Companion Animals

We are here to help you care for your furry family member

General Advice and Services for Pets

Diet and Weight - Dogs and Cats

With studies showing that up to 30% of all British pets are obese, it's time to start thinking about the waistlines of our furry friends.

Animals do not need variety in their diets. Dogs are prone to digestive upsets such as diarrhoea on varied diets or table scraps. These problems usually appear in middle- aged dogs that may, by then, be difficult to accustom to a more healthy diet.

Both dogs and cats are prone to becoming finicky eaters when fed a varied diet, causing problems for their owners later on. So don’t switch foods every other week. If you do need to change from one product to another, do so gradually by mixing the two diets together for a few days. This will help prevent diarrhoea from a too sudden change in food.

Don’t base your food choices on what you would like to eat, as many pet food manufacturers would like you to do; dogs are colour blind, so they don’t care whether their food is red or brown. They also don’t care if it looks like beef stew or little pork chops. The fancier the food looks, the more you are paying for unnecessary artificial colouring, flavouring and preservatives. A dry food is best for your pet’s teeth and gums, so the majority of your dog or cat’s nutritional needs should be met with a dry type of food.

Canned foods are much more expensive to feed, as you are paying for a lot of water and extra packaging. Many people like to supplement their pet’s diet with some canned food and this is fine as long as you pick a good one and don’t overdo it. Canned foods are more likely to have excesses of protein, which can cause or contribute to kidney disease as your pet ages, as well as being worse for your pet’s teeth.

Just ask at reception, call us or request an appointment for an informal, non-obligatory discussion about your pet's weight problems. With good quality dietary advice which doesn't involve just simply saying "feed your pet less", we can individually tailor a weight loss plan alongside regular weigh in sessions, which fits in with you and your pet's lifestyle, ensuring great results that will last.

Diet and Weight - Rabbits

Rabbits have a unique dental and digestive system. For these to function properly, your rabbit must have a diet that is high in fibre, low in protein and low in energy.

As pet owners, we like to think that we are doing the best for our rabbits and are all too ready to provide them with a diet that is too rich and contains insufficient roughage. Without the fibre, you will have constant teeth and digestive problems, which means a very poor quality of life for your pet rabbit.

A diet of grass or hay and occasional vegetables with added complete food (being fed only in small quantities - not as a large or major part of the diet), as well as a constant supply of water is all that a rabbit needs.

Anything beyond that is a 'treat' and should be given in limited quantities, completely avoiding sweets and chocolates which build up harmful bacteria in the gut and can kill your rabbit. Rabbits in the wild are grazers. If the diet is inadequate, these are the problems you may see:

  • Hairballs
  • Chronic soft faeces instead of hard normal pellets
  • Diarrhoea
  • Obesity
  • Teeth problems which can be so severe as to form an abscess (if this happens, it may be too late for treatment to be successful)
  • Eye or tear duct infections (which are secondary to teeth problems as the tooth roots grow abnormally and affect the tear duct)

To prevent these problems, it is vital to feed a simple diet that is almost the same as that of a wild rabbit. Rabbits are called Lagomorphs which means that they are similar to rodents in that their teeth grow continuously.

Dry food

They are adapted to a life of grazing and chewing and therefore constant wear on the teeth. A diet lacking in fibre will mean that less time is spent chewing food, less wear on the teeth and so overgrown teeth will be the end result. Offer a small portion of dried food and leave the discarded ingredients in the bowl until they are all eaten. Only by doing this will your rabbit get a truly balanced diet.

One thought is not to leave concentrated food down for any longer than 8 hours a day. Try to buy pellets that are high in fibre (18% or more). The best food to buy are the pellets where all the nutritious ingredients are blended together so that the rabbit eats all the food and does not become a selective feeder.


Look to provide your rabbit with a small amount of different leafed and rooted vegetables, but stay away from beans and rhubarb. Never give vegetables that have come straight out of the fridge as they can cause quite a shock to your rabbit's system. Always wait until they are at room temperature.

