Winter newsletter.  Issue 4. December 2016.

Meopham Veterinary Hospital
01474 815333
Swanscombe Veterinary Surgery
01322 381999
Sevenoaks Veterinary Surgery
01732 740999
Small furries winter advice
Please consider the advice below if your pet's are kept outside 

Ensure hutches are raised off of the ground, as the bases may become damp and rotten.  Consider the position of your pet's hutch and decide whether it is well protected from the rain and wind elements, if not then please consider moving the hutch into a shed, or unused garage (not exposed to car fumes).  Pet's may be brought indoors, however this needs to be introduced over a period of time to allow their bodies to adjust to the temperature change.  A utility room or 'lean to' may be the best area to consider.  Rabbit's coats do grow thicker and adapt for the winter weather but extra care does need to be taken to ensure they are not exposed to draughts.  Extra, thick bedding will need to be provided.  Check the over hang on the roof of the hutch is enough to protect the inside from wind and rain.  Large, thick blankets or carpet can be placed over hutches to provide extra insulation but you must ensure the hutch is still kept well ventilated.  Ensure their hutch is kept dry as a damp hutch will become colder and provide less protection, check the felt roof is still adequate and if not then cover with a waterproof sheet.  The use of a waterproof sheet, hutch cover or tarpaulin will help to protect from the rain, but please again ensure ventilation is adequate.
Please remember to check water bottles twice daily for freezing and consider the use of a bottle insulator or bubble wrap.   
Kitkat's case study - road traffic accident
For more case studies please see our website
Kitkat is a 9 year old British Shorthair cat.  On the 19th September she returned home bleeding from her mouth, with her mouth held open and her eye bulging.  She had unfortunately been hit by a car and suffered severe facial trauma.  On presentation to our duty Vet, Lauren Smith, Kitkat's breathing was slightly laboured with crackly sounds on auscultation of her lungs, this was due to bruising.  Kitkat was immediately admitted for intravenous fluid therapy, to help stabilise her shock, pain relief and her airways were cleared of blood.  She was settled into an oxygen tent until her breathing improved when she was then transferred to our cat ward for continued critical care monitoring by our 24 hour nursing team.  
By the next day Kitkat was brighter and more comfortable and even purring!  So a CT scan was performed to establish the extent of her injuries and enable our Vets to make a treatment plan (image 1).  The results of the CT scan revealed Kitkat had suffered multiple fractures to her face including the zygomatic arch (eye socket), mandible (lower jaw), a cleft hard palate, multiple fractures to the nasal cavity and many more to her skull.  
In the CT image above (image 2) you can see the top arrow, showing a fracture to the nasal bone and the lower green arrow, showing the mandibular symphysis fracture.  The decision was made to wire her bottom jaw, to aid the fracture to heal in the correct position, and to place a feeding tube (image above - image 3).  Over the next few weeks Kitkat remained hospitalised with us where our nurses fed her, via the tube into her oesophagous, on a feeding regime tailored to her body condition requirements.  They also administered her medication, changed her dressings and gave lots of TLC!  Once the swelling to her jaw had reduced Kitkat was able to start taking some solids, by mouth, in between her tube feeds and at this time the decision was made for her to go home for her owners to continue with her care and tube feeding.  8 weeks post trauma Kitkat finally came in for both the wire in her jaw and feeding tube to be removed!! We are so pleased to report that Kitkat is now doing really well, as you can see from the image above (image 4).  
Kitkat has been through so much and her recovery has taken a great deal of time and dedication from both our team and her owner's, which has now resulted in her successful recovery.  
Weight gain can be an issue for your pet, as well as us(!), over the festive season. There are more food treats and scraps around that we are tempted to feed our pet's, or that they may scavenge.
The other challenge is the shorter days and darker evenings, along with the weather proving challenging.
The result of these factors is that many pet's exercise less causing weight gain.  
Client information evening

This is a free of charge event and the topics covered are designed to make you, as the pet owner, more informed on all aspects of your pet’s well being.  Our first three events of the year have been a real success & owner's said they found them very informative.
The next topic for discussion is 'Weight Management for your pet'  This will be held by our local Royal Canin representative, Kamala Beasley.  The date for your diary is Thursday 19th January and the talk will start at 8pm.  You are welcome to arrive from 7.30pm for refreshments & nibbles.

