Preventative Healthcare

Dog Vaccinations

puppyVaccination of adults and puppies plays a major role in our preventative healthcare and we consider vaccination to be safe and necessary. Having said that, we are also keen to vaccinate only as often as we believe to be necessary.
Routine vaccination provides protection against life-threatening diseases – Distemper, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis and Hepatitis which may be contracted from the environment or from unvaccinated dogs These diseases still occur, and the heart-breaking fact is that they can so easily be prevented!

Once puppies have had their initial vaccination course (which can start from 8 to 10 weeks of age) it is really important for them to have an annual booster vaccination. It is vital to maintain their immunity as older dogs can still succumb to these killer diseases.

There is no evidence that the immunity lasts longer in older dogs. In fact, elderly dogs, like elderly people, are more likely to have a poor immune system so it is best to continue with vaccination, even into old age.

At Abbey Veterinary Group a full health assessment is included in the price of every vaccination appointment. This is always a good opportunity for us to examine your pet for any problems that you may or may not have been aware of. Regular examination can lead to early diagnosis of a condition which gives your pet a better chance of a successful outcome.

In summary, vaccination is a safe, reliable and cost-effective way of giving your pet the best chance of living a long and healthy life.

Infectious Bronchitis (Kennel Cough) is a condition that can result in a harsh cough and bronchitis, caused by a bacteria similar to the one that causes whooping cough in children. It requires a separate intranasal vaccine for protection. Members of the VIP Pet Healthcare Plan will qualify for a discounted price. Your dog may be at risk through attending boarding kennels, dog shows or mixing with other dogs.

Kennel Cough vaccination should ideally be given no later than two weeks prior to kennelling or other anticipated possible exposure to infection.

Dog Fleas

What can fleas do to my pet?

• Flea bites cause discomfort and irritation.

• Many pets become sensitised to flea bites which lead to intense itchiness, and severe self-inflicted trauma.

• Fleas are responsible for transmitting some tapeworms to our pets.

How can fleas affect my family?

Although animal fleas do not live on people, flea bites can cause rashes in people and some individuals can develop intense skin reactions to flea bites.

How can I control the flea problem?

Please consult us to discuss the options.

It is practically impossible to prevent your pet coming into contact with fleas so regular treatments are necessary to control the problem and prevent a build up within the home.

Fleas breed throughout the year in centrally heated homes, therefore it is important to maintain a flea control programme throughout the year, killing adult fleas and preventing a build up in the environment.

Pet Treatments

Spot on applications such as Prinovox are applied on to the skin in the neck region and quickly kill adult fleas. If Prinovox is applied regularly every month it gives excellent long term control of fleas. It will help to control skin lesions in dogs that are allergic to fleas.

Prinovox (included in our VIP Pet Healthcare Plan free of charge)

  • Is a spot on solution that treats fleas, worms and mites in a single application
  • Is applied monthly to your pet
  • Prevents and treats lungworm (angiostrongylus vasorum)
    Once seen as an isolated problem in parts of England, Wales and Ireland, lungworm has spread. Possibly by the movement of infected dogs and foxes or changes in slug and snail populations.
  • Another almost unique feature of using Prinovox is that it kills and prevents infestation with fox mange (Sarcoptes) and will also treat ear mites (Otodectes).

PrinovoxTM does not contain organophosphates or permethrins and is extremely safe.

Abbey Vets Key Points

• Almost all dogs pick up fleas

• Fleas are present all year round

• Your house may provide a supply of developing fleas to attack your pet

• Fleas are a health hazard to both you and your pets

• Effective control involves treatment with the correct products throughout the year

• Are you lungworm aware? Take the lungworm challenge at

There is now a simple blood test to check if your dog is infected with the potentially deadly lungworms. The results of this test are available in 15 minutes. Please ask us for details

Dog Worms

Keep your pet and family safe!

Using our prescriptions for worms will control all the important worms that your dog may pick up. Please ask us for advice on the best choice from our range of safe & easy worming options.

What can worms do to my dog?

Heavy infestations can result in vomiting and severe diarrhoea and cause a loss of blood, weight and condition. Worms weaken the immune system, and by migration through major organs can cause illness e.g. pneumonia. Whilst pets with lighter infestations may show no external signs, they are still a possible source of infection to others, including humans.

