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  The Vaccination debate
  Pet ownership
Churnet Valley Vets Services

Why you should bring your new puppy or kitten to Churnet Valley Veterinary Clinic
Who is caring for your pet?
Pet Vaccinations
Fleas and their control
Worming your pets


  • A course of two vaccinations which will protect your new puppy against distemper, leptospirosis, parvovirus, hepatitis, parainfluenzagreyhoundpupsmall10.jpg (21993 bytes)

  • A thorough veterinary examination

  • 4 weeks free insurance with Petplan

  • Our own advice leaflets on subjects such as toilet training, basic commands, indoor crate training

  • A veterinary nurse puppy cuddle test


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  • A course of 2 vaccinations which will protect your new kitten against flu, enteritis and feline leukemia

  • A thorough veterinary examination

  • 4 weeks free insurance with Petplan

  • Our own advice pack containing information sheets and leaflets to help you on your kitten to cat journey

  • A veterinary nurse kitten cuddle test - priceless

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Who is caring for your pet?

When you visit a veterinary practice with your pet you take it for granted that the person treating your precious pet will be a qualified veterinary surgeon and that will be the case.  However, what about the nurses?  Who is caring for your pets before, during and after operations? 

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At Churnet Valley Vets all of the nurses are on the veterinary nursing register and legally allowed to perform their duties.  They are all entitled to put the letters VN or RVN after their names.  This is not the case in all veterinary practices by any means.

Pat allows his nurses to attend continuing education courses to ensure that their skills are completely up to date and refreshed.

What does a qualified veterinary nurse bring to a practice?

In-patient care:  VNs are responsible for carrying out your pet's nursing care, as directed by the veterinary surgeon in charge of the case.  These duties can include feeding, exercising, TLC, monitoring vital signs (temperature, heart rate, breathing rate), administering medication, wound management, dressing changes, bedding changes and fluid monitoring.

Surgical nursing and anaethesia: VNs are trained to provide appropriate surgical assistance to the veterinary surgeon.  If not acting as the surgical nurse, they will be monitoring your pet's general anaesthetic and maintaining continued communication with the vet throughout with details of heart rate, depth of anaesthesia, breathing rate and colour of gums/tongue.  VNs are suitably trained to recognise different stages of anaesthesia and potential problems that could happen, in order to further reduced the risks involved.

Nurse clinics:  a qualified VN has received appropriate training to provide a range of services, these include weight clinics, flea/worming treatments, dressing changes, post operative checks and suture removal, dental care, general advice on nutrition, grooming and puppy training, microchipping, diabetic clinics and many other areas.

For more information on veterinary nurse roles and training visit the website:



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Pet Vaccinations

Dogs live until 12 years on average for most breeds, cats live on average between 13 and 15 years. During this time they will come into contact with many dangerous diseases, the most serious of which they can thankfully these days be vaccinated against
Dog Vaccinations

When you register your dog at Churnet Valley Vets we will enter onto the computer the date ofgreyhoundpups7.jpg (17830 bytes) your pet's last vaccination and send a reminder for you to bring your pet for a booster when it is due.

Vaccinations teach the immune system to  respond quickly to certain infections before they can cause serious illness. They contain harmless strains of the viruses and bacteria that your dog needs protection against. Most of the diseases that are vaccinated against have no specific cure, and treatment can only support the animal before its immune system can hopefully fight off the disease. Recent advances in vaccine technology mean that they are safer than ever and can protect against even more diseases.

At what age can we vaccinate?

We currently carry out at 1st vaccination between 6 and 8 weeks then a second vaccination at 10 weeks.

Most pups are fully protected, we believe about 7-10 days after the second dose, so can go outside in public areas. The vaccine we currently use recommend that this gives adequate immunity. The theory behind this is that, after suckling, a pup's antibody level will be between 60 and 70% of the dam. This declines over the first few months of life, leaving these pups vulnerable to infection. As these antibodies interfere with any vaccine given, the period around 8 weeks of age is seen as optimal for vaccination to start. In some individuals, however, these maternally derived antibodies can persist until 10 weeks, thus interfering with the second dose of vaccine.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (and some vaccine manufacturers) recommend a second dose at 12 weeks of age and ideally a third dose given at 14-16 weeks of age. We don't adhere to the latter dosing in this clinic as we currently do not see problems and early socialisation of pups in the 6-12 week period of life is very important in development of a dog's normal behaviour. If we have disease outbreaks we will change our policy. 

