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Dog Advice

Advice from our team on caring for your dog

  • Oral Hygiene
  • Feeding
  • Microchipping
  • Neutering
  • Flea and Tick Treatment
  • Worming
  • Vaccinations

Oral Hygiene

Oral Hygiene in Dogs

Your dog's oral hygiene is an important part of good health. Your pet uses its teeth for eating, chewing and picking up toys to play with, all of which can have negative effects on oral hygiene. There are many pet products available that can be used to maintain your dog's oral hygiene that are safe and easy to use.

Poor oral hygiene can lead to abscessed or loose teeth, each of which may be very painful. Just like human teeth, your dog's teeth are prone to excess plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Too much plaque can cause bacterial infections and may lead to liver, heart, or kidney failure. These serious conditions can be prevented by cleaning or brushing your pet's teeth on a regular basis.

How can I maintain my dog’s oral hygiene?

Tooth brushing 

This is the gold standard of dental care for your dog. Ideally this should be done twice daily much like you do yourself. You can buy finger brushes or specially designed canine brushes and toothpaste from your vet to brush your dog’s teeth with. Do not expect to be able to brush your dog's teeth fully the first time. Start with the toothbrush and wet it with water only to allow your dog to get used to it being in his or her mouth. After a few short sessions start gentle brushing movements, and once this is accepted dog toothpaste can be used. The main rule is to go for very short frequent sessions on a regular basis and it may take 4-6 weeks of patient and diligent work before your dog fully accepts teeth brushing. Once this is achieved it is a great way of making sure your dog's teeth and gums stay healthy - and his or her breath smells fresher!


The main objective of feeding your dog should be to keep them fit and healthy. Like us, dogs need a balanced diet. The right diet will contain the balance of nutrients that your dog needs to remain in peak condition. Nutrients provide the energy, vitamins and minerals that are essential to health, and the diet you feed should not only be nutritious, but also tasty and satisfying. With all the choice that is available, we hope that the following information will help you to make an informed decision about what to feed your dog.

Before we go any further, it is worth emphasising that water is an essential part of any diet, and a constant supply of fresh, clean water should be available to your pet at all times.

Remember also that any change of diet should be made gradually over several days, to reduce the risk of a digestive upset.

What diet should I choose?

There are many different pet foods available in many different forms. A good place to start is to select a ‘complete’ food for your dog. Complete diets may be in wet (tins, pouches) or dry (biscuits, kibble, meal) form. Whether to feed a wet or dry food is a matter of preference, although dry food is more convenient, less messy and less smelly. Dry food is also thought to help reduce the build-up of plaque on teeth.

Whatever you choose, it is important to check the ingredients. Meat should be the main ingredient. ‘Fillers’ are often used, and should be avoided. A common filler is starch, which holds little nutritional value - soya and wheat are sometimes used, but are difficult for dogs to digest.

Life-stage feeding

As well as being complete, it is advisable that your dog’s diet is designed to suit its life-stage. Dietary requirements vary with age, activity level and reproductive status (whether your dog is neutered or entire, pregnant or lactating).

It is important to establish good nutrition from the start of your puppy’s life. Growing puppies up to one year old have greater energy requirements than do adult dogs. A good quality complete diet formulated for puppies is the best choice, as it will provide the balanced nutrition and energy that your puppy needs. Puppies need two to four meals a day to avoid overloading their systems with larger, less frequent meals, and to keep energy levels constant.

Breed should also be a factor in your choice of puppy food. Large breed puppies are at risk of developing skeletal problems if they are overfed. A diet formulated specifically for large breed puppies will provide the nutrients required within the correct limits, whilst satisfying a big appetite.

A good quality complete adult diet is suitable for most adult dogs (one to six years old). At this stage, feeding one or two meals per day is appropriate. After neutering however, dogs’ energy requirements are reduced, and a diet for neutered dogs is the ideal choice. This food is lower in calories, helping to prevent weight gain and to keep your dog in peak condition.

