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Michaela Strachan urges public to sign up for Blue Cross virtual run

Michaela Strachan urges public to sign up for Blue Cross virtual run

Rescue Run takes place from 1 – 31 May 2021.

Wildlife TV presenter Michaela Strachan is urging pet lovers to take part in the Blue Cross Rescue Run – a virtual challenge in which entrants aim to run 26.2 miles over the month of May.

All funds raised as part of the event will go towards helping Blue Cross continue to care for sick, injured and homeless pets. According to the charity, last year it cost £909 on average to care for and rehome a dog, and £567 for a cat. Blue Cross recieves no government funding and so relies on voluntary donations and fundraising events to continue operating.

As the event is virtual, it can be completed anywhere and at a pace that each individual can set. Progress can be logged on each entrant's fundraising page and once the distance is completed they'll receive a medal to mark their efforts.

Participants of any age are welcome to take part. They can form teams – as long as social distancing guidelines are observed – and can even complete the challenge with their dogs.

In a press release about the event, Michaela Strachan said: “It’s National Pet Month and I’m urging animal lovers to take part in the Blue Cross ‘Rescue Run’ to help the charity care for pets in need.

“Every penny raised will go towards helping the thousands of homeless, abandoned, sick and injured pets the charity takes in each year and each participant receives a special medal when they have completed their virtual marathon.”

The Blue Cross Rescue Run runs from 1 May to 31 May. Information on how to sign up can be found at

Image (c) Blue Cross.

RSPCA calls for crackdown on puppy imports after dogs die from parvovirus

RSPCA calls for crackdown on puppy imports after dogs die from parvovirus

Six of 11 rescued puppies test positive for lethal disease.

The RSPCA has issued a warning to potential puppy buyers about the risks of buying imported animals after a number of puppies that were seized from a van died of parvovirus.

A total of 11 puppies were rescued by Nottinghamshire police from a van last month. Police suspect that they had been imported from Ireland to be sold on. Eight of the puppies tested positive for parvovirus and were given emergency veterinary treatment but, sadly, six died.

The five remaining puppies have now been either fostered or rehomed and are doing well, despite behavioural issues arising from their lack of socialisation early on in life.

Dr Samantha Gaines said: “We know that there are unscrupulous people out there who want to exploit the demand for dogs and are willing to take advantage of families who want to add a dog to their home. Sadly, this comes at the expense of the dogs.

“Puppies are being bred in poor conditions overseas and are taken from their mums too young, put into a van with lots of other puppies - the perfect breeding ground for nasty diseases and infections like parvovirus - before being travelled thousands of miles and imported into the country.

“Not only is this a major animal welfare issue for the dogs, but it also poses a significant public health risk. Most dogs have not had the correct vaccinations or health checks and could be bringing in serious diseases that could infect our own dog population or even be transferable to humans.”

The RSPCA’s #ForPupsSake campaign is calling on the UK Government to tackle the growing problem of puppy farming and importation. It demands greater enforcement at the borders to intercept illegally imported dogs and also wants to see the minimum age puppies can be brought into the UK increased from 15 to 24 weeks.

Image (c) Nottinghamshire Police and RSPCA Radcliffe Animal Centre. 

Free practice resources to 'Make Senior Easier'

Free practice resources to 'Make Senior Easier'

Tools developed to improve owner awareness of ageing pets.

Veterinary health firm Animalcare has developed a suite of resources for practices to enhance the care professionals provide to ageing pets.

The resources form part of the ‘Make Senior Easier’ campaign, highlighting the importance of offering appropriate care to ageing pets. Practices can request their free resource pack by visiting

Besides helping professionals build stronger client relationships, AnimalCare hopes the resources will also support owners in caring for their animals as they get older. They include:
  • a video offering top tricks and tips to help practices get the best out of the campaign
  • health check materials, including a senior triage form to be completed by owners, and a senior pet assessment form, which can act as a checklist for practice staff
  • condition handouts for owners, detailing common age-related problems
  • engaging social media posts 
  • generic short articles on age-related issues for use in e-newsletters and on websites.
Kirsty Cavill RVN commented: ''In my role as an RVN and canine rehabilitation therapist, I often come across senior pets with underlying conditions which are adversely affecting their health but could be managed successfully through a multimodal approach and structured treatment plan. 

