Beech Vets



January 2019

I am sure many of us make the same resolutions every January that we have failed to keep by February. I wonder if we made some on behalf of our pets, would they be any easier to keep? Here are some suggestions :-

1) I will make time to exercise or interact/ play with my pet more. This will be good for them and good for you! Dogs love to explore new places and playing more games at home with your pets keeps both you and them entertained and helps strengthen that special bond. There are a variety of interactive toys available for most types of pet now so 2019 may be the year to teach them new tricks! 

2) I will brush my dogs teeth weekly. This can make a huge difference to the dental health of your dog. Special toothbrushes and toothpaste are available to use but if this is too much a struggle dental chews are available but can be calorific so be sure to cut down their feed accordingly. I have met owners who have brushed their cats teeth but it is fair to say cats may prove a little trickier and less likely to comply! 

3) I will not overfeed my pets. Work out your pets daily feed allowance according to the feed producer’s recommendation and stick to it, remembering to make allowances for any extra treats. Keeping all pets a healthy weight will help with their mobility and heart health as they age. 

4) I will keep my pets worming, flea control and vaccinations up to date. 

5) I will make sure my pet is microchipped and make sure any changes of address or phone number etc have been updated so my pet will be able to swiftly returned to me. 

6) I will groom my pet to keep them comfortable. Obviously the frequency this needs to be done will vary hugely on the individual pet. 

I am sure most pet owners do the majority of these anyway but sometimes even us vets need a nudge- just off to find the dog’s toothbrush!

December 2018

Something different from us this month, getting into the festive spirit, here are some interesting facts about Reindeer!

  • Reindeer are known as Caribou in North America
  • Both male and females have antlers, and much like our fingerprints, each is a unique pattern.
  • The gestation period of Reindeers is about 7.5 months. Calves are able to stand within the first hour of life and are eating solid food within the first week. They mature at 4-6 years and usually live for 15-18 years.
  • Reindeers are strong swimmers as their migration often involves crossing rivers. They are also very quick runners and can achieve speeds of up to 60-80 km/hr.
  • In winter their footpads contract and tighten to help them progress through snow and ice and unearth the moss and lichen that they eat. In Summer their footpads relax to give them more traction.
  • Reindeers can click when they walk. They have an ankle tendon which rubs over a bone causing a clicking sound. This helps a herd keep track of each other especially in bad weather.
  • Reindeer have a dense network of blood vessels in their nose which keeps the surface of their nose warm and helps regulate their temperature. This could account for Rudolph’s red nose!

Merry Christmas,

Love Beech Vets

November 2018


Autumn nights are drawing in and there is a chill in the air that suggests that summer is now behind us. Many of us are in denial and before we know it Bonfire Night will be upon us. If you know your pet does not react well to the firework season then now is the time to start making preparations. There are a few none prescription products that may help to settle, calm and appease your pet. But there are also a few steps you can take to make your home is a safe environment for them.

  • Keep cats indoors with several litter trays placed around your home.
  • Avoid walking your dog at night when fireworks are most frequent.
  • Keep your dog on a lead whilst walking as there are often stray daytime fireworks that could result in your pet bolting.
  • Provide a den in your home; an enclosed safe place for your pet to hide like a crate, a table or a cupboard in the centre of your home or a place where they have previously hidden. Cover the top and sides with blankets and make it comfortable adding an item of your clothing to provide a familiar smell. Allow them to come and go as you like.
  • Muffle outdoor sounds by closing windows and curtains, you can mask sounds with the television or radio.
  • Maintain your routine with your pet; continue usual feeding times wherever possible.
  • STAY CALM… Don’t react to the fireworks as they go off as your pet will react to your reactions. Try not to worry, try not to become annoyed with your pet and try not to fuss over them as this will just reinforce their behaviour. Gently reassure them and try to be as normal as possible.
  • Don’t forget about your small fury pets that live outdoors. If possible move their hutch into a shed, garage or cover over with blankets/tarpaulin.
  • PREPARE FOR NEXT YEAR… seek de-sensitisation advice from you vet. The best time to start this process is usually around spring and summer, a few months in advance of the event.