Spaces are limited so to book your place please email

If you have any concerns for your pet over the Christmas period, or at any time, then please do not hesitate in contacting us.  There will not be any routine appointments available on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day or the subsequent bank holidays.
We always have a vet on call to deal with any emergencies and a nurse on site to care for all inpatients 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Just call us on the usual number and you will be given our emergency Veterinary Surgeons contact details from our answering machine.  

Christmas recipe's for your pet!!

Mini Christmas Puddings!

This is a delicious, healthy treat for your dogs.  For this and more recipes, including those for your cat, please see the website above.
100g blueberries
65g porridge oats
350g apples
1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses
1 tbsp. olive or sunflower oil
1 large sweet potato
Peel and chop up the sweet potato, simmer in water until soft, drain, mash and put to one side.  Grate the apples, discarding the core and put into a small saucepan.  Add the blueberries and oats to the apples and stir together.  Add the oil and blackstrap molasses; mix together.  Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon, over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the blueberries are cooked and break up easily with the back of the wooden spoon.  Add in the mashed sweet potato and stir the mixture together over the heat for a further 5 minutes.  Put the mixture aside until it is cool.  You can then roll into balls - a small size for small dogs and a bigger size for larger dogs.  This is a rather sticky process!
Put them in the fridge for 30 minutes so they can firm up a bit.  Take them out and put a small amount of cream cheese on top.  You can then put a couple of parsley leaves on the icing for special effect (parsley is healthy for dogs too!).
These will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.  You can feed your dog up to 3 or 4 a day.          

Teasel's case study - GDV (gastric dilatation volvulus)
For more case studies please see our website

Teasel is a 12 year old Labrador/Spaniel cross and presented to us one afternoon after her owner noticed, at home, that Teasel was quiet, her stomach was a little hard & bloated and she was reluctant to move, with gurgly stomach sounds.  On presentation with one of our Vet's, Bruce Mcleary, a radiograph was performed confirming his suspicions, of a GDV.   This is also known as a twisted stomach, which is where the stomach becomes over stretched and twisted, due to excessive gas content.  It is a life threatening, extremely urgent condition requiring immediate surgical intervention.  The image (above, left) shows Teasel's radiograph.  The blue arrows indicate the outline of her gas (shown as black on xray) filled stomach, the green arrow shows her intestines, also full of gas.
During the operation to de-rotate Teasel's stomach, Bruce also had to remove her spleen.  This is unfortunately sometimes necessary in these cases as the blood supply can become restricted to the spleen when the stomach twists meaning it is no longer viable.  
Teasel recovered well from her surgery but remained in a critical condition.  She was hospitalised with us, where she received intravenous fluid therapy and pain relief as well as intensive monitoring and nursing.
By 3 days post operatively, Teasel had started eating and was able to take her medication orally, therefore she was finally allowed home.
As you can see from the image (above, right) Teasel is now back to her normal self and her owner's are very grateful for the care received.  

GDV's are most common in larger, deep chested dogs, however it is not restricted to large breeds.  
Causes: (these are only the most common causes, not all cases will have this history).
Feeding habits - dogs that eat fast may take in more air when they gulp their food
Exercise - especially if taken before and after eating
Symptoms: (this list is not exhaustive - please contact us immediately if you have any concerns).
'Hunched up' appearance
Pacing and/or panting
Salivating/dribbling and/or retching
Unproductive attempts to vomit/defecate
Bloated/swollen hard abdomen
Tips on prevention: (these tips can help reduce the risk but unfortunately cannot guarantee) .
Do not exercise your dog for at least an hour, preferably longer, before and especially after eating.
If your dog is a rapid eater then consider using a 'slow' bowl and feeding from a raised area.
Do not allow excessive, rapid, drinking, especially after eating.
Please contact us immediately if you ever have any concerns regarding your pet.
Recommend a friend scheme
Copyright © 2016 The Meopham Veterinary Hospital, Swanscombe and Sevenoaks Surgeries, All rights reserved.

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