How to care for your dog
We offer a range of services to help keep your dog healthy. A highly experienced dog Vet from our team will be on hand to consult, diagnose and treat any problems your dog may have. We offer health checks for both dogs and puppies, as well information on doggy behaviour, preventative care and nutrition. We also offer a 24/7 dog emergency vet service, just in case. Read about the types of consultations we can offer your dog.
We have our Healthy Pet Club which is a great way of ensuring your dog receives the best preventative healthcare. You also benefit from great savings on essential annual vaccinations, life-saving parasite prevention and many other benefits and discounts! Learn more about our Healthy Pet Club.
Also, don’t forget to collect your Molesey Card – our free loyalty card which gives you 1% back on everything you spend with us! The Molesey Card lets you collect points that can be redeemed against our services. We even give you 500 points (=£5) to get you started! Remember, it’s completely free to join, so ask at reception for more details when you arrive – learn more.
Vaccinations give your dog protection against a variety of common and life-threatening diseases. At Molesey Vets, we always recommend two types of vaccine for your dog: a combination vaccine and the kennel cough vaccine.
Depending on their age when they start vaccinations, puppies usually receive a ‘primary course’ of 2-3 vaccinations. Before allowing your puppy to interact and mix with other animals, they should be fully vaccinated. Typically, each puppy will receive their first vaccine at 8 weeks old, a second at 10 weeks and another at 12 weeks. A booster is given one year after the primary course, then annually thereafter.
Diseases covered by the dog combination vaccine are:
Distemper: a highly contagious viral disease. A dog suffering from distemper will have symptoms such as respiratory problems (sneezing or coughing), gastrointestinal problems including vomiting and diarrhoea, or even seizures and death.
Parvovirus: which often causes vomiting and diarrhoea with blood and is often fatal. Unfortunately, this highly infectious virus can remain in the environment for a long period of time. This means your dog may still become infected even though they’ve never come into direct contact with other infected animals.
Infectious Hepatitis: a serious viral infection which affects the liver in dogs. This commonly causes fever, abdominal pain, jaundice, and can be fatal for dogs.
Leptospirosis: a bacterial disease which is usually transmitted from water contaminated by urine of infected rats or mice. Leptospirosis – or “Lyme Disease” has a devastating effect on the kidneys or the liver which may result in organ failure, and is infectious to humans. Most vets use the ‘L2’ vaccine for to protect against leptospirosis, but it only protects against two forms. However, there are now FOUR species of Leptospira in the United Kingdom, and as a result of this at Molesey Vets we now use Nobivac L4 to give your dog the maximum protection possible.
Parainfluenza: a virus which can cause infectious tracheobronchitis (‘Kennel Cough’).
Separate Kennel Cough Vaccine covers:
Bordetella bronchiseptica: (a cause of infectious tracheobronchitis, another form of Kennel Cough). This is highly contagious and very common in areas where a lot of dog walkers frequently use. Dogs often catch Kennel Cough in the park from other dogs.
Vaccinations are an important part of your dog’s preventative healthcare programme. If you have any specific concerns or questions, then please do ask our experienced team of Vets. We always operate with “best practice” and keep up-to-date with the current thinking surrounding dog vaccinations. We care for your dog just as much as you do.
Pet Travel – Rabies Vaccine:
At present, Rabies vaccination for dogs is not compulsory in the UK. Currently there is no rabies present in the UK and therefore we generally do not recommend vaccinating your dog against it.
However, it is present in other EU countries. In order to travel with your dog to Europe, they will need to be vaccinated against rabies and microchipped. Learn more about our pet travel services.
Puppy Health Checks
There’s nothing more exciting or rewarding than taking on a fluffy new puppy. However, there are lots of things to consider. Our aim is to help you ensure that your new puppy has the best start in life, and continues to be happy, healthy and safe well into adulthood.
Our Veterinary Surgeon will perform a full physical exam during your puppy’s first health check. This involves checking the condition of your puppy’s eyes, nose, ears, mouth, teeth, and skin, whilst listening to their heart and lungs, and feeling the abdomen for irregularities. Our Veterinary Surgeon can also advise you on all aspects of your puppy’s care including feeding, behaviour, socialisation, and training. At Molesey Vets, we will also cover preventative care such as vaccinations, neutering and parasite control.
