• Tortoise indoor housing – part 2


    If the indoor housing fails to provide adequate space, or if temperature ranges and ventilation are inadequate, tortoises will become highly stressed and far more likely to succumb to respiratory and other serious infections. It is therefore extremely important that the accommodation employed meets all the animal’s critical physiological and environmental needs. Indoor housing that consist of enclosed glass ‘fish-tank’ or reptile style vivarium used for snakes or lizards is for many reasons not the best option for a tortoise.

    For juveniles and small tortoises, a ‘tortoise table’ design is more suitable. This type of enclosure offers many important advantages over traditional ‘tank style’ habitats:

    • The amount of floor space provided is substantially more than can be offered in even the largest traditional vivarium. This is critical, as exercise is as important to tortoises as it is to humans. By allowing for adequate exercise the risk of respiratory and bone development problems is reduced.
    • Ventilation in such units is excellent.
    • It is very easy to provide flexible lighting and heating arrangements, and to allow for adequate gradients to permit normal thermoregulation.
    • There is no danger of broken glass and the units are easy to disassemble and relocate. Several such enclosures can be stacked on top of one another to provide multiple habitats on the same floor space.
    • This type of enclosure provides excellent access and is very easy to clean and maintain.
    • The lack of ‘invisible barriers’ reduces stress and promotes normal behavior.
    • The cost of providing large amounts of floor space is very low when compared to expensive glass enclosures.
    • Because of their strength, it is possible to use adequate depths of substrate that allow for burying and burrowing. This has important considerations for health, as this is one way that tortoises conserve fluid and prevent dehydration. If tortoises do become dehydrated this can result in irreparable harm to the renal system and increases the danger of potentially fatal bladder ‘stones’ forming.
    • Enclosures of this type can be obtained ready made from several specialist suppliers, or can be made at home with a basic set of tools and minimal ‘DIY’ skills.
    • Alternatively, some keepers have adapted existing furniture such as wardrobes laid on their backs to this purpose, and others have taken large indoor rabbit and guinea pig cages (of the type consisting of a large tray and wire top cover) and used these with considerable success. These options can provide a substantial amount of floor space and excellent ventilation at very reasonable cost.




    All tortoises require adequate light and heat to function normally and to maintain good health. Overheating is just as dangerous as under-heating. Great care should be taken when selecting all heat and light systems, and when installing and using them. Also, tortoises are dependent upon UV-B to make their own vitamin D3. They are also highly sensitive to what is known as the ‘color temperature’  visible spectrum light. They rely upon this when feeding, and the quality of lighting has an impact on various aspects of their behavior. It is therefore very important that tortoises housed indoors receive the correct type, intensity and duration of artificial lighting.


    A separate fittings for basking heat and a secondary UV-B lighting source can be used. It is extremely important to carefully examine the detailed specifications of any lamp used. In particular, be very careful of lamps simply advertised as ‘reptile basking lamps’. Most of these emit no essential UV-B whatever normally, such lamps are installed between 30 cm (12”) to 45 cm (18”) above the basking position. This should result in temperatures of 32 to 35 Celsius being achieved directly beneath the lamp, with a decreasing gradient to background temperatures of approximately 24 Celsius at the periphery of the enclosure during the day. It is vital, especially with small juveniles, that they are never able to fall upon their backs directly under a hot basking lamp. Fatal overheating can occur in those circumstances very quickly. This can be prevented by raising the lamp to reduce ground temperatures or by turning it off completely if you are leaving it unattended. To maintain full activity, provide approximately 14 hours of light and heat daily. At night, unless the room where the tortoises are kept is unusually cold, little or no overnight heating should be required with tortoises (tropical tortoises require different conditions). Ambient overnight temperatures for tortoises (even hatchlings) can safely be allowed to fall to 15 Celsius or even somewhat less. Actual harm would not result unless temperatures approached freezing point. Even in the wild, it is quite normal for temperatures to fall markedly at night. This will not result in illness or present a danger (please check the specific temperature requirements of your species). If extra warmth overnight is required, in winter, for example, we recommend using an overhead infra-red ceramic dull emitter heater in a heat-proof holder. These provide radiant heat, but no light. Tortoises require an overhead, radiant source of heat and light if normal thermoregulation is to be achieved.



