Patient Advice & FAQs

Get advice for your furry friend by browsing through some of our most frequently asked questions and popular areas of concern. If you require further advice, not listed here in our advice section please do get in touch and we will try to answer any concerns you may have about your pet or your visit.

We also provide regular pet care news and preventative advice on our news page – take a look now.

Q: Should I starve my cat or dog before coming in for an operation?

A: Unless advised otherwise please ensure that your pet has no access to any food from midnight the night before the operation. Even if you expect a procedure to be carried out with your pet fully conscious we request they are starved in case sedation or anaesthetic becomes necessary with your consent.

Q: Should I starve my rabbit/guinea pig or rodent before coming in for an operation?

A: These small pets should NOT have their food restricted.

Q: Should I restrict access to water as well as food?

A: It is important that you do not restrict access to water, which should be available until the morning of the procedure.

Q: Should I take my dog for a walk the morning of the operation?

A: We advise that dog’s are allowed a very short ‘toilet’ walk the morning of an operation. Please ensure that the dog remains on a lead so they stay clean and mud free before entering our hospital.

Q: Is it ok to let my cat out the night before an operation?

A: We advise that cats are kept in the night before an operation with a litter tray, in order to prevent hunting as well as absenteeism the morning of the appointment.

Q: What happens the morning of the operation?

A: We ask that you report to reception at the pre-arranged time, in some cases you pet may require assessment with a vet before being admitted to the hospital. The nurse in charge of your pet for the day will then take you and your pet up to the hospital wards. They will ask you to read and sign a consent form and it is important that you leave appropriate telephone numbers with us and ensure you are contactable at all times throughout the day. Your pet will be weighed and then in most cases a pre-med injection will be given to help reduce any anxiety and provide some pre-operative pain relief. You will then be able to settle your pet into their kennel.

Q: Why might I be asked about a blood test? Is this really necessary?

A: We advise a small health screen blood test in all animals over eight years old that are due a sedation or anaesthetic. As our pets get a bit older they are more likely to suffer age related ailments that may not be initially obvious to us but which could mean anaesthetic poses them a greater risk. A small and inexpensive blood test prior to an operation can highlight some important conditions, allowing us to carry out any procedure as safely as possible. Please be aware that in some cases if a blood test if declined the vet may request that your pet receives a fluid drip during the anaesthetic.

Q: If my animal has been admitted to the hospital when should I next contact the practice?

A: We normally ask that you contact us by 3.00pm to check when your pet is ok to go home.

Q: Where should I go when I come to collect my pet?

A: Please report to our reception desk and the hospital nurse will then discharge your pet from the hospital. The nurse will run through the postoperative discharge instructions with you and dispense any medication that your pet will require.

Q: What should I expect in the first 24 hours after an operation?

A: Your pet is likely to be quiet and subdued for the first 12-24 hours after a sedation or anaesthetic and may have a reduced appetite or a slight sense of nausea. We will usually provide a special food, which is easily digestible for them to help with this. Please keep dog walks restricted to short lead only ‘toilet walks’ for 24 hours and cats should be kept indoors during this time.

Q: Is it ok if my pet licks the wound? Can’t this help it heal?

A: It is vitally important that your pet does not lick the surgical site, not only can this introduce infection but it can also quickly open up any wound, which may necessitate another operation. In most cases an Elizabethan collar will be provided to prevent any unwanted attention to the wounds.

Q: My pet has a bandage, how do I care for this?

A: Make sure that the bandage stays dry at all times. Cover with a plastic bag when taking your pet out to the toilet but do not keep the bag over the bandage in the house. If the dressing becomes wet contact the practice, as it needs replacing. Likewise if the bandage becomes soiled, chewed or smells, or if it appears uncomfortable then contact the surgery.

Q: When should I vaccinate?

A: Puppy vaccinations can be started from 8 weeks of age. The initial course is 2 injections 2-4 weeks apart with your puppy being fully protected 1 week after the second vaccination against Distemper, Parvovirus, Adenovirus and Leptospirosis. We can also offer intra nasal kennel cough vaccines, although would suggest that this is done at least two weeks before a trip to kennels. Vaccinations need to be kept up to date with a yearly booster.