Following on from your puppy’s initial vaccinations, we recommend that you attend a free monthly health check with one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses. They are highly experienced and extremely friendly, and will monitor your puppy’s weight, parasite control, and general development. If at any point you have questions, then our Nursing team can give you advice on a range of topics, including puppy neutering.
Six-monthly Health Checks
These regular health check-ups are extremely important to the development and safety of your dog. They allow us to take a more pro-active role in the preventive healthcare of your dog, and we may spot health problems earlier allowing us to take appropriate action should it be required. We can carry out a full physical exam when your dog comes in for their annual vaccinations and mid-year check-up. At this time, if you have any concerns or queries about the health of your dog, the Consultant will be more than happy to go through them with you. The six-monthly health check includes a free urinalysis. Please bring in a fresh urine sample (or one that has been refrigerated) in a clean container, preferably the first sample of the morning.
You’re not restricted to one check every six months though! It is of course possible to perform health examinations at any other time. We often recommend more frequent check-ups for pets with chronic problems (e.g. heart disease, arthritis). If your dog is suffering from an ongoing condition, a check-up every three months (minimum) will be required. This enables us to continue monitoring and prescribing the best medication for your dog.
Dogs are usually considered old or ‘geriatric’ from 7-8 years of age, although as with human, this may be even earlier for different breeds. Older pets need more attention than their younger counterparts, so it is important that your dog is checked regularly by us in order to detect problems early. For the special “old-timer” in your life, we recommend a health check at least every 6 months.
When an elderly pet starts slowing down, this can sometimes be put down to ageing, but it can also be the first signs of an underlying health condition. If detected early many conditions are often treatable, and finding the right treatment to suit can boost their quality of life. The most commonly seen problems in older dogs include dental disease, arthritis, heart conditions, kidney failure, and liver problems.
At the Molesey Vets ‘Older Dog Health Check’ we don’t just perform a full physical examination, we may also advise urine and blood tests as part of the exam.
Should the health check reveal nothing untoward, then the information we gather will help in the future should any concerns arise. Knowing what a normal condition for your pet looks like will help immensely when investigating future illnesses.
What should I feed my dog?
Nutrition plays an important part in maintaining your dog’s health and vitality. Your dog’s nutritional needs change as they age. There are some premium diets such as Royal Canin or Hills, which have been formulated to aid and improve development throughout their lives. We usually recommend a commercially produced, premium diet rather than a home-made diet as this needs careful research and formulation in order to provide the complete nutritional balance your dog needs.
If a puppy is fed meals that aren’t nutritionally balanced, this can affect their early stages of development. Puppies from larger breeds (e.g. those that weigh over 25 kgs as an adult) have different nutritional needs compared to smaller breeds.
When you first bring your puppy home, it is best to carry on feeding them the food they are used to. If your Vet has recommended a change in food, then we suggest introducing it over a 5 to 7 day period, mixing it in with their old feed throughout. This will help prevent tummy upsets.
Remember to weigh your puppy and feed them according to feeding guides and your Vet’s recommendation. You will have to adjust the amount your puppy gets fed as it grows. We would recommend feeding several small meals a day.
You should NEVER give your puppy Calcium supplements. A good, complete puppy brand of food will contain all the minerals your puppy needs, and any additional supplements can disturb their health balance and even lead to certain joint diseases.
When your pet makes the transition from puppy food to adult food, you need to introduce the new brand gradually. The amount you feed may need to be adjusted depending on your dog’s body condition. If unsure, then your Vet will weigh your dog at each annual health check consultation and advise you to make any changes if required. This will help to maintain a healthy weight throughout their life.
When your dog is over 7 years old, they are considered to be mature or senior. You may discover that even though they eat less, they still gain weight. As with humans, this could be down to their metabolism slowing down. Some senior dogs have the opposite problem – they lose weight as they age, sometimes as a result of medical conditions. With old age comes a reduction in flexibility, so your dog may find it more difficult to bend down to a food or water bowl on the floor due to obesity or arthritis. To make their life a little bit easier and more comfortable, try to elevate their food bowl. Senior dogs require a high quality, palatable diet with easy to digest protein, lower calorie levels, and a careful balance of essential nutrients. If you’re considering moving your dog onto a specially formulated senior diet, check with your Vet first as they can establish what their nutritional needs are, and any underlying medical conditions.
