The Big Tick Project Update!

The Big Tick Project has so far been a huge success! Participation in the study has been nationwide and over 10,000 tick questionnaires have been completed.

As a result of raising awareness 4,000 ticks have been collected, some of which may have been capable of passing on tick borne diseases.

The study is already providing useful information and the data will help us to understand the level of risk across the UK.

Thank you to everyone so far who has participated!

We have now finished our participation in the study but we are still available to check for ticks and discuss preventative treatments. Please call us on 01606 880 890 to book an appointment.

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Cuddington Primary School Visit

Hollybank Veterinary Centre recently visited Cuddington Primary School’s Reception class. We talked to the children about what they think vets do and how they should look after their own pets.

The children were taught how to use a stethoscope and then had the opportunity to listen to their friend’s hearts.





Marmite and Marmalade, our resident Guinea pigs also got involved! They were very well behaved and allowed each of the children to hold and handle them.

A few of the ‘best sat’ volunteers were dressed for surgery and all of the children were able to practice their bandaging skills on one another. The children really enjoyed their visit and the following week sent us a lovely thank you card!

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Brave pet of the month…Truffle!

Truffle is a 5 month old and extremely cute Chihuahua. During Truffles first health checks with her primary vets, a heart murmur was heard. A heart murmur is caused by the abnormal flow of blood through the heart, for example, blood travels in the wrong direction.

There are many different types of heart murmur. Sometimes the category of heart murmur can indicate the underlying reason however we can never truly make this diagnosis without scanning the heart. This assesses its structure, function and direction of blood flow.

As Truffle was so young it was important to check for any heart defects that can occur at birth, this is also known as congenital. Truffle was referred to a cardiac specialist. The cardiac specialist scanned Truffles heart and diagnosed her with a Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).

The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that should close itself after birth. The vessel connects the aorta and the pulmonary artery. If the vessel remains open, some of the blood which is meant to be carrying oxygenated blood towards the body travels in the wrong direction .  This reduces the amount of oxygenated blood the body receives. Initially Truffles body will compensate to cope with this and luckily truffle was coping very well with her heart defect.  However, it can eventually lead to remodeling of the heart and congestive heart failure.

Closing the defect at an early age can give an excellent long term prognosis. However, as Truffle was so small this abnormal vessel would need closing surgically. Open chest surgery is very advanced and this would need a specialist soft tissue surgeon and intensive post-operative care. At this point Truffle was transferred to the care of Hollybank Veterinary Centre where a specialist soft tissue surgeon would perform the operation.

The surgery itself would be extremely intricate. One of the highest risks would be bleeding, therefore we had to ensure this was taken into account within our pre-operative plan. If an animal experiences large volumes of blood loss then a transfusion is required. To prepare for this we blood typed Truffles blood. We then collected a donation from one of our matched donor dogs. Truffle was then ready for her operation!

During the surgery it was important to monitor Truffle very closely. Our role was to ensure a stable anaesthetic and provide adequate pain relief. To expose the heart, important vessels and nerves had to be carefully identified and moved to one side, as you can see in the picture. The surgery was a great success and the PDA was closed!



Although the largest part was now over for Truffle, her post-operative care would be just as important. As the surgery was performed in close proximity to so many vital structures a chest drain was placed to monitor for delayed haemorrhage, development of inflammatory fluid and leaking of air. Truffle was hospitalized; her drain, heart rate, respiration rate and general demeanour were checked every couple of hours and her pain relief was provided regularly.

Over the next few days Truffle recovered remarkably well. The chest drain was removed and her surgical wound was healing really well. Most importantly, her heart murmur had now disappeared!

Within 2 days post-surgery Truffle went home with 6 weeks strict rest; her family were extremely pleased to have her home. Despite her tiny size, Truffle made a very big impression on us all at Hollybank Veterinary Centre!



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Take a closer Look….

The ‘Take a closer look’ campaign is set to start this month and aims to encourage dog owners to get their pet checked for Keratoconjucitivitis Sicca (KCS), a condition also known as dry eye.

KCS develops as a result of the dogs own immune attack on the glands which produce tears. If not identified early the gland can be completely destroyed and he dogs natural tear production becomes significantly reduced to absent. An eye without tears becomes very dry and the condition is painful.  Without the support of a natural tear film the eye is susceptible to secondary problems such as conjuctivitis, bacterial infections and corneal ulcers. If untreated it can eventually lead to blindness.

Dry eye affects up to 1 in 22 dogs. It can be found in any breed at any age, although certain breeds are more susceptible. The appearance can be variable, although typical signs include ocular discharge, ocular discomfort, red, inflamed or dry looking eyes.

