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Frequently asked questions
What age can my pet be vaccinated and what is the procedure?
We usually recommend that all new pets are allowed to settle into their new homes for a few days before their vaccinations are started.
Pups can start their vaccinations from 6 weeks of age onwards, with a second vaccine being given 2-4 weeks after the first, although the pup must have reached 10 weeks of age by the second injection.
Cats can have their vaccines started from 9 weeks onwards with a second injection being given 3-6 weeks later.
Rabbits require a single injection from the age of 5 weeks onwards. All animals presented for vaccination are checked over for diseases and other problems during the consultation. This is an ideal time for clients to ask questions about looking after their pet.
Vaccinations can be given by appointment, at one of our open surgeries, or during a pre-arranged visit.
What diseases will or should my cat/dog/rabbit be vaccinated against?
Dogs are routinely vaccinated against the potentially lethal diseases - distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and leptospirosis as well as the generally non-lethal but potentially troublesome, respiratory pathogen-parainfluenza virus. Dogs may also be vaccinated against bordetella (the main pathogen in infectious canine bronchitis - or 'kennel cough'). Whilst kennel cough is not usually considered a 'killer' disease the latter vaccine is absolutely required for all dogs staying in kennels on the island and is also advisable for dogs with respiratory complaints or those otherwise considered at high risk. This vaccine is administered by giving drops into the nose rather than by injection.
Cats are routinely vaccinated against feline enteritis, both types of cat 'flu' (feline calicivirus and feline viral rhinotracheitis) and feline leukaemia virus. Cats and dogs travelling abroad under the 'Pet travel scheme' will need to be vaccinated against rabies (after having been microchipped).
Rabbits are vaccinated against myxomatosis and rabbit haemorrhagic disease (RHD). There are now 2 strains of RHD in the UK, known as RHD1 and RHD2. From 2020 there is now a licensed vaccine which covers all 3 diseases.
What subsequent boosters are required and are they necessary?
A year after a primary course of vaccinations, dogs will require a single injection containing all the components of their routine vaccine. After this it is considered that the distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus components of the vaccine will have provided immunity for a further 3 years whilst the leptospirosis and parainfluenza components will only lead to one year of immunity. This means that to maintain protection against these diseases dogs will essentially need 'smaller' annual boosters (against leptospirosis and parainfluenza) for the following two years with a 'big' booster (against all these diseases) after three years. This pattern is repeated throughout the dog's life. The bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine requires a yearly booster.
Cats and Rabbits require single annual boosters of their routine vaccines throughout their lives.
The rabies vaccine requires a booster every three years.
These are the recommendations of the vaccine manufacturers following extensive research into the duration of immunity against each of these diseases. Whilst protection may last longer in some individuals, there are significant proportions of the dog/cat/rabbit populations where immunity drops below protective levels soon after these vaccination intervals if a booster is not given. It is for this reason that boosters are necessary to maintain protection throughout the animal's life.
What are your opening times?
During the coronavirus pandemic all our consultation times have changed. Please see the covid update on our home page.
Can I ask to see a particular vet?
Yes. We very much believe in the importance of continuity in an animal's treatment. For this reason we encourage clients to ask to see the vet already dealing with a case for subsequent check ups. Normally all our vets have their own regular consulting times making it easier to make appointments with a particular vet. Staffing considerations during the current pandemic however may mean that it is currently more difficult to see your preferred vet on a particular day. (Under normal circumstances 3 vets would usually consult simultaneously during open surgeries at Newport where clients would be able to request to see their preferred vet at these times as well, should they wish.)
Is it advisable to neuter my pet?
If bitches are not to be bred from then it is highly advisable to have them neutered (spayed). Not only does this prevent unwanted pregnancies but it also stops them from developing ‘pyometra’ (a common, life-threatening condition of the uterus) and drastically reduces the incidence of mammary cancers later in life.
It is also prudent to castrate many male dogs as this can reduce undesirable behaviours such as overt aggression, running off to find bitches in heat and ‘cocking’ of legs indoors. It will also reduce the incidence of many prostate problems and some tumours in later life. All male dogs with undescended testicles should be neutered as there is a very high risk of testicular tumours developing in these dogs in later life.
It is advisable to neuter all cats. The problem of unwanted kittens is a perennial and massive one. Unspayed female cats can also develop pyometra. Entire tom cats are likely to wander large distances in order to find queens in heat, making them prone to getting lost or injured. Entire toms are also notorious for fighting other cats, both getting and causing injuries as a result. This is a common way for cats to contract the feline form of AIDS as the causative agent – Feline Immunodeficiency virus- is spread via cat bites. Castrating tom cats massively reduces this risk.
Female rabbits are especially prone to developing cancer of the ovaries and/or uterus as they grow older. Spaying female rabbits will prevent this and is therefore very advisable. Entire male rabbits will fight with one another - neutering will usually prevent this, allowing males to be kept together. Neutering will also make most rabbits more amenable to handling generally.
