Posts by Bay Vets

Problems With Hairballs


This article is taken from a series we publish in the Lancaster District Magazine

The Text Version of the article is below.

The PDF version can be viewed / downloaded  here >> Problems With Hairballs

Potentially any animal can be susceptible to hairballs developing
in their gut, but cats being fastidious groomers are well renowned for regurgitating hairballs at the most inconvenient time and place.

For those lucky enough to have been groomed personally by their cat will
have noted a cat’s tongue is unlike our own. The surface of the cat’s tongue is covered by projections called papillae. In the middle of the tongue, the papillae are large, spiny and point towards the back of the mouth. When your cat grooms their coat, they will naturally ingest a small amount of the fur that they lick.

The amount of hair ingested is actually fairly minimal and is mostly passed naturally in faeces. However, sometimes the hair that remains in the stomach forms a big matted knot, which is what we know as a hairball. Hairballs can be quite rm and hard if they have formed over a long period of time, and can potentially cause a blockage within your cat’s digestive tract or intestine. A hairball in your cat’s vomit will generally be sausage-shaped rather than round, and normally dark in colour.

Most cats will form a hairball at some stage of their lives. Cats that over-groom are particularly at risk of problematic hairballs and long-haired cats are likely to develop hairballs more regularly than short-haired breeds. A problem can potentially develop if your cat has a hairball in their stomach or intestine but is unable to regurgitate it themselves. It is thought that grass eating in cats can be connected to being able to regurgitate hairballs and is actually a good thing and something that your cat simply knows is necessary now and then, so if you nd your cat eating grass and later vomiting, don’t be too distressed!

Problematic hairballs

If you are concerned that your cat has a hairball in their stomach that they are unable to pass naturally, it’s important to seek veterinary help right away. Your vet will perform some diagnostic tests and possibly an x-ray, to discern the presence of a hairball or other mass, and they may opt to remove it surgically or attempt to ease its passage by administering various medications.

Some of the main signs and symptoms of a potentially problematic hairball in your cat include:

  • Persistent vomiting, retching or coughing without producing a hairball
  • Constipation
  • Lack of appetite
  • General depression
  • Lethargy and unwillingness to move about
  • Discomfort in the stomach or abdominal area.


Generally, you won’t need to do anything, as most cats manage their own hairballs without a problem. All cats will regurgitate a hairball every now and then, and this is normal. However, if your cat is regurgitating hairballs regularly, appears to be having problems bringing them up or has had previous issues with hairballs that have required veterinary treatment,

these preventative measures can minimise the chances of hairballs developing.

Feed a special anti-hairball cat food, which your vet can advise you on. Anti-hairball diets contain a mix of fibres which stimulate normal peristalsis and promote faecal hairball elimination.

Groom your cat’s coat on a daily basis to remove as much loose or shed hair as possible. This is particularly important with long-haired cats and around the changing of the seasons when cats naturally shed more.

Consider using a special hairball treatment or supplement every now and then in consultation with your vet.

Keep an eye open for over grooming and try to identify the potential causes and solutions.

Fly strike

This article is taken from a series we publish in the Lancaster District Magazine

The Text Version of the article is below.

The PDF version can be viewed / downloaded  here >> FLY STRIKE


Any animal can suffer from fly strike (or being fly-blown) and describes an animal affected by a maggot infestation. We commonly see it in rabbits and hedgehogs.

Flies pose a huge risk for rabbits during the warmer weather, although, healthy rabbits are generally not affected by y strike. The main problems that lead to the condition include:


– a rabbit which is physically unable or too fat to groom its rear end of normal caecotrophs (moist ‘faeces’)

– a rabbit that is suffering from ‘diarrhoea’ or urinary problems and has matted and soiled fur around the bottom


These conditions attract flies who consider these to be ideal sites to lay their eggs and in a very short time, these eggs will hatch out as esh eating maggots. The maggots can cause a tremendous amount of d.amage within hours as they eat through the tissues. This is a serious, often fatal condition and quick veterinary attention is required.


