Advice and Offers

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So What Are Supplements for Pets, and Why Do They Matter?

There is a legal definition of pet supplements (they are called ‘nutraceuticals’ in legislation), but essentially they are a food additive that’s marketed as having some kind of beneficial effect on health. They can be combined into pet food (lots of prescription diets make use of these to boost their effectiveness), or used separately as a tablet or liquid, and are commonly used orally (by mouth). Typically, they’re made or derived from natural ingredients.

They are very useful things for a few different reasons, but the main reason we use them is that they can often be used alongside prescription medications. This means that we can add in extra treatment without interfering with any treatment the pet may already be on, which is very useful for conditions which require multiple medications to manage, or older pets who may already be receiving treatment for something else. They’re also very helpful for more mild conditions which may not be severe enough to need a prescription medication (for example, very early arthritis or mild anxiety), and some of them can even be useful to help lessen the long-term side effects of some prescription medications.

So does your pet need a supplement? The honest answer is probably not, but there will be pets who could benefit whose owners maybe don’t know about the options available. We’ll be covering the range of conditions that we have some pretty good evidence for in later blogs this month, but we know that certain supplements can be helpful with joint conditions, skin conditions, mild behaviour issues, urinary issues and UTIs in cats, and liver conditions.

When talking about supplements, it’s always important to note that not all supplements are created equal! Unfortunately, there isn’t much regulation around supplements because they’re not classed as ‘medications’, so it’s very easy for people or companies to sell fake ‘supplements’ which may contain absolutely no active ingredient, or even harmful ingredients. Naturally, the internet is a big part of this – after all, anyone can list just about anything on Amazon! We’re also seeing more and more people selling ‘supplements’ on sites like Gumtree and Facebook, which is incredibly dangerous. Again, we’ll post something more in-depth on all of this later this month, but the general advice is always to seek supplements from your vet, or seek a well-known brand from a reputable shop!

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Heat Stroke – the facts

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that even in Scotland dogs die from heatstroke but believe me – THEY DO!

Dogs can’t tolerate high temperatures as well as humans because they only have sweat glands in their feet and around their nose so they are less able to cool themselves down.

As a result, dogs typically rely on panting to keep themselves cool. Panting is one of the most important ways dogs regulate their temperature.

Tips to keep your dog cool

  1. Restrict exercise on hot days
  2. Never leave dogs in hot rooms or sun traps
  3. Avoid long car journeys
  4. Make sure they have access to a cool shaded place and cool drinking water
  5. Always take water on a walk
  6. In summer, walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening
  7. Spray your dog with cool water
  8. Never leave your dog in a parked car

Heat stroke takes effect very quickly and is an emergency!

It is important that you recognise the signs and make sure your pet gets treatment straight away. Otherwise, it can result in death.

It’s particularly devastating as it’s easily avoided so make sure you know how to recognise the signs.

Signs of heat stroke in dogs

  1. Faster, heavier panting
  2. Barking, whining or signs of agitation
  3. Excessive thirst
  4. Excessive drooling
  5. Increased pulse and heartbeat
  6. Dark-coloured (red or purple) gums or tongue
  7. Glassy eyes
  8. Elevated body temperature of 40ºC (104ºF) and up
  9. Staggering, weakness or collapse
  10. Seizures
  11. Unconsciousness

Detecting heat stroke early and treating it promptly is essential to your dog recovering successfully.

We will most likely try to cool your dog gradually and put him on a drip to replace lost fluids and minerals. We may also instruct you to try to cool your dog down on the journey. Please call us for advice on the safest way to do this.

 Never immerse your dog in cold water as this can lead to shock.

If you are concerned at all about your pet in the heat please call us. We are here to help!

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Ashley Vets is 10 Years Old!!


Come and help us celebrate while raising money for Charity!










Saturday 23rd March at Knightswood Community Centre 2-4pm

We have competitions, home-baking, face-painting for the kids, teddy bear vet clinic, pet photo competition and a great raffle with amazing prizes. The Fire Brigade are coming along with the fire engine for the kids to see.

We are raising money for The Cinnamon Trust

Please come – we would really love to see you there!


Doranne and the Ashley Vets Team

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Vaccines and Your Pet – Dispelling the myths

We commonly vaccinate three species at Ashley Vets – dogs, cats, and rabbits. In the last few years, we’ve had increasing numbers of owners concerned about the effects that vaccination may have on their pets, particularly with regards to ‘over-vaccination’ and side effects, with some owners opting not to vaccinate their pet at all because of their concerns.

