Ticks and Fleas spread diseases…

Ticks like this carry disease

I spent years learning about diseases, medicine and surgery to become a vet so I could help make animals better. Yet sadly there have been many times where I’ve either seen a dog die or be euthanised because of diseases that are preventable. For me it is heart-breaking to see a dog die like this, yet even worse are the owners crying because they did not know any better. I hope by writing this I can help prevent suffering to another dog and their owners.

Most people with a dog will probably have seen a tick or flea at some time or other. Whilst it is common to believe they may just be an annoyance to your pet, in some cases they can carry diseases which may be spread to your pet or in some cases even you.

Actually calling fleas an annoyance may not even be accurate as the itchiness that they cause can be extremely painful and lead to a dog destroying its own skin trying to get it to stop. However today I want to rather focus on ticks. In April this year I saw 23 dead dogs due to a disease carried by ticks. It is one that is relatively new to the UK; however it is very common where I studied as a vet in Slovakia.

This disease is caused by another parasite called Babesia which exists inside blood cells and is transmitted by ticks when they feed. When it enters a new animal the parasite spreads in the blood entering the red blood cells and then replicating inside it causes the cell to rupture and die. This process repeats until there are very few red blood cells left, it is treated, or the dog dies.

The symptoms vary, when the dogs I have seen suffering from this have arrived they have often been lethargic, the worse ones have been yellow with icterus and collapsed. The common symptoms are blood in the urine, lack of appetite, weight loss, pale gums and tongue, lack of energy and collapse. In fact the symptoms can be so non-specific that one of my teachers here actually once told me that if I cannot explain the symptoms by any other means then I should check for Babesia.

Checking for Babesia is generally easy with a blood test where a smear is examined under the microscope – if it is positive for Babesia then they will be seen within the red blood cells as in the dog below…

Babesia parasite inside a red blood cell
The dark puple “butterfly” in the middle circle is typically what Babesia looks like under a microscope © Chris Allen 2017

So we have the diagnosis, now for the treatment. Unfortunately this is where it gets complicated as although there is medication to kill the Babesia parasite, it can often be a battle to keep the dog alive long enough for the medication to work. Without enough red blood cells to deliver oxygen throughout the body the organs cannot work, the heart starts working faster to try and move the few good cells it has around faster, and the waste is filtered into the urine. The regeneration of red blood cells takes a few days to really start, so one potential lifesaving treatment is a blood transfusion – however this often just buys more time as these red blood cells may then also be infected and destroyed by the Babesia parasite.

The next problem then comes with the cost of treatment as well; often these dogs need hospitalisation and intensive therapy which for some is unaffordable. It really can be a gamble as to whether or not they survive at all, even if treatment is attempted, potentially leaving a big bill and a dead dog vs the happy pet parent taking their dog home.

The main question though is why it is even necessary.  Although tick products are generally not licensed against tick borne diseases, to help prevent Babesia you should help protect your dog against ticks with a vet recommended treatment, remove any ticks you find as soon as possible, and especially make sure you do this if you travel into mainland Europe.

I fully support the Pet Parasite Action campaign – such a little thing as regular prevention could help save your dog’s life even though you may not know it. You don’t go out and leave your front door unlocked to avoid theft, why would you leave your pet unprotected against diseases such as this?

Click Below to Check You Are Protecting Your Pet…

Pet Parasite Action Protect your pet

The Best Marketing Tips for Veterinary Practices

Just like any business, a veterinary practice lives and dies by the customers it has. If you are not attracting enough clients to your practice, it could be because you aren’t marketing your clinic the right way. With that in mind, read on to discover the best ways to advertise your veterinary practice.

