Are you going abroad this summer? What about your pet?

Cavalier King Charles puppy image for WordPress

Sally and Simon are going to Africa for their summer holiday. They were complaining to me about the number of vaccinations they were having to endure. ‘There are four injections’, Sally moaned, ‘Each injection hurts, and I’m beginning to wonder whether this trip is worth the hassle’. I tried to change the subject by enquiring about Kipling, their five year old Irish Terrier. ‘Where is he going while you are abroad?’ I asked. ‘That’s another hassle’, Simon grumbled. ‘He’s booked in to those new kennels down the country, and for some reason they are insisting on a whole series of vaccinations for him! “As if we don’t have enough grief having needles stuck into ourselves without worrying about the dog!” I sighed, took a deep breath and put my professional hat on as I explained to my friends why it was essential that they do as the kennel had requested.

Vaccinations are an effective way of preventing infectious diseases. Vaccines are tiny doses of a harmless version of the disease concerned. The vaccine stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies which defend the body against the real disease causing agent. Most vaccines are against serious viral diseases which can be impossible to treat successfully if an animal develops a full scale infection. The efficacy of vaccines has been proven in real life situations where unvaccinated and vaccinated animals are exposed to the same dose of virus. Unvaccinated animals invariably fall ill, and in some cases die. Fully vaccinated animals do not even appear mildly ill – they are completely protected against disease by the vaccine. An initial course of vaccinations is given to puppies and kittens. As the animal grows older, the immune system requires regular ‘priming’ to ensure that the body is in a state of full preparation to cope with a viral infection. This is done by giving a ‘booster’ vaccination at a regular interval to ensure that the quantity of protective antibodies is at an adequate level throughout the animal’s lifetime. How often should these booster vaccines be given? This depends on the risk to a pet, which depends on their lifestyle, but in Ireland, the general rule is that a once yearly visit to your vet is the best idea: not all vaccines need to be give this often, but for nearly all pets, at least one disease will need to be topped up. If these are not given, the animal is at risk of becoming susceptible to serious disease.

Some owners maintain that their pet will not be at risk, since they never go outside the garden area, and they never meet other animals. Although the risk in such a situation may be low, it is important to remember that there is still a risk. There is a chance, for example, that viral infection could be carried in on the sole of a visitor’s shoes. There are certain times when the risk of picking up an infection is particularly high. Since viral diseases are usually picked up from other animals, any situation which involves mixing with large numbers of animals is guaranteed to be high risk. A visit to boarding kennels is a typical example. Proprietors of boarding kennels are aware of the importance of proper vaccination. If unvaccinated animals are allowed to stay in a boarding kennel, there is a chance that one animal could bring in a disease which could go on to infect every other unvaccinated animal on the premises. This is why the most responsible kennels insist that all visiting animals have fully up-to-date vaccination certificates, signed by the vet who administered the injections. Sally listened to me in silence, then stood up. ‘I don’t know about my own needles, but Kipling will have no choice in the matter.’ She told me. ‘I’ll be bringing him down to you tomorrow!’


Common & Easily Missed. Ask your Vet!

In cats treatment of diabetes mellitus may result in clinical remission in 25% of cases.

Diabetic cats that go into diabetic clinical remission have remaining functional beta cells in the pancreatic islets which are able to produce sufficient insulin once persistent hyperglycaemia, which results in glucose toxicity, is treated adequately with insulin.

The time to remission is variable and likely depends on how long the hyperglycaemia, and glucose toxicity, has been present and if there are remaining functional beta cells in the pancreatic islets. In diabetic cats it may be shortly after the start of treatment (e.g. around 2 weeks) in cats that have not been diabetic for long or take up to 3-4 months or longer after starting treatment in cats that have been diabetic for longer.

Although many diabetic cats that go into clinical remission seem to remain in remission it is important to remember that remission does not necessarily mean cure. Care with diet and exercise and avoidance of aggravating factors (progesterone,corticosteroids, obesity, etc.) are important. Once a cat has been diagnosed as diabetic, whether or not it is receiving insulin therapy, constant monitoring is vital.