The key factors in preventing y strike are to ensure that bedding is dry, that the rabbit does not have any wounds or ulcerated areas of skin and that there are no problems to prevent grooming.

Grooming problems can be due to:

– Dental disease: An animal which has sharp hooks on its molar or cheek teeth will not want to groom since these hooks cause pain when the rabbit extends its tongue to groom in the normal manner. Similarly, overgrown incisor teeth (at the front of the mouth) will impede grooming. Your rabbit’s teeth should be checked regularly by your veterinary surgeon and appropriate treatment given if necessary.

– Back problems: Arthritic pain or spinal injury may prevent your rabbit from being able to turn round to groom properly.

– Obesity: It is important to get your rabbit’s diet right with 80% of the diet consisting of hay or grass and a carefully measured daily portion of a pellet style rabbit food (not muesli-style)

Check your rabbit thoroughly TWICE a day during the summer months for eggs and/or maggots. Rearguard is a liquid that prevents the maggots from developing to the stage that causes damage to the rabbit. Regularly apply the contents of a bottle to your rabbit’s hindquarters for 10 weeks of protection.


The animal will need to be sedated or anaesthetised so that all the maggots can be removed. Your rabbit will be hospitalised, medicated and kept warm and comfortable. Such intensive care may cure your rabbit of the maggot infestation but in severe cases, extensive surgery may be needed to remove all the dead maggot-ridden tissue. It will also be necessary to overcome the original problems which led to they strike

Remember to take your rabbit for regular (maybe twice yearly) routine health checks, to ensure that dental disease or back problems are not predisposing your rabbit to this dangerous condition. Ensure their housing is dry and well aired and be vigilant!

Remember to take your rabbit for regular routine health checks, to ensure that dental disease or back problems are not predisposing your rabbit to this dangerous condition.


This article is taken from a series we publish in the Lancaster District Magazine

The Text Version of the article is below.

The PDF version can be viewed / downloaded  here >> BUNNY HEALTH


An article about rabbit health would be unworthy if the importance of diet (hay, more hay, 80% hay) and the need to maintain gut motility by eating went unmentioned! This article, however,
will focus on contagious diseases which usually leads to rabbits’ early demise. Fortunately, vaccinations are available for the main killers, but they do need to be given annually.


Deliberately introduced in the 1950s as an effective rabbit control measure this disease causes skin lesions, swelling of the head and genitals, acute conjunctivitis and blindness. Rabbits become lethargic, lose appetite and develop a fever. Secondary bacterial infections occur in most cases and death within 14 days is common.

The disease is spread by direct contact with affected rabbits or insect bites ( eas, midges and mosquitoes) and there is no treatment. Palliative nursing care and treatment of infections to ease suffering can in some cases be given, but more often than not euthanasia is advised. Prevention is key – annual injections are given to protect from the virus taking hold and provides the ideal opportunity for a thorough health check.


VHD is a highly contagious disease caused by a calicivirus affecting wild and domesticated rabbits. It is a swift and sudden killer, giving little warning. Rabbits may die without showing any symptoms at all. Some bleeding from the nose, mouth, and rectum is sometimes seen. The death rate of rabbits exposed
to the virus is high and the few rabbits that survive are carriers that can shed the virus for at least 42 days. The virus is hardy, remaining viable in the environment for up to 12 months – longer in low temperatures and resists freezing. Symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, high fever, spasm, and sudden death.

It can be spread by contact with inanimate objects contaminated by the virus (bedding, bowls, bottles, feed, clothing, shoes, tyres); direct contact with another infected rabbit or their faeces; indirect contact by insects, birds, and animals such as rodents that transfer the disease between rabbits.

