Symptom checker

Please answer the following questions as accurately as you possibly can.

Please note – in no way is this tool a diagnostic tool and any doubts should be clarified by your Veterinary Surgeon. The aim of this symptom checker is to give information on what you should do given the symptoms of your pet. If you think your pet is seriously unwell, please call us immediately. 


Tabby Cat licking its paw.

Is Your Cat Stressed?

Reasons For Excessive Cat Grooming

Did you know that cat grooming is an essential part of a cat’s daily routine? It is a behaviour they learn from their mother and it keeps your pet’s fur looking great and clean.

However, if you’ve noticed that your cat has started to groom excessively then you’ll need to uncover the cause. First, you should consider any underlying medical issues that could be affecting your furry friend. Next, you should consider if there are any other issues that might be causing your cat stress, like changes in their environment, or a new cat on the block! Did you know that excessive grooming is one of the most common compulsive disorders in cats?

If you have a stressed cat then its important to try to uncover and remove the source of their stress.


1. Your Cat May Be Unwell

It’s important to take your cat to the vet to rule out any existing medical conditions. If your cat is unwell or in pain then this could be causing your cat stress, resulting in overgrooming. Or your cat may have a medical issue which is causing them to overgroom in order to soothe their discomfort. For example, if your cat has fleas or is having an allergic reaction, then grooming may be helping them to soothe the irritation or pain – a bit like humans do when they scratch and itch. However, your cat doesn’t know that their overgrooming could be harmful! So they’ll keep on doing it unless you help them!

2. Your Kitty is Stressed

Even small changes to their environment or routine can cause them to feel stressed, and overgrooming is their emotional response. Licking is a soothing action that helps them to feel comforted. Try to understand if any changes around the home have triggered this behaviour – for example, is there a new family member, loud noises or has something moved around the home? Cats are very sensitive so even a new vacuum cleaner could be upsetting them!

Try to stick to your cat’s daily routine, and keep to regular meal times as this will help your cat feel more secure. If you are making changes around the home such as redecorating then try and keep the changes gradual and quiet, if possible, to help your cat adapt. You should also ensure that your cat has all the resources they need – plus some extras such as a cat climbing tree and interactive toys.

3. Boredom May Be Causing Your Cat To Overgroom

If your cat is left alone for long periods of time without much to keep them occupied, then they may be overgrooming to fill their time. Ensuring that your cat has lots of mental and physical exercise as well as a dedicated playtime every day will help them feel great! Just like people, they need things to fill their time to ensure they don’t get bored. When you have to leave your cat at home, think about the kinds of toys that you can leave behind to keep them occupied – for example, food toys can take a lot of time to solve while stimulating them mentally.


4. Overgrooming has developed into a habit!

Because grooming is a soothing action that reduces cats stress over time, this action can become familiar and develop into a habit; once your cat gets used to grooming frequently, it may be difficult to break the habit.


Most kitties want some affection and interaction from you, such as love or playing, especially if you have a more outgoing cat! Be a friend to your cat and make sure that you’re spending time with them as this can help reduce their stress. You can also consider plugging in a FELIWAY Optimum diffuser  which reassures cats at home and make them feel secure and comfortable, reducing stress-related grooming. This will provide constant comfort to your cat!

Cat touching a woman's hand.

Moving house and worried about your cat?

Moving Home With Your Cat

Moving home is stressful for us humans but for a cat, it can be traumatic. A home is a sanctuary for a cat so moving home can feel like they are moving away from safety. We discuss a few things you can do to help your feline friend and hopefully reduce the associated stress!

What should I do during the move?

To help your cat remain calm and comfortable in your current home, dedicate one room where they can stay.  This will help keep the sights and sounds of the movers and moving equipment minimised. The room should contain everything your cat would need during this time, such as food, bedding, toys and a litter box. Leaving their cat carrier in the room will help them explore and investigate it prior to the move.

What should I do when we arrive at our new house?

Identify a room where you can leave your cat with all their essentials and try to keep them in this in this room, and this room only, for the first few days without access to the rest of the house. This may seem restrictive, but they will feel safe within a confined space and it will give them the opportunity to slowly familiarise themselves with the new sounds and smells. It also gives them a room of their own to use later as a refuge.

If you have access to the new home a few days before the big move, we would recommend plugging in a Feliway diffuser in the room where your cat will stay for the first days. If you don’t have access to the new house prior, plug in the diffuser as soon as you arrive.

As soon as your cat seems comfortable in their first room, you may open the door and allow them to explore their new pad.

What can I do to make sure my cat settles in comfortably?

Knowing your cat and their personality — confident, social or shy — will help you determine what their individual needs are.

Some cats will settle quickly into their new home and saunter around confidently within the first few days. Others may take a bit longer to become accustomed to their new surroundings.

