Archive for December, 2009

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 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.