Emergency 0141 332 3212
Out of hours 0141 332 3212
Cathkin Surgery 0141 634 3183
Clarkston Toll Surgery 0141 638 1606
East Kilbride Surgery 01355 222791

Updated policies - Find out all the information about our updated policies at the bottom of the page.

Pet Health Advice

  • Flea treatment
  • Worm prevention
  • Vaccinations
  • Health checks
  • Hospital Procedures
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Acupuncture
  • Dermatology
  • Dental Health
  • Lumps and bumps

Flea treatment

At Taylor Vets we will discuss with you the range of products to find one that fits best for your pet.

Flea infestations used to be a problem which was confined to the summer months. However, due to the use of central heating, fleas are now a year-round nuisance. Fleas can cause a number of problems for your pet including severe discomfort, allergic skin disease, transmission of tapeworm infections and anaemia (especially in kittens and puppies). Routine preventative treatment is critical –a single flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, so a full-blown infestation can take hold very rapidly if your pet or home are left unprotected.
 
Many Flea treatments for your pets don't stop fleas from jumping onto your animal from the environment; however any fleas that do jump on will be killed within 24 hours. A female adult flea can lay up to 1500 eggs in her lifetime. These eggs are then shed from the pet's fur into the environment like a salt shaker.
 
Once the eggs have hatched into larvae, they crawl away from bright light into dark protected spaces. Once they have happily hidden themselves away they begin to spin a cocoon, inside which the new flea develops. This is now a flea pupa and can remain dormant for up to a year.

How to Tackle Fleas at Home

Spray Bottle

Environmental sprays can be used to kill fleas that may be present in your home. A good quality household spray contains active ingredients that kill adult fleas for up to 2 months and eradicate flea eggs and larvae for up to 12 months. Please read instructions on packaging carefully.

Flea-fighting Tricks

Unfortunately, there is no insecticidal product that kills flea pupa as they are completely protected in their cosy cocoon. Don't despair, though these tricks will help fool the pupae to hatch out into adult fleas, which will either be killed when they hop onto your treated pet or by the residual effects of the household spray in the environment.
 

  • Wash your pets bedding regularly, preferably on a high wash, 60 degrees Celsius or higher
  • When you begin to tackle the environmental challenge of fleas, firstly ensure that your house is warm and humid, as these are factors which encourage pupae to hatch
  • Vigorously vacuum for 7 consecutive days, paying particular attention to dark corners and under furniture. Vibration is another stimulus that forces pupae to hatch into adult fleas. You can also use your household spray to spray your vacuum bag (if you have one). This ensures any fleas captured in the bag will be killed
  • Don't deny your pet access to your house. Your pet acts as the greatest stimulant for the pupae to hatch, providing warmth, carbon dioxide and vibrations. And don't worry about your pet, as long as they have been treated regularly with a good quality flea treatment, any newly emerged fleas that do jump on will be dead within 24 hours

The life cycle of a Flea

The flea life cycle has 4 stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult flea. The entire cycle, from egg to adult flea, is complete in 12 - 22 days when temperature and humidity conditions are ideal, but more commonly takes 3 - 4 weeks. Surprisingly, only approximately 5% of a flea infestation is made up of adult fleas on your pet, whereas 95% is in your home as eggs, larvae and pupae. This means that to prevent and control flea infestations you need to treat both your pet AND the environment.

Worm prevention

Dogs, Cats and Rabbits all require regular worming to keep them happy and healthy. At Taylor Vets we to try to advise on the best worming regime for your individual pet.

Dogs

We worm dogs against Lung Worm, Round Worm, Tape Worm, Hook Worm, and Whip Worm.
Most worms are picked up through ingestion in one form or another and can affect dogs of all ages.
 
Worming puppies is very important, to ensure that worms are killed that they may have received from their mother whilst in the womb or via milk.
 
There is a range of worms that can make your dog very ill and can even cause fatal diseases. They can even pass on illnesses that can harm us or our families.
 
There is a range of different types of worming treatments including spot-on, tablets or granules. Our staff can discuss with you, your dog’s individual needs to make sure they are on the best product for them.
 
The following can affect what product we advise for your pet: 

  • Does your dog like the taste of slugs and snails?
  • Do they eat other dog’s poo?
  • Do you have small children in the house?
  • What other pets do you have?
  • Are there foxes in the area? 

We recommend that dogs are wormed at least every 3 months and monthly for lung worm. In most cases it is best to worm every month.

