Wolf Study at Whipsnade

Introduction

I wanted to find out why the mythical image of Canis Lupus is still haunting and why, even in modern times, he still holds the capability to evoke such passion. He has lived amongst us for thousands of years, and yet still he remains the most feared and persecuted of all wild mammals.

Research

wolf

Most of the research on wolf ecology and behaviour, involves field studies, radio tracking and aerial surveys, and through the pioneering efforts of Dr David L Mech and other leading biologists, we now have a far greater understanding of this shy and illusive creature.

However, being a complete novice and armed only with a camcorder, a pair of rickety binoculars and a notepad and pen, I set off on a cold and damp February morning to Whipsnade Wild Animal Park for my first encounter with the Whipsnade wolves.

I arrived just after 8am in the morning. The park boasts some 600 acres, laid out in natural surroundings and luckily for me, Wolf Wood was only a few hundreds yards away from the main entrance.

I was thankful that I had remembered my binoculars, for they are an essential item to any field study and enabled me to identify individuals and observe behaviour at close quarters.

At Whipsnade, there are obvious differences with pack behaviour. Their food is provided and territory limited, but the social hierarchy remains the same. The pack consists of a mated alpha pair and their offspring. Only one cub had been produced that year, which contradicts the usual litter of up to six in the wild.

Diet

Diet consists of meat obtained from a local butcher, which is thrown into the enclosure at random, usually early morning between 8.30am and 9.30am before the gates open to the public.

On the fourth week of my visit, the keeper had wheeled round a feast of fallow deer. It was a park animal which had died the day before and following a post mortem to ensure that the carcass was free from disease, it was cut up to serve as a meal that the wolves may hunt naturally in the wild.

Two of the sixteen wolves had been injured. One a male, had been quite severely bitten and the wound was still bloody. It appeared that they were both higher ranking individuals and had attempted to mate when the alpha pair intervened.

The female had suffered similar injury through her exile had only been temporary, whereas the male, despite constant attempts to rejoin the group (this was done by intermittent circling around the pack), was persistently pushed back to the far end of the enclosure by the alpha male.

Hierarchy

Throughout my time at the park, the outsider continued his advance in passive submission, yet the alpha’s reaction remained threatening. This wolf had obviously lost his status for good. As in the wild, the alpha male continued to assert his authority. He is most self assured and the only one to be seen lifting his leg whilst urinating. He often approached the public with a far bolder stance than his pack mates, with his tail held high.

There appeared to be rank relationships during feeding, they threatened and directed intimidation behaviour toward each other, and at times there were biting frays, but real confrontation was not observed at that time.

Body language is like a communicative signal which depends on the behaviour of his pact mates. Undisturbed, the body is relaxed whilst his ears seem to follow the direction of sound like finely tuned radar signals.

Although I had witnessed noisy confrontations during feeding, on no occasion did it lead to serious fighting, but I was intrigued to observe a lower ranking wolf defending a piece of meat. I thought it rather comical at the time, for facially he appeared threatening with ears forward, yet his hind legs were bent and his tail was tucked firmly between them.

During late morning, early afternoon, the pack went to ground which I found rather frustrating, so I turned my attention to the great British public milling around the enclosure. It was interesting to note the varied remarks from parents as they spied a wolf or two lazing in the undergrowth.

Bad reputation

All too often I would hear songs such as “Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf”, but on the whole, comments were favourable and I was often approached for information by curious people as I took notes and filmed my subjects.

My study took most of that year, and was a unique opportunity for me to observe wolves in a much greater freedom than the confines of a zoo.

For conservation to be successful we need knowledge and understanding. My study was only possible with the help of Whipsnade Wild Animal Park, where they continue to enjoy the protection of captivity.

In an ideal world, the wolf should be left where he belongs, in freedom, but it is extremely difficult to change the opinion that this earth is for humans and all else should be subordinate. Whatever their outcome, one slow floating howl through a midnight sky still holds the ability to set even the faintest heart aflutter.

Written by Nina Cole www.ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk

Chimpanzes are an Endangered Species

C H I M P F A C T S

chimpChimpanzees used to live throughout equatorial Africa from southern Senegal through Central Africa to western Tanzania. This is an area almost the size of the United States and includes 25 countries.

