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Nursing Clinics

Microchipping: We recommend microchipping your pet to protect it from theft or loss. It is a simple procedure which only takes a few seconds and is relatively painless.

Nail clipping: We sell nail clippers in our waiting room but, if you find nail clipping difficult, then we will be happy to help.

Puppy parties: We run monthly puppy parties where your puppy can socialise with new people and other puppies, as well as trying some training. Leave your name with our receptionists if you’re interested and we’ll send you an invitation for the next session.

Behaviour: We have nurses who take a special interest in behaviour and can help with most behavioural problems.

Weight: We can help you monitor your pet’s weight and recommend diets for weight loss.

Bereavement: Our staff can help you and your family move on after the loss of a pet.


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 http://www.tiptreevets.co.uk or http://www.willows-vets.co.uk


Lungworm dog and bone

The larvae of the lungworm parasite are carried by slugs, snails and frogs. They can cause a problem if the dog eats them either purposefully or accidently (by eating grass, drinking from puddles, etc). Dogs or foxes infected with lungworm can spread the parasite into the environment as the larvae are expelled in the animal’s poo.


After infection, you may see worsening signs of cardiac and respiratory disease. This can include a chronic cough that gets worse over time, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing and weight loss. Initially symptoms are only seen at extremes of exercise, gradually becoming more obvious as the disease progresses. Affected dogs can develop a diarrhoea that rapidly becomes bloody. They may also bleed from the nose or elsewhere. Infection can cause serious health problems and even be fatal if untreated, so seek veterinary advice if you have any concerns.

Your vet may be able to diagnose lungworm by looking at your pets faeces under a microscope, examining their history, compatible clinical signs and response to treatment.

Prevention and treatment of lungworm

Dealing with the health problems caused by lung worm can be very difficult but killing the actual worm is relatively simple and cheap. We therefore recommend that you include lungworm treatment into your normal worming routine. Your vet will be able to advise you of the best product for your pet.


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 http://www.tiptreevets.co.uk or http://www.willows-vets.co.uk

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 Chameleon



Males 5-10 years
Females 2-5 years


Chameleons require an enclosure made from strong plastic or wire mesh, at least 3 foot wide and deep and 4 foot high. The bigger the better. Aquariums are not suitable since they trap too much moisture, particularly at the bottom, they do not allow enough movement of air and the reflection of the chameleon in the glass can be very distressing to them.


A good supply of climbing frames are necessary and need to be made from non-toxic material such as plastic. They must be strong enough to prevent bits breaking off since chameleons will sometimes ingest foreign objects and die as a result. Natural plants are a good idea. A list of useful plants and a second list of toxic plants can be found on www.chameleonsonline.com.  Artificial plants are sometimes ingested by chameleons and can cause death from intestinal obstruction.

Floor covering

Beware of small particles such as sand, grit, etc since chameleons will eat them and their intestinal tract becomes blocked up. Also be careful not to allow mould to grow on any of the substrate since many moulds are very toxic to chameleons. Plain newspaper or bark chips are a good idea.


Heat should be provided by positioning several normal light bulbs at various points in the cage. Make sure the chameleons cannot come into contact with the bulbs and burn themselves.

It is important to have a max / min thermometer to record the extremes of temperature over 24 hours. During the day, keep the temperature at 80-90 degrees (27-32 degrees Celsius) and allow it to drop to 70 degrees (20-21 degrees Celsius) at night. Temperatures should never go out of the range of 60-90 degrees (16-33 degrees Celsius)

Ultraviolet Light

Chameleons need both UVA and UVB light (At least 5% UVB). Glass and plastic stop all UV light so it cannot be separated from the chameleons. The best source is a UV tube, but take note that many of them are only effective for 3-6 months, even if the still look violet to our eyes. The manufacturers will usually be able to tell you how long they last.


Insects such as crickets, locusts, wax worms and meal worms are suitable. Never feed an insect larger than the width of the chameleon’s mouth and never give biting or stinging insects or any that could have been exposed to toxins.

Insects purchased from pet shops are often just empty skeletons and have little food value. It is essential to feed them up and ‘gut-load’ them by providing insect food such as potato, carrots, cabbage, fish flakes, kitten food, potato flakes and bee pollen. Baby chick crumbs with a slice of vegetables to provide moisture can be used. Commercial ‘Bug Grub’ is also a good idea.

