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Buying a New Puppy

We’ve been seeing so many new puppies and it really is so exciting to see new owners come into the practice with the gorgeous new addition to their family- fully of excitement and anticipation.

Want to adopt a puppy?

Buying a new pup will bring you much joy, but there are a few pitfalls best avoided. Firstly, it is highly recommended that you find a breeder who rears the puppies at home with their mother, ideally only letting them go to their new homes from about 8 weeks old. Before that, puppies are still learning vital lessons from their canine family. At 8 weeks old, your puppy should be mature and strong enough to make that big transition to a new home. It is important to see the bitch and check that she appears healthy and of good temperament.

If your puppy is sold through a newspaper, from a pet shop, on the gumtree or other online  classifieds, then be wary! Farmed puppies are often sold this way. These pups are often bred without regard for their welfare, en masse, in unsanitary conditions where diseases such as parvovirus and worms may be rife. The parents of these pups are often of dubious quality, suffering from inherited diseases which they pass onto their pups. There is no way to check this if you have no record of the pup’s parents. If you are concerned the litter you are looking at may be from a puppy farm, don’t purchase the puppy. Far from saving the puppy, this encourages the practice of puppy farming to continue and the unscrupulous breeder to produce more litters.

We have seen a number of pups whose mothers have been taken pregnant to Ireland just so that the puppies can have their tails docked as newborns, and then the litter brought back into England at a very young age to be sold to unsuspecting owners. A docked puppy should ring alarm bells, as it is illegal in England unless of it can be proved that that puppy is intended to be a working dog, and the breed of the puppy is within a certain group. Most of our patients will only ever be pets living in London, so we should only rarely be seeing docked pups. Unfortunately a number of puppies are coming in with certification for their docking. We recommend walking away from a breeder selling docked puppies unless you genuinely intend to use it for hunting or other working activities. Similarly, removal of front dew claws is an unnecessary amputation.

Examine your puppy for obvious signs of disease or other problems before you bring it home. Your pup should not be too thin (or too fat) and should not have a pronounced pot belly (which could be a sign of worms). Its coat should be shiny and without too much scurf (similar to dandruff). The eyes and nose should be clear. There should not be a pronounced over or underbite of the jaws- check that the front teeth do not have an obvious gap between the top and bottom row. Avoid pups with exaggerated features- such features are often associated with problems. See the Kennel Club site on Fit for Function- Fit for Life for more information. Check that there is no sign of diarrhoea or sickness.

The breeder should be able to give you details of the puppy’s diet (brand of food, frequency of feeding, amount fed), worming (brand of wormer, dates of worming) and any flea treatments (brand of flea treatment, dates of treatment), and any vaccinations (type and date) already given. Details are important- so remember to ask for them. If there is a kennel club health scheme for your chosen breed, also check that the parents and/or puppies have been tested, and ask for the dates and results. See the Kennel Club website for more details on health testing.

The newer ‘designer breeds’ (made up of two or more breeds, often with a poodle as one of the mix eg. labradoodle, puggle etc) deserve a mention here. We see these puppies on a regular basis and they are very much loved by their owners. It is important to realise that these breeds are not free of inherited disease. Often they can inherit the problems of both parents. It is just as important that cross bred dogs are health tested, as it is for pure-bred dogs. Please ask the breeder if they have done any health testing.

You have chosen your puppy- what next?

On your pup’s first night in a new home, we recommend using a crate for the pup’s bed. This crate should be not much bigger than your pup lying down comfortably- larger crates that have dividers that can be removed as the pup grows are ideal. Use of devices that mimic heart beats (such as are available for babies) may help your pup to settle in. The pup may not eat much on its first night in a new home- resist the temptation to give too many treats or hand feed. Most pups regain their appetite fairly quickly.

It is a good idea to make an appointment for a health check with us straight away, even if the pup’s vaccinations are not due immediately. We will check the pup from head to tail, check what needs to be done in regards to vaccination, worming and flea prevention, give advice on diet and exercise, talk to you about behaviour, socialisation and training (including toilet training), discuss neutering and answer any questions you may have.

