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Youngsters

We all love babies so cute and loveable, here in this section we hope to help you get your new member of the family off to a great start in life. Remember we are always here to help, so make sure you bring them along to see us at Victoria Vets to make sure they are happy and healthy.

Puppies and kittens

Caring for your new puppy or kitten

Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Even if you’ve had a puppy or a kitten before, it’s a good idea to remind yourself of the basic health care that will keep your pet in tip-top condition. If you haven’t had a pet before, you’ll find some general information on taking the best care of your new pet. Once your kitten or puppy have received their first vaccination, you will be invited to a FREE consultation with a Fully Qualified Veterinary Nurse, where information below will be discussed with you and any further questions you may have.

The main areas to consider are:

  • Vaccinations
  • Flea treatments
  • Worming
  • Diets
  • Insurance

Vaccinations

There are a number of highly infectious (and potentially fatal) diseases that can affect your pet. Many of these diseases have no effective treatment and young puppies and kittens that catch them can die. However, for many of these conditions there is a simple protection in the form of a vaccination and regular annual booster, so always ensure that your pet is up to date with the recommended protection.

Puppies

Primary vaccinations are given in two doses a few weeks apart. Vaccination protects against Parvovirus, Distemper, Hepatitis and Leptospirosis. Until this first course of injections has been completed, you should keep your pet away from other animals where possible. If you are planning to use kennels, you will need to provide the vaccination certificate, so keep it in a safe place!

Kittens

Primary vaccinations are given in two doses a few weeks apart. Vaccination protects against Feline Infectious Enteritis, Cat Flu and  Leukaemia. Until this first course of injections has been completed, you should keep your pet away from other animals where possible.

If you are planning to use catteries, you will need to provide the  vaccination certificate, so keep it in a safe place! Keeping your pet up to date with its booster jabs is vital if you want to keep your pet in good shape. We will send you a reminder when your pet is due for a booster to help remind you.

Flea treatments

Fleas are a sad fact of every pet’s life at some time or other, no matter how clean your pet or your home is. At Victoria Vets we firmly believe that prevention is better than cure when it comes to fleas and so our advice is geared towards that aim. Fortunately, the treatments available today are highly effective and can be applied in a range of different methods, so you’re sure to find one that works for you and your pet. You can buy flea treatments in pet shops, but you may find that those we are able to offer under prescription are more effective.

If you see your pet scratching excessively, or find small brown specks in their fur, then you may have a flea problem. Fleas live and feed on pets – females lay eggs on the animal which then drop off into your pet’s bed or favourite resting spot, so it’s equally important to treat your home as  well as your pet.

It’s not advisable to treat puppies and kittens under 8 weeks with anything except a special water-based spray. We can provide this for you. Your pet may be treated for free at your Free Nurse Clinic. Once your pet reaches 8 weeks, there are more options e.g sprays or spot-on products that are applied at the base of the neck and injections that provide effective, longer-lasting treatment.

We can advise on the right products for you and your pet, please ask at reception or give us a call for more details of the correct products for your pet.

Worming

Cats and dogs, as predatory and naturally inquisitive animals, can pick up all kinds of parasites on their travels. The most common worms are roundworms and tapeworms.

Roundworms

These look like strings of spaghetti or elastic bands and may be picked up from the environment, as well as being passed from animal to animal. They can also be passed onto humans, where serious infestation can cause blindness in young children.

Tapeworms

You may find segments of these worms excreted in the animal’s faeces (they look like flattened grains of rice). Tapeworms cannot be passed directly from one animal to another, they rely on an intermediate host such as a passing flea. Therefore if you see tapeworm segments from our pet, you must treat for fleas also.

It’s especially important to treat puppies and kittens regularly during the first 6 months as they may have been exposed to worms from their mother during pregnancy and suckling.

We recommend treating your puppy or kitten every 2 weeks for the first 12 weeks and then every month until your pet is 6 months old, reducing to once every 3 months in adulthood unless you have small children in the house then monthly treatments are advised. Routinely we use Milbemax tablets which effectively treat all the common intestinal worms. Spot-on treatments can also be used, some are effective against roundworms and also control fleas and mites but remember to also use something to kill tapeworms every 3 months if you are using this spot-on. There is also a spot-on available for cats which is effective against tapeworms. However, no worming treatment will prevent re-infestation, which is why it is so important to treat your pet regularly, especially if they hunt or scavenge.