By Donna Carmichael RVN


February 2018

Well it’s been a long cold winter and we are all waiting for a bit of Spring warmth. It’s a busy time of year at the practice for various reasons. Cats are seasonal breeders and generally start to breed this time of year. Not only does this bring kittens but lots of hormonal fighting males! If you have an entire female cat, they begin to display behaviour to attract males which may include rolling on their backs screaming- often mistaken for pain! 

As people prepare for holidays it is our most busy time for vaccinations. We also see an increase in cases of skin disease this time of year. This is due to allergies resulting from rising pollen levels. Signs of skin allergies include ear infections and irritations, chewing paws and general itchy, red skin. Fortunately this is a rapidly developing area of veterinary medicine and there are some fantastic new treatments available to stop the dreaded ‘itch-scratch’ cycle. Spring is also a time to protect against ticks, a particular problem where animals pass through fields where sheep graze.

We also see an influx of wildlife this time of year. We are happy to take in any sick wild animals but would always urge you to call the practice before doing so, baby birds in particular are sometimes better off being left somewhere out of reach as parents may still be feeding them- we can always help advise. 

Please also be careful around sheep with dogs this time of year, they will all be heavily in lamb.
Enjoy the Spring sunshine.

December 2017

Beware of the Fruit Cake!

Christmas is great time for our pets, lots of new toys, nice smells coming from the oven and long frosty walks. However there are many extra temptations that we need to be careful of... Most people know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, but grapes, raisins, garlic and onions can also be very toxic foods. Dogs stealing mince pies and Christmas cake off the table are common this time of year and if not treated promptly can cause serious health issues and can ultimately be fatal. We need to act quickly because the mainstay of treatment is to make the dog vomit, so to remove the toxin before it passes through the stomach. We then give a liquid solution to stop the body absorbing the toxin and if necessary, a drip to help protect the kidneys. 

Another very tragic occurrence we see this time of year is cats ingesting anti-freeze. This is highly toxic and it only takes the tiniest of drops to cause irreversible kidney failure. Our feline friends really like the taste of it and it only takes a very small spill in the garage or on a pavement to kill a cat. Again very prompt treatment is required to treat it. Signs of a problem are vomiting, depression, salivation, inappetence, wobbly movement, twitching muscles, head tremors, increased thirst and fits. Remember to be very careful when handling anti-freeze.


On a happier note we wish you all a very Happy and Healthy Christmas, enjoy those walks and watch out for the Cat hiding in the tree!

October 2017

What is a Brachycephalic?

It’s a great word which doesn’t have such a great meaning, which is to have a short broad head. In Britain we are seeing an increasing amount of brachycephalic dogs, Pugs, Bulldogs, Shih tzus, French Bulldogs etc. As Vets we are being urged to speak out about the potential health problems of such breeds so here goes...
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a collection of symptoms associated with the anatomical abnormalities of the extremely short face.  They can have narrowed wind pipes, overlong soft palates that block air exchange and cause ‘snoring’ and narrowed nostrils. Some dogs have one or two of these, other dogs sadly may have all of them. These problems can obstruct breathing and can cause them to really struggle, particularly on warm days. 
Dogs are physiologically different to humans. They can’t sweat and so the only way they are able to lose heat is through breathing and panting. The body has devised an excellent heat loss system through the nose and mouth and the longer this is the more room for heat exchange.
It is difficult as these dogs are often very lovely dogs with huge personalities but their welfare is compromised. The large head makes them struggle to give birth with many needing Caesarean sections. We do need to look at the dogs we are breeding and it sickens us as Vets to see videos of Pugs on Youtube fainting because they cannot oxygenate themselves. For those affected there are some effective surgical treatments to help open the airways.
 If you are considering getting a new dog please drop in and quiz your Veterinary staff about breeds, we do see them all. 

