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Pet Advice

Hints and tips for life with your pet

Here you can find sections of useful information on a variety of topics, which we hope will help you and your pet:

Vaccinations

Dogs

Dogs should be vaccinated against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvo, Parainfluenza and Leptopirosis.

Puppies need to be vaccinated twice at about eight and ten weeks, and then they should have a first year booster. After that, full vaccination is done every three years for most diseases. Leptopirosis and Parainfluenza need to be done once a year.


Cats

Cats should be vaccinated against Flu, Enteritis and Leukaemia. Some cats who are older or will be only living indoors can cope without the Leukaemia vaccination.

Kittens are usually vaccinated against all three of these conditions at nine and twelve weeks. Adult cats need to be vaccinated again each year.


Rabbits

Rabbits should be vaccinated from six weeks of age, every six to twelve months against Myxomatosis, depending on the risk. VHD (Viral Haemorrhagic Disease) is seen less commonly in our area but your rabbit can be vaccinated from twelve weeks of age and should be vaccinated against VHD annually. However the myxomatosis vaccine and VHD have to be given 2 weeks apart.

Myxomatosis is spread by blood sucking insects, including ticks, mosquitoes, mites, lice and fleas. So your rabbit does not have to mix directly with other rabbits or even go outside to catch it. If your rabbit is a house rabbit they are still at risk, as fleas can be brought in to the house by your dog or cat. The symptoms of myxomatosis include swelling of the head, face, ears, lips and bottom. In the wild over 90% of rabbits which contract myxomatosis die. With intensive veterinary treatment some pet rabbits may survive.

VHD is a virus which is spread directly between rabbits, but also on contaminated bedding, hutches and clothes. Again house rabbits are still at risk as you can bring the virus home on your clothes after handling affected rabbits.

The symptoms of VHD include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, collapse, convulsions, paralysis, breathing difficulties and bleeding from the nose. The rapidness of the disease may mean the rabbit dies within 24 hours of developing signs of disease. In approximately 10 % of cases they show no signs of infection prior to sudden death.

There is no treatment for VHD and most rabbits die within days. If a rabbit does survive it remains infectious and can spread the disease.


Travel

All species should be vaccinated against Rabies if they are travelling to an infected country. All countries vaccination requirements are different, so please contact us before taking your pet abroad. You may find the information from DEFRA about the Pet Travel Scheme useful. You can also find more information in our Pet Passports section.

Neutering

Dogs

We recommend neutering dogs. Neutering prevents unwanted pregnancies, so reduces the number of unwanted dogs in rescue centres. It reduces or prevents disease and cancer of the genital tract in older age in both sexes. Neutering can help with specific behavioural problems. However, it can make certain behavioural situations worse, so do always discuss any behavioural problems with your vet prior to deciding on neutering.

We advise neutering male dogs after 8 months of age. Female dogs we prefer to have had their first season prior to neutering. However, we do understand that all individual circumstances are different so please discuss any issues with us prior to arranging the date for your pet to be neutered.

When your dog comes in to be neutered we administer a general anaesthetic, males have the testicles surgically removed through 1 incision in front of the scrotum. Females have the ovaries and uterus removed from a wound on the tummy. Both males and females are usually fine to go home the same day and have stitches which will need removing after 10 days.

For more information, visit the Blue Cross website.


Cats

We recommend neutering all cats. Neutering cats will prevent accidental pregnancies, which will reduce the numbers of unwanted kittens. It also has health benefits and makes them better companions. By neutering male cats, it reduces their tendency to fight which reduces the risk of several viruses, including Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) both of which are fatal. Entire male cats roam long distances, are more aggressive to other males and scent mark their territory, often this includes the inside of your house, by spraying urine. Female cats are in season “calling” approximately every 3 weeks once they reach sexual maturity. This is a very noisy affair and can be difficult to live with. Neutering females also prevents the risk of cancer of the genital tract as they get older. Neutering both sexes prevents sexually transmitted diseases.

