My Dog’s got no nose!

In this classic joke we have to ask “How does he smell?”  The true answer is… very much better than you or I!

We are just starting to understand that a dog’s sense of smell is on a whole different level to ourselves.  As humans have evolved we have relied more on our senses of vision and sight whereas dogs have depended much more on their sense of smell.  The area of nasal lining that can detect odours gives an indication of an animal’s ability to smell.  Humans have about 10 cm2 of olfactory epithelium, whereas some dogs have 170 cm2.

photo of a dog owner and his dog touching noses

A dog’s nasal lining is also considerably more densely innervated, with a hundred times more receptors per square centimetre. On top of this a dog’s brain is specialized for identifying scents.  The percentage of the dog’s brain that is devoted to analysing smells, the olfactory bulb, is around 40 times larger than that of a human.  It has been estimated that dogs can identify smells somewhere between 1,000 to 10,000 times better than humans can.

In 2008 Dr Claire Guest, a psychologist specialising in the interaction between human and canine behaviour, realised the potential in the power of the dog’s nose and set up Medical Detection Dogs.

The charity has two arms to it.

The first is Medical Alert Assistance Dogs, which works on the same model as guide dogs. Dogs ‘assist’ their owners to manage their disease, whether it be diabetes, severe allergies or narcolepsy.  For example, people with diabetes can have bouts of ‘hypoglycaemia’ (low blood sugar) which can cause fits.  This is particularly true for children and young adults.  They find it difficult to assess themselves for the clinical signs of low blood sugar but the dogs can sense the slight change in odour associated with the ‘hypos’. They can then warn the individual or get help.

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The second is Cancer Detection Dogs, supported by Buckinghamshire NHS Trust at Wycombe Hospital.  These dogs are trained to sniff out the changes in the urine produced by prostate, bladder or urinary cancers.  Also studies are now underway that demonstrate dogs can detect changes in odour of breath samples and thereby detect early breast cancer in women.   Existing tests for some of these diseases can be unreliable or invasive so a simple sniff of a sample by one of these specialist dogs could mean early detection, more rapid treatment and hopefully more favourable outcomes.

The Medical Detection dogs use a mixture of reward based training and clicker training. It takes a lot of time and effort to train dogs for this work but it is very worthwhile.  Each medical alert assistance dog costs £11,200 to train and an extra £750 a year to support. As yet the charity relies entirely on donations.

If you want to find out more or read about the many stories of individuals that have benefitted greatly from these dogs then have a look at their website medicaldetectiondogs.org.uk

One of our clients has recently been very generous and donated a Sprocker puppy (Springer Spaniel cross Cocker Spaniel) called Elvis to the Medical Detection Dogs.  I think you will agree that this is an amazing gift and I’m sure Elvis will go on to help untold numbers of humans in his career.

 

 

 

 

 

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Watch out for soggy bottoms!

Tadpole, the dog that featured in our last blog, is making a very good recovery on his antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. He has now stopped coughing and is running around again – hopefully not in barley fields! See our last blog ‘A Seedy Tale’.

With the onset of wet, humid weather there is an increased risk of blow fly strike. While fly strike is generally more common in pets that are kept outdoors in hutches and runs, house pets are by no means immune to the condition.

Fly strike is most commonly seen in rabbits but can also occur in guinea pigs and poultry too. It occurs when the fur and skin around the back end of the pet becomes wet for some reason, such as damp weather, urine scald or diarrhoea. This attracts bluebottle flies which lay eggs around the rear quarters of the animal.

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The eggs quickly hatch into maggots which then eat away at the skin and flesh. Eventually, toxins are released into the blood stream and the pet becomes very ill and dehydrated. At this point, the outcome is usually very poor and euthanasia is often the only option.

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To prevent this from happening, we advise regularly checking that your pets bottom is clean and dry, ideally twice a day. If you find that it is damp for any reason please clean and dry it, then bring your pet to the vet to discuss the cause of any urine scald or diarrhoea.

Fly eggs look like small grains of rice and if found, should be removed. If any maggots are present these should be picked off and your pet brought to the vet to see if medical attention is needed.

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The disease can progress very quickly – within 24 hours of the eggs being laid, they can hatch and the maggots can start feeding on the skin. It is therefore important that you act quickly in these circumstances otherwise your pet may literally be eaten alive!

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We can provide you with barrier creams and sprays that deter the flies from landing on your pets and laying eggs. Examples include  ‘F10 Insecticidal and Germicidal Wound Spray’ to be sprayed onto the area weekly for prevention of fly strike in rabbits, poultry and other small furries.

