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Health Checks

As they say, ‘prevention is always better than a cure’ and here at Victoria Vets we take routine health checks very seriously. They are very important in assessing the condition of your pet and in helping to detect any underlying disease or problems. The team are always here for you if you have any questions or concerns about your pet(s), so please do not hesitate to drop into our surgery or give us a call, we’ll always do our best to help.

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Vaccinating your pet

Vaccinations – what you need to know

At Victoria Vets, we strongly recommend that your cat, dog or rabbit undertakes a comprehensive programme of regular vaccinations throughout its life to protect it against many serious diseases, and keeping your pet as healthy and happy as possible. Without vaccination, many insurance policies refuse cover, so your policy may be invalid.

Why do I need to vaccinate my pet?

When animals are very young, they receive some natural immunity to a number of infectious diseases from their vaccinated mother, via her first milk. However, as the animals grow and are weaned, this immunity fades, and it is therefore important to provide continued protection through early vaccination and then by regular boosters throughout its life. If you wish to use kennels or catteries, or to take your pet abroad, you will have to provide evidence of a complete vaccination history.

What diseases do we vaccinate against?


Cat flu (Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Disease). This condition is still common in the UK and can be very serious for infected cats, especially kittens and senior cats.

Cat Parvo / Infectious Enteritis. Often fatal, this awful disease is now relatively rare thanks to widespread vaccination.

Feline Leukaemia. This serious viral disease suppresses the cat’s immune system, causing secondary infections and tumours.

Rabies. This fatal disease is thankfully not present in the UK. If you wish to take your cat abroad, you must vaccinate against rabies.


Distemper. This serious respiratory disease is related to the measles virus in humans and without protection from vaccination, as many as one in five dogs that catch the disease will die.

Parvovirus. This nasty infection attacks the gut and suppresses the immune system.


Myxomatosis. This well-known disease is now relatively rare amongst the UK pet rabbit population, thanks to effective vaccination programmes. It is spread by biting insects carrying the Myxoma virus.

Viral Haemorraghic Disease (VHD). This disease progresses rapidly in affected pets and can cause death within 2 days. Vaccination offers protection against this distressing disease, which has no cure.

How often does my pet need to be vaccinated?

Your pet will require an initial vaccination programme starting around the age of 8-9 weeks, and normally consisting of two staged injections two to three weeks apart to provide comprehensive protection. Annual boosters must be given to ensure that your pet remains protected throughout its life, and we will always send you a reminder when this is due.

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Weight Watchers for Pets

Government statistics show that human obesity has reached crisis point, with around two-thirds of people living in Britain either overweight or obese. The problem extends to our pets, one in three household pets is now overweight, which equates to a staggering seven million animals.

Despite this weighty reality, research released today by the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA) reveals that an alarming eight out of 10 dog, cat and rabbit owners believe that their pet is
just the right weight.

A quick test to see if your dog is overweight!

Very Thin
Easily visible ribs, lower back and pelvic bones. No visible covering of fat, obvious waist and abdominal tuck. Absence of any muscle mass.

Easily felt ribs, minimum covering of fat, waist easily noted when viewed from above and visible abdominal tuck.
Ribs felt but with an excess covering of fat. Waist still observed from above but not as prominent. Abdominal tuck may be absent.


Ribs not easily felt under a large covering of fat. Waist and abdominal tuck not discernible. Fat deposits on lower back and base of tail. May observe signs of obvious abdominal distension.

Ribs felt but without excess fat covering, waist noted behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from the side.

Lean and Trim

The main reasons for keeping your pet lean and trim are:

Obesity can reduce life-expectancy

Diabetes is very common - it affects 1 in every 200 dogs and 1 in every 400 cats, and many of these cases are associated with obesity. It has even been shown that 61% of obese dogs have poor glucose tolerance and high insulin concentrations in their blood (both signs of a pre-diabetic state) long before clinical signs of diabetes, such as increased thirst, occur. Orthopedic problems are made much worse if an animal is overweight. That isn’t surprising because the additional weight puts unnecessary stress and strain on the bio mechanics of limb and joint function. It has been estimated that 24% of obese animals have some form of locomotion problem. Veterinarians have many anecdotal reports about obese animals scheduled to have major surgery for their orthopedic conditions which did not require surgery once they lost weight.

Excess body weight increases workload for the heart and almost doubles the risk for circulatory disease to develop.

The risk of developing skin disease is increased in obese individuals. Overweight animals have difficulty exercising because of the effects on locomotion,. and also due to the effects of excess body tissue on respiration - making breathing difficult. Reproductive problems in males and females is often associated with excess body weight.

There is evidence that obese animals have a lower immune resistance to infectious diseases.

