Saturday, August 6, 2011

Help with veterinary treatment

After spending all morning on reception at our clinic, I was less than delighted to see someone from London had posted a complaint on the branch Facebook page about the level of service the RSPCA provides to pet owners who can't afford to pay out of hours fees at a private vet.

Unfortunately this is just one aspect of a vicious circle in which we can't raise enough funds to do everything members of the public think we should, which leads to bad publicity and in turn to less funds and more situations where we can't help.

We run the only low-cost animal clinic in the whole of Cambridgeshire, and if we go under something like 2% of the local population will have no source of affordable veterinary help at all. It's absolutely imperative that we persuade more people who care about animals that the RSPCA can't function unless they get involved and help keep our services running.

Part of the problem is that we are dealing with a lot of people who are having difficulty finding relatively small amounts of money. On the whole, someone facing a £2,000 veterinary bill will understand that it's not possible for the RSPCA to cover it. Someone whose animal needs £100 worth of treatment can't understand why an organisation with a £250,000 turnover can't pay for it all, and, indeed, if there was just one person in that situation there would be no problem.

What is completely impossible is finding that hundred pounds every day of the week in addition to carrying on the normal clinic service for registered patients.

It's not as straightforward as saying that people shouldn't have pets unless they are prepared to pay for them, because at the point where they need a vet it's not a choice of keeping the pet or having it rehomed, but keeping it or having it put to sleep. Plus, of course, if everyone who would struggle to pay a £100 vet bill asked us to rehome their pet immediately, we couldn't possibly do that either.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dogs and Heatstroke

Sadly we've just had a fatal case of heatstroke in a dog taken to our clinic as an emergency. This wasn't a very old or very young dog and the owner hadn't done anything irresponsible like leaving him in a car. 

In very hot, humid weather even young, fit dogs may be at risk of overheating, so I'm reproducing the advice given on the main RSPCA website at Dogs are less able to cope with high temperatures than we are.

Heatstroke - early warning signs

Heatstroke can be fatal. Do everything you can to prevent it.

Some dogs are more prone to heatstroke. For example, dogs with short snouts, fatter or heavily muscled dogs and long-haired breeds, as well as very old or very young dogs. Dogs with certain diseases are more prone to heatstroke, as are dogs on certain medication.

If dogs are unable to reduce their body temperature, they will develop heatstroke. There are some signs to look for:

  • heavy panting
  • profuse salivation
  • a rapid pulse
  • very red gums/tongue
  • lethargy
  • lack of coordination
  • reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • loss of consciousness in extreme circumstances.

Heatstroke - first aid

If your dog shows any symptoms of heatstroke, move him/her to a shaded, cool area and ring your vet for advice immediately. Heatstroke can be fatal and should always be treated as an emergency.

Dogs suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature gradually lowered:

Immediately douse your dog with cool (not cold) water, to avoid shock – you could put your dog in a shower and run cool water over him/her, or use a spray filled with cool water and place your dog in the breeze of a fan.

Let your dog drink small amounts of cool water.

Continue to douse your dog with cool water until his/her breathing starts to settle – never cool your dog so much that he/she begins to shiver.

Once you have cooled your dog down you should take him/her straight to the veterinary surgery.

Top tips for warm weather

Your dog should always be able to move into a cooler, ventilated environment if he/she is feeling hot.

Never leave your dog alone in a car. If you want to take your dog with you on a car journey, make sure that your destination is dog-friendly – you won’t be able to leave your dog in the car and you don’t want your day out to be ruined!

If you have to leave your dog outside, you must provide a cool shady spot where he/she can escape from the sun at all times of the day.

Make sure your dog always has a good supply of drinking water, in a weighted bowl that can’t be knocked over. Carry water with you on hot days and give your dog frequent small amounts.

Never leave your dog in a glass conservatory or a caravan. Even if it is cloudy when you leave, the sun may come out later in the day and make it unbearably hot.

Groom your dog regularly to get rid of excess hair. Give long-coated breeds a haircut at the start of the summer, and later in the season, if necessary.

