Puppy & Kitten Care Information


Why should I vaccinate my Puppy?

Vaccinations protect your dog against the major diseases of Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Kennel cough.

A primary course of two vaccinations is usually started as a puppy (from 8 weeks of age). The vaccinations given are not protective of these diseases for life. When injections are given the puppy will be protected for the next 12 months, after that time the immunity will gradually wane and they may become unprotected. Therefore continued protection should be kept up to date with an annual booster of a single injection. Annual boosters will keep your dog’s immunity these diseases at a high level.

The Diseases


Also known as “hard pad”, this is a widespread, though now relatively uncommon, highly contagious disease. It is transmitted by droplets of moisture which a dog picks up by sniffing were an infected dog has been. Symptoms may include, vomiting, diarrhoea, high temperature, runny nose, sore eyes, coughing and convulsions. Sometimes the nose and foot pads can become hard and cracked. Distemper virus is often fatal and recovered animals have nervous disorders for life.


This is another disease that used to be common but is now quite rare, thanks to vaccination. It is a disease that attacks the liver, kidneys, lungs and eyes and can be fatal. It is transmitted by direct contact with infected urine, faeces and salvia. Symptoms include vomiting, high temperature and diarrhoea. As a result of this the dog can develop jaundice. The disease can develop quickly between 24-36 hours and it can sometimes cause respiratory failure and death. Dogs that do recover sometimes suffer from clouding of the cornea.


This is a fairly common bacterial disease. There are two species of leptospira of importance to the dog - one causes kidney disease and the other liver disease, and both are frequently fatal. In addition, both types are transmissible to humans (it is a zoonosis). The first species is picked up from contact with urine from infected animals. This is also called Weils disease and affects the liver. Dogs can get it from rats if they swim or drink in canals or rivers that are inhabited by these infected rats. The symptoms include high temperature, severe thirst, lethargy, increased urination, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and jaundice. In severe cases death can occur within a few hours and at the very least serious liver damage can occur. The second species is picked up from the infected urine of other dogs. The damage it causes is mainly to the kidneys and may cause problems as the dog gets older. The duration of immunity of the leptospirosis vaccination is only just over 12 months, and for this reason we strongly recommend regular yearly vaccination – especially as this is the disease your dog is most likely to come into contact with.


This disease appeared in the late seventies and caused the death of thousands of dogs. Regular outbreaks have been common where there are unvaccinated dogs. It is transmitted through contact with infected faeces. Although dogs of any age can become infected it is most commonly seen in puppies and has a high death rate. The signs of this disease appear quickly and the symptoms are severe vomiting, high temperature and profuse foul smelling bloody diarrhoea. As a result of these symptoms the dog can become severely dehydrated very quickly, it may collapse, and some can die within 24 hours of contracting the disease, even with veterinary treatment. Although uncommon in this area, parvovirus is currently becoming more prevalent in the UK.


A virus associated with the complex respiratory disease known as ‘Kennel Cough’ – there are several different viruses and bacteria that contribute to the problem, of which parainfluenza is one. It can be contracted anywhere dogs meet for example, training classes, boarding kennels or dog shows. It is passed on by contaminated airborne droplets or direct contact with infected dogs. It is highly contagious and can spread rapidly. The symptoms are a dry, harsh cough, which may cause retching. Owners often report that the dog appears to have something stuck in its throat. The coughing can last for several days or weeks, with treatment it can take 2 or 3 weeks for the dog to recover. 

Bordetella bronchiseptica

This is the bacterial disease that is a major part of the ‘Kennel Cough’ complex.  The ‘kennel cough’ vaccine is effective against Bordetella only, and is given down the nose as an “intranasal” vaccine. This vaccine is not routinely given as part of the standard vaccination regime.

Booster Vaccinations

We will send out reminders of when your dog’s booster vaccination is due. At the same time as the booster the vet will give your dog a health check; this can help identify any problems and any of you concerned can be answered. It is also a good time to discuss routine procedures such as worming, nail clipping etc. When you bring your puppy in for the first course of vaccinations the vet will give your puppy a thorough health check and discuss worming, flea treatment, diet, neutering, pet insurance, socialisation etc.

Please ask for advice if you have any questions or concerns.



Treating and preventing fleas

What are they?

