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Behaviour

Ferrets make wonderful pets because of their engaging personalities, playful activity and fastidious nature. They can also be easily trained to use a litter tray because they tend to habitually urinate and defaecate in the same places. How do I

Urine samples: how to collect

Tests are used by vets to help them diagnose disease in animals that are ill, which means your vet may ask you to bring in a urine sample (water sample) from your pet to help find out what's wrong with

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence means the loss of ability to control urination and can be caused by a variety of diseases. Incontinence is quite common in dogs but is usually more of a nuisance to the owners than a cause of distress

Cystitis (bladder inflammation)

As anyone who has ever suffered with cystitis (a sore bladder) will know, it is a very unpleasant condition. Although not usually life-threatening, cystitis can be very distressing for your dog. It is important to seek veterinary advice as soon

von Willebrand’s disease (vWD)

This is the most common inherited bleeding disorder in dogs. It causes defective blood clotting due to reduced amounts of von Willebrands factor (vWF). This is a protein which helps tiny blood cells called platelets stick to each other and

Anaemia

Red blood cells carry vital oxygen around the body. A shortage of red blood cells in the circulation is called anaemia. There are many different causes of anaemia in dogs and in most cases a variety of tests will be

Canine Lymphoma

There are many different forms of lymphoma in the dog, just as there are in humans. Some types of lymphoma are associated with better outcomes than others but most types respond favourably to the administration of chemotherapy. There are some

Canine InsulinomaCanine Insulinoma

Insulinoma is a cancer of the pancreas, which can cause affected dogs to have a poor exercise tolerance or even collapse. Early diagnosis of this condition is essential to provide the most effective therapy. How would I know if my

Canine Cutaneous Mast Cell Tumors

Mast cell tumours are common tumours of the skin in dogs. Whilst many mast cell tumours can be cured by appropriate management, dogs that get one mast cell tumour can frequently develop other separate mast cell tumours elsewhere on their

Cancer In Your Dog – Possible Options

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The speed with which a cancer spreads and the severity of the disease it causes depends on the type of tissue cell affected. As many as one in five dogs are likely

Feline oral squamous cell carcinoma

Oral squamous cell carcinoma is a nasty disease in cats. Frequently, these cancers are not identified until the lesion has progressed significantly with associated oral pain and halitosis due to bacterial infection. What is oral squamous cell carcinoma? Oral squamous

Radiotherapy for your cat

Pets today are healthier and, in general, living longer than ever before. However the increasing numbers of ageing pets mean that they are at increasing risk of developing cancer later in life. Radiotherapy aims to give a high dose of

Radio-iodine treatment for thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer (hyperthyroidism or over-active thyroid gland) is quite common in middle-aged cats. If your cat has been diagnosed with cancer of the thyroid gland there may well be an effective treatment for your pet. The disease can often be

Lymphoma chemotherapy

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymph cells and can arise almost anywhere in the body. Lymphoma is one of the most commonly treated forms of the disease. Modern treatment protocols can be highly effective in controlling lymphoma and affected

Lumps and bumps

Finding a lump on your pet can be a worrying experience. Although most lumps are harmless it is impossible to tell what a lump is simply by looking at it. If your pet has a swelling that lasts for more

Feline lymphoma

A diagnosis of cancer is always frightening. One of the most common forms of this disease in cats is lymphoma. This is a cancer of the lymph nodes and can arise almost anywhere in the body. However modern treatment protocols

Worms – A Wriggly Problem

It can be alarming to discover that your dog has worms but it should not come as a surprise. All pets are affected at some stage in their life and many will be re-infected unless they are given regular, routine

Worm Control

All pets will be affected by worms at some stage in their life and many will be re-infected unless they are given regular, routine worming treatment. Getting rid of worms is relatively simple and inexpensive so regular treatment is strongly

Vaccination Protocols And Safety

For a long time all new puppies and kittens were given a standard vaccination, which protected them from a number of infectious diseases. Recently a number of new vaccines have been developed and pet owners and veterinarians have begun to

Vaccinating Your Dog

There are a number of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases which can affect your dog. There is no treatment for many of these diseases and young puppies who catch them often die. However, for many of these conditions there

Tick Removal

Ticks are blood-sucking parasites that can affect your dog, especially if it goes out in the countryside or grassy areas during the Spring and Autumn months. What is a tick? Ticks are blood-sucking parasites. Most live in damp areas on plants and climb onto animals

Tick Control

Ticks are common external parasites (ectoparasites) affecting dogs in many areas of the world. Environments suitable for tick development include forest, grass and moorland vegetation, close to wild mammals or birds on which they can feed during their immature stages. Dogs and