Dogs need exercise - even when it is hot. Walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening. Never allow your dog to exercise excessively in hot weather.

Dogs can get sunburned too – particularly those with light-coloured noses or light-coloured fur on their ears. Ask your vet for advice on pet-safe sunscreen.

Updates from the "Tweetathon"

The team aimed to Tweet about 10% of the incidents coming in to RSPCA National Control Centre over a 24 hour period.

Most of the messages are all capitals because this was done by simply copy/pasting from the NCC computer's outgoing feed of incident details (the information which they send out to the field staff for action on the ground).

This is possible because the control centre staff have to summarise the gist of each problem in a few sentences. By serendipity this means the rather elderly Control Centre IT system is an ideal source of Twitter status updates even though social media hadn't been invented when it was first set up.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

RSPCA 24/7 Tweetathon

I've moved up the widget that displays RSPCA_Frontline's twitter feed so that it's more easily visible. Tony Woodley is aiming to display a selection of the incidents reported to the RSPCA National Control centre over a 24 hour period.

The codes E, NE, SE etc. indicate which of the RSPCA regions is the location of the incident.

Please don't forget that many incidents will result in the relevant local branch being asked to provide support in terms of veterinary treatment or care until an animal can be placed in a permanent new home.

You can donate to our branch (RSPCA Cambridge) using text messages on your mobile phone. Simply text the message PETS00 £10 to 70070 to donate £10 to RSPCA Cambridge. Your phone provider will add £10 to your bill and send £10 to our bank account. If you are a UK taxpayer and you complete the gift aid options we will receive an additional £2.80 at no cost to you. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

We stagger on...

Many thanks to everyone who turned out on a damp evening to support our second attempt at holding a valid AGM. We were successful in getting the required seven people elected, so the branch remains in being for another year.

PLEASE! Persuade, badger or cajole your animal-loving friends and relations into joining the RSPCA.

Adult membership is £25, of which £5 is passed on to support your local branch and keep its welfare services running. 

My personal goals for 2012 are to see the branch able to:
  • Save all healthy and treatable animals that we take in for rehoming.
  • Continue to offer low-cost veterinary treatment for responsible pet owners in financial need.
  • Offer rehoming as an alternative to euthanasia for pets belonging to owners who cannot afford to pay for even reduced-rate veterinary treatment.


I usually try to get people who find sick or injured wildlife to call the National Control Centre as the Animal Welfare Officers are better placed to handle them than we are. However I did bike over and collect a hedgehog on  Friday as the caller didn't have anywhere safe to shut it in away from her two dogs.

Took Hhog in to the clinic on Saturday when I went in for Taylor's weekly foot examination and the clinician diagnosed probable lungworm infestation and gave him subcutaneous fluids and panacur.

The problem with treating lungworms is that, although panacur wormer will kill off the parasites, it's not good for you to have dead worms embedded in your lungs either. By yesterday evening the hedgehog was obviously worse and he'd also opened up a nasty puncture wound which had fly eggs developing into maggots, so I ran him in to the hospital as an emergency. Sadly, they called in the morning to say he was still deteriorating and recommending euthanasia.

Unfortunately almost any wild animal will be extremely ill or injured before it will let humans get up close, meaning there's a dilemma of whether you are simply prolonging the animal's distress by trying to treat.

On a happier note, Taylor's sore feet are gradually improving and only one still looks really bad.

If anyone has lost a budgie, one was handed in to Village Vets over the weekend and will be adopted by one of the nurses if no-one claims him.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Singing Westies!

Singing Westies!
I'm sure someone out there would love these.

Press their paws and they sing and do a little jig.

Many thanks to the kind donor and to everyone else who brought items last week.

The response to our appeal has been wonderful, but we need to keep up the momentum if we are to preserve our services, which are in greater demand than ever. It's quite frightening to think that we run the only low-cost small animal clinic in the whole of Cambridgeshire. If we close, many animals will have no source of veterinary treatment at all.

We also have a large collection of very nice collectable china dolls.