Q: When should I worm?

A: The breeder should do this at 2 weeks and 5 weeks of age with Panacur (which is safe to use in very young puppies). Once re-homed we recommend monthly worming with a tablet combining Milbemycin Oxime and Praziquantel, to provide protection against lungworm in addition to roundworms and tapeworm. Those households with young children or with adults who are immunosuppressed should be particularly strict with their monthly worming regime to protect those individuals from ocular roundworm infection.

Q: What about treating for fleas?

A: The only way to prevent a pet and household flea infestation is regular use of veterinary approved  flea products. We currently recommend using a palatable flea and tick tablet that conveniently lasts for three months, this preparation is also available as a spot on formula.

Q: When should I neuter my dog?

A: Males: This can be performed from 6 months of age onwards, although we recommend delaying until 12 months, especially in large and giant breed dogs. Females: At this practice, we recommend that bitches are spayed 3 months after their first season. We think it is important to discuss neutering with a vet or a nurse beforehand for further advice and information.

Q: Should I microchip?

A: The answer to this is a resounding YES! A microchip is a small electronic chip that is inserted under the skin to provide details of your pet’s identity should they go missing. The implantation procedure is simple and relatively painless and we recommend this be performed at the 2nd vaccination in preparation for the puppy being allowed out in public areas. It is soon to become law that all dog owners must have their dogs microchipped.

 Q: What should I feed my puppy?

A: Feeding a good quality diet is an essential part of providing your puppy with the best possible start. We recommend Virbac HPM (hyper premium diet) which is extremely palatable and contains a high-quality protein and a high protein low carbohydrate ratio.

Q: When do I start socialisation/training?:

A: Simple home training should be started immediately and we would recommend socialisation as soon as your puppy is vaccinated. The practice holds free puppy parties to help with early socialisation and training as well as offering other helpful tips and advice. We advise that all new puppies attend.

Q: What about insurance?:

A: We strongly recommend pet insurance as a means of providing financial reassurance should your pet fall ill. We are able to offer 4 weeks free insurance for all puppies after an initial examination. Whichever insurance company you choose please take time to read the small print of the policy carefully. It is always advisable to take out a ‘for life’ policy is possible.

Q: What is the Pet Health Plan:

A: SAVE MONEY ON ROUTINE HEALTHCARE AND VETERINARY CHECKS! The Pet Health Club is NOT insurance but is a way of spreading the cost of regular veterinary visits: the vaccinations, flea, worm and parasite treatments, microchipping and health checks which make up the majority of vet visits but which are not covered by insurance policies. You can also receive 10% off the cost of consultations, neutering and dental procedures as well as all food available in reception, including prescription diets. Please feel free to speak to our receptionist or one of our nurses for more information.

Q: When should I vaccinate?:

A: Vaccinations can be started from 9 weeks of age. The initial course is 2 injections 3-4 weeks apart with your kitten being fully protected after the second injection. After this, vaccinations must be kept up to date with a yearly booster.

Q: When should I worm?:

A: This should be done at 2 weeks and 5 weeks of age with Panacur, which is safe to use in very young kittens. Subsequently a spot on roundworm and tapeworm treatment can be used every three months, but bear in mind cats that hunt a lot may require worming monthly.

Q: What about treating for fleas?:

A: The only way to prevent a flea infestation on your cat and subsequently in your house is regular use of effective flea treatments. Our staff are happy to advise you on the appropriate products. Currently we are recommending a product that only needs to be applied once every 3 months and also provides tick protection.

Q: When should I neuter my cat?:

A: Males: From 4 months of age onwards – this is essential to prevent urine spraying, fighting and straying as well as unwanted kittens. Females: From 4 months of age.  We strongly recommend spaying so that responsible owners help to prevent further unwanted kittens.

Q: Should I Microchip?:

A: The simple advice to this is YES! A microchip is a small electronic chip that is inserted under the skin to provide details of your pet’s identity should they go missing. Although the implantation procedure is simple and relatively painless we recommend this is performed during neutering whilst under anaesthetic, although if requested it can be done at the 2nd vaccination.

