How to keep your pet cool this summer

cat on sunny day

keep dogs cool in summerIf you have a Dog……….

Dogs are not very good at keeping themselves cool so they will need your help. Ensure they have plenty of water, whether they are in the house or out on a walk. If you are at home keep the water in a heavy bowl so it can’t be easily knocked over

Don’t keep your dog in a car. You may think it’s ok to do this as you are leaving the window open, however, it’s not enough to keep the car cool. According to the RSPCA if it’s 22C outside, within an hour it can be 47C inside the car. Dogs die this way every year, please don’t let this happen to your dog.

Take your dog for a walk at cooler times of the day. Go in the morning and the evening instead.

If your dog is outside all day make sure there is plenty of shade as well as lots of water.

Regularly groom your dog. If you have a long haired breed, have the hair trimmed to help keep it cool.

Do you know the signs of heatstroke? Here is a checklist of what to look out for. Heavy panting, very red gums/tongue, excessive salivation, a rapid pulse, lack of co-ordination, lethargy, reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, vomiting, diarrhoea and in extreme cases loss of consciousness.  If you see your dog displaying any of these symptoms ensure you take immediate action. Try to cool your dog down gradually as heatstroke can be fatal.  Douse your dog in cool water (not cold or iced water) and let it drink small amounts of cool water (again not cold or iced) until their breathing is more normal.  Then take your dog to the vets to be checked to make sure everything is ok.

cat on sunny dayIf you have a cat……….

Cats love the warm weather and are a lot better at keeping themselves cool. However, if it is excessively hot here are a few things you can do.

If you have a cat that likes to go outside, try not to let it out between 10am and 3pm so it avoids the hottest times of the day. If they are indoor cats keep blinds shut and curtains closed as this helps to keep the house cool.

Make sure your cat has access to plenty of water.

If you notice your cat is sleeping more it’s probably nothing to worry about. Cats are sensible and will nap more on a hot dayrather than spend their time running around. Maybe they are the more intelligent than dogs?

Pay attention to your cat’s feet. Cats and dogs have sweat glands in their paws. If you notice your cat is leaving wet paw prints it will need to have more water to replenish its fluids. You could try cooling your cat down by dipping its paws in water but it may not be pleased with you doing that.

If you see your cat panting, it doesn’t automatically mean it has heatstroke. Cats do pant but they rarely do it. However, if you think your cat is panting excessively check for other signs of heatstroke and take immediate action.

keep your rabbit coolIf you have a small furry pet……….

As always, make sure they have access to lots of clean water

Make sure you keep them clean.  When the weather is hot it results in more flies and maggots. This can lead to flystrike. This can fatally affect rabbits.

Keep your pet groomed and if it’s a long haired breed, have it trimmed to help keep it cool.

Keep hutches in the shade. It may mean you have to move it around during the day of you don’t have a permanently shaded spot.  Make sure the hutch is off the ground as this improves ventilation and can help to keep it cool.

Give small animals food that contains lots of water such as celery and apple. This will help keep them hydrated.

Spraying a water mist on larger animals such as rabbits is a good way to keep them cool.  Remember not to spray them in the face as they will not like it.

There are many other ways to keep your pet cool and a lot of them are common sense. A good way to look at it is if you are uncomfortable because of the heat there is a good chance your pet will be too.  If you need any extra information and advice please contact us  and we will be happy to have a chat.

Bull Mastiffs

The Bull Mastiff is a big, strong, intelligent dog that was originally bred from an English Mastiff and an Old English Bulldog in the 19th Century. Gamekeepers used them on large estates to help keep them free of poachers.

Even though Bull Mastiffs are big dogs they are sensitive, loving and can make good family pets because they are very loyal and protective.  They are great with children and will watch over them as well as being an excellent guardian of the home.  Bull Mastiffs are generally quiet and rarely bark, however, if they sense a possible threat they will make a lot of noise and will raise the alarm.  They are very territorial so will make natural guard dogs and they will protect you with their life.

When you read about Bull Mastiffs they sound wonderful. They are laid back, unless there is danger, faithful, eager to please, fearless and have unconditional love for people. However, there is one BIG messy downside………………SLOBBER!

These dogs are well known for their drool and slobber so you will need to have an old towel or rag in every room of the house. Also, have a few spare ones near the front door so you can give them to visitors who enter your home.  They do not discriminate when it comes to sharing the slobber.

Due to their size and stubborn nature, Bull Mastiffs need training from early on before they get too big. They need to be trained not to pull on the lead.  Also, it is good to socialise it with other dogs at an early age so it develops into a reliable and well behaved dog.

bull mastiff dog

Health Issues

As with most dogs there are certain types of hereditary problems associated with this breed such as Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Entropion, Hypothyroidism, Lymphoma Cancer, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Arthritis and Bloat.

For more information on some of these issues we have other blogs on our website and also our health advice pages. The links are below.  Also, as well as our main Facebook page we have a sister page which relates to our Orthopaedic Services and covers issues such as Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia.  Click here and it will take you directly to the page. Please click the “like” button so you can keep up to date with information about the subject.

