Average Day in the Life of a Vet


8.15am Arrive at work

Hospital rounds: Vets and nurses check on all the animals in hospital and review their treatment.

Discuss the operations for the day, go through each patient’s history and decide which vet will be responsible for each surgery.

Consulting: See new and follow up cases including 2 tortoises, a puppy for first vaccinationss, a cat that’s turning ginger (hyperthyroidism) and a dog that’s drinking a lot. Write up patient notes on the computer after each consultation. Complete urinalysis on a couple of samples in between consults and look at some skin scrapings under the microscope.

Meanwhile the nurses are organising blood tests and pre-operation injections as well as cleaning and feeding the hospital cases.

10.30am Start operations including castrating a cat, spaying a dog, spaying a rabbit, treating a road traffic accident and X-raying a limping dog. Also treat hospital cases and set up drips for intravenous fluids. Nurses monitor the anaesthetics and help hold animals.

Check the prescriptions that they nurses have prepared, so that they are ready to be collected by clients this afternoon.

2.45pm Afternoon consulting and discharging hospital cases. Explain blood test results and x-rays to clients and discuss post-operation treatment.

7.00pm Finish consulting and phone clients back. Make sure that external laboratory results are sent out. Meanwhile the nurses are getting ready for puppy parties.

Caring for your rat



Female: Doe
Male: Buck
Young: Pups
Lifespan: 2-4 years
Average weight: 400-800gms
Diet: Omnivorous (average 20-25 grams per day)


Rats can be housed in a wire cage with a plastic base, a plastic rat home or in a large viviarium with a well-ventilated cover. Wooden cages should not be used as rats will chew their way out. A rat enclosure can never be too big as they love to explore and exercise. Multi-level cages are a good idea as they add interest for the rat.

Rats are best kept indoors in an area with a constant temperature, away from direct sunlight and draughts and out of reach of other pets. Their hearing is extremely sensitive so they should be kept away from loud noises such as a stereo or washing machine.

Cages should be cleaned out on a regular basis. Rats should be provided with absorbent, dust-extracted bedding.

Feeding your rat:

It is not recommended to feed your rat human food as this may be high in sugars and fat. They should be given food specially designed for them, preferably one portion in the morning and one in the evening. Follow the feeding guidelines on the pack. A mono component diet will prevent selective feeding and ensure that your pet gets all the nutrients it needs.

Treating your rat:

Rats can occasionally have treats, as long as they are good for them. Try hiding some in the cage to encourage them to forage.


You need to provide a large, secure run for daily exercise. This can be free-standing or attached to the cage. You could use a large cardboard box and put bedding on the bottom. Put in some toilet rolls and hang a piece of rope for them to climb on. They will also love a piece of apple wood to gnaw on. Make sure you always keep an eye on your rat while it’s in the play area.

If you provide a wheel, make sure it is big enough for them to run in without bending their back. Also ensure that it has a solid floor and not rungs, as they can cause injuries to their feet and tail. Although rats sleep during the day, they are really energetic and will exercise for 3-4 hours a night.

Handling your rat:

Make sure your rat is awake before handling them, as they may bite if startled. Let them sniff your hand and climb into your open palm if possible. If they don’t approach you, you can grasp them around the shoulders, with your thumb just behind the front leg and supporting the hindfeet with the other hand. Never pick up a rat by its tail.


Rats are social animals and will become unhappy if left alone. Keeping them in pairs or single-sex groups from the same litter are best. Rats enjoy play-fighting but may fight seriously if you introduce an older rat to a younger one. Males should be neutered to avoid unwanted litters.

Common illnesses:

Mites: You may see your rat itching, especially around the neck, shoulders and ears. Scratching can damage the skin so seek treatment from a veterinarian.

Respiratory disease: Signs include struggling to breathe, ‘rattling’ breathing sounds, snuffling, sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy, weight loss and ruffled coat. Take your pet to the vet at the first signs of illness.

Overgrown teeth: Rats’ teeth continue to grow throughout their life, so they need to gnaw to keep their teeth in trim. If there is a chipped tooth or their teeth don’t meet, your vet can trim them.

Overgrown nails: Nails can also become overgrown and therefore should be trimmed by a vet to ensure that your rat is comfortable.

Always consult a vet if you have any reason for concern.


If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at www.tiptreevets.co.uk or www.willows-vets.co.uk

Feeding your Dog

Lucy and Mojo

Your puppy’s nutritional requirements will vary with his size. To make sure you are feeding your pet the right amount, follow the directions on your food packaging and weigh your puppy regularly. It’s important that they don’t gain too much weight, as this may lead them to be obese and develop health problems later on.

A balanced diet is a key factor in preventing illness. A single form of food e.g. chicken can never give all the vitamins, minerals, fibre and essential fatty acids.mOne of the main issues we see is people feeding their dog too many treats or leftover food from the table. This is a problem because dogs’ nutritional requirements are completely different to humans, and they need a food tailored to their needs. Dogs don’t need variety and will happily eat the same dogfood each day. This is also important as sudden changes in diet can cause digestive complications.