  • Tortoise outdoor housing – part 1

    Tortoises kept in the UAE will normally require a combination of outdoor and indoor facilities as indoor facilities alone are rarely adequate. Tortoises require far more space than most reptiles, and do not tend to do well if kept in classic vivarium-style enclosures for extended periods.



    Tortoises need a dry and well-drained area with both shade and full sunlight. Heavy, wet soils or damp grass will likely cause respiratory and shell infections over time.

    Aim for a very secure enclosure that meets the animals need for:

    • Safety from attack by predators such as rats, cats, dogs and even large birds. Juveniles are at particular risk so pens are best covered by strong mesh.
    • A dry, well-drained substrate that helps prevent shell and respiratory infections.
    • Shade to prevent overheating in hot weather.
    • Shelter from rain and cold in bad weather.
    • Sufficient space to permit normal behavior and adequate exercise. All pens should offer a range of micro habitats including shady plants, rocks, open basking areas and a good selection of edible vegetation. Tortoises like to create ‘scrapes’ and burrows, and they also use contoured surfaces to aid basking and thermoregulation. In addition, contoured surfaces, especially if accompanied by strategically placed rocks and vegetation, are of great help in allowing a tortoise to get onto its feet if it accidentally turns over. On flat surfaces, they will find that very difficult and stressful. It can even be dangerous if they become inverted in full sunshine on a hot day, and death can occur from overheating rapidly in such cases.
    • Secure perimeters to prevent climbing or burrowing out, or predators burrowing in. Many tortoises are excellent climbers, and others can dig deep burrows very quickly. Burying a strong wire mesh beneath the enclosure is highly advisable in such cases. Take special care in corners, which are often implicated in escapes. All perimeter walls should be at least twice as high as the largest tortoise is long, and it is best if all perimeters are completely opaque and solid, as tortoises will spend hours trying to get through any barrier that they can see through.
    • Enclosures can be constructed of a variety of materials. Concrete blocks, stone, brick or treated timbers are all suitable. For smaller tortoises and juveniles, ready-made items such as children’s sandpits can be easily adapted to provide very secure and attractive housing options.
    • Large tortoises may be allowed to roam freely in a garden, but do make certain that all perimeters are 100% secure and that there are no toxic plants or garden chemicals in use that present a hazard



    by Dr. Lenka

  • Rosie the Tarantula

    Meet Rosie, a 2 year old Chilean Rose Tarantula (Grammostola rosea).

    This species is a moderately-sized obligate burrower. Also, this tarantula has a diverse diet, including grasshoppers, crickets, moths, beetles, cockroaches, mealworms, and even small lizards and mammals. She used to be a wanderer, spending times in different plant pots out of her terrarium and making webs. It was a while she was not doing any webs, and since two weeks ago, she had stopped eating and noticed slow and dull.

    Upon arrival at the clinic, it was noticed how dehydrated and how much fat deposit she had lost, specially seen in her belly. This species often refuse food before molting or even follow a natural feeding cycle where they don’t eat. However, upon discussion with the owner, several husbandry misconceptions were noticed. The Chilean Rose doesn’t require high humidity, but any tarantula that is not feeding for periods of time, and therefore not obtaining moisture from its food, should have special attention paid to its water source and cage humidity.

    She was immediately held and leaned over a small plate with water, and she drank almost all of it!

    The second reason of consultation was a “pimple in the butt”. indeed, a round, soft,  yellow centered swollen area was indeed found. Invertebrates don’t have abscesses, but it sort of resembled one. Gently, it was opened and the content removed and analyzed. The lesion was cleaned and sealed properly. The lab smears have been revised by an invertebrate vet specialist and they might be an Acrocercidae spider fly larvae who are known parasitoids of spiders.

    Rosie was sent home with several instructions on husbandry and nutrition techniques to stimulate feeding.

    The latest news, three days after visiting us is that Rosie is drinking, and as well started to eat a little bit. She is seen much brighter and moving more. Female Chilean Rose tarantulas can live up to 20 years, so we hope she overcomes this episode, and she can live much more years making webs around her favorites plants!



    By Dr. Tatiana

  • Demodecosis in Dogs


    Demodectic mange, also called Demodecosis, is an inflammatory disease in dogs caused by various types of a mite known as Demodex. This mite lives inside the hair follicles and the sebaceous glands. When the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles and skin of the dog becomes exorbitant, it can lead to skin condition including alopecia (hair loss), redness of the skin and lesions. The severity of symptoms depends upon the type of mite and the level of immunity of the dog and if there is any underlying condition (genetic disorder, hormonal imbalance, organ disease).