We can neuter kittens from five to six months of age. For male kittens, we administer a general anaesthetic and remove the testicles surgically through 2 small incisions in the scrotum. For female kittens, they also have a general anaesthetic and we surgically remove the uterus and ovaries from a wound in the flank. Usually both male and female kittens can go home the same day. The females will have stitches which will need removing after 10 days.

Formore information, visit the International Cat Care website.


Rabbits

We recommend that all rabbits are neutered; this improves their behaviour and allows house rabbits to be litter trained. Both male and female rabbits can become aggressive after reaching puberty. Neutering prevents health problems, female rabbits are at risk of developing cancer of the uterus (womb) and males risk testicular cancer. It also prevents accidental breeding.

Male rabbits can be neutered from three months of age and female rabbits from five months of age. Neutered males should not be placed with un-neutered females until four weeks post-surgery to ensure no accidental pregnancies.

To neuter either sex rabbit we administer a general anaesthetic, the males then have the testicles surgically removed through an incision just above the scrotum. The females have the ovaries and uterus removed through a wound on their tummies. Both will stay with us until they are eating and defecating normally, usually this takes 24 hours post-surgery.

For more information, visit the Blue Cross website.


We do not routinely neuter other species of animals, but we can do so if individual circumstances indicate that it is necessary.

Microchipping

Microchipping is a very useful way of ensuring that your pet is identifiable – similar to a more high-tech collar tag. It carries a unique identifier number, which is then registered in a national database with your pet’s details and address. If your pet is lost and has a microchip, the police, any vet or council dog warden and many charity rescue centres will be able to wirelessly scan the pet, get the registered details and then contact you, the owner.

Having a chip installed is very quick and easy as the chip itself is tiny, about the size of a grain of rice and sits just under the skin between the shoulder blades. Very occasionally, there is a little pain or bleeding at implantation. Sometimes the microchip can migrate a small distance under the skin away from the original site but this does not cause any problems. Very rarely a microchip can fail, this means a second chip has to be implanted. For this reason, we recommend that the microchip is checked when we vaccinate your pet and before your pet travels abroad.

When your pet is microchipped, we register your chosen details with a central database. It is very important that you keep these details up to date. If your pet goes missing and your contact details are out of date then you will not be traced and reunited with your pet. It is your responsibility to notify the database of any change in your contact details. Visit the Avid website for more details.

If you are planning on travelling abroad with your pet on the Pet Travel Scheme with a Pet Passport your pet must be microchipped before anything is else is done. There are now cat flaps available which recognise your cat’s microchip number, allowing your cat in and keeping unwanted visitors out of your home.
Having a lost pet is very distressing and a microchip is a way of vastly improving the chances of your pet returning home safely and quickly.

If you would like to have your pet microchipped or have its details checked, please contact us.

Worming

The majority of owners will be aware that regular worming of dogs and cats is important.  However not everyone knows that rabbits and chickens also need regular worming.

New puppies and kittens should be wormed frequently from two weeks of age until six months old. This is because puppies acquire roundworms from their mothers during pregnancy and both puppies and kittens can acquire roundworms from their mothers whilst nursing.

Regular worming is recommended throughout a dog and cat’s life to prevent the common roundworm toxacara, which can also affect children; and tapeworms which they catch from fleas, raw meat or wildlife.

There are now a variety of worming products available, some are even in a spot on preparation for the pet who is more difficult to tablet. As a general indication, we recommend that dogs and cats who live with children are wormed at least every three months. If your pet does not have contact with children then usually worming every four months is sufficient. However, the frequency your pet needs to be wormed varies with each individuals lifestyle. Please contact us to discuss your pet’s worming needs.

Dog and cat owners who travel abroad with their pets on the Pet Passport scheme will probably have heard of parasitic infections which can be contracted in Europe. These include Dirofilaria immitis, a mosquito-transmitted heartworm which is common in continental Europe but absent from the UK and Echinococcus multilocularis, which led to the mandatory worming treatment of dogs and cats before they re-enter the UK.

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