dickieGreyhounds bring back memories of watching World of Sport with Dickie Davies on a Saturday afternoon during the 70’s and 80’s. We would watch the wrestling, the darts and the dog races. Many people only think of greyhounds when it comes to racing but these dogs do make greats pets.


Greyhounds are an old breed that was originally bred for coursing game.  It wasn’t until the 1920’s when they were used for racing and race tracks shot up around the US and UK. Unfortunately, due to the lack of interest in trackside betting there are more and more race tracks closing down.  This means many of the racers are being put up for adoption or, in worst case scenarios, they are just dumped.

Greyhounds are a gentle and intelligent breed. They are loving, affectionate and love people.  There is a myth that these dogs are highly strung and they can be aggressive but nothing could be further from the truth.  Greyhounds are calm and are people lovers. In most cases, from a young age, these dogs are handled by many people from vets, to people at race tracks or kennels.  They are used to adapting to different people, sights, sounds and surroundings. They are good around kids and due to their non- aggressive behaviour they are more likely to just walk away from trouble.

Another misconception is that Greyhounds require lots of exercise.  Again, this isn’t the case.  Although they are fast they don’t have a great deal of endurance.  Their speed is only over short distances so in reality you only really need to exercise them as you would an average dog.

One thing to remember is to keep a greyhound on a lead.  Greyhounds are trained to chase fast moving lures so they only have to see something shoot past they may go running after it.  Having your greyhound disappear into the distance at approx. 43 miles per hour is not a good idea. Even Usain Bolt would have trouble keeping up.

Health wise, Greyhounds are generally fit and healthy.  They are prone to bone fractures but this isn’t an inherent trait. Racing dogs, due to breeding and training, have few issues.  They could suffer injury from colliding with other dogs on the track and when they run around the bends of a track it can put a lot of pressure on the joints and toes.  Also, when these dogs are retired from racing it is usually because of a problem.  Many Greyhounds will have issues with their joints with DJD (degenerative joint disease) being the most common.  Arthritis is another common complaint.

There are many shelters around the country that specialise in re-homing Greyhounds ( and if you decided  to take one home you will be rewarded by having a dog that is loyal and loving.

If you have any questions about this subject please call the clinic and someone will be able to help you.  Alternatively you can leave a message on our Facebook page.


Cocker Spaniels


Did you know…these dogs were originally called Cocking Spaniels and they gained their name from flushing out Woodcocks for hunters?  Due to their small size they were ideal for chasing ground dwelling birds out of bushes and hedgerows.

The true origin of these dogs is not known even though they have appeared in paintings and books for hundreds of years.  It is thought they may have originated from Spain in the 14th century. The Oxford English Dictionary described the word “Spaniel” as coming from the old French word “Espaigneul” which meant “Spanish (Dog)”.

There was a time when all Spaniels were separated into two categories, land or water Spaniels.  They were then put into sub-categories dependant on their size.  Larger dogs were used to spring game (later to be known as Springer Spaniels) and the smaller dogs were used to flush out Woodcocks.

Nowadays they are known as the Cocker Spaniel (or English Cocker Spaniel) and also have a lovely nickname, the “Merry Cocker”.  This is due to their happy nature, a constantly wagging tail and they are eager to please.

These dogs are happy and friendly, playful and extremely loyal and gentle.  They love to be around people and due to their happy and loving disposition, this makes them an ideal family pet. They tend to get on well with children and other animals.   Also, they make an excellent companion pet  for the elderly thanks to their gentle nature and willingness to please.

Cocker Spaniels are generally healthy, but as with all dogs they are prone to certain problems.  Due to their floppy ears they are more at risk of ear infections as the flap can trap moisture and dirt.  It is important to regularly check a Cocker’s ears to make sure everything looks ok.  If you are in any doubt, make sure you take your dog to a vet

An issue which can affect a Cocker Spaniel is Progressive Retinal Atrophy.  This is a disease that affects the retina which, over time, gradually deteriorates and can lead to blindness.  The first sign is night blindness or trouble seeing in low light.  If you notice your dog walking into things or you believe there is a problem with their vision, take them to the vet to check.