Young animals need much higher levels of protein and carbohydrates. Animals over seven years need less protein, phosphorus, copper and higher levels of fibre. Changing the diet according to the age of your pet can prevent serious problems later in life. Once animals reach maturity (usually at the time of neutering) they require lower levels of carbohydrates to prevent them becoming overweight. During times of illness or pregnancy, your pet may need higher levels of certain components.

For an adult dog, one meal a day is enough. For puppies, 4 meals a day are generally advised at first, the frequency to be gradually reduced. For all dogs and puppies, fresh water should be available at all times.

Unless you brush your pets teeth, it is important to feed a diet that will help keep the teeth clean. We can advise on which diets will help.

There are a wide variety of manufactured dogfoods available. At Tiptree and Willows Veterinary Centres we particularly recommend Vet Essentials, as it is designed to help prevent certain health problems. We also have Hills Prescription foods, which are designed to help manage specific conditions like urinary problems, dental problems and obesity.

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at www.tiptreevets.co.uk or www.willows-vets.co.uk

Caring for your hamster


Female: Sow
Male: Boar
Young: Pups
Life span: 1-3 years
Litter size: 4-12 pups
Gestation period: 15-18 days
Average weight: 85-150 grams


There are over 20 different breeds of hamsters, each with their own individual markings and colours.


Hamsters can be housed in a wire cage with a firm plastic base, a plastic hamster home or an adapted aquarium (viviarium) with a well ventilated cover. Wooden cages should not be used as hamsters can chew their way out. Hamsters love to explore, so a big cage with multiple levels is ideal. Your hamster must always have a place to rest and hide and another area to play and feed.

Your hamster needs warm, absorbent bedding. Do not use synthetic bedding as it could harm your hamster if eaten.

The temperature should be constant (out of direct sunlight or draughts) and should be away from loud noise (radios and tvs).


Hamsters should be fed every day, preferably in the evening as they are nocturnal. A metal bowl is ideal as they will chew plastic ones. Follow the recommended daily allowance on the food bag to ensure your hamster has enough food and make sure that fresh water is always available, preferably in a water bottle.

Treats should only be given occasionally and should be specially designed for hamsters as some human foods can be harmful to them.


Hamsters need daily exercise, either in a ball or a wheel. The wheel must be big enough that they don’t need to bend their back to fit in it, and must have a solid floor rather than rungs. Most hamsters will exercise for 3-4 hours a night. They will enjoy playing in tubes and boxes and having willow branches to chew on. You can also hide your hamsters food around the cage to encourage them to forage.


Make sure that your hamster is awake before handling them, as they may bite if startled. If possible, let it approach you and sniff your hand first. Then slowly offer your palm. Some hamsters will crawl into your hand. Alternatively you can scoop your hamster up and cup it in both palms to make sure it’s safe. Lift it slowly and either place it into your lap or hold it close to your chest while carrying it.


Some dwarf hamsters can be sociable but hamsters like Russian, Syrian or Chinese, are solitary and therefore should be housed alone to avoid fighting. If you have more than one hamster than a larger cage will be needed.

Common illnesses:

Diarrhoea: Generally caused by feeding too much green food. Stop feeding green food and instead just give your hamster its dry food. If the problem persists, consult your vet.

Constipation: A lack of droppings or hunched appearance may be a sign of constipation. Feed your hamster a small amount of green vegetables and see a vet if the problem persists.

Wet tail: A bacterial infection that can cause extreme diarrhoea. The anus and tail area appear wet and sticky. The hamster may appear hunched up as if it is in pain. This condition is highly infectious so affected hamsters should be housed separately. Clean the cage with AntiBAC+ and seek advice from your vet immediately.

Overgrown teeth: Hamsters teeth grow continually and they therefore need to gnaw to keep them short. Make sure your hamster has lots of things to gnaw on and consult a vet if they are struggling to eat.

Overgrown nails: Nails should be trimmed regularly by a vet to ensure that your hamster is comfortable.

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at www.tiptreevets.co.uk or www.willows-vets.co.uk

Caring for your guinea pig


Female: Sow
Male: Boar
Young: Piglets
Lifespan: 5-8 years
Litter size: 1-6 piglets
Gestation period: 59-72 days
Average weight: 750-1000gms


Guinea pigs should be housed in a hutch, with access to plenty of sunshine (though out of direct sunlight) and fresh air. The minimum size should be 91cm x 61cm x 45cm. It should be around 4-5 times the length of the guinea pig when stretched out. In the winter, guinea pigs should be housed indoors at a temperature between 18-26 degrees celsius.

Place the hutch on bricks to avoid it getting damp in wet weather. Ensure the roof is sloping, waterproof and overhangs slightly. Always ensure the doors are locked.

It’s important to have fresh safe bedding and to clean the hutch out regularly to avoid attracting flies. Flies can lay eggs, leading to an infestation of maggots. In the winter, bedding can become damp and mouldy.


