Syringohydromyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS)

Syringohydromyelia is also known as 'Chiari-type malformation' (a reference to the human disease) and 'caudal occipital malformation syndrome'. Affected dogs develop a cyst-like lesion in their spine and this causes pain, and movement abnormalities. CKCS are genetically predisposed to develop this neurological abnormality but it can also be seen in other breeds. The diagnosis of syringohydromyelia... Read more »

BVA/KC/ISDS eye scheme

In the late 1960's the British Veterinary Association (BVA), in conjunction with the Kennel Club (KC), started a scheme to assist dog breeders in the eradication of the inherited eye disease, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Later the International Sheepdog Society (ISDS) also became involved because of their concerns about inherited eye diseases in Border collies.... Read more »

BVA/Kennel Club hip dysplasia scoring scheme

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. The Kennel Club (KC) introduced the hip dysplasia scoring scheme to identify affected dogs at an early stage so that... Read more »

Separation anxiety

We ask a lot from our dogs when we expect them to fit into our hectic modern lives. Happily most dogs adapt to our lifestyle with seeming ease but there are a few dogs out there for whom the modern way of life can get a bit too stressful at times. Some of these dogs... Read more »

Noise phobias

If your dog is afraid of sudden noises then life can be miserable for both of you. Summer thunderstorms can become a major trauma and unless you live in a remote part of the country there is almost no way of avoiding the fireworks. These loud sounds can turn your pet into a nervous wreck. There... Read more »

Fear of fireworks

Firework fear is a common problem in dogs and although it appears to be rare in cats, it is thought that they can often be afraid of fireworks too. Fear behaviour in cats is often more subtle (eg retreating and hiding) and may go unnoticed. However, hiding is an adaptive response for cats and allowing them to... Read more »

Behavioural problems: destructiveness and chewing

Having a young puppy in the house brings much pleasure but puppies also bring with them many undesirable behaviours. Early training is important to ensure that your puppy grows up understanding the rules in your house and fits in with your lifestyle. All dogs chew at some point in their life and this is only recognised as problem behaviour... Read more »

Behavioural problems: boredom

I am text block. Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo. Why do dogs get bored? A lack of mental stimulation can result in boredom but it is often related to a sense of frustration. For example,... Read more »

Behavioural problems: barking

Dogs bark to communicate their emotions. Different barks can mean different things and variations in bark sounds are also caused by individual characteristics. A Great Dane's bark sounds somewhat different to that of a Chihuahua even when they mean the same thing. All dogs bark at sometime but if your dog is a persistent barker... Read more »

Training your dog

A dog owner is responsible for their pet in public places, so if your dog misbehaves you can be responsible for the consequences. A poorly trained dog can also be a danger to himself. Imagine the consequences if your dog ignores you and runs across a busy road. In order to have a safe and... Read more »

Samples – 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 your dog to be treated earlier and more effectively. A very important use is to... Read more »

Permanent identification of your dog

Stray dogs and cats are a big problem in many countries. In the UK alone it is estimated that more than £250 million a year is spent by local authorities, police forces and animal welfare charities rounding up and looking after stray cats and dogs. It is much harder to calculate the emotional cost to... Read more »

Neutering

It is a sad truth that the number of puppies born every year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of healthy animals are destroyed and many unwanted dogs are left to fend for themselves. Having your dog neutered will not only help to reduce... Read more »

House training your puppy

House training is the term we normally use for the process of training a puppy, to go outside to urinate or defaecate (toilet) rather than toileting in the home. Once puppies have been house trained they should remain clean in the house throughout their life. If your dog has been house trained and then starts... Read more »

Health insurance for your dog

In recent years huge advances have been made in veterinary medicine. Vets can now do things to improve the health and welfare of dogs that would have been unimaginable or impractical only a few years ago. Not surprisingly, these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive so that a vet's bill for intricate surgery or a prolonged... Read more »

Giving your dog medicines

For most veterinary treatments it is important that medicines are given correctly. In the hospital, trained staff give medicines and it is important to ensure that you are able to continue to give the medicines once your dog has been sent home. If you have any doubts about how to give the medicine your pet has been... Read more »

Complementary therapies

Some forms of alternative or complementary medicine such as osteopathy and physiotherapy are widely used in veterinary medicine alongside conventional treatment. However, owners of dogs and cats as well as other smaller animals, are increasingly looking at other alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy to help with a wide variety of common... Read more »

Caring for your pet before and after surgery

Most pets will have an operation at some stage in their life, eg for neutering (spaying or castration) or to treat a disease. Nowadays most operations in dogs and cats are fairly safe but the success of treatment and recovery depends to some extent on the quality of care that the owner gives before and after the operation. What do... Read more »

Caring for the older dog

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 old dogs can be considered to be in old age, and many breeds show signs... Read more »

Basic training for dogs

A dog owner is responsible for their pet in public places, so if your dog misbehaves you can be responsible for the consequences. A poorly trained dog can also be a danger to himself. Imagine the consequences if your dog ignores you and runs across a busy road. In order to have a safe and well... Read more »

Samples – how they help your vet

Laboratory tests are used by vets to help them diagnose disease in sick pets. Increasingly they are also used as part of a routine health check to detect hidden disease before the development of obvious symptoms. This allows your cat to be treated earlier and more effectively. Tests may be used to show whether a cat is... Read more »

Permanent identification of your pet

Stray dogs and cats are a big problem in many countries. In the UK alone it is estimated that more than £250 million a year is spent by local authorities, police forces and animal welfare charities rounding up and looking after stray cats and dogs. It is much harder to calculate the emotional cost to... Read more »

All about worms

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 worming treatment. Except in rare cases, worms are unlikely to cause serious harm. Getting rid of... Read more »

Managing pain in pets

Long term (chronic) pain is as debilitating in animals as it is in people. Constant pain significantly reduces pleasure in life and can lead to sleeplessness and a poor appetite. Simple measures to control even mild pain can result in a happier healthier cat. What conditions are painful? Animals, like people, are prone to many... Read more »

Living with a deaf cat

Deafness is quite common in cats, particularly in older cats and cats with a white hair coat and blue eyes. Although deafness may cause a cat some problems most deaf cats can be helped to live a happy life. Why are some cats deaf? Deafness is quite common in cats. Around three in every four... Read more »

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 treatment, many conditions can be managed such that the animal makes a full recovery over... Read more »

Living with a blind cat

Just like people cats normally use their vision for getting around, as well as hunting and interaction with other cats. However, a cat with poor vision or even total blindness can lead a comfortable and fulfilled life. How can I tell if my cat cannot see well? If a cat loses its sight slowly, behaviour... Read more »

Myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis (MG) literally means grave (gravis) muscle(my-) weakness (asthenia). It is an unusual cause of generalised weakness in dogs and occasionally cats. 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. At the junction between the nerve and the muscle (also known as... Read more »

Insect stings

On a warm summer afternoon when your cat is playing in the garden they are at risk from inadvertently disturbing the local wildlife. Wasps and bees are the most common cause of insect stings in UK pets. However ants may also bite (or "sting") pets. Bees and their cousins, bumblebees, wasps, hornets and ants, do not... Read more »

Injection techniques

Administration of medicine by injection is often referred to as giving by the parenteral route (this means that the treatment does not enter the body via the gut). Effective administration of medicine is a key part of most veterinary treatments and many medications are most effective when given by injection. Administration of medicine by injection is essential... Read more »

Managing pain in pets

Long term (chronic) pain is as debilitating in animals as it is in people. Constant pain significantly reduces pleasure in life and can lead to sleeplessness and a poor appetite. Simple measures to control even mild pain can result in a happier healthier pet. What conditions are painful? Animals, like people, are prone to many different... Read more »

Health insurance for your cat

In recent years huge advances have been made in veterinary medicine. Vets can now do things to improve the health and welfare of cats that would have been unimaginable or impractical only a few years ago. Not surprisingly, these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive so that a vet's bill for intricate surgery or a prolonged... Read more »

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 diseases that are passed between animals using intermediate hosts or vectors. How is the disease... Read more »

Giving your cat medicines

For most veterinary treatments it is important that medicines are given correctly. In the hospital, trained staff give medicines and it is important to ensure that you are able to continue to give the medicines once your cat has been sent home. If you have any doubts about how to give the medicine your pet... Read more »

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. Some of these are inheritedsuch as hip and elbow dysplasia. Damage can also result from traumatic injury. What is... Read more »

Intervertebral disc herniation or “slipped disc”

A slipped disc (also known as intervertebral disc herniation) is the most common cause of paralysis in dogs. Cats are much less often affected. What is the intervertebral disc? The spine is the name given to the collection of bones (vertebrae) inside which the spinal cord is contained. The spinal cord is made of cables... Read more »

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 is an inherited joint disease? Inherited diseases are genetic conditions passed from parents to their offspring. Sometimes the puppy inherits... Read more »

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 to full athletic fitness. What are the cruciate ligaments? There are 2 cruciate ligaments in each knee... Read more »

Cauda equina diseases (back problems)

Back problems in dogs are not uncommon. Many breeds are affected by 'disk disease' but diseases of the spinal cord itself are also a problem. These diseases are painful and affect a dog's mobility. Medical management may help some dogs, but in severe cases surgery may be needed. What is the cauda equina? The cauda... Read more »

Caring for your pet before and after surgery

Most pets will have an operation at some stage in their life, eg for neutering (spaying or castration) or to treat a disease. Nowadays most operations in dogs and cats are fairly safe but the success of treatment and recovery depends to some extent on the quality of care that the owner gives before and after the operation.... Read more »

BVA/KC hip dysplasia scoring scheme

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. The Kennel Club (KC) introduced the hip dysplasia scoring scheme to identify affected dogs at an early stage so that... Read more »

Caring for the amputee cat

There are a number of reasons which may necessitate the removal of an animal's leg. The two most common of these are severe trauma, for example after a road traffic accident, or as management of a leg cancer. As a general rule, cats cope far better with amputation than people imagine they will. Humans of course... Read more »

Caring for a kitten

Cats are now our most popular domestic pet. Some people acquire a cat almost by accident but if you make a conscious decision to get one you should think carefully about what sort of cat you want - short or long haired, pedigree or ordinary 'moggie', etc. Although obtaining a kitten may be a particularly... Read more »

BVA/KC elbow dysplasia scoring scheme

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 Kennel Club (KC) introduced the elbow dysplasia scoring scheme to identify affected dogs at an early stage so that they could... Read more »

Bone 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. Some of these are inherited such as hip and elbow dysplasia. Damage can also result from traumatic injury.... Read more »

All about worms

It can be alarming to discover that your cat 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 worming treatment. Except in rare cases, worms are unlikely to cause serious harm. Getting rid of... Read more »

Arthritis

Arthritis is a familiar problem for most vets. A large number of dogs, and an increasing number of cats, suffer from arthritis. Arthritis simply means an inflammation of joints and animals with arthritis usually suffer with pain and stiffness in their joints. Although arthritis is typically a problem in older pets, many animals with arthritis have had signs of disease from... Read more »

All about neutering

It is a sad truth that the number of kittens born every year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of healthy animals are destroyed and many more unwanted cats are left to fend for themselves. Having your cat neutered will not only help to... Read more »

All about fleas

Fleas are the most common parasite in cats - and every cat is likely to be infected at some stage in its life. However, with the advent of modern products it is possible to prevent fleas from becoming a problem in your household. Working closely with your vet, who will you give you advice on... Read more »

Leaving your pet behind

Although the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) is now fully operational, allowing limited movement of pets through some countries and the UK, many pet owners still prefer to leave their pets behind when they go away. Will my dog be happy being left behind? Dogs are very much part of the family and usually like to spend time... Read more »

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 the main disease risks abroad? There are a number of protozoal diseases found in continental Europe that... Read more »

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. They look after your dog in his or her normal environment. The majority of dog owners, however, have to... Read more »

Winter care for your rabbit

Rabbits have evolved to be able to withstand the winter weather we get in the UK, but whether or not you keep your rabbit as a houserabbit or outside, they do require some special care and considerations throughout the colder months of the year, to ensure they remain happy and healthy. What natural resources does... Read more »

Why does my rabbit… ?

Unlike dogs and cats, which are hunting animals, rabbits are prey animals and so their natural behaviour is very different. It is part of the responsibility of owning a pet that you learn to understand what your pet's behaviour means - this will help you to know when your rabbit is happy, when it is... Read more »

Vaccinating your rabbit

There are several highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases that can affect your rabbit. Fortunately vaccines have been produced that will protect your rabbit against two of these - myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (strains 1 and 2). To ensure that your rabbit is fully protected it is essential that it receives regular booster injections.... Read more »

Travelling with your rabbit

A visit to the vet or travelling on a longer journey may be stressful for your rabbit. Make sure that you are properly prepared to avoid your rabbit being frightened. What is needed to prepare for a journey? An indoor cage can be used as a travel pen but your rabbit may prefer to be... Read more »

Syringe feeding your rabbit

Syringe feeding (or force feeding) your rabbit is a very important part of recovery from gastrointestinal stasis (gut stasis), and in some cases is the most important part of recovering from surgery or illness. If you need to continue syringe feeding your rabbit following surgery or illness your vet will discuss this with you and... Read more »

Summer safety

By now we are all well aware of the dangers that too much sun can cause to our health, but it's not just the sun that can pose many potential problems for rabbits during the warmer months. Summer heat A rabbits optimum environmental temperature is 15-20°C (65-70°F), although rabbits can easily withstand much colder temperatures... Read more »

Senior rabbit care

Contrary to common wisdom, many well kept rabbits live long and happy lives. With better owner education, improved diets and husbandry, and better medical care, more rabbits are living into their senior years. How long will my rabbit live? Rabbits often live into their second decade. Early literature reported rabbits living only 4 to 5... Read more »

Saying goodbye – options for euthanasia

The life expectancy of a pet rabbit is generally much longer than that of a rabbit living in the wild. On average a pet rabbit may live for about 6-8 years and some even survive past 10 years. But at some stage it may become obvious that your rabbit's life is drawing to a close.... Read more »

Plants – safe or dangerous

The bulk of a rabbits diet should be made up of fibre grass and hay, with vegetables and other plants making up a smaller proportion of the overall intake. However, whilst some plants are safe to feed, others should be avoided and knowing which category each falls into can be confusing. What if my rabbit... Read more »

Pet insurance for your rabbit

In recent years huge advances have been made in veterinary medicine. Vets can now do things to improve the health and welfare of cats that would have been unimaginable or impractical only a few years ago. Not surprisingly, these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive so that a vet's bill for intricate surgery... Read more »

