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Pets Stay Safe At Christmas

Grapes, Raisins and Currants

Tis’ the season to be jolly and, of course, to eat Christmas cake, pudding and mince pies!
Grapes can be eaten fresh, processed to make wine or juice, or dried to produce; raisins, sultanas and currants.

With Christmas round the corner, we are likely to have an increasing number of foodstuffs containing currants and raisins in our homes. This increases the risk of our pets getting hold of them.
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service recommends treatment for ingestion of any amount of grapes, raisins, sultanas and currants ingested in cats and dogs.

The main concern with the ingestion of grape products is kidney failure. Clinical signs are expected to onset set within 24 hours. Vomiting occurs in the majority of cases. Bloody stools, tender abdomen, weakness and lethargy may also been seen. Kidney failure can develop within 72 hours post ingestion.
Please call the practice for advice immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten grapes, raisins or currants.


Christmas Trees

With Christmas just days away, many of us have now put up the Christmas tree ready for the big day. Some pets may not be able to resist the temptation of chewing the branches on our decorative holiday plants.
Christmas trees are considered to be of low toxicity. If your pet eats some they may remain well or develop mild symptoms only. Ingestion may cause physical injury (some needles can be very sharp) vomiting and diarrhoea or intestinal obstruction if enough is eaten!
If pets are seen chewing on the Christmas tree, they should be observed closely for any changes in behaviour and call the practice if you are concerned.


Artificial Snow

During the festive season, artificial or fake snow may be used for window shop displays, events and family parties.
This can cause irritation if it is ingested in large enough quantities. The Veterinary Poisons Advice Unit has not recorded any severe cases of poisoning reported to date, following ingestion of fake snow.

BEWARE – Antifreeze Toxicity

Antifreeze, ethylene glycol, is notoriously dangerous to cats but can also cause severe toxicity in dogs, usually during the winter months.

Common sources of ethylene glycol include automotive antifreeze, radiator coolant, which typically contains 95% ethylene glycol, windshield deicing agents, motor oils, hydraulic brake fluid, developing solutions for photography, paints and solvents. Just a small quantity can result in severe renal toxicity in dogs.

Clinical signs can be categorised into 3 stages:

Stage 1: Clinical effects occur between 30 minutes and 12 hours. Common signs include in-coordination, salivation, vomiting, seizures, drinking and urinating more than normal.
Stage 2: This occurs within 12-24 hours post exposure, and cardiopulmonary signs such as difficulty breathing, increased heart rate, altered blood pressure, and circulatory shock may develop.
Stage 3: This final stage occurs 36-72 hours post ingestion in dogs. During this stage, severe kidney impairment is occurring. Late signs of inappetence, lethargy, bad breath, coma, depression, vomiting and seizures may be seen. Low blood calcium can cause muscle spasms.

Fluorescent Urine

If antifreeze has been ingested, the urine may fluoresce from the fluorescent dye in the product, when examined under ultraviolet light. Flourescien is present in many commercial antifreeze products which can be a good indicator but is not always reliable.

Dogs are more likely to be observed ingesting antifreeze and/or noticed to be unwell, unlike cats who tend to disappear overnight. Dogs are therefore more likely to receive prompt treatment, which is vital to secure a good outcome.

Treatment for ethylene glycol poisoning requires aggressive intervention and administration of the antidote, where possible.

Ethanol is the antidote and must be given intravenously.  The sooner the antidotal therapy is started after ingestion, the better the outcome.


Pumpkin Ingestion Warning!

This article has been provided tot he practice by the VPIS (Veterinary Poisons Information Service):

Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo pepo) is a popular autumnal fruit, which has become part of many families’ Halloween festivities. Pets may be exposed at this time of year and poisoning is possible, depending on the source of plant material.

Cucurbitaceae contain bitter tasting substances called tetracyclic triterpenoid cucurbitacins.

Although these substances tend to be bred out of shop-bought fruit, can sometimes be produced spontaneously in food products and lead to adverse effects. Very occasionally, these substances may be found in shop-bought pumpkins through mutation, environmental stress or cross contamination with a wild species. The higher the concentration of cucurbitacins, the more bitter the taste. Cucurbitacins are not denatured through cooking.

