Dogs

Must-have exercise and nutrition tips for dogs in Derbyshire

January 21, 2022

Nutrition and exercise go hand in hand when you are trying to lose weight or just live more healthily. At STAR Vet Clinic in Appleby Magna, we love dogs, and we love helping owners improve their dog’s health and happiness. Our team have put together some proactive dog nutrition and exercise tips to help you make a plan.

You can help other dog owners in Derbyshire by sharing your dog wellness tips on our Facebook page:

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10 top tips for creating a dog nutrition & fitness plan

  1. Choose a good quality, nutritionally complete, dry dog food that will support your dog’s health, life-stage, activity levels, and dental health.
  2. Some owners like to add wet food, look for one with good quality ingredients.
  3. Measure/weigh your dog’s food portions to ensure they are getting the right amount for their daily needs. Remember that more exercise may need more food. Ask us if you are unsure.
  4. Ensure your dog drinks plenty of water, you can always put some in with their food.
  5. Reduce treats and switch to healthier options like carrots and cooked green beans.
  6. Write down the exercises you want your dog to do and when, so you have a clear guide to keep you bothon track.
  7. Even if weight loss isn’t the focus, it is a good idea to write down weight goals (lose/gain/maintain) and measure changes every 2 – 4 weeks. This way, you can adjust the exercises or nutrition quickly if any issues arise. Pop into our Atherstone Road practice to get your dog’s starting weight. We can also do a body condition score to understand where your dog is at on the scale – just request a Nurse appointment.
  8. Increase the time, speed, and/or incline of your dog’s daily walk to burn more calories, give muscles more of a workout, and mix-up their regular routine.
  9. Try something new like dog agility if your dog is up to the challenge – be careful with older dogs and take it slow to start with.
  10. Consider a dog fitness app that lets you track routes, activities, and achievements.

Now you are ready to create your dog’s ‘healthier in 2022’ plan.

Don’t forget to make time for rest and recovery in your plan to avoid injury, burnout, or loss of interest for you both. Dogs do need daily exercise, so it is a good idea to do standard walks on some days (or all days if you have a very energetic dog) and try something more up-tempo on others. We hope you enjoy your new plan as much as your dog will!

Call us if you would like more advice or to book a body condition score appointment with our Vet Nurses on 01530 270 170.

Help your friends and family, and other Derbyshire dog owners by either sharing our article on your social media profiles or,

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Caroline shares 7 signs your dog needs to see a Vet Dentist

January 7, 2022

Many owners simply accept that their dogs have stinky ‘dog breath’, it’s just part of owning a dog, right? As February is Pet Dental Health Month, Head Vet Caroline Ward, is here to tell you why bad breath is the most common sign that things aren’t as they should be inside your dog’s mouth.

Book an appointment with our Vet Dentists

Caring for your dog’s teeth

You should ideally care for your dog’s teeth daily, as you would your own, to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. We recommend checking your dog’s teeth regularly for any issues too, as with any health problem it is always better to start treatment early.

Pet Dental Health Month in February shines a spotlight on oral healthcare. At STAR Vet Clinic, we strongly believe that the key to good oral health is owner education, as most of a dog’s dental needs will be taken care of at home. That’s why Caroline is sharing the seven signs that your dog needs to see a Vet Dentist so you know what to look out for:

  1. Bad smelling dog breath
  2. Red gums that may be swollen or bleeding
  3. Build-up of plaque around the gum line (clear/yellow soft substance)
  4. Tartar deposits (hard yellow/brown coating on teeth)
  5. Discoloured, misaligned, or broken teeth
  6. Your dog shows reluctance or aggression when you go near their mouth
  7. Reduced appetite and possible weight loss – this could be related to many other conditions so it is always important to get your dog checked by one of our Vets.

Poor dental health can be painful for your dog and can make it difficult for them to eat and drink. It can also affect their general wellbeing so it is best not to wait if you notice a problem. Contact us about your dog’s teeth.