    Three species of mites have been identified to cause mange in dogs. While the mode of transmission is unknown for two of these, it is known that one type, Demodex canis, inhabits the skin and hair follicles and may transfer from mother to newborn during nursing. The parasite is a normal resident of the dog’s skin, as shown by PCR studies demonstrating that small populations of the mite colonize most parts of the skin of healthy dogs. The mites transfer to the neonate by nursing contact with the mother within the first 2-3 days of life; puppies removed from the bitch by cesarean section and raised away from her do not have mites.


    Types and Clinical Signs of Demodecosis:

    Demodicosis can be either localized or generalized, and may be juvenile or adult in onset, but the clinical appearance can vary markedly. There are three types of mange i.e., 1- Localized: in which the mange affects only a few parts of the body, usually the face. It will appear as just a small lesion around the face and is commonly seen in puppies. 2. Generalized: in which the disease affects larger areas of skin, sometimes possibly the entire body. Generalized demodex will many times cause secondary bacterial infections leading to intense itching and a foul odor. It can be very difficult to fully eliminate all the mites. 3. Demodectic Pododermatitis: its located on the feet only and causes secondary bacterial infections that are located between the pads and the toes. This type is the most difficult to fully cure.

    Diagnosis and Treatment:

    The traditional diagnostic tests of skin scraping and trichograms (a method to examine h

    air shafts) are still valid, but good sampling technique can increase the chances of successfully identifying the mite. If localized, the problem is likely to resolve easily, which happens in approximately 90 percent of cases. For severe generalized cases, long-term medication may be necessary to control the condition. In either case, the general health status of the animal should be evaluated. Also, once treated, the disease can


    reoccure in the future as the parasite is a normal resident of your dog skin.


    Follow up and Management:

    Continuous follow up is needed through skin scrapings and trichograms. It should be noted clearly that once treatment for generalized demodicosis is commenced, the pet should be monitored by repeat scraping every 4 weeks. The life stages and numbers of parasites should be recorded to monitor progress, and owners should be aware that treatment may continue for two months after a negative scrape – typically 3-7 months in total. If one form of treatment is unsuccessful, try a different one, but some patients are “control versus cure” (especially the adult onset cases)


    General good health with higher immunity may help prevent a lot of cases. As allergic condition could me an underlying cause, testing your dog for possible allergens is advisable. It also advised that dogs with generalized chronic mange should not be bred, as the condition is likely to be passed to offspring.

  • Canine Hydrocephalus

    Hydrocephalus is an expansion or abnormal dilation of the ventricular system due to an increased volume of spinal fluid. The ventricles that are affected are those connected with the spinal cord. The abnormal dilation may affect only one side of the brain, or both sides. It may involve the entire ventricular system (a set of hollow structures in the brain continuous with the central canal of the spinal cord), or only elements next to a site of the obstructed ventricular system. The body may form too much fluid or, as occurs in most cases, the fluid that is produced cannot drain from the central nervous system as it normally does. The ventricles become swollen, and the increased pressure damages and/or prevents development of brain tissue.
    Hydrocephalus can occur as a congenital condition (present at birth) as well as a result of trauma of the brain. Congenital hydrocephalus usually becomes apparent at a few weeks up to a year of age.

    There are two types of hydrocephalus – obstructive and compensatory.dog-boy2_nb
    In the case of obstructive hydrocephalus, spinal fluid accumulates due to an obstruction along the normal circulatory pattern (non-communicating hydrocephalus), or the fluid accumulates at the fluid resorption site near the meningeal arachnoid villi (communicating hydrocephalus).
    The most common site of obstruction is at the level of the mesencephalic (middle brain) aqueduct. Prenatal (before birth) infections may cause aqueductal stenosis(narrowing) with subsequent hydrocephalus. This may result in considerable disruption of the architecture of the brain, or it may be caused by tumors, abscesses, and inflammatory diseases (including inflammation resulting from hemorrhage that has been caused by traumatic injuries or other causes of bleeding.

    With compensatory hydrocephalus, spinal fluid fills the space where the nervous system’s functional parts have been destroyed and/or failed to develop. Intracranial (within the brain) pressure is a normal result.