Thinking of going away this summer?

Rocky the Rottweiler had been in the boarding kennels for two weeks, while his owners enjoyed their spring holiday. They collected Rocky from the kennels at night on their return. They noticed that the premises seemed very poorly lit. The proprietor asked them to go into Rocky’s kennel to collect him themselves, explaining that he was too afraid of Rocky to go in himself. It was only later at home that Rocky’s owners noticed that he had lost weight, he was dirty, and he seemed a quieter, more timid animal than he had been before they left. He was in excellent health, and there was no doubt that he had been adequately looked after. However his owners were left uneasy about leaving him in kennels again. They decided to holiday at home next year, so that they could take Rocky with them.

Gerry the German Shepherd goes to a different boarding kennel. He has been going to the same kennel twice yearly for the past five years, and his owners have noticed that he seems to enjoy the visits. He recognises the drive to the kennels. His ears prick up and his tail wags as they approach. He seems to adore the kennel owner, and she clearly enjoys his boisterous, exuberant character. When Gerry is collected from the kennels, he almost seems reluctant to go home. His owners regularly leave Gerry in the kennels, which frees them to travel abroad or within Ireland as much as they please.

These examples typify the different experiences which people may have had with animal boarding establishments. It is important that pet owners carry out their own research to ensure that they and their pets find a boarding kennel to meet their particular needs. It is useful to visit a few different boarding kennels, to gain an understanding about the different facilities which may be available. This research should be carried out well in advance of a planned holiday, so that a reservation can be made. The best boarding kennels maybe booked up several months ahead of peak holiday periods. It is also useful to develop a relationship with a boarding kennel, so that mutual trust and affection exists between kennel proprietor, pet and pet owner. In this situation, any potential worry about a pet’s welfare is removed, and trips away from home can be made without this added concern. Some pet owners may find it difficult to leave their pet with somebody else in a strange place such as a boarding kennel, even if they are certain that their pet will receive the best care possible. Sometimes a family member or a friend can be persuaded to look after the family pet at home, but this is seldom practicable on every occasion.

Another option is to use a reliable website to find someone to mind your pet in their own home: is a good example. An excellent alternative has become popular recently – so-called ‘home-sitters’ who move into your house while you are away. A home-sitter takes over the daily running of your home, from walking the dog, to feeding the cat, to watering the house plants and cutting the lawn. Home sitters can provide excellent care for pets, who may prefer to be in the familiarity of their own homes. In addition, the obvious presence of a resident in your home while you are away may deter burglars. Part-time home sitters are also available, who will visit your home twice a day, carrying out the necessary duties and making sure that all is well. To find a home sitter, visit Whatever you decide to do about care of your pet during your holiday breaks, it is important to be organised well in advance.

Make sure that you book your pet’s holiday at the same time as you book your own!

Thyroid disease is considered to be the most common endocrine disorder affecting cats and dogs

The thyroid gland consists of two lobes that lie in close anatomical association to the first five or six tracheal rings. The lobes are not normally palpable. Accessory thyroid tissue may be found anywhere from the base of the heart to the larynx. The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones which are involved in controlling the basal metabolic rate in the body and affect most organs. When there is a deficiency or excess of circulating thyroid hormones, the basal metabolic rate alters. The resultant change in metabolic rate affects most organ systems in the body and manifests itself in many ways. In cats, a functional thyroid adenomatous hyperplasia involving one or both lobes occurs commonly. Less than 30% of cases involve benign hyperplasia of only one lobe, however in more than 70% of cases both thyroid lobes are affected. Due to the fact that the lesion is benign, with appropriate treatment the prognosis is excellent.

Primary hypothyroidism accounts for greater than 90% of hypothyroid cases in dogs. Immune-mediated destruction or idiopathic atrophy of the thyroid glands occurs. Hypothyroidism develops when at least three quarters of the total thyroid tissue is destroyed. A difficulty with diagnosing hypothyroidism accurately is that clinical signs seen may be similar to those commonly identified in other diseases. Along with this, non-thyroidal illness can affect both thyroid function tests and hypothyroid drug therapy. However, once an accurate diagnosis has been achieved, the prognosis is excellent due to the availability of appropriate drug preparations.