Today, chimpanzees are extinct in 4 of them, and are down to such low numbers (100-200) in 5 more that their disappearance is inevitable. Another 5 countries have small, scattered populations of a few hundred. Only 10 countries have chimpanzee populations that exceed 1000. There are estimated to be about 200,000 chimpanzees left in Africa. Only 50 years ago there were probably several million.

In spite of their status as an endangered species, chimpanzee numbers continue to decline rapidly in those countries where wild populations still survive.

The primary threats to chimpanzees are habitat destruction and hunting. Local agricultural activities are encroaching ever deeper into even protected areas of chimpanzee habitats and large scale logging is now a major threat to the forest primates of Africa. Subsistence hunting of chimpanzees as a source of meat has gone on for centuries. But because of increasing human populations in previously undisturbed areas and a thriving commercial market for bushmeat, including chimpanzees, hunting is now a major threat to their survival.

Source: Tess Lemon, Chimpanzees, Whittet Books, London, 1994

Information provided by www.savethechimps.org

Canine Health Concern

PO Box 7533, Perth, PH2 1AD (UK)
Tel 01821 670410
Email: rob@carsegray.co.uk

The role of CHC

The aim of Canine Health Concern is primarily to empower people to enable them to talk and act from a point of knowledge, and therefore be in the right position to do the very best for their dogs, and other animals (including themselves).

Therefore our efforts are made to, in effect, 'spread the word', with the final aim that enough people learn the truth and gain a balanced view, which will change the world. We have already seen some significant changes since the start of CHC in 1994 and have support throughout the world. We continue to have impact and will strive to do so for the better of the animals.

We do not preach and do not advocate that approach – we simply allow others to make their own judgements but from a point of knowledge. We always advocate diagnosis from a suitable vet and do not see us as any kind of alternative to veterinary practice, but one that helps people work with/alongside the veterinary profession.

We are independent and do not take paid advertising, and therefore do not have the big budgets of industry, pharmaceutical giants or official bodies. In fact we don't have our own advertising budgets at all. We also work on an expense only basis – any monies made are put straight back into furthering the aims.

What we do have is the freedom to speak the truth.

So how can you help?

People need to know that we:

  • are here, that we exist
  • have a membership available to join
  • have a website available to anyone to use, read and gain knowledge from
  • have the 'Shock To The System' book available to buy
  • have our Foundation in Canine Healthcare programme
  • have leaflets available for people to hand out

So please pass on information about CHC or the information that we supply, by word of mouth, by letter, by email, by whatever means that suits your own personality. Who to? Well, we all know that talking to someone who doesn't want to listen is a frustrating and uphill task, so we don't usually bother with that!! But there are people out there who do want to do better for their animals but don't know how, or some that just don't realise that they do until they hear something that makes sense. So you could contact:

  • friends and family – is an easy start
  • other dog lovers you meet in the park – you never know, you may meet other CHC members along the way
  • dog clubs – there are all sorts, training & behaviour, agility, show etc. Real change has always come at grassroots level and there are many people and dogs suffering under 'official' rules within clubs that only need some impetus and dialogue for that change to begin
  • breeders – how many breeders out there don't know of the support and information available. We have members who breed and do a wonderful job educating new puppy owners on how to bring up their dogs to be healthy long-lived adults
  • welfare organisations – a real tough one, but you have to start somewhere, and many smaller independent organisations will be open to look at the facts. Plus the more the larger ones come into contact with knowledgeable dog owners, the sooner they'll realise they will need to look at some of their own practices
  • groomers – again, we have members who are in a great position and pass on information to dog lovers
  • kennels – and yet again a real problem, as many people believe for example, that having vaccinations for dogs being boarded is law. It is not and gradually kennels are accepting opathic nosode treated dogs, without councils closing them down, as so many would be in fear of. Talk to your local kennels!! Educate them!!
  • vets – of course many conventional vets still see us and what we do as contentious and as an opposing organisation. Far from it – and in years to come we believe that moving with the times is the only way that they will survive. Vets truly are in the best position (apart from the owners of course) to really take animal husbandry into the 21st century
  • alternative and complementary healthcare practitioners and practices – who will have open minds and who already take a holistic view
  • pet shops – many of whom will already be going with the changes as more and more people require local supplies of natural foods and products
  • dog papers – Catherine is already a guest columnist for Dog's Today. But putting your say in the letters page of any dog paper can only help 'spread the word'
  • local papers – as with many areas of the canine world, the vast majority of the general public probably don't know we exist, have little awareness of the issues and certainly do not have access to the information and the facts. Raising issues in the letters page can help address this, and why not write to tell them that our Foundation in Canine Healthcare programme will be held in the area?
  • dog wardens – officialdom is always hard to change, but in the dog wardens handbook/manual it states that they should be aware of the full and balanced facts in order to deal with the public. We have already had several wardens on our courses and we are proud that they have taken our information for use in their role in the community. Write to your local dog warden and tell them that we will be holding lectures in their area – we are trying to put together lists of as many areas of the canine world as possible and, for example, have a list of all the councils and contact details for dog wardens. If you need any of these details to help you then just ask
  • dog shows – full of big business propoganda, advertising and sponsorship – but there are also lots of small shows, and at any size show we have found that there are people who are receptive and even quite refreshed to hear or read information that is not selling anything – something that cares about the health of their loved one

