Do you ever wonder why your pet needs its annual boosters?

Let’s look at why annual visits are important for your pet. 

You’re probably aware that when you get a puppy or kitten, you’re going to need to visit the vet for vaccinations, flea and tick prevention and other treatments. However, to maintain your pet’s health and wellbeing, regular trips to the vets are recommended. Annual vaccinations or boosters are important to protect your pet against preventable diseases and discomfort. Here we explore some of the common questions, and myths, around the annual visit for vaccination…   

My pet only had its primary vaccines, is that okay? 

It is a misunderstanding amongst some pet owners, that following the vaccination, pets are protected against diseases for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and can cause the expense of their puppy or kitten’s health and, in extreme cases, the loss of a pet. 

Some clients may have the misconception that an annual vaccination is just for the commercial benefit of the pharmaceutical company or vet – again, this isn’t true. Your pet should be vaccinated as a puppy and then get regular boosters throughout their life.  

How do vaccines work?  

Did you know, vaccinesdon’t actually fight diseases themselves? 

Vaccines stimulate the immune system of pets to produce antibodies. Then, if your pet comes into contact with a virus or disease, it will be recognised by its immune system and protected against infection by the antibodies the vaccine produced. 

The body will produce different levels of protection for varying lengths of time, and therefore the response to individual vaccines will vary hugely. As an example, the Leptospirosis vaccination provides one year of immunity, which is much shorter than the Distemper vaccination that delivers three years of immunity. 

Due to varying immunity periods, not all aspects of the core vaccines are included each year. Some parts are included annually, every three years or even every five years, which is why the annual vaccination is recommended. Pet owners must not worry about ‘over-vaccinating’ an animal – vets vaccinate according to the treatment they had the previous year. 

What do vaccinations protect my pet from?  

There are four main diseases that pets are vaccinated against. These are: 

  • Leptospirosis  
  • Canine distemper  
  • Parvovirus  
  • Infectious canine hepatitis  

Vaccines can take effect within a few hours of the treatment. At this point, the earliest phase of the immune response is being stimulated, it can then take up to fourteen days before a reasonable level of protection is established.  

Is my pet protected for life? 

It’s a popular opinion that after a pet has had its vaccinations for a couple of years, the animal will have built up enough protection to no longer need its boosters.  

Just like humans, the young and the elderly are usually more vulnerable to disease and illness. As your pet gets older, the immune system is likely to become weaker, and so, regular boosters are essential.   

Always remember that a booster could stop your pet from catching a disease in its later life when its immune system is much weaker and less likely to fight it. 

Helping the wider pet community 

Although shielding your pet against preventable diseases is plenty to persuade any loving pet owner to vaccine their pet, another reason to do so is to protect the entire pet population. Many dog walkers, boarding kennels, or day-care facilities will require you to have your pet fully vaccinated. 

Many of the core diseases in the UK are now extremely low risk, this is due to years of vaccination compliance and positive action from pet owners. However, if we were to stop vaccinating pets, and the prevalence of infections increased, animals would be at a much higher risk of contracting deadly diseases.  

 

Calling all cats aged seven or above!

Learn more about feline hypertension

What is feline hypertension?

Feline hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, commonly affects cats aged seven years or older. As your cat ages, the risk of developing hypertension increases.

Hypertension can often go undetected until it is too late; that is why it is important to spot the signs early, avoiding long-term damage to your cat’s health and wellbeing.

What are the main causes of feline hypertension?

Feline hypertension is most commonly secondary to another disease process such as:

  • chronic kidney disease
  • overactive thyroid
  • heart disease.

Primary hypertension (without another cause) is also seen but less commonly than in people.

What is Target Organ Damage (TOD)?

If not detected early, hypertension can cause irreversible damage to key organs such as the eyes, heart, brain and kidneys.

  • eyes – high blood pressure can result in bleeding into the eyes and retinal changes such as haemorrhage, swelling and detachment leading to long term damage to vision and sometimes permanent blindness
  • kidneys – high blood pressure directly affects the kidneys and can cause or worsen kidney failure
  • central nervous system – bleeding in the brain can lead to seizures, dementia and wobbly movements
  • heart – with high blood pressure, the heart needs to work harder to pump blood around the body. This can lead to heart failure as there is increased pressure placed on the heart.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

Symptoms may include:

  • loss of appetite
  • decrease in activity
  • disorientation
  • circling behaviour
  • drinking more fluids than usual
  • weight loss
  • urinating indoors
  • hiding away or difference in overall behaviours
  • irritability
  • vomiting (if the kidneys are also affected)
  • seizures (if hypertension is left untreated)
  • bleeding in the eyes or blindness

How can I protect my cat?