All pets should be insured. We highly recommend making sure you have pet insurance before you visit us, from the first day you pick your puppy up- check with your breeder who may be able to provide a certificate for 4-6 weeks free insurance. Make sure the insurance is verified (you will need to phone the insurance company, or make sure the breeder has done so). Most insurance companies will not cover pets for the first 14 days of the policy, so it is important to organise ongoing insurance with your preferred company in plenty of time before your free policy runs out. We recommend taking out life-time policies so that any chronic illness is covered for more than just the current policy year. Puppies, like babies, are susceptible to illness so it is important that your puppy is insured from the beginning.

Puppy school will help socialise and provide basic training for your pup. Luckily for our clients, there is one held just around the corner in St Dionis Church Hall. If this does not suit you, then please contact us for details of other puppy classes.

Finally, congratulations on the new addition to your family! Your new puppy should provide you with much joy for years to come.

Removing Ticks

Ticks are pretty horrible things, and there is always much discussion about how to best remove the tick. Common questions include:

  1. Should I pull or twist?
  2. Do I try to kill it first?
  3. Does it matter if I leave the head?

In the UK, ticks are capable of transmitting Lyme disease to both humans and animals, and should never be left attached to the skin for more than 24 hours. When abroad, there are also other diseases that can be transmitted by ticks.

There are top-spot treatments which are available to help prevent attachment. Frontline is one of these top-spot treatments. There are also prescription only products available. Please speak to us about which treatment is best for your dog.

We would recommend that you check your dogs for ticks every day if roaming in tick prone areas such as Richmond Park or the countryside. Ticks are usually found on the front half of the body, but can be found anywhere including more intimate areas. Both cats and dogs can be affected by ticks.

Once found, a tick should be removed immediately. The best method of removing ticks is to use a tick hook such as the O’Tom hook. The hook should be placed under the offending tick, then twisted until the tick detaches. There is no need to pull with this method. It should ensure also that you do not leave the head embedded. You do not need to try to kill the tick first, and this is not recommended.

If the head is accidentally left in the skin, then it is possible for this area to become infected. Some of these animals will require antibiotics. Please call us if you are concerned.

Tick removal with O'TOM Tick Twister by H3D


The British Summer is (almost) upon us!

Already the Green is vibrant with sun worshippers and keen picnickers, and we can just about smell the White Horse Pub barbecues and the suntan lotions from the clinic!

As exciting as this may be, it is important not forget our furry friends’ needs when we’re all having fun.

Food around this time of year is loved by all but remember that too much of anything can cause many problems in cats and dogs. Rich and fatty meats (sausages) and other summer delights can trigger nasty upset tummies (sometimes worse) in our pets. Equally cooked or small (chicken) bones can lead to life threatening problems. So, the occasional treat in moderation is acceptable but remember to avoid too many scraps.

Another consideration this time of year is the heat. Dogs, unlike people, don’t sweat. They regulate their core temperature via their respiratory system, hence why they pant when they are hot. Given that the majority of dogs have a thick hairy coat; it’s worth considering a nice short clip to help them cool down. Breeds with shorter noses (English and French Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers etc) struggle more than other breeds at staying cool as their anatomy makes it more difficult for them to pant. So extra care must be taken during the summer.

A few tips to keep your dog cool:

  • Always carry drinking water when on walks. Collapsible bowls and special doggie bottle are very useful and practical.
  • Spray your dog with cool water before and after walks
  • NEVER leave your dog in a car unattended (even with the windows open) for any period of time
  • Provide shade when possible
  • Avoid strenuous exercise in sunny weather

Lastly, parasites also love the sunshine and the heat! Make sure to stay up to date with flea, worming and tick treatments.

Some tips for our rabbit friends especially if living outdoors:

  • Check for any signs of soiled fur at least twice a day and to keep the cage and bedding clean
  • Fresh water and food must be provided everyday. Rabbit food should be almost all hay, with only a few pellets and some green vegetables. Any amount of grass is ok.
  • Use Rearguard to prevent fly strike (maggot infestation) every 10 weeks
  • If you are suspicious of fly strike (maggot infestation) then you must make an emergency appointment
  • Beware or predators becoming more curious in warmer weather

Easter Weekend!

Easter weekend is upon us! With it the hope of some warmer weather very soon (hopefully lots of puppies and kittens!) and a few treats around the house which may not be so good for our furry friends.