Many rabbits have too little calcium in their diet which can result in brittle bones and teeth. Feeding green stuff such as fresh grass, cabbage leaves and dandelion leaves can help correct this. However, feeding too much green stuff invariably results in soft stools indicating an imbalance in the gut flora. If this happens, stop feeding the vegetables immediately, clean your rabbit's bottom and be prepared to book an appointment with us if it doesn't clear up in a couple of days.


Your rabbit should have access to fresh water 24 hours a day. If you keep your rabbit in an outside hutch throughout the winter, change the water twice or three times a day to prevent it freezing.

Dental Health

How to clean your pet's teeth?

  • Choose a time when your pet is settled
  • Apply the pet toothpaste to the soft-bristled pet toothbrush and then push it down into the bristles
  • Sit them down quietly (on a table/counter surface for a small dog or cat)
  • Without restraint, allow them to lick the toothpaste first
  • Place one hand across the bridge of the nose (muzzle) with a finger or thumb under the chin to keep the mouth closed
  • Gently lift the top lip and insert the toothbrush inside the cheek - the most important place to brush is at the gum line
  • Move the brush in gentle circular motions with emphasis of the stroke away from the gum line - DO NOT scrub the teeth  

The goal is to brush the outside surfaces of all the teeth in a systematic way. If, initially, your pet does not co- operate for long enough, start each session by brushing at a different position in their mouth.    

The back (molar) teeth should be cleaned first, especially the upper ones. Next, the canine teeth and finally, once your pet is happy to accept this, the front teeth.    

Brushing the inner surfaces of the teeth can prove to be difficult. If you are unable to do this, do not despair; providing the rest of the teeth are reasonably clean, the tongue will do quite a good job of this.    

If your pet has inflamed gums (gingivitis), our vet may advise that you use a dental gel or solution containing chlorhexidine to improve the gums. Chlorhexidine works best when combined with daily tooth brushing to remove the debris.

Remember, there is no point wrestling with your pet. Try the make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Reward them with a small treat and lavish praise if they behave well.


Why vaccinate?

Vaccination is vital in protecting your pet from various diseases that cause pain, distress and can be fatal. Annual vaccination appointments also provide an opportunity for regular health checks for your pet.

Vaccinations for cats and dogs usually consist of a primary course of two vaccinations to stimulate an immune response, followed by annual boosters as the initial immune response gradually fades over time.


For dogs, the first vaccination can be done as early as 6 weeks, with the second vaccination given 2-4 weeks later. Core vaccinations for dogs are distemper, parvovirus, canine infectious hepatitis, parainfluenza and leptospirosis.


Cats can be vaccinated from 9 weeks of age, with a second vaccination 3-4 weeks later. Core cat vaccinations include feline herpesvirus and calicivirus (two agents responsible for cat flu) and feline panleukopaenia virus which causes feline infectious enteritis. We also recommend vaccinating your cat against the feline leukaemia virus, a virus which suppresses the immune system and is potentially fatal.

It is important to keep your pet's vaccinations up to date as a delay in their booster allows for a decrease in immunity and may mean that your pet needs to restart their primary vaccination course.

Fleas and Worms

A regular flea prevention and worming routine is important in keeping your pet fit and healthy. Your pet can encounter worms and skin parasites anywhere out on a walk where other animals have been or even in your own garden.

What worms are out there?

There are many different types of worms that can infect your dog and cat in Scotland. The main species here are roundworm, tapeworm, whipworm, hookworm, heartworm and lungworm. Some of these can be potentially harmful to humans as well, namely roundworm and tapeworm.

How does my pet get worms?

Most transmission of worms is where the eggs or larvae are shed in the faeces of infected animals and are ingested by your pet as they graze or snuffle in the grass.

Once inside the pet, these mature into adult worms, which shed more eggs and so the cycle continues. Worm eggs can also be brought into the house on shoes and transmission of some worms is via an intermediate host such as snails or fleas, so indoor pets can be affected too.

What skin parasites should I be concerned about?

Cats and dogs can be affected by a number of skin parasites including fleas, lice, mites that live on the skin or in ears, and ticks. These can be contracted from other affected pets, from wildlife (such as foxes), or from the environment (this includes your home if one of your pets has brought in fleas).