Microchipping

We strongly recommend having your new pet microchipped to ensure that should it become lost, there is a strong chance of it being returned safely to you.

The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. Once inserted, the microchip cannot move about or be seen, but can be read by a scanner through the skin. It is injected with a scalpel sharp, sterile needle under the skin of the neck, between the shoulder blades, in a simple and quick procedure, just like an ordinary injection. During the procedure the owner will keep the pet calm and focused on some nice treats. It is possible for almost any type of animal to be implanted with a microchip. Dogs, cats, puppies, kittens and rabbits can all be microchipped in a matter of minutes. No anaesthetic is required. For pets such as birds and reptiles the procedure is a little different and may require sedation, so we recommend you turn to your local vet for them. It is not painful for the animal to be micro chipped or to have the micro chip in place.

This is a quick procedure and the chip lasts for the lifetime of your pet for one initial fee (around £25). Please ask at the surgery for more details and to make an appointment.

Diet

Feeding your kitten or puppy the right food is one of the most important things you can do to help keep him happy and healthy. Commercial pet foods have been specially formulated to take into account the specific needs of growing cats and dogs, so we recommend that you choose a brand and a food type (dry or wet, cans or pouches) that meets your requirements, and stick to it. We can help with specific recommendations for your pet if you need advice – please call or ask at reception.

Kittens

Growing kittens have twice the energy requirements of adult cats, so the kitten food you choose is packed with all the extra calories and nutrients her body needs. Even when your kitten appears to be fully grown on the outside, he or she is still developing internally, so it’s best to keep on the kitten food for their first year. When they are very small, try feeding smaller quantities three or four times a day, as their stomachs and mouths are still so small.

Cats are obligate carnivores – they do not thrive on a meat-free diet as their bodies need the amino acids found in animal protein to develop and promote healthy tissue growth. Kittens and cats also need the taurine found naturally in chicken and fish for healthy hearts, eyes and reproductive systems. A high quality pet food contains all the essential elements for your kitten’s growth, which you can supplement with occasional treats and fresh meat and fish as appropriate. Always remember to keep a bowl of fresh water available for your kitten.

Puppies

From weaning to 6 months, your puppy should be fed 2-3 times a day, and after 6 months you can drop this down to twice a day. Always remember to have plenty of fresh water available. Unlike kittens, not all puppies have the same nutritional needs, so we recommend choosing a food that’s specially formulated according to his breed size. This will ensure that your puppy receives the ideal balance of nutrients and fibre in the correct ratio to calories. Once your puppy approaches his first birthday, you can then start to transition on to adult food.

A high quality pet food contains all the essential elements for your puppy’s growth, which you can supplement with occasional treats and fresh meat as appropriate.

Treats to avoid

Bones

These can become stuck in your puppy’s throat or can splinter and result in internal bleeding. Choose rawhide chews or puppy treats instead.

Chocolate

This can be toxic to animals, choose dog treats instead

Insurance

The idea of insuring your pet seems ridiculous until you are faced with a vet’s bill for an operation or a series of operations. As one-in-three pets will need to have veterinary treatment this year we strongly recommend you insure your pet. 4 weeks FREE insurance will be provided to you when your puppy or kitten is vaccinated with us.

Pet insurance can cover you against a range of eventualities including accidents, sickness, loss or theft of your pet, the cost of cancelling your holiday because your dog runs away, or against your liability for any injury your dog causes to a third-party. The exact level of cover you get varies from policy to policy but will often include the following:

  • Veterinary Fees
  • Theft and straying
  • Third party liability
  • Accidental damage
  • Death Benefit
  • Holiday cancellation
  • Boarding fees
  • Advertising/reward for lost pet

You should consider getting a policy that offers at least £4,000-worth of cover for each accident or illness. As always, it is well worth checking the exclusions and small print before committing to any policy. Some pet insurance policies stop paying out after 12 months or when you reach a maximum cost. To avoid this look for a “For Life Policy”. Some dogs may not be eligible for cover; this mainly applies to working dogs, racing dogs and dogs registered under the Dangerous Dogs Act.