As a preventative measure, we recommend that you book a blood pressure check once a year when your cat reaches seven years old. For older cats, a blood pressure check should be checked as directed by your vet.

How do we check for high blood pressure?

A blood pressure check can be conducted quickly and painlessly, using an inflatable cuff around your cat’s tail or leg.

How do we treat hypertension?

If your cat is diagnosed with hypertension, medication may need to be taken daily for the rest of your cat’s life. That’s why it is so important to spot the signs early and include regular blood pressure check-ups as part of your cat’s routine preventative healthcare.

What should you do next?

If your cat is aged seven years or older, we recommend that you book them in for a blood pressure screening once every year.

Please call us on 01889 582023 (Rugeley) or 01785 213404 (Stafford) to book an appointment.

We look forward to seeing you and your cat soon.

 

5 benefits to joining our Pet Health for Life plan

As pet owners we all want the best for our four-legged friends, but we also know that pet ownership can be expensive. By becoming a member of our Pet Health for Life plan you can spread the cost of essential healthcare and save money.

Here are five great reasons for you and your pet to sign up today!

One monthly fee

When you sign up to Pet Health for Life plan you’ll know exactly what you’ll be paying each month, spreading the cost of essential healthcare for your pet. You’ll sign up to a direct debit and we’ll collect the same amount, with no hidden charges. We’ll always let you know in advance if the price of your plan is due to change.

Regular medication 

For optimum health and protection, your pet should be treated against fleas, ticks and worms. Everyday life can be busy, and it can be easy to forget to order new treatments, or not realise you’re about to run out. As a member of Pet Health for Life we will always remind you when parasite treatment is needed, and it will be ready for collection when you’re ready. The correct dosage based on your pet’s weight and personal circumstances is included in your monthly fee.

Annual vaccinations

Primary vaccinations and subsequent annual boosters are important to protect your pet against preventable diseases and illnesses. With Pet Health for Life both primary vaccinations and annual boosters are included in the monthly fee, so you don’t have to find extra cash, in one lump sum to keep your pet safe.

Click here to find out more about why boosters are important.

Preventative check-ups 

As well as an initial vet consultation when you sign up to Pet Health for Life, your membership also entitles your pet to other check-ups throughout the year. These can be essential in spotting issues you may not be aware of, which can then be treated more efficiently than if they’re left to develop unnoticed.

Additional discounts

As well as the basics included in your plan, you can take advantage of additional discounts which will save you further money on pet ownership.

In addition to the tangible benefits, you’ll enjoy peace of mind for you and your pet.

For full details of what’s included in our Pet Health for Life, or to sign up online click here. 

Accessing our services

Whilst visiting us, we’re here to provide you and your pets with the best experience, in the safest way.

Our practice, as always, has extensive hygiene measures in place. We are still encouraging social distancing, face coverings and contactless payments. However, we are very happy to be welcoming you into our consulting rooms and reception areas.

We are operating with the following additional measures in place:

  • 1 person per appointment
  • limited numbers in waiting rooms

Thank you for your continued understanding.

We look forward to seeing you soon. Contact us for further details.

The importance of pet insurance

We believe that pet insurance is an important part of responsible pet ownership. Owning a pet is hugely rewarding, but it can also be expensive if they are to suffer an illness or injury.

Having a good pet insurance policy allows you to concentrate on what’s best for your pet while knowing help is there for the cost of unexpected treatment should they become ill or are injured.

People tend to think it’s only older pets that get ill and therefore, younger pets don’t need pet insurance, but we know from the patients we see each day that that is not the case.

The younger your pet is when you insure them, the better as it means you are less likely to have any existing conditions, which the policy may not cover, and you can then receive more help covering the cost of any future treatment your pet needs.

It is important to note that not all pet insurance is the same. There are many different types of policy available, and the level of cover provided can vary considerably. The four main types of policy are as follows:

  • Accident: provides cover for accidents only and no cover for illness
  • Time-Limited: provides cover for a set amount of time (usually 12 months) and after this period, the condition is excluded
  • Maximum Benefit: provides cover up to a maximum amount of money per condition and once this limit is reached, the condition is excluded
  • Lifetime: provides a set amount of money each year which is refreshed each time you renew your policy, allowing you to continue to claim for ongoing conditions

As you can see from the information above, the type of policy you choose can have implications for the veterinary care of your pet and the costs you will face, so it’s important to choose the right cover.