Senior Dog Care

A puppy is endearing to everyone but puppies grow up all too fast. By one to two years of age dogs of all breeds will be mature. Although individual dogs and some breeds age at different rates, most 10 year

Saying Goodbye – Options For Euthanasia

Some of our beloved pets are living longer and longer lives. This is due in large part to the amazing care we provide for them. As our time with them grows, so does our bond and devotion. As they approach the

Routine Health Care

We are all familiar with the phrase "A healthy pet is a happy pet" - but there is probably also something to be said for keeping your pet happy in order to maintain its health. Most owners know their pet

Puppy Care

Puppies are cute and it is very tempting to acquire one almost by accident. Taking on a puppy is a big responsibility - remember it will not stay a puppy for long. Within a year you will have an adult

Fainting (syncope)

Fainting (syncope) does occur in dogs but is less common than in people. When a dog faints it briefly loses consciousness and falls to the ground motionless but in most cases recovers within a few moments without treatment. It is

Epilepsy (seizures)

If your dog has had a fit (convulsion) you will know how frightening it can be. Fits are not uncommon in dogs but many dogs only ever have a single fit. If your dog has had more than one fit

Dental disease

Malocclusion of the teeth (also known as slobbers) is a common problem in guinea pigs who are not fed the correct diet or who have jaw joint problems or trauma to the face. In guinea pigs, their front incisors and

Grass Seeds – Down In The Meadow

The grasses have now flowered and their seeds are all around. These seeds can get into any crack or crevice such as ears and eyes and will make these sore until they are removed. If your pet has a smelly

Ear Disease In Your Dog

Ear disease is quite common in dogs and you should make ear examination part of a weekly health check for your pet. If your dog's ears look red or sore on the inside, if there is a smell coming from

Ear cleaning

Proper ear cleaning is essential in the management of ear disease. Debris and secretions can accumulate in the ear and this may prevent treatment from reaching deep inside in the ear and some medication may not work in the presence

Deafness in dogs

Deafness is quite common in dogs, particularly in older dogs and dogs with a white hair coat and blue eyes. Although deafness may cause a dog some problems most deaf dogs can be helped to live a happy life. Why

Poisoning

Poisoning can occur if a poisonous substance is swallowed (solids or liquids), breathed in (gases) or absorbed through the skin (normally liquids). Poisons are substances that damage the cells in the body. In order to cause harm they must enter

Heat Stroke

We have all heard that 'dogs can die in hot cars' - the frightening thing is how quickly this can happen. A healthy dog can suffer fatal damage from heat stroke in only a few minutes in a car. The

Fitting In Dogs – An Emergency?

If you have witnessed an animal or person having a seizure (convulsion or fit), you will know how frightening it can appear. An animal suffering a generalised seizure (also known as grand mal seizure) will be unconscious. They may show violent, rhythmic

Fever – Is It Serious?

Often when you put a hand on your dog it feels warm, particularly on a patch of bare skin. This is because the normal body temperature of a dog is higher than that in people. Body temperature is maintained within

Emergencies – What To Do

Immediate veterinary attention can mean the difference between life and death for an injured dog following all but the most minor of accidents. Getting your dog to your vet (where all the necessary equipment is on hand) is quicker and

Bloat (gastric dilation)

Gastric dilation, or 'bloat' as it is often known, is a very serious condition mainly affecting large breed dogs with a deep chest. Dogs with bloat are restless and unable to settle, they may drool saliva and vomit frothy foam.

Progessive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

There are many causes of blindness in dogs and if you suspect that your dog's eyesight is deteriorating you should contact your vet immediately. Some of the causes of blindness can be treated and vision can be retained. Sadly, other

Eye Medication: How To Give To Your Dog

Eye problems in dogs are quite common. Tears quickly wash out any treatment put in the eye so eye drops need to be given several times a day. This means you will have to learn how to give the treatment

‘Dry Eye’ (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca)

If your dog has recurrent problems with their eyes or has a sticky discharge that does not seem to go away you should contact your vet. It may be that they have a problem with tear production in the eyes.