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Puppy Parties

What, where and when? But what is a puppy party?...

These are informal get togethers for puppies and their owners. They are held at the surgery usually on an evening and provide a valuable opportunity for puppies to socialise with other animals and people in a safe environment. At the Puppy Party your puppy will learn how to mix with other dogs, strangers and generally have a fun filled time. Nurses will also be available to answer any queries you may have and demonstrate how to look after your puppy and what problems to look out for, so please call or ask at reception to find out when the next party will be.

Puppy parties

Early socialisation of puppies - and the related process, early habituation - are the two single most important factors in ensuring a balanced and well-behaved adult dog. Therefore, a puppy needs to learn how to interact normally with adults, children, other dogs and pets, as well as become used to everyday noises such as household appliances, cars, the countryside and city (habituation).

For puppies, these `life experiences' start from birth and last until about 14 weeks of age. Anything a puppy experiences during this time will become part of its life. After that age, unfamiliar objects and experiences can cause a fearful response (sometimes extremely fearful) and could ultimately lead to aggression. Attending puppy classes will give you the opportunity to introduce your puppy to a new environment and lifestyles, allowing socialisation and habituation of your new pet in a safe, friendly environment.

What age is best?

We need to wait until at least a week after your pups first injection, in order to minimise the risk of disease, this then can be the first step onto an ongoing socialisation programme. It is vital that your pup gets to meet other pups and strangers before 14 weeks of age as this is when the socialisation phase stops.

What is the Animal Welfare Act?

All good pet owners want to make sure that they provide their animal with everything they need, but until now there has been no legal obligation to do so. This all changed on Friday 6th April 2007 when the Animal Welfare Act (2006) came into effect. The Act states that all animal owners have a legal `duty of care' to ensure the welfare of their pet. It identifies the five key needs of every animal:

  • The need for a proper diet (including water)
  • The need for somewhere suitable to live
  • The need to be housed with, or apart from, other animals (as appropriate)
  • The need to express their normal behaviour
  • The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

While many pet owners already provide for these needs, anyone who fails to do so could be liable for a fine or even a prison sentence.

Socialisation - what is it?

Socialisation is the process by which puppies learn to relate to people and other animals. This means meeting and having pleasant encounters with as many adults, children, dogs (puppies + adults) and other animals as possible. It also involves becoming used to a wide range of events, environments and situations.

The sooner the better
The younger the puppy the easier it is to socialise. This is because, as the puppy gets older, it becomes more cautious to new experiences. The early weeks are particularly important. During the early weeks a pup will approach anything and anybody, this changes as he or she reaches the age of 14 weeks. Therefore, it is vital that between 3 and 14 weeks of age) a puppy meets a wide variety of people and situations. Continuation of socialisation of puppies up until the age of 2 months old will hopefully ensure a happy, well-adjusted dog.

Worming

Weaned puppies or kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age. Then every month until 6 months of age when they can be treated as adults.

Worms are internal parasites which may or may not cause debility or disease in dogs. Worming (or treating these parasites) is an important issue in the dog because Toxocara canis is a very common roundworm in these animals and it can be passed to humans, with possibly quite serious consequences. Dogs are affected by many other types of worm including tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms and heartworms. The most common worms in dogs are the roundworm and the tapeworm. Roundworms are often about 10 cm long, an off white colour and may be coiled. They cause the most severe problems in young puppies: signs include abdominal distension. vomiting, diarrhoea and debility. In adult dogs they cause few problems but will form cysts in the muscles which are activated when a bitch is pregnant to infect new pups. The most common roundworm in dogs is Toxocara canis which is zoonotic and causes Toxocariasis in humans which may result in epilepsy or blindness. Tapeworms may be up to 30 cm in length. The whole worm is not often seen but the tapeworm segments may be noticed around the anal area or on the bedding. These segments are white in colour and look like grains of rice about 1 cm in length.