August 2017

Pet Travel


We are getting more and more requests for pet passports for travel overseas. Often they are for holidays but as people travel more freely for work they are also needed for emigration. The rules have been relaxed and the days of quarantine and blood testing for re-entry to the UK have gone. Every country has its own requirements for pet travel and some are definitely more straight forward than others! If an animal is to come back to the UK the requirement is that it; has a microchip, a passport, has had a rabies vaccination three weeks before entry and is treated for tapeworm. It may seem an unnecessary hassle but we are in a fortunate position to have been rabies free for many years and it would be disastrous if it was reintroduced. The requirement for tapeworm treatment 1-5 days before re-entry to the UK is also a public health measure. The tapeworm Echinococcus multicularis can be carried by dogs and passed on to humans causing a potentially fatal disease. Even though it is no longer a requirement of the passport we advise that when abroad you keep your pet up to date with tick treatment as again we are very lucky where we live, ticks abroad carry many more deadly diseases for our pets. For more information visit

July 2017

Modern Technology


As technology advances there are multiple benefits for us Vets, better equipment makes for safer procedures, faster results and quicker correspondence with referral centres. I thought it was worth writing about the benefits at the consultation level. We slightly dread the folded up kitchen towel that is presented during a consult, the wrapped up bit of undigested animal vomit or excrement to show that bit of blood or strange colour! Yes, it is however often useful and we can use it to get clues which is helpful when the animal cannot speak for itself. The arrival of cameras and videos on phones has really enhanced our work. People can send in pictures that are of a concern or films of a lameness or odd behaviour which can help us ascertain whether a condition is serious. Filming an animal having a strange episode or a seizure can give us many clues about the location of where the seizure has arisen, when they are unlikely to do it during a consultation. Always make sure your animal is safe whilst taking photos/filming and call your vet ASAP but a short film can be immensely helpful when in the surgery. As they say, if only they could talk!

June 2017

Poisoning in Pets


At the surgery we are seeing a rise in cases of pets being poisoned. This isn’t deliberate poisoning but usually the result of a young, over exuberant dog stealing something it shouldn’t, (usually but not exclusively Labradors and Cockerpoo’s!). Poisons vary from corrosive substances such as bleach and batteries, chocolate, grapes, lilies, raisins, slug bait to increasingly human medications. This is perhaps because these are being increasingly dispensed. Human medications give us, as Vets, a problem in that we don’t always know what is toxic to pets. To our rescue is the 'Veterinary Poisons Information Service' poison line which is a collective of specialists based at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London, therefore if in doubt we give them a call.

Speed of treatment is always key with poison ingestion, so if you are aware of a problem contact your vet immediately. We may need to make your pet vomit (not always a good thing), line the stomach with activated charcoal, put them on a drip to protect the kidneys or occasionally more drastic measures may be needed such as stomach pump, surgery or anticonvulsant therapy. Common toxins include Ibuprofen, Paracetamol and Psoriasis cream. If you suspect your pet has eaten something do NOT make them sick, call your vet asap and if possible take a sample of the poison to your vet. 

February 2017

The problem of resistance

As you may be aware from the media there is becoming a worldwide problem of antibiotic resistance. As Vets we have role in protecting human health and have to be very careful what antibiotics we prescribe, there are some that we cannot use as they must be kept for human use. The ‘One-Health' initiative is a collaboration between the medical, scientific and veterinary communities to combat zoonotic diseases (those that transmit between humans and animals) and monitors antimicrobial resistance.

Never has it been more important to treat conditions appropriately and as pet owners there are many ways to help us prevent resistance. These include; treating problems promptly to prevent secondary bacterial infections developing and preventative health treatments such as vaccination and worming. If you are given antibiotics for a pet it is imperative that the correct dose, timing and length of course is given, fortunately they do come in palatable flavours these days!

Improvements in surgical sterility and disinfectant agents over recent years has reduced the need for antibiotics during operations. Laboratories specialising in pathology enable us to find out exactly what is causing an infection and to determine what antibiotics the bacteria are sensitive to and thus treat appropriately and prevent resistance. All these reduce our reliance on antibiotics and will help preserve them for future needs of both animals and humans.


January 2017

Worms worms worms....

It's not a nice topic but an essential one when looking after our pets health. They come in all shapes and sizes and find many ways to invade and grow in our pets bodies. Most stay within the stomach and intestines but others migrate into the heart, lungs and liver. As they grow they start consuming nutrients and so a primary indication of a problem may be weight loss. As they damage the intestinal wall vomiting and diarrhoea may be seen. Migration of lungworms will cause coughing or exercise intolerance.

