

General Anaesthetics and Surgery

 

A General Anaesthetic is a drug used to make an animal unconcious and unable to perceive pain so that we may perform a surgical procedure on it. They can be be given by either injection or gas. We will generally place a catheter in the animals vein so that we have constant access to give any drugs and initially knock the animal out with an injection. We will then place a tube into it's windpipe so it can breath efficiently and attach this tube to a gas to keep the animal alseep.

Obviously people are very concerned when we suggest giving their animals an anaesthetic, all anaesthetics carry a small risk, but we do a lot to minimise this risk for our patients :

 

Pre-anaesthetic check: All our patients receive a full clinical exam prior to an anaesthetic. Any problems or issues will be followed up and discussed with you before proceeding

Pre-anaesthetic bloods: We give this option to all our patients, but would recommend it to our older patients especially. This allows us to spot any hidden problems, such as early kidney disease, before giving a drug which may exacerbate a problem

Choice of anaesthetic : We use the current gold standard in veterinary anaesthetics, in fact they are both still used in human hospitals. Both our injectable and gas drugs are short acting allowing us to wake your pet very quickly if necessary.

Monitoring : All our surgery patients are montiored by our very capable nurses. They are fully trained to ensure your pet is in the safest hands. We also use complex, multi-parameter monitors which to track  oxygen levels, breathing, ECG and body temperature.

Comfort and stress : Our dog and cat patients are maintained in seperate wards to reduce stress levels. After surgery a nurse will continuously watch them until they are awake. If required, we have an oxygen cage and incubator for smaller animals. We try to ensure they go home to the comfort of their own home as soon as is possible.

Prior to surgery, you will be send an information sheet telling you how to prepare your pet. They should be fed the night before and then have no food overnight. Water may be left out but should be removed first thing in the morning. A short walk should be given to dogs allow them toilet.

 

When they are admitted in the morning, they will be weighed and given a full clinical exam. If a blood test has been requested this will be done at this stage. The animal will then receive it's pre-med which contains a pain killer and a sedative to make them less anxious. This normally takes affect after 10-20 mins.

 

Pet Insurance

 

As veterinary medicine advances and we are able to do more and more for your pet, so unfortunately does the cost. Every year, two out of three pets require some form of veterinary treatment. In the case of a serious accident or a major disease, the cost of this can rise quickly. To help with these costs we advise insuring your pets as soon as possible. For puppies and kittens we can offer 4 weeks free cover with Petplan when we first see them. This gives you immediate peace of mind.

We recommend using Petplan to insure your pet as we have worked with them for many years and are happy with the level and standards of cover they offer. If you decide to use another company, please check carefully what you are getting. Be sure to read the terms and conditions and find out what you are covered for. Many cheaper policies only cover upto a certain amount or only for a certain period of time. Also, have a look at the conditions and treatments available through your insurer. Some companies do not cover certain conditions or treatments.

If you do have insurance and do need to use it, ask us for an estimate of the cost of treatment and check with your insurance company first. Then ask for a claim form. Fill in all of your details first and then bring it in to us to complete. All policies will have an excess associated with them. This is an amount, stipulated in your policy, that you have to pay towards treatment. Unless you have discussed it with our practice manager, you should pay us the total amount owed and then claim off your insurance company.

Please be aware that exisiting conditions will not be covered by new policies.