Operations: caring for your rabbit before and after surgery

Many rabbits will have an operation at some stage in their life, e.g. for neutering (spaying or castration) or to treat a disease. Nowadays most operations in rabbits are fairly safe but the success of treatment and recovery depends to some extent on the quality of care that the owner gives before and after the... Read more »

Obesity

Wild rabbits engage in a range of activities that require significant energy expenditure. They have to forage for food and remain constantly alert to danger, when they will flee to the nearest burrow for shelter. They will also use up energy just keeping warm during the colder months. By contrast, the average pet rabbit does... Read more »

Neutering your rabbit

Everyone knows that rabbits breed like, well... rabbits! The number of pet rabbits born each year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of rabbits find their way to re-homing centres where they wait for adoption. Responsible rabbit owners realise that neutering (sterilising,... Read more »

Microchipping your rabbit

Various techniques can be used to identify your rabbit. Microchips are a safe and permanent method of identification and have many advantages over more traditional techniques such as the placement of metal leg rings or ear-marking with tattoos. Microchips provide a quick and efficient way to identify a lost rabbit and reunite it with its... Read more »

Living with a house rabbit

More and more rabbit owners are bringing their rabbits to live indoors and become part of the family like a dog or cat. To make the smooth transition from a hutch rabbit to a house rabbit, you first need to prepare your house and then gradually introduce your rabbit to living indoors. What are houserabbits?... Read more »

Litter training your rabbit

An increasing number of people have moved away from the traditional idea of keeping a rabbit in a hutch by bringing it into their home. When considering a houserabbit the most frequently asked question is "but won't it use the whole house as a toilet?" Much to the surprise of some people, rabbits can be... Read more »

Introducing your rabbit to other pets

Introducing other pets, such as cats and dogs, to your pet rabbit needs to be done gradually and in such a way that the dog or cat learns that the rabbit is not overly interesting and certainly not something to be chased, and eaten. Rabbits, are prey animals and dogs and cats are predators. From... Read more »

Injection technique

Administration of medicine by injection is often referred to as giving by the parenteral route (this means that the treatment does not enter the body via the gut). Effective administration of medicine is a key part of most veterinary treatments and many medications are most effective when given by injection. Administration of medicine by injection... Read more »

Illness: caring for a poorly rabbit

At some point it is highly likely that you will have to look after an ill rabbit. Rabbits are often stressed in a veterinary environment, so when your vet feels that your rabbit is well enough to go home they may want you to continue with their nursing care at home. Knowing how to do... Read more »

Cancer in your cat – 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 cats are likely to develop one of the many different forms of cancer at some stage of their... Read more »

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 signs of vestibular disease often come on very suddenly and if your pet develops these... Read more »

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 pet suffering a stroke may be frightening - but you should not be alarmed as... Read more »

Pyruvate kinase deficiency

Pyruvate kinase deficiency is an inherited disease that was first documented in Abyssinian, Somali and some domestic short-hair cats in the early 1990s. What is pyruvate kinase deficiency? Pyruvate kinase (PK) is an enzyme found in red blood cells. If this enzyme is lacking, the lifespan of the red blood cells is reduced and this... Read more »

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 one-off event like this may be nothing to worry about but if the experience is... Read more »

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 behind when they go away. Will my cat be happy being left behind? Cats are... Read more »

Travelling with your cat

Travelling can be a stressful experience for human beings and it is probably equally so for cats, although for different reasons. While your cat is not going to be worried about arriving at its destination on time it will have been plucked from its familiar territory, put in to a container and subjected to an... Read more »

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 you must ensure that you follow all the rules. The current requirements of the Pet... Read more »

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. Cats travelling on Pet Passports must be treated against tapeworms before entering the UK from most countries. The treatment will be recorded in the passport. What regulations affect pet travel? There is... Read more »

Mice and rats: viral and bacterial infections

Mice and rats suffer from a number of viral and bacterial infections. Here are some of the more commonly seen infections that you should keep an eye out for. What is chronic murine pneumonia (CMP)? This is the most significant and serious bacterial infection in mice and rats. It is caused by the rather unusual... Read more »

Mice and rats: Tyzzer’s disease

Mice and rats can suffer from a number of health problems, but Tyzzer's disease is usually seen in mice, although rats are also susceptible. It is caused by the bacterium Clostridium piliforme (formerly called Bacillus piliformis), which is usually transmitted by eating contaminated food or water. How does Tyzzer's disease affect rodents? The bacteria lives in the intestine... Read more »

Mice and rats: tumours

Both mice and rats are very susceptible to formation of tumours. Rats over 2 years of age are reported to have an 87% chance of developing one or more types of tumours. Mice frequently develop tumours representing a wide variety of tissue types. The tumours may be external or internal. Do mice and rats get... Read more »

Mice and rats: 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 rodent happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are the... Read more »

Mice and rats: parasitic diseases

Rodents are susceptible to skin disease which can be caused by numerous infectious agents, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Cage mates may be responsible for hair loss and/or wounds to the skin. Do rodents suffer from external parasites? Pet mice and rats may be infested with a variety of external parasites. Mites, nearly microscopic,... Read more »

Mice and rats: miscellaneous health problems

Two medical conditions of mice and rats demanding special mention are their susceptibility to tumours and Tyzzer's disease. These are covered in separate factsheets. However, there are other medical conditions affecting mice and rats that are briefly covered here. Only purchase rodents from reputable sources, and never purchase an obviously or even suspiciously ill rodent.... Read more »

Mice and rats: how to handle

Domestic mice and rats generally tolerate gentle handling, though both may bite if startled or handled roughly. Mice are more likely to bite than rats under these circumstances. In fact, mice housed alone are more likely to be aggressive with a handler than those housed in groups. How should I handle my mice? It is... Read more »

Mice and rats: housing

Proper housing is a major factor in the maintenance of healthy mice and rats. The psychosocial well-being of the animals must be a primary consideration. Mice and rats can be housed within enclosures made of wire, stainless steel, durable plastic or glass. What sort of housing should I provide my pets? Stainless steel, durable plastic... Read more »

Mice and rats: feeding a healthy diet

The mice we keep as pets are the same species as the house mouse. They live alongside human beings nearly all over the world, eating what they can find. Rats are designed to eat plants, e.g. seeds, roots, nuts and fruit. The cheek teeth of the rat are more like our own than the teeth... Read more »

Mice and rats: a history

Domestically raised mice and rats are popular pets these days; they are readily available, relatively inexpensive and easy to care for, and usually enjoy human handling. All about mice and rats These animals have been used extensively in research laboratories for many years. Consequently, their medical problems (many of which are inherited disorders resulting from... Read more »

Samples and tests – how they help your vet

Laboratory tests are used by vets to help them diagnose disease in sick animals. Increasingly they are also used as part of a routine health check to detect hidden disease before the development of obvious symptoms. This allows your horse to be treated earlier and more effectively. Tests may be used to show whether a... Read more »

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy

Platelet rich plasma (PRP) is an autologous biological product made from the horse's own blood. It can only be used in the same horse that has provided the blood sample. PRP contains a higher concentration of platelets than blood, and platelets are rich in various growth factors that benefit tissue healing. The idea behind using... Read more »

Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein (IRAP) therapy

IRAP stands for interleukin-1 receptor antagonist protein, which is an anti-inflammatory product that the body produces. IRAP is known to counteract inflammatory damage in joints that is caused by osteoarthritis. IRAP can be manufactured from a horse's blood, which is processed in a laboratory, before it is injected into a joint of the same horse. What is... Read more »

Diagnostic tests

In order to reach a diagnosis when attending to your horse, your vet may need to take some samples such a blood, urine, skin scrapings, biopsies or faeces. If your horse requires further diagnostic tests more samples may be taken such as fluid from the lungs or the abdomen. But what happens to all these... Read more »

Diagnostic imaging

There are a variety of different imaging modalities used every day in equine veterinary practice. They are used to assess the type and severity of injury in both bone and soft tissue structures of the musculoskeletal system. Most equine practices have radiography and ultrasonography equipment available. Larger clinics and referral centres often have more advanced... Read more »

Complementary therapies

Some forms of alternative or complementary medicine such as osteopathy and physiotherapy are widely used in veterinary medicine alongside conventional treatment. However, horse owners are increasingly looking at other alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy to help with a wide variety of common complaints. What is osteoapthy? Osteopathy is an established science... Read more »

Anaesthesia

Anaesthesia is used for a variety of veterinary procedures, including surgical, diagnostic and dental procedures. Anaesthesia will ensure your horse is kept pain-free during these procedures. What is anaesthesia? Anaesthesia is defined as a loss of sensation. Anaesthesia will stop your horse from feeling pain and other sensations, and it can be given in various... Read more »

Travelling – safety first!

Transport of horses is a common practice, involving individuals and groups of animals over short, medium and long distances. When you travel with your horse, the most important thing is that you both arrive safely at your destination. Preparation before you travel will ensure you both travel safely and confidently. What sort of transport do... Read more »

Travelling – loading problems

The horse differs from other large domestic animals in that it may be transported many times in its lifetime. Successful transportation of horses requires awareness of the horses behavioural and physical needs. What might cause a horse to refuse loading? A number of factors associated with transport can make it a stressful experience for a... Read more »

Travelling – bad weather conditions

Travelling with your horse in bad weather conditions should be avoided. If, however it is unavoidable, e.g. in the event of a medical emergency, then your main priorities should be to maintain your horse's health and safety. Planning ahead is the name of the game! What will I need to consider? Travelling with your horse in... Read more »

Taking your horse abroad

Transport of horses is a common practice, involving groups of horses over long distances. Transporting your horse abroad is a very complicated and sometimes very traumatic experience. Advanced preparation is vital for a smooth and stress-free journey. The most important thing is that you both arrive safely at your destination. What options are there for... Read more »

Equine passports

If you are unsure about the requirements for equine passports then read on. Passports contain important information about your horse, including details of who owns the horse, identification (including identification number) and much more. Passport regulations The following regulations are now in force: Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2009 Horse Identification (Scotland) Regulations 2009 Equine Identification (Wales) Regulations... Read more »

Sweet itch – an itchy business

Sweet itch is the most common cause of itching in horses leading to hair loss, especially from the mane and tail, with crusting and scab formation. Preventing your horse from developing sweet itch can be challenging, but regular checks and the use of preventative measures can ensure you are one step ahead. Prevention is definitely... Read more »

Rain scald

Rain scald is similar to mud fever at is involves infection of the skin with the same bacteria, however it isn't normally as complicated a problem to deal with as mud fever, it is easy to treat, and the outcome is generally much better. What is rain scald? Rain scald, also known as rain rot,... Read more »

Proud flesh

Wounds should be treated as soon as possible because untreated wounds are more likely to become infected or develop excessive proud flesh, preventing wound healing. What is proud flesh? Proud flesh (granulation tissue) forms when an excessive amount of new tissue is produced when a wound is healing. Proud flesh usually occurs when the skin... Read more »

Mud fever

Preventing your horse from infection with mud fever can be challenging, but twice-daily checks can ensure you are one step ahead. Prevention is definitely the name of the game! What is mud fever? Mud fever is a common condition of the lower limbs, especially the back legs, where the skin becomes inflamed and scabby with oozing... Read more »

Lice infestation

Also known as pediculosis and nits, lice infestation is a parasitic skin disease in horses. Biting and sucking lice can infest a variety of hosts, including cats, dogs, horses and people. Lice are host-specific, for example dog lice only affect dogs, and horse lice only affect horses! This means that humans can't be infested with... Read more »

Common skin problems in the horse

Although the skin is the most visible of the horse's body structures it is also the most easily overlooked! The skin provides a strong barrier to challenges from outside the body and plays an important role as part of the immune system. It also helps control body temperature and makes vitamin D. In certain parts of... Read more »

Whistling and roaring

Many horses of all types and ages have been observed to make an abnormal noise upon exercise. These horses and ponies are often referred to as whistlers or roarers. The noise produced can vary from barely audible to a loud roaring noise and is due to turbulent airflow through an abnormal airway. This finding is... Read more »

Respiratory problems in your horse – not a good wheeze!

Horses and ponies can be susceptible to a number of conditions that affect the respiratory tract. The causes of these can be very varied - from infections and allergies to anatomical defects. The seriousness of the conditions also varies: some conditions will resolve without veterinary treatment but others are life-threatening. Many respiratory conditions lead to... Read more »

Recurrent airway obstruction (RAO)

Recurrent airway obstruction (RAO), previously known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and commonly knows as heaves or broken wind, is a common chronic respiratory disorder seen in horses and ponies. In less severe cases the problem may go undetected, but may worsen over time if not treated. If exacerbated by high exposure to moulds... Read more »

Choke – oesophageal obstruction

Every owner will at some time have to deal with an emergency involving their horse, so it is essential to know how to deal with such emergencies before they arise. When you think your horse is unwell or in pain make sure you call your vet immediately. If your horse chokes it should be treated... Read more »

Rotavirus

Horses can suffer from a number of viral diseases, infection with Rotavirus is just one of many. If you are considering breeding your horse you should be aware of this disease and how it can affect breeding status as well as your potential foal's general health and well-being. Rotavirus is the most commonly diagnosed cause... Read more »

Preparing your mare for breeding

There are many factors to consider before you breed from your mare. It is important to consider the costs, time and expertise required to breed a mare and look after a foal. Where do I start if I want to breed from my mare? Decide whether you are happy for your mare to go away... Read more »

Pregnancy in the mare – health and well-being

As with human pregnancy, the first few days are the most critical. During the first month, there is a 10-15% chance that the embryo will be resorbed. Early embryonic loss can be caused by the following problems: stress illness uterine infection hormonal abnormalities twins Following conception, the pregnancy can be confirmed by ultrasound or transrectal... Read more »

Neonatal problems

When your mare is having a foal it can be a very stressful time for you and the mare. It is important that you know what to expect so that you can pick up any problems early on. Foals can become sick very quickly so it important to watch them closely and consult your vet... Read more »

Fostering

Sometimes, unfortunately, a foal needs to be fostered on to another mare; this can be a difficult time for all concerned. The main reasons why this might be necessary are; the mare is very ill or dies shortly after giving birth, the mare rejects the foal or the mare does not have sufficient milk to... Read more »