    The congenital form of hydrocephalus is
    more likely to occur in small and brachycephalic dogs: bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Maltese, Pomeranians, Toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Lhasa Apsos, Cairn Terriers, Boston Terriers, Pugs, and Pekingese. It is an inherited disease in Yorkshire terriers. Additionally, there is a high incidence of normal adult Beagles that are found to have enlarged ventricular systems and yet are clinically without symptoms. Acquired hydrocephalus can occur in all breeds.

    Symptoms and Types300px-dog_brain

    • May be without symptoms
    • Wetting or soiling in the house
    • Sleepiness
    • Excess vocalization
    • Hyperexcitability
    • Blindness
    • Seizures
    • A large dome-shaped head
    • Crossed-eyes
    • Gait abnormalities
    • Coma
    • Abnormal breathing
    • Animal may arch its head back and extend all four legs

    • Congenital
    • Genetics
    • Prenatal infection
    • Parainfluenza virus
    • Exposure to teratogens (drugs that interfere with fetal development) in utero
    • Brain hemorrhage in newborn after difficult labor
    • Vitamin A deficiency
    • Acquired
    • Intracranial inflammatory diseases
    • Masses in the cranium

    The hydrocephalic dog typically has a very limited life span. Severity differs, but only very few dogs with this condition will live over two years of age.


    You will need to provide your veterinarian with a detailed history of your dog’s health, including any information you have about its birth and parentage, the onset of symptoms, and any possible incidents, including minor falls, that might have preceded this condition. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, with a complete blood profile, chemical blood profile, complete blood count, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis, in order to effectively rule out or confirm evidence of trauma, infection, or cancer.

    Diagnostic imaging is essential. Skull radiographs may help to diagnose congenital hydrocephalus, but computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are best for visualization, enabling your veterinarian to come to a definitive diagnosis.

    Other diagnostic tests that can assist in the diagnosis of hydrocephalus-chihuahua-teacup-dog-breed-800x828hydrocephalus are a spinal tap, with a laboratory analysis of the fluid, and an electroencephalogram (EEG) for measuring the brain’s electrical activity.


    Most cases go untreated. Veterinary neurologists can be consulted and occasionally the excess fluid can be drained. With surgery or medical treatment, however, the dog will rarely live a normal life. Treatment is often unsuccessful and expensive.

    All affected dogs should be removed from the breeding program. Any animals with a family history of hydrocephalus should be considered carefully during breeding selection.

  • Dementia in Dogs

    A geriatric dog with behavior changes isn’t a rare occurrence. For years, veterinarians have attributed these symptoms to senility or normal aging and few treatment options were available. But continued scientific research has proved that dog can suffer from a disease named Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.

    Canine Cognitive Dysfunction is a condition related to the aging of a dog’s brain, which ultimately leads to changes in awareness, deficits in learning and memory, and decreased responsiveness to stimuli. Although the initial symptoms of the disorder are mild, they gradually worsen over time, process also known as “cognitive decline.” In fact, clinical signs of canine cognitive dysfunction are found in 50% of dogs over the age of 11, and by the age of 15, 68% of dogs display at least one sign.


    Possible Signs of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
    Canine cognitive dysfunction is caused by physical changes in the brain, degeneration of the tissue, due to chemicals changes such as the depletion of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. It is similar to those that physicians see in Alzheimer’s patients. The result of these changes is a deterioration of how your do
    g thinks, learns, and remembers, which causes behavioral changes that can disrupt the lives of both you and your dog. If downloadyour senior dog doesn’t seem to be himself, he may be part of the large percentage of dogs age 10 and older that experience some symptoms of CCD, which include various stages of confusion and disorientation.

    Symptoms and Types

    • Disorientation/confusion
    • Anxiety/restlessness
    • Extreme irritability
    • Decreased desire to play
    • Excessive licking
    • Seeming disregard for previously learned training or house rules
    • Slow to learn new tasks
    • Inability to follow familiar routes
    • Lack of self-grooming
    • Fecal and urinary incontinence
    • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
    • Changes in sleep cycle (i.e, night waking, sleeping during the day)
    • Getting generally more fearful and anxious
    • Trouble with the stairs



