Small Animal – Veterinary Community

Small Animal

To view our full archive of news stories and articles, please log in or register for an account.

Study highlights risks of subcutaneous ureteral bypass placement

Study highlights risks of subcutaneous ureteral bypass placement

Researchers analyse the medical records of 95 cats fitted with SUB devices.

Subcutaneous ureteral bypass (SUB) placement is associated with a high complication rate, according to new research.

The study, published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice (JSAP), found that most of these complications are manageable, resulting in an average survival time of over two years. It also suggests that imaging techniques, such as fluoroscopy, are useful in identifying complications. 

In the study, researchers analysed the medical record of  95 cats fitted with SUBs between April 2012 and June 2017. The information recorded included imaging modality used for diagnosis, whether urethral catheterisation was performed and whether obstruction was uni- or bilateral. 

They found that minor complications - defined as infection or technical problem which resolved with none or minor treatment - occurred in 19 per cent of the cats. Major complications - defined as infection or technical problem resulting in revision surgery, removal of the SUBs or death/euthanasia – occurred in 48 per cent of the cats. Eleven per cent of cats analysed in the study did not survive to discharge. 

Dr Nicola Kulendra, lead author for the paper said: “A significant association between long-term survival and creatinine at presentation was identified. The median survival time for cats presenting with creatinine concentration ≥440 μmol/L (International Renal Interest Society stage acute kidney injury (AKI) 4 and 5) was 530 days, compared to a median survival time of 949 days for those cats presenting with creatinine <440 μmol/L (International Renal Interest Society stage AKI 1–3).”

JSAP editor Nicola Di Girolamo, concluded: “Veterinary medicine is advancing fast and it is exciting to see treatment options that just a decade ago were rarely considered are now accessible to many of our patients. Furthermore, it is excellent to see the veterinary sector is publishing articles of this nature, demonstrating the risks and complications of a procedure, to support proper discussion with owners and referring veterinarians.”

Image © BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Abdominal Surgery 2nd Ed.

New app helps vets double rabies vaccination rates

New app helps vets double rabies vaccination rates

Agile vaccine scheme tackles rabies threat in Malawi

A new, adaptive approach to dog vaccination that utilises innovative smart phone technology has the potential to boost vaccination rates and ensure that more people are protected from rabies.

Veterinary surgeons working with Mission Rabies in the city of Blantyre in Malawi were able to half the time it takes to complete dog vaccination programmes by using a custom-made app which finds areas with low inoculation rates in real time.

According to the University of Edinburgh – which contributed to the project – distance from drop-in centres was the biggest reason why owners did not get their dog vaccinated against rabies.

To tackle this problem, veterinary professionals led by the University of Edinburgh and Mission Rabies developed a new approach using the app, which was created alongside the Worldwide Veterinary Service.

The team increased the number of drop-in centres within around 800 metres of owners' homes in Blantyre from 44 to 77. Research showed that most owners were willing to walk this distance.

'Roaming' vaccination centres were used in areas with low uptake and the team also reached out to local communities and media outlets to spread awareness of the scheme.

Veterinary professionals targeted 70 per cent of the city's dog population, totalling some 35,000 animals. They vaccinated them in 11 days – half the time it typically takes to complete dog vaccination programmes.

The scheme only needed 904 staff days, as opposed to 1,719.

Lead researcher Dr Stella Mazeri, veterinary epidemiologist at the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “Delivering vaccinations to at risk populations in a highly efficient manner is a major societal challenge. Attempts to eliminate rabies remain under funded despite knowing that dog vaccination is a highly effective way to reduce the disease burden in both humans and dogs.

“We are pleased to see that the real time interrogation of data has allowed us to improve the efficiency of vaccination clinics.”

Images (c) Mission Rabies.

Animal owners urged to prepare for flooding

Animal owners urged to prepare for flooding

RSPCA water rescue teams on standby as Storm Christoph approaches.

Animal owners and farmers are being urged to prepare for flooding after flood alerts were issued across England and a major incident was declared in South Yorkshire.