Ingestion of non-bitter plant material is unlikely to cause severe signs in animals. Mild, self-limiting gastrointestinal upset can be anticipated in non-herbivores.

However, ingestion of bitter fruit or roots can cause more significant gastrointestinal signs, including abdominal pain, haemorrhagic diarrhoea and severe vomiting. There have also been reports of dehydration, collapse, elevated liver and kidney enzymes. Supportive treatment should include aggressive rehydration and pain relief, as required. The liver and renal function should be monitored, as well as monitoring for potential anaemia.
Based on information from human reports, it can take several days for a full recovery. In chronic exposure, for example field animals which have grazed on the plants, the majority of cases are fatal and therefore the prognosis is poor.

When presented with a possible pumpkin toxicity, it is helpful to establish whether the plant material is bitter.

This may be determined by asking the owner if the plants are home-grown and whether the have eaten the pumpkin themselves.



Team SLVC win the Willington Raft Race!!!

A brave team of vets, nurses and receptionists (plus a couple of others!) took part in this years Willington Raft Race in June.

A combination of grit, sweat, team work and pure adrenaline resulted in team SLVC winning the mixed competition with a time of 23.16 minutes!

The team came 6th overall out of 21 teams and were only beaten by 5 mens teams.

Go Team SLVC!!

raft race 2 raft race

New Branch Practice in Allestree

Following the success of our main hospital located on Osmaston Road in the centre of Derby we are proud to announce the opening of a new branch practice in Allestree in Spring 2016.

The location is 367A Duffield road, in close proximity to other amenities including a doctors surgery and two dentists as well as a variety of other establishments.

The branch practice will allow us to endeavour to provide the very same high level of service to the local people in Allestree and their pets, just like we already strive to do in Derby.

The branch practice will initially be open for consultations between the following hours:

0800-1000 and 1700-1900 Monday to Friday

0930-1230 Saturdays

We chose these hours to suit the needs of our clients and their working patterns.

Urgent cases between these hours will be seen at our Derby practice.

There will be no opening offers or gimmicks, we are interested only in forging long term relationships with clients built on trust and excellent service.


SLVC becomes a Nurse Training Practice

We are now an accredited Training Practice of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, meaning we are able to train student Veterinary Nurses. Emma, who has been with us for 12 months now as a veterinary care assistant has taken our first training vacancy.

© Chris Seddon Photography

Emma and Oscar, her Cockerpoo

We work closely with Bottle Green Training Centre where Emma attends once a week to receive her tuition. The rest of her training is completed within the practice under the supervision of Allison, Emma’s clinical coach and one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses.

Emma will be completing her Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing, after which she will be equipped to work in practice as soon as she qualifies. The course is  two and a half years  and is a type of vocational training that allows her to get ‘stuck in’ straight away. She will then be registered on the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Register of Veterinary Nurses.

Promoting Best Possible Practice

Becoming a training practice not only gives us the opportunity to train veterinary nurses, it will also ensure that we are up to date with the latest procedures and research available to the veterinary world. This will help us to continue to provide the best possible care to our patients and provide the best possible service to you as clients.

Be Lungworm Aware

Dog and Snail

Lungworm infection in dogs, caused by the parasite Angiostrongylus vasorum, is spreading. A recent nationwide survey of UK vets has revealed that over 25 per cent of those questioned had either confirmed or suspected a case of this potentially fatal condition, yet as few as six per cent of dog owners had even heard of the disease.

Lungworm (spread by slugs and snails) is now a nationwide threat to dogs.

Dogs become infected with the lungworm through eating slugs and snails which carry the larvae of the parasite. Infections were most common in parts of Ireland, Wales and southern England. However, recent outbreaks as far north as Scotland mean the parasite is now a nationwide threat.

With this in mind, Bayer Animal Health has launched a ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ campaign to help raise the profile of this parasite amongst dog owners. The initiative aims to make a wide range of advice available, including signs of infection and how to obtain treatment, and to promote the benefits of a parasite control programme that takes into account the risk of dogs becoming infected.

Lungworm is a particularly dangerous condition as if left untreated, it is often fatal.

Signs to look out for include coughing, reluctance to exercise, depression, weight loss, fits, vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, paralysis and persistent bleeding from even small cuts. Dogs known to eat slugs and snails should also be considered candidates for a check up with a vet, even if they are showing no outward signs of infection.

