Rabies case confirmed in France

Earlier this month a 7 month old Bull Terrier died whilst quarantined at a veterinary practice in the Loire Valley. Definitive tests confirmed it had rabies. The dog had already bitten a family member and a neighbour’s dog.

The dog had been imported illegally and unvaccinated from Hungary in December 2014. Tests show it probably contracted the virus whilst visiting Algeria in April-May 2015. Whilst those who think the Pet Travel Scheme is a waste of time will rapidly point out that it was during the legal, not illegal movements of the dog that rabies was caught, had the dog been imported legally it would have been vaccinated and therefore this situation would have been avoided.

The UK is incredibly fortunate to enjoy a rabies free status. Selfish and/or ignorant actions of people illegally importing pets, or buying those illegally imported by others, is putting this status in jeopardy. What can the benefit be of getting a young puppy illegally from abroad when there are many healthy dogs and puppies needing homes in this country? As this case points out, vaccinated animals that came into contact with the Bull Terrier now have to undergo monitoring for 6 months. Unvaccinated in contact animals will be euthanased. The actions of the family with this dog, intentional or otherwise, have now cost others their pets, and ended the lives of innocent animals. Not to mention put the human population at risk.

Rabies drives animals to bite. It does not matter if your dog is normally the softest mutt in the world. Rabies affects the brain and ensures it is passed onto the next animal by turning animals aggressive and making them bite. Even a lick on an open wound can transmit the disease. As with all vaccines, protection is not 100% but is an absolute must if you are either getting a pet from abroad, or wish to travel with your pet.

See the BSAVA page for the full story.

But the groomer says…..

There are few things that make me want to walk out of a consult and not deal with an owner ever again. The one sure fire way to get my back up though, is to question my veterinary knowledge, experience and professionalism because it clashes with what the breeder/groomer/pet shop owner/neighbour has said.

I completely understand needing to be happy with and trust the advice your vet is giving you. If you don’t have that trust and rapport, find another vet with whom you find it. I don’t profess to be omnipotent or be the best. However, when I am discussing something basic (using rest and painkillers as a first line for a mild lameness for example), and I am told “I’ll see what the groomer thinks if you don’t mind”, I have a sense of humour failure. Of course the groomer knows dogs. They work with them every day, they often alert owners to problems that they have not spotted themselves. But they are groomers, not veterinary surgeons. They have not spent 5 or 6 years at university learning the ins and outs of all species. Why is their advice worth more than mine?

I think there is a dangerous shift in public perception and attitude to what constitutes veterinary care. The title Veterinary Surgeon is protected by law. No-one who is not a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons is legally allowed to practise acts of veterinary medicine or surgery on animals in this country. However there is more and more the tendency for services and individuals to advertise as providing a “veterinary” service. The setting up of vets in pet shops adds to this image and issue of de-specialisation. The term veterinary seems to be used to denote anything relating to animals and their care, and this is not the case.

So my suggestion is this; by all means ask your groomer/friend/neighbour etc what they think, by all means question your vet so you understand what is happening, ask for a second opinion if you feel unsure, but let each profession do what they have been trained to do. No-one has ever asked me if I think the groomer has trimmed a dog wrong. Which is lucky as I wouldn’t know.

Cerenia licensed for cats

Cerenia – a potent anti-sickness drug – was released in 2007, but has only recently become licensed for use in cats. Available as an injection that lasts 24 hours and also tablets (dogs only), it provides a highly effective way of stopping nausea and vomiting from many causes.

At high doses it is effective against motion sickness in dogs, although this should only be used for longer infrequent journeys. It is not recommended to give medication every day for your trip to the local woods to go for a walk.

It should be used with caution in cases where an obstruction to the gastrointestinal tract is suspected, and should be avoided or used at a reduced dose in animals with liver disease.

It is a useful anti-sickness medication for patients undergoing chemotherapy. Whilst animals do nto experience the same degree of side effects as human chemotherapy patients, some do show nausea and stomach upset for a couple of days after administration of the drugs. Sending patients home with two days of cerenia tablets to give after each chemotherapy session has been shown to be effective in reducing nausea and thereby improving both the animal and owner perception of the experience and situation.

Vets have been using it “off license” in cats for years but the license has come as wlecome news. We are allowed to use an unlicensed product through the Cascade System – a prescribing method that ensures drugs are used responsibly and animals are not put in danger. In the absence of any licensed anti-sickness drugs for cats, the next step is to use an anti-sickness medication that is licensed for use in an alternative species. If your vet has been using cerenia for your cat, they have done nothing wrong at all.

Some animals (cats and dogs) show a transient pain response on injection and may yelp. It is not known why it causes discomfort for some animals and not for others.

It is currently only available in the oral (tablet) form for dogs, I do not know if they are planning on bringing out an oral formulation for cats.