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Annie the Rescuer!

The kitten was no more than three inches long, a small sausage of living, wriggling fluffiness. Annie had found the kitten in a back yard, abandoned by a stray cat who had been frightened away when children had discovered her nest. The stray cat had carried three of her four kittens away with her, but she had forgotten about the little black female.

Annie had waited till dusk, watching in case the mother reappeared. Annie knew that the kitten would have the best chance of surviving if she stayed with her mother. She was only five or six days old, with her eyes still closed. She needed her mother’s caring attention to keep her warm and to keep her stomach full. As it started to get dark, there was no sign of the mother cat. The kitten became quiet, and stopped moving around. If the kitten was left alone outside overnight, there would be no chance of survival. Cold and hunger would ensure that she would not survive past midnight.

It is common to find abandoned young animals at this time of year. Spring is the best season for animals to produce offspring. If young animals are born in April, they are ready to venture into the world by May or June, when the weather is warm and the food supply is plentiful. They then have the long summer months ahead of them, so that by the time winter comes around, they are physically strong and well adapted to coping by themselves. However, nature is cruel, and it is normal for a high percentage of young animals to die. It is part of the evolutionary process that only the strong survive. Slower, weaker animals cannot cry out so loudly for help, and they are more easily forgotten by their mothers. As a result, only the stronger, fitter animals grow older and eventually have offspring of their own. This process ensures that the next generation is more likely to thrive.

However, for humans who care about animals, it is difficult to witness the ruthless unfolding of the evolutionary plan. When you find a young, defenceless creature which is obviously cold, hungry and in need of assistance, it is not easy to turn away. Annie did not abandon the kitten. When it was clear that the mother had no intention of returning, Annie crawled into the bushes, and emerged cradling the small abandoned animal. She brought her up to her vet at once. He checked the kitten over, and found that it was healthy, but weak and in need of intensive care. He outlined the commitment which Annie would have to make if she wanted the kitten to survive. Annie would have to devote herself to the kitten for the next two or three weeks at least. A large part of good nursing care of animals involves an emotional commitment, which can be very tiring. Feeding specially prepared milk would have to be repeated every two or three hours, all day and all night. There would also be the many small but necessary acts, like wiping the kitten’s eyes, keeping its fur clean and checking at all times to make sure that it was comfortable in every way. Despite all the best attention, some orphan kittens do not survive, and this is very upsetting for the human who has become involved. Annie had no experience of rearing young animals, but she knew that she had no choice. She asked the vet for the necessary kitten rearing kit, and she headed home with the kitten still cuddled in her pocket.

Pete the vet with kitten



Rabbits are increasingly popular pets in Ireland, and not just for children.  In the United States, the rabbit is a close third to dogs and cats in the popularity stakes of family pet ownership. The same situation is beginning to develop here. Dogs need space, and a time-commitment. Cats are fine, but some people just don’t like them. Rabbits are seen as an easy-to-keep, safe, cuddly alternative.

Rabbits are intelligent, inquisitive, lively, friendly,   and loyal. They  can  become  part  of  the family  in  a  very  similar  way  to dogs   and    cats.   They   have strong, distinctive characters, if only they are allowed to express themselves.

We used to have a pet rabbit living free-range in the back garden of our veterinary hospital. He was called   Buck,   and he viewed that garden as his territory, which   nobody   else should dare to enter. We used the garden to exercise dogs which had been hospitalised,   and we were   always careful not to let those dogs off their    leads.    This    was    not because   we were   afraid   that they    might    hurt    Buck,    but because we were worried about what Buck might do to them! Buck used to rush at dogs, leaping  into  the  air at the  last  minute,  and  lashing  out  with  his feet. Several dogs who dared to approach him too closely ended up with scratched muzzles.  Fortunately Buck was not big enough to inflict any more serious injuries.