Foaling – what you need to know

Breeding from your mare is both an exciting and anxious time. It is important that you are able to recognise the start of foaling (labour) and its different stages. You can then enjoy the experience, reassured that you know what to do if problems occur. How long is pregnancy? In horses the average pregnancy (gestation... Read more »

Failure of passive transfer

When your mare is having a foal it can be a very stressful time for you and the mare. It is important that you know what to expect so that you can pick up any problems early on. Foals can become sick very quickly so it important to watch them closely and consult your vet... Read more »

Dourine

Dourine, also known as covering sickness or genital glanders, is a serious condition that can result in mortality; the mortality rate is thought to be over 50%. No vaccine is available, therefore prevention is extremely important. What is dourine? Dourine is a venereal disease caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma eqiperdum. The infection is sexually transmitted,... Read more »

Contagious equine metritis (CEM)

In the UK, isolation of the Contagious Equine Metritis Organism is notifiable by law. This is a statutory requirement under the Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987, and any positive samples must be reported by the testing laboratory to a Divisional Veterinary Manager (DVM) of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) who... Read more »

Castration

Castration is one of the most commonly performed equine surgical procedures. Most operations go well and wounds heal uneventfully, with your horse returning to work within a month of the operation. There are various options to consider before your horse has the operation and you will need to speak to your vet to decide what... Read more »

Bladder rupture

Rupture of the urinary bladder is one of the most common conditions of the urinary tract affecting new born foals and is a potentially life-threatening condition so early recognition is essential. What is bladder rupture? Traditionally bladder rupture has been thought to be present most frequently in the first 24-36 hours after parturition (giving birth);... Read more »

Abortion

Abortion is the term used to describe the loss of a foetus before term, in the horse this means that the mare loses the foal before 300 days. After 300 days the loss of the foal tends to be termed still-birth, prematurity or dysmaturity. If the abortion occurs very early in the pregnancy (less than... Read more »

Obesity – the fat horse

Much like their human counterparts, many of today's horses are working less and eating more (both in quantity and type of food), and as a result they are becoming fat. Obesity is a serious emerging problem in the domestic horse. Obesity involves serious disease implications as well as the more obvious problem of reduced athletic... Read more »

Nutrition – keeping your horse on top form

The combination of the right diet and correct workload should keep your horse in good condition. A horse's condition will vary depending on it's breed, age and workload. Before you can begin to decide what to feed your horse, you need to check if he is already in good condition or if he needs to... Read more »

Feeding the young horse

Feeding the foal or young horse can be tricky and will depend on individual circumstances, compliance of the mare and quality of the mare's milk. Nutrient requirements of young horses are extremely high, compared to those of adult horses, owing to their very fast growth rate. Protein requirements are high as a result of the... Read more »

Feeding the older horse

Horses are living longer mainly due to their evolution from working animals to pleasure animals and advances in equine medicine. As the horse gets older various physiological changes occur that require careful management. When is a horse considered to be old or 'geriatric'? When a horse reaches 20 years of age, it is considered to... Read more »

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS)

This condition describes horses that are obese, have insulin resistance due to increased tissue production of cortisol, and have recurrent laminitis. The disease has received different names in the past, particularly Peripheral Cushings Syndrome, but the most appropriate term is Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS). Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS) This condition describes horses that are obese,... Read more »

Equine grass sickness (EGS)

Grass sickness affects the horse's nervous system and is often fatal. The disease occurs almost exclusively in horses with access to grass but the cause is unknown. Until the cause is known, it is difficult to give sound advice regarding prevention, however, the more you know about the disease, the better your chances of preventing... Read more »

Body condition scoring

Body condition scoring is used to evaluate a horse's general condition or fat cover. Body condition scoring enables you to keep an eye on your horse's weight over the changing annual seasons and can alert you to any change in condition which may indicate the need for a change in diet or an indication of... Read more »

West Nile Virus – what owners should know

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a viral disease previously only seen in Africa, western Asia, and southern Europe. Now it can also be found in the Middle East, Mediterranean region of Europe and the US. Prevention is the name of the game, so make sure you are one step ahead and protect your horse from... Read more »

Tetanus – ‘lockjaw’

Horses are susceptible to a number of serious infectious diseases, e.g. tetanus (lockjaw) and influenza (flu), fortunately there are vaccines available for some of these common conditions. What is tetanus? Tetanus can be a fatal disease, caused by the neurotoxin of Clostridium tetani, which is found in soil and enters the horse's bloodstream, usually via an... Read more »

Strangles (Streptococcus equi infection)

Strangles in a highly contagious infectious disease and can be serious or occasionally even fatal as a result of late diagnosis. Know what to look out for and you will almost certainly avoid the unnecessary suffering of your horse and others. What is strangles? Strangles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by a bacteria... Read more »

Pinworms – an unwanted irritation

Although pinworms are not generally considered harmful, they are a nuisance and irritating for the horse. If your horse is particularly itchy around its tail and anal region then it might be suffering from a pinworm burden. What are pinworms? Pinworms (Oxyuris equi) are small, white-gray, roundworms that live in the large intestine of the... Read more »

Equine viral arteritis (EVA)

Equine viral arteritis (EVA) is a contagious disease of equids (horses, donkeys, mules) caused by equine arteritis virus (EAV) that is present in many equine populations worldwide. The disease, referred to in the past by a variety of clinically descriptive terms, is believed to have afflicted horses in Western Europe for centuries. Although not considered life-threatening in... Read more »

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM)

Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) is a common neurologic disease in horses in the USA. It is not generally seen in the UK, except in imported horses. What is EPM? EPM is a disease caused by infection with the protozoa Sarcocystis neurona or Neospora hughesi, but it is more commonly caused by N. hughesi which is carried by opossums in North... Read more »

Equine Influenza – ‘flu’

Horses are susceptible to a number of serious infectious diseases, eg influenza (flu) and tetanus (lockjaw). Fortunately there are vaccines available for some of these common conditions. What is equine influenza? Equine influenza is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the upper and lower respiratory tract of the horse caused by different strains of... Read more »

Equine infectious anaemia (EIA)

Equine infectious anaemia (EIA) is a disease of horses, mules and donkeys. Also called swamp fever, this disease has been present since the early 1800s, and has been reported worldwide. It remains a significant cause of mortality and morbidity in endemic areas to this day and the disease carries significant economic considerations. What causes the... Read more »

Equine herpesvirus (EHV)

Horses can suffer from a number of viral diseases, EHV is just one of many. If you are considering breeding your horse you should be aware of this disease and how it can affect breeding status as well and your horse's general health and well-being. EHV is the most commonly diagnosed cause of infectious abortion in... Read more »

Disease control

Horses are susceptible to many different diseases which can be passed between them. Horses are traveling and mixing with other horses at shows and events more and more and this increases the risk of them catching different infections. Disease control is very important in order to minimize the risk of disease spread and keep our... Read more »

Botulism

Botulism is one of the most potent toxins known, and unfortunately horses are extremely susceptible to it. There are three types of botulism recognised in horses, all of which can be easily prevented. What is botulism? Botulism is caused by toxins produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. C. botulinum is present in soil as spores, especially in certain... Read more »

Babesiosis (piroplasmosis)

There are a number of tick-borne diseases that can affect horses, including babesiosis. It is useful to know how to prevent infection, especially with increasing international horse movement, and the possible effects of global warming. What is babesiosis? Babesiosis, also referred to as piroplasmosis, is a tick-borne disease that attacks the horse's red blood cells.... Read more »

Anaplasma phagocytophilum infection

Also known as equine granulocytic anaplasmosis (EGA) or equine anaplasmosis. This is a relatively new disease, first described in the United States in 1969 but now increasingly recognised both in the US and Europe. What is A. phagocytophilum infection? Anaplasmosis is an infection caused by the bacterium A. phagocytophilum. A.phagocytophilum infection is tick-borne, spread by Ixodes ricinus (a sheep... Read more »

Investigating heart problems

Although heart disease is rare, heart murmurs and arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythm) are commonly detected in horses, and their significance must be determined. In many cases a thorough examination of the cardiovascular system is all that is required to assess the relevance of an abnormal finding, but sometimes more advanced diagnostic procedures such as electrocardiography... Read more »

Heart murmurs

Heart murmurs are quite common in horses and are often detected during a routine veterinary examination or at pre-purchase examination. What is a heart murmur? A heart murmur is an abnormal sound heard when the horses heart is listened to with a stethoscope. What causes murmurs? Murmurs are heard when there is abnormal flow of... Read more »

Heart disease

Although the presence of heart murmurs and arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythm) are not uncommon in horses, they rarely cause any signs of actual heart disease in most horses. The most common type of abnormalities detected are abnormalities of the valves between the heart chambers or between the heart and the arteries, and some arrhythmias. What... Read more »

Riding and road safety

It is well known that our roads are getting busier and busier, making riding horses on the road more and more dangerous. Horse riders have as much right to use the roads as anyone else and should be able to enjoy riding without fear from other road users. According the British Horse Society figures, each... Read more »

Pre-purchase examinations

Once you have made the decision to buy a horse, it is advisable to identify a vet that can carry out a pre-purchase examination of the horse. Not only will this give you peace of mind, but your insurance company will also very likely request a copy of a recent pre-purchase examination certificate prior to... Read more »

Pasture management

Regular pasture management ensures your horse's grazing remains in good nutritional condition; it is also one of the main ways of achieving effective parasite control in your horse. Effective pasture management, along with faecal egg count monitoring and use of a regular deworming programme, should ensure your horse benefits from nutritious grazing and remains free from internal... Read more »

Insurance – do I need it?

Horse and pony ownership is a costly business and carries with it a weight of responsibility, whether your involvement is purely pleasure, is competitive or is commercial. You may own a livery yard, riding stables or stud. Insurance is a service. It exists to help protect you, the owner, against the unpredictable costs that can... Read more »

Fitting a saddle – why it’s so important

It is not easy for a horse owner, who has not been specifically trained, to make sure that his or her horse's saddle fits properly or to more than suspect that it is causing trouble. What problems can a poorly fitting saddle cause? Common history patterns Some types of horse, e.g. those with 'high' withers... Read more »

Exercise – keeping your horse fit and happy

Routine exercise is very important for you and your horse. General exercise and mental stimulation helps to keep you and your horse fit and happy. A combination of schooling, riding out, jumping and going to shows will keep your horse active and mentally interested in what he is being asked to do. Why do I need... Read more »

Examining a horse at an auction

When a pre-purchase examination cannot be performed by a qualified equine vet, following these guidelines for examining a horse at an auction. What do I need to know? Unlike buying a horse privately, where you can view the horse and then make a decision after careful thought over the course of a day or two,... Read more »

Essential equine management

Day-to-day management of your horse is very important. There are many factors that horse owners must consider to ensure their horse's health and safety. Vigilance towards these factors is essential for a beginner and the experienced owner. What factors ensure good day-to-day equine management? Important factors to consider when looking after your horse include, stable... Read more »

Clipping your horse

Before you think about clipping your horse you need to establish why and ultimately what sort of clip you need to give your horse. Clipping ensures your horse remains healthy and comfortable. Make sure you know when you should start clipping your horse and continue to maintain his clip for the correct period of time.... Read more »

Buying a horse

Owning a horse is a big responsibility that requires great commitment, time and money. Before buying a horse or pony you need to make sure you can provide everything your horse needs. Buying a horse is a time-consuming and lengthy process. You will need to do some research and visit different horses before you make... Read more »

Equine gastric ulcer syndrome

Equine gastric ulceration syndrome (EGUS) is a common condition seen in many types of horses, but is often missed as the cause of a variety problems, including reduced body condition, changes in appetite, and behavioural and exercise-related issues. EGUS has many causes and can be complicated in nature, so if you think you horse may... Read more »

Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is relatively common and a potentially serious condition that affects horses of all ages. In all but the mildest cases it is wise to call your vet to ensure prompt treatment is initiated and more serious conditions are identified before they worsen. What causes diarrhoea in horses? Parasites (worms) Small roundworms cause disease in... Read more »

Dental care

Equine dental care is often neglected. As humans we are always off to the dentist for our 6 month check-ups. Horses are just like us, they can get tooth ache, cavities and gum disease. So... why shouldn't your horse get regular check-ups too? Knowing what goes on in your horse's mouth will help you prevent any... Read more »

Colic – a serious belly ache

Colic is a word that every horse owner dreads. Unfortunately, most horses will suffer from colic at some point and it is essential for you to know how to identify the symptoms and what to do next. Although the majority of colic cases resolve with minimal help, getting veterinary attention at the right moment can... Read more »

Thrush and canker

Maintaining your horse's feet in good condition is of primary importance. Neglected feet can develop many conditions which, if left untreated, can result in severe lameness with loss of use of your horse. Thrush and canker are two conditions of the foot which owners of horses should be aware of. Daily cleaning of your horses... Read more »

Tendon injuries

Tendon injuries are a common occurrence in the athletic horse. Although injury can occur in any tendon in any type of horse and age, the superficial digital flexor tendon of the lower limb is most frequently affected, particularly in the racehorse and event horses. It is characterised by heat, pain and swelling of the limb... Read more »

Taking your horse barefoot

Are you thinking of taking your horse barefoot?  If so, here is some useful information before you go ahead. But to start off with, some words of warning!!! Can my horse go barefoot? Going barefoot successfully is a lot more than just taking the shoes off your horse. It involves you, the horse's owner, taking... Read more »

Subsolar abscess – pus in the foot

A subsolar abscess, or pus in the foot, is an infection beneath the sole of the foot. Subsolar abscesses cause severe pain to your horse due to the buildup of pressure under the hoof capsule that cannot expand. The pain can probably be compared to an infection or blood blister under your fingernail, with the... Read more »

Stem cell therapy

Tendon, ligament and joint injuries are common occurrences in horses, and up until recently an injury involving one of these may well have meant the end of a horse's competitive career. But now, with advancing technology, stem cell therapy could give your horse a second chance! What is stem cell therapy? Stem cell therapy is used for... Read more »

Sidebone

Sidebone is the name given to the ossification (bony formations) of the flexible collateral cartilages of the distal phalanx (coffin bone) in the foot. These are found either side of the coffin bone in some horses protruding very little and in others, protruding up towards the level of the pastern joint. These lateral cartilages support... Read more »

Shoeing problems – how to deal with them

Problems with shoeing are most commonly due to horses not being willing to pick up their feet or having them handled, rather than being due to the shoeing itself. These horses are also unlikely to pick up their feet for their owners for daily hoof care, this risks these horses developing problems with their feet.... Read more »