Q: What About Diet?:

A: Feeding a good quality diet is an essential part of providing your kitten with the best possible start. We recommend Virbac HPM diet, which is an extremely palatable high protein diet.

Q: What about Insurance?:

A: We strongly recommend pet insurance. As a practice, our advice is to use ‘Pet Plan’. Whichever insurance company you choose please take time to read the small print of the policy carefully. It is always advisable to take out a ‘for life’ policy is possible.

Q: What is the Pet Health Plan?:

A: SAVE MONEY ON ROUTINE HEALTCARE AND VETERINARY CHECKS! The Pet Health Club is NOT insurance but is a way of spreading the cost of regular veterinary visits: the vaccinations, flea, worm and parasite treatments, microchipping and health checks which make up the majority of vet visits but which are not covered by insurance policies. You can also receive 10% off the cost of consultations, neutering and dental procedures as well as food, including prescription diets, on sale in reception. Please feel free to speak to our receptionist or one of our nurses for more advice and information.

Q: Why is it so important to vaccinate my pet?

A: Vaccinations are essential to provide protection for your pet against a number of potentially fatal or debilitating diseases. Without the protection of a vaccination then treating a pet that contracts one of these diseases can often be challenging at best and at worst hopeless.

Q: What do you routinely vaccinate my dog against?

A: Your dog will be routinely vaccinated against:

  • Canine Parvovirus – a cause of severe bloody diarrhoea
  • Canine Distemper – a potentially fatal airborne virus
  • Infectious Canine Hepatitis – an airborne virus that affects the liver
  • Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease) – transmitted via rat urine
  • Parainfluenza – a component of the ‘kennel cough’


Q: What do you routinely vaccinate my cat against?

A: Your cat will be routinely vaccinated against:

  • Cat Flu – a common and debilitating cause of flu that can be fatal to kittens or old cats
  • Feline Enteritis – a virus causing severe vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Feline Leukaemia – a virus that attacks the immune system, contagious and potentially fatal


Q: What do you routinely vaccinate my rabbit against?

A: Rabbits are vaccinated against Myxomatosis which is spread by biting insects and Viral Haemorrhagic Diarrhoea (VHD1 and VHD2). All of these are potentially fatal conditions.

Q: When should I vaccinate my pet?

A: We routinely vaccinate puppies as soon as possible after 8 weeks old with a repeat injection 2-4 weeks later. Kittens are vaccinated from 9 weeks old and then again 3-4 weeks later. Rabbits can be vaccinated from 5 weeks old. Once you have completed the initial course, your pet will require annual boosters to maintain immunity. Please contact Reception for further advice as to when to bring your pet in to see us.

Q: Why does my pet need a booster?

A: Unfortunately the immunity provided by a vaccination does not last and so yearly boosters are advised to maintain an appropriate level of protection, in a similar way to people requiring an annual ‘flu jab’. It should be pointed out that content of the vaccination given will vary depending on requirement and in fact some components are only given every three years rather than always annually.

Q: My pet is very old, is a vaccination really necessary now?

A: Vaccinating elderly pets is important as their immune systems are often more vulnerable to infection. In a similar way that elderly people are offered the flu jab as priority.

Q: What else do you vaccinate against?

A: Animals that travel and require a pet passport are vaccinated against Rabies and can also be protected against Leishmaniasis (Dogs only). There is also a vaccination against Lyme’s disease for dogs which is a tick borne disease.

Q: Why is it important to worm my pet?

A: Worms commonly infect dogs and cats and can affect their growth and condition but in some cases worms can also be passed onto humans. Toxocara canis (a dog roundworm) has in a few extreme cases caused blindness in young children and some tapeworm can cause cysts to develop in body tissues.

Q: Which worms do I have to treat against?

