Posts Tagged ‘pet’

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 Since 1st January 2021, pet passports have been replaced by Animal Health Certificates and UK issued pet passports are no longer valid.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

Christmas Pet Dangers

Do you know the pet dangers hiding on your Christmas shopping list?

Human Medication

In the run up to Christmas, many of us may be reaching for the ibuprofen or paracetamol to cure a fuzzy head. Make sure to keep human medication away from your pets — dogs and cats are very sensitive to the effects, much more so than us. Many over the counter and prescription drugs, whilst beneficial for us, can be very harmful or even deadly to pets even in small doses. Always consult your vet for advice before giving any medication to your pet.

Xylitol

Could your good intentions be unintentionally harmful to your dog?
Xylitol is often used in baked goods around Christmas time in an effort to fight the festive flab. However, it is extremely toxic to dogs if ingested, even a small amount can be fatal. Xylitol (also known as E967) can be found in many products including sweets, baked goods, jams, peanut butter, dental hygiene products, chewing gum, etc. Ingestion in dogs causes a rapid drop in blood sugar which can lead to lethargy, wobbliness, confusion, vomiting, collapse and tremors/seizures. Some dogs may also go on to develop acute liver failure. Cats luckily do not appear to be affected.

Batteries

It’s time to wrap those Christmas toys and gadgets – don’t forget the batteries! However, pets are inquisitive and may think nothing about swallowing batteries, which can cause significant damage to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract! Large, chewed or punctured alkaline batteries often require intervention, and the lithium disc or ‘button’ batteries pose the greatest risk of all. Always contact your vet if you think your pet may have ingested a battery.

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Mouldy Food

Mould ingestion can be lethal to pets. It usually happens when dogs raid the kitchen waste recycling caddy, so keep them out of reach this Christmas period where there is likely to be an increase in food waste. If your pet ingests mouldy food seek treatment without delay. Symptoms can occur rapidly and include:

  • restlessness
  • panting
  • excessive salivation
  • whole-body muscle tremors
  • hypersensitivity to touch/noise
  • seizures

Plants

Many Yule time plants can be hazardous to pets if chewed — luckily in the majority of cases symptoms are mild and self-limiting and may include salivation, oral irritation and vomiting/diarrhoea. To be on the safe side, keep plants out of reach of inquisitive pets and consult your vet if ingestion does occur.

Decorations

If you are decorating your Christmas tree this weekend beware of the potential dangers to your pet. Pets can be attracted to shiny lights, tinsel and baubles! Swallowed or chewed decorations can lead to cuts or intestinal blockages, and chewed fairy lights can pose an electrocution risk.

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Salt

Homemade salt dough decorations are pretty but poisonous! You might be decorating your Christmas tree this weekend, but these decorations can be hazardous for inquisitive pets. Due to the high levels of salt needed to make salt dough, ingestion of just one of these homemade decorations is enough to cause serious poisoning. Symptoms can range from vomiting, diarrhoea, decreased appetite, lethargy, incoordination, excessive thirst or urination. In severe cases, tremors, seizures, coma, and even death are possible. Please avoid putting these around your home at Xmas if you have pets.

Onions and Garlic

Did you know that onions and their relatives are toxic to dogs and cats?
The Allium family (onions, garlic, spring onions, chives, leeks etc) cause red blood cell destruction in cats and dogs — which can result in lethargy or collapse. Even 1 or 2 garlic cloves can be enough to cause serious problems in a cat. Exposure can also occur chronically i.e. small amounts every day can build up to cause an issue. Gravy is often a sneaky culprit at Christmas time — instant gravy can contain a high amounts of onion/garlic powder, so avoid giving it as a treat!

Nicotine

The weekend is here and it’s Christmas party time! However, our own bad habits can be bad for our pets too. Nicotine poisoning can occur in pets so keep cigarettes and vapes out of reach — the flavoured liquid used in E-cigarettes can be particularly attractive to dogs. With significant ingestion, symptoms occur quickly and include drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, excitability/agitation and neurological signs. Always visit your vet if you think your pet has ingested any nicotine.

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Chocolate

Keep those Christmas chocolates out of your pets reach! Chocolate is poisonous to pets, and dogs are usually the main culprits. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine which dogs and cats are unable to process properly. Theobromine acts as a stimulant leading to clinical signs of:

  • vomiting and diarrhoea
  • increased thirst/urination
  • hyperexcitability/agitation
  • rapid heart rate
  • seizures

The darker the chocolate the higher the theobromine content therefore the more toxic it is. White chocolate is safe however it may cause gastrointestinal upset due to its high fat content.