  • Focus on SEO – Search engine optimization is a must for all businesses today, veterinary practices included. Veterinary SEO involves using an array of different techniques to move your website up the search engine rankings. This is imperative in today’s digital age, giving your website plenty of exposure, and ensuring your business is at the top of the results whenever someone looks for a vet clinic in your area. After all, whenever people need to find a business today, they usually turn to the Internet!
  • Profile your team – When setting up your veterinary clinic, you may not have a big team of staff, but this does not matter, you should still create a profile for each member – it does not matter whether you are a team of two or ten. This is because people like to know who is going to be looking after their animals. By highlighting the accomplishments and talents of your individual staff members, people will feel more comfortable about leaving their pets in your hands.
  • Offer a reward for customer referrals – Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful marketing tools today. You can give your customers a push to recommend your clinic by offering a reward if they do so. For example, for every new client that signs up through an existing customer, you could give the existing customer a 10% discount off his or her next vet bill.
  • Start a blog – Having a website is one thing, but you can take it to the next level by adding a blog. This is the way to show your veterinary expertise, setting yourself apart in the industry. You can share posts about veterinary news, customer stories, pet care tips, and anything else related to pet care and health. Create original, interesting, and engaging posts, which people will want to read. Not only does this show you as an expert in the industry, but it will benefit your SEO strategy too.
  • Get customer testimonials – Ask your satisfied clients if they will provide you with a testimonial. You will find that most will be more than happy to do so. You can use these testimonials in a number of different ways – from including them in magazine ads and brochures to social media and websites.
  • Be active on social media – This leads onto the last point perfectly; make sure you are active on social media. This gives people the opportunity to get closer to your practice than ever before, which harvests loyal customer relationships. Don’t simply post a string of promotional messages – engage with your customers and post interesting messages about the industry in general. You could also run a competition for increased exposure, with winners getting a pet basket, a bag of pet treats, or something else for their pet.

Great Ways To Integrate A New Dog Into The Home

bringing-a-puppy-home

Getting a new dog is an amazing experience, but it isn’t without its pitfalls. Sadly, not all pooches take to their new surroundings like a duck to water. In fact, some lash out like a hormone engorged, moody teenager. Of course, this is the last thing you want, especially if you have just been shopping or decorated. So, it’s important that you try and make the process as easy and simple as possible. To do that, you have to integrate the dog so that it feels like it is part of the family. If you don’t know how these tricks will come in handy.

Don’t Overwhelm It

Obviously, everyone will be excited at the prospect of adding a new member to the family. But, you can’t let the excitement boil over as it will overwhelm the dog. Instead, you have to act as if it is just another day in the household so as to smoothen out the process. With this in mind, there should be no welcome home parties or any functions of any kind. Also, refrain from crowding around and smothering the animal. Dogs, especially rescues, like their space and will bite back if strangers get too close.

Give It A Hearty Meal

Like men, the way to a dog’s heart is through food. Seriously, a good meal can do wonders because it shows your new pooch that you care. It is also a sign that this is its home. After all, not too many people feed pets that they don’t own. Snacks like chicken dog treats are also good for developing a bond. Indeed, you can use treats to for training purposes. If it does something good, reward it with a snack as positive reinforcement. There is a reason a dog is man’s best friend!

Walk It Around The House

There are lots of people that like to let a new canine wander around the house of its own volition. Although this is a smart move, so is introducing it the rest of property ASAP. That way, nothing will surprise the dog when it leaves the comfort of the living room or kitchen. Anyway, it has to go upstairs or outside at some time, and it may as well be sooner rather than later. If you are scared this will overwhelm it, don’t be as it only has to be a fleeting tour. After that, you can let leave it alone.

Establish A Routine

Dogs like to have a routine. Even though they don’t have cognitive reasoning, they do have instinct. As such, they know when something should happen, such as a daily walk. The quicker you establish a routine, the better for the animal. Then, there will be fewer surprises and less free time. As soon as it has something to do, it will take its mind off the move. And, when it does have some free time, it should be tired and go to sleep.

The process is never easy, but it isn’t as difficult when you follow the guidelines above.

Looking After Your Dog Post-Surgery

Every dog is different, so there’s not really any standard procedure when it comes to helping your friend through the post-operation process. But here’s some general advice that you should definitely take on board for when your dog is ready to come back home after a gruelling procedure!

Follow the instructions!

First and most important of all: your vet will give you instructions (usually written) that will give you specific advice on dealing with the recovery of your dog. You need to ensure that these instructions are followed to the letter, no matter what other options you try!

