Frequently Asked Questions
There are very many pain relievers available to humans and sometimes choosing just one can be confusing. Not so with our pets! There are much fewer over-the-counter pet pain relievers available. When a pet is in pain, obviously we are eager to give medication to ease that pain, but BEWARE as giving human medications to animals can cause more problems than it cures.
So, can I give aspirin to my dog?
The first question in response to this is; what do you want to treat? Most often, the answer is arthritis. But is very important not to just give a drug because the animal is 'not himself' or is in pain where the cause is unknown. A trip to the vet is definitely in order to find out the root of the problem. It may be pain-related, it may not be.
With regard to arthritis, yes, aspirin can be used, but with caution and under veterinary supervision. Aspirin is in a class of drugs called NSAIDs - Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs, and dogs are particularly sensitive to the gastrointestinal effects of bleeding and ulceration that can be a side effect of these drugs.
Other points to consider with the use of aspirin:
- Aspirin may cause birth defects, so it should not be given to pregnant animals.
- Aspirin also interacts with several other drugs, particularly cortisones, digoxin, some antibiotics, anti-epileptic drugs and diuretics. These interactions can significantly compromise your pet’s health.
So check with us about what is going on with your pet and what would be the best drug for the problem. Glucosamine/chondroitin supplements are another alternative for arthritic pets and may be used alone or with other therapies.
What about its use in cats?
Cats are much more sensitive to aspirin. Cats cannot break down aspirin as quickly as dogs (or humans), and thus, the cat can be easily overdosed with the accumulation of the drug in the body. In contrast to dogs and humans, cats are typically given much smaller doses at intervals of 48-72 hours. This drug, as with all drugs, should be only used under recommendation and monitoring by your veterinary surgeon. There are alternative drugs available - please speak to us first!
I can't afford the treatment that has been recommended but I want to do the best for my pet?
This is not an uncommon problem that vets encounter and although the fees charged by most veterinary practices for skilled tasks performed effectively and thoroughly are not excessive when you compare them to private healthcare costs, we would be failing you and your pet if we didn’t offer all the treatment choices available.
However, if you as the owner cannot afford, or choose not, to spend much money on your pet then most vets will endeavour to work within your declared budget to deliver "best practice". This will require an open discussion between you the owner and your veterinary surgeon to include as a realistic estimate as possible of costs involved and at what level of fees you as the owner are comfortable with.
Remember we all have a choice in life and a Fiat Panda will get you from A to B just as effectively as a Rolls Royce!
How do I go about getting some more of my pet’s medicine?
In order to dispense medications for your pet we are legally obliged under the Veterinary Medicines Regulations to have your pet "under our care". The phrase "under our care" is not precisely defined but it is interpreted as meaning that our veterinary surgeons are responsible for the health of your pet and that your pet must have been seen immediately before a medicine is dispensed or recently enough that the veterinary surgeon will have personal knowledge of the condition which your pet has been diagnosed with. Many of the conditions for which we dispense medications require ongoing assessment and evaluation of the patient to allow us to make sure that the dose is correct [not too much and not too little], that there are no side effects developing and that no other conditions have arisen which may affect a current treatment regime.
We feel that for preventative medications such as flea, tick and worm treatments that a health check once every 12 months is sufficient to meet the "under our care" regulations. This should coincide with your pet’s annual health check and vaccination.
In common with other veterinary surgeries, for all other medications, including repeat prescriptions, we feel that the maximum interval between check ups should be 6 months. In the early stages of treatments check ups will often be required more frequently until we are happy that a pet’s condition is stable. For serious conditions check ups may be required more frequently for long periods or even for the remainder of a pet’s life.
Choosing these intervals also allows our staff to offer consistent advice with respect to the dispensing of medications whilst maintaining a high standard of welfare for your pet.
We charge a special reduced fee consultation for the 6 monthly check ups rather than our routine consultation fees in order to provide the best possible service to you and your pet.
If you have forgotten to book or been unable to arrange your routine check up due to exceptional circumstances and have run out of medication please ask to speak to one of our veterinary surgeons who may be able to dispense a small quantity [usually no more than 2-3 days supply] of medication until you can arrange your check up.
How will I know when it is "time" to put my pet to sleep?
