Keeping Your Pets Safe & Well

Our number one priority is looking after you and your pet

  • Microchipping FAQs
  • Vaccinations FAQs
  • Parasite Protection

Microchipping FAQs

Microchipping- FAQs

Each year over 100,000 dogs are found as strays yet only 16% are microchipped! As of the 6th April 2016, all dogs in the UK must have a microchip by law. Microchipping is quick, simple and is the single most effective method of making sure that if the worst ever happens, your dog finds their way home.

Why is microchipping dogs necessary?

  • To reduce the number of stray dogs– More than 100, 000 dogs are abandoned or found as strays every year, costing tax payers and animal charities over £57m! This number could be drastically reduced if more dogs could be quickly and easily traced back to their owners.
  • To promote responsible dog ownership– By ensuring that all dogs are chipped, keepers of dangerous dogs or those not taking care of their pet can be held responsible.

What is a microchip? How does it work?

A microchip is a small electronic chip about the size of a grain of rice which contains a unique ID number. Once implanted the number is registered to an online database along with the keeper’s contact details. If a stray animal is brought into a shelter or clinic the number can be scanned allowing the owner to be located and the dog to be returned home.

When did microchipping become compulsory?

Under new laws passed in February 2015, as of the 6th April 2016, all dogs over the age of 8 weeks are required to have an up to date microchip.

I’m not sure if my dog has a chip, how can I find out?

Vets practices and most animal shelters will have access to a scanner- pop in for a free nurse consult to have your dog scanned today.

My dog is already chipped, will this new law effect me?

Yes! It is also compulsory for owners to keep their online details up to date. Some 40% of microchipped dogs are unable to be returned due to incorrect or missing data. Details can be changed quickly and easily online, sometimes for a small one off fee. Check yours are up to date today!

How do I update the details registered to my dog’s chip?

  • All UK microchips are registered to one of six databases, to change your details in the data base you must contact the data base directly- most have facilities to do this by phone or online.
  • To find out which database your details are logged with enter your pet’s chip number on the petlog website. If you don’t have a record of your pet’s microchip number, come and see us at the surgery to have it scanned.
  • Once you know the database where your details are stored contact them directly to update your details.
  • Occasionally a small one off fee may be charge to help with the maintenance of the database.

What happens if my dog isn’t microchipped after April 2016?

Once the new rules come into effect, if a dog without a microchip comes to the attention of the authorities, its keeper will be served with a notice requiring the dog to be microchipped within 21 days. Those who do not comply will face criminal prosecution and a £500 fine.

I’m buying a dog from a breeder- will they chip it or should I?

  • Anyone breeding dogs will be responsible for microchipping their puppies before they sell or give them to new keepers.
  • All imported dogs will need to have a microchip.
  • Breeders will be required to register their own details and these will be recorded against the microchip for the life of the dog, helping to trace puppy farmers.

Do I need to get my cat chipped as well?

Although it isn’t a legal requirement a chip ensures your cat’s safe return if they get lost. The special offer also extends to our feline friends.

How do I get my dog chipped?

Just ask and we will be happy to make you an appointment for a qualified and experienced vet or nurse to implant a microchip.

To make an appointment to have your cat or dog chipped or for more information give us a ring on 01626 367 972.

Vaccinations FAQs

Vaccinations- FAQs

Why vaccinate?

Vaccination protects your pet from dangerous and potentially life threatening diseases and is a vital part of responsible pet care. By making sure your animal is vaccinated you are not only giving yourself peace of mind but also preventing the spread of dangerous diseases to other animals in the area.

What are vaccines?

When the body is exposed to a virus/ bacteria it will naturally produce a protective response specific to the disease. When we give a vaccination we are artificially exposing the body to a harmless version of the virus/ bacteria. This allows the body to produce a protective response without ever having been in contact with the dangerous form of the disease. Once the animal has responded to the vaccine if it comes into contact with the virus/bacteria in later life it will have natural protection also known as immunity.

What do we vaccinate against?

Dogs:

  • Distemper virus– A severe normally fatal disease, thankfully now rare in the UK due to widespread vaccination but still seen in Europe.
  • Infectious hepatitis– Rare in the UK thanks to vaccination but often fatal.
  • Parvovirus- A particularly nasty virus which can survive long periods in the environment. Widespread in some areas of the UK. Usually fatal, especially in puppies.
  • Leptospirosis– Also known as Weil’s disease in humans. Spread though waterways normally in rat or dog urine. Widespread in the UK.
  • Rabies– Not found in the UK but required for pet passports.
  • Kennel Cough– Similar to the flu vaccine in humans. Doesn’t prevent infection but can lessen the severity of signs. Dry, wretching cough, very contagious in dogs. Normally self limiting but can be serious in young, elderly or immunocompromised animals.

