Tag Archives: Practice

Adder bites in dogs


The only venomous snake native to the UK is the European adder. They can be 50cm long with a black/brown zigzag pattern along their back and V shaped marking on the back of the head. They are commonly found on dry sandy heaths, sand dunes, rocky hillsides, moorland and woodland edges.

Snakes generally only bite in self-defence when stood on or disturbed. Bites are more common in the spring or summer, when snakes are more active.

Symptoms of a snake bite:

Adder bites will present as a dark-coloured, localised swelling with 2 small puncture marks in the centre. They most commonly occur on the face and legs. Your dog may appear to be nervous or in pain. They may have pale gums, bruising, dribbling, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, restlessness, drowsiness and lethargy. Eventually dogs may collapse, have blood clotting problems, tremors or convulsions.

What to do if your dog has a snake bite:

Seek veterinary attention IMMEDIATELY if your dog is bitten. Carry your dog (rather than letting him walk) to reduce the spread of the venom and bathe the wound in cold water to control the swelling. Try to keep your dog calm and warm as you transport them to the vet.

The vet will give your dog pain relief, treat the swelling and administer anti-venom if available. Most cases survive with appropriate treatment.

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

Myxomatosis and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD)

Soya and Danielle


Myxomatosis is a virus spread by fleas, mites and mosquitoes. Symptoms include puffy swellings around the face, blindness, high fever and usually death within 10-14 days. This condition is widespread in British wild rabbits. Since the disease us spread by biting insects, even indoor rabbits can be, and often are infected. There is no specific treatment and recovery is rare. It is therefore important to focus on prevention and protection.

Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is also prevalent in British wild rabbits. It causes high fever, internal bleeding and liver disease. It is almost always fatal. Pet rabbits may be found dead with bloodstained fluid at their nose or no other visible signs. It is spread by rabbit-to-rabbit contact and persists in the environment (eg carriers). There is no treatment so vaccination is essential.

Prevention and protection

Rabbits should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Rabbit (Viral) Haemorrhagic Disease, to help protect against possible suffering. There is a new vaccination which combines Myxomatosis and RHD. This only needs to be given annually but we recommend a 6 month check up too as a lot can change in 6 months.

Ensure your pets are treated for fleas, as infection can be spread by insects. You should also regularly clean and disinfect your rabbit’s enclosure. If possible, prevent contact with wild or affected domestic rabbits and keep hutches away from ponds that may collect mosquitoes.

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



Dogs expel heat by panting; however, this is ineffective if the environment is too humid or hot. In cases of heat-stroke, a dog’s body temperature can rise over 42°c (normal body temperature is around 38°c).

Signs of heat-stroke

Signs of heat-stroke include panting excessively, anxious behaviour, very red gums (turning blue in extreme circumstances), salivating, very rapid heart rate, collapse, convulsions or shock.
Heat-stroke must be treated IMMEDIATELY otherwise it can be fatal.

What to do if your dog is suffering from heat-stroke:

Remove the dog from the hot environment.
Reduce the body temperature GRADUALLY by using a shower spray and fan (to increase air flow). Then douse the dog in cool water, especially the head and neck (DO NOT USE ICE COLD WATER) or cover your dog in wet sheets. Continue until his breathing starts to settle.
Allow your dog to drink as much as he wants in small quantities at a time.
Seek veterinary advice immediately as it can be difficult to be sure how serious the situation is and urgent treatment may be needed.

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

The Yellow Dog Project: Some Dogs Need Space

The Official Yellow Dog UK poster

The Yellow Dog Project was created to bring awareness to dogs who need space while training, recovering from surgery, or being rehabilitated.

If you see a dog with a YELLOW ribbon, bandanna or similar on the leash or on the dog, this is a dog which needs some space. Please, do not approach this dog or its people with your dog. They are indicating that their dog cannot be close to other dogs. How close is too close? Only the dog or his people know, so maintain distance and give them time to move out of your way.

You can read more here: http://www.yellowdoguk.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.

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

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.

Caring for your gerbil



Life-span: 3-3.5 years
Adult size: 4.5 inches long
Adult weight: 2-4 ounces


A glass aquarium provides spacious, inexpensive, easy-to-clean housing.  A 10 gallon tank should be used to house 1-2 gerbils, 15 gallons for 3, 20 gallons for 4 and 30 gallons for 6.  Suitable lids are fine wire lids or lids provided at pet stores with fittings to allow ‘habitat’ tubes.  Ensure the lid is secured.  Wire mesh or plastic cages may also be used, but gnawing on wires may prove harmful, and plastic can easily be gnawed to ruins.


Tunnels and tubes can be provided for playing and exploration, along with play areas with sloping ramps and a climbing branch.  Cardboard tubes can be provided both for exploring and chewing.  A variety of toys can be purchased for further enrichment.  An exercise wheel may also be provided, but ensure there are no gaps where the gerbil will run.  If there are, masking tape can be placed round the circumference, and then lightly coat the inside with bedding.  A nesting box should be provided for privacy.  Wooden ones are best.

Floor Covering:

Aspen, Carefresh and corncob bedding is best.  The average 10 gallon tank with 2 gerbils will only need the bedding changed every 2-3 weeks.  A regularly cleaned tank should never smell.  Fill the tank 1/3 full with bedding.  Plain, shredded paper may also be used.


Gerbils should be housed at normal room temperature.


Gerbils have no special lighting requirements.


A good, pre-mixed gerbil food is recommended.  Sunflower seeds tend to be high in fat, and are therefore very fattening.  It is best to pick these out beforehand and hand feed them to the gerbils during the day.  Food should be provided in a heavy ceramic bowl, or placed on the bedding in the centre of the tank to allow for foraging.