Adult fleas are small reddish-brown, wingless insects and 2-3mm long. They have flat bodies and long legs, which give them great jumping powers. Fleas are found on dogs and cats and many other animals including humans, there are several different species but the most common flea is the “cat flea”. Flea eggs can remain dormant for a long time (up to two years!). Flea infestation is one of the most common health problem occurring in dogs and cats. 

How do I tell if my pet has fleas?

Flea infestation is one of the most common health problems occurring in dogs and cats. Almost every dog and cat will become infested with fleas at some time in their life.

Check for fleas in your pets’ coat by parting the hair above the tail and work along the back towards the head. You may see fleas themselves running away through the hair, but more usually you will see “flea dirt” – small pieces of digested blood that are passed by the flea. You can also pass a flea comb through the coat; this will catch any fleas or flea dirt. Flea dirt is small, dry, black specs and if placed on a damp piece of cotton wool/tissue, will dissolve and stain it red-brown.

Problems caused by fleas

Fleas cause irritation and skin allergy problems; this leads to biting, scratching and self trauma, and can be very unpleasant for your pet. For animals with a flea allergy (an allergy to flea saliva) even the smallest infestation can cause a reaction. Fleas are also involved in the life cycle of a tapeworm and if the carrier flea is eaten by your dog or cat whilst grooming it will infect your pet with tapeworms. Fleas also act as carriers for the transmission of certain diseases, e.g Feline infectious anaemia in cats and Myxomatosis in rabbits. Fleas can bite humans and cause skin reactions although they will not live on us.

Flea stages and lifecycle

Adult fleas cause all the problems to our animals and us, but they only represent 5% of the total flea population. The other 95% consists of immature stages of the flea life cycle which infests the environment – your home. The adults fleas live on your pet and eggs are laid by females 2 days after her first feed → eggs then drop off into the environment → the eggs then hatch after 1-2 days in ideal conditions → the larvae then moult twice before pupation → larvae crawl away from the light e.g. into the base of carpets the larvae then spin a pupal cocoon → adults fleas emerge from these 10 days to many months after pupation depending on the conditions → once emerged the adult fleas will locate a host to live on. In ideal conditions the life cycle can be completed in 12 days. Pupae can lay dormant for many months in the environment. Warmth, pressure and vibration encourage them to hatch as this is an indication there is a host nearby.

Treatment and Control

To control fleas, regular treatment of pets and the environment they live in is essential. Regularly use a product on all pets in the household to get rid of and then control the adult fleas. Treat the environment so that the immature stages are prevented from developing, the use of an environmental spray is recommended. Wash the bedding regularly at a minimum of 60 C to kill any eggs or larvae. Vacuuming can help a little in heavier infestations, daily vacuuming can be useful, as the vibrations encourage hatching as this will make the use of an environment spray more effective and more larvae will be vacuumed up. Apply an environmental spray to the vacuum bag to prevent the development of fleas in the bag. It is also useful to treat all areas your pet spends time in, for example the car or workplace. Also treat your pet for worms due to the risk of infection with tapeworms, we recommend that you routinely worm your pets monthly. It is important to remember that re-infestation can occur so it is important to treat pets regularly with the product of your choice.

Please ask for advice if you have any further queries.

Treating and preventing worms

Protecting your dog and cat against worms is as much a part of pet care as a good diet and the right exercise. Worms are important to control because they affect the condition of your pet and can be a health risk for you and your family.


Roundworms resemble strands of spaghetti of which some can grow to 180mm in length, but unless infection is heavy, they are rarely seen. The most common of the roundworm are Toxocara canis (the dog roundworm) and Toxicara cati (the cat roundworm). Roundworms can be transmitted in several different ways:

  • Across the womb to unborn puppies (not kittens).
  • To young feeding on their mothers’ milk (puppies and kittens)
  • A nursing bitch can be re-infected whilst cleaning her puppies.
  • Picked up in the environment.
  • An adult dog or cat may eat birds, slugs, snails or mice that harbouring roundworm larvae.

Toxocara eggs are great survivors and can remain infective in the environment for several years acting as a reservoir of infection for other dogs, cats and children.

HEALTH RISK: Humans particularly children can become infected if they accidentally swallow developing eggs and, in a very few cases each year, can cause damage to the retina at the back of the eye and affect sight.