Sometimes, the cheapest insurance can cost you more in the long run. Therefore, when shopping around for a policy, we suggest that you ask the following questions to allow you to compare the overall value you are getting, not just the price:

Does this policy cover congenital, hereditary, hip-related, dental, and behavioural conditions?

Is there a time or monetary limit on how long this policy will cover ongoing conditions?

If I file a claim, will my premium increase?

Unlike other forms of insurance, it is not always easy to switch pet insurance in the future as any pre-existing conditions your pet has are likely to be excluded, so it’s important to do your research and choose the right cover from the start.

Help us to keep antibiotics working…

What is antibiotic resistance?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria develops mechanisms to reduce the effects of the antibiotic. These mechanisms evolve through mutation and adaptation. Mutations can be good or bad for bacteria. In some cases, the mutation kills the bacteria and it may provide the bacteria with a survival advantage. The survival advantage may include resistance to antibiotics. In the presence of antibiotics, this resistance becomes an advantage and the resistant strain becomes dominant.

In pets, just like in humans, it’s normal to have bacteria in the bowel and on the skin. These bacteria, just like any other, can develop resistant mechanisms, so using antibiotics can kill other non-resistant bacteria, allowing the resistant bacterial strains to dominate and thrive. As a result, overusing antibiotics or use of an antibiotic over an extended period can affect the ‘good bacteria’ and cause more harm than good.

Antibiotics are only effective against some types of bacterial infection and will not work against viral infections. Therefore, veterinary surgeons need to determine what kind of infection a pet may have to treat and help them recover quickly and safely as appropriate. Following your veterinary surgeons’ advice on medication, it’s essential to ensure long-term access to antibiotics that work.

Why do we need to alter the overall attitude towards antibiotic use?

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics is a One Health concern. If this important class of drugs becomes ineffective, it will have a serious impact on the health of both humans and animals.

For years now, alongside other infection control measures in human and veterinary medicine, antibiotics have been a core feature of providing effective medical treatment for bacterial infection. As a result, infections that were once fatal are now treatable and surgical procedures have become more advanced due to our ability to treat infections.

In recent years, however, the medical and veterinary professions have identified that the effectiveness of antibiotics against some bacteria has changed. We know this because the bacteria which can resist antibiotics are seen more often. To slow down the evolution of resistant bacteria and protect the efficacy of the drugs, medical professionals have had to review their approach to using these antibiotics, whilst research to find new antibiotics is ongoing.

How does antibiotic resistance occur?

After Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928, work was undertaken with his colleagues Florey and Chain to make the molecule useable as a drug to treat infections in people. Fleming himself noted in his early observations that bacteria could become resistant to penicillin, even if used appropriately.

Understandably, given its significant impact on healthcare, penicillin was initially prescribed widely, but it became less effective over time.

A combination of factors has contributed to this. Some of these include:

  • Bacterial multiplication, mutation and evolution (natural processes)
  • Use of antibiotics for non-infection control reasons
  • Prescribing antibiotics ‘just in case’ for illnesses may speed the development of resistance
  • A significant reduction in the availability of novel antibiotic classes.

What does this mean?

Research for new antibiotics is an area of focus that has Government support. However, the development and approval process for any new drug takes time. While this research is ongoing, we need to take measures to slow down the evolution of resistance and protect the drugs’ efficacy.

This means that, as some antibiotics are no longer as effective as they used to be, healthcare and veterinary professionals have had to adapt their approach to administering antibiotics to help preserve the efficacy of those that currently still work. This work has resulted in significant drops in antibiotics used. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate reported a reduction in antibiotics in food-producing animals in the UK of 52% in six years (between 2014 and 2020).

We should also be aware that any new antibiotics discovered may be reserved for human use instead of antibiotics for our animals.

Why is it important for veterinary medicine?

As antibacterial resistance is a growing concern in both human and animal medicine, there is pressure to preserve the medical use of certain antibiotics. This has implications for animal health and welfare. Veterinary professionals, therefore need to use antimicrobials responsibly. Using antibiotics only when appropriate also reduces the chances of drug side effects and reduces the carbon footprint of treating diseases.