Roundworms (Toxocara) are the most prevalent parasites in UK pets. Symptoms of roundworm can include a pot belly, poor coat and diarrhoea, but often there are no outward signs. This parasite can also affect humans and has been linked to cases of asthma and blindness in extreme cases.

Lungworm (Angiostrongylus Vasorum) is a potentially life-threatening parasite in dogs caused by swallowing infected slugs and snails.  Lungworm resides in the heart and pulmonary blood vessels and can be fatal to dogs.  Symptoms include coughing, lethargy, bleeding, problem weight loss and even seizures. Clinical signs can present within 40 days post ingestion of slugs and snails.

Cats

Your cats lifestyle will have a big effect on what type of worming treatment we recommend as outdoor cats that also hunt are at greater risk of catching worms. We would recommend worming your cat at least every 3 months, but for high risk cats we would recommend monthly worming treatments.
 
The most common intestinal worms that cats get are called roundworms and tapeworms. Many infected cats do not show signs of having worms; however, heavy burdens of worms can cause weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea, irritation around the anus and failure to thrive.
 
As tableting cats can be very tricky we also stock a range of spot-on treatments to suit all needs.

Rabbits

Like all mammals rabbits are susceptible to a variety of parasites. The reality though is that in domesticated rabbits the chance getting worms is quite low.

This is because most pet rabbits are kept in very small numbers, are well housed and kept clean. This means that exposure to the worm eggs (that are typically found in the droppings of infected wild rabbits) is normally low.

However - if you let your rabbit run free in your garden, then you should definitely consider worming several times a year to cover your pet, as there could well have been wild rabbits in your garden too.
 
Top Tips For Rabbit Owners:

  • Avoid feeding your pet rabbit greens collected from areas where wild rabbits roam
  • Keep everything very clean - good hygiene will reduce the risk of your rabbit eating worm eggs from contaminated food and water bowls
  • Avoid sitting rabbit cages on top of each other. This will prevent urine and droppings falling from the top cage into the ones below
  • If you do let your rabbit run outside then we recommend that you worm your rabbit 4 times a year.
  • Always worm a new rabbit before introducing them to other rabbits in your family

Vaccinations

Vaccinating your pet is very important to keep them happy and healthy.

At Taylor Vets, we give an annual health check with each booster to check teeth, eyes, ears, skin, heart, lungs and abdomen are in full working order.

Dog Vaccinations

Puppies require two vaccinations which protects them against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Para Influenza and 2 types of Leptospirosis.
 
The first vaccination can be given as early as 7 weeks old and the second vaccine is given at least 2 weeks after the first and your puppy must be at least 10 weeks old.

To ensure your puppy is fully protected they can mix with other dogs 2 weeks after their second vaccine. Dogs are then given an annual booster to keep these vaccines topped up.
 
A separate vaccine can be given to dogs to protect against Kennel Cough. Although this vaccine is not 100% protective, we do recommend it if your dog regularly socialises with other dogs e.g goes with a dog walker, dog sitters or is going in kennels.
 
A rabies vaccine can also be administered, these are usually given if you are taking your dog abroad with you. Please see the DEFRA Website for the latest advice on travelling abroad with your pet.

Vaccination antibody levels testing is available. We use an independent lab for reliable and trusted results. Please ask at reception for details.  

The duration of antibodies for different disease varies depending on whether the disease is caused by a bacteria or virus. A dead or live vaccine can also influence the immune response.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease associated with water contaminated by rat's urine. Leptospirosis causes liver and kidney failure and can also affect people (Weil's disease). Consequently, a dead vaccine is used in dogs to avoid the risk of spread. We advise an annual vaccine as the antibodies drop significantly after 6 month post vaccination.

Antibodies against the viral disease of Distemper and Parvovirus can last up to 3 years. The vaccines used contain live virus parts to replicate the disease. Live vaccines usually stimulate a stronger immune response.

Hepatitis has recently been confirmed in Scottish foxes, thereby increasing the risk of exposure.

To avoid over vaccination after an initial primary vaccination course, we rotate the vaccine course depending on an environmental risk and vaccine history.

Please contact us for further information.

Cat Vaccinations

Kittens are vaccinated against Infectious Enteritis and Cat Flu and if they are going to be an outdoor cat they will also be vaccinated against Feline Leukaemia.
 
Kittens can get their first vaccine from 10 weeks old and are given the second vaccine 3 weeks after the first, they can then go out 1 week after the second vaccine. We would recommend not letting cats outside until they are neutered. Cats will then get an annual booster to keep these vaccines topped up.

