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Many people spot an unaccompanied dog on the side of, or even on, the road and worry it’s going to get run over. It’s only natural to want to rescue an animal in this situation but please make sure you don’t put yourself in danger while doing so.  If you are driving, make sure you park your car sensibly before trying to catch the stray, and take care crossing any necessary roads.

Don’t go racing up to a strange dog and grab its collar. If you are a dog owner, you may have a spare lead in your car. If so, and the dog seems friendly, try and slip the lead on as calmly and carefully as possible. In the absence of a lead, use rope, string, a belt or item of clothing can be used to restrain the dog. You may need to lasso the dog with your ‘lead’ rather than attach it to the dog’s collar if it looks like it might object to being touched around its neck.

This is a good time to see if the dog is wearing an identification tag; by law every dog should wear a tag bearing their owners details but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t have one. If there is a phone number and the owner picks up, you are in luck. If not, then you’ll need to decide what you are going to do with your stray dog.

Any unaccompanied dog can be handed over to your local Dog Warden. If you can’t wait for them, or the dog appears injured or ill, you should take it to your local Vet clinic. They will check it over, scan it for a microchip and contact the Dog Warden who will come and pick it up.

Please don’t take it to the police station; the police no longer look after lost dogs. However, if the dog is aggressive or is running around in traffic then you should ring the police with a description of the dog, how it’s behaving and its whereabouts.

If the dog is merely resisting capture, don’t follow in hot pursuit. If you have the time, you can follow it at a distance,  and it may be worthwhile ringing the local dog warden and describing the dog and the direction it is heading in. Ring any local veterinary clinics and give them the same information.

If you manage to catch the dog and are an experienced dog owner, and feel you can care for it yourself, you are allowed to take the dog home, as long as you give its details to the council’s Dog Warden service. They will want to know;

  • Your contact details. This includes your name, address, telephone number and email address.
  • A description of the dog including the type or breed of dog, its colour and size, approximate age and any features that might help to identify it. They will also want to know if it has a collar.
  • The time and date when the dog was found
  • Where the dog was found
  • Where the dog currently is and where it can be collected from
  • Other important information such as whether the dog is injured or ill.

It’s also worthwhile informing your local vet clinics that you have found a dog and giving them the above information as well.

In fact, it may be a good idea to take the dog up to the vets and get it scanned, as it may have a microchip inserted in its neck and the staff may recognise the dog. It’s worth remembering that if you choose to look after the dog yourself, and it gets ill, then you may be liable for any veterinary costs incurred.




It’s that time of the year again- Flea Season.

There are reports of flea infestations all over the UK with this spring. It may be wet, but it’s not cold and these conditions are perfect for fleas to reproduce.

But don’t get jealous; my step by step guide to getting your very own flea infestation will have you itching and scratching in no time.

1/ Get A Cat.

Cats are more prone to fleas than dogs, especially if they are allowed outside. The way they share observation points and routes with neighbouring cats, and range over a larger territory than the average dog makes it more likely that a pet cat will bring fleas into your house, and so initiate an infestation.

I have seen many, many flea infestations where the only pet in the household is a cat. It’s much more unusual to see a full infestation in a home with only a dog, but it can happen.

Remember, any fleas you see on your pet(s) are only 5% of the problem. So if you see 5 fleas, then you can count on there being at least 500 immature fleas spread out around your animals living area.

That’s what you call value for money!

2/ Have More Than One Pet.

If you have more than one dog or cat sharing your home, you are more likely to get fleas.

All you need is one adult flea to bite one of your pets, and start to lay eggs which get scattered anywhere that pet goes, and you have the beginnings of a flea infestation.

It’s not hard to understand that the more pets you have, the more likely it is that you’ll get flea eggs in the house. And where you have flea eggs,  you’ll find larvae, pupae and newly hatched adults.

This is the holy grail of parasitic infestations; a complete flea life cycle. Once you get to this stage, your flea infestation will be with you for weeks, no matter how much you spend on pet or household treatments.

3/ Wait Until Your Pets Have Fleas Before You Treat Them.

As mentioned above, once you see your pet scratching or actually see fleas on them, you’ve already got a household of blood-sucking guests just waiting to hatch or pupate.