Many people who keep rabbits have similar stories to tell about their pets. I know of rabbits who roam freely inside houses, coming and going as they wish, through a ‘rabbit flap’ in the back door. They are trouble-free   pets to keep. Their urine and faeces are relatively odour-free and innocuous, although house training is not always easy.   I knew one rabbit that had an annoying habit of chewing through telephone wires, but most pet rabbits are not destructive in any way. It does make sense to “rabbit proof” your house as much as you can, concealing   exposed wires and removing anything chewable from the rabbits’ reach.

Rabbits are social creatures, and have evolved to enjoy the company of others of their species. They should never be kept on their own: they are much happier in pairs or small groups. Spaying and neutering of females and males is recommended, to stop breeding, and to lessen the risk of hormone-induced fighting.

Rabbits should also be vaccinated by your vet: there are two dis- eases that need to be prevented.  First,  myxomatosis,  a killer disease  that’s  spread  by  fleas,  and  secondly,  Viral  Haemorrhagic Disease, a fatal illness caused by a virus that can be spread on peoples clothes and hands. Both of these diseases are almost impossible to treat effectively if they develop, so prevention by vaccination is definitely the best answer.

Our friend Buck was so possessive of his garden that if we tried to lie down on the grass to enjoy sunshine on a sunny day, he would sidle up to us, thumping his back feet menacingly.  Buck never attacked a human, but nobody felt safe in his company when he was in his territorial mood.

Never under-estimate a rabbit! 

Pete the vet with dog

Neutering of female animals

Pete the vet with dogNeutering of female animals can be a controversial subject. A reader wrote to me recently because she had had her young bitch neutered, and she was not sure if she had done the right thing. It is very common for people to have worries like this. People feel that in some way it is unnatural or cruel to remove animals’ reproductive capacities. People are afraid that neutering will ‘ruin’ their pets, and make them into fat lazy good-for-nothing layabouts.

As a vet, I also have strong feelings about neutering. I am convinced that neutering animals is good for them, and that neutering should be carried out early in life, even before a bitch’s first season. It may be said that I have a vested interest, because the operation to neuter animals is carried out by vets to earn a living. However, there are other veterinary procedures which could also ‘create business’ for vets (such as tail docking or ear cropping) which I would certainly not approve of, because they are not in the interest of the animal.

My opinion about neutering is based on what I feel is best for the animals themselves. My opinion is derived from scientific knowledge and from my own observations of animals. Animals are very effective at reproducing. If one female cat produces as many kittens as possible, and if all of those kittens produce as many kittens as possible, after three years of ‘free breeding’, one single cat will have given rise to fifteen thousand kittens. That figure may sound absurd, but it is true. This is the main reason why neutering is so important. There are far too many unwanted young animals in our society. These unwanted pets are often abandoned, and become ‘strays’. Every week hundreds of these healthy, but unwanted dogs and cats are deliberately destroyed at animal pounds around the country. Would it not be much kinder to prevent these sad, unfortunate creatures from coming into this world in the first place?

It is also a fact that neutering female dogs before their first season causes a 99% reduction in the risk of mammary tumours (the most common type of cancer to affect dogs). With each successive season, the risk of tumours increases, so the earlier a bitch is neutered, the less the risk.

The neutering operation of females is straightforward. The uterus and both ovaries are removed through an incision into the abdomen. A general anaesthetic is given, so that the animal is not aware of any discomfort. Pain relieving drugs can be given to the small proportion of animals who are uncomfortable after the operation. Using modern anaesthetics and surgical techniques, the risk to an animal is minimal. By the time the sutures are removed ten days after the operation, the animal has usually returned to its normal self.

People are often afraid that their pets will change, and that their personalities will be different. There is no evidence that this occurs. I see hundreds of neutered animals every year who remain absolutely identical in character to the way they were before. There is also a fear that animals will become fat. It is true that after neutering, the metabolism of an animal burns up energy more slowly, and so the diet must be watched carefully. But if an owner is disciplined about making sure that their pet is fed a controlled amount of food, then there is no need for an animal to become obese. The Guide Dogs for the Blind have all of their animals neutered at an early age, yet it is very rare to encounter an overweight guide dog. It is also true that there are many animals who are not neutered who still become fat.

