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Top Tips for Buying a New Kitten

  1. Don’t buy from an internet advertisement- get a kitten from a charity or a breeder instead. If you can’t find a kitten, you may be looking at the wrong time of year- cats are seasonal breeders. Charities which re-home kittens (and cats) include:
  2. Check your kitten for signs of ill health before adopting including:
    • Eye discharge
    • Nasal discharge
    • Sneezing
    • Diarrhoea
    • Pot belly
    • Stark coat
    • Hair loss
    • Avoiding the above can save you quite a bit of money in unexpected vet fees!
  3. Your kitten should weigh approximately 100g for each week of life. Be wary of apparently 8 week old kittens which only weigh 4-500g. Either the kitten is much to young to leave its mother or it has been (and may still be) ill.
  4. Check that your kitten has been regularly wormed (every 2-3 weeks from birth until 12 weeks old) with either Drontal or Panacur- the breeder should be able to tell you the dates of worming.
  5. Check that your kitten or its mother has been flea treated prior to adoption (with a product that is vet approved). The breeder should be able to give you the product name and exact dates.
  6. The general environment in which the queen and litter are kept should be very clean. They should be kept away from other cats to prevent spread of disease.
  7. If there are other cats in the household, they should look healthy.
  8. Kittens should not be re-homed before 8 weeks of age at the very earliest. Kittens which are hand-reared or separated too early from their mum are more at risk for behavioural problems when older. Most breeders of pedigree cats will not allow their kittens to be re-homed prior to 13 weeks of age.
  9. If buying from a breeder, check that the kitten has been well socialised with different types of people, different household noises, the car (and cat carrier), and if you have one, a dog.
  10. Kittens should be vaccinated against flu, enteritis (also called panleukopaenia or feline parvovirus) and leukaemia (FeLV), with vaccines at approximately 8-9 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks. Their first annual booster is also very important to ensure ongoing immunity.
  11. Lifelong pet insurance is highly recommended. Get it set up right from the beginning and get the free breeder’s insurance if possible (kittens are quite often sick in the first week after adoption, and this can be quite expensive- insurance may cover you for this although sometimes it does not ‘kick in’ for 14 days after the start of the policy)
  12. A trip to the vet within a day or two of adoption is highly recommended for a full health check, a review of preventative health care and recommendations for feeding.
  13. If you already have a cat, see here for information on introducing your new arrival.
  14. It is now recommended by both charities and feline experts to neuter cats prior to 4 months old, which in some cases is only weeks after you first adopt your kitten. This makes sure that your kitten never goes through puberty and does not accidentally get pregnant (or make another cat pregnant). Cats do very well when they are neutered at this age.
  15. Kittens should be kept indoors until after they have fully recovered from neutering, as they will then be old enough to defend themselves outdoors.
  16. Make your kitten a bed in your cat carrier. The cat carrier will be your cat’s ‘safe place’ for evermore, and a source of comfort during those stressful trips to the vet, groomer or cattery. Buy a large cat carrier- remember that tiny kitten could grow up to be a huge cat!
  17. If your kitten is long-coated, start grooming daily from the day you bring it home.
  18. Ask the breeder for some cat food, so that you can gradually introduce the kitten’s new diet, to avoid a stomach upset. Kittens should be eating a complete commercial kitten diet appropriate to their age. We like Royal Canin, Purina Pro-Plan (or Purina One), Iams, Eukanuba and Hills Science Plan.
  19. We recommend collars on all cats (particularly non pedigree) to avoid confusion with strays.
  20. Microchip your kitten as soon as possible (at the time of neutering is good as long as it is at the recommended age of 4 months or younger). Even indoor cats can escape.

Finally, enjoy your new arrival!

What is Lungworm?

Lungworm is the common name for a worm (A. vasorum) which infects dogs. Dogs catch it from coming into contact with infected snails and slugs and their trails. Once ingested, these worms move through the body to live in the heart and lungs. Lungworm can cause a severe inflammatory response in the lungs (similar to pneumonia) or lead to life-threatening internal bleeding, both of which are life threatening. Lungworm can also cause many other non specific clinical signs depending on the location of the larvae in the body, for example neurological symptoms such as seizures. Bleeding may sometimes only become apparent when surgery is performed, for example after spaying.

the puppy pug is watching on snail crawling  up fence

Where can my dog catch lungworm?

Lungworm has now been found all over the UK, although the the South East (including London) and Wales are hotspots. In our area of London, access to Richmond Park, Wimbledon Common or the countryside would increase the risk of exposure, although your dog could be exposed anywhere that snails and slugs live.

How do I prevent my dog catching lungworm?

The good news is that a monthly anti-parasite preventative can prevent lungworm. These are only available on prescription from a vet. They come in either oral or top-spot form. Here at Molly and Max we feel that it is very important that all dogs living in London are given monthly preventative treatment. Regular worming treatment such as Drontal (which treats other worms) unfortunately will not prevent lungworm.

If your dog comes from a country where heart worm is endemic (such as the US, Southern Europe and Australia) and you are not sure that your dog is up to date with heart worm prevention, then your dog will need a heart worm test prior to starting lungworm prevention.

What are the clinical signs of lungworm?

The most common clinical signs (or symptoms) are:

  • coughing
  • diarrhoea and vomiting
  • lethargy
  • weight loss
  • excessive bleeding
  • seizures
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • difficulty breathing/ laboured breathing

Sometimes a dog will present as generally unwell, with no specific symptoms.

How is lungworm diagnosed?

There are two routine tests for lungworm, a blood test and a faecal test (although routine faecal testing is unlikely to diagnose lungworm). Lungworm may also be diagnosed from a ‘tracheal wash’ which is where a sample is taken from the airways, under general anaesthetic. No test is 100% sensitive, so it is possible for a dog to test negative even when infected. X-rays may be suggestive of lungworm if there is inflammation in the lungs. Sometimes clinical signs together with response to (presumptive) treatment are the only way to diagnose lungworm.

If my dog catches lungworm, can it be treated?

Lungworm can be treated, but it is not uncommon for dogs to develop severe inflammation in the airways as the larvae die, leading to breathing difficulties. This response to treatment can be life-threatening. However, it is very important that dogs are treated for lungworm as the condition will only get worse if not treated. Dogs which already have respiratory signs or other severe signs are often given a gentler, slower treatment and hospitalisation is often required.

But my cat has been diagnosed with lungworm- is that the same thing?

Cats can get lungworm too, but of a different species. Cats catch lungworm through hunting. Regular worming should help prevent feline lungworm.

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.

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
Belgravia
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.