Rabbit Vaccinations 

Rabbits should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Both are diseases found throughout the UK and can be fatal to unvaccinated rabbits. Both outdoor AND indoor rabbits are at risk. RVHD in particular, is highly infectious and contagious.  It is an airborne virus, it can be spread by biting insects (as can Myxo), it can be spread by direct and indirect contact with infected rabbits. For example – if you, your dog or cat has walked on ground where a VHD infected rabbit has been, you can carry it on your clothes or shoes, your other pets can carry it on fur or feet. The virus can survive in the environment for a long time and can survive cold temperatures far better than you might expect.

Due to the new strain of RHD rabbits now require 2 vaccinations per year to be fully vaccinated:
 

  1. Nobivac combo – Just one injection covers them for myxomatosis and RHVD1. This can be given from 5 weeks old
  2. Filavac RHVD – One injection. This covers them against RHVD2. This can be given from 10 weeks old

You need to leave at least 2 weeks gap between the different types of vaccines. If you can manage to schedule it so that there is a gap of 4-6 months between vaccines then this would mean your rabbit would have a veterinary health check up approx every 6 months but you don’t have to work to this schedule, just make sure there are at least 2 weeks between vaccines.
 
Protocols for both vaccines can vary depending on the risk level of infection in your local area.

Please contact us if you have any concerns.

Health checks

Health checks are our best tool in preventing and beginning diagnoses of disease in pets. Unfortunately our patients cannot tell us ‘where it hurts’ or ‘what they have eaten’ therefore a full health check, combined with our experience, is one of our best diagnostic tools.

What do we usually check?

  • General condition including body condition, coat quality, alertness and responsiveness
  • Eyes and ears for signs of infection or abnormalities
  • Mouth and teeth for infection or dental disease
  • Joints, feet, spine, hips and neck – especially in older pets looking for signs of arthritis
  • Lymph nodes for size and shape
  • Listen to the heart and lungs for any abnormalities
  • Abdominal palpitation – especially in cats and smaller dogs we can often feel the liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines and bladder
  • Claws – checking length and for any damage

Depending on the purpose of the visit, we may check some things more quickly or in more detail, you would be surprised how intimately we get to know your pet in just a few minutes.
 
We would recommend that all pets have a full health check at least once a year, we would usually carry this out when they come in for their annual vaccinations. As pets get older it is a good idea to have them checked over more frequently, your vet can advise on how often they would advise coming in for check ups.

Hospital Procedures

Its always hard leaving your pet at the vets to have a hospital procedure, so we have created these story boards of common procedures to help set your mind at rest and give a bit of insight to what happens in the hospital.

What do I need to know before the day of the procedure?

Once your pet has been booked into the hospital, the receptionist will email you a list of pre-operative instructions to follow.

Cats and dogs need to be starved before their procedures, we advise no food after midnight the night before, unless your vets has given you alternative instructions. Kittens and puppies under 4 months can have a small meal on the morning of the procedure. Small furries must not be starved (we ask that you also bring some of their favourite food on the day of the procedure).

Here is a copy of our Pre-operative instructions

If you are looking to claim the cost of the procedure through your pets insurance, please call our insurance department before the day of the procedure, so they can contact your insurance company to make the necessary arrangements.

What happens on the day?

Day patients are asked to arrive at the practice between 8.00 and 9.30 in the morning. They will have an admission appointment with one of the nurses, on a first come first served basis. During this appointment the nurse will  check for any changes since the previous consultation and make an assessment of health in relation to the procedure being carried out. They will discuss whether pre-anaesthetic blood tests are recommended for that particular patient, to check health and organ function. The owner’s contact details are taken and other points for us to take into account such as what sort of food the patient likes.

They are then taken by the nurse through to the hospital and settled in a suitable cage, with a comfortable bed. A pheromone diffuser is used in the kennel areas to try and create a relaxed atmosphere for them. There is a specific nurse responsible for day patients while they are waiting for and recovering from their procedures. They are free to fuss and monitor patients and make sure they have everything they need.  

Dog Castration - (Male Neutering)

We normally recommend neutering male dogs from 6 months old.

Each case is individual, so please seek veterinary advice before booking any procedure.

Nutrition

Nutrition

There are now such a wide variety of pet foods on the market, that choosing the correct one for your pet can seem a little daunting, this fact sheet will discuss some of the differences and hopefully help you choose a diet that will keep your pet happy and healthy throughout its life.