The RSPCA says that its specialist water rescue teams have been put on standby until the end of the week after forecasters warned of widespread flooding resulting from Storm Christoph.

RSPCA water rescue team coordinator Jason Finch said: “Today (Tuesday 19 January) the Environment Agency has issued 17 flood warnings and 121 flood alerts across England and the Met Office issued an amber weather warning for rain across the North, Midlands and East. A major incident has also been declared in South Yorkshire.

“Forecasters are warning that Storm Christoph could bring up to 200mm of rain in parts of the country. This amount of rainfall along with melting snow from previous cold weather could cause flooding so we’re urging pet owners, horse and livestock keepers, and farmers to prepare.

“Planning an escape route before flooding hits can make a big difference if you find yourself in an emergency situation. Flood water can rise very quickly and animals can be extremely vulnerable so it’s really important that we plan ahead for all eventualities.”

RSPCA's water rescue team responded to some 250 calls in 2020 as a result of storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge. The animal welfare charity forms part of Defra’s National Flood Response Team and has around 65 specially trained officers and a fleet of 35 inflatable boats.

Image (C) RSPCA.

Young Kennel Club launches challenge for young dog owners

Young Kennel Club launches challenge for young dog owners

Four-week challenge encourages exercise and responsible dog ownership

The Young Kennel Club is encouraging young dog owners to stay active during lockdown with the launch of its Dog Walk Challenge.

The challenge, which is taking place between 18 January and 12 February, asks members of the Young Kennel Club to walk short distances each day with their dogs (while adhering to Government guidelines) to total five or 10 miles overall, depending on their age range.

Dog owners between six and 13 years old are challenged to walk five miles across the four weeks, whilst those between 14 and 24 years old should try and total 10 miles walked.

Competitors who complete the challenge will receive a Young Kennel Club Dog Walk Challenge certificate and will be entered into a prize draw to win either a free place at Young Kennel Club camp in 2021, or a Fitbit and £100 Argos voucher.

The Young Kennel Club asks that young people taking part and parents regularly check the latest Government advice across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to assess their own situation, safety and ability to take part.

Ben Ashcroft, Young Kennel Club chairman, said: “We are delighted to launch the Dog Walk Challenge to keep our members engaged with an important aspect of responsible ownership, which is fun at the same time.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of change and sadly many of our members’ events, that we all look forward to, have had to be postponed or even cancelled as a result.

“This initiative however is something everyone can safely do together, while being apart.”

For more information on taking part in the Young Kennel Club Dog Walk Challenge, please visit the Young Kennel Club website.

Government updates guidance on dog walking in lockdown

Government updates guidance on dog walking in lockdown

RSPCA welcomes changes which will help owners meet pet's exercise needs

The government has updated it's guidance for pet owners in England, making it easier for dog walkers to exercise their pets despite lockdown restrictions.

The COVID-19 guidance originally stated that people may only leave the house once a day for exercise, however the new guidance – updated 13 January – states that dog owners can go outside more than once per day in order to walk their pet.

However, the government urges dog walkers to limit this where possible, to not leave travel outside of their local areas and to maintain social distancing when out in public.

The RSPCA welcomed the decision to relax restrictions in order to ensure pet owners can meet the exercise needs of their pets, calling it a 'common sense approach.'

RSPCA's head of companion animals Dr Samantha Gaines said: "[This new guidance] stops the rules penalising dogs living with one person - and also ensures more consistency with lockdown rules in Wales, where there is no cap on how many times someone may walk their dog. Exercise in Wales must start and stop from the home.

"We all must do our bit to stop coronavirus - so it’s important people understand the restrictions and keep local. Keeping dogs on leads at this time can help ensure social distancing, and will avoid owners unnecessarily coming into contact with one another should a pet need to be retrieved."

The charity continues to urge local authorities to ease Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs), which limit the places in which dogs can be walked, making it more difficult for owners to exercise their dogs and leading to unnecessary travel.

The read the new advice for dog walkers in England, please click here.