Having to make the decision to end a pet's life is never easy, and rarely has a clear cut answer. We must together find ways to evaluate your pet's "quality of life", and make a decision that means you won't be filled with regret and guilt.
It is an intensely personal decision to euthanase ("put to sleep") a beloved pet due to injury, old age or disease. People often wonder if they will know when it is "time", and many ask their vet "what would you do if it were your pet?"
As vets, we are often asked this question. Unfortunately we cannot make the final decision for you, but instead, we focus on the medical issues and facts, so you will have the knowledge to help make an informed decision. This may include discussing the possible outcomes of terminal disease or conditions so you know what to expect and watch out for. Even so, the answer is not always obvious, so we offer this thought: it is probably "time" when the bad days begin to outnumber the good ones. You will usually have an idea of what is "good" and "bad" in the life of your pet. Chart time over a week or month.
Here are some things to consider when evaluating your pet's quality of life:
- Does your pet soil him/herself during the day? This can really be a stressor for some pets who prefer to be clean, and it can also pose health risks - i.e. skin rashes and infections from sitting in urine and/or faeces
- Does your pet still enjoy "basic activities" such as eating? Is the appetite normal?
- Does your pet enjoy human interaction? Does s/he still recognise who you are?
- Can your pet move around without difficulty or pain?
Additionally, familiarising yourself with the process of euthanasia and what to expect beforehand may help lessen the stress and anxiety of the actual event. Do not be afraid to ask us about the procedure or any other questions that you may have. This is an emotionally charged time, and living with unanswered questions or guilt can hinder your healing process.
I have been wondering whether I should buy my pet’s drugs from an Internet pharmacy and wondered
if this is a wise move?
People often consider whether they should purchase products from Internet pharmacies, as they perceive that they get a better deal than from Veterinary Practices. However, having the veterinary surgeon dispense a medication at the time of a consultation is usually considered to be a more convenient option by our pet owners as there is no delay in the start of treatment or additional effort required in obtaining the medication and as such they are happy to pay for this service.
We are of course happy to provide our clients with a written prescription where necessary for any medications their pet may require. Currently we provide this service to our clients at a cost of £7.20 per item requested. This fee is a reflection of the time taken for our staff to assess and prepare your prescription.
We aim to keep our prices as fair as possible but in contrast to Veterinary Practices the Internet pharmacies have extremely low margins over cost. In addition Internet pharmacies often sell popular products as loss leaders to entice you to use their site.
A word of caution if you do decide to use an Internet Pharmacy - please take care that you are purchasing UK licensed products, they are not short dated, that being delayed in the post will not adversely affect them [e.g. many medications need to be stored at correct temperatures] and that you have a clear understanding of whether the company will accept return of goods damaged in the post. It is also known that some foreign Internet sites masquerade as legitimate UK sites and will supply products that would make you as the consumer purchasing them guilty of committing a crime if you use them never mind having any guarantee that they are actually contain what you think they do, so we urge you to be careful to use an approved site.
My dog is scooting on the carpet. Why is he doing this, and should I call the vet?
Scooting is most commonly caused by anal sac inflammation or infection. Anal sacs are located on either side of the anus. They contain a very smelly, oily substance that is normally expressed (squeezed out) when the animal defecates. Sometimes the secretions can thicken or the animal gains weight and they don't get expressed properly. This can lead to impaction and ultimately infection. The condition can be irritating, itchy and extremely painful at various stages. A trip to the vet is warranted for examination and expression of these sacs.
Recent thoughts suggest that anal sac disease may be secondary to inflammatory bowel disease and if so then reviewing your pet's diet may play a role in treatment.
Other reasons for scooting include: skin irritation from diarrhoea, a "hot spot", anal tumours that have become infected, or sometimes parasites.
In any case, a trip to the vet is warranted. Infections in this area can quite quickly become painful and cause your pet to avoid defecation, leading to secondary constipation.
My pet has become ill but the surgery is closed?
We strive to provide a high level of care to our clients and their pets 24/7. After normal surgery hours we work with a dedicated out of hours service, run by Vets Now, that is located at our premises here at 49 Endless Street. The vets and nurses who run this service only work nights, weekends and bank holidays and so are available and ready to give advice or assess your pet at any time outside normal surgery hours.
