Information for veterinary practices

Central to the care of the charity’s 8,000 dogs are the many veterinary surgeons throughout the country who care for guide dogs, puppies, breeding stock and retired dogs in their practices. We hope you will find this reference pack to the procedures recommended for vets useful, extended with our thanks for your goodwill and dedication.

Assisting a visually impaired client in your practice

Many guide dog owners have some residual vision but not enough to get around safely without a dog or some other mobility aid. It is perfectly acceptable to ask how much vision a person has, as this will affect the amount and type of assistance they require. Individual Guide Dog owners may require different levels of assistance, always ask what they would like.

If possible have one of your reception staff or nurses greet the guide dog owner when they arrive. Assistance to find a seat in the waiting room and details of how long they may need to wait, who or what else is in the waiting room etc will help the guide dog owner to orientate themselves and feel comfortable.

  • When guiding a visually impaired person let them take your left arm so you are on the opposite side to the dog.
  • It is important to identify yourself and make sure the person knows that you are addressing them.
  • Let them know when you are leaving a room and when you return.
  • When examining and treating the dog, let the person know what you are doing.

If the owner is required to administer a treatment at home, please ensure that they are shown how to do so. All clients will have been taught how to give tablets, liquid medication, ear treatment etc but they may not have practiced this for some time and they may appreciate a refresher.

Veterinary and Dog Care Policies

All Guide Dog veterinary or dog care policies are drawn up under the guidance of our Chief Veterinary Consultant, Professor Gary England, Centre Veterinary Advisors and various recognised veterinary specialists who work closely with the charity. These reflect the need of the charity and our specialised working dogs and may or may not always reflect the general practices of the veterinary profession.

If you would like to discuss any of our policies or working practices we would ask that you contact your local Dog Care and Welfare Advisor.

We appreciate the co-operation and good working relationships we have with all the veterinary practices who offer a service to Guide Dogs.


Early vaccination of our puppies is important to achieve the sound behaviour of a working guide dog. Before being placed with puppy walkers all guide dog pups receive a Nobivac - DHLPPi at six weeks of age. The puppy walker is asked to present the puppy for a further vaccination at 12 weeks to their veterinary surgeon and then follow their recommendation.

With adult dogs veterinary surgeons are requested to give a booster vaccination at their discretion in order to meet the general protection requirements. This normally takes the form of an annual booster vaccination

Exception – Brood bitches should be given their annual booster close to the time of their NON MATING season.

Vaccine manufacturers supply vaccines free of charge to guide dog stock and Vaccine Reclaim cards are available from the person presenting the dog for vaccination. The manufactures will replace, to the veterinary surgeon, the vaccine used on receipt of a completed reclaim card.


All adult dogs should be treated with a broad spectrum worming product at least six monthly from maturity. Preferred products include Drontal Plus and Milbemax.

Brood bitches should be treated during each NON MATING season with a broad spectrum product as above. They are treated with Panacur approximately one week before mating. Under NO circumstances should a pregnant bitch be treated with worming products. Nursing brood bitches and litters in the nest are treated with 0.5ml Panacur 10% suspension per kg body weight for three consecutive days at 2 and 5 weeks post whelping.

Puppies are treated with 1ml Panacur 10% suspension per kg body weight, as a single dose, at eight weeks of age. At twelve weeks and six months of age they should be treated with a broad spectrum worming product.

Manufacturers of all the above mentioned worming products have agreed to provide worming products at a reduced cost to Guide Dogs. Reclaim forms are available from Guide Dogs and the individual manufacturers to enable worming products to be supplied free of charge to clients. Manufactures will replace the worming product used, to the veterinary surgeon, on receipt of the reclaim paperwork.

Routine faecal screening is carried out by Guide Dog staff for puppies, breeding stock and dogs within the training programme to ensure that current worming practices are effective.

Flea Control

All guide dog stock should receive preventative treatment against fleas as per manufactures recommendation and according to local requirement (e.g. high flea risk etc).

In cases of infestation, flea allergy or other dermatological problems environmental treatment should also be used.

Where treatment for other ectoparasites is required this should be on the recommendation of the veterinary surgeon based on the need to treat for a specific parasite.

It is expected that in any household, where there is guide stock, that other dogs and cats will be treated regularly for fleas using an appropriate veterinary regime. This would be at the expense of the owner.

Preventative Ectoparasitc Treatment for Guide Dogs travelling abroad

Dependent upon the destination, veterinary advice should be sought and where necessary preventative/ repellent - tick, sand fly and mosquito treatment should be given.


With the exception of breeding dogs, all Guide Dog stock are neutered. Male puppies are castrated during their puppy walking phase at approximately 8 – 9 months of age. Bitches are spayed after their first season.


Guide Dog’s feeding policy is to use identified dog food suppliers that provide optimum nutrition for all life stages from weaning to the geriatric dog, which meet the needs of guide dog stock. The companies used have agreed to supply food directly to clients and volunteers.

All guide dog stock are fed products from the identified ranges according to their individual need. It is important that diets are not changed without our knowledge or without specific reason.