But there are a few things you can do to help your cat after the move:

  • Cats use their acute sense of smell to figure out whether something is safe or not. Placing their favourite blanket or a piece of your clothing in the room will mean it immediately smells familiar and will remind them of cuddly times with you.
  • In addition to this, provide multiple litter boxes, food & water bowls, toys, scratching post, bedding around the house. When your cat is ready to investigate, these will help them feel at home in any location.
  • Let them explore on their own and in their own time. If they decide to hide under the bed, let them be. They’ll eventually come out when they feel it’s safe.
  • And of course, even if you’re very busy organising your new home, do not forget to spend time with your cat. Daily play and cuddle sessions should continue — nothing should change from their perspective

Most importantly, give them plenty of time to adjust, it will be just as big a change for them as it is for you! But with these simple suggestions if can be a much more pleasant experience for everyone!

My dog is scared of outside noises, help!

Is your pooch sometimes spooked by noises outside? Your dog may be full of fun and energy, but they can get scared of things in their surroundings that they don’t understand.

It’s important to know that dogs have extremely sensitive hearing and can hear things humans can’t! Imagine how frightening it is when loud noises happen without any warning or explanation – your dog doesn’t realise sometimes loud and scary noises like fireworks are safe – and they can’t prepare themselves for the sound!


Fear of loud noises is common in dogs and many owners report that their dogs show signs of fear as a result of loud sounds – like fireworks or thunderstorms. Some pooches display obvious signs of fear when they hear a loud noise, such as running from the sound, pacing up and down, being destructive, trembling, urinating, barking, or whining.

Other dogs may have more subtle ways of showing distress, such as clingy behaviour, excessive salivation, yawning, change in appetite, or licking lips. Even if the signs are subtle, they may be just as distressed! So, it’s important to recognise when your pooch is anxious so that you can help them.


1. Avoid getting too close to the source of the noise

If you’re expecting a fireworks display or you are aware that there are storms forecast, ensure you keep your dog indoors rather than taking them outside. For example, walking your dog earlier in the day will help you avoid having to exercise them when there is a chance of fireworks.

2. Block out sounds as much as possible!

Shutting windows and doors as well as pulling curtains or blinds can help to muffle loud noises. You can also consider playing music or having the TV on to help block unexpected sounds. If you’re expecting fireworks or storms then turn the lights on so any flashes from the fireworks or lightning don’t seem so alarming for your dog!

3. Stick to your usual routine

Dogs can get alarmed when they notice their human is acting strangely! Even going over to the window to look out more than usual can alarm them and make them more concerned about what is going on outside – especially if it’s accompanied by noise. Try and stick to their usual routine, including bathroom breaks and take them out to the toilet before any fireworks start if you can. Understand that the sound is concerning for your dog so don’t get angry if they are rushing about in fear – any anger would frighten them more, and be counter-productive. Act calmly and reward your dog when they remain calm too.

4. Create a den for your doggo!

Whenever you’re feeling a bit stressed, you may like to retreat to the sofa with loads of blankets! Your dog also likes to seek comfort in a cosy den so consider creating one that they can retreat to when there are fireworks, thunderstorms or other loud noises.

Try and make their safe, secure den as soundproof as possible! Make the space quite small so that they will feel more secure – dogs sometimes like to squeeze into a smaller space to feel better hidden. Consider using an under-stairs cupboard filled with blankets, or an indoor kennel or crate that you can put more blankets inside. You can also cover it with a thicker blanket to help mask the sound.

5. Train your doggo to use his den

Try to introduce your dog to their den when there are no scary noises or flashes so that they become familiar with it – this way they’ll come to think of it as a safe space! If you only introduce your dog to the space when there are loud noises, they may associate it negatively and not use it. Never force your doggo into a particular space and if they hide away, it’s best to leave them alone – this is a doggy way of coping. Approaching your dog or trying to move them could scare them further and may even cause aggression.

6. Seek professional advice

If you find that your dog is getting increasingly worried by loud noises, it’s best to contact your vet to check if there’s an underlying health problem that could also be causing their behaviour. Your vet can also advise on medication to help your dog if necessary. You can also consider finding a qualified behaviourist to help you train your dog to feel calm by themselves. It’s important to address fear of fireworks or other loud noises as this can escalate to a phobia of loud noises.

7. Gradually get your dog used to loud noises

You can gradually teach your dog that noises are not scary by playing recorded versions of the noises they are afraid of. You should start at such a low volume that your pooch isn’t concerned by them and increase it gradually. The volume and direction of sounds should be changed so slowly over time that it won’t be frightening for your dog. Always reward your dog for calm and relaxed behaviour so that they learn loud noises are nothing to be afraid of; never punish them for showing signs of fear.


It’s important to teach them to use their comfy den from early on to help prepare them for loud noises. You can also consider using an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser to help your pooch stay calm and adapt to new situations like staying home alone, loud noises, or dealing with fears. Throughout March, you can get 10% off, so don’t miss out!

