Vet Care | Vet Clinics Athy, Portlaoise, Carlow & Rathcoole Vet Care | Vet Clinics Athy, Portlaoise, Carlow & Rathcoole

Winter ready?

When temperatures drop and it's getting chilly outside, we need to follow a few simple steps to keep our pet's safe and warm. Young and old animals are susceptible to cold temperatures.

  • Get a Veterinary check-up:

Some medical conditions can make your pet more vulnerable to cold temperatures. Conditions such as: Diabetes / Arthritis / Heart Disease / Kidney Disease and Hormonal Imbalances can compromise an animals ability to regulate it's body heat.

In older pets with arthritis, the cold temperatures can make joints stiff and tender.

Regardless of their age or health, animals should not stay outside for long periods in freezing weather!

  • Keep pet's indoors:

If pets are left outside, they will seek places to get warm ( eg ) cats may hide under a car hood, which may lead to injury or your cat going on an unplanned journey and becoming lost. Be sure to bang the bonnet before you start the engine.

Without fresh, unfrozen water to drink, your pet may drink from gutters or dirty, contaminated puddles which may lead to injury or poisoning.

 If your pet must stay outdoors for a significant time, ensure they have a warm shelter to protect against wind, rain or snow. Provide warm, thick bedding, doggy coats are a great way to keep your friend warm. Provide plenty of unfrozen water.

  • Check your pet's feet:

Ice melters such as salt, magnesium or calcium chloride can irritate paws and be toxic if swallowed. Use dog boots or wipe your pet's paws with a warm, moist washcloth after each walk.

  • Avoid using Anti-freeze containing products:

Antifreeze is extremely dangerous to cats and dogs. It is used in car radiators, screen washes and de-icers, and in water features to prevent them freezing up. Unlike most chemicals, cats seem to be attracted to the taste of antifreeze and swallowing even a tiny amount will cause serious kidney damage, often so severe that the cat will die.


  • Take precautions while walking:

Never walk your dog without a lead. Snow can be disorientating and they may become easily lost. Ensure your dog is microchipped and wearing an ID tag. If off lead, they may easily fall into frozen ponds or icy lakes or dash in front of a car that can not easily stop on an icy road.

High visibility jackets / coats will ensure your pet can be easily seen in the dark. 

Regularly check that your dog's leads, collars and harnesses are all functioning safely and not at risk of wear and tear damage during winter weather. 

  • Watch for warning signs:

Pet's lose most of their body heat from the pads of their feet, ears and respiratory tract. Signs of discomfort from the cold may include whining, shivering, behaving anxiously, slowing down or looking for a place to burrow. 

Animals can get frostbite and hypothermia so AVOID extended periods outdoors.





Harmful to your cat, also harmful for you!

Your cat's age and lifestyle will determine how often they need to be treated for parasites (eg) cat's who never go outdoors or the master hunters. There are many common parasites which affect our cats: 

Internal ( live inside our pets):

  • Roundworms: 1 in 4 domestic cats that go outdoors are infected and shedding eggs into the environment. Roundworms live in our cat's intestines and feed on blood or the food that your pet has eaten. This is often the reason why your cat eats a lot but remains thin or has poor coat condition. Your cat may or may not show signs of illness but the major concern is that these worms pose a threat to humans. Toxacara Cati can cause ill health and even blindness in people, with children being particularly at risk because they often play on the floor, in soil or in sandpits, where worm eggs may be found. Elderly people, pregnant women and immuno-compromised individuals should also take special care.
  • Tapeworms: Cats can become infected with tapeworm by eating rodents ( mice / rats ) or other carriers ( birds / rabbits ) and you may not know this, but some can be transmitted by fleas! Because cats love to spend many hours grooming themselves, they are more likely to swallow fleas which then develop into tapeworms in the gut. This may also be the reason why you do not see fleas in/on your cat's fur and why it is equally as important to treat for fleas every month. They are hunters by nature and catching and eating prey makes them a particular risk of tapeworm, which live in their intestines and can cause your cat's appetite to vary. 