For health’s sake, get your pet neutered!


Potential poisoning in cats


As I write, it is Pete the vet with kitten11.30pm and I have just finished giving a cat a shampoo and blow dry. No – I do not run a ‘Posh Cat Parlour’ as a nixer on my evenings off duty. This was an emergency call out, and the bath was a life-saving procedure for the animal.

The cat is a fine looking Siamese show cat, called Siamon. He had wandered off for his usual evening stroll, but had not returned. His owner was beginning to worry, when at 10pm there was a clatter at the cat flap, and Siamon flopped onto the kitchen floor. He was soaking wet, and on closer examination, he was not dripping with water. His fur was drenched in a foul smelling sticky substance, which turned out to be some sort of fuel oil – either diesel or dirty petrol. This was a serious case of poisoning which needed emergency treatment.

Cats are very susceptible to poisoning by many substances. The liver of a cat does not have the same range of enzymes as a dog, and so some substances cannot be broken down and excreted by the body. As a result, a cat can suffer fatal consequences if it is exposed to certain chemicals which might not otherwise seem dangerous. When a cat is soaked in any liquid, there are two ways that chemicals can enter the body. The first way is by direct absorption through the skin. The second, and more dangerous route happens when cats lick their coats. During this self-grooming, the cat swallows large quantities of any chemicals on the coat. These are then rapidly absorbed from the digestive tract into the cat’s bloodstream.

The consequences are frequently fatal. Fortunately, Siamon was brought to us immediately after his drenching, and he had not had a chance to groom himself. His body was black with oil, but his head was dry and clean. Obviously he had fallen into a barrel of oil, but by swimming he had managed to hold his head clear of the surface. We gave him a sedative to prevent him from becoming too distressed, and then we started a series of carefully planned baths. Firstly, we poured a bottle of vegetable oil over him, rubbing it thoroughly
into his dirty greasy fur. This had the effect of dissolving the fuel oil, and assisting release of sticky, toxic residues from the hair and the surface of the skin. The next stage of the procedure was to pour several cups of washing-up liquid over Siamon, and to massage this thoroughly into his oily fur. The detergents in the washing up liquid emulsified the combination of vegetable oil and fuel oil, so that they could easily be dissolved in water. As a result, when we finally used a stream of warm, fresh water to rinse Siamon’s coat, a white, thick, greasy sludge drained off his body. This sludge was a combination of fuel oil, vegetable oil and washing up liquid. Siamon was left with a normal, light coloured, clean coat.

Siamon has been left overnight in a warm cage with a hot water bottle. He has an Elizabethan Collar around his neck to stop him licking any small amount of chemical which may remain on his coat. I expect him to recover well, but he is a lucky cat. If his owner had not found him until the morning, he is unlikely to have survived. There are two messages from this story. Firstly, never leave containers of oily substances uncovered, because of the serious danger to cats. And secondly, if your cat is oil-drenched, find a vet as soon as possible – it is a genuine emergency.


The word ‘virus’ is derived from the Latin word for ‘venom’. Everybody has heard of viral infections. But what is a virus? And why are viral infections so difficult to treat? The dictionary definition of a virus is ‘a combination of chemicals capable of multiplying rapidly inside a living cell, causing disease’.
Viruses are much smaller than bacteria – they are so tiny that they cannot be seen with a normal microscope. Using special ‘electron’ microscopes which have a far greater power of magnification, it is possible to see viruses, and they do have specific, easily recognisable structures. As part of my final year veterinary exams, I had to identify different viruses by looking at their photographs, taken at a magnification of thousands. There is a huge number of different types of viruses, and they can infect a wide range of life forms, from plants and insects to animals and humans. The aim of a virus, like all other forms of life, is to reproduce as many of its type as possible. A virus enters the body of its host, penetrates certain target cells of the host, and once inside the cell, it begins to reproduce itself. Later, thousands of new viruses are released from this cell, and these infect other target cells. Finally virus particles leave the body of the host and enter the body of other hosts, where the whole process starts again. In the process of entering the host cells and multiplying, viruses often cause ill health. Every different type of virus has different specific effects on a host. These effects vary hugely, from a mild sore throat to the furious ‘mad dog’ symptoms of rabies. However, some facts about viral infections are universally true.