Corneal Ulcers – A Sore Eye

The basic structure of a dog's eye is much the same as a human's eye. Consequently dogs can suffer a similar range of eye diseases to humans. Because the eye is complicated, delicate and easily damaged, all eye problems require

Conjunctivitis In Dogs

If your dog has a sore or red eye, or there is discharge from the eye, then it is important to contact your vet. Your dog may have an infection in the eye, but a discharge can also be caused

Cataracts In Dogs

Cataract is a disease of the lens of the eye in which the normally clear lens becomes opaque or white. This interferes with vision and can result in blindness. Many owners confuse a less serious problem of older dogs eyes

BVA-KC-ISDS Eye Testing Scheme

The BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme is a joint scheme between the British Veterinary Association (BVA), the Kennel Club (KC) and the International Sheepdog Society (ISDS). It was first set-up to help eradicate progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and Collie eye anomaly (CEA)

Blindness in dogs

Some causes of blindness in dogs, such as cataracts, are treatable. Other causes, such as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), are not. If there is any doubt as to whether the blindness is treatable, then referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist is

Sensitivity to antibiotics

Guinea pigs as a group are unusually sensitive to certain antibiotics, whether they are given orally or by injection. Potentially harmful antibiotics include ampicillin, penicillin, bacitracin, erythromycin, lincomycin, gentamicin, clindamycin, streptomycin, vancomycin and sometimes tetracycline. Interestingly, even certain antibiotics used

Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD)

Ventricular septal defect (VSD) is one of the more common congenital heart defects in dogs. It is sometimes referred to as a hole in the heart. The condition is often discovered in apparently healthy dogs by a vet during a

Pulmonic Stenosis

Pulmonic stenosis is one of the more common congenital heart defects in dogs. The condition is often discovered in apparently healthy dogs by a vet during a routine examination (such as before vaccination). What is pulmonic stenosis? Pulmonic stenosis is

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Patent ductus arteriosus is one of the more common congenital heart defects in dogs. The condition is often discovered in apparently healthy dogs by a vet during a routine examination (such as before vaccination). What is a patent ductus arteriosus?

Mitral Valve Disease

Mitral valve disease is the most common cause of a heart murmur in dogs. Many cases are detected by a vet after a routine examination (such as before vaccination) before dogs show any signs of illness. If your dog has

Investigating Heart Disease

It is important that your vet can recognise the early stages of heart failure (and therefore when to begin therapy, if necessary). Investigations of animals with heart disease are important to identify early signs of failure and to establish the

High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)

Hypertension (high blood pressure) has long been known to be a problem in people and is being increasingly recognised in pets. Hypertension is very common in older people and is often associated with smoking, or with stressful living. In animals,

Heart Rhythm Disturbance (Atrial Fibrillation)

There are many different heart problems that can affect dogs. Some of these affect the rhythm of the heart beat and one such condition is atrial fibrillation. This is most commonly seen in large and giant breeds of dog but

Heart Disease: Drug Treatment

Heart disease does not necessarily mean heart failure. Many dogs with heart disease have no outward signs of illness and are able to lead relatively normal lives without any medication. However, most heart diseases will get worse and once symptoms

Heart Disease In Your Dog

Heart disease is increasingly common in dogs - probably because their average life expectancy is increasing due to improved veterinary care. Some heart defects, e.g. hole in the heart, are present from birth (congenital heart defects) but only cause signs

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease affecting the heart muscle. It is the second most common heart disease in dogs (after mitral valve disease). In DCM the heart is unable to contract normally and as the muscle stretches the heart

Hypothyroidism (Thyroid Hormone Deficiency)

Thyroid hormone is produced by a small organ in the neck. A lack of this hormone (hypothyroidism) may cause a whole range of problems. Dogs with this disease are often mistakenly thought to be just getting old. It is worth

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is a relatively common disease in older people and is being recognised more frequently in older pets. If untreated the disease has serious effects and will ultimately result in the death of your pet. The good news is that

Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism)

Although Cushing's disease is a severe disease the changes it causes can be quite subtle in the early stages. Many owners do not recognise the signs of Cushing's disease in their pet, instead confusing the changes caused by the disease

Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism)

Although Addison's disease can be a very serious disease the changes it causes can be very subtle in the early stages. The signs of the disease are variable and often vague. It is important to get an early diagnosis because,

Viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD)

There are several highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases that can affect your rabbit. Viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD or HVD) is one of the most common. There are two strains of VHD (VHD1 and 'new variant' VHD2). VHD1 was first

Myxomatosis (‘myxy’)

Italian microbiologist Sanarelli first reported myxomatosis in 1896, when a laboratory rabbit colony he had imported into Uruguay for public health research suddenly died of an extremely infectious disease. The virus was identified in the 1930s and has subsequently been

Herpes virus infection

The order of herpes viruses is known as Herpesvirales; it is a large group of viruses that includes various strains that infect humans and many types of animals through direct contact with body fluids. The herpes virus is highly contagious

