Frequently Asked Questions about Rabies

Rabies

How often must I vaccinate my dog?
Puppies should be vaccinated at 3 months old with a booster vaccination required a month later and a booster given within 12 months of original vaccination. Thereafter animals who live in Rabies endemic areas like KwaZulu Natal should be given a rabies vaccination every year and animals living in non-Rabies endemic areas every 3 years by law,  but preferably also yearly, because in places like Johannesburg which is non-Rabies endemic there have been several outbreaks of Rabies in the past few years.



Rabies

Important information about Rabies and who to prevent it

Rabies, a fatal disease of humans and all other mammals, is caused by a virus which has been associated with animal bites for more than 3 000 years and it is the oldest infectious disease known to medical science. Dogs have long been recognised as the main transmitters of the disease to people. When compared with other formidable human diseases such as Bubonic Plague and Smallpox, and animal diseases such as Rinderpest and Anthrax, Rabies has probably never caused comparably high numbers of deaths in humans and animals. However, the horrendous manner in which Rabies manifests itself in its victims continues to attract the attention of scientists, health and veterinary workers. The true scale of Rabies in South Africa remains clouded by the many thousands of people protected by post-exposure treatment each year after Rabies exposure and the undiagnosed human and animal Rabies cases not reflected in official statistics.



New puppies and kittens - Part 2 of 3

Pregnancy, birth and aftercare

Gestation (Pregnancy)

Dogs are on average pregnant for 63 days after fertilisation has taken place. It may be difficult to determine exactly when a bitch fell pregnant if multiple matings took place over a number of days and therefore pregnancy may seem to be longer than 63 days, sometimes up to 72 days. Sperm can also stay alive in the female genital tract for a few days and therefore fertilisation may happen a day or two or even up to a few days after mating.



New puppies and kittens - Part 1 of 3

Heat and Mating in dogs and cats

Few things in life are cuter than a puppy or kitten! If you would like to let your dog or cat have a litter of puppies or kittens there are a number of things you need to know in preparation for the process.

The Heat Period

“Coming into season” or “going on heat”, is the time in a female dog (bitch) or cat’s (queen’s) life when they are receptive to a male animal and can mate to reproduce. Dogs and cats normally come on heat for the first time somewhere between the ages of 5 to 9 months. Smaller dog breeds mature earlier than larger or giant breeds, and will usually come on heat between 5 and 6 months of age. Large and giant dog breeds will usually come on heat after 6 months, sometimes only around 9 months of age. Cats on the other hand may in actually fact come into season as young as 4 months of age and therefore proper “family planning” is very important.  



Urination problems in cats - Part 2 of 2

Territorial marking and Urine elimination

In part 1 of this article we looked at the difference between urine marking and inappropriate elimination in cats, and urine marking was discussed in more depth. In this article we will look at the reasons for inappropriate elimination as well as the diagnosis and treatment of both inappropriate elimination and urine marking.  

In order to understand disease of the urinary system it is important to understand the anatomy of this system. The urinary system comprises two kidneys which are linked to the bladder by two tiny tubes called the ureters. The ureters terminate in the lower part of the bladder commonly referred to as the neck of the bladder. The bladder is a balloon like structure which can expand to many times its empty size when it is filled with urine. The main tube taking urine from the bladder to the genital organs is called the urethra. The urethra terminates in the vagina in female and in the penis in males. 



Urination problems in cats - Part 1 of 2

Territorial marking and Urine elimination

Ask any cat owner and they will tell you that cats are not just small little dogs. So naturally a fair amount of the medical problems cats suffer from are unique to this species. In this two-part series we are going to explore one of the more common problems that affect cats.



Getting the most from your visit to the vet

Visit to the vet

Everybody wants value for money. No one will deny that it is no different when taking your pets to the vet. We love our four legged and feathered friends dearly, but like everything else in life, most of us have to budget for their expenses, and make sure we derive as much value out of a visit to the vet as possible.

The starting point of deriving value for money is to be courteous to the staff working in a veterinary practice. Being rude and obnoxious with the staff of the veterinary practice (especially the reception and support staff) will not endear you or your pets to them, and if you get their hackles up before the vets have even seen your animal, the total experience of visiting the vet is likely to be compromised in the long run.



