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Drink driving

 

The Highway Code applies to England, Scotland and Wales and is essential reading for everyone.
Rule 95

Do not drink and drive as it will seriously affect your judgement and abilities.

In England and Wales you MUST NOT drive with a breath alcohol level higher than 35 microgrammes/100 millilitres of breath or a blood alcohol level of more than 80 milligrammes/100 millilitres of blood.

In Scotland the legal limits are lower. You MUST NOT drive with a breath alcohol level higher than 22 microgrammes/100 millilitres of breath or a blood alcohol level of more than 50 milligrammes/100 millilitres of blood.

Alcohol will

  • give a false sense of confidence
  • reduce co-ordination and slow down reactions
  • affect judgement of speed, distance and risk
  • reduce your driving ability, even if you’re below the legal limit
  • take time to leave your body; you may be unfit to drive in the evening after drinking at lunchtime, or in the morning after drinking the previous evening.

The best solution is not to drink at all when planning to drive because any amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive safely. If you are going to drink, arrange another means of transport.

Check out this drug-driving film

Is your dog vaccinated?

Vaccination is one of the most notable modern medical advances: it’s also one of the most common procedures undertaken in both cats and dogs.

There is no question of its importance in preventing and controlling infectious diseases.

Ourselves and pets absorb daily toxins such as polluted air, polluted food and water sources, even our homes are full of possible health stressors like chemicals Did you know over use of flea treatments and chemical sprays, wormers, over medication and over vaccination are also considered as ‘toxic stressors’ that can pose a risk to the health of your pet.

A vaccine is a biological preparation of either modified live or killed pathogens (viruses, bacteria or parasites) that is introduced into the body in order to promote immunity to a particular disease.

Vaccination has undoubtedly saved more animals lives than any other medical advance. It has significantly reduced canine distemper, hepatitis and parvovirus as well as eliminating rabies in Europe. As the UK is rabies free, the only time we need to vaccinate against rabies is when the travelling abroad under the PETS passport scheme.

For more information, talk to your vet and make sure you pets vaccines are up-to-date.

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Brain games with your dog

Consider what to do if something happed with your pet

Dogs will be dogs, and with this special status comes a world of play, activity and fun. Sometimes, however, sprains, breaks and even more serious accidents can befall a dog, or sudden serious health conditions can arise. Your responsibility as his human companion is to try to prevent problems while being prepared for every eventuality.
Your immediate actions can mean the difference between life and death for your pet. First aid, as its name implies, is the initial treatment your dog will receive after the incident, to stabilize or comfort him. Usually your goal is to get him to the vet as quickly as possible, or at least to speak to a vet for advice. Post the numbers of your vet and the nearest 24-hour emergency clinic in a handy spot, and also make sure you have the number of an animal poison control center. Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit in an easily accessible place. Have an ice pack and extra bandages on hand, as well as larger items such as a board or blanket or towel that can double for a stretcher.
Consider taking a course in canine first-aid and CPR to prepare yourself; CPR should only be administered if you know exactly what you’re doing

Continue reading “Brain games with your dog”

Winter Weather Preparation

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In winter check the local weather forecast for warnings of icy or snowy weather. DO NOT drive in these conditions unless your journey is essential. If it is, take great care and allow more time for your journey. Take an emergency kit of de-icer and ice scraper, torch, warm clothing and boots, first aid kit, jump leads and a shovel, together with a warm drink and emergency food in case you get stuck or your vehicle breaks down.

Before you set off

  • you MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows
  • you MUST ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible
  • make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly
  • remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users
  • check your planned route is clear of delays and that no further snowfalls or severe weather are predicted.
  • Tyres – Check the tread depth and pattern. Are there any cuts, damage or signs of cord visible at the side wall.
  • Brakes – It’s essential that the brakes are operating correctly. This is especially important on wet, icy or snow-covered roads. Any imbalance could cause a skid in the brakes are applied on a slippery surface.
  • Oil and Fuel – Use the correct grades of fuel and oil in every hot or very cold weather.

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In windy conditions, be alert for places where the road is shielded, ie by hedges or banks. When there’s a break in this shielding, the sudden effect of high winds may mean your steering could become more difficult, and your vehicle might be blown off course.

Crosswinds

Be aware of the effects of strong crosswinds on other road users.

