Cat Leukemia Virus

Feline Leukemia Virus

This is Toni, a 7 year old neutered female cat. She was a happy healthy kitten and had no illnesses until her owner noticed she was very sleepy and not eating. She was diagnosed with feline leukemia virus. FeLV is a cancer causing virus that affects cats causing lymphoma, leukemia or other tumours. Other major effects of FeLV infection are severe immunosuppression and development of anaemia and more cats will die of these complications than from development of tumours. 80-90%of cats die within a year of diagnosis as there is no treatment. Thankfully due to the development of vaccines and ready to use tests the prevalence of infection with this virus has reduced.

This is Toni, a happy healthy cat

How is the virus spread?

A persistently infected cat will shed large amounts of the virus in saliva, faeces, urine and milk. The infection is most likely spread by mutual grooming, sharing food bowls and litter trays where the virus can be ingested. The virus can also be transmitted through biting and if a cat is infected with FeLV, any kittens she produces will also be infected (although many die o before birth). The infection is most commonly found in sick outdoor cats that are not neutered. In general only 1-2% of indoor pet cats are infected. In Toni’s case we think she may have picked up the virus later in life, not from her mother. Toni was an indoor-outdoor cat and must have come into contact with an infected cat that was shedding the virusH

Signs of FeLV

FeLV affects the immune system of cats. Typically cats will show chronic recurrent illnesses that progressively get worse over time. In Toni’s case she became very sleepy, didn’t eat very much and slowly became duller and duller. She was very anaemic in the final stages.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargic
  • Weight loss
  • Upper respiratory signs like runny eyes, sneezing
  • Skin problems, gastro problems
  • Pale gums (anaemia)

How do I find out if my cat has FeLV?

Positive FeLV test

Thankfully there are very quick and simple tests to use at the vets so that you will find out almost straight away if your cat has this virus.

My cat has FeLV , what next?

Unfortunately there is no cure for FeLV, if your cat is already very ill and suffering the kindest thing to do is consider euthanasia. If you aren’t ready for this and the cat is in reasonably good health, steps can be taken to keep them more comfortable. It is important to note that most cats don’t live longer than 6 months after diagnosis and also to be aware of the potential spread of virus to other cats.

How to control the spread of FeLV

  • It is important to determine the the FeLV status of your cat regardless of how healthy they are. This is done by testing them to see if they have FeLV or not. Any positive cats should be kept separate from other cats as to avoid spreading the virus further
  • Vaccination of cats against this virus works well and all kittens should be vaccinated in their first year and second year and then after that people can choose whether to vaccinate against it or not depending on their cat’s lifestyle (indoor v outdoor)
Thanks to Toni’s owner for allowing us share her story

Pet First Aid Box

First Aid box I put together in Arra Vets

Are you prepared in case of emergency? Do you have a first aid kit to hand if your dog starts bleeding or your cat gets an allergic reaction? If not maybe you should put a pet first aid kit to the top of your to do list. Here is a quick guide of things I suggest you should have

1. Card with Important Information

In a sealed plastic bag place the following information so it is close to hand

  • Your vets number and emergency out of hours number
  • A list of medication your pet takes
  • All your pets vaccination and medical records

2. Restraints

Cats and dogs can become fearful when hurt and painful, these can make them aggressive and unpredictable. It is important to keep yourself safe and avoid injury.

  • Slip lead-quickly restrain the dog
  • Muzzle-to prevent bites
  • Towel or blanket- wrap dog or cat to prevent scratches and bites and make animal feel more secure

3. Bandaging

A selection of gauze, non stick padding, cotton wool and vet wrap can be used to control bleeding and keep wounds clean until you get to the vets

4. Medications

  • Antiseptic- clean wounds etc
  • Spare supply of your pet’s prescription medication
  • Antihistamine- If your pet has an allergic reaction (always ask your vet first for a dose)
  • Pain relief-next time you are in with your vet ask them about having some sort of pain relief in stock in case they are involved in an accident or hurt themselves that you have something to give them before travel
  • Rehydration sachets- handy to have if your pet has a stomach bug or has lost a lot of fluid with exercise or needs rehydration for whatever reason
  • Flea and tick treatment- especially important to have in case you find a tick on your pet.

4. Other handy tools to have

  • Scissors- cutting bandaging etc
  • Buster collar- to stop your pet licking at wounds, also handy to prevent bites
  • Tweezers- remove foreign objects from wounds
  • Gloves-keep your hands clean
  • Collapsible water bowl

12 Pet Tips of Christmas

We are all getting ready and excited for the festive season but what about our pets? Find out how to keep your pet happy and healthy this Christmas with our 12 pet tips of Christmas



  1. Christmas Decorations:

While we love to look at all the beautiful ornament in our pets’s world these are fabulous new toys to play with!  Tinsel is especially attractive to cats. Unfortunately they can also cause injuries to pets especially if they are eaten. Small objects can be swallowed causing internal blockages which can be life threatening. Make sure decorations are kept well out of way of curious pet.