For many years a vaccine for VHD-1 has been available as part of a combined injection given with the annual myxomatosis vaccine. However, a second, newer strain of the disease, VHD- 2, was identified in France in 2010 and 2013 in the UK. A separate, additional vaccination should be given to help protect against this strain of the disease. It is thought we are seeing a greater number of deaths in the UK from the second strain VHD. This might reflect the fact that VHD-2 kills rabbits more slowly (seemingly over a 3-day period), giving the disease more time to

spread than VHD-1 (which was more likely to kill rabbits before they could pass it on), and so it spreads further.


E cuniculi is a microscopic brain and kidney protozoal parasite infection. It is widespread but despite around half of all pet rabbits carrying the infection, only a small proportion of these cases ever show any illness. Some rabbits carry the parasite without ever becoming ill whilst others show a range of symptoms.

Signs of infection include a head tilt to one side; eyes tracking side to side or up and down; paralysis, shuffling or weakness on back legs; uncontrollable spinning or rolling; unexplained changes including seizures, deafness, cataracts or behavioral changes; drinking and urinating more than usual.

Fenbendazole is the active ingredient used to rid your rabbit of intestinal worms and needs to be given orally every day for a 28 day period when E cuniculi is suspected. We do not recommend routine worming to prevent E cuniculi as, like any drug, it can be harmful and should only be used when necessary.

It should be noted that some rabbits do not respond to treatment or have a partial response and are left with some central nervous system changes, for example, a permanent head tilt. Some owners may choose euthanasia due to unresolvable conditions like urine scald or lack of mobility.

The prognosis of E cuniculi in rabbits will vary greatly depending upon the severity and the condition of the individual rabbit. Prognosis can be good if the rabbit is treated early and responds well to the chosen therapy. Disinfecting your rabbit’s environment is crucial.

Could Your Pet be a Blood Donor

This article is taken from a series we publish in the Lancaster District Magazine

The Text Version of the article is below.

The PDF version can be viewed / downloaded  here Could Your Pet be a Blood Donor

Pet Blood Bank UK is the only charity that provides a canine blood bank service for all veterinary practitioners across the UK.

Similar to the human blood service, dog owners kindly bring along their much loved canine companions to give blood at one of our many sessions across the country. Find out more about your dog giving blood and the difference they can make.


Did you know seriously ill dogs and cats require blood transfusions from time to time? Transfusions are recommended for a number of different conditions including:

Severe anaemia cases such as Immune Mediated Haemolytic Anaemia (IMHA),

Following a splenectomy (removal of the spleen) To replace blood loss following trauma

To replace blood in patients with blood clotting disorders (haemophilia)


Whole blood can be transferred directly from donor to patient. Whole blood is transfused when platelets, that are responsible for blood clotting, are needed. However, often only red cells or plasma components are needed

so the blood is divided into components. This way, one unit of whole blood can be used to potentially save between two and four dogs.

Frozen plasma has a longer shelf life than whole blood and can be stored for up to ve years. Red blood cells are refrigerated and can be stored for up to six weeks.

Like us, dogs have different blood types and in the UK we test for DEA 1 Negative and Positive.


Pet Blood Bank UK is a charity that provides a canine blood bank service for veterinary practitioners across the UK. Similar to the human blood service, dog owners bring along their dogs to give blood at one of many sessions across the country, including sessions at our Bay Vets’ surgery in Lancaster. The blood is then processed to separate it into red blood cells and plasma products before storing ready for despatch.

With only 30% of donors being Negative blood type, keeping up with demand can be challenging. Certain breeds are more likely to be Negative – Dobermanns, Greyhounds, Boxers, German Shepherds, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Airedale Terriers, Weimaraners, Lurchers, American Bulldogs, Pointer (English) and English Bull Terriers.

Whatever the breed (not just those listed) a canine blood donor needs to be:

Fit and healthy
Between one and eight years old Weigh more than 25kg
Have a good temperament
Have never traveled abroad Vaccinated
Not on any medication

The health and well-being of donors is paramount. Donor dogs get a health and suitability check by a vet and small blood samples tested before donating about 450 ml of your dog’s blood. After donating, just like with human sessions, dogs get a drink and something to eat. A quiet remainder of the day is advised and then donors can go back to their normal routine the following day.

