We all want the best for our pets, but is it really important to keep your dog or cat’s vaccination up-to-date? The short answer is yes!
Reasons to vaccinate your dog
Failure to keep your dog’s vaccine up-to-date puts them at risk of contracting the following diseases:
What does it do? The virus attacks the nose, lungs, stomach, intestines, brain, eyes, skin, and nervous system; the skin symptoms are why it is sometimes called ‘hardpad’, as the pads become thickened and crusted.
How bad is it? This can be a fatal disease for dogs and is closely related to measles. Between 20%-50% of infected dogs unfortunately will not survive.
CANINE INFECTIOUS HEPATITIS
What does it do? This is a really nasty virus that breaks down the blood vessels supplying the dog’s liver and often eyes.
How bad is it? Some dogs fight it off, others may die within hours – it’s incredibly variable.
What does it do? The virus attacks the gut lining, causing bloody diarrhoea, severe vomiting, severe dehydration, and then shock and death. It is usually most severe in puppies but any unvaccinated dog is susceptible.
How bad is it? One in five dogs dies from this disease even if they’re immediately taken into intensive care in practice. Any delay, however, increases that risk.
What does it do? The bacteria are spread through urine (from infected dogs and from rats and cows) and when absorbed, infect the kidneys and liver.
How bad is it? This may result in permanent kidney and liver damage and there is also a risk to human health.
Reasons to vaccinate your cat
Failure to keep your cat’s vaccine up-to-date puts them at risk of contracting the following diseases:
What does it do? This highly contagious virus attacks the gut (causing vomiting and diarrhoea) and the immune system.
How bad is it? There is no cure which is why prevention is best. Unfortunately, around 20% of cats contracting this illness will die.
What does it do? Cat flu viruses (feline herpesvirus and calicivirus) causes sneezing, runny nose, sore eyes, and, rarely pneumonia.
How bad is it? Very few cats will die of cat flu – although it does cause a lot of suffering. Surviving cats are often permanently affected with chronic nasal infections.
FELINE LEUKAEMIA VIRUS
What does it do? This virus inserts itself into the cat’s DNA and replicates. This results in the collapse of their immune system, and the development of cancer.
How bad is it? This is an important, and preventable, cause of disease and death in cats with 80%-90% of infected cats dying within 3 years of infection.
These diseases are primarily spread from cat to cat, but some viruses can last for up to 6 months or longer in the environment, so when you enter your home it is possible you can bring in infected particles with you. This means that it is important to vaccinate your house cat too, as they can still be susceptible to these illnesses.
Don’t delay, if your dog or cat is due their vaccination, book an appointment with your local Goddard vet soon.
Unlike wolves, who breed according to food supply and the seasons, our domestic male dogs are quite promiscuous creatures. They will mate all year round, at any given opportunity and this can lead to increased risk of roaming, injury, certain diseases, and overpopulation. It can also lead to inappropriate or unattractive behaviours around our homes and families including mounting, humping, and territorial urine marking.
Neutering is the most common surgical procedure carried out on dogs. If you’re trying to decide whether to get your dog ‘done’, it’s worth looking at the arguments for it, against it, and then looking at the procedure.
Neutering helps reduce the population of abandoned dogs and the passing on of genetic defects.
It reduces behaviours pet owners often dislike, such as running off to look for bitches in heat (which increases their risk of road accidents or going missing), less sexual behaviour such as masturbation and humping, a reduction in some types of hormonal driven aggression, and territorial urine marking.
Neutering will prevent your dog from developing a testicular tumour. Neutering also reduces the risk of some prostatic diseases, hernias, and certain cancers of the bottom.
Studies have shown that neutered dogs have a longer life span compared to unneutered dogs. This is most significant in female dogs, but male neutered dogs have also been shown to live longer than unneutered male dogs.
More or less by definition, a surgically castrated dog’s fertility is permanently removed, so you can’t change your mind. (HOWEVER, remember that he may still have some sperm ‘left over’ for several weeks after the operation, should he get the chance to ‘use’ them!). We do now also have the option of a hormonal implant which will induce a temporary castration for 6 to 12 months. Speak to your vet whether this option is appropriate for your pet.
Weight gain – castrated dogs need fewer calories than entire ones, so you need to feed them less or they’ll put on weight! This weight gain may lead to certain health conditions associated with obesity, such as orthopaedic injuries or osteoarthritis.
Risk of surgery – all surgeries and anaesthetics carry a risk of either mild or more serious complications. The procedure to castrate a male dog is a very routine and low-risk surgery, with very few incidents of serious complications.