Lillies and cats just don’t go together. Every part of the plant is poisonous, even the pollen. Affected cats are often obvious because they tend to stain their nose with pollen as they investigate the flowers (cute but scary). Owners are often aware of the dangers, and try to restrict access to the plant. However, cats are very clever getting into places where they shouldn’t be, so it is safer to keep lillies out of the household altogether (and out of your garden as well!).

If you have a dog, then our previous warning about chocolate and raisins/sultanas is again important. Watch those hot cross buns.

If you have an emergency over the Easter break (and we hope you don’t!), the contact details for our emergency clinic are:Hot Cross Buns

Elizabeth St Emergency Clinic
55 Elizabeth St
London SW1W 9PP
Ph: 020 7730 9102

We re-open after the Easter break at 7am on Tuesday morning, and we look forward to seeing you then.

In the meantime, we’re thinking about rabbits and the upcoming Rabbit Awareness Week. We’ll be giving away free health checks to rabbits, with plenty of advice on diet and general health care. If you have a rabbit, please phone us to make your appointment. It should be a fun week!

Our first surgical patients

Alice in Surgery

Alice in Surgery

It wasn’t long after we opened that we had a chance to be glad that we have invested in the facilities that we have. In our opening week, we saw Schmitty, a vomiting bulldog who was very unwell indeed. Our digital xray system picked up a collection of spiky lumps in his abdomen and he was immediately taken to surgery, where we removed a chewed up toy that was blocking his stomach. We were able to closely monitor Schmitty’s anaesthetic and keep him warm in surgery with our special warm air blankets which ensure a quick recovery. He also benefited from precise delivery of IV fluids from our drip pumps to treat his dehydration. A few days later, he came bounding into the building for his first post-operative check, a very happy and boistrous patient, tail wagging and so happy to see us. Schmitty has not looked back.

More recently we saw Pepito, a poor kitten who had fallen from the 5th storey of a building in Putney. We were able to treat him for shock with our intensive care cage which delivers oxygen and warmth and with IV fluids to support his circulation. We were able to quickly assess his chest, abdomen and bones using our digital x-ray system. He spent a week in intensive care, benefiting from Belle’s expertise in nursing critical patients. Once Pepito was stable, we took him to surgery and discovered that his fracture was just too severe, and the decision was made to amputate his leg.  Pepito was back walking on the day of his surgery, thanks to Alice’s excellent surgical skills and his plucky nature. What a lovely and brave cat.

Molly and Max Opens!

Ella, Alice, Belle and Kathy were very pleased to be able to open the doors of Molly and Max Veterinary Practice on the 25th of January. We have already seen some lovely pets and owners through the doors and have been proudly showing off our fantastic new facilities. The practice is spacious, light and clean and superbly well equipped. Kathy’s dog, Daisy, has been using our kennel facilities and has given them her seal of approval. She especially likes the liver treats that she gets whilst at the practice! We are having photos taken of the practice next week and will post them as soon as they are available, but in the meantime please stop by and say hello. Having your pet visit and have a treat whilst they are well is the best way to make them feel comfortable and safe on their next visit. We can think of nothing better than having relaxed and happy patients!

Pets overindulging at Christmas

Grey cat at ChristmasWe all tend to have a bit too much to eat at Christmas and feel a bit worse for wear. It is not uncommon for many of those fatty scraps to end up in Molly’s bowl. The problem is that this can lead to a very painful tummy due to inflammation of the pancreas, the organ which produces insulin and helps pets digest their food. Some pets become very ill indeed, and in severe cases it can be fatal. So keep the goose fat, turkey skin and crackling to yourself and if you want to give Molly some treats from the plate, try to make it lean turkey breast, ideally saved from the carving board rather than scraps from your plate.

The other potential issue to be aware of is Christmas time poisonings. Chocolate can be a big hazard, especially if dark. Raisins and grapes can cause failure of the kidneys. Swallowed bits of ornaments can be a problem for any pet. Lilies can make cats very sick. Anti-freeze from cars is very often fatal if swallowed, and unfortunately pets like the taste due to its sweetness. The British Veterinary Association- Animal Welfare Foundation is currently trying to raise awareness of Christmas dangers and has relaunched their pamphlet on common household poisons and the BVA has launched a press release on the topic. It is highly recommended reading.

Keeping up with your pet’s worming and flea treatments

It can be a bit of a struggle to remember when your pet’s next worming and flea treatment is next due. One is due in a month, one is due in three months, you can’t quite remember the last time you gave it and it all gets a bit confusing.