Look into further healing options

There tend to be a lot of options when it comes to speeding up the process of healing. This may come in the form of creams and other medications that help the wound heal quicker, or things that help your dog get to sleep and thus limit dangerous activity, or even canine laser therapy. Whatever option you consider, you should definitely consult with the vet first; you don’t want to do anything that may end up disrupting the process further!

golden-retriever-after-surgery

Limit activity

Too much activity can result in pain, wounds reopening, or other problems that will prolong the recovery process. So you need to consider the activity your dog usually takes part in. Jumping up on sofas and chairs needs to be limited. Keeping them away from other dogs as well as small children may be ideal for the first couple of weeks, as they tend to get very excited by both. Walks should be a lot slower as well as shorter; you may want to consider going on two brief walks per day instead of a long one. Consider having your dog spend some time in a small and confined space while they relax.

Check the sutures frequently

Dogs aren’t exactly known to report to your immediately if something goes wrong with their sutures! Proper surgical wound care is essential if you want to make sure the recovery is as fast and comfortable as possible. Antibiotic or antiseptic creams may come in very handy, but simple salt water washes may do the trick. (The vet will probably have given you some advice here!) You need to ensure that your dog doesn’t lick or scratch at their wound; if this means getting one of those funny cones on their head, then so be it!

dog-bed-after-surgery

Maximize comfort

When it comes to post-op comfort, there are at least three things you need to consider. One is temperature. In the first few days following surgery, dogs will have a hard time sensing temperatures. This doesn’t mean that they’re not getting cold or hot, however. You need to keep an eye on your pup and get a feel for their temperature so you know when to adjust the temperature accordingly. The second is the bedding your dog uses. A lot of people use quite cheap bedding for their dog because they know that dogs can basically sleep on anything, but now might be the time to invest in something a little more luxurious. Last but not least is your presence! Don’t stray too far from your friend; this will help them stay calm and happy.

Calling And Hygiene Training Techniques For Domesticating Your Cat

Perhaps you’ve just come home with the new arrival, or your feline friend has grown from a cute, cuddly kitten to a full sized adult with claws and teeth. Training a cat is sometimes seen as a fool’s errand because unlike dogs, cats by their very nature are independent animals. They like to be alone, and just like their larger cousins lions, like to patrol their territory quite avidly and routinely so. It can be quite the challenge trying to domesticate a cat that you’ve recently bought because integration for cats takes longer than pack animals who are social creatures, like dogs. However, with a few simple steps, you can teach you cat to be obedient and comfortable in all situations that may have previously been stressful.

Training your cat to come to you 

Getting your cat to come to you is the first part of training your cat to know that you are the ruler of the roost. Cats unlike dogs, don’t always work to please their owner for the sake of it, and in fact, need an incentive in the form of something beneficial to them in order to cooperate. The first action should be to instill within the cat to align positivity with the sound of calling them. Food is the great reward and incentivises the cat to engage in the activity. It will take experimentation but find their favorite treat which they enjoy the most. If treats don’t work then use a toy or something used to pet them with like a cat brush

  • Establish a call, that will be word or sound used to bring your cat to you. Decide on something and stick to it, and don’t change it.
  • Stand a few feet apart from your cat and call it. It may not respond at all, but don’t lose hope. Keep calling until it looks directly at you.
  • You may find that making noise by tapping your leg or rustling the bag of treats will get his or her attention quite regularly.
  • As soon as the cat acknowledges your call and comes to you, immediately give the cat a treat, with gentle petting.
  • Stand up and walk away after a few seconds, and the repeat the process. This is to establish the call and treat with a positive reaction the cat expresses by coming to you wherever you are. Above all else, remember to be patient and be persistent.

Eventually, you should slowly wean your cat off the treats and instead reward with affectionate petting and confirming each other’s bond. It’s important to establish such a connection with your cat because one day the simple act of calling it might save its life. When your cat recognizes your call it may stop them from running out into the road, or perhaps stop a fight with another animal, preventing injury.

japanese-litter-box-in-use

Cats are able to be house trained to also go outside to toilet

Cats must be house trained just like dogs to avoid bad smells and general poor hygiene. If you live in a safe area and your cat is outdoors then training to also go to the toilet outside may make sense. Of course, the alternative is to buy a litter box, but having you still have a chore to clean it and refill the box; it may not eliminate bad smells either. It takes time to educate your cat and training him or her to be respectful of the home will be a lengthy training process with a learning curve that requires patience.