US pet food recalled following deaths of 70 dogs

US pet food recalled following deaths of 70 dogs

Tests revealed 'very high levels' of aflatoxins in recalled food

Pet food manufacturer, Midwestern Pet Foods has recalled several of it's products following the deaths of more than 70 pets that ate the food.

The company initially announced a recall of certain products in it's Sportmix range in December 2020, after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received reports about 28 dogs that had died and eight that were ill after consuming the food.

In a statement the FDA said: “Multiple product samples were tested by the Missouri Department of Agriculture and found to contain very high levels of aflatoxins.”

Aflatoxins are toxins produced by the mould Aspergillus flavus, which can grow on corn and other grains used in pet food. At high levels, it can cause illness and even death in pets.

The recall was expanded this week after further deaths and cases of illness were reported. The recall now includes Sportmix, Pro Pac Originals, Splash, Sportstrail and Nunn Better dry dog and cat foods produced at Midwestern Pet Foods Oklahoma plant that have an expiration date on or before 9 July 2022.

“We continue a thorough review of our facilities and practices in full cooperation with FDA in an effort to better serve our customers and pet parents who put their trust in us.” The company said in a statement.

The FDA states that the number of pets affected is an approximate count as not all cases have been officially confirmed as aflatoxin poisoning through laboratory testing or veterinary record review.

It has issued an advisory to notify the US public about the potentially fatal levels of aflatoxins in Midwestern Pet Food products that may still be available.

RSPCA cared for more than 22,000 animals during 2020 pandemic

RSPCA cared for more than 22,000 animals during 2020 pandemic

Charity promotes vital work of 'hardworking' hospitals and centres

The RSPCA has highlighted the continuous, dedicated effort by it's staff and volunteer teams during the pandemic; revealing that more than 22,000 animals were treated in it's hospitals across last year.

Several thousand operations were performed carried out across this period. Additionally, 2,495 animals were neutered, 6,261 vaccinated and 2,027 microchipped.

RSPCA chief veterinary surgeon Caroline Allen said: “2020 was a busy and challenging year for the veterinary profession as a whole and the RSPCA was no exception.

“I'm very proud of the work our fantastic teams have achieved and the procedures carried out by our hardworking hospitals and centres. Our staff have remained dedicated to animals throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“We're also very grateful to all the vets in private practice across the country who have supported our Inspectorate and animal centres and provided veterinary care for RSPCA animals during this very difficult period.”

The charity treated all manner of animals in need during the pandemic, from abandoned, neglected dogs to a fox with it's head stuck in a sweet jar.

In total, 8,665 animals were seen as inpatients and 13,340 seen as outpatients in the RSPCA's animal hospitals.

The charity is appealing for help to support it's rescue teams who are continuing to help animals in need across the winter. The RSPCA received more than 44,000 calls to it's cruelty line this Christmas and is urging the public to donate and #JoinTheRescue to help it's teams continue to tackle cases of cruelty, abuse and neglect.

BVA calls for urgent action on ear cropping

BVA calls for urgent action on ear cropping

Association urges MPs and wider public to #CutTheCrop

The BVA has expressed concerns over a rise in cases of dogs with cropped ears being seen in practice and has called for immediate action to stop this worrying trend.

In a blog post, BVA senior vice president Daniella Dos Santos said: “In recent years, vets in the UK have seen a dramatic increase in the number of dogs with cropped ears, marking a frightening trend towards the normalisation of a mutilation that is horrific, unnecessary, and rightfully illegal in this country.”

The RSPCA has reported a 236 per cent increase in the number of reports of ear cropping received in the last five years, despite ear cropping being illegal in the UK.

Ms Dos Santos theorised that the increase in cases is either the result of cropped-ear dogs being imported from countries where it is still legal, or dogs bred in the UK being taken overseas specifically to have the procedure done.

The BVA has also been made aware of unscrupulous breeders carrying out ear cropping procedures illegally in the UK using crude instruments and likely without any anaesthesia or pain relief.

Ms Dos Santos concluded: “Ear cropping is illegal and it’s time for action to stop it happening in the UK. The government needs to work with vets and animal welfare charities to find an effective way to stop this abhorrent practice.

