Helpful advice to keep your pet safe and healthy

  • Dental Information
  • Guide to Toothbrushing
  • Bandage Care
  • Clicker Training
  • Dog Ear Cleaning
  • Fireworks
  • Getting a New Puppy or Dog
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Dental Information

Cat dental facts

Kittens have 26 temporary teeth that begin to erupt when they are about 2 to 3 weeks old; They have 30 permanent teeth that erupt at about 3 to 4 months; The incisors (small teeth at the front of the mouth) are used for picking up food and grooming; The canines (big pointed teeth) are used for grabbing prey; The molars (teeth at the back of the mouth) are used for crunching and crushing the food; Cats tongues are covered in small ‘hairs’ called papillae that are used for grooming.

Dental disease in cats

Symptoms of periodontal disease in cats can include yellow and brown tartar build-up along the gum line, red inflamed gums, sneezing and persistent bad breath.

Cats get lesions in their teeth similar to caries or holes in humans, called Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs). FORLs are the most common tooth disease in domestic cats (according to some papers more than 50% of cats over 3 years old!).

Cats may be seen to groom less, be lethargic, or lose condition but if you open the mouth, often there will be inflammation, tartar, bleeding, broken teeth and other more subtle changes.

Dog dental facts

Puppies have 28 temporary teeth that erupt at about three to four weeks of age. They have 42 permanent teeth that begin to emerge at about four months; Temporary teeth should be pushed out when the permanent tooth erupts underneath it - small breeds (especially short nosed) are more prone to problems due to ‘overcrowding’ of the teeth.

Dental disease in dogs

Symptoms of gum disease in dogs include yellow and brown build-up of tartar along the gum line, inflamed gums and persistent bad breath.

Broken teeth are a common problem. Chewing on hard objects (especially stones and bones) and rough play can cause damage to the teeth. They can be repaired or removed to prevent abscesses and chronic pain.

What to do if I think my pet has dental problems?

Very rarely will an animal stop eating due to dental pain except in extremely severe cases. In-appetence is a very poor indicator of dental pain in animals. They would rather be painful than starve. Dental disease affects up to 80% of pets over the age of three and just like humans, there can be serious consequences of poor dental health. If dental disease is present, depending on the type of disease, intervention can save teeth.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us for free dental checks at the clinic and advice.

Guide to Toothbrushing

1. Introduce toothpaste

Place a small amount of toothpaste onto your finger and encourage your pet to lick the toothpaste. This allows them to get used to the taste and texture of the toothpaste as a positive experience.

2. Introduce your finger

Place a small amount of toothpaste onto your finger, only this time rub your finger along the outside surface of the teeth and gums. Only go as far as your pet is happy to let you go. Repeat a number of times on different occasions as you may be able to go further each time.

3. Introduce the toothbrush - canine teeth

Apply some water and a small amount of toothpaste to one end of your toothbrush. Allow your pet to lick some of the toothpaste to reinforce that there is nothing to worry about. Hold your pets head still and lift their upper lip to show their teeth. Start by using a circular motion with the toothbrush on the canine teeth, only do this for as long as your pet is willing to let you. Always ensure you do both sides of the mouth.

4. Introduce the toothbrush – back teeth

Only progress to this step when you can comfortably brush your pet’s canines. Start as before with the canines slowly moving backward in a circular motion. Only go as far back as your pet will allow, ensuring you do both sides of the mouth.

5. Introduce the toothbrush – all teeth

This final step should only be done when your pet is comfortable with you brushing their canines and back teeth, as they have sensitive small front teeth (incisors). When you have completed steps 3 and 4 gently lift up their front top lip and using an up and down motion brush the top incisors. Then repeat this step with the bottom incisors.

Bandage Care

Care of your pet’s bandage or dressing

  • Keep the bandage dry. The veterinary nurse will give you a plastic boot for your pet to wear when they go outside
  • The bandage is not designed to be walked on excessively and your pet’s exercise should, therefore, be restricted
  • Your pet should not be allowed to bite or chew at the bandage. If there is a possibility of this, they may have to wear a buster collar or have it covered with a sock

You must call the veterinary surgery if...

  • The material starts to unwind
  • The bandage or dressing gets wet
  • The bandage or dressing starts to smell
  • Your pet seems uncomfortable (eg if your pet tries to bite or chew at the bandage or dressing excessively)
  • The bandage starts to slip
  • There is any swelling above or below the bandage

Clicker Training

What is Clicker training?

Clicker training is a positive reinforcement training system. Anything your dog needs to know or do can be taught using this method, and will result in an animal that loves to work. Dolphins are trained in the same way, and like them, dogs will become eager, attentive and they will love to work.

We usually think of training as a method of getting rid of bad behaviour. Clicker training teaches dogs they are doing the right thing instead of stopping them from doing the wrong thing. Clickers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You can buy them from most pet shops, or on-line from Amazon.

Why do we need to use a clicker?

Training in this way requires you to use a clicker, and not just your voice, as the conditioner reinforcer. This is because you simply can’t say a word with the split-second precision that you can achieve with a click. With the clicker you can reinforce tiny movements the instant they occur and because the clicker has a very distinctive sound so that its meaning is crystal clear.