Poisoning in Pets - Part 2 of 2

Poisoning

We know that rat poison will kill a rat, but….., “Will it harm my cat or dog?” people often ask the vet? The answer is an emphatic YES. As a matter of fact, there are quite a few other common household items which can be lethal for dogs, cats, pet birds and pocket pets like hamsters and mice.

Conventional Poisons

  • Rat Poison (warfarin)

There are many different rat poisons available on the market but the most common variety is the anticoagulation type. It prevents blood from clotting. It has a slow onset and eventually in higher and repeated doses will cause the animal to start bleeding internally and lead to death. Both short and long acting formulations are available and signs of poisoning can be seen 5 – 7 days after the patient ate rat poison. Outward signs of bleeding, such as nose bleeds may be seen, however many animals will bleed internally into the chest or abdominal cavity without any signs of external bleeding. Death eventually results from suffocation (bleeding into the lungs) and/or the shock from blood loss.



Poisoning in Pets - Part 1 of 2

Poisoning

“Surely if a medicine is safe for use in humans it should be safe for use in my pet”, vets often hear from pet owners. Nothing could be further from the truth and some human medicines and even some fruit and vegetables and sweets daily eaten by humans, can be deadly to our dogs, cats, pet birds and pocket pets like hamsters and mice.



Battle of the Bulge

Obesity

Most people, at some point in time, struggle to shed some extra weight. Obesity in humans has reached epidemic proportions and in a study released two years ago, South Africans were classified as the third fattest people on earth. Worse than this, is the fact that obesity in pets is following this trend and fast becoming a disease on its own. Some studies show that more than 50 % of pets are overweight. This alarming figure effectively means we are “killing our pets with kindness.” Obesity is defined as an accumulation of excessive amounts of body fat. Body fat increases when the amount of energy taken in (by eating food) exceeds the amount of energy used (by exercising). Vets classify a pet as obese if the animal weighs more than 15 to 20 % of his/her ideal body weight.  Body Mass Index or BMI which is commonly used in humans to define obesity is not commonly used in animals, because there is such a huge variation between and within different breeds. In animals, a Body Condition Score or BCS is referred to in terms of the animal’s ideal weight.



Tiny but deadly

Ticks

Living in a warm and sunny country is great, but with it comes all the parasites and diseases associated with a warm and/or tropical climate. One of these little scourges can be found nearly all over South Africa, namely ticks. Most people have at some or other time encountered a tick on their pet. This can be quite distressing – especially if you consider a disease like biliary (tick fever).



Arthritis Treatment and prevention - Part 2 of 2

Arthritis

In part one of this two-part article, we looked at the signs and diagnoses of arthritis in pets. In this part of the article, we will look at the treatment and prevention of arthritis in pets. With the advancement of technology and medicine, arthritis is no longer a death sentence. Our beloved pets can benefit from a range of surgical and medical treatment. As mentioned in part one, it can never be stopped or cured but arthritis can definitely be managed and symptoms relieved to give your pet a pain-free life.



We're all going on a Summer Holiday

Traveling with your pets

Going on holiday is always fun but we must never forget or neglect our pets in the excitement leading up to a well-deserved vacation.

When going on holiday find someone to look after your pets while you are away. It will be a good idea either to get a house sitter or place your pets in a kennel over the holidays as medical problems can just as easily arise when you are not at home. Giving the vet notice of your impending holiday and making arrangements for someone to take your pets there in case of an emergency is an important part of your holiday planning. Also, stock up on enough food and make sure your pet has enough medicine if they are on chronic medication.



Arthritis Signs and Diagnoses - Part 1 of 2

Arthritis

So what happens when your beloved canine friend does not want to go for his walk anymore because he is too sore the next morning?

Unfortunately, older pets, and these days even puppies, get afflicted by a condition commonly known as joint disease. This is the same problem we as humans suffer from as well, better known as arthritis. In dogs and cats and more commonly in larger breed dogs, it is concentrated in the hip, knee, shoulder and elbow joints. The spinal column and back vertebrae (backbones) can also be affected.



Scratch scratch scratch - Part 2 of 2

Skin conditions

In the first part of this two-part series we looked at the complexity of itching and scratching in pets and the fact that although the symptoms eventually manifest in the same way i.e. itching and scratching,  there could be many different causes for it. Itching or pruritis, as vets call it, can be described as the sensation that elicits the desire to scratch. The skin, being the biggest organ in the body and acting as a sort of outer nervous system, provides feedback to the brain of things like temperature, touch, pain and itching through a network of nerve endings.