SPRING is in the AIR!!

As Spring arrives, the days are lighter and the weather is improving which is great for all animal owners. We can enjoy nice long walks with the dogs again, our cats are more keen to go outdoors and our small furry friends can be let out to eat fresh grass!

As always though we would like to remind you of some potential Spring time toxins and risks.

  • Spring plants such as Daffodils
  • Mushrooms and toadstools
  • Gardening products such as weed killers and fertilizers
  • Easter treats such as chocolate, hot cross buns and products containing Xylitol

The Veterinary Poisons information service (VPIS) is a great source of information about these toxicities and some of our previous posts may be helpful too.

If you are worried you pet has eaten something toxic then please ring us for advice on

01606 880 890

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Brave Chemotherapy Pets at Hollybank

With many of us having direct or indirect experience of cancer it can be very easy to apply what we know to our pets. Chemotherapy in our pets is actually very different. As we are making this choice on their behalf  we use much lower and well tolerated doses. The aim of veterinary chemotherapy is always ‘palliative’ with the priority being quality of life and hopefully extend survival time. 

For some cancers this may mean months, for others a state of ‘remission’ can be entered and they may remain clinically well for years. The decision to put your pet through chemotherapy is of course very personal and dependent on the individual patient; a decision we will help you make and support you in.

We carry out the chemotherapy protocols ourselves at Hollybank. These protocols vary significantly but involve both oral and intravenous drugs. If required, we can also seek specialist support and advice from Ian Grant who runs a chemotherapy consultancy.

Over the years we have had some wonderful patients do very well with chemotherapy. One of our most recent patients is Tilly, a lovely little Patterdale Terrier. Tilly is so well behaved when she is in with us and has had a remarkable response to her chemotherapy. She definitively deserves our ‘brave pet’ recognition.Her owners have kindly written about their experience of chemotherapy below. 

Tilly is a brave, loyal loving little dog.  She is only small, but the impact she has made in our lives is huge. It was therefore devastating to find a lump in her back leg after noticing she was becoming withdrawn and seemed to be in pain.  As owners it is crucial to get to an accurate diagnosis quickly and manage any pain experienced.  Richard our vet fast tracked the tests and explained everything in a great deal of detail as we waited for the results.  Also he managed her discomfort with a combination of drugs which controlled the pain to such an extent that we had a carefree dog again. 

In Tilly‚Äôs case the result was bad news (a very aggressive soft tissue sarcoma with a terminal outcome), but tempered with the advice that there were still things we could do to extend her life whilst maintaining its quality.  CT scanning had determined that the cancer had already spread from the lump in the leg to 4 points in the lungs and a lymph node.

We were concerned that chemo might ruin the quality of time Tilly had left, but Richard advised us to try chemotherapy with a drug that was known to have very few and mild side-effects.  Our previous experience with Richard had built a trust which encouraged us to take this advice.  So we embarked on 6 treatments, each separated by a period of 3 weeks.

We had some small problems: Although Tilly did not actually vomit, she did go off her food because of nausea which made taking tablets difficult.   Richard addressed this with an anti-nausea drug which we now take proactively for the first 4 days of chemotherapy. Tilly did experience some diarrhoea which was expected and we had drugs to deal with if it happened, but we now take these proactively on day 2 after chemotherapy and this prevents it happening at all. On the whole Tilly has about 4 quiet days following a chemo, but the rest of the time is a happy and active little dog.

We have had a further CT scan after the 3rd chemotherapy, because Tilly had a slipped disc.  This identified that all but one of the points in the lung and the original tumour had disappeared from the scans.

We would like to thank Tilly’s owners for sharing her ‘brave pet’ story with us. As you can appreciate, for relatively little intervention chemotherapy has resulted in a significant reduction in the tumours whilst still being able to maintain her quality of life. This is always the aim and we are so pleased we have been able to achieve this for Tilly.


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Dental Disease Part 1. Why does it develop? Why perform dental surgery?

Dental disease is extremely common in our pets but why does it develop? This is likely due to a combination of reasons, including:

Conformation of your pet’s mouth; smaller breed dogs and breeds with short muzzles have the same amount of teeth in a smaller space. This can be described as ‘overcrowding’. This results in trapped food and increased risk of tartar build up.

Diet; dry diets help to abrase the surface of your pets teeth helping to keep them clean. Your pet may be more likely to develop dental disease if fed solely on a wet diet. That being said, sometimes this doesn’t make much impact if you pet’s food barely touches the sides in the first place! 

Species specific dental conditions. Cats are prone to developing resorptive changes in their teeth.  The exact reason for this is unclear but the condition is painful and teeth can eventually become fused to the surrounding bone.

Oral masses. Growth of benign or malignant masses in the oral cavity can encroach on surrounding teeth causing them to become wobbly or food can build up in between them causing decay.


Why is it important to perform dental procedures for our pets?

  • To improve their oral comfort therefore quality of life
  • By removing tartar we reduce the risk of subsequent gingivitis, gum recession, root exposure and ultimately tooth extractions
  • By removing those already diseased teeth we reduce the risk of tooth root abscess and oral pain
  • There is the added benefit of better breath too!


What does a dental involve?

A dental involves a general anaesthetic and close inspection of each individual tooth. We also have dental x-ray facilities which means we can x-ray tooth roots if needed. Teeth requiring removal will be carefully extracted and those remaining will be descaled and polished. Your pet will come home with pain relief after this procedure and often antibiotics if extractions have been performed. Dogs and cats do remarkably well after their dental procedures and many owners say what an impact it has on their quality of life.

However, we find lots of our clients worry about performing dentals on their animals so we hope we can reassure and clarify some common worries for you.

Generally, most animals requiring dental surgery are older which means people worry more about the general anaesthetic. As part of the decision to perform a dental we will take a thorough history and perform a thorough exam to identify any concurrent problems that may impact on the general anaesthetic.  We also think that performing a dental sooner rather than later is best; actively deciding to address the teeth whilst your pet is fit and healthy is safer than waiting for them to become an issue. 

People are also concerned about how many teeth will be removed. We will only ever take teeth out that require extraction. However, it is impossible to predict the number until we remove all of the tartar and carefully examine every aspect of each tooth. In some cases the majority of teeth need to be removed. Although disconcerting to us, this is the best thing for your pet and they will feel much more comfortable. Both cats and dogs cope very well with only a few to no teeth remaining and many are still able to eat a dry diet!


What next?

If you would like your pet’s teeth assessing for dental disease then our nurses are happy to look in your pet’s mouth in a free nurse consultation. However, if you have other concerns about your pet at the time then a vet consultation is recommended.

Please watch over the coming weeks for some ‘before and after’ examples. Also watch out for ‘Dentals part 2: preventative health care-what and how?’.


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