Neutering, or de-sexing, is a surgical procedure performed under general anaesthesia. In female dogs, this is also called ‘spaying’. Neutering surgery involves removing the ovaries and the uterus (or the ovaries only in ‘keyhole’ techniques), whereas in male dogs, ‘castration’ is the removal of the testicles. Spaying and castration helps prevent any unwanted pregnancies and puppies, and helps your dog lead a healthier life by reducing the risk of developing certain diseases. Before the surgery, your dog will undergo a health check, and your Vet may advise pre-surgery blood tests. In most routine cases, your dog can usually be discharged from the surgery the same evening.
WHY SHOULD I SPAY MY DOG?
Uterine infection (pyometra) – a common and very serious problem that can be potentially life threatening for older female dogs. Most uterus infections develop 4-8 weeks after a female goes into heat, and symptoms may include vomiting, increased water intake, a poor appetite, and dullness. In some cases, the uterus can fill with pus and swell, making the abdomen look bigger than normal. You might also see discharge from the vagina. The diagnosing and treatment of a uterine infection is expensive and involves a de-sexing procedure, but with this infection your dog may be very sick and the surgery to save her life will be risky. To prevent your dog getting this infection, we recommend having her spayed when she is young and healthy.
Mammary cancer – the ovaries release hormones into a female dog’s body that can stimulate mammary tumour growth in dogs genetically prone to this disease. Approximately 50% of these tumours are malignant, and the other 50% are benign, but even benign tumours can cause problems as they grow. When your dog is spayed, this greatly reduces the chance of them developing mammary cancer, especially if done before their first heat. Dogs often benefit most if they are spayed before they reach 12 months old, and before their first heat. If you are unsure, ask your Vet when is the best time to spay your dog.
WHY SHOULD I CASTRATE MY DOG?
Castration will prevent your dog from developing testicular cancer, and reduce the risk of prostatic disease. For certain breeds, it may also help with certain types of aggressive behaviour as well as roaming. We often recommend that you monitor your male dog’s behaviour over the first 6-9 months of life, as this allows you to determine how beneficial castration may be to him. If you are not planning on breeding from your dog, neutering is a sensible choice as it will stop your dog becoming so unruly when a nearby female dog is ‘in heat’.
Once neutered, the metabolism of your dog may change, so their exercise and diet must be adjusted to ensure they don’t put on too much weight. Learn about our pet neutering services.
During each of your dog’s health checks, your Vet can help devise a care programme for your pet.
Fleas are the most common parasite affecting dogs and can cause itchiness, irritation and allergies – they can also transmit tapeworm to your pet. Fleas are particularly hard to control as they live and breed in the surrounding environment. You should keep up to date with flea control even if your dog doesn’t have fleas. We recommend Advocate, an advanced prescription drug and the last word in flea control, as well as having effectiveness against many other parasites (Advocate actually kills most parasites, including mange mites and lice, but is not effective against ticks and tapeworm).
Indorex, RIP or Staykil are environmental products that need to sprayed in your home should it become infected with fleas and their larvae. They are all very powerful chemicals, and must NEVER be sprayed onto dogs or any other pets. They are toxic to fish and other water creatures, so exercise great care when using them. For further advice on how to use these products, ask your Vet during your dog consultation.
Ticks are found everywhere in our area, especially in Bushy Park: they attach to your dog’s skin and feed on their blood. Ticks cause localised irritation and infection, but they can also transmit blood parasites, including Lymes Disease. Lymes Disease is potentially fatal unless treatment is received. To prevent ticks attaching to your pet in the first place, you can use a topical spot-on/spray product such as Advantix once a month, and/or Seresto tick collars.
Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) is a potentially lethal parasite now endemic in our area. We have seen several tragic fatal cases over the last ten years: often there is little or no warning before the effects of haemophilia (unstoppable, spontaneous bleeding), seizures and death are seen. Some dogs eat slugs and snails deliberately, and most cases are caused by ingesting slugs or snails carrying the intermediate stage of the lungworm. However, most dogs are infected by inadvertently ingesting small snails and slugs when eating grass, chewing sticks, drinking from puddles or playing with garden toys. A strict monthly application of Advocate can easily prevent infection of lungworm.