Why dogs get dental problems

The most common root cause of many dental issues is a build-up of plaque and tartar deposits. Left untreated, they can lead to painful periodontal disease (the name given to any disease of the teeth and surrounding supports i.e. gums, ligaments, and bone.)

Some dogs are predisposed to dental problems. Tooth misalignment is a major issue, as it causes food, dirt, and bacteria to get trapped, making it hard to remove through natural means and home care. Factors for this include short-nosed dog breeds, congenital abnormalities (such as overbite/underbite), trauma, and adult teeth at odd angles due to baby teeth not falling out. Another predisposing factor to dental issues in dogs is an unsuitable diet. Good quality dry food will help to remove plaque. You can also buy specific dental-care dog foods.

Can you improve dog breath smells at home?

Cleaning your dog’s teeth daily is the best action you can take towards achieving good oral health. Combine this with regular dental check-ups, the right food, and dental aids for even better care. However, when there is an underlying problem causing your dog’s bad breath, veterinary intervention is important to help your dog feel and smell better.

Caroline suggests these 5 dental aids:

  • Pet-specific oral gel – to be used with a finger brush or pet toothbrush
  • Dental products that can be mixed into water or sprinkled over food
  • Dental chews can help, but be wary of the calories
  • Carrots make good dental chews in moderation
  • Toys designed to give your dog’s teeth a dental workout

When you book an appointment with one of our Vet Dentists, they can check for any issues and help you put together the best home-care routine for your dog’s dental needs.

Book a dental check-up

Caroline Ward talks overweight dog problems and eco-friendly treats

December 7, 2021

We’re all for new year resolutions that will help pets and planet. Head Vet Caroline Ward and the rest of our dog-loving team in Appleby Magna, have some thought-challenging ideas to share with you on the topic of dog treats.

Before we dig in, if you think your dog could be overweight, our Atherstone Road nursing team can help. Book a weight check and get a body condition score, advice, and support for your dog’s weight-loss journey ahead.

Book a weight check

What are overweight dog problems

Carrying excess weight will affect your dog’s health and quality of life. Overweight dogs can struggle with mobility, sore joints, and injuries. They are also at risk of developing diabetes and other serious health complications. A large contributing factor to weight gain is treats – to be more accurate, people giving dogs treats.

As January is a common time for new year weight-loss resolutions, we thought we’d encourage pet owners to focus on their dog’s weight too… whilst trying to live more sustainably of course. Read Caroline and our team’s top tips below for better treat options.

Seven dog treat ideas for 2022

  1. Dogs don’t ‘need’ treats; there’s an interesting thought! Here’s another – your dog won’t love you any less if you don’t give them a treat. Be more purposeful with them i.e., use treats in training and to reward positive behaviour, such as recall on walks. Keep an eye on how many you’re giving as they quickly add up when you’re having fun.
  2. Your dog will still enjoy a treat if it’s not of the high-calorie, artificially coloured variety. Choose a low-fat dry kibble to use as treats, or, switch to carrots, cucumber, apple (not the core), and other healthy fruit and vegetables that aren’t toxic to dogs. Here’s a guide on fruit & veg your dog can eat from the PDSA.
  3. When buying dog food and treats from a shop check for eco-friendly packaging. Is it recyclable? Is there a better option? Also ask yourself, “does my overweight dog need it?”
  4. Avoid the pick & mix stand in your local pet shop as you can’t always check the ingredients and fat/sugar content and it’s easy to get carried away. If you do use it, take your own tubs.
  5. If you’re switching to carrots and other healthy veg & fruit treats, buy loose items without plastic packaging. Alternatively, why not buy some seeds and grow your own in Derbyshire?
  6. Can you walk to the shop for treats? Lower your carbon footprint and give your overweight dog some exercise. You could also take a backpack to avoid plastic shopping bags.
  7. Have you thought about making dog treats at home? You’d be in control of the ingredients and baking goods often come in recyclable packaging (flour, eggs, etc.). Search for ‘healthy dog treat recipes’ and grab your apron.

If you have any more tips for switching to healthier and more sustainable dog treats, we’d love you to share them on our Facebook page to help other dog owners. Share on Facebook.