Unfortunately, the diseases which we vaccinate against are serious and often fatal. It is thanks to widespread vaccination that we have seen a significant drop in these diseases over the past 30-40 years, and increasing numbers of owners, thankfully, having never come across them. There is no cure for the diseases we vaccinate against. In many cases, hospitalisation and intensive care for up to several weeks are all we can do, and this is not always successful depending on how serious the infection is.

Vaccination not only protects your pet against these diseases, but thanks to an effect called ‘herd immunity’, it also protects every pet they interact with. Some pets are unable to ever be vaccinated due to a weakened immune system (such as pets undergoing cancer or intensive allergy treatments), and they depend on other pets being vaccinated for protection.

For these reasons, we cannot recommend vaccination strongly enough. Vaccinations are life-saving, and considerably cheaper than the intensive care required to treat the diseases we prevent. Many insurance policies also insist on pets being vaccinated, and may be invalidated in certain cases if not.

However, we do understand some of the concerns surrounding vaccination. Some pets do have adverse reactions to vaccines which are very similar to adverse reactions in humans. The more common reactions are a swelling at the injection site, a mild fever, or lethargy and/or a reduced appetite. These are all generally self-limiting and do not require treatment. Very rarely (defined as less than 1 animal in 10,000 or isolated reports), pets can suffer from hypersensitivity or anaphylactic reactions. These would typically begin whilst the pet is still in the practice, so identification and treatment could begin very rapidly. There is no scientific evidence available of any other side effects, including behavioural effects.

The presence of these side effects is why the WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) has published guidelines on the safe and effective use of vaccines. We do strive to follow these guidelines where possible.

WSAVA has defined several ‘core vaccines’ for dogs and cats, which should be administered regardless of lifestyle to all pets who do not have an existing health problem which does not respond well to vaccination. In dogs, these are distemper, adenovirus/canine infectious hepatitis, and parvovirus. In cats, these are feline parvovirus/panleukopenia, calicivirus, and feline herpesvirus/rhinotracheitis. The recommendation is that pets receive these vaccines as puppies/kittens, then again at the first booster at 6 months to 1 year of age, then no more often than three-yearly. We follow this recommendation, except that we carry out the first booster at around 1 year of age, as it gives us the chance to give your pet a full health check as they mature.

WSAVA have also defined ‘non-core’ vaccines for dogs and cats, which can be given based on local risk and the pet’s lifestyle. This includes leptospirosis in dogs, feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) in cats, and rabies in both species where the pet is not traveling outside of the UK. Leptospirosis and FeLV are present in Scotland and cases are seen across the central belt every so often. Leptospirosis is transmitted via the urine of infected dogs, and FeLV by contact with any body fluid. Therefore, we strongly recommend that any dog or cat who goes outdoors (including cats who ‘just’ go out into the garden or the veranda) or lives with other dogs or cats are vaccinated. Due to the way these viruses work, the WSAVA recommend that these vaccines are given annually unless risk factors change. Rabies is not currently required if the pet is not travelling outside of the UK.

We do know that immunity against some diseases can persist for much longer than the recommended dosing schedule. We can test the levels of immunity against a virus with titre testing. Unfortunately, there are no reliable titre tests which exist for the majority of the diseases we vaccinate for in cats, but testing is reliable and effective for distemper, canine infectious hepatitis, and parvovirus in dogs.

Titre testing involves taking a small blood sample and sending it to a lab, who then are able to determine the level of immunity present with a series of tests. A positive result means that there is no need to give the DHP vaccine again for at least 1 year. In cases of positive results, we would always recommend repeating the test every year so that we can be certain your pet has the required immunity. A negative result means that the pet does not have sufficient immunity to last a full year, and revaccination is recommended.

Titre testing may not entirely replace vaccination for every owner due to the slightly higher costs involved, and the need to vaccinate against leptospirosis annually in many dogs regardless, but it is a very useful tool and is readily available to any owner who wishes it. However, we would recommend checking with your insurance company to make sure they accept titre testing in lieu of vaccination.

Unfortunately, none of these guidelines apply to rabbits. However, both myxomatosis and rabbit/viral haemorrhagic disease are extremely infectious and commonly fatal, so we strongly recommend annual vaccination.

If you have any further questions, please contact the practice or speak to a member of staff next time you’re in.

You can also access the WSAVA vaccination guidelines here


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What’s the point of senior diets and what should I feed my older pet?