Many different types of worms can infect your pet, and some can even infect humans, especially children. The most common worm to infect humans is the Ascarid worm. These infectious worms cause weight loss, diarrhoea, and failure to thrive. Mothers can inadvertently infect their own puppies; we recommend that puppies are treated every 2 weeks from age 6-12 weeks, then monthly until they are 6 months old. Adult dogs should be dewormed with a product such as Milbemax or Drontal Plus every 3 months. Advocate kills all worms except tapeworm.
Lots of unexpected substances are lethal to dogs, particularly chocolate (all varieties but especially dark plain chocolate in particular); raisins and grapes; onions and garlic; alcohol; avocado; nuts (especially macadamia nuts); Xylitol sweetener; caffeine; milk; yeast dough. Plus, food items such as corn on the cob and bones (yes! bones!!!) can cause intestinal blockage or damage. Call us if you think your dog may have had exposure to any of these items.
Take a look at our Poison Guide to see if your dog needs emergency care.
Human medications should NEVER be used except under veterinary advice!
Everybody knows the importance in regular dental care – humans brush their teeth at least twice a day and if we don’t, plaque, tartar, and cavities may soon result. Our pets shouldn’t be any different – the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) estimate that by the time they are 3 years old, 80% of dogs will have signs of oral disease.
When a dog is suffering from oral disease, you may notice they develop bad breath, reddened gums, and buildups of yellow or brown tartar along the gum-line. There may also be changes to your dog’s chewing or eating patterns and it may paw his mouth. As infection and inflammation progresses, periodontitis may result – this is irreversible and may lead to the loss of the tooth. Oral bacteria can be released into their bloodstream, so dental disease may also result in heart, kidney, liver and lung disease. As our pets are living longer compared to their wild relatives, maintaining good dental health is very important to help them lead healthy and happy lives.
We advise regular dental checks with our Vet Dentists – the annual health check & vaccination is the ideal time to assess for any early problems, but you can bring your pet in at any time to have a dental checkup. Our specially trained Vets can offer practical advice on keeping your dog’s teeth clean and if professional dental cleaning is required, any plaque and tartar that has built up can removed using an ultrasonic de-scaler. During this clean, we check for any loose or damaged teeth which may need to be taken out. The dental procedure is carried out under a full general anaesthetic, as no dog will let us do it when they’re awake. Your Vet may advise pre-anaesthetic blood tests, and your dog may require antibiotics prior to the dental cleaning. You may also have to give your dog some medication afterwards.
After a dental cleaning, home care is equally important to prevent recurrence of dental disease. To get puppies used to the idea of having their teeth cleaned, you should handle their mouths from an early age. The same can be applied to older dogs, if introduced slowly and patiently, your dog can be taught to accept having their teeth brushed. Never use human toothpaste as this contains toxic ingredients which can upset your dog’s tummy. If done daily, toothbrushing can prevent plaque formation, gingivitis and periodontal disease, saving your dog from pain and reducing the cost of future dental care.
If your dog won’t tolerate toothbrushing, there are other methods which may help to maintain a healthy mouth.
- Special diets have been created to help reduce the formation of plaque and tartar. If you’re unsure, ask your Vet for more information on any special diets, and whether they’re suitable for your dog.
- Dental treats for dogs. Most are marketed as beneficial for dental health, but not all are equal. For information on which products are most effective, check out the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOCH) website. These treats may contribute towards weight gain, and so make sure you’re around to supervise your dog when they are given chews.
- Dental gels – these can be applied directly onto the gums.
We understand that when your pet needs to stay in hospital for treatment it can be a worrying time for you. At Molesey Vets, we try to make your dog’s stay as comfortable and as stress-free as possible.
Our spacious dedicated Dog Ward has a variety of different sized kennels to suit your pet. To protect other pets and humans, our Isolation Unit is separate from our other wards, and houses pets that are carrying infectious diseases. As they are self contained, staff “barrier nurse” patients to prevent transmission to others. For critically-ill patients, we have temperature controlled oxygen cages which allows us to provide sufficient levels of oxygen, without causing stress to the patient.
