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How much should I feed my pet?

Overweight pets… now that's a topic and a half!

It is no mean feat to keep your pet in tip top condition and there are a lot of things you need to consider if your pet has started to pile on the pounds!

In this country we castrate and spay a lot of our dogs for a lot of good reasons. The most common side effect to this however is definitely weight gain. It has been shown that dogs and cats require about a THIRD less calories once they have been neutered… thats a lot!.

Now clearly weight gain isn’t only managed with dieting, exercise plays a huge part too, but lets talk about foods:

1. Type of food

There are hundreds of foods out there for your pets. I am not going to go in to the pros and cons of every type and make of food (you can contact me if you need advice on this though), but there are definitely foods out there with varying fat, carb and protein levels which are not always great for your pets. 
The general advice I give to my clients is pick a decent quality, well made, natural food and stick to it. Adding “tasty” bits to the food is generally a no-no as these foods are so well made that they really are ALL your pet needs! 

2. Amount of food

This is tricky… but most packs will have a guide on the back. Feed the LOW end of what they recommend and please, please, please, weigh the food! It makes a huge difference! 
The easy way to monitor this is to regularly weigh your pet. Its really easy to miss weight gain as you see your pets all day every day! 
(It’s the opposite to that friend you see once a year who has suddenly piled on the pounds!)

3. Treats

Yes thats right… you might tell your vet that Fido “never gets treats” but come on… we are pet owners too, we know you’re telling a white lie ;)
I have no problem with you feeding treats (take a look at my “bits and bobs” page for treats I like), but feed good quality treats and try and really limit the table scraps, they’re often really high in fat!
Also if you MUST give treats then just remove some of the food you’re giving at meal times. Remember the guides on the packets are representing the calorie requirement for your pet for the whole day. They don’t count treats!

Follow these steps (and exercise your pet) and we can tackle animal obesity one kibble at a time!


"My dog's got a lump"

Meet Anna! This is her story...

If you’ve got a golden oldie dog at home then you are probably well versed in checking their lumps and bumps. They are one of the most common things we see in dogs and can range from being absolutely nothing to worry about, to nasty aggressive cancers.

I’m going to tell you a story about Anna, who came in to see me a few months ago, with a new lump that her vigilant owner had spotted just the day before.

“We were just stroking her last night and found this small lump on her side. Its probably nothing but I just wanted to get it checked”, Imogen (Anna’s owner) said to me. I had a feel and just as she had said, there was a small raised lump in Anna’s skin on her left side. It was slightly red and looked a little angry so I said to Imogen that it was definitely worth taking a quick needle aspirate and having a look under the microscope.

Anna is such a lovely dog. She comes into the clinic with a smile from ear to ear and I think she would walk to the end of the earth if it meant she would get a quick fuss. This meant that getting a sample was very easy and 2 minutes later I was looking through the microscope.

I think the fact that I spent so long looking at the slide meant Imogen already knew I wasn’t happy. My stomach sank as soon as I looked through the eyepiece: It was a mast cell tumour.

A mast cell tumour is a cancer of the skin (usually) and make up about 20% of all skin lumps in dogs. They are often aggressive and can spread to all sorts of places in the body, including a lot of important organs.

Imogen already knew this (she is one of our veterinary nurses), and we did not hesitate in coming up with a plan. By the end of the week, I had Anna in surgery and we had that lump off. The lump itself can’t have been more than a few cm across but after the surgery her wound must have been about 10cm top to bottom (you have to be aggressive when dealing with this sort of tumour). An ultrasound scan and x-rays had shown no evidence of spread which was excellent news… all we needed now was the laboratory to tell us the tumour was a non-aggressive form.

Unfortunately that didn’t happen.

There are a number of things you check when looking at a mast cell tumour and the lab had identified something that we weren’t too happy with. I had got the whole lump, that was fine, but one of the tests they ran had come back suggesting it could be aggressive.

Chemotherapy… the dreaded word.

Or not perhaps?

Anna is currently on week 6 of a 12 week protocol and you wouldn’t know it. She has been running around and smiling away as if nothing is happening.

She was originally coming in weekly for a slow injection into her leg vein and now she is down to every other week.