Do not overfeed meal worms or wax worms since they contain a lot of fat.

The insects should also be fed a vitamin/mineral ix such as Nutrobal and before giving them to the chameleon, dust them with the powder as well. Chameleons will eat up to 15-20 crickets / locusts per day in the very active season (Spring) whereas their appetites drop considerably in winter.


Chameleons will not drink from a bowl. They need a daily misting, either with a fine spray bottle or mister.  Fresh water (preferably rain water) at 20-30 degrees celsius) must be used. It is a good idea to add a water conditioner to get rid of the chlorine, chloramines and ammonia, adjust the pH, provide electrolytes and help support the slime layer on the skin.

Less effective ways of providing water are by putting a plant in the shower to get wet and then putting it back into the chameleon enclosure, using a humidifier, or providing a rodent drinking bottle.


It is very important to provide a place for female chameleons to lay their eggs or they become ‘egg-bound’ and die as a result. A deep bucket of fresh potting compost mixed with equal amounts of coarse builders sand is ideal. Allow the chameleons to dig around and rearrange the nursery to her liking. Unless kept with a male, the eggs will be infertile and can be removed and discarded at a later stage.


Most chameleons will tame very rapidly and become good pets. Always allow them to climb onto your hand by sliding it under them, rather than picking them up, which can be uncomfortable for them. Reward them with food and they will get used to coming to you. Some species never tame but will tolerate your presence.

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 bearded dragon



Life-span: 7-10 years
Adult size: 18-22 inches


Bearded Dragons require a glass or plexiglass aquarium or terrarium, at least 36 by 18 by 18 inches, with a screen top.  The bigger the better.  Wire and mesh enclosures are unsuitable as they lose too much heat.  If your bearded dragon appears to be distressed by its own reflection, a background can be used.


A variety of rocks and branches can be used to create hides, basking sites and climbing structures.  The basking site should be wide for comfort, and raised to create a temperature gradient.  Climbing furniture should be wider and longer than your pet’s body.  If pieces of wood found outside are used, they should first either be baked for half an hour at approximately 150 degrees Celsius or washed in a 10% bleach 90% water mixture (rinsed clean after) to ensure it is safe.  Artificial plants may be used for decoration, but be on the lookout for signs of them being eaten since they can cause fatal blockage of the gut.

Floor Covering:

Textured slate, porcelain or ceramic tiles, reptile carpet, paper towels and newspaper are all suitable substrates.  Washed and sifted silicone-free play sand may also be used if your bearded dragon is at least 16 inches long and 1 year old.  All sand should be scooped thoroughly, and replaced entirely every 3-4 months.


Reptile daylight bulbs or heat emitters are required.  Ensure the bearded dragon cannot come into contact with the bulbs and burn itself.  A maximum-minimum thermometer should be kept in the enclosure to monitor temperature.  If a simple thermometer is used and read in the morning and the evening, then it is possible that the temperature is falling to dangerously low levels in the middle of the night or becoming excessively hot in the middle of the day. The temperature in the enclosure should range from 77-95 degrees (25-35 degrees Celsius), with a basking area at 100-108 degrees (38-42 degrees Celsius).  The basking light should be off to one side so that the dragon can move closer if cold and retreat if too hot. Heat rocks are not a good idea as they can burn your reptile.  The relative humidity should be 30-40%.


A UVB light (e.g. ZooMed Reptisun 5.0) is required for the metabolism of vitamin D3.  Fluorescent tubes are also appropriate for this, and should be kept 6 inches from your reptile and replaced approximately every 5 months.  For UVA light, bearded dragons do best with a bright white light (a typical household bulb or Halogen flood can be used for this).  This light should be on for 12-14 hours and off for 12-10 hours to simulate day-night cycles.


Bearded dragons are omnivores, so require both insects and vegetables/fruit.  For a bearded dragon less than a year old, the diet should be 70% insects and 30% vegetables, with a young bearded dragon getting 30-80 appropriately-sized crickets (smaller than the space between the eyes) each day.  For bearded dragons over one year of age, the diet should be 70% vegetables and 30% insects, with a bearded dragon consuming approximately 50 crickets or 30 worms in a week.

Before the age of 2-3 months, bearded dragons should be fed 3-5 times each day, twice a day at 3-8 months and once a day after eight months.  To help avoid obesity in dragons over one year of age, a three day feeding rota may be used, with one day salad, one day insects and one day nothing.

