Pet Advice

Advice and information for the best life possible with your pet

  • Dog Advice
  • Microchipping
  • Mobility
  • Neutering
  • Parasites
  • Vaccination
  • Dentistry
  • Insurance

Dog Advice

Getting a New Puppy

The first night in its new home is usually the most stressful night for any breed. Make it as comforting as possible with a ticking clock wrapped in its blanket or leave the radio on to soothe it to sleep. Desides that, you should:

  • Choose washable bedding
  • Confine your puppy to a section of the house so that you have control over its toilet training
  • Make sure that kitchen rubbish and any other visible dangers such as large houseplants or pots are out of reach

Some clients prefer to bring their new pup in a pet carrier to the vet. They feel safer in the car when they are very young and they are not exposed to any sick animals in the waiting room.

Toys and chewing

Choose enough toys so that your furniture remains untouched by tiny teeth. Be careful not to give them toys that look like the items you want them to avoid chewing such as a shoe. Balls and knotted ropes are good but avoid games that encourage your puppy to fight with you and that makes it growl.

If your puppy continuously tries to chew your hands, discourage it by squeaking to give it a fright and distract it. Make a fist to hide your fingers and hide your hands if it perseveres. If encouraged you may end up with a biting dog.


Your pup can be fitted with a collar from when they are very little. It should fit snuggly but allow for one or two fingers width of space between collar and neck. Loosen the collar as they grow.


Choose a good quality food that you want to keep him on. Dry foods tend to be better for their teeth, especially in the smaller breeds that live longer and can suffer with dental disease if they only eat a soft food diet. Puppies have a tiny stomach so divide their feeds up into four meals initially. Always provide fresh water.

Large breed puppies should be fed a puppy food specially designed for large breed dogs. They can grow too quickly on a normal high protein puppy food and suffer with joint disease. The large breed puppy foods balance the ratio of protein and carbohydrate so that your pet does not grow too fast.


Make sure that your puppy is wormed too with their first vaccination if the breeder has not already done so, as most puppies will have worms from their mothers. Any sign of fleas will need treatment too by us. Frontline spot on can start from 6 weeks of age.     

Training and Socialising

Start training your puppy at an early age to build up a good relationship with your new companion. Start basic discipline which involves being consistent with what you say and do. Be patient as dogs have short memories. Correct your puppy when his behaviour is inappropriate but lavish him with praise as a positive reinforcement when it is right. Never resort to physical punishment.

Puppies need to know their place in the pecking order at home. They will be much happier, better adjusted pets if you can follow some simple guidelines, designed to mimic the wolf pack principle of "the top dog (the alpha male) goes first, feeds first, and leads". Feed your pup after you have eaten.

Once vaccinated, you can start to socialise your pup but do not overdo the exercise. Your puppy will probably love being out and want to go for a lot further than it should. Over-exercising at a young age could adversely affect his growth, especially in the larger breed dogs.

Most of all, enjoy your time with your new pet. You will forget the time when you didn't have such a devoted, non-judgemental, faithful, happy companion in your life.

Vomiting in Dogs

Vomiting and/or diarrhoea are two of the most common ailments we see at Seafield Vets. All dogs will occasionally vomit. In the wild, they feed their young with regurgitated food and so vomiting is physiologically almost normal under certain circumstances.

The general rule is that if the vomiting is only occasional, of recent duration and if your pet is reasonably bright, then probably there is not too much to worry about. A pet that is about to vomit will start to salivate or lick their lips constantly. This is also a sign of feeling nauseous.

Causes of vomiting

Swallowed 'foreign bodies' can be anything from a sock or your child's toy to the most common - the end of a dummy. Many smaller foreign bodies will cause initial vomiting but then pass on their own accord. However, they occasionally become lodged and become a surgical emergency.

Parasites such as roundworm are often the culprits in causing partial blockages in the intestines, especially in puppies. If you have not wormed your dog or cat in the past three months, it may be worth doing so with a broad spectrum wormer.  

Dietary problems are a common cause of vomiting whether they are primary (over-eating, gorging, too rich/too fatty food) or secondary to some other cause of vomiting, such as a bacterial infection.

Metabolic diseases such as kidney disease or liver disease can lead to vomiting. They usually present with other symptoms as well and your pet will need to be booked in.

Poisons, but it depends on the type of poison. Always bring in a sample of the vomit or a sample of whatever plant or chemical you have seen your pet eating. Infections of the stomach (gastritis) often effect the upper intestine so that your dog may also present with diarrhoea.

Gastric ulcers occur in dogs. If your pet vomits blood on several occasions and/or black tar-like faeces (digested blood is present) are passed, then this is an emergency and your pet must be booked in straight away. Call our Keith Surgery immediately on 01542 882209.