“We need to educate ourselves and each other. We have to stop normalising this mutilation. Celebrities who post pictures with their cropped dogs need to be called out for perpetuating the trade and told to #CutTheCrop.”

A petition which calls for a ban on the importation of dogs with cropped ears can be accessed here.

Under the RCVS Code of Professional Conduct, veterinary professionals can break client confidentiality and disclose information to the authorities where necessary.

Veterinary professionals concerned about seeing a case of ear cropping or illegal importation in practice should contact their local authority animal health and welfare team.

Feline obesity problem worsening during pandemic

Feline obesity problem worsening during pandemic

More than 3 million UK cats are already overweight

Charity Cats Protection has expressed concern over the rising obesity problem among cats, which, it says, has continued to worsen across the COVID-19 pandemic.

In it's latest CATS report – carried out before the pandemic – Cats Protection found that more than 3.2 million owned cats were overweight.

In a more recent survey of more than 2,000 cat owners, 28 per cent said that they had overfed their pet since the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.

More than a third of owners (36 per cent) also said that their cat often visited a neighbour for extra food.

Overall, 20 per cent of owned cats had gained between one and 2.25 kilos in weight.

Maggie Roberts, director of veterinary services for Cats Protection, said: “This survey suggests the extra time we’ve spent indoors with our cats has led to us over-indulging them, which owners did out of love or to make their feline feel like a family member.

“Sadly we are doing them more harm than good as overweight cats are at significant risk of diabetes, joint problems and urinary infections.”

The charity shared the story of Paisley, a five-year-old cat that weighed 10.75kgs when she was brought to Cats Protection last year.

Paisley was put on a specially prescribed diet and later adopted by James Frankland from Hove, East Sussex, who continued with her weightloss plan. Mr Frankland now feeds Paisley a diet of normal cat food and ensures she receives responsible portion sizes.

“She is now getting used to normal sizes of cat food and has lost more than three kilos,” says Mr Frankland. “Although she is still two kilos from her ideal weight, she’s already so much more agile and lively. I have no doubt it’s extended her lifespan.”

Image (c) Cats Protection.

Blind kitten's sight restored through liver operation

Blind kitten's sight restored through liver operation

Veterinary team successful treats a portosystemic shunt

A blind kitten has had it's sight restored after an intricate operation was carried out on it's liver at an animal hospital in Yorkshire.

The kitten, called Purdy, was diagnosed with a congenital portosystemic shunt after blood tests and a CT scan at Paragon Veterinary Referrals in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

Mickey Tivers, an RCVS specialist in small animal surgery and head of surgery at Paragon, said:“[A congenital portosystemic shunt] is a defect which causes the blood to bypass the liver making it unable to absorb essential nutrients or remove dangerous toxins.

“This causes a number of problems. Affected animals are often small, and underdeveloped and suffering from problems in the nervous system because of the toxins.

In severely affected cases this defect can cause tremors, seizures and, as in Purdy’s case, blindness.

In an effort to reduce the toxins in her system, Purdy was given lactulose and antibiotics and put on a special diet. However, surgery was required to stop the blood from bypassing the liver.

“First we injected dye into a blood vessel in Purdy’s intestine,” explains Dr Tivers, “and tracked its flow using fluoroscopy in a bid to properly identify the shunting vessel and assess the development of her liver.

“It confirmed the presence of a portosystemic shunt, as expected, but also revealed that Purdy’s liver was not very well developed, meaning she could not have the shunt fully closed straight away.

“We placed an ameroid constrictor around the shunt, a special device that slowly closes the shunt over a period of weeks, allowing the liver to gradually grow and develop so it can cope with the blood flow.”

Purdy recovered well and after two months she was off her medication and all of her clinical signs had resolved. Follow-up blood tests showed that her liver was working normally, with normal bile acids, suggesting that the surgery has been successful.