    In the meantime, you can help your dog cooperate with CCD by considering his needs when it comes to your home, its surroundings, and the environment it creates for your dog. By incorporating some supplements, a little care and a modified, veterinarian-recommended lifestyle, you may be able to increase your dog’s brain activity and halt further CCD advancement. In fact, the latest studies have found that regular, moderate physical activity, mental stimulation with interactive toys, and a diet rich in antioxidants may help maintain your aging dog’s mental health. Again, your veterinarian should be consulted before changing any of your dog’s exercise or feeding regimens; but also try to keep your senior dog’s environment familiar and friendly, and:
    After a lifetime of exited tail wags, faithful companionship, and memorable tricks, it is no wonder your senior dog is beginning to show his age. Maybe his hearing isn’t as refined as it once was. Maybe his muzzle has grayed and her coat has begun to thin. Or maybe, he is slow to rise and not as spry as he was in his younger days. Unfortunately, natural aging can slightly change appearances, decrease mobility, or dull the senses. But if your older dog’s personality has changed, he may be experiencing something much more serious than the passage of time. In fact, if your dog seems confused, distant, or lost, he may be showing signs of a severe thought processing problem known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction. Because a precise cause is now known, there is not a certain means of prevention.dementia-geriatric-dogs

    • Try not to change, rearrange, or even refurbish furniture
    • Eliminate clutter to create wide pathways through your house
    • Consider purchasing or building a ramp for any stairways
    • Know your dog’s limits when introducing new toys, food, people, or other animals
    • Develop a routine feeding, watering, and walking schedule
    • Keep commands short, simple, and compassionate
    • Encourage gentle and involved, short play sessions

    Most importantly, keep your patience and compassion. Your dog’s world has changed, but every effort should be made to show him that your love, respect, and pride of his past and present abilities have not changed and never will. However, keeping your dog active and mentally stimulated by teaching fun tricks, playing games, exercising and participating in various activities together might help keep his mind sharp.



  • Dental cleaning in dogs and cats

    Despite the old conventional wisdom that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s mouth, dogs can still develop problems like tartar and plaque buildup leading to gingivitis. Like in humans, these canine dental problems can actually lead to life-threatening infections and issues including heart, liver, and kidney disease.

    Your dog’s mouth could suffer from bleeding gums or abscessed but still eat just fine. That’s why it’s vital to get your pet’s mouth checked regularly by a professional at least once a year..


    Dental Care at Home

    The more you do to help your dog’s oral health, the less your veterinarian has to do. Home care includes:

    • Brushing your pet’s teeth daily: it is one of the best things you can do for your dog’s smile. Don’t overdo it the first few times, start slowly and quit if your dog gets agitated. You can increase the time every day. Also, make sure to reward your dog with a treat afterwards. Do NOT use regular human toothpaste for your dog: most human toothpastes include fluoride, which is extremely poisonous for dogs; you can find toothpaste formulated for dogs at most good pet stores or at your veterinary clinic. Grown dogs can learn to become comfortable with dog teeth cleaning, but make things easier for yourself by working with your dog as a
    • Chew time: If the tooth brushing ends in blood, sweat, or tears, there are still choices you can make to help improve your dog’s oral health with pet-safe toys such as thin bits of rawhide, rubbery balls, bendable bones, and chewable toys you can hide treats in. You can also give “dental” treats specially formulated to clean your dog’s teeth.
    • Water Additives: there are various additives you can add to your pet’s drinking water that can reduce tartar formation. They do work best as a preventative, so should ideally be introduced when your dog is young or just after a dental clean.
    • Good-quality pet food:Crunchy kibble is better for your dog’s teeth than soft food, as soft food is more likely to stick to the teeth and cause decay. It may include a “dental diet” if your vet recommends it.


    If you notice any of these signs of dental problems, then take your pet to the vet:3acb0fcc086d3e1cb4e6aa4965b0f570

    • Bad breath
    • Change in eating or dog chewing habits
    • Pawing at the face or mouth
    • Depression
    • Excessive drooling
    • Misaligned or missing teeth
    • Discolored, broken, missing or crooked teeth
    • Red, swollen, painful or bleeding gums
    • Yellowish-brown tartar crust along the gum line
    • Bumps or growths within the mouth


    Dental visit at the vet

    While the dog is still awake, the vet will check for bad breath (one sign of gum disease), and for red, swollen, or bleeding gums. The vet will also look for discolored, broken, or missing teeth, as well as gum recession.