Tapeworms are the other major group of parasitic worm that can affect our pets. They are long segmented worms that can grow up to 5 metres in length! Once the tapeworm reach maturity, they start to shed egg filled segments that are often passed with faeces or can be seen around the tail and bottom. Unlike roundworms, they cannot be passed directly from one cat or dog to another but have to develop in another animal first – they are called the “intermediate hosts”. In cats and dogs one of the common tapeworms found is Dipylidium canium (the flea tapeworm). The larvae are carried by fleas that act as the intermediate host and the pets swallow the fleas whilst grooming. The other common tapeworm in cats is Taenia taeniaformis whose intermediate hosts are small mammals (typically mice). This, of course, explains why hunting cats are so susceptible to infection. Other tapeworms are transmitted by:

  • Dogs eating sheep carcasses or raw offal.
  • Dogs and cats eating, rodents, birds or rabbits.

Worming programs

Worming programmes can be started as early as 2 weeks of age and repeated at regular intervals depending on the wormer of choice. It is important to worm young puppies as many are born with roundworms and puppies and kittens can also be infected from the mother’s milk. Worming pregnant bitches is also sometimes recommended to reduce the incidence of worm larvae crossing the placenta and infecting unborn puppies (please ask for advice on a suitable program and product). Routine worming for adults should be monthly, depending upon the environment your pet lives in, for cats that spend most of their time outside and frequency hunt, it may be necessary to worm more regularly.

Please ask for advice on the worming programmes for your pet.





Many people often have questions about the advantages and disadvantages of neutering their animals. The procedure in all animals is carried out under anaesthetic, and in females involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus, and in the male the removal of both testicles. Below is a list of the pros and cons of neutering.

We recommend for cats, castrating male cats at 6 months of age and spaying female cats at 6 months of age. Female cats can easily become pregnant by this age, so you need to be careful before this!

With dogs, we recommend neutering at 6 months of age, bitches do not need to have had a first season but if they have had a season they should be spayed 3-4 months afterwards - this is to allow the uterus to return to normal size with normal blood flow.

If your cat or bitch has had a litter, we advise spaying only after the milk has dried up – this is also the case with false pregnancies. There is a small risk that milk production may never stop if spayed whilst producing milk! Some people prefer to control their animal’s seasons chemically, using hormonal injections. We do not recommend this for routine, long term use as it can predispose to pyometra (see below). We advise against using heat-suppressing injections for the first season.

Advantages of Neutering

  • No unwanted puppies/ kittens – having a litter before neutering is of no benefit to the animal.
  • No risk of pyometra, a serious and life threatening condition where uterus fills with pus, common in un-neutered older bitches, and can also occur in cats. The only way to treat this is to neuter the animal; by this stage the operation is more risky as the animal is older, will be quite unwell and the body will be under strain as the pyometra produces toxins that affect the body and other organs.
  • A neutered bitch/cat is much less likely to get mammary tumours if spayed before their second season. Again this is quite a common problem is older bitches.
  • No seasons, no spotting of blood around the house, no unwanted attention from entire male dogs. In season bitches often have some behavioural changes due to the influence of hormones.
  • Neutering male dogs prevents the likelihood of them wandering off if they smell a bitch in season - this can sometimes be miles!
  • Castrated male cats are less likely to spray urine around to mark their territory; entire male cats are also far more prone to fighting.
  • No false pregnancies, a distressing condition that causes the cat/bitch to produce milk and behave as if they were pregnant.
  • If a bitch/cat becomes diabetic later in life, having seasons upsets the insulin balance which make stabilization of the condition very difficult.
  • By castrating a male dog you completely remove the chance developing testicular tumours and reduces the risk of anal-related tumours and prostate problems.
  • If a male dog is neutered young enough it can prevent a dog developing testosterone related behavioural problems, mounting, marking of territory, certain types of aggression and straying. If this problem occurs in entire males neutering should not be seen as a cure, but it may help, however it may take several months the affects of neutering to be seen. In cases of an entire dog being aggressive, neutering should not be seen as a definite way of stopping this behaviour. Neutering is no substitute for proper training, only an aid!