Working dogs and those with particularly high activity levels may benefit from an energy-dense performance food to ensure they remain in top condition. During pregnancy and lactation, bitches’ energy requirements are much increased. To accommodate this, a good quality puppy food with higher energy content should be fed.

Dogs that are older than seven years may have altered dietary needs, and will benefit from a diet aimed at mature or senior pets. Such diets allow for the reduced activity levels of older animals by being lower in calories whilst still providing all the nutrients your dog requires. Other mature pets may have reduced appetite, perhaps due to dental disease or underlying health problems. It is important to monitor appetite and pick up problems early.


If your pet goes missing, it is unlikely to find its way home. With microchipping anyone who finds your pet can have it scanned and quickly on its way back to you. It is worth noting that from April 2016, microchipping will become compulsory, and breeders selling puppies must ensure that this is done before they are 8 weeks old.

Every year more than 300,000 treasured pets get lost or go missing. That’s why we recommend having your pet microchipped to give your pet the best possible chance of being reunited with you.  

Our practice use Tracer Advance microchips. Tracer Advance is the most comprehensive animal identification system available in the UK. Tracer Advance is the most commonly used and trusted microchip within the veterinary profession.

Tracer Advance is a tiny microchip, hardly bigger than a grain of rice. Unlike other glass chips, Tracer Advance is encased in a unique bio-polymer material which is ten times stronger than glass and is designed to sit comfortably under your pet's skin.

How is it implanted?

Having a microchip implanted is just like a normal injection. It is implanted under the loose skin of the neck.  

How long does it last?

Microchips are invisible and can't be tampered with. Once it is implanted it lasts a lifetime.

How does it work?

If your pet goes missing, most vets, animal charities and local authorities have microchip readers, so when someone finds your pet they can read the microchip's 15 digit code easily. This identifies your pet on the secure petlog database, where all your microchip details and contact details are registered. The database is accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.


What is Neutering?
Neutering is the surgical removal of the testicles of a male animal (also called castration) or the ovaries and uterus (womb) of a female animal (also called spaying).

Why should I get my pet neutered?

Male Dogs:
• Reproductive control – helps reduce the number of unwanted puppies
• Behavioural control – decreased aggression, particularly towards other dogs
• Stops roaming in search of a bitch in heat, and as a result reduces the risk of becoming lost, stolen or being involved in a traffic accident
• Reduced risk of prostate disease and eliminates the risk of testicular cancer

Female Dogs (Bitches):
• Reproductive control – helps reduce the number of unwanted puppies
• No need to deal with the problems of a bitch in heat, a pregnant bitch or find homes for pups
• Eliminates the risk of pyometra (a nasty infection of the womb), false pregnancy, ovarian and uterine cancers
• Reduces the risk of developing mammary tumours (breast cancer) if bitches are neutered at a young age.

What age can I get my pet neutered?
Male dogs can be neutered from 6 months of age. In very large breed dogs, we sometimes wait till they’re a bit older. Please contact us for advice if you’re unsure. Bitches are usually neutered from 3 months after their first heat. A bitch does NOT need to have a litter of pups before being neutered.

What is involved in having my pet neutered?
We carry out routine operations (including neutering) every day Monday to Friday. You can book the operation by contacting our reception to make an appointment. Your dog needs to be fasted from 7pm the evening before the operation. This is important as it prevents vomiting during the operation and recovery time. Water can be left with your pet overnight. 

Neutering is a day procedure so animals are admitted first thing in the morning and will usually go home that afternoon or evening. A nurse will admit your dog and go through the consent form with you. At this time you will have the option of a pre-anaesthetic blood test which checks liver and kidney function as well as protein and glucose levels. We recommend that all older animals are tested (dogs over 7 years) as well as any animal with known health problems. However, very occasionally we do diagnose problems such as kidney disease even in young, apparently healthy animals.

Your pet will be weighed, anaesthetised and the surgical site clipped and cleaned before the vet carries out the operation. Your pet will recover in a warm cosy kennel under close supervision and once he/she is well awake will be offered some food and water.