    But in order to have a full examination of the mouth as well as a dental cleaning the pet must be put under general anesthesia. The vet will then check for periodontal pockets around the teeth, check all surfaces of the 42 teeth, and perform X-rays, which are vital to diagnosing periodontal disease below the gum line.

    13406733_1080276052018146_3586803604322867656_nDuring the dental cleaning, your vet will remove calculus above and below the gum line, smooth rough tooth surfaces, remove dead gum tissue, irrigate under the gum line, and polish the teeth. However, some pets do have problems that may need further care such as dental extractions.

    How often your dog needs regular cleanings and exams also depends on:

    • The dog’s age
    • The dog’s breed (larger breeds often have fewer dental problems than smaller breeds.)
    • The home care you provide

    Dental care can be a hassle for humans and dogs, but proper maintenance can be a money saver in the long run and even a lifesaver. Letting it go can lead to costly and often painful vet visits down the road.



  • Ready to leave… but with my pet!

    Summer is a popular time to travel out of the UAE, but do you do with your pet while traveling? You can leave your pet with a friend, board him/her in any kennel and cattery or even take him/her with you during your travels. But if you choose the latter, be careful to check way in advance all the requirements necessary for your pet to travel.

    First of all, be aware that each airway company, ferry company or train company does have its own policy on the transport of live animal (and their own ticket fares).

    Second, each country has its own import and export policy. For more information about the requirements for each country (the country of arrival but also the one of departure), you can contact any pet relocation or visit www.pettravel.com anywhere between 1 year and 1 month prior departure.

    You must take all reasonable steps to make sure that your per is not transported in any way that causes, or is likely to cause him/her injury or unnecessary suffering. Always plan your journey carefully, taking into account your pet’s need.

    If you have any doubt whether your pet is fit and healthy to travel, seek advice from your vet.


    Travelling in the car

    It is important that you make sure that your pet is safe when transporting him/her in your car. Never leave your pet in a car on warm or hot day even with A/C. This can cause heat stroke distress and can lead to the death of your pet.

    Make sure your pet is secured and confortable during the journey so that he/she doesn’t distract you while you’re driving, injure you or them if you have to stop quickly, and can’t escape when you or your passengers exit the vehicle. Cats and small animals should be kept in a suitable robust and secure carrier (which allows them to sit and stand up at full height, turn around easily and lie down in a natural position). The carrier should be properly secured in the car to stop it moving around. Always make sure that your vehicle, and your pet’s container is well ventilated and kept cool during the journey.

    Pets can find travelling in the car a stressful experience. It may be beneficial to take them on short local journeys to get them use to the unfamiliar environment, sights, sounds, and movement of the car before you go on holiday, and to check that they are happy with this type of transport. If your pet suffers from travel sickness, speak to your vet.

    On long journeys you should:

    • Always take plenty of water. Your pet should always have access to water during your journey;
    • Feed your pet no sooner than two hours before you travel. Your pet will travel better if he/she does not have a full stomach. If your journey is long enough to cover a period of time in which your pet would normally be fed, remember to take your pet’s food with you. Take a break to feed your pet a light meal and make sure your pet is allowed to rest and digest his/her food for two hours before continuing your journey;The cute beagle travels in the blue car
    • Take regular breaks. Your pet should be allowed to exercise and go to the toilet at regular intervals. Cats and small animals should be given the chance to use a litter tray. Always make sure that all windows and doors are firmly closed and locked, whilst your cat is out of its carrier, to prevent him/her from escaping. Dogs should always be exercised on a lead, and you should make sure that they can’t escape from the car as you go to get them out;
    • Make sure you have fulfilled all the legal requirement of taking your pet abroad if your journey takes you out of the country.


    Travelling by train

    Make sure that you contact the rail company prior to arranging travel to check what their “pet travel” policy is.

    If you decide to use this method if transport you should:

    • Travel during the coolest part of the day and when it is less busy;
    • Always make sure your pet is secure and that he/she cannot escape;
    • Make sure your pet is confortable and has enough water;
    • Make sure that there is enough ventilation for your pet;
    • Make sure you have fulfilled all the legal requirement of taking your pet abroad if your journey takes you out of the country.