Celebrating Cat Friendly Month at Bay Vets Ltd


To celebrate International Cat Day on 8th August, here at Bay Vets we will be hosting “FREE Cat Health Checks” for the week of 7th August. Appointments will be made with a Veterinary Nurse and all aspects of health and hygiene will be checked. A free goody bag will also be given to each attendee. This also gives you the option to ask your veterinary team regarding any questions you may have.

Bay Vets Ltd are an accredited Cat Friendly practice, awarded with the ISFM (International Cat Care). We have two cat advocates being Jo McCartney who is an RVN at our Lancaster surgery along with our Senior Receptionist Diane who works between our Morecambe & Lancaster surgery. Both ladies are available for help and advice on your cats health or behaviour.


Throughout the month of August we will be sharing information, tips and advice on social media regarding cat health & behaviour.

Follow us on social media to keep up to date with this months activity or why not pop into your nearest surgery.









For the month of July we will be sharing information on the importance of pet vaccinations and how vital these are to your pets health.


We see dogs and cats contracting these serious illnesses in this area every year. Prior to vaccination these illnesses were commonly found and can be fatal. It is due to vaccination that they are now less common. Your pet will need yearly vaccines to be allowed into kennels/cattery and will receive a full health check during the same appointment.

Here’s some questions and answers we hear regularly which may help you with your own questions.

“ My pet is too old to vaccinate”

The illnesses we vaccinate against are the most serious/fatal to either old or young pets so we must continue to vaccinate despite their age.

“ I have read that vaccines don’t need to be done yearly”

  • Your dog is not vaccinated for the same thing every year
  • Viruses change (like flu) regular vaccinations keep your pet covered for all strains
  • In areas with low vaccination rates these diseases are still prevalent and your dog can easily contract these viruses if un-vaccinated

“ Will my pet be poorly after vaccination?”

Vaccines are incredibly safe therefore most pets will be fine. Some can feel a little off colour for 24hrs as we often do after Flu vaccination. Occasionally a small nodule will appear at the vaccine site but will disperse over a few days. The vet will give your pet a full health check before vaccination.

“My dog doesn’t go into kennels does it need kennel cough vaccine?”

Kennel cough is airborne and can be contracted when in close contact with other dogs. Dogs that have kennel cough can spread the virus for a few weeks after they stop coughing, so it is difficult to distinguish. If your dog is going to training classes or     mixing in areas where other dogs have been they are at high risk.

“ My cat is an indoor cat, it doesn’t need vaccinations”

60-80% of cats have one or more of the “Flu” viruses in their body. They can catch it from their mother when young. In adult cats it can be spread through contact with other cats (un-vaccinated cats spread much more virus than vaccinated ones) or through sharing feeding or litter areas. We vaccinate against flue to remind the body to keep it under control rather than to prevent them from catching it. Leukaemia vaccination is optional but is highly recommended if any of your cats in the household go outdoors. For this reason, it is advisable to vaccinate indoor & outdoor cats against flu. Enteritis is a horrible disease that is important to prevent as most infected cats will die from this disease.



Venturing outdoors for the first time

One of the first and most important things to consider before letting your cat outdoors is to ensure that they have some form of identification, ideally cats should be microchipped or at least be wearing a safety collar with an Id tag.

Risk of infection due to interacting with other cats is now possible, nasty conditions such as enteritis, cat flu and leukaemia can be spread so it is advisable that your cat is fully up to date with their vaccinations before allowing them to explore the outdoors. 

 Whilst your cat is still indoors it is a good time to practice recall, you can encourage this by using a tin with treats inside, shake the tin whilst shouting his/her name. Reward them with a treat when they come to you. Another useful idea is to spread some of their used cat litter around the edges of your garden, cats as we know are extremely sensitive to smells and this familiar smell may help them to feel safe and help with confidence. As well as informing neighbouring cats there’s a new cat in the area.

