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Adders – what is the risk to my pet?

Identification: Most adders are distinctively marked with a dark zigzag running down the length of the spine and an inverted ‘V’ shape on the neck. Males are generally white or pale grey with a black zigzag. Females are pale brown with a darker brown zigzag. Adders are viviparous – they give birth to live young.

The Adder (Vipera berus) is the only venomous snake native to Britain. Adders will only use their venom as a last means of defence, usually if caught or stepped on. No one has died from an adder bite in Britain for over 35 years. With proper treatment, the worst effects in humans are nausea and drowsiness, followed by swelling and bruising in the area of the bite.

What is the risk to my pet?

The adder is a timid and non-aggressive snake, and will only bite when provoked. They hibernate over the winter and emerge in early spring as the temperature increases.

Unfortunately dogs are the animals most likely to be bitten due to their natural curiosity. But adder bites are rarely fatal in pets.

The severity of the clinical signs varies and depends upon the location of the bite (facial bites are more serious), the size of the patient (small pets are more likely to be seriously affected), the amount the pet moves after the bite (movement increases venom uptake).

The most common signs are significant swelling at the site of the bite, with systemic signs of depression and lethargy.

  • Less than 5% of patients display more severe signs
  • 96-97% make a full recovery, usually within five days

If your pet is bitten by an adder you should seek prompt veterinary attention. Do not attempt first aid measures such as applying a tourniquet- This is ineffective and can cause further harm to your pet. Carry your pet (rather than allow them to walk) to try and reduce the spread of venom around his body.

Prevention
  • Keep to the paths – snakes tend to live in the undergrowth
  • Use a short lead if walking in an area where adders might be present – this will also protect the young of ground-nesting birds
  • If you encounter an adder – leave it alone and give it the opportunity to escape to safety

Adders are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an offence to kill, harm or injure them, and to sell or trade them in any way.

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Summer dangers and your pets