In particular, watch out for these effects

  • after passing motorway bridges
  • on high, exposed sections of the road
  • when passing vehicles towing caravans, horse boxes, etc

Avoid known problem areas such as viaducts and high suspension bridges, if possible. Be aware that some may be closed to certain vehicles under high wind conditions. On high bridges, one lane is sometimes kept free of other traffic. This is also known as a buffer lane and is used to prevent vehicles being blown into the path of other road users in the next lane.

If you must travel under conditions of high winds, it may be useful to plan an alternative route before you set off, just in case. Continue reading “Winter Weather Preparation”

Driver Distraction

There has been much attention about driver distraction due to the use of mobile phones in vehicles, but increasingly research is also revealing the dangers of other forms of driver multi-tasking, and its contribution to road accidents.

What is Distraction?

A driver is distracted when they pay attention to a second activity while driving. People cannot always safely multi-task in this way, especially if the second activity is time consuming or complex.

The second activity puts extra demands on the driver, which may reduce his or her driving standard. For example, it may cause the driver to become less observant or to make worse decisions about how to control the vehicle safely. This lower standard of driving means that a driver is more likely to fail to anticipate hazards, and means accidents can occur due to the distraction.

In theory, there are as many potential causes of distraction as there are things to which drivers could pay attention. In reality, however, drivers tend to prioritise information so that they pay the most attention to information or activities needed for driving.

Distraction can be either initiated (where the driver starts carrying out a distracting activity) or non-driver initiated (the unpredictable actions of something or someone else).

Objects, events or activities both inside and outside the vehicle can cause distraction. In vehicle distractions can be caused by technology, or by other sources inside the vehicle such as passengers. External distractions may be when a driver concentrates on unimportant events or objects, or when another person does something unusual.

Accident Statistics

There have been a range of estimations about the number of accidents that are caused by, or contributed to, by driver distraction. It is hard to make an accurate estimate as accident databases are generally constructed from reports following an accident and it is probable that not every driver admits to being distracted or inattentive at the time of the accident.

 

Types of Driver Distraction

  • Visual
  • Cognitive
  • Biomechanical
  • Auditory

An activity can create multiple types of distraction – for example, using a hand-held mobile phone while driving creates a biomechanical, auditory and cognitive distraction.

Visual distraction occurs when a driver sees objects or events and this impairs the driver’s observations of the road environment.

Concern about visual distraction is not new  – when windscreen wipers were first introduced, there was concern over their potentially hypnotic effect.

The way that a driver observes the area around the vehicle depends on how complex it is, and in complex environments, drivers can find it more difficult to identify the main hazards.

In undemanding situations, driver’s attention tends to wander towards objects or scenery that are not part of the driving task. Estimates how much time drivers spend doing this varies from between 20% and 50%.

Cognitive distraction occurs when a driver is thinking about something not related to driving the vehicle.

This means that drivers who are cognitively impaired will spend less time checking mirrors or looking around for hazards.

Biomechanical distraction is caused when a driver is doing something physical that is not related to driving, for example, reaching for something and be out of the driving position, or holding an item.

Auditory distraction is caused when sounds prevent drivers from making the best use of their hearing, because their attention has been drawn to whatever caused the sound.

Effects of Distraction

Cognitive distraction causes drivers to look at their mirrors, instrument panels and what’s happening in the environment around them much less; instead they concentrate their observations straight ahead, and so are more likely to detect hazards later than they would otherwise have done.

Worryingly, distracted drivers underestimate the effects that distraction has on them, and do not perceive their reduced awareness or their ability to spot hazards. This may be because they are still looking at the road straight ahead and are not gathering the whole picture of the road around the vehicle.

Drivers who are distracted also have difficulty controlling their speed and their distance from the vehicle in front, and their lane position can vary drastically.

The more complex or involved a driver becomes with a distraction, the more detrimental the distraction is on their ability to make observations and control the vehicle safely.

The Law

There are general laws that require drivers to be attentive and not engage in distracting activities. Distracted drivers could be charged with a range of offences, Dangerous Driving, Careless and Inconsiderate Driving, Failure to Be In Proper Control of the Vehicle, or Driving Without Due Care and Attention depending on how badly the distraction affected their driving.

The Construction and Use Regulations prevent the use of certain types of technology in vehicles – for example, hand held mobile phones, and it is illegal to use certain types of televisions in vehicles.

When a driver is at work, their employer also has a responsibility towards the safety of their employees, and the people they share the road with, and need to be put in place all ‘reasonably practicable’ safety measures on work related journeys.