And if you go away on holiday while you have a household flea infestation, the life cycle continues up until the pupal stage, then stops. Before they hatch, the pupae need signs that  there is something nearby for them to feed from.  These signals of humidity, vibration and carbon dioxide stimulate the baby fleas to hatch, but if these signs are absent, everything stops until you get home from holiday and walk into the room. Then suddenly all those pupae get the signal to hatch and emerge, ready to leap on the closest warm blooded thing to feed.

So if you arrive home from holiday, and suddenly notice tiny insects using your ankles as a snack bar; congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a household full of newly hatched fleas.

4/ Don’t De-flea All Of Your Pets.

Just treat the ones that come inside the most, or the easiest ones to treat, or just the dogs, or even just the cats. But don’t treat them all.

That way, the untreated ones can reinfect the treated ones, and your house can still get infected as well.

Despite your spending good money on flea treatment for those pets you do treat, you’ll be dealing with a flea infestation before you can slap your ankles and start scratching.

5/ Treat Your Pets With ‘Alternative’ Remedies.

Don’t bother buying tried and tested veterinary approved flea treatments.

They are expensive and if they can kill fleas, then who knows what they are doing to your pets and household?

Instead go online and google ‘natural flea treatment’. Instantly, you’ll have half a dozen proven remedies to hand.  If the first one you try doesn’t seem to work, then just move onto the next.

By the time you’ve run through the entire list, you’ll be being bitten by hungry fleas every time your feet touch the ground.

Of course, if you’ve come to this post looking for information telling you how NOT to get fleas, then you’ll need to read this post, instead



If this is your problem, don’t panic.

You are most likely to need to show your pet’s vaccination card if they go into a kennel or cattery. Some dog training classes will ask for proof of vaccination as well.

A vaccination card should be filled in correctly, and signed, by your vet and as such is a legal document. You should keep it in a safe place, but if it does go missing don’t get too stressed out.

An original vaccination is a valuable document but it can be replaced. Get in touch with your vet and they will happily write you out a new one. If you have switched vets at some point during your pet’s life, your present vet may only be prepared to include details of the vaccinations they have given themselves. Don’t panic; double check with the organisation asking to see the vaccination card but most likely they will only be interested in whether your pet was vaccinated during the last 12 months.  However, it is possible a vet may charge you for this service.

Things can be trickier if your pet is a rescue animal and the history is unknown. A lot of rescue organisations and shelters vaccinate animals themselves before they re home them, so it’s worth contacting the organisation you got your pet from. It’s highly likely they will be able to get you a replacement card.

If you have got a rescue animal from a private source, and have no way of finding out where they were last vaccinated, you may have to just bite the bullet and get them vaccinated even if you know the last vaccination’s Duration Of Action isn’t up yet. It’s not recommended to have vaccinations too close together but it’s unlikely to hurt your pet, just the once.

And when you have that new card, remember to put it somewhere *really* safe!




Any vet who has ever had to man the after hours phones will be able to sympathise with the RSPCA, who have released a list of some of the stranger calls they have received over the course of 2011.

Examples include:

A caller rang to complain that a neighbour’s power shower caused their dog to go to the toilet.

A concerned resident who thought gulls were in their area were radioactive – it turned out that nearby garden lights were illuminating them and turning them green.

A lady phoned in to complain that the blackbird in her garden didn’t sing.

—One caller rang to cancel a visit as their dead tortoise had ‘come back to life’.

Another caller rang in concerned about the talking meerkats on the Compare the Market advertisement. (continue reading…)

Click on text to enlarge.

The Visiting Vet is out of the country until September. If you have an animal that requires urgent veterinary attention then please phone Medivet in Watford on 01923 243 429.

If you have a sick pet during Office hours, you can also try Stan Livy At Goddards in Eastcote, on 020 8866 1842.

If you have a non urgent query, then please feel free to leave a voice mail on 07904564713 or email me on jacq@thevisitingvet.co.uk.

Thank you.

Many thousands of cats get hit by vehicles on our roads every year in the UK. In the last weeks I’ve heard about a Road Traffic Accident (RTA) on an online forum I frequent, and also had one of my clients contact me to take their now deceased pet off my books.

At least 4 cats owned by either me, or my family while I was growing up, were killed by cars and another three were badly injured but survived. But that was in NZ, here in the UK RTA’s do seem to occur less frequently.

About half of cats hit by cars will die from their injuries; many more survive but are permanently damaged having lost a leg, hip or tail. A few lucky felines recover completely from their injuries but most RTA survivors  become very wary of vehicles and roads for the rest of their lives. Of course, there are always exceptions.

