16 reasons your pet should get fit for 2016!

Obesity is a growing concern in the UK with an increasing number of our pets becoming overweight. The additional weight puts extra strain on the entire body so here are 16 reasons your pet should get fit for 2016!

IMG_14671) Reduced exercise tolerance; your animal with tire easily and be unable to perform their natural activities and behaviour.

2) Unable to tolerate heat; an overweight animal is at higher risk of over heating come the Summer months.

3) Poor grooming; for an animal to groom themselves they need to be able to twist and bend in all directions, we have all seen the unusual positions they get themselves into! However, obese animals struggle with these movements leading to poor grooming and ultimately painful matted coats. 

4) Additional strain on bones, joints and ligaments; Extra load and strain on your animals body will put extra forces on their musculoskeletal system. This can increase the risk of problems in the future and can exacerbate already existing conditions such as arthritis.

5) Heart strain; Additional weight puts additional work load on the heart. Fat can also infiltrate cardiac muscle cells affecting its function.

6) High blood pressure; overweight animals tend to have increased blood pressure. This leads to an increased work load on the heart too. Ultimately increased work load can lead to congestive heart failure.

7) Respiratory difficulty; generally being heavier means moving around becomes more difficult and strenuous. Additional fat in the chest and abdomen restricts the expansion of the lungs and so restricts the amount of oxygen your animal can take in within one breath.

8) Diabetes; obesity in cats is a known risk factor for the development of diabetes mellitus. Overweight animals will have extra glucose in their blood stream and therefore higher demands for insulin. High requirements for insulin can lead to insulin resistance and ultimately destruction of the cells that produce insulin. This results in Diabetes; a lifelong medical condition. In dogs, feeding fatty meals can predispose to pancreatitis which can also lead to destruction of insulin producing cells.

9) Liver disease; excessive fat can accumulate in the liver, a condition known as hepatic lipidosis. This can significantly affect liver function. 

10) Reproductive problems; Overweight animals are prone to complications when delivering their young, this is often referred to as dystocia. This increases the risk of  requiring medical or surgical intervention. 

11) Incontinence; Incontinence develops due to weakening of the sphincter between the bladder wall and the urethra. When an overweight animal lies down they put more pressure on an already weakened sphincter which worsens the condition.

12) Immune system dysfunction; Obesity in animals has been associated with a poor immune system response to certain infections. The exact cause however is unknown. 

13) Increased risk of developing cancer; the link between obesity and the development of certain cancer types has been found in some scientific studies.

14) Skin and anal gland issues; skin folds created by overweight dogs can lead to skin fold infections and discomfort. Fat accumulation around anal glands can also prevent natural emptying. 

15) Increased surgical and anaesthetic risk; for many reasons it is not ideal to perform surgery on an overweight animal. If your animal is overweight and requires elective surgery we would recommend weight loss prior to this. However, in an emergency situation where the surgery cannot be delayed this can increase the risks to your animal.

IMG_455616) Quality and length of life; Obesity can significantly reduce the lifespan of your pet and can have a huge impact on the quality of their life too. We want our pets to be able to do the things they enjoy to do therefore keeping there weight to an ideal is really important.

So next time your furry friend is giving you those ‘please feed me’ eyes say no!  It really is in their best interests. They will soon start not to expect it from you and get distracted by something else! If you need advice on what to feed your pet or would like some helpful tips then please contact us on 01606 880 890.

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Hollybank’s Brave Pet of the Month…Bert!

Bewrt and WellyBert, an eight year old Westie who lives with his brother Ernie, came to see us in August for his yearly booster.  His owner mentioned that over the preceding few days he had seemed sore when the top of his head was touched.  There was a slight discolouration to his skin and we decided to try some pain relief to see if it settled.  A few days later the discolouration was worse and appeared to be a bruise around his eye that was a little puffy.  Bert was known to head butt the dog flap and so we wondered if that might be the cause.  Given he had no other signs he had some different pain relief to try.  If it didn’t improve we were going to need to do further investigations.

Initially it seemed to be getting better and Bert was more comfy – but a few days later things had worsened again.  The swelling around his left eye was more marked and Bertie was miserable.  We decided to send Bert for a CT scan of that area.  This can be more sensitive than an x-ray and we were keen to find out exactly what was going on.  Bertie was started on antibiotics whilst we waited for the scan at a specialist facility – an infection or abscess was a possibility but we were concerned about a tumour too.