In both human hospitals and veterinary practices, it is common to find recommendations for infections or conditions where antibiotics are not required. This is called Antibiotic Stewardship.

Our practice supports the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and the Small Animal Medicine Society (SAMSoc) ‘PROTECT ME’ principles. Their core principles are as follows:

Prescribe only when necessary

Reduce prophylaxis

Offer other options

Treat effectively

Employ narrow spectrum

Culture appropriately

Tailor your practice policy

Monitor

Educate others

Christmas hazards

We wish you and your pets a very happy festive period. With lots to think about it can be easy to forget the risks that are associated with Christmas and our pets. Most of the risks are present all year round, however, we do see an increase in pets eating hazards materials or foods. Our guide below covers the main hazards that are encountered during the festive period.

What are the hazards to pets during Christmas?

General Christmas hazards include:

  • christmas tree pine needles
  • tinsel
  • glass baubles
  • fairy lights
  • salt dough ornaments
  • gifts under the tree (if contain hazardous foods)
  • batteries
  • silica gel (found inside packaging)
  • Potpourri,
  • lilies
  • ivy
  • mistletoe

Food hazards include:

  • chocolate
  • mince pies
  • artificial sweeteners (which can be found in cakes or desserts) xylitol is one of the hazardous sweeteners that is found in cakes and chewing gum
  • roast potatoes
  • sausages
  • stuffing
  • onions
  • cheese (especially blue types)
  • grapes
  • crisps
  • christmas cake
  • sultanas
  • pigs in blankets
  • gravy
  • cooked bones
  • nuts

We hope that you shouldn’t need us during the festive period, however, if your pet does happen to ingest any of the listed hazards, please contact your practice where the team can assist you in the next steps that need to be taken.

We wish you a happy and healthy festive season.

Festive opening hours

With Christmas around the corner, we wanted to ensure we had our opening times for the festive period in place for you.

Please see below our opening times over Christmas and New Year.

Rugeley

  • Christmas Eve: 8.30am to 4pm
  • Christmas Day: CLOSED
  • Boxing Day: CLOSED
  • 27th December: CLOSED
  • 28th December: CLOSED
  • 29th December: 8.30am to 8pm
  • 30th December: 8.30am to 8pm
  • New Years Eve: 8.30am to 4pm
  • New Years Day: CLOSED
  • 2nd January: CLOSED
  • 3rd January: CLOSED

Stafford

  • Christmas Eve: 8.30am to 4pm
  • Christmas Day: CLOSED
  • Boxing Day: CLOSED
  • 27th December: CLOSED
  • 28th December: CLOSED
  • 29th December: 8.30am to 6pm
  • 30th December: 8.30am to 6pm
  • New Years Eve: 8.30am to 4pm
  • New Years Day: CLOSED
  • 2nd January: CLOSED
  • 3rd January: CLOSED

We’ll be back to our usual hours on Tuesday 4th January.

If your pet requires a prescription or specific food during the holiday period, we kindly ask that you request this well in advance.

If you require any emergency care, please call 01889 582023

We wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Better to check

Finding lumps and bumps in our pets can be worrying. Throughout this article we will provide you with everything you need to know should you find a lump on your pet’s body.

We are here for you and your pets and together, we can help them live happier, healthier lives. We will go over the basics of how to spot early signs, what treatments are available and what they entail.

What causes cancer?

Mutations in will lead to abnormalities in cell behaviour. An example of abnormal cell behaviour may mean that a cell grows and divides too quickly or fails to stop uncontrolled growth. Some causes of cancer are known, such as inherited genetic mutations, exposure to certain viruses, chemical substances or lengthy periods exposed to sunlight. However, in most cases, the cause of cancer remains unknown.

Are all lumps and bumps cancerous?

Medical professionals use the terms malignant and benign to classify lumps, bumps or growths.

Benign tumours (non-cancerous)

Benign tumours mean that the cells are not cancerous; these cells will not invade other tissues or spread to other parts of the body. Some benign tumours or growths can be left and monitored closely. However, your veterinary surgeon may discuss surgery depending on where the tumour is located and how quickly it grows. Lipomas, for example, are common benign (non-cancerous) growths that can sometimes require surgery when they grow too large. They may also advise surgical removal to eliminate the risk of the tumour becoming cancerous (malignant) in the future.

