The VPIS is aware that there are several garlic supplements available and marketed for use in dogs. However, based on animal studies and our past cases, there is evidence to suggest garlic is toxic to dogs. Therefore we would not recommend it is included in their diet unless it is in the form of a licenced or approved medicine or supplement.

Garlic is a species in the onion genus, Allium, and therefore contains organosulphoxides. This group of toxins causes the depletion of the enzyme G6PD, which in turn diminishes the protective nature of the antioxidant glutathione. This causes Heinz body anaemia.

Japanese and Korean dog breeds are more susceptible due to an inherited trait causing erythrocytes with high concentrations of glutathione, which accelerates the oxidative damage caused.

The onset of clinical signs (mainly gastrointestinal) is variable, but can occur within 24 hours where a large quantity has been ingested. The main concern surrounding the ingestion of garlic is the risk of developing Heinz body anaemia.

Clinical signs asssociated with this condition include lethargy, weakness, pale mucous membranes, tachycardia (fast heart rate) and tachyponoea (fast breathing). Haematological changes may indicate oxidative damage.

Gut decontamination is recommended for any quantity ingested. If there are no risk factors, most animals can be sent home with advice to ensure adequate hydration and, if possible, to provide a high protein diet. Any symptomatic animal should be observed in practice and assessed for anaemia for at least 24 hours.

Pets and Human Multivitamins

Another warning from the Veterinary Poisons Information Service that might be of interest to pet lovers:
“As winter sets in, many of us have been reaching for multivitamin supplements in the hope of supporting immunity and boosting energy levels, therefore increasing the likelihood of our pets accidentally ingesting these colourful tablets. Indeed in 2015 the VPIS was consulted in 41 cases of ingestion of such supplements in dogs and 4 cases in cats.

The toxicity of multivitamins is dependent on the ingredients and dose ingested. On acute ingestion, they are generally considered of low toxicity. Many animals remain asymptomatic or develop mild gastrointestinal signs that can often be managed at home.

However, in significant doses, the following constituents may be of concern:

Iron: in excess, elemental iron can cause haematemesis, haemorrhagic diarrhoea, drowsiness, and weakness. In severe cases, this can progress to dehydration, shock, renal failure and liver damage.
Vitamin D: certain compounds of Vitamin D can lead to hypercalcaemia in dogs. However, most UK multivitamins tend to contain the compound Colecalciferol, which is well tolerated in dogs on acute exposure.
Xylitol: used as a sugar-free sweetener, xylitol can be found in supplements (and in chewing gum!!), particularly in those for children. It can cause hypoglycaemia and liver failure in dogs.
We recommend contacting us regarding ingestion of multivitamin supplements if there is any uncertainty around exposure, which in many cases may prevent unnecessary treatment.”

Jerky Treat Warning For Dog Owners

The Veterinary Poisons Information Service has put out the following warning:

“A reported increase in the number of dogs presenting with kidney problems has raised the concern that these cases could be linked to the ingestion of imported dried jerky treats. Indeed many of these dogs had been fed dried jerky type dog treats, specifically chicken or duck, identified as originating from China.

Clinical signs consisted of a decreased appetite, increased thirst and increased need to urinate. Although these signs are vague and non-specific, blood and urine tests were indicative of a rare kidney disorder, showing a higher than normal urine glucose level along with a normal blood glucose level. Other causes such as diabetes, kidney infections or leptospirosis were excluded.

Although this syndrome has also been reported in Australia, USA, UK and Europe, there is currently no specific toxin identified as the cause.”



Dogs biting Dogs

A lot is written about dogs biting humans and its legal and medical implications.  What’s less written about is the legal and medical implications of dogs biting dogs.

Legal advise on how to handle “dog-on-dog” bites in the UK can be found on the web and this is from a website:

 The biting of dogs by other dogs could be viewed as something of a grey area of law. Each case may be seen differently, with a key issue being the notion of whether the hound responsible for delivering the attack is deemed to have been adequately controlled by its owner.
This is because the law says that it is an offence for a dog owner to allow their dog to be “dangerously out of control”. If another dog attacks your dog, and particularly if you fear that it will injure you if you attempt to stop the attack, it may be that the owner of the other dog is guilty of a failure to control their pet. A court will be able to make a decision on the circumstances surrounding the attack and whether or not an offence was committed.
It is illegal for a dog to be dangerously out of control anywhere, including in public and private spaces and even in the dog owner’s own home, so the location of the incident is likely to be irrelevant if your dog has been attacked.
The punishment for allowing a dog to be dangerously out of control can be any combination of the following:
• A fine of up to £5,000
• A jail sentence of up to 6 months
• Destruction of the offending dog
• A ban on future dog ownership.
You can also take the other dog’s owner to court to claim back any veterinary bills you have had to pay as a result of the attack.
If a dog is allowed to injure a guide dog, the owner can be sentenced to up to 3 years in jail, with a fine also being possible.”

