For appointment or Emergency 24/7

Ballymena: (028) 2565 6023 or (028) 2565 2472

Randalstown: (028) 9447 8982



What is involved?

Neutering refers to the removal of the sex organs. In male pets, the testicles are removed and in females, the womb and ovaries are removed. It is an Old Wives Tale that you should allow your bitch to have at least one litter. There are no legitimate reasons on health grounds to feel pressurised into allowing your bitch to have pups.

Why neuter?

For many reasons! The most obvious reason to have your pet neutered is in order to avoid accidental pregnancy and the problem of what to do with unwanted pups or kittens. Neutered bitches will no longer come into heat (with associated bleeding every 6 months or so); will not suffer from false pregnancies; cannot suffer from life threatening uterine infections or ovarian cancers later in life and, in addition, female dogs spayed before 2 years of age have a much lower incidence of mammary cancers.

We neuter male dogs to help avoid unwanted pregnancies; control aggressive, dominant behaviour; reduce unwanted sexual behaviours (mounting furniture or visitors!); reduce the incidence of certain cancers later in life (such as testicular and prostate cancers) and also to reduce the problem of them disappearing off after bitches in heat.

In addition, neutered tomcats roam less and are therefore less likely to get into fights and road traffic accidents. This makes them healthier and much less likely to have to visit ourselves for treatment for bite wounds or infectious disease.
At what age should I arrange for my cat or dog to be neutered?
We recommend neutering from 6 months of age, but can discuss each case with you individually.

Do schemes exist to help cover the cost of neutering?

Yes. If you are in receipt of certain benefits, you may qualify to have your pet neutered at a reduced cost. Some charities, such as the Cats Protection League can, in certain circumstances, assist with the cost of neutering and we can advise you further on such schemes.



Why should I vaccinate my pet?

We vaccinate our pets in order to protect them from infectious disease. In unvaccinated animals, most of these diseases are serious and often fatal, even with the best of veterinary treatment. Unfortunately, not all owners vaccinate their pets and so from time to time, we see outbreaks of infectious disease amongst unvaccinated pets in the Ballymena area. Vaccination is an affordable and effective way to ensure that your pet is spared the misery of such infection. When your pet is presented to us for annual vaccination, it gives us an opportunity to examine your pet carefully in order to ensure that there are no other health problems which may need addressing.

Which diseases do we vaccinate against?

DOGS Distemper, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and also Kennel Cough.
CATS Feline Infectious Enteritis, Feline Leukaemia Virus, Cat Flu and Chlamydia
RABBITS Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic disease.

My dog has little contact with other dogs, do I still need to vaccinate?

Yes. The infectious agents responsible for some of the diseases we vaccinate against can survive in the environment for up to one year and so there is no need for direct contact between pets for these infections to spread from one pet to another. This means that, for example, should your pet have contact with an area of ground which an infected dog has previously had access to, there is risk of infection to your pet.

At what age do we vaccinate?

An initial vaccination course involves 2 separate injections. We recommend vaccinating pups at 8 weeks of age and then again at 12 weeks. If your pup is older, the primary vaccination course can still be given, though with a 2 week gap between injections. Kittens are vaccinated at 9 weeks and again at 12 weeks of age. Rabbits are vaccinated from 12 weeks of age.

Why do we need to give boosters each year?

The immune response stimulated by vaccination fades over time and so your pet can become vulnerable once again to infection. A booster refreshes the immune response and ensures that your pet remains protected.



How do I know if my pet has fleas?

Fleas are the most commonly encountered external parasites found on our pets. You may notice your pet scratching, particularly along his/her back. Cats tend to deal with the itching caused by fleas by grooming excessively and this can lead to problems with hair ball. If you look closely through the coat, you may be able to actually see fleas, though they are fast! Oftentimes, flea dirt will be apparent through your pet’s coat- this looks like black specks, similar to coal dust.

Why should I treat for fleas?

Flea infestations affect not only our pets, but also us, as fleas spend the majority of their time away from your pet, only returning to the pet in order to feed. Fleas lay eggs and larvae develop in the pet’s environment, which unfortunately often means in the carpets and furnishings of our houses. This is why fleas can be difficult to eradicate once acquired. Heavy flea infestations can result in anaemia in young animals, but more commonly are a cause of skin infections in our pets. If your pet develops an allergy to flea bites, these infections can be very severe indeed. Fleas play a role in transmission of tapeworm and can also bite humans!

How should I treat my pet for fleas?

