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Dog Advice

Our advice for caring for Dogs


Most puppies have a roundworm burden which is transmitted from the bitch across the placenta before birth. Roundworms carry a health risk to the puppy and to humans, especially children, so regular worming with an effective product is essential. Wormers containing the drug piperazine are of limited use. Our recommendation is to use either Stronghold “Spot-on” or Milbemax tablets every month until six months of age.

Adult dogs should be wormed every 3 months using Milbemax Tablets.


The standard feeding regime for puppies is:

4 meals per day until 12 weeks of age 3 meals per day 12 to 16 weeks of age 2 meals per day thereafter (breed dependent).

It is vital to feed a complete food which means that the diet is balanced with the correct vitamins, protein and carbohydrate levels. Dry feeds are more cost effective and cleaner to handle than tinned products. We have a range of premium quality Royal Canin foods designed to provide optimum nutritional requirements at each life stage.

Most diarrhoea in puppies is caused by a dietary component (either found in the diet or scavenged). Treatment involves a change in diet to something highly digestible such as Royal Canin Sensitivity diet. This is a prescription diet available through the surgery. It is usually fed for a 7 to 10 day period then the normal diet slowly reintroduced. Please note that if your puppy is ill, or is repeatedly vomiting then you need to book an appointment to see a vet.


Puppies need exercise and play for normal mental and physical development. Twenty minutes exercise 2 or 3 times daily is adequate for most dogs until skeletally mature.


There are definite advantages to neutering bitches: 1. No seasons. 2. No false pregnancies. 3. No real pregnancies! 4. No uterine infections (“pyometra”). 5. Significant reduction in incidence of mammary and vaginal cancer later in life. This protective effect is rapidly lost if a bitch is not spayed by her second season.

Some bitches will put on weight after neutering due to a reduction in circulating sex hormones and a significant number of female dogs can become incontinent at some point in their life if they are neutered. Although incontinence is normally easily treated and obesity can be prevented with good dietary management, these problems do represent the major disadvantages to neutering female dogs. The practice policy is to spay bitches at 6 to 9 months of age, before their first season. If a season occurs before this time then neutering is delayed until 3 months after the season.

Laparoscopy (“key-hole” surgery)

Through TV programs and articles in the press, most of us are familiar with the term ‘keyhole surgery’, or more accurately ‘minimally invasive surgery’. What this describes is where a surgical procedure is viewed by the surgeon using a tiny telescope whose image is projected onto a video screen via a special camera.

Examples of minimally invasive surgery are:

  • Laparoscopy – abdomen
  • Arthroscopy – joints Cystoscopy – bladder
  • Rhinoscopy – nasal chambers
  • Otoscopy – ear canals

Surgical wounds are tiny – usually a few millimetres. Smaller wounds mean less pain, faster recovery and less cosmetic effect (scarring) to the patient. The surgical field of view is magnified by the camera so that the tissues are seen in great detail, enabling abnormalities to be seen that would otherwise be missed. Because the surgical wounds are so small, the time taken making them is reduced so the overall duration of the surgery may well be shorter than for conventional surgery


A ‘spay’ describes the surgical sterilisation of a bitch. In the UK this has historically been through the removal of the ovaries plus the entire womb in an ‘ovariohysterectomy’. Although this is a routine procedure which we perform almost every day, it is major surgery none the less. Recently, it has been shown that the removal of only the ovaries gives the same benefits as the full ovariohysterectomy, whilst reducing surgical time and trauma to the patient. This has paved the way for a spay to be done in a minimally invasive way though laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). In spite of this type of surgery being accepted over the last 10-15 years as the ‘gold-standard’ technique for people undergoing many abdominal operations, it is very new in the veterinary field and is currently being performed by only a handful of vets in the UK, and less than 200 throughout the USA.

Taverham Veterinary Practice vets have undergone extensive specialist training in laparoscopy surgery and we are the first and only practice in the whole of East Anglia to offer this service to our clients. There are many advantages of keyhole spays:

Significantly less pain and discomfort experienced by your bitch Rapid recovery from surgery Enhanced field of view enabling a thorough examination of the abdomen No skin stitches are used so avoiding the risk of stitch-related reactions and infections Skin wounds of only a few millimetres in length avoids the possibility of the major wound complications which can result from bitches chewing their sutures out prematurely following convential surgery No need for your bitch wearing a ‘lampshade collar’ after the surgery to keep her from licking the stitches Minimal tissue injury at the time of surgery reduces the risk of adhesions which can cause pain and illness later in life.