Alternatively, ‘Rearguard’ is a solution (only licensed for use in rabbits) which is sponged onto the back end of the rabbit. This product gives protection for 8-10 weeks.

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You may also consider using fine mesh netting over the wire of your rabbits hutch or run, to minimise the chances of flies being able to get in.

Fly strike is a veterinary emergency and can become serious and even fatal very quickly. Our vets and nurses are available 24/7 if you are unfortunate enough to find your pet in need of medical assistance.

A Seedy Tale!

In the last few weeks, several animals have come to us with grass seeds stuck in various parts of their body.

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The most common places for grass seeds to lodge are in the feet and ears. If you have walked your dog through grassy fields and it immediately starts shaking its head consistently, there is a strong possibility that a grass seed has made its way down the ear canal.

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If this is the case, please bring your dog in to see one of our vets as soon as possible. The vet may need to sedate your dog to be able to get the seed out, so please don’t feed your dog before bringing it in.

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Sometimes grass seeds can lodge between the digits of the paws and then work their way into the skin. If your dog suddenly starts licking at its paws and you can see any kind of swelling then this may be the case.

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In order to prevent this happening, please check your dogs paws and around the outside of the ears for grass seeds at the end of every walk.

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Very occasionally, grass seeds can get into more unusual places. ‘Tadpole’ the lurcher, owned by one of senior nurses, recently came to us for investigation of coughing , lethargy and inappetance after running through a barley field. His temperature was very high and he was panting a lot so we decided to x-ray his lungs.

To get very good views of the lungs, they must be inflated. This required a general anaesthetic and endotracheal tube to be placed so the vet could inflate the lungs with oxygen and then quickly take an x-ray. They showed that one of the right lung lobes was a bit more white and fluffy than it should be. We used our endoscope to look down Tadpole’s windpipe and could see blood coming from the right side of the lungs. All this investigation pointed towards there being something stuck in his lungs – most likely from the barley field!

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We discussed the treatment options with our nurse who decided to try him on antibiotics and anti-inflammatories for several weeks. If this doesn’t cure the problem then he may need to be referred to a specialist for surgery to remove the lung lobe.

Keep looking back on here for updates!

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Enjoy your trip this Summer

The dog from the last blog post ‘Keeping your cool’ was sent home to his owner the next day fully rehydrated and having stopped vomiting. He is now back to his normal self and enjoying being back with his friends!

During the weeks of the school holidays, we know that many pets will be taken away to places in England or abroad. If you know that your pets get very stressed when travelling in the car it may be a good idea to start them on anti-anxiety medication before you go.

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There are many treatments out there – the Adaptil range of products release a pheromone that is proven to reduce signs of stress such as barking and panting. The pheromone is a chemical that is released from the mother when puppies are suckling from her and this tells them that everything is alright. Adaptil replicates the mothers pheromone and for use in the car a spray can be applied to blankets or bedding.

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This product is not enough to keep some dogs calm so we would suggest using certain tablets – either Zylkene or Nutracalm. Zylkene contains a molecule that is known to relax newborns whilst breastfeeding. Nutracalm contains natural calming hormones that are normally released in the brain. At the higher levels ingested in the tablet form they have proven anti-anxiety effects.

As well as getting anxious in the car, some dogs also get travel sick. The best way to avoid unwanted accidents in the car is to use Cerenia tablets.

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Your pet may have had an injection of this if you have ever brought them to the vets for vomiting but there is a tablet form to be given if your pet is healthy. One tablet guarantees 12 hours without vomiting but we advise giving it a couple of hours before starting the journey. This is a prescription only medication so you would need to bring your pet to see one of our vets to obtain the tablets.

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So relax and enjoy your trip and if you have any more travelling questions please feel free to contact us.

Keeping your cool

Last week was a busy week for the practice with the soaring temperatures causing problems for many animals.  Even some of the animals coming in for a routine vaccination had higher temperatures than normal due to the hot car journey. One of our clients had a dog that had been vomiting all morning and was feeling very sorry for himself with his big, fluffy coat. He was given an injection to stop him being sick and some antacids to settle his stomach. It was advised that he was only fed bland food for a few days.

A few hours later, he was still vomiting and his owner was worried about him getting dehydrated in the heat. He was brought back to us and although his temperature was normal, his gums were now tacky rather than moist. An x-ray was taken in case he had something stuck in his stomach or intestines as this would cause continuous vomiting. The x-ray showed that this wasn’t the case. On a normal day, the dog may have been allowed to go home but we agreed that given the high temperatures, he was very likely to get even more dehydrated so he was admitted into the hospital to be put on a drip.