This is what we do at CHC, along with seminars, lectures, courses, publishing etc!! And in the process we devote our lives to this. We do not have the resources to do as much as we would like, or is needed. So if you would like to do something to help, in your own way and at your own pace to suit your own life, then do any of the above. Then you will play your part in what so many past and present CHC members have seen with changing the world for the better of the animals.

www.canine-health-concern.org.uk

Choosing the Right Dog

All About Pets, The Blue Cross
FREEPOST NAT4336, BURFORD OX18 4BR
Registered charity no: 224392

A dog can be the most rewarding of pets, but also one of the most demanding. Before you acquire a dog please think first. Is there really time for a dog in your life and your , and can you commit to your dog for at least 15 years, possibly more?

Before you start please consider the following:

  • Does everyone in your want a dog?
  • Do you have the time to provide exercise walks and play, in all weathers and on dark nights, etc and give adequate daily attention such as grooming?
  • Do you have time for the training and socialisation a dog will require throughout life?
  • You will be legally responsible for your dog's behaviour so ensure training and socialisation are done correctly.
  • Can you afford the vet's bills, including annual vaccinations and regular worming?
  • Other expenses include providing a proper diet to keep your dog in good condition.
  • Also, boarding kennel costs need to be considered if you have regular holidays where your dog will be unable to accompany you.
  • Can you provide a safe and secure for the dog for life?

sittingdog01Dogs of all ages are appealing, so it is easy to get carried away with the idea of taking a dog without thinking of the consequences. Your dog may be with you for 15 years or more, so consider the time, effort and money required. Your dog's health and happiness will be your responsibility, so if you do not think you can provide care for the rest of the dog's life, please do not get one. Remember, you will be responsible for behaviour your dog must be taught good manners and be well socialised. Should unforeseen circumstances arise and you can no longer care for the pet, a dog with bad manners might face an uncertain future.

Which dog should I choose?

Before you take on a dog, consider what type suits you best. For example, a terrier will have a different temperament from a herding breed, and a guarding breed will be different from a toy breed. There are many books and magazines devoted to giving information on breed differences, so conduct your research carefully and in depth before committing. There are also breed rescue societies, dedicated to particular breeds, and websites giving good information on dogs.

In the case of a crossbred dog, remember it is more difficult to judge what the predominant behaviour trait might be, so get as much information about the individual dog as you can. However, many crossbreeds carry the best traits of both parents, and make wonderful companions.

Taking on an adult dog

dogwalkAn adult dog may be a better option than a puppy, because the dog will probably be house trained and more settled. Your dog will probably have passed the chewing and destructive stage of life, and habits both good and bad will have been formed! However, do remember that an adult dog will reflect previous upbringing, so there may be some problems to try to overcome. If you are taking an adult dog, the chances are it will be a rescue dog from one of three sources: a charity such as The Blue Cross, a private where the owners are unable to look after the dog any longer, or a breed rescue club. 

If you go to a charity centre, be guided by the staff. They know the animals in their care, and have a lot of experience in matching dogs with the right s. The aim of any rescue centre is to find loving, long-term s for dogs that have been the unfortunate victims of circumstance. Please remember these dogs may have had a bad start in life, most frequently through no fault of their own. Do not be swayed by the appearance of the dog a dog's temperament and previous history are the important factors. For example, a rescue dog may not like cats, or may not be able to live with children. If the dog has behaviour problems (for example it cannot be left alone for long), the staff at the shelter should be able to give advice and assistance in order to overcome the problem.