2. Christmas Dinner

Want to give your pet his own Christmas dinner this year? Avoid  onions, garlic, raisins, sultanas, dates and grapes, chocolate and alcohol as these are toxic to pets.  Also avoid fatty foods such as potatoes cooked in goose fat or butter as these can cause pancreatitis. If you want to make a special pet dinner, the ideal treat is plain, cooked turkey and some delicious crunchy vegetables!

3. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas tree:

Cats love Christmas trees, a flying Christmas tree however is a hazard to people and pets! Ensure that the tree is well secured if you have a climbing cat. Keep an eye out for stagnant water in the base of real Christmas trees, dogs can become ill if they drink from it

4. Christmas Jumpers:

While you might love dressing your dog up in festive wear he may not appreciate it at all. Respect your dog’s wishes and don’t dress them if you feel your dog gets stressed.

5. Christmas guests:

Does the constant stream of visitors over the holidays get on your nerves? Your pet probably feels the same way. They may become overwhelmed with guests in and out and show some undesirable behaviour. Provide a quiet corner for your pet to hide and rest in.

6. Christmas plants:

Auntie Madge may love her poinsettias, and a kiss under the mistletoe but these can cause a tummy upset in pets if eaten. Lilies more seriously can cause kidney failure in cats.

7. Cold Weather:

The weather has thankfully been quite mild this year. During cold weather watch out for salt on footpaths that will burn dog’s feet while out walking.

8. Presents under the tree:

Beautifully wrapped chocolates under the tree can be lethal to a curious dog. Expensive dark chocolate can cause toxicity when only a small amount is eaten. Keep food presents up high away from sensitive noses

9. Batteries

There are often a lot of new electronic toys and devices around the home at Christmas time and so the risk of battery ingestion is much higher around this period. A pierced battery can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning to a dog and even if the battery is not pierced when chewed, a whole battery may cause a serious intestinal obstruction.

10. Candles

They may create a cosy atmosphere, but candle flames can burn paws and the curious noses of furry friends. There’s also risk of them falling over when brushed against.

11. Fireworks

Noisy fireworks around the new year can cause a lot of upset for many types of pets. Dogs and cats go missing after bolting due to the loud noises. Please ensure you have your dog and cat microchipped so they can be traced if they end up missing.

12. Finally, enjoy Christmas and remember to have your vet’s on call contact details to hand. If you need one of us in Arra Vets in case of emergency  call 0872899191. We are always happy to help


Groom for Improvement!

Hi everyone!

Summer has well and truly arrived and that means Grooming Month at Arra Vets. We are booking up to a week in advance for grooms as people look to get their dogs deshedded and clipped down for the (hopefully) warm weeks ahead. But did you know that grooming can have many important health  benefits, or that for some breeds grooming is essential to their health and wellbeing?

We see lots of new puppies coming into us at this time of year. Non-shedding breeds such as bichons, cavachons and poodles are increasing in popularity but what many new owners don’t realise is that these dogs require frequent brushing and regular grooming.

Since their coats do not shed the hair becomes matted after washing unless it is brushed through, so although well meaning owners may love keeping their pride and joy clean and fresh, without brushing the underlying hair becomes matted, tight and painful. The only solution is a tight clip and poor Fluffy exiting the grooming parlour looking a little more shorn than owners may like! We recommend getting your dog groomed every 6-8 weeks if you would like to keep Fluffy looking fluffy.

As for the shedding breeds, a lot of owners may have noticed an increase in hair on the couch these days. Our groomers Lisa and Laura use a powerful hairdryer which helps to blast out all that excess hair from the coat. A lighter coat can help your dog stay cool during warm weather.

Another important benefit of grooming is that the action of washing and brushing the coat removes dirt and draws the dogs’ natural oils through the hair, keeping it looking smooth and glossy. This is certainly something you can also do at home.

Lastly we find that our groomers frequently pick up on lumps, bumps and other niggling issues that owners (and vets) can miss. For example how often do you spend an hour and half or more completely focused every inch of your dog? Lisa recently found an odd lump on the face of a Westie in for grooming which was completely hidden from view until he was clipped. The cause was a nasty tooth abscess which required antibiotics and pain killers. Teeth, ears, gland issues and even arthritis can all come to light during grooming.

That’s about it for this month. See you next time when we’ll be chatting about neutering. Slán go fóill!



Ditch that Itch

Itchy skin in dogs is not only completely frustrating for the owner to watch but is very irritating and uncomfortable for the dog. Itchy dogs can become so distressed that they may show signs of aggression. Below are a list of signs your dog is itchy. 