Each tank will require its own water bottle.  If you are using a glass tank, a special bottle holder/shield will need to be purchased.  Ensure that the tip of the bottle is kept well above the bedding, or it will drain in a matter of hours.  Ensure the water is kept clean and fresh at all times.


For the best results, the gerbils should be three months old before mating.  Females can produce offspring until about 2 years of age.  Gestation is about 24 days, with a typical litter containing 6 pups.  The mother should be left alone whilst giving birth, and will usually stay alone in the nest with them for up to 48 hours.  Ensure all hands are washed before handling the pups to prevent rejection by the mother.


Most gerbils are easily tamed in a short space of time with frequent, gently handling.  They should first be allowed to become accustomed to your hand inside the tank, before letting them step onto your hand.  After this, they may gently be scooped out of the tank.  Do not lift your gerbil too high unless it jumps out of your hand.  Allow your gerbil to sit on your lap and investigate you.

Further information:

For further information, visit http://agsgerbils.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

Caring for your parrot



Life-span: 25-50 years


A variety of parrot cages are available with plastic bases and chromed or bronzed wire tops.  These pose no risk to the bird and are easily cleaned.  Commercially produced medium parrot cages tend to be 48 by 48 by 68cm or 60 by 40 by 65cm.  Cages for larger species should be more substantial.  There should be of sufficient height, breadth and width to allow the bird to stretch its wings freely.  Home-made cages should not have any sharp, unfinished edges.  Also avoid newly galvanized wire which can lead to zinc poisoning.


Perches should be made of wood, as it provides a good surface for the bird’s feet, and allows for chewing.  Oak, fruit wood and willow branches may be provided.  Natural perches provide a variety of shapes and diameters for the feet. Make sure there are no splinters or sharp points.  Toys should also be provided, with many purpose-built toys available from pet shops.  Alternatively pine cones, corn cobs or clean chop bones can be used.

Floor covering:

Floor coverings are not necessary for parrots. A layer of newspaper on the floor will help to catch the droppings and make cleaning easier.


The cage should be positioned to avoid severe fluctuations in temperature.  Constant high temperatures are unnecessary for healthy birds.  The low humidity of centrally heated environments may play a part in feather, behavioural and reproductive disorders.  Tropical parrots find it difficult to cope with the low temperatures in Europe and will require some heating, particularly in middle of the night.


Constant direct sunlight should be avoided.  Covering the cage at night is not required, but allows the owner to regulate the bird’s behavior and photoperiod to an extent.  Excessive artificial daylength may contribute to feather, behavioural and reproductive disorders.  It is just as important not to leave parrots without any light during the long European winter nights. Ideally provide adequate lighting for at least 10 hours in winter and no more than 14 hours in summer.


There are a variety of foods commercially available, many of which are unsuitable.  Seed diets do not meet the bird’s nutritional requirements, with many commonly fed grains deficient in at least 32 essential nutrients.  Birds should not be fed any leftovers or table food as they not only fail to meet the nutritional requirements, but may also be dangerous.  Colored pellets should be avoided as they are usually made up of little more than milled white flours and cereal by-products.

It is recommended that you feed your parrot Harrison’s bird foods.  This is because it is designed to have a balanced ratio of fat, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and trace elements.  It can also be eaten entirely with little waste, as there are no seed hulls. Ideally, sixty percent of the diet should be made of the balanced, commercial pellets and forty percent comprising a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Mashed potato or butternut, peas, carrots, etc are a very good idea in moderation. Avoid large amounts of sugar containing fruits – limit it to half a grape at a time. Never feed anything with a bulb or corm (onions/garlic, etc). Avocado pear, green potatoes and many flowers (lillies) are toxic to parrots.

For further information on feeding, ask your vet for a leaflet or visit http://www.hbf-uk.co.uk/why.html


Most commercially available treats are made from seeds and sweet substances such as sugar or honey. They can be particularly unhealthy. Parrots will often appreciate very small bit of carrot, peas, a cereal flake or cluster (only one per day) or a cooked chicken bone with most of the meat removed. Never give anything that has been in your mouth or bitten by a human since the gram- bacteria in  our mouths can cause lethal infections in birds.  A small amount of bioled or scrambled egg can be given once a month.


Fresh water should be provided daily.  This should be provided in a dish.  Do not put the dish under a perch and if you find faeces in it, move it to a different area.  Parrots may also be trained to use a water bottle, but should be observed closely the first couple of days to ensure they are drinking.  Avoid vitamin and mineral preparations in the water for extended periods.  For more information on suitable methods for providing drinking water, visit http://www.hagen.com/hari/docu/parrots_water.html .


Single sex pairs will often display very convincing homosexual behaviour, so sex diagnosis should be conducted by your veterinarian.  Almost all psittacines are hole nesters, so a vertical nest box with a suitably sized hole is advisable.  This should be made of wood, and be of sufficient thickness to allow the bird to chew much of it away for a woodchip lining.  Most small species lay eggs at daily intervals, and larger species lay at intervals of 2-3 days.  This leads to staggered hatching, with the total incubation period ranging from 18-30 days.


All parrot species should be introduced to bathing from an early age.  Young parrots should be introduced to misting or bathing in stages.  This should start with a fine mist directed at the feet or in the general vicinity of the parrot.  Wing or tail flipping signals they are ready for more.  A silent, “pressurized” garden mister should be used.  It is best to wait for a day when you know the birds will dry quickly and safely.  Always ensure that the water used is clean.

Further information:

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