In times of increased temperatures, we advise that you follow a few rules:

  1. Do not to leave your dog in the car for any length of time, even with the windows open and the car parked in the shade. Please do not attempt any long journeys unless necessary.
  2. If you see any dogs parked in cars and showing signs of heat stroke then it is acceptable to call 999. Please do not break a window as this may count as criminal damage, unless you have spoken to the police first and they have told you to do so. Signs of heat stroke start with excess panting  and progress to vomiting, wobbliness and collapse.
  3. Conservatories and caravans can also get very hot and should be avoided. 
  4. Check water bowls regularly to make sure that water is always available.
  5. If your pet does get too hot, wrap them in a cool, damp towel and use ice packs around this. If there are signs of heat stroke such as excessive panting mentioned above, then please call the vet.
  6. Get long haired dogs trimmed regularly.
  7. Pet suncreams are available for those pets that have only a thin covering of white fur eg nose and ears. Uploaded to Pinterest
  8. Any small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs that live outside should have their hutch placed in the shade and water checked regularly.

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So enjoy this lovely weather while it lasts and if you have any concerns about your pet please remember that we are always available for help and advice, just a phone call away.

How To Keep Your Dog Safe This Christmas

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust

We’re urging dog lovers across the UK to keep their much loved pets safe this Christmas and have put together a list of items that can cause your dog harm at this time of year.

Keep your dog safe at Christmas, like this festive Bearded Collie Keep your dog safe at Christmas, like this festive Bearded Collie

Food A number of food items can be harmful to dogs and these can cause a number of different symptoms, ranging from vomiting and diarrhoea, to more severe effects such as seizures or kidney failure, depending on what is eaten.  Foods that should be completely avoided include:

  • Chocolate
  • Raisins, currants and sultanas
  • Grapes
  • Christmas cake and Christmas pudding
  • Fruit cake and stollen
  • Mince pies
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Blue cheese
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Shallots and chives

Mouldy foods, very rich, fatty foods and alcohol can also harm dogs so should be avoided.  Turkey, goose and chicken bones can also easily splinter, particularly when cooked.

Plants

Plants…

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Sssssnake at Temple End!

This grass snake was brought to Temple End Vets recently, after being found caught in mesh on an allotment in West Wycombe. Luckily the mesh hadn’t caused much damage to the snake so, having removed the mesh, it was given an anti-inflammatory injection and a bath and then put back where it was found. The Grass snake didn’t seem concerned about being handled and it caused quite a stir with the staff  – some were keener to see it than others!

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Our vet Kezia, who has a particular interest in exotics, has written some facts about the UK’s three native snakes:

Grass Snake
The grass snake is common and wide spread in Europe, and it is the UK’s largest reptile. They are usually found on rough land and pastures near to water as they feed almost exclusively on amphibians. Grass snakes are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1998), it is therefore an offence to kill harm or injure them, sell or trade them in anyway.
The females usually lay eggs in June/July, with hatchlings emerging in the autumn. Grass snakes tend to hunt after breeding and may travel widely. They are active predators for frogs and toads, although fish, small mammals and birds will also be consumed. These snakes hibernate in the cooler winter months. Males can grow up to one metre in length, where as females are the larger and can reach 130 centimetres.
There are three species of snake in Great Britain, the Adder (Vipera berus), the Grass snake (Natrix natrix) and Smooth snake (Coronella austriaca). The Adder is a venomous viper species, whereas the smooth and grass snake are non venomous; which rarely bite and if handled often play dead. Distinguishing between the snakes is therefore important, although any snake can be mistaken for an adder.

Adder: Distinct stripe down its back and a V or X shaped marking on the head. The Adder has red eyes and pupils are slit.

Grass Snake: Yellow/cream/white and black collar around the neck and round pupils.

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Smooth Snake: Smooth snake is far more Adder like than the Grass snake, although like a Grass snake it doesn’t have a slit pupil or zigzag pattern along its back. The Smooth snake is also extremely rare and only seen on dry heath land in the Southern counties.

here is a smooth snake i found yesterday in dorset lovely temperement ...

So now we’ve all been enlightened about the three types of snake that we may encounter, keep your eyes peeled when you’re out walking and if you’re very lucky you may spot one……….!

National Microchipping Month

June was National Microchipping Month but we’ve been so busy here at Temple End with our new Healthy Pet Club that we have decided to run our microchipping promotion during July instead.

