Heartworm (Dirofilaria Immitis)

Heartworm live in the arteries and hearts of infected animals. They release larvae into their hosts’ bloodstream. When a mosquito feeds on the infected animal the larvae present in the blood are swallowed by the mosquito. These larvae are then passed via their saliva to the next animal they feed from, for example your dog or cat.

Once the larvae enter your pet, they will develop and migrate over several months to their heart. In severe cases they may clog up the right side of the heart. Dogs in particular are affected and signs can take months to develop depending on the severity of the infection.

Symptoms may include:

  • excessive panting
  • weight loss
  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing
  • being easily tired following exercise
  • heart failure
  • death if left untreated

As a mosquito is required for the lifecycle to be completed dogs and cats in this country are at little risk of contracting heartworm.

Mosquitos easily spread heartworm and you should consider this risk when thinking of travelling with your pet. You should always protect your pet against heartworm when travelling abroad. As heartworm infection can be fatal please consult your veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse before travelling with your pet as there are products available to help prevent heartworm.

Cinque Ports Vets run FREE Travel Clinics to help you plan the appropriate disease prevention measures and also check your pet’s microchip is still active.  Remember to prepare well in advance as some parasite prevention products need to be applied well before any possible exposure to parasites. Please contact your local branch for an appointment.

To check which parasites your pet may be exposed to, log on to www.esccapuk.org.uk and under the ‘Travelling Pets’ section you will find European parasite distribution maps. These maps are designed to help inform you of the parasitic threats present in different countries.

Lyme Disease (Borreliosis)

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a tick-borne bacterial disease which affects both humans and animals. The disease is caused by bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi, which are transmitted to humans and dogs following a bite from an infected tick from the species known as Ixodes. It’s the most common tick borne disease in Europe, and the number of reported human cases has risen dramatically in the UK in recent years, with an increase of over 300% since the year 2000. With a recent survey showing that 15% of dogs are carrying ticks, unknown to their owners, the risk to our pets can’t be ignored.

Which dogs are at risk?

Ticks are found practically everywhere, from forests to gardens to vegetation on beaches. Tick numbers tend to be higher in certain areas, such as woodland, moorland, rough pasture and heathland. Urban/city parks, especially larger parks where deer are present, are also suitable habitats for ticks. So if you regularly go walking in this type of area, your dog could be at significant risk of picking up an infected tick.

Signs of Lyme disease

The disease is transmitted when an infected tick climbs on to the dog and starts to feed. The process of disease transmission generally takes around 48 hours, although it can occur more rapidly. In some dogs, infection does not cause any harmful effects but in others, a variety of symptoms can be seen.
The most common signs are:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Joint swellings
  • Stiffness when moving

The disease can also affect the nervous system and the heart. In rare cases, serious kidney problems can develop which are very difficult to treat. These signs can take a long time to develop, sometimes several months, after a dog is bitten by an infected tick.The intensity of these symptoms can fluctuate for months, and if left undiagnosed can lead to permanent disability.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosis can be difficult, as the signs are similar to a wide range of other diseases, but blood tests to measure immunity levels to Borrelia can be useful. Other tests are available which can detect the bacteria in tissue samples, such as skin or joint tissue. Treatment usually consists of antibiotics, plus anti-inflammatories to control the painful lameness which can be seen. Although treatment usually gives rapid results in the short term, it is very difficult to get rid of the bacteria, and relapses can occur. Prevention is certainly better than cure.

Prevention

There are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of Lyme disease for your dog. You can help protect your dog from Lyme Disease by using suitable veterinary advised products. These are designed to protect against the ticks that carry the disease.

Vaccination is an important way of protecting your pet and a vaccine against Lyme disease is now available in the UK. A primary vaccine course of two injections are required followed by annual boosters.

Avoiding high risk areas, particularly during periods of peak tick activity during Spring and Autumn, can help. Carefully examining your dog after walks to identify and then remove ticks is important, as removal of ticks within 48 hours of attachment helps to reduce the risk of disease transmission. And don’t forget that Lyme disease affects humans too, so take appropriate steps to protect yourself against ticks, such as covering up exposed skin and checking yourself carefully for ticks.

Please ask us about our FREE Travel Clinics which help you plan the appropriate disease prevention measures and also check your pet’s microchip is still active. Even if you aren’t travelling abroad you should still protect your pet. Remember to prepare well in advance as some parasite prevention products need to be applied well before any possible exposure to parasites. Please contact your local branch for an appointment.

Click on the video below to find out more about Lyme Disease.

Useful links:
Lyme Disease Pet Owner Information Leaflet

Pet Passports

Many of us take our pets on holiday to Europe and there has been some uncertainty surrounding this with Brexit. Here is the latest information and it is, for now, good news for travelling furry friends.