Decide on the specific area where you cat will go to the toilet. The could be a specific area is most likely going to be the garden. However, if you cat feels vulnerable out in the open, move the litter box into the bathroom near the toilet. You’ll need a variety of supplies to train your cat to go to the toilet in a sensible manner that transitions them from the litter box to outside in the garden.

  • When you think your cat needs to go to the toilet next time, gently pick them up and take them outside.
  • They may want to go back inside to go in the litterbox, so bring the box outside and place it in a secure spot, out of view of the majority of the garden.
  • Allow them to go in the litter box while you give them praise. After the cat has finished, gently pet them.
  • Start playing with toys in an attempt to reward them. The best reward is catnip as their senses go wild and the brain releases substantial amounts of pleasurable chemicals.
  • The best catnip for cats will improve their responses to your commands because catnip can be put into toys and used as a reward.
  • Use the catnip toys to encourage your cat outside and slowly transition him or her off the reliance of a litter box.
  • Eventually after multiple times, take the litter box away completely and allow the cat to walk around getting comfortable. Reassure it with gentle petting and give it treats and toys to play with. Naturally, your cat will have to go to the toilet, and it will be excreting or urinating on the grass or soil of the garden.
  • The cat will try to bury their waste by putting grass blades or soil over it because cats are very concerned about cleanliness. This obsessive compulsive disorder stems from their ancient need to mark territory using their pheromones only.

cat-in-the-garden

When your cat is learning to be domesticated, it will often feel nervous and very tense. As the owner, try to be understanding and provide care and give your pet confidence by not making sudden moves or loud noises. Be as patient as you can because what you’re training the cat to do is sometimes against their instinct and building up trust is one key factor in maintaining a healthy relationship. The use of toys and treats cannot be overstated as your calls and affection won’t be enough because as mentioned before cats are often seen as solitary animals and may find it hard to do as you ask them. It’s a challenge to try and balance the normal behavior the cat possesses with fully house trained practices, but much like a dog, the cat will get used to willfully going outside if it connects doing so with a positive experience.

The prevention education of vet school that no one tells you about

Jenni Falconer and her dog Alfie

Something that many people do not realise is that vet school is not all about treating diseases or cool surgeries to put animals back together again. A lot of it is about learning how to stop animals getting sick in the first place. This training involves both infectious diseases as well as parasitic diseases – in fact vets are often better trained in this area than human doctors.

It is often said than an ounce of prevention is better than cure, and in the case where it is so simple to do there is little reason not to. However, a survey of 1056 dog owners carried out in February 2017 shows that whilst some people know what dog parasites exist, they do not know the risks.

Over a third of these dog owners said they never think about the parasites their dog may be hosting even though they sleep in the same bed, sit on the sofa together or even lick their face. In fact one in four people didn’t realise that their pet could have parasites without them even being visible.

One of the reasons that so much effort goes into prevention is that sometimes parasites and diseases can affect both animals and humans as a zoonosis. So helping to protect a pet against these parasites in turn also helps protects you and your family especially for those with children. So let’s take a quick look at some of the types of parasites out there, what people think, and what really is true…

Most dog owners are worried about lungworm with 82% of people knowing that it could be fatal to their pet. However 43% also believed it was a big risk for humans, this is not true as it is actually harmless to humans.

Ticks were second on the list with 36% saying they were worried about them, however less than half realised that ticks could cause death because of the diseases they can transmit. Just 28% realised that ticks could also be harmful to humans as they can transmit Lyme disease.

The most dangerous parasite came bottom of the list with just 15% worrying about roundworms and only 7% believing they could be harmful to human health. Roundworms of the Toxocara variety can cause big problems in humans if their eggs are swallowed such as blindness or neurological disease with children at most risk.

Prevention for these parasites has become easier with palatable oral chews available as well as spot-on medications so you can still interact as your dog as normal after the treatment. With so much at risk it was a surprise that the Pet Parasite Action survey found 1 in 6 hadn’t treated their dogs for parasites in the past year.