The first booster vaccination at around 15 months of age is incredibly important as this tends to pick up all the pets who did not adequately respond to the primary vaccination course as   pups. In dogs, most cases of parvovirus vaccine breakdown (which thankfully I have yet to see at this clinic) occur between 9 and 15 months of age. 

What do we vaccinate against ?

Canine Parvovirus A serious disease that attacks the immune system and cells lining the intestines, causing serious, often fatal, vomiting and diarrhoea. Young unvaccinated pups are especially susceptible.

Canine Distemper (Hardpad) This virus attacks the gut, lungs and nervous system and is usually fatal.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis This virus rapidly attacks the liver, lungs, kidneys and eyes. Many cases are fatal but some dogs do recover.

Canine Parainfluenza Virus This virus is an important component of `kennel cough’ , a highly infectious upper respiratory tract infection of dogs which causes a dry hacking cough often causing vomiting.

Leptospirosis This disease is caused by bacteria from the family Leptospira. The vaccination covers  two strains of this disease. The first is passed on in watercourses from the urine of infected rats and this strain can also affect humans. The second is caught from the urine of infected dogs. Antibiotics can help to treat Leptospirosis, however it can often prove  fatal or cause permanent damage to the kidneys.

Newer vaccines can also give protection against canine coronavirus, which can cause serious diarrhoea in infected animals.

Kennel cough vaccines protect against the bacteria  bordetella bronchiseptica which is one of the more serious strains of `kennel cough` infection. Vaccination is often a requirement of boarding kennels to help reduce its spread.

Cat Vaccinations

Vaccines contain harmless strains of the viruses or bacteria that can often affect your cat. After vaccination your cat's immune system will generate a protection that should prevent illness if the cat is exposed to the dangerous forms of these infections.  Many of these infections are incurable and some maybe fatal.coll.jpg (42044 bytes)

At what age can we vaccinate ?

Kittens are  given their first vaccination at about 8-9 weeks of age and a second vaccination at about 12 weeks of age. An annual booster is then necessary to maintain the cat's immunity, ensuring the best level of protection.

What do we vaccinate against ?

Feline Herpesvirus This virus is one of the main causes of `cat flu’, a highly infectious, respiratory tract syndrome that is extremely common, especially in kittens. The virus can affect the upper respiratory system and may also affect the eyes. Affected cats can suffer longterm illness and sometimes can often become lifelong carriers of the disease, suffering relapses in times of stress.

Feline Calicivirus This is another important viral contributor to `catflu’ and can also affect the mouth, causing large ulcers on the surface of the tongue.

Feline Panleucopenia This disease is similar to canine parvovirus and so can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea especially in young, unvaccinated kittens. Infections are often fatal.

Feline Leukaemia Virus This virus damages the cat's immune system and can also cause cancer. It is widespread within the UK and is untreatable. Feline leukaemia virus incidence in cats has been massively reduced since the introduction of a vaccine 20 years ago. 

As with dogs we can set up the computer to send you a reminder when your cat's booster is due.


Rabbit Vaccinations

Rabbits are also susceptible to many diseases and some of these can be prevented by routine vaccinations

Myxomatosis is a viral disease found in wild rabbits in the UK and  it can affect pet rabbits too. The disease is spread from infected to non-infected rabbits via flea bites. The virus causes swellings around the eyes, ears and genitals and makes feeding difficult. In most cases treatment is futile.

Viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) is another widespread viral disease that is present in this country. The disease is spread via direct contact with infected rabbits or contaminated feeding or drinking bowls. Affected rabbits rapidly become ill and often die before any symptoms are seen.

Both Myxomatosis and VHD can be prevented by a single annual vaccination.

As with dogs and cats we can set you up on the computer to receive a reminder when your rabbit's boosters are due.

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Fleas and their control

f1.jpg (3616 bytes)Fleas are the most common parasite in dogs and cats and are in abundance due to modern day living. As our homes become warmer and we have fitted carpets, these are ideal environments for fleas to live in.