What to look for in a good diet:

  • High meat content (not meat derivatives etc.)
  • It is balanced or 'complete'
  • It suits your pets specific needs e.g. age, size, medical conditions
  • It is very difficult to create a properly balanced home cooked diet for your pet and feeding human food can lead to fussy pets which can become problematic when the pet is ill or needs special food

Wet Vs Dry

Dry diets or 'biscuits' are best in the majority of cases, usually they are more cost effective, can be left out all day and are the best diet for clean teeth. Generally though , for cats, particularly male neutered cats, some wet food is advised to help prevent bladder problems.

Different Types of Diets

  • Life Stage - geared up for the specific age of the pet. Young animals need a high level of protein for growth and have high energy requirements. Large breed puppies need controlled nutrition to help them grow correctly to avoid damage to the joints. Neutered and older pets need fewer calories as they can be prone to weight gain
  • Breed Specific - Small breed/ Large breed/ pedigree breeds. Small dogs generally are fussy, require smaller biscuits and have a high energy requirement
  • 'Light diets' - for pets prone to putting on weight e.g. neutered pets, Labradors(!) and arthritic pets who are exercising less. Good for keeping weight off but not necessarily for losing weight
  • Performance/working dogs - as the name suggests, designed for dogs using a high level of energy e.g. working collie dogs or dogs doing alot of high energy sport like agility or fly ball. Can also be used in pets struggling to keep weight on
  • Hypoallergenic - Lower in allergens, good for pets with delicate or sensitive tummies or prone to allergic skin disease e.g. Westies

Veterinary Prescription Diets:

  • Should only be used on advice of your vet
  • Specifically designed for certain diseases whilst still providing a balanced diet
  • In some cases, such as kidney disease, feeding prescription diet can significantly prolong life and reduce the amount of medication your pet has to take

Raw Diet

All pets should be fed a nutritionally balanced diet and kept to an optimal body weight. There are many considerations for owners balancing budget and convenience and a good quality, nutritionally balanced food.

There are a large range of pet foods available and it can be confusing to decide what is best to feed your pet.

Dry and tinned foods vary greatly in quality. We recommend feeding a good quality food, avoiding foods that contain colourings and meat and bone meal or derivatives.
 
Raw foods and home-cooked diets are increasingly popular but it is important to ensure that they are nutritionally balanced and safe.
 
Where a raw diet containing meat and meat products is fed, hygiene measures should be in place to minimise the transmission of communicable disease (campylobacter, salmonella). We would recommend sourcing your food, or food components from a trusted and responsible supplier who is a DEFRA-registered raw food manufacturer.

The risk of food-borne illness to both pets and their owners must be a serious consideration for any person choosing to feed raw food. While it carries no greater risk than handling fresh raw produce intended for humans,  pet owners feeding raw food must be dedicated to good hygiene practices, and fully aware of potential causes of contamination. Where there are children or immune compromised adult medical advice should be sought before considering where to prepare, handle and store raw food.
 
Managing the nutrition of puppies is particularly important as there is the potential for severe consequences if diet is inappropriate at this early stage. Please contact us for advice, and one of our raw food consultants can advise you.
 
All pets are individuals.  Some dogs thrive on compounded raw diets, gluten free diet or home cooked diets.
 
Ensure the chosen diet is nutritionally complete and balanced.  Please speak to your vet for further advice on the best diet for your pet.

Obesity

Obesity

Obesity is the most common disease of domestic animals and is now recognised to be at least as harmful as starving your pet.
 
Causes of obesity:

  • Eating more calories than they burn off (too much food + too little exercise)
  • Inability to exercise sufficiently (medical conditions, owners medical conditions, Indoor cat)
  • Food fed ad-lib, fatty foods, human food and too many treats - a slice of toast and butter or a small plain biscuit = the equivalent of a hamburger to a human!
  • Some animals are naturally born with less inclination to exercise
  • Breed - Labradors, Cockers, Beagles, Collies, Dachshunds, Cairns and Cavalier/King Charles Spaniels are especially prone to weight gain
  • Sex/age - Females are more prone to obesity, as are the middle aged/elderly dogs
  • Neutering - pets require 30% less calories once neutered (the benefits of neutering outweigh the risk of gaining weight though
  • Being an only pet

Obesity related problems:

  • Causes/exacerbates respiratory disease
  • Increase strain on the heart (espicially bad for animals prone to heart problems e.g. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Boxers etc.)
  • Increase risk of arthritis and more strain on arthritis and more strain on arthritic joints
  • Insulin resistance causing Diabetes Mellitus
  • Increased urinary incontinence problems in dogs, increased risk of bladder blockages in cats
  • Higher risk under general anaesthetic
  • Decreased quality of life for your pet
  • Sadly overweight pets can live up to 2 years less than pets kept in slim condition

Is your pet fat?