Encephalitozoon cuniculi

Encephalitozoon cuniculi was virtually unrecognised as a cause of disease in pet rabbits until a few years ago. Nowadays it is much more widely diagnosed amongst pet rabbits, with owners of affected rabbits wanting to learn as much as possible

Slipped Disc (Intervertebral Disc Herniation)

A slipped disc (also known as intervertebral disc herniation) is the most common cause of paralysis in dogs. What is the intervertebral disc? The spine is the name given to the collection of bones (vertebrae) inside which the spinal cord

Neuromuscular Disorders

Neuromuscular disorders in pets can be very frightening for owners. Apparently healthy animals may collapse at exercise or become paralysed over a period of a few hours for no apparent reason. An accurate diagnosis is important as, with appropriate early

Myositis

If your dog suddenly finds it difficult or painful to take exercise they may have myositis. Myositis is an inflammation of the muscle. It can be a serious and painful condition and may be an early indicator that your pet

Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia gravis (MG) literally means grave (gravis) muscle (my-) weakness (asthenia). It is an unusual cause of generalised weakness in dogs. What is myasthenia gravis? Each muscle in the body is controlled by its own nerve, but this nerve does not connect directly to the muscle.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a condition that was first described in people in Lyme, Connecticut, USA in the 1970s and discovered in dogs in the 1980s. It is an example of a tick-borne disease (see below) and is one of many

Luxating Patella

Owners of some dogs may notice that they often 'hop' on one of their back legs carrying the other. This strange behaviour may be caused by an unstable kneecap or 'patella'. Although most common in small breeds of dog any

Joint Problems In Young Dogs

Puppies continue to grow and develop for months or years after birth. Giant breeds may not reach full adult size for 18 months or 2 years. During this growth period they are at particular risk from bone and joint disorders.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common and often debilitating joint disease affecting many larger breed (usually pedigree) dogs. Affected dogs have a genetic tendency to develop the disease but the severity of the disease can be influenced by other factors. What

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a common and often debilitating joint disease affecting many larger breed (usually pedigree) dogs. Affected dogs have a genetic tendency to develop the disease but the severity of the disease can be influenced by other factors. The

Cruciate Ligament Rupture (Torn Knee Ligaments)

Cruciate ligament rupture is the famous knee injury of professional footballers. It is surprisingly common in dogs too. If the ligaments are damaged they need to be replaced during an operation on the knee. After the operation most dogs return

Wobbler Syndrome

This condition is encountered most frequently in large and giant breeds of dog, and especially Dobermans. It causes progressive difficulties in movement and an abnormal gait. Investigation and surgical treatment is usually carried out by specialist veterinary orthopaedic surgeons or

Vestibular Syndrome

Vestibular syndrome refers to a group of diseases that affect the balance system also known as the vestibular system. Common signs of vestibular syndrome include loss of balance, falling, rolling over, abnormal flickering of the eyes and general wobbliness. The

Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident)

Until recently, it was thought that strokes were very rare in domestic pets. In the last few years, with the advance and increased availability of more specialist tests, strokes are being recognised more often in pets. The thought of your

Phenobarbital

Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges from nerve cells in the brain. Phenobarbital suppresses seizure activity by reducing the electrical charge within these cells. How much phenobarbital should my dog have? Phenobarbital is sold under the name Epiphen and

Paroxystic Events

A paroxysm is a sudden uncontrollable attack and in people is often applied to events like a fit of giggles. In animals a paroxystic attack is more serious and describes a disorder that starts suddenly but also resolves quickly. A

Neurological Examination

A neurological disease is one that affects the brain or the system of nerves running throughout the body. The signs of illness can range from very mild (a weakness in one leg) to very severe (the inability to stand). In

Neuro-Diagnostic Tests

If your pet is unwell it can be a confusing time trying to make sense of what your vet is doing and why. There are many tests commonly used in veterinary practice that help your vet to work out what

Ischaemic Myelopathy

Back (spinal) problems are common in dogs and some breeds of dog may be particularly at risk of particular types of spinal problem. Affected dogs may have neck or back pain or show a variety of signs including difficulty walking,

Inflammatory CNS Disease

Animals with brain disease may show sudden, dramatic signs and become very poorly extremely quickly. In other cases the signs are more vague and it may be some time before your vet gets to the bottom of the problem. Diseases

Facial Paralysis

Facial paralysis is quite common in dogs, particularly in middle to old-age. The term is simply the description of drooping of muscles in the face, which is caused, not by damage to the muscles themselves, but to the nerves supplying

