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.


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


What is Rabies?

Rabies is caused by a virus. It is a zoonotic viral disease which means it can affect BOTH people and animals and is usually transmitted through a bite by an infected animal. It is almost always fatal both to animals and humans once symptoms have developed.

The incubation period of Rabies varies. The average length of time for clinical signs to appear is 4 weeks after infection and can be seen in three phases:

Phase One: Local irritation of the bite wound, mild changes in demeanour, behaviour and temperament. Pupils will be dilated and eye reflexes slow.

Phase Two: Aggression, lack of co-ordination, disorientation, seizures and fits, increased salivation and photophobia (intolerance to light).

Phase Three: Paralysis, excessive salivation, respiratory failure, coma and then death.

The UK is officially classified as free from Rabies but the disease persists in other parts of the world.

There is no treatment available for animals with Rabies and if it is suspected, the pet will be kept in isolation and DEFRA notified. They will then arrange for euthanasia and a post mortem.

To travel abroad with your pet it is mandatory that the requirements of the Pet Travel Scheme are adhered to. They include a Rabies vaccination (boostered regularly), a microchip and a valid pet passport.

Useful links:

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:

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
Pet Travel Scheme-Tick Treatment Rules
ESCCAP Leaflet-Travelling Pets?


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.


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

Kennel Cough

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is a complex, highly infectious respiratory disease. It is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. It circulates in the dog population all year round and is easily spread when there are many dogs in one place. Despite the name, less than half of the recent outbreaks recorded in a survey arose in kennels. Your dog is as likely to contract Kennel Cough in the park, the street, at dog shows, in training classes or from next door’s pet.

Although many factors can be involved, the two most likely are a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica and Canine parainfluenza virus.

What are the symptoms?

Once your dog has been infected, it takes 3-10 days before symptoms are seen.
These are usually a persistent, dry, retching, ‘ honking’ cough, fever and sometimes a nasal discharge. In serious cases, without treatment, pneumonia and sometimes death can occur in puppies and dogs with a weaker constitution. Usually recovery from the symptoms is complete in two to three weeks.

Veterinary treatment should be sought if you suspect your dog has Kennel Cough.

Dogs that have received their annual vaccination are more likely to be suffering from Bordetella and may respond to antibiotics. Cough suppressants may also be given

Dogs that have not received their annual vaccinations within the last 12 months may develop Kennel Cough due to the Parainfluenza virus and may not respond well to antibiotics. In these cases duration of symptoms are likely to be much longer and coughing may take several weeks to resolve.

How is it contracted?

Kennel cough is spread from minute droplets in the air which are inhaled or from direct contact with an infected dog. As well as being infectious during the incubation period of around 10 days, it is still spread for up to 10 weeks after the coughing has stopped.

How can it be prevented?

Every dog is at risk, however healthy.  Routine annual vaccinations will protect against Parainfluenza virus. Protection against Bordetella and Parainfluenza virus can be achieved with an intranasal kennel cough vaccine.

Most kennels will request that your dog is vaccinated against Kennel Cough as well as their annual vaccination due to the increased risk of contracting the disease. The intranasal Kennel Cough vaccination is usually given at a separate time to the annual vaccination and should be administered at least 1 week before going into kennels.

For more information please read ‘Kennel Cough Owner Information Leaflet.’

Useful links: