Latest Articles & News

A head scratching problem!

August 24th, 2017

Summer is upon us, the days are definitely getting warmer and you may be noticing your pets are scratching more. Skin problems can often start with seasonal changes and can often get worse before they get better! Skin problems can be a challenge, so it can be hard to figure out why furry friends are itchy; parasites and skin allergies are among the primary culprits.

Fleas enjoy the warmer weather and often flourish in our homes, especially as our pets spend more time outside. Only 5% of the adult flea population lives on our pets and the majority of the problem can be found crawling around in our flooring. Unfortunately adult fleas lay eggs which fall off and hatch into larvae, which then live in our carpets and bedding, the larvae then change to flea pupae. Pupae can survive for quite a long period of time before changing to the fleas we see. This is why one flea treatment on our pets will not solve a flea problem. Fleas can also be a host for tapeworms so it is important to use a tapewormer as part of your parasite control.

Some of our pets suffer from flea allergy dermatitis, which is an allergy to flea saliva, so even the odd flea bite can cause our pets to scratch and cause themselves a lot of harm. This may require antibiotics or anti-itch medication. It is therefore important to keep up to date with regular flea treatments on all your animals, so fleas do not get out of control. If a heavy infestation is noted an environmental spray maybe required. There are a variety of different products available from spot-ons to tablets to collars; some will even do repel or kill ticks and some affect worms too. Why not give us a call to find out which suits you and your pet best? You may also like to consider joining our Avenue Healthcare Club which spreads the cost of flea and worm treatment monthly whilst making a great saving too.

Fleas are often easy to diagnose as we can see the fleas or flea faeces in our pets’ coats. Other causes of itchiness such as allergies can be a little more frustrating to diagnose. An allergy is the body responding inappropriately to a normal stimulus in a hypersensitive way. We see allergies to all sorts of things including food, dust mites and pollens.

Diagnosing allergies often means eliminating other causes like parasites, fungi, or bacterial infections. What is even more frustrating is there is no cure! We can manage the clinical signs associated with cats and dogs itchiness and often make them feel a lot more comfortable but we can not get rid of the cause; because allergens are ever present in our environment -just like us with hay fever! Diagnosing and treating allergies can be time consuming and costly so please forgive us for mentioning this again but this is a prime example of why we recommend pet insurance.

Although allergies can be difficult to manage, these are some things you can do to alleviate the itchiness, especially if related to pollens. Wash your dog’s feet after walking, avoid letting cats out/ going for walk during high pollen counts, consider nutritional support like omega 3 (we may recommend a hypoallergenic diet if your pets allergy is related to food) and ensure parasite control is given regularly (we don’t need any other reason for them to scratch). This doesn’t include prescription medications we may prescribe if they are really itchy and cause sores. If you think your pet may be scratching an abnormal amount, whether due to some unwanted guests or a possible allergy, why not ring the surgery or visit us to discuss further.

Newsletter – Autumn 2017

August 14th, 2017

Newsletter Autumn 2017
Our Autumn newsletter is now available. We publish these newsletters regularly, usually every quarter. Each provides a series of short articles covering advice and information for keeping your pet happy and healthy.

Click the image to the right to view the Newsletter fullsize (Adobe PDF document)

Have fun in the sun!

August 3rd, 2017

Hopefully July will be filled with sunshine and your pets will enjoy the outdoor life with you. To prevent a happy time ending in a trip to the vet please take note of some of the pitfalls of the summer season.

The RSPCA have been running the ‘Dogs die in hot cars’ campaign for a long time. Leaving a dog in a car during a hot day (it doesn’t have to be sunny), even with the windows open a little way, will not be enough to prevent the dog suffering from heat stroke. This also applies to any animal in a hot, confined space without shade or ventilation- don’t forget that rabbits and guinea pigs in outdoor hutches need shade as well.

Heat stroke can also occur when dogs are running around in the hottest part of the day. Dogs with short faces such as Pugs, Staffies and Boxers, along with breeds that have thick coats like German Shepherds and Newfoundlands, can be particularly prone to this condition. Change your walking and play routine to cooler parts of the day to keep your dog comfortable. Conversely, elderly or infirm pets can also get heat stroke if they fall asleep in the sun or are too ill or stiff to get up and move into shade as they feel hotter. A little warmth from the sun is a pleasant experience but move elderly animals into the shade or indoors at the hottest parts of the day.

