National Veterinary Nursing Month 2016

National Veterinary Nursing Month 2016

The aim of National Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month is to help create awareness of the importance of the veterinary nursing profession. Veterinary Nurses are sometimes the unseen workforce in practice and many pet owners still have no idea how important veterinary nurses are to their pet’s care and wellbeing whilst they are at the veterinary practice.

Like human nurses, Registered Veterinary Nurses (RVNs) are highly skilled professionals in their own right.  

RVNs work alongside Veterinary Surgeons to provide the highest standard of care and treatment for your pet. This treatment includes skilled supportive care for sick and injured animals, monitoring anaesthetics, assisting with operations, performing minor surgery, providing medical treatments, carrying out diagnostic tests under veterinary supervision and offering post operative care. RVNs also play a very important role in the education of pet owners.

Animals and their caring owners are wonderful to work with and are a huge part of the job. However, some people think that veterinary nursing is all about cuddling fluffy animals while the vet examines them, but it isn’t always that glamorous! RVNs work very hard caring for their patients, which includes dealing with poo, wee, snot, vomit, blood, body organs, parasites, nasty smells and the occasional challenging patient (or owner!) Veterinary nursing can be extremely emotional and is often physically demanding, but all of our nurses agree that it is also an extremely rewarding job.  Continue reading


Feline Hypertension (high blood pressure)

cat sleeping

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a fairly commonly seen, but potentially severe problem for older cats. Over the past few years the importance of monitoring blood pressure in older cats has been recognised by veterinary surgeons and monitoring equipment is now readily available in most veterinary practices.

What is Blood Pressure and Hypertension?

The blood pressure is the force that is exerted by the blood against the walls of blood vessels. A certain amount of pressure is needed to enable the heart to effectively pump blood around the body in order to deliver oxygen and energy to the various organs, muscles and tissues. When an animal (or person) becomes hypertensive, the blood is pumped with greater force than normal which puts extra strain on the vessels, arteries and heart.

What Causes Hypertension?

Hypertension in cats may be caused by (or be a side effect of) another disease, illness or problem such as

  • Kidney disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

However, many older cats can develop hypertension without having other illnesses or disease, or even showing any other clinical signs and if it is not detected early on and is left untreated it can cause serious and sometimes sudden consequences. Including the following illnesses and symptoms

  • Kidney problems
  • Heart problems
  • Neurological (Brain) problems such as seizures or disorientation
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Dilated pupils (large pupils that do not get smaller in the light)
  • Blood spots/bleeding in the eyes
  • Blindness
  • Respiratory problems

If your cat is showing any of the above signs, please make an appointment for your cat to be examined by veterinary surgeon.

How is blood pressure measured?

Blood pressure is measured in cats using the same method that is used for humans. In humans, two values are taken into account, the higher one being the blood pressure in the arteries that is recorded when the heart beats (systolic pressure) and the lower value, when the heart rests between beats (diastolic pressure). These two values are recorded one above the other, separated by a slash mark; Normal human blood pressure is around 120/70-80 mmHg (which stands for millimetres of mercury). With cats, we tend just focus on the systolic blood pressure reading which is typically higher than humans, at around 120 to 170 mmHg.

Sphygmomanometer Dial


How Is Hypertension Diagnosed?

Your vet will make a diagnosis by using a Sphygmomanometer (as mentioned below), but also by taking into account any other clinical symptoms that your cat may have.
Because hypertension is often associated with other conditions such as kidney disease and hyperthyroidism , blood pressure may be tested for if these illnesses are present or, if hypertension is the initial problem, blood tests may be performed to check for these other illnesses.

Sometimes the vet may need to take 2 or 3 readings over 2 to 3 weeks to confirm a diagnosis of hypertension. Factors such as the cat being anxious, distressed or even excited can give ‘false high’ pressure readings which is why your vet may recommend several measurements over the course of a few weeks.

Blood pressure monitoring

Monitoring the blood pressure in cats is a non-invasive and relatively straightforward procedure that can be carried out by a vet or veterinary nurse at the practice (as long as the cat is cooperative and happy to sit still for a while!). The procedure is very similar to human blood pressure testing and is measured with an instrument called a sphygmomanometer.

  1. A small cuff attached to the Sphygmomanometer is wrapped around the cat’s leg (or occasionally the tail).
  2. A Doppler probe is used to find the pulse in the foot. The probe is a handheld diagnostic device that emits ultrasonic waves into the body; it picks up the sound of the blood flow (pulse) and enables the vet or veterinary nurse to hear it.
  3. The cuff is gently inflated with a pump until
    the pulse can no longer be detected, then a valve is opened to slowly deflate the cuff.
  4. The reading on the sphygmomanometer is recorded when the pulse can be heard again as the cuff is deflating.
  5. The measurements are taken 3-6 times and the vet will use an average of the readings as the blood pressure measurement.