Pets are living longer than ever – so much so that some breeds are now considered ‘senior’ for almost half of their lives. The signs of ageing in some pets are obvious – black Labradors seem to get their grey muzzle much earlier than they start to feel old! Some signs aren’t so obvious though, and one of the big ones we often miss as pet owners is the changes in digestion.

The most important thing for dogs is managing their calorie intake. Dogs often need fewer calories as they get older because they aren’t as active as they used to be (though there are always exceptions to this rule!). Being overweight has been shown to worsen arthritis and has been linked to a decreased life expectancy, so it’s extremely important to avoid feeding excess calories. However, we don’t want our senior dogs to be too lean either, because a healthy amount of fat will help them cope with any periods of illness. The appetite can also decrease as age really starts to advance, so we sometimes need to balance feeding the right amount of calories with how much dogs will eat. Finding this balance can be one of the trickiest things about feeding older dogs.

That’s not all though! Dogs’ ability to digest nutrients doesn’t change with age, but the digestion isn’t as adaptable, and it can’t cope as well with any deficiencies or, more commonly, excesses of nutrients. This means it’s vital to get the balance just right, and it’s especially important with protein.

Senior dogs tend to lose muscle mass. This is what makes older dogs look frail or delicate, and it can also make arthritic pain worse. Loss of muscle does happen in humans too – it’s called sarcopenia. To help combat this, we want to feed extra protein, but this can be complicated if the dog develops a health condition made worse by too much protein in the diet – like kidney disease.

We may also want older dogs to have extra antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. There is some limited evidence to say that these supplements may help prevent reducing brain function (dogs can develop dementia-like symptoms in very advanced age) and help with arthritis. These aren’t considered essential, but they’re worth considering for the majority of older dogs.

In cats, things are even more complicated – of course! Senior cats aren’t able to digest fat and protein as well as they used to, and their calorie requirements actually increase after 13 years of age. This is a huge problem when you’re a carnivore and these two nutrients are where you get all of your calories from, and you can suffer from loss of muscle in the same way as humans and dogs. We still need to balance calorie content carefully and make sure older cats aren’t overweight, but we do need to feed older cats more calorie-dense foods with higher-quality protein to help meet their calorie requirements. We can also include antioxidants and omega-3s to help combat senility – it’s common for very old cats to forget their house training.

Believe it or not, cats do need their joints looked after. Cats can and do get arthritis, and it’s believed to be one of the most under-diagnosed conditions in older cats. There are a variety of supplements we can add to the diet to help maintain joints, and finding the right mix for individual cats can make a big difference.

Who knew feeding senior pets was so complicated!

Luckily, this is where senior diets come in.

Pet food companies have already done all the hard work for us, and senior diets are specially formulated to meet all of these needs as closely as possible. As with all pet foods, it’s worth getting the highest-quality diet you can.

If you’re not sure if a diet is the right choice for your pet or you’re not sure if you’re feeding the right amounts, just get in touch! We can make diet recommendations, and take all the guesswork out of feeding your senior pet.

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Care of senior pets

As well as being a vet, I am also the owner of a 14 year old spaniel, so the care of older pets is something I am dealing with on a full-time basis!

When our pet is defined as ‘senior’ depends on the species and breed. In cats this is usually from 10 years old, in dogs from around 8 years old (younger in some giant breeds).

The most important thing to remember is that – age is not a disease!


While our pets are more prone to developing various diseases and conditions as they get older, they should still be able to live a comfortable and fulfilling life – so if you are noticing changes in your pet’s behaviour, it’s always worth getting them checked over by a vet.

For example:

‘Slowing down’

If your dog is slow on walks, or less interested in going out, this could indicate painful joints, heart or respiratory problems, neurological disease, hormone imbalance, anxiety… it’s usually not just a sign of ‘old age!’ In cats, ‘slowing down’ can be harder to notice, but if your cat is less playful or staying in one area for long periods, the same issues could apply.

Behaviour changes 

This could include toileting in the house/outside the litter tray, excessive vocalisation, pet seeming more grumpy or fearful than usual or less responsive to commands. There are a few medical issues that would cause these symptoms – one is ‘cognitive dysfuction’.

This is similar to dementia in humans.
There isn’t a cure, but there are a few medications and diets that can help support mental function in our pets – for example, Nutramind. These supplements can safely be used in older pets even if they have no symptoms, to help promote a healthy brain.

Loss of senses

We often observe loss of sight and hearing in older pets, as they age. Many times, this is due to old age and your pet can still live a happy life. However, sometimes these changes can occur as a result of other problems – for example, cataracts could be a sign of diabetes, and sudden blindness can result from high blood pressure.