Not sure if your dog is overweight? Book a weight check with our Appleby Magna nursing team and let us help you make 2022 a healthier year for your dog.

Book a dog weight check

Dog friendly days out in Derbyshire this December

November 21, 2021

The run-up to Christmas is usually a busy time spent out and about shopping for gifts & decorations and seeing friends & family. But does this mean your dog has to spend more time home alone? Dogs thrive on attention and time with their favourite human companions. A bored and lonely dog can develop behavioural issues like destroying your belongings, excessive barking, and soiling indoors.

The solution? Dog friendly days out!

This way, you can spend time with your dog AND tick off your pre-Christmas to-do-list at the same time. Our Atherstone Road team have listed some ideas for dog friendly places below; it’s a good idea to check the website and reviews to ensure they are dog friendly before setting off.

Share dog friendly places on Facebook

You can help other dog owners in and around Leicestershire, Staffordshire, and North Warwickshire, by sharing your favourite dog friendly days out on our Facebook page.

STAR Vets’ top ideas for places you can take your dog:

  • Cafés, restaurants & pubs – With so many dog-friendly options in Derbyshire, why not persuade your friends to meet you at one of them so your dog can hang out too? Remember though, six hours sat under a table in a rowdy pub while you drink and talk with your friends isn’t ideal either. We suggest reading some reviews first to see if the establishment is a good fit for you all.
  • Pet shops – Pottering around your local pet shop is a great way to make both you and your dog happy. While you’re buying pet products for your dog and as presents for your pet-loving friends, your dog can be basking in the heavenly smells a pet shop has to offer.
  • Garden centres – Many garden centres these days are dog friendly and of course free to visit. You can often get some lovely Christmas gifts there and enjoy some tea & cake. Your dog will enjoy wandering around, taking in the interesting sights and smells.
  • Markets & shops – Some fantastic Christmas gifts can be purchased at outdoor markets. Dogs are normally welcome but be careful if they are wary of large crowds. Plus, we bet there are more dog-friendly shops in Derbyshire than you might think, where you can take your pal for a walk while you shop.
  • Dog parks & countryside walks – Catch up with friends and family by going for a dog walk. Everyone gets some fresh air and exercise, and your dog gets to be by your side.
  • Dog friendly attractions – You may be surprised how many places you can find to take your dog by searching for ‘dog friendly days out near me’. Perfect for that festive fix!
  • Dog friendly holidays – If you’re planning a Christmas break, check out the wide variety of dog friendly accommodation on websites like Airbnb and dogfriendlycottages.co.uk research local dog friendly attractions before you visit too.

To ensure you are welcomed back to these places time and time again, our team recommends:

  1. Cleaning up and disposing of your dog’s poops.
  2. Keeping your dog on a lead (unless you see a sign saying otherwise) and under control.
  3. Being courteous to business owners and other visitors by not letting your dog eat or urinate on any goods, furniture, or decorations.

We hope you enjoy some fun times with your canine companion this Christmas. Don’t forget to share your favourite dog friendly places on our Facebook page.

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If your dog has been spending more time home alone lately and you notice any unusual behaviours, book a Vet appointment with our team.

Christmas foods that are toxic to dogs – a Vet’s guide

November 7, 2021

Should you give your dog human foods like roast dinner, mince pies, Christmas pudding, and trifle? No, is the short answer, as our team of Vets will tell you.

If you think your dog may have eaten something concerning, call us for advice or to arrange emergency care straight away.

Call us on 01530 270 170

Many foods and drinks we consume over Christmas are toxic to dogs. Depending on the item, amount consumed and how long ago, combined with the size and health of your dog, the situation could be life-threatening. To put it into context, a single raisin could potentially kill a dog – they are that toxic.

To help you avoid harmful foods and find treats your dog can have this holiday season, our Appleby Magna Vets have created these lists to help you.