Taking a dog from a private is more problematic. The person you are getting the dog from may not be the first owner, and the dog may have had several s, so you will not get a lot of information about background. Also, if any problems arise, it is unlikely you will be able to return the dog or get ongoing help and advice. For pure breeds, a breed rescue club will be able to give you advice about the specific breed, and about any individual dogs they are trying to find new s for.

Choosing your dog

greyhoundHaving done your research, and spoken to the staff at the kennels (or to the previous owner if you are getting a dog from a private ), answer the following. Have you been given sufficient information about the dog's history and likes and dislikes? Have you had a chance to take the dog for a walk and play together so you can see what the dog is like away from the kennels, or away from ? Do you have a full veterinary history? What illnesses or operations has the dog had?

What vaccinations have been given and have you seen proof, such as vaccination certificates? Also make sure you have a written agreement that taking the dog is subject to a satisfactory veterinary inspection within 72 hours of your doing so. What help or advice is available should there be veterinary or behavioural problems after you have taken the dog? If yours is a rescue dog, make sure you find out as much information as you can. If you are adopting from a charity or a breed rescue club, check if a pet insurance cover note is available to cover any early, unforeseen veterinary costs.

Other points to remember

Veterinary treatment can be expensive, so pet insurance is highly recommended. There are many different policies available, so speak to your veterinary practice. It is still a legal requirement for dogs to have a collar and tag giving the owner's name and address. In addition, microchipping is recommended as a means of identification. If you are going away and cannot take your dog, boarding kennels can be booked a long time in advance. In addition, they will need to see an up to date vaccination record.

Exercise is essential to your dog's well-being, both on and off-lead walking. How much exercise is required will depend on the type and size of dog you have, but one good walk every day is the minimum. Training is ongoing. You can teach an old dog new tricks, so investigate training classes in your locality vets' practices, rescue centres and dog wardens will have details. If you research carefully and make sure you are prepared and able to spend the time, money and energy on your new companion, you will reap the rewards. If, however, you have problems or need advice, organisations such as The Blue Cross, or the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors may be able to help.

Further information

For further information and advice on caring for your pet or horse visit www.allaboutpets.org.uk the national pet care information service. Alternatively, you can write to us at the address below to request a list of available leaflets. All About Pets is provided by The Blue Cross, Britain's pet charity. We rely entirely on your support to enable us to continue our vital work. Any contribution would be most welcome.

Thank you.

Muttley’s Story

bassethoundMuttley is a 7 year old Bassett Hound whom we have had since a 12 weeks old pup. After initial care arrangements failed – we relied on a voluntary neighbour – we both agreed that the best option for Muttley was to employ a regular lunchtime walker. After much searching and asking for recommendations we found Nina's Nannies for Pets who have been walking Muttley for the past 6 years.

When Muttley was first diagnosed with primary Glaucoma, everyone was so supportive in their responses.Nina as always, was straight on the telephone with her regular questions what can we do? Muttley had his enucleation (eyeball removal), on his 7th birthday. Instead of getting upset, like the rest of us, Nina brought him a birthday present and came over to see him. She made a big fuss and let him know it was all back to normal.

Nina and Doug are now helping us with the training of our potentially blind dog by reassuring him and talking him through his walks. The glaucoma will develop in the other eye within the next 18 months and he will need a similar operation for his good eye. With careful preparation we have been informed that Muttley will lead a perfectly active life. Nina's Nannies for Pets are playing a significant part in this as the other people in Muttley's life.

The good news is that Muttley has Primary Glaucoma, and that has been confirmed. Secondary Glaucoma is the one that often ends up with animals being euthanised as it is caused by trauma or cancers.

What is Glaucoma?

It is increased pressure within the eye. Cells inside the eye produce a clear fluid (aqueous humor), that maintains the shape of the eye and nourishes the tissues inside of the ye. The balance of fluid production and drainage is responsible for maintaining normal pressure within the eye. In Glaucoma, the drain becomes clogged but the eye keeps producing fluid. Therefore, the pressure in the eye increases. The increased pressure in the eye actually can cause the eye to stretch and enlarge.

What causes glaucoma?

It is classified as either primary or secondary in animals.

Primary Glaucoma is an inherited condition and occurs in many breeds, especially American Cocker Spaniels, Bassett Hounds, Chow Chows, Shar Peis, Labrador Retrievers and Artic Circle breed dogs (Huskies, Elkhounds etc). It is rare however in cats.