What can worms do to my family?

The greatest threat to human health is from the larvae of the roundworm Toxocara. The eggs of these worms may be picked up on the hands of children from either the pet or the environment. Infection then occurs when children put unwashed hands in their mouths.  Although serious consequences are quite rare, these worms can cause blindness, heart problems and epilepsy in children.

How would my pet get worms?

Puppies can be infected with roundworms (Toxocara) before they are born as the larval stages migrate through the mother to the puppies in the womb. They are also transferred to the puppy in the mother’s milk.

All dogs can pick up Toxocara eggs from contaminated soil and swallow them when they groom themselves/lick their feet.

  • Hookworm larvae are found in contaminated soil and can migrate through the skin of the feet.
  • Lungworm larvae are found in slugs, snails and occasionally frogs and can infect your pet if it eats them or accidentally swallows them when drinking water outdoors or playing with out door toys.
  • Heartworm (which is not present in the UK) is transmitted by mosquitos that are present in some other European countries.
  • Tapeworms can be picked up by eating small rodents or by ingesting fleas when grooming themselves.

How can I control the problem?

Using Prinovox every month not only kills fleas, it also keeps your dog free from roundworm (Toxocara), Whipworm, Hookworm, Lungworm and Heartworm. As the dog is being wormed continuously there is no chance of him putting your family at risk by passing out worm eggs.

Tapeworms are not common locally & not a risk to pet or human health,
but can be treated specifically if seen.

Please feel free to discuss any aspects of parasite control with a vet or one of the healthcare nursing team.

Abbey Vets Key Points


• Worms are a threat to the health of your family and your pet

• Regular worming is necessary to control infestations

• Puppies can be infected before they are born so worming is advised at an early stage of their life

• Are you lungworm aware? Take the Lungworm challenge at

There is now a simple blood test to check if your dog is infected with the potentially deadly lungworms. The results of this test are available in 15 minutes. Please ask us for details

Dog Dental Care

dog dentalDental disease is one of the more common problems we see, and much of the dental work we perform could have been prevented by early attention to preventative dental care. We supply a range of helpful dental health products, from brushes & fish/chicken toothpaste to dental cleaning food. Please ask us for advice….

What should I look out for?

• Temporary teeth – In young animals sometimes fail to fall out by 6-7 months of age, resulting in misalignment of the permanent teeth. They can also create pockets in the gum in which food accumulates, leading to gum infection. Temporary teeth can be removed (under anaesthesia) if they cause a problem.

• Abnormal jaw development – This can lead to irregular growth of teeth.

• Gum disease – This is largely preventable with routine care. As with humans, the crux of good dental hygiene lies in the daily removal of plaque.

• Plaque – This is made up of bacteria and food debris and builds up on the teeth throughout the day. If the plaque is left it becomes hard tartar/calculus which damages the gum. The gum is then     pushed back and exposes the roots of the teeth. Eventually the teeth come loose and can fall out or have to be removed. This process leads to infection of the surrounding gum and bone, causing pain, bad breath and problems eating.

Dental disease can be a source of bacteria and toxins which travel via the blood to other parts of the body, including the heart and kidneys.

To prevent any of this we would suggest brushing your pet’s teeth.
Some tips…

• Don’t rush it. Remember – Take your time and allow him/her to get used to each step of the process.

• End on a high by praising your pet when you have cleaned his/her teeth.

• Start young so that brushing becomes part of your normal daily routine.

• Spend a few moments every day touching in and around your pet’s mouth. Progress to rubbing the outside surfaces of the teeth with your finger. Next, cover your finger with a damp cloth and rub the teeth. Once your pet is comfortable with this, move onto a finger brush and then to a toothbrush with pet toothpaste (not human toothpaste!).


Abbey Vets Key Points

Dental Care

• Monitor young pets for abnormal development of teeth and jaw bones

• Brush daily to maintain good oral health

• Start brushing at an early age to customise your puppy to the procedure

• Use toothpaste developed for kittens and cats, never use human conventional toothpaste

We supply both Logic Oral Gel and Enzymatic dog toothpaste, as well as Vet Aquadent, which many find particularly helpful in fighting plaque.