"By adopting a proactive approach to senior pet care and by helping owners to understand how to best support their pets through this life stage, we will strengthen the bonds with our clients, to ensure the highest standard of care is afforded to all senior patients.''

James Beaumont, Animalcare brand manager, added: “Unfortunately, some signs of a gradual decline in the health of senior patients can go unnoticed. Other changes, perhaps behaviour-related or toileting accidents, can have a significantly adverse effect, not just on the animals but on their owners too. This is why proactively addressing some of the signs of an animal ‘just getting old’ is an important tool for building existing client relationships, as well as making a difference both to animals and their owners.

“As life expectancy increases and numbers of senior pets continue to grow, veterinary care tailored to the needs of these animals has never been more relevant and it is also a huge business opportunity for practices. To help them capitalise on this opportunity, we have created our Make Senior Easier campaign and hope that the resources we have created will improve owner awareness and give practices the tools they need to achieve the best clinical outcomes for older pets and their owners.”

Dogs show jealous behaviour even in imagined social situations - study finds

Dogs show jealous behaviour even in imagined social situations - study finds

Researchers gauged dogs' reactions when owners gave attention to a perceived rival.

New research from the University of Auckland has bolstered theories that dogs act jealously when their owners give attention to another dog, even when that other dog is out-of-sight.

In the past surveys have shown that more than 80 per cent of dog owners report observing jealous behaviours from their dog, including vocalizations, agitated behaviour and lead-pulling, when they give attention to other dogs.

The new research, published in Psychological Science, used a highly realistic artificial dog to show that dogs exhibit these behaviours even when simply imagining a situation where their owner is interacting with a perceived rival dog.

In the experiment, 18 dogs were shown the fake-dog rival positioned next to their owner. Then a barrier was placed between the dog and the potential rival. Despite the rival being obscured from view, the dogs demonstrated great efforts to reach their owners when they appeared to stroke the rival fake dog behind the barrier.

The experiment was then repeated using a fleece cylinder, rather than an artificial dog. In this instance, the dogs were far less forceful in their efforts to get to their owner.

Amalia Bastos, lead author said: “These results support claims that dogs display jealous behaviour. They also provide the first evidence that dogs can mentally represent jealousy-inducing social interactions.

“Previous studies confounded jealous behaviour with play, interest, or aggression, because they never tested the dogs’ reactions to the owner and the social rival being present in the same room but not interacting.”

She continued: “There is still plenty of work to do to establish the extent of the similarities between the minds of humans and other animals, especially in terms of understanding the nature of nonhuman animals’ emotional experiences.

“It is too early to say whether dogs experience jealousy as we do, but it is now clear that they react to jealousy-inducing situations, even if these occur out-of-sight.”

National Pet Month gets underway

National Pet Month gets underway

Event will focus on the five pet welfare needs. 

As National Pet Month gets underway (April 1 – May 3), the National Office for Animal Health (NOAH) is calling on veterinary professionals to support each other as the nation slowly eases out of lockdown. 

This year’s campaign focuses on the five animal welfare needs and the physical and mental health benefits of pets, as well as the tireless work of the veterinary profession throughout the pandemic. 

NOAH chief executive, Dawn Howard, said: “In these challenging times, it’s so important for us to support each other as well as pet owners and the animals in our care. 

“Focusing on the five pet welfare needs of Companionship, Behaviour, Diet, Health and Environment, the positive impact of pets on our health and the dedication of our veterinary colleagues, and other pet professionals is a firm foundation for our campaign.”

The theme of this year’s event is ‘Pets and People: Caring for Each Other’ - and practices are being urged to share the hashtags #NationalPetMonth21 or #NPM21 on their social media posts, tagging National Pet Month and other relevant organisations. 

The campaign will explore the unique challenges of returning to work, including tips on developing pet-friendly office policies. With pet obesity on the rise, organisers will also provide advice and support to ensure pets are eating well throughout their lifetimes. 

