Posts Tagged ‘dog’

Taking Your Pet Abroad

Pet Travel in 2021 Guide

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 Since 1st January 2021, pet passports have been replaced by Animal Health Certificates and UK issued pet passports are no longer valid.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!

Spaying Your Dog – What You Need To Know

Why is it important?

If you are not planning on breeding your bitch, there are a few reasons to consider spaying her. Entire bitches are at an increased risk of a number of disease conditions, some of which are potentially life-threatening. These diseases can be prevented, or at the very least, the risk reduced, by spaying (neutering). However, this is a surgical procedure, and obviously, it does involve some risks in and of itself, as well as having other consequences (never having any more puppies being the most obvious!). There are a lot of people and websites who will tell you that you MUST have your bitch spayed, or that you MUSTN’T. In this guide, however, we’ll look at all the pros and cons, so that you can make your own mind up.

What is spaying?

Spaying a bitch is a surgical procedure where the ovaries (and, usually, the uterus or womb) are surgically removed. It’s a fairly big op (although dogs seem to cope and recover really well), but it’s still an optional surgical procedure with a one in 1000 risk of significant complications. So, what are the advantages – why do people do it?

Advantage 1

Ending her cycles. Most bitches will come into season roughly every six months (although it may be longer for large and giant breeds). When they’re in season, or “in heat”, they pass a bloody discharge from their back end, which can be really messy. In addition, every male dog in the vicinity is likely to be queuing up at your back door trying to get to her! Some bitches also undergo quite dramatic personality changes, and they may suffer from “False Pregnancies” in the couple of months following the season. If they get “caught” by a dog, it’s likely to be a real pregnancy, and then you have to look after and find homes for all the puppies! Spaying completely removes her cycle (it cannot occur), and she cannot get pregnant. This means you’re not going to be part of the overpopulation problem, with dogs stacked up waiting for rehoming in shelters and rescue centres.

Advantage 2

Reducing the risk of reproductive tumours. About 7% of unspayed bitches will develop a mammary tumour (breast cancer) in their lifetime; if spayed before the second season, the risk drops by 92%; if spayed before her first, it’s down by 99.5%. Spaying an older bitch has progressively less effect. This protective effect extends to other reproductive tumours – a dog without a uterus or ovaries cannot, for example, develop uterine or ovarian cancer!

Advantage 3

Eliminate the risk of Pyometra. This is a serious and, if untreated, usually fatal infection of the uterus (womb). An astonishing 23% of unspayed bitches will develop a pyometra by 10 years old. The risk is essentially zero in spayed bitches.

Advantage 4

Lifespan – once you factor all of these risks together, you can expect a spayed bitch to live 26% longer than an entire one.

Disadvantage 1

Urinary Incontinence. Neutered bitches are reportedly 8 times more likely to become incontinent in later life (although this statistic has recently been questioned). This can usually be controlled easily with medication but is an annoyance. Estimates for the number of affected bitches range from 5-20%.

Disadvantage 2

Hormone changes – weight gain, coat alterations. After neutering, most dogs will be more prone to put on weight – but that doesn’t mean they become fat because of neutering. They become fat because their owners overfeed them! A few dogs also show a change to the quality of the coat – this is actually pretty rare, and usually really minor.

Disadvantage 3

Orthopaedic disease. There’s been a lot of research done into the effects of spaying on certain bone and joint disorders. There is good evidence to suggest that there is a slightly higher risk of bone cancer (osteosarcoma) in spayed bitches (unspayed bitches have a risk of 0.006%, spayed bitches 0.012%). In addition, spayed bitches have a higher risk of growth plate injuries, and seem to be at slightly higher risk of cruciate ligament injuries.

How is it done?

Unlike neutering a dog, which is a very simple operation (his reproductive organs are easily accessible!), spaying a bitch requires entering the abdomen. In most cases, this is done as an “open” surgery, where she will have a general anaesthetic, then the surgeon will open her abdomen and remove her ovaries and uterus. A more modern alternative is the laparoscopic bitch spay, where we use keyhole surgery just to remove her ovaries – this has a much faster recovery time and seems to provide all the advantages of the traditional surgery. Both are done under general anaesthetic, but we’d expect her to go home the same day in most cases.

