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Minding Outdoor Cats

Minding Outdoor Cats

Cats that spend time outdoors are at risk from a number of threats:

  • ·       Injuries from fights, falls, traffic or traps
  • ·       Exposure to parasites and infectious diseases from feral cats
  • ·       Poisoning from weedkillers, herbicides or rat poisoning
  • ·       Becoming lost and returning undernourished toxins
  • ·       In addition, free-roaming cats hunt other wildlife including pet birds
  • ·       In addition, females that are not neutered will inevitably come back pregnant, so neutering is an essential prerequisite

While preventive care measures don’t work for physical injuries, infectious diseases,(bacteria and viruses) as well as  internal and external parasites can be prevented or controlled using vaccinations and strategic medication.

Ideally, for internal parasites, regular faecal examination, typically 2 to 4 times in the first year of life and about 6 to 12mo in adults, is recommended. Products should be selected based on probable parasite exposure, ease of use, and efficacy.

Vaccinate for panleukopenia virus

§  Vaccinate kittens at 6–8 weeks of age and then 3–4wk until over 16 weeks of age.

§  Repeat vaccination at the annual health check as required   

Vaccinate for rhinotracheitis (FHV-1) & calicivirus

§  These are part of the “cat flu” complex and the vaccination programme can be fitted in with the panleukopenia vaccination protocol, though boosters are required more often for high risk outdoor cats.

Vaccinate for FeLV

§  Ideally before vaccination, screen kittens and cats with a blood test.

§  Begin vaccination at 8 weeks, as part of the kitty vaccination programme.

§  Repeat vaccination annually depending on the risk of exposure, following the  manufacturer’s recommendations.

Internal parasites: Roundworms & hookworms

§  Note that these intestinal parasites can cause significant disease, especially in kittens, and have the potential to infect human.

§  Treat kittens at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age and monthly especially if in contact with young children.

§  Many effective products can be administered orally or topically, but get advice as to the best combination within an overall parasite control programme.

Control of tapeworms

§  All cats can ingest fleas and rodents, which can lead to tapeworm infection.

§  To decrease likelihood of infection, keep patient on adequate flea control.

§  Treat when you see tapeworm segments in the stool. Outdoor cats are exposed to recurrent tapeworms, and will need dosing about every 2 months.

Control of ectoparasites

§  Provide year-round protection against both fleas and ticks.

§  In addition to causing pruritus and flea allergy dermatitis, fleas are potential vectors of tapeworms.   

§  While grooming, cats often remove ticks before they can attach; however, ticks can carry diseases and when they bite they can force bacteria from the skin surface into the blood stream.

§  Prevent different mange (mites) types and lice effective flea and tick product.

§  Some mange mites are more difficult to treat and require alternative measures.

Pet identification

§  We always encourage owners to microchip pets but especially those outdoors.

§  A microchip can be critical for outdoor cats that become lost, injured, or transported to shelters or veterinary clinics.

§  If the microchip is not an option, then consider a safety (breakaway) collar with identification tags.


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Dangers of Pesticide!!

Two cases of slugbait (metaldehyde) poisoning have spurred us to update clients on the dangers of this pesticide.  While one thankfully survived, the other wasn’t so lucky.

Why it’s dangerous:

Slug bait usually comes in pellet form and can resemble dog kibble. If molasses, apples or bran are added to attract the slugs and snails, they will also attract your dog. If the liquid form is used, the victim may walk on it and later lick their paws. They may also eat the dirt containing granules or liquid. It has been reported that half of the dogs that ate about 1 teaspoon per 4.5kg of bodyweight died. This makes it one of the most common causes of accidental poisonings in dogs.

What to look out for:

Initial symptoms occur soon after ingestion and can look like a mild or severe fit. In general the signs can be mild initially and progress in severity depending on the amount eaten:

  • Twitching is common often with apprehension and excitement.
  • Excessive drooling, possible vomiting, muscle tremors and panting      can then follow.
  • As seizures become worse there is a rise in temperature and heart      rate
  • Very severe cases become rigid as the convulsions increase in      intensity and respiration will be depressed.