Your vet is trained to support you in helping to keep your pet healthy, and there are many options of different treatments. Their expert guidance and support can really prove priceless.

Take the free test to protect your pet at

Pet Parasite Action Protect your pet

The price of graduation…

chris-allen-graduation-doctor-veterinary-medicine-2017-uvm-kosice

Today I became Dr Chris, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Yet the only difference between yesterday and tomorrow is a piece of paper…

I am not sure what the price is for this piece of paper. It’s cost me a lot yet the euros that were spent feel so insignificant today. I moved to a new country to get it. I paid with 5 years of my life. Weeks where I was so tired that I didn’t even know what day it was. Nights where instead of my bed I was in cold stables, or stood at an operating table. Days where I didn’t have time to eat. Christmases spent in surgery. Nights spent reading books. Hours on planes to conferences and practice.

Patients that have made me so happy, patients that have made me bleed, and patients that have made me cry. Patients that have died. Patients that have survived. And the patients that have surprised.

The days where I doubted myself. Where I wondered if I deserved to be here with other such smart people. Where I wondered if I was even good enough to be here at all. Days where I felt overloaded with impossible amounts of information. Days where I just wanted to give up and sleep.

The state exam days where I felt I knew nothing and had to force myself to go and be judged. Not by what I could do… but by what I could remember… usually with no sleep… my brain below average performance… Knowing I could be asked anything…

The mental and physical scars that the journey to get this piece of paper has inflicted are still fresh… yet today I walk away having survived, having overcome, and having become a doctor.

This piece of paper is priceless. It gives me permission to keep on learning…

latin-diploma-certificate-doctor-veterinary-medicine

Leaving The Little Loved Ones

leaving your best friend behind

When we have pets, we’re expected to dedicate a certain amount of time to them. This is all well and good if your life is following a constant with no change on the horizon, but for those who are trying to juggle jobs, children and everything else, it can start to become more of a chore than originally anticipated. Pets require more than just fuss to be able to thrive; they need good, cleaning living conditions, a regular amount of food and water and, in some cases, exercise and interaction to help them to live a long and healthy life. However, this isn’t to say that you can’t invest in a little bit of help so that you can get the best out of your pet when life starts to get a bit more hectic.

Adapt Their Feeding

The great thing about technology is that it is constantly developing to help us live a more productive existence by freeing up time that would otherwise be spent completing inane tasks. One such example is that of having to feed your pet at the same time every day to stick to any routine or schedule that you’ve got put in place. It can increase anxiety in those who are not good at timekeeping, as well as being a nuisance to sort when you’ve got something else planned.  Instead of worrying yourself over it, get an automatic feeder from a place such as https://www.reviewloft.co.uk/the-best-automatic-cat-feeders/ to do the work for you. It’s a no-brainer, and definitely something worth investing in – especially if you are already trying to keep up with a busy pace of life.

Hire A Sitter

As well as babysitters, you can also hire pet sitters to come to your house and check that everything is as it should be. Those who are employed to look after dogs and horses may give them a good run around so you know that they’re getting at least some exercise before you get back. There are sites such as http://www.4pawspetsitting.com/reviews-and-testimonials/ which detail the most experienced people to consider for the job. Always go with your gut instinct; interview the people for the role and make sure that they fully answer any questions that you may have about the care of your pets. Remember to ask for recommendations from people you know who also use pet sitters to make sure you’re getting a thorough account.

Consider Separation Anxiety

If you know that you won’t be around for most of the day, don’t get a pet that is prone to separation anxiety. Depending on what you get or have got, there are certain traits within breeds of animals which display this behaviour – the Basset Hound dog is a classic example of one that needs their owners to be with them for the majority of the day. Pets that don’t tend to require much human interaction to keep them calm are rodents, fish and reptiles; anything else needs to be steered clear of to limit the upset on both ends.

What this pet guardian wants vets everywhere to know…

What every vet needs to know

Recently there has been an “Every Time” post going around social media to try and raise awareness of the risk of suicide in vets and how owners contribute. Tonight though I found a pet guardian that had written a response that I just had to share for every vet everywhere so please share and help make sure your vet gets to see this.