Fleas are small, reddish-brown insects.
Only the adult fleas live on your pet and drink its blood.
For every flea you see on your pet, there may be hundreds of young fleas developing in the environment. Only about 5% of the total flea population will be on your pet at any one time. Adult fleas lay eggs, which drop off your pet on to the floor. After a few days these hatch into maggot-like larvae which hide in your carpets, furnishings, cracks in the floor or your pet’s bedding. After a time, the larva spins a cocoon in which it develops into an adult flea. They can stay in this resting stage for several months. When the adult flea hatches from its cocoon, its first instinct is to search for food, i.e. blood, which can be your pets, or even yours. The minimum time for the life cycle from an egg to adult flea is two and a half to three weeks, but young fleas can live for over a year before reaching maturity and getting back on your pet. Most adult fleas live for 2-3 months. Each female flea can produce dozens of eggs each day! The warmth of a centrally heated home or a long hot summer are ideal conditions for the flea reproductive cycle.

Q) So Can Fleas Affect My Pet’s Health?
The answer is YES. Fleas are the most common cause of skin disease in dogs and cats. Flea saliva contains anti-clotting chemicals which keeps the blood flowing whilst the flea feeds and these chemicals can cause an allergic reaction in your pet. Those affected suffer severe itching: licking and scratching their skin making it red and sore. Fleas can also carry the eggs of an immature form of tapeworm. If your pet swallows a flea infected with tapeworm, the tapeworm can develop in your pet’s gut and grow to as much as 60cm long.

Q)How can I get rid of the little devils?

For successful flea control, you need to treat both your pet and its environment, with products that are effective and will kill both adult and immature fleas. Not all products are equally effective and those bought from vets are usually much better than those that can be bought from pet shops or supermarkets. It is also important to treat ALL cats and dogs in the household. At Churnet Valley Vets we use Vectra.   Environmental control is equally as important as treating your pet. You will need to treat the areas where your pet spends most time, particularly where he/she sleeps. Washing pet bedding in hot water will kill young fleas, but not the eggs. Vacuuming carpets will help, as does steam cleaning. (Interestingly research has shown that making the environment humid by boiling a kettle in the room, helps the larvae to hatch out and increases the kill rate for the spray when applied!) Use a household spray that kills adult fleas and also prevents immature fleas from developing. Persistence is the key to flea control. Staykil household spray lasts for about 12 months in the environment, so repeated monthly treatments, with inferior products, is avoided. It is also advisable to worm pets at the same time as treating for fleas, to help prevent infection with tapeworm.


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Worming your Pet

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Routine worming of your pet is important not only for their health but for yours and your children’s too. For instance, Toxocara Canis, a roundworm species found in dogs, can cause damage to eyesight if it is ingested by humans – this may happen if the eggs passed in dogs’ faeces contaminate soil which children then play in. If the child then eats food without washing their hands first, the eggs may be swallowed. Worm larvae can also be passed from your dog to you if he/she licks your mouth, as larval stages of worms can be coughed up from dog’s lungs prior to being swallowed to continue the life cycle in the dogs’ digestive tract. Puppies and kittens are usually born infected with worms, as worm larvae pass through the mother’s placenta whilst the fetus is in the womb. Larvae are also passed through the mother’s milk. Puppies and kittens should be wormed regularly until 6 months of age (depending on worm status) and adult dogs and cats should be wormed 3 to 4 times a year. At Churnet Valley we use Milprazon, an effective combined round and tape-wormer. Incidentally, worm species show significant resistance to old-fashioned products containing Piperazine, available over the counter at pet shops and supermarkets (so you may well be wasting your money in buying them). If you have difficulties giving your cat worm tablets at home, help is at hand – you can bring your cat to the clinic and we’ll give the tablet for you, or there are spot-on products available instead.

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We perform routine neutering at Churnet Valley Vets.  We would recommend that your cats and dogs are neutered at about 6 months of age.  This rarely causes problems as it is unusual for cats to become sexually active before that age, or for bitches to come into season before 6 months.  If you have any concerns about your cat's behaviour before that age please give us a telephone call and we can discuss your options.

Routine neutering rarely causes any problems and your pet will make a quick recovery if you follow a few important instructions.  Your pet will only come in for a day, but will need a few days of quiet and restricted exercise to recover.   Bitches should have lead only exercise  and be encouraged not to run up and down stairs, jump on furniture etc for ten days.  This will prevent pressure and stretching of the wounds inside and out.  Male cats only have to be kept indoors for a few days to fully recover from the general anaesthetic - we don't want them climbing trees or crossing roads whilst still drowsy!  Similarly for cat spays.

