Dog Health Information
We are a nation of dog lovers. Owning a dog can bring joy and companionship but it is a big responsibility. We want to help you understand how you can keep your dog happy and healthy for a lifetime of enjoyment.
These links contain some basic advice about caring for your dog or puppy
Vaccinations are so important at preventing infectious disease in dogs. The consequences of not vaccinating can prove fatal in some cases. There is still not treatment for viruses that infect dogs today, so vaccination is the best way of preventing infection.
We follow the most up to date vaccine recommendations from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association to ensure we are providing the correct vaccine strategy for your dog.
Vaccination is included in the Pet Health Plan membership. We recommend yearly booster vaccinations and we will discuss any questions or concerns you may have about the vaccines so we can work together to keep your dog protected and healthy.
Normally, it is advisable for puppies to be given an initial course of three vaccination injections, from eight weeks old. The final vaccination should be between 14-16 weeks. Puppies derive immunity from their mother in the womb and also from her milk and this can interfere with the vaccine. This final vaccination provides cover for the approximately 10% of puppies, where persistent maternal immunity has disrupted the vaccine immunity. The primary puppy course should then be followed by a booster vaccination on an annual basis. We use multivalent vaccines which means that we vaccinate against a variety of disease in one vaccination.
These are the diseases which we vaccinate against:
- Parvovirus – a virus that causes severe vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Dehydration and sepsis can lead to death in approximately 25% of all cases. Any age of dog can be infected but it is seen more commonly in younger dogs. The virus is highly contagious.
- Distemper – a virus that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, respiratory and neurological disease. It can be a fatal. Infection in early life can cause profound neurological problems in later life.
- Canine Adenovirus – a virus that causes severe liver and kidney disease and can be fatal.
- Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease) – Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection which can cause severe organ failure. It can be treated with antibiotics, but many infected dogs become very poorly and require intensive treatment and hospitalisation. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic infection which means that an infected dog can pass the infection onto humans.
- Kennel Cough – many infectious agents can cause an upper respiratory tract infection in dogs. Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a bacterial infection, similar to whooping cough in humans. It can cause a severe debilitating cough in dogs and make them unwell. Dogs will often have a concurrent viral respiratory infection.
- Para-Influenza – a virus that is another component of Kennel Cough.
It is important to remember that Boarding kennels will usually require proof of vaccination. If you are planning to put your dog in to kennels, please check the Kennel’s requirement in advance.
Vaccination programs can be started at any time. If your dog has not been vaccinated before or their vaccines have lapsed please do not hesitate to contact us for some friendly advice.
We also offer Titre testing to check Dogs immunity levels prior to vaccination.
The majority of vaccination is included in the Chalkland Elite Membership.
The common worms that infect pets in the UK are roundworms, tapeworms and lungworms. Dogs can become infected in a number of ways – from close contact with other infected animals, from their mother if she is infected while pregnant or through her milk when suckling, from eating worm eggs on the ground or eating slugs and snails, in the case of lungworm.
These are a common problem in puppies but can also cause issues in adult dogs. The larvae of these worms can infect humans (particularly children and people with compromised immune systems) which can result in blindness and damage to the lungs and liver. Roundworms can even cause death in puppies as a result of gut obstruction.
If dogs are not wormed properly, there will be a build-up of eggs in the environment. This poses a real risk to humans, particularly in areas like parks where children play. It is also another important reason why dog faeces should always be picked up and disposed of correctly.
In the UK, the most common type of tapeworm seen in dogs is transmitted by fleas. The worm segments appear as ‘grains of rice’ in the faeces. Other types of tapeworm can be picked up by dogs that hunt or are fed raw meat that hasn’t been frozen properly. There is a nasty dog tapeworm commonly seen in mainland Europe called Echinococcus. There are pockets of infection also seen in Wales and the Welsh Borders. Humans can become infected causing large cysts to grow in organs (Hydatid disease). This is one of the reasons why worming is required between 1-5 days before re-entry into the UK on the Pet Passport scheme. It is also why regular tapeworm treatments are advised if you take your pet to Wales.
Lungworm is caused by a parasite called Angiostrongylus Vasorum, also known as French Heartworm. This parasite can affect dogs, foxes and badgers and it lives in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs. The intermediate hosts for the parasite are slugs and snails. Dogs that eat slugs or snails are at risk, even if they accidentally eat one stuck to toy or drink from an outdoor water bowl. Lungworm infections have become a lot more common around the UK over the last 20 years. This nasty parasite can have devastating consequences and if not diagnosed or treated promptly will result in death. Young dogs under the age of two are at the most risk but any dog of any age can become infected.
Breathing problems, coughing, abnormal bleeding, neurological problems and other vague symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea.
These symptoms are varied and can be confused with other disease so if you have any concerns then it is important to seek veterinary advice. There is a test that can be performed to check for lungworm and if the disease is caught early enough then treatment can be successful.
