Pets and Vets

Veterinary Practices

Caring for your pets + Routine pet treatments + Pet insurance + More

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At The Vet

December becomes a busy time for vets with veterinary practices reporting about a third increase in seeing pet emergencies, many caused by the preparation for Christmas celebrations and actually occurring over the Christmas period.

The most common problems are pets that forage among Christmas food when owners are unaware, sniffing new smells and many helping themselves to human foods that are simply far too rich, in excessive quantities and quite toxic. Most common complaints being severe upset stomachs and diarrhoea.

High up on the A&E list, is dogs and cats eating stolen chocolate. Depending on the size of the pet and the amount eaten will depend on how ill they become. Chocolate is toxic to pets including dogs, cats and rabbits and shouldn’t be left lying around anytime of the year, but especially when chocolate gifts are wrapped and left lying under the Christmas tree. Pets become interested in these new smells and are known for their extremely clever unwrapping skills of presents within seconds and can devour whole boxes of chocolates before one realises and can intervene.

Other most frequent December A&E complaints feature visitor pets mixing with your household of pets over the Christmas break. Vets see many pets with lacerations and bite wounds caused by unhappy pets and their pet visitors fighting over whose territory it is.

Cats can be just as naughty, playing with the baubles on the Christmas tree, bringing it crashing down, baubles smashing and ending up with cut paws or electrocuting themselves chewing the fairy lights.

Pets will tend to ingest more foreign bodies accidentally over the Christmas period than normal. If there are small children in the family, it’s important that new toys and games are put away carefully when they finish playing and guests staying overnight are careful to put their clothes in their suitcases, drawers or hung up. An unbelievable number of dogs have great fetishes chewing and swallowing dirty underwear!

Avoid spending time at Vet A&E and take a few moments to read our special Christmas Pet Guide.

Your Pet and Covid-19

Covid-19 has seen a rise in pets being bought by households up and down the UK, where owners have created more time to take care of pets, especially dogs, when previous lifestyles may have put a restraint on caring for dogs properly. New pet owners find how rewarding and therapeutic it can be to own a pet during difficult times.

Very helpful information ‘Can animals catch Coronavirus (Covid-19)?’ has been produced by GoCompare, the huge pet comparison website that offers insurance quotes for dogs, cats, rabbits and other furry friends. It’s a very useful 5 minute read about Covid-19 and your pet, your family, vaccines, and costs of insurance.

  • Vets have been advising everyone to take precautions during Covid-19
  • Washing hands with soap and water before and after touching an animal
  • Avoid close contact with pets from other households and stray animals as you simply do not know where they have been

What Do Vets Do?

With more than 45% of UK households owning a pet, vets are kept busy, with the most popular being dogs, followed by cats. Increasingly, households are choosing more unconventional pets such as reptiles and small mammals which need specialist vet care. 

The UK had just over 4,000 veterinary practices in 2019 for pet owners to choose from and approximately 25,000 registered veterinarians according to Statista.

Dog at the vets

Most of the UK public know that vets care for animals and try to keep them healthy.

Most veterinarians diagnose animal health problems, vaccinate against diseases, medicate animals suffering from infections or illnesses, take blood tests, treat and dress wounds, take x-rays, read other medical scans, set fractures, perform surgery, and advise owners about animal feeding, behaviour, and breeding, educating the public in the best care of their pet. 

They sadly also attend to end of life of the pet with euthanasia.

Pet care insurance was first introduced in the UK during 1976 and has now grown to more than a quarter of pet owners choosing to insure their pets. Most veterinary practices will treat insured animals, but it’s best to check first before expecting treatment.

Veterinary practices are run as private enterprises and generally are either large group practices or smaller, localised practices. They do refer between practices, sharing the state of the art resources where possible.

What’s most important is to find a vet in a practice that may specialise in your pet care if it’s more of an unusual pet choice, including rabbit care. 

Veterinary Professional Associations

The UK practice of veterinary medicine is regulated by The RCVS – The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Veterinary medicine can only be performed by fully qualified and regulated professionals as subject to the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. 

The BVA – British Veterinary Association represents it’s professional members’ interests. You can check if your vet is registered using the RCVS or BVA search facility.

Numerous individuals need to be DBS checked when working with animals called The UK Disclosure and Barring Service. One of the purposes of this legal checking system is to help recruitment decisions by ensuring unsuitable people do not work with pets. There are 3 levels of checking, basic, standard and enhanced tiers.


Vets on entry into their profession are eligible for a basic DBS check as are other animal-related jobs such as boarding kennel owners, pet sitters, dog walkers, therapy handlers who accompany animals on hospital and hospice visits.

CVS is the UK’s largest Veterinary practice group, and Vets4Pets the largest small animal veterinary practice. Vets Now have more than 60 locations across the UK. 

Dog at vet

5 TIPS Finding A Local Vet

  • 1. When searching for a vet, ask other pet owners, kennel owners, pet owners which vet they use and listen to their feedback. They will be dealing with a variety of different breeds but the same name may just pop up.
  • 2. Take a look at all local vets online presence, reading customer reviews before using any services.
  • 3. Choose an accessible practice for location and clinic hours with a friendly, efficient and organised team and who support your pet insurance policy before you undertake any treatment.
  • 4. If your pet is exotic then it’s worthwhile finding the appropriate specialist vet in your area preferably before, or at the time of purchase. 
  • 5. Some vets can offer a short free consultation if new to their practice. Take advantage and see if you like the practice, how clean it is, how caring the staff are, how organised their reception area is and how thorough the vet appears to be.

Microchipping Your Pet

Dog being read by microchip reader

Microchipping was made a legal requirement, introduced in the UK, April 2016, a law for all dogs in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has slightly different animal laws but pets are also required to be microchipped.

