Keep your pet healthy in winter

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I don’t know about you, but January is my least favourite time of year. Although I’m probably not alone in thinking this!

As well as the gloomy post-Christmas comedown, it seems to be that time of year where you hear about everyone having one form of contagious illness or another, whether it’s a cold, flu or an unpleasant stomach bug.

Unfortunately, our pets aren’t immune from contracting illnesses themselves. They might be slightly different to our common cold, but they will make our pets feel just as lousy or could cause serious illness.

For dogs, kennel cough is common and is highly contagious. Your dog can pick it up from public places where infected dogs have been, for example a park, as it is transmitted through the air or by contact with contaminated surfaces. You can sometimes tell your dog may have kennel cough because they will make a high-pitched, honk-like cough which is sometimes followed by retching. Your dog might also sneeze, have a watery nasal discharge and have a high temperature - so very much like a human cold!

And just like the common cold, most cases of kennel cough resolve without treatment. However, in severe cases antibiotics or anti-inflammatories may be required or where there is a risk of infection spreading to other dogs. If your dog does get kennel cough, it is important to keep him isolated from other dogs until he has recovered to stop it from spreading. While not often fatal, it can cause complications for puppies or older dogs.

The good news is that there is a vaccination available - this is not usually included in your dog’s annual boosters so check with your vet.

A contagious illness which a cat can contract is cat flu. The main symptoms are sneezing, runny nose and runny eyes. Your cat might also get a high temperature, lose his appetite and become lethargic. The main method is spread by direct contact between cats who are infected or carrying the illness but it can also be carried on clothing, food bowls or other objects. It is commonly spread by cats sniffing each other, grooming each other and sharing food bowls.

Cat flu can be fatal but so easily be avoided by getting your cat vaccinated against it - check with your vet if your cat is protected against it.

The best way to protect your pets is to get them vaccinated, so contact your vet today and get your pet booked in.

For more advice visit www.rspca.org.uk/

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