To access this service if you require assistance outside of normal working hours, all you need to do is to telephone our usual number - 01722 333291 - just as you have always done.
Payment - When using the emergency service, please note that the emergency out of hours fee, together with the emergency consultation fee and any treatment, are payable at the time your pet is seen. Further fees incurred through ongoing treatment, hospitalisation and diagnostics will be payable to Endell Veterinary Group - this payment becomes due when your pet is discharged.
The Vets New Emergency Service operates between the hours of:
- Monday 6.30pm to Tuesday 8.45am
- Tuesday 6pm to Wednesday 8.45am
- Wednesday 6pm to Thursday 8.45am
- Thursday 6pm to Friday 8.45am
- Friday 6.30pm to Saturday 8.45am
- Saturday 12.30pm to Monday 8.45am
- And all Public Holidays
Please note - our farm and equine departments run their own emergency service. To contact a duty vet from one of these departments outside normal working hours please call 01722 333291.
My pet just had a seizure, what should I do?
Seizures [or fits] are frightening to witness. Stay calm and stay focused. Seizuring animals may bite (without knowing it) and trying to hold them down may cause injury. They will not 'swallow their tongue' as you may have heard. Keep fingers away from the pet's mouth. Remove any objects in the area that can injure the animal. Try to time how long the seizure lasts.
TELEPHONE US! After experiencing the first seizure, your pet should receive a full physical examination, blood work up, and be monitored -- seizure control medications are not usually prescribed at this point UNLESS the first seizure is a severe cluster seizure (several happening at once) or a continual seizure called Status Epilepticus. If anything is found on physical or blood work that may cause seizures, the underlying conditions will be addressed and treated first. If all the tests are clear further investigations e.g. a brain scan may be necessary. The decision to start anti-seizure medication must be carefully made after due consideration by yourselves and by ourselves.
So, what causes seizures?
Seizures can be caused by numerous things - poisons, skull injury, viral and bacterial infections, congenital malformations, heat stroke, parasites, fungal infections, low blood sugar (diabetics), and so on. By doing a physical exam and blood work, most causes can be eliminated.
Idiopathic epilepsy (seizures of unknown origin) is most commonly seen in otherwise healthy animals, between the ages of 1 and 5 years, and may be inherited in certain breeds. Beagles, Keeshonden, Irish Setters, Belgian Tervurens, Siberian Huskies, Springer Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds may be genetically predisposed to idiopathic epilepsy. Idiopathic epilepsy is diagnosed when other causes of seizures have been ruled out by a physical exam, blood work, and any other necessary work up procedures. Cats do not experience grand mal seizures as often as dogs. Another type of seizure, where the cat appears to frantically groom itself and run off frightened, is seen more commonly than the grand mal seizure seen in dogs.
After contacting us, and bringing your pet in for examination, we will probably then advise that you keep a diary of when and where the seizures occur, how long they last, recording whether the animal acted strangely before the seizure, and how long after the seizure it took for him or her to be 'normal' again. This may provide clues as to whether a pattern can be noticed. There are definite seizure triggers for some animals, and if these can be identified, the number of seizures can be reduced if the trigger (activity, excitement, etc.) can be avoided.
What should I do if I find a baby bird?
If you find a baby bird that has seemingly been abandoned by its parents then the chances are that it probably hasn’t! Many young birds will leave the nest before all of their feathers have developed and so for the first few days are unable to fly. However they still need to be fed by their parents regularly. The parent birds are unlikely to be far away and will know exactly where their offspring are. The best thing to do therefore is to leave well alone unless the young bird is in an obviously exposed position in which case you can move it to a safer place although not so far away that the parents will be unable to locate it.
If you are then patient and watch from a distance you should see the parents return to feed their offspring. If they do not seem to return within an hour or so and therefore the baby bird does appear to have been abandoned then place it into a cardboard box and either contact Wiltshire Wildlife Rescue on 07790 296951 or contact us about the best time to bring it in to the surgery.
What should I do if I find an injured bird?
If a bird survives flying into a window or a windscreen then sometimes it will recover if it is placed into a darkened box in a quiet area for a while. It can then be allowed to go. If a bird has obvious injuries such as from a cat attack then it is best to put it into a cardboard box to minimise stress and contact us as to when is the best time to bring it into the surgery.