Obese animals have altered metabolic rates and their individual “set point” for body weight is higher than it should be. This makes achieving and maintaining weight loss very difficult for owners
once obesity is established. Obese animals have a higher anaesthetic risk, and a higher risk for wound breakdowns following surgery.

At Victoria Vets we can help to keep your pet fitter by advising on diets. Remenber losing weight does not just mean cutting calories. We also have to ensure that the balance of essential vitamins and minerals remains correct. There are prescription diets especially formulated to meet this need.

Our staff are trained to help with this important aspect of pet healthcare and would like to offer your pet(s) the chance to enrol in our “Weight Watching Club” free of charge. Each pet will be given an individually tailored diet plan to help him or her achieve their target weight and be weighed at least monthly.

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Senior Health Screening

All animals presented for vaccination receive a full health check when we can advise you of any actual or potential health problems. Of course we are happy to give your pet a check-up at any time, particularly if you notice any subtle changes in behaviour, e.g. increased thirst, reluctance to exercise, breathlessness or a slight cough. Any of these may signify the start of a more serious problem. The most important thing to remember is that many of the treatments we can offer alleviate pain and discomfort and improve quality of life. Indeed, many of the conditions attributed to "old age" are treatable. Like us, advancing years can make your pet more prone to health problems and we recommend more regular check-ups as your pet gets older. A blood test and urine analysis to screen for underlying disease in the major organs of the body can be invaluable in detecting the early stages of disease and improving the chances of successful treatment.

These samples can be taken at the surgery as part of our "Senior Pet Programme" with the results being available within 24 hours. In this programme your pet will receive a full health check every six months and many aspects of healthcare together with your particular concerns will be addressed. Don't forget an examination once a year for a pet is like you seeing your doctor only once in seven years!

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Urine Test

Important News For Your Pet

We are now recommending a new urine test that can help us determine the overall health of your dog or cat. Due to their ability to hide signs of illness, disease in dogs and cats sometimes seems to appear "overnight." Now there's a test for detection of disease that may be hiding in your dog or cat.

How does the test work?

Every 30 minutes the kidneys filter the entire blood volume of a dog or cat. Many disease conditions such as dental disease, infections, diabetes, or high blood pressure result in the release of toxins or other damaging factors into the blood. Those toxins can damage kidneys during the filtration process. Because of their important role in filtering the blood, the kidneys can act as a "window" to look inside and discover the presence of hidden diseases. This new test detects kidney damage at its earliest stage by looking for abnormal protein levels in the urine.

How long does the test take?

We can usually have results by the end of your pet's examination. All we need is a urine sample from your pet. If the test is negative ­ Good news! Your pet has no indication of early kidney damage. If the test is positive ­ This test has helped us detect early kidney damage, indicating the possible presence of disease in your dog or cat. Early detection can lead to earlier diagnosis and intervention, allowing us to provide the best care possible for your pet. Although the cause of kidney damage may not always be identified, steps can be taken to minimise further damage to your pet's kidneys, and help them to continue living a long and healthy life.

Will my pet benefit from this test?

The test can be carried out on dogs and cats of any age, and is especially useful for picking up the early signs of damage in mature dogs and cats. We especially recommend the test for dogs aged 5 and over and cats aged 8 and over. If you would like to discuss the test and whether it is suitable for your pet, please call the surgery for a chat with one of the nurses or vets.

Would you like to have your pet tested for early kidney damage?

YES, I would like to have my pet tested for early kidney damage. All you need to do is bring a fresh (less than 12 hours old) sample of a few ml of your pet's urine when you bring them for their health check. Most dogs will allow you to collect urine by slipping a shallow dish underneath them when they lift their leg or squat down to pass urine, or we can supply you with a special collection device. Many cats will urinate in an empty litter tray, allowing you to collect a sample. Alternatively, special non-absorbent litter can be borrowed from the surgery to help you collect a sample.

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X-rays are used to investigate internal conditions affecting the chest, abdomen, pelvis, to confirm or rule out possible conditions, investigate spinal, leg and joint problems, head conditions including dental and ear disease. Hip dysplasia x-rays are used prior to mating bitches and dogs to grade the conformation of their hips. You will be asked to sign a form giving your consent to x-rays. This will be fully discussed with you at the time so that we obtain your informed consent. 99% of x-rays are performed under general anaesthesia, no matter how well trained your pet; they may be required to lie still in unusual positions. For Health and Safety reasons our team are not permitted to hold your pet during x-rays and wear monitors to assess their exposure to radiation. The facilities required for x-raying have to comply with stringent Health and Safety rules and as such are expensive to run and maintain. Lead screens apart from the area to be `exposed' protect the team and your pet. The positioning for x-rays is critical and the veterinary and nursing team are trained in radiography. The film taken is then developed and processed. After this the film is professionally interpreted and in some instances are referred to specialist veterinary radiologist.

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