Disadvantages of Neutering

  • Anaesthesia/surgery required – there is a very low but possible risk of problems whilst under anaesthetic and during surgery. All neutering is routine but a bitch spay is major surgery. There is also the possibility of post operative problems. Most of these are easily dealt with, especially if post-op instructions are followed.
  • There is an increased risk of incontinence in older neutered bitches - this is because the hormonal influence over bladder control has been removed. It can usually be easily controlled medically with daily treatment.
  • Many people report that their spayed/castrated animals put on weight more easily – this can be easily managed by an adjustment in the diet. Recent scientific studies indicate this weight gain is no more than an entire animal.
  • People are often concerned that neutering will not allow their pet to express it’s full, normal behaviour. Neutered animals will not behave abnormally, just slightly differently, to entire animals.
  • Occasionally there may be some coat changes in certain breeds – this is a cosmetic problem that does not affect the animal.
  • Very rarely, spayed bitches can develop an “intrapelvic bladder” immediately after surgery. This condition results in incontinence which can only then be corrected surgically. It is extremely uncommon.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask one of the vets or nurses for further advice.

Looking after your pet's teeth

Dental disease is very common in dogs and cats. Looking after your pet’s teeth is an important part of preventative healthcare as worming, grooming and vaccinations.

If left uncleaned plaque will build up on teeth. Plaque is a mixture of bacteria and food debris that stick to the surface of the teeth, particularly near the gums. When the plaque hardens it forms tartar and allows even more plaque to form on it. The bacteria and plaque then cause inflammation, causing pain, infection and tooth loss. In extreme cases bacteria that have invaded the tooth socket are absorbed into the blood stream and can set up bacteria in many organs, particularly the heart causing bacterial endocarditis which is a serious heart condition.

One of the first visible signs of gum disease is reddening of the gums, but is often missed when not checked routinely. The first signs are usually bad breath, loss of appetite and possibly weight loss. When these signs are seen the tooth and gum disease can be at an advanced stage, and will require dental surgery but the vet.

The first step with any adult dog or cat is to take them to see the vet or nurse for a dental check up. If the hardened tartar has formed on the teeth removal will probably be recommend. This would involve an anesthetic for your pet, and require the use of specialist instruments and equipment. It is not possible to remove this tartar yourself by cleaning methods such as toothbrushing. Once the teeth have been cleaned it is important to start dental care to prevent the further build up of plaque. Without any dental care the mouth will deteriorate again (in as little time as 18 months) and it may be necessary to repeat the dental procedure. This will be subjecting your pet to further stress and a greater anesthetic risk as they get older. The vet or nurse will advise you on the best course of preventative treatment for your cat or dog.

Preventative care

The most effective way of keeping teeth clean is by regular toothbrushing with a toothpaste specifically made for pets. (Human tooth paste cannot be used as the frothing agent in our own brands makes them unsuitable for pets). Brushing with enzyme enhanced toothpaste helps to kill the bacteria that cause tooth and gum disease. As with all preventive healthcare the sooner this is started in life the better. Puppies and kittens will quickly get used to having their mouth examined and their teeth brushed. Even older pets learn to accept teeth cleaning as part of their routine with a little patience. It is never too late to start and the best way to introducing cleaning is part of a fun activity whether it is playing or grooming.

Introducing a toothpaste and brush should be done slowly. Firstly get your pet used to their mouth being handled, and then begin to massage the teeth and gumline with your finger. Always praise and reassure you pet whilst doing this. Then begin to apply a little of the product to get your pet used to the taste. After a few days begin to use a toothbrush and if your pet resists provide reassurance and a small reward. Try to establish a regular routine and hopefully you should find that dental care should not become a chore but an enjoyable procedure for you pet.

As well as toothpaste there are other products available to keep the teeth cleaner.

There are special diets, these are specifically formulated dry kibbles that actually have an abrasive affect on plaque and tartar, some of the diets also contain an ingredient that binds the calcium in saliva and so helps limits tartar formation. These are complete and balanced foods, and for maximum benefits should be fed exclusively. There are also many specifically designed chews on the market which help to keep plaque at bay, but these are best used in addition to regular tooth brushing. Chewing a safe rubber toy may help keep the teeth cleaner and there are many toys available that promote dental health. There are also some gels and mouthwashes that do not have to be applied with a toothbrush. These can be particularly useful for adult cats that are not used to having their mouth handled and will not tolerate the use of toothpaste and brush. Do not allow your pet to chew stones or bones as these can break teeth, and small brittle bones such as chicken bones can damage your pets gut. Feeding of sweet food should be restricted; they not only make your pet overweight but also increase the build up of bacteria on the teeth causing tooth decay.