It’s true that once you let your cat out of the house you have no control of where it goes but there are a number of things you can do to reduce the chances of your pet being run over or hit by a car.

1/ Consider keeping your cat as a house cat. A house cat never gets to go outside, and as such is not at risk of being run over. The downside to having an inside cat is that you do need to work a bit harder to look after your pet. You will have to change litter trays and make sure your cat gets enough exercise and doesn’t get bored. And if a house cat ever escapes outside, they will not be very streetwise so are probably in greater danger of being hit by a car than a cat allowed to roam freely.

Variations on the theme of keeping a cat indoors permanently include

a/allowing them outdoors only on harness and lead a few times a day

b/Building them a cat run so they can get outside but not roam free.

2/ Keep your cat in overnight. Most RTA’s happen at night so if you keep your cat in from dusk to dawn, you reduce the chances of your cat becoming a statistic. There is a very clever cat door that can sense when it’s night and when it’s day and locks itself at night!

3/ Have your cat neutered. Neutered cats roam less so are less likely to get run over.

4/If you move house, consider the road your potential house is on. A very busy road is less of a danger than one where traffic moves along it intermittently. Cats see a constant traffic flow as a kind of wall to be avoided, whereas a quiet road is seen as safe place to cross. Just because you have a large garden out the back doesn’t mean cats will never go out the front.

5/ Don’t allow your cat to lie or climb on stationary cars. Use a water pistol to train them not to sleep under cars or walk near them. If you come home and find your cat sitting in your driveway, shoo it away before you drive towards it. Putting the car in neutral so it can’t move, flashing lights and revving your engine can help persuade your cat that cars are scary, and should be avoided.

If you think your cat has been hit by a car, even if it seems fine, you should visit your vet for a check up.

And if you run over someone else’s cat, please stop and see if you can find the owner. A lot of cats manage to get themselves off the road when they are hit, and run for a short period of time but will collapse nearby. These cats will probably die without urgent veterinary attention so it’s probably more important to get them to a surgery than find an owner.

Years ago, rabbits were childrens’ pets. No one thought twice about sentencing them to a dreary life at the bottom of the garden in a tiny cage, because no one knew any better.
Most vets had no idea what to do with a rabbit and treated them as small dogs or as cats.Animal behaviourists considered them stupid and boring, and beneath their notice.
Now all that has changed.

We now know that rabbits are very different from cats and dogs. They are prey animals rather than predators and as such have very specific behavioural and environmental needs. They are herbivores, not carnivores and they need lots of exercise and lots of fibre. And they need company, preferably in the form of another rabbit.

 Rabbits come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be kept indoors and outdoors. This versatility has made them the 3rd most popular pet in the UK, behind cats and dogs. Britons keep 2 million rabbits as pets and one recent study estimates that 75% of these are not having their basic welfare needs met by their owners. 

As a bunny owner, there are 5 areas you must meet your pets requirements for. If you have a rabbit as a pet, or are considering getting one, please read on to see if you are really giving your pet all it deserves.

In the wild, rabbits have a large territory and exercise and feed in. This keeps them happy and healthy. 
Rabbits require a hutch for warmth and shelter, but should never be confined to it 24/7. They need a run attached to their hutch; this should be tall enough to allow the rabbits to stretch up to full height and they should be able to run, rather than just hop. A suggested minimum size of run for most rabbits is 8ft x 4ft x 2ft high.

Rabbits are intelligent and social animals, but have only been recently domesticated so their needs are very close to those of their wild relatives. They need a large enclosure and opportunities to run, dig and jump. They need to be able to hide if scared, and a change of scenery every so often. Regularly rotating their toys, and introducing new ones regularly will help prevent boredom.

Rabbits are happiest with the company of their bonded bunny or a small friendly group. The best combination is a neutered male/female pair or two neutered females. Un-neutered does often go on to develop uterine cancer, and can be very grumpy so it’s best for everyone if they are spayed.
Rabbits shouldn’t be kept with guinea pigs, as they often bully them and have different dietary needs.
Humans shouldn’t replace another bunny for companionship but often provide a welcome supplement.

As for most pets, there is a long list of things that can cause a rabbit to be unwell. Most vets these days have  some idea of how to treat common bunny diseases but it’s always worthwhile asking around to see if there is  a vet who is especially interested in rabbits near you.
Treatment can be involved and expensive.Some pet insurance companies do offer policies for rabbits, and you might want to consider taking some out.