Rise in people looking to give up unwanted animals

Rise in people looking to give up unwanted animals

Owners urged to consult trainer or behaviourist before surrendering pets

The Scottish SPCA has reported a spike in calls to its helpline about unwanted animals as hundreds of people are coming to regret their decision to purchase 'lockdown pets'.

Between 1 September 2020 and 5 January 2021, the charity received 476 calls from people considering giving up their animals. This is compared to 205 calls in the same period in 2019/20.

Calls from people looking to give up unwanted dogs have increased 103 per cent, while calls about unwanted cats have shot up by 151 per cent.

Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said that the charity has been concerned about a rise in unwanted animals since the surge in people buying or adopting pets across last year as they spent more time at home.

He added: “People should consider their future lifestyle and how to help their pet adapt. Spending time away from their pet so they can get used to being alone is a good start.

“It is heart-breaking to see a healthy animal which loves their family given up because the owners have lost interest or not considered how their circumstances may change. We would urge people to consider a reputable behaviourist or training before they give up their pet.

Thankfully, the charity has not seen the same increase in abandonments across this period, despite the increase in people wanting to surrender their pets.

“People who are considering adopting an animal should think long and hard about their circumstances and whether it is the right thing to do.” Mr Flynn concluded, urging anyone considering giving up an animal to contact Scottish SPCA's confidential helpline.

AAFP ends elective declawing procedures

AAFP ends elective declawing procedures

International Cat Care welcomes 'important step forward for feline welfare'.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) has announced that it is ending elective declawing procedures for all felines under its Cat-Friendly Practice (CFP) scheme.

AAFP rolled out the update across its CFP practices in North, Central, and South America on 1 January, and said that it will be standard in all new practices that wish to earn the designation moving forward.

The move follows several years of work alongside the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary arm of International Cat Care (iCatCare). 

Welcoming the announcement, ISFM head Nathalie Dowgray said: “ISFM is delighted this has now been achieved – it is an important step forward for feline welfare. AAFP’s Claw Friendly Educational Toolkit is a great resource for practices choosing to stop undertaking declawing.

"Both organisations will also work to educate owners around the world that scratching is a normal and essential feline behaviour, and that the procedure of declawing is definitely not cat friendly.”

Many regions throughout the world, including portions of North America, have banned feline declawing procedures unless there is a necessary medical reason. Indeed, many cat owners are unaware that clawing is a normal feline behaviour that allows the animal to stretch and de-stress,. 

The CFP scheme was established by the AAFP and the ISFM as part of a global initiative to improve feline welfare. A CFP designation is a recognised symbol of excellence showing a practice’s commitment in treating feline patients gently and with respect. 

An AAFP spokesperson said: 'This announcement aligns with the AAFP’s 2017 Position Statement that strongly opposes declawing of cats as an elective procedure. In making this exciting announcement, the AAFP continues supporting high standards of practice, continuing education, and evidence-based medicine'.

Northern Ireland raises concerns over pet travel regulations

Northern Ireland raises concerns over pet travel regulations

Minister calls for a Common Travel Area between GB and NI and ROI.

The government of Northern Ireland (NI) has raised concerns over the new pet travel regulations following Britain's exit from the EU.

Under the new legislation, people wishing to travel to NI with their pet from Great Britain are required to get their pet vaccinated against rabies and treated for tapeworm - procedures which were previously unnecessary given the tapeworm and rabies-free status of NI and the Republic of Ireland. 

In a letter to the Defra secretary George Eustice and the European Commission, agriculture minister Edwin Poots calls for a common-sense approach to reduce 'unnecessary'  treatments and ensure that owners of assistance animals are not adversely affected. 

Speaking about the issue, the Minister said: “As a result of the NI Protocol, Northern Ireland’s pet owners are now facing onerous and unnecessary documentary checks as well as unjustified veterinary treatments, for diseases that we do not have.

“I have written to the Secretary of State George Eustice and the European Commission to ask for common sense and more specifically, a Common Travel Area to be applied between GB and NI and ROI – this is not unreasonable and would alleviate the real and serious concerns of pet travellers across all jurisdictions.”