Risk factors for worms include hunting, scaveging, fleas, raw food, chewing sticks, eating grass, slugs, snails and eating/drinking from an outdoor bowl. It is also important to understand that dogs and cats can cause a problem for other species. Dogs can carry a worm that can infect Sheep and cause severe neurological disease. Dogs and Cats can both carry a roundworm that can be transmitted to people (Toxocariasis), which usually affects young children who ingest contaminated sand or soil. 


There are thousands of different parasitic worm. I remember spending many student days in the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine trying to identify many! We are certainly very fortunate that where we live their is lesser risk to human health. Pet passport rules make sure animals re-entering the UK are treated to prevent pathogenic human tapeworms entering the country. 


No treatments prevent worms, they just clear out what is already there. Not all worms can be seen and so regular treatment is recommended but consideration to the lifestyle of your pet is needed to determine risk factors and what to treat with.


There are now spot-on worm treatments for cats which bypass the difficulty of getting tablets in! 

September 2016

Remember Remember.....

Remember, remember the 5th of November?  Sound sensitivity in our pets at this time of year can be such a worry for many owners. Fireworks in particular can continue for many weeks if not months nowadays meaning a stressful time for lots of animals. Being aware of how your pet may react and allowing them the time to adapt is key to helping them cope, and the best thing to do is to start preparing several weeks in advance.

Primarily a hiding place in the form of a den really helps dogs and cats feel safe. You may have noticed in previous years your dog hiding under the bed, or your cat fleeing into a wardrobe. Essentially, somewhere dark, enclosed and comfortable. You can create a safe den by simply covering your dog’s crate with a blanket. Place it in an area where you can try and cover the sound ie. In the living room where the tv can be turned up or the kitchen where the radio can be left on. Additional help for your pets can be in the form of pheromone diffusers such as Adaptil or Feliway, or capsules containing natural milk proteins such as Zylkene that will help keep your pets feeling calm. Unfortuantely with severe sound sensitivities some pets require medicating in order to cope with the firework season.

Cecile Swann BVSc MRCVS

August 2016

Man's Best Friend


I found the recent uproar created from the photograph of Prince George offering his ice cream to his dog quite unjust. A bit of ice cream will not do a dog any harm and although chocolate can be toxic, a small quantity of white chocolate will not hurt. My personal reaction was of a child showing kindness and compassion to his pet, one that surely should be taken in a positive light. Having two young children myself, I have witnessed many shared dinners! Yes ice cream may cause a gut upset but lets face it dogs are scavengers and will go out of their way often to find things that disagree with their digestive systems!


There is an important point that has been made about dog bites and how many children do get bitten over food competition. Children should always be supervised around dogs, that goes without saying but I believe it is so important that we teach children to care for animals; dogs have been part of our lives for thousands of years and many people consider them part of the family.



Lucy Travers BVSc MRCVS Beech Vets, Willington

July 2016

Don't let them eat pork!

It always surprises me that having evolved as a scavenging species how many of our domestic dogs and cats have sensitive stomachs. One thing I do notice regularly is that dogs should not eat pork! Pork seems to upset the pancreas which can make them really quite ill. I have no problem with the odd tit bit of human food, having two small children and a Labrador I find this unavoidable! My dog is a good hoover although rather disappointingly she doesn't like Cheerios! Things to definitely avoid include Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Broccoli, Raisins, Grapes, Chocolate and artificial sweetners. A bit of chicken roast dinner is unlikely to do harm although some dogs (particularly small breeds) may never want to eat dog biscuits again! If you are at all unsure of something your dog has eaten or need some advice please contact your vet.

Lucy Travers
Beech Vets, Willington

June 2016

Thinking about getting a new dog?