What causes skin irritation and scratching?

There are so many reasons your dog may be itchy and scratchy

  • Creepy Crawlies are the most common cause of itchy dogs. Fleas, Ticks and mites bite our pets and make them really itchy. 90% of the time the little visitor isn’t even on your pet so it is important to prevent bites.
  • Infections: Does your dog have a moist yeasty smell? Maybe he is suffering from a fungal infection. This is very common in pets, especially in the ears.
  • Allergies: A dog who bites his paws, scratches his ears or rubs his face is showing typical signs of allergies. Allergies can be indoors such as dust mites or outdoors such as pollens, another allergen is food
  • Poor Nutrition: Poor food quality equals poor nutrition for dogs which affects the health of their skin.  Essential Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids with DHA and EPA are important in promoting good skin health and coat quality
  • Lack of grooming: When a dog is groomed, dead hair/fur and flakes of skin get brushed and washed away. Regular grooming is even more important with dogs that have extra thick, long or double coats.
  • Pain/Neurological conditions: on the rare occasion itching and scratching can be caused by the pain that the dog is trying to relieve.


So how do we stop the itchiness?

Due to the huge amount of causes of skin irritation treatment is never straight forward. The first thing is we have to figure out what exactly is causing the itching. Owners often get frustrated sometimes trying treatment after treatment and nothing working. Ideally finding out exactly what is causing the itchiness means that we can treat it more accurately. Basic treatments are below:

  1. Get rid of creepy crawlies- In Arra Vets we always recommend a three month flea and tick tablet that seems to work very well
  2. Improve the dog’s diet- We find that dog’s that are on poor diets or tinned food tend to be more likely to suffer from itchiness. Putting them on a diet with increased Fatty Acids and omega oils will protect and repair the animal’s skin barrier
  3. Groom the dog- removing dead hairs, cleaning the skin and allowing air to circulate the coat leads to a healthier coat and happier dog. We offer medicated shampoo washes and recently we have added in a Nagayu carbon dioxide spa treatment that so far has had amazing results.
  4.  Treat the cause: Depending on other causes for skin irritation they will need to be treated separately.

Keep Pets Safe at Halloween

Hello Howl-aween!

Hi everyone, happy Halloween! I’ve been listening to lots of talking about bangers, fireworks and other scary things. Read on if you want some advice for your pet the next few days.

Identification – with all best intentions pets go missing at halloween. Make sure you have them chipped-both cats and dogs! All pets should have some sort of identification on them at all times so they can be returned. Keep all pets locked up indoors so they don’t end up on Tipperary lost and found next week.

Noise – pets are so sensitive to noise, their ears work a lot better than ours! A bang from a firework may be deafening to them and suggests huge danger. Soften the noise of fireworks by playing a radio louder and distracting them with tasty chews or toys. A crate covered with a duvet is like a soundproofed room.

Stay Calm – It’s important to stay calm yourself. Don’t overly comfort or reassure your pet, you are best to ignore the change in behaviour. Reassuring your pet is natural but by doing this you are saying to your pet ‘yes you are right there is something horrible going on out there. Ignoring them means that you are letting them know that everything is normal and there is no need to worry.

Adaptil and Feliway – these are synthetic phermones that communicate to your pet in a way they understand. They give your pet reassurance and security in their environment. We find them super in the clinic for calming pets and making them feel more at home

Sweets – Finally keep pets away from Halloween candy, chocolate and other sweets. It is also important to make sure they don’t have access to Halloween decorations that they might eat or chew on and candles that could burn them. Halloween costumes are also potential chew toys and unless pets are used to been dressed up can find them really stressful.

Talk to us in the Arra clinic if your pet is extremely anxious and we can discuss sedatives and anxiolytics. Halloween is the time of year to make sure your pet is tucked up safe inside while you enjoy the festivities.

Signing off
M&M (Mairead and Milo)

All about Milo

What better way to start our blog than by telling you all about Milo my pal and best bud. Milo came into my life in May 2012 the day my vet final results came out. I had told no one at home because I didn’t want anyone to change my mind. He was the only red puppy and we instantly fell in love. How couldn’t I, that little face?

We did everything together.. My first job in Clare- He was such good company. He would sleep on my bed and on the first call of the night would always be down the stairs in front of me. If I had to go on another call the same night he wouldn’t budge from the bed…once a night was enough for him (I definitely agreed with him there).

He became protector and baby sitter of my little son when he was born a year later. Never rough with him and ever so patient.

Milo is one in a million and I hope you enjoy this blog. If Milo could talk I’m pretty sure he would give the best veterinary advice ever. He has heard so much from under the desk in Arra Vets. I love him to bits and I know there are a lot of other people that love him out there too.

Signing off
M&M (Mairead and Milo)