Another issue with the eye is Entropion.  This is a medical condition found in many dog breeds.  It results in the eyelids folding inwards and causing discomfort when the eyelashes constantly rub against the cornea.  If it is noticed early enough the issue can be solved with a simple operation and with no permanent damage to the cornea.

Other possible health issue include:

Dry eye
Kidney or heart disease
Hip Dysplasia

Generally a healthy Cocker Spaniel will not suffer with any of these and will live a long and happy life.  However, it’s worth knowing about what could happen and what to look out for so any problems can be caught early.

One more thing to remember, these dogs have long coats so will need regular grooming as it can become tangled and matted.  Also, check their ears and feet for trapped grass seeds, insects and other bits.

If you have any questions about this subject please call us at the clinic and someone will be able to help and advise you.  Alternatively you can leave a comment on our Facebook page.

General health check for dogs

We were recently asked for hints and tips on checking a dogs general health. Whilst we are unable to give specific information we have listed below a few basic things you can look for to ensure your pooch is in good condition. Prevention is always better than cure and doing these basic checks monthly will help to keep your pet  a healthy and happy family member.

  • Body condition- running your hands over your dog you should be able to feel, and sometimes see the ribs with a slight covering of fat, see an hour glass shape at the waist and see the chest slope upwards towards the hind legs. By regularly checking your dog you will be able to notice any changes sooner rather than later
  • Ears- your dog’s ears should always be clean without any thick or discoloured discharge.  Make sure there are no signs of itchiness, redness or any odd smells.
  • Eyes- The eyes should be bright and clear without any signs of runniness, redness or soreness. If you notice your dog walking into things you should get them to the vets as soon as possible as there could be a more serious problem.
  • Nose- If the nose is healthy there shouldn’t be any signs of crusting and there should be no runny or thickened discharge.  Also, it’s worth noting that a healthy nose does not have to be cold and wet.
  • Mouth- bad breath can indicate underlying problems from digestive, kidney or bacterial infection. However, in a lot cases it could be a build of tartar or plaque which, if left, can build up and cause tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Skin and coat- your dog’s coat should be free of crusting, itching, scaling, infection, hot or inflamed areas. There should be no bald patches, dandruff or fleas.
  • Nails-should be smooth – if brittle and break easily they may need attention. Remember their dew claws if they have them
  • Digestion- always keep an eye on your dog’s appetite and what you are feeding them.
  • Waste – If you notice your dog’s toilet habits change or the consistency, this may indicate a problem.
  • Thirst- if your dog starts showing signs of increased thirst without exercise it may suggest an underlying problem.
  • Attitude- your dog’s general attitude and behaviour is always a sure sign as to how they are feeling.  If their head and tail are low and they seem quieter than normal then it could mean they are not feeling 100%

If you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health please call us at the clinic or leave us a message on our Facebook page.

Getting a Puppy – Part 2

After weighing up all the pros and cons you have now decided you want a puppy.  So where do you start?

Firstly, we would strongly advise you not to buy your pet from the internet, from a pet shop or from a newspaper advertisement as these are outlets used to sell dogs from puppy farms.  Due to over –breeding and inbreeding most of the puppies have, or will develop, genetic defects or other health problems at some point in their lives.  Also, poor breeding practices and unsanitary conditions at the puppy mill can have an effect on a puppy’s health.

If breed isn’t a big issue then animal charities and rescue centres are a good place to start as many of them are always looking to rehome puppies.  If you can give a rescue puppy a caring and comfortable home, it will repay you with trust and loyalty.