He continued: “A worrying outworking of these new requirements is that no thought has been given to the difficulties caused for assistance dog users and assistance training puppies. This means that some of the most vulnerable in our society are being directly affected – this cannot and must not be the case.

“I trust that the Defra Secretary of State and the European Commission will consider and recognise the impact of the concerns I have raised and will work with me to find a pragmatic and sensible solution to these issues.”

New pet adoption website brings together animal rescue centres across UK

New pet adoption website brings together animal rescue centres across UK

'Animates' aims to make pet adoption easier

A new platform has launched which connects prospective pet buyers with UK animal rescue centres, making the process of adopting a cat or dog more simple and straightforward.

Thousands of people in the UK bring a pet into their home every year, but a large majority choose to buy from breeders, dealers and online sellers, leaving many of the 250,000 animals in rescue centres each year without a home.

The new site 'Animates' aims to encourage adoption by “making it easier for people to put rescue first.”

'Animates' is free to sign up to and hosts more than 1,200 cats and dogs that are up for adoption from 323 shelters in one place, with more being added every day.

The site works with rescue centres of all sizes, including the RSPCA, Dogs Trust, Blue Cross and hundreds of smaller, local shelters.

People can use the platform to search by species, breed and location. Then they can view a more detailed profile for each animal that meets their criteria, this will help them to learn more about the individual animal and decide if they will be well-suited to their home.

The platform also allows users to directly support rescue centres by making a donation, either to the centre as a whole or to an individual animal's care. 100 per cent of the donation amount goes directly to the rescue centre itself.

To find out more, please visit the Animates website.

High numbers of vets report treating cats for antifreeze poisoning

High numbers of vets report treating cats for antifreeze poisoning

BVA warns pet owners of potential winter hazards

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urging pet owners to take extra precautions to ensure that their pets are protected from winter hazards, as a large number of veterinary surgeons report seeing cases of toxic ingestion caused by antifreeze.

As freezing temperatures and icy conditions are forecast in many parts of the country, cats, dogs and small animals are at a much greater risk of harm from the hidden and potentially fatal hazards that are present during this period.

In it's January 2020 Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, the BVA found that 51 percent of veterinary professionals who treated toxic ingestion in cats over this period saw cases caused by antifreeze.

The association wants to ensure that pet owners are aware of the dangers of antifreeze and that they clean up any spills immediately and keep bottles well out of reach.

As part of it's advice, the BVA reminds dog owners to protect their pets from cold weather by providing them with coats and wiping grit or ice from their paws after a walk.

Additionally, owners of small animals are encouraged to ensure that hutches and cages are well-protected from ice, snow and rain. Providing extra bedding where necessary.

BVA senior vice president Daniella Dos Santos advised anyone concerned about their pet's health in this cold weather to seek advice from their local veterinary practice.

Charity calls for exemption from new travel rules for assistance dogs

Charity calls for exemption from new travel rules for assistance dogs

Group suspends supply of guide dog puppies to NI

The charity Guide Dogs has expressed disappointment regarding the post-Brexit travel rules and the barriers they present for assistance dogs travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The formal agreement of the new Irish Sea border means that the new pet travel rules for travel to the EU also apply to Northern Ireland. Under these rules, pets entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain have to have certain paperwork and must be vaccinated against rabies 21 days before travel.

Typically guide dog puppies are sent for early training at eight weeks old, staying with their carer until they can begin their specialised training in a Guide Dogs' centre at 12-16 months old.

But, as they cannot be vaccinated for rabies until 12 weeks old, the earliest a guide dog puppy could enter NI from Britain is 15 weeks.

Speaking to the BBC, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs said that this delay will cause the puppies to miss out on essential training at a time key time in their socialisation and development. In addition, the charity added that it would not be best for the puppy's welfare to travel during this period.

Although trained adult assistance dogs will still be supplied to Northern Ireland, the issues that the new rules impose on training and socialisation have led Guide Dogs to suspend the placement of puppies in Northern Ireland.

The charity trains more than 1,000 guide dog puppies each year that go on to support and improve the lives of some 200,000 people with sight loss living in the UK.