A: We recommend routinely treating against Roundworms and Tapeworms and in addition for dogs Lungworm. Roundworms, commonly ‘Toxocara Canis’ in dogs are spread from dog to dog via faeces one dog can pass millions of microscopic roundworm eggs daily which cannot be seen by the naked eye, these can survive in the environment for months. In addition all puppies are born with a  roundworm infestation passed on from their mothers, occasionally some worms are passed which look like short spaghetti. Tapeworms are spread by an intermediate host (often a flea or rodent) and when these are ingested the tapeworm grows in the pet’s intestine until they mature and release eggs in the pets faeces which look like grains of rice. Lungworm is an increasing danger for our pet dogs and infection can prove fatal. Dogs become infected with the parasite via slugs or snails, and while often these are intentionally swallowed occasionally these are accidentally swallowed when drinking from outdoor water sources or playing with toys left outside. Signs can be variable and include coughing or breathing issues, poor blood clotting, behavioural changes, fits, loss of appetite and vomiting and diarrhoea.

Q: How do I keep my pet free from worms?

A: Since there is a lot of resistance to worming products we advise using a safe and effective wormer prescribed by your veterinary surgeon rather than wasting money on inferior products stocked in many supermarkets (no supermarket products will treat lungworm). We can offer advice on the best products.

Q: How long does a wormer last?

A: We advise worming monthly (to protect against lungworm if using appropriate wormers) and as a minimum every 3 months, this is not because the wormers last this long in the system unfortunately our pets can become reinfected again soon after worming, however, every 3 months is a reasonable and practical time span for most owners to manage. Lungworm treatments need to be given monthly. We will offer a free text reminder service to all clients when they buy their worming products advising when their pet’s next wormer is due.

Unfortunately 70-80% of pets over the age of 3  suffer from some dental disease – have you checked your pet’s teeth?

Just like in people our pet’s teeth are prone to the build up of tartar and plaque. The accumulation of plaque causes inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which initially leads to halitosis (bad breath) before gum recession and eventually tooth decay develop.  Untreated dental disease can cause considerable pain, loss of teeth or even tooth root abscesses. In addition infection from the mouth can spread around the body and cause potentially life-threatening problems in organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. Frequently it will be necessary to have the teeth cleaned under a general anaesthetic, and in some cases tooth extractions will be required. Obviously prevention is better than cure and with this in mind good home care is the most important factor in preventing the development of these conditions and greatly reduces the chance of your pet needing his or her teeth cleaned under general anaesthetic. Unfortunately this does not just mean access to bones or chews.

Brushing is by far the most effective way to keep your pet’s teeth healthy, starting to brush at an early age (approx. 12 weeks) helps considerably with compliance and it should become part of the daily routine. Older dogs are sometimes more reluctant to cooperate and the process can be more difficult! Animals do not usually like minty flavours, and cannot spit out the foam produced by human toothpastes so it is important to use veterinary toothpastes or gels (we recommend Logic Oral Hygiene Gel). Start off by getting your pet used to the idea of brushing by gently stroking the outside of the cheeks in small circular movements with your fingers only. Then introduce them to the taste of the toothpaste, most will lick it directly off your finger! Start brushing the teeth initially with a specially designed plastic finger brush. The most important areas of the teeth (the outside of the canine teeth and the large molars at the back) can all be reached without opening the mouth, just lift the lip and put your finger brush inside the cheek and start brushing. Remember to always REWARD with treats at the end of each session and STOP if there is any sign of aggression or distress. Please book in for a free nurse clinic to offer advice on how best to brush your pet’s teeth!

For those owners who despite persistence are still unable to manage to brush there are other options available all of which are available at the practice, speak to us if you require more advice:

Logic Oral Hygiene Gel and Hexarinse Solution can be applied directly to the teeth and gums without brushing and in cats where access to the mouth isn’t possible Logic Gel can be applied onto the top of the paw for the cat to lick off.

Diets such as Hills t/d have specially formulated kibbles with fibre technology that cleans pet’s teeth whilst they eat. They are clinically proven to reduce the accumulation of dental plaque and calculus and the diets are extremely palatable. This is a very good option for cats that don’t chew like dogs and are often more resistant to brushing!.