The condition has become a nationwide threat to the canine population, however awareness of this particular lungworm is low.


Lungworm background – Killer disease of dogs

The lungworm Angiostrongylus vasorum is a potentially lethal parasite that can infect dogs, and is spreading across the UK.

Sometimes referred to as the French Heartworm, left untreated this parasite represents a very serious risk to a dog’s health and can kill. On a positive note, increased awareness amongst vets of the condition and the availability of an effective  product means that vets are well placed to manage the disease.

How do dogs catch lungworm?

Dogs catch lungworm through eating slugs and snails which carry the larvae of the parasite. While most dogs do not habitually eat slugs and snails, they may do so by accident e.g. when a slug or snail is sitting on a bone or a favourite toy, or when drinking from a puddle or outdoor water bowl.

Some dogs take great pleasure in eating these miniature ‘treats’, and should be considered at risk from infection.

Foxes can also become infected, and the increase in urban fox populations might be a reason for the spread of the parasite across the country.

In addition, global warming has been suggested as a factor for the movement of the lungworm to the north of the UK, with warmer weather allowing the parasite to survive in areas seemingly too cold in the past.

There are many signs to be aware of, although an infected dog may appear totally healthy. Coughing, reluctance to exercise, depression, weight loss, fits, vomiting, diarrhoea and persistent bleeding from even minor cuts are all possible signs. Dogs under the age of two appear to be more susceptible than older dogs, though dogs of all ages and breeds can be affected. The wide range of signs can easily be confused with other illnesses so contacting your veterinary practice is important. Early diagnosis by a vet, followed by appropriate treatment, will usually lead to a full recovery.

If you suspect your dog may have eaten a slug or a snail or is exhibiting any of the signs of lungworm, it is important that you make an appointment at your vet for a check-up. Your vet can perform a relatively simple test that can help determine whether your dog is infected


Lungworm is now being reported by vets across many parts of the UK, including Scotland. However, there’s no reason why this potentially fatal disease should present your dog with any particular problems.

A little extra vigilance and a few simple precautions could avoid any suffering should your dog come into contact with this particularly nasty parasite.

Be vigilant

• Watch to see if your dog likes eating slugs and/or snails, particularly in spring and autumn when these molluscs are more prevalent

• Know your dog – signs of the disease are varied and can easily be confused with other ailments, so keep an eye out for anything unexpected. Signs of the disease include:

– reluctance to exercise
– coughing
– depression
– weight loss
– fits
– vomiting
– weakness
– paralysis/inability to walk
– excessive bleeding from even minor wounds

• Contact your vet if you have any concerns, your dog habitually eats slugs or snails, or if see any of the signs described above

Where possible, take precautions

• Avoid the use of outdoor drinking water and food bowls which often attract slugs or snails – there is evidence that slime trails can infect a dog if they are eaten

• Don’t leave your dog’s toys, chews or bones in the garden as they can attract snails

• Ask your vet for a parasite control programme that takes into account the risk of dogs becoming infected

Detailed information on the disease and advice on what to do if you suspect your dog is infected with this parasite can be found online at

Karl has achieved ‘Advanced Practitioner Status’

We are proud to report that our head vet Karl has achieved the ‘Advanced Practitioner Status’ from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons!!

This status has only so far been achieved by a small percentage of practicing veterinarians.

Karl Certificates

Here is what the RCVS had to say about it:

We have now published the first list of Advanced Practitioners, which represents the ‘middle tier’ of veterinary accreditation between the initial veterinary degree and RCVS Specialist status.

The list provides a clear indication to the profession and the public of those veterinary surgeons who we have accredited at postgraduate certificate level (Masters level 7), and who have not only demonstrated knowledge and experience in a particular area of veterinary practice beyond their initial primary veterinary degree, but who have also confirmed that they continue to be up to date in their field over and above our minimum requirements for continuing professional development (CPD).

The List of Advanced Practitioners, together with the List of RCVS Specialists, is published in the Register and on our website. You can download the list from the ‘Related documents’ box.

Well done Karl, all the hard work over the last 10 years has all been worth it!