It is critical to get veterinary attention immediately if you suspect snail bait poisoning. Your dog could die within four hours of ingestion. Get to a vet as soon as possible. Every minute counts.

Prognosis of Snail Bait Poisoning

Prognosis of metaldehyde poisoning depends mainly on the amount ingested and the time elapsed in getting treatment from your vet. The quicker you get to the vet the better chance of survival for your dog.

If your dog is not successfully treated death usually occurs within 4-12 hours. Dogs that initially survive the poisoning may develop liver disease in 2-3 days. Recovered dogs may suffer from memory loss, temporary blindness or diarrhoea.

Prevention is better than cure. Don’t take risks

Remember… it’s not only where you spread snail bait on the ground, you also have to be careful where you store it. Dogs like children are notorious for getting into things they shouldn’t. Always store all chemicals in a safe child and pet proof place.

Winter Pet Tips!

Winter Pet Tips:

Winter can be a challenge for our pets as well as us humans. Here are some tips to help minimize some of the more common problems for pets.
Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol)
This becomes a risk when car owners change the engine coolant. Cats and dogs are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of antifreeze, and will often sample some if left out in a container or spilled on the garage floor.

Antifreeze is highly toxic it is rapidly absorbed (initial signs appear approximately one hour post-ingestion), and there is a high mortality rate. Stumbling, vomiting and depression are common signs. The kidneys are most severely affected, and even if the animal seems to improve initially with treatment, they may succumb shortly after to kidney failure. The kidneys shut down, and the animal is unable to produce urine. This type of kidney failure usually happens 12-24 hours after ingestion in cats, and 36-72 hours post ingestion in dogs. Success of treatment is dependent upon quick treatment. If you suspect that your animal has come into contact with antifreeze, contact us immediately.

Arthritis and Winter
Cold, damp weather aggravates arthritis in dogs and cats which is most common in the middle age and geriatric pets. Look out especially in pets that have had a fracture which can make the bone susceptible to arthritis after the injury is healed. Overweight pets suffer from arthritis more than their normal-weight counterparts.
If you’re pet is having trouble getting up or laying down, navigating the stairs, or has started to snap or cry when picked up, a visit for pain relief is required. Many new arthritis treatments are available, and we will select the most appropriate one for you.

NEVER medicate your dog with human prescription or over-the-counter medications without consulting your veterinarian first! Cats are even more susceptible especially to paracetamol and similar drugs.

The Outdoor Pet
If your pet is housed outside, make sure that adequate shelter is provided — to shield from wind, moisture, and cold. Take extra care to ensure that your pet is comfortable and can get into and out of their housing easily. Deeply bedded straw is another good insulator.
Do not use a heat lamp or other type of home heater – this is dangerous, and is the cause of many fires.
Pets need to have fresh water at all times – make sure the water is not frozen during this time of year since animals do not know how to break the ice. Pets that live outdoors may need additional food (calories) to sustain body temperature as well. Please check with your veterinarian to decide if your pet needs additional nutritional intake.

Staying Fit
Exercise is important! If there is frost (or snow) on the ground, check your pet’s paws for ice balls or injuries.

Pet hates in the Garden

Pet hates in the garden

by Kya delonghamps

The lawn is a natural playground for dogs and cats, but you can minimise the damage they cause, says Kya delongchamps. To you, its the cultivated,sylvan quarter-acre. To them, its a wild, outdoor world crossed by a myriad of scents and potential activities necessary to a domesticated animals sanity. Cats and dogs will mark, dig, and do a fair amount of incidental damage around the garden.

Rooting up beds, to defecate or to investigate, tearing up lawns in play and marking behaviour, is natural to them.

Its not personal, but as you regularly find small, and occasionally major, devastation, it can start to feel that way. Its a shame to see dogs tethered and penned outside, at all times, and there are other approaches to creating detente across the patio. Working varieties of dog, bred to herd and hunt, are often favoured by urban families, who are then surprised by their energy and intelligence. If you’ve ever seen what a neurotic, abandoned collie can do to a house if orphaned there 9-5pm, you’ll understand.