Chews can play a role in the fight against dental disease in dogs. Chews such as dentastixs can be helpful but some are very high in calories so should be used with care in overweight animals. Fish jerky (Fish-4-Dogs) and some rawhide strips (Chewdles) are a lower calorie alternative. There are also chew toys e.g. ‘Dental Kong’, which are popular when filled with a treat.

Drinking water additives such as Aquadent and Dentagen contain xylitol, which limits the build-up of plaque and tartar and helps fight bad breath. PlaqueOff is a powdered seaweed supplement that affects the ability of plaque to stick to the surfaces in the mouth and softens hard tartar deposits, this can often be a  cost-effective solution.

We often require urine samples to help us investigate various diseases including diabetes, kidney disease and cystitis. Urine samples make up an important part of the old pet check up.

Q: How do I collect a sample from my dog?

A: We can supply a urine collecting device (Uripet) to make this easier, however any scrupulously clean pot or jar (not old jam or honey jars – the sugar in these products can contaminate the urine sample) can be used to collect a mid stream sample, simply place the pot under the urine stream as the dog urinates. We usually advise collecting first thing in the morning to provide the best sample.

Q: How do I collect a sample from my cat?

A: We can supply a small bag of special non-absorbable cat litter ‘Katkor’ that also comes with a collecting pipette and bottle. The litter tray should be carefully cleaned and dried and then the special litter placed directly into the tray. Keep the cat confined indoors (and in multicat households keep separated from any other cats to prevent them using the tray instead! ) Once the cat has urinated in the tray then the sample is easily collected via the pipette and placed in the bottle.

Q: How quickly should I get the sample to the vets?

A: Please try to get the sample to us as quickly as possible, if you can’t get it to us immediately then please keep it in the fridge, but let us know as this may affect some of the test results.

Q: How much do I need?

A: We only require a small amount (a few millilitres) to perform most tests.

Q: I collected the sample from the floor is that ok?

A: Generally as a last resort only, but please let us know if this has happened as it can have a bearing on results!

Q: I can’t get a sample what should I do?

A: Let us know, we will often be able to achieve this, our nurses can be very persuasive, but otherwise we can collect via a urinary catheter or directly from the bladder via a needle (this is very well tolerated and nothing to be scared of.)

Saying “goodbye” to our beloved friends is one of the hardest things we have to do as owners, being well informed of the choices we can make is essential.

Q: How will I know if euthanasia is necessary?

A: As vets we will help you with this most difficult of decisions with advice that is both compasionate and informed. It will always be our endeavour to prevent our clients’ pets from suffering unnecessarily. It is not always easy for owners to face up to having to make such a traumatic decision but we will offer support through this process. Euthanasia should always be considered if there is uncontrollable pain, incontinence, imobility, or trouble breathing or inability to eat or drink properly.

Q: Will my pet suffer?

A: The process is quick and painless and involves an injection of an anaesthetic overdose.

Q: Do I have to be present?

A: This is completely up to you and is a very individual decision, the vet will however normally ask you to give signed consent prior to giving any injection.

Q: Can it be done at home?

A: Although it is often more straightforward to bring your pet in to the surgery where we have skilled assistance available, we appreciate that in many cases owners would prefer to have their pet ‘put to sleep’ at home in familiar and unstressful surroundings please let us know in advance and we will always endeavour to manage this wherever possible.

Q: What happens afterwards?

A: Some owners will be keen to bury their pets at home, and officially this should be cleared with the local authority. If you do take this option please take care of fox interference and make sure you bury at least 2 feet below ground level. Other options involve mass cremation (where your pet will be cremated at the pet crematorium together with other pets) and although this is the most commonly chosen option please be aware that you will not be able to receive your pet’s ashes back. Finally there is the option of having an individual cremation so that you can receive their ashes back. This process usually takes around a week and your pet can be returned to the practice in either a cardboard scatter box, an enamelled urn or a solid oak casket with name plate, depending on your wishes. We will ring you as soon as your pet has been returned to us. Please discuss in advance with a member of staff the different prices charged for the various different options. When being sent for cremation the pets will be kept for a very short period with us at the practice before they are collected by the pet crematorium service ‘Companions Haven’ which operate from Pucklechurch, near Bristol.