Once we are satisfied that your pet is awake enough to go home, a nurse will discharge it. The nurse will explain how to care for your pet following its operation, inform you when you need to bring your pet back for a check-up, and explain any medication that has been prescribed. All dogs go home wearing a Buster collar to prevent them interfering with the wound. It is really important that this stays on at all times to prevent wound infection and animals taking their own stitches out ! Dogs need to be kept quiet and walked on a lead only for 10-14 days. Most animals will be a bit sleepy for 24 hours following the surgery but will usually be back to their normal selves afterwards.

Are there any risks associated with neutering?
No anaesthetic or surgical procedure is completely risk-free and neutering is quite a major operation particularly for females. However, these are routine procedures which we are very experienced at performing, done on healthy (and often young) pets. A vet will examine your pet on the day of the surgery, and we choose our sedation and anaesthetic drugs carefully to suit the individual patient. We use very modern gas anaesthetics which allow good control over the anaesthetic and a nurse will closely monitor your pet throughout the operation and recovery time. Carrying out pre-anaesthetic blood tests help us identify problems in advance and any longer operations are put on an intravenous fluid drip. After the operation, it is important to regularly check your pet’s wound for any sign of swelling, redness or discharge and contact us if you have any concerns. Thankfully complications are extremely rare and most people find their pet is back to normal within a week of the operation.

Flea and Tick Treatment

Why treat for Fleas and Ticks?

Both fleas and ticks can cause disease in our pets such as skin disease, tapeworm infection and in the case of ticks, Lyme disease. Both fleas and ticks can bite humans.

What are fleas?

Fleas are small, black insects about 2 mm in length. They live in the bedding and coats of animals and feed on their blood.

How can I tell if my animal has fleas?

Close examination of your pet may reveal small, black insects moving rapidly through their coat. If there are few fleas present, “flea dirt” may be evident which will appear as small, black specks. To check for flea dirt, place the black specks on a wet piece of cotton wool. The dirt will turn red as the blood pigment dissolves. In cases where the dog has a lot of fleas, owners may get flea bites. Treatment of the dog to kill fleas will solve the problem in most cases. It is important to treat all dogs and cats in the household with an appropriate flea product, but also to wash their bedding and treat the animal's environment as well. This is because fleas do not live on the dog all the time and can be found in areas where pets tend to spend their time such as bedding, carpets, chairs and beds. The eggs are often laid in these areas and as the life stages of the flea developed this increases the population of fleas in the house. Using a product which kills flea larvae and fleas in the environment is an important part of flea control management. Ask a member of our staff for further advice if required.

What are ticks?

Ticks are a small rounded parasites which belong to the arachnid family. They attach to the coat or fleece of animals as they brush against grass or bushes, and then burrow their mouthparts into the skin to have a blood meal over the next few days. They vary in size when engorged and can reach the size of a pea. Peak activity is between the months of March to June and from August to November. They are commonly found in areas of grassland and moorland.

How can I tell if my dog has ticks?

Often found on the head, armpit and groin areas. They are seen varying in size from very small 2mm to large pea sizes, colour varying from orange/red to grey/brown. Often mistaken to be a wart or growth.

What treatments are available for my dog?

The following products are available in the practice. Selection should be based on age of animal, other pets in house, environment, and lifestyle.


Why should I routinely worm my pet?

Even if your pets look healthy they can potentially be harbouring worms. Worms carried by cats and dogs pose a health risk to humans as well as animals. Using a wormer bought at the practice regularly can ensure that your pets and family remain protected from worms.

What worms will my pet be protected against?

Dogs can be carriers of tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and heartworms (currenlty not in the UK). All of which can be treated if you purchase a wormer from the practice.

How is my pet wormed?

Dogs can be wormed using a small palatable tablet or liquid. There is also a spot on option for cats.

When should I worm my pet?

Puppies can be wormed at two weeks of age or once they are more than 1kg. Worming then continues monthly until six months of age. From six months of age we advise that worming continues to be given every three months for most dogs. If you are not sure how often to worm your dog please consult a member of staff.