If you have any concerns at all about whether you should neuter your pet, ready the factsheets on neutering on this website or give us a ring to discuss it.


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Most pet owners would never expect to lose their pet, but it is a sad fact that 1000s of pets are lost each year and not returned to their owners because they have no form of identification.

Micro chipping provides a form of identification that your pet carries for life. A microchip is implanted under the skin, between the shoulder blades and, when scanned by a microchip scanner, a number, unique to your pet, is displayed. The number is registered with PetLog, together with details of your address and telephone numbers and any regular medication that your pet may require.

If your pet goes missing, the microchip can be “read” at most Police Stations, Veterinary Practices, by Dog Wardens and all major re-homing charities. Your details will be found through the PetLog database which is open and accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. You will then be contacted direct.



Dogs and Cats

At Churnet Valley Vets, we believe there’s more than one way to feed your pet. There are some excellent diets available on the market, whether you want to feed your dog and tinned food with mixer biscuit or complete food which is usually dried. (Generally speaking, the higher quality of diet, the less dog waste to clear up!) We will not be trying to sell you life stage diets, similarly I would not expect my GP to tell me to eat Heinzweighdog.jpg (29094 bytes) food! Feeding home-made diets is acceptable, but can be more difficult to obtain an optimal nutritional balance. We don’t recommend feeding raw diets, especially those involving chicken due to the high incidence of Salmonella bacteria. Dogs are just as likely to get a nasty stomach bug as you or me! Bones from chicken wings or lamb can have serious consequences if the bowel is damaged.

We currently all feed our pets on Royal canin diets. Details can be found at www.royalcanin.co.uk

We stock or can get into order on a next day basis all the life stage and prescription diets.

Important to your pet is that you feed it the correct amount for its needs, depending particularly on its age. Generally speaking we tend to overfeed our pets which results in weight gain and problems associated later in life.


Commonly observed feeding problems

  1. Puppies/kittens being fed too infrequently. Puppies and kittens below 12 weeks of age need to be fed 5 x daily in small meals. (Would you feed a baby 3 times daily?!!) If food is left down all the time, this is relevant.
  2. ‘My [obese] dog only gets one meal per day’.
    Our questions:
    Do you weigh the food?
    What is the diet made up of?
    What treats does your pet have? Now again, with the honest answer!
    How often does your pet go for a run – as well as a short leash walk?
    We understand that there is a correlation, between pets and owners size in a significant proportion of cases. Occasionally we do see cases of hypothyroid dogs, which will present as obesity, but most of our overweight pets are not big for their breed. Ultimately, it’s a question of calories eaten versus calories used and if there’s an imbalance, then there will be weight gain. Period.
  3. I feed my dog/cat chicken. Is this okay?
    Yes its is, as part of a calorie-controlled diet. Feeding chicken alone leads to a calcium deficient diet. It must be fed with a mixer biscuit, or even better, just feed a balanced dog food. Chicken is not some super hypoallergenic wonderfood – studies have shown that 10% of food hypersensitivities are in fact to chicken. Feeding an excess of anything will make your pet overweight, though!
  4. I feed my dog/cat on biscuits [dried food]. Why does it have bad teeth?
    If I ate dried food all day and didn’t clean my teeth, then I would have serious dental disease! Modern dried cat and dog food do help to cleanse teeth compared to tinned foods. Some are far better than others. All our Royal Canin diets make claims to improve your pets teeth, however chewing activities with raw hide chews, Denta-rasks, Dentastix, or the Royal Canin Oral Bars help. If your pet has serious dental disease, we would probably recommend one of the specially designed diets to reduce tartar such as Royal Canin Dental Special or Hills t/d. We do recommend tooth brushing, which we can demonstrate how to introduce to your pet.
  5. ‘Is dried food better than tinned food for my cat?’
    No, not usually. Often the better dried foods, such as Royal Canin and many other brands contain far superior ingredients to tinned food. Avoid the cheaper varieties of dried food which tend to have high levels of vegetable proteins in the ingredient list. As cats are true (obligate) carnivores, this raises interesting questions! In certain circumstances of cats with urinary tract problems, we will generally avoid dried foods.
  6. Be careful what the packaging says!!
    To specify that a food is ‘with salmon and trout’ means that it contains at least 15% of these constituents. The rest will be something else, typically beef, cereal or other stuff. This can create problems when trying to avoid certain ingredients in your pet’s diet if you are doing a dietary trial.
  7. ‘My cat only drinks out of puddles outside’
    What is its drink bowl made from? If it is made from plastic, then it’s hardly surprising! Would you drink water out of a plastic beaker that had been left for a day or more? No! It would taste horrible! Similarly, cats are notoriously finicky about what they eat and drink form. We advise you give your cat a ceramic bowl to drink out of, but stainless steel is acceptable. Cats who do not drink adequately are at risk of developing lower urinary tract disease.
  8. ’My pet is on a 25% protein diet. Is this too high?’
    Pets eat quantities not percentages, just like me or you. Some tinned dog food only contain 6% protein. But this food is 83% moisture (= water), so in fact its is 6% of the 17% which isn’t water. That’s 35%. All the dog will do is drink less water with a tinned food. I have never seen a high quantity of protein in the diet causing skin disease, although it may occasionally affect behavior. If diet affects the skin, it is usually the type of protein in the diet. The most common dietary allergens are beef and beef products, which includes, tripe, liver and milk.
  9. ’I give my dog cod liver oil tablets. Is this ok?’



