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Is it unethical to call the animals in our lives ‘Pets’?

If you’ve been watching a lot of TV lately (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), you may have caught an interview a few months back on Good Morning Britain where a spokesperson from the animal rights group PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) argued that we should be encouraged to move away from the use of the word ‘pet’ to refer to companion animals (dogs, cats, etc.) and use kinder terms: “A lot of people at home who have dogs and cats refer to them as pets and they refer to themselves as owners, and this implies that the animals are a possession.” Terms such as ‘companion’, ‘guardian’ and ‘human carer’ are suggested as more friendly alternatives.

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Taking the stress out of a visit to the vets: what helps for cats?

At the time of writing this, the UK (and many countries) are still in ‘lockdown’ as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic limiting access to veterinary services to emergency and urgent cases. Many cats may secretly (or perhaps even openly!) be appreciative of this since for them, a visit to a vet clinic is often a highly stressful and unpleasant experience. Cats are ‘control freaks’ – they like to feel in control of their environment and once this is taken away (eg being placed in a cat carrier), this can cause a great degree of stress. It’s not only stressful for the cats though – a number of surveys have also indicated that a visit to a vet clinic is also very stressful for the cats’ owners. 

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Anaesthetic-Free Dentals are safe and effective – Fact or Myth?

Anaesthesia-free dentistry involves restraining an animal to remove tartar from the surface of their teeth. This may be done manually with instruments or using an ultrasonic scaler. It’s often offered as a cheaper or easier alternative to professional dentistry under anaesthesia. But it doesn’t prevent or treat dental disease, can cause significant pain and distress to the animal and is often carried out by people not trained in dentistry. 

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Caring for ill cats during lockdown: how owners can help vets to make the right treatment decisions

Following ‘lockdown’ measures introduced by the UK government in March 2020, access to veterinary services has been limited due to social distancing requirements needed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. This has understandably caused some concerns for both veterinary professionals and pet owners. They may now need to rely on ‘remote consultations’ by phone or video to obtain veterinary advice and some services. Whilst not ideal, there is a lot of valuable information that can be relayed by phone or video. This can greatly assist veterinary professionals in making the correct diagnosis ‘over the phone’. The following tips are also presented in a 30 minute webinar: Nursing sick cats at home which can be accessed from this site: 

This article is biased towards cats as these are the only species the author deals with but the same principles can be applied to all pets under veterinary care.

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Covid 19 – what can medicine learn from vets’ experience?

As the pandemic rumbles on, with more and more people being infected day by day, our colleagues in human medicine are frantically searching for effective treatments, controls, and (hopefully!) a vaccine. The front-line health workers are also trying to maintain healthcare standards in very difficult circumstances - and good luck to them! Unfortunately, with the exception of the brief spikes of activity around SARS and MERS, coronaviruses haven’t really been on the human medical profession’s radar. 

For those of us in the veterinary profession, though, coronaviruses are a routine part of our work, in both the companion animal and farm animal sectors. Over the years we’ve picked up a lot of experience in dealing with them. I’ve written about One Health before - and this is a classic example of a situation where we all need to learn from each other!

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New study reveals 5 breeds of dog most at risk of elbow disease

Recently the results were published from one of the largest studies into elbow disease. Cases were taken from a pool of nearly half a million dogs in first opinion practice in the UK over a one-year period. 

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