Just as we are advised to ensure we use sun cream protection to prevent burning, the same advice should be given to white eared cats. The hair in this area is sparse and light so the pale skin underneath is particularly prone to sunburn and over a long period of time may result in cancerous changes in the skin cells which will require surgery. Using sun block on the ear tips will help but ensure you rub it in well and distract the cat with a tasty treat so that it doesn’t lick it off until it has been absorbed. If you have any concerns about your white or light coloured pet, have a chat with one of our vets or nurses.

Going for long walks in the countryside is a great thing to do in the summer months but parasites may be lying in wait in the long grass. Ticks may be sitting on a blade of grass ready to grab a hold of a dog or cat (or human) as they pass by. Once attached, ticks will bite and feed on the host’s blood. During this time they can transmit diseases such as Lyme disease. Is your pet protected against ticks? Speak to one of our vets or nurses about the products that would be suitable for your pet or buy a tick hook. You might like to join our Avenue Healthcare Club and spread the cost of parasite protection through the year, along with many other member benefits.

Often, when the sun comes out so does the barbeque and we enjoy out-door dining. It is a huge temptation for cats and dogs to have the food around, with all the smells and the sociable atmosphere. Please ensure you keep unsuitable foods and the remains of your meals, such as bones, out of reach of pets. Bones can get stuck in the mouth, throat or digestive tract possibly resulting in lacerations, punctures and obstructions along the way down. Please wrap up bones and dispose of them in a secure, lidded bin to prevent wildlife being affected too.

The Avenue Veterinary Centre Team are out and about again at local events this summer. Come and see us at the South Gloucester Show on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th of August.

We hope you have a lovely summer with your pets.

Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month

May 8th, 2017

The month of May celebrates National Veterinary Nurse Month, which aims to increase awareness of the importance of the Veterinary Nursing profession in the provision of responsible pet care. This prompts the questions; what does a Veterinary Nurse do, what training is required to become a Veterinary Nurse, and what is the difference between the Veterinary Nurse and a Vet, or Veterinary Surgeon? I have found through working in practice that many members of the public would not be able to answer these questions. In short, the Veterinary Nurse performs a variety of roles within the practice, which I will cover in detail below, and a qualified Veterinary Nurse will have completed 2-4 years of training at either college or university. The Veterinary Surgeon is responsible for the medical and surgical treatment of animals, they diagnose illnesses, prescribe medicines and perform surgery, which requires 4-6 years of training at university. As I define the duties of a Veterinary Nurse, the differences between the roles of a Veterinary Nurse and Veterinary Surgeon should become clearer.

As a Veterinary Nurse we have a very diverse and interesting career which often means we have different responsibilities each day! We conduct nurses clinics which include; admitting patients to the practice; discharging them back home following operations or hospitalisation; weight clinics; post-operative check-ups; clip claws; flea and worm consults; anal gland emptying; six month pet health checks if you are on our Pet Health Plan; and many more!

As nurses we take blood samples from patients, and then can also run the blood tests in-house, as well as running in-house urine tests. We also place intravenous catheters in hospitalised patients, as well as patients coming in for operations. We monitor and care for in-patients throughout the day and administer medication, administer fluid therapy and even hand feed patients when needed! We can administer medications by injection, as well as orally and topically.

When a patient is required to be operated on a Veterinary Nurse will prepare them, clipping and scrubbing the site of incision. During the procedure a Veterinary Nurse will monitor the patient’s vitals throughout the entire duration of the general anaesthetic. It is part of a nurse’s responsibility to keep the patient alive during an operation! Following the operation, we monitor the patients making sure they have recovered, eaten, been outside, and then later in the day prepare them to go home. Veterinary Nurses are able to scrub into operations to assist the Veterinary Surgeon and perform minor surgical procedures, whilst under Veterinary Surgeon direction. We are also fully trained on positioning the animal for X-rays, setting the correct exposure factors and taking radiographs.

Veterinary Nurses cannot prescribe medication, however much like a pharmacist we are able to dispense medication. The Veterinary Nurse also plays a large role in ensuring the practice is clean and tidy, keeping the theatres and veterinary equipment sterile to maintain our practice’s high standards.

I find my work as a Veterinary Nurse very rewarding, particularly caring for ill patients and then seeing them return home well again.

There are a number of ways to become a Veterinary Nurse, through either vocational or higher education routes and training can take between 2 and 4 years to complete. Once qualified, Veterinary Nurses must enter a national register held by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and are required to undertake continuing professional development each year to learn new skills and keep up to date with developments in veterinary medicine. Registered Veterinary nurses can be identified by a red badge worn on the lapel of their uniform. If you are interested in pursuing a career in Veterinary Nursing, please take a look at the work experience section of our website, we often provide placements for students.

Laura Puddefoot RVN