    Travelling on a ferry

    Make sure that you contact the ferry company prior to arranging travel to check what their “pet travel” policy is. Animals other than registered assistance dog are not allowed in passenger areas on most ferry trips, and passengers are not always allowed back to their cars during the journey. This mean you may not be able to check on your pet during your ferry crossing. Depending on the length of your journey you may be required to place your pet in a container rather than leave them in the car. You should take all this into consideration when deciding to take your pet in a ferry.Georgie-9-1050x700

    If you decide to use this method of transport you should:

    • Have your pet checked over by a vet before you travel;
    • Never travel on a hot day, as leaving your animal in a car on a warm or hot day can cause distress and suffering that can lead to death;
    • Travel during the coolest part of the day and when it is less busy (e.g. overnight)
    • Always make sure your pet is secure and that they cannot escape;
    • Make sure your pet is confortable and has enough water;
    • Make sure that there is enough ventilation for your pet;
    • Make sure you have fulfilled all the legal requirement of taking your pet abroad if your journey takes you out of the country.


    Air travel

    Long journeys including the flight, transportation to and from the aircraft and waiting times in the hold of an aircraft can be very stressful and distressing for your pets. Apart from registered assistance dogs and small dogs and cats depending on the airway company, pets will have to travel either as excess luggage in the hold or as cargo. Although the hold is usually ventilated and temperature controlled, this may not be the case when the aircraft is on the ground. Delays can occur in flight times and regulations may not allow the hold to be opened on the tarmac, even during high temperatures. You should take all this into consideration when deciding to use this method of transport.

    Make sure you contact the airline prior arranging travel to find out what their “pet travel” policy is. These specify standards such as the design, ventilation, and size of containers for transporting dogs and cats, and also arrangements for providing food and water. They also state that particular animals are no allowed to travel by plane.

    When choosing to travel with your pet by plane you should:

    • Have your pet checked over by a vet before you travel
    • Choose the most direct flight to your destination to reduce the travel tie and stress on your pet;
    • Make sure your pet is confortable;Grey cat sitting in a green suitcase white background
    • Make sure your pet is provided with water in a non-spill container that will last the length of the flight. Gelled water may be provided as a reserve;
    • Make sure you have fulfilled all the legal requirement of taking your pet abroad if your journey takes you out of the country.


    Source: Transporting your pet – RSPCA


  • Obesity in pets

    Obesity is a nutritional disease which is defined by an excess of body fat. pet that are over nourished, lack the ability to exercise, or that have a tendency to retain weight are the most at risk for becoming obese. Obesity can result in serious adverse health effects, such as reducing the lifespan, even if your pet is only moderately obese. Multiple areas of the body are affected by excess body fat, including the bones and joints, the digestive organs, and the organs responsible for breathing capacity.getty_rm_photo_of_extremely_fat_cat_on_sofa

    The primary reasons for obesity in pets is over eating and lack of physical exercise. In wealthier countries, many can afford to give their pets excessive amounts of food. Owners view food as a way to reward and treat their pets, which contributes to their overeating habits. Modern day pet foods are a higher quality food, and some pets are prone to gorging themselves to the limit of their stomach capacity, a behavior developed through evolution. In addition, pets, especially dogs, are often not allowed to free roam as they did in the past. Pets confined to a house or small yard, or who are not regularly walked or played with, are more prone to obesity.

    Obesity is common in pet of all ages, but it usually occurs in middle-aged pets, and generally in those that are between the ages of 5 and 10. Neutered and indoor cats and dogs also tend to have a higher risk of becoming obese due to lack of physical activity, or changes in metabolism.



    • Weight gain
    • Excess body fat
    • The inability (or unwillingness) to exercise
    • An above-ideal score in a body condition assessment


    There are several causes of obesity. It is most commonly caused by an imbalance between the energy intake and its usage — eating more than the pet can possibly expend. Obesity also becomes more common in old age because of the normal decrease in a dog’s ability to exercise. Unhealthy eating habits, such as high-calorie foods, an alternating diet, and frequent treats can also bring on this condition.

    Other common causes include:



    Obesity is diagnosed primarily by measuring the dog’s body weight or by scoring its body condition, which involves assessing its body composition. Your veterinarian will do this by examining your dog, palpating its ribs, lumbar area, tail, and head. The results are then compared to the breed standard.

    If a pet is obese, it will have an excess body weight of approximately 10 to 15 percent.

    One study in cats has shown that surgical sterilization of animals increases the chances of the pet becoming overweight.

    Nonetheless several factors make obesity more likely in pets.