That’s for the legal bit and as it’s not my area of expertise, I have just quoted from the website.

However I have seen my fair share of  the medical repercussions of “dog-on-dog” bites in practice, from minor to severe injuries.

I will give you an example from practice.  Freddy, a quiet and lovely greyhound was brought to the surgery after being attacked by another dog.  He couldn’t stand up properly and seemed to be in a lot of pain.  On superficial inspection, he apparently had only a few “minor”-looking  puncture wounds all over his body and a small skin flap on the right side of his neck.

He was administered medication to alleviate his pain that night.  Freddy was admitted the following morning for explorative surgery.  Every puncture mark was opened up a bit more to check the muscle underneath.  Under practically every puncture mark a muscle shear was revealed and was the cause the intense pain felt in this dog and the inability to stand up.  The most shocking find in this dog was that the jugulars on both sides during this incident had been missed by the attacking dog by about 2mm!!

This is not the only time I have seen injuries like this.  Another dog that was brought in with similar injuries and had been seen by a colleague out of hours.  He just couldn’t put his leg down.  Opening up the wounds revealed that the bitten foreleg had a chewed through triceps muscle.  No wonder he couldn’t use his leg.  Once the muscles were cleaned up and sutured together, the pain subsided and the healing continued uneventfully.

Dog bites are very different from “cat-on-cat” bites.  With cats, when they bite, they often leave a puncture mark and with those bites, they easily get infected (also if a cat bites a human).  I have however not seen instances like I have seen in dogs where exploratory surgery revealed extensive damage, apart from when the puncture hole was over the chest cavity.

If you see how a dog can chew and gnaw through flesh and bones of a butcher’s bone, you can imagine what damage those teeth and strength of jaws can do during a dog attack.

Just flushing out a wound at that time may not be sufficient.  If there is significant pain (i.e. the dog not using the leg, crying out in pain or becoming defensive and  aggressive when approached) the wound may well need to be opened up for the deeper tissues to be inspected and repaired.

Cat in surgery

Stress in Cats


Link to YouTube video

Danièlle Gunn-Moore (Professor of Feline Medicine at The University of Edinburgh) recalls which clinical conditions can be associated with stress in cats. She also explains why cats are so easily stressed, and the benefits of reducing stress from a cat’s health point.

This is a video that’s geared towards veterinary practitioners but which I find may be useful to animals lovers.

There is often in practice a discrepancy between our perception of cat behaviour and the client’s perception of their pet.  Often clients will exclaim, when I mention the word “stress” to them, that their cat is not stressed.

The body language in cats (and other pets) is very different from human body language.  Cats in extreme pain will often isolate themselves in a different room, choosing not to interact with the client.  The client will often describe this pet as “unsociable” rather than in extreme pain.  Pets hardly vocalise when in pain, which is very different from people.  With dental pain as another example, they continue eating as the food that is offered as kibble in small form or wet food can be just swallowed without much chewing.

During a vet check however, they will be reluctant to let you examine.  Some will become aggressive when they perceive you coming closer.  With those pets, I wouldn’t label them as “aggressive” but more “likely to be in pain unless proven otherwise”.

This video is a great introduction to a different perspective on cat stress, given by one of the very respected people in the veterinary profession for her outstanding knowledge on cats.

Abi and pup

UK Pet Insurance update

Pet Insurance Update

In the UK, pet insurance is widely available and there is plenty of choice.

Just as the veterinary profession is changing rapidly with the large veterinary corporates buying up veterinary practices at a pretty fast pace, so is the veterinary pet insurance industry changing drastically too.

The large veterinary corporates are run as franchises.  The financial decisions, i.e. which vaccines to purchase, which medications to use, etc are made by the corporates’ big bosses who are not veterinary surgeons but business people.

The veterinary surgeons are running the day-to-day business with the medication/vaccines etc that have been made available to them.  Quality of investment and care is left to non-professionals and those groups risk running into “group think” for everything is managed in-house, even vet training.

I don’t know in how far the changing face of the veterinary industry, away from independent practices run by veterinary surgeons to “big business”, has had an impact on the insurance industry.

There is also a change within the insurance industry with some big players in the pet industry market now “selecting” practices as “preferred” practices for veterinary referrals.  If the referring vets/clients don’t “obey”, they could face a charge of around £200 when they refer to a specialist who is not on their “preferred” list.