Disadvantages: Keyhole approaches mean that in the unlikely event of complications such as bleeding or anatomical abnormality, it may be necessary to convert to convential ‘open’ surgery, with the associated potential for problems through having a long skin wound and stitches Cost – there is an extra cost for clients choosing keyhole surgery since the equipment required for the technique is extremely expensive to buy and maintain. We are very confident that keyhole surgery will revolutionise many surgical procedures currently performed by vets in the UK over the coming years. The benefits are clear and we hope that you would like to chose it for your bitch’s spay. Please feel free to ask us any questions you may have.

Laparoscopic camera being inserted through operating port.

View of ovary and uterus being grabbed using laparoscopic forceps.

Laparoscopic spay in progress.

View of one of our operating theatres prior to laparoscopy.

Male dogs are castrated at 10 to 12 months of age. It will often reduce libido, inter-male aggression and urine marking. Castration is strongly advised for dogs with undescended testicles.

Flea Control

We advise regular flea treatment with either Bravecto Tablet which treats fleas and ticks for a whole 3 months, Stronghold Spot-on, which treats fleas, roundworms and earmites for 4 weeks or a monthly Comfortis Tablet which only treats fleas. These products are very safe and effective.

Dental Care

80% of dogs over 3 years of age have periodontal disease. This can progress to an irreversible process called periodontitis that will led to tooth loss. The most effective method of dental care is to brush daily with an enzymatic toothpaste e.g. Virbac toothpaste and a finger brush. Both items are available at reception. Very few dogs object to brushing if trained at an early age.


Vaccination is vital for your dog’s health. We routinely vaccinate against 5 infectious diseases: Canine Distemper, Parvovirus, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis. The initial two injections are given at 6 and 10 weeks of age. A single yearly booster is needed to maintain protection. Whilst it is important that your puppy is not exposed to infection outside the home before the course of injections is complete, mixing with healthy vaccinated dogs in a safe environment as soon as possible will allow a puppy to learn the rules of social behaviour.

A pet in poor health will not respond reliably to vaccination so we make sure that every dog is given a full clinical examination as part of their vaccination appointment. All diseases are best picked up as early as possible so the yearly health check is just as important as the actual vaccination injection. The consultations are also an ideal chance to discuss and problems regarding not just the health but also diet, behaviour and training.


This virus causes a rapidly fatal disease. The symptoms are diarrhoea, vomiting and marked dehydration. Puppies in particular can die within a few days due to rapid fluid loss. Adenovirus There are 2 types of adenovirus, one contributes to kennel cough and the other causes canine viral hepatitis. The latter form attacks the liver producing diarrhoea, vomiting, a painful belly and often death. Vaccination with protects well against both types of adenovirus. Parainfluenza This viral infection can cause anything from a mild cough to a deep hacking cough and pneumonia. Leptospirosis This bacterial disease is carried commonly by rats and found in river water. It causes Weil’s disease in humans and can be passed from dogs to us. In dogs Leptospirosis normally presents as acute kidney failure or sometimes as a severe anaemia. The symptoms are collapse, fever, vomiting jaundice and diarrhoea. Canine Distemper Canine Distemper is caused by a herpesvirus. It is one of the agents causing kennel cough and it can also cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting often with pus-like discharges from the eyes and nose. Brain damage and fitting can occur and the disease is often fatal. Vaccination has fortunately made this disease quite rare. Kennel Cough A common and important cause of infectious tracheitis (“kennel cough”) is the bacterium Bordetella Bronchiseptica. A separate vaccination is available which is given via the nose and immunity lasts 12months. We advise all dogs to have this if they mix with other canine friends. Dogs are particularly at risk is places like boarding kennels.


Rabies is not present in the UK at the moment and there is no need for the routine vaccination of cats and dogs. For those who which to take their pet to any of those countries participating in the Pet Passport Scheme, rabies vaccination is mandatory.


We recommend that puppies are identified with a microchip which can be read with a hand held scanner enabling us to find the owners quickly should a puppy become lost or involved in an accident. Identichip can be inserted under the skin at the back of the neck while owners wait. 

For further information or advice, please contact our team who will be happy to help.