How do I decide?
It is important to discuss this with your vet at their six-month health check and then you can make the decision on if and when to neuter your dog. The best time to neuter can depend on the breed and size of your dog. Some male dogs will have a ‘retained testicle’ when the testicle remains in the abdomen and does not descend into the scrotum. It is very important that this is identified at this age, the testicles surgically removed and that your dog is fully castrated. If this is not treated, it increases the risk of undetected testicular cancer.
So, when you’ve made up your mind to have your dog neutered, what is the procedure?
Castrating a dog is a very simple surgery because his reproductive organs are conveniently located outside his body. In the procedure, his testicles are removed (so it is not the same as a vasectomy, where the testicles remain in situ but the tubes carrying sperm from them are cut) preventing him from making either sperm or testosterone – essentially returning his hormone balance to that of a prepubescent puppy. There is no evidence that dogs miss their testicles once they’re gone, nor does castration per se have any effect on their personality or psychological development.
So, what actually happens on the day of the surgery?
We perform castrations as a day surgery, your dog will spend the day with us and will normally be discharged back to your care that evening. The night and morning before the procedure, it’s important to withhold food from midnight, but he should have access to water until he comes to the clinic.
He will be admitted by a member of our team and fully examined by a Vet before his procedure. During the admission process, we will recommend a pre-anaesthetic blood test to check his metabolic function prior to a general anaesthetic and we discuss the surgery, provide an estimate if not already provided and ask you to read and sign a surgical and anaesthetic consent form. It is important an adult is present to give consent for the procedure and that you provide a contact number on which we can contact on the day of the procedure.
Your dog will be kept in a hospital cage with soft bedding and we will give him a ‘pre-med’ injection (a combination of sedation and pain relief to help him relax and reduce any pain following the procedure). Then, when we’re ready, we will give him a general anaesthetic via an intravenous catheter, so he is completely asleep, and pass a breathing tube down his throat to help him breathe. The nurse will scrub the area around his scrotum (ball sack) while the vet scrubs up, and then they’ll begin.
It takes perhaps 15 minutes (a very quick procedure!) as a small incision is made in front of the scrotum, and one at a time the testicles are pulled out of this, clamped and cut off. The arteries and spermatic cords are then tied off with dissolvable stitches, and the skin layers closed with sutures. Remember, the scrotum is not removed – it is normal for your dog to go home with an empty pouch of skin between their back legs. Sometimes there may be some swelling in the scrotum following the surgery, but this should reduce quickly over the coming days.
How long will it take for him to recover?
As soon as he’s awake and his sedatives have worn off, he can go home with a collar on to stop him licking at the wounds until they’ve healed. Most dogs are completely back to normal in a day or so, but it is important to restrict their exercise and keep him on a lead until the wound has healed and any external sutures are removed – this is normally 7-10 days after the surgery.
We will examine him 2-3 days after the surgery to make sure he is healing as expected, and then again at 7 to 10 days post-surgery. He will be discharged with pain relief and a special diet recommendation to help him recover from the anaesthetic.
Neutering of male dogs does prevent some unpleasant diseases, reduces undesirable behaviours and can increase the lifespan of your pet. It is important to modify their diet and calorie intake post castration to avoid the increased risk of obesity.
If you are still unsure if it is right for your dog, our vets will be happy to discuss with you further at a routine health visit. Unlike in female dogs, the timing of the procedure is less critical to their long-term health, and it is a procedure that can be conducted at any age, although it is best performed before undesirable behaviours become learnt behaviours, or before hormonally induced disease develops.
Don’t forget, ProActive Pets members receive 20% off routine neutering!
Travelling with your pet can be a great experience and removes the need for leaving them with family or finding alternatives for the duration of your trip. Taking your pet abroad also means that you can enjoy their company as if you were at home to get the most out of your time.
If you are wanting to take your pet with you there a few things you need to do beforehand. Our handy guide to getting your pet travel documents will give you everything you need to ensure your pet can pack their beach towel and join you abroad.
What is happening with pet passports?
A pet passport was a legal document not too dissimilar to the one we use which was valid for travel prior to January 1st 2021. The document noted important information about you and your pet, providing evidence they were healthy and fit to travel. Since 1st January 2021, pet passports have been replaced by Animal Health Certificates and UK issued pet passports are no longer valid. However, if your pet has previously been issued with a Pet Passport then please retain it as it contains valuable information on previous rabies vaccination and microchip identification.
Pet travel after Brexit
Travel to EU Countries and Northern Ireland:
Previously you could take your pet to and from the UK to EU countries providing certain criteria were met, such as holding a pet passport and being microchipped for easy identification.
Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales), including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, have become a Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, effective from 1st January 2021 and your new Animal Health Certificate (in replacement of a pet passport) will allow your pet to re-enter the UK.
While that may sound confusing the basic elements remain in place. It requires an animal travelling to hold an Animal Health Certificate, with a new certificate required for each time of travel. It must be obtained within 10 days of travelling and will allow one journey to the EU, onward journeys within the EU and return to the UK within a 4-month period.
Before returning to the UK, any dogs in your party will need to have a worming tablet administered by a vet in the country you are travelling back from, given 1-5 days before re-entry to the UK. This is to prevent a type of tapeworm (Echinococcus multilocularis) that can infect humans from being brought into this country by infected dogs, and it will need to be noted in their new Animal Health Certificate. If you are taking your dog to Ireland, Northern Ireland, Finland, Norway, or Malta, they will need worm treatment 1-5 days before they leave the UK.
As with the previous passports, Animal Health Certificates can only be issued by Official Veterinarians (OVs). When booking your appointment make sure our team knows you need an Animal Health Certificate, and you will be allocated on OV to issue your documents
Travel to Non-EU countries:
As with most travel regulations, rules have changed since the beginning of the year due to Brexit. You will need to check the regulations on what country you would like to visit with your pet as some of the requirements will differ, and you may need to take more time to plan accordingly — in particular, unlisted non-EU countries such as Australia or New Zealand have a very strict disease control policy in place and your pet may have to stay in quarantine on arrival. If travelling to countries outside the EU, an Export Health Certificate may be required. Please see the UK Government Website for information on the EHC requirements and always check with your country of destination on their importing requirements.
How do I get an Animal Health Certificate?
British Official Veterinarians can no longer issue pet passports or make an entry in an EU issued pet passport. To obtain a new Animal Health Certificate, in replacement of a pet passport, you will need to book an appointment with one of our vets. Check that the vet you will be seeing has OV (Official Veterinarian) status to legally provide an Animal Health Certificate and will be available on the day of your appointment. Most of our vets do have this qualification (which they must renew periodically) but please do make sure that our receptionists are aware that you will need certain documents that only they can sign.
Animal Health Certificate Criteria
Your pet will receive a full health check to ensure that they have no health concerns and are fit to be granted an Animal Health Certificate to travel. They must be over the age of 15-16 weeks (this varies between EU countries) at the time of travelling; this is to help prevent illegal movement of puppies and kittens and must not be travelling for commercial reasons such as buying or selling a pet.
Hopefully, your pet is already microchipped (it is UK law to have your dog microchipped), but if not, they will need one placed in the scruff of their neck for identification purposed. The number will be recorded in their Animal Health Certificate, along with a written description of them.
Your pet will then need to have a vaccination against Rabies. If the vaccination is given in the UK, it usually lasts 3 years before they require a booster. However, the vaccine can take a few weeks to become fully effective. As a result, your pet cannot travel to EU countries until 21 days after the Rabies vaccination, return to the UK until 21 days have passed after having the rabies vaccination when travelling from EU and listed countries. This means it is sensible to get everything done at least a month or more in advance of your planned trip. If you are travelling further abroad, you may need to prepare months in advance of travel.
You also need to consider that your pet will be required to travel via an approved transport route and with an approved company. Additionally, you will have to travel with them – if this is not possible, you will need additional paperwork to allow another person to accompany them.
We strongly advise that you research the potential parasite and disease threats in the country you are travelling to, to ensure your pets are protected. For most countries, tick cover would be strongly recommended as they carry several significant diseases; in southern Europe, dogs should also have sandfly protection to reduce the risk of heartworm and Leishmaniasis.
Failure to meet regulations could result in your pet being quarantined on returning to the UK – which could potentially be months, so do check the gov.uk website for the most up-to-date information.
Need more advice? Give us a ring and we will be able to point you in the right direction!
Fireworks season is fast approaching and although we may enjoy it as humans, it may be a little stressful for our furry friends. See below our advice on keeping your pet happy and safe during this time, or have a look at our top 10 tips on keeping your pet safe this firework season.
Keep dogs and cats inside when fireworks are being let off.
Close all windows and doors and block off cat flaps to stop pets escaping and to keep noise to a minimum. Draw the curtains, and if the animals are used to the particular sounds of TV or radio, switch them on.
Make sure your pet is microchipped so should they run away you are more likely to be reunited with them.
Walk your dog while fireworks are going off.
Leave or tie your dog up outside while fireworks are being let off.
