Hollybank’s Brave Pet of the Month…Pepper!

Pepper playingPepper is a one year old playful Border Collie who loves playing with sticks.

She was seen by the team at Hollybank as a reasonably sized lump, about the size of a golf ball had appeared under her lower jaw over night. Pepper, being our ‘brave pet’ was still her happy self and did not appear to be in any discomfort at all. Pepper was sent home with some medications to help reduce the size of the swelling. However, we were keen to be kept up to date with Pepper’s progress.


Over the next 24 hours the swelling under Pepper’s jaw increased to the size of a Satsuma and she developed a very high temperature. Pepper was diagnosed with an abscess. This is the bodies way of ‘walling off’ an area of infection. We were worried that a fragment of stick, or another ‘foreign body’ may have worked its way from Pepper’s mouth into the tissues surrounding Pepper‘s jaw. Pepper really wasn’t herself and ‘intravenous fluid therapy’ (a drip) was now required to try and bring her temperature down. Pepper would likely need surgery to identify and remove any foreign material.


Pepper had to sit very still whilst a small catheter was placed into a vein in her leg. The catheter would allow her fluids to be given. Over the next 24 hours Pepper was closely monitored throughout the day and night, her fluids continued to be administered and her temperature was recorded. Pepper’s temperature steadily reduced down to normal however the swelling by her jaw continued to increase so much so that her entire face became very swollen!

With Pepper’s face now being so swollen, finding any foreign material would be very challenging for the Veterinary Surgeon. The following day Pepper was sent to a specialist centre for a CT scan. This scan would provide the Veterinary Surgeon with many cross sectional x-ray images of Pepper’s skull and surrounding tissues to hopefully identify the location of anything that required surgical removal. When Pepper arrived at the specialist centre the continually increasing size of her abscess caused an area of skin under her jaw to tear; this released a lot of infected material from the swollen area but left Pepper with a large wound.

Pepper CT imagePepper continued to be prepared for her scan, the scanner looks like a large tube. Pepper had to be sedated as she needed to remain very still for useful images to be produced. The scan was completed and the image to the left, along with lots more were sent back to the Hollybank team. To our surprise, the scan did not reveal any ‘foreign body’ in the tissues around Pepper’s jaw.

Pepper returned to us at the practice that evening and we arranged for our visiting soft tissue surgeon, Catherine Sturgeon to join us the following day. With all her experience Catherine would know how to best manage the large area of infection and the resulting wound.

Peppers wound 2Pepper required a full general anaesthetic to allow the surgery to be performed. During surgery Catherine removed any areas of unhealthy tissue from the wound as unhealthy tissue would delay wound healing. The area would require regular dressing changes in a some what awkward area to apply a bandage, therefore, loops of suture material were placed around the wound edges to allow a dressing to be secured over the area. Peppers wound was very deep and was packed with gels and sterile dressings to help it heal. These were all secured in place using the carefully placed loops. The following day the dressings needed replacing, despite the very large deep wound as shown, Pepper lay very still and did not object at all to the procedure!

Gels were then used to keep the wound healthy without any overlying dressing; the gels were placed into the wound at home on frequent basis by a very dedicated owner! Pepper was seen back by the team at Hollybank frequently so that her progress could be monitored, with Pepper being very brave and well behaved at each visit.

peppers wound 3

Pepper 3

pepper finalPeppers final wound

It took lots of patience but Pepper’s progress was amazing and the wound was almost completely healed within 4 weeks.

pepper in the sea


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Pet Diabetes Month!! Please meet some of our lovely diabetic patients and their dedicated owners!

At Hollybank we have a number of diabetic patients, all of whom are very lucky to have dedicated owners who inject them twice daily with insulin. As part of ‘Pet Diabetes month’ we have asked some of our clients to tell you about their experience of having a pet with Diabetes.


Katie and chicken“In March 2015, Katie, our normally very fit and active 8 year old working Collie, was diagnosed with diabetes. Having been told she would be insulin-dependent for the rest of her life, we were very concerned not only how we would cope with a diabetic dog but also whether it was in her best interest to go down this route. She has been a big part of our working team of dogs…how would this impact on the way of life she so enjoys?”