Black Labrador.

Helping Your Dog Feel Secure When Home Alone


You are not alone! Lockdown has unfortunately disturbed many dogs’ usual routine of being left home for periods of the day. They have been through a period of having a lot of company and people in the home,  however, as we can no longer all be with our pets twenty-four hours a day, it’s important to help your dog adjust to being home alone.

Below, you can find our tips for helping your dog cope with being left home alone.


1. Start Small, Then Increase Alone Time Slowly

To prevent your dog from experiencing a fear of being alone, you should get them used to small periods of time alone. You don’t need to leave the house entirely but you can leave them alone in a room – just for less than 10 minutes initially – and then return when they are calm and quiet. You can slowly increase their alone time until they become more comfortable with their own company.

2. Only Reward Calm Behaviour!

It’s understandable that your dog may cry sometimes when you leave – they like being around you! But, however tempting it might be, it’s important not to reward negative or agitated pet behaviour with fuss and attention. By comforting your pet, you can reinforce their worries! Instead, teach your pet that being home alone isn’t something to be afraid of; when you return, greet your dog – but calmly to avoid overreaction or negative associations. With time, your pet will soon learn that you’re going to return, and there’s nothing to be worried about!

3. Train your dog to recognise when you’re leaving 

To help your dog understand that they will be alone for a little while, you can train them using different signals. For example, a wave and a word like ‘bye’ could mean I’ll see you in 4 hours while raising your hand and saying something like ‘won’t be long’ can let them know that you’ll be back shortly. Some dogs may be fine without a ‘bye’ but it’s best to avoid any fuss when you’re departing or arriving.

4. Tire your dog out before you leave 

The best thing you can do before leaving your pooch home alone is to give them some exercise. When you take your dog for their morning walk or exercise, they’ll likely fall asleep afterwards! This gives you the chance to leave the house without your dog feeling worried.

5. Keep your dog occupied

You should make sure that there are constructive ways for your dog to spend their time when you’re not around. Use a food-dispensing toy rather than their regular food bowl which will occupy and challenge them. Some dog toys offer various difficulties so you can make sure that your dog is active and engaged while you’re away. If they get bored they may get destructive, so leave small tasks and fun toys to play with but make sure that none of the toys could be chewed apart or swallowed.

6. Leave them with tasty treats

  • Fill (and freeze) a Kong: You can fill a Kong full of something super tasty (e.g. dog safe peanut butter) and give this to your dog just before the call begins. If you can, freeze the Kong with the tasty treat inside as this will keep your dog entertained for longer.
  • Load up a Lickimat: Keep things interesting by trying something different spread on the Lickimat, such as squashed banana or chopped vegetables & greek yoghurt, dog friendly peanut butter or squeezy cheese.
  • Fill up a snuffle mat: Tempting treats can be hidden in a snuffle mat including chopped apple, bite size treats or even their kibble.

7. Don’t give in to emotional blackmail

Even if it might be tempting, don’t re-enter the room if your pet starts crying, whining, howling or barking. Wait until they’re quiet and then go in and give them praise for being calm with your tone of voice and a gentle stroke. Remember to give them treats only when you leave and not on your return; providing a treat on your return will only make them more eager and anxious for you to come home!

8. Can products help?

In short, yes. We recommend an ADAPTIL Calm Home Diffuser. It is a simple yet clinically proven solution that can help calm and relax your dog at home by providing constant comfort. It supports your dog in situations like loud noises, staying alone, visitors, and other occasions that may make them nervous. Plug the Diffuser in the room where your dog spends most of their time to help reassure them during their alone time. When you leave you will be leaving them with a ‘’hug from their mum feeling’’ which will provide them with some comforting support.


We are offering 10% off Adaptil throughout March!

Puppy looking into the camera.

Separation anxiety in dogs

Do you constantly come home to a puddle of pee or a gnawed furniture leg? Has a neighbour heard your dog howling up a storm while you’re away? Your dog could be bored — or suffering from separation anxiety. Here’s what you need to know so you can start getting the help that you (and your dog) need.

Symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs

Dogs that are suffering from separation anxiety get distressed and freak out whenever they’re left alone. Here are some of the more common signs you’ll see:

  • “Accidents” when they’re already potty-trained
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Chewing things they shouldn’t be
  • Trying to escape by scratching doors or windows
  • Whining, barking, or howling
  • Yawning, panting, or drooling
  • Licking their lips
  • Pacing, circling (not able to settle down)
  • Trembling
  • Chewing or licking their paws or tail

What causes separation anxiety in dogs?

Some dogs may be more prone to separation anxiety, including:

  • Dogs that are extra “clingy” or more dependent on their humans when they’re home, or out-and-about together.
  • Dogs that aren’t well socialized.
  • Adopted dogs that have been through a lot.

