In this article, we discuss some of the most important points when it comes to owning a dog. If you have any additional concerns, please contact any of our three locations. You may also wish to take a look at our Nurse Clinics.


The vaccine we give your dog protects against several life threatening diseases including distemper, leptospirosis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and infectious canine hepatitis (also called adenovirus).

Puppy with parvovirus - unfortunately the majority of pups that pick up this horrible virus die from it.

Puppy with parvovirus – unfortunately the majority of pups that pick up this horrible virus die from it.

Your dog should have a booster vaccine every year; as well as maintaining immunity, this is the perfect opportunity for the vet to fully examine your dog and pick up any problems early on. We will do our best to send you a reminder each year, but it remains the owner’s responsibility to ensure booster vaccinations are kept up to date.

If your dog has not had a vaccination in the past or they have missed their booster by more than 3 months, then we would suggest you restart with a course of 2 vaccinations, 2 weeks apart to provide the best protection. This can depend on the situation and it is best to discuss it with your veterinary surgeon.

Kennel cough vaccine

Kennel cough is a virus similar to a cough in humans, it is not something they only get in kennels, despite the name. Kennel cough can be picked up in any dog populated area, like parks, training classes, etc.

There is a vaccine available and this can be given by a nasal preparation, every year. While it does reduce the risk of Kennel cough, it does not completely prevent it as there are several different infectious agents that can cause Kennel cough and the vaccine does not cover all of them. Please check with your kennels if they require this vaccine before boarding.

Most kennels require this vaccine to be given a minimum of 3 weeks before they enter the kennels but please check with them before.

Flea Treatment

We advise using Advocate every month to prevent fleas, for a number of reasons:

  • It is a spot-on treatment so it is easy to apply. Simply part the fur on the back of your dog’s neck and squeeze the contents of the Advocate pipette directly onto the skin. In bigger dogs, you may want to split the contents between a few spots of skin to ensure half of it doesn’t end up clogged in the fur
  • Advocate is very effective against both adult fleas and the larval stages, so it gets on top of the problem quickly and also acts effectively as a preventative
  • As well as fleas, Advocate is effective against many other parasites, including biting lice, otodectes (ear) mites, burrowing mites (such as sarcoptes and demodex which can cause mange), roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and lungworm.

If Advocate is not suitable for your dog (for example they have previously had an adverse reaction), there are other products available, however, none of these products protect against lungworm, which is why we usually recommend Advocate. Talk to one of our nurses for more information and to discuss what would be best for your dog.

Some of the other products include:

  • Stronghold spot-on monthly – very similar than Advocate, however is does not protect against Lungworm
  • Seresto collar – kills adult fleas and kills and repels ticks attaching. Lasts for 8 months and is ideal to use during tick season (Spring until Autumn). It is also waterproof
  • Comfortis tablet monthly – kills all stages of the flea life cycle
  • Bravecto tablet – given every 3 months it protects against fleas and ticks

Hopefully using an effective prescription-strength flea product regularly will prevent a flea infestation occurring. However, if you do have problems, the quickest way to get rid of them is to treat ALL the animals in the house (particularly cats, which are often the source of the problem) and treat the house itself. We recommend an environmental spray, such as RIP or Indorex, which kills adult fleas for up to 2 months, and prevents reinfestation for up to 12 months.

How you use the spray is very important; here are some guidelines:

  • Take all animals out of the house before spraying
  • Vacuum everywhere thoroughly, including carpets, sofas, animal beds, skirting boards etc. This will remove a lot of the flea eggs and the warmth and vibration from the vacuum encourage eggs to hatch, making them more susceptible to being killed by the spray. Vacuuming also fluffs up the fibres of soft furnishings, which allows the spray to penetrate better
  • Spray the Indorex or RIP spray everywhere according to manufacturer’s instructions, paying particular attention to areas the pets spend a lot of time e.g. their beds, rugs, around the sofas etc.
  • Leave the mist to settle for at least half an hour
  • Hoover again a few hours later and then on a daily basis if possible to pick up the flea eggs and larvae as they die

The important thing when dealing with fleas is to be persistent! Their life cycle can be up to a year long, with eggs living in the carpets etc. for long periods of time. Vacuuming, regularly using flea treatment on all your pets and treating the house at the first sign of flea-trouble is the only way to prevent fleas from becoming a problem.