A major emergency in dogs is gastric dilatation and torsion syndrome. This usually occurs in giant and deep chested breeds such as German Shepherds. Your dog may try to vomit but only produces phlegm, not food. This is an acute emergency and immediate surgical care is required. Call our Keith Surgery immediately on 01542 882209.

Dog Behaviour

Tips for avoiding behavioural problems

  • Set rules immediately and stick to them
  • Avoid situations that promote inappropriate behaviour
  • Observe your pet and provide what it needs to be cared for and attended to
  • Supervise your new pet diligently through undivided individual attention and training
  • Restrict your pet’s access to a limited area of the house until training is complete
  • Encourage good behaviour with lavish praise and attention
  • Correct bad behaviours by providing positive alternatives (such as a toy for a slipper, a scratching post for a sofa)
  • Never physically punish or force compliance to commands - this may lead to fear biting or aggression
  • Don’t play roughly or encourage aggression or play biting
  • Expose pets to people, animals and environments where you want them to live

Ask to see any of our veterinary surgeons or nurses if serious or unresolved behavioural problems exist. Request an appointment here.


It is now a legal requirement in the UK for all dogs to be microchipped. Puppies should be microchipped by their breeder who should be registered as the first keeper of the pup. Once sold the new owner then adds their details onto the database. This allows a puppy to be traced back to its source should the need arise.

A microchip is a small implant that is inserted under the skin along the back of your pet. When a scanner is passed over your pet, it picks up the unique barcode number from the microchip and displays it on a screen. Once your pet has been microchipped, its barcode number and your contact details will be logged on a national database.

When stray or stolen pets are found and taken to a vet, the police, rescue centre, dog warden or the SSPCA they will be scanned for their microchip number. We can then contact the microchip database and use the registered information stored there to reunite owner and pet once more.

Please ensure that if you move or your details change you inform the chip company so you can be reunited with your pet as quickly as possible.


Is your pet experiencing any of the following symptoms?

  • Difficulty getting up after resting
  • Hesitancy to climb stairs or jump up
  • Reluctancy to exercise
  • Reduced affection or interaction
  • Resting more - especially in one place
  • Lower tolerance of other pets or people
  • Often licking/chewing paws or joints
  • Limping or general stiffness when walking
  • Lacklustre appearance
  • Overgrown nails

As cats and dogs get older, there are many visible signs of them aging, such as greying around the muzzle, sleeping more and exercising less. There are also subtler signs that are commonly mistaken for signs of aging, that are actually signs of pain, including behavioural changes as well as alterations to your pet’s physical activities.


In all species, neutering of your pet will require a general anaesthetic. For the surgical procedure, your pet will be with us for the day. The operation usually takes place in the morning, with your pet being discharged in the afternoon. Recovery from the operation takes between 3 and 10 days, depending on the procedure.

Female patients are spayed (dressed, neutered). Males are castrated (neutered, snipped).


Bitches are general spayed around 4 months of age or before their first season. However, if your bitch is older, it is recommended to wait until around 3 months after their season before they are spayed. Spaying of bitches prevents litters of unwanted puppies, false pregnancies and pyometras. Spaying your bitch also significantly reduces the risk of mammary tumours, if not eliminating it all together.

Male dogs can be castrated at any time once their testicles have descended. Generally we castrate dogs from 6 months of age. Castration prevents prostate problems from developing and it can reduce behaviour that is driven by sexuality, although this is not a ‘cure all’ procedure.

There are some disadvantages to neutering your pet. Some neutered pets have a tendency to gain weight after the procedure. This is avoidable by monitoring your pet’s weight and feeding less if required. Urinary incontinence can also become a problem after surgery, particularly with bitches.


Cats can be neutered from 4 months of age. Female cats are neutered to prevent unwanted litters of kittens. Also, female cats when on heat become very vocal, with personality changes.

Male cats are neutered to stop them from fathering unwanted kittens. Entire male cats have very pungent smelling urine that they use to mark their territory, including in your house. As entire cats are territorial, they get into fights causing wounds and abscesses. Entire male cats also have a tendency to stray, sometimes not returning home for weeks! Castration of male cats goes a long way to reducing these problems.

Other Pets

We also neuter rabbits and ferrets. This stops unwanted offspring and helps stop fighting between house mates. For more information on this, please contact the surgery and talk to one of our nurses.



Fleas are the most common parasite in pets and every cat and dog is likely to be affected at some point. There are many products, available from your vets, which will prevent fleas becoming a problem in your home. We can give you advice on the best product for your pet and stop these nasty little insects from biting!


All pets will be affected by worms at some stage in their life. They may become re-infected unless they are given regular, routine worming treatments. Worming your pet is simple and inexpensive, so regular treatment is strongly recommended, particularly as some worms can affect humans too.


Ticks are common parasites affecting dogs, cats and humans. They require blood from their host to fully mature. Ticks preferred environments for growing include forests, grass and moorland, making the North of Scotland a popular location!