Firstly take a long hard look at your pet and ask these questions;

  • From above, does my pet have a defined 'waist?' They should curve in after the ribs and back out towards the hips
  • Run the palms of your hands along your pets rib cage - can you feel their ribs easily?

If the answer to these questions is no, your pet may need to lose a bit of weight - make an appointment with us for a FREE weight clinic appointment with one of our nurses, who will accurately weigh your pet and provide advice on getting started with a weight loss programme. We are here to help and encourage you and your pet so don't be afraid to pick up the phone and make an appointment.

Acupuncture

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the practice of inserting fine, solid needles into the body for pain relief or, in some cases, to help the body deal with other diseases.

How does acupuncture work?

It works through the nervous system. The needles block the pain messages and encourage the brain and central nervous system to produce more of the body’s natural painkillers. In conditions that are not painful, acupuncture may help to reset the body’s normal functioning.

What kinds of conditions are treated with acupuncture?

Pain is the most common indication for acupuncture. Usually this means pain associated with arthritis, but also muscle strains, pain secondary to disc disease and bony changes of the spine. Other kinds of pain may also respond.

Functional conditions such as constipation in cats and irritable bowel type problems in dogs may also respond.

Will it hurt my pet?

Acupuncture needles stimulate nerves that do not cause the unpleasant feelings of pain that we are trying to treat. They stimulate other nerves that send a more important message to the brain, which is how they block pain. Sometimes animals may react to this sensation as though they are expecting pain, but then relax because it does not occur. Most of the time they accept the fine needles very well and often become relaxed and sleepy during the treatment. Often they appear to look forward to the next treatment when they come back to the practice.

Would my pet need to be sedated for this treatment?

It is uncommon for animals to need to be sedated. This would only usually happen if they were so painful that any touch or stimulus causes them to be painful. Perhaps surprisingly, cats and rabbits often accept acupuncture treatment very well.

What can I expect during treatment?

After examination, needles will be put into various parts of the body and moved or stimulated a few times. There is not a set “dose” of acupuncture as there is for medication, so your vet will judge how much to do based on your pet’s response both at the time and after the treatment. They may become sleepy and relaxed during the treatment.

How often would my pet be treated?

The usual course is once a week for four to six weeks. After four weeks we will know whether acupuncture is working for your pet and then, depending on the condition and how they have responded, we will work out a plan that usually involves tailing off the treatment so that the effect is maintained for as long as possible.

And after the treatment?

It is not uncommon for pets to go home and sleep very soundly for a long time. This is a good sign and shows that your pet will probably respond well to acupuncture. But do not worry if they are not sleepy – this does not mean that they will not respond. Sometimes your pet may seem a little more euphoric than usual; this is also a good sign, but keep them quiet for the rest of the day or they may overdo things.
Otherwise treat your pet normally after acupuncture. Do not change exercise, diet or medication unless it has been discussed with your vet.

What about response?

Your pet may show one of three responses to treatment:

  1. You will see an improvement. This may occur anytime in the three days after treatment. The signs that we are trying to treat may then return before the next treatment, but this is fine. After each subsequent treatment the effects should last for longer, so that your pet may eventually not need more treatments for some time
  2. Some pets may seem a little stiffer or more uncomfortable. This just means that the dose was a bit too much, but also shows that they should respond to treatment. After a day or two they will improve again and should be better than before. However, you must tell your vet so that they can adjust the treatment next time.
  3. In a very small number of cases there is no immediate response. This is always disappointing but does not mean your pet will not respond; it may just be that they will take a little longer or that their improvement after the first treatment was too brief or small for you to see. We cannot say that they will not respond until after the fourth treatment. Not all animals or humans are acupuncture "responders", but about 80% will be

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is very safe, in the right hands. Legally it must be performed by a veterinary surgeon. There have been no official reports of problems in animals, but there are some in humans and these can usually be avoided with care and a good knowledge of anatomy. There are a very few cases in which we would have to be very cautious about using acupuncture, but your veterinary acupuncturist can advise you of these.

Dermatology

The skin is the largest organ in the body and is the most common organ to show signs of allergy. It is very visible, touchable and accessible to sampling.

However case management of the itchy dog can be very frustrating and pruritus (the medical term for itchiness) can severely effect the quality of life of both your pet and you the owner. A detailed history is paramount to obtaining a diagnosis for your pet.

Do I have an Itchy Dog?

Below are a few questions that are asked as part of our dermatological consultation, if you answer yes to any of them you may have an allergic dog and this is the article for you. 