Alternatively, if you want a specific breed, you will need to do some research to find a responsible dog breeder.  You could start by asking your vet to see if they can recommend anyone.  Also, if you visit the Kennel Club website, they have a list of accredited breeders who have had their premises inspected and the dogs have been health checked. Word of mouth is another good way of finding a good dog breeder so ask around your friends and family.  You may have to pay more or wait longer to get a puppy from a reputable dog breeder but it is vital you end up with a pet that is healthy and happy.

There are several things you can look out for when dealing with a dog breeder.

When making the initial call, make sure you ask some basic questions such as age, sex, the parent’s health and some background information.  If you decide to meet them in person you can ask more detailed questions.  A good dog breeder will be incredibly knowledgeable about the pups for sale and will be able to offer advice and answer all of your queries.  A good breeder will ask you questions to ensure you are a suitable owner and to check you have done your research into the breed you are looking to purchase.

The dog breeder will allow you to visit and willingly show you all the areas where the puppies and breeding dogs spend their time.  These areas should be well maintained, clean and spacious.  Make sure you see the mother of puppies .  The dogs should look lively, clean and healthy and they shouldn’t shy away from visitors.

Good breeders will offer guidance for the care and the training of your pup and will be available for assistance once you have taken the pup home. They will be able to supply documentation for any vaccinations that the dogs and pups have had.

Once you have decided that the dog breeder is the right one for you and they have decided you are capable and responsible enough to care for one of their pups, you can take your pick.

In part 3 of this blog we go through what to look for when choosing a pup such as health , nature and what to do once you have got it home.

With our puppy package your pup can get :

1st and 2nd Vaccinations
One month of flea and worm treatment (inc Lungworm)
A microchip
An invitation to our puppy party

All this for £30 saving you £45 – Download your guide HERE to learn all you need to know about getting a pup and to take advantage of our special offers

Alternatively, if you know someone who is getting a puppy and might find our guide and offers useful please pass on the link to our website so they can download their own copy

Also, if you have a friend who is getting a puppy, refer them to us and if they take advantage of the £30 puppy package you will get £10 credit added to your Cherrydown account. You can download a referral form by clickingHERE

If you have any questions about any of this please contact us at the clinic or leave a comment on our Facebook page

German Shepherd Dogs

German Shepherd Dogs have been around since the 1890’s. They were the result of cross breeding of rural sheep dogs from rural Germany by Max von Stephanitz who was aiming to produce a herding dog that could trot for long periods. The first breed show was in 1899 and since then, it has gone on to become one of the most popular breeds across the world. They are widely known as Alsatians in the UK after a change in breed name in the UK in 1917. The first registered GSD was called Horand von Grafrath

GSD’s are very intelligent, bold, fearless, courageous and loyal – all traits that have made them the most popular dog with the military & police across the globe. They are also popular as family pets and can be very good with children, especially those it grows up with. The dog should be confident, not timid and shy as they will often then display nervous aggression. They are classified in the category ‘Pastoral’ by The Kennel Club as being part of a group used for herding.

The male is up to about 25 inches in height and will usually weigh 35-40kg. Bitches are around 23 inches in height weighing about 30-35kg. They should be lean athletic dogs and need a healthy active lifestyle with lots of mental stimuli. A bored GSD will go looking for trouble and wrecked furniture will often be the result.

The most common colouring is black and tan, though there are variations. Coats are generally thick and the outer layer hides a fluffy undercoat. There is a long haired variety, and anyone getting one of these must expect to spend regular time grooming to keep it in good condition.

They have a life span that can exceed 12 years in a healthy dog, so it is important to choose a good breeder when buying one as a pup. Many will have certificates showing a line of healthy dogs and ‘the breed council’ can assist with a list of good breeders.

GSD’s bond strongly in a family but they sometimes favour one person they trust and respect the most. They should be well socialised so as not to be aggressive towards other people or animals.

Be prepared to take them on long walks, they are tireless and love to play and roam. Dirty water and mud are impossible for them to resist so expect to be having to clean them. Grooming should be at least once a week and twice a week for those with long coats. They shed hair throughout the year so expect the vacuum cleaner to be working overtime.