Microchipping is a quick, easy and painless one-off injection that places a tiny microchip under the skin of the scruff of the neck. There is no need for sedation or anaesthesia.

Each microchip carries a unique number that can be read by a portable scanner and will allow the authorities to contact you should your dog get lost.

Why should I have my pet microchipped?

1. The microchip is a permanent means of identifying your pet. Collars and tags, however useful, can easily be lost.

2. Should your pet become lost, the microchip system will help to return him/her to you with the minimum of delay and avoid him/her being re-homed or even destroyed. This is particularly important if your pet is seriously injured and taken to the nearest vet.

3. Pets travelling abroad are required to be micro-chipped as part of the Pet Travel Scheme.

How can I be traced if my pet is found?

Your information is kept for life on our practice computer system and a National Database and the fee for this is included in the cost of the implantation. If your pet is found and its chip number identified, it is a relatively easy matter to reunite you with your pet. The chips we use comply with the International Standard (ISO) and so can be recognised by scanners abroad.

What if my personal details change?

Whilst the microchip with its unique number will remain with your pet for life, it is essential that you update your personal details on the National Database as and when they change particularly if you move address or change your contact telephone numbers.

Can microchips have side effects?

A European reporting system which monitors reactions to microchip implantation has failed to identify any significant problems in the last 8 years.


We recommend:

• All male & female dogs are neutered from 6 months of age (unless intended for breeding, and 12 months for large breed dogs).

• Monitoring weight and food intake post-operatively.

Feed an appropriate diet to maintain weight

What is neutering?

In the male, this is called castration, and involves removing both testicles.

In the female, the operation is commonly called spaying, and both ovaries and the womb are removed.

Why is it good to spay your bitch?

Apart from the obvious advantage of preventing unwanted litters, spaying provides some definite practical and health benefits. Your pet will no longer have seasons (with all the associated management difficulties), future life-threatening diseases of the womb (pyometra and cancer) will be prevented, and the risk of mammary tumours will be very much reduced.

Why is it good to neuter your young male dog?

In older dogs, testicular tumours, anal tumours and diseases of the prostate gland are common. Castration is a valuable preventative measure against these problems. Castration is also performed to reduce some problematic behavioural traits such as wandering, aggression, hypersexual and territorial behaviour that may be linked to male hormones.

When should the operation be performed?

Males – can be neutered from 6 months of age.

Females – can be neutered from 6 months of age but better to wait until 12 months in large breed dogs. In general we recommend spaying after the first season. However we offer a complimentary consultation with a vet if you wish to have your bitch spayed before her first season to ensure she is mature enough for the procedure.

Are there any disadvantages of neutering?

Neutering is a surgical procedure and involves an anaesthetic. In a young healthy animal the risk associated with this anaesthetic is minimal.

Neutered animals have a reduced metabolic rate, and so there may be a tendency to put on weight if the same quantity of food is given. However, a reduction of food intake or a light diet should prevent this. One of our healthcare nursing team would be happy to discuss any queries with you.

Rarely, some spayed bitches can develop urinary incontinence, but this can usually be controlled with medication, and the advantages from neutering far outweigh this possible disadvantage. Again, our healthcare nurses or vets would be happy to discuss this with you.


How important is proper nutrition?

The right diet is vital to keep your dog fit and healthy. Poor nutrition accounts for a remarkably high percentage of the health problems we see. These include vomiting, diarrhoea, flatulence, obesity, dental problems, growth deformities, heart, kidney and skin problems.

What type of diet should I feed?

• Homemade diets – These are rarely nutritionally balanced or complete. They are relatively difficult to prepare and can be expensive.

• Commercial diets – quality diets are convenient and are nutritionally balanced. We recommend the Hills range of diets which contain no colouring, artificial flavours or bulking agents. They are manufactured using only high quality natural ingredients.

Is wet or dry food better?

Dry food is more cost-effective and helps to keep the teeth and gums healthy. Tinned food or pouches have a much higher water content which means that more may be required to satisfy your pet’s appetite. However, some pets find tinned food or pouches more palatable and easier to digest.

Which brand should I choose?