This includes making sure that drivers are aware of the dangers of distraction, are trained to deal with it, and are trained in the safe use of any in vehicle technology which may cause a distraction.

Dealing With Distraction

Distraction is a difficult risk to manage. On the one hand, some level of distraction is unavoidable, but drivers can take some simple steps to avoid becoming distracted.

If you need to something distracting, find a safe place to pull over.

Concentrate on your driving

This is easier said than done, especially in uninteresting environments. However, attention to thought can reduce the quality of the observations that you make. It may be difficult to stop yourself becoming distracted but if you find yourself engaged in thought or distracted by other means, then it is important to focus on your driving as soon as you realise.

Make sure that you are ready to drive before setting off for a journey. If you are about to drive after an emotional event, then it is best to allow yourself time to cool down.

Use technology sensibly

In-Vehicle technology can be distracting, especially if there are several systems in the same vehicle. Never put too many different devices in a vehicle. If you can change the settings on the technology, then find ways of using it that is less distracting.

Plan your route in advance

All drivers dedicate a certain amount of time to navigating, this is unavoidable, but there are things you can do to reduce the time you spend navigating. By planning your route in advance and making sure you have a good idea of the directions, you may be able to reduce the time you spend looking for signs and road markings, and plan manoeuvres earlier.

Take refresher of further driver training

We all pick up bad habits over the years, several of which may be a result or cause of distraction. Refresher of further driver training can help drivers to build on the skills they have to prioritise events around a vehicle, predict hazards, and decide the safest course of action on the road.

Pet obesity still the biggest UK welfare problem

For the second year running, vets say that obesity is the biggest health and welfare concern for the UK’s pets.

Almost two thirds of those polled for an annual British Veterinary Association (BVA) survey cited obesity as the issue they were most worried about. It’s an issue that the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association has been tackling for seven years.

“As with humans, obesity is a very series health issue for pets and can lead to lifelong and life-threatening illnesses such as heart disease, breathing problems, diabetes and arthritis,” said a (BVA) spokesman. “Not following or understanding guidelines, providing too many treats and snacks, and a lack of exercise are all contributing issues. Many owners also give their pets human food as a treat; one biscuit can aquate to a whole packet when fed to an animal.”

A key finding in this survey points to a lack of understanding around what constitutes a healthy size.

Some vets and pet charity organisations have created a range of tools, including Pet Size-O-Meters, to help owners maximise the well-being and life expectancy of their pets. Treating with unsuitable ‘human’ foods and guesstimating portion sizes are also key factors.

The research also shows, that although there is a greater awareness of obesity and its consequences among owners, this isn’t really translating in to action and we believe a collaborative response from the pet care sector is important to address this.

Obesity is common in dogs. Gudrun Ravetz, president of the BVA, said it is vital that the correct body weight and feeding habits are established from puppyhood and that owners understand dogs must be given the right food for their age, breed and size alongside getting enough exercise.

“Using body condition, scoring allows vets and owners to assess and monitor a dog’s weight and can be applied to any breed”.

 

ABS – Anti Lock Braking Systems

Some vehicles are fitted with anti-lock braking systems (ABS). Wheel-speed sensors in these systems detect the moment during braking when a wheel is about to lock. Just before this happens the system reduces the braking effort and then rapidly re-applies it.

This action may happen many times a second to maintain brake performance.

Preventing the wheels from locking means that the vehicle’s steering and stability is also maintained, leading to safer stopping. But remember, ABS is only a driver aid. It doesn’t remove the need for good driving practices, such as anticipating events and assessing road and weather conditions.

Anti-lock braking systems are commonly used on large vehicles and are required by law on some. It’s important to ensure that an ABS is functioning before setting off on a journey. Driving with a defective ABS may constitute an offence.

The satisfactory operation of the ABS can be checked from a warning signal on the dashboard. The way the warning light operates varies the light comes on with the ignition. It should go out no later than when the vehicle has reached a road speed, set to the requirements of the vehicle speed limiter.

 

Vehicle Cruise Control

Vehicle Cruise Control has been around a long time, there have been several advances in the last few years increasing driver comfort and convenience. The primary purpose of cruise control is to enable you to maintain a minimum speed or greater without holding down the accelerator.