Seedy toe

Good hoof care is essential in avoiding conditions such as quittor. Regular trimming and/or shoeing to ensure all the feet are balanced and are free from cracks is essential. If your horse is shod, they should fit properly, therefore avoiding any nasty tread injuries. What is seedy toe? Seedy toe is separation of the dorsal... Read more »

Quittor

As every horse owner knows, the horse's foot is a very complicated structure. It may not look it from the outside, but within the hoof wall are many elements and sensitive structures that form the foot. Quittor is a condition that affects the lateral cartilages in the foot, however it is relatively uncommon. What is... Read more »

Penetrating foot injuries

As every horse owner knows, the horse's foot is a very complicated structure. It may not look it from the outside, but within the hoof wall are many elements and sensitive structures that form the foot. A penetrating injury to the sole of the foot should be treated as an emergency. What is the anatomy... Read more »

Osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis (OCD) is a failure of normal cartilage and bone development at the joint surfaces of long bones. This leads to bone fragmentation or subchondral bone cysts which are common causes of lameness in the horse. Young horses are most frequently affected and the condition can have an important impact on the horses future athletic... Read more »

Osteoarthritis – the facts

Osteoarthritis (also known as 'arthritis' and 'degenerative joint disease') is a progressive, degenerative condition of joints resulting in cartilage erosion and inflammation. A common cause of lameness in horses, there is no cure but it can be managed. Articular cartilage has very limited ability to repair so the condition is irreversible. Any joint injury or insult can result... Read more »

Nerve blocks – the lame horse

Lameness is a common problem in horses of all ages and types. It can be frustrating, expensive and time-consuming trying to get to the bottom of the problem. Unfortunately horses, unlike people, cannot tell us the source of pain; hence the need for a variety of diagnostic tests accompanied by often multiple imaging modalities in... Read more »

Navicular disease

Navicular disease cannot be cured, but there are various treatments available that can relieve the symptoms to a certain degree. Your vet will discuss the treatment options with you. What is navicular disease? Navicular disease is a slowly progressive arthritic condition of the navicular bone, causing chronic degeneration of the navicular bone in which there... Read more »

Navicular bursitis

The navicular bursa is a small fluid-filled structure in the foot that acts as a cushion where the deep digital flexor tendon passes over the bone and changes direction. A bursa has many properties similar to a joint or a tendon sheath. Bursae are lined with a membrane which produces synovial fluid. Other common bursae... Read more »

Nail bind/nail prick

Foot problems are a common cause of lameness in the horse, accounting for 90% of all forelimb lameness problems. However, the importance of meticulous care of horses' feet is often overlooked by owners. Neglected feet can develop many conditions which, if left untreated, can result in severe lameness with subsequent loss of use of your... Read more »

Ligament injuries

Ligaments are soft tissue structures that connect bone to bone in the skeleton. Injury of these supporting structures is a common cause of lameness in the horse. The severity of lameness and prognosis varies greatly according to the location and degree of ligament injury. Ligaments generally take a long time to heal and gradual return... Read more »

Laminitis – the facts

Laminitis is a common but often poorly understood disease. It is usual for owners to believe it only occurs in spring in small ponies. This is not always the case and it is important you understand the consequences of an episode of laminitis. What is laminitis? Laminitis (also known as 'founder') is a very painful... Read more »

Lameness examinations

Unfortunately, lameness in horses is very common and it is one of the most likely reasons that a horse will require veterinary attention. As a horse owner you can help in the evaluation of your horse's problem by being observant and by keeping good records. What is a lameness examination? A vet carrying out a lameness... Read more »

Lameness

Lameness is the most common reason for horses needing veterinary attention. Athletic horses place huge stresses on their limbs and injury is common. Although complete prevention is not possible some good management will reduce the risk of horses developing lameness problems. What is lameness? A horse suffering from lameness is incapable of normal locomotion, ie... Read more »

Kissing spines

Kissing spines is a colloquial name for over-riding spinous processes. The spinous processes are the vertical projections of vertebral bones in the horse's spine, which run the length of the back and are tallest in the area of the withers. What are kissing spines? When the spinous processes are too close to one another, they are said... Read more »

Horseshoes

Foot problems are one of the most common causes of lameness in horses. However,footcare is often overlooked by owners. Neglected feet can develop many conditions which, if left untreated, can result in severe lameness with loss of use of your horse. Maintaining your horses feet in good condition is of primary importance. Ensuring your horse is seen... Read more »

Fractures

If you have ever been around horses, you will be aware of the frequency with which horses injure themselves compared to other pets. This may be partly related to the flight rather than fight response horses have to certain situations. They also have a large body mass (often in excess of 500 kg) on a... Read more »

Footcare – the barefoot option

The term 'barefoot' is closely associated with more than just the care of your horse's feet. It is an integral part of a new movement that not only looks at the condition of the horse's feet, but also the way in which horses are managed, including diet, environment and exercise. What do I need to... Read more »

Footcare

Foot problems are one of the most common causes of lameness in horses. However, the care of horse's feet is often overlooked by owners. Neglected feet can develop many conditions which, if left untreated, can result in severe lameness with loss of use of your horse. Maintaining your horse's feet in good condition is of primary... Read more »

Flexural limb deformities

The most commonly seen flexural deformities are contracted tendons and joint hyperextension. There are a number of causes, but in all cases, prompt treatment is required for the best possible outcome and future soundness of the horse. What are flexural deformities? A horse is said to have 'contracted tendons' when it is unable to fully... Read more »

Corns

Humans aren't the only ones who can get corns, horses can suffer from them too! Dry corns, moist corns and infected corns are all causes of lameness seen in shod horses. What are corns? Corns are a type of bruising usually seen at the angle of the bars and hoof wall on the inside of... Read more »

Bruised sole

A bruised sole is very common in horses. Both shod and barefoot horses are susceptible, and they can range from minor bruising that heals quickly, to more severe bruising causing lameness which may need veterinary attention. What is a bruised sole? A bruised sole refers to the damage caused to the sensitive structures within the... Read more »

Bog spavin

Joints are complicated structures that are prone to a variety of disorders. Bog spavin is one such condition that is most commonly seen in young horses with osteochondrosis, where cartilage and bone around the joint fails to develop normally. Early detection of bog spavin is important, as the condition can have an important impact on... Read more »

Worms – a wriggly problem

Every horse owner has heard about the danger of worms but without some knowledge it is hard to understand the full impact of a worm infestation (or burden). Intestinal worms can seriously damage your horse and in some circumstances can kill it, even if the burden is not life-threatening your horse may lose condition. Implementing an... Read more »

Worm control

Every horse owner has heard about the danger of worms but without some knowledge it is hard to understand the full impact of a worm infestation (or burden). Intestinal worms can seriously damage your horse and in some circumstances can kill it, even if the burden is not life-threatening your horse may lose condition. Implementing an effective worm... Read more »

Weight loss

Horses usually maintain a good body condition if offered a good quality diet of hay and pasture. Young horses or horses in hard work may require additional concentrates to meet their nutritional needs and old horses often require a 'senior' feed because wear and tear on their teeth no longer allow them to graze sufficiently.... Read more »

Vaccination protocols and safety

Development of vaccinations has resulted in there being protection available for an increasing number of infectious diseases in horses. Recently concerns have been raised about potential 'over vaccination' of people and animals and this has led to development of the concept of tailored vaccination protocols. If your horse is not likely to be exposed to... Read more »

Vaccinating your horse

Horses are susceptible to a number of serious infectious diseases, e.g. influenza (flu). Fortunately, vaccines are available for some of these common conditions. What is a vaccination? A vaccination is an injection that stimulates an immune response against a specific disease. A vaccination programme will ensure that your horse has maximum protection against these serious... Read more »

Sheath washing – to wash, or not to wash!

Regular washing of a gelding or stallion's sheath and penis is something that horse owners debate on a regular basis. The following information should make the decision "to wash, or not to wash" an easy one! Do I need to wash my horse's sheath? As a general rule there is no need to wash your... Read more »

Senior horse care

It's not only humans that are living longer our horses are too! Improvements in diet, management and veterinary care mean that horses and ponies can easily live into their 20s and 30s. The average age for a horse is about 24 years. Just like young animals, older animals need special care to keep them happy... Read more »

Saying goodbye – options for euthanasia

This is a very sensitive subject but it is important for you to be aware of the reasons for euthanasia, the options available and the possible arrangements for disposal of the body. Learning about euthanasia now will enable you, should it become necessary, to say goodbye to your horse in a dignified and peaceful way.... Read more »

Routine health care

We are all familiar with the phrase "A healthy horse is a happy horse" - but there is probably also something to be said for keeping your horse happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your horse you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are... Read more »

Poisonous plants – what to look out for

Many plants that are poisonous to horses cause neurological and liver damage, which can be life-threatening. Unless you have a good general knowledge of poisonous plants it is unlikely that you will be able to easily identify which plants are poisonous to your horse or not. There are some plants that you will be familiar with,... Read more »

Operations: caring for your horse before and after surgery

There may be an occasion when your horse will need to undergo surgery, this may be for emergency or for an elective procedure such as castration. Whatever the reason, you need to know how to care for your horse before and after surgery to ensure the surgery goes as smoothly as possible and to ensure... Read more »

Nosebleed (epistaxis)

Epistaxis means bleeding from the nose and is relatively common in horses. If your horse has a nosebleed dont panic! The nasal passages are full of blood vessels, so it can look like a lot of blood is coming from the horses nose. Most minor nosebleeds stop within 15 minutes, so any bleeding that lasts... Read more »

Normal parameters and vital signs

Knowing what your horses normal vital signs are is very important as these can be a very good indicator of how your horse is feeling and if he needs veterinary attention. You should check your horses vital signs on a regular basis - once a week is ideal as well as when you think your... Read more »

Identification – keeping your horse safe

Owning a horse is a big responsibility and just like any pet, they soon become part of the family and it would be terrible if they got lost or stolen. Without positive identification your chances of finding a missing horse or pony are slim, within a very short period of time, your horse could be... Read more »

Eye problems

The horse's eye is large and lies in a prominent and somewhat unprotected position in the skull. Given the horse's propensity of flight under circumstances of fright, trauma to the eye is not uncommon. Also, given the many varied occupations of horses in some rather harsh environments, it is not unexpected that the horse incurs... Read more »

Exercise intolerance/poor performance testing

If your horse isn't performing to the best of its ability, there may be an underlying problem that will need to be investigated by your vet. Exercise intolerance can have a number of causes and finding out what it is can be a lengthy process, but more often than not, treatment will be available to... Read more »

Equine Cushing’s disease

Equine Cushing's disease is a condition of senior horses (over 15 years of age) of all types - ponies commonly seem to be predisposed because they tend to live longer. It is also known as ECD, hyperadrenocorticism and pituitary adenoma. It is sometimes called Cushing's syndrome, suggesting it is a disease with a variety of symptoms some of... Read more »

Emergencies – when to call the vet

Every owner will at some time have to deal with an emergency involving their horse. It is essential to know how to deal with such emergencies before they arise and to know who to call when they do. Although concern is understandable when you think your horse is unwell or in pain, if your horse... Read more »

Coping with the loss of a pet

Pets often become beloved members of the family, and when they die, the loss can be very traumatic. From hamsters, to cats, dogs, horses and everything in between, no matter what the animal, losing a beloved pet is never easy and it is only natural to grieve. Understanding grief Everyone grieves differently, and grief can be... Read more »

Choosing a vet for your horse

Everyone who owns a pet will, at some point, need to take it to see a vet, whether it be for routine treatment, for an illness or an emergency. Horse owners are no exception, but in most cases, your vet will come to see your horse rather than you taking your horse to see the... Read more »

Basic equine anatomy

If you own a horse it is useful to have a basic understanding of the horse's anatomy. Having this basic knowledge will enable you to spot problems or diseases your horse may have at a much earlier stage, and will enable you to communicate effectively with your vet. What do I need to know about... Read more »

Bandaging – the do’s and don’t’s

There may be a number of occasions when you will need to bandage your horse's legs. Bandaging can be used for protection, support and injury. Correct leg bandaging is essential - applied incorrectly, bandages may cause discomfort, restrict blood flow and even cause injury. Learning the correct bandaging techniques can save your horse from potential... Read more »

Azoturia – ‘Tying-up’

Azoturia is popularly known as 'Tying-up' but it is also known as 'Set fast', 'Monday morning disease' and 'Exertional rhabdomyolysis'. What is azoturia? Azoturia is a recurrent syndrome in which excess urea and other nitrogen compounds are excreted in the urine following exercise. The urea comes mainly from the build up of toxic lactic acid... Read more »

Weaving

Weaving is a common problem found in horses that are stabled for prolonged periods of time without any stimulation or social contact. Dealing with weaving is simple and common sense management will help to manage weaving in the majority of cases. What is weaving? Weaving involves your horse swinging the head, neck and anterior parts... Read more »

Vices – why and how to manage them

Horses have to put up with a lot! In years gone by horses were left to roam the plains free to do what they liked. Now they are expected to live in small stables and graze in small, enclosed areas. No wonder they look for other things to do, to occupy themselves. Unfortunately many of... Read more »

Rearing

A horse may respond to certain circumstances by rearing. This may range from small rears with the front feet raised only a couple of feet off the ground, to a full rear where the horse is standing vertically on its hind legs. A full height rear poses risks to both the rider and the horse.... Read more »

Headshaking

Headshaking is a problem seen in horses all over the country. If your horse is affected it is important to try and find out the cause of the problem so that appropriate treatment and preventive methods can be put into place. Horses can be severely distressed by headshaking as it is a response to pain... Read more »

Crib-biting/wind-sucking/wood-chewing

Crib-biting, wind-sucking and wood-chewing are repetitive oral behaviours that are most commonly seen in stabled horses. Crib-biting and wind-sucking are similar behaviours and may reflect digestive discomfort, whereas wood-chewing may simply reflect re-directed feeding behaviour. Nonetheless, all may be treated and prevented most effectively by providing the horse with natural grazing and increased forage. What... Read more »

Common training problems and how to deal with them

Sadly, horses often develop problem behaviours that affect the relationship between horse and handler. A recent study of horses presented in a slaughter house in Europe identified that the most common reason for horse destruction was not due to physical problems but was due to behavioural problems. The following information outlines some common problem behaviours... Read more »

Clipping problems – how to deal with them

As with many animals, horses grow a thicker coat in winter. The thickness of the winter coat varies depending on the breed of horse or pony and whether they are stabled or turned out in the field during the colder weather. This thicker coat can cause horses to overheat and sweat during exercise and owners... Read more »