Whatever you decide is the best routine and treatment, the prevention of dental disease is a huge benefit for your pet and can enhance their overall health and well being.




Pet Insurance

Owning a dog or cat is very rewarding and obvious fun but with that comes the responsibility of giving them all the care they need. Unfortunately there are times when illness or accidents cannot be prevented and veterinary attention is required, and this treatment can often be prolonged.  However much you love your pets there can always be the worry of how to pay the veterinary bills.  Having your pet covered by an insurance can give you peace of mind and is strongly recommended. 

There is a wide choice of insurances that cover a variety of benefits.  Apart from the veterinary fees, your pet can be insured for:

  • Third party liability if your pet causes death or injury to a person or damage to property.
  • Holiday cancellation costs if you have to cancel or cut short a holiday due to your pet going missing, or needing sudden, unexpected, life-saving treatment.
  • Purchase price, if your pet dies from accidental injury or is lost, stolen or missing.
  • Quarantine costs, loss of your pets passport and emergency expenses abroad.
  • Cost of advertising if your pet goes missing and a reward.
  • Kennel/cattery costs if you have to be admitted to hospital.

Veterinary fees that are generally covered are for illness and accident including hospitalization and referral.  This will not cover routine treatments such as vaccinations, worming, neutering etc.  Other things that may not be covered include:

  • Prescription diets.
  • Non essential hospitalization, house calls or out of hours fees.
  • Behaviour problems.
  • Treatment connected to pregnancy and giving birth.
  • Treatment for teeth and gum problems.
  • Some alternative therapies such as acupuncture etc.
  • Cost of euthanasia.
  • Pre existing conditions that were diagnosed before the start of the insurance, most companies will not cover these or conditions connected.

Insurance policies are varied as are the costs.  There are many different companies that offer pet insurance so it is extremely important that you read the policy conditions and small print thoroughly so you can take out insurance suited to your needs and so you know exactly what is, and is not covered. 

Puppy Socialisation

The sooner your puppy is exposed to environmental stimuli the more likely they will be able to cope and therefore prevent the chance of fearful behaviour. Your puppy needs to be introduced to people and other dogs (socialization) from an early. It is also important to accustom them to range of environments (habituation). Research shows that the most important time for this is 12 – 14 weeks old. The main difficulty is that your puppy needs to be kept away from sources of infection until their vaccination course is complete. If you wish to start socialising your puppy before this please take care as it will not be fully covered against infectious diseases. It can be helpful to start your puppy’s vaccination program as soon as possible (from 8 weeks). To reduce the risk further, carry your puppy when outside the home to prevent contact with other dogs and areas they have been. Once the vet states that the vaccination is complete your puppy can be walked on a lead outside. Puppy training classes are often extremely useful for teaching good behaviour and discipline. It should be recommended that the puppies have at least started their first course of vaccinations before going, however check this with the class you wish to attend.

Socialisation and Habituation

Go to all the environments you can think of that are going to help your puppy become “bomb proof”. Start with quieter places and gradually find busier ones. For example the street (where they can be introduced to sounds of traffic and movement of people), where groups of people congregate, the car, and the countryside. We can provide you with a tick chart that lists many different encounters for your puppy to experience.

Even at home the learning process can continue. Accustom your puppy to visitors, including the milkman/postman and domestic sights and sounds. Also get your puppy used to being handled; grooming daily is advised. A helpful tip is to regularly examine your puppy’s teeth, ears, paws and around the tail, this will condition him to accept this form of contact and prevent fearful behaviour when visiting the vet.

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is one of the most common behavioural problems in dogs. Some animals will get very anxious even if left alone for a short period of time. Dogs that suffer will get extremely anxious and may exhibit destructive behaviour. Therefore you should get your puppy used to be left alone without you. Things that may help to prevent this problem include planning your exit, so that when it is time to leave, just leave, do not say goodbye to your puppy with cuddles and lots of fuss, in fact ignore your puppy 5 minutes before you go. Paying too much attention will make your puppy feel more insecure when the attention is abruptly withdrawn. Leave a distraction such as toys or a chew, when you return put these away and only bring them out when you go out. Leaving the radio on and exercising your puppy before may also help. Teaching your puppy to be left alone can also be introduced as part of a training routine.

If your puppy shows signs of fear towards something do not overact – reassuring your puppy too much may reinforce its fear. Do not pressure your puppy to approach the problem as this may increase the fear response.