These types of breed need focus in their play. If the dog is pulling up plants and grass in sheer frustration,tearing around the garden like a lunatic, distract them with a robust toy, and with more walking when you are home.

Kong do a huge line in toys for mental exercise. These are worth the investment, as the materials will last for months of hard play, and the toys can be spiked with treats. Their kong Classic starts at 9 euro, and are available at a range of pet shops.

Lawn burns from nitrogen-rich dog urine can leave unsightly, rusty-looking patches that can only be scarified out and re-seeded. An ingenious product, now available to order from the UK and created in Australasia, Dog Rocks are placed in the dogs water bowl and lasts up-to two months.

They clear up the impurities in the water consumed by the dog, preventing the signature burn on the grass and on the edges of hedging where male dogs lift their leg. safe for all animals in the house, they won’t change the Ph or urine or affect animal health in any way. Six months supply (three bags) works out at 55 euro,

Think about layout, when planning a garden, to include pet traffic. Dogs, for example, will gallop over a flower bed to get from one side to another. Planting at the periphery removes this problem. Alternatively, plant a thicker, more impenetrable variety of shrubs, but beware of long thorns that can hurt a flat-coated breed of dog or cat.

If there is a track the dog uses often, consider a hard path in bricks, blocks or pavers to save damage to the grass. Give a male dog a tree stump, or other marking post, to use as an alternative to your shrubs. Raise plants up in high containers, rather than low ones that can be targeted by dogs and cats, and place decorative pebbles on the surface so they don’t become cat trays.

Invest in a poop scoop for dog faeces. the Arms Length brand means you can stay a polite distance from the business end of the device, while doing regular cleanups., and most pet supply shops will stock these. Cats are masters of luxury, and when it comes to their toilet what could be more wonderful than a softly silky compost bed as a loo. When you have finally come to realise that screaming will never work (it just horrifies and disappoints your cat), attack by aversion.

Get some wooden BBQ sticks and plant a forest of their pointy ends upward in the area favoured by the cat.

Small, sharp trimmings from shrubs will work too. Pepper shaken over the area, lemon essential oil diluted in water in a spray, citrus peel and some planted herbs, are all unappealing and will repel a cat from the bed.

Get Off my Garden scatter crystals have a strong citronella scent that will deter dogs and cats, but keep them away from pond areas. From 7 euro for 400g, at garden centres, and pet shops.

Keep in mind that a cat has to go somewhere, and if you deflect them into your neighbours garden your social standing may go swiftly downhill.

Large plastic drink bottles filled with water, and set in the beds, will confuse visiting cats that see the refection as that of a large cat. Place a bell collar, with an elastic safety insert, on your own cat to lessen its impact on the wild birds visiting your garden.


Keeping dogs in the garden and under control is an issue for responsible pet owners, even if the majority incorrectly believe that dogs have a right to freely roam over the streets and countryside.

You should make every effort to fence your dog in, and, if that dosen’t work, your only options are a large commercial dog-pen on a proper base and with sufficient shelter from rain and sun.

From dusk to dawn, the dog should not be abandoned to bark outside. Electric-fence systems that deliver a mild shock through an integrated collar are now commonplace, but there’s an alternative training tool for anti-social and anti-horticultural behaviour that’s both kinder and more versatile.

The spray collar can be used to re enforce behaviour, discouraging digging, jumping up, chasing cars or other animals, chewing and other destructive and annoying habits in the garden.

Remotely controlled by you, the collar can be activated from 85m and delivers a small jet of water, and a recognised noise, to the dog when you see it vandalising.

Expensive at 165 euro, its worth considering for a hard-headed pet to back up conventional training.

4 Priorities for Animal Health

4 Priorities for Animal Health

Animal Health Ireland has published its strategy for the period up to the end of 2014. This was developed  following extensive consultation with stakeholders and sets out strategic priorities for the organisation. AHI will concentrate its resources over the coming three years on these four areas:

–          Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD)

–          CellCheck (mastitis/SCC control)

–          Johne’s disease

–          Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR)

The other commitments to stakeholders, identified in the Plan, include Biosecurity, CalfCare (calf health), parasite control and animal health economics.

See the full plan at