Diagnosis is made using a Schirmer tear test. The test is quick, simple and tolerated well by most dogs. A piece of schirmer testing paper is paced into the eye to measure the level of tear production. The procedure can be performed in conscious patients and takes only a couple of minutes. It is important to make a diagnosis early in order to preserve as much of the tear gland tissue as possible.

Treatment acts to stop the underlying immune attack of the glands therefore dry eye requires lifelong treatment. Treatment is an eye ointment containing Ciclosporine. This drug also acts to help increase natural tear production and control pain. Additional lubricating drops are sometimes added to the eye also.

The campaign is launched by MSD animal health and will run until the 31st August. The campaign allows a voucher to be redeemed which entitles your pet to a free Schrimer tear test.

To download the voucher please register at and join the Hollybank Veterinary centre page. Click on the dry eye link to make your voucher.


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George the Giraffe Raffle!

The ‘George the Giraffe’ raffle raised £60.97 for The Joshua Tree Foundation! Thank you very much to everyone who entered and for your continued support.

Please visit to find out more about this great charity.


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Hollybank Summer Newsletter 2015

Please read Hollybank Veterinary Centre’s 2015 Summer Newsletter by clicking on the picture.


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Preventative Health care for your pet.

Many of the health problems and conditions that affect our pets can be prevented with preventative health care. Here at Hollybank Veterinary Centre we believe that prevention is the best kind of medicine.

Fleas and worms

These parasites can be picked up from anywhere and many of our pets can have them without us even realising. Fleas can be a problem in the cleanest of houses and the most spotless of pets, just one flea can lay up to 40-50 eggs in one day! 95% of the flea population actually lives in the environment, such as carpets, grass or furniture. Fleas can survive at all times of the year, but mostly during the warmer seasons such as Spring, Summer and Autumn. However, dormant larvae in carpets will also start to develop when the central heating kicks in come Winter.

There are many different types of worms that affect our pets, including tapeworms, roundworms and lungworms. Some of these worms are also ‘zoonotic’ which means they can be passed from our pets on to us. Our pets are often infected from the environment (infected faeces or grass) or from other infected animals.

It is essential to keep your pets regularly treated for fleas and worms to prevent an outbreak. It is also important to treat the environment. When selecting appropriate treatment please read the packaging carefully. Ensure the product is specific to the species you are treating and adhere to the correct dosing quantity and frequency. If you have any questions regarding flea or worming treatment please contact the practice.



As of April 2016, England will be introducing a new law which requires all dogs to be microchipped. A microchip is a small electronic device, about the size of a grain of rice. The chip is inserted under the animal’s skin, usually between the shoulder blades. The procedure does not require an anaesthetic and the microchip is injected using a needle. This means that if your pet is lost or stolen and taken to a local authority, vet practice or animal welfare organisation, your details can be traced using the microchip. This will allow you to be re-united with your pet.






Dogs, cats and rabbits can all be vaccinated against a wide range of diseases. These diseases cannot only make your animal unwell, but can in fact be fatal. Vaccinating your pet can significantly reduce the risk of your pets contracting these diseases.

Routinely dogs are vaccinated against Distemper virus, Parvovirus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis and Leptospirosis. Cats are protected against Panleucopenia virus, Herpesvirus, Calicivirus and Feline Leukaemia virus. Finally, rabbit’s vaccinations are against diseases such Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD).

If you would like to start your pets vaccinations, think your pets annual vaccination is overdue or have any questions regarding vaccinations, please contact the practice.



Neutering your pet not only prevents unwanted pregnancies, but also provides a number of significant health benefits for your pet.

For females it also reduces the risk of them experiencing false pregnancies as well as decreasing the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer, uterine infections and mammary cancer. For males it reduces roaming, fighting and urine marking, as well as reducing the risk of testicular diseases (cancer, infection, torsion) and prostatic diseases (enlargement, infection, cancer).

Neutering is a surgical operation which requires a general anaesthetic. Your animal will come in for the procedure in the morning and will usually go home the same day. The initial recovery period requires strict rest for 5 days. Your pet will also go home with additional pain relief and a very attractive buster collar to prevent them interfering with their wound. The age at which your pet can be neutered varies according to size and shape. In general dogs can be neutered from 4-5 months, cats from 4 months and rabbits from 3-4 months.


If you have any questions regarding preventative health care please contact us on 01606 880 890.


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Hollybank’s Brave pet of the Month…Willow!

Willow is lovely little black domestic long hair cat who presented to us one morning with sudden onset hind limb lameness; her owner reported she was non weight bearing to very minimally toe touching with her right hind leg.

