Some information on queries commonly asked at the surgery

Vaccinations:

When do puppies start their vaccinations? - 1st vaccination can be given from 7 weeks of age with a 2nd at 10 weeks or older and there must be at least 2 weeks between the 2 injections. We vaccinate against Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, (both common diseases in this area,) Distemper & Hepatitis. Also available is a vaccine against kennel cough given by drops down the nose. This is not a killer disease but is essential prior to going to kennels (and we do sometimes get outbreaks outside kennels.)

Is it essential to give boosters every year? - The annual booster does not include all the above diseases every year but it does include Leptospira every year as studies have shown that antibody levels drop too low soon after the booster time has passed. - I can also say that, although minor reactions to vaccination (such as feeling a bit off colour) are common, serious reactions are very, very rare, and have to be compared to the often horrific nature of these diseases. - vaccinations include a free health check which is particularly useful as pets get older and any problems can be raised with the vet. (All our vaccines are administered by a vet rather than a nurse.)

What about cat vaccines? - kittens can start their injections from 9 weeks of age with a 2nd dose given 3 weeks later. We recommend vaccination against cat 'flu, feline enteritis, leukaemia, (a virus spread by blood or saliva from another cat,) and chlamydia (a nasty form of conjunctivitis and upper respiratory tract infection.)

Neutering:

Neutering Bitches - we spay most bitches at 6 months of age, before they have a season. The womb is smaller then making the operation easier for dog and vet. Spaying young like this prevents mammary tumours (the dog equivalent of breast cancer) almost 100%. It also obviously prevents womb infections (otherwise very common) and tumours in later life. - if a bitch has had a season we wait about 3 months before operating to allow the hormones to settle. - the main disadvantages of spaying are weight gain (easily avoided by feeding less - come and see Mr Bournes spayed bitches if you wish) and urinary incontinence (bed wetting). The latter is easily controlled by 'hormone replacement therapy' or other teratments. - the operation is quite major but is very safe :- we haven't a death in the 25 years I've been here ( which is several thousand bitches). Bitches are usually back to normal in 2-4 days, though they have stitches in for 10 days. - if you are on means tested benefits you can have your bitch spayed for ?30 under the Dog's Trust scheme.

Male dogs - many males don't require castration - the operation is useful for dogs exhibiting excessive sexual behaviour e.g. mating cushions/visitor's legs (!!), escaping to search for bitches. - it can reduce aggressive behaviour but is not a panacea for all bad behaviour - the operation can be done from 6 months of age but we usually leave it until 12 months as many behaviour problems in these 'adolescent' dogs can be cured by training. - again the price is ?30 for those on means tested benefits.

 Cats -female cats are usually spayed at 5-6 months old. - males can be castrated at this age or, if left another 3-4 months, they will develop a more tomcat type appearance. If left much longer they will develop other, less desirable, tomcat characteristics! -those of you on benefits can get vouchers towards the cost from Cats protection or the RSPCA. Ask at the surgery.

 Worming Dogs: - all pups should be wormed 3-4 times at 10-14 day intervals with a product that tackles roundworms. They acquire these worms from their mums in the womb or via milk ( aren't worms cunning! ). - from then worming every 3 months with a product that tackles round and tapeworms and also lungworms.( e.g. our Milbemax the only worming product licenced to tackle all these worms) usually suffices.

Worming Cats - as with pups all kittens need treatment for roundworms - older kittens and adults also acquire tapeworms either from fleas or by eating prey ( birds and rodents ). - Milbemax is a very effective tablet - it deals with all worms. - for those cats which don't like tablets ( and there are many ) there is a 'spot-on' wormer (a few drops of liquid applied to the back of the neck) called Profender. This kills all worms. Panacur favourites are a very palatable tablet ( my cats wolf them down) but they don't kill all varieties of worms

Flea Control: Whereas some parasites (lice, sheepscab) prefer cold weather fleas love the hot weather, although, with central heating, infestations can occur all year round. As the summer progresses we get more and more pleas for help from people whose pets are infested or, worse still, are getting bitten themselves :- raised red spots with a small scab on top, usually around the ankles if fleas are jumping out of the carpet, or all over if they have infested your bed!! Proper control of this problem needs an understanding of the flea life cycle.

As often in nature it's the female fleas which are worse. They need a blood meal in order to lay eggs (several hundred over their lifetime) which fall off the dog or cat into the environment. I once collected over 5000 flea eggs from 1 dog in the space of 2 hours ( I only know the number because I sent them to a drug company who were collecting for research purposes). These eggs, which are smaller than a pinhead, hatch out into tiny larvae (under the microscope they look like caterpillars) which crawl a foot or two to find somewhere dark (beneath the cushions of the settee or under the pet's bed) where they pupate before hatching out as adult fleas 2 weeks to 6 months later. Vibration stimulates hatching which explains dramatic tales of people returning from summer holidays to find their footsteps cause hundreds of fleas to come bouncing out of the carpets!

Treatment of the environment is therefore vital. Sprays are available which contain an insecticide and, more importantly, a chemical which stops flea eggs developing. It is vital to spray all carpets, under cushions and items of furniture, into gaps like under skirting boards - and don't forget your car if the dog goes in it. Insecticidal bombs are available but these may not spread into all the necessary areas.

Of course you also need to treat all dogs and cats. Shampoos, sprays and flea collars are usually a waste of money as are the pet-shop spot-ons - we regularly find pets crawling with fleas which have been treated with these products. Some of the older veterinary products are now showing signs that resistance is developing. Currently our most popular product is Activyl, a relatively new spot-on which treats fleas very effectively in dogs and cats. Effipro is also very effective used every 8 weeks to prevent your pet picking up fleas when out and about. For those who don't like insecticides it is difficult to control fleas without them, but there is a product called Program, given monthly as a tablet to dogs or 6 monthly as an injection to cats, which doesn't kill fleas but prevents them breeding thus stopping infestation of the house.

Insurance: We strongly recommend pet insurance as it benefits both owners, who might be faced with an unexpected large bill after say an accident, and us at the surgery as we don't feel pressure to keep costs down by minimising investigations of tricky cases. Policies can be divided into 3 types: - the best (and most expensive) will pay for a lifelong condition (e.g. diabetes or arthritis) for the whole of a pet's life up to a stated maximum for each 12 month period. I have never known such a maximum be exceeded. - middle range policies will pay for lifelong treatment only until a limit is reached, after which they stop paying. - the cheapest policies will only pay out for one condition for a maximum of 12 months. These policies are still well worth having as they cover accidents, swallowing foreign bodies etc. We don't recommend any particular company:- they all seem to pay up well. We suggest you shop around to see what suits you.

Fireworks are a common problem and this year, as every other, we are being asked how to help frightened pets. Obviously keep them shut in, turn the telly or music up to drown the sound, and let them settle, if they wish, in a favourite spot. In the case of Tilly, our collie X, this involves squeezing through a narrow gap and hiding behind the log pile. Tranquilisers are available from the vets. These are prescription only and can be dispensed following a phonecall from you if we see your cat or dog regularly , but a quick visit to the surgery may be needed if we haven't seen you for a while. Other products that help are pheremones:- synthetic versions of smelly substances produced by bitches/queens to calm their young. ( Don't worry they won't smell of b.o.)  Adaptil is the product for dogs and Feliway for cats. In the longer term you can try to train your pet to get used to the noise by playing a CD of bangs at gradually increasing volume. This takes patience and commitment but can be successful.