If you have any questions about this please give us a call at the clinic where someone will be able to help you. Alternatively, you can leave a question on our Facebook page

Blog Links

Hyp Dysplasia Part 1 – Click HERE

Hyp Dysplasia Part 2 – Click HERE

Elbow Dysplasia – Click HERE

Cruciate Ligament Rupture – Click HERE

Arthritis – Click HERE

Bloat – Click HERE

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.

Owning a Rabbit – Part 1

Did you know there are approximately 1.7 million rabbits kept as pets in the UK? This makes them the third most popular pet after cats and dogs. There are many different breeds all varying in size, shape and personality.  It is generally thought owning a rabbit is easy. However, as they need daily attention, have quite complex needs and can live for a long time (typically 8-12 years or even longer) keeping a rabbit is a major commitment.

Buying a rabbit

If you are looking to get a rabbit, going to a reputable breeder is a good option.  They will have planned the breeding carefully and the baby rabbits should have a good temperament. They will have handled them from a young age so they get used to being picked up. You will also know the exact date of birth which will give you peace of mind that you are not taking the baby rabbits away too young.

Another option is to go to a rescue centre. Every year many rabbits get abandoned because the owners either lose interest or can’t look after them properly.  If a rabbit goes into a rescue centre they will receive a vet check to ensure it’s healthy before being put forward for adoption. The rabbit’s temperament will be checked to ensure they will be safe for children to handle.  Also, many centres will ensure the rabbits are micro-chipped and neutered before you take them home.  You may need to fill in forms, have an interview and possibly have a home visit. This is done to ensure you are able to look after the rabbit properly.

A lot of people will get their first rabbit from a pet shop. However, very few of them will get their rabbits from private/reputable breeders. They will more than likely get them from commercial breeders and the rabbits have been born as part of a mass breeding programme.  These types of breeders are aiming for quantity rather than quality.  Also, the baby rabbits won’t have been handled before reaching the pet shop which means they may be more afraid of humans.  If you do go to a pet shop, ensure the staff know what they are talking about and are able to provide you with all the information you need.

When getting a rabbit there are a couple of other things to consider:

Rabbits are very social animals and do not like to be alone.  If possible you should keep your rabbit with another friendly rabbit unless your vet has told you otherwise.  Rabbits can get bored very easily and can suffer if they have no company or nothing to do. If you have been told to keep your rabbit on its own make sure you interact with it every day.

If you already own a rabbit and you are getting another one, introduce them gradually and do not leave them on their own at first. It may be a good idea to put them in a space that is new to both to them.  Normally, young rabbits that are bought up together will get on, but if they are introduced as adults they may fight.

If you have other pets, a cat or a dog, do not leave your rabbits unsupervised when they are around. Even if you know they all get on. It’s better to be safe than sorry

Finally, unless you are planning on breeding it would be advisable to get your rabbits neutered as this can reduce the likelihood of fighting in both male and female rabbits. Another advantage is neutering female rabbits also stops them getting uterine cancer.

In the next part of our blog we will look at diet and advise on where to keep your rabbit – indoors or outdoors.

As always, if you have any questions you can call us at the clinic or leave a question on our Facebook page. Also, you can pop in to get a free check up with one of our rabbit nurses who can give advice on diet, dental, neutering, vaccinations, housing and boredom breaking activities to help keep your bunny happy

Seasonal Canine Illness

There has been some media coverage about this recently with reports in the Canvey Island Echo, on Countryfile and on the news. As of 26th October 2012 we have not seen any cases at Cherrydown but it is something dog owners need to be aware of, but not to panic about. We advise dog owners to remain vigilant and seek veterinary advice immediately if they suspect their dog has SCI. 

Dog owners are advised to look out for vomiting, diarrhoea or lethargy which usually appears within 24 to 72 hours of dogs having walked in woodland in Autumn. The Animal Health Trust advises any dog owners who see these signs in their pet to seek veterinary advice immediately.

More information can be found on the AHT website


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.

The Vets Says – Dry Eye


The medical term for Dry Eye is Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, usually abbreviated to KCS and is where insufficient tears are produced leaving the eye drier than is usual. It is also seen in cats, but is more common in dogs. Imagine getting grit in your eye & not having tears to help wash it away. Tears are not just water, but are actually quite complex in structure, and serve several functions.  They lubricate and flush the eye, provide nutrition and oxygen to the cornea, and also have a role in preventing bacterial infections of the eye.

Any dogs can be affected, but these breeds are generally more susceptible to it – Collies, Labradors, Bulldogs, Yorkies, Jack Russells, Westies, Lhasa Apso, Shi Tzu, Cocker & KKC Spaniels. We particularly see the problem in Westies.


Conjunctivitis & inflammation of the inner eyelids are the earliest symptoms. Although conjunctivitis tends to respond to antibiotic drips, the Dry Eye will usually reappear after that course of treatment ends. Mucous threads can appear on the surface of the eye or build up around the lower eyelid.
If left untreated the condition can lead inflammation of the cornea or front of the eye. At this point the eye will lose its shine and anything reflected in the eye will appear indistinct. The dog may feel discomfort & rub the eye with corneal ulcers often appearing. Over time, the cornea becomes scarred and pigmented and eventually lead to reduced vision or blindness – both of which are irreversible.


