Congratulations on your new puppy!

The first night in its new home is usually the most stressful night for any breed. Make it as comforting as possible with a ticking clock wrapped in its blanket or leave the radio on to soothe it to sleep.

Choose washable bedding.

Confine your puppy to a section of the house so that you have control over its toilet training.

Make sure kitchen rubbish is out of reach as are any other visible dangers such as large houseplants or pots.

Some clients prefer to bring their new pup in a pet carrier to the vet. They feel safer in the car when they are very young and they are not exposed to any sick animals in the waiting room.

Choose enough toys so that your furniture remains untouched by tiny teeth. Be careful not to give them toys that look like the items you want them to avoid chewing such as a shoe. Balls and knotted ropes are good but avoid games that encourage your puppy to fight with you and that makes it growl.

If your puppy continuously tries to chew your hands, discourage it by squeaking to give it a fright and distract it. Make a fist to hide your fingers and hide your hands if it perseveres. If encouraged you may end up with a biting dog.

Your pup can be fitted with a collar from when he is very little. It should fit snugly but allow for 1 – 2 fingers width of space between collar and neck. Loosen the collar as he grows.

Choose a good quality food that you want to keep him on.

Dry foods tend to be better for their teeth – especially in the smaller breeds that live longer and can suffer with dental disease if they only eat a soft food diet. Puppies have a tiny stomach so divide their feeds up into 4 meals initially.

Always provide fresh water.

Large breed puppies should be fed a puppy food specially designed for large breed dogs. They can grow too quickly on a normal high protein puppy food and suffer with joint disease. The large breed puppy foods balance the ratio of protein and carbohydrate so that your pet does not grow too fast.

Start training your puppy at an early age to build up a good relationship with your new companion.

Make sure they are wormed too with their first vaccination if the breeder has not already done so as most puppies will have worms from their mothers.

Any sign of fleas will need treatment too by us. Frontline spot on can start from 6 weeks of age.

Start basic discipline which involves being consistent with what you say and do. Be patient as dogs have short memories.

Correct your puppy when his behaviour is inappropriate but lavish him with praise as a positive reinforcement when it is right. Never resort to physical punishment.

Once vaccinated, you can start to socialise your pup but do not overdo the exercise. Your puppy will probably love being out and want to go for a lot further than it should. Over-exercising at a young age could adversely affect his growth especially in the larger breed dogs.

Puppies need to know their place in the pecking order at home. They will be much happier, better adjusted pets if you can follow the following simple guidelines, designed to mimic the wolf pack principle of “the top dog (the alpha male) goes first, feeds first, and leads”. Feed your pup after you have eaten.

Most of all, enjoy your time with your new pet. You will forget the time when you didn’t have such a devoted, non-judgemental, faithful, happy companion in your life.

Behaviour in Dogs
  • Set rules immediately and stick to them. 
  • Avoid situations that promote inappropriate behaviour.
  • Observe your pet and provide what it needs to be cared for and attended to.
  • Supervise your new pet diligently through undivided individual attention and training. Restrict your pet’s access to a limited area of the house until training is complete.
  • Encourage good behaviour with lavish praise and attention.
  • Correct bad behaviours by providing positive alternatives. (e.g. a toy for a slipper, a scratching post for a sofa). 
  • Never physically punish or force compliance to commands. This may lead to fear biting or aggression.
  • Don’t play roughly or encourage aggression or play biting.
  • Expose pets to people, animals and environments where you want them to live.
  • Ask to see any of our vets or nurses if serious or unresolved behavioural problems exist.

Most of the objections put forward against neutering are unfounded worries. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to speak to us.

Male dogs can be neutered from 6 months to:

  • Stop or reduce male sex-hormone driven behaviours
  • Reduce wandering/roaming/straying (also reducing car accidents)
  • Reduce the chances of a dog bite
  • Reduce aggression towards other dogs 
  • Reduce territoriality
  • Reduce prostatic disease (something very common in older entire male dogs) 
  • Remove the risk of testicular cancer (especially common in retained testicles)

Bitches should be neutered from 6 months or, if they have had a season then 2 – 3 months after a season or 2 – 3 months after a false pregnancy.

