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Pet theft advice

Pet theft advice: how to prevent your dog from being stolen

Unfortunately, the popularity of dogs has led to a rise in dog theft, with thieves looking to cash in while demand is at an all-time high. Thankfully, there are lots of preventative measures you can take to reduce your pets chances of being stolen.

We’ve put together our best advice for keeping your pet safe. We’ve also included a helpful infographic that you can save and share on social media to keep other owners informed.


A microchip is a legal requirement for all dog owners in the UK and soon a law will be passed to make this compulsory in cats. Without a microchip it is significantly harder to reunited a pet with it’s owner. Microchips are only £19.99 at Orchard House Vets and last the lifespan of your pet. A simple scan of your pet using a chip reader will show your details so it is also vital that your keep your details up to date on your pets microchip!


Report suspicious behaviour

Be vigilant and keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour. Although no two thefts are the same, there are some tell-tale signs that pet thieves are operating in the area.

  • Report people acting suspiciously in parks. Anyone stopping dog owners and asking them lots of questions about their dog could be identifying potential targets.
  • Report people leaving marks in front of houses. There are reports of thieves leaving chalk or spray paint markings in front of houses they intend to target.
  • Keep an eye on local community groups and online message boards. Pet owners will often report suspicious behaviour to help keep others safe.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact the police by calling 101 if you witness any suspicious behaviour.


Don’t leave your dog unattended

Leaving your dog unattended can make them vulnerable to dog thieves. Take the following advice into consideration to help keep your dog safe.

  • Try to avoid leaving your dog tied up outside shops or in other public spaces. This makes them an easy target for dog thieves.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in the car, even if it’s only for a few minutes. You should always take your pet home before popping to the shops if you’re on your own. Thieves can easily break into your car and take your dog.
  • Make sure your garden is secure. Keep an eye on your dog when they are in the garden, try not to leave them unsupervised.
  • Install security cameras. If dog thefts are common in your area, consider installing cameras on your property.


Make sure you can prove your pet is yours!

Dogs can be mischievous and if they were to stray too far from you, or slip the lead, would you be confident that they could be identified as your dog? Only 30% of UK cats are microchipped so owner dispute is a very common problem in the uk!

  • Make sure your pet is microchipped. Dogs must be microchipped by the time they are eight weeks old, according to UK law. This helps them to be identified if they get brought into a vet. Cats can be microchipped around the time of their first vaccine also.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar and has an accurate ID tag. Your pets ID tag should have your name and address on it. This is a legal requirement if you take your dog to public spaces. A mobile number is also useful, although not a requirement.
  • Avoid putting your dog’s name on their ID tag, as this could lead to thieves calling their name to coax the dog over, giving thieves a false sense of familiarity with the dog. Cats are obviously different as very few cats come to call!
  • Keep your contact details updated, if you change your phone number or move house, be sure to update the information on your pets ID tag.
  • Take plenty of photos of your pet. Make sure to regularly take clear pictures from different angles, detailing distinctive markings, just in case. Having lots of photos of yourself with your pet will help to prove that you are the owner.
  • Make sure your dog comes back when called. Spend plenty of time doing recall training with your dog. If your dog struggles with recall, it’s safer to keep them on the lead.


What should I do if my pet goes missing?

If your pet does go missing, you should report it immediately. The sooner that you get information out there, the better. Here’s a checklist of who you should inform:

  • The police, by calling 101
  • Your neighbours 
  • Your online community dog walking page
  • Your local council
  • Your vet and other local practices 
  • Local animal rescue centres 
  • The database with which your pets microchip is registered

Share as much information as possible: details of when and where your pet went missing; if they have any distinctive markings; if they were wearing a harness/coat or collar.



Being responsible for over 70% of lost pet reunions is no stat to be ignored, but unfortunately too often microchips are ignored. The government should announce in 2022 the compulsory law to microchip cats and this will go a very long way to reuniting owners with their pets!


Help! My dog’s breath smells bad!

Is your “good morning” kiss from your dog so stinky that their breath makes you want to cover your face with a pillow? Bad breath in dogs is not only undesirable — it’s not normal.

While eating poop or getting into some old food in the trash bin might come with some gross smells, your dog’s bad breath — vets call it halitosis — is possibly the result of dental disease (or more accurately, periodontal disease). In some cases, it may indicate an underlying health condition like kidney disease or diabetes.

Causes of Bad Breath in Dogs

Dental Disease

Periodontal disease in dogs is inflammation, and sometimes infection, of the tissues surrounding the teeth, including the gums, the structures that hold the teeth in place, and even the jawbone. Periodontal disease is very common in pets. This disease is caused by untreated tartar (also called calculus) build-up leading to the formation of plaque on the teeth and is typically a result of poor dental care.

When a dog suffers from periodontal disease, even a mild form, they can and frequently do develop bad breath. The source of bad breath is bacteria that accumulate with tartar and become adhered to teeth in plaque, causing inflammation and tissue damage that worsen over time when not treated. This is why it is very important to take care of your dog’s mouth with dedicated teeth brushing at home and regular professional dental cleanings for your dog.