Rachel Allen wrote…

This makes me quite sad. I love my vet. Our family have been with him for over 20 years and he has saved many of our pets lives.

Here is my response for my vet, and to vets everywhere.

For every self-centred, ignorant and demanding client there are many more of us who;

See you handle our beloved pets with the same love, tenderness and respect that we show them.

We notice you are never quick to push us out the door and that you have time to listen to our, possibly often, trivial concerns.

We notice, and are thankful, for how you take the time to explain our pets situation in terms we are understand without frightening us to much.

We notice you don’t drive a Mercedes or Lamborghini. We know that practice expenses are high. We imagine liability insurance to be a depressing figure. We know that your university fees are extraordinary and that you are working to pay them back.

We value your time when we call to ask for some quick advice, we try to limit such intrusions so you’re not inconvenienced. We really appreciate every second of your time.

We know that the cost of our vet bills are high, we know the prescriptions are high but, we also know that’s not your fault. Some of us are literally handing over our pay checks to pay for our beloved pets needs but we do so because we love our pets. We harbour no ill feelings towards you as they are our pets and their expenses are our responsibility. It is not your responsibility to pay for them.

We never forget that you have saved our pets lives. Sometimes many times. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of what you go through to save our pets but we love you for the fact that they are able to live another day.

We know that when the time comes you will be there to make sure our beloved pet does not suffer any more pain, that you will help them over that rainbow bridge. We know you will do your best to console us when this happens and we will wonder how much of our pain you will share in that day. We will hope that you know that we are forever grateful.

For every client that brings you grief, please know there are far more of us whose lives you have changed for the better. Every time you fix our beloved pets, every day extra that we get to spend with our pets, because of you, are days that we treasure.

You allow us more joy than you may ever know. For that, for everything you do, we thank-you. ❤

How To Take Care Of Your Pedigree Pooch

happy-dog-problems

These days, more and more people are choosing to get their new pets from shelters – and let’s face it, that’s an incredible thing to do. Not only are you giving a home to an animal that really needs some love and care, but you’re also getting a pet that’s probably going to live a long time and be healthy. But not everyone wants to go for a shelter animal – if you want a specific breed, then you might just want to go for a pedigree pup. If that’s the case, here are a few tips that you might want to bear in mind…

Look For Breed Specific Problems

One of the biggest problems with buying a pedigree dog is that a lot of breeds have health problems that have been caused by unscrupulous breeders essentially breeding birth defects into them. French bulldogs and pugs often have breathing problems, while golden retrievers often suffer from hip issues. It’s important that you keep an eye on your dog carefully for any of these issues – take them for plenty of vet check ups, and educate yourself on the specific needs that your breed has.

breed specific problems

Keep Your Pup Healthy

Although your new dog is basically a member of your family, if you’ve spent a lot of money on him or her then you might be looking at them as an investment as well – that means that it’s all the more important to keep your new dog healthy. Make sure that you take them for all their jabs and vaccinations, and if you aren’t intending to use your dog for breeding then make sure you get them spayed. It’s important that you get the right food to keep them healthy. Some breeds even have specific food that’s good for them, like Royal Canin bulldog puppy food, which will be fab for your new bulldog baby. It’s important to make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise – take them out as often as possible, and remember that large dogs like huskies and labradors will require a lot of exercise.

dalmatians-dog-animal-headKeep Your Dog Safe

There are two ways to keep your dog safe: firstly, make sure that you train them fully. Obedience classes can work wonders and will teach you how to be a good dog owner just as much as they teach your dog how to behave well. It’s important to make sure that your dog has good recall if you’re planning to let him or her off their leash on public, and it’s also important to make sure that they’re socialised well with other dogs so they don’t freak out whenever they encounter another dog when you’re out on walks. Secondly, you need to remember that some breeds are in high demand and can be targets for theft thanks to how much they’re worth. If you have one of those breeds, make sure that when they’re outside, they’re in your line of sight all the time – some thieves have been known to reach into people’s yards to steal their dogs.