We do get requests about neutering many other species such as guinea pigs, ferrets and rats, among others. Each species carries its own set of pros and cons in relation to neutering and we are happy to discuss these with an owner.
What age should my pet be neutered?
The best age to neuter pets remains the subject of discussion within the veterinary profession. Traditionally most vets have recommended that bitches should be allowed to have one season first (this will usually happen sometime between 6 and 10 months of age) and then be spayed about 1 -3 months after the season has finished. This is still good general advice. When older bitches are to be spayed we would also usually recommend a similar time frame after the end of a season. We do get requests from some pet owners to spay their bitch before a first season. There are several pros and cons to this approach which would need discussion to ascertain suitability to the individual case.
Male dogs would generally be neutered from 6 months of age onwards. If undesirable behavioural traits are starting to behave in a male dog they are best ‘nipped in the bud’.
Both male and female cats are typically neutered from 6 months of age onwards although this can be done at a slightly younger age if necessary. Very occasionally some queens may reach puberty and start ‘calling’ slightly before this time. Unlike bitches, female cats can be spayed when they are in season however.
Rabbits can be neutered from 5 months onwards provided they are large enough.
Are there any disadvantages to neutering my pet?
Any anaesthetic and/or operation will always carry a slight risk. However, provided an animal is otherwise fit and well, this risk is minimal. (Risk figures of major complications during neutering are typically less than 1:1000). All animals have their health checked prior to any operation and owners are advised if we feel there is any undue risk in a particular case. Around 10% of dogs have a tendency to gain weight more easily after neutering. This can usually be controlled with careful attention to diet however. It has also been reported that females of some breeds of dog may grow a slightly more curly coat once neutered.
How can I arrange for my pet to be neutered?
Appointments for animals to be spayed or castrated can be made by phone or at the surgery. Routine operations are performed Monday to Friday. All dogs for neutering must have been given a health check prior to neutering (typically within the previous month). Pre-neutering checks are free. All cats and rabbits will be checked on the day of their operation but if a client has particular concerns about their pet then they are welcome to bring them to one of our surgeries for a free check up first.
ADMISSIONS FOR OPERATIONS AND INVESTIGATIONS
What do I need to do when bringing my pet in for an operation or other procedures?
Unless advised otherwise, animals coming in for pre arranged operations and/or investigative procedures Mon-Fri at our Newport surgery should arrive ideally between 7.45 and 8.45 am. Animals undergoing pre-arranged operations and/or procedures at our Sandown surgery should arrive ideally between 8.45 and 10 am. If these times present difficulties then please discuss this with a member of staff.
Dogs and cats due to undergo general anaesthesia or sedation should be starved from 7pm the previous day and should not have access to water from 7am on the morning of their op. Dogs should be walked wherever possible prior to admission to give them a chance to relieve themselves. Cats should be brought to the surgery in a secure cat basket or other secure, suitable container. Dogs should be brought to the surgery using a well-fitting collar or harness, and lead. Rabbits coming to the surgery should also be brought in a secure container and should have food withheld from 7am only for most procedures. For all other species please check with us about food withholding times. For some animals (e.g. small birds ) it is important for them to continue to eat right up to the time of anaesthesia.
If your animal is already on medication please check with us whether (or when) to give this prior to admission.
Although we do not perform routine surgery on weekends, animals may sometimes be booked in for urgent procedures on Saturday mornings. You will usually be advised of an admission time but this would normally be between 8.30 and 10am.
Most animals undergoing general anaesthesia will be given a ‘pre-med’ . This helps calm an animal prior to being given an anaesthetic. Clients of particularly nervous dogs may prefer their pet to be given a pre-med whilst they are still present and are welcome to wait with them until it has taken effect.
Do you do any pre-operative tests?
A range of tests are available prior to administering an anaesthetic and/or undertaking surgery to minimise risks and anticipate potential problems. What tests are recommended by the vet in any particular case will vary depending on for example an animal's age, the procedure being performed and any other pre-existing conditions.
Some animals may have more subtle problems which, though inapparent on physical examination, could still increase anaesthetic risk. Many such conditions (e.g. early kidney failure or liver damage) may only be detected by further investigations such as blood tests. Such situations are more common in older animals and we will usually recommend pre-anaesthetic blood tests in 'senior' animals, those with a previous history of problems, or those with unexplained symptoms for example. The most commonly performed tests are included in an industry-standard 'pre-anaesthetic profile'. This profile tests for the most frequently encountered problems that increase anaesthetic risk in older animals. However additional blood tests may sometimes be appropriate.
Rarely, some animals can have blood clotting problems, again without it necessarily being apparent pre-operatively but which, if present, could pose major problems during surgery. These can include inherited (‘haemophilia-like’) conditions in some breeds or acquired blood clotting problems due to lungworm infestation or accidental ingestion of rat poison. If there are suspicions of these problems we will recommend blood clotting and/or lungworm tests. Should a pre-anaesthetic examination reveal a suspicion of anaemia, electrolyte imbalance or hormone problem then other tests, such as a complete blood count, blood electrolyte levels and those of some hormones, such as thyroid hormone and cortisone, may be recommended. All these tests can be performed just prior to an anaesthetic with results generally being available within 30 minutes of samples being taken.
