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Pet Advice

How can you care for your furry family member?

Flea and Tick Control

Ticks are small, spider-like arachnids and fleas are insects, but these two tiny creatures have at least one thing in common; they are both parasites that feed on your pet's blood and can cause a lot of discomfort and more serious health problems.

Flea bites may go unnoticed on some pets, cause slight irritation in others and produce extensive itching, red lesions, hair loss and even ulcers in those animals with flea allergy dermatitis, which is the result of extreme sensitivity to flea saliva. Severe flea infestations can cause anaemia, especially in small animals, puppies and kitten's. Fleas can transmit several diseases, as well as tapeworm. Ticks are also "vectors" or carriers of a number of diseases.

Controlling fleas and ticks

The best way to control flea problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Fortunately, developments in veterinary parasite control in recent years have made the twofold goal of eliminating fleas on pets and preventing further infestations much easier to achieve.

Available for dogs and cats, new insecticides and insect growth regulators in easy-to-use topical or oral forms not only eliminate any existing fleas, but also work long-term to prevent future infestations. This is accomplished either by killing the parasites before they can reproduce or by preventing their eggs from developing into normal adult fleas.

Furthermore, thorough daily vacuuming of high-traffic areas and frequent washing of your pet's bedding will also go a long way in reducing the flea population in your home. Some of the same types of topical or oral products used to control flea infestation are also effective against ticks. Such treatments should be combined with daily examinations and tick removal for those pets, especially dogs, which are frequently outdoors in areas with high tick populations.

For more information on which flea and tick treatment we sell or to purchase some medication, please contact the surgery.

Worm Control

There are two types of worm your pet can get: Instentinal worms and Non-Instentinal. Instentinal worms are exactly that, worms that live in your pet's instentines, feeding on their gut content and are the most common. Non-instentinal worms are much less common and live in other areas such as the chest.

Round Worm

A large percentage of puppies and kittens are born with microscopically small roundworm in their tissues. The larvae is introduced to the developing pup or kitten right in the mother's uterus via migration through the mother's tissues.

Roundworm larvae can also be transferred to the nursing pup or kitten from the mother's milk. The larvae make their way to the intestinal tract where they can grow up to five inches in length. They start shedding eggs and try desperately to keep house in the small intestine of its host.

The eggs that the adult worms pass in the stool can now reinfest the animal or other dogs and cats if somehow the egg-bearing stool is eaten. When the worm eggs hatch, larvae are released internally to migrate to the animal's lungs where the larvae are coughed up, swallowed, and finally grow up to adults in the small intestine.

Puppies and kittens with active roundworms in the intestines often have a pot-bellied appearance and poor growth. The worms may be seen in vomit or stool. If not treated in time, a severe infestation can cause death by intestinal blockage.

Roundworms don't just affect young pups or kittens, though. They can infest adult dogs and cats, too. However, as mentioned above, the larvae can encyst in body tissue of adult dogs and cats, remain dormant for periods of time and can activate during the last stages of pregnancy to infest the puppies and kittens.

Worming the mother has no effect on the encysted larvae in the body tissues and cannot prevent the worms from infecting the newborn. Almost all wormers work only on the adult parasites in the intestinal tract.

Tape Worm

The tapeworm is transmitted to dogs and cats that ingest fleas or hunt and eat wildlife or rodents infested with tapeworms or fleas. If you were to see an entire tapeworm, you would notice that they are arranged with a small head at one end and many tiny brick-like repeating segments making up the rest of the worm.

Tapeworms can reach four to six inches in length within the intestine. Each tapeworm may have as many as 90 segments, though it is the last segments in the chain that are released from the worm that can be seen in the stool or attached to the pets tail.

Many cases are diagnosed simply by seeing these tiny terminal segments attached to the pet's fur around the anus or under the tail; they even move around a bit shortly after they are passed and before they dry up and look like little grains of rice or confetti. It's also these segments of the tapeworm which contain the eggs.

Tapeworms cannot be killed by the typical generic, over-the-counter pet shop wormers. So don't waste your time and money on non-prescription medication, see a veterinarian for a treatment that actually works.

Hook Worm

These are much more common in dogs than in cats. They are very small, thin worms that fasten to the wall of the small intestine and suck blood. Dogs get hookworms from larval migration in the uterus from contact with the larvae in stool-contaminated soil or from ingesting the eggs after birth. As with roundworms, the hookworm larvae can also be transferred to the nursing pup from the mother's milk.

A severe hookworm infestation can kill puppies, often making them severely anaemic from the loss of blood to the hookworms' vampire-like activities. Chronic hookworm infestation is a common cause of illness in older dogs, often demonstrated as poor stamina, feed efficiency and weight maintenance. Other signs include bloody diarrhea, weight loss, anaemia, and progressive weakness. Diagnosis is made by examining the feces for eggs under a microscope.

Whip Worm

This parasite is more often seen in dogs than cats. Adult whipworms, although seldom seen in the stool, look like tiny pieces of thread, with one end enlarged. They live in the cecum, the first section of the dog's large intestine. Infestations are usually difficult to prove since the whipworms shed comparatively few eggs. So an examination of even several stool samples may not reveal the presence of whipworms.

If a dog is presented with chronic weight loss and passes stool that seems to have a covering of mucous (especially the last portion of stool the dog passes) and lives in a kennel situation or an area where whipworms are prevalent, the veterinarian may prescribe a whipworm medication based upon circumstantial evidence.

Although they seldom cause a dog's death, whipworms are a real nuisance for the dog and can be a problem for the veterinarian to diagnose.