Clicker training

There is an increasing interest in the use of positive reinforcement techniques for training new behaviours in horses. The use of secondary reinforcers to establish a new behavioural response was originally used with performing sea mammals. One commonly used form of conditioned reinforcement is called 'clicker training'. What is clicker training? Clicker training is a... Read more »

Bucking

Bucking is the term used for when a horse kicks out with both hind legs at the same time. Bucking can often unseat a rider, especially an inexperienced one. It is can be dangerous to ride a horse that bucks, therefore it is useful to know why a horse bucks and how to deal with... Read more »

Bruxism

Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a commonly observed problem in horses, and is often a sign of physical or psychological discomfort. Sudden onset of bruxism should be investigated in relation to clinical problems, as this is likely to be due to pain. Longer term bruxism can lead to other problems such as wear of the... Read more »

Box-walking

Box-walking is a repetitive behaviour problem that is most commonly seen in stabled horses. It may reflect frustration of their motivation to move and exercise and can be treated and/or prevented by providing plenty of forage, turnout and social contact. What is box-walking? Box-walking is the name given to describe characteristic, repetitive pacing movements that... Read more »

Bolting

Bolting is the term used when a horse gallops off out of control and the rider is unable to stop it. In addition to being very frightening for the rider, this can also be very dangerous for the horse, rider and others around them. Why do wild horses bolt? Animals can be categorised as fight... Read more »

Aggression

Equine behaviour can be difficult to understand, especially aggressive behaviour. If you want to understand more about why your horse exhibits certain aggressive behavioural traits, this information should shed some light on them! What is aggression? Aggression is primarily a form of communication used to establish precedence and consists of threats or harmful actions directed... Read more »

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 worming treatment. Except in rare cases, worms are unlikely to cause serious harm. Getting rid... Read more »

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 recommended, particularly as some types of worm can be passed onto humans. What sort of... Read more »

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 question the value of routine annual vaccination for adult pets. This has led to development... Read more »

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 is a simple protection in the form of vaccination. Ensuring that your dog completes an... Read more »

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 from time to time to feed. Your dog can pick them up on their coat... Read more »

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 old dogs can be considered to be in old age, and many breeds show signs... Read more »

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 end of life, it can be a very challenging time filled with questions and concerns.... Read more »

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 very well and can quickly spot if it is feeling under the weather. What are the... Read more »

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 dog which may be expected to live for 10 years or more. Before getting a... Read more »

Pet Insurance For Your Dog

In recent years huge advances have been made in veterinary medicine. Vets can now do things to improve the health and welfare of dogs that would have been unimaginable or impractical only a few years ago. Not surprisingly, these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive so that a vet's bill for intricate surgery... Read more »

Operations: Caring For Your Dog Before And After Surgery

Most pets will have an operation at some stage in their life, e.g. for neutering (speying or castration) or to treat a disease. Nowadays most operations in dogs are fairly safe but the success of treatment and recovery depends to some extent on the quality of care that the owner gives before and after the... Read more »

Obesity

In the wild dogs generally regulate the amount of food they eat. However, there is a trend for modern dogs, like modern man, to eat better food and take less exercise than their predecessors. Just as in people, there is a risk that your dog may become overweight. Obesity is an excessive accumulation of fat in the... Read more »

Neutering Your Dog

It is a sad truth that the number of puppies born every year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of healthy animals are destroyed and many unwanted dogs are left to fend for themselves. Having your dog neutered will not only help... Read more »

Microchipping Your Dog

Stray dogs and cats are a big problem in many countries. In the UK alone it is estimated that more than £250 million a year is spent by local authorities, police forces and animal welfare charities rounding up and looking after stray dogs and cats. It is much harder to calculate the emotional cost to both... Read more »

Insect Stings

On a warm summer afternoon when your dog is playing in the garden they are at risk from inadvertently disturbing the local wildlife. Wasps and bees are the most common cause of insect stings in UK pets. However ants may also bite (or sting) pets. Bees and their cousins, bumblebees, wasps, hornets and ants, do... Read more »

Injecting Your Dog

Administration of medicine by injection is often referred to as giving drugs by the parenteral route. The other main means of administering treatment is via the mouth and digestive system - the oral route. Effective administration of medicine is a key part of most veterinary treatments and many medications are most effective when given by... Read more »

Grooming Your Dog

Grooming your dog accomplishes much more than just making your pet's coat look nice and shiny. It will provide you with the opportunity to spend some "quality time" with your dog, combing, brushing, bathing and generally bonding with him. Why should I groom my dog? Regular grooming is a pleasant experience for both you and... Read more »

Giving Medicines To Your Dog

For most veterinary treatments it is important that medicines are given correctly. In the hospital, trained staff give medicines and it is important to ensure that you are able to continue to give the medicines once your dog has been sent home. If you have any doubts about how to give the medicine your pet... Read more »

Fleas – An Itchy Business

Fleas are the most common parasite in dogs and every dog is likely to be infected at some stage in its life. However, with the advent of modern products it is possible to prevent fleas from becoming a problem in your household. You veterinary surgeon can give you advice on how to use these products... Read more »

Flea Control

Fleas are the most common parasite in household pets and every dog is likely to be infected at some stage in its life. Fortunately, with the advent of modern products it is possible to prevent fleas from becoming a problem in your home. Your veterinary practice can give you advice on which flea control products to... Read more »

Feeding Your Puppy

The saying 'You are what you eat' applies to dogs as well as people, however more is not necessarily better. Puppies and young dogs suffer from a variety of bone and joint disorders. Especially important are those diseases caused by the incorrect feeding of puppies and young dogs, since these can be avoided. Over-feeding and... Read more »

Feeding Your Dog

Although most pet dogs are now fed entirely on tinned or packaged food, their nutritional requirements are exactly the same as their ancestors' centuries ago. So to stay healthy, a domestic dog must receive a balanced diet containing all the nutrients that would be found in its natural diet. Dogs are adapted to eating a... Read more »

Exercise – For A Healthy, Happy Dog

All animals need exercise to be happy and healthy. Exercise improves general fitness levels and helps to prevent obesity. If your dog isn't able to work off their energy by exercising outside, they may do so inside! Taking regular exercise together will alleviate boredom and also strengthen the bond between you. How much exercise does... Read more »

Complementary Therapies

Some forms of alternative or complementary medicine such as osteopathy and physiotherapy are widely used in veterinary medicine alongside conventional treatment. However, owners of dogs and other small animals are increasingly looking at other alternative therapies such as acupuncture, herbal medicine and homeopathy to help with a wide variety of common complaints. What is acupuncture? Acupuncture... Read more »

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 that do not and it is important to attempt to identify these cases as other... Read more »

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 dog had an insulinoma? An insulinoma is a special kind of cancer of the pancreas.... Read more »

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 skin at other times in their life. What is a mast cell tumour? Mast cell... Read more »

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 to develop one of the many different forms of cancer at some stage of their... Read more »

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, a weepy eye or keeps sneezing, a trip to the vets is in order... Read more »

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 the ears or if your pet is shaking its head excessively then contact your vet... Read more »

Worms – A Wriggly Problem

It can be alarming to discover that your cat 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 worming treatment. Except in rare cases, worms are unlikely to cause serious harm. Getting rid... Read more »

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 recommended, particularly as some types of worm can be passed onto humans. What sort of... Read more »

Vaccination Protocols And Safety

For a long time all new kittens and puppies 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 question the value of routine annual vaccination for adult pets. This has led to development of... Read more »

Vaccinating Your Cat

There are a number of highly infectious and potentially fatal diseases which can affect your cat. There is no treatment for many of these diseases and young kittens who catch them often die. However, for many of these conditions there is a simple protection in the form of vaccination. Ensuring that your cat completes an initial course... Read more »

Toxoplasmosis And Risks To Pregnant Women

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease which can affect cats and all other warm blooded animals, including humans. In both cats and humans its effects are usually mild and the parasite is easily kept under control by the body's natural defences. However there are exceptions: In pregnant women, the parasite may cause severe damage to the... Read more »

Tick Removal

Ticks are blood-sucking parasites that can affect your cat, 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 from time to time to feed. Your dog can pick them up on their coat... Read more »

Tick Control

Ticks are common external parasites (ectoparasites) affecting cats 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. Cats most commonly become infested with ticks when they are walking or hunting in these areas. Some specialised... Read more »

Senior Cat Care

A kitten is endearing to everyone but kittens grow up all too fast. By a year of age cats of all breeds will be mature. Although individual cats age at different rates, most 10 year old cats can be considered to be in old age. How do I keep my cat healthy? Just like older... Read more »

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 end of life, it can be a very challenging time filled with questions and concerns.... Read more »

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 very well and can quickly spot if it is feeling under the weather. What are the... Read more »

Pet Insurance For Your Cat

In recent years huge advances have been made in veterinary medicine. Vets can now do things to improve the health and welfare of cats that would have been unimaginable or impractical only a few years ago. Not surprisingly, these advanced surgical and medical treatments are often expensive so that a vet's bill for intricate surgery... Read more »

Operations: Caring For Your Cat Before And After Surgery

Most pets will have an operation at some stage in their life, e.g. for neutering (speying or castration) or to treat a disease. Nowadays most operations in cats are fairly safe but the success of treatment and recovery depends to some extent on the quality of care that the owner gives before and after the... Read more »

Obesity

Cats are generally able to regulate the amount of food they eat but there is a trend for modern cats, like modern humans, to eat better food and take less exercise than their predecessors. Just as in people there is a risk that your cat may become overweight. Obesity is an excessive accumulation of fat... Read more »

Neutering Your Cat

It is a sad truth that the number of kittens born every year is far greater than the number of good homes that can be found for them. As a result, thousands of healthy animals are destroyed and many unwanted cats are left to fend for themselves. Having your cat neutered will not only help... Read more »

Multi-Cat Households

The number of cats in the U.K. is currently on the increase and so is the number of cats per household. Cats had previously been thought to be solitary animals but, more recently, it has become accepted that some cats can live happily with others. Whether cats will share a household depends on the temperament... Read more »

Microchipping Your Cat

Stray cats and dogs are a big problem in many countries. In the UK alone it is estimated that more than £250 million a year is spent by local authorities, police forces and animal welfare charities rounding up and looking after stray dogs and cats. It is much harder to calculate the emotional cost to both... Read more »

Hamsters: Viral And Bacterial Infections

Hamsters are susceptible to numerous infections, here are a few that you should keep an eye out for. What is "wet tail"? The most serious intestinal disease of hamsters is "wet tail". The bacterium suspected of causing this disease is called Lawsonia intracellularis, which can also cause intestinal disease in swine, dogs, ferrets, primates and other animals.... Read more »

Hamsters: Traumatic Injuries

Hamsters are easily injured. They are frequently dropped while being handled (especially by children), or after they bite. Pet hamsters allowed "freedom of the house" (even for very short periods) are often stepped on or kicked and seriously injured or killed. What injuries are commonly seen in hamsters? Hamsters are frequently injured while inside an... Read more »

Hamsters: 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 hamster happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are... Read more »

Hamsters: Parasitic Diseases

Both external and internal parasites are commonly seen in hamsters. A common external parasite problem of hamsters is caused by mites. Hamsters also frequently harbor intestinal tapeworms and, less commonly, pinworms. What are mites? A common external parasite problem of hamsters, is caused by mites that reside within the hair follicles and certain glands of... Read more »

Hamsters: Miscellaneous Health Problems

Two conditions of hamsters that demand special mentions are their susceptibility to bladder stones and dental problems. Therefore, these are covered in separate factsheets. However, there are other medical conditions that affect hamsters that are briefly covered here. Because hamsters are very small, nocturnal (night-active) and not closely observed, the early signs of illness are frequently overlooked or not... Read more »

Hamsters: How To Handle

Hamsters handled frequently from a very young age usually remain docile and rarely bite. Those with docile temperaments and a history of not biting can simply be picked up by using one or both hands, and then held in both hands or in one hand held against the body. How should I pick up a... Read more »

Hamsters: Housing

Proper housing is a major factor in maintaining healthy hamsters. The psychosocial well being of your hamster must be a primary consideration. Hamsters can be housed within enclosures made of wire, stainless steel, durable plastic or glass. The last 3 materials are preferred because they resist corrosion. What sort of housing should I buy for my... Read more »

Hamsters: Feeding A Healthy Diet

You should ensure your hamster has access to good quality food and fresh, clean water at all times. The exact nutritional requirements of the hamster are not known, but in the wild they are 'omnivores' meaning that they eat both vegetarian food (plants, fruit, vegetables and seeds) and animal protein (usually insects). Unfortunately, most hamster mixes are entirely... Read more »

Hamsters: Dental Problems

Hamsters' incisor (front, gnawing) teeth grow continuously throughout their life; as is true for all rodents. The incisors receive continuous wear as the uppers and lowers contact each other, preventing overgrowth. How does overgrowth of the incisors occur? Misalignment of either the upper or lower incisors because of previous injury, abscess formation or malnutrition may... Read more »

Hamsters: Cancer

Cancer is very common in pet hamsters. The incidence increases with age, as is the case with most animals, and is higher among females than males because of the variety of cancers that involve the female reproductive tract. What tumours can hamsters suffer from? Tumours of hamsters may be benign or malignant and they are... Read more »

Hamsters: Breeding

The sex of adult hamsters is easy to determine. Males have very large, prominent testicles. In fact, owners unaccustomed to seeing them are often astonished at these anatomic peculiarities. How can I breed my hamsters? Male golden hamsters can breed from 14 weeks old, and females can be bred when they reach 10 weeks old.... Read more »

Hamsters: Bladder Stones

Hamsters are susceptible to the formation of stones within the urinary tract. The bladder is the only location within the urinary tract in which stones would likely be detected on physical examination by your vet. How do I know if my hamster has bladder stones? Signs of bladder stones can sometimes be difficult to detect,... Read more »

Hamsters: Antibiotic Sensitivity

Hamsters as a group are unusually sensitive to the potentially lethal effects of certain antibiotics, whether they are given orally or by injection. Potentially harmful antibiotics include ampicillin, penicillin, erythromycin, lincomycin and streptomycin. Why are hamsters so sensitive to antibiotics? The major way in which certain antibiotics cause reactions is by altering the normal microbial... Read more »