Christmas foods your dog SHOULD NOT eat:

  • Christmas roast dinner – Skinless, plain turkey is fine in small quantities. However, most festive dinners are laden with fat and can include onion (gravy), chives, garlic, pepper, and lots of salt – none of which will do your dog any good. Likewise, your dog shouldn’t chew on cooked bones as these can splinter and damage your pet’s mouth and gut.
  • Pigs in blankets – The sausage meat may contain onion and spices, and along with the bacon will be very fatty. Eating foods high in fat can lead to a painful condition called pancreatitis.
  • Mince pies and Christmas pudding – These usually contain dried fruits like raisins and sultanas, which are highly toxic to dogs and consumption can be fatal.
  • Chocolate – All chocolate is toxic to dogs. However, dark and cooking chocolate are the most toxic as they contain the most theobromine per gram. Call 01530 270 170 immediately and keep the wrapper if they didn’t eat that too.
  • Trifle and other sweet treats – Many dogs are lactose intolerant, and an overdose of dairy cream can cause an upset stomach. Fatty and sugary foods can cause weight, dental, and other health issues so it’s best to just avoid these types of human foods as dog treats.
  • Other harmful Christmas goodies include macadamias and other nuts, bread dough (yeast), cookie dough, grapes, corn-on-the-cob, alcohol, and anything containing Xylitol – an artificial sweetener that is highly toxic to dogs.

Treats your dog CAN have:

  • Dog treats! It might sound simple, but dog treats are typically made to be nutritionally balanced, tasty, and safe for dogs. You can usually buy festive-themed treats at most pet shops in and around Leicestershire, Staffordshire, and North Warwickshire, or make your own!
  • Safe human foods like raw carrots, cucumber, banana, and blueberries, and cooked butternut squash, green beans, and plain pasta in small amounts can make excellent dog snacks. They can also be heathier alternatives to some manufactured dog treats.

Try to remember that your dog won’t love you any less if you don’t give them some of your food, or if you swap cream cakes for carrots. And most importantly, dogs are cunning enough to help themselves if you leave them and food unattended…

Some final tips from our Appleby Magna Vets – Always research new foods online to check they are safe for dogs – if in doubt, leave it out. Give new foods in small amounts first to check they agree with your dog.

If you have any dog food health scares over the festive season, contact us straight away.

See our contact information

Read STAR Vets’ tips and help your dog get over a stressful summer

August 21, 2021

If you’ve been enjoying lots more walks, playtime, day trips and holidays with your dog already this summer, chances are they’re starting to feel a little frazzled. Don’t worry though, we’re here to help.

STAR Vets’ nursing team has some end-of-summer tips to share with you that will give your dog a well needed boost. Keeping them safe from the perils of summer stresses like Kennel Cough and Heat Stroke is still a necessity too. Read our nurses’ handy tips below.

A late summer check-up can be a good idea so our vets can pick up any issues that have occurred over the busy summer.

Book a dog check-up

Six end of summer tips for dogs who need a boost:

1. Refresh your pet heat safety knowledge

August and early September can be just as hot as June and July. Now’s a good time to give yourself a refresher on pet heat safety, to avoid heat stroke and other issues:

  • Don’t leave your dog in a parked car on a hot day – “not long” is too long.
  • Do use pet-safe sunscreen on noses, ears, and bellies.
  • Don’t exercise your dog too much during the hottest part of the day.
  • Do touch the pavement before you walk – too hot for hands is too hot for paws.
  • Don’t leave your dog shut in a ‘hot spot’ e.g. conservatory, caravan, tent, porch, garden…
  • Do take water and a bowl with you wherever you go together.

2. Keep your dog protected and enjoying summer

Fleas, ticks & worms are more active during warmer months. Even infectious diseases such as kennel cough can be more problematic in summer too. So that your dog can carry on enjoying the rest of the season, make sure their parasite treatments and vaccinations are up to date. Ask us if you’re unsure.

3. Time for a trim

Did your dog have a pre-summer hair cut? It’s probably time for another trim. Keep your companion looking sharp and feeling cool for the rest of the summer.