Cats:

  • ‘Cat flu’ ( Feline herpesvirus and Feline Calicivirus)– The main viral component of cat flu but much like human flu other microbes can contribute to disease. Still very common in the UK. Potentially fatal in kittens and elderly cats. Spread through direct contact and sneezing.
  • Infectious enteritis (Feline Panleucopenia Virus) – A nasty and often fatal disease. Thankfully far less common since widespread vaccination.
  • Feline Leukaemia Virus– Transmitted through saliva (fighting or grooming). Can take months to show any symptoms but when it does it suppresses the immune system and leaves cats open to secondary infections and cancer- can be fatal. Thankfully becoming less common due to vaccination.
  • Rabies– Not seen in the UK but required for pet passports.
  • Feline Chlamydia– Can cause conjunctivitis. Mainly seen in multi cat households.

Rabbits:

  • Myxomatosis- A nasty virus, widespread in the wild rabbit population. Most often fatal.
  • Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 1 (RHD-1)- Causes sudden death in the vast majority of cases. Widespread in the UK.
  • Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (RHD-2) – A variant of RHD-1 which has come over from continental Europe. Normally fatal. Cases have been identified in the area throughout 2016.

Why do puppies and kittens need more than one vaccination?

Puppies and kittens should receive their first vaccines at 8 weeks old with a booster vaccine at 12 weeks. At South Devon Veterinary Hospital we also offer the option of a third vaccine at 16 weeks old. The ‘immune system’ is the body’s natural defence mechanism. The immune system does not start functioning fully until 2-4 months of age. The age that the immune system is able to respond to the vaccine varies a greatly between individuals.

Imagine two puppies, Puppy A and Puppy B. Both puppies receive their first vaccine at 8 weeks old. Puppy A’s immune system has matured fast and is able to respond to the vaccine making him immune to the disease. Puppy B on the other hand is not able to respond and wont develop any protection from her first vaccine. Scientific studies suggest that by 12 weeks of age the majority of puppies/ kittens immune systems will be mature enough to respond to vaccination. Therefore when the puppies come back for their 12 week injection Puppy B should develop the same protection (immunity) as Puppy A.

Twelve weeks is also the recommended age for final vaccination as provided by the vaccine manufactures. However, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) have recently (Jan 2016) updated their global guidelines to recommend that puppies and kittens should have their final vaccine at 16 weeks (or older). This recommendation is based on the results of scientific studies which suggested that some animals are still not able to respond to vaccines at 12 weeks old. Please speak to your vet if you have any further questions/ wish to discuss this further.

When is my puppy fully vaccinated?

Officially you can consider your puppy fully vaccinated against core diseases one week after their last 12 week vaccination (although this can be up to 3 weeks for leptospirosis). However the importance of early socialisation cannot be over emphasised. Vets here have to put to sleep more young dogs for aggression due to poor socialisation than die from the diseases we are vaccinating against.

We strongly recommend that you do everything possible to socialise your puppy while it is still highly impressionable (up until 16 weeks) even though they are not yet fully vaccinated. To do this we recommend carrying your puppy around with you, taking them in the car, playing with other puppies or vaccinated dogs, taking them to private gardens and walking them in private or rural areas where there have not been large numbers of dogs. We still recommend avoiding areas with a high traffic of dogs such as public parks and busy dog walking areas. This is taking a calculated risk but we feel that the lifetime benefits of a socialised puppy outweigh the possibility of disease.  Please talk to your vet if you wish to discuss this further.

Why do animals need booster vaccinations?

For every disease your animal is vaccinated against the body will create a specific form of protection called ‘antibodies’. For some diseases these antibodies will last for several years or longer, for example the rabies vaccination which lasts for three years. For other diseases (e.g. leptospirosis) the antibodies will only last a year or less. To make sure that your pet is always protected we need to ‘boost’ the vaccine. This ‘reminds’ the body how to fight the disease so it can produce the right antibodies. When immunity fades it leaves your pet at risk of getting the disease- annual booster appointments will allow the vet to give any vaccines required for that year as well as providing a health check.

Can I check to see if my dog actually needs a booster/ titre testing?