Fleas

Most common causes of itchiness in our dogs is ectoparasite infestation especially fleas. Flea allergic dermatitis is the most common skin disease of dogs and cats throughout the world! It is imperative that infestations of fleas on our pet is ruled out before embarking on further investigations. 
Below is an example of a flea history that your vet may ask you:

  1. Which flea product is being used? - It is the correct dose?
  2. How often is the product been applied?
  3. Have any fleas been seen? - When and on which animals in the house?
  4. How many animals live in the house?
  5. Are the pets shampooed on a regular basis?
  6. What environmental control is being used? and how often?

The cat flea (C. Felis) is the primary flea causing the disease and below is a diagram of the life cycle of the flea, as you can see it involves both your pet and the environment, which is why we often advocate not just treating the pets in a household but also an environmental spray when trying to eliminate fleas.

It is also worth mentioning at this stage, that the cat flea can act as an intermediate host for the common tape worm (Dipyldium Caninum) and it is also important that effective tapeworm treatment is administrated if there is a suspicion of fleas.

It is the fleas saliva which contains the allergens that cause the reaction on your pets skin. Diagnosis involves a detailed history been taken, observation of clinical signs and trial treatment of flea control product.

Flea allergic dermatitis can occur in pets of any age but classically the signs are first noted in young adulthood. In the dog classical clinical signs are severe itching frequently effecting the tail base and back end of the the dog. Most of the lesions on the animal are a result of self trauma, these include redness of the skin, hair loss, secondary skin infections, thickening and darkening of the skin and sometimes open weeping skin.

Many flea allergic dogs exhibit a behaviour of jumping up suddenly and biting themselves, although because of the dogs efficient grooming style, as owners its often difficult to spot any fleas.  When you come to the vet we will examine for fleas, close inspection of the animal is paramount and sometimes a flea comb may be used to demonstrate presence of fleas or flea dirt which is almost exclusivily made up of blood and when pressed on a tissue will be red.

Often if the vet has a strong suspicion of flea allergic dermatitis but can't find any fleas, which is common, they will still treat the pet to ensure it is eliminated from the work-up before moving on to any further more exhaustive testing.

Mites

Mites such as Sarcoptes Scabei (scabies), Demodex Canis, Cheylietella (also know as wondering dandruff) and Otodectes Cyamotis (ear mites) can all cause our dogs to itch and especially Sarcoptes Scabei (Sarcoptic mange) can be a complicating factor in allergic disease.

Sarcoptes Scabei (Sarcoptic mange)

Sarcoptic mange also known as scabies, is a non-seasonal, intensely itchy skin condition caused by infestations of the burrowing mite Sarcoptes Scabei. It has been demonstrated that mites applied to the skin can penetrate within 30 minutes. Following infestation the mites mate, and the fertilized females burrow, forming tunnels and laying eggs as they zig zag through the epidermis. 

The feeding and the deposition of faeces within the skin expose our dogs to allergens which in dogs triggers an immunological response and most will develop moderate to intensely itchy skin initially affecting the outer ears, elbows, hocks and undercarriage of your dog. The skin becomes very red, hair is lost and the dogs skin becomes excoriated due to the intense itching. Secondary skin infections can develop and sometimes cause heavy scaling.

Canine Sarcoptic Mange is highly contagious, the majority of mites been transmitted by direct contact with infected dogs or foxes. It is also zoonosis which means it can cross the species and that means it can infect humans, also causing the condition Scabies.

Diagnosis again involves a concise history and examination of the pet. If we suspect Sarcoptic Mange we may wish to take skin scrapes so we can look under the microscope to visualize the presence of mites and/or eggs. Skin scrapes are taken from areas that show skin lesions, this is usually a quick process and can be performed in the consultation room. However some pets lesions may be too sore to sample and a light sedation may be suggested to retrieve the skin scrapings. 

If no mites are retrieved on skin scrapes, which can happen, and the index of suspicion still remains high your vet may suggest either a blood sample, which can be sent to the laboratory, to look for circulating antibodies to Sarcoptes infection or your vet may suggest skin biopsies which will involve an anaesthetic to demonstrate the mite is present in your dogs skin.

Treatment is usually very effective at eliminating infection and there is rapid resolution of the pruritus and malaise in these patients. This is why a therapeutic trial can be used also as a diagnostic aid. It is often lovely to see a mite under the microscope to confirm diagnosis but as an attending vet I feel, trial Sarcoidal treatment is justified for any pruritic dog presenting with historical and clinical features suggestive of Sarcoptic Mange. It is important to remember that the mite can live off the body for a limited period, so all dogs known to be in contact with affected animals should be treated. Grooming equipment, bedding and the domestic environment should be treated with an appropriate spray. Attempts should be made to limit socialization with other dogs and foxes during treatment and persistently infected humans should consult their doctor.