When can my animal be collected, will he/she stay in overnight?
Most procedures are performed in the morning, allowing us to monitor the patients over the next few hours and ensure they recover sufficiently from an anaesthetic and are suffering no post-operative complications before they are discharged. For most routine ops therefore, animals are discharged late afternoon the same day. We usually recommend clients phone us around 2.30-3pm to find out when they can collect their pet. For some conditions, particularly following orthopaedic or gastro-intestinal surgery, animals are more likely to be hospitalised for a day or more. Under these circumstances we will usually keep in regular phone contact to advise an owner on their pet’s progress.
Do you do visits?
Yes. As a mixed practice we’ve always been used to doing several visits a day and are happy to perform house visits, especially to attend pets of those who may have mobility or transport issues, for those who may have several pets to examine at the same time, or for those who would simply prefer their pets to be treated in the comfort of their own home, particularly at emotional times. There is a charge for visiting which varies depending on whether a visit is pre-arranged and potentially co-ordinated with other visits or is required on an emergency basis. Visits are always performed by our own vets. We must stress that we have no connection with other visiting services. (Similarity of surname with another practice is pure coincidence.)
My dog/cat is very nervous is a visit a good idea?
Maybe, but not always! Understandably some pets may be apprehensive or even frightened when visiting the surgery and we will always do our utmost to minimise such problems for nervous animals, perhaps by making appointments at quieter times, allowing clients to wait with their pet in their car until they are seen or simply spending some time trying to befriend your pet. Even so some animals may still be very anxious and it is a natural reaction to think it may be better and less stressful for them to be examined in the familiar surroundings of their own home.
Sometimes this is undoubtedly the case. However occasionally the opposite is true. Some dogs and cats can be quite territorial and get very stressed, even aggressive, when a stranger is present on their ‘home patch’. Many cats are actually much harder to examine and treat in their own home and will frequently try to run away when being examined – at home they know all their bolt holes - whereas many worried cats will actually ‘freeze’ when placed on an examination table at the surgery.
If considering a home visit to minimise stress to your pet then it is prudent to try to find out what they are like with strangers coming to the house and handling them in order to judge if it would be a good idea.
What can/can’t be done on a visit?
No vehicle can carry the full range of equipment and drugs that would normally be kept at a modern veterinary surgery and this creates limits to some of the procedures that can be performed at home.
Generally animals can be examined, have blood, skin, urine and other samples taken for analysis, be given many medical treatments, including vaccinations, and have some minor procedures performed in their own home. Many clients also request visits to perform the final act for pets, when they have neared the end of their lives, in the comfort and privacy of their own surroundings and we are happy to oblige these requests.
Best modern practice for operating theatres, however, dictates that these should be used for no other purposes, be temperature controlled, have a separate preparation and scrub area with running hot and cold water, have waste gases properly extracted, be suitably lit, be capable of being properly sterilised and be of sufficient size for purpose. Such standards are considered essential for minimizing risk to the patient and achieving best possible surgical results. These standards cannot be met by operating in clients’ houses or in the back of a vehicle. For all these reasons and for the purpose of essential post operative monitoring we do not operate on visits but perform all our general anaesthetics and surgery at our main premises in Newport which have been kitted out to meet these standards. If clients require assistance to get their pet to the surgery for an operation we can usually help to arrange this.
What do I need to do if my animal is on long-term medication and how do I order a repeat prescription?
If your animal is on longer-term medication you will usually need to request a repeat supply. These can be ordered either in person at any of our surgeries, by phoning (01983) 522822 or simply by submitting a request form using the link on the "online medication requests" page of this website.
Repeat supplies of prescription only medicines do need to be authorized by a veterinary surgeon and occasionally a discussion with the vet, usually by phone, may be needed. Some drugs may need to be ordered in especially and all will need to be prepared, labelled, checked and, if required, sent to a branch surgery for collection. For these reasons we ask that requests for repeat prescriptions are made at least 48 hours before collection. Any animal on long-term medication does need regular check-ups to ensure that the drugs are still appropriate and effective and that the animal is not developing undue side effects. Legally vets are only allowed to prescribe and supply 'prescription only' drugs to animals that are 'under their care'. Whilst this phrase is open to different interpretations, general consensus is that if a vet hasn't seen an animal for more than 6 months it cannot be considered to be under his or her care. Consequently we will usually need to see an animal for a check-up at least twice a year in order to be able to continue to supply many drugs.
Can I have a written prescription?
Yes. Clients are welcome to request a written prescription in order to be able to obtain their animal’s medications from other sources if they prefer. There is a charge for supplying written prescriptions.