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Dog Advice

Keeping your dog healthy & happy

In this section of our site, we aim to introduce you to a number of pet health care topics, such as medicating your dog, information on Dog Fleas, Worms, Neutering and much, much more.

We have also included a number of topics on 1st aid for your pets, as well as the most commonly encountered health & behavioural problems.

Please use the expandable buttons below to find the information you are looking for.

If you have a suggestion on any article which you feel should be included on this site, please contact us at the clinic.

You may also download our FREE ABC Guide to puppy care by clicking here.

  • First Aid
  • Fleas
  • Worms
  • Medicating
  • Microchipping
  • Castration
  • Spaying
  • Dental Care
  • Nutrition & Diet
  • Pet Passports

First Aid

The First thing to remember is DON'T PANIC!

Contact your vet as soon as possible and explain the problem. They will advise you if your pet needs urgent attention.


There are ways that you can prepare for emergencies, and first aid can often save a life.

1. Keep the name, address and telephone number of your own vet next to the phone.

2. Keep a working pen and paper by the phone to take down instructions if necessary.

3. Don't dash along to the practice without telephoning first.

4. Keep a Pet First Aid kit at home and with you when you are travelling.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY.


There are too many types of poisoning to discuss in one article and each case will need different treatment.

Do not try to induce vomiting unless you have been advised by your vet.


Flea infestations of our domestic pets can be a continual problem for both them and their owners. Flea bites can cause quite severe reactions in both animals and humans alike, and can also cause anaemia in heavily infested young and old animals. Fleas are much more of a problem during the warmer months of the year, but animals kept inside in a warm environment during winter can still harbour these nasty bloodsuckers.

Clinical Signs

Clinical signs of flea bites are varied. Some animals may have large flea populations yet show no adverse effects, while an animal that is sensitive to fleas may have a pronounced inflammatory response (redness, itching, hair loss) to a single flea bite. Identifying these parasites or their faeces in the animal's coat makes diagnosis of fleas easy. However, for conditions other than simple infestation, veterinary advice should be sought.


There are numerous preparations that aid in the control of adult fleas; however, we recommend the use of both Frontline and Stronghold. Both of these products kill adult fleas, and both are available as monthly 'spot-on' preparations. Frontline remains effective with repeated exposure to water (when applied in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions), and is also available in a spray form, which is also useful for tick prevention. We can advise you as to the suitability of either of these treatments for your pet, in addition to other products available.


It is also important to treat the pet's environment when aiming to control fleas. Bedding should be washed regularly and allowed to dry thoroughly each time. Kennels should be protected from the elements and well ventilated. Regular vacuuming of all areas of the house to which pets have access will keep eggs and developing fleas to a minimum, and where infestations are especially bad, we recommend using household flea sprays such as Indorex. One use of this product will protect the environment from flea infestation for up to 12 months.


It is estimated that four out of every five dogs in the UK carry intestinal worms. Not only can worms make your dog sick, some species of worms can also be transferred to humans, with children being most at risk.

Control of Gastrointestinal Worms in your Dog

  • Regular de-worming of all pets, including pregnant bitches and puppies, will minimise infestation of your dog and help prevention infection of humans.
  • It is also important to maintain a hygienic environment:

Remove faeces from litter trays and children's sand pits and dispose of thoroughly. Clean sleeping areas regularly.

  • Feed your dog quality-cooked or tinned meat or, better still, a complete diet such as Hills.
  • Always wash your hands after handling your pet and before eating, and remember that it is particularly important for children to be taught this!
  • Do not let pets lick your face.
  • Use a complete flea control programme, and control other intermediate hosts such as rats and mice.

De-worming your Dog

A wide variety of dog de-wormers are available from the Barrier Animal Care Clinic, including basic multi-wormers and combination medications, which also help with flea control. Both palatable chews and tablets are available. (If you need a little help to give your dog pills, read our advice on the best method to give your dog medication.)

Multi-wormer preparations should be given every three months to adult dogs. Pregnant or lactating bitches should be treated before mating, ten days before whelping, then two and four weeks after whelping. Pups should be de-wormed at two, four, six, eight and twelve weeks of age, then monthly until six months of age.

All wormer preparations vary in the frequency of dosing, please refer to the packaging supplied and drug label for more information.

If you would like any advice on gastrointestinal worm control in your cat, please don't hesitate to contact us or drop in and speak to one of our members of staff.


First and foremost, please always follow our dosing instructions for any medication. These can be found on the label that was with the medication prescribed to your pet.

One way to give your dog tablets is outlined below:

  1. Hold the tablets or capsules between your thumb and index finger. If you need to give your dog multiple tablets, they can be held in the same way, or alternately, held between your index and middle fingers.
  2. To open your dog's mouth, rest your left wrist on his head for leverage, and press your thumb and fingers in and upwards on the lips behind the canine teeth on both sides of his mouth. He shouldn't close his mouth because his lips will be between his upper and lower teeth.
  3. Holding onto the medication as previously described, use your other fingers to pull downward on your dog's lower jaw. Then, quickly deposit the tablet on the back of the tongue and push it as far backwards as possible with your index finger.
  4. Hold your dog's mouth closed for a few moments afterwards until he swallows the medication.