Cheyletiellosis

This is caused by a mite called Cheyletiella, which lives on the skins surface. They live in little tunnels formed by the scale generated in response to their activity hence the name they are more commonly known as 'wondering dandruff'. This mite is not host specific so can transmit to other pets and humans often causing paticularly uncomfortable rashes. They can live off the body for up to 10 days so it is important to treat incontact pet mammals and the environment if diagnosis is established. Typically a dog will present with dandruff down their back, there may be mild redness of the skin itching is vanable, young animals often exhibit more obvious clinical signs than adults. In some dogs infection can cause traumatic dermatitis known as hot spots. Animals presenting with repeated hot spots should be investigated for Cheyletiella. 

Diagnosis involves either skin scrapes or applying adhesive acetate tape (cellotape) to areas of the animals coat and examining these under the microscope. To the right is a picture of a cheyletiella mite under the microscope.

Atopy and Adverse Food Reactions

The second part of this article will focus on Allergic causes of itchiness in our dog's. We have touched on flea allergic dermatitis and are now going to look at Atopic dermatitis and adverse food reaction.
 
The definition of Atopic dermatitis is an allergic skin condition associated with an allergy to environmental allergens. While adverse food reaction is a clinically abnormal response to a dietary constituent. Adverse food reactions cannot be distinguished clinically from atopic dermatitis and the former needs to be ruled out before embarking on serum blood testing for environmental allergens.

Adverse Food Reactions

Adverse food reactions (Afr) can develop in dogs of any age, although in the majority of dogs clinical signs become evident as puppies or young adults before 3 years of age. Labrador Retrievers and West highland Terriers seem to be at increased risk. There is no gender predisposition.

The predominant presenting clinical sign of Afr in the dog is a non-seasonal itch. These dogs often have recurrent skin infections. The itch can involve any body region but is often identical to that of Atopic Dermatitis.

Recurrent ear infection is also common and may present in 56%-80% of cases with dogs with Adverse food reactions. Gastrointestinal signs have been recognised as a symptom of Afr. Intermittent vomiting, diarrhea, colitis and rumbling bowel sounds have all been noted in cases of Afr.

Diagnosis

The current gold standard method is a dietary trial on a strict novel protein diet for 4-6 weeks, sometimes up to 8-10weeks. The selected diet should be based on a protein to which the dog has little or no exposure to . For the normal healthy adult dog, an unsupplemented single protein and carbohydrate diet can be fed without complications for the duration of the trial but MUST be balanced for long term feeding. Food trials can very difficult to implement correctly but can be very rewarding if the primary and only reason for your dog's itch is food allergen-related. If you feel your dog could possibly be suffering from Afr please speak to your vet.

Atopic Dermatitis

As defined this is an allergic reaction to environmental allergens. these can be divided into indoor allergens such as house dust mites and storage mites and outdoor allergens such as grass pollens. Historically the allergens were presumed to be inhaled but it is more likely that the allergens are absorbed across the skin barrier. The presenting sign is itchiness with recurrent skin infections. Signs are typically seen in young adulthood between 1 and 3 years old, although atopic dermatitis can occur as young as 3 months or as old as 12 years.

Certain breeds seem to be predisposed to atopic dermatitis. A list can be seen below:

  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Bull Terrier
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Dalmation
  • Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • German Shephard
  • Golden Retriever
  • Jack Russell Terrier
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Pug
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Shar Pei
  • Schnauzer
  • Shih Tzu
  • West Highland White Terrier

Dogs with Atopic dermatitis often show a partial or complete resolution of their symptoms on steroids. However, long-term use of steroids can cause clinical problems.

On exam, Atopic individuals have salivary staining over their body, they have loss of hair, the skin can be greasy or scaly and often ear infections are present. Atopic Rhinitis (snotty nose) and conjunctivitis can be present. The skin is often very red and sometimes thickened. Atopic individuals can have recurrent skin infections which can act as a complicating factor in their Atopy.

Diagnosis

This can be difficult as you can see distribution and clinical signs are very similar to other skin conditions. The diagnosis is based on the  history given, physical examination and ruling out all other differential diagnosis which may involve skin scraping, sellotape strips, trial treatments and food trials. Allergy testing is available in the form of a blood test at Taylors, please speak to your vet further about this.

