Frequently Asked Questions

In each of our quarterly newsletters we provide the opportunity for pet owners to ask our team a question, with the best or most popular question featuring in the newsletter itself. Below are the previous questions we have featured.

If you would like to submit a question, you can do so by emailing our Small Animal Practice.

Previous newsletters for our Small Animal Practice are available to read in full. Click the link below.




Is it safe to let my dog fetch sticks?

There has recently been some media interest in stick injuries in dogs and just this week the practice has had to treat two dogs due to stick-related injuries. One dog managed to break two canine teeth after catching a large stick which was clearly stronger than it's teeth. Those teeth had to be either removed or have root canal surgery in order to make them pain free. The other dog accidentally ran onto a stick when out for a walk which tore a hole in the tissues under it's tongue, again necessitating veterinary treatment. The cost of treatment for each dog ran into several hundred pounds and both dogs suffered great discomfort from their injuries.

Fortunately both of these cases should have a healthy outcome but occasionally some dogs receive life threatening injuries when playing with sticks. There are several safer alternatives such as taking a suitable dog toy on your walk so that you can enjoy playing a good game of catch or fetch with your dog without the risk of injury.


Should I be feeding my dog a Raw Meat Based Diet?

RMBD (Raw Meat Based Diets) are an increasingly common choice for many dog owners in the UK and USA. Claimed benefits vary dramatically from being evolutionarily “correct”, right through to curing various diseases. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) released a statement covering this topic a few weeks ago. You can read the whole document on their website but summarised is:

"There is currently no properly documented evidence of health benefits for RMBD, but there are well documented risks. As such, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association Global Nutrition Committee recommends that RMBD not be fed to dogs and cats."


At what age can I neuter my cat?

Cats Protection conducted a good study a few years which demonstrated that there was no significant increase in risk from neutering cats (male and female) from 12 weeks of age or older. Traditionally advice has tended to neuter at around six months of age but for many years practices have been neutering earlier as the risk of pregnancy by waiting until six months is reasonably high if the cat goes out or is housed with an entire cat of the opposite sex. 

The Small Animal Practice currently recommends neutering cats from 14 weeks of age. This earlier age eliminates the risk of pregnancy but also allows a full vaccine schedule to be completed before neutering.

Some cat rescue establishments are neutering cats less than 12 weeks of age but this is where the focus is on stray cat population control rather than owned pet cats.


Is it ok to feed bones to my dog?

This is a very common question asked at the practice and many dog owners do feed bones in the hope that it will improve dental health. Whilst it is true that dogs chewing at raw bones has some abrasive action on the teeth and can remove some tartar, we regularly see dogs fed bones who have just as bad dental health as dogs on commercial diets.

The only reliable way of keeping teeth and gums healthy is to brush them at least once daily with a soft bristle toothbrush and pet toothpaste. Bones pose additional risks in the form of infection risk such as Salmonella, sharp bone fragments injuring the bowel, constipation and tooth fracture as the bones are harder than the dog’s teeth. Overall we feel that the risk far outweighs any benefit.


Why should I have pet insurance for my dog? How do I choose between all of the different pet insurance providers?

Pet insurance provides you as a pet owner with the peace of mind that your pet can receive the best veterinary care without you having to worry about how to pay for it. By paying a monthly premium your pet (dog, cat or rabbit) will be insured against illness, injury and third party liability. We recommend that owners insure their pets (dogs, cats and rabbits) with PetPlan, as they have been providing ‘Insurance for Life’ policies for over 35 years and will provide our practice clients with 4 weeks free pet insurance (up to 8yrs for dogs, 10yrs for cats and 5yrs for rabbits).

Come and collect a voucher from our reception desk in Langford!


I want to mate my bitch. What age is best to do this?

Before you mate your bitch make sure that the puppies will be wanted.  With the current economic climate charities are being inundated with unwanted puppies. Next check with your vet that your dog is healthy and has no genetic problems that would make breeding inadvisable. Your vet will also be able to advise you about worming during pregnancy and pregnancy diagnosis.

If you decide to go ahead, then the bitch must be fully grown so a good time for a first litter would be to mate the first season after she is eighteen months old for small to large dogs, or first season after two years of age for very large and giant breed dogs. 


What is pet obesity? And how do I know if my pet is overweight?

What is pet obesity?
The excess of fat cells (adipose tissue) which results in the animal being over 20% over optimal bodyweight. Fat cells have an active role in energy management and can effect appetite, satiety, metabolism, inflammation, immune function and circulation. Therefore an excess of fat cells can cause internal disease as well as mobility problems.
How do I know if my pet is overweight/obese?
Get in touch with us and one of our nursing team will be able to measure and condition score your pet through our Nurse ClinicsOr follow the S.H.A.P.E weight evaluation system designed for owners.
Why is my pet overweight?
There are various reasons why some animals are overweight. These include:
  • Genetics
  • Disease states such as hypothyroidism
  • Energy dense diets
  • Over feeding/eating
  • Limited exercise
  • Animal/human relationship
  • Neutering.
There is generally no one reason why an animal is overweight.
What can you do if your pet is overweight/obese?
Get in touch with us and arrange to speak to one of our qualified and experienced veterinary nurses, who will be able to provide:
  • Patient evaluation and condition scoring
  • Weight and exercise plans tailored to your pet and lifestyle
  • Realistic targets set and supported
  • Weight progress charts for you to take home
  • Telephone and email support as required.