Treating Hypertension

Medication is available to treat hypertension and fortunately, with appropriate monitoring and treatment, feline hypertension is usually manageable. Early diagnosis means that treatment can be started as soon as possible, which reduces the risk of damage to the body from persistent high blood pressure. Occasionally, if the underlying disease or illness is treated, the hypertension may resolve on its own, but most cats will need to be on medication for life after diagnosis. Many cats may also be on medication for other conditions at the same time.

How often should blood pressure be monitored?

We usually recommend that any cat over the age of 7 years old is tested annually to make sure they do not have hypertension. In healthy cats this will be a record of what is normal for them and the offers the possibility of detecting hypertension early on before other signs are present.
If the vet has diagnosed hypertension, they may initially recommend weekly or monthly monitoring until it is under control; the monitoring frequency may then be reduced to a test every 3 months or so.


We aim to keep cats as calm as possible during the monitoring procedure to avoid the effect of blood pressure being raised due to anxiety. Some cats are better away from their owners and some cats prefer to stay with their owners.

Blood Pressure Monitoring at Castle Vets

Cats over 7 years old who are members of the Castle Vets Pet Health Club are eligible for a free annual blood pressure test, which can be booked with a veterinary nurse as an outpatient procedure.
If you are not a member of our pet health club, there will be a charge for blood pressure monitoring, but it can be booked the same way.

If your cat is already showing any of the clinical symptoms mentioned above, you should book an appointment for him or her to be examined by the veterinary surgeon.

For further information or advice about hypertension or any other pet related issues, please contact your veterinary practice for advice




Springtime Pet Care Tips


Spring has arrived in Berkshire; the weather is getting warmer (and hopefully staying that way), the daffodils and crocuses are starting to reappear and there is blossum on the trees. This is a great time of year and many people will be starting to spend more time outside, whether it be pottering around in the garden, walking around local parks or going out into the beautiful Berkshire countryside.

General Care of Your Pets

600px-cat-being-groomedMany pets will be starting to shed their winter coats as the weather gets warmer. Help them along by giving them a brush to help get rid of their loose undercoat and prevent knots from forming.

Just like people, cats and dogs can develop allergies to plants, pollens, grasses, and other substances in springtime. Pets with allergies often have symptoms similar to those seen in humans such as itchy skin, reddened skin, ear problems runny eyes, hair loss and respiratory problems.

Take care not to leave caged pets such as birds and rodents directly in front of the windows. The sun can warm up cages very quickly, causing pets to overheat even at this time of year.

It is a good idea to ensure that flea and tick treatments are up to date and effective. Have a chat with one of our veterinary nurses to discuss which products are best for your pet.

Spring is a good time to be helping your pet loose any excess weight they may be carrying. If you are not sure whether your pet is the ideal weight or if you would like some advice about diet and weightloss for your pet, please contact the practice.

Unfortunately spring, as with all of the other seasons, can bring with it some problems for our pets.

Hazards In The Home

At this time of year many of us will be spring cleaning the house or doing those ‘fun’ DIY jobs that we have been putting off, such as putting up shelves, re decorating and hanging new pictures.

If you are planning to do a bit of spring cleaning around the home, make sure that you keep all of the cleaning liquids, sprays and cloths out of reach of curious pets. Be careful with dilution rates of floor cleaners as these can irritate delicate paws if they are too strong.Pet-Friendly

Similarly, if you plan to start a DIY project at home, make sure your pets are well out of the way first and that they don’t get the opportunity to play with or ingest any of the bits and pieces you will be using. Paints, solvents and glue are all highly toxic to pets and nails or bits of plastic can be easily swallowed.tool-cat1

Remember that young pets are much more curious and likely to taste or chew things than older pets are.

Hazards In The Garden

Spring plants look lovely as they start to emerge, but remember that a lot of them can be toxic to our pets. Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths and Lilies can all cause problems, so keep an eye on your pet. With some plants it is just the bulbs that are toxic but with others it is the leaves, flowers or pollen that are toxic. If you notice you pet chewing flowers it is wise to prevent access.

Many fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and insecticides can also be poisonous to pets; Permethrin is a substance used in a lot of insecticides and is highly toxic to cats. If you are using these ensure that your pet is out of the way when they are applied and that they are stored in a safe place.

Cocoa Shell Mulch is a potentially lethal hazard. Dogs are attracted to these shells by their smell, but they contain theobromine which is very poisonous to dogs. If you own a dog it is much safer to use an alternative such as tree bark.

Common Symptoms of Poisoning Include;

  • imagesDrooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lack of coordination
  • Ataxia (unsteady on legs)
  • Collapse.

If you notice any of these symptoms contact your vet immediately.

Insect stings and bites usually happen only happen to over-curious pets. Pets are generally stung or bitten on the muzzle area (face) or the feet. Stings and bites normally only cause small localised swellings or irritation, but they can be serious in pets who are stung many times, have a bad allergic reaction or who are stung near the throat. Veterinary advice should be sought for any stings or bites your pet may get.