The first fact is that there is an ‘incubation period’ between when an animal picks up infection and when the first symptoms are seen. This may be as short as five days (e.g. in Parvovirus) or as long as four months (e.g. in Rabies). The incubation period for different
viruses is known, and so it is possible to predict how rapidly a viral epidemic will affect a population.

The second fact is that it is very difficult to cure a viral infection. Apart from a few recently discovered exceptions, modern antibiotics and other medicines have minimal effect on viruses. When treating animals with viral infections, the aim is to give the animal supportive care to help the body’s immune system fight off the virus. In mild viral infections, the animal will recover rapidly. In serious infections, such as Parvovirus, the immune system of the animal may be overwhelmed by the virus, and the animal will often die.

The third fact is that vaccines are now available which can completely prevent certain viral infections. A vaccine is a tiny dose of a harmless version of the virus. A vaccine causes no ill health, but it does provoke the body’s immune system to produce antibodies against the virus. These antibodies allow the animal to successfully fight off an otherwise dangerous viral infection. There are at least four life threatening viral diseases which commonly affect dogs in Ireland, including Parvovirus and Distemper.

There are also at least four serious viral diseases commonly seen in cats, including Cat Flu and Feline Leukaemia. All of these diseases can be completely prevented by giving puppies and kittens a full vaccination course before they mix with other animals. Adult animals need an annual health check from their vet, with vaccinations chosen on an individual basis to ensure that they maintain good immunity.

If you ensure that you keep your pet’s vaccinations up to date, the dangerous ‘combination of chemicals’ called a virus will not be such a threat to your household of pets. If your pet’s vaccinations are not up to date, make an appointment with your local vet as soon as possible to ensure they get the protection they need. After all, they can’t protect themselves, it’s up to you. Don’t wait, Vaccinate.

cat hugging puppy valentine FB

Don’t support puppy farmers by buying a puppy for Christmas

The ISPCA has issued a warning to people considering buying a puppy to be aware of unscrupulous puppy breeders cashing in on the Christmas market. In the run up to festive
season, this is the busiest time for rogue breeders advertising puppies for sale and buyers
need to be aware and understand where these puppies are originating from.
Many puppies are bred in appalling conditions, are not vaccinated or microchipped and may be in need of veterinary care. The ISPCA is asking the public not to purchase a puppy and help put an end to the puppy demand. By deciding to adopt after the festive season you will reduce the risk of becoming the latest victim of this cruel trade. Buying a sick puppy is a heart breaking experience for any family to endure, especially at Christmas. The ISPCA have saved hundreds of puppies from deplorable conditions from rogue puppy breeders. Sometimes mom has no access to day light, has inappropriate bedding and is cooped up in a small kennel or breeding cage. In the worst cases there is limited food or access to clean drinking water with minimal human interaction or veterinary care. They arrive at our centres terrified, often huddled together silently.

After extensive veterinary treatment and rehabilitation, the ISPCA find loving homes for these puppies where they will receive the love and kindness they deserve. ISPCA CEO Dr Andrew Kelly said; “The ISPCAis working hard to tackle and expose the problem of puppy breeding in Ireland but it is big business and we need the public’s help to reduce the demand. Large numbers of puppies are bred in Ireland, taken far too early from their mothers to be sold in Ireland or shipped illegally to the UK where they will be sold to unsuspecting families purely for profit with no regard for their welfare. Many of these puppies have had a very unpleasant start in life, sold to people who believe they are
purchasing a healthy and happy puppy. Unfortunately they may have purchased a sick puppy, sometimes diagnosed with the contagious and often fatal parvovirus. This is a heart wrenching experience for many families who have already bonded with their new pet. Pleasedo not support puppy farmers this Christmas – wait until the festive period is over and adopt a dog from the ISPCA or your local animal rescue organisation”.