Katie 2

“After a lot of discussion and advice from Richard and the rest of the team, we decided to give it a try. It took us a couple of weeks to be fully confident injecting her with the VetPen, which is so easy when you get used to it. After a short time, her diabetes was stable, and both of us and Katie have settled into a routine. She is injected twice a day, before her food, morning and night. She rushes to the kitchen as soon as she hears us get the VetPen! She totally accepted it as part of her feeding routine within a week. We are so pleased we decided to treat her with insulin. We now have our very happy, loving dog enjoying life to the full and still a very big part of our lives.”

Katie is always a pleasure to have in the hospital, she is such a good natured and well behaved girl. We love that Katie is still keeping the chickens in order!



Leah on the beach“On first hearing Leah was diabetic we were all devastated. She is such a loving cheeky dog, with a wonderful personality. There was fear as well, what do we have to do, how will we cope? The first time we injected her was awful, the worry of have we done it correctly, did we hurt her? It is amazing how quickly we settled into a routine.”

“We are now into the second year of her having diabetes. We have never hurt Leah injecting her, if we appear to have forgotten to give her injection she nudges us to remind us. We now even recognise when the glucose levels aren’t quite right. We have had some traumatic times, all part of the learning curve. Our advice, get the right food, pick a time for the injections that suit the family, don’t be afraid. Talk to the wonderful staff of Hollybank, ask them all the questions you have, they are wonderful and no question is a daft one. Our biggest problem now…the clocks changing spring and winter..nightmare!!”

Leah is a bouncy and very lovable Labrador. Leah first presented to us at Hollybank with some classical signs of diabetes. However, whilst waiting for some of her results she deteriorated and went into a diabetic crisis called Ketoacidosis. This occurs because an alternative energy source to Glucose is produced (Ketones) which are toxic at high levels. Leah had some intensive care initially and has become a very popular and much loved patient.



MinnieMinnie is 13 years old and was a rescue cat. She was found at  Daves Gym with her litter of 6 kittens and she was under 1 year old herself.

Minnie is a family cat and likes to be with people and wear hats. About 3 years ago  she became lethargic, sleeping all the time and drinking lots of water. She was diagnosed with diabetes. Minnie is injected twice a day and since beginning her treatment is back to normal and lives a happy, lazy life.

Minnie is our only diabetic feline patient! She has stabilised really well with her diabetic treatment and we see her only for the occasional urinary tract infection (UTI). Animals with diabetes are at high risk for developing a UTI as the concentration of their urine can be affected and the urine may contain some glucose too which is a great environment for the growth of bacteria.




Taz Frommert no eye“Our Border Terrier Taz was diagnosed with diabetes almost 18 months ago. At first the family were a little daunted about how we could keep our beloved pet well and manage his condition.We were weary about trying not to adjust his routine too much, whilst keeping up with all the other usual family demands. It turns out, we need’nt worry as Taz and the family have now got used to the process, and he’s just as happy and unfazed as he’s ever been!”

Taz is a cheeky Border Terrier who initially was very worried coming to the vets. However, the more and more time Taz spent with us the more he loved having a fuss and now happily comes to spend the day with us for his repeat blood glucose curves.


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Visiting Specialists at Hollybank Veterinary Centre

Hollybank Veterinary Centre are proud to work with a number of  visiting veterinarians who are specialised and very experienced in their field. If your pet requires a more specialist opinion, investigation or procedure then we are able to seek support and advice from these specialists and if required, offer you their service in the comfort of your own practice.


The visiting Specialists that we have available at Hollybank include:

  • Catherine Sturgeon, Soft Tissue Surgery Specialist.

  • Hannah Stephenson, Cardiology Specialist.

  • Ian Grant, Chemopet Oncology Service.

  • Jerry Shimali and Anna Newitt, Diagnostic Imaging Specialists.

  • Mike Guilliard, Orthopaedic Surgeon


We have a great working relationship with all of our specialists.

Please read more about them by following this link

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November is Pet Diabetes Month!!

Here at Hollybank Veterinary centre we would like to help increase our client’s awareness on Diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a lack of glucose due to reduced insulin levels OR insulin resistance. The official term used to describe this is Diabetes Mellitus. Glucose is used as an energy source within cells. However, Insulin is required to help transport Glucose into these cells.  Without insulin the glucose stays in the animal’s blood stream or excess is excreted in their urine. Insulin is produced by specialised cells in the pancreas.

How does it occur?