Primary Glaucoma usually begins in one eye, but almost always eventually involves both eyes, leading to complete blindness.

How does Glaucoma affect the eye?

Vision Loss. Pressure damage to the optic nerve and decreased blood flow to the retina, the film in the camera, results in loss of vision. However, if the pressure in the eye remains uncontrolled, the retina degenerates and vision is permanently lost. Permanent blindness can occur within several hours if the pressure is very high and the Glaucoma develops rapidly. This is what happened to Muttley.

Unfortunately, the first eye to develop primary glaucoma in dogs is usually already blind by the time the disease is recognised. For this reason, treatment in these cases is directed at relieving discomfort in the blind eye and preventing or delaying glaucoma development in the other eye. Gonioscopy of the remaining visual eye helps determine how to treat this eye

Pain. Increased intraocular pressure is painful. Dogs, cats, and humans have normal intraocular pressures between 10 and 20 mmHg. Glaucoma, often results in pressures of 20-28 mmHg in humans, but pressured of 45-65 mmHg are common in dogs and cats. For this reason, glaucoma in pets is more painful than in humans. The pain persits in the form of a constant headache or migraine. This discomfort can result in decreased activity, less desire to play, irritability, or decreased appetite and is often not apparent to the owner. Your pet will not tell you the eye is uncomfortable.Muttley had a pressure of 80mmHG.

How do I know if my pet has Glaucoma?

The only way to know for sure is to have the intraocular pressures measured by a veterinarian. Signs of Glaucoma can include a red or bloodshot eye and/or cloudy cornea. Vision loss is also characteristic of glaucoma. However, loss of vision in one eye is often not obvious because animals compensate with their remaining eye. Eventually, the increased pressure will cause the eye to stretch and become enlarged Unfortunately, eyes are usually permanently blind by the time they become enlarged.

If you dog has lost one eye and the other eye is at risk of developing Glaucoma. The median time until an attack occurs in the other eye is 8 months. Prophylactic medical therapy for the remain eye delays the onset of Glaucoma from median of 8 months to a median of 31 months.

Secondary Glaucoma occurs when the other eye diseases cause decreased fluid drainage. Common causes of secondary Glaucoma are inflammation inside the eye (uvetitis), advanced cataracts, cancer in the ye, lens subluxation or luxation and chronic retinal detachment.

Source: Muttley, Caroline & Nina

Bling Dog, Berry Feast and Die

Whilst families across the country are preparing for the season of goodwill one of christmasdogthe UK's leading pet sitting companies is warning dog owners to be on the lookout for Christmas decorations that could harm their favourite pooches.

When putting up your Christmas decorations this year, spare a thought for our canine friends. They are extremely alluring for dogs, and if swallowed can be lethal. Fairy lights are also very eye catching, and it is important to switch them off before leaving for work and retiring for bed. It is always worth remembering that human chocolate is highly toxic to a dog and can be fatal. Even Christmas plants can be poisonous, especially berries and poinsettias. Veterinary bills can run into hundreds of pounds and treatment out of hours can run into hundreds of pounds.

Nina, who with her husband Doug, won through to the semi final of the Barclays Business Awards, is now almost fully booked for the festive period. The company does have some Christmas availability for its visiting service, but demand for the live sitters has increased to point, that Nina's Nannies for Pets are now booked until February 2008 pending any cancellations.

The business formed after its founders recovered from serious illness, has taken off to such an extent, that Nina and Doug are now looking for live in sitters. For further information contact Nina on 01525 220 732 or visit www.ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk

Written by Nina Cole of ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk

Lily and I

When I was approached by a leading cat magazine to provide tips on cat behaviour, a lovely little cat called Lily sprang to mind. So rather than offer a list of my top tips, I thought I would recall the short but wonderful time I spent with her during the 6 years she was in my care.

catDuring my time as a pet sitter, I have come to learn that you do not chose a cat, rather they chose you, and although Lily was in fact a clients cat, she taught me most of what I know today, and I will be forever grateful. Her owner had warned me that Lily (one of two cats within the household), had an extremely fearful disposition with strangers, hence her reluctance to use a cattery.

