Puppy Awareness Week is running from 4th-10th September 2017!

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PAW aims to make sure that puppies live healthy, happy lives with suitable owners by spreading the ‘be puppy aware‘ message.

Being puppy aware involves making sure you know which dog and breed is right for your lifestyle so that you can care for it for life, and making sure you can separate responsible breeders from puppy farmers. Every year the Kennel Club holds a Puppy Awareness Week (PAW) to spread this message.

The cost of sickly puppies soars when puppies are bought from disreputable sources. Puppies from puppy farms are bred with no regard for their health and well-being and are kept in appalling, unsanitary conditions.

STOP puppy farming!

Research carried out by the Kennel Club shows that a shocking:

·         Half of pups (49%) bought online or from newspaper ads, without being seen first, fall sick and around one in five pups (17%) end up with serious gastro-intestinal problems.

·         One in five who bought a pup online or from newspaper ads are forced to spend between £500 and £1,000 on vet bills in the first six months of the puppy’s life – often more than the original cost of the puppy.

  • Over a third of people (37%) who ended up with a sick pup after buying online or from newspaper ads experienced financial problems due to cost, and 35% suffered from emotional problems.
  • Over a third of puppies (37%) bought online or from a newspaper ad without being seen first were bought as a spur of the moment decision, with almost two thirds being bought solely because of the way they looked.
  • Buying a pup from a responsible breeder can cost owners 18% less in unplanned veterinary fees and pups are 23 per cent less likely to need to visit the vet.

Kennel Club research has shown a shocking number of people still buying puppies from disreputable sources: one in three revealed their puppies were sourced on internet sites, through social media, in pet shops and newspapers advertisements – all sources popularly used by puppy farmers. Make sure that you don’t buy from a puppy farmer, or from an ill-informed and unknowledgeable breeder, who has not taken all of the steps to give your puppy the best chance in life. The Kennel Club recommends and always advises people to go to a Kennel Club Assured Breeder. The Kennel Club has United Kingdom Accreditation Services (UKAS) accreditation to certify breeders on the scheme and it is the only one in the UK that sets standards for and inspects dog breeders.

Click to watch video ->Do’s and Don’ts of Buying a Puppy.

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Click to watch video -> Stop the Suffering, Stop Puppy Farming.

Responsible Dog Breeding

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Many people see dog breeding as a quick way to make some extra cash, or simply because they would love a puppy from their adorable bitch. However, it is often under estimated the time, money and effort that is needed for well produced, healthy puppies.

Firstly, when breeding your bitch you should look at the bitch herself. Does she have the best temperament to be potentially passing to her offspring? Is she fully vaccinated? Is she the correct age for breeding? Has she passed all relevant breed specific health tests? After all, we don’t want to produce a litter of potentially unhealthy puppies because Mum has passed on her faulty genes. Most importantly, do you have the time and money to care for Mum and a potentially large litter of puppies?
When assessing temperament, we should be breeding a happy bitch without any aggressive tendencies, whether this is aggression shown to people or to other dogs. The bitch should be of a nice nature, pleasantly trained and be happy to please her owner. If she get’s a big thumb up, great! Now we need to think about her maternal antibodies which she will pass to her litter. Is your bitch up to date with her annual vaccinations? You should not breed a bitch that has not had sufficient immunisations to infectious diseases. Mum passes her maternally derived antibodies to her litter during pregnancy, which last in the puppies immune systems until around 8 weeks old – which is why we then vaccinate the puppies at that age to produce new life long antibodies. If Mum has had no vaccinations, or her vaccinations have ‘ran out’ by the time she falls pregnant, her litter will not receive necessary antibodies and are therefore susceptible to nasty and infectious diseases.

   If your bitch has passed the previous assessments, we now need to ensure she is the correct age for breeding. Overall we recommend that bitches are bred between 2-5 years of age, however The Kennel Club provide breed-specific requirements for individual breeds, some stating exact ages bitches should be bred. If you breed your bitch outside of the time frame provided by The Kennel Club, then you may not be able to Kennel Club register your litter of puppies.