Pups are unbelievably cute with their bright eyes, fluffy fur and oversized paws, but they are hard work and need much time and patience. They should be made to trust and respect the owner rather than fear them. The more time you put into them, the more likely you are to get a dog with a good temperament that will be fiercely loyal and loving. The alternative is to get an adult from a rescue centre or shelter. A good shelter will know their dogs and which have the right temperament for different prospective owners.

Working GSD’s require a lot of interaction with their handler and mental stimulation. They can be trained to track, sniff out weapons or drugs and victims of avalanches. Although popular with the police and military, they have been trained as guide dogs too. GSD’s from ‘show lines’ make good family pets and will usually have the best temperament and health.

Below are some of the commoner diseases that we see at Cherrydown Vets in German Shepherds. Obviously these are not all the diseases that they can get. Many of these diseases are believed to have a genetic cause.

Heart Disease

Congenital heart disease including aortic stenosis
Pericardial effusion- when fluid accumulates around the heart stopping it working properly

Skin conditions

Allergic skin disease incl food allergies and atopy casuing itchy skins and secondary infections
Anal furunculosis- a painful condition where large ulcerated tracts form around the bottom
Mucocutaneous pyoderma-a deep infection in areas where the skin and mucous membranes meet eg at the nose
Symmetric lupoid onchodystrophy- a condition causing the nails to fall out and become infected

Endocrine problems

Pituitary dwarfism
Cushings disease

Gastro-intestinal problems

GSDs are very prone to chronic diarrhoea causes by all sorts of inflammatory bowel diseases and pancreatic insufficiency
Megaoespohagus- where the oesophagus either does not develop properly or becomes diseased due to myasthenia gravis

Blood problems

Immune mediated thrombocytopaenia – immune system destroys platelets leading to problems with blood clotting

Musculo-skeletal conditions

Hip dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia
Panosteitis- a painful inflammation of young growing bones
Lumbos sacral disease- lower back problem causing pain, lameness, difficulty moving


Unfortunately GSDs are prone to many tumours including:

Skin tumours
Tumours of blood vessels called haemangiosarcomas which commonly affect the spleen, Liver and heart
Lymphosarcoma- cancer of the white blood cells
Eye tumours called melanomas
Neurological problems

Intervetertebral disc protrusions which can cause paralysis
Degenerative myelopathy (also called CDRM) is a progressive hindlimb paralysis
Discospondylitis- infection of disc spaces in the spine

Eye Conditions

Pannus- an inflammatory condition of the cornea
Plasmoma- inflammation of the third eyelid
Congenital eye conditions including cataracts and retinal dysplasia

Prevention is often better than cure and owners should check their dogs regularly. Check their movement for any signs of a limp or change in gait. Eyes should be bright & clear, whereas cloudy eyes or a discharge can be signs of something wrong. Look out for changes of appetite and behaviour as signs of illness. Redness or crusting on the tips of the ears, head tilting or excessive scratching can again be a sign of infection. The nose should be black and wet without discharge. Teeth and gums should be healthy, without sores or bleeding. If you notice any changes in your dog then phone your vet & get some advice.

The Siamese Cat

The Siamese is one of the most popular domestic cat breeds across the world. Their distinctive head shape, striking eyes & slender body make them easily recognisable. They are thought to be one of the oldest existing breeds of cat and to have come from Thailand (formerly Siam). The Siamese was much revered and for a time, only the Siamese Royal Family were allowed to have them. Their history in Siam can be dated back to the 1400’s. They were known as Moon Diamonds in Siam and thought to be able to ward away evil spirits. When the breed travelled to the West is unknown exactly, however, In 1880 the King of Siam gave two pairs of Siamese cats to the English consul-general in Bangkok, and he brought them back to England.