If you feel your pet is suffering from Atopy, please come along for a consultation to discuss further diagnosis and management strategies.

So that was a whistle stop tour of the itchy dog. I hope it gave you an insight into common causes of the itchy dog and if any of the article resonates with you please don't suffer in silence with an itchy pet. 

Dental Health

Dogs and Cats

Four out of five dogs over the age of three years have dental disease. This is the most frequently occurring clinical condition in both dogs and cats. The bacteria that gather on the tartar on the teeth can enter the blood stream and cause damage to the heart valves and the kidneys. These conditions can become serious and irreversible.

Cats can develop painful cavities in their teeth known as neck lesions. These have no cure and so the affected teeth have to be extracted under general anaesthetic.
 
Signs of dental disease: 

  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty eating - eating less, refusing harder foods, dropping food out of their mouth.
  • Red painful gums
  • Plaque and tartar on teeth
  • Rubbing at the side of their face
  • Drooling and saliva staining of the fur around the mouth
  • Weight loss (due to eating less)
  • Lethargic and miserable

Steps you can take to help prevent developing dental diseases;

  • We recommend regular dental checks by a vet
  • Get into the habit of checking your pets mouth for signs of disease
  • Tooth brushing - we stock a range of flavoured veterinary toothpaste's, DO NOT use your own toothpaste on your pet as they are too harsh
  • Introduce tooth brushing slowly to your pet so as not to frighten them and risk getting bitten. The vet will be able to give you a demonstration
  • Feed dried food. There are prescription diets available that are specifically designed to maintain oral health.
  • Feed your pet dental chews but remember to factor them into your pets' daily ration to avoid weight gain

Rabbits

It is important the right diet is offered to pet rabbits so as to keep the teeth working hard and help prevent them from overgrowing and becoming a problem. If they do become overlong they curl into the gums and teeth causing big problems with eating. Routine examination of pet rabbits should be carried out by the owner (an adult not a child). If the teeth appear to be causing a problem it is important your take the rabbit for a veterinary health check.

Signs of dental problems:

  • Decreased appetite, weight loss
  • Saliva or food build-up under chin, near lips, on the inside of the front legs
  • Reluctance to eat hard food
  • Bad Breath
  • Lump on the outer cheek, under the eye
  • Lump under lower jaws (lumps start small, but can get very large)
  • Discharge from cheek or chin/lower jaw area
  • Incisors that are uneven (gently lift upper lip to check incisors). If uneven incisors are present, there is a very good chance that the cheek teeth are abnormal as well

Lumps and bumps

Lumps and bumps are commonly found on our pets. But the question is should you worry?

It is best to get every lump checked by a veterinary surgeon who can run any necessary tests to provide a diagnosis.

A lot of lumps can be fatty tumours, most are benign, meaning not cancerous. Fewer than half of lumps and bumps you find on a pet are malignant, or cancerous. Unless you’re sure about the cause of a lump or bump, bring your pet in for an examination.
 
If you see fast growth, redness, swelling, pus, an opening, or if the dog is in pain, make that appointment even sooner.

If you have found a lump on your pet we will want to know the following:

  • Has the lump appeared suddenly?
  • Has its shape, colour or size changed?
  • Have your pet’s behaviour, appetite or energy levels changed?

The easiest way to identify the type of lump is to remove some cells from it with a fine needle. We will then look at them under the microscope. Sometimes we can tell right away if it’s a fatty tumour. If this is not the case we will send the cells to an external laboratory for analysis.

The most common lumps found are:

  • Cysts are blocked oil glands that looks like pimples. When they burst, a white, pasty substance comes out
  • Warts are caused by a virus and can be found around the mouths of young dogs. Older dogs might need surgery to remove them
  • Abscesses are a build-up of pus under the skin. They can be caused by an insect bite or an infection. These are commonly seen in cats who have been fighting
  • Mast cell tumours are the most common skin cancers in dogs. They’re most often found in Boxers, Boston terriers, Labradors, Beagles, and Schnauzers
  • Fatty tumours which occur most often in older dogs, especially around the ribs, although they can show up anywhere. They’re considered a natural part of ageing. Any breed can have them, but larger dogs and those who are overweight are more prone to them. Usually no treatment is needed, unless they give the dog pain or cause trouble with moving around

If your pet has a lump, even if you find out it isn’t cancerous, keep a close eye out for others, and have new ones tested.

We will likely advise that you keep a chart of their location and size to make it easier to keep track of what’s new and what’s changed.

Top of page
Back to Pet Advice