UK Veterinary Surgeons to use courtesy ‘Doctor’ title

Veterinary surgeons in the UK have been given permission to use the courtesy title ‘Doctor’, following a decision made by RCVS Council yesterday.

The issue had been raised in a bid to align the UK with international practice, providing greater clarity for the profession and offering reassurance to clients and the animal-owning public.

“Whether one regards the decision as correcting a historical anomaly or simply providing greater clarity at home and abroad, there is no doubt that the issue has generated huge interest. Yet regardless of whether individual vets choose to use the title, it will not change the profession’s ongoing commitment to the very highest of standards.”

serena gannon

Common Poisons in Pets

The home is a potential minefield of poisons that can affect our furry friends, many of which can be toxic in even small doses. Food can be dropped, bins raided or plants nibbled by inquisitive pets, so knowing your tricks from your treats is important.


poisoning can cause an irregular heart rate and rhythm, restlessness, hyperactivity, diarrhoea, vomiting, panting, muscle tremors, abdominal pain, bloody urine, increased body temperature, seizures, coma and even death. Theobromine found in chocolate, at greatest levels in dark, unsweetened chocolate, is metabolised far more slowly in dogs and cats compared to humans so can easily reach levels at which it is toxic.


Large amounts of grapes can be poisonous to pets and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, abdominal pain and lack of appetite. This results from kidney damage although the mechanism of toxicity is still being researched. Raisins, following a similar pathway are also toxic but in far smaller quantities than grapes. This should be noted around the house as fruitcake, tea breads, mince pies, hot cross buns and some breakfast cereals will all pose a threat to your hungry pooch! Kidney failure can be irreversible and lead to death in the worst cases.


Onions and Garlic – these contain thiosulphate, which is toxic to dogs and cats, resulting in haemolytic anaemia where red blood cells are damaged and so unable to carry oxygen. Clinical signs include breathlessness, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea. It may be 2-4 days following ingestion that these are first seen. Treatment in severe cases may require blood transfusions but if so, the prognosis can be poor and pets can die as a result of the poisoning. The Alliumspecies of plants, to which onions and garlic belong, are toxic even if they are dried, powdered or included in cooked meals.


Different types of mushrooms can have varied effects on pets such as depression, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, defaecation, liver failure, seizures, drooling, urination, kidney failure, heart damage, hyperactivity and in some cases, death. It is best to prevent your dog from foraging for them in wooded areas and if you are concerned they have eaten some, try to take a sample of the mushroom with you to the vet.


Macadamia nuts commonly cause signs of toxicity within 12 hours of ingestion and usually resolve within 48 hours. Clinical signs have only been reported in dogs and include vomiting, lethargy, hyperthermia, abdominal pain, stiff joints, ataxia and tremors. Supportive treatment is often appropriate, although it is not reported to be fatal.


Any type of alcohol can be poisonous to your pet and although this may seem obvious, is more commonly seen than you might think! Aside from intoxication signs similar to those experienced by humans, ingestion at greater volumes can cause coma or even death.


Xylitol is a sugar substitute used in sweets and cakes, which is more widely used now and in humans is considered safe and effective in providing sweetness and a reduction in calories. However, in dogs it causes a sudden and potent release of insulin from the pancreas (not seen in humans), with a resultant drop in blood-sugar levels (hypoglycaemia) that can be life-threatening. If not fatal, liver failure can also be induced and xylitol is considered to be far more toxic than chocolate to dogs. It is commonly found in chewing gum and diabetic cakes.


Plants of the lily variety are very poisonous to cats. All parts of the plant are considered to be toxic and even very small amounts can cause serious damage to the kidneys, resulting in clinical signs such as vomiting, lethargy and inappetance. Immediate assistance and treatment should be sought, as renal failure can be irreversible and fatal in some cases.


Ethylene glycol toxicity is a common presentation in winter as the initial sweet taste of antifreeze encourages cats to ingest it if it is split whilst filling cars or from leaks. Clinical signs are apparent from 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion and are very serious. These include vomiting, ataxia (wobbliness), tremors, twitching, severe depression and seizures. Sadly a lot of cases are fatal with acute, severe kidney failure.

If you see or suspect your pet has eaten any of the substances mentioned calling your vet should be your first step – prompt action can be the difference between life and death.