For the reasons outlined above, once acquired, flea infestations can be difficult to get rid of. We therefore recommend proactive prevention and would advise you to get into the habit of using a product regularly to avoid your pet acquiring fleas. Pet owners must be careful as there are a large number of products and devices available, many of which are of no value at all in controlling or killing fleas. We can advise you on which products are safe and actually effective. Many treatments can be given in the form of a spot on, which are extremely easy to apply. Not all spot-on treatments are the same though and again, we can advise you on which will be the best for your pet. If you find fleas on your pet, treating the pet is only half the battle; for the reasons above, it is vitally important to treat the pet’s environment (often your house!) as well. This may involve disposing of the pet’s bedding, hoovering carefully any areas the pet has access to and possibly the use of certain products to kill eggs and larvae in your soft furnishings. Again, we can advise you on which products will suit your circumstances best.



Which worms can affect my pet and what signs should I look out for?

Pets commonly acquire roundworms and tapeworms. There may be no signs at all, but look out for weight loss, diarrhoea, poor coat and worms or segments of worms in your pet’s stool.

Why should I worm my pet?

Worm burdens can cause diarrhoea, weight loss, anaemia, intestinal blockages and cause ill thrift which can make your pet susceptible to other diseases. On rare occasions, toxocara roundworms can pass to humans, migrate through body tissues and there have been incidences of such worm larvae causing blindness, most usually in children (although this is rare).

My dog has little contact with other dogs; do I still need to worm him?

Yes. Worm eggs passed in the faeces of other dogs can remain active on grass for many years, long after the stool they were passed in has disappeared! Your pet can pick up such eggs on walks, ingest them whilst grooming and develop a worm burden in this way.

How often should I worm my dog?

Depends on age and lifestyle. Pregnant bitches require worming in the later stages of pregnancy, as large numbers of worms will pass across to the pups during pregnancy, and through the mother’s milk after birth. However, only certain wormers are safe to use at this time and we can advise you on this. Puppies should be wormed with a wormer effective against roundworms every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age and then once monthly until 6 months of age. After this, we recommend that dogs be wormed every 3 months with a wormer effective against both round and tapeworms.

How often should I worm my cat?

Cats which hunt and bring home prey are at an additional risk of worm burden. Like puppies, kittens should be wormed for roundworms every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age. Once into adulthood, we recommend that cats be wormed every 3 months with a product effective against both round and tapeworms.

What can I do if my cat will not eat tablets?

We can advise you on spot on treatments which are easily applied to the back of your cat’s neck and are very effective wormers.

Pet Insurance


Why should I insure my pet?

As veterinary medicine advances, we can do more and more to ensure that your pet receives the very best of veterinary care. However, modern techniques carry associated costs. Insurance gives owners peace of mind that their pet will be able to receive the best possible care if required as our treatment options will not be limited by cost. Some policies also provide third party liability should your pet cause an accident for example, some will help with the cost of advertising for a lost pet and others offer other advantages as well.

What should I look for in a pet insurance policy?

It is good advice to not necessarily pick the policy with the lowest monthly premium, but also to pay attention to the small print. Some policies will only cover one particular health condition for a period of one year. Many health problems such as heart, skin, intestinal diseases, diabetes and osteoarthritis may require management over your pet’s lifetime and we recommend that your be careful to take out a policy which will provide insurance cover for the lifetime of your pet and not just the first year of any illness.

Pet passports


What is a pet passport?

A passport is a document which enables you to take your pet to EU states and then return the pet to the UK without the need for a 6 month period of quarantine. They are used most often by clients wishing to take their pet on holiday to Europe rather than putting their pet into kennels.

What is involved in getting a pet passport?

It is quite an involved process and does take some time to organise. In summary, the dog must first be permanently identified by implanting a microchip and then vaccinated against rabies. At least 30 days later, a blood sample is taken to prove that your dog has mounted an immune response and is now protected from rabies infection. The dog can only return to the UK from Europe after a period of 6 months has elapsed since the date of the blood sample proving immunity to rabies (although your pet can travel to Europe as soon as 3 weeks after being vaccinated against rabies as long as you do not intend to return with the pet immediately). This means that if you are intending to take your pet on summer holiday to Europe with you, you have to allow at least 7 months in total for everything to be arranged. Once the passport is established, it is important to give an annual rabies vaccination in order to avoid being back to square one and having to blood sample and wait 6 months again. We normally need to examine and certify that your dog is fit to travel before you leave Northern Ireland. Prior to returning to the UK, there are other obligations which must be met by a vet on the continent. We can explain these to you in more detail prior to your departure. The above is not meant as an exhaustive explanation of the pet passport scheme and we suggest that you click on the link to the DARD website for more information on this matter.

For appointment or Emergency 24/7

Ballymena: (028) 2565 6023 or (028) 2565 2472

Randalstown: (028) 9447 8982

© Grove Veterinary Centre