Intestinal Worms

There are many types of intestinal worms, including roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and pinworms. One of them (Toxocara canis) can be transmitted to humans and cause skin, eye, brain and organ dysfunction in rare cases. Children are particularly at risk because they are less fastidious about washing their hands.

If you are using Advocate monthly, you will be preventing many of the intestinal worms, but not all of them. Therefore we still recommend using an additional treatment to prevent the worms that Advocate is not effective against:

  • Droncit tablet every 3 months – covers tapeworms (use alongside Advocate)
  • Drontal tablet every 3 monthly – covers roundworms and tapeworms
  • Panacur paste or granules every 3 months – cover roundworms and tapeworms
  • Milbemax tablet, every 1-3 months – covers roundworm, tapeworm, lungworm, whipworm and hookworms

Visit for more information on parasites and how to prevent them.

To summarise: in an ideal world one product would cover all parasites your dog needs protection from, but unfortunately this does not exist, therefore to ensure your dog receives full protection we recommend: Advocate spot-on every month, Droncit tablet every 3 months, and a Seresto collar between March and October.


In recent years, Lungworm (Angiostrongylus vasorum) has arrived in the UK from Europe. In rare cases, this parasite can cause lung problems and defects in the blood clotting mechanism,meaning dogs can have problems with excessive bleeding.

Lungworm is carried by slugs and snails so your dog can pick it up by licking them or the slimy trails they leave behind. Therefore puppies, with their inquisitive natures, are particularly at risk.

Tips for lungworm prevention:

  • Use Advocate monthly (see the section on fleas for more details about Advocate)
  • Discourage your puppy from playing with or eating slugs and snails
  • Don’t leave toys and bowls unattended outside as they could easily get covered in slug/snail trails, which your puppy will accidently ingest next time they play with the toy or drink from the bowl.

Visit for more information.


We recommend a good quality, complete, dry dog food from brands such as Arden Grange, Burns, Eden, Barking Heads and James Wellbeloved (this is by no means an exhaustive list – there are lots of good brands of dog food.

The main things to look for are natural ingredients, no additives or colourants, and a high protein content). You can add wet food to the dry food if they are really fussy but if you can get them eating just dry food it is far better for their teeth. It’s also cheaper, more hygienic and more convenient to be on a complete dry food!

We do not recommend a raw diet for any animal, especially puppies, for various medical reasons including the risk of foreign bodies and food-borne diseases such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. If you are considering a raw diet, please talk to a vet or vet nurse first. At the very least, we can give you pointers on how to make sure your dog gets the right balance of nutrients for growth, bone health etc. If you’re set on raw food but not sure how to ensure a healthy balanced diet, there are now several companies (eg. Natural Instinct) manufacturing “Biologically Appropriate Raw Food”, which is balanced and formulated to provide your dog with the correct nutrition for their life stage.

How much to feed depends on the breed of your dog and its age, as well as the brand of food you choose. Follow the guidelines on the back of the food packet and talk to a vet or nurse if you think your dog is getting too podgy! We recommend twice daily feeding throughout adulthood, as once daily feeding is a lot for their digestion to cope with and also predisposes to obesity.

Remember dogs do not have to be fed from their bowl all the time. You can use their food as a reward when you are doing training sessions, out on walks to get them to come back to you, in Kongs to keep them occupied or simply thrown on the floor or across the garden so they use their natural scenting and hunting instincts to look for their food!

10 Fun Ways to Use a Kong Toy

  • Fill with your dog’s usual kibble and moisten with some warm water or use wet food instead
  • Create layers within the Kong using cheese, peanut butter, banana etc between layers of kibble/wet food. (Most dogs are absolutely fine eating small amounts of cheese as a treat, but bear in mind some have sensitive tummies and it can give them diarrhoea. It’s also very fattening if they have too much!)
  • Add a little water with all other ingredients then freeze the Kong to provide hours of challenging fun
  • Make ice cubes out of diluted fruit juices/chicken stock and put in a Kong so they rattle and slowly melt
  • Try warming the Kong up with all its ingredients to increase its smell. This is a particularly useful way to encourage your dog to be more interested in the Kong
  • For greedy dogs that always finish their bowl of food in seconds then act hungry, always feed them from a Kong so they take longer to eat their food and therefore should not feel so hungry
  • Cover the Kong with doggy dental toothpaste to promote good oral hygiene and fresh breath
  • Play retrieve and catch games with your Kong; it is very durable and bouncy toy that you can scent with food to make it more appealing
  • Hide your stuffed Kong in the garden while your dog is not looking then send them out to find it! Make it easy to start with by leaving a trail of treats leading up to the Kong until your dog understands the concept
  • Wrap a stuffed Kong in newspaper or an envelope then give it to your dog so they can have fun tearing away the paper.