To protect all members of the family, furry or otherwise, it is important to treat for worms on a regular basis ALL YEAR ROUND!

*Indoor cats: 4 times a year ( every 3 months )

*Access to outdoors cats: 4-12 times a year ( ideally every 4-6 weeks if they hunt a lot )

*Multipet Household: 12 times a year ( every month )

*Contact with children: 12 times a year ( every month )

*Travelling Cats: 12 times a year ( every month )

*Unweaned kittens: Every 2 weeks 

*Kitten ( to 6 months old ): Monthly

*Cats fed raw meat: 12 times a year ( every month )

* ESCCAP Guideline 01 Second Edition.

Often it can be difficult to administer a worm pill to your cat and they are extremely clever at detecting them in their food, making them even more fussy than usual! 

However, there are spot-on treatments which can be easier to apply, causing less stress to both you and your cat/s. 


External ( live on our pets ):

  • Fleas: Flea infestation is an all-year-round risk for pets. Fleas are active even in winter! They can be picked up by your cat just by being outdoors and we can introduce them into our home environment on our clothing or footwear, putting your indoor cat at risk also. Only 5% of fleas live on your pet, the other 95% live in the environment! Fleas are the #1 cause of skin disease in cats & dogs. They bite our pets to feed on their blood, which can cause significant skin reactions and can potentially cause anaemia ( lack of red blood cells ) in heavy infestations. Fleas can bite our pets up to 400 times per day and suck up to 15 times their own weight in blood! After a blood meal, female fleas lay eggs ( up to 50 eggs per day! ) These eggs are shed into the environment, including your home ( in carpets, rugs, sofas ). Flea infestations can get rapidly out of control due to the sheer volume of eggs and if routine preventative treatment is not used on your pet and an infestation is established, fleas will take at least 3 months to eliminate! Fleas can bite people causing small itchy red dots on our skin but they will not live on us, thankfully! 
  • Ticks: Are members of the spider family, they are blood-sucking external parasites which survive by drinking the blood of their host ( your cat or dog ). They are wingless and do not fly. They are tiny before they feed and can be hidden in your pets fur. In a recent survey of Irish cat owners, almost 1 in 4 cat owners have seen a tick on their pet. They can often go unnoticed for up to several days, making them excellent carriers of disease. Ticks transmit serious disease to pets and humans. Cats which are bitten by infected ticks can develop Anaplasmosis. The ticks that transmit this disease are found in Europe and in the Southern & Northwestern United States. Only a few tick species exist in Ireland. However, if you travel abroad with your cat, you will need to include tick control in your parasite regime. 

It has never been easier to protect your cat(s), yourself and your family from these harmful parasites, however we often forget that they need regular protection or are unaware of the potential of these parasites to harm our own health. Not only are these parasites uncomfortable for our pets but they are likely to cause them illness.

We can now offer spot-ons, which make it easier to administer, some of these will give 12 weeks protection against some of the above pests. With most spot-ons, the flea or tick needs to bite the animal before they die. Now there are smart flea and tick collars available ( only available from your Vets ) which offer up to 8 months protection! These collars not only kill ticks and fleas but they also repel ticks. They are 'anti-feeding' which means that a flea does not require to bite the animal to be killed, and the ticks are often prevented from biting due to the collar's speed of kill. Thus reducing the incidence of skin problems and disease transmission! 

Why not start the year with a parasite control plan for your cat(s) and ask us today about the products available to suit your pet's needs. Remember, prevention is better than cure!