Owners of dogs and puppies over eight weeks had to have registered their pets on one of the authorised professional, private, databases detailed on the government website, which keep their owners’ details. This was necessary to help reunite the thousands of pets that go missing, stolen or stray each year. 

Cats can be microchipped depending on their size from about 10-12 weeks. Cats obtained from animal shelters are likely to have been chipped whilst in their care.

Only suitably trained persons can carry out microchipping which include veterinary practices. Likewise, veterinary practices can ‘read’ the microchip located in the scruff of the neck of the pet, with a special electronic non-evasive reader that will provide the important information registered about the chipped animal, linking to online records held by privately government approved companies.

Larger and exoctic animals can be microchipped to particularly stop pilfering and theft. Microchipped animals can also be monitored by the microchip readers by establishments across Europe and other international countries, particularly useful if dogs or animals stray and are found and can be repatriated to their owners.

Owners are advised to make sure vets check the microchip reading every time owners visit their vets.

The government website currently provides three charities who can microchip pets for free, ensuring all dog owners can comply with the Act.

The image above shows a dog being ‘read’ by a microchip reader. Watch the video ‘Microchipping a Pet’ in the video store to fully appreciate the procedure.

Dog eating flowers

Pet Poisoning

It’s frightening how easily pets can become poisoned around the home, garden and open spaces, 24/7. 


If you know what your pet has just eaten then a quick check online can often identify the toxicity symptoms they will be showing signs of, or shortly. This can be where a pet insurance plan really helps and a visit is needed to your vet urgently, taking the substance with you. 

Treatments are diverse according to what your pet has swallowed, whether it may be a foreign object, toxic and caustic substances or poisons such as chocolate, raisins or human pills.

There are now many vet businesses offering emergency video chats as part of their practice services, linking up with insurance firms, as part of pet insurance policies. Vets can advise short-term best practices but a speedy emergency trip to the vet is inevitable. 

If you think your dog has been eating snails, slugs or even frogs, visit the vet immediately. 

Cat wearing veterinary protective collar

Read Guides And Features

Best Tip

Most vets offer free pet weighing services helping to keep pets healthy fit and positively encourage frequent weigh-ins.

Important

Rabbits can catch fleas from other pets such as dogs and cats in the family household and all pets should be treated for fleas at the same time together.


What Should A Dog’s Temperature Be?

A dog and cats temperature should be between 38 to 39.2° Celsius (101° and 102.5°F). Your dog’s body temperature is naturally higher than a human’s. If your pet has a higher temperature of 39.5°C (103°F) or more, contact a vet.


\\\ Vet Treatments

Routine Treatments – Pet Dental Care
Dog teeth being examined

Just like humans, pets need dental care especially with help particularly preventing plaque building up.

Brushing pet’s teeth is essential, with a toothbrush every day but NOT with human toothpaste. Replace the brush every month to six weeks. 

Providing your pet with a regular dental routine can make real differences to their long-term oral health. Dog dental toys, chews and sticks are available in a wide range of sizes and flavours. from pet stores. 

Dry dental health foods include hard food particles that clean pet’s teeth as they chew, which help prevent plaque build-up. 

Vets are always happy to help with advice and care to prevent later problems in life.

Cat having veterinary treatment
Routine Care – Insurers

It’s essential to keep routine jabs for your pets up to date as insurers may not insure your pet if they lapse. Vets recommend dogs, cats and rabbits are protected against diseases at annual appointments.  


Routine Treatments – Fleas

Routine treatments are those generally that can be provided regularly by the pet owner including flea treatments, worming treatments, lice, ticks, and dental care.

Dog having routine treatments at vet

Insurance does not cover pets suffering from preventable illnesses caused by failure to keep up routine treatments such as flea treatments.

Fleas are living parasites and can cause much discomfort and other health conditions to pets including dogs, cats, rabbits and small pets.

Fleas can easily be found living in pet’s coats and affect the whole household very quickly. The first signs are generally a pet scratching itself continuously particularly around the scruff, head neck and ears, and back end and as an owner, you may have also been bitten. 

Flea treatments need to be applied immediately, and regularly. There are many available on the market place for puppies, dogs and kitten and cats. 

As well as flea infestations, worming treatments for dogs and cats is also highly recommended by vets at the same time as applying flea treatments. 


Routine Care And Insurers

Most pet insurers – but not all – expect pet owners to pay for routine, preventative and elective care of the pet, which includes neutering and microchipping, also regular flea treatment, annual vaccinations and other treatments. Likewise, kennels and catteries will ask to see proof of these when booking your pet in using their services.


Routine Treatments – Worming Pets
Dog being treated for fleas

Worming puppies at five weeks, eight weeks and twelve weeks is recommended and thereafter, at least every 3 months, as responsible pet ownership.  

Two main UK worm types are roundworm and tapeworm, are parasites and can cause harm to your pet and ultimately humans. 

Puppies are more commonly affected than dogs. Puppies and dogs can show signs by eating more, or by loss of weight, Diarrhoea or vomiting, scooting and dragging their bottom along the ground, swollen tummy, and visible worms or eggs in their faeces (or fur) around their bottoms.  

Ringworm caused by a fungus is not an internal parasite and is not prevented by using worming treatments.  

Lungworms live in a dog’s respiratory system. Dogs acquire lungworm eating grass where snails or snail trails are attached, as well as playing with toys that have been left outside where snails can contact. 

A course of worming tablets, liquid or paste will ease any discomfort, available from pet stores. Several companies offer a handy monthly bundle treatment subscription package service delivered to your door. Handy, where you’ll never forget. 

Kittens require similar worming treatments from 12 weeks onwards, as do cats about every three months throughout their life.   


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