Changes in your dog’s life can also trigger separation anxiety — even if they haven’t had problems with it before. Even changes in your dog’s hearing or eyesight as they get older can lead to anxiety.

Lastly, noises or commotions outside (like a nearby construction project) or an upsetting noise inside your home (like a low battery signal in your smoke detector) could be stressing out your dog when they’re home alone — triggering a bad association between the noise and being all by themselves.

Talk to us about treatment options

There are three ways to address separation anxiety, environmental management, behaviour modification, and pharmaceutical options. Pharmaceutical options include antianxiety medications and nutritional supplements, which can be helpful in reducing your dog’s level of anxiety.

Changes to the environment can help your dog with separation anxiety

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are lots of things you can try:

  • Give them a safe and calm space. Make sure your dog has a special place to hang out when you’re gone. This should be a spot where they feel comfortable and relaxed, even when you’re home. Pheromones, calming supplements, and anti-anxiety compression jackets can sometimes help with separation anxiety. You can also try turning on some soothing music or a “white noise” machine for your dog to listen to when you’re gone.
  • Skip the triggers. If you know that certain things set off your dog’s separation anxiety, try to avoid or minimize those triggers. (For example, if opening and closing your garage door when you leave makes them panic, try parking in the driveway.)

Behaviour modification that can help with separation anxiety

  • Plan ahead. Have your dog go to their safe space 10 or 15 minutes before you leave, which can help distract them while you’re getting ready to leave. You can also toss them a treat right before you go, so they can start seeing your departure as a positive.
  • Break the habit. Your dog knows when you’re getting ready to leave, which can amp up their anxiety. Try getting your dog used to seeing your departure cues — without the actual departure. For example, grab your car keys, but then sit down and read a book or open the door and then shut it without going outside.
  • Boost their confidence with training. There are many ways to help an insecure dog feel better about themselves and broaden their horizons. One way is to try clicker training. If your dog is an action hound, agility, nose work, or other types of activity training might work best.
  • Ask your vet. Don’t be afraid to ask your vet about which behaviour modification techniques are best for your dog, and for instructions on how to properly implement these techniques.

Toilet training for puppies

No one enjoys cleaning up indoor toilet accidents. Teaching a new puppy to “go” outside is important for a lifetime of proper bathroom manners. It’s important to remember that your new puppy doesn’t know where they should or shouldn’t go to the toilet — it’s up to us to teach them that outside (or on a designated puppy pad) is the right place. You can train your puppy quickly and successfully with some planning, lots of patience, and consistent positive rewards when they get it right.

Create a toilet Training Schedule

Provide regular and consistent outside toilet breaks for your puppy (or take them to a pad). This way, you’ll have more opportunities to reward them when they go in the right spot and you’ll prevent indoor accidents.

As a guideline, the maximum time between toilet breaks for your dog should be one hour for each month of age (and even more frequently if just starting potty training):

Dog’s Age Maximum Time Between Bathroom Visits
2 months 2 hours
3 months 3 hours
4 months 4 hours
5 months 5 hours
6 months 6 hours
7 months 7 hours
8 months 8 hours

All dogs, no matter what their age, should be given a bathroom break at least every 8 hours.

The younger the puppy, the more frequent these breaks should be. Their physical ability to hold it is still developing. Start with giving them the opportunity to go outside at least once every two hours during the day (as well as after any activity listed below). As they mature and learn the routine, you’ll extend the time between scheduled toilet breaks.

Take your puppy outside for a toilet break after the following events:

  • Waking up (first thing in the morning or after any naps)
  • After drinking water
  • 10-15 minutes after eating
  • After playtime
  • After training
  • Before going to sleep at night
  • Between any change in activity

If your puppy is having multiple indoor accidents, consider adding more toilet breaks to the schedule. Frequent indoor accidents could also be a sign of an underlying medical condition. Speak with your vet to determine if your puppy might be having accidents due to a medical issue.

Supervise Your Puppy to Set Them up for Success

Toilet accidents often happen when signs that a puppy needs to go to the bathroom go unnoticed. Until your puppy is more physically mature and reliably housetrained, it’s best to keep a close eye on them. If you notice signs they might need to go to the bathroom, take them immediately outside to their regular spot.

Signs Your Puppy Might Need to Go to the toilet:

  • Sniffing the floor
  • Turning in circles
  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Restless behaviour
  • Licking their groin
  • Arching their back or squatting
  • Suddenly stopping what they’re doing (such as chewing on a toy or playing)
  • Leaving the room or seeking out a place to go potty that’s more hidden
  • Sitting by the door

When you can’t supervise your puppy, use crate training to prevent accidents. Using a correctly sized crate helps a puppy learn how to physically hold it, as they do not want to go to the