Paws For Thought this Christmas

Having a pet dog can bring you a lifetime of fun and happy memories. But before you make the decision to get a dog, there are a few very important steps to take:

  1. DO YOUR RESEARCH: Think about which dog ( if any! ) will suit your family and lifestyle. Certain breeds may be attractive to you because of their appearance or popularity ( 'Designer Breeds' ) but do you really know what the needs of this specific breed of dog are, potential health problems or exercise requirements?? Ask your friends about their dogs and find out more about the breeds you like.
  2. DECIDE WHETHER TO 'SHOP OR ADOPT': There are so many abandoned and stray dogs which end up in our local shelters and pounds every day. Unfortunately, for the unlucky ones, their fate is not a pleasant one. Before you decide to buy a dog, why not consider giving a rescue dog a second chance at a happy life. Talk to the staff at your local shelter about the dogs they have looking for homes.They also often have puppies, if this is your preference. If you are going to buy a pedigree dog, only go to a reputable breeder. Never buy from shops or through newspaper or online adverts where many breeds are listed, as this could mean that a puppy is from a puppy farm. There is no sense in keeping puppy farms in business! Make sure that you see all the paperwork when you visit the puppy.
  3. BE PREPARED: Owning a dog is a long-term commitment and expense. Dogs can live for up to 15 years or more! There are many costs to consider: food / toys / collar & lead / bowls / bed / vet bills / insurance / training classes and that is just to start with! If you own a dog, you have a responsibility to that dog to be able to provide all the essential items to ensure that dog's comfort and to be able to afford all the veterinary care it needs, not only when your dog is unwell but to provide regular preventative care (eg) parasite control and vaccinations. Dogs also need your time and attention. Some breeds will need much more mental stimulation and exercise than others or they may become destructive. 

The 10 Commandments of Responsible Pet Ownership

  1. Annual Health Assessment & Vaccinations
  2. Feed the right food
  3. Neuter at 6 months
  4. Microchip Identification
  5. Pet Health Insurance
  6. Dental Care is Vital
  7. Prevent Fleas & Worms & Ticks
  8. Train your Pet Well
  9. Exercise for Life
  10. Have Fun!!!!

 So, to quote the famous phrase ' A dog is for life, not just for Christmas ', maybe think twice and then think again before making the decision to get a dog for you or for somebody else this holiday season. 

What they are not telling you! Or are they?

Many of our pets are experts at hiding things from us...their toys, our slippers, that bone they could not have possibly eaten in the last few minutes since you gave it to them! However, it might come as a surprise to know that they are also very good at hiding pain from us too. In nature, they are hard-wired to hide ailments and discomfort, so it can be very difficult for us as owners to identify problems or illness until it becomes too difficult for your pet to mask any longer.

Arthritis is a generic term used for many different types of conditions of the joint, it is a general term used to refer to Osteoarthritis, a progressive condition that results from the breakdown of joints. Osteoarthritis is a gradual, debilitating disease, that often affects hips, knees and elbows. 

1 in 5 young dogs and 4 in 5 older dogs are affected!

It is an extremely painful condition with no cure, however with veterinary intervention, you can make sure that arthritis doesn't stop your pet from doing what he/she loves and that they can lead a happy, pain free life! 

Dogs & Cats can not tell us that they are in pain but we can listen to their body language! 

Watch out for the following subtle symptoms:

  • Slowing down
  • Stiffness
  • Reluctance to go on walks or play
  • Lack of agility or jumping
  • Difficulty with stairs or slippery surfaces
  • Restlessness at night
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in temperament

Don't just put it down to old age!

Talk to us about treatment options today! 

Halloween 'au naturale'

The month of October is nearly upon us and with it brings the problem of 'noise phobia' for our pets. Fireworks, although lovely to look at, can be terrifying for a lot of our four legged friends. It can also be distressing for pet owners, who come to us looking for a solution, usually in the form of sedative drugs. Short-term medication can be used to alter a dog's emotional response and memory of a frightening event. However, we advise that you should ensure your pet receives a full general health check, blood pressure check and a routine blood test prior to administering these medications. Sedatives can cause low blood pressure ( Hypotension ), are contra-indicated in some dog breeds and animals with impaired liver function.

Taking some simple steps early, may help to reduce our pet's fear, anxiety and stress. 

Pheromonatherapy, the use of pheromones, may be an alternative to consider. Pheromones are substances that regulate behaviour by olfactory ( relating to the sense of smell ) means. They are natural chemicals and have no known adverse effects. When used in combination with environmental modification, they may be very useful during this firework season!