Microchipping is one of the cheapest, quickest ways to ensure that your pet is returned to you should he or she go missing. If your pet has a microchip the chip can easily be scanned, checked against a national 24-hour database and your contact details passed to the person or authority holding your pet. As long as you remember to keep those details updated as necessary you will quickly and easily be re-united.
60% of the 8 million pet dogs in the UK are already chipped, each chip holding a unique code. In order to improve the welfare of dogs and promote responsible ownership it will become compulsory by April 2016 for all dogs in England to carry a chip. Owners found not to comply will be subject to a warning and instructed to get their pet chipped. Failure to meet the requirements could result in a £500 fine.

We have recently reunited this large bull mastiff puppy with her owners after she was found wandering in High Wycombe. Luckily we managed to trace her owners even though she wasn’t microchipped but many pets are not so lucky. Those pets not claimed after 7 days are taken by animal charities for rehoming or failing that, eventually they may put them to sleep.

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Cats are often out and about, at risk of being lost, injured or transported away if they are nosey enough to explore open vans! Microchipping your cat will ensure that you are contacted should he or she go walk about.

We currently have this lovely cat in our kennels while we search for her owners, sadly she has not been microchipped.

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Even tortoises can be microchipped. This chap called Dennis was stolen from Kent with two companions 6 months ago. He mysteriously turned up in Flackwell Heath last week and is now awaiting collection by his owners. A happy ending for Dennis, all thanks to a small investment in a microchip.

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The actual procedure is very easy. A vet or nurse will implant the chip via a sharp hollow needle into the loose skin at the back of the neck. The chip itself is just the size of a grain of uncooked rice. Although your pet may feel a few seconds of discomfort when the chip is inserted it cannot be felt by the pet once it is in place. Check out the Petlog website for more information at http://www.petlog.org.uk
Throughout July we are offering microchipping at just £8 per pet (usual price £15) or FREE to all the members of our Healthy Pet Club.
If you are interested, please call our team of receptionists for an appointment on 01494 522956.

May is National Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month

National Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month is an annual event organised by the BVNA (British Veterinary Nursing Association) that aims to raise awareness of the role of the veterinary nurse in modern day practice and highlight their importance within the veterinary profession.

ImageThe nursing team at Temple End is made up of 9 lovely ladies who are dedicated to caring for your pets. You may see them for nurse appointments, clinics , helping on reception or admitting and discharging hospital patients but they also have a very important role behind the scenes, the Practice simply couldn’t function without them!!
Front of house, you may have seen our nurses for:
• Post-op checks
• Suture removal
• Re-bandaging
• Weight clinics
• Claw clipping
• Puppy parties
• Flea and worm checks

Behind the scenes, our nurses can be found:
• Assisting with surgical procedures
• Monitoring anaesthetics
• Assisting with radiography
• Blood sampling
• Carrying out work in the laboratory
• Caring for hospitalised patients (maintaining fluid therapy, administering medication, routine monitoring of vital signs, and providing lots of TLC)
• And last but not least – maintaining the ever-important high standard of hygiene required in practice, yes, that basically means lots of cleaning and sterilising!

 

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All our qualified veterinary nurses are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, demonstrating that they are keeping their skills up-to-date and following the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses.
The role of a veterinary nurse is very varied as each day brings new pets, new clients and new cases. Due to the nature of the work, at times the role can be a sad one, however this is greatly outweighed by the reward of knowing that we can make a positive difference to an animal’s life.

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For more information on services provided by our nurses, please contact any of our branches or look at our website templeendvets.co.uk where you’ll also find our ‘Rogues Gallery’ of staff so you can get to know who’s who.

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Receding flood water still poses danger to pets

The recent floods began as a fun way for water loving dogs to play in the parks and fields, especially those bordering a river. All that water – what a novelty!

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However, once the excessive amount of rainfall caused the domestic drains to overflow, sewage mixed with the flood water and this contaminated and stagnant water now poses a serious health risk to our pets.

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The British Veterinary Association (BVA) are warning pet owners in flooded areas of the country that the receding flood water still poses a health risk.

We should prevent our pets from swimming, wading in or drinking the contaminated water because the ‘soup’ of bacteria that has been created can be very harmful.

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Diseases such as Leptospirosis can be spread through stagnant water so the BVA recommend that we check that our pets’ vaccinations are up to date in order to give them the best possible protection against diseases. If you think your pet has walked in contaminated water or mud wash their paws in clean water to prevent them licking at them and ingesting bacteria.

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Microbiologists are warning that the dangers will remain on the ground for up to a month after the water has receded, so the problem is not going away anytime soon.

If you have any concerns about your pets health please seek our advice or bring you pet in for a check-up.