There are many different life stage diets to consider. The Hills range offers a high quality range of diets for dogs that are tailored to meet their individual nutritional needs. Our healthcare nurses would be happy to advise you on the best diet for your dog.

Young dog – This diet is a complete veterinary formulated nutrition for puppies from weaning and for pregnant/lactating bitches. Puppies have an absolute requirement for balanced growth, particularly in terms of energy, protein and minerals. At this stage the digestive system is delicate and the immune system immature.

Junior dog – This diet is designed to provide the extra nutrients needed by growing puppies yet avoiding the excesses that often lead to obesity, as well as bone and cartilage deformities that larger breed dogs are particularly prone to.

Adult dog – This diet provides all the nutritional requirements of an adult pet while reducing the risk of obesity. It also contains Chondroitin sulphate and Chitosan to help maintain joint mobility, and an amino acid to help promote urinary health.

Senior dog – This diet is designed for pets from 7 years old. It caters for the more relaxed lifestyle of the older pet helping him/her to remain in good shape while keeping the skin, coat and internal organs in good health. With added health benefits to help maintain enhanced mobility, alertness and vision support.

Behaviour and Training

A well-behaved dog is a joy to have around. To ensure good behaviour throughout its life, training should start as early as possible, and your dog should be fully socialised.

We can put you in touch with local training clubs and we run puppy parties to assist in the process. The following are basic tips on training and behaviour – there are many good books that give more in-depth advice if required. Or you can discuss any problems you have with one of our vets or nurses.


Punishment is a poor training tool and should be avoided, anything that causes pain or fear should never be used.

  • Puppies learn by the responses they get from you.
  • Reward good behaviour.
  • Discourage inappropriate behaviour.

Rewarding good behaviour:

  • Audible praise – ‘Good dog’.
  • Physical praise – patting/stroking.
  • Treats – e.g. toys or biscuits.

Discourage inappropriate behaviour:

  • Ignore – puppies hate to be ignored.
  • Scold – say NO in a firm manner if the behaviour cannot be ignored.
  • ‘Time out’ – isolating a pup from the family group is the harshest punishment although it is possible this may lead to separation anxiety problems if done too frequently.

Three golden rules:

  • Praise wherever possible.
  • Respond immediately.
  • Respond consistently.


Chewing valuable objects should be discouraged by saying ‘NO’ in a stern voice. Remove the object and after a few minutes replace it with a toy. The object should not be replaced immediately as we must take care not to reward unwanted behaviour.


House Training

Puppies should be let out at least every 2 hours. They should be rewarded for doing toilet outside but ignored when they foul inside. Expect accidents in the first few weeks!

Play Biting

This is normal canine behaviour but it is important to teach pups early in life that it is unacceptable. Don’t engage in rough play or encourage the puppy to attack or bit hands or feet. If the puppy does nip with enough force to be even mildly uncomfortable the owner should say “OUCH” quite loudly, stop the play and walk away from the puppy.


At the start of every dog’s life there is a uniquely sensitive period in which they can absorb many new experiences without fear. It is very important to introduce puppies to the outside world as early as possible. Therefore it is essential that until the puppy reaches 10 weeks of age we should take them out in our arms every day for a walk around the neighbourhood to experience the day to day sights and sounds of people, cars, children, bikes, push chairs etc. Although it is perfectly reasonable, and a good idea, to allow them to meet healthy, vaccinated dogs in your home or that of friends and family, please remember your puppy will not have cover against disease until a minimum of a week after second vaccination and should be carried at all times.

Handling your dog

It is worth getting used to handling your pup, and getting your pup used to being handled. Every day try opening the mouth, touching the face, gums and teeth, feeling the ears, paws and claws. This will reduce the stress of being examined and treated in the future. It will also help you to recognise what is normal for your dog and to pick up problems early.

Abbey Vets Key Points

Behaviour and Training

• Whilst training your puppy ensure that he/she does not try to dominate.

• Be consistent in your training

• Socialise your puppy as soon as possible

• Get used to handling your puppy and your puppy to being handled.

•  Reward good behaviour, ignore bad behaviour

•  Praise /scold behaviour immediately so the behaviour relates with your response

•  Puppies should be let out in the garden at least every 2 hours so they can learn to toilet outside

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