The CT scan confirmed Bert sadly had a tumour.  It was involving his skull around his eye and also in his sinuses.  A biopsy was taken at the time of the scan and we waited for those results to decide what we could do next.  Unfortunately the tumour was not operable but chemotherapy or radiation therapy might be appropriate.



The sample results came back as inflammation – but we were concerned that was not a true representation of what was going on and a deeper biopsy needed to be taken.  Another biopsy was taken here. We tried to go as deep into the mass as we could, mindful of the fact that Bertie’s brain was sitting just behind and if we went too deep we could cause problems.  The bone was very crumbly but we were able to take a good biopsy.  This confirmed that Bert was suffering from a carcinoma – a malignant cancer that is normally very invasive.  Bertie also had an infection in his left eye now, likely a result of not being able to use that eye properly as the mass was getting larger.  He was started on some eye drops which his owner got very good at putting in quickly as Bert was less than keen!

We had a big chat with an oncologist about the best next steps for Bertie. Options included radiation therapy or chemotherapy.  After discussion and weighing up the pros and cons of each we decide to embark on chemotherapy.  Tumours of the sinus such as Bert’s are pretty rare and so we could not be certain how well he would respond but we all wanted to give him the best chance of more, good quality, time, with his owner and his brother.

Dogs and cats tend to cope with chemotherapy very well.  It is imperative that they have good quality of life whilst they are having chemotherapy and so we have to make sure that they remain well.  They don’t tend to suffer from hair loss and nausea is less common too.  Bertie was started on a regime that involved him coming in every 3 weeks.  He also had some anti-sickness and anti-diarrhoea tablets in case he needed them.   He also continued on three types of pain relief as we wanted to make sure he was definitely comfortable.

Bert close upBertie really improved after his first session of chemotherapy.  He didn’t really suffer from any side effects and the mass shrunk a little.  He was bright and lively and went on holiday with his owner and Ernie.  He went running on the beach and had a really lovely time.


Sadly, a few days after returning from his holidays Bert began to be poorly.  He had some more medications to try and improve things but he developed a nose bleed.  The swelling around his eye worsened again and he wasn’t happy.  His owner took the very difficult decision to put Bertie to sleep.  We were all so pleased he responded well to his first session of chemotherapy – it gave him some really good quality time with his family and allowed him to enjoy his holiday to the beach which he loved.

Bertie was a one-off.  He will always be remembered with a smile.  He was feisty, knew his own mind and made sure we behaved ourselves!  But he was also affectionate and brave and we miss him.



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Have you seen a demodex mite??

What are demodex?

demodexDemodex are mites which live in the hair follicles within your dog or cat’s skin although they are not visible to the naked eye. In small numbers they make up part of their normal skin environment. The mites spend their entire life cycle on your pet and are not considered to be contagious. However, in large numbers these mites can cause problems and can then be referred to as ‘Demodicosis’ or ‘Demodectic mange.’

How do normal mites suddenly become a problem?

This is not completely understood but links have been found with; type of breed, immune system suppression therefore, young, old or ill animals are at higher risk. In young animals it may also be due to an inherited immune dysfunction

What does demodicosis look like?

The mites can affect a few small areas leading to well defined areas of hair loss, redness and dry flaky skin. These are commonly around the lips, eyes or forelimbs but can occur anywhere. They are not typically itchy. In some cases this can progress to generalized disease affecting your animals whole body. In these cases they have large areas of hair loss, redness and can even develop oily or crusty skin. Secondary bacterial infection can also occur which can then make your animal itchy.

We have recently seen Vinny, a 1 year old mischevious Bull dog for areas of hair loss and redness over his muzzle, face, both forelimbs and chest.

Vinnie pre aludex 2vinnie pre-aludex 1



How do  prove that demodex are causing the issue?

We take a series of samples from your pet’s skin and look at these samples under a microscope. In large numbers we should be able to see the Demodex mites.

If we find Demodex and your animal is young, like Vinny,  then we often proceed straight to treatment. However, in older animals we have to ask ourselves why the Demodex have been able to multiply. In these cases it is best to try to identify any underlying disease or immune suppression, however, in some cases this may not be possible.