We are seeing a real mixture of breeds at the practice, only the other day I was operating on a 4 pound chihuahua whilst next door a Great Dane was being treated. All creatures great and small, and dogs are just that, they come in such a variety of shapes, sizes and attitudes. The Dane was certainly bigger but the Chihuahua was in charge that day! So when it comes to choosing a pet there are many things to take into consideration, lifespan, exercise needs, temperament, feeding, healthcare and insurance costs. 
It amazes me how we have bred dogs to perform different tasks; yes it sometimes frustrates me that my Labrador always has to have something in her mouth (usually a shoe or slipper) but that's just the retriever in her, I don't complain when she always brings the ball back! Terriers are notorious for running off after small mammals and ending up in holes but they are what we have made them!
So I would urge anyone getting a new dog to do lots of research first and ideally have a chat to your vet practice, we do see them all and can certainly give some useful advice and steer you in the direction of a pet that will fit right in. 

May 2016

'Beech' Body Ready!

Pet obesity is becoming a common sight in veterinary practices throughout the country. Owners have lost sight of what their pet's ideal weight should be. 

There's a real misconception about what a healthy shape is.  Increasingly a 'tubby' pet is viewed as normal. Ways you can check is, keeping an eye on your pet's shape. Because we see our pets everyday, it's easy to not notice extra inches creeping on over time. Pet breeds vary and come in all shapes and sizes, but they should generally be sporting a sleek silhouette rather than a flabby tum. Our pet’s shape is an excellent sign of whether it’s a healthy weight. It’s something we can all check at home. The veterinary term for this is “body condition scoring”. You can download the Body Condition Scoring leaflet which gives you great advice on how you can check your dog's weight and body shape by looking and feeling. One way to monitor your pet's weight is to take pictures every couple of months to compare. Carrying extra weight can cause serious health implications like arthritis, diabetes, lethargy, respiratory problems and depression. For more information speak to your pet's vet or nurse.


April 2016



As many of you are aware these awful little critters have been highlighted in the media recently. It's not the ticks themselves that are the problem but the diseases they carry. These include; Lyme disease a bacteria that can affect the nervous system and heart and Babesiosis a disease that causes fatal anaemia. Babesia is transmitted by a species of tick that is new to the UK which unfortunately will likely become resident here.
Ticks are most prevalent between March and November, they are very common in areas of grassland with high densities of Sheep and Deer. The ticks wait in the undergrowth for a creature to pass and hop on board. 

So what can we do to prevent a problem? The longer the tick is on the animal, the increased risk of disease transmission, therefore we ideally need to prevent them attaching in the first place. This is best done by either avoiding areas affected by ticks (which is very difficult if your a keen dog walker!) or treating the pet for ticks (there are a variety of spot-ons, collars and tablets available, some working more quickly/effectively than others). If your dog is not treated and a tick is found, please be very careful how it is removed, as it is important that no body parts are left behind (tick removers are very effective and cheap to buy). Please also protect yourself; as Lyme disease also causes a severe illness in people. It is advised that skin is covered when walking in areas of high tick prevalence and socks are tucked into trousers to stop them gaining access.  

On a more positive note we are very lucky living in the UK. Ticks in other countries are very prevalent and cause many more severe illnesses. I would always advise anyone taking pets abroad to use continued tick protection (something which is sadly no longer a Pet Travel Scheme requirement).


If you would like any further advice speak with your veterinary surgeon. I will be looking very closely at any ticks bought into the practice to see if any are the newly arrived species!

March 2016

Spring is on its way!
Spring is a great time for getting out and about and watching nature at its best, pretty flowers, spring lambs, baby birds and hopefully some sunshine! During this time we get many baby birds bought in as people are concerned that they have fallen from the nest, although understandably concerning this is not always the right thing to do. The best advice (as offered from the RSPCA) is that if the bird is fully feathered, it is most likely a fledgling and its parents will be close by, still feeding it. Never try to return a bird to the nest as it may disturb others but if the bird is in immediate danger then move it to a sheltered spot nearby and monitor it closely. If the bird has no or only a few feathers it is called a nestling and will not survive outside the nest so take it to a wildlife rehabilitation centre or a vet. If you are unsure please just call for advice we do like to help our wildlife thrive.

January 2016

It’s January and New Year’s resolutions are a great way of starting afresh and many use it as an excuse to get fit and join a gym. Our pets are prone to a little weight gain over the festive period and it is vital for their health and wellbeing that we keep them nice and trim, which I know from experience is easier said than done. Food is key, the law of the conservation of energy states that 'energy cannot be created or destroyed, it is changed from one form to another’. Therefore if we feed less, then less energy is moved into fat stor


September 2015

    If only they could talk.....