Lung Worm

The lungworm parasite is carried by slugs and snails. The problem arises when dogs purposefully or accidentally eat these common garden pests when rummaging through undergrowth, eating grass, drinking from puddles or outdoor water bowls, or pick them up from their toys.

Foxes can also become infected with the lungworm and have been implicated in the spread of the parasite across the country.

Heart Worm

This is spread by mosquitoes and causes coughing, appetite loss and, in its advanced stages, even death. The risk of heartworm varies worldwide and is in Europe currently limited to Southern and Eastern European countries. Check with your vet before travelling with your dog.

How to control worms in your pet

The recommended worming protocol for puppies and kittens is every two weeks untill they are 12 weeks old, then monthly untill they are six months old. This can then be dropped to every three months after this.

For more information on which worming treatments we sell or to purchase some medication, please contact the surgery.


One of the very best things you can do to give your pet a long and healthy life is to ensure that they are vaccinated against common and serious infectious diseases. Your pet's mother gave them immunity from disease for the first few weeks of existence by providing disease-fighting antibodies in her milk. After that period, it's up to you - with the help and advice of your veterinary surgeon - to provide that protection.

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines contain small quantities of altered or "killed" viruses, bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. When administered, they stimulate your pet's immune system to produce disease-fighting cells and proteins - or antibodies - to protect against disease.

Cats and Kittens

When should my cat be vaccinated?

Generally, the immunity that a kitten has at birth only lasts for a few weeks. It is then time to begin vaccination. The first vaccination is usually given in two doses, the first dose at around the age of 8-10 weeks and the second about 3-4 weeks later. Thereafter, your cat will require an annual 'booster' vaccination for the rest of their life to maintain protection. Of course, these are only guidelines - your veterinary surgeon will be able to determine the exact schedule that's right for your pet.

Which vaccinations should my cat receive?

Your pet should be protected against those diseases which are most common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness or death. Such diseases include feline panleucopaenia, cat flu which may be caused by feline herpesvirus, feline calicivirus and feline leukaemia. Feline chlamydiosis, Bordetella bronchiseptica (another potential cause of cat flu) or rabies vaccination may also be recommended, based on your veterinary surgeon's evaluation of the risks posed by such factors as your cat's age, particular environment and lifestyle.

Dogs and Puppies

When should my dog be vaccinated?

The immunity that a puppy has at birth only lasts for a few weeks. It is then time to begin vaccination. The first vaccination is usually given in two doses, the first dose at around the age of 6-8 weeks and the second about 2-4 weeks later. Thereafter, your dog will require annual 'booster' vaccinations for the rest of their life to maintain protection. Above all, follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinary surgeon - if there is too long an interval between vaccinations, your dog may no longer be fully protected.

What vaccinations should my dog receive?

Your dog should be protected against those diseases which are most common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness or death. Such diseases include Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Infectious Tracheobronchitis (also known as kennel cough). Rabies may also be essential if your dog is travelling abroad - check with the practice and with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).


When should my rabbit be vaccinated?

Here at Avenue Vets, we give a combined vaccination that can be used from 5 weeks of age. Boosters are given annually.

What vaccinations should my rabbit receive?

Your rabbit should be vaccinated routinely against Viral Haemorrhage Disease (VHD) and Myxomatosis. Both these viral diseases can be rapidly fatal in an unvaccinated rabbit and there are no cures once infected. The only protection you can give your rabbit is by vaccination. VHD is spread by direct contact between rabbits (both wild and domesticated) but also via indirect contact such as from people, clothing, on shoes, other objects and fleas. Myxomatosis is spread mainly by fleas or other biting insects and is transmitted in this way from wild to pet rabbits.

Ear Health

Ear problems are one of the most common reasons our patients come to see us. That is why regular ear health checks are so important. This can be done by either checking them at home or coming in to see one of our vets or nurses. The ear should appear free of debris and there should be no redness or swelling.

Signs that would indicate an ear problem in your pet would be scatching at the ears and shaking of the head. If treated as soon as symptoms arise, these conditions can be kept under control easily but if left too long they can quickly escalate into long term issues. If you think your pet may have an ear problem please call us to make an appointment.


Is your pet eligible to a Pet Passport?

The Pet Travel Scheme allows pets travelling to and from EU countries (and some others) to be brought into the UK without being quarantined providing they meet certain requirements.

Currently, your pet is eligible for a pet passport if it has been microchipped for identification and has had a rabies vaccination. You must wait 21 days after the rabies vaccination before leaving the UK. Your pet must have had treatment from a vet in the country of origin for ticks and tapeworms between 24 and 120 hours prior to return to the UK.

Within the practice, we have several vets who can issue Pet Passports who would be happy to discuss any travel requirements with you. For more information on travelling under the pet travel scheme, please visit DEFRA.

Travel preparation

Ask yourself: Will my cat or dog be comfortable and happy on a trip? Some animals simply prefer to stay at home and a 'homesick', possibly motion-sick pet will ruin everyone's trip. In such a case, it's probably wiser to leave your pet with a friend, relative or hire a 'pet-sitter'. If that is not possible, you might consider boarding them at a clean, well-run kennel or cattery.

Plan ahead

If you do decide to take your pet along, you must take as much care with the preparation of your pet's trip as your own. If you plan to travel by plane, bus, train or boat, find out if your pet will be welcome and what kind of reservations and transport arrangements must be made. If you'll be staying at hotels or campsites, you must check if animals are allowed or if kennel facilities are available. If you're staying with friends or family, make sure your pet is also invited.