Tapeworms are passed to dogs by fleas or small prey mammals such as rabbits, they cannot be passed directly from one dog to another. Puppies are not often affected by tapeworms but they are a problem for adult dogs. They may sometimes cause irritation around the anus or diarrhoea in affected animals. All dogs should be treated for worms regularly whether you see signs of them or not. This is especially important in households with young children who are at most risk of catching worms from their pet! Most dogs should be wormed every three months with a product which ideally treats both types of worm. Speak to your vet about the best product for your pet. Puppies are very likely to be infected with Toxocara when they are born because they have been infected as a foetus from their mum. About 70% of pups will be infected in this way or from their mother's milk after birth. Worming is therefore essential in puppies and a suitable wormer should be given to puppies every 2 weeks from 4 weeks of age until they are 12 weeks old. After this they should be treated every month until they are 6 months old. They can then be treated every 3 months, the same as an adult dog. If you actually see the roundworms in a puppy then they may have a very severe infestation and it would be wise to seek a veterinary consultation. Pregnant bitches should be wormed with a suitable product to help prevent the transmission of worms to their pups.

External parasites
Fleas are a very common problem for owners of dogs. They breed at a terrific rate: a female flea can lay several hundred eggs every week after she has had her first feed of blood from your dog. The life-cycle of a flea lasts about 3 weeks and involves four different stages of development.

We all know that dogs get fleas from time to time and it is no reflection on the standards of hygiene in your home if your dog has this problem. Most dogs become itchy and spend extra time grooming or scratching if they have fleas. However some animals can develop an allergy to the flea bites and then the signs are more severe including loss of hair, scabs and spots as well as the extra grooming activities described above. In either case if fleas are the problem they will need to be treated promptly before a real infestation builds up in your home. Often owners of dogs with fleas will not see the fleas on their pet at all. A healthy adult dog will generally groom itself and in the process eat many adult fleas, therefore making it less likely that you will spot them moving about on your pet. In circumstances where the flea burden is very high or your dog is in less than optimal health you may be more likely to see the fleas as small brown insects running about in your dog's fur. You are also more likely to see fleas if your dog is white or has patches of white fur as the dark colour of the fleas will show up more easily. If you are unsure about whether your pet has fleas try this simple test: Sit your pet on a sheet of white tissue or other absorbent paper. Vigorously rub the pet's coat or brush the fur to dislodge lose hair and dander etc. (Brushing or rubbing against the line of growth of the hairs will help). Move your pet away and examine the debris on the paper. If you see dark, comma shaped material gently wet it with a little water. If a ring of red (blood) coloured damp paper develops around the object you will know that it was the faeces of a flea and that your pet does have fleas.

A female flea lays eggs while she is on your pet, however these eggs quickly drop to the floor and get into your carpet or between boards of wooden floors etc. They will obviously be found in highest numbers where your pet spends most time, so favorite sleeping places will have a high number of eggs in the bedding. If the flea eggs are to hatch and survive, the conditions of temperature and humidity must be correct. Unfortunately our modern, comfortably warm houses are also ideal for fleas as well as humans. The eggs hatch into larvae which feed on organic debris such as those lovely blood-rich flea faeces of their parents. The larvae then pupate and form a cocoon in which they can develop and wait until conditions are correct for them to hatch. Up until now all the flea life-stages have taken place in your carpet and not on your pet. The pupae will hatch into adult fleas when they sense the vibration of animals moving nearby and carbon dioxide in the air from animals breathing. This ensures that they only hatch into adults when there is likely to be an animal nearby for them to jump onto and feed from. The adult flea does not live very long (about 20 days) but they breed prolifically in that time so a huge population of thousands of fleas can develop in a house within a few weeks of the arrival of a single female flea! Although fleas are the most frequent parasites to cause pruritus (itchiness) in dogs there are a number of others which often cause problems. Ticks often cause localised itching and may also cause other problems since they are capable of spreading several diseases. For example, Lyme disease is spread by ticks. Granulomatous lesions may also form where a tick has bitten a dog.