   Once you have made the decision to breed from your bitch, approaching the suitable breeding age you should then take responsibility for the health of your future puppies by ensuring Mum passes all relevant breed specific health tests. These tests differ for individual breeds as different breeds of dogs are susceptible to different genetically inherited health problems. All recommended breed specific health screening tests can be found on The Kennel Club website, and can be completed and sent away for analysis by your Veterinary Surgeon.

   Breeding from your bitch is not a quick, easy and cheap process. You should have money put a side to pay for health screening and to provide relevant treatment to Mum & puppies when necessary, and to ensure that puppies receive gold standard care once they arrive. It is not uncommon for bitches to have birth complications, this means you are required to pay for medical treatment if complications at birth occur, and this can also mean paying the high costs of a caesarean section. We also have to take into consideration the chance of Mum rejecting her new arrivals, do you have the time and money to hand rear her litter every hour until they are weaned?

By this point, your bitch should be healthy, happy, passed all relevant health screens and be at a suitable breeding age. You should now find a similarly exceptional stud dog that has also passed relevant health screens. Once your bitch comes into season, you need to ensure she is mated on the correct days of her cycle for a successful mating. You should educate yourself on this before your bitch comes into season so you can be fully prepared for the mating process. Ovulation kits are available to track your bitch’s cycle, or you can monitor Mum’s discharge and behaviour to decide when is the correct time to mate. There are some fantastic books to help educate you on the tricky mating process – my personal favourite is ‘The Book of The Bitch’ by J.M. Evans & Kay White, which covers all aspects of breeding.

   After what we hope is a successful mating, you have a few weeks wait until your Veterinary Surgeon can confirm pregnancy by ultrasound scan – we aim to scan potential pregnant bitches between 5-6 weeks of pregnancy. Once pregnancy is confirmed, you should then change your expecting Mum to a good quality puppy food, which should be offered until the litter has been weaned onto their own food at around 5 weeks of age. We should also ensure that Mum is regularly treated for internal and external parasites, including a prescription strength flea treatment which is licensed for pregnant and lactating bitches, and also given regular worming treatments. We recommend Panacur oral paste for worming Mum and puppies, which should be given from day 40 of pregnancy to day 2 post-whelping (approximately 25 days). Puppies should also be routinely wormed with Panacur oral paste at 2, 5 & 8 weeks of age.

   You should educate yourself on how to plan for your fury new arrivals prior to birth, including how to prepare Mum’s nest and also how to recognise any early signs of complications. It is important to have a vet on hand to contact if required, and have transport encase an emergency veterinary visit is required. Be prepared that high cost veterinary treatment may be required if your bitch faces complications out of hours.

   It is recommended that Mum whelps no more than 4 litters in her lifetime, any more than this will be declined for registration by The Kennel Club – nor should Mum undergo more than one pregnancy per 12 month period. Your bitch must not undergo more than two caesarean sections in her lifetime, whether these are booked as elective caesareans for breeds with known birthing difficulties, or emergency caesareans. A caesarean section is classed as ‘A procedure which alters the natural conformation of a dog’ and again, The Kennel Club will not register a litter of puppies from a Mum who has undergone more than two caesarean sections. As a veterinary practice, we also have a professional obligation to report such procedures to The Kennel Club.

   At St Clair we take pride in promoting responsible dog breeding, and our fully qualified staff are on hand to help you along the way. If you have any more queries that I haven’t already covered, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01670 457271.

 Click to watch video -> What to Expect When Buying a Puppy from an Assured Breeder.