Training Classes

It is never too late to start teaching your dog new tricks or just general manners! There are loads of different training options in the area; we recommend finding someone that uses purely reward-based methods (such as treats, toys and clickers) rather than any form of punishment-based technique (such as water pistols, rattle bottles, compressed air, shock collars and check-leads).

Or why not consider more advanced training regimes such as the Good Citizen scheme, agility, search and rescue, flyball, gundog training and more! Our nurses can give you up-to-date recommendations of local trainers – just pop in or give us a call. Here are some links to local trainers to get you started. Please note we do not recommend any particular club; it is up to you to research which class is most appropriate for your dog.

  • Sussex County Dog Training (now has a branch called Barking Success, based at Old Clayton kennels in Washington, as well as their main centre in Aldingbourne)

And here are some of our favourite training websites for dog owners:


We recommend neutering females 3 months after their season. Here are some of the reasons to spay your bitch:

  • Neutering your female at a young age dramatically reduces the risk of mammary tumours and pyometra (infected uterus), both of which can be life threatening
  • Eliminates the risk of unwanted pregnancy or developing ‘false pregnancy’ after their season
  • Avoids unwanted attention from male dogs and the mess and hassle of dealing with a season

Male dogs can be castrated from 4 months old in most instances. This eliminates the risk of developing testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate disease. Neutering may also help reduce aggression towards other dogs and unwanted sexual behaviours in some instances, although there is often a behavioural aspect to these problems as well.

In some instances, for example in large breed male dogs, your vet may recommend neutering earlier or later. If there is a specific reason not to neuter your dog, a hormonal implant may be an option – speak to your vet for advice.


We strongly recommend insurance for your dog. There are a wide range of policies on the market nowadays and it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option, however, this may not offer the cover you need when your pet is ill.

You don’t want to be worrying about whether insurance will cover the treatment or not when you’re already worried about your dog’s health. Important things to look out for when doing your research include:

  • Lifelong cover of every condition. For example, should your dog develop arthritis, diabetes or thyroid problems they will need treatment for the rest of their life, not just for a year
  • The maximum limit of cover should be as high as possible. Some policies have a limit of £1000 or £2000 – this amount really isn’t going to last long should your dog need on-going treatment for problems such as arthritis, or a one-off major operation such as fracture repair or spinal surgery. Therefore it is preferable to find a policy that will either offer unlimited cover or a high maximum (e.g. £5000-8000) for the life of your dog
  • Once you have taken out an insurance policy it is advisable to stick with that company on-going (rather than changing companies yearly looking for the best deal like you would with car insurance). This is because once your dog has suffered from a condition if you should then change companies they will exclude this condition meaning they will not pay out for any treatment towards it.

According to FSA regulations, we are not allowed to recommend any particular insurance company. However, we are allowed to tell you our experience in claiming from different companies. In our experience, some are very easy to deal with and pay out with no fuss most of the time; others will find any tiny reason not to pay. Speak to one of our vets or nurses for more advice and see our insurance tips for advice on how to make the most of having insurance.


By law your dog must wear identification in public places usually in the form of a tag on its collar which MUST INCLUDE YOUR SURNAME AND ADDRESS.

Just a postcode is not acceptable and although a telephone number is not required by law it is advisable. Even for small dogs 3-4 lines of text can be printed on both sides of a tiny tag so there is no excuse. Please ask at reception if you would like to order a tag.

In addition, we strongly recommend getting your dog microchipped and from 2016 it will be compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped. This involves inserting a small chip (about the size of a grain of rice) into the scruff of your dog’s neck. Once chipped your details will be held in a national database so should your dog ever get lost, they can be scanned and traced back to you via your contact details.

Therefore it is very important to keep your contact details up to date with the database company add any mobile numbers or family member’s details if you are away. We are constantly re-uniting lost dogs with their owners through the microchip details.

If you have questions, would like to arrange an appointment or simply get to know us a little better, please contact us.

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