Early neutering will: 

  • Dramatically reduce (by 70%) the risk of mammary cancer.
  • Stop unwanted heats/seasons – the inconvenience of three weeks of bleeding and attractiveness to male dogs. Bitches in season have been known to scale metre high fences to get out. 
  • Reduce the risk of false pregnancies, a very common and distressing condition.
  • Remove the risk of a pyometra – a life-threatening womb infection very common in older or middle- aged entire bitches.
  • Reduce the number of unwanted puppies
  • Increase the likelihood of obesity – it is important that neutered bitches are fed slightly less (approx. 10%) than entire bitches. Their weight is in your hands and they will only get fat if they are overfed. 
  • Increase the chances of a urinary leakage problem – this can occur in entire bitches too, and can be managed by drops.

Post-operative Advice

It is a good idea to make preparations before your pet comes home. Your pet may be a little drowsy. It may have a surgical wound, bandages and a Buster collar fitted.

Although you may be very anxious to see your pet as soon as possible and get them home, it is advisable to speak to the veterinary nurse or veterinary surgeon prior to actually seeing your pet.

This will enable complete and thorough postoperative instructions to be given to you, a follow-up appointment can be scheduled and the account settled. It is also an ideal time for you to ask any questions that you have thought of during the day.

Instructions for postoperative care will vary and will depend on the type of surgical procedure your pet has undergone. However, some basic guidelines are set out below:

  • Your pet is likely to be drowsy for 24 to 36 hours. It is common for dogs to whine after an anaesthetic but this is a known side effect of the pain relief drug we use, and not usually anything to be concerned about.
  • Provide a comfortable bed/basket away from draughts and noise.
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea may occur in the immediate postoperative period. Light palatable meals, given little and often, can help reduce the likelihood of this.
  • If vomiting or diarrhoea occurs, consult your vet.
  • Exercise should be restricted until the final check-up. Cats must be kept indoors postoperatively and dogs must be exercised on a lead only.
  • Check the wound daily. There is no need for you to bathe the wound, but it is very important that you prevent your pet licking it. Licking of a surgical wound can cause inflammation and introduce infection which may necessitate further medication.
  • The pet may try to remove sutures while licking which could mean another general anaesthetic to replace them. Buster collars, or bandages are ways of preventing self-mutilation (inquire at the surgery about these).
  • Bandages should be kept clean and dry. They must be checked daily for signs of swelling above or below the bandage, discharges and so on. If at all concerned, contact your vet.
  • Ensure medication is given at the stated dosage and that the course is completed.
  • If you become at all concerned about your pet’s health during the postoperative period do not hesitate to contact us.
How to Clean Your Dog's Teeth

Apply the pet toothpaste to the soft-bristled dog toothbrush and then push it down into the bristles.

Choose a time when your dog is settled. Sit him down quietly, either on the floor or a table/counter surface for a small dog.

Without restraint, allow him to lick the toothpaste first.

Place one hand across the bridge of the nose (muzzle) with a finger or thumb under the chin to keep the mouth closed.

Gently lift the top lip and insert the toothbrush inside the cheek.

At your discharge appointment, one of our team will discuss with you how to care for your pet after an operation and arrange post operative appointments where necessary

The most important place to brush is at the gum line. Move the brush in gentle circular motions with emphasis of the stroke away from the gum line.

DO NOT scrub the teeth. The goal is to brush the outside surfaces of all the teeth in a systematic way.

If, initially, your pet does not co- operate for long enough; start each session by brushing at a different position in his mouth. The back (molar) teeth should be cleaned first, especially the upper ones; next the canine teeth and finally, once your pet is happy to accept this, the front teeth.

Brushing the inner surfaces of the teeth can prove to be difficult. If you are unable to do this, don’t despair. Providing the rest of the teeth are reasonably clean, the tongue will do quite a good job of this.