As a vet one of the most difficult aspects of the job is trying to reach a diagnosis when an animal cannot describe what is wrong. Often early symptoms of an illness will go unnoticed because animals do not speak our language. However they do give us clues, and during my career I have learned that when an owner says 'he/she's just not herself' there's a problem. Often a change in behaviour is an early indicator but it amazes me how animals will conceal an illness. For example a mouth ulcer or gum infection for us will be very painful however our pets will rarely show adverse discomfort and will continue to eat making us assume all is well. Interestingly some breeds  seem more hardy than others, and differing attitudes, behaviour and appetites will mean some show signs of illness before others - if my labrador is off her food then something is desperately wrong!

As in people, generally illness when detected early is much easier to treat. So how can we detect early signs of ill health in our pets?

I would very much recommend getting your pet to a vet if you notice any of these symptoms; changing behaviour, weight loss, inappetence, drinking more, urinating more frequently, vomiting, diarrhoea, lumps and bumps, abdominal enlargement, coughing, sneezing, salivating and eating from one side of the mouth. Eyes can become very severely damaged rapidly and I would always treat a sore or discharging eye as an emergency. Another symptom that is unique to our animal friends is a change in coat quality, often a dull coat is the sign of a chronic illness. 

If you are unsure at all then just give your vet a call. Animals age naturally quicker than people and booster check ups are a great way of us giving your pet a good health check, if its once a year then that's equivalent to visiting your GP once every 7 years. 

July 2015

The Dog That's On Viagra

Buster a Springer Spaniel came to us as an emergency, his owner was concerned he was choking as he was coughing up blood. On examination his heart rate was increased, he had a murmur on his heart and he was in obvious distress. Coughing blood is not a common presentation for pets, a severe pneumonia, a poisoning or lungworm were our concerns. An ultrasound scan of his heart and chest x-rays confirmed the likely diagnosis to be that of Angiostrongylus vasorum, also known as lungworm. 

Lungworm is a new disease, it came over from the continent several years ago and has gradually spread North, now unfortunately extending to our parts. An infected dog or fox will pass larvae in its faeces and these then infect slugs and snails. Dogs become infected by ingestion of slugs or snails, either deliberately, on a stick/garden toy/blade of grass or in a puddle of water. Once inside a dog the larvae migrate to the heart and blood vessels in the lungs causing severe damage. Signs of infection include changes in behaviour, bleeding, lethargy, coughing and tiring easily.

So why Viagra? Viagra or Sildenafil is used in animals and humans to treat high blood pressure in the lungs (as well as its more commonly known use!). Lungworm adults residing in the blood vessels cause an increased blood pressure or hypertension. The consequence of treatment to reduce blood pressure in the lungs will reduce the backward strain on the heart, preventing any lasting cardiac changes. Other treatments included medication to kill the worms and a potent anti-inflammatory that was used to stop anaphylaxis as the worms died.

We are pleased to report that this dog is back to full health. We want to highlight the dangers unfortunately lurking in your back garden, lungworm can be prevented, for more information on protecting your pets individual needs please contact your vet.


June 2015

Microchipping - a bit of info on the new legislation

From the 6th April next year it will become a legal requirement to microchip all dogs. As vets we strongly support this move as it helps us to quickly to reunite all lost pets with their owners. Unfortunately there are other reasons for which it is becoming a legal requirement, including; the control of puppy farming, dog fighting and to encourage responsible pet ownership. It is hoped that this law will reduce levels of cruelty and neglect and help determine owners who keep dangerous dogs. 

As well as making sure a dog is microchipped, details must also be kept up to date, and if a dog is found a new home this must be registered with a pet identification database such as Petlog. 

We are keen to ensure all pets are microchipped as it helps us reunite stray animals with their owners but also, if a pet is bought in injured we can urgently contact the owner. Microchips have evolved and they are now much smaller than they used to be, a treat at the end goes a long way to ensure a relatively painless procedure!




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