Diabetes can affect both cats and dogs. The underlying reason to how the diabetes has occurred however is different in each species.

IMG_0114 (2)Cats often get insulin resistance. This is due to another primary issue such as; endocrine disorders such as hyperthyroidism, pancreatitis, obesity, a persistently high fat diet, any significant illness or injury causing stress. Long standing insulin resistance can eventually lead to destruction of the insulin cells.

Tilly for DM





Dogs on the other hand often have destruction of the insulin cells. This can be due to their own body’s immune destruction, pancreatitis or infectious agents.


What signs occur with diabetes mellitus?

  • Weight loss despite an increased or ravenous appetite
  • Drinking and urinating excessively
  • Decreased activity or depression
  • Inappetance
  • Reduced body mass and muscle wasting
  • Thinning, dry and dull hair
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Cataracts (more commonly in dogs)


How do we investigate?

biochemFirstly, we would recommend an appointment for your pet to be fully examined.If we are suspicious of Diabetes Mellitus we will recommend for their blood and urine to be tested.

A diabetic animal will have high levels of glucose in their blood stream as it is not being taken up by cells. The bloods may also help investigate any underlying or concurrent illnesses that need addressing.  The urine may also have high levels of glucose as excess in the blood is removed via the urine. Urine full of glucose is perfect for the growth of bacteria so the urine test will also check for urinary tract infections.

A further test that may be required is the measurement of Fructosamine. This is a form of glucose bound in the blood to protein. It is a good indicator of persistently high levels of glucose and is often used to confirm diabetes mellitus in cats.


How can we manage Diabetes Mellitus?

dylan DM injection close upIn cases where diabetes mellitus has been caused by resistance, if we are able to correct or treat the illness causing the resistance then the diabetes may be reversible. If the Diabetes mellitus has been caused by destruction of cells then this is irreversible.

In the vast majority of incidences your pet will require insulin replacement and the Diabetes Mellitus will be a lifelong condition.

Dylan close up


Insulin is given via two daily injections. We will teach you how to give the injections and practice with you until you feel comfortable in doing so. The insulin needles are usually well tolerated. Your animal will also need a constant feeding and exercise regime. Long term monitoring of glucose levels and your animal’s progress is also part of their management plan.



If you are concerned your pet is showing signs of diabetes mellitus then please book an appointment by calling 01606 880 890.

During ‘Pet Diabetes Month’ we will be providing free urine testing sticks to measure the amount of glucose in your animals urine. Please collect one of these at reception.


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Happy Halloween

IMG_2333Hollybank Veterinary Centre would like to wish you a Happy Halloween!

We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that this time of year can be difficult for some of our pets. There can be unusual sights and noises which may cause them anxiety.

Our previous post explaining how we can help our pets with fireworks is very helpful and some of these techniques can be used for other noisy or anxiety inducing events.

Please phone us on 01606 880 890 if you would like any further advice.



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How to help your pet through the Firework season….

fireworksAs autumn approaches again it is time to think about how fireworks can have an impact on our pets.  They are no longer used just on November 5th, with prolonged displays around bonfire night and celebrations at Christmas and New Year increasingly involving fireworks too.

Many pets find this time particularly distressing.  Dogs and cats can suffer from noise phobia, which means they often display a reaction over and above the normal one to stimuli such as fireworks.  The effects can be far reaching as pets can then associate their phobia of fireworks with other loud noises and can become fearful of thunder, gunshots and traffic which can mean this noise phobia becomes a year round problem.

Many owners are unaware of the extent of their pet’s phobia, or believe that there is no treatment.  However, there are many simple things that can be done to make pets more relaxed and comfortable at this time.  Some animals that suffer from very severe phobias need mood-modifying drugs.  However, many can be managed without resorting to drug therapy.

Alfie in boxCreating a safe haven for pets is very important.  Provide them with a safe quiet place to go, preferably away from windows.  Put their toys, food and water there and make sure they can get in and out easily and cover all of the sides except one to make them feel secure.