It’s extremely important that your pet is treated for worms, not only for their health but also to reduce the risk of infections in humans. The frequency of doing so varies depending on age and life style. Puppies should be wormed monthly until 12 weeks old because the majority will have roundworms and they are at increased risk of lungworm infection. Animals that have fleas will also require regular tapeworm treatment. If you dog hunts or eats raw meat then frequent tapeworm treatments are advised. Pregnant bitches should be regularly wormed during pregnancy to reduce transmission to the puppies.
Please contact us if you have any questions regarding worming your dog.
Worming is included in the Chalkland Elite Membership.
Only a small percentage (around 5%) of fleas will live on your pet, the majority (95%) live in the environment in carpets and soft furnishings. This means that for every flea you see, there will be 9 eggs or larvae in the environment! Adult fleas can lay 50 eggs per day (about 2,000 in a lifetime). Once an adult flea has taken a blood meal, she will mate and produce eggs which will drop off into the surrounding environment. These eggs hatch into larvae which move to areas away from light, such as under chairs and deep in the carpet pile.
The larvae hatch into adults when a nearby host is detected, such as your Dog (or even you!). The whole life-cycle then starts over again. The lifecycle can be as short as three weeks, so as you can tell, an infestation can rapidly arise in the right environment.
Outdoors fleas emerge in the spring and continue breeding until the frost arrives, but our centrally heated home provide a perfect environment for them to continue breeding all year round.
Flea bites not only cause irritation, but some pets can develop an allergy to their saliva. Fleas bite hypersensitivity is very common and it can result in severe itching and sores in the skin. Fleas transmit tapeworms so if your pet has fleas, they will also need treating for tapeworm.
Treating your pet – We can advise you on the best flea treatment for your pet. Options include spot-on’s, tablets or effective collars. Please remember that many products purchased over the counter are not effective in killing fleas.
Treating the environment – If you see adult fleas on your pets then it is very likely that there are lots more fleas waiting in the carpets and soft furnishings at home. Thorough vacuuming, particularly under furniture is essential and environmental sprays to kill the egg and larval stages can be used. Pet bedding should be put through the wash on a hot cycle. It is important to keep up to date with flea treatments to kill any emerging adults and prevent them from breeding and perpetuating the problem.
Please contact us if you have any questions regarding flea treatments for your pet.
Flea treatments are included in the Chalkland Elite Membership
Each microchip has a unique number which is registered with your pet’s and your details including your contact information. It is a simple and effective way of identifying your pet. It is the size of a grain of rice and is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades. This unique number stays with your pet for life. There is a very low failure rate of microchips but we always scan them as part of the annual routine health check to ensure they are working correctly.
Special scanners are used by Vets, Animal organisations and some police stations. This allows the animal’s details to be obtained and the owner contacted straight away.
It is important to alert the microchip company if your contact details change, such as moving to a new house or changing phone numbers.
In April 2016 it was made compulsory by law In England that all dogs over the age of 8 weeks old are microchipped.
Microchipping is provided free for all members of the Chalkland Elite Membership.
We recommend that Male dogs are castrated at around 12-18 months, once they have stopped growing. There is no benefit to early castration. Waiting until dogs are physically and psychologically mature has been shown to have behavioural benefits, especially in less confident dogs.
There are several advantages to having your male dog castrated.
Castrated males become less interested in female dogs and this helps reduce unwanted matings and litters of puppies. They are less likely to get lost or injured whilst roaming. Castration can resolve some aggressive behaviours but it is very important to consult with the vet first if your pet has behavioural issues.
Castrated males will obviously not develop testicular cancer as both testicles are removed in the castration procedure.
Castrated males have a much lower risk of non-cancer related prostate problems. These are very common in entire males as the hormones produced by the testicles stimulate the prostate. Prostatic enlargement can cause constipation or problems urinating. Enlarged prostates are more prone to infection which can be very painful and make your dog seriously ill.
Female Dogs (Bitches)
We advise waiting until bitches have reached physical maturity. For small to medium breed bitches this is after their first season (at 9-12 months) and for larger breed bitches it is after their second season (around 18 months). We recommend that spaying is done before 2 ½ years of age to reduce the risk of malignant mammary cancer.
The biggest advantage of spaying a bitch is no unwanted pregnancies and neither do you need to keep your bitch shut away when she comes into season. Some bitches, following a season, develop a false-pregnancy where they think they are pregnant. Spaying prevents this happening.
Entire females can develop a condition called Pyometra when the womb fills with infection. This normally occurs after a season. The bitch will be lethargic, is often sick and will drink more than usual. In the vast majority of cases and emergency spay surgery is needed. This is a higher risk than a normal spay as the bitch is already poorly. Approximately 25% of un-spayed bitches will go on to develop this potentially life-threatening condition.
Spaying eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer.