Vaccinations, worming, and other vital care from veterinary professionals will go under the spotlight, with tips and advice for owners to help keep their animals happy and healthy. 

The final week of National Pet Month will highlight efforts to change policy and make pet-friendly rental accommodation the norm, as well as offer advice to new and young pet owners who might be struggling.

A National Pet Month spokesperson said: “National Pet Month is all about collaboration and engagement – working together to celebrate our pets and make their lives better. If you’re planning on creating social content around these five key areas, please tag us in on social media so we can spread the responsible pet ownership message together.”

Maxillofacial surgeon treats rare feline TMJ condition

Maxillofacial surgeon treats rare feline TMJ condition

Cat distressed by locked jaw undergoes complex surgery.

A maxillofacial surgeon at Davies Veterinary Specialists in Hertfordshire has performed complex surgery in order to resolve a cat’s bilateral temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysplasia.

The 12-year-old female cat, named Dexy, suffered with an intermittent locking jaw, usually triggered yawning or grooming. She was diagnosed with bilateral TMJ dysplasia – a somewhat rare condition in cats –  and referred to the Davies' Dental and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinic for treatment.

Dr José Ruiz said: “Dexy was in distress every time her jaw locked, and she couldn’t eat or drink. The only available treatment for this problem is surgery: in order to prevent the mandibles from locking, due to the abnormal elasticity in the joint's capsule and ligament, we needed to remove some bone from her cheek and jaw bones – known as the zygomatic arch and mandible.”

A bilateral trigeminal nerve block was performed by the anaesthesia team to reduce potential pain during and after the surgery. Dr Ruiz then approached the zygomatic arch at its ventral aspect.

An incision was made over Dexy’s cheek bone so that Dr Ruiz could access it. He cut the bone using a vibrating instrument that can cut bone but not soft tissues, therefore preventing any trauma to blood vessels or nerve structures. The top part of Dexy's mandible was also cut to prevent it from locking on to the remaining cheek bone.

Dexy made a fantastic recovery and was discharged just 24 hours after the procedure.

Image (c) Davies Veterinary Specialists.

Majority of vets saw cases of chocolate poisoning during Easter 2019

Majority of vets saw cases of chocolate poisoning during Easter 2019

BVA urges pet owners to be mindful of hazards during Easter break.

The BVA has issued a warning to pet owners ahead of the Easter weekend; reminding them to keep chocolate out of reach of pets in order to avoid cases chocolate poisoning.

The Association's recent Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey revealed that 80 per cent of veterinary professionals working in companion animal practice saw at least one case of chocolate poisoning in the lead up to Easter 2019. More than half (54 per cent) of respondents had seen three or more cases in this period.

Veterinary practices typically see an increase in cases of chocolate poisoning around Christmas and Easter. But, with COVID-19 restrictions leading to more people spending time at home together, the BVA says that there is an increased risk with sweets and chocolate being more easily accessible to animals.

The Association also reminded pet owners to be mindful of the dangers of raisins and sultanas, found in hot cross buns and simnel cakes.

BVA senior vice president, Daniella Dos Santos said: “Many of us will be looking forward to indulging over the long Easter weekend, but keep any sweet treats out of reach of curious pets.

“As we are all currently spending more time indoors, it is worth remembering to not leave treats lying around. Cats and other pets may be less inclined to sniff out and eat chocolate than dogs, but they can also suffer with chocolate poisoning.”

Dogs Trust marks 1,500 smuggled puppies rescued through Puppy Pilot Scheme

Dogs Trust marks 1,500 smuggled puppies rescued through Puppy Pilot Scheme

Charity calls for legislative changes as it reaches milestone.

Dogs Trust is calling on the government to take urgent action to tackle puppy smuggling as it marks the milestone of 1,500 smuggled puppies rescued and rehomed through its Puppy Pilot scheme.

Originally set up in 2015, the Puppy Pilot Scheme works with APHA in the interception of illegally imported puppies at ports. It also provides care and rehabilitation for the animals prior to finding them new homes.