Malignant (cancerous)

Malignant means that the tumour is made up of cancerous cells. These cells can invade other tissues and spread to other parts of the body. Often diagnosis of these malignant (cancerous) lumps or bumps early means they are simpler to treat; this is because the tumour may be smaller and the cancer may not have spread to other areas in the body. If the cancer is in multiple areas, it is more difficult to treat.

An easy way to remember the difference between benign and malignant: the word ‘no’ in the German language is ‘Nein’, which sounds very similar to the suffix of benign – meaning ‘not cancerous’.

The most common cancers that are seen in veterinary practice include:

  • lymphoma;
  • mammary cancer;
  • lipomas (fatty tumours);
  • mast cell tumours;
  • carcinomas (affecting internal organs);
  • mast cell tumours; and
  • osteosarcoma (bone cancer).

There are some less worrying but common growths that are seen, these include:

  • sebaceous cysts;
  • warts; and
  • abscesses

The most common areas for growths to be found include

  • skin;
  • mouth;
  • stomach;
  • mammary glands;
  • blood; and
  • anal glands (dogs)

As veterinary professionals, we advise you to make checking your pet for growths part of your usual grooming or brushing routine, or perhaps when you’re petting your animals after a long day at work. Remember, it’s always better to check.

How is cancer diagnosed?

Diagnosis involves assessing the abnormal cells; a fine needle aspirate (FNA) is usually performed initially. An FNA involves a very fine needle inserted into an area of abnormal-appearing tissue or body fluid. This can be done during a consultation and often can be quick if your pet is comfortable. However, if the area is sore or in a hard-to-reach space, your veterinary surgeon may advise on a small quick sedation to make it safe and stress-free.

These samples are sent to our partnered laboratories externally, where histopathology experts will assess and determine what type of growth we are dealing with. We will contact you with any results as soon as possible and these results can often take up to a week to arrive back with us.

Depending on the FNA results, a biopsy under general anaesthesia may be suggested or X-rays, a CT or MRI scan and ultrasound. These diagnostics can be used to detect evidence of a malignant tumour spreading. Blood tests may be taken to assess the patient’s general health and fitness for treatment, to look for other diseases, or, in some cases, to make a diagnosis of cancer.

What is the best way to check my pet for growths or lumps and bumps?

We advise starting at your pet’s head end and finishing at the back end. Do this at a time when you’re both relaxed and comfortable. If your pet turns away or wishes not to have this done, try breaking down the check into smaller checks. We suggest checking in the following order:

  • ears (visually check the inside and outer ear followed by feeling with your hands for any changes);
  • eyes;
  • nose;
  • mouth (inside and out if your pet allows this);
  • neck;
  • front legs;
  • paws (don’t forget in-between the pads and toes);
  • chest;
  • tummy (including the mammary glands);
  • thighs;
  • back legs;
  • back paws (don’t forget in-between the pads and toes);
  • genitals;
  • anus; and
  • tail

Our veterinary surgeons and nurses will examine the above when you have any standard consultation – checking at home allows you to pick up any changes sooner than your next visit with us. These checks are only visual – some cancers occur inside the body. Veterinary diagnostics would be required to detect these.

What if my pet has cancer?

There are three main treatments for cancer.

  • Surgery:the surgical removal of the tumour cells
  • Radiotherapy: the use of a strong X-ray beam to destroy cancer cells
  • Chemotherapy: the use of anti-cancer drugs to kill cancer cells wherever they are in the body

The most appropriate treatment will depend on the nature, location and extent of the tumour. Also, the pet’s overall health and you as the owner’s expectations need to be considered before deciding on a treatment plan.

What is the outlook for cancer?

Many pets can be treated successfully and in some cases, they can be cured of their disease. We would always be able to help and improve the quality of life of a pet with cancer in some way.

We want to reassure you that we are here for you and your pet. Most pets, on average, visit us three times a year. Our vets will be assessing your pet and taking a history from you of how they have been since their last visit. Our veterinary surgeons are more than happy to put your mind at ease if you have found something abnormal on your pet during the consultation. If our team are concerned about your pet, they will explain the next steps in detail and answer any questions you may have.

If you would like more information on pet lumps and bumps, contact us today.

Important information

We have recently carried out a review of our prices. These changes will be implemented from 29 November 2021.

Please note that all existing quotes prior to 29 November will be honoured for four weeks.

If you have any questions, please speak to a member of our team.

Thank you for your continued support.