When do puppies and kittens lose their "baby" teeth?
Just like human children, puppies and kittens will lose their baby teeth. These teeth are also called "milk teeth" or in medical terms, deciduous teeth. Whatever the name, the process is the same.
Puppies and kittens have sharp, needle-like teeth, as some of you will know first hand! These teeth erupt at 3-4 weeks of age. By age 6 weeks or so, these emerging teeth often irritate the nursing mother, and hence the weaning process naturally begins. The baby teeth are quite translucent, and not very big.
The start time and duration of the transition from baby teeth to adult teeth varies with each individual animal. In general it usually starts at about 3 months and ends by 6 to 9 months of age. During this time, you may notice increased chewing in puppies on shoes, sticks, play toys, or whatever else they can get their mouths on! This may be part exploration and part due to discomfort they feel during the teething process.
You may find the baby teeth on the carpet, stuck in a play toy, or in your pet’s fur. Most often the teeth are hard to find and many animals actually swallow them, which is considered part of the normal teething process.
The gums should heal quickly after the baby tooth loss. Adult teeth are more dense, bright white and much larger than their predecessors, and now it’s time to take care of them! Getting your pet used to a dental care routine whilst still young is the best way to ensure good dental health when later on. It is also much easier to start with a "clean slate" of nice white teeth and healthy gums, rather than waiting for disease to set in.
Animals that do not lose their baby teeth have a condition called retained deciduous teeth. It is often the canine teeth that are retained. Retained teeth must be removed in order to allow the adult teeth to grow down properly. Also baby teeth are more fragile and prone to breakage if left in situ, and this can lead to infection. Extraction of retained deciduous teeth can be done relatively quickly and easily, often at the time of spay or castration, whilst the patient is under general anaesthesia.
Why do vets charge for writing prescriptions?
In order to continue to provide a high quality level of care and service veterinary practice has to be profitable. The charge for veterinary professional fees is intrinsically linked to the time staff spends on the different procedures in veterinary practice. The prices vets charge take into account these factors and are always carefully considered.
You may not be aware that when an animal is examined by a veterinary surgeon a decision must be made regarding whether there is a need for the provision of a medicine or medicines, or whether there is not a need. If a medicine is required then a vet must follow a set procedure:
- Chose the correct drug bearing in mind the diagnosis, species, the laws governing dispensing, availability and price.
- Make a permanent entry in the clinical notes.
- Dispense the medication or produce a prescription either by hand or using specialised software.
- Explain the drug and dosage.
- Explain, and sometimes demonstrate [particularly in cats], the methods of dosing.
- Explain potential side effects.
- Take responsibility for the drug and any potential side effects.
Vets are of course happy to provide clients with a written prescription where necessary for any medications their pets may require. The fees charged are a reflection of the time taken for staff to assess and prepare a prescription. Unfortunately veterinary practice is a business, and unlike in human medicine there is no NHS support for pets, and realistic fees must be charged for this service. Potentially in the long term if a significant proportion of clients choose to purchase medicines by this route then vets may be left with no option but to significantly increase their consultation fees by incorporating a fee for making the "medicine decision".
You may also wish to read the following:
Repeat Prescriptions ( 134kb)
How do I get a pet passport for my pet?
A pet passport allows you to bring your pet back into the UK without having to stay in quarantine. There are a number of procedures that have to be followed in a strict order in order to travel under the umbrella of the pet passport scheme. We would advise that you discuss each individual pets requirements with one of our veterinary surgeons before making any plans to travel to verify the exact requirements as these will be changing from 1st January 2012, but the basics requirements are
- Have your pet microchipped
- Have your pet vaccinated against rabies
- Arrange a blood test [will not always be required after 1st January 2012]
- Get PETS documentation [i.e.“the passport”]
- Get your pet treated against ticks and tapeworm before it enters the UK
- Arrange for your animal to travel with an approved transport company on an authorised route
For travel to countries not covered under the pet passport scheme you may need to apply to Defra for special export papers – our staff can advise you how to go about this.
The majority of our small animal vets are panel 2 Official Veterinarians [also referred to as OV’s or LVI’s] and able to complete any of the official documentation required for pet travel.