If you have trouble with the method above, why not visit the clinic and we can give you advice on your technique, or discuss other methods of medicating your dog, including using a "pill-popper", a device designed to make this an easier task.


Protect Your Pet From Loss With A Microchip - Quick, Simple And Permanent

The best way to ensure that a lost pet is reunited is to have him/her identified with a microchip. This tiny microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected under the loose skin on the back of your pet's neck. Once inserted, the identichip is permanent and should cause no pain or side effects.

We are now also able to offer the latest innovation in animal temperature reading, Identichip with Bio Thermo.

The new chip combines unique animal identification with a bio sensor, which enables immediate, simple and accurate animal temperature reading at the press of a button. As a result, the whole experience of taking an animal's temperature will now be much less stressful for the pet, client and vet.

The clinic is currently offering a promotional discount on all Bio Therm microchips implanted whist your pet is under anaesthetic for any procedure – for further information and current prices, please contact us at the clinic.


What is meant by "Castration"?

In this operation, which is performed under general anaesthetic, both testicles are removed, thus removing the source of sperm and the male sex hormone (testosterone).

Why should I consider castrating my dog?

There are many advantages:

  • Usually the dog becomes less aggressive and more placid.
  • The dog is less likely to wander and chase bitches on heat.
  • Neutering prevents tumours of the testicles and peri-anal region.
  • Neutering reduces the incidences of problems occurring in the prostate gland, perineal hernias, and hormone-related tumours.

Will castration change my dog's nature?

There is no great character change, although the dog may be quieter. A good watchdog will still be a good watchdog and bark at strangers. Ability to guard your territory is not altered.

At what age should he be castrated?

We recommend that this operation takes place at 12-14 weeks of age. If your dog has been used for breeding and you now want him neutered, there is no problem with performing the operation on older dogs. Click here for more information on early neutering.

What does the operation involve?

The dog is placed under general anaesthetic so that he is deeply asleep and will feel nothing. The skin is prepared and the surgeon removes the testicles with sterile instruments. The incision is closed with either non-absorbable or absorbable sutures.

How long after the operation is the patient himself again?

It does not take long - usually after two days he is back to normal.

What precautions do I take after surgery?

Do not allow your dog to jump or exercise vigorously until the stitches are removed or your veterinarian says that it is okay. There should be no games or forced exercise for the first week.

Will my dog become fat?

Castration is unlikely to cause your dog to become overweight. However, sensible feeding and adequate exercise are important to keep your neutered dog in top shape!!


What is meant by "Spaying"?

Spaying is the term applied to the operation in which the ovaries and uterus are removed from the female dog (bitch). The object of spaying is to stop the bitch from coming on heat and reproducing.

Should your female be spayed?

There are four main advantages to having your bitch neutered:

  • It avoids the bitch coming into heat twice a year, with the accompanying messy discharges and invasion by all the neighbourhood dogs who can smell a bitch in season literally kilometres away.
  • Neutering prevents unwanted pups - population control in our pets is a very real and serious problem.
  • Spaying greatly reduces the likelihood of mammary & Ovarian tumours.
  • Spaying your bitch will also prevent false pregnancies, a condition sometimes seen two months after a season.

Should my bitch have a litter before being neutered?

No. Well-meaning people may tell you that your bitch should have a litter of puppies or at least a heat period before she is neutered. There is no clinical evidence to support the view that this enhances her "female" characteristics.

At what age should she be neutered?

The female dog will come into heat anytime from 6 months of age onwards, depending on the size of the dog. Small breeds usually come on heat at about six months of age, while larger breeds may not start until nine to ten months of age. We recommend that this operation takes place at 12-14 weeks of age.

What does the operation involve?

The ovaries and part of the uterus are removed while the dog is asleep under general anaesthetic. Consequently, she will not feel anything during the procedure.

The instruments are sterilised and the skin is prepared before the surgeon opens the abdomen, thereby minimising bacterial contamination. The abdomen is closed using suture material that dissolves and is absorbed by the body. The skin is usually sutured with stitches that have to be removed in 10-14 days.

How long after the operation before the patient is herself again?

It does not take long. After 3 days she is usually back to normal.

What precautions should I take after surgery?

Do not allow your bitch to jump or exercise vigorously until the stitches are removed. There should be no games or forced exercise for the first week.

Neutering is unlikely to cause your dog to become overweight. However, sensible feeding and adequate exercise are important to keep your neutered dog in top shape!