Guinea pigs need a balanced diet of specially formulated guinea pig food and hay daily. The food must include vitamin C as guinea pigs cannot generate their own and will become ill without it. Hay provides fibre and helps wear down their continuously growing teeth. We recommend a mono-component diet (where all the ingredients are mixed into biscuits) to avoid selective feeding. A water bottle should also be provided to keep the water fresh.

Treats should only be given occasionally and should be specially designed for guinea pigs as some human foods can be poisonous for them.


Guinea pigs are frightened in large open spaces and love to hide in tunnels and boxes. They also like to have access to wood, so they can keep their teeth in trim.

Handling Your Guinea Pig

Talk to your guinea pig and approach it at the same level. Let it come to you and sniff your hand. Gently place your hand across its shoulders and slowly lift it up, placing your other hand under its rump to support it. Either place it in your lap or hold it close to your chest while getting up.


Guinea pigs are sociable and should be housed with other guinea pigs. Female pairs are fine. Males live happily together but may become agitated in the vicinity of females. If females and males are housed together they must be neutered to avoid litters.


If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at www.tiptreevets.co.uk or www.willows-vets.co.uk

Caring for your rabbit

Danielle and Soya

Male: Buck
Female: Doe
Young: Kittens
Lifespan: 5-10 years
Litter size: 4-12 kittensAverage weight: Male 1-5kg Female 1-8kg
Vaccinations: Myxomatosis (every 6-12 months)/VHD (annually)


The minimum size for a good hutch is 4ft x 2ft x 2ft high for a single, medium breed. It should be about 4-5 times the length of the rabbit when the rabbit is stretched out and tall enough that the rabbit can sit upright with its ears pricked up.

The hutch should be placed somewhere sheltered, where there won’t be direct sunlight and it is protected from wind and rain. You will need to provide safe absorbent bedding. Hutches should be cleaned on a regular basis, as flies can be attracted to the hutch in warm weather and bedding can become damp and mouldy in wet weather.


Rabbits need a high fibre diet to keep their continually growing teeth in trim and ensure that they stay healthy. We recommend giving your rabbit fresh hay, grass and a small bowl of excel or supreme science pellets. Rabbits should always have access to water and hay, as restrictions can cause digestive problems.


Rabbit love to play in boxes, tubes and other hiding places. They generally feel nervous in large open spaces.


Rabbits can be litter trained fairly easily as they like to go in the same area each time. You can also train them to do tricks.

Handling your rabbit

Crouch and talk to your rabbit as you approach it. Let it sniff the back of your hand. Gently pick it up, making sure to support the rump in one hand. Place the rabbit on your lap or hold it against your chest and slowly stand up.


Rabbits are social. It is best to house them with littermates to avoid fighting. Single sex groups are normally fine; however males may fight in the presence of females and females may be more temperamental in breeding season. Males and females should be neutered if housed together.

Common illnesses:

Dental problems: Rabbits teeth continually grow and can become too long if the rabbit doesn’t have something to chew on.

Flystrike: Flies are attracted to rabbit droppings and lay eggs. The hatching maggots will then eat the rabbits flesh. Keep the hutch clean and groom your rabbit regularly. Visit your vet immediately if you see any signs of maggots.

Snuffles/Pasteurella: Caused by bacteria and can be related to stress. The rabbit will develop cold-like symptoms like a runny nose, discharge from the eyes and breathing problems. It can lead to pneumonia, head tilt and tooth root abscesses. Keep the hutch clean, at a constant temperature (around 16 degrees c) and keep stress to a minimum.

Gastro-intestinal disorders: Caused by inappropriate diet, stress, parasites, etc. See your vet immediately if your rabbit shows signs of bloat, constipation or diarrhoea.

Myxomatosis: Disease transmitted by fleas or contact with other infected rabbits. Symptoms include swollen eyelids and thick discharge from the eyes and nose. Most rabbits become subdued and stop eating. It is usually fatal. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any signs of myxomatosis. Vaccinations are recommended to reduce the liklihood of your rabbit getting Myxomatosis.


If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets. You can also visit our websites at www.tiptreevets.co.uk or www.willows-vets.co.uk

Kitten behaviour


Make sure your kitten is handled daily and has lots of contact with you. Teach them from an early age to allow you to look in their mouths and ears, feel their paws and examine their entire body for problems.

Keep them confined until they are litter trained and then allow them access to the rest of the house under supervision at first. Make sure you have a litter tray available for them to use at all times, including at night.

Most cats will become quite territorial and enjoy having their own space or ‘isolation field’ where they feel safe, so make sure you give your kitten a private place to go to when it doesn’t want to be disturbed. Cats will also leave scent marks around pathways in the house to act as familiar landmarks, so make sure you don’t remove all of your kitten’s scent marks as this will leave them feeling anxious.

Cats love to play hunt and you can join in with this to teach your kitten to control its biting and scratching. A lack of stimulation and play can cause your kitten to show aggression to any moving object, including your feet, so make sure you have lots of things to keep them entertained. We have lots of cat toys available in our waiting room for you to try.

If you would like any more information then phone 01621 818282 (Tiptree Veterinary Centre) or 01206 561407 (Willows Veterinary Centre) to book an appointment with one of our vets.