Our first meeting was fleeting to say the least. I arrived briefcase in hand and was ushered into the kitchen, where Lily was in hiding. Our eyes locked for the briefest of time, before Lily leaped from cupboard, pulling a claw in her hasty retreat . I remember Judy, her owners concern, seeing little droplets of blood on the carpet. "Is she a rescue cat", I asked. To which Judy assured me that she was not and there was nothing to suggest that Lily had been in anyway traumatised during her life.

Lily was to be my biggest challenge. On my first day caring for Lily and her sister Angelica, I knew to leave her alone. Forcing her out of hiding would only reinforce her fear, so this was to be a slow process of getting to know each other. Each morning, I would enter through the front door, keeping her routine as regular as possible. In my experience, cats remain more confident when keeping their routines , but after a few days of continuity Lily was not for turning!

It was rather by accident, that I discovered something which was to be the turning point in our relationship. Some few months later, and on my third assignment with Lily, I entered the house singing. It was a beautiful Summer morning, and I was feeling particularly happy. It was nothing too loud, just a silly little song that I had adapted especially for Lily. Within minutes of hearing that song, she entered the room.

As any cat lover knows, they are complicated animals, and it is important to study their body language to understand their emotions. Lily was visibly relaxing. Her ears once back, were now erect and her eyes were soft and blinking. Lily was almost smiling. I continued to sing, whilst busily emptying the litter tray, when very casually she strode over and rubbed herself gently across my legs.

From that day, I always felt that Lily and I enjoyed a flirty relationship. Our song , I always felt to be an important part of our relationship, but in retrospect I rather think she was humouring me. In other words, she had responded out of pity, feeling that my hard work warranted her respect, but in truth I didn't care. The bond had been formed and she will always hold a special place in my heart.

Patience and education are the key to communicating with Cats. Unlike the dog who gives freely of their affections, a cats have to earned. Sadly Lily, through serious illness was put to sleep two years ago, but whenever I visit her sister, I can almost hear Lily laughing, and I still remember to sing our little song.

Written by Nina Cole of ninasnanniesforpets.co.uk

Insure or Ignore

Ensuring that your pets medical requirements and veterinary bills are taken care of is visitingcatof the utmost importance. If your animal becomes ill and requires urgent medical treatment, the last thing you want to be thinking about is the financial implications.

You would not think twice about insuring your vehicle or home and yet there are still many pet owners who fail to insure their pets. You are however, far more likely to claim on your pet insurance compared to the anything else!

There has been huge advances in veterinary treatments over the years and the costs can spiral, running into hundreds if not thousands of pounds!. As well as medical expense, cover will also typically include legal expenses should your pet cause injury to a third party. It can also cover the cost of advertising if your pet is lost and even a reward for their safe return. A more expensive policy can also offer a payout, should you be forced to cancel your holiday if your pet becomes sick.

Although cats and dogs are the easiest pets to find insurance, other animals can be covered – even exotics. However, you may have to search for a specialist provider if your pet is a bearded dragon!

Knowing that you are covered by reliable and affordable insurance offers complete peace of mind and allows your focus to be on their care and recovery.

One such company who is dedicated to offering consumers the best possible care for their pets is Nina’s Nannies for Pets.

PDSA Offers Advice About Dogs In Cars

The Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals, (PDSA) has launched a Pet Holiday Health campaign to raise awareness of the possible hazards pets face when travelling. The organisation quotes the statistic of an unrestrained 50lb (22.5kg) Border Collie in a car crash at 30mph, being thrown forward with a force equivalent to a polar bear.

Whether driving to a park, travelling to the seaside or transporting the family pet to a boarding house, remember to buckle-up says the PDSA. However, before buying a dog harness, the charity jackoffers this advice:

  • Make sure it's designed to be used in a car and is not just a walking harness
  • Check that it's suitable for your dog's size and weight
  • Ensure it fist properly with wide straps to distribute the forces safely across your dog's body, particularly the chest and shoulders

Smaller dogs and other pets should always be safely secured in a well ventilated pet carrier, which has enough room for them to stretch and be comfortable. These can either be safely secured with a seatbelt or carefully wedged into the passenger footwell – remember to keep carriers away from car airbag points.

Getting pets used to the car and accustoming them to the idea that it is not a play area is vital, says the charity. Pet owners are encouraged to let their pet freely explore the car with the engine turned off. Leave a few savoury treats or the pet's favourite toy in the back seat to help them overcome any initial hesitancy or anxiety.

More information is available here: www.pdsa.org.uk/holidayhealth

Submitted by: Steve O'Malley