Scratching Puppy

The problem is that these treatments are actually very important for both your pet and your family. You don’t want your pet uncomfortable, or even worse, ill. You also don’t want your children to be catching any of those nasties, which unfortunately is possible. There is also that horrible new lungworm that dogs can catch which makes them very ill indeed.

Now you can have an email or SMS sent at regular intervals to remind you to do both treatments, if you register your details at www.drontal.com. This is an excellent service for pet owners and highly recommended. You can use this service regardless of which wormer you give your dog. Alternatively, set up a regular alarm though your electronic diary in your computer or mobile phone.

PennHIP arrives in the UK

Happy LabToday Ella attended the first ever British training day for veterinarians on the PennHIP method of testing animals for hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is a disease that results in osteoarthritis in the hips of a large percentage of medium and large breed dogs around the world, although it can also affect small dogs and cats. It is caused by a loose hip joint which leads to trauma to the joint. The arthritis can develop at any age, in some dogs at less than a year of age, right through to older dogs. These poor dogs are often in pain, become lame, find it difficult to get up and get around.

Currently the British Veterinary Association and the Kennel Club run a voluntary hip scoring scheme in which vets submit x-rays of the hips of dogs for measurements which may indicate that dog’s potential to develop hip dysplasia. Breeders are encouraged to hip score their dogs and only breed from dogs who score better than the breed average. This scheme is far from perfect and progress has been slow. For many years now, an alternative scheme called PennHIP has been available in the United States. This method has been illegal in the UK as it required vets and veterinary nurses to hold the legs of the dog whilst the x-ray was being taken. Now a British vet has developed a hands free method of taking these x-rays which will allow us to use this scoring system in future.

PennHIP, which was developed by the University of Pennsylvania, has several advantages over the traditional tests for hip dysplasia:

1) Puppies can be tested as early as 16 weeks old, as opposed to 1 year of age for the BVA/KC scheme. With pets, this means that we can try to stop hip dysplasia from developing rather than just treat the symptoms once it develops. Breeders can chose the best dogs to breed from at a much earlier age.

2) The heritability is very high, meaning that a dog with hips that score well is much more likely to have puppies that score well and also don’t get hip dysplasia. This means that we can help breed healthier dogs much more easily.

3) A good score almost guarantees good hips, and a bad score also reliably predicts the likelihood of hip dysplasia in future. We can manage these dogs to reduce the incidence of the disease, usually by a combination of diet and hydrotherapy. There is also now surgery available for puppies which can make bad hips more stable for the future. This will lead to healthier pets.

Only PennHIP certified vets are allowed to take these x-rays, to ensure that the x-rays are taken properly. We will be proud to be one of only a handful of private practices in the UK that are offering this service. Dogs that may benefit include breeding dogs, any dogs showing signs of lameness due to pain in the hips, and puppies of 4-5 months old so that we can catch this disease early and stop it in its tracks. If you are interested in PennHIP, please ask us for further information.

Helping Your Pet to be Safe on Holidays

iStock_000006536996SmallSo Max has had the microchip, the rabies vaccination, the blood test and you’ve bought his ticket to southern Europe. You’ve even booked him in to see the vet a day before you fly home for the all important tick and tapeworm treatment. All sorted, right? Well, almost.

As our pets fly further afield, they become exposed to a number of ‘exotic’ diseases that we don’t see here in the British Isles. We protect against some of these diseases by just getting onto the pet passport scheme (rabies and ecchinococcus tapeworm), but really the scheme is more about protecting other pets (and people) still in the UK.

The best way to find out which diseases are prevalent in the part of the world you are travelling to is to ask a local vet. But in the meantime, if you’re travelling to southern Europe, you’ll probably need to think about:

  1. tick prevention, and checking daily for ticks whilst away
  2. sand fly repellent (and staying in at dusk and dawn)
  3. heartworm prevention

Even with these measures, you may not be able to completely mitigate the risk. If the local vet advises that there is a particular problem in their area, it may be worth discussing with us whether it would be better to leave Max at home this time.

To improve awareness of these exotic diseases, the British Veterinary Association Animal Welfare Foundation has released this pamphlet on protecting your pets against these diseases.

Please email us if you have any further questions regarding the pet passport scheme- we are more than willing to help!