It was announced that the current pet passport scheme will be continuing in its present form during a transition period lasting until December 31, 2020.

The official guidance can be found here https://www.gov.uk/take-pet-abroad and we are happy to help with everything which needs to be done, including, of course, providing pet passports.

If you are looking to travel after January 1, 2021, please take a look at https://www.gov.uk/guidan…/pet-travel-to-europe-after-brexit or give us a call. We are always happy to help.


The PETS travel scheme allows domestic dogs and cats to accompany their owners abroad to certain countries and return to the UK without undergoing quarantine.  The qualifying countries include member states of the EEC, USA and Canada. This means you can now go on holiday with your pet as long as you fulfil the conditions of the scheme.

The PETS scheme requires a large number of conditions to be met and you should research them well. All the latest information is available on the DEFRA website www.defra.gov.uk/pets or call their hotline on 03702411710. You should always check the rules with DEFRA before travelling even if you are only going to the EU as they vary widely from country to country.

From the 1st January 2012 the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) rules changed.

Here are the main conditions of the scheme:

  • Your pet must have a permanent microchip implanted before they are given their rabies vaccination.
  • They must be vaccinated against rabies but not before they are 3 calendar months old. Boosters are then required and MUST be kept up to date as lapses can mean restarting the pet passport again.
  • A pet passport will be signed and issued to you by an OV (Official Veterinarian).
  • A rabies blood test is no longer needed after a rabies vaccination although if requested we can still perform a blood test at an additional cost to check your pets rabies antibody titre level.
  • Pets can travel to EU countries and return to the UK from EU countries 3 weeks after a rabies vaccination.
  • The mandatory requirement to treat for ticks before entry to the UK has been withdrawn.
  • The mandatory requirement to treat for tapeworms before entry to the UK is still in place but will apply to dogs only. Not less than 24 hours and not more than 120 hours (1-5 days) before their scheduled arrival time in the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme, your dog must be treated against tapeworm and the treatment recorded in the EU pet passport.

Veterinary surgeons are very concerned that the changes to the PETS rules, specifically the removal of mandatory tick treatment, could lead to an increase in parasites and vector-borne parasitic disease in pets in the UK. To check which parasites your pet may be exposed to, log on to ESCCAP UK website and under the ‘Travelling Pets’ section you will find European parasite distribution maps. These maps are designed to help inform you of the parasitic threats present in different countries so that appropriate preventative measures can be put in place to protect your pet. Some of these diseases for example Leishmaniasis, Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis can be fatal.

There are vaccines available which offer dog owners the opportunity for a new level of protection against canine Leishmaniosis and Lyme Disease. A course of vaccines are required along with an annual booster. If you are interested in learning more about the vaccines please speak to your veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse.

We offer FREE Travel Clinic appointments to help you plan the appropriate disease prevention measures and also check your pet’s microchip to confirm it is still active. Remember to prepare well in advance as some parasite prevention products need to be applied well before any possible exposure to parasites. Please contact your local branch for an appointment.

Please contact DEFRA or your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets for more information on pet travel.

Useful links:
www.defra.gov.uk/pets
www.esccapuk.org.uk

Travelling With Your Pet-What You Need To Know

Important news for owners of pets travelling abroad
The bad news:

Since the Pets Travel Scheme (PETS) was introduced in 2000, there have been an increasing number of pets returning to the UK with ‘exotic’ diseases. There is concern that some of these diseases are becoming endemic to the UK with potentially serious consequences for both human and animal health.
The following lists some of these diseases and how pets may pick up infection:

DISEASE SPREAD BY
Leishmaniosis Sandflies
Heartworm Mosquitoes
Babesiosis Ticks
Ehrlichiosis Ticks
Echinococcus multilocularis tapeworm Small rodents (if eaten)
Rabies Bite/saliva from another infected animal

From the 1st January 2012 the compulsory requirement to treat for ticks before entering the UK was lifted. The aim of the PETS legislation has always been to protect human health rather than animal health and following these guidelines alone will NOT guarantee the health of your pets travelling abroad.

The distribution of many of the above ‘exotic’ diseases is changing rapidly. This may be due to better surveillance and diagnosis, which allows us to map parasite and disease distribution better, but it may also be due to changing climates allowing vectors, e.g. mosquitoes, to increase their geographical range. Increased animal travel generally allows greater spread of disease, just as human travel can increase the spread of disease.

The good news:

More information is now available to UK vets to help us assess the risk of disease to pets travelling abroad and we are now  able to advise pet owners on disease prevention protocols. There are a number of products available that can help reduce the risk of pet exposure to insects and ticks that spread disease, and for the control of tapeworms which can present potentially serious problems for human health should infected dogs enter the UK. However there is no single treatment that covers all the parasites. An assessment of the risks facing each pet is needed, which will depend on which countries your pet will be going to and the time of year the travel will be taking place.