Siamese cats are very vocal and some owners remark on how their cat talks to them. This is usually a sign that they want something, and they will often keep on until you have worked out what that is. Some can be very loud and cry a bit like a baby, others have a harsher squeaky voice. They are intelligent, and very much enjoy human companionship. They are very affectionate cats and form a close bond with their human family. They are tolerant of children and make good lap cats for the elderly. A bit like Ragdolls they will often follow the owner around as their little shadow. They will also try to be the centre of attention and their ‘talking’ makes sure they are hard to ignore. They are sometimes described as the most dog like of the cat breeds or that they think they are human.

They are very intelligent cats and can be trained to do tricks, but watch out though as they will learn how to open doors and latches to sate their inquisitive nature. They do well in cat agility competitions and love challenges. They tend to be exaggerated in all they do, eg. If in a good mood they will give a huge amount of love and affection, but if in a bad mood, then its best to give them space. They are very energetic and love climbing and jumping. They can often be found on the tallest things in any room and spending time playing with them is a good idea to keep them out of mischief.

The breed has two common boy shapes known as the Traditional (applehead) Siamese and the Extreme (wedgehead) Siamese. The wedgehead is the most distinctive with its angular face and long, slender lean body. The neck & tail are more elongated and the wedge shaped head is smooth with large ears. The eyes are slanted and piercing. The Traditional Siamese has a much rounder body and face and is usually heavier than its counterpart. The bright blue eyes however are still a prominent feature, though not slanted.

All Siamese cats have a creamy coloured coat with coloured areas known as points. The colouring is from a genetic mutation in the coat colour. The points come in a number of colours, these being known as chocolate, seal, blue, lilac, cinnamon,fawn, red, apricot and caramel. The coloured points are usually the face, ears, feet & tail.
The Siamese will usually live to the age of 15 or more with 20 not being uncommon. Kidney disease, otherwise known as Chronic Renal Failure is a common cause of death in elderly Siamese cats. They are prone to a few medical conditions, these being…

Heart conditions:

Dilated cardiomyopathy- affecting the heart muscle and causing heart failure

Skin conditions:

Allergic skin disease including flea and food allergies
Vitiligo- loss of pigment from the skin
Psychogenic hair loss and tail sucker- believed to be stress related

Gastrointestinal Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease that causes diarrhoea. Often occurs as part of a condition called “triaditis” which includes inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis and hepatitis
Small intestinal tumours called adenocarcinoma
Portosystemic shunts- where an abnormal blood vessel develops in the liver

Musculoskeletal conditions

Hip dysplasia- rare in cats generally
Congenital myasthenia gravis

Tumours including

Skin tumours such as mast cell tumours
Nasal cavity tumours
Insulinoma- tumours of the pancreas
Mammary tumours

Eye problems:

Corneal sequestrum
Retinal degeneration

Respiratory conditions

Feline asthma

Breed Related Diseases in Dogs – Springer Spaniel

English Springer Spaniels are not troubled in general by serious health problems, other than some of the usual illnesses and infectious diseases that can affect the canine population.

The following have been reported………….

Glaucoma – a disease of increased pressure within the eye that can lead to Blindness

Hypothyroidism – when the thyroid organ does function normally.

Epilepsy – characterised by seizures

Retinal dysplasia – an inherited eye disorder that results in a malformation of the tissues of the retina.

Bloat – caused by excessive build-up of gas and fluid in a dog’s stomach. This is extremely painful & can lead to death (see our blog)

Hip dysplasia – a malformation of the hip joint that can lead to arthritis (see our blog)

Cutaneous histiocytoma – benign tumour of the skin that is usually seen in younger dogs

Otitis Externa – an ear infection common to breeds with long floppy ears and caused by fungus, bacteria or parasites.

Rage syndrome – where the dog has uncontrollable aggression. An affected dog will suddenly attack the closest person or animal, seemingly without provocation. The exact cause of this behaviour is not yet known.