Dental Care

Just like humans, dogs are vulnerable to gum disease, infections and tooth problems. In fact, 60% of pets more than 5 years old suffer from serious dental disease, and in certain breeds of dog (Maltese, Poodle, Dachshund and Chihuahua), the proportion is as high as 80-90%.

Bad breath is caused by the action of bacteria in the mouth, and is an indicator of dental disease. If the problem is not attended to at this stage, it can progress until tooth loss, bleeding from the mouth and/or decreased appetite are seen.

Sometimes dental disease can lead to far more serious problems elsewhere in the body. Bacteria multiply readily in the mouth, and as the gums become inflamed and start to bleed, these bacteria gain access to the blood stream. They circulate throughout the body (a condition called "septicaemia") and lodge in organs, causing abscesses to form. The tissues most prone to this are the heart valves, organs that filter blood (kidney and liver), and tissues with many, very small vessels (lungs and joints). This process can lead to problems such as severe arthritis, or major life-threatening illnesses, such as kidney or heart failure.

So what can I do?

Have your pet's teeth examined by your veterinarian, and proceed with a professional dental clean if it is recommended. However, long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care.

Dental home care may include:

Tooth brushing (at least 3 times a week). This is the best form of dental hygiene and many products are now available to assist you.

Raw, meaty bones (using Mother Nature's tooth brush). The chewing of tough cartilage and bone scrapes tartar and plaque off teeth; however, over time it may also cause tooth wear and fracture, leading to possible dental disease.

Dental exercisers, chew toys and special diets (e.g. Hill's t/d diet). These all assist in reducing plaque, but are rarely enough to treat advanced dental disease.

The important thing to remember is to start early. Puppies quickly learn to accept dental home care as part of their daily routine, allowing you to develop proper dental hygiene early enough to prevent problems. However, older animals can also learn and benefit from the same processes. Regular and frequent attention to your pet's teeth will avoid annual visits to the vets for a professional dental clean, and will also improve your pet's overall health.

Nutrition & Diet

There is a multitude of different foods on the market to feed our pets, so it is often hard to decide which is the most appropriate for our pet. When choosing a food, it is important to realise that the needs of our pets will change throughout their lives and will vary for different species and breeds.

On collecting your new puppy or kitten, you will usually be informed of the diet the animal has received. However, the diets given are not always easy to follow, consisting of combinations of weetabix, porridge, scrambled egg, tripe or similar concoctions! Many have the disadvantage of not being completely balanced in minerals and vitamins. It is much better to use a kitten or puppy food that has been properly formulated and has a feeding guide to enable you to supply the correct amount of calories.

Kitten & puppy food has a much higher level of calories than adult food. Growing animals need lots of energy and also a higher level of protein than adults, to enable them to mature properly. Their food also tends to be higher in calcium for their growing bones.

Once an adult, the growth food needs to be changed to a maintenance diet. Any diet change should be done gradually over a couple of weeks, even if using the same brand, to avoid a tummy upset.

Adult food is lower in fat and protein as the body requires less of these nutrients for maintaining body condition, compared to when they are growing.

Light versions of a maintenance diet are available if your pet cannot keep its weight down. These are lower in protein and fat but higher in fibre and are ideal for less active, neutered or obesity-prone animals.

Senior diets can be introduced from 7 to 8 years of age. Again, these are lower in protein to help older kidneys from having to detoxify excess protein. They are also lower in fat as calorie requirements are less in senior animals due to inactivity and loss of muscle. Senior diets tend to be higher in vitamins, compared to adult foods, to help maintain body functions like tissue repair and cell production.

In summary, match your pet’s age to their food to enable them to get the most from it! Our Vets & Nurses will be able to advise you on a suitable diet for your pet.

Please remember we offer:

A 10% DISCOUNT OFF THE RRP of all dry foods 7.5Kg and over.

10% Discount for all prescription diets to PDSA-registered clients with a valid prescription from the vet.

Contact Us for more Information & prices.

Pet Passports

The Rules

  • To travel from the UK to another EU country, a pet must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and issued with an EU pet passport.
  • Some EU countries have additional requirements (see later).
  • To enter or re-enter the UK from other EU countries without quarantine, a pet must, in this order, be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, blood tested, issued with an EU pet passport and treated against ticks and tapeworms.

The 6 month rule for entering the UK

  • A pet may not re-enter the UK under PETS until 6 calendar months have passed from the date the rabies blood sample, which gave a satisfactory result, was taken.
  • Pets only require one satisfactory blood test and 6 month wait, provided the subsequent rabies booster vaccinations are given by the required date.
  • The rules are to protect human and animal health and to reduce the risk of importing rabies into the UK. An animal infected with rabies before vaccination would not be protected by the vaccine. Six months is the time needed for most infected animals to display any clinical signs of rabies.
  • Animals not meeting all the rules are licensed into quarantine.

You can contact the surgery to discuss details of preparing your pet to travel abroad.

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