Cats are cautious by nature, so it’s unlikely they will bolt straight out the door. Most will take their time deciding if it’s safe or not. Do not pick them up and take into the garden be patient. 

Choose a quiet time of day preferably when the weather is dry. Do not feed your cat as they tend not to roam very far on an empty belly. 

Open your door and accompany your cat outside, leave the door open so they can retreat quickly to what they know as a safe haven if they feel the need to. Do not be alarmed if they disappear into a nearby bush this is actually a normal strategy in order for them to acclimatise to a new environment. After approximately 20 mins call your cat indoors using your tin if necessary.

As each day passes your cat will gain more confidence staying outside for longer periods at one time, learning and having fun displaying their natural behaviour.


Blog post written by RVN & Cat Advocate of Bay Vets, Jo McCartney.



To celebrate Rabbit Awareness Week (17th-25th June) here at Bay Vets, we will be holding FREE Rabbit Health Checks for the whole month of June.

What is RAW 2017?
This year’s Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) is running from June 17th -25th, and this year we will be addressing the fact that rabbits remain one of the most misunderstood pets in the UK.

The key issue for the 2017 campaign is the lack of pet owner understanding around the importance of a hay-led, fibre-rich diet in supporting good digestive health, dental health and behavior, after the news that only 30% of owners report that their rabbits have constant access to fresh feeding hay for eating.

For more information speak to your nearest Bay Vets surgery to book in for a FREE rabbit health check.

Celebrating “Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month”


Throughout the month of May we will be sharing advice about each and every service our amazing Nurses provide here at Bay Vets!

Veterinary nurses play an important role in the care of your pet, and are a vital member of the veterinary team. They carry out technical work and are skilled in undertaking a range of diagnostic tests, medical treatments and minor surgical procedures, under veterinary surgeon direction.

Veterinary nurses also advise on keeping pets healthy and in many practices run their own nursing consultations and out-patient checks.

Take a look at just how skilled our nursing team are here at Bay Vets by visiting the following webpage: //

The Easter Bunnies words of wisdom…



Spring is in the air, the lambs are in the fields and the vet poison line
is back in business- yes Easter has arrived. So whilst most pets choose to
enjoy the sprinkles of sunshine, binkies in the garden and long sunny walks
there are always that small handful that like to cause a bit of carnage!!

So how can you stop this from happening?

Yes we can ban Easter eggs from the house – but we need our chocolate fix
to get through the bank holiday.

  • The Easter Egg Hunt
    These are always a lot of fun but remember Dogs will eat ANYTHING!! The
    plastic eggs are a choking hazard and could also lead to blockages if
    swallowed, hard boiled eggs aren’t dangerous but will spoil after a few
    days. Therefore it is best we give the family dog the best seat in the house whilst the hunt is under way. Make sure all eggs are
    accounted for at the end of the hunt too as we all know that a dog could
    find a bone shaped needle in a haystack.

    If you are worried your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t for
    example a plastic egg things to look for include;

    Vomiting, usually with abdominal contractions. May be projectile if the
    obstruction is in the upper small intestine.

    Abdominal pain.

    Abdominal distension.


    Loss of appetite.

    Lethargy and Weakness.


    Dogs with partial obstructions may burp and have diarrhoea.