Attached is a PDF I prepared for our clients with regards to pet insurance.  Time and time again in practice we witness clients going through the heartache of finding out at the time of claiming that they’re aren’t sufficiently covered to treat their pet.

I’ll give you a personal example to go with the attached pdf.  Ruby, my sweet little angel, collie by birth, has a foot tumour which has been checked/biopsied/rechecked/resampled and found to be inoperable as confirmed by two of my esteemed colleagues in 2011.  The next step apparently, according to both my colleagues and my deepest fear confirmed, is amputation of that leg.  We’re in 2016 and this has still not been necessary as the tumour isn’t growing fast at the moment.

Ruby is insured with Pet Plan Lifelong policy since she was a baby collie some 9 years ago.  This means that all the investigations, running around to have my two colleagues confirm my suspicions, their fees, the initial treatments were all covered by PetPlan.

Now if let’s say this year, 2016, it’s the year for Ruby’s amputation (I sincerely hope it’s not!), then PetPlan Lifelong is going to pay the cost for me to bring in a colleague at the surgery, who specialises in orthopaedics, to do the surgery for me on Ruby’s leg. All I will need to pay is the excess of my policy and I can be with her whilst my colleague treats her.

If however, I had a “lifelong” policy (meaning that the company will cover my pet during her lifespan) with an “annual renewal”, all the initial costs of the investigations etc in 2011 would have been paid out.  The difference is that on renewal of the policy in 2012, anything to do with treatment of her foot or related wouldn’t have been covered any more with the insurance.  She would be covered for everything else still, but not for this!!!  If then, totally disgusted and disgruntled with my “annual renewal” pet policy,  I would knock on the door of PetPlan for example, they would insure Ruby.  Her foot issues would end up being an exclusion to her policy.  It would leave me totally “uninsured” for the subsequent years where I really could do with her “chronic” problem being covered.

For these reasons, I stand by PetPlan Lifelong in the practice I work at.

You get what you pay for.  Cheap policies with annual renewal are great when you look at the cost you pay per month and they are really not so great when you start claiming for chronic conditions and find out that after one year, you’re out in the cold all by yourself to cover all the costs of your pet’s condition.




Floyd Black and white

UK legislation change for dog owners

In February 2013 the UK Government announced that from the 6th April 2016 all dogs in England will be required to be microchipped. (A similar provision will apply in Wales from 1st March 2015. Microchip identification of dogs is already mandatory in Northern Ireland and at the time of preparation of this leaflet the Scottish government was still consulting on the issue.)
After this date, any owners of dogs found by the police or local authorities without a microchip will be given a short period to comply with the microchipping law. If they do not, they may face a fine of up to £500.

In light of the above, the Microchip Trade Association (MTA) approached the VMD to set up a monitoring scheme to oversee reports of potential adverse events following microchipping.
The VMD does not regulate the animal microchip market, but in view of the success of its reporting scheme for veterinary medicines and the need for impartiality, the VMD agreed to take on this role.
The scheme has been set up with funding provided partly by Defra and partly by the companies belonging to the MTA.

The microchip is injected just under the skin and provides animals with permanent identification without any scarring or disfigurement.
It is already a requirement for all animals using the Pet Travel Scheme and all horses born after 1st July 2009 must be microchipped. Certain species of exotic animals such as tortoises are required to be microchipped to comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
How do microchips work?
Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) technology uses scanners which send out an electromagnetic field. The microchip is energised by the field and transmits its unique number code back to the scanner. The unique microchip number is displayed on the scanner. The microchip contains no battery and so in most cases there is no limit to the number of times that it can be scanned and read.
The microchip number is stored in national databases along with the details of the animal and owner that were provided when the chip was registered.

Tea Tree Oil

VPIS GLOBAL published an interesting article about the use of tea tree oil in pets.
It’s an essential oil that owners often apply to their pet’s skin for a variety of reasons, the most common being as a flea repellent or to relieve the symptoms of  skin irritation.

It is assumed that because it is a natural product they can use it with no adverse consequences. However, the topical application of even a few drop of oil can be toxic to both cats and dogs, especially if the preparation is a concentrated oil. This excludes commercially available toiletry or cosmetic products that contain tea tree oil in low concentrations.
The most common effects seen after ingestion or skin exposure include staggering, depression, shaking, vomiting and drooling. In more severe cases, the pet may present with paralysis of the back legs, collapse or coma and occasionally these cases are fatal.
The full article can be read on VPISGLOBAL, an organisation dedicated to professionals in the provision of up to date information on common poisons in pets.