Out and About

If your dog has been fairly inactive in the winter months, before you start going for long countryside walks or take up jogging with your pet, it is best to gradually increase the amount of exercise you give him or her, to help rebuild muscle tone and fitness and avoid any exercise-related injuries.

Swimming can be great fun for dogs that enjoy it, but remember that the weather still isn’t very warm at them moment so make sure that you dry your dog off properly after a swim and that you only allow them to swim in safe places.8530_157143041544_4089746_n

Dog owners should remember to keep dogs on leads when walking near farmland as there will be many young Lambs and calves about with protective parents. The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 makes it an offence for any dog to be at large (i.e. not on a lead or under close control) in a field of livestock or be chasing or attacking livestock. Farmers can legally shoot a dog that they feel is causing their herd or flock distress!

Many cats are natural hunters and there is little you can do to stop them doing what comes instinctively to them (collars with bells may work for some cats but mine is still able to catch birds with a very loud bell on his collar!). At this time of year there are lots of newborn rodents, birds and bunnies around, which can make easy prey for even the laziest hunter. If you have a cat that likes to hunt make sure his or her worming treatments are up to date.

Useful Links

Poisonous plants and household substances – Dogs Trust

Poisonous plants – International Cat Care

Poisonous plants – House Rabbit Society


From 6th April 2016, all dogs and puppies of 8 weeks and older in England, must be microchipped and registered on an approved database.

  • Any dog owners who are found not to have had their dog microchipped and registered on an approved database may be served with a notice.
  • If the owner/keeper does not microchip their dog within 21 days of the served notice, then they will be liable to pay a fine of £500.
  • These regulations will be enforced by local authorities, police constables and community support officers, NOT veterinary staff.

As the owner/keeper of the dog it is your responsibility to ensure that your dog is microchipped and that your contact details such as your home address, phone numbers and email address (if you have one)  are kept up to date.

If You Breed A Litter Of Puppies

From 6th April 2016, it will be illegal to sell a puppy that has not been microchipped and registered by the time it is 8 weeks old.

  • If you breed a litter of puppies, whether they are planned or accidental, you must have them all microchipped and registered before they go to their new homes.
  • You will need to supply a transfer of keeper form to the new owners of the puppy which can be found on the website of database company for the microchips that have been used. For example, if your puppies are microchipped by Castle Vets, you will find the Transfer of Keeper form on the Petlog website


Buying or Rehoming A Puppy or A Dog

If you buy or offer a new home to a puppy or dog, the breeder, rescue centre or previous owner should have had them microchipped. They will supply a Transfer of Keeper form so that you can change the information held on the database into your name and details.

Remember that it will be illegal for a breeder of the litter to sell/rehome a puppy that has not been microchipped and registered on an approved database.

If your dog is already microchipped

I recommend that if your dog is already microchipped, you contact your microchip database company to ensure that your contact details such as your home address, phone number and email address are up to date.

The Chip It Check It website has lots of information for both pet owners and breeders. You can also enter your pet’s microchip number into this website to find out which database your pet’s information is held on.

If your dog has a foreign microchip number, you may need to register him or her on a microchip database in the UK.

Identification (Control of Dogs Order)

Your dog must wear an identity disk or tag on his or her collar or harness while in a public place i.e. anywhere outside your property. Even if your dog is microchipped, this law still applies.

  • The tag must have, at the very least, your surname and address on it; a contact telephone number is optional.
  • There is a fine of up to £5000 that may be given if your dog is in a public place and not wearing some form of identification. This applies regardless of whether you are with your dog or not.

Dog Law ID Tag

Who Can Implant A Microchip?

Microchip implantation can be performed by a qualified veterinary nurse or vet during a routine consultation, or by a student veterinary nurse under direct supervision of a qualified nurse or vet.

They can also be implanted by someone who has completed a training course and been assessed and certificated in microchip implantation techniques.

How Much Will A Microchip Cost?

Most Microchip implanters charge between £9.00 and £25.00 to microchip a pet.

The implanter should register your pet’s details with the database for you when your pet is microchipped.

The Microchip database company may offer you an optional extended membership for around £16.00, which will enable you to log in and change your contact details at any time.

Will It Hurt and Is It Safe?

Some animals may feel a slight and temporary discomfort during the procedure, but this is far outweighed by the benefits of having a microchip. Most animals do not react at all.
The material that surrounds the microchip is bio-compatible, which means that it is non toxic and should not do any damage to your pet’s body or cause any kind of allergic reaction.


Further Information

If you would like to have your pet microchipped or have any questions, then please contact your veterinary practice to make an appointment or talk to them over the phone. You could also read:

The importance of Microchipping your pet

How Microchips Work

Dog Breeder’s Guide To Microchipping

Approved Microchip Registration Database companies

There are currently several microchip databases operating in the UK. When a pet is microchipped, registration paperwork is supplied and should provide the information you need to know about the database your pet is registered with.