ADAPTIL: contains a synthetic copy of the Dog Appeasing Pheromone which a mother releases to her litter in order to naturally reassure and calm her puppies. The anxiety reducing properties of this substance affect the behaviour of the dog and is clinically proven to help reduce signs of fear such as trembling and hiding by 93% in dogs and is also proven to reassure and help puppies learn. Adaptil is available in all our Vetcare branches as a plug-in diffuser, spray or collar. 


  1. Build a den: This should be done at least 2 weeks before the expected event. Cover a table or crate with blankets, leaving a small entrance hole so they can go underneath or inside. By giving meals, treats or toys in the den over the period running up to firework night, the den will become a safe, relaxing place where your dog may choose to go when feeling afraid. This sense of security can be further enhanced by moving the dog's bed inside the den and installing an Adaptil diffuser nearby. 
  2. Pheromone support: Plug in an Adaptil Diffuser or use Adaptil Spray in the den or on bedding or fit an Adaptil Collar to your pet. These will promote a feeling of safety that your dog will really appreciate. The longer a dog is exposed to the pheromone prior to the fireworks, the better prepared it will be to cope with the challenge.
  3. Keep them away from the 'bang': Keep your dog inside when it gets dark. Walk them early in the day while it is still light. Close all curtains, windows and doors. Turn on the radio/TV loud enough to mask the noise. Create a 'happy' atmosphere by being relaxed, playing games, offering treats and avoid getting cross with your dog. 
  4. Stay around: Try not to leave your dog home alone, this will only increase their feeling of unease.
  5. Be supportive: Offer genuine affection without being too sympathetic if your dog gets worried and comes to you for support. Keep the mood light and fun, rather than showing too much concern. it is important not to give your dog the impression that you are worried too! NEVER punish a fearful dog, this will simply make them more fearful. 
  6. Ensure they are microchipped and wearing a tag: In case your dog escapes from the house or run or off on a walk. 




What's new in the laboratory?



SDMA & Kidney Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)is one of the most prevalent disease conditions affecting older cats and dogs.

CKD is seen about 3 times more frequently in cats than dogs.

CKD can be seen in cats of any age, but is most commonly seen in middle-older age cats ( those over 7 years ) and becomes
increasingly common with age.

Initially, clinical signs are often very subtle and mild but will gradually worsen over a long period of time.

Like all mammals, cats and dogs have 2 kidneys located in the abdomen, which perform a wide variety of important roles,

  • Removing toxins from the blood
  • Maintaining normal fluid balance
  • Maintaining normal salt balance & regulating electrolytes
  • Maintaining acid balance of the body
  • Maintaining normal blood pressure
  • Producing hormones



Signs of Chronic Kidney Disease

  • Weight loss
  • Reduced appetite or anorexia
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • High blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Anaemia
  • Mouth ulcers



The first test that reveals early kidney disease is the SDMA blood test.

SDMA will become higher than normal when about 40% of kidney function has been damaged.

This is Stage 1 of CKD and is ideally when medication is begun that will slow the deterioration of the kidneys and lengthen lifespan the most effectively.

Stage 2 of CKD is when you would usually begin to notice some clinical signs ( eg ) increased thirst / increased urination.

Signs of kidney failure may not develop until about 2/3 of the kidney's tissues are damaged. When this 2/3 level is reached, the kidneys can no longer conserve water and electrolytes ( sodium / potassium / chloride etc..) to maintain the correct levels in the blood.

Stage 3 of CKD is the stage where we start to see more obvious symptoms.

It is at this stage, where 75% of kidney function is gone, that the kidneys can no longer remove waste materials from the body properly and the levels of these toxins start to rise in the bloodstream.

Unfortunately, if early blood screening has not been carried out, patients will present in the latter stages of CKD ( Stages 2 or 3 )

Because CKD is such a common disease in cats, routine screening of all mature and older cats can help early diagnosis, which in turn may prolong a good quality of life.

We recommend SDMA as a marker for early Kidney Disease.

We are delighted to be able to offer this important early Kidney Disease indicator here at Vetcare.

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