When chemotherapy is mentioned to people you can visibly see their faces drop, but let me re-assure you. Chemo in dogs, or cats for that matter, really isn’t that bad. Generally (and yes there are exceptions) they cope really well. They don’t normally get the hair loss, they occasionally feel sick, but really thats it. As a rule, you wouldn’t know they had cancer in the first place!

Yes, I know it was a long story but hear me out…

If your dog gets a lump, get it checked by a professional, they know what they are looking for. Also just think; if I hadn’t stuck a needle in that lump and had a look under the microscope, Anna might not be been smiling any more.

If you're worried or need advice, you know what to do... get in touch!


Get flea free!

Yes that is a flea on the left...

The DREADED flea!

I don't know one owner who doesn't freak out a little if I find a flea or flea dirt on their pet, and I don't blame them, they're grim!

The most common type of flea is the cat flea... This is the one that most commonly infects dogs and cats, but did you know there are other types of flea that infect all kinds of other species such as rabbits and other mammals?

I think the scariest thing when it comes to these little guys is that 90% of the problem is not on the animal... That means for every flea you find on "Tinkerbell", there are 9 in your house! My skin is crawling just thinking of it.

Now the important bit, the treatments:

  • Prevention - this is the key to controlling fleas - whether you use a spot-on treatment on the back of your pets neck or a tablet form, keeping up to date with this is the mainstay of keeping those little critters away. Don't forget to treat ALL of your animals, even if you only have one with fleas.

  • Worming - Did you know that fleas can carry and transmit a type of tapeworm? Therefore if you've been a bit lax with your treatments, its best to treat for both fleas and worms at the same time to be extra safe!

  • The house - Now clearly treating your pet (and your other animals) is going to be the main part of treatment, but what about all those fleas in the environment? The flea eggs and larvae love to burrow into your carpets and down the sides of skirting boards so it is really important to spray your house with an effective spray.

  • Hygiene - nice and easy... hoover and clean more frequently than normal. Hoovering can help remove the eggs and larvae in your carpet, boil washing your bedding and rugs can also really help!

The only thing I have left to mention is really the type of treatment you are using. Please use a prescription treatment from your vet... they are so much more effective than the ones you can buy in the pet shop, there are even some in the pet shop that can be toxic to cats so please, please, please be careful!

Nice and easy really, no?


Staying safe in the sun

It's hot for us, but what about our pets?

It looks like our annual week of summer is finally upon us in the UK and everyone is going mad. From selfies in the sun to lounging at the lido, everyone is out and about and catching those rays... but what about their pets?

Now this probably applies to you dog owners slightly more than other pet owners but still keep reading!

I don't know how many of you like to head out of the house in the height of summer in your fur coats, but I tend not to. Our pets on the other hand, don't have a choice in the matter - even if you get them groomed as short as possible, they still have more insulation than humans.

Don't worry I'm not going to blab on about everything to think of in this hot weather, I'm going to break it down into a few key bullet points... take a look:

  • The 'dreaded' car

How many of you have sat in a car parked in the sun for more than a minute or two? My guess would be not many. Now, I may well be a bit nuts, but in the interest of putting myself in my client's pets' shoes, I found myself the other day sat in a car with the engine turned off and the windows shut tight. I managed 23 minutes before I had to bail out... in just that short amount of time the temperature had reached a staggering 50 degrees! (If you fancy a laugh take a minute to watch in the videos tab).

Now bearing in mind a normal dog's body temperature is 37-39 degrees... thats HOT. If your pooch was sat in that for anywhere near that length of time, you're putting them at serious risk of heat stroke and other conditions which in the worst cases, can be fatal.

The easy answer is; If you're going out in the car, don't take the dog. Simples.

  • Brachycephalic breeds

Big word huh? - basically means any dog or cat with a "smooshed" face (nice and scientific). So classic breeds would include pugs, french/english/other bulldogs, boxers, persian cats, british shorthair cats and so on.

This shortening of the facial features is a hot topic in the veterinary world at the moment, excuse the pun, but i'm not getting in to that for now. All i'm trying to say is... If you own one of these breeds, it is EVEN MORE important to keep them nice and cool at home and when out and about.