How do we treat Demodicosis?

IMG_4604The only licensed treatment in the UK is a liquid your animal must be washed in.

The typical course is four weekly washes but this may need to be continued for longer. If your pet has a particularly thick or long coat then it may need to be clipped to allow adequate contact and penetration of the product.

Any underlying conditions must be addressed where possible.

Vinny was extremely well behaved for his washes and after four his repeat skin tests were negative for Demodex. His skin looks lots better and his hair is already growing back. We will monitor Vinny for recurrence of these signs again and in the mean time we have no doubt he will be up to mischief!

vinnie 4vinnie 2

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Hollybank’s TOXIC news!-Anti-freeze ingestion by cats and dogs

Antifreeze, screen washes and de-icers!

Anti-freeze photoWith a few months of cold winter weather ahead some of us may have thought about antifreeze and de-icer for our cars. Along with screen washes, these products commonly contain a chemical called ‘ethylene glycol’.

Ethylene glycol is TOXIC to both dogs and cats if ingested, cats however are particularly susceptible to the toxic effects.

Despite the addition of bittering agents to products that contain this chemical, dogs and cats are not deterred!  Ingestion of even a small amount is toxic and requires urgent attention.

Initially the chemical can cause your pet to vomit followed by neurological signs such as weakness, wobbliness and even convulsions. The heart and lungs can then be affected but the most concerning affect is that on the kidneys. Kidney failure can occur and when it does the prognosis is very poor.

It is therefore really important to ensure bottles of antifreeze and screen wash are kept tightly sealed and out of reach from cats and dogs this Winter.

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Hollybank’s Brave Pet of the Month….Henry!

Henry MathewmanHenry is a beautiful, friendly, 8 year old Labrador retriever. He visited Hollybank in October as he had suddenly become lethargic and completely lost his appetite-completely unusual for a Chocolate Labrador!

He had quickly become dehydrated and had abdominal pain on examination. We were concerned Henry could have a blockage in his gastrointestinal tract as he was known to have eaten a piece of carpet a few days previously! Sure enough, an abdominal scan showed abnormal material to be present in Henry’s stomach and small intestine. He would need to undergo surgery to remove this foreign material.

Unusually, however, Henry’s blood tests also showed extremely high calcium levels that could not be explained by eating carpet. From the blood and urine tests, we could tell the high calcium levels were affecting Henry’s kidney function too. This was worrying because such damage does not always respond to treatment and can be permanent. It was therefore very important that we find the source of the high calcium levels. Strong possibilities for what this could be included certain types of cancers so this was a very worrying time for everyone, especially for Henry’s devoted owners.

Henry and CatWhist the abdominal scan showed no other abnormalities, a scan of his neck revealed the cause of Henry’s calcium elevation. In the neck, there are small glands called parathyroids whose function is to strictly regulate calcium levels in the blood. The scan showed Henry had a nodule in one of his parathyroids which was almost certainly the root of his problem. The only way to treat this nodule was to surgically remove it. This is a difficult and high risk area on which to operate so a specialist surgeon was asked to come to Hollybank to carry out the surgery. Of course, Henry had to fully recover from his carpet removal surgery first!

At the time of his surgery for nodule removal, Henry was still barely eating so a feeding tube was placed surgically. This allowed the nurses to syringe liquidised food directly into Henry’s  oesophagus so he could receive some nutrition. The nurses worked extremely hard to ensure Henry did not inhale any of the liquidised food as this is always a risk in weak, debilitated patients. They also continued offering Henry tasty foods to tempt him and whet his appetite.

henry sleepingUnfortunately for Henry, this was not the end of his story. Despite frequent changes of the dressing surrounding his various drip lines and feeding tube, and probably due to his underlying disease process, Henry developed a number of infections whilst in hospital. The feeding tube had to be removed sooner than we would have liked for this reason.

Thankfully, once we were able to remove all the lines and tubes, Henry began responding to antibiotic therapy. He went home to spend time with his adoring mum and dad and his appetite slowly returned to normal. Henry’s calcium levels reduced following surgery and with the support  of specific medications to help stabilise his calcium levels. His kidneys are continuing to make good progress and Henry is now his normal, happy and active self.