Signs of Dental Disease as the Cause of Bad Breath

If your dog has bad breath from dental disease, you may notice issues with their teeth or mouth, their overall comfort, or even their behaviour. Things to be on the watch for include, but are not limited to:

  • Discoloration of your dog’s teeth
  • Visible tartar on the surface of the teeth (grey, brown, or yellow concrete-looking build-up)
  • Inflamed/red gums (gingivitis)
  • Excessive drooling
  • Chewing only on one side of the mouth
  • Blood on toys or chews
  • Loss of appetite or avoiding food (especially dry food like kibble)
  • Teeth grinding

What to Do If Your Dog Has Bad Breath

We always recommend a dental health check at least once a year. Dental procedures are intricate surgeries and as a result it can lead to a very expensive veterinary bill. Early detection of problems is always important and in the long run, much more cost effective! Not all conditions are covered by pet insurance (always check your policy details) so this makes early detection all the more important!

We currently have an offer of £50 off all dental treatment, so if there was ever a time to book in for a dental health check, it is now!

How to Prevent Bad Breath in Your Dog

There are things you can do to help prevent bad breath before it starts and keep your dog healthy.

  • Daily brushing of your dog’s teeth will help reduce tartar build-up and prevent tartar from becoming plaque, which is adhered to your teeth and much harder to remove. It’s important to use a toothbrush and toothpaste specifically designed for dogs — human toothbrushes are often too abrasive and human toothpaste can be toxic to pets.
  • Dental treats, and specific dental diets that help prevent tartar build-up on the teeth, can be used in conjunction with — but never in place of — daily brushing and regular check-ups.
  • Keep a watchful eye on your dog’s chewing habits. Chewing on the wrong things can break teeth, irritate or damage the gums, or even result in objects getting lodged in your dog’s mouth or throat.

Even with dedication to brushing and following the tips above, dogs still need regular professional dental exams and cleanings. Think about us humans. Even though we brush and floss regularly, we still need to visit the dentist for a thorough dental examination and teeth cleaning. Regular dental cleanings are considered part of your dog’s routine preventive care. They’re essential to allow your veterinarian to remove tartar and plaque not only on the teeth but beneath the gum-line — where a typical toothbrush can’t reach — before they can cause damage, discomfort, and the need for expensive treatment.

How to brush your cat’s teeth

Does your cat’s breath smell like an abandoned fish market? Jokes aside, keeping your pet’s teeth and gums clean and healthy can help to prevent periodontal disease and other health problems (beyond bad breath). Learning how to brush your cat’s teeth is just one step to preventing these health problems before they start.

Why you should brush your cat’s teeth

Imagine not brushing your teeth for a year. Plaque builds up and hardens (calcifies) after a few days into tartar, which is harder to remove. And that’s not even counting what can happen under the gum line. Here are a few medical terms that will convince you the importance of brushing.

  • Plaque. The sticky, filmy stuff on your teeth (which cats can get, too).
  • Tartar. The brown crusty stuff that forms on cat’s teeth over time.
  • Periodontal disease. A serious gum infection that damages gums and can destroy the jawbone.

The good news is that brushing your cat’s teeth shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds per day. The more you do it, the easier (and cheaper) dental care will be in the long run.

How often to brush your cat’s teeth

Ideally, you’d brush your cat’s teeth every day. If your cat’s gums and teeth are in bad shape or extra sensitive/painful (and if they haven’t had a thorough cleaning in a while), we would recommend booking a dental check just to make sure everything is okay.

What you’ll need to brush your cat’s teeth

Don’t try to use an oversized human toothbrush in your cat’s mouth — find a smaller solution that’s a better fit. Try one of these options:

  • A baby toothbrush (with extra soft bristles)
  • A specialty cat toothbrush that fits on your finger

Then grab some pet toothpaste (do not use human toothpaste). Pet toothpaste is designed to be safe to swallow, and cats prefer the taste.

How to brush your cat’s teeth

  1. Sit with your cat and rub their face, cheeks, and around their mouth.
  2. Dip your finger in tuna water or low-sodium chicken broth (make sure it doesn’t have onions or garlic) and let them lick it off.
  3. Gently rub your finger along their gums.
  4. Place pet toothpaste on your finger and let them lick it off, then rub it on their gums as well.
  5. Place the toothpaste on a toothbrush and very gently brush a few teeth. Lift their lips to expose the front of their teeth.
  6. If your cat is okay with this, continue to brush all their teeth.
  7. If not, brush a few teeth at a time, taking cuddle breaks in between.

Dental treats for your cat

Some dental treats can help keep your cat’s teeth clean between brushings. These work by scraping off and/or preventing the formation of plaque and tartar. We are currently offering 10% off dental dietary food which is specially formulated to reduce plaque.

Ask your vet to give you the details on your cat’s teeth during their annual wellness visit. Proactive dental care can decrease risk of other medical conditions (like heart disease, sinus infections, and renal disease), and can contribute to a longer life together with your cat.

Importance of dental care