At Chalkland Vets we are committed to the best care for your pets. This is why we have adopted a Key-hole surgical technique for our standard spay procedure. Unlike conventional spays with a large wound on the tummy, there are only two very small wounds. The ovaries are removed without traction from the body wall, as required with open spays. Post-operative pain and complications in wound healing are minimised using this technique. We are experienced in Keyhole surgery and we have seen the overwhelming benefit in performing spays this way.
If you have any questions or want advice about neutering your pet, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Dog Dental Care
Dental disease is common in dogs. Most dogs over the age of 6 will have some form of dental disease.
Periodontal disease is one of the most common health problems in dogs. It is caused by inflammation around the gums and deeper supporting structures of the teeth. Periodontal disease starts when food particles and bacteria around the gum line produce plaque. Plaque combined with saliva and minerals forms the hardened deposit called Tartar or Calculus. Bacteria thrive in this environment and create inflammation of the gums known as ‘Gingivitis’. As gingivitis progresses the inflammation causes the gums to recede and loss of the deeper supporting structures of the tooth. The end result is very sore wobbly teeth. Not only is this painful but bacteria present in the gums can get into the blood and spread elsewhere to the kidney, liver, heart valves, joints and brain.
Halitosis (smelly breath) is common in dogs with periodontal disease and is one of the first signs. Reluctance to chew or play with toys are other signs. It is worth remembering that most dogs will continue to eat despite significant dental pain.
Most dogs will require some form of dental treatment in their lifetime but the more we focus on prevention the less likely this will be. Daily removal of plaque is the key to healthy teeth. Unless your dog’s teeth are brushed daily, plaque and eventually tartar will build up at the gum line.
How to brush your pet’s teeth:
- Brushing your dog’s teeth can take a bit of practice. It is easier to start when they are young as they will get used to it more easily. Use a soft bristled brush (child’s or baby’s toothbrush) and pet toothpaste. These are usually meat, poultry or fish flavoured. Do not use human toothpaste. It can cause irritation if swallowed and dogs don’t like the minty taste or foaming action.
- Start by allowing your dog to lick the toothpaste off your finger or a toy.
- The next step is to try gently rubbing the toothpaste along the outside gums and teeth. A finger brush can be used once they have learnt to accept this. It can take several weeks to get them used to it but it’s worth persevering. Remember to make the experience enjoyable and give lots of praise so they will look forward to it.
- Once they have accepted finger brushing then you can start using a soft bristled toothbrush. Start with just a few teeth at first and build this up with time. You do not need to have your dog’s mouth open to do this. It is hard to brush the front teeth because brushing close to the nose can irritate some pets. You will not be able to brush the inside of your dog’s teeth unless they are extremely tolerant!
- In dogs that will not allow tooth brushing, a dental diet can help control plaque. Hills TD is a good choice.
- Dental chews can help, but on their own they are not enough to prevent dental disease.
Once visible tartar has formed on the gum line, this means that there is disease under the gum as well. Ultrasonic scaling removes the visible tartar on the teeth and the less visible material under the gum line. The teeth are then polished to try and prevent subsequent plaque build-up as much as possible.
Anaesthesia is necessary when performing teeth cleaning as it enables us to a proper job. ‘Anaesthetic free dentistry’ is not advised. Not only is the job not done properly because it is impossible to remove debris from under the gums in a conscious animal, it is also a very stressful procedure for the pet.
There is an abundance of various different commercial diets for dogs out there. It can seem a bit mind boggling trying to choose the right diet for your dog! It is fair to say that in most cases you get what you pay for i.e. good quality comes at a premium but there are good quality diets at relatively low cost.
Most of the supermarket dog foods are cheaper but they contain cheap ingredients like grains, wheat, highly processed sugars and other by-products.
If you can’t recognise the ingredients on the packet as being food do you really want to be feeding this to your dog?
- Buy the right diet for your dog’s life-stage – puppy, adult, senior.
- Feed the right diet for your dog’s breed. This is particularly important for fast growing, large breed puppies.
- Feeding guidelines are just that, guidelines! Some dogs will require less and some more than the stated amounts on the pack. Taylor the amount you feed to your dog’s needs.
- Puppies need smaller more frequent meals (4x daily up until 16 weeks, 3x daily up until 6 months then twice daily).
- Avoid exercise immediately before and after feeding.
- Always read the label and avoid diets with ingredients you do not recognise.
- Avoid supermarket foods.
- A good quality manufactured complete food should provide your dog with the correct nutrients they need.
- Feed a diet that produces good formed faeces. It is worth noting that cheaper pet foods tend to vary their ingredients based on what is cheapest for them to buy in. These alterations in diet composition can cause an upset tummy in some dogs.
For specific nutrition advice please contact us for a friendly chat.
Between the ages of 3 and 16 weeks the experiences our dog’s have can really shape who they are. Taking the time to socialise your puppy can result in a friendly, well-adjusted adult dog who enjoys the company of people, can be taken anywhere and lives life to the full! How much socialisation is done at this early age will often determine how confident your puppy is around people, other dogs and new environments later in life.