Broadcaster, Journalist and ISPCA supporter Charlie Bird added: “Please don’t be hoodwinked or fooled by rogue breeders like my wife and I were. We decided to buy a puppy from a breeder in Cork whose website seemed great. We visited the sellers at their house in Cork and were led to believe that they had reared the puppies in their house. We asked all the right questions. We asked to see the father of the puppies and were told that he had tragically been run over. This was not true.We were horrified to find out that it was in fact a large scale puppy farm with almost 100 breeding females. Please follow the ISPCA’s advice and always ask to see both parents of the puppy and always to go the place where they are bred. If the puppy is coming from a kennel, make sure you see it. Also ask the breeder how many females they are breeding from. If in doubt at any point, just walk away. By deciding to adopt a puppy instead, you will be helping make all the difference and helping to put the unscrupulous puppy farmers out of business, adopt a dog, don’t be sold a pup”.

Don’t buy a puppy for Christmas – adopt a dog after the festive season is over. The ISPCA recommends waiting until after the festive season when introducing a new pet in the home. Adopt a dog from the ISPCA, a local rescue centre or your local dog pound. Researching the right pet for your family is very important as is ensuring you have adequate time and financial resources to care for your new pet responsibly. Pets adopted from the ISPCA will be health-checked, vaccinated, neutered/spayed, parasite treated and also microchipped. Pets never make good Christmas gifts and should never be bought on a whim or given as a surprise.

• Don’t buy a puppy from unscrupulous breeders fuelling demand – do your research!
• Always try to adopt from the ISPCA, your local rescue or dog pound
• Report suspicious activity online at
• Check if the seller is a registered commercial breeder and check the Local Authority Registration details.
• Reputable breeders do not advertise puppies for sale through online websites, pet shops, newspaper adverts or meet at petrol stations, car parks or at the side of a road.
• Check online websites have signed up to the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (IPAAG) Minimum Standards on
• Always ask to see both parents of the puppy interacting with the litter. If not, ask why.
• Responsible breeders will want to do a home check and ask you important questions about your lifestyle in order to ensure you are a suitable owner for their puppy.
• Ask to see where mom, dad and puppies are living.
• If you are concerned by excuses made why mum and dad are not there, don’t buy a puppy
out of guilt. If you suspect the puppies have come from a puppy
farm, don’t add to the puppy demand by buying one.
• Are there are other dogs hidden from sight in nearby sheds or can you hear loud music playing to drown out the barking noise.
• Is there a lot of traffic coming and going from the property and is there someone actually living there.
• Ask to see the puppies veterinary records for vaccinations and parasite treatments, microchipping certificate etc
• Ensure you obtain a proper receipt.
• Be cautious of large numbers of puppies for sale online using same adverts/phone numbers.
• Is there different puppies frequently being brought in and out of a particular house or location?
• Look out for sounds of dogs barking or whining from seemingly unoccupied houses where there are suspicious amounts of regular visitors.


• A review of the Dog Breeding Establishments Act and its associated Guidelines
• All dog breeders to be registered and licensed, not just those who have more than five       breeding females as is required under the Dog Breeding Establishments Act
• Robust enforcement of the Dog Breeding Establishments Act by Local Authorities
• Significant penalties to be imposed on those breeders found to be breaking the law to act as a deterrent to others
• Consistent legislation on dog breeding across all EU Member States

As a charitable organisation, the ISPCA relies on public support for approximately 90% of our funds which we receive through donations enabling us to continue our vital work rescuing animals that need our help and rehabilitation costs are expensive. If you can this Christmas, please make a donation to support their work on

Remember if you suspect an animal is being cruelly treated, neglected or abused, or if you see something suspicious, please contact the ISPCA National Animal Cruelty Helpline in
confidence on 1890 515 515 or report online on

In case of an emergency, please contact your local Gardaí.pets-as-gifts