In 2020, Dogs Trust saw a 66 per cent increase in dogs rescued through the scheme, compared to the previous year. The legal age for puppies to enter the country is 15 weeks from another EU country, but the average age of puppies seized in 2020 was around eight weeks, with some aged just four weeks old.

Paula Boyden, veterinary director at Dogs Trust, said: “The 1500th puppy rehomed through the Puppy Pilot is a bittersweet milestone for us to reach. The scheme was originally set up on a trial basis in 2015, because there were not sufficient resources to care for the puppies being seized at the border.

“Five years on the need for our services is greater than ever as the demand for dogs during lockdown has further exacerbated the problem and, unfortunately, we know that the dogs we care for are just a small proportion of those that make it into the country illegally.

She continued: “We held our first conference with relevant stakeholders, Defra and APHA representatives to highlight our concerns about the illegal importation of puppies over eight years ago, and our asks remain the same.

“Now that the UK has left the EU, there has never been a better time for the Government to raise the minimum age for puppies to be imported into the UK to six months to help make them less desirable.

“We also want to see tougher penalties for smugglers, as only a handful of cases have ever led to a prosecution, with paltry penalties that are no deterrent.”

Alongside calls for legislative change, Dogs Trust is also urging prospective puppy buyers to be vigilant and follow its advice when looking for a pet.

Researchers develop new treatment to improve recovery after spinal cord injury

Researchers develop new treatment to improve recovery after spinal cord injury

Teams create novel combined cellular and molecular treatment.

New research conducted by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in collaboration with the University of Bristol has led to the development of a new type of combined cell treatment that can help to improve recovery after spinal cord injury in companion animals and, ultimately, humans.

There is currently no cure for paralysis caused by damage to nerves in the spine, however, it is possible to inject cells from the nose – called olfactory ensheathing cells – into these damaged nerves. This has shown to improve walking in both experimental and companion animals and, though it is also known to be safe for humans, it has not been tested in a full clinical trial.

Another potential treatment is the injection of a molecule called chondroitinase. This has also improved recovery in experimental animals and pet dogs.

The research teams aimed to combine these two promising treatments into one, developing dog olfactory ensheathing cells that can create and release chondroitinase.

Injecting this new type of cell transplant into the spinal cord improved recovery of hand movements after spinal cord injury in rats. The treated subjects were shown to have increased accuracy when reaching and grasping compared to control subjects or those receiving cells alone.

Dr Jon Prager, postdoctoral researcher at the RVC, said: “Spinal cord injury causes chronic paralysis and incontinence, and remains a major worldwide healthcare burden, with no regenerative treatment clinically available. This study suggests that our genetically engineered cellular and molecular approach is a feasible combination therapy for spinal cord injury.

“Our findings show that this treatment leads to a modest improvement in rats’ ability to pick up treats and we are incredibly excited to see how the next stage of the research goes. This discovery is an exciting step in uncovering other possible combined treatments that have the potential to improve cell transplant therapy.”

Moving forward the researchers aims to test the efficacy of these treatments in ‘real-life’ injuries, such as those sustained by companion dogs and people.

The full paper is available to view here.

Scottish SPCA launches appeal as centres hit capacity

Scottish SPCA launches appeal as centres hit capacity

Increase in lockdown pets and puppy farms puts charity under pressure.

The Scottish SPCA is appealing for support as a surge in unwanted and seized animals across the past year has led to immense pressure being placed on its services and many of its centres reaching capacity.

The recent rise in demand for puppies has led to an increase in the number of raids and seizures of animals from low-welfare puppy farms and dealers and the charity has also seen a spike in calls to its helpline regarding unwanted pets.

In 2020, the Scottish SPCA received more than 136,000 calls to its animal helpline and frontline teams attended an average of 214 incidents each day – totalling some 78,000 over the year. More than 7,000 wild animals were admitted to its National Wildlife Rescue Centre.

The charity continued to help animals throughout the pandemic, rehoming 3,369 animals and caring for more than 1,300 animals seeking temporary refuge.

Many of the animals being cared for by the Scottish SPCA are puppies rescued from puppy farms and low-welfare breeders. Disease is rife among these animals due to the terrible conditions many of they are kept in, and many puppies are having to be euthanised.

Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “Unfortunately the pandemic has seen a rise in the number of puppies being sold. The pups are bred for financial gain with no thought given to the welfare of the puppies or their mums.

“We are dedicated to disrupting the multi-million-pound low-welfare puppy trade. Our undercover special investigations unit rescued over 150 puppies from dealers and ferry ports in 2020.”

He concluded: “Our centres have hit capacity and we desperately need the support of the animal loving Scottish public so that they don’t let animals suffer.”

To find out more about the Scottish SPCA's #DontLetAnimalsSuffer campaign, click here.

Puppy successfully treated for vitamin D poisoning

Puppy successfully treated for vitamin D poisoning

Miniature dachshund Margot is recovering after devouring human psoriasis medication.

A puppy has been treated successfully for vitamin D poisoning after eating a human medicine containing a synthetic form of the supplement. 

Miniature dachshund Margot was presented to Davies Veterinary Specialists after gobbling up a tube of Dovonex ointment - a topical cream used to treat psoriasis in humans that contains
calcipotriol, a synthetic derivative of vitamin D.

“We calculated that four-month-old Margot had ingested between 500-1000µg (161µg/kg – 323µg/kg) of calcipotriol,” explained Katherine Clarke, an internal medicine resident at Davies. “Toxicity studies in dogs suggest that 1.8 to 3.6µg /kg /day of calcipotriol can cause disturbances in calcium homeostasis, so it wasn’t surprising that Margot developed evidence of toxicity.” 

Margot arrived at the veterinary hospital with depression, lethargy and nausea. She was also severely hypercalcaemic and mildly azotaemic.

The team initially managed her vitamin D poisoning with prednisolone, furosemide and intravenous fluid therapy. While she did show some clinical improvement, the hypercalcaemia persisted, prompting the addition of pamidronate to her treatment. 

The combination of the treatments resulted in normocalcaemia and resolution of the azotaemia. The furosemide was then stopped, and the intravenous fluid therapy was gradually reduced over a few days; her calcium remained normal. 

Margot was discharged on tapering doses of prednisolone and blood tests were performed before each dose reduction to ensure she remained normocalcaemic. She is now said to be be clinically very well having been off all treatment for a few months, and there are no signs that the vitamin D poisoning has led to any permanent damage. 

“Vitamin D toxicity is relatively rare, although the growing trend in vitamin D supplementation in the human population means that dogs are more likely to have access to this vitamin,” said Katherine. 

“Ingestion of psoriasis cream, either by licking it from the skin of the owner or direct ingestion by chewing the tube, is another well-recognised mechanism of vitamin D toxicity in dogs,” she continued. “The addition of vitamin D (cholecalciferol) to rodenticides is also increasing, ingestion of which would cause the undesirable combination of vitamin D toxicosis and a coagulopathy”.

“The prognosis for vitamin D toxicity is variable with some cases experiencing an acute kidney injury or severe gastrointestinal bleeding due to calcification of the soft tissues. However, with prompt, aggressive treatment the prognosis can be reasonable.”


Confusion over Petlog database upgrade

Confusion over Petlog database upgrade

Firm issues statement after claims owners’ details were 'misplaced'.

Pet owners registered with the microchip database Petlog are being urged to create a new account after an ‘upgrade’ led to claims that people could see other owners and animals’ details.

Petlog has posted a statement on its website seeking to reassure its customers that their details are safe. But it appears the issues are ongoing. 

One customer commented on the firm’s Facebook page that she had re-set her account as instructed ‘but had now been matched with a complete stranger’.

Another wrote: “I have 8 microchips...none on my account!! No idea when this will be fixed and in the current climate of pet theft, this is a massive massive cock up! So now not only are pet owners constantly worried about their pet being stolen, the very system that offers a glimmer of hope of getting them back is flawed!”

It comes at a time when dog thefts in the UK are on the rise. Figures released by DogLost - the UK’s largest lost and stolen dog service – revealed that pet thefts rose from 172 dogs in 2019 to 465 in 2020. 