During their stay, your dog’s needs will be catered for by our dedicated nursing staff who work closely with the Vet looking after your pet’s case. Frequent clinical rounds are carried out throughout the day and night, with the Vet and Nursing staff planning out each pets’ treatment for the day. We always try to update you on your pet’s condition after morning rounds are finished, and in certain cases, updates may be given throughout the day.
Your dog may be fed a ‘prescription diet’ during hospitalisation, this is food that has been specially prepared to help with some diseases and conditions. Food such as Hills Science Plan is fed to animals who do not need a prescription diet during their stay. If one of our patients has lost interest in food recently or are just fussy eaters, we will offer tempting treats such as steamed chicken breast. Please let us know before their stay if your pet has a preference on food, as this allows us to maintain their normal feeding regime. You may wish to bring something from home to make your dog feel more at ease whilst staying with us, eg. a favourite blanket or toy.
When animals are hospitalised, they are generally not feeling themselves and will require less exercise. However, they will still be able to “stretch their legs” under Vet supervision in our ward, or they may be taken outside for walks.
We do not have fixed visiting times, but if you wish to visit your pet in whilst they are staying with us, please inform us beforehand, as there are times when we will be operating or using X-rays. We understand how worried you will be, so we will always try to arrange a time to suit your needs. Your dog will usually be happy to see you, but it can also be upsetting for both pet and owner if they cannot leave with you that day. There are some cases when visitation may not be appropriate, for example after surgery when your dog will need some quiet, undisturbed time to recover.
We operate a 24-hour critical care facility and we have excellent on-site fully qualified nursing staff to look after your pet during the night.
Research has shown that to some degree, around 50% of dogs are overweight. Being overweight means your pet is at risk from a whole range of problems including diabetes mellitus, heart disease, skin complaints, breathing difficulties and joint problems. Obesity reduces your dog’s quality of life, and lifespan.
Weight gain in pets is normally the result of an increase in body fat. The most common causes are overeating and lack of exercise. If more energy is being gained from food than is being used, the surplus will be stored in the body as fat. However, weight gain can be due to a medical disorder that may require specific treatment.
Your Vet will perform a physical exam and may recommend blood tests to make sure your dog is as healthy as they can be, despite the extra weight. They will then refer your dog to our FREE weight clinics. During your health check consultation, our Registered Vet Nurses can advise you on the optimum weight your pet should be, and how to help them shed those extra pounds.
During your dog’s first weight clinic appointment, the Nurse will weigh your dog and set a target weight. This weight is based on their age, breed, health and individual needs. Your dog’s new diet will then be calculated and an exercise plan will be incorporated. We will take a photograph so that we have a record of how your dog looked before weight loss and after.
After the first appointment, your dog will require regular weight checks so we can assess their progress and make any necessary adjustments to their diet. If you have any questions or concerns, this is the time to discuss them. Usually, we will see your dog on a monthly basis, and once they’ve reached their target weight, the Nurse will reassess your dog’s dietary requirements to help you maintain their ideal weight.
We stock a wide range of diets suitable for weight control in dogs – eg. Hills prescription diet r/d. Our Nurses will assess which diet is best suited for your dog’s needs.
How do I know if my pet is overweight?
You may notice some of these changes:
- You cannot feel their ribs unless you apply a lot of pressure
- They are sleeping more than normal
- They find it difficult to walk or exercise
- Loss of an obvious waist
- You have to loosen their collar several time a year
Dogs are meant to lead active lives, as most have been bred to perform a specific role such as hunting (retrievers, hounds), farming (collies, german shepherds) and protection (dobermanns, rottweilers). How their lives have changed – today they spend most of their time on our sofas and we even serve them food in a bowl! Boredom and excess energy leads to behavioural problems, so you need to find ways to stimulate both their mind and their body.
The simplest way to enrich your dog’s life is through exercise. Most dogs will benefit from daily walks – ideally a combination of some on-lead and some off-lead time so they can explore their surroundings, but always be careful when exercising your pet off the lead. Make sure you walk different routes and go to new places whenever you can so your dog has some variety. Now is the perfect time to play games or train with your dog. Remember to keep your dog protected from ticks and other parasites and take extra care in the summer months to avoid heatstroke.