Signs can include itching (but not in all cases), hair loss, head shaking, reddening of the skin or even sightings of the parasites on your pet.

Speak to us to advise you on the best course of treatment for your pet.


Most of the objections put forward against neutering are unfounded worries and we have happy to discuss any concerns you may have regarding having your pet neutered.

Benefits of neutering male dogs:

  • Stopping or reducing male sex-hormone driven behaviours
  • Reducing wandering/roaming/straying (also reducing car accidents)
  • Reducing the chances of a dog bite
  • Reducing aggression towards other dogs
  • Reducing territoriality
  • Reducing prostatic disease (something very common in older entire male dogs)
  • Remove the risk of testicular cancer (especially common in retained testicles)

Male dogs can be neutered from 6 months of age.

Benefits of neutering female dogs:

  • Dramatically reduce (by 70%) the risk of mammary cancer
  • Stop unwanted heats/seasons - the inconvenience of three weeks of bleeding and attractiveness to male dogs (bitches in season have been known to scale metre high fences to get out)
  • Reduce the risk of false pregnancies, a very common and distressing condition
  • Remove the risk of a pyometra (a life-threatening womb infection very common in older or middle- aged entire bitches)
  • Reduce the number of unwanted puppies

Neutering can, however, increase the likelihood of obesity. It is important that neutered bitches are fed slightly less (approximately 10%) than entire bitches. Their weight is in your hands and they will only get fat if they are overfed. It can also increase the chances of a urinary leakage problem - this can occur in entire bitches too, and can be managed by drops.

Bitches should be neutered from 6 months or, if they have had a season, then four weeks after a season or four weeks after a false pregnancy.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to speak to us.


They are small, simple and the best way of ensuring that your pet is returned to you if lost. It is also required by law for your dog to be microchipped by the age of eight weeks, so you could be fined if your dog goes missing and the finders cannot identify it.

We recommend a tag on your pets collar and an ID chip. The chip is placed under the skin with a small injection. No anaesthetic is needed. Each chip has a unique code which, when scanned, allows your contact information to be gained from a central database. It is your responsibility as the owner to make sure that this information is always up to date. You can access the database here.


  • Prescriptions are available from this practice
  • You may obtain Prescription Only Medicines Veterinary (POM-Vs) from your vet or ask for a prescription and obtain these medicines from another vet or pharmacy
  • Your vet may prescribe POM-Vs only for animals under their care
  • A prescription may not be appropriate if your animal is an in-patient or requires emergency or urgent treatment
  • You will be informed on request of the price of any medication dispensed for your animal
  • The general policy of this practice is to re-assess an animal requiring repeat prescriptions every 6 months, but it is up to the vet
  • The standard charge for a medicines consultation is £16
  • The standard charge for a prescription is £25 per product prescribed
  • Further information on the prices of medicines is available on request

Please be aware that for controlled drugs only 28 days worth of medication can be dispensed at a time with no repeats


One of the most distressing situations we find ourselves in is where a pet's problem is curable but (understandably in some cases) the cost is too high for the owner and therefore, the animal has to be put to sleep. A less serious situation is when the owner has to opt for the less-than-best treatment available for the pet, owing to money constraints.

That's where pet insurance comes in. Veterinary fee cover can help you to avoid such situations, but when choosing an insurance company, there are a few things you should look out for:   

  • Be careful to check that the amount of veterinary fee cover is adequate (a single illness can cost many hundreds of pounds)
  • Check that there is no limit on how long you can claim for each illness, chronic conditions can go on for life, not just twelve or twenty–four months
  • Check that your pet will still be covered in later years when he or she needs it most and the premium in those years will still represent good value

Remember too that if your dog or cat was to escape from your property and cause an accident, you could be sued for this incident. This also makes pet insurance worthwhile for peace of mind.

What Won't Be Covered?

Like your household or car insurance, pet insurance also has an excess which you will have to pay on a claim. Vaccinations and routine treatments such as worming, routine neutering and routine dentals are also excluded.