Alcohol

With the Christmas season in full swing what happens if your pet gets their nose into your alcoholic tipple? Alcohol should not be consumed by pets as their livers are not equipped to break down alcohol as easily as human livers are. We all know how awful we can feel after a heavy night, but our pets are much more prone to alcohol toxicity with potentially life-threatening consequences.  Alcohol toxicity can also occur from ingestion of unbaked bread dough — as the yeast ferments in their stomach, alcohol is created and is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream.

Grapes and their dried fruits

Grapes and their dried fruits such as raisins, currants and sultanas (whether raw or cooked) are known to cause fatal kidney failure in dogs — so keep Christmas treats such as mince pies, puddings and cakes out of reach. Even ingestion of just a few grapes is enough to cause severe illness so always consult your vet if your dog ingests any amount.

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If you are concerned that your pet may have ingested any of these items, get in contact with your local Goddard vet or hospital as soon as possible. 

What should I feed my dog?

There are a couple of age old mantras such as “you are what you eat” and “food is medicine”,  both used to deliver the message that our nutrition and our diet, has a major impact on our health. It’s the same story for our pets — so what should I feed my dog we hear you say? 


HOW OLD IS YOUR DOG?

Human infants and toddlers have different dietary needs to the likes of teenagers and OAPS as they are at different stages of their lives — it’s the same for dogs. A young puppy needs lots of energy, protein and calcium for growth of muscle, tissue and bone. An older dog, perhaps starting to slow down, needs rather fewer calories.

WHAT BREED IS YOUR DOG?

The difference in size and shape of the jaw may mean that different sizes or shapes of kibble are more easier to chew — this is particularly true of smaller short-nosed dogs, who can really struggle with some sizes of kibbles.

Endurance dog breeds such as Collies are “always on the go” whereas smaller and toy breeds (such as Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas) tend to live a more sedentary lifestyle — which can dramatically impact on their calorie requirements.

HOW BIG IS YOUR DOG?

The adult body size of your dog can affect their growth rate, and their dietary needs, when they are younger. But alongside this, several scientific studies have found evidence which suggests that food moves relatively more quickly through a smaller sized dog, than through a large sized dog, meaning more frequent meals may be needed, or a diet with a different fibre content.

WHAT KIND OF LIFESTYLE DOES YOUR DOG HAVE?

Top performing human athletes require very different diets from your normal office worker — in the dog world a good equivalent example would be the Labrador Retriever. A working Labrador will have different needs to a couch cuddling Lab. Remember, too, that where they live is important! A dog who lives in a kennel probably needs more calories than one who sleeps indoors by the fire, for example.

What should I feed my dog?

DOES YOUR DOG HAVE ANY DIETARY SENSITIVITIES?

Some dogs can suffer from allergies and intolerances to certain components of a diet, causing itchy skin or upset tummies for example. Understanding your dogs specific needs, things to avoid, and even methods by which diets are made, all helps to select the right diet.

DOES YOUR DOG HAVE ANY MEDICAL NEEDS?

Some diets are “prescription diets” which have scientific proof demonstrating that they help to control or prevent health issues such as bladder stones, kidney problems or liver issues. Other diets are formulated to include nutrients which may help manage things like arthritis.

COMPLETE DIET OR COMPLEMENTARY DIET?

These two terms sound very similar but what you may not know is that there is a very important difference. The term “complete diet” is a legally protected term in the EU, and using it means that by law, that diet must contain the required energy and nutrients (vitamins, minerals etc.) in the correct proportions. A complementary diet doesn’t have to meet these requirements.

Feeding a complete diet is essential to provide everything your animal needs. When a diet provides too much of something, it can lead to toxicities. For example, dogs fed too much Vitamin D can ultimately suffer from kidney failure. This is one reason it’s important not to feed too much offal in a raw diet.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SAFE HANDLING AND STORAGE OF THE DIET?

Some diets (especially raw ones) may require you to keep in the fridge or freezer, and may have a specific time period for consumption. Feeding these diets may also mean accepting an increased risk of encountering some bacteria which can be harmful to humans such as E.coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella .

The best way to minimise this risk is to change your usual hygiene practices when preparing a pets meal and when cleaning up faeces, to minimise the exposure of you or your family to the bacteria.


Every dog is an individual with their own specific needs and no-one knows those needs better than you and your vet. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by choice, or just looking for the best diet for your pet,  book an appointment with a member of our team. we can discuss a unique individual nutritional assessment for your pet and then recommend a refined range of diet options available to you.