If your pet has inflamed gums (gingivitis), our vet may advise that you use a dental gel or solution containing chlorhexidine to improve the gums.

Chlorhexidine works best when combined with daily tooth brushing to remove the debris.

Remember, there is no point wrestling with your pet. Try the make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Reward him with a small treat and lavish praise if he behaves well.

Dental Care

It is generally recognised in clinical practice, between 70-80% of cats and dogs over three years old will have some degree of dental disease.

Over time, debris, bacteria and inflammatory cells build up on the teeth to form plaque which, if not removed, will become mineralised to the hardened substance known as tartar, or dental calculus.

This in turn, can cause inflammation of the gums know as gingivitis, and may lead to periodontitis which can cause loosening of the teeth in their sockets. Ultimately dental disease can leave pets with sore, smelly and painful mouths, and cause them to be unwell.

In some cats there is a genetic weakness in the tooth enamel that leads to painful erosive lesions on that can lead to the crowns breaking away exposing the nerve and root.These teeth require extracting to remove the source of pain.

These, and other dental conditions, are always checked for as part of any veterinary or nurse clinic examination and during the annual health check and vaccination.

Once a vet or nurse has examined your pet, advised a dental procedure would be beneficial and discussed all the pre-operative considerations, we will move forward with a general anaesthetic when a much more extensive examination will be possible.

The tartar will be gently removed from the surfaces of the teeth with special instruments and a sonic scaler.

All the teeth will be checked for areas of damage and security within the socket and then polished carefully to remove any microscopic lines on the surface of the enamel which will help to slow down the accumulation of plaque in the future.

If extractions have been necessary, your pet may require pain relief and antibiotics. We have a state of the art dental machine which has a high speed drill to aid in tooth extractions and root removal, a sonic scaler, high speed polisher and water spray coolant.

When your pet has recovered from the anaesthetic, a nurse will discharge your pet and book a FREE follow-up appointment. This is to ensure the mouth and remaining teeth are comfortable, all extraction sites are healing well and your pet is eating normally again.

They will also give you clear guidelines on how to continue with good dental health and oral disease prevention.

It is well known that plaque can begin to build up on the surfaces of the teeth very quickly after a dental has been performed and that tooth brushing, in conjunction with other measures, is the most effective way of minimising this accumulation.

Pets should be introduced to brushing slowly, using a soft pet toothbrush and specially formulated toothpaste.

The toothbrush should be used in small gentle circular movements in the area where the tooth meets the gum.

It is known that plaque can start to build up on the tooth surfaces very quickly even after a dental has been performed, and tooth brushing is the most effective way of minimising the accumulation of dental deposits.

Pets should be introduced to this process slowly, using a soft toothbrush, and toothpaste formulated especially for pets.

The toothbrush should be used in a gentle circular motion around the area where the tooth meets the gum. To supplement home dental care regimes, there are specialised veterinary diets, chews, pastes, gels and granules available to buy from us, all of which help to decrease the accumulation of plaque on the teeth.

At Avon Lodge we have a Dental Care Scheme which includes a general anaesthetic, scale and polish, with check-ups at a week, a month and 6 months following the procedure to monitor for new plaque formation and discuss on-going dental hygiene.


  • Have your pets’ teeth properly cleaned
  • Feed dry food exclusively – no tinned or other processed foods and no adding water to dry food
  • Provide specific dental chews but not too often as these can cause weight gain
  • Brush regularly if possible
  • Check your pets’ teeth on a weekly basis
Flea and Worm Treatments

A regular flea prevention and worming routine is important in keeping your pet fit and healthy. Your pet can encounter worms and skin parasites anywhere out on a walk where other animals have been or even in your own garden.

What worms are out there?

There are many different types of worms that can infect your dog and cat in the UK or if your pet travels abroad with you.