Whelping – Potential Problems

Just like it is for women, giving birth is a completely natural process for bitches. In most cases the delivery will go smoothly and your bitch will manage better without any interference. However, you should keep a watchful eye on

Pyometra (‘Pyo’ Or Womb Infection)

Pyometra is a common disease in un-neutered female dogs that requires major surgery to cure. Though potentially very serious, many animals respond well to the treatment and can expect to make a full recovery. The best way to protect your female pet against

Hand-Rearing Puppies

Fortunately it is very unusual for a mother to be unable to rear her puppies herself. Taking on the task of bringing up a litter of puppies is rightly daunting and it requires considerable dedication for the first 4 weeks.

Eclampsia (Puerperal Tetany)

Canine eclampsia, also sometimes wrongly called  "milk fever", is a dangerous condition brought on by low levels of calcium in the blood stream. It is also called hypocalcaemia and puerperal tetany and needs emergency veterinary attention. Is my dog at risk of

Cryptorchidism (Retained Testicles)

When a male puppy is in the womb its testicles are drawn up inside the body. After birth the testicles begin a journey from inside the tummy (abdomen) to the scrotum. Both testicles should have descended to the scrotum by

Breeding From Your Dog

A bitch (female dog) can produce 1-2 litters of puppies each year. If you are not intending to let your bitch have puppies then you might consider having her neutered. However, if you do decide to breed from your bitch there

Birth control in the bitch

Most responsible dog owners want to prevent unplanned breeding and the production of unwanted puppies. Most forms of birth control prevent the heat cycle of bitches, and so mating and conception does not occur. The cycle can be controlled permanently

Snuffles – the facts

Snuffles is a condition in rabbits that every owner dreads. Once a rabbit develops snuffles it is usually a life-long problem. Fortunately, recent research suggests that it can be prevented just by providing your rabbit with a healthy, balanced diet.

Snoring

Rabbits cannot breathe through their mouth if their nose is blocked. Attempted mouth breathing is a sign of respiratory distress and is often accompanied by a blue tinge to the lips and nose. This is a serious and life-threatening condition

Nasal discharge

Discharges from the nose can be clear fluid, mucus, pus, blood or a mixture of substances. The discharge can originate from the nasal area or from deeper in the respiratory tract, e.g. the lungs. There are several causes of nasal

Parasitic skin diseases

Lice and mites are the most common external parasites of guinea pigs. Lice are tiny, wingless, flattened insects that live within the hair coat; both the adults and their eggs are found attached to individual hairs. A mite similar to

Travelling: Leaving Your Pet Behind

International travel is becoming increasingly common for pets and the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS), which even allows limited movement of pets through Europe and the UK, is now fully operational. However, many pet owners still prefer to leave their pets

Travelling With Your Dog

For most family dogs travelling is an exciting and often enjoyable experience. Dogs like to be included in whatever their family is doing and quickly learn that a car journey often leads to a walk. Unfortunately a few dogs find

Taking Your Pet Abroad

The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) allows for limited movement of pets between the UK and some European countries under controlled conditions. What do I need to take my pet abroad? If you wish to take your pet abroad with you and bring it home again

Pet Passports

Pet passports are part of the European Union (EU) Regulation on the movement of pet animals. Certain non-EU listed countries may also issue a passport. Dogs travelling on Pet Passports must be treated against tapeworms before entering the UK from most countries.

Disease Risks When Travelling To Continental Europe

An increasing number of owners are taking their pets with them on holiday when they travel to continental Europe. This factsheet provides information on the more important novel diseases that your dog may come into contact with abroad. What are

Choosing a boarding kennel

Choosing a boarding kennel It would probably be less traumatic for most dogs to be looked after by an experienced and reliable 'pet sitter'. Pet sitters are individuals who come to your home and stay there when you are away.

X-rays and ultrasound

Veterinary medicine has made many advances in the last 10 years and many local veterinary practices are now able to perform x-ray and ultrasound examinations. Why does my vet need to do tests? Your vet can get a lot of information about what might

Scanning – the inside picture

Until a few years ago, diagnostic imaging was limited to radiography (x-rays), ultrasound and endoscopy. Although these are still very useful diagnostic tools, there are now far more advanced diagnostic imaging methods, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed

Samples and tests – how they help your vet

Laboratory tests are used by vets to help them diagnose disease in animals that are ill. Increasingly, they are also used as part of a routine health check to detect hidden disease before the development of obvious symptoms. This allows