Rabbits are fragile and flighty, and can break bones very easily, so if your pet suddenly seems lame or reluctant to move, you need to see a vet pretty quickly. Many rabbits hurt themselves leaping out of their owner’s arms after being picked up, so it’s wiser to leave them on the ground. If you have to cuddle them, sit on the ground and let them come to you.
A rabbit that isn’t eating is in serious trouble and should get medical attention as soon as possible. If they don’t have food coming in to their stomach, their gut stops moving and they can quickly die.
A lot of rabbits have teeth problems which cause them pain and illness. Bad breeding is a common cause of dental dysfunction as is a poor diet with not enough fibre in it.
Keep an eye on their poos. You should see round, hard individual pellets but if you see long strings of pellets stuck together or watery faeces then, again, see your vet.
All bunnies should be checked around their rear ends at least daily, as fly strike can develop within hours; but if you have a rabbit with diarrhoea or open sores, they need to be kept clean and checked twice a day. You can get fly repellent which can be applied to bunnies and will help keep them fly-larvae free, and fly netting around their cages can also be useful.
All bunnies should be micro chipped, in case they escape and vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, which are spread through flying insects.

70% of a wild rabbit’s time above ground is spent foraging for high fiber foods, such as grass and plant. The continual chewing helps grind down the rabbit’s constantly growing teeth and keeps their gut healthy.
Good quality grass and hay should make up the majority of your rabbit’s diet. The remainder should be small amounts of extruded pellets and a few bits of fresh vegetable.

If you want more detailed information on any of these welfare areas, then check out the Rabbit Awareness Week website. You will find lots of information on all aspects of Bunny care, as well as details of Rabbit Awareness Week events near you.

We’ve been out of the country over Easter, and one of the countries our family visited was Sri Lanka.
We’ve been to Asia a few times in the past, but only to places like Hong Kong and Singapore, during stopovers on long-haul flights. Sri Lanka was a new experience for us.
 Driving through Colombo, we saw how genuinely poor people live; crowded into makeshift wooden shelters that most people in the UK would be ashamed to have as a garden shed.

When we travelled south to our villa, just out of Galle, people seemed slightly better off. The walls of their houses were made of concrete blocks, and the roofs looked at least waterproof. There still seemed to be too many people to possibly live in one small room, but the houses looked solid, permanent.
In the area we stayed in, there were a lot of ruined buildings especially on the coast road. Of course these were remnants of the 2004 Tsunami, in which at least 30 000 people died.

Sri Lanka has many stray dogs. We did see some dogs wearing collars, but if they were pets they seemed to spend a lot of time wandering along the roads with all the rest.
Most of the dogs we saw were obviously unowned, with signs of skin disease and lameness but there were very few that looked like walking skeletons. Most seem to get enough to eat by hanging around restaurants, hotels, villages and temples.

Dogs in Sri Lanka appear to have a lot more road sense than dogs in the UK. I saw many of them check the road for vehicles before stepping out into the traffic but I guess they learn this the hard way.

And you’ll see by my photos, that a lot of these dogs look similar. The ones we saw were all the size of small Labradors and most had a short coat in some shade of brown.We did see a couple of German Shepherds at a guest house, but I’m pretty sure they must have been imported from somewhere. And we did see one smaller dog, living on an island that had a black and white shaggy coat; so was maybe a collie cross of some kind? No one spoke enough English to satisfy my curiosity, so I’ll just have keep wondering.

I asked our driver what people did if they found an ill or injured dog and it seems ill dogs are avoided due to the risk of rabies. He did mention the possibility of taking an injured one to a vet, but most vets specialise in farm animals, so are mainly concerned with production. in most areas, there simply isn’t usually the money available for specialised equipment or drugs for companion animals.

Many people in the UK consider their pets a right, not a luxury, but a visit to a less wealthy country should be able to convince most reasonable people otherwise. We didn’t witness any animal cruelty on our travels, but it’s obvious that people in Sri Lanka struggle to provide their families with the basic necessities of life, so the needs of animals such as dogs must be way down that list.



Coastguards patrolling the coastline of Japan for survivors that may have been washed out to sea by the tsunami that hit the country’s north-east coast three weeks ago, have rescued a dog found living on the roof of a floating house.

If you watch the video found in the link above, you can see that the dog is obviously hungry but appears otherwise healthy.

This must be the luckiest dog on the planet, surely?