Oro-mucosal Spray Painkiller for dogs – RevitaCAM

The first alternative formulation to tablets or liquid pain killers for owners to administer to their dogs at home has been relatively recently released by Abbott Animal Health Ltd.

RevitaCAM is a spray that is applied into the side of the dog’s mouth and is rapidly absorbed through the mucous menbranes lining the mouth. It contains the same active ingredient called meloxicam as Metacam and some other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) and is therefore known to be safe and effective if used correctly and under the guidance of a veterinary surgeon.

Whilst I have not had call to prescribe this myself, I think it is a useful alternative for dogs that are difficult to tablet or do not like the typical honey flavour liquid of the older preparations. Your vet probably does not stock this, but will be able to order it in if asked and you think it will be more suitable for your dog.

SureFeed from Sureflap

Available from Summer 2014, these cat feeders operate under the same microchip restriction idea as the Sureflap cat flap.

WIth two different designs – one just to keep food fresh, and the other to only only access to the food for the animal(s) with the correct microchip number these will be an invaluable part of any multi-cat household. It is increasingly common for individual cats to need particular diets to meet their specific needs, and in a multicat household this can be very difficult to achieve. The SureFeed presents a neat solution to this problem that does nto involve stress to either owner or cats.



For all cat owners who have an outdoor cat, the problem of unwanted feline friends coming in your cat flap no longer need be cause for concern. Sureflap provide a microchip operated cat (and small dog) flap that will only allow those animals with the correct microchip entry and exit. Allowing programming of up to 32 animals/microchips, these flaps are suitable for even multi animal households. The upgraded model (the DualScan) even allows you to keep some cats as housecats, whilst others can come and go. There is an inbuilt safety feature with this model whereby those cats registered as not being allowed exit, will be allowed entry in case they have escaped through a window and desperately want to get back in!

Easy to fit and programme (one button press to register each microchip), these flaps are battery operated and are the best I have come across. Compatible with all manufactuers of microchips (unlike some of the cheaper competitors) these are the cat flaps of choice.

Orthopets – Dr Buzby’s Toe Grips

Designed for elderly, arthritic, special needs or rehabilitating dogs, these toe grips are a fantastic way to provide improved safety in the home. Many injuries happen or are exacerbated by dogs slipping on hard floors – tiles, laminate, wooden, vinyl….. – and the solution has always been to put carpet runners or rubber matting round the house. This is not only impractical but also not entirely satisfactory – the runners move or your dog doesn’t want to walk on them.

These toe grips provide the solution. Designed to slip over the dogs nail and held on by friction (no glueing involved) the grips allow traction on slippery surfaces and improve the biomechanics of the limbs. This improves stability and confidence moving around, and reduces the likelihood of slip related accidents.

A must for any arthritic pet. Available from your vet or via the Orthopets website.

Simple Solutions

This is a household must for any pet owner. Even if your dog is perfectly house trained, there are times when they either just have to go, or are unwell and deposit yesterday’s food from one or both ends onto your cream carpet. Never a pleasant finding, and one I have been particularly lucky to find on several occasions.

Following the instructions on the bottle, this cleaner gets rid of both the stain and smell associated with any “biological stain”. Meaning the accident is gone.

This is also important if you have a dog or cat who urinates in the house. Using regular detergents, biological washing powder or disinfectant can cause them to want to go back and mark the same place time and time again. WIth Simple Solutions there is no drive for them to mark over the top of the site.

It really does work and really doesn’t wreck the carpet. My oatmeal carpet is living proof.

Can dogs with chylothorax have anaemia?

They can, but it is not a commonly recognised complication of the disease. Anaemia is where there are not enough red blood cells in the circulation. In chylothorax, it is more common to see hypoalbuminaemia (low blood protein levels) due to the protein being lost into the fluid in the chest and anorexia causing reduced protein intake through diet, along with low levels of some of the white blood cells.

Anaemia can be seen with any chronic serious disease, and if your dog has anaemia as well as chylothorax, it may be relating to the underlying cause rather than the chylothorax. Dogs often have pale gums with chylothorax, but the pallor is often due to poor circulation rather than anaemia.

Your vet will be able to check for anaemia with a quick blood test run in the clinic.

Can a dog with chylothorax have anorexia?


Chylothorax is a serious medical condition that affects many of the organs and body systems. Whilst the respiratory system is the main site of symptoms, if there is difficulty breathing or your dog is feeling ill, they will lose their appetite and may become anorexic.

Anorexia does not mean the same as the eating disorder in humans called Anorexia nervosa. It just means that your dog is currently not eating.

Dogs often have a reduced appetite (hyporexia) for some time, and will suffer from weight loss before the condition is diagnosed, or before anorexia really kicks in.

Speak to your vet about some nutritional help or feeding tubes that will help your dog through this.