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When to NOT use your cruise control:

Cruise control can be dangerous, when you can’t drive safely at a steady speed. Also, don’t use your cruise control on winding roads or in heavy traffic. Cruise control is also very dangerous on slippery/wet roads. On such roads, fast changes in the traction may cause excessive wheel slip, and you could lose control.

 

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The driver must bring the vehicle up to speed manually and use a button to set the cruise control to the current speed.

The cruise control takes its speed signal from a rotating driveshaft, speedometer cable, wheel speed sensor from the engine’s RPM, or from internal speed pulses produced electronically by the vehicle. Most systems do not allow the use of the cruise control below a certain speed. The vehicle will maintain the desired speed by pulling the throttle cable with a solenoid, a vacuum driven servomechanism, or by using the electronic systems built into the vehicle (fully electronic) if it uses a ‘drive-by-wire’ system.

All cruise control systems must be capable of being turned off both explicitly and automatically when the driver depresses the brake, and often also the clutch. Cruise control often includes a memory feature to resume the set speed after braking, and a coast feature to reduce the set speed without braking. When the cruise control is engaged, the throttle can still be used to accelerate the vehicle, but once the pedal is released the vehicle will then slow down until it reaches the previously set speed.

On the latest vehicles fitted with electronic throttle control, cruise control can be easily integrated into the vehicle’s engine management system. Modern ‘adaptive’ systems include the ability to automatically reduce speed when the distance to a vehicle in front, or the speed limit, decreases. This is an advantage for those driving in unfamiliar areas.

What at the advantages of cruise control?

  • It’s usefulness for long drivers (reducing driver fatigue, improving comfort by allowing positioning changes more safely) across motorways and sparsely populated roads.
  • Some drivers use it to avoid subconsciously violating speed limits. A driver who otherwise tends to subconsciously increase speed over the course of a highway journey may avoid speeding.
  • Help to optimise fuel economy and reduce engine wear.
  • Cruise control and also help to keep your speed within the speed limit.
What are the disadvantages of cruise control?
* Speeding around curves that require slowing down
* rough or loose terrain that could negatively effect the cruise controls
* rainy or wet weather could lose traction.
* Lack of concentration, where you might not exercise proper control of your vehicle.

Dog – Skin Conditions

Your dog’s skin is an indication of her overall health. When a skin problem occurs, your dog may respond with excessive scratching, chewing and/or licking. A wide range of causes—including external parasites, infections, allergies, metabolic problems and stress, or a combination of these—may be affecting your dog’s skin.

What Are Some Symptoms of Skin Problems in Dogs?

  • Scratching, licking or chewing at skin
  • Scabs
  • Redness or inflammation
  • Hot spots (one particular area where itching is intense)
  • Round, scaly patches on the face and paws
  • Dry, flaky or otherwise irritated skin
  • Hair loss, bald patches
  • Rashes
  • Lesions
  • Drainage of blood or pus
  • Swellings, lumps or skin discoloration
  • Rubbing face against furniture or carpeting

What Might Cause My Dog to Have Skin Problems?

One of the following may be causing an abnormality with your dog’s skin and should be investigated:

  • Fleas: Bites and droppings from these pesky insects can irritate your dog’s skin, and some pets can have an allergic response to the saliva following a bite. Some dogs may also be sensitive to flea-treatment products; certain flea collars, for example, may cause redness and irritation around the neck.
  • Ringworm: This highly contagious fungal infection can result in inflammation, scaly patches and hair loss. You’ll want to treat it immediately to avoid other pets and people in the household from becoming infected.
  • Parasites, such as ear mites and lice
  • Seasonal allergies: Your dog’s scratching may be due to her sensitivity to allergens from common substances like pollen, weeds, dust, mites, trees, mold or grasses.
  • Food allergies: Many dogs develop allergies to common ingredients in dog foods, such as beef, chicken, wheat, corn or soy. Even fillers and colorings can be seen as foreign by your dog’s immune system and lead to itching and rashes.
  • Skin infections: Dogs can develop irritating bacterial or yeast infections when the skin is damaged due to the presence of another skin disorder.
  • Sarcoptic mange: This skin disease caused by infection from the Sarcoptes scabei mite results in extreme itching and skin inflammation similar to an allergic response.
  • Grooming products: Certain shampoos and grooming products can irritate your dog’s skin. Be sure to only use grooming products that are meant for use on dogs.
  • Stress or boredom: A dog may lick her skin (especially her legs) excessively for many reasons. Some lick when not given adequate opportunity for activity or mental stimulation.
  • Metabolic or hormonal problems: Several common hormonal problems can cause change in skin color, coat consistency, thickness and distribution.
  • Seasonal changes: Many dogs, like people, get dry, flaky skin in the winter.