  • Running and exercise

In no way am I telling you not to exercise your pet... however, it is honestly so surprising how many people I see running around the park with their dog in scorching heat. Please don't do this, leave them at home. Heat stroke, collapse, respiratory issues... you name it, it might happen.

Stick to the cooler parts of the day, take water and try and keep to the shade.

Common sense really.

  • Cooling your pet down

And finally...

What if you accidentally do let your pet overheat? They're panting away, drooling excessively, what do you do?

If they are collapsed or seem to be struggling for air then do not hesitate and contact your vet.

If you are concerned but do not think it is an emergency then here are a few things to try:

Wet flannels or towels - Cold water, over their body and feet and head (not face)

Fans - any fan you can find, or even better air con

Ice - Ice can be your best friend - some dogs like to chew it, some like it in their water. Even if you just put it in their water while they're drinking, every little helps.

If you find they are not responding to this then I urge you to please contact your vet.

So enjoy the sun, I know i will be, but please take a minute to think of your pets!


Cleaning your pet's teeth

Why and how?

I am very proud that we live in a country where we love our animals: so much so that we are known for it as a nation. However if there is one thing we seem to 'ignore' with our pets, it has to be dental hygiene.

Now if i suggested to you that you go to bed without brushing your teeth, you might feel a bit wrong doing it but everyone has forgotten on occasion. You might have even gone a whole 24 hours without brushing but never more surely?

So why then do we think its okay to leave our dogs and cats teeth for years on end without brushing them!?

It may seem a bit alien reaching into your dog or cats mouth and brushing their pearly whites... and I'll even admit that in some cases its just not worth the bites and scratches, but if you can manage then you're onto a winner.

If you manage to brush their teeth on a daily basis (and before you dismiss that... yes there are people out there that do) you will help your pet maintain decent oral hygeine and possibly even prevent them from having to have tooth extractions in the future!

If you don't want to brush your pets teeth (or can't manage it) then I usually ear mark a dental every 3 or 4 years to keep those teeth clean and prevent them from becoming a problem. If you do this then you're more likely to be spending in the region of £300 rather than the £800 when the teeth are so rotten that they need to be removed.

Okay so maybe i've persuaded you to give it a go... but how?

It is a whole lot easier to start as a puppy or kitten as they will learn the routine a lot easier. If you are trying with an adult then it may be a little harder to grasp but try and persist.

  • For the first 2 weeks (or longer if you're struggling), just get your pet used to you rubbing their gum line - not inside, just the outer surface of the teeth and gums.
  • Once they are used to this then you can add in a PET toothpaste. They are usually chicken or fish flavoured and this will get them used to the flavour.
    N.B. Please don't use Colgate
  • Get yourself a finger brush and start gently brushing the teeth with the toothpaste.

Now if this works and you don't mind getting your finger right in there then I would probably say you're okay just stopping here... but if you want you can progress to a proper toothbrush - if you're going to use a human one then you can use a soft bristle one, or you can buy specific pet toothbrushes.

This is clearly just a rough guide and it will be different for each of you and each pet, but give it a go and see how you do.

Let me know how you get on,


Thinking of getting a new pal?

I am so jealous! You must be so excited...

I could probably write a 7 book series on what you should be thinking about and considering now you're going to get a dog. Whether you're an experienced dog owner looking to add a new member of the family or a first time pooch owner, here are a few things to have a quick think about:

  1. Is the dog right for you?

    Where are you getting the dog from? Is it a rescue (please say yes!) and if so have the kennels said anything about temperament or what he/she is like? If not then try and work it out... visit the dog and make sure all their quirks fit you and your life.

    And what about breed? Nice easy way to go about this - research!
    Yes thats right, you've got some homework to do! Why don't you contact owners of the breed you're wanting and see what they say about them? Learn about their health issues as well as their personality and if you're really struggling... send me a message! I'll be happy to share my experiences!

    N.B - crossbreeds from rescues are quite often more healthy and amazing dogs in the long run (***my opinion***)

  2. Are you right for the dog?

    Are you even ready for a dog (or another one)?
    Just have a think... Do you have the time? Do you have the patience? Can you give 10-15 years of your life to this animal?

    If not... Get a goldfish, they're less effort.