Gerbils: Tyzzer’s Disease

Gerbils can suffer from a number of health problems, but Tyzzer's disease is a very serious infectious disease that affects the liver and is usually caught from mice. Good hygiene, the use of good quality bedding and burrowing material will help prevent this disease. What causes Tyzzer's disease? Tyzzer's disease is caused by the bacteria Clostridium piliforme. The... Read more »

Gerbils: 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 gerbil happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are the... Read more »

Gerbils: Parasitic Diseases

Luckily gerbils generally don't suffer from parasitic diseases, especially if they are kept in a clean, dry, warm environment. However there are some that you should keep an eye out for, just in case. What parasitic diseases do gerbils suffer from? Although parasitic diseases are rare in gerbils, they can occur, however parasitism of the... Read more »

Gerbils: Nasal Dermatitis

Nasal dermatitis is also known as "sore nose", "facial eczema" and "facial dermatitis". Incidence of the disease is higher in weanlings than in adults, but is a fairly common condition seen in gerbils. What causes nasal dermatitis? Trauma, stress, hypersecretion/accumulation of Harderian gland secretions, and superficial bacterial infections, ie Staphylococcus spp, have all been associated with the... Read more »

Gerbils: Miscellaneous Health Problems

Two medical conditions of gerbils that demand special mentions are nasal dermatitis and Tyzzer's disease, therefore these are covered in separate factsheets. However, there are other medical conditions that affect gerbils that are briefly covered here. Do gerbils suffer from problems in their old age? Older gerbils commonly develop a number of spontaneous neoplasms (abnormal mass... Read more »

Gerbils: How To Tame

Taming a gerbil requires some patience to gain their trust, but it will make handling your gerbils much easier and it is also extremely rewarding. How can I go about taming my gerbil? Here are some simple steps to follow: Give new gerbils a few days to adjust to their new home before handling them... Read more »

Gerbils: How To Handle

Generally, frequent handling will keep your gerbil quite tame. If your gerbil is difficult to handle, and all else fails, bribery with their favourite food, for example sunflower seeds, can help make a gerbil more amenable to handling. Gerbils are particularly difficult to catch if they escape from their cage, so bribery with their favourite... Read more »

Gerbils: How To Give A Health Check

Gerbils are generally very healthy robust little creatures who never have a day's illness in their lives, however just occasionally they do suffer from various ailments. If recognized early, your vet can treat most of these successfully. Gerbils are incredibly healthy compared to most other pet rodents, and 90% of them never need veterinary treatment.... Read more »

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 be wrong with your cat from talking to you and examining your pet. Sometimes your vet... Read more »

Scanning – The Inside Picture

The term 'scan' is often used to describe the method of obtaining an image of the inside of the body. This may be done with ultrasound (details of which can be found in a separate factsheet), which is often available in veterinary practices and may be performed at your vet's surgery. Recently, more specialised scans... Read more »

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 be wrong with your dog from talking to you and examining your pet. Sometimes your vet... Read more »

Scanning – The Inside Picture

The term 'scan' is often used to describe the method of obtaining an image of the inside of the body. This may be done with ultrasound (details of which can be found in a separate factsheet), which is often available in veterinary practices and may be performed at your vet's surgery. Recently, more specialised scans... Read more »

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 your dog to be treated earlier and more effectively. A very important use is to... Read more »

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. The treatment will be recorded in the passport. What regulations affect pet travel? There is... Read more »

‘Walking Dandruff’ (Cheyletiellosis)

Cheyletiella infection is a form of mange that is also known as rabbit mites and walking dandruff. This is an itchy skin condition caused by small parasites living on the skin surface. The mites can be found on many animals including dogs, cats and rabbits and can be transmitted from pets to people. Early recognition... Read more »

Skin Fold Pyoderma

Pyoderma means bacterial infection within the skin. Usually this occurs within the top layers of the skin (superficial pyoderma), and is a common medical problem in dogs. Deep pyoderma, when infection penetrates further into the skin, is much more serious and may take months of intensive treatment to cure. What causes skin fold pyoderma? Skin fold pyoderma is... Read more »

Hot Spots (Wet Eczema, Pyotraumatic Dermatitis)

Sometimes dogs develop a sore spot on the skin which oozes and irritates. Often this develops over the space of just a few hours. The critical step in managing these spots is to stop the dog worrying them but veterinary attention should be sought to ensure there is no underlying condition that needs treatment. In... Read more »

Atopy

Living with an itchy dog is no fun - but being an itchy dog must be worse! Atopy affects around 1 in 10 dogs to some degree. In dogs the condition can cause a variety of signs: skin disease, runny nose, itchy eyes and (very rarely) asthma. If your dog persists in licking its feet... Read more »

Anal Furunculosis (Perianal Fistulas)

Anal furunculosis (also called perianal fistulas) is a distressing condition commonly affecting German Shepherd dogs and occasionally other breeds. The problem is one of chronic deep infection, inflammation, discharges and ulceration around the tail base and anus. The condition may progress to involve a large area around the back end of the dog. It can... Read more »

Sneezing Dogs

All dogs, like people, sneeze sometimes - this is completely normal and should not cause you any concern. However, if your dog cannot stop sneezing, shows signs of distress while sneezing or continues to sneeze intermittently for more than a week you should contact your vet for advice. Sneezing is not a disease in its... Read more »

Lungworms In Dogs (Oslerus Osleri)

There are several species of worms that can infect the airways of dogs and these are termed lungworms. One of these, Oslerus osleri (previously known as Filaroides osleri) is a parasitic worm with the adult worms found in the upper airways (trachea). Infection is not common in most of the UK and generally affects dogs in kennels (such as... Read more »

Lungworms In Dogs (Angiostrongylus)

Referring to Angiostrongylus vasorum as a lungworm is quite misleading. Although the early stages of the parasite do affect the lungs and severely infected dogs may show signs of coughing, other signs are far more common. These lungworms (Angiostrongylus vasorum) are also known as the French heartworm. This is a parasite where the adult worm infects dogs... Read more »

Laryngeal Paralysis

Laryngeal paralysis causes respiratory (breathing) noise and exercise intolerance in medium and large breeds of dogs. The disease is very slowly progressive and may start very subtly, so by the time you notice significant breathing noise or inability to exercise it might be quite far progressed. If you notice these changes in your dog you should seek... Read more »

Coupage For Dogs

If you think your pet has a respiratory condition that might benefit from coupage, seek advice as soon as possible from your veterinary surgeon or veterinary physiotherapist. What is coupage? Coupage is a form of chest physiotherapy that when performed correctly can be beneficial in loosening and removing excess secretions from the lungs. Many respiratory conditions... Read more »

Coughing In Dogs

It is not uncommon for dogs to cough occasionally. However, if your pet is coughing frequently or has persistent episodes of coughing then you should seek veterinary advice. There are many causes of coughing and many of these can be treated successfully. Some dogs occasionally cough when they get excited or pull on their lead.... Read more »

Collapsing Trachea

If you have a small dog that coughs every time it gets excited or pulls on its lead it may be suffering from tracheal collapse. Tracheal collapse results in narrowing of the airway and, if left untreated, can progress over time causing severe consequences for your pet. If your dog develops a cough that does... Read more »

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 proceedings as problems can occur. If your bitch is having problems then early intervention could... Read more »

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 pyometra is to have her neutered. What is pyometra? Pyo = pus, infection; metra = womb or uterus. Pyometra is... Read more »

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. If you are placed in the situation of having to rear puppies by hand you... Read more »

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 eclampsia? Eclampsia is most commonly seen in small or medium-sized bitches a few weeks after whelping.... Read more »

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 six month of age and be easy to palpate. If testicles do not end up... Read more »

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 are many things to consider to ensure that both mother and puppies are strong and... Read more »

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 neurologists. What is Wobbler Syndrome? Wobbler Syndrome is a descriptive name given to a number... Read more »

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 signs of vestibular disease often come on very suddenly and if your pet develops these... Read more »

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 pet suffering a stroke may be frightening - but you should not be alarmed as... Read more »

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 is the most commonly used drug for prevention of seizures. It is effective in most dogs... Read more »

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 one-off event like this may be nothing to worry about but if the experience is... Read more »

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 order for your vet to investigate the disease they need to know where the problem... Read more »

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 is wrong with your pet. This information sheet explains what we are looking for when... Read more »

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, jumping, using one or more legs or even complete paralysis. These signs may occur suddenly... Read more »

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 affecting the brain are not limited to brain tumours and include conditions affecting the blood... Read more »

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 them. How do I know if my dog has facial paralysis? A dog with facial... Read more »

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 breed of dog can be affected. Most dogs show clinical signs of lameness less than... Read more »

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 Kennel Club introduced the elbow dysplasia scoring scheme to identify affected dogs at an early stage so... Read more »

BVA/KC Elbow Dysplasia Scoring Scheme

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 Kennel Club (KC) introduced the elbow dysplasia scoring scheme to identify affected dogs at an early stage so that they could... Read more »

Back Problems (Cauda Equina Diseases)

Back problems in dogs are not uncommon. Many breeds are affected by disk disease but diseases of the spinal cord itself are also a problem. These diseases are painful and affect a dogs mobility. Medical management may help some dogs, but in severe cases surgery may be needed. What is the cauda equina? The cauda... Read more »

Ringworm

Ringworm is the common name given to a fungal infection also known as dermatophytosis. Ringworm is not uncommon in dogs and if your dog has skin problems it may have ringworm. The disease is highly contagious and can be passed on to humans so if any signs develop it is important that you seek veterinary... Read more »

Rabies

Rabies is a very serious disease, killing more than 30,000 people around the world each year. There are few reported cases of recovery from confirmed infection. If you plan to take your pet abroad then they will need protection against this deadly disease. What is rabies? Rabies is an invariably fatal viral infection that is... Read more »

Parvovirus Disease In Your Dog

Parvovirus enteritis is a serious viral infection of the gastrointestinal tract of young dogs. The virus attacks the cells of the gut resulting in vomiting and profuse diarrhoea. Parvovirus also suppresses the immune system and causes a profound decrease in the white blood cell numbers circulating in the blood. The management of parvoviral enteritis includes intravenous... Read more »

Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial infection affecting the gastrointestinal tract or liver and kidneys of young dogs. Until recently the disease was uncommon as a result of an effective vaccination programme in the UK. However, we have recently seen development of infections caused by new types of leptospira not covered by the old vaccine. What... Read more »

Leishmaniosis

Leishmaniosis is a potentially fatal disease of dogs that can also affect other animals including humans. It is spread between animals by sand flies. Unfortunately domesticated dogs harbour the infection and your dog may catch it especially in countries around the Mediterranean, e.g. southern France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, and the Middle East. Leishmaniosis... Read more »

Kennel cough (acute tracheobronchitis)

Kennel cough is not a serious disease in most otherwise healthy dogs. However, it is very contagious and will spread rapidly around the dog population. As its name suggests, it causes coughing that can go on for a month in some cases. What is kennel cough? Kennel cough is caused by a combination of viruses... Read more »

Infectious Hepatitis

Infectious hepatitis is a serious viral infection, most often seen in dogs less than one year old. It primarily causes damage to the liver. Although dogs with mild disease usually recover, the disease is often fatal in severely affected animals. Recovered animals can shed infection for many months and may be a risk to other... Read more »

Heartworm Disease

This potentially serious parasitic disease can cause heart failure and other complications. In most countries where the disease occurs, preventative treatment is given to pet dogs to ensure they do not become infected. What is heartworm? The disease, as the name suggests, is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis which lives in the heart. The... Read more »

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is a serious parasitic infection of dogs, transmitted by ticks in warm or tropical regions and occasionally elsewhere. The most serious form of the disease has a long course of many months to years and usually proves fatal. Ehrlichiosis may be seen in dogs in non-tropical countries if the animals have travelled from areas... Read more »

Distemper Disease

Distemper is a serious viral infection, most often seen in dogs less than one year old. Highly effective vaccines have ensured that distemper is rarely seen in vaccinated pet dogs. It is still a problem in the UK in unvaccinated pets, particularly in urban areas. In other countries the disease is still a big killer... Read more »

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 looking out for this disease because treatment is simple - with daily tablets to replace... Read more »

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 the majority of diabetic animals can now be treated and may live normal, happy lives... Read more »

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 with ageing. It is important to get an early diagnosis for this disease because, with... Read more »

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 been diagnosed with mitral valve disease your vet will offer advice on when (and whether)... Read more »

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 appropriate timing and type of therapy. Heart disease and heart failure are not the same thing. In the... Read more »

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, hypertension is almost always caused by an underlying disease. What is blood pressure? When the... Read more »

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 can be seen in smaller dogs associated with heart disease. Atrial fibrillation does not cause... Read more »

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 start, treatment will probably be required for the remainder of your dog's life. When will... Read more »

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 as the dog gets older. Other diseases develop later in life as a result of... Read more »

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 gets larger. DCM affects mainly middle-aged large and giant breed dogs and some spaniels. Small... Read more »

Congenital Heart Diseases

Bringing a new puppy into the family is an exciting time and should be a time of great joy. It can be particularly distressing to find that your new arrival has a problem. It is important that you get your new puppy checked over by your vet so that any obvious problems can be identified... Read more »

Canine Heart Testing Schemes

Congenital heart diseases are not uncommon in puppies and some of these are inherited. Pedigree dogs have many inherited diseases and different breeds each have their own problems. Many dog breed societies employ testing schemes to detect individuals affected with certain conditions at any early stage of the disease at an early age. Early detection is... Read more »

Vomiting And Diarrhoea

Vomiting and diarrhoea are very common in dogs. Both are symptoms of other conditions rather than diseases in their own right and there is a vast range of dog diseases in which diarrhoea and/or vomiting may occur. In many cases the problem may be successfully treated without ever pinpointing the actual cause. However, the information... Read more »

Pancreatitis

Almost all dogs will have a tummy upset at some point in their lives. In most cases this will get better over a few days without any treatment. Occasionally vomiting may be a sign of something more serious in your pet. One such disease which can cause vomiting is pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a condition with... Read more »

Oesophageal Foreign Bodies In Dogs

Some dogs are very greedy and any dog that thinks it is under threat of having a tasty bit of food taken away from it may swallow something without chewing properly. Dogs that scavenge are at particular risk of picking up and swallowing something they should not eat. Often scavenging merely results in an upset... Read more »

Food Allergy

We probably all know people who are unable to eat strawberries or nuts due to an allergy but it isn't only people who can react to their food. Whilst food allergies are not common in dogs they can be affected too. Food allergies can produce many different symptoms, some of which can be quite distressing... Read more »