Responsible Puppy Ownership

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Vaccinations

Annual vaccinations are an important part of pet ownership, and are given to prevent certain diseases and illness caused by micro-organisms, often viruses. These diseases can be difficult, and sometimes impossible to treat and can be fatal. Infectious and contagious diseases are spread by physical contact or via contact with bodily fluids, or they may be picked up from the environment or water if either are contaminated. Disease can also be airborne and pass from one animal to another. Protecting your puppy from these deadly diseases is as easy as visiting us for a small course of puppy injections, and repeating the annual booster each year. At St Clair we provide specialised puppy vaccination packages, lifetime immunity packages and monthly health plans to make the upkeep of annual vaccinations even easier and even more affordable. However, despite it being so simple to vaccinate your puppy, many puppies are still left unvaccinated which mean they are vulnerable to serious illness and may die if they are exposed to an infectious disease.  Protecting your puppy in this way helps to protect everyone else’s pet because the more animals that are immune to a disease, the more difficult it is for a disease to spread. This is the same as vaccinations given to people to prevent the spread of infectious diseases like measles and to stop an epidemic from taking place. As with people, there can be some mild side effects with vaccinations but these are usually short-lived. Serious or allergic reactions are rare.

   Remember, prevention is always better than cure! There is often no cure and animals that do survive can be left with permanent damage from a disease. Common diseases you can protect your dog against include:

·         Canine Parvovirus –  This causes severe, life-threatening gastro-enteritis.

·         Canine Distemper Virus – This causes fever, digestive and breathing symptoms. It then effects the nervous system, commonly causing convulsions and then death.

·         Leptospirosis – This causes severe kidney and liver problems. Some strains are also infectious to people and can be potentially fatal.

·         Canine Infectious Hepatitis – This causes digestive problems, fever and jaundice. 50% of young dogs affected die.

·         Kennel Cough – This is not life-threatening but if your dog is mixing with other dogs the vaccination is recommended. It causes q hacking cough and can cause other breathing problems.

Neutering

Welfare benefits of spaying for bitches

·         No false pregnancy, which is common in bitches and can occur after each season. It can result in distress to the bitch and anguish to the owner. A bitch undergoing a false pregnancy may produce milk, lose her appetite and exhibit adverse behavioural problems.

·         Pyometra and other uterine diseases are avoided – unspayed bitches can develop pyometra later in life, which then requires life-saving surgery. Spaying a healthy bitch does not involve the risks of spaying an older bitch with toxaemia arising from the pyometra.

·         Reduces risk of mammary tumours as the relative risk of mammary tumours increases progressively with each successive season. Bitches spayed before the second season have a lower prevalence of mammary tumours than entire bitches.

·         No oestrus: oestrus (season or “heat”) occurs about every six months in entire bitches. During this time bitches have to be kept away from other dogs and walked under close supervision.

There are some reservations about spaying but most are not justified when examined more closely. Spaying may predispose to weight increase but dietary management can control this. Urinary incontinence can occasionally be associated with spaying but whether that relates to the age at which the bitch was spayed is unknown. Spaying is irreversible and a decision to spay a young bitch may be postponed by controlling her oestrus with drugs under veterinary direction. BVA believes the benefits of spaying a bitch outweigh any potential risks that are involved with the procedure.

Welfare benefits of castration for dogs

Castration rarely produces undesirable changes in temperament. Any weight change can be controlled by management of the diet. There is little problem with male guide dogs that are all castrated. Veterinary advice should always be sought on each individual case. Benefits of castration include:

·         It limits straying, particularly in response to bitches in season, which causes nuisance and unwanted litters

·         As a treatment for excessive and unacceptable sexual behaviour towards bitches, people and inanimate objects

·         For medical reasons eg. to prevent or remove testicular tumours or reduce perianal adenoma or prostatic hyperplasia

Parasite Control

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   Fleas tend to be highly visible and many of you know that once you get a flea infestation in your home it can take at least 3 months to break the lifecycle. But there are other parasites that can affect your pet’s health, or even that of the human members of your family. Those parasites may leave no visible signs in the initial stages, but the consequences of infestation can be very serious. The Pet Parasite Action campaign surveyed over 1000 dog owners and found that one in six had not treated their pet against ticks, lungworm, tapeworm or roundworm in the last year. In fact, nearly a quarter didn’t know if their pet had EVER been treated for lungworm. What makes this so surprising is that over 80% of those surveyed knew that lungworm could be fatal to their dog.