    • Breed – certain breeds have a higher risk.
    • Age – the risk increases with age.
    • Neuter status– neutered dogs are more at risk.
    • Sex– apart from older dogs, obesity is reported to be more common in females.
    • Owner– obese owners may be more likely to have obese dogs, perhaps because they are less likely to exercise their dog, or less able to recognize obesity.

    Similar factors may also be associated with other animals.

    The health risks of obesity

    Obesity can cause serious health and welfare problems, and make existing problems worse. This can reduce the length and quality of a pet’s life.
    Some serious medical conditions associated with obesity are:

    • diabetes
    • heart disease
    • respiratory distress
    • high blood pressure
    • cancers

    Obesity is also likely to affect a pet’s ability to perform natural behaviours (e.g. exercise normally).

    Preventing obesity

    For dogs and cats there are a few simple checks you can do:

    • You should be able to see and feel the outline of your pet’s ribs without excess fat covering.
    • You should be able to see and feel your pet’s waist and it should be clearly visible when viewed from above.
    • Your pet’s belly should be tucked up when viewed from the side.


    You can find more useful info at: http://www.petobesityprevention.org/


  • Ear Mites

    Ear mites are a common parasite infection. However, complications may arise when an animal has an mnmnmnmnmimmune hypersensitivity reaction that results in intense irritation of the external ear.

    The most commonly seen species in veterinary medicine is Otodectes cynotis (Gk. Oto: ear, dectes: biter, cynotis: of the dog) – tiny, eight-legged parasites that feed on the wax and oils in a pet’s ear canal. This species, despite its name, is also responsible for 90% of ear mite infections in cats.

    Ear mites do not burrow as some mites do, but live within the ear canal.
    Symptoms and Types

    • Itching of the ears, head and neck
    • Sometimes generalized itching
    • Excessive scratching at ears and around head
    • Frequently shaking the head
    • Thick red-brown or black crusts in the outer ear
    • Unusually dark colored ear wax (serumen)
    • Abrasions and scratches on the back side of the ear
    • Strong odor
    • Inflammation
    • One or both ear pinnas held at an odd or flattened angle



    In addition to the development of skin infections, ear mites can cause blood vessels inside a dog’s ear flap to rupture as result of his intense scratching and head shaking. This will cause the ear flap to appear swollen and is painful to the pet. An aural hematoma, as it’s known, often requires surgery to correct.



    You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your pet’s health and onset of symptoms, as well as whether your pet has regular contact with other animals. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam.

    Ear-Mites-in-Dogs-1-1A thorough dermatologic exam will be performed with ear swabs and your veterinarian can use an otoscope to look into the ear canals, where ear mites can be visually discovered directly in the ear. If your pet is hypersensitive as a result of the infestation, making a deep examination of the ears is difficult, and a diagnosis may be made by the pet’s response to medical treatment.



    Ear mites spread rapidly, and they are often transmitted through socialization with infected animals and are most commonly found in cats that spend a lot of time outside. In pets, ear mites most commonly affect cats, ferrets, and to a lesser extent dogs. Humans are generally immune to ear mites and it can rarely be infected.



    If the chosen solution does not destroy mite eggs, treatment should be repeated after one month, to catch the next generation of mites that will have hatched by then. Relief, in terms of the cat or dog no longer scratching at his or her ears, will be noticeable within a few hours. However, since mite irritation is partly allergic, symptoms may also outlive mites by weeks. Moreover, it may take topical antibiotics and several weeks to clear infected external wounds caused by scratching on the exterior surfaces of cat and dog ears.

    Ear mites can be treated with products your veterinarian will prescribe that are applied directly in the ear or parasite medications that are applied right to the skin.

    The most common ear mite treatments currently use the antiparasitics selamectin, usually as topical preparations that can be applied to the animal’s skin, which prevents mite infestation over that time.

    If the ears are infected or have a build-up of debris, gentle cleaning may be required with cotton and a canine ear cleaner.

    Your veterinarian may also prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or an antibiotic to resolve infections. The pet will start to feel relief soon after treatment begins, but please complete the full course of treatment, and remember that all animals in the household need to be treated to ensure full eradication.


    A routine ear cleaning once a month can inhibit the presence of ear mites. If your pet has recently recovered from ear mites, be sure to thoroughly clean his bedding and check your other pets for infection.