When Is it Time to See the Vet?

There are many causes of skin abnormalities in dogs, and identifying the underlying cause is not always simple. Therefore, you should visit your vet for an exam as soon as you notice any abnormality in your pet’s skin or hair, or if your pet begins to excessively scratch, lick and/or bite areas on his fur.

How Are Skin Problems Diagnosed?

After obtaining a history and performing a thorough physical exam, your vet may perform diagnostic tests in order to find the cause of your dog’s symptoms. These include:

  • Skin biopsy
  • Testing for ringworm
  • Microscopic examination of the hair and skin for presence of parasites or infection
  • Allergy testing, which may include a diet change
  • Blood tests to assess your dog’s overall health

Which Dogs Are Prone to Skin Problems?

Because of the wide ranges of causes, dogs of all ages and breeds are susceptible to issues involving skin. Dogs who are young, elderly, immunocompromised or living in crowded, stressful environments may be more susceptible to skin problems than others.

How Can Skin Problems Be Prevented?

  • Use natural, hypoallergenic soaps and shampoos recommended for use in dogs.
  • Brush your dog regularly to prevent matting of hair.
  • Feed your dog a healthy, balanced diet without fillers or artificial ingredients.
  • Implement a parasite-prevention or flea-treatment program as recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Regularly clean and vacuum your home (and remember to always throw away the bag).
  • Provide calm living conditions for your dog.
  • Your vet may prescribe certain shampoos or oral supplements to prevent skin problems.

How Can Skin Problems Be Treated?

Ask your vet about the following treatments:

  • Topical products including shampoos, dips or spot-on products to prevent and treat parasites
  • A balanced diet to help maintain healthy skin and coat
  • A dietary supplement containing essential fatty acids
  • Antibiotic, antifungal or anti-itching medications
  • Corticosteroids and antihistamines may be prescribed to control itching.
  • Hypoallergenic diet for food allergies
  • Injections to decrease dog’s reaction to allergens

Pet poison of the week – Grapes

PET POISON OF THE WEEK – GRAPES
Poisonous to: Dogs
Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe
Common signs to watch for:
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Abnormal drinking or urination
• Lethargy
• Inappetance
• Halitosis
• Dehydration

Grapes, raisins, and even currants (some currants are actually small, black grapes) are toxic to your dog! In fact, there have been anecdotal reports of cats and ferrets being affected by these also. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute kidney failure. All types of grape- or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this. Even organic, pesticide-free, grapes grown in home gardens can result in toxicity. Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially severe acute renal failure (which develops several days later). The toxicity is not necessarily dose-dependent, and symptoms can occur with even small ingestions. Decontamination (e.g., inducing vomiting, decontaminating with activated charcoal, etc.), aggressive supportive care, aggressive IV fluid therapy, and kidney function (e.g., BUN/creatinine) monitoring is recommended.
If you suspect your pet ingested grapes, raisins, or currants, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline for treatment recommendations.
Poison type: Foods
Alternate names: Vitis, raisins, currants, sultanas

TELEPHONE YOUR VET ASAP
REMEMBER PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN THE CURE

Your Pets Teeth

Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your vet for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

Signs of pets teeth problems

  • bad breath
  • broken or loose teeth
  • extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
  • abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • pain in or around the mouth
  • bleeding from the mouth
  • swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behaviour should prompt a visit to your vet.

 

What can cause pet dental problems?

Although cavities are less common in pets than in people, they can have many of the same dental problems that people can develop:

  • broken teeth and roots
  • abscesses or infected teeth
  • cysts or tumors in the mouth
  • malocclusion
  • broken jaw

Will my pet require anesthesia for their dental treatment?

In most cases the vet may use anesthesia, as pets does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and they may react by moving, trying to escape or even biting.

Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. In addition anesthesia allows for a better cleaning because your pet is not moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If x-rays are needed, your pet needs to be very still in order to get good images, and this is unlikely without heavy sedation or anesthesia.

What can I do to help my pets dental health?

Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consist of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth that are not kept clean. Regularly brushing your pets teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to help keep their teeth healthy.

Speak to your vet and learn what are techniques that can be used to help your pets dental health to remain in top condition.