Ticks are widespread – they can latch on to your pet in parks and gardens and are not just limited to rural locations. The common tick species in this country can transmit Lyme disease to both dogs and humans, resulting in fever, swollen joints, loss of appetite and even long term health problems. A new tick is also gaining a foothold in the UK and is spreading rapidly! This tick species can transmit a disease called Babesiosis, which can be fatal to dogs. While you might think that ticks are easy to spot, they can be very tiny until they start to feed and by this point they may have already transmitted disease! indeed it’s estimated that 15% of dogs play host to ticks without their owner being aware.

If you haven’t heard about lungworm, it’s a parasite that is a growing threat. Lungworm is a potentially fatal disease for dogs, and dogs are most likely to get infected by swallowing slugs or snails infected with the parasite. But the slime left behind by slugs and snails can also contain infectious lungworm larvae, so dogs that chew grass or drink from puddles are also at risk. You might not initially realise that your pet is infected until it starts to show signs. Some dogs will seem depressed and subdued, while others may have a cough, difficulty breathing, or develop nosebleeds. In some cases infection can be fatal. Unfortunately, Lungworm is becoming increasingly common and spreading throughout the UK into previously unaffected areas.
Pets contract tapeworm by ingesting an infected intermediate host, and pets that frequently hunt or scavenge, or have access to sheep/cattle carcasses – such as farm dogs may require tapeworm treatment more often. A flea is the intermediate host for the most common tapeworm of dogs and cats. If your pet has a tapeworm infection, you may not realise as cats and dogs infected with adult forms of the tapeworm often show no symptoms, but sometimes you may see segments containing eggs, that pass out in your pets poo! Tapeworm segments in the poo can cause irritation resulting in pets licking the area excessively, and they may ‘scoot’ across the ground. In extreme cases, and if humans inadvertently ingest some types of tapeworm eggs, cysts can develop within human body tissues! You might think this is unlikely, but how often do you stroke your pet before eating a meal or even biting your finger nails?! And how often do you kiss your pet or let them lick yours or your children’s face?

   Roundworm is another worrying parasite, but again, you might not see any visible signs. Although often associated with puppies or kittens, adult dogs and cats can also be infested with roundworm and should be treated on a regular basis. Adult pets don’t often get ill as a result of roundworm, but the worms produce eggs which are passed out in your dog’s faeces. Those eggs can remain in soil or sand for a long time and if accidentally swallowed may cause severe health problems in people. A recent survey carried out by Pet Parasite Action has found that just 7% of dog owners know that roundworm, notably Toxocara, can be dangerous to people. If accidentally swallowed, eggs from this parasite can cause serious health issues in people, including neurological disease and even blindness! Children are especially at risk as they often play on the ground and in soil and sandpits. In fact, the survey highlighted that most dog owners (over 43%) believed that lungworm was most dangerous to human health, but while lungworm can be fatal to dogs there is no evidence that it harms people at all.
At St Clair we include your puppies first flea, tick, lungworm, roundworm & tapeworm treatments in their vaccination package, and we then offer an affordable monthly health plan called The Happy Paws Club, to provide your dog with all the cover they need, to protect them from parasitic infestations at an affordable price (this is also available for cats).

Pet Insurance

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One of the most important roles of responsible pet ownership, is taking out a good quality lifetime cover pet insurance!

Did you know that it has been proven that persons claim more on pet insurance each day than car or home insurances? And that good quality pet insurance can provide life-long funds to ensure your pet is given the best care possible in any circumstance? The team at St Clair Vets are trained insurance advisers who can advise you on any pet insurance inquiries and recommend the best insurance policies.