Lice are seen less commonly than fleas or ticks. They may cause pruritus in dogs. Often the whole body is affected and some areas of inflammation and hair loss may be noticed. The lice themselves are only about 1mm in length and it is often easier to spot the eggs which are attached to the base of the hair shafts. The eggs are an off white colour and look a bit like dandruff or scurf, but they are stuck to the hair and will not come away from the shaft as dandruff would. Various mites may infect the skin of dogs. Cheyletiella is a mite which may cause intense itching, together with dandruff and scaling skin. It seems to particularly affect the back Ear mites in dogs are common especially in young animals. Sometimes the dog may show no signs of discomfort associated with these parasites but in other cases they will lead to otitis which is a painful inflammation of the ear. Otodectes cyanotis is the mite found in the ears of dogs and cats. These mites generally live along the surface of the ear canal but can occasionally be found on other parts of the body and in the general environment. The most common positions for them to be found other than the ear are the neck, rump and tail. Thick reddish brown crusts and scales will be seen in the ear when these mites are present.

Some dogs may have ear mites and show no signs of discomfort. However other animals will become hypersensitive to them. They develop an allergic reaction to the mites which results in an intense itching and discomfort. Because the ears become so itchy the dog may scratch itself badly on the outer surface of the ear. Due to the irritation the dog may hold its ear down flat against its head and vigorous shaking of the head is common. If the ear is rubbed the dog will often make scratching motions with its hind-legs.

The Pet Travel Scheme

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) is the system that allows pet dogs, cats and ferrets from certain countries to enter the UK without quarantine as long as they meet the rules. It also means that people in the UK can take their dogs, cats and ferrets to other European Union (EU) countries, and return with them to the UK. They can also, having taken their dogs, cats and ferrets to certain non-EU countries, bring them back to the UK without the need for quarantine. The rules are to keep the UK free from http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/notifiable/rabies/index.htm rabies and certain other diseases. Fact sheets available on http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine.

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Neutering Your Pet

Neutering – what you need to know

Unless you are planning to breed from your pet, we highly recommend that you have your pet neutered, to:

  • Prevent unplanned, unwanted and costly offspring
  • Reduce risk of certain types of cancer and diseases
  • Reduce aggression, straying, spraying and other anti-social behaviour

When can my pet be neutered?

We advise from 6 months old, however, each pet is an individual so we recommend discussing your specific needs with us.

What will happen?

Males
The procedure is called ‘castration’ – ie removal of the testicles and spermatic cord. The male is then unable to produce sperm and cannot father any offspring. Because the testicles are the main producer of testosterone, removing the testes lowers the level of this hormone in the males’ blood, thus lowering the chance of your pet straying as well as reducing aggression, spraying and leg mounting. Castration means that your pet cannot get testicular cancer and is less likely to get prostate cancer later on in life.

Females
The procedure for neutering your female dog is called a ‘spay’ - ie the removal of the ovaries and uterus. The female can’t produce any eggs, come into season or become pregnant. Because the ovaries are the main producer of oestrogen, removing them lowers the level of this hormone in your pet’s blood stream, resulting in more docile behaviour and a reduced chance of straying. Neutering females removes the risk of:

  • Phantom pregnancies
  • Pyometra. A womb infection that can be fatal and requires emergency surgery.
  • Ovarian cancer and also reduces the risk of mammary (breast) cancer later on in life. It can take approximately 6 weeks for the hormone levels to decrease, so behavioural changes will not be immediate.

FAQ

  • Neutering does not cause weight gain
  • It will not alter your pet’s temperament (but will have positive effects on our pet’s behaviour)
  • Your pet does not need to have a litter before being neutered

Before the operation

Dogs and cats

On the evening before the operation, your pet must not eat after 7pm, and may only drink water. An empty stomach reduces the risk of anaesthetic complications. If you suspect your pet may have eaten during the starvation period please tell a member of staff. We recommend that you give your pet an opportunity to go to the toilet before coming in to the clinic.

Rabbits and guinea pigs

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs DO NOT need to be starved before their operation. We like you to bring some of your pet’s normal food with you so that we can encourage them to eat as soon as they are awake. Avoid using wood shavings or sawdust in their carrier, as the small particles may interfere with the wound.

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