Less frequently, the following are also noted

Entropion – Lashes on the edge of the eyelid irritate the surface of the eyeball

Ventricular septal defect – a congenital heart defect

Malassezia – yeast infection of the skin

Pannus – a disease resulting in inflammation of the eye – The Vets Says…Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat

Breed related diseases in Dogs – Boxer

Did you know that dogs are affected by the greatest number of naturally occuring genetic disorders of any non-human species. Many of these conditions seem to appear in specific breeds.  This is the second of our series of breed related diseases in dogs, and this time we feature Boxers

Below we discuss the commoner diseases that Boxers are prone to.  Some of these are known to be genetic. Please note: These are not the only diseases Boxers can get.

Aortic Stenosis

This is where there is a partial obstruction of the flow of blood as it leaves the left side of the heart (the left ventricle) through the main blood vessel (the aorta) and carries blood to the rest of the body.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Boxer Cardiomyopathy

This is an inherited disease where the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn’t work as well as it should.  Causes include a genetic predisposition and viral infections.  The condition is most commonly found in Doberman Pinschers and Boxers and can result in heart failure and sudden death.  Signs to look out for include exercise intolerance and fainting.

Atrial Septal Defect

This is where the dog’s heart has an opening in the wall (septum) between the right area and left area of the upper part of the heart.  A Consequence of this is that some blood from the left atrium flows through the hole in the septum into the right atrium and increases the total amount of the blood that flows toward the the lungs. The increased blood flow creates a swishing sound, which is known as a heart murmur.

Skin Disease

Canine Acne

Allergic Skin Disease

These include food allergies and environmental allergies (atopy). Itchy feet, faces, armpits, groin and bottom are the commonest signs

Seasonal Flank Alopcia

A non itchy hair loss on the flanks

Endocrine (hormonal) Diseases: 

Hypothyroidism (under active thyroid gland)

Cushings Disease

Eye Problems:

Corneal Dystrophy

The outermost layer of the eye is known as the cornea and is a clear, dome shaped surface that covers the front of the eye.  A corneal dystrophy is a condition where parts of the cornea lost their normal clarity due to a build up of cloudy material.  The disease is inherited, affects both eyes equally and is not caused by outside factors, such as diet or injury

Cherry Eye

This where the gland of the third eyelid, prolapes as a pink fleshy mass  protruding over the edge of the third eyelid. It cn become inflamed and ulcerated.

Corneal Ulceration

Boxers are very prone to corneal ulcers and they can be very challenging to treat.

Other Ailments for Boxers Include:

Tumours – Boxers are prone to many types of tumours including mast cell tumours, haemangiosarcomas, melonoma, lymphosarcoma etc.

Cryptorchidism – Retained testicles

Hip Dysplasia

GDV or Bloat

Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis – This is an inflammatory bowel disease and is found most commonly in boxers.  It causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the large intestine.

If you have any questions about the about the above topics please feel free to contact the clinic

Breed related diseases in Dogs – Labrador

Breed related diseases in Dogs.

Welcome to our new series of blogs on breed related disease in pedigree dogs. Unfortunately, certain pedigree dogs are prone to certain diseases. We thought these guides would be helpful for people who own the breeds so that they can be more aware of some of the diseases their pet may suffer from and will be able to pick up the symptoms of disease more rapidly. We also thought they would be useful for people thinking of buying a specific breed so that they can be aware of some of the problems that may exist.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all the diseases that each breed can get- just the more common ones that we see regularly.

So, to start with, let’s look at the Labrador Retriever:

  • Allergic skin disease including Atopy and Food allergies
  • Hip dysplasia (animals used for breeding should be screened for)
  • Elbow dysplasia (animals used for breeding should be screened for)
  • OCD of hock and shoulder
  • Cruciate ligament rupture
  • Lipomas
  • Entropion
  • Cataracts
  • Congenital eye defects such as Generalise progressive retinal atrophy (animals used for breeding should be screened)
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Ectopic ureters

If you have any questions about any of the above, please feel free to contact the staff to discuss them.