The main species in the UK are roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm, hookworm, heartworm and lungworm. Some of these can be potentially harmful to humans as well, namely roundworm and tapeworm.

How does my pet get worms?

Most transmission of worms is where the eggs or larvae are shed in the faeces of infected animals and are ingested by your pet as they graze or snuffle in the grass.

Once inside the pet, these mature into adult worms, which shed more eggs, and so the cycle continues. Worm eggs can also be brought into the house on shoes and transmission of some worms is via an intermediate host such as snails or fleas so indoor pets can be affected too.

What skin parasites should I be concerned about?

Cats and dogs can be affected by a number of skin parasites including fleas, lice, mites that live on the skin or in ears and ticks. These can be contracted from other affected pets, from wildlife ie foxes, or from the environment (this includes your home if one of your pets has brought in fleas!).

Signs can include itching (but not in all cases), hair loss, head shaking, reddening of the skin or even sightings of the parasites on your pet.

Vomiting in Dogs

Vomiting and/or diarrhoea are two of the most common ailments we see at Burghley Vets. All dogs will occasionally vomit.

In the wild they feed their young with regurgitated food and so vomiting is physiologically almost normal under certain circumstances.

The general rule is that if the vomiting is only occasional, of recent duration and if your pet is reasonably bright, then probably there is not too much to worry about.

A pet that is about to vomit will start to salivate or lick their lips constantly. This is also a sign of feeling nauseous.

Causes of Vomiting

Swallowed ‘foreign bodies’ can be anything from a sock or your child’s toy to the most common – the end of a dummy.

Many smaller foreign bodies will cause initial vomiting but then pass on their own accord. However, they occasionally become lodged and become a surgical emergency.

Parasites such as roundworm are often the culprits in causing partial blockages in the intestines, especially in puppies. If you have not wormed your dog or cat in the past 3 months it may be worth doing so with a broad spectrum wormer.

Dietary problems are a common cause of vomiting whether they are primary (over eating, gorging, too rich, too fatty food) or secondary to some other cause of vomiting such as a bacterial infection.

Metabolic diseases such as kidney disease or liver disease can lead to vomiting. They usually present with other symptoms as well and your pet will need to be booked in.

Poisons. It depends on the type of poison. Always bring in a sample of the vomit or a sample of whatever plant/chemical you have seen your pet eating.

Infections of the stomach (gastritis) often effect the upper intestine so that your dog may also present with diarrhoea.

Gastric ulcers occur in dogs. If your pet vomits blood on several occasions and / or black, tar like faeces (digested blood is present) are passed, then this is an emergency and your pet must be booked in straight away.

A major emergency in dogs is gastric dilatation and torsion syndrome. This usually occurs in giant and deep chested breeds such as German Shepherds. Your dog may try to vomit but only produces phlegm, not food. This is an ACUTE emergency and immediate surgical care is required.

Time To Let Go

Pet death is an inevitable part of pet ownership because of their relatively short lifespan. Despite this inevitability, it may be one of the most significant losses you could experience due to the depth of the human-animal bond.

For many people, their pet’s passing away is less stressful than the death of a human member of their immediate family, but more stressful than the passing away of other relatives.

You may find that the death of your pet elicits strong feelings that often parallel the grief response to the loss of a human companion.

You will find that you will most likely experience difficulties and disruptions in your lives after your pet dies – it is only normal and important to be aware of it.

One significant difference between humans and your pet dying in the UK, is the option of euthanasia.

Euthanasia literally means ‘good death’ and can only be administered by a registered vet. As a result, vets experience the death of their patients five times more than doctors and are directly involved in the decision process.

We are morally and ethically obliged to put an end to an animal’s suffering and pain. Once this decision is made, we are together with you, the owner, put in the uncomfortable situation of having to plan the death of what is effectively a family member.

We experience your immediate displays of grief even when the euthanasia has progressed so peacefully and smoothly.

Expressing grief is so important as it means that you have accepted what has happened and can open up. Tears are important.

For more pet loss support visit the Ralph site –

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