  3. Vaccines, flea treatments, worming, neutering, microchipping and all that jazz…

    Firstly - get your dog chipped (its a legal requirement)
    Secondly - get your dog vaccinated
    Thirdly - treat your dog for fleas and worms
    Fourthly - if you’re not going to neuter your pet… that's fine, but do it for the right reasons and talk to your vet (we aren't bad people)!

    Cor that was easy right?

  4. Insurance

    Get your pet insured. Yes it’s expensive… But it’s worth it when you’ve got that £5000 bill because Rufus ran out in front of a car (it happens).

    When you're looking for a policy go and chat to your vet or someone in the know... they will be happy to help!

    My personal view is I don't really mind who you insure with (as a general rule) but please always get a "for life" policy. If not you may as well be putting that money in a bank account and saving it for if your dog does get ill.

  5. Food

    This could be interesting... If you're reading this, please send me a message and let me know what food you feed your dog and why. I am honestly really interested in food and nutrition.

    Now, times are changing. People are jumping on all sorts of fad diets and putting coconut oil on everything from their cereal to their spaghetti bolognaise... and its not just their own food!

    There are a lot of new diets coming onto the market for our pets. Whether it is raw, grain-free, vegetarian (yes unfortunately this is a thing), vegan (i know!), natural, processed, vac-packed, frozen... I could go on!

    I'm not going to get into a brawl discussing this in too much depth (phew) but can I just suggest you talk to your friends with dogs, talk to your vet, message me, or contact whoever you know that may have some decent knowledge on this matter.

    The thing to take away from this is you need to pick the right food for your pet, and yes remember, they are all different!

    N.B... can I please ask that you don't make your own diet for your dog unless you're a veterinary nutritionist? Thanks :)

Okay I'm going to stop there... its crazy how ranty you can get once you start typing! 

If you think I've missed anything then let me know or PLEASE if you have any questions fire away!

I'm here to help!


So you want to become a vet?

That's awesome!

I think I was very lucky...

I knew I wanted to be a vet from a very young age. I was inspired by my love for animals and for me there was no other career path.

Whether you’ve always wanted to be a vet or you’re considering it as a career option, here are some quick things to consider before and when deciding to pursue veterinary as a career path…

  1. Veterinary is an awesome career, but you have to know you’re going to love it

    I love being a vet, I love saying I’m a vet, I used to love saying I was studying to become a vet.

    Veterinary is not one of those jobs that you can switch off when you get home. I like to think that of all of my colleagues, I am one of the best at switching off with a beer in front of the TV, but even I admit I struggle to stop myself worrying about that tricky case or wondering how that little kittens bad eye is

    If thats okay with you, then great!

  2. People think you earn a load of money… and you don’t

    I would be rich if I had a £ for every time someone made a flippant comment or a joke relating to how much I get paid. Veterinary care is unfortunately a very expensive business and people automatically assume it is us that take home the profits... It's not!

    Now don’t get me wrong, it really doesn’t bother me, but if you’re getting into veterinary for the money, you’re probably better going into accountancy!

  3. You have to work really, really, really hard…

    You really do. Now you may think that is common sense, and you're right, but be prepared for it. It caught me a little by surprise and I don't think I'm alone in that.

    Due to the nature of the course and the exams, fail rates at vet school are high. Higher than I expected!
    You have to work hard to get in and then it doesn't really ever stop!

  4. Social life? What social life?

    Now this absolutely does not apply to vet school – I had an incredible time at vet school and if you are good at balancing your time and studies then you will definitely have a decent social life.

    The same might not be said once you’re qualified.

    Now I might have a really time consuming job, my class mate may work better hours… but I’m not so sure.
    It goes a long way to say of all my class mates from last year… bearing in mind we qualified just under a year ago, I have probably seen them on average once or twice.

    I am a massive family man and I use a lot of my holiday days to go home for birthdays and family events but even then, I am not seeing my family for months and months. This is the biggest thing that I wish I could change.

There is probably a list of pros and cons as long as my arm for the veterinary profession and I count myself very lucky that I mainly see the pros. Just remember, veterinary is a high pressure, exciting and amazingly different job, and you have to love it.

If you want any advice, want to know more about vet school, want to know more about life as a vet or anything else then click over to the contact page!