4. The ‘D’ word…

If you’ve allowed your dog to over-indulge “because it’s summer”, it may be necessary to make some changes sooner rather than later. The word ‘diet’ doesn’t have to mean less enjoyment; cucumber and carrots are tasty treats and make excellent meal fillers if your dog needs to cut back. Plus, extra exercise is a great way to shift some extra pounds. Pop into our Atherstone Road practice and check your dog’s weight.

5. Watch out for holiday blues

Going back to work after a holiday can feel a bit rubbish. Your dog may feel it too. Less interaction with their favourite human and more time alone can cause separation-anxiety and destructive behaviour to develop. Try dedicating some time every day to hang out with your dog – play ball, groom & massage them, or just cuddle – they’ll appreciate every minute! Boredom-busting toys and going out with a friend or dog walker while you’re at work, will help to break up their day.

6. Book an end of summer check-up

Summers are usually ‘Extra’ and this can take its toll on your dog. Book an end of summer health check with our expert vets. A thorough nose-to-tail examination can pick up issues early, meaning vital treatment can commence straight away.

Book an end of summer check-up

How long dogs are pregnant and tell-tale symptoms

August 7, 2021

If you are thinking about breeding your female dog for the first time, or there has been an ‘unexpected incident’, you’ll need to know some facts about dog pregnancy.

STAR Vets’ head vet Caroline Ward, is here to help. Read Caroline’s answers to frequently asked questions on the subject, from pet owners in Derbyshire.

Book a dog pregnancy consultation

How did my dog get pregnant? – Besides the obvious ‘birds & bees’ explanation, it’s helpful to know that female dogs can’t get pregnant all the time. An unneutered female’s ‘heat’ season typically starts between 6 – 36 months of age, lasting 3 weeks at a time, about twice a year.

Female dogs ‘in heat’ can be impregnated by an ‘in-tact’ male dog when you least expect it i.e., out on a walk, visiting someone’s home, doggy day-care, and even in your home or garden. Unneutered male dogs are known to stop at nothing to reach a female.

How long are dogs pregnant for? – A dog pregnancy can vary between 56 – 70 days. Typically, puppies should arrive about 63 days (just over 2 months) after conception.

Are there any tell-tale dog pregnancy symptoms? – Like humans, some dogs can suffer from ‘morning sickness’ and will vomit in the early stages of pregnancy. Other early dog pregnancy symptoms can be subtle including changes to appetite, slightly enlarged nipples, clear vaginal discharge, increased tiredness, and more affectionate behaviour.

During the latter stages, expect weight gain, increased appetite, and behaviour changes. Her teats may become darker, stand out more, and produce a semi-clear discharge. An enlarged abdomen with visible puppy movement is a great sign that puppies are on the way.

Can I buy a dog home pregnancy test?

There is no shop-sold home dog pregnancy test available, like those you can buy for humans. One of our experienced vets may use a hormone test, ultrasound, or a physical examination of the abdomen, to confirm whether your dog is pregnant.

How can I prepare for my dog giving birth?

  1. Create a nest: Make a quiet, relaxing, and private space for your dog to give birth and nurse puppies in. Line a large cardboard box or whelping box with puppy pads and clean bedding. Add her own clean toys/bedding to get her used to it.
  2. Prep in advance: Gather clean towels, nail scissors, and small blankets. Microwavable bean bags can provide warmth if you need to move puppies away from mum for any reason.
  3. Talk to our experienced vets: Know the signs of labour and distress to look out for. You should be as hands off as possible, but always there to support and intervene if needed.
  4. Be ready for an emergency: Dogs often give birth at night, and sometimes an emergency caesarean is required. Caroline recommends a) popping our emergency contact information in your phone, b) having transport available, and c) packing anything you’ll need to take with you (wallet, keys, blankets, puppy carrier etc.), in advance.

How long is a dog in labour?

Depending on the number of puppies, labour normally lasts between 3 – 12 hours. When you book your dog pregnancy appointment at our Appleby Magna practice, ask us about the three stages of dog labour.

Think your dog could be pregnant? Book a vet consultation so we can run some tests and help you understand what happens next.

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