Missing Pets GB urged owners to check their account as a matter of urgency. 

A Petlog spokesperson said: “Petlog’s online services and website have been upgraded. We would like to reassure customers that all details are securely registered on our microchip database and our 24/7 reunification service is running as usual. 

“As part of this upgrade, we have asked our customers to follow steps to create a new online self-serve account with us, we are not asking customers to re-register their pets. There is a step-by-step guide in the FAQs page on how to do create your new online account.

“There are some customers – for instance, those whose details may have changed or not been checked on our database since their pet was first registered with us - who may be unable to immediately view their pets’ details when they set up their new online account. 

“This is because we are committed to protecting their data, and we want to verify details, in some cases, before we continue the online setup process - just as when setting up an online bank account a bank may verify identification information before you can view and access your records.

The spokesperson continued: “Customers whose pets aren’t displaying on their online account can fill in the ‘can’t see my pet’ form and our team will review their details so their online account can be updated and all of the information about their pet can be displayed."

Cats Protection shares benefits of 'shelter medicine'

Cats Protection shares benefits of 'shelter medicine'

Charity vet gives presentation at BSAVA Congress 2021.

Cats Protection delivered an insightful presentation today at BSAVA Congress 2021 on how 'shelter medicine' can be used in a private practice setting to develop timely, cost-effective treatment plans.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many veterinary practices and animal shelters having to limit their scope of service, and the forecast economic recession will also mean that owners will have less to spend on their pets. So, in many cases, practices will have to consider a more pragmatic approach so that they can continue to treat animals successfully.

Veterinary surgeon Lauren Kirk, who works at Cats Protection's National Cat Adoption Centre in Sussex, shared some insight into how veterinary staff working in shelters approach diagnosis and treatment and how this clinical style can be used by private practices as we begin to ease out of lockdown.

Ms Kirk stressed the importance of considering the bigger picture when taking a pragmatic approach; focusing on addressing the most critical, treatable conditions that will have the largest impact on the animal's welfare and being realistic and flexible about the available resources.

When developing a treatment plan with a shelter medicine mindset, Ms Kirk recommends assessing whether it is cost-effective and gives the shortest time to resolution. As well as not being afraid to alter the plan if the patient is not improving.

The veterinary surgeon spoke about the need to plan ahead, considering whether certain tests or treatments are absolutely necessary and whether they will change the treatment plan at all. She reminded delegates not to be guilty of over-treating and not to be afraid to just observe and wait if a patient seems to be doing well.

Ms Kirk also urged delegates to consider a spectrum of care approach, adding: “This model can help us continue our oath while working within the financial constraints of our clients.”

The full presentation will be available to view on the BSAVA congress platform in the coming days.

Rabbit Awareness Week launches 2021 campaign

Rabbit Awareness Week launches 2021 campaign

Organisers unveil theme at virtual BSAVA Congress. 

Organisers behind Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW) have announced this year’s campaign theme as part of BSAVA Congress 2021 (25-27 March).
The RAW collective, which comprises some of the UK’s largest animal welfare organisations and charities said the welfare needs and challenges of rabbits through their different life stages will lie at the heart of this year’s RAW campaign (28 June - 2 July).
This year the campaign is celebrating its 15th anniversary, with the theme announced at BSAVA 2021 as ‘Hopping through the Years’.  Under this theme, the RAW collective, led by Burgess Pet Care, will focus on the welfare and dietary needs of rabbits at all stages of ownership.

The campaign will also consider the key questions owners should be asking when looking to own rabbits, through the various life stages and into maturity. 

Holly Ackroyd, senior brand manager at Burgess Pet Care, said: “The support of vets and practices has always been integral to the success of RAW, so we are delighted to announce the theme of this year’s, very special, campaign at BSAVA Congress. 