During the summer months when we are enjoying the warmer weather, please continue to bear in mind of the potential hazards that may face your furry friend. Pet dangers during this time to be vigilant about are:
  • Mouse and Rat Poison – Rodenticides are the most common of pet poisoning. Mouse or rat poison are sold as pellets, grains or solid cubes and contain ingredients that are toxic to our pets. These toxins can cause problems your pet’s normal clotting of their blood therefore leading to internal bleeding, neurological damage and kidney failure. Symptoms of mouse or rat poisoning do not appear immediately, some may experience signs of lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, pale gums or difficulty breathing.
  • Garden Fertiliser – If you have green fingers you are likely to have fertiliser in your shed and applied to your garden, fertilisers contain components should as herbicides and pesticides which are toxic to our pets if ingested in large quantities. Signs of toxicity can include, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea.
  • Pyrethrin – This is a type of insecticide usually found in products to control fleas, flies or mosquitos in dogs. This is extremely toxic to our feline friends if accidently applied or ingested. Symptoms of prytherin poisoning include shaking, dribbling, vomiting, excitability, pacing, breathing issues and seizures. If left untreated this toxicity can prove fatal.
  • Slugs and snails – With our gardens blooming, the slugs and snails may be also enjoying your plants, therefore slug pellets may be used. Slug pellets are toxic as they contain a substance called Metaldehyde. Symptoms of this toxicity can include wobbly gait, muscle twitches and seizures. If you know you pet hasn’t ingested this toxic but has been in contact, it is advisable to wash off their paws if they have been on treated ground.
  • Toads – Toads native in this country are the Common Toad and Natterjack Toad. They are mostly active within the spring and summer months of the year and this toxicity are mostly associated with pets licking one or trying to catch one. Symptoms can include foaming at the mount, vomiting, unsteady on their legs, high temperature, shaking and can lead to collapse if not treated promptly.
  • Adder bites – These snakes are the only poisonous type of snake in this country. Other non-poisonous snakes you may spot are smooth snakes or grass snakes. The adder is more distinctive by the brown zigzag marking on the body. If you pet is bitten the area affected will swell and this can spread in severe cases. They may also experience signs of pale gums, diarrhoea, dehydration, restlessness or lethargy. If not treated promptly they can experience blood clotting problems or lead to collapse.
  • Anti-Histamines – During the summer months, us as owner may stock up on anti-histamines if sufferers of hay fever. If Anti-Histamines are ingested by our pets in large quantities they can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, lethargic, change in breathing pattern, or shaking.
  • Ticks – Ticks love areas of good vegetation so walking in these areas can mean more exposure to these pesky parasites. Ticks will bury their heads in our pets’ skin for a blood meal and sometimes spread disease in the process such as Lyme Disease and other diseases. Tick commonly are found in areas of a damp and warm environment such as wood or grasslands. They are a very adaptable parasite and can survive in different areas as long as they are close to hosts. Check your pet after walks for ticks which can commonly be found on body parts close to the ground such as paws, legs, belly. If you do find a tick, it can be removed with a tick removal otherwise one of our veterinary nurses would be happy to help.
  • BBQs – The summer may encourage us to have a BBQ in the nice weather, please be vigilant with your pets around as they will be very interested from those delightful smells. Foods that can cause the most issues are:
    • Corn on the cob – this vegetable is difficult for dogs to digest meaning they can cause gastrointestinal obstructions and they can also be a choking hazard.
    • Bones – Cooked bones are another danger that can splinter causing injury to the gastrointestinal tract or cause a gastrointestinal blockage. They can also be a choking hazard to our pets.
    • Kebab skewers – These also have a similar impact to bones causing gastrointestinal injury or blockage as well as again being a choking hazard.
    • Ice cream – our pets have sensitive stomachs and can be upset from rich foods. Therefore it is best to avoid these rich foods to prevent gastrointestinal upset.
  • Heat Stroke and dehydration – in the warmer weather our pets can struggle having a fur cost, provide them fresh water at all times and ensure you take portable water bowls if you go out for the day with them. Brachycephalic breeds can be more susceptible to heat exhaustion.
  • Cars – Please never leave your dog in the car, even with a window open, a car can quickly become too hot for our pets and they will experience heat stroke if they are not treated promptly.
  • Bee stings – Bees can be interesting creatures to our pets with the buzzing noise and their quick movements. Following a sting, our pets may show the following signs such as swelling, hives, pawing at their face or mouth, drooling, whining, lameness or licking or biting at the area of the sting. In some cases they may experience an allergic reaction, therefore please contact your vets immediately if they are struggling to breath, there is swelling around their mouth or throat or signs of collapse.
  • Pavements – Pavements and the ground on those really hot summer days can reached high temperatures. If you find the ground uncomfortable to touch or walk on then it will be uncomfortable for your pet too and doing so can cause serious burns. Try to walk them at cooler times in the day and on softer grass areas.
  • Pools and Water – Some dogs may not like the water and some of them love it. Therefore if you are planning on taking your pet to an area of water who cannot swim, please make sure you keep a careful eye on them or even purchase a floatation device. We also need to keep a close eye on our pets that do love to swim, if the swallow too much water they can suffer from water intoxication which can include signs of lethargy, nauseas, vomiting and bloating, if not treated promptly the outcome can be fatal.
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Have you thought how Brexit might affect you and your pet’s travel plans?

Unfortunately we do not know what deal the EU and Britain will come to regarding pet travel. The new deadline with regards to leaving the EU is 31st October 2019, however there is still a possibility that we could leave before this date. In order for the pet passport process to be completed, it is advise to start the process 4 months before you travel.

  1. If the current EU Brexit date stays as the 31st October 2019. Pets travelling into the EU before 31st October 2019 can currently do so under the current Pet Passport scheme and will be able to return to the UK as before.

  2. It may be that a deal will be reached to enable the current system to continue and you will have no need to do anything more.

  3. HOWEVER, if there is a “no-deal” Brexit, pets will still be able to travel to the EU but with further restrictions:
    1. Pets will require an injection against rabies

    2. Pets will then need to have a blood test to confirm that they have produced antibodies against rabies.
    3. THIS BLOOD TEST MUST BE CARRIED OUT AT LEAST 30 DAYS AFTER THE VACCINATION INJECTION

    4. Pets will NOT be able to travel for at least 3 MONTHS after the BLOOD TEST WAS TAKEN.

    5. This means with the current information we have regarding the new Brexit date, if you wish to be certain to travel on 1st November 2019 the rabies injection should be given no later than 30th June 2018 to allow time for these additional tests and waiting times.

