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Do you know about World Rabies Day?

Did you know that 28th September is World Rabies Day? Sadly, this disease still exists, and claims 59,000 human lives each year, not counting the thousands of infected animals. There is, however, an umbrella organisation trying to change that - the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (or GARC for short). They’ve set themselves the (difficult, but achievable!) goal of “Zero by 30” - in other words, no human cases by 2030. The World Rabies Day is there to promote their work, to raise awareness, and to build support.
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Tick Bites – more dangerous than we realise?

We vets are always going on about tick control - and to be honest, you’ve probably let it flow over you (don’t worry, we all do it!). However, the importance of avoiding or preventing tick bites has been front page news this week, with the revelation that former England rugby player Matt Dawson was seriously ill with an infection transmitted by a tick bite. It’s not just our pets that are at risk - livestock, us and our families are also potentially in danger - but by treating our pets, we can help break the tick life-cycle, and minimise the danger. It’s worth bearing in mind that about one dog in three is affected by ticks in any given season - and that even the inner cities aren’t safe (Matt Dawson was bitten and infected in a central-London park).
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Mega farms: does our society really want animal production on this industrial scale?

The latest campaign by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), highlights the rise of so-called “mega-farms”. There is no formal definition of a mega farm, but in the USA, “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations” (CAFOs) are defined as those housing 125,000 broiler chickens, 82,000 laying hens, 2,500 pigs or 700 dairy or 1,000 beef cattle. In the UK, special permits are needed if they house more than 40,000 chickens, 2,000 pigs or 750 breeding sows. The term “mega farm” seems like appropriate terminology. There are now 789 mega farms in the UK, and the CIWF online map allows you to see if there’s one near you.
The wording on the website is eye-catching:
Around 70% of farm animals in the UK are kept in factory farms, where they spend their lives in overcrowded barns or cages. Factory farming has spread across the country to satisfy our appetite for cheap meat, dairy, and eggs, at great cost to animal welfare, human health, and the environment. Follow this link to see how much chicken, pig, and dairy factory farming there is where you live.”

The pros and cons of gigantic farms

Mega farms are controversial. Animal welfare groups like CIWF are quick to condemn them for turning animals into commodities devoid of any value other than their market price, while farming organisations argue that mega farms offer the best hope of maintaining good animal welfare while also producing the cheapest possible meat, milk and eggs. So what’s the truth?  
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Are jerky treats really bad for my dog?

This is a news story that keeps cropping up, but it’s still surprising how little awareness there is of the problem. The evidence is increasing that there is some component in some types of jerky treats that can make dogs very, very ill.

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BBC’s Trust Me I’m A Vet – informative educational television let down by poor scientific technique

The first series of Trust Me I'm A Vet on BBC2 was anticipated with hopeful curiosity by vets and pet owners. With the BBC's reputation for good quality science, and the direct input of vets in practice working closely the UK veterinary schools, this was an exciting opportunity to spread good quality information about pets and veterinary science. This type of prime time public education has the potential to make a serious difference to people's knowledge about animals and so consequently to improve the quality of care that pets get from their owners. So after the three episodes that made up the first series, did the programme live up to expectations?
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