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 causes like PRA cannot be treated but your vet may be able to help you... Read more »

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 at home. How often do I need to put drops in? Some drops only need... Read more »

‘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. Lack of tears leads to dry eyes which are sore and often become infected or... Read more »

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 immediate veterinary attention. What is a corneal ulcer? A corneal ulcer is a hole in... Read more »

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 by a foreign body (such as a grass seed) caught under the eyelid. It is... Read more »

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 with cataract. In some cases an eye specialist may be able to operate on the... Read more »

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) but now covers 11 inherited eye diseases in 59 breeds of dog. The BVA/KC/ISDS Eye... Read more »

Moving House With Your Cat

Moving to a new home can be stressful for both you and your pets. Cats are highly territorial animals and are often as closely attached to their surroundings as they are to their owners. So not surprisingly many cats try to return to their old haunts after their owners change address if it is nearby.... Read more »

‘Walking Dandruff’ (Cheyletiellosis)

Cheyletiella infection is a form of mange that is also known as rabbit mites and walking dandruff. This is an itchy skin condition caused by small parasites living on the skin surface. The mites can be found on many animals including dogs, cats and rabbits and can be transmitted from pets to people. Early recognition... Read more »

Over Grooming (Feline Psychogenic Alopecia)

In the hurly-burly of our modern lives we ask a lot of pets. Fortunately most cats adapt well to all the changes and excitement around them, managing to fit into our hectic schedules and, in doing so, enrich our lives. Unhappily, there are some cats for whom the stress of modern living is just too... Read more »

Malassezia

If your cat has a greasy hair coat or recurrent ear problems they may be suffering from Malassezia. This fungal/yeast infection of the skin can be mild or extensive and may indicate that there is an underlying health problem. If your cat has any skin lesions you should make an appointment to see your vet... Read more »

Feline Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex

This syndrome describes a group of skin conditions in cats. Most cases are caused by an underlying allergy and can be effectively resolved by treating the allergy. In a few cases more invasive or prolonged treatment is required. Whatever the cause, it is important to seek veterinary advice early to have the best chance of... Read more »

Nasopharyngeal Polyps

Nasopharyngeal polyps are not common but they can cause significant distress to affected cats. A polyp grows from a small stalk but can become quite a substantial size. Nasopharyngeal polyps can grow into the back of the throat obstructing the breathing passageways. Signs such as sneezing and difficulty breathing are common. Surgical removal of the... Read more »

Rearing Orphan Kittens

Hand rearing a kitten or kittens can be an extremely rewarding experience but it is not a job to be taken on lightly. The task ahead is difficult, exhausting and there is no guarantee of success. However hard you try, you are a poor substitute for a kitten's natural mother and despite the best efforts of human... Read more »

Pyometra (‘Pyo’ Or Womb Infection)

Pyometra is a common disease in un-neutered female cats and 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 pyometra is to have her neutered. What is pyometra? Pyo = pus, infection; metra =... Read more »

Breeding From Your Cat

A female cat (queen) can produce several litters of kittens every year throughout her life. If you don't want the responsibility of finding good homes for the kittens you should have your queen neutered. Keeping an un-neutered queen indoors is not a good answer to the problem. A calling queen will keep you and your neighbours awake... Read more »

Hyperthermia – overheating

With their dense fur, healthy rabbits in a sheltered environment are tolerant of low temperatures, but cannot tolerate damp or draughty conditions. On the other hand, they cannot pant effectively and don't sweat, therefore are susceptible to overheating. Unfortunately, even with treatment, the prognosis for rabbits with hyperthermia is guarded to poor. What is hyperthermia?... Read more »

How to give eye medication to your rabbit

Eye problems in rabbits 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 at home. How often do I need to put drops in? Some drops only need... Read more »

How to clip your rabbit’s claws

Clipping your own rabbit's claws may be something that you feel you would like to do instead of taking your rabbit to the vets and asking your vet or nurse to do it for you. If your rabbit is known to be nervous or flighty, then it is safer to get someone to help restrain... Read more »

How to check your rabbit’s teeth

Small dental problems often go undetected in the early stages but as rabbit's teeth grow continuously (2-3 mm per week), small problems can quickly become major problems. It is therefore important to check your rabbit's teeth frequently - perhaps on a weekly basis. The weekly dental check Head and face With your rabbit between your... Read more »

Grooming your rabbit

Grooming your rabbit is important to avoid matting of the fur and maintain a healthy shiny coat. It also helps to build a relationship with your pet and provides an opportunity for you to examine your rabbit to check for any signs of illness. The grooming routine Start a regular grooming routine when your pet... Read more »

Grass and hay

To help promote normal dental wear and provide the high-fibre diet which is essential, rabbits should have access to 'graze' for 4-6 hours a day - this should include hay, grass and wild plants. This is the best way to help ensure that your pet stays healthy and happy. Grass What's in grass? Grass provides... Read more »

Giving your rabbit a health check

It is important to give your rabbit a thorough health check every so often to ensure they are healthy and so any problems can be detected early and treatment commenced as soon as possible. Problems that are treated early stand a much better chance of being resolved, are generally cheaper to treat and mean that... Read more »

Giving medicines to your rabbit

Effective administration of medicine is a key part of most veterinary treatments. In many cases Veterinary Nurses are responsible for administration of medicines to hospitalised patients. It is also important to ensure that you are able to continue medicine administration once your rabbit has been discharged from hospital. Veterinary Nurses may be able to demonstrate... Read more »

Feeding your rabbit

The phrase 'you are what you eat' has never been truer for the rabbit. Recent research by veterinary surgeons and rabbit food companies has shown that most of the common illnesses that rabbits suffer from could be prevented by feeding them a healthy diet. Unfortunately, many pet rabbits are being fed a diet that is... Read more »

Exercise – for a healthy, happy rabbit

Exercise is vital for the health of the rabbit. Well meaning but poorly informed people may describe rabbits as easy to keep because they can be caged and don't take up much space. This idea has led to many rabbits being caged most of their lives resulting in both physical and behavioural disorders. Rabbit ancestors... Read more »

Emergencies – what to do

Unfortunately, rabbit owners may have to deal with an emergency involving their pet. It is essential to know how to recognize and deal with such emergencies before they arise and to know who to contact when they do. Immediate veterinary attention can mean the difference between life and death for a very sick or injured... Read more »

Peritonitis

Peritonitis is the term used to describe inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs. Peritonitis can be very severe in rabbits and life threatening in many cases. For this reason it is essential to identify and treat the cause as soon... Read more »

Mucoid enteropathy

Enteropathy refers to any condition affecting the intestines. There are several types of enteropathy, but the most common type that seems to affect rabbits is referred to as mucoid enteropathy. Despite having been around for decades, the condition remains confusing and is still not fully understood. What is mucoid enteropathy? Mucoid enteropathy is a disease... Read more »

Intestinal obstructions in rabbits

Rabbits are frequently diagnosed with gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. However, some of these rabbits may be suffering from an intestinal obstruction, which has an acute onset and requires rapid and very different treatment to GI stasis in order to have a chance of a successful outcome. Although intestinal obstruction is rare in pet rabbits, it is... Read more »

Hairballs in rabbits

Rabbits are very clean animals and groom themselves constantly, which means the stomach contents always contain hair. This hair is normally passed through the digestive system and excreted with the faecal pellets. Why do rabbits get hairballs? True hairballs are very rare in rabbits since it is a normal finding for a rabbit to have... Read more »

Gastrointestinal stasis

When a rabbit's digestive system is compromised, because of illness, pain or stress, then their hydration and food intake is likely to be reduced. This can lead to a reduction in gut motility – known as gastrointestinal (GI) stasis. What is GI stasis? Rabbits are unable to go any significant amount of time without food in their... Read more »

Dirty bottom syndrome

There are a variety of reasons why rabbits may suffer with a dirty bottom, either with faeces or urine, both of which are potential attractions for flies, especially in warmer months of the year when flystrike is a common occurrence. What causes dirty bottom syndrome? If your rabbit is suffering from a dirty bottom it... Read more »

Diarrhoea

In adult rabbits, diarrhoea is quite uncommon. Several conditions can cause diarrhoea, with infections more common in young rabbits (kits/kittens). It is important to check your rabbit daily for diarrhoea as it could be due to a rapidly-progressing disease that requires early treatment or could lead to other problems such as flystrike. What is diarrhoea?... Read more »

Diabetes mellitus

Diabetes mellitus is a dysfunction of the pancreas. The pancreas is an endocrine organ that possesses clusters of cells known as islets of Langerhans. These secrete insulin into the blood circulatory system in order to control the glucose level in the blood, and stimulate absorption of glucose into cells. Diabetes mellitus is an entirely different... Read more »

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 be wrong with your rabbit from talking to you and examining your rabbit. Sometimes your... Read more »

Uterine problems

The female rabbit's reproductive tract varies greatly compared to dogs and cats. Although there is a difference in the anatomical make-up of rabbits, they can still experience some of the diseases that affect dogs and cats. How is the rabbit's reproductive tract different to dogs and cats? Rabbits have two uterine horns which open into... Read more »

Urolithiasis

Urolithiasis is the formation of calculi in the urinary tract, also called kidney and bladder calculi or stones, or urinary tract stones. The stones are rock hard crystal aggregations of all shapes and sizes. Sludge is the name given to the thick, almost toothpaste consistency deposit that can build up in the rabbits bladder or... Read more »

Red urine

Bloody urine is rare in rabbits and rodents. Cases of bloody urine in rabbits often turn out to be normal rabbit urine which is simply a deep red colour due to the extretion of plant pigments within the diet. True cases of blood in the urine (haematuria) are often due to stones/sludge within the urinary... Read more »

Rearing orphan rabbit kittens

Handrearing a rabbit kitten or kittens can be an extremely rewarding experience but is not a job to be taken on lightly. The task ahead is difficult, exhausting and there is no guarantee of success. However hard you try, you are a poor substitute for a kitten's natural mother and despite the best efforts of... Read more »

Kidney problems

Like other mammals, rabbits possess two kidneys. The kidneys are essential for filtering out toxins from the body and excreting them via the urinary system. There are many potential problems which can affect the kidneys, with varying degrees of severity. What are the kidneys for? Rabbits produce alkaline urine and rely heavily on renal excretion... Read more »

‘Walking dandruff’ (Cheyletiellosis)

Cheyletiella infection is a form of mange that is also known as rabbit mites and "walking dandruff". This is an itchy skin condition caused by small parasites living on the skin surface. The mites can be found on many animals including rabbits, dogs and cats, and can be transmitted from pets to people. Early recognition... Read more »

Gerbils: housing

In the wild gerbils live in burrows and spend the most of their time foraging for food, so you should try to mimic this environment for your gerbil when creating a home for him. Your gerbil will need plenty of room to eat, sleep and run around. Does my gerbil need a companion? Gerbils should... Read more »

Pododermatitis in rabbits – sore hocks

Disruption of the normal stance or locomotion in rabbits may lead to pressure sores on the base of the feet, known as pododermatitis. Starting as a skin problem, this condition progresses over time to affect deeper tissues and can be extremely debilitating. What is pododermatitis? Pododermatitis is basically a pressure sore, with inflammation occurring where... Read more »

Gerbils: feeding a healthy diet

In the wild, gerbils live partly on dry seeds, but these are emergency rations for when something more nutritious is not available. Gerbils need some animal protein in their diet, so they will eat insects; but also eat fresh vegetable material. What should I feed my gerbil? It is recommended to feed a good variety... Read more »

Lice infestation

Rabbits can host a variety of parasites on their fur and skin. These are termed as ectoparasites, since they live on the outside of the rabbit. Lice fall into this classification and can be a problem for pet rabbits. What are the signs of a lice infestation? Clinical signs of a lice infestation may include... Read more »

Flystrike in rabbits

Vets know that with the arrival of the warmer months, comes the common problem of rabbits affected by flystrike being presented to them. This is a deeply distressing condition for owners, the veterinary team and especially the rabbit, which is literally being eaten alive. However, with some simple preventative measures, hopefully your bunny will never... Read more »

Gerbils: epilepsy

Gerbils can suffer from spontaneous epileptiform seizures (epilepsy). These seizures may be precipitated by sudden stress, handling or introduction to a novel environment. Incidence of this syndrome is about 20% in natural populations. Is epilepsy life-threatening? Epilepsy appears to be inherited, and both seizure-resistant and seizure-sensitive strains have been developed by selective breeding. Inbred animals... Read more »

Gerbils: behaviour

Gerbils make nice pets and are fascinating to watch. Gerbils are very social animals, and it is not a good idea to keep them singly. Pair bonded or family units of gerbils are usually quite affectionate with each other. Do gerbils need company? Gerbils love to play, chasing each other around, wrestling and boxing. They... Read more »

Ear canker in rabbits

Ear canker can be a painful and irritating condition for your rabbit. Signs of this condition tend to appear 2-3 weeks after the animal is first infested with mites, therefore early detection of the mites that cause ear canker is important when trying to prevent this condition from taking hold. What is ear canker? Ear... Read more »

Biting and nuisance flies

The most common flies that affect rabbits include green bottles, house flies, face flies, stable flies, horn flies, horse flies and blow fly species. Some species, like blow flies, are attracted to moist decaying environments in which to lay their eggs. Other fly species such as face flies, flesh flies, screw worm flies and bot... Read more »

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. Here are some guidelines on how to look after a rabbit with snuffles and also... Read more »

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 that needs emergency attention by your vet. However, anything that obstructs the rabbit's nasal passages... Read more »

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 discovered in China in 1984 in rabbits that had been imported from Germany, and it... Read more »

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 used in the biological control of rabbit populations in Australia and France in the 1950s.... Read more »

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 and is characterised by latent and recurring infections. It inhabits the cells of the body... Read more »

Rabbit proofing your home

Living with a house rabbit isn't something that happens with little or no preparation, and one of the most important things you need to do before moving a bunny into your home is to make the environment safe for them. Remember that chewing and digging are natural behaviours for rabbits and they generally aren't fussy... Read more »

Rabbit companions

Rabbits are social animals; in the wild large groups will live happily together, providing company, security and physical grooming to each other. Company of their own kind is just as important for pet rabbits too. However, to ensure that the bonding process is as trouble-free as possible, there are some simple, but important guidelines that... Read more »

Is a rabbit right for me?

Rabbits are now the third most popular pet animal in the UK. TV programmes like Pet Rescue and Animal Hospital and organisations like the British House Rabbit Association are educating people about responsible rabbit ownership. This is resulting in a change in attitude from the rabbit as pet confined to a hutch at the bottom... Read more »

Housing your rabbit

Whether your rabbit lives indoors or outdoors it needs somewhere to call home. Hutches and runs come in lots of different shapes and sizes. Choosing the right one is important to ensure that you have a happy rabbit. Hutches Dimensions No hutch can be too large. The days when it was thought acceptable to keep... Read more »

Muscular dystrophy and other muscular conditions

Generalised muscle weakness in rabbits has numerous causes, many of which are extremely rare or have never been conclusively diagnosed in rabbits, but are important to discuss. By its definition, muscular dystrophy is defined as a degeneration of muscular tissue sometimes caused by faulty nutrition. This has been seen to occur in rabbits as well... Read more »

Hip luxation

Luxation (dislocation) is defined as 'dislocation of a joint so that there is no contact between the articular surfaces'. Rabbits have very delicate skeletons, and as their muscle mass is large relative to their skeleton injuries to joints can easily be caused through trauma or abnormal or excessive sudden movements. In addition, congenital abnormalities are... Read more »

Eye abscesses

Abscesses develop when bacteria enter a part of the body. It is the body's natural defences to try and 'wall off' infection to stop it spreading elsewhere within the body. This can lead to problems when the abscess is located within the region of the eye, since the location is hard to successfully operate on,... Read more »

Overgrown teeth

The incisors, premolars, and molars of rabbits grow throughout life. Rabbits do not possess any canine teeth, but do have peg teeth which sit just behind the upper incisors. The normal length is maintained by the wearing action of opposing teeth. Malocclusion (mandibular prognathism, brachygnathism) probably is the most common inherited disease in rabbits and... Read more »

Keeping your bunny amused

Does your rabbit have toys and objects to play with to keep him amused? Or have you never really thought about giving him something to play with? Why do rabbits need toys? Its readily accepted that cats and dogs need toys to keep themselves amused, but most people never think of giving their rabbits toys... Read more »

Chewing

The fact that rabbits chew is obvious. On walks in the country you can see the evidence of rabbits having chewed the bark of young saplings, or the crop in the field. At home your pet rabbit may have nibbled his hutch, or worse your furniture, books or electric wiring. What is less obvious is... Read more »

Housing your guinea pig

Proper housing plays a major role in the maintenance of healthy guinea pigs. The well-being of the animals must be a primary consideration. What sort of housing should I provide for my guinea pig? Guinea pigs can be housed within several different designed enclosures, the most suitable being: Wooden hutch with a wire front and/or... Read more »

Handling your guinea pig

Guinea pigs rarely violently struggle when they are being picked up but they sometimes make a "squeal of protest", which sounds pig-like to many people. Nevertheless, great care should be taken not to injure them when picking them up. Due to the size of their rotund belly, their spines and hindquarters should always be supported... Read more »

Guinea pigs: a history

Guinea pigs are hystricomorph rodents (related to chinchillas and porcupines) that originated from the Andes Mountains region of South America. Traditionally, guinea pigs were used for ceremonial meals by indigenous people in the Andean highlands, and it continues to be a major part of the diet in Peru. The history Guinea pigs were probably first... Read more »

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is one of the most common bacterial diseases of pet guinea pigs. A number of potential disease-causing bacteria may inhabit the respiratory tracts of otherwise normal guinea pigs. How will I know if my guinea pig has pneumonia? Stress, inadequate diet, and improper home care often predispose a pet guinea pig to respiratory infection,... Read more »

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. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are... Read more »

Health checks: how to examine your guinea pig

In order to keep your guinea pig in the best possible condition, you will need to handle him daily, check him over for signs of illness and injuries. Because they are a prey species, guinea pigs are very good at hiding signs of pain and illness so it is important to know their usual routines... Read more »

Housing your ferret

Ferrets make wonderful pets because of their engaging personalities, playful activity and fastidious nature. Housing is important for your ferret, whether you keep them inside or outside. If your ferret is a house ferret... They can easily be trained to use a litter box because they tend to habitually urinate and defecate in the same... Read more »

Handling your ferret

When awake, ferrets generally exhibit constant activity. However, they can be easily picked up and gently restrained by using both hands to support their weight and provide security from falling and injury. How should I pick up my ferret? It is important that you pick up your ferret correctly in order to avoid frightening or... Read more »

Viral and bacterial infections in ferrets

Ferrets are prone to a number of viral and bacterial infections. There are vaccines available to prevent some of these, but good management practices go a long way to lower the risks of infectious disease in ferrets. What viral infections do ferrets suffer from? Ferrets are not susceptible to the viruses that commonly produce upper... Read more »

Parasitic diseases in ferrets

Most of the external parasites of domestic dogs and cats (fleas, mange, ear mites, etc.) can cause disease in ferrets. However, less is known about the ferret's susceptibility to the more common internal parasites (roundworms, etc.) of dogs and cats. Do ferrets suffer from parasitic diseases? Ferrets can suffer from both internal and external parasitic... Read more »

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 ferret happy in order to maintain its health. If you know your pet you will probably quickly recognise the signs that suggest it is not well. What are... Read more »

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 order for your vet to investigate the disease they need to know where the problem... Read more »

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 is wrong with your pet. This information sheet explains what we are looking for when... Read more »

Ischaemic myelopathy

Back (spinal) problems are not common in cats. If your cat has a spinal problem they may have neck or back pain or show a variety of signs including difficulty walking, jumping, using one or more legs or even complete paralysis. These signs may occur suddenly (acute spinal problem) or more progressively (chronic spinal problem).... Read more »

Slipped disc (Intervertebral disc herniation)

Back problems are not common in cats - they are generally lighter and more athletic than dogs. A slipped disc (also known as intervertebral disc herniation) is the most common cause of paralysis in dogs but cats are much less often affected. No-one really knows why this is but it may be that discs are... Read more »

Myositis

If your cat 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 is ill in some other way. A veterinary examination is important to try to identify... Read more »

Myasthenia gravis

Myasthenia gravis (MG) literally means grave (gravis) muscle (my-) weakness (asthenia). It is an unusual cause of generalised weakness in cats. 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. At the junction between the nerve and the muscle... Read more »

Ringworm

Ringworm is the common name given to a fungal infection also known as dermatophytosis. Ringworm is not uncommon in cats and if your cat has skin problems it may have ringworm. The disease is highly contagious and can be passed on to humans so if any signs develop it is important that you seek veterinary... Read more »

Rabies

Rabies is a very serious disease, killing more than 30,000 people around the world each year. There are few reported cases of recovery from confirmed infection. If you plan to take your pet abroad then they will need protection against this deadly disease. What is rabies? Rabies is an invariably fatal viral infection that is... Read more »

Feline panleucopenia (Feline infectious enteritis)

Feline panleucopenia is a very serious disease of cats which, before vaccination, was commonly fatal. Even today, with good nursing care, between a quarter and two-thirds of all affected cats will die from the disease. What is panleucopenia? Panleucopenia is a serious disease in cats. It is caused by a virus very similar to the... Read more »

Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) is probably the most important virus in cats. About one in three cats that come into contact with the virus develop a permanent infection which is almost always fatal. FeLV infection causes a wide range of symptoms and by weakening their immune defences it can also make cats more susceptible to... Read more »

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Hearing that your cat has Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is one of the worst bits of news you can get from your vet. The disease is almost always fatal, although treatments can make your cat's remaining time more comfortable. If you have more than one cat in your home, taking sensible precautions and following your... Read more »

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

As its name suggests, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is closely related to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) responsible for causing AIDS in people. There is no cure for either disease and the virus causes the gradual destruction of the white blood cells needed to protect the body against infectious diseases. However, the two viruses will... Read more »

Chlamydia disease

Chlamydia is not particularly common in the average pet cat but can be a significant problem in cats in close contact. It is very easily spread from cat to cat. It is rarely fatal, but can be a real problem because the symptoms may be very difficult to clear up. Prevention is far better than... Read more »

Cat scratch disease

Cat scratch disease is a disease of people carried by cats. Infected cats usually do not show any sign of illness but the disease can be passed to humans via a bite or scratch from the cat. What is cat scratch disease? Cat scratch disease (CSD), also known as Bartonellosis, is caused by a bacteria... Read more »

Cat pox

If your cat is a keen hunter they may be at risk of catching cat pox from their prey. Cat pox is a viral infection that is also known as feline cow pox. Most cases recover without treatment but in a few cases the disease can be much more serious and veterinary advice should be... Read more »

Cat ‘flu’

Cat flu is very common in unvaccinated cats and is very easily spread from cat to cat. It is rarely fatal, except in young kittens, but can be a real problem because the symptoms may be very difficult to clear up. Prevention is far better than cure - so to protect your cat make sure... Read more »

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a disease caused by an overactive thyroid gland, an organ found on either side of the windpipe at the base of the neck. This gland produces thyroid hormone which helps to regulate your cat's metabolism, or rate of bodily activity. When the thyroid gland produces too much hormone, your cat's 'internal motor' effectively... Read more »

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 the majority of diabetic animals can now be treated and may live normal, happy lives... Read more »

Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism)

Cushing's disease (also called 'hyperadrenocorticism' by vets) is rare in cats. Although it is a severe disease it causes subtle changes 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 with ageing. What is Cushing's disease? Cushing's disease is... Read more »

Ventricular septal defect (VSD)

Ventricular septal defect (VSD) is one of the more common congenital heart defects in cats. It is sometimes referred to as a 'hole in the heart'. The condition is often discovered in apparently healthy cats by a vet during a routine examination (such as before vaccination). What is a ventricular septal defect? Ventricular septal defect... Read more »

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 appropriate timing and type of therapy. Heart disease and heart failure are not the same... Read more »

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, hypertension is almost always caused by an underlying disease. What is blood pressure? When the... Read more »

Heart rhythm disturbance (atrial fibrillation)

There are many different heart problems that can affect cats. Some of these affect the rhythm of the heart beat and one such condition is atrial fibrillation. This is most commonly seen in association with severe heart disease. Atrial fibrillation does not cause any specific signs so it is unlikely that you will identify this... Read more »

Heart disease in your cat

Heart disease is increasingly common in cats, probably because their average life expectancy has increased due to improved veterinary care. Some heart defects may be present from birth (congenital heart defects) but only show symptoms as the cat gets older. Other diseases develop later in life as a result of the effects of ageing or... Read more »

Feline aortic thromboembolism

Cats may be struck 'out of the blue' by a blood clot resulting in dramatic signs (sudden onset of lameness and pain) and potentially devastating damage. The back legs and the right front leg are most often affected and may be paralysed. This is an emergency - if you suspect that your cat has suffered... Read more »

Congenital heart diseases

Bringing a new kitten into the family is an exciting time and should a time of great joy. It can be particularly distressing to find that your new arrival has a problem. It is important that you get your new kitten checked over by your vet so that any obvious problems can be identified before... Read more »

Vomiting and diarrhoea

Vomiting and diarrhoea are common in cats. Both are symptoms of other conditions rather than diseases in their own right and there is a vast range of cat diseases in which diarrhoea and/or vomiting may occur. In many cases the problem may be successfully treated without ever pinpointing the actual cause. However, the information that... Read more »

Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis is a condition which ranges in severity from almost no clinical signs to severe abdominal upset and even death. It can therefore be very difficult to know if your cat is suffering from pancreatitis Your vet is best placed to advise you on any illness in your pet so if you are worried about... Read more »

Liver problems in your cat

Liver disease is quite common in cats and can occur at any age, from kittens to old age. Usually the signs of liver disease, like many diseases in cats, are a bit vague; affected cats are often just quiet, have reduced appetite and lose weight. Jaundice is quite often seen and if your cat has... Read more »

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)

Almost all cats will suffer from diarrhoea at some point in their lives. In most cases this lasts no more than a few days and cats generally get better without any treatment. However, in a few cases the diarrhoea is due to a more serious underlying cause and does not resolve. EPI, although uncommon in... Read more »

Eye medication: how to give to your cat

Eye problems in cats 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 at home. How often do I need to put drops in? Some drops only need... Read more »

Corneal ulcers – a sore eye

Although cat's eyes have a number of differences which improve night vision, the basic structure is much the same as a human's. Consequently cats can suffer a similar range of eye diseases to humans. Because the eye is complicated, delicate and very sensitive, all eye problems require immediate veterinary attention. One of the most common... Read more »

Conjunctivitis in cats

If your cat has a sore or red eye, or there is discharge from the eye, then it is important to contact your vet. Your cat may have an infection in the eye, but a discharge can also be caused by a foreign body (such as a grass seed) caught under the eyelid. It is... Read more »

Cataracts in cats

Cataract is a disease of the lens of the eye in which the normally clear lens becomes opaque or white. You may see the whiteness of the eye when you look at your cat. This interferes with vision and can result in blindness. In some cases, if the cataract is causing significant problems, an eye... Read more »

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 or come into contact with the body. Many poisons are products we use every day... Read more »

Fitting in cats – 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 movement of their legs, excessive drooling and twitching of the face and jaws.... Read more »

Fever – is it serious?

Often when you put a hand on your cat it feels warm, particularly on a patch of bare skin. This is because the normal body temperature of a cat is higher than that in people. Body temperature is maintained within a fairly narrow range (between 38.1°C / 100.5°F and 39.2°C / 102.2°F) although it varies... Read more »

Ear disease in your cat

A cat's ear is quite a different shape to ours. Humans simply have a horizontal tube that runs straight from the side of the head into the inner ear (auditory canal). In the cat, however, the outside opening of the ear canal is high on the side of the head. The canal runs vertically down... Read more »

Ear cleaning

Ear disease is quite common in cats and you should make ear examination part of a weekly health check for your pet. If your cat's ears look red or sore on the inside, if there is a smell coming from the ears or if your pet is shaking its head excessively then contact your vet... Read more »

Periodontal disease and how to prevent it

Periodontal disease affects the area around the teeth and will eventually lead to tooth loss. Prevent this by brushing your cat's teeth, using the step-by-step guide included here. Your cat's teeth deserve as much care as your own! What is periodontal disease? The periodontium is the structure that surrounds and supports the tooth. It comprises... Read more »

Fainting (syncope)

Fainting (syncope) does occur in cats but is less common than in people. When a cat faints it briefly loses consciousness and falls to the ground motionless but in most cases recovers within a few moments without treatment. It is important, but often difficult, to differentiate between fainting and fitting because the causes and treatments... Read more »