      However please bare in mind that there is still the possibility of leaving before the 31st October 2019 and therefore the possibility of these regulations being put into force before hand. Therefore if there is not a minimum of 4 months between now and your planned travel date, please be aware that your pet’s travel requirement may not be met and will prevent your pet from travelling into the EU.
Details can be found at gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-after-brexit
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Pesky Parasites – Mites and your pet

Did you know there are different species of mites?

  1. Ear Mites – otherwise known as Otodectes cynotis live within our pet’s ears and can cause itching and ear infections. These mites are visible to the human eye as tiny white dots. Signs that your pet may have ears mites can include itching, dark wax in the ear and head shaking. Another ear mites that cats can have is called Notoedres, which is intensely itching for our feline friends.
  2. Sarcoptic mange – Scabies is caused by Sarcoptic scabei and are highly contagious to other animals through direct contact with an infected animal or by sharing contaminated items. Once an animal is infected they will burrow into the top layer of skin and therefore cannot be removed by brushing or bathing. Animals who are infested with these mites may show signs of itching, biting and licking at the infected areas.
  3. Demodectic mange – Demodex lives within the hair follicles of our pets and rarely spreads from us or other dogs. Most animals will become infected during their first few days of life from their mum via their mum’s muzzle. Demodex can cause skin reddening, hair loss, bacterial and fungal infections and itchiness.
  4. Harvest Mites – otherwise known as Neotrombicula autumnalis tend to be seen within the autumn months and live within rural areas. Our pets can easily pick these pesky parasites up on their wanders. They are visible to the human eye and appear as small red/bright orange dots and tend to be seen in areas such as ears, head, feet or belly. Some animals may not be affected by harvest mites, however other pets may show signs of being itchy and scratching/biting at these areas.
  5. Cheyletiella – this mite can sometimes be described as walking dandruff and normally seen in long haired cats or rabbits. These case will normally present with mild or absent signs and normally owners will notice excessive dandruff on their pets.
  6. If you have any questions regarding your pet’s parasitic prevention, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss with one of our Registered Veterinary Nurses.
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Peaky Parasites – Intestinal worms and worming your cat

The most common intestinal worms that cats can be susceptible to are roundworms and tapeworms. Your pet may not show signs of infection with mild burdens, however with heavy burdens they may experience weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and failure to thrive.

Some worms can also be passed onto humans and therefore it is important to regular treat your cat to prevent these parasites.

Roundworms
There are two common roundworms in cats Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina. Eggs are passed in the faeces and are able to remain viable in the environment for several years. Infection to other animals may either be through ingestion of eggs from contaminated ground or ingestion of an intermediate host (e.g. mouse or bird) that are infected. Toxocara cati can also be passed from queen to the kittens within the milk.

Hookworms
Hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme and Uncinaria stenocephala) are more common within other countries throughout the world. These worms can cause damage to the lining of the intestine causing signs of weight loss bleeding or anaemia. Cats can become infected through the ingestion of the worm eggs from the environment or by larvae burrowing through the cat’s skin.

Heartworm Heartworm otherwise known as Dirofilaria immitis is another parasite which is treated against. Signs of infection of heartworm may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, perioidic vomiting, lack of appetite or weight loss.

Tapeworms
These tapeworms will tend to be referred to a resembling a ‘grain of rice’. Tapeworms are long flat worms consisting of many segments and mature segment holding eggs will be released from the end of the tapeworm and passed in the faeces. These ‘grains of rice’ may be visible around the animal’s anus, in the faeces or on the pet’s bed. Cats can become infected with Taenia taeniaeformis through the ingestion of an infected intermediate host such as a mouse or bird. Dipylidium caninum has an intermediate host of the flea and your cat could become infected through the ingestion on a flea.

Our general advice regarding worming of your cat, is that kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks from 3 weeks of age until 8 weeks, then it is recommended to treat monthly until 6 months of age. After 6 months, worming will depend on certain factors such as outdoor access, hunting, and the presence of children or other vulnerable people with the household. These individuals should be treated more regularly as they will be classed as a higher risk and it is also advised to use a product to treat against fleas to minimise the risk of tapeworm.

If you have any questions regarding your cat’s parasite control, our staff would be more than happy to help.
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