Crickets, silkworms, calci-worms, superworms and locusts are appropriate insects for feeding, but should themselves be fed first (at least 24 hours before being fed off). When purchased from the supplier, most of these insects are just shells with very little inside, since they have often not been fed by the wholesaler, the distributor or the retailer.  Feed them up first.  Insects caught in the wild can be fed, but there is a danger that they may have been poisoned. Never feed insects that can sting and never any insect larger than the width of your bearded dragon’s mouth. Aim for 2-3 types of greens and 2-3 types of vegetables in the salad.

Bearded dragons should have both multivitamin and calcium supplements added to their food.  For dragons under one year of age, feed the multivitamin twice a week and calcium supplement 5 times a week.  For dragons over one year of age, feed both twice a week.


Water can be provided in a variety of ways.  One method is to mist them 2-4 times a day, and the dragon will drink the falling/fallen water.  Another method is to drip water on its nose until it has finished.  Bearded dragons will not recognize standing water as drinkable, so will not drink from a bowl unless trained to.

A fairly large water bowl may still be provided to allow the bearded dragon to bathe.  This water should be approximately 5 degrees Celsius lower than the air temperature.


The female will display obsessive, frantic and constant digging behavior, and may go off her food when she is ready to lay.  A laying box should be provided for the female containing sand, soil, or a sand-soil mix.  This should be moist enough to keep its shape, so that when she digs a burrow it doesn’t collapse on her.  It should be 12 inches deep at the deepest end, gradually becoming shallower.  This should also be kept warm.  After laying, the female should be allowed to bury her eggs uninterrupted.


Bearded dragons are largely docile and willing to be handled.  You should wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling due to bacteria found in the skin around their claws and in the gaps between scales.  Babies and hatchlings should be handled with great care, and allow them to walk onto your open palm.  Bearded dragons should not be forcibly removed from their enclosure.  Never hold the bearded dragon by the tail, and take care handling around this area as it can easily break off.

Further information:

For more information, visit http://beardeddragoncaresheet.weebly.com

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 corn snake

corn snake


Life-span:  15-20 years
Adult size:  4-5 feet long


Corn snakes should be kept in a vivarium, allowing a minimum of one square foot of floor space for every foot of the snake’s length, and should be at least one third of the snake’s length in height.  Tight-fitting lids which can be clamped down are essential.  Hatchlings should be kept in an appropriately sized vivarium, as they may become stressed and stop feeding in an oversized one.  With regular spot cleaning, a full clean of the vivarium should only be necessary every 3-5 weeks.


A hide box is essential, as your corn snake may become stressed if it is not.  This should be just large enough for the corn snake to curl up inside.  Too large and the snake will feel insecure.  There should ideally be one hide spot in the warm side of the vivarium, and one in the cold side.  Branches, rocks and plastic plants should be provided for climbing and resting.  They can also aid in shedding.  Branches and rocks found outside should first be washed in a chlorine/water solution, rinsed and soaked in clean water and left to dry in the sun before use.  Alternatively bake in the oven for an hour at 100 degrees Celsius.  Change the layout of the furniture occasionally for enrichment.

Floor covering:

Suitable floor coverings include aspen shavings (Cedar or redwood should not be used, as they are toxic), layers of newspaper or artificial grass.  Coco/orchid bark should be avoided for corn snakes, as it retains too much humidity.  Dirty bedding should be cleaned or removed and replaced as quickly as possible.  All shavings should be removed and replaced at least once a month.


The vivarium should provide a temperature gradient ranging from 70-86 degrees (21-30 degrees Celsius).  A heat mat with a thermostat may be placed under one third to one half of the vivarium to provide this.  Alternatively a light bulb attached to the roof of the vivarium with a dimming stat.  Make sure the corn snake is unable to come into come into contact with the bulb or it may burn itself.  A heat mat is better, as a bulb should only be left on for normal daylight time.  A maximum – minimum thermometer should be kept at the height of the snake. If a simple thermometer is used and read in the mornings and evenings, then it is possible that the temperature in the vivarium is dropping to dangerous lows in the middle of the night or getting excessively hot in the middle of the day, despite normal readins when the thermometer is checked.  Relative humidity should be between 30-70% (towards the higher end during shedding).


Corn snakes do not require special lighting, but any lights should mimic normal daylight patterns to prevent the snake becoming stressed.