In conclusion…

Spaying your dog is an important decision – there are hundreds of thousands of unwanted dogs in the UK, so reproductive control is really important. It also genuinely does save lives; however, there are disadvantages too, so it’s important that you make up your own mind. If you would like to discuss this further with your vet, get in touch.

Fireworks and Your Pet

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. 


ALWAYS

  • 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.

NEVER

  • 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.

DOGS

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.

CATS

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.

SMALL ANIMALS

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.

Are wild mushrooms harmful to dogs?

Ultimately, of course, it depends on the mushroom! However, with an increasingly warm and wet autumn climate, mushroom populations are soaring. In fact, in September 2018 the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) actually issued a warning about the problem. Read on to find out if wild mushrooms are harmful to dogs and what signs to watch out for. 

If you think your dog may have eaten an unknown wild mushroom, contact us IMMEDIATELY for advice.


What is a wild mushroom?

This sounds really easy —  but do you actually know what those bulbous masses are? Fungi are a kingdom of life all of their own, as different from plants as plants are from animals. Most fungi live in the environment and form networks of fine fibres growing through the soil. The mushrooms we see are their fruiting bodies, part of their reproductive cycle, which develop spores and then distribute them into the wind to spread where they will.

These fruiting bodies are high in protein and often very nutritious, so make a nice snack for any passing critter. Most fungi accept this as one of those things that, as a non-mobile fungus, one must put up with. However, there are a number that resent their unborn offspring being gobbled up by animals, and produce a range of really quite nasty poisons to deter peckish beasts.


What do wild mushrooms do to dogs?

The majority of the 4000 or so species of UK mushrooms are harmless – they might not taste nice, but they aren’t actually dangerous. However, there are a number that produce toxins called mushroom poisons (interestingly, although very similar poisons produced by moulds are called mycotoxins, the term is not usually used for those produced by the mushroom fruiting bodies themselves). For centuries, if not millennia, the properties of these fungi have been known by healers, botanists and shamens, and used for a range of uses.

In dogs, we tend to see three groups of clinical effects:

Early onset vomiting and/or diarrhoea

These are usually the least harmful types of mushroom – as a general rule of thumb, the earlier the symptoms appear, the less dangerous the mushroom is. This is because it triggers vomiting and purging that remove any unabsorbed toxins from the dog’s system rapidly. If the dog is violently vomiting within six hours of eating the mushroom(s), then although they need to be seen by one of our vets (dehydration and salt imbalances from profuse vomiting can be dangerous in itself), the prognosis is usually fairly good.

Neurological effects

The most famous example is, of course, Psilocybe semilanceata, the “Magic Mushroom”, but there are a number of different psychoactive fungi in the UK. Unfortunately, dogs do not cope well with the effects of the active ingredients and may develop abnormal behaviour (well, of course!), self-injury, abnormal heartbeats and even seizures. In some cases, death may occur due to trauma while under the influence of the hallucinogen (for example, jumping from windows or running into solid objects), while in severe poisonings, the seizures may result in hyperthermia which may cause death from internal overheating (although fortunately this is relatively rare).

Liver and/or kidney damage

Sadly, many of the most dangerous mushrooms do not give easy tell-tail signs of poisoning until much later – possibly too late. These damage may damage the liver or kidneys, typically resulting in symptoms such as lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination (in kidney failure) and jaundice (in liver failure). Treatment requires intensive supportive therapy and often hospitalisation and the prognosis is guarded.


How do you know if a mushroom is safe or not?

The bottom line is that it’s very hard to tell – many harmless varieties have a poisonous twin that is almost indistinguishable. As a result, we strongly advise you not to let your dog eat wild mushrooms – full stop!

The Importance of Microchipping your Four-Legged Friend

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.

Pet Microchips

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.

Microchipping Laws

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.

Final Thoughts

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.