“As with the 2020 campaign, the pandemic means we will be running RAW as a digital festival with lots of creative and engaging ways for vets to get involved, share their expertise and drive dialogue with rabbit owners in their regions and beyond.”
To mark fifteen years of Rabbit Awareness Week, this year’s event will also look back on memorable moments from RAW over the years.
Holly continued: “’ Hopping Through the Years’ feels like the perfect theme as we mark fifteen years of successful RAW campaigns. We’re keen to stress, though, that RAW 2021 is very much about looking to the future as well as celebrating the past. Our key focus remains on improving the health and wellbeing of pet rabbits in the UK at all stages of their life, as their needs change and owners may need to adapt the care they provide for them.” 
BSAVA President Professor Ian Ramsey said: “As always, the BSAVA is delighted to support RAW and to be the first to hear what the theme for this year will be. Rabbits are one of the most misunderstood pets in the UK, so providing a theme that allows vets to provide advice on all five welfare needs, at all stages of ownership, makes for a great campaign. We are confident that vets throughout the UK will lend their passionate support once again to this important campaign to improve the lives of pet rabbits.”

Vets are being encouraged to start planning for their RAW campaigns now. A downloadable pack and tips for vets will be available from 1 June 2021 on the Rabbit Awareness Week Website

Kennel Club Genetics Centre set to re-open in Cambridge

Kennel Club Genetics Centre set to re-open in Cambridge

New centre will continue vital research into dog health.

The Kennel Club has confirmed that the Kennel Club Canine Genetics Centre will officially re-open at a new location at the University of Cambridge.

The Kennel Club Canine Genetics Centre was originally opened in 2009 at the Animal Health Trust, which closed last year. During this time researchers developed 25 different DNA tests for canine inherited diseases that affect over 50 breeds. Research into the impact of these tests has shown that, over a ten year period, the frequency of disease-causing genetic variants in some breeds was reduced by 90 per cent.

The new centre will resume its vital research into genetic mutations and the development of breeding tools for some of the most common and debilitating inherited conditions in dogs. The previous centre's collection of more than 40,000 DNA samples has also been transferred to the University of Cambridge.

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, head of the new centre, said: “The last ten years have been incredibly important to dog health and, thanks to the University of Cambridge, especially Professor James Wood, head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Cambridge Vet School, for all his assistance in safeguarding our resources and The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, this work can now continue.

“Our work to support breeders in reducing health problems in dogs is essential and we are eager to continue this important work and are thankful to everyone for their support.”

Bill King, chairman of The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, said: “The Kennel Club Genetics Centre has made an enormous positive impact on the health of dogs whilst under the auspices of the Animal Health Trust, the closure of which we were saddened and concerned to learn of last year.

“We’re now thrilled that the centre has found a home in such a reputable and prestigious research institute, and we’re very much looking forward to collaborating with the centre once more.”

Image (c) Bill Moores.

Rabbit sales soar by 200 per cent during lockdown

Rabbit sales soar by 200 per cent during lockdown

Owners urged to do their research around the pandemic's most popular pet.

Demand for pets has soared since the start of the pandemic, as people have spent more time at home than ever before. New data has revealed that rabbits are one of the most popular pets sought during lockdown, with an increase of 212 per cent in rabbits purchased in 2020 compared with 2019.

The data, provided by pet insurance comparison website, is based on a sample of more than 80,000 pet insurance policies. The sales figures for rabbits far exceed the increases seen in puppies (55 per cent) or kittens (58 per cent), over the past 12 months.

The most sought-after rabbit breed was the lop-mini, closely followed by mixed-breeds and lionhead rabbits.

The price for a rabbit has also risen by 17 per cent, meaning that people looking to purchase one as a pet will likely be paying around £50 per rabbit.

Rabbits are a popular pet around Easter especially, with many parents purchasing the animals as a present for their children. But animal charities across the country are urging potential rabbit owners to do their research, to ensure that their new pet's needs will be met.

Data from the RSPCA shows that May is the busiest time for rabbit rehoming in its centres and branches. The charity's rabbit specialist, Dr Jane Tyson, said: “Sadly, when rabbits are bought on impulse, an owner may not realise how complex they are to care for and what a commitment caring for rabbits can be.

“Rabbits are arguably one of the most neglected pets in Britain despite being much-loved by many. Loving pet owners will understand their complex needs but unfortunately some of the common misconceptions about housing and diet are still prevalent today.”