Corn snakes feed on mice appropriate to their size.  Each mouse should be approximately the same width as one and a half times the size of the corn snake’s head.  Hatchlings should be fed one pink mouse every 5-6 days, gradually increasing to one adult mouse every 7-14 days for an adult.  Large corn snakes may require 2 mice.  Chicks and fertilized quail eggs may also be fed, but are not recommended as a staple diet.  Never feed live prey as it may bite your snake.  It is best to feed your corn snake outside the vivarium to ensure no flooring is ingested.


Corn snakes require fresh water each day.  This should be provided in a heavy bowl to prevent the snake tipping it over.  The snake may also bathe in the water to aid with shedding.  If your corn snake defecates in the water bowl, clean and disinfect it immediately.


Corn snakes shed the outer layer of their skin on a regular basis. Often they will not eat while doing so. The first sign will be areas of skin that are lighter than the rest and peel off if rubbed. The skin comes off from areas of friction first and often the smaller tips of toes and tail-end are the last to loose their skin. If the humidity is too low or their is nothing against which the snake can rub, the skin may not be fully shed. Retained skin can cut off the blood supply to toes or tail and retained ‘spectacles’ of skin over the eyes can cause problems. If necessary, help your snake by bathing it in a bowl of tepid water daily and gently easing the retained skin off with an ear-bud.


Caring for your Chinchilla



Life-span:  15-20 years
Adult size:  Up to 1 foot
Adult weight:  1-1.5 pounds (500 – 800g)


Chinchillas are very active, so the bigger the cage the better.  The minimum size for a single chinchilla should be 16 by 20 by 16 inches.  A wire mesh cage is the most appropriate, to ensure the chinchilla does not chew its way out.  There should be solid flooring as wire flooring can damage their feet.  Glass tanks should not be used due to poor ventilation.  The cage should have several levels for enrichment.  Keep the cage out of direct sunlight, and away from heat sources, drafts, and areas of high humidity.


A hide area is essential, and may consist of a nest box, tunnel, or any other chew-proof place it can hide.  Exercise wheels are an essential, and must have a solid floor.  Chew-proof toys may be provided for further enrichment, with wooden blocks and chew-sticks to help keep teeth worn down.  Provide ledges and branches for climbing.  Avoid using wood found outside as it may be toxic.  Dust baths are essential for your chinchilla at least twice a week to maintain their soft, plush fur.  Commercial dusting powders and bins are available.

Floor covering:

Pelleted or shredded paper makes a good bedding as it is safe to chew and absorbs liquid well.  Pine or cedar bedding should be avoided as they can damage your pets feet, and the dust may cause respiratory problems.  Dirty bedding should be removed daily, with all bedding being replaced at least once a week.


Chinchillas are sensitive to heat, humidity, and drafts.  Temperatures above 78 degrees (25 degrees Celsius) should be avoided, and may cause heat stroke.


Avoid direct sunlight and brightly lit areas as Chinchillas sleep a lot during the day.


Chinchilla pellets should be fed, as they are manufactured to contain the correct amounts of protein, fat and roughage.  Use a heavy bowl to prevent spillage.  Clean, fresh hay should also be provided for extra roughage, and help wear down teeth.  Ideally this should be provided in a hay rack.  Salt blocks and Vitamin C supplements may be beneficial.  Nuts, seeds and dried fruit should only be given occasionally as treats, as they are fattening.


Fresh water should always be available.  This is best provided in a stoppered water bottle.


Chinchillas mature sexually around 8 months of age.  Mating season is usually between November and May in the northern hemisphere.  Injury is possible, so mating chinchillas should be supervised for safety.  Gestation lasts around 110 days.  A usual litter is born in the morning and consists of 2 kits, but may be as many as 6.  Fathers may become aggressive, so regular supervision is advisable.  Kits will eat solid food after about a week, but are dependent upon their mother for up to 8 weeks.


Regular time out of the cage is essential for exercise.  Ensure nothing potentially harmful is within reach of the chinchilla.  When your chinchilla first gets home, you should talk to it to allow it to become accustomed to your voice.  Then introduce your hand into the cage offering a treat.  Chinchillas should be held firmly but gently, close to your chest, with one hand on its back and one under its bottom.  Rough handling may cause your chinchilla to bite, and will shed its fur if it becomes distressed.  You should handle your chinchilla regularly.

Further information:

For further information, visit http://chinchillacare.org/

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