Getting started

The first thing to do is get a clicker (!) and some small treats that are easy to eat in a single mouthful. You need something like tiny pieces of cheese or chicken that do not need to be crunched.

Teach your dog the meaning of the click by clicking the clicker and throwing a treat on the floor. Do this repeatedly whilst walking around the room. What your dog is doing when the treat arrives is not important; he will remember what he was doing when he heard the click. When you click the clicker and your dog looks for a treat, you know the signal has become a conditioned reinforcer and you are ready to establish a behaviour. This is known as ‘shaping’.

You will find the more things your dog learns to do, the more he will trust and respect you. Training with reinforcement creates a dog that is doing things because he wants to do them.

P.S. Cats can be clicker trained too, but that’s another story!

Dog Ear Cleaning

Cleaning your dog's ear

  • If possible get someone to gently restrain the dog for you, either outside or in a room with wipe clean surfaces
  • Lift the ear flap and squeeze a moderate volume (enough to fill the canal) of the fluid into the entrance to the ear canal
  • Massage the ear canal
  • Use cotton wool to wipe out any material that rises to the surface
  • Do not put any cotton buds into the ear as you risk damaging the ear drum and impacting the wax into the ear

Applying antibiotic drops into the ear

  • Always leave at least 30 minutes after cleaning before applying drops unless specifically told otherwise
  • Lift the ear flap and squeeze a small amount into the ear canal
  • Massage the ear canal and then leave
  • Always complete the recommended course of treatment and then discard the bottle. Drops cannot be reused at a later date

Try to avoid touching the bottles against the ear or you could spread infection between the ears. If this happens clean the bottle before using again. If the dog experiences any discomfort during these procedures then please ring the surgery for advice.


Animals do not like fireworks

Dogs and cats, along with other animals, experience fear and confusion during the firework season. This fear may be expressed by:

  • Shaking and trembling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Barking and howling
  • Attempts to hide, or get into/out of the house, fence or other enclosure
  • Refusal to eat

If any of these signs persist or are excessive, consult your veterinary surgeon.

Steps you can take

Ensure that your pet has proper identification, like a tag with current information. Ideally, your pet should be micro-chipped, so that easy and quick identification is possible. Unfortunately, some dogs and cats do run away from home during the firework season, even those that have previously shown no fear of fireworks.

Try to ensure your pet has been to the toilet before the fireworks start. Some pets are too scared to go once the fireworks begin, which may lead to accidents. If you have to be outside with your pet, keep it on a lead or in a carrier at all times.

If you can, bring outdoor pets inside for the duration of the fireworks. If this is not possible, cover the hutch or kennel with a blanket. Outdoor animals are often quite used to thunder, but fireworks can cause a very different reaction.

Feed your pet a good, high carbohydrate meal mid- to late afternoon, so he has a full stomach during the evening (don't try this if your pet is prone to diarrhoea when it is scared or at other times).

If indoors, move your pet to a room with the curtains closed. Give him some toys and put on some music to provide distraction. Ignore the noises yourself and try to engage your pet in some kind of game.

Do not punish your pet or overly reassure him. Ignore fearful behaviour that occurs for no reason. When your pet shows any signs of coping or behaving calmly give him gentle praise.

Getting a New Puppy or Dog

Before you look for a new four legged friend there are some important things to consider:
What type of dog is right for you, your family and your lifestyle?
Pedigree, cross-breed, or rescue dog?
How do you find good breeders, and what questions should you ask?

It is crucial to gather as much information as possible before your first meeting as it is often difficult to make a sound decision when confronted with a cute or sad dog or puppy.

The Kennel Club has compiled a puppy buying guide app which you can download for free as well as lots of advice on their website. If you have any questions or concerns about getting a new dog then please contact us.

 Click here to access the Kennel Club website.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

There are lots of different varieties of NSAIDs; examples used at the surgery include Metacam, Rimadyl, Onsior, Previcox and Cimalgex. Which version your animal has been prescribed will depend on their condition and history but the advice below applies to all of them.

What are NSAIDs?

NSAIDs are a class of drugs that work to reduce pain, inflammation and fevers. They are widely and effectively used for a variety of conditions in both dogs and cats.

How should I store the medication?

This medication does not require special storage conditions. For safety, all medicines should be kept out of reach and sight of children. Also, as the medication is palatable, it should be kept out of reach of animals.

What should I do if my pet accidentally takes too many doses?

Contact the surgery immediately as an overdose of NSAIDs can potentially be fatal.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If a dose is missed just give the next dose as usual. Do not give a double dose.

What are the possible side effects of NSAIDs?

Possible side effects include loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea. In rare cases this can result in a stomach ulcer. If any of these side effects occur then stop the medication immediately and contact the surgery. If the label on the medication says "give with food" then it is very important that this is followed to reduce the risk of these side effects.

Care should be taken in animals with pre-existing kidney or liver problems but your vet will discuss these risks with you.