    If you are worried about any of the above symptoms do not hesitate to get
    in touch with us her at

Easter Eggs
We all know not to give dogs chocolate – but somehow every year we get
a few sorry characters coming in to the vets to say bye to what they
have just eaten. Chocolate in a small quantity of course isn’t ideal
but dark chocolate is more hazardous. If your dog consumes an
un-healthy amount of chocolate (along with the packaging, foil, and
what ever else is in the vicinity) please call your vet for advice. We
can reduce the risk of this happening by – Not having chocolate eggs at
all (which is just silly) or sensibly keeping the eggs out of harms
way. From personal experience when it comes to dogs and chocolate –
this means on a very high shelf in the spare room under lock and key!!
It is also important to let children know NOT to give their Easter
treats to pets, there are Easter eggs especially for pets available now
if this makes it easier to get through a vet free Easter.
Dangerous Plants

It is common knowledge that Lilies are fatal if they get in the wrong
paws but did you know a number of spring flowers are also poisonous?
Its almost impossible to keep your pets away from all of these flowers
as they are everywhere at this time of year making us humans smile and
sneeze. Here is a list of flowers harmful to our pets-

Boo hiss I hear you all say!! Fortunately we rarely see cases where these
pretties have been ingested so we can relax as I am sure most houses have a
vase of Daf’s or Tulips. If you are worried your pet may have had a
ravenous run in with any of these flowers please call your vet for further

These on the other hand are like Mr Magregor to Peter Rabbit or Sylvester
to Tweety-pie…


These are highly toxic especially to cats and in most cases can be fatal.
This article by
summarises the risks perfectly.

What we would advise is to not risk it happening – if you have pets DO
NOT have lilies in your house – even if you think they are out of reach
they probably aren’t!!


Say NO to the Easter Bunny!!

All those who know me will know how much I LOVE rabbits and would
always recommend them as the best pets for those who have the time,
knowledge and patience to look after them. Easter time throws all my
eggs out of the basket and I would always say don’t let the season lead
you to make a decision to get a bunny – I mean we don’t all go out at
Christmas and buy ourselves a reindeer!! Rabbits take up a lot of time
every day, they drain the bank, need lots of space to play, lots of
companionship and most of all lots of love!! A lot of animal shelters
halt the adoption of rabbits over the Easter period as people get them
on a whim – I mean I know they are hard to resist – but they are always
there through the year to be rescued!! For more details and advice
Easter toys and decorations

Look deep into my eyes…………..don’t be fooled by my cute exterior
– I am here to cause Easter carnage!! It is the norm these days to go
all out at Easter – there are twiggy trees, hanging decorations,
wreaths, fancy sassy ribbon Easter Eggs, teeny Easter chicks and all
kinds of Easter tom foolery. It may look nice – if you don’t have cats
clawing at everything and dogs chewing and hovering up the mini chicks
– so here is how to make it safe.

Keep twiggy trees and hanging decorations out of the reach of pets –
they are choking hazards and tummy obstructions waiting to happen.

Ribbons can also cause problems as for some reason cats love to chew
and sometimes eat them, these can cause all kinds of problems with
their intestines so we advise ribbons are a NO!!

Make sure any Easter toys you do get your pet are pet friendly and
large enough to not get swallowed.

Easter egg packaging can also cause problems as pets appetites don’t
seem to have filters – again plastic and cardboard can cause blockages
and the foil on the egg can cause tares and further internal damage.
This is the perfect opportunity to make sure the children tidy up after
themselves and use the bin.


We may think pets look adorable in their little fancy dress outfits but
if it is causing to much stress for the animal please STOP!! This cat
is obviously loving life or maybe its part of its eat the Easter bunny

Baby chicks and ducks may seem like the perfect Easter addition, but
think twice before you run off to your local chick-shop! Not only do
these cute babies grow to be large adult animals requiring lots of
care, they can sometimes carry Salmonella and other bacteria which can
be transmitted to your children and other pets. My advice – stuffed
bunnies and bottle brush chicks make much nicer Easter pets.

So I hope if not been to much of a Bad News Bunny!! I hope you and your
pets have a fabulous Easter full of Chocolate for humans and sunshine
dust, spring walks and extra bank holiday days spent with their staff
(for our pets of course.) We are open over the Easter and there is a
vet on call out of hours, hopefully we wont hear from you unless it is
to tell us our huge Easter egg delivery is on its way.
So for now I shall leave you to enjoy………….