How can I spread the cost of my wormer?

The practice offers a Pet Health Club where the cost of wormer and other preventative health care products and procedures can be spread. 


Why should I vaccinate my pet?

There are a number of infectious and potentially fatal diseases that can affect your pet. Many of these diseases have no effective treatment. The best and simplest way to protect your pet from these conditions is by vaccination. Disease is spread via animal to animal contact by means of body fluids such as urine, saliva and faeces. Disease can also be spread by an uninfected animal coming into contact with an object that an infected animal has touched such as a water bowl, food bowl or even a lamp post. Contrary to belief, disease is not only spread in areas where there are a large concentration of animals such as a kennels or a cattery but can be spread outside on a walk. 

If you are thinking of booking your pet into kennels or a cattery they will have to be fully vaccinated; including kennel cough for dogs. The kennels or cattery will ask for proof that your pet is vaccinated so remember to bring your vaccination card with you to the surgery so that we can keep it up to date.

When my dog is vaccinated what diseases will it be protected from? 

Parvovirus -this common and potentially fatal disease damages the lining of the gut resulting in vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Young pups in particular are at risk of dehydration and death.

Distemper -although thankfully now uncommon in the UK, distemper is a serious disease causing immune-suppression and resulting in respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurological disease.

Leptospirosis -spread in urine, this nasty disease can affect dogs, rats, cattle and humans (Weil's disease) causing kidney and liver problems.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis -a viral infection attacking the immune system and liver causing fever, jaundice and abdominal pain.

Kennel Cough (Infectious Canine Bronchitis) -may be picked up through any contact with other dogs, although kennelling does increase the risk of spread. The symptoms are a dry hacking cough which is often described as sounding like the dog has something stuck in its throat.

How are vaccinations given to my pet?

Vaccinations are given via injection, just under the skin. The process is over very quickly and with a few treats, your pet may not even notice!

Kennel cough vaccination involves a small amount of vaccine trickled into your dog’s nose. Kennel cough vaccine should be given at least 72 hours before going into kennels.

Are there any risks associated with vaccination?

Small skin reactions to the vaccine just around the site of injection are not uncommon. These usually go away within a couple of days. Your pet may also be slightly subdued after vaccination, this will also subside within a day. Complete vaccine reactions are very rare but if you suspect that your pet is unwell after vaccination, contact the surgery.

At what age should I have my pet vaccinated?

We recommend that your new puppy is given their first vaccination and health check by a veterinary surgeon at, or soon after seven weeks of age. Second vaccination is then given two to four weeks later(the puppy must be 10 weeks of age or older) and this is an ideal opportunity to have your pet microchipped and to take advantage of our offer of four weeks free insurance with Pet Plan.

How often should I have my pet vaccinated?

Vaccination is not only a chance to protect your beloved pet against some nasty diseases but also an opportunity for a thorough check-over by a vet and to discuss health, behaviour or dietary concerns. There has been some debate in recent years about over-vaccination of pets. Our advice following consultation with vets from the vaccine manufacturers, is for certain components of the vaccine to be given only every 3 years. However, some components need to be boostered annually to ensure adequate protection and so an annual health check and vaccination is still advised. If you have any questions regarding vaccination, please speak to one of our vets.

How can I spread the cost of vaccinations for my dog or cat?

The practice offers a Pet Health Plan where the cost of vaccines and other preventative health care products and procedures can be spread. See our Pet Health Plan page for more details.

Practice information

Struthers & Scott

  • Mon
    8:00am - 7:00pm
  • Tue
    8:00am - 7:00pm
  • Wed
    8:00am - 7:00pm
  • Thu
    8:00am - 7:00pm
  • Fri
    8:00am - 6:00pm
  • Sat
    8:30am - 12:00pm
  • Sun

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Struthers & Scott Veterinary Practice Innes Park Station Wynd Doune Perthshire FK16 6EH
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