When an animal presents with lameness we want to examine all aspects of that limb to localise the exact area of pain. We usually start at the top and work our way down. First we examine the hip joint (Coxo-Femoral joint), then progress downwards examining the long thigh bone (Femur), knee (Stifle joint), long bones (Tibia and Fibula), ankle joint (Tarsus), foot (Metatarsals) and lastly the digits (Phalanges).

Willow had considerable swelling located over her ankle joint although she was extremely tolerant and brave during her exam. She didn’t give much indication of pain other than some mild wriggling. Willow had no obvious wounds on her leg and we could not feel any obvious fractures. Her paw however, was stuck outwards at an abnormal angle and her nails were all scuffed.

There are many different potential diagnoses for a lame cat: wounds, cat bite abscesses, sprains and strains of musculoskeletal tissues, bone fractures, joint dislocations or luxation and osteoarthritis. However, due to Willows clinical signs (severe lameness, swelling, pain, abnormal foot position and scuffed nails to indicate some trauma) we were concerned that something more serious was on the top of our differential diagnosis list. As a result, we recommended x-rays.

Willow had to be sedated for her x-rays and whilst under sedation we were able to feel some instability of the ankle joint. The x-rays showed that Willow had a Tarso-Metatarsal joint luxation; this means that Willows foot (metatarsals) had shifted away from her ankle (tarsus) so that they no longer met to form a normal joint. Willow had been very determined to make it home with her injury and definitely deserves to be our brave pet of the month!

We sent the x-rays to an orthopaedic specialist who confirmed the luxation and advised us that Willow would need surgery. To repair the luxation Willow’s joint would have to be surgically fixated back into the correct position; this is done with a plate and screws fitted internally or with an external fixation apparatus. This type of surgery would also require a specialist surgeon and post-operatively Willow would need long periods of rest to give the joint the best chance of healing.

Although many orthopaedic fixations are very successful, as with any procedure we perform we cannot predict its success. When placing foreign material inside the body we also have to be aware for the potential of secondary complications where intensive management is sometimes needed.  As Willow was not insured we had to take this all into account in our decision and decided that this was not a feasible option.

As Willow was otherwise a very fit and healthy cat with a lovely temperament we elected to perform complete hind limb amputation. The following day Willow had her right hind leg amputated and the operation went well. She stayed in with us that evening to receive pain relief and ensure she remained comfortable. Willow was already trying to move around the next day and was enjoying lots of fuss and cuddles so we were happy to send her home.

Even within a couple of days Willow was moving around really well and determined to get back to exploring.  At Willows post operative check she was doing remarkably well; her wound had healed nicely and she was quickly acclimatising to life on three legs.

Willows owners are delighted with how well she is doing and Willow is just as delighted to be back with her family, especially Fox Red Labrador, Bracken, who she truly believes is her mummy!

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GALA day fundraising

The Sandiway and Cuddington annual GALA was a great day out and as you can see the Hollybank staff fully embraced the Animal theme!

As part of The Joshua Tree Foundation stall, our ‘Guess the footprints’ quiz had 40 applicants raising a total of £20! Thank you to everyone that participated and we hope the lucky winners enjoy their prizes! All proceeds will be donated to the charity.


Unfortunately, George did not win the Scarecrow competition.

However, due to popular demand George is being raffled. Raffle tickets are £1 each and all money raised will be donated to The Joshua Tree Foundation.

Hurry tickets are selling fast!

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The Big Tick Project 2015!


Hollybank veterinary Centre will be joining practices across the UK to take part in the Big Tick project 2015!

The project is set to be the largest nationwide collection of ticks from dogs and will ultimately allow advanced knowledge of tick-borne disease in the UK.


The University of Bristol are teaming together with Chris Packham to run the project, which aims to raise awareness and encourage owners to take their pets for free Tick checks. Any Ticks removed will be sent to The University of Bristol, who will be examining the ticks for the presence of tick-borne disease, principally Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is transmitted to your dog by a bite from an infected tick. Ticks can attach to your pet while out walking through woodland or park areas. Clinical signs can include lameness, lethargy and a fever which if not addressed can progress to kidney disease and heart failure. Lyme disease is also ‘zoonotic’ which means it can be transmitted between your dog and you. With Lyme disease becoming a growing concern in the UK it is important that we all get involved.


To protect your pet and reduce the risk of Tick exposure there are a number of different products available and we would advise regular use of these.

Here at Hollybank Veterinary Centre, we are happy to check a tick for free!

Please contact the surgery if you would like a free tick check or advice regarding preventative care. Dogs that have taken part in the project will receive a Big Tick Project certificate.

To find out more visit





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