The duration of protection provided by vaccination varies between individuals. And some dogs may still have sufficient protection against one or more diseases at the time of their booster. Occasionally we are asked if we are able to measure this immunity using a blood test known as titre testing so that vaccination can be postponed/ avoided.  However, while we are happy to do the test, our recommendation would be that it is not worth doing. This is because:

  • You’ll need annual boosters anyway– Although we are able to measure antibody levels (degree of protection) for distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus there is no such test for leptospirosis (or kennel cough). Leptospirosis is wide spread and immunity only lasts for a year or less so booster vaccinations are vital.
  • Fading immunity– Research suggests that four years after the last booster vaccine at least a third of dogs will no longer have immunity to one of the core diseases (distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus). This vaccine is given every 3 years for this reason.
  • Tests are not 100% reliable– all tests have a number of ‘false negatives’ and ‘false positives’ meaning that even though the test suggests your dog has protection they may not.
  • Tests are difficult to interpret– A blood test is only a snap shot of what is happening to antibody levels. Therefore even if your dog appears to be protected now there is no guarantee they will be protected in the future. This would require further blood test and further expense.
  • It’s costly– Getting bloods taken and interpreted in far more expensive than the booster and you will need to have the leptospirosis vaccine boosted regardless of the result.

If you have any further questions or would like to book your animal in for a vaccination please contact the practice on 01626 367 972.

Parasite Protection

Parasite Protection

At South Devon Veterinary Hospital our number one priority is looking after you and your pet. Here you can find all the information you need to help keep your pet safe and well!

No one likes the idea of their pet having fleas or worms. Unfortunately every pet can fall victim to parasites, even if they stay indoors! We advise all our clients keep up to date with flea, tick and worm treatments throughout the year. Vets and nurses are the experts on parasite prevention and can advise you on how best to protect your pet, based on their lifestyle and yours.

As the majority of products we sell are prescription only medicines, we need to have seen your pet in the last 12 months to legally dispense flea and worming treatment.

What’s the problem with ‘over the counter’ products?

There are a wide range of ‘over the counter’ products for fleas and worms that can be purchased in supermarkets, pet shops or online. The efficacy and safety of these products varies widely. In general non-prescription products aren’t as potent  as a prescription product and if applied incorrectly, can even be toxic. We frequently see  animals who have been treated with ‘over the counter’ who still have worms, ticks or fleas. Even clients who own pet shops choose to buy flea/tick and worming treatment from the vets. Veterinary staff are the experts, we can provide expert advice to help find the product that’s right for you and your pet.

Why is it so important that my pet is wormed regularly?

Worms pose a health risk to pets, owners and families. Dogs and cats can be affected by about 12 different species of worm in the UK, with the most common types being roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms. Your pet could pick these up if they eat worm eggs passed by other infected pets or eat an infected flea during grooming. Symptoms of a worm infestation are not always easy to spot but can cause serious damage if left untreated.

All dogs and cats require regular treatment to help keep them healthy, but some pets may require more frequent worming. Puppies and Kittens are at especially high risk – to help get them off to a great start, South Devon Veterinary Hospital provides free deworming for all puppies and kittens at time of first vaccination. Why not have a look at our puppy and kitten care articles for more information.  Keeping up to date with flea treatment is also vital as tapeworms can be spread by fleas.

Some types of worms can also be transmitted to people with potentially serious results. Infection occurs when worm eggs are accidentally eaten and young children are particularly at risk. If you have young children, it’s even more important to treat your pet regularly and make sure they wash their hands after playing with a pet.

How common are fleas?

Really common! Studies have shown that almost a quarter of visits to the vet are related to skin problems. The vast majority of these will relate to ticks and fleas.

Fleas are an inevitable part of life for most dogs. As well as being unpleasant, they can cause skin damage and spread diseases. What’s more, female fleas can each lay up to 50 eggs per day! So it doesn’t take long for a few fleas to turn into a full blown infestation. Flea eggs, larvae and pupae are found in carpets, bedding and between floor boards. Flea bites may also cause intense itching and scratching which can result in hair loss and discomfort. Flea saliva can also cause a very unpleasant skin allergy in sensitive dogs and cats known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD).

Do I need to treat for fleas all year round?

Yes! It’s a myth that you don’t need to treat your pet for fleas in winter. Although fleas are less common outside in cooler months, central heating means that we see fleas all year round! Your pet can pick up fleas practically everywhere – from eggs, larvae and pupae in the environment or spread by wildlife such as rabbits. Flea eggs/ larvae can even be brought into the house on  footwear and clothing. And it only takes a few fleas to cause an outbreak.

Help!- How do I get on top of a flea outbreak?

Click here for our article on getting rid of fleas for good.

Do I need protection against ticks?

Yes- especially if your walk your dog in grass or woodlands. In one study almost one in every 4 dogs taken to the vet had one or more ticks, and some had as many as 82! Likewise, ticks aren’t just found in the countryside – wildlife, e.g. hedgehogs, can transport them much closer to home. Ticks hide themselves in long grass, parks and gardens, waiting to attach themselves to your pet. When they do, the ticks feed off your pet’s blood and can transfer serious diseases such as Lymes Disease. 

If you have any further questions feel free to make an appointment to discuss the best protection for your pet.