The digestive system of the rabbit is adapted for a fibrous diet, and indigestible fibre has been found to be essential to maintain good health. Wild rabbits spend time grazing grass, eating a wide variety of plants and vegetables and nibbling branches and bark from trees. Commercial rabbit foods are made up of cereals and pellets, often providing excessive carbohydrates and insufficient fibre. These diets allow rabbits to pick out the tastier ingredients, which are often full of sugar and carbohydrates, and to leave the more essential ingredients.

The ideal diet for a pet rabbit is that of a wild one, i.e. grass. A wide range of green foods and vegetables can be fed every day to pet rabbits e.g. broccoli stalks, cauliflower leaves, cabbage, sweetcorn, carrots, parsley apples, sprout peelings, celery, pea pods, and radish. Garden weeds such as dandelions can also be fed. Succulent vegetables like lettuce and tomato should be fed in moderation. Hay or grass should always be available and must make up most of the rabbit’s diet. Small amounts of commercial food will do no harm as long as there is plenty of grass and vegetables available. Remember that most domesticated rabbits are much less active than their wild cousins, therefore feeding high energy diets is completely inappropriate. Grass cuttings should be avoided as they start to ferment quickly.

Pet rabbits can have several health problems and the most common are often linked together. At the root of most of these problems is often the rabbit’s diet:

  • Obesity is a common problem when the diet is solely cereal mixtures and sugary treats. Obese rabbits cannot groom themselves properly and this can lead to skin problems or even fly strike.
  • Dental disease is another common problem, this happens through the rabbit selecting out favorite ingredients from commercial food and making its diet deficient in calcium. Common dental problems are overgrown incisors that need regular clipping or in severe cases removal. Molars can develop hooks, which can rub on the pouches forming sores and causing a reluctance to eat.
  • Blocked tear ducts can occur from miss grown incisor teeth pushing on the ducts. Infection can form and eye drops may be necessary and in some cases a full anesthetic to flush the tear ducts out. Insufficient fibre can lead to digestive disorders such as hairballs or soft faeces
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Churnet Valley Vets has the facility to run in-house laboratory tests as follows:

  • We can run routine Biochemistry blood tests on our in-house VetTest machine. This can give information within hour about possible liver and kidney disease and can tell us whether a pet is suitable to undergo an anesthetic.
  • We are able to detect anemia by measuring packed-cell volume (PCV).
  • We run in-house tests for evidence of Feline Leukemia and Immunodeficiency Virus infection.
  • We examine urine samples with dipstick and also for sediment under the microscope. N.B.microscope2.jpg (8629 bytes) If your pet is showing signs of increased drinking or urinating we request that you bring a urine sample to the clinic for testing. If we are looking for urinary crystals, we recommend a morning sample, collected prior to feeding and delivered to the clinic within half an hour of collection.
  • We have the facilities to examine skin scrapes for evidence of mite infestation and other skin conditions.
  • We can run tests for infection with Ringworm.
  • There are many other laboratory tests that can be performed to diagnose specific diseases. These are sent to outside laboratories and results take a few days to come back.



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Churnet Valley Veterinary Clinic Limited. Registered in England and Wales. Reg no: 6382252
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