Change in appetite

Studies have found that appetite does decrease in animals as they age, so you may find your dog or cat doesn’t eat as much as they used to. Again, it’s important to make sure they are regularly checked by a vet to look for other signs of poor appetite, such as dental disease, pain or gastrointestinal issues. It’s worth making sure your pet is being fed a senior diet, which is nutritionally balanced to meet their needs.

To discuss your pet’s diet, pop in or make an appointment with our vet nurse Robyn who can advise what is most appropriate.

So, it’s really important to have your senior pet checked regularly so we can spot any health issues and help them live life to the fullest! We would recommend a health check every 6 months for older pets. We then may advise blood tests, urine testing and/or blood pressure measurement – which can all be done at the practice. To help you get started, we are offering a free senior health check for eligible pets in October 2018 – give us a call if you would like to book.

Katy Anderson BVMS MRCVS

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Rabbit dental health

In a consult the other day a very astute little boy asked me why his rabbit only had four teeth.  I was impressed by his observation skills, considering his age, but reluctantly had to tell him that they have a lot more teeth than that but they are very difficult to see without looking with a special torch.

Rabbits actually have 28 teeth and their teeth are quite special, in that they grow throughout their entire life.  This is very useful in the wild but unfortunately in pet bunnies can lead to dental issues.  Therefore, it is very important to have your bunny on a good quality pellet diet as well as plenty of roughage consisting of a good quality hay.  Bunnies love to chew…admittedly this can be a little annoying when they destroy your newly bought wooden hutch but it does serve a purpose in wearing down their constantly growing teeth. Providing them with wooden chews is a really good idea in addition to their diet.

Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, some rabbits are just prone to dental problems. The most important thing to do, is to watch out for any problems and seek advice if needed.  Early signs of dental pain include inappetence, drooling and difficulties in chewing – especially the harder food.

Later signs include weight loss, lethargy and tooth grinding – which is also a generalised sign of pain. Please seek veterinary advice if you do see any of the above signs.

The only way to access the rabbits mouth is to look at the molars with a special scope and light. Even then, when the rabbit is chewing and conscious, it can be difficult to see the full extent of the problem but there are usually clues like spikes on the teeth or small ulcers at the side of the mouth where the teeth have been rubbing.

Dental work needs to be carried out, in most cases, under general anaesthetic. This is obviously a worrisome prospect for most owners but a necessity for your rabbits’ health. It is also much easier to fully access every individual tooth under anaesthetic conditions.

Once a rabbit has developed an issue, it is more likely to need repeated treatment going down the line, but don’t worry there is lots of help and advice we can give you.  Please feel free to phone the practice should you need us.


Kirsty Marshall BVMS MRCVS


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Anxiety – does my pet need help?

How can I  tell if my pet is anxious?

Anxiety is a very common issue for our furry friends. In fact, tens of thousands of animals in the UK suffer from anxiety and noise phobia in particular.

Around this time of year fireworks displays are common, and these can cause severe anxious behaviour to surface.

 Here are some common symptoms of anxiety that your pet might display:

  • Hiding away, cowering
  • Trying to escape
  • Chewing, digging, or destroying things
  • Panting
  • Trembling
  • Pacing
  • Howling, barking or generally vocalising more than usual
  • Drooling more than usual
  • Scratching excessively
  • Urinating or defecating inappropriately
  • Eating their faeces

If your pet is displaying these signs, be sure to bring them in to have them checked over and discuss the situation with a vet.


How to help your pet’s anxiety:

Dogs suffer from anxiety for a multitude of different reasons.  Noise phobias are quite common in our pups, which can make days  like Guy Fawkes night and Hogmanay incredibly stressful for pets and owners alike.

There are many ways you can help to manage your pet’s anxiety however, which can make this time of year much less stressful for you and your pet.

  • Preparation:
    • Plan ahead! Check out when fireworks in your area are scheduled.
    • Walk your pet before sunset to avoid having them out during the fireworks display.
  • Setting up a safe space for your pet:
    • Create a den for your pet to seek comfort in (see our information sheet on our website!). Be sure to introduce the den prior to bonfire night so your pet can get used to it.
    • Put the den in a quiet area of the house, away from windows. If there are any windows, be sure to close them and the curtains.
    • Provide access to you, the owner! It’s best to stay in on fireworks night to offer reassurance to your pet if they seek you out and to ensure they don’t injure themselves.
    • Give your pet a big distracting treat or chew like a kong with peanut butter and kibble frozen inside.
    • Turn music or television on.
  • Non-prescription remedies:
    • Adaptil, pet remedy sprays or plug ins. – these are available to buy in the practice and help calm your pet using essential oils and pheromones
    • Nutracalm supplements. – these are gentle calming supplements which you can buy from us without coming in for a consultation
    • Thundershirt or compression shirt.
  • Prescription remedies: Occasionally we find that despite our best efforts at home, pets still suffer from their noise phobias. In these instances we always recommend bringing your pet in for a consultation to speak to a vet.