Ticks can cause several problems when they bite, including the transmission of a number of serious diseases. These include; Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis and Lyme disease.

The diseases mentioned above can be very difficult and expensive to treat. Fortunately, there are effective products, available from your vet, which will prevent ticks from latching on to your pets.


We highly recommend that your pet is vaccinated against a variety of serious and often fatal diseases.


We recommend dogs are vaccinated against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis. These are serious, infectious diseases that are usually fatal for your dog. Vaccinating against these diseases prevents them from spreading.

Vaccination can start from 8 weeks of age with a course of two vaccines given two weeks apart; thereafter a yearly booster is required to maintain immunity. This vaccination is also a requirement if you plan to put your dog into boarding kennels.

We also recommend that your dog is vaccinated against Kennel Cough. Kennel Cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection and although rarely fatal, can leave your dog with a nasty cough for a few weeks. It is highly recommended for your dog to be vaccinated against Kennel Cough if they are likely to be booked into a boarding kennel or come into contact with other dogs.


We recommend that cats are vaccinated against Cat Flu, Enteritis, Feline Leukaemia and Feline Infectious Virus. These diseases are usually fatal in cats.

Vaccination can start from 9 weeks of age. There is a course of two injections given 3 weeks apart. Thereafter, your cat will require an annual booster to maintain their immunity. This vaccination is a requirement if your cat has to visit a cattery.


There are two diseases that we recommend rabbits are vaccinated against: Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic diseases.

Myxomatosis is a highly contagious disease which can be spread from wild rabbits to domestic pets. Myxomatosis is a fatal disease for which there is no cure. Protection is given by a vaccine, administered by injection once a year.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) is a fatal disease which can be caught indirectly from wild rabbits. Rabbits with VHD may present acutely ill and passing blood or as a sudden unexplained death. VHD vaccine is given by a single injection once yearly.

A combined vaccine for VHD and Myxomatosis is available, meaning one less trip to the vets!


Teeth can cause many health problems and pain in dogs and cats. As pets get older, it is almost inevitable that there is a gradual build up of tartar and plaque on teeth. If this is left untreated, it gradually leads to problems such as erosion of the gums, gingivitis (gum infection), tooth decay and eventually loss of teeth. Signs of tooth decay and gingivitis include halitosis (bad breath), difficulty eating and excessive salivation.

There are a variety of things that can be done to help slow down this natural process. The vets and nurses at Bellevue are able to advise you on the best course of action for your pet.

Tooth Cleaning

If started at a young age, a lot of dogs and some cats will allow regular cleaning of teeth with a tooth brush and paste. We stock a variety of products suitable for this purpose. This is the best way of preventing the build up of tartar in the first place, keeping your pet’s teeth healthy for longer.

Dental Diets

Certain diets are designed specifically to minimise the build up of tartar on your pet’s teeth.

Scale and Polish

If your pet gets to the stage that there is significant build up of tartar on the teeth, or evidence of tooth decay, it might be advised for your pet to undergo dental treatment under a general anaesthetic. This involves tartar being removed with an ultrasonic scaler.

The teeth are then polished, which minimises the chances of further build up of tartar in the future.

In the event that there is decay or severe gum erosion, it may be necessary to remove some teeth. All this can usually be done under anaesthetic and can significantly improve your pet’s quality of life.

If you think your pet is suffering from dental problems, or if you want some advice on preventative treatments, please contact the surgery.


It’s a tempting thought: only older pets get ill so your young pet won’t need insurance. Sadly, though, we know from the cases we encounter day in day out that this isn’t the case.

The younger, the better

It’s a good idea to insure your pet when they’re young because young pets are less likely to be suffering from pre-existing health conditions. If you approach an insurer and your pet does have an existing health problem, getting a policy will be a lot more difficult and insurers may not contribute towards treatment of the condition in question.

The different types of cover

Not all pet insurance policies are the same. There are many types available and the cover provided can vary considerably. The 4 main types of policy are:

  • Accident: cover for accidents only – no cover for illness
  • Time-Limited: cover for a set time, usually 12 months after a condition first appears. Once this period is over, the condition is excluded from cover
  • Maximum Benefit: cover of up to a maximum amount of money per condition and once this limit is reached, the condition is excluded from cover
  • Lifetime: a set amount of money each year, which is refreshed each time you renew your policy, allowing you to continue claiming for ongoing conditions

The policy you choose can have implications on the future of your pet’s care and the future of your vet bills, so it’s important to choose your cover wisely. Sometimes the cheapest policy can cost you more in the end. 

When shopping around for a policy, ask yourself:

  1. Does the policy cover congenital, hereditary, hip-related, dental and behavioural conditions?
  2. Is there a time or monetary limit on how long this policy will cover ongoing conditions?
  3. If I claim, will my premium increase?

If you have further questions about choosing the right insurance policy for you and your pet, have a chat with us in practice. Contact us today!