There is now a vaccine available which offers dog owners the opportunity for a new level of protection against canine leishmaniosis. A course of vaccines are required along with an annual booster. If you are interested in learning more about the vaccine please speak to your veterinary nurse at your local branch.

If you would like to receive further advice about appropriate disease prevention measures for your pets whilst travelling abroad, please contact your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets and ask for a Travel Clinic appointment with your veterinary nurse. Please bring to the clinic all the PETS travel documentation that you currently have and your planned itinerary.
Don’t forget cats need to be protected against parasites aswell!

Ideally, the travel clinic appointment should be made at least two weeks, preferably one month, before your intended departure abroad as some of the disease prevention products need to be given well before potential exposure to parasites. Exotic disease prevention and treatment is a fast moving field of veterinary medicine. To ensure your pet is well protected against disease, we recommend contacting us before each trip abroad to check whether the advice regarding disease prevention protocols has changed and to confirm that your pet’s microchip is still active.

Useful links:
Pet Passports
Ticks
Pet Travel Scheme-Tick Treatment Rules
ESCCAP Leaflet-Travelling Pets?

Hookworms, Whipworms and Heartworms

Hookworms
Hookworms are not a major problem in the UK although they can occur occasionally. The larvae burrow into your pet’s skin usually through their feet or they are ingested by pets cleaning their paws. Puppies and kittens can be infected via their mother’s milk. Cats can get hookworm from contaminated soil or infected rodents. The hookworm live off your pet’s blood and can cause diarrhoea, lethargy and weight loss. Despite being very small, they suck large amounts of blood from the tiny vessels in your pet’s intestinal wall and can cause anaemia in large numbers.  Infection in humans is very rare, but may cause skin disease where they try and penetrate the skin.

Whipworms

Whipworms eggs are shed into the environment in the faeces of infected dogs. The worms live in the large intestine of your dog where they cause severe irritation to their intestinal lining. This results in watery, bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and general ill health.  They can be very harmful in large numbers. They are not infectious to people.   Most of the broad-spectrum worm remedies available from your veterinary practice are effective against hookworms and whipworms.  Control and prevention is the same as for roundworms and tapeworms. 

Heartworm
Heartworm live in the arteries and hearts of infected animals. They release larvae into their hosts’ bloodstream. When a mosquito feeds on the infected animal the larvae present in the blood are swallowed by the mosquito. These larvae are then passed via their saliva to the next animal they feed from, for example your dog or cat. As a mosquito is required for the lifecycle to be completed dogs and cats in this country are at little risk of   contracting heartworm. Mosquitos easily spread heartworm and you should consider this risk when thinking of travelling with your pet. The risk of heartworm varies depending on where you intend to travel. As heartworm infection can be fatal please consult your veterinary surgeon before travelling with your pet as there are products available to help prevent heartworm.

Cinque Ports Vets run Travel Clinics to help offer advice on protecting your pet from parasites when travelling abroad. Dogs in particular are affected and signs can take months to develop. These include, excessive panting, weight loss, difficulty breathing, being easily tired following exercise and death if left untreated. To check which parasites your pet may be exposed to, log on to www.esccapuk.org.uk and under the ‘Travelling Pets’ section you will find European parasite distribution maps. These maps are designed to help inform you of the parasitic threats present in different countries.

Leishmaniasis

What is Leishmaniasis?

Leishmaniasis is an infectious and often fatal disease transmitted by sandflies. The disease is caused by a protozoon, which is taken in by the blood sucking sandfly when it feeds on an infected dog and completes part of its lifecycle in the sandfly’s gut.

Sandflies are so called because of their colour. They inhabit all areas not just sandy beaches. Sandflies are prevalent in France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal as well as many more popular holiday destinations. They feed at dusk and night and are more active in the summer months. Where possible try to keep your pets indoors as it becomes dusk while abroad.

The disease often starts as facial hair loss and weight loss, spreading to cause damage to the immune system and organs.

The most common symptoms are:

  • weight loss
  • eye, liver and kidney disease
  • skin disease

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis is usually made from blood tests or microscopic examination of tissue samples.

If untreated the disease is usually fatal but even with treatment it is not curable as the dog remains permanently infected. Symptoms can develop from a few months to several years after a visit abroad.

Prevention

You can help protect your dog from Leishmaniasis by using suitable veterinary advised products. These are designed to kill the sandfly that carry the disease. There is also a vaccine available which offers protection against Leishmaniasis all year round. An initial course of 3 vaccines are required followed by an annual booster.

Please ask us about our FREE Travel Clinics which help you plan the appropriate disease prevention measures and also check your pet’s microchip is still active. Remember to prepare well in advance as some parasite prevention products need to be applied well before any possible exposure to parasites. Please contact your local branch for an appointment.

Useful links:
Canilesh Owner Information Leaflet