The commonest cause is a fault of the dogs immune system where it identifies the dogs own tear glands as foreign, and attempts to destroy them. This results in tear production being reduced or lost altogether.
Some dogs are born with defective tear glands. Viral infections such as Canine Distemper or Feline Herpesvirus can lead to Dry Eye or a hormone imbalance from an underactive thyroid gland.


There is a specific test for Dry Eye called the ‘Schirmer Tear Test’ and involves placing a strip of paper between the lower eyelid and the eyeball  for 1 minute and seeing how far a tear travels. Movement of more than 15mm is normal and under 10mm is abnormal.


There is currently no cure for Dry Eye, but it is a condition that can be effectively managed with medication or through the use of artificial tears used to wet the eye.

The medication used is Cyclosporine which is available in an ointment called Optimune. The ointment is usually applied twice daily & acts to prevent the immune system from destroying the tear glands. Where the condition is in an advanced stage & the tear glands have already been destroyed, this treatment is ineffective. In less severe cases though, a one month course of treatment is usually sufficient to increase tear production.

Artificial tears are slightly viscous drops that wet the eye and have to be applied at least once every two hours to be effective. Although cheaper, they require much greater involvement of the owner, which is not always possible with people’s busy schedules.

Surgical treatment can also be undertaken where the output of the salivary glands is moved to the eye. This surgery requires a specialist eye surgeon, is expensive and also has its own problems. As a result it is usually only ever a last resort after other treatment options have failed.


The outlook for the dog is dependant on the underlying cause and how long the dog has been affected. It is therefore important that owners check their dogs eyes on a regular basis and get them checked by a vet if they notice any mucus threads or apparent signs of conjunctivitis.

The Vet Says…what to do if your dog is bitten by a snake

The good news about snakes is that we only have one native venomous species in the UK – the Adder (Vipera berus). Even better news is that they’re largely elusive creatures who are about as keen on running into you as you are of running into them.

The bad news is that if anything is likely to sniff them out it’s your inquisitive best friend.

Male Adder
A male Adder with its distinctive markings. This one is about to shed (slough) (their eyes aren’t normally blue.)

Before we go on, it’s important to stress that snakes shouldn’t be feared; (a large amount of respect doesn’t go amiss of course); they have a role in the ecosystem, and the chances are you’ve probably walked past scores of them without knowing.

It’s also worth noting that the native British Adder’s numbers are dwindling, hence there are a number of breeding programmes around the country.

Female Adder
Female Adder

Snake bites in dogs are not as rare as you might think; in fact at our surgery we see, on average, a case a week in the warmer months of the year.

…they’re largely elusive creatures who are about as keen on running into you as you are of running into them.

Now, short of curbing your dog’s natural instinct to explore in hedgerows, forests and fields some knowledge of what to look for and what to do will come in handy.

If your dog is bitten he or she will let you know. If you hear a yelp, check them over. You’re looking for two puncture marks about an inch apart. Of course with long haired dogs this is easier said than done.

Facts to bear in mind

*As mentioned, we see an average of one suspected snake bite a week during Spring and Summer.

*High risk times are sunny days when the adders like to bask.

*Classical signs of a suspect bite is a sudden onset and unexplained swelling.

*It goes without saying the experience is painful.

*Sometimes fang bites are evident but not always. They’re often found on the face where the dog investigates, but we also see a lot of bites on the leg area causing acute swelling and lameness.

*The major short term risk is anaphylactic shock and swelling around the head and neck which causes breathing difficulties. Rapid treatment with iv fluids, steroids and antibiotics is needed. In the longer term, the snake bite toxin can cause local tissue necrosis (death) resulting in very serious infections and sloughing of tissue (bits falling off) leaving very large wounds that need surgical reconstruction.

*The dose of toxin compared to the size of the animal often determines whether the bite is fatal. i.e a baby adder biting a Rottweiler is less risky than an adult adder biting a Jack Russell or a cat. Most of the time we have no idea at the time of treatment the dose of venom given.

*Human antivenom is available but there is some evidence that some animals can have an anaphylactic reaction to the antivenom. Also it is much harder to obtain now. We do not routinely use it as our steroid/antiobiotic/iv fluids/24 hour nursing protocol works very well.

*Bites to the head and neck area are more dangerous than limb bites.

*Finally, there is some evidence that in rare cases head bites can cause behavioural changes in dogs possibly due to venom effects on the brain.

*Cats are less likely to encounter snakes as they’re less inquisitive, but due to the venom to weight ratio, bites to a cat should be considered even more serious.

As always if you suspect your dog has been bitten, treat it as an emergency and contact us immediately. Do not attempt to apply a tourniquet or to try and suck out the venom. Well-intentioned first aid attempts can make matters worse.

If you’re after more information on the Adder, this BBC article makes for interesting reading.