Veterinary Diets

Where it has been recognised that a veterinary/prescription diet is required, arrangements have been made with various dog food companies to enable the charity to keep the costs to a minimum.

• Royal Canin will supply veterinary diets to working guide dogs free of charge – reclaim forms enable the veterinary surgeon to reclaim products via their veterinary wholesaler.

• Iams, Hills and Royal Canin will supply veterinary diets directly to guide dog stock, at discounted rates to Guide Dogs, if written permission is given by the attending veterinary surgeon. The veterinary surgeon would be asked to sign an authorisation form which is faxed to the company.

Supply of non-prescription veterinary products/nutraceuticals

Guide Dogs have been able to secure national arrangements with some drug manufacturers for veterinary products. This enables us to supply chondroprotective and other nonprescription products directly from the local centre at concessionary prices.

We would therefore request that if any guide dog stock is treated at your practice, requires or is already supplied with these products, that we are able to arrange to supply it directly to the client or volunteer as directed by yourselves. For further information please contact your local Dog Care & Welfare Advisor.

In securing these concessionary arrangements Guide Dogs is better placed to control its expenditure on veterinary costs, whilst ensuring our stock receive the most appropriate treatments.

Veterinary Referrals

Guide Dogs work closely with a range of veterinary specialists and referral centres. These identified specialists are very familiar with the work of the charity, our dog population and the specific role our dogs undertake. For this reason we ask that should you wish to refer one of our dogs that this is discussed with your local Dog Care and Welfare Advisor.

We monitor the health of our population as a whole and regularly fund research into diseases affecting our stock as a result we may have a preferred specialist who will see the case as a priority and often without incurring additional costs to Guide Dogs. For the same reason, we may occasionally request a referral or samples/radiographs from one of our dogs in your care as part of these research/monitoring projects. This is no way reflects on the quality of treatment or investigation being undertaken, but enables those researching and monitoring the health issues of our population to obtain as much information as possible. This information is used to govern future working practices/policies and feed into our breeding programme.

Obviously if such a referral or procedure was impractical or would in any way compromise the welfare of the individual dog involved, we are happy to be guided by the veterinary surgeon as the person responsible for the case.


Fireworks can be a problem for guide dogs and their visually impaired owners. Such a problem, in fact, that each year a number of guide dogs have to be retrained or even retired early because of the stress caused by fireworks.

Traditionally sedatives and tranquilisers were the prescribed drug of choice. Whilst these drugs remove the symptoms of fear that the owners find distressing, the use of such drugs may have implications for the dog’s welfare and the working ability of the guide dog. Guide Dogs, therefore, do not generally recommend the use of the sedatives or tranquilisers on their stock for the treatment of firework or noise phobias.

We would like to work with veterinary surgeons to identify those dogs with over awareness to fireworks and deal with the behavioural side of the issue.

Our staff are familiar with behavioural modifying programmes, desensitisation CDs, pheromone therapy, complementary therapies etc. Also a basic understanding of how some prescription therapies can be used in conjunction with behaviour modification.

Some of the non prescription products can be supplied directly from the local centre at concessionary prices. For further information please contact your local Dog Care & Welfare Advisor.

Guide Dog travel abroad

Some guide dog owners may request that their dog is prepared for the Pet Passport. A small number of guide dog owners do travel for work or live abroad for some time of the year.

The cost of the preparation for the passport is undertaken by the guide dog owner not the organisation. Guide Dogs have prepared a document for guide dog owners to inform them of the basics of the process. It is recommended that they discuss preventative health treatment etc with their own veterinary surgeon before travel. We would ask that the guide dog owner discuss their intention to take their dog abroad with Guide Dog staff before embarking upon this.

Elderly Dogs

It is normally recommended that working dogs over nine years of age are examined more regularly than six monthly by a veterinary surgeon. The decision to retire a dog from work is taken jointly by the guide dog owner and Guide Dogs. We welcome any information given to us by the local veterinary surgeon which may help us to plan for the retirement of a dog and assist us in identifying when a dogs needs to retire. In many cases, a retired guide dog will be kept by the guide dog owner so you may be asked to continue to care for the retired dog as well as the new replacement.

Health records

At the time of treating one of our dogs, you will be asked to complete a health record-card and/or book. This record is returned to Guide Dogs with any invoice for treatment.

The health record enables us to keep accurate computer records of our stock for all treatments and investigations carried out. This information is very important to us as it may affect decisions regarding future policies and decisions regarding the breeding programme. The DCW Advisor may request further information on occasions and the veterinary surgeons notes, investigation results etc may be requested.

Payment of veterinary accounts

Ideally veterinary invoices should be forwarded to Guide Dogs along with the health report to facilitate prompt payment.

Where a guide dog owner wishes to settle their own account we would still need to receive the health report to enable us to maintain our health records.

We request that you contact the local Dog Care and Welfare Advisor before preceding with any non routine procedures i.e. those requiring a general anaesthetic, radiographs, laboratory investigation or surgery – other than in an emergency situation. This is for a number of reasons – e.g. to discuss the ability of the client to care for the dog post operatively, referral to a specific specialist, the impact on the dog’s work, cost etc.