Keep all pets indoors in the evenings around firework time and especially on November 5th itself.  Do not take dogs for walks whilst fireworks are let off as being outside can be even more distressing and if off the lead, they may bolt.  Equally, keeping cats indoors is important not just to avoid them running away but to protect them from misuse of fireworks. It is a good idea to microchip your pet – if they do become lost then it is much easier to reunite a microchipped pet with their owner. If your pet is already microchipped then make sure your contact details are up-to-date with the microchip company.

image2Whilst it may seem natural to want to comfort a fearful pet, it is actually counterproductive.   By attempting to comfort them we only reinforce their worry that there is something to be concerned about.  However hard it is, ignore any worried behaviour that your pet shows.  Allowing your pet to go to the ‘haven’ you have created is much better. Playing a game with a non-noise phobic pet can encourage worried pets to be more confident.  It is also worth remembering never to punish or scold a fearful pet.  New puppies or kittens that have never experienced fireworks before, should at least in theory have no fear and therefore it is very important to act as normal as possible around this time – even if you are a little jumpy yourself! Pets pick up on their owners’ concerns or worries and so the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed this novel experience should be for your pet.

IMG_0642The use of pheromone therapy is very successful for various behaviour problems in cat and dogs and is proven to help with noise phobias such as fireworks.  For dogs there is a synthetic version of the pheromone that bitches produce for their young pups. It helps relax and reassure worried dogs. For cats there is a synthetic version of facial pheromones that they produce when they rub their heads on objects and that tells them they are safe and secure.  Both are plug-in diffusers and are also available in collars (dogs only) and sprays too.  Food supplements are also available. These work very well for some pets and are a natural, non-medicated way of encouraging pets to relax.

For some pets, medication is needed.  The steps mentioned earlier in this article should still be followed because they will create a more relaxed environment for a very fearful pet – but they may need some extra help too.  This can take the form of anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) medication which can also erase any memory of events.  In the past sedatives have been used to combat noise phobia but this is now known to be unhelpful – a sedated pet is still scared, they are just unable to move around, express normal behaviours or go to their ‘safe haven’ and so lose their ability to cope at all and this can lead to more dangerous fearful behaviours such as biting.

Desensitisation to noises is the longer term solution to this problem which affects so many of our pets.  Desensitisation CD’s available for dogs provide a range of sounds (including fireworks, thunder and gunshots) that can be listened to at varying volumes to ensure that dogs become used to them and even start to associate them with positive things such as treats or praise.  It is important to use such CD’s in the correct manner and so seeking professional veterinary advice prior to embarking on the program is worthwhile, but the CD can be used at home and will make a real difference to any noise phobic dogs.

For further information or to discuss the best approach for your pet – call us at the surgery.


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Hollybank’s Brave Pet of the Month…Toby!

Toby is a mischievous little Border Terrier who presented to us during our Sunday Out of Hours Service.

Whilst running in and out of the garden beds at home Toby stood on a stick with such force that it went straight in and out the other side!

Toby’s owners brought him straight into the surgery. However, Toby was not as concerned about his injury as the vet and his owner were. He was wagging his tail, enjoying a fuss and not bothering with his foot at all!

Luckily, the stick had passed through a fold of skin in between Toby’s digits. It didn’t appear to be involving any bones, joints, tendons or ligaments.

There were a few snags on the stick which would cause more trauma and friction on the way out so we clipped these off with nail clippers. The stick came out smoothly and Toby didn’t flinch once!

The entry and exit holes from the stick were examined carefully and the wounds were bathed with an antibacterial solution. Toby resented the foot cleaning more than the original stick injury!




The skin wounds required a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. We also advised minimal walking on clean ground only and his foot was to be kept clean with regular antibacterial bathing.

Toby would also have to wear the ‘Cone of Shame’. If Toby chewed and licked his wound he would make it worse and delay healing. Toby tolerated his cone really well and even had it accessorized for the day!

Toby’s foot completely healed and just in time to visit the beach on his birthday!

Tobys foot close up



Approximately 10 days after Toby’s medications finished he developed a raised red lump close to one of the original injuries. The lump was ulcerated and sticky on the surface. We suspected some debris or a small fragment of stick were still present in Toby’s skin following the injury. This can sometimes happen following a contaminated wound;even the smallest amount of foreign material left in there can cause ongoing issues.

We placed Toby back onto a longer course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and the lump completely resolved!



If the foot causes an issue again we may have do further investigations and exploration of his foot. Toby is a lovely little boy who was a pleasure to treat!


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Is your pet drinking and urinating excessively?