Henry was a wonderful patient and everyone at Hollybank grew very attached to him. We are delighted he has made such a good recovery and is enjoying being back at home with his family!

henry and sister

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Merry Christmas and Happy New year!

All the staff at Hollybank Veterinary Centre would like to wish you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Till christmasimage19stephanie in presentsin the snow


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Christmas Opening hours!

Hollybank - xmas opening hours 2015

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Your pet, Christmas and the HAZARDS!

As festivities begin we need to remember the festive treats our pets shouldn’t eat. Lots of human foods are in fact toxic to our pets!

Chocolate, sweets and cakes!

Guiness eating cakeThere are undoubtedly large amounts of chocolate and treats in the home during the festive period, whether sitting ready to be eaten during a good Christmas movie or all wrapped up under the tree!

Milk and dark chocolate contains a chemical that is very similar to caffeine, this chemical is poorly tolerated and can cause vomiting, tremors, fits, problems with the heart and dysfunction of the kidneys. Additionally, although the wrappers are not toxic if ingested they could cause an obstruction in the stomach or intestines. It is therefore very important that any chocolate is kept away from dogs and cats in the house; this means that chocolate must not be kept under or on the Christmas tree!

Although white chocolate doesn’t contain the chemical mentioned above it does contain large amounts of sugar which can cause problems of its own! In particular, a sugar substitute called Xylitol is sometimes found in sugary treats. Ingestion of this can cause low levels of blood glucose, sometimes low enough to cause seizures.


Christmas cake, pudding and Mince pies! 

Grapes as well as their dried products (currants, sultanas and raisins) are toxic to dogs. Ingestion of only a very small quantity can cause kidney failure in some dogs. Don’t forget this will include the delicious food items that contain dried fruits such as Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies.


IMG_0678 (2)Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives
Cooked or raw, these common food items are toxic! Although raw onions may not appeal to most animals, many will be more than willing to eat some sage and onion stuffing! In addition to vomiting and diarrhoea such foods can cause damage to red blood cells. Damage to these cells may cause anaemia which may not be detected for several days.

Leftover food! There is an often a lot of food left over after a good festive dinner! It is important that any waste is disposed of carefully; mouldy food can contain toxins which if eaten can rapidly cause convulsions in dogs.

Macadamia nuts. If eaten by dogs, macadamia nuts can cause lameness, stiffness, lethargy, an increased body temperature, and tremors.


eating snowAlcohol

Just like their owners, dogs can become wobbly and develop low blood sugar if alcohol is drank in excess! Please ensure that alcohol is not left unattended!

Ethylene glycol (anti-freeze)

This is extremely toxic to both dogs and cats. Anti-freeze ingestion results in severe renal damage and quickly progresses to renal failure. The prognosis is often guarded.



IMG_3206Toys, wrapping and decorations

Small toys or Christmas decorations can be ingested and pose the risk of intestinal obstruction. Also, silica gel packs found in many Christmas packaging can swell very rapidly in your dogs stomach posing a risk of intestinal obstruction.

Christmas plants, flowers and pot pourri 

Mistletoe, Pointsettias, Holly, Ivy and Pine needles can be mildly toxic and cause GI signs, salivation and depression. Pot pourri can cause significant and prolonged gastrointestinal upset in dogs.




If you are concerned that your pet has eaten any of the above, or something else they shouldn’t have then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01606 880 890.

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RWAF local group…. Hartford Hoppers!!

Maisie Antilles_01Rabbit welfare association and fund (RWAF) work hard to help improve the lives of domestic rabbits across the UK. Their work is very important and their messages can also be supported at a local level.

In the new year, a new local RWAF group, ‘Hartford Hoppers’ is set to start! If you are a rabbit lover then we would encourage those in Hartford and the surrounding areas to get involved and find out more.

Hartford Hoppers Launch

Please meet some of the lovely bunnies that  have no doubt inspired Hartford Hoppers!

Bunzle Antilles_01Rutger and Bunzle Antilles

Coco Antilles_02Rutger Antilles jumping



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Restart your dogs overdue vaccinations for the price of a booster!

image9At Hollybank Veterinary Centre any adult dog overdue their annual vaccination can restart their course for the price of a booster!

This offer is only available until the end of December 2015 so hurry and book your appointment now!

Please call us on 01606 880 890.


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