By owning an animal, you have a legal obligation to provide a reasonable standard of care. This includes veterinary treatment when your pet is unwell or injured.

By neglecting your animal and not seeking veterinary attention when required, you could be breaking the animal welfare act and could be prosecuted for neglect of the animal. Some animals may become injured or ill and require immediate surgery or medical attention; other animals may become ill with long term, sometimes life-long illnesses where you are required to pay for veterinary treatment for the pet’s life. Pet insurance covers your pet for illness and injury, where depending on the individual case, you can claim back your money or submit a direct claim for your insurance company to pay the veterinary surgery directly, claim protocols depend on the veterinary surgery in use, direct claims at St Clair will only be considered for any claim greater than £500 and will be subject to pre-authorisation by the insurance company. This provides a peace of mind that you can provide the best standard of care for your animal, which in turn prevents stress, and prolongs the life of your pet. Unfortunately there is no NHS type of industry for animal care; therefore it is an owner’s responsibility to pay for animal medical care when necessary.

Many pet owners leave medical conditions until they worsen in the hope that they will improve and not require treatment due to funds; however this is known to cost more in the long run as each condition worsens and may cause further damage and distress for the animal, this situation can be prevented when an animal is covered under their pet insurance policy.

Which type of policy should I choose?

Lifetime Cover

Lifetime policies provide a pot of money for Veterinary Fees each year. Every time you renew your pet’s policy (without a break in cover) the pot of money is refreshed back to the original Veterinary Fees amount. This allows you to claim for ongoing conditions for the life of your pet as there is no time limit on how long each illness or injury can be claimed for. Please note that some insurance companies provide ‘lifetime cover’ but do not refresh this pot of money yearly, so although there may not be a 12 month limit for the condition, once you use up your pot of money you will no longer be able to claim for that condition.

12 Month Cover

Time limited policies provide a pot of money for each illness or injury for a 12 month period. At the end of the 12 month period the pot of money is taken away and the existing illness or injury will no longer be covered by the policy. This means that you will not be able to claim for ongoing conditions for any longer than 12 months but will continue to receive a new pot of money for 12 months for any new conditions that occur.

Maximum Benefit Policies

Maximum benefit policies provide a pot of money per condition. Once you have used up all of the money in the pot the existing illness or injury will no longer be covered by the policy. It could take you several months or several years to use up the pot of money depending on the condition. You will receive new pots of money for any new conditions that occur but again you will only be able to claim for each condition until the pot of money runs out.

PLEASE NOTE – Different companies many use different names for their policies, therefore it is important that you research the policy and provider before taking out the insurance cover. 

Pre-existing Conditions

A pre existing condition is a condition that has already occurred, i.e. an ear infection 1 year ago or a sore paw last month. Insurance companies will not cover pre-existing conditions that have occurred prior to insurance cover being taken, this means if your pet has become ill, you cannot then take out insurance in the future for that condition. This is why we strongly recommend good quality life cover from a young age. This is also the case if there is a lapse in your pet’s insurance policy, so please ensure that your pet’s policy is renewed annually so there is no break in cover.

We encourage all of our clients to ensure their pet has a form of pet insurance; Lifetime Cover is a great way to cover your pet for illness and injury for life. Not only does this prevent vets from providing restricted treatments, it also ensures that animals are covered for life for their conditions, as long as there are no breaks in the insurance policy. When claiming on your pet insurance, all you are required to do is hand the relevant pet insurance claim form into our reception with the client sections accurately completed, where we will then complete the veterinary section FREE OF CHARGE and submit the paperwork with the animal’s full clinical history to your pet insurance company.

If you want the privilege of owning an animal, please be responsible and ensure that you take out a good standard pet insurance for the life of your pet. It’s the least we can do in return for the many happy years they give us.

If you would like more information on pet insurance, please do not hesitate to contact the team at St Clair Vets on 01670 457271.