Drinking excessively

When an animal drinks more we refer to this as Polydipsia. Your dog should drink approximately 90mls/kg/day and your cat should drink approximately 45mls/kg/day. If you are concerned your animal may be drinking more than usual then measuring their daily intake can be a useful first step.

For example a 20kg Labrador could drink up to 1.8litres per day and a 4kg cat could drink up to 180mls per day. Cats are notorious for drinking out of anything other than their water bowls so this may be more difficult to monitor!

Normal and expected reasons for increased water intake are heat and increased loss of fluids (vomiting and diarrhoea).

Unexpected increases in water can be due to a number of medical conditions and the next step would be a clinical exam.

Urinating excessively

When an animal urinates more we refer to this as Polyuria. Normal urine output for dogs is approximately 45mls/kg/day and for cats 40mls/kg/day. However, it is not feasible for you to measure this output at home!

An indication of polyuria is that your animal will ask to go outside more or may urinate inappropriately in your house. Often drinking more (polydipsia) and urinating more (polyuria) will come hand in hand and your animal may present with both of these signs together.

However, there are lots of other reasons why your pet’s urination may have changed. If your animal is urinating more it is useful for you to note down the following:

  • Where your pet is urinating more (outside, in their bed, at the back door).
  • The volume of urine passed each time (small amounts or large volumes).
  • Urine appearance (Colour, smell, blood).
  •  Whether your pet is straining to urinate.



If you are concerned that your pet is drinking or urinating excessively the please phone 01606 880890 to book an appointment.

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NEW Extended Opening Hours…

Here at Hollybank Veterinary Centre we appreciate that lives can be busy and sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day!

To provide a wider range of appointment times and to help find a time that suits you we have extended our opening hours.

New opening hours are as follows:

  • Monday: 8.30am-7.30pm
  • Tuesday: 8.30am-7.30pm
  • Wednesday: 8.30am-7.30pm
  • Thursday: 8.30am-7.30pm
  • Friday: 8.30am-7.30pm
  • Saturday: 8.30am -1pm
  • Sunday: 8.30am- 1pm

We continue to provide our dedicated 24/7 out of hours service outside of these times

Please call us on 01606 880890 to book an appointment.

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Hollybank’s Brave Pet of the Month…Bear!

Bear is a lovely male Chesapeake Bay retriever who recently presented to Hollybank Veterinary centre with a sudden onset cough.

When an animal presents with a cough it is important to know how quickly the cough developed, the severity and frequency of the cough and what the cough sounds like.

Other specific clinical signs that we may ask about include: sneezing, nasal discharge, breathing rhythm and effort and willingness and ability to exercise as normal.

There are lots of reasons for a coughing dog. This can include, kennel cough, infectious pneumonia, aspiration pneumonia/aspirated foreign material, heart disease, lungworm, bronchitis, cancer, fluid, air or infected fluid within the chest cavity.

In our physical exam we want to pay particular attention to the respiratory tract. Your animal’s windpipe will be palpated to assess whether they are sore or reactive in this region i.e can we stimulate a cough. The lungs will be listened to for abnormal lung sounds which can include; crackles, rattles, whistles and wheezes. Your animal’s respiration rate, rhythm and effort will also be noted. Heart disease can actually present with a cough so ruling in or out a heart murmur is helpful too. Regardless of the complaint a full physical exam will be performed too.

On Bear’s physical examination there was some mild irritation along his windpipe but he was otherwise very well. We elected to monitor bear in the first instance. Often cases of mild tracheal irritation or kennel cough will resolve without intervention given time.

However, due to the quick development of his cough and the reaction around his windpipe we could not rule out trauma and inhalation of a foreign body. If Bear’s cough failed to resolve we would need to re-examine him with the proposal for further investigations.

Within 4 days Bear’s cough had still not improved.  To investigate further we would need to take chest x-rays to image Bears lungs and the space around them.  A small camera would also need to be placed down his large airways, a procedure called bronchoscopy.

On bronchoscopy, a large sprig of hedgerow was found lodged in Bear’s bronchus. The foreign material was removed under camera guidance and specialised forceps.

As you can see the size was quiet considerable!

Bear was sent home to recover on a short course of oral antibiotics. Bear was still expected to cough within the first few days due to a combination of disruption of the airway lining (which activates cough receptors) and residual inflammation and infection.


Bear is currently doing very well at home and hasn’t had any further fights with any hedgerows!


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