Cats are special! How to tell if your cat is anxious:

  • There is a lot of focus on dogs during Guy Fawkes, but cats get anxious too! Cats are adept at hiding their anxiety, so it is important to be aware of any behaviours they might display to suggest anxiety. Some common signs include:
    • Overgrooming
    • Trembling
    • Hiding or trying to escape
    • Reduced activity
    • Diarrhoea
  • Preparation:
    • Plan ahead! Check out when fireworks displays in your area are scheduled.
    • If you have an outdoor cat, keep them indoors if there are going to be fireworks.
  • Manage your cat’s anxiety:
    • It’s best to stay in on fireworks night to offer reassurance to your pet if they seek you out, and to ensure they don’t injure themselves.
    • Non-pharmaceutical therapies:
      • Feliway or pet remedy – a plug in diffuser or spray to help calm your cat which you can buy from us
      • Nutracalm – this is a calming supplement which you can buy from us without having to come in for a consultation
      • Royal Canin Calm food – this food has special ingredients in it which calm down an anxious cat
    • In severe cases:
      • Potential referral to a veterinary behaviourist.
      • Prescription medication may be required


Signs of anxiety














If you have any questions or are worried about your cat or dog, please come in and chat to us.

We are happy to help you prepare for the fireworks season  or to talk about any other anxiety issues your pet may have.


Contact Us For More Information



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Senior Pets

We are focusing on senior pets this month!








Our older cats and dogs can suffer from many similar conditions to older people.

The most common complaints are arthritis and achiness in the joints but we also see many other changes such as sleeping more, coat changes and behavioural changes.

Older animals are more likely to succumb to issues such as kidney failure, liver issues and lumps and bumps.

Fortunately there is lots we can do to help them so please bring them in regularly for check ups. The sooner we find any problems, the more there is that we can do to help.

In October 2017 we will be offering free health checks to any senior pets that we haven’t seen in over a year so if that’s you please take the opportunity to come in and see us. Also let any of your friends and relatives know if it applies to them so that we can help our older animals be happy and pain-free for as long as possible!

Contact Us For More Information




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Thyroid Complaints!

Lets talk about the thyroid glands and what they do for your pet.

The thyroid gland is located in the neck and divided into two lobes lying on either side of the windpipe. The thyroid gland serves several important roles in keeping your pet healthy by regulating metabolism, fat and carbohydrates. It ensures normal growth of cells, which have specific roles in the body. The thyroid gland is also important for the consumption of oxygen and regulating heat production. As such, an imbalance of thyroid hormones can affect the whole body and if left untreated it can lead to serious illness.









Thyroid disorders affect both dogs and cats, although in many different ways.

Our feline friends usually suffer from an overproduction or HYPERTHYROIDISM whereas in dogs it is an underproduction of thyroid hormones or HYPOTHYROIDISM.

If you suspect your pet may be affected stay on the lookout for some very common signs and ensure you contact us and come in for a check up.  Your pet will undergo a physical examination, a blood test to check and confirm thyroid levels and appropriate treatment started.

Since most cats and dogs with thyroid disorders are older, it is recommended that your pet also have other blood test to assess organ function and make sure they do not suffer from any other underlying problems. As other conditions can develop alongside hypo or hyperthyroidism that may affect the successful treatment and outcome.

Things to be on the look out for:

  • Cats
    • Weight loss despite a good or even ravenous appetite,
    • a scruffy dull coat,
    • vomit and or diarrhea, using the litter box more often,
    • changes in behavior such as irritability, anxiety, restlessness and aggressiveness.
  • Dogs
    • Weight gain,
    • lack of energy or, lethargy,
    • weakness,
    • not wanting to exercise as often,
    • changes to the coat and skin such as “rat tail”,
    • recurrent infections,
    • constipation or diarrhea,
    • neurological signs or neurobehavioral changes (aggression, fear, irritability, excitability or submissiveness and changes temperament).

If you see any of these signs in your cat or dog then please make an appointment to see us!


Contact Us For More Information