We all lead busy lives so our beloved dogs often end up spending a good portion of their day home alone. Giving them something to entertain themselves with will help prevent abnormal behaviour, including chewing furniture or eating out of rubbish bins. Food puzzle toys require time, patience and problem-solving, encouraging natural behaviour such as pawing, licking and chewing. When you first introduce your dog to a food puzzle toy, make it slightly easier for them to empty, and as they become an expert, make it harder to get the food out of the toys. KONG have a wide range of puzzle toys to give their mind and jaws a workout!
Dog & Puppy Behaviour
Puppies will nearly always be nippy, yappy, destructive, naughty and very playful, this is perfectly normal. However, with adult dogs, this behaviour can be difficult or even impossible to cope with.
Behaviour is one of the major reasons for owners giving up their dog; the sad truth is that this is down to the owner not properly training their dog.
Training can be difficult – especially if you don’t understand your dog’s behaviour, how to train them, and what’s considered normal or not – but it can be very rewarding when your dog makes good progress.
What is Abnormal Dog Behaviour ?
If you have a trained dog, but he or she still displays certain “bad behaviours”, their behaviour may be considered abnormal. Dog biting, puppy biting, eating poop (coprophagia), dog food aggression, excessive barking, chewing, digging, jumping up, separation anxiety, submissive urination, and extreme shyness are all considered abnormal.
If your dog is displaying abnormal behaviour, book a health check with one of our Vets as sometimes, a medical condition may be the underlying factor causing it.
There are a number of reasons that cause behavioural problems. They can be the result of:
- Lack of training from the owner
- Lack of reinforcement of previous training
- Overexcitement from the dog
- Fear of their surroundings
- A species’ genetic susceptibility
Most pet owners have good intentions, but some people do not know how to train their pet. Most commonly, this is due to the owner not taking their puppy to puppy classes. If a dog has inadequate or no training at all, bad habits and behaviours can develop rather quickly and can be hard to break.
Hiring a trainer or enrolling them in an obedience class is one of the best ways to prevent your dog from developing abnormal behaviour.
A lack of discipline from the owner means a puppy will think that abnormal behaviour is normal.
New owners, especially inexperienced ones, may think that everything their puppy does is just them being ‘cute’. However, as the puppy develops into an adult dog, behaviours like jumping up on people, chewing, and nipping can become dangerous, not just to the dog but other people as well.
It is important to train your pet from the first day you get them to prevent behaviour issues in later life, and this means positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement means rewarding your dog when they have done well; maybe give them a treat, or one of their normal dog biscuits. They will learn to associate “good behaviour” with rewards. Even saying “good boy/girl” and petting them is good positive reinforcement.
Certain situations or sounds such as the doorbell or telephone can stimulate your dog and contribute to abnormal dog behaviour. Dogs will be excited to see their owner when they get home, and people often encourage their dog by getting very excited in return. You should remain calm and praise the dog for being calm and restrained.
Dogs can become fearful for two reasons.
- A traumatic experience
- If they have not exposed to enough ‘normal’ situations during their earlier stages of developmental.
Between 3 and 16 weeks is a developmental stage when puppies “soak up” the sights, sounds, and situations around them. It’s the best time to give them exposure to things they will experience in life to avoid them becoming fearful as they grow. You should introduce your puppy to things like the hoover and other household appliances, doorbell/knocker, telephone, car, traffic, people, children, other pets and animals, buses, taxis, crowds, pet-friendly shops, and more.
Never do too much in one go, reward for calm behaviour, and try not to cuddle them if they get scared as this reinforces scared behaviour. It’s wise to get the whole family involved in your puppy’s training and keep your puppy’s safety in mind at all times.
If your puppy has not completed their initial vaccine course, you will need to socialise them indoors until they’re protected.
Many dog breeds were created for specific jobs. Through years of breeding, specific breeds of dog are susceptible to ‘abnormal’ and ‘normal undesirable’ behaviours that can frustrate owners.
Talk to one of our Vets if you are concerned about your dog’s behaviour.
If you would like more advice on caring for puppies and dogs, contact our friendly team who will be happy to help.