Take your dog to a firework display. Even if your dog does not bark or whimper at fireworks it doesn’t mean they are happy.
Shout at your pet if they are frightened as this will only make them more distressed.
To further minimise distress, we suggest you install an Adaptil® diffuser in your home. The Adaptil® diffuser works like a plug-in air freshener, continuously releasing an odourless natural pheromone which helps to keep your pet feeling safe and calm. The diffuser contains a natural solution and there is no sedative effect. Xylkene® is an oral tablet which can also be used to help relieve anxiety without the use of potentially sedative drugs. In severe cases we may need to prescribe a sedative. Please discuss this with one of our veterinary surgeons.
A Feliway® diffuser is the feline equivalent to the Adaptil® diffuser. Feliway® releases feline facial pheromone, mimicking the cat’s own pheromones, helping to create a state of calmness and well-being, allowing reactions to stressful situations to be better controlled. Xylkene® can also be used in cats to help relieve anxiety without the use of potentially sedative drugs.
Rabbits and guinea pigs living outside should not be forgotten. They can also become very stressed from loud noises. Bring small animals indoors or into an outhouse to muffle the sound of the fireworks, helping them feel safe and calm.
If you are concerned or would like further advice, please speak to your local Goddard vet soon.
Everyone has lost something at some point; your wallet, your phone, your keys. Some things however, are far more precious and it’s devastating if they go missing — we’re talking of course, about our pets. Hopefully this has not happened to you but sometimes, things out of our control mean that there is a possibility that our pets can run and often find themselves ‘lost’.
Thankfully, there are ways that help your pet find their way home should they find themselves in this situation and the most important of which, is getting them microchipped.
A microchip is a tiny glass capsule, about the size of a grain of rice, which is filled with electronic components giving a unique 15 digit number. Giving a pet a microchip is a relatively simple procedure. Microchipping is generally done by a vet, though there are other places that offer microchipping, such as Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and Blue Cross Centres.
The microchip is injected via a needle under the skin of your dog or cat, usually between their shoulder blades, so it does not move around. You and your pet’s details are stored in a microchip database along with the microchip’s unique 15 digit code.
When a missing pet is found, they will be scanned (usually by a vet or dog warden for example), revealing the microchip’s code and contact, the microchip database your pet is recorded with. The customer care staff will perform some security checks before releasing your contact details to the animal professional so that your pet can be reunited with you. It is your responsibility to keep these details up to date.
To help those who cannot afford microchipping, some of the charities listed above offer free microchipping. A pet can generally be first microchipped from a few weeks of age, or then any time after that, and it should last a lifetime.
Since 2016, it has been mandatory to have every dog over the age of 8 weeks microchipped in England; Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have similar laws. There is a £500 fine if this is not done within 21 days of being identified by authorities. It is also mandatory to have your pet microchipped if you are entering or leaving the EU (though laws may change post-Brexit), so a non-microchipped pet cannot travel abroad. These laws were brought in to try and reduce the number of stray dogs who end up with charities, though they are naturally also helping to reunite lost dogs with owners.
Currently, it is not mandatory to have your cat microchipped. However, as we said above, it is always strongly recommended as many cats roam far from home, and many do not have any collars or other form of identification. Please do consider getting your feline friends microchipped at the same time as any canine ones, especially at this time of year where loud firework and bonfire noises, can easily frighten them away.
Does it hurt?
The needle is quite large compared to other needles, and some young pets can feel a little discomfort when it is implanted; however the vast majority do not notice. Occasionally, a pet can have a minor reaction to the injection, and the site can become temporarily inflamed. The microchips themselves are made to be non-reactive so should not be irritating, and it usually settles down in a day or so.
What’s important about that unique number?
Having a microchip means that anyone with a scanner can check a lost pet for a microchip, look up the number, and identify who the pet belongs to. This means if your pet is lost and brought into a charity or vets, you can easily be contacted and hopefully reunited. It can also help police track stolen animals and return them to their rightful owners. It is important that all details are kept up to date — if you move house, buy a new pet or give one away, make sure the database is updated, to make identifying your lost friend easier.
We all lock our doors, check our pockets for our phones, and keep track of our savings — people are generally very careful not to lose things. However, sometimes we forget to be careful with our precious four-legged friends, who are arguably irreplaceable! Every dog or cat microchipped has a much better chance of making it home, should the worst happen.
It is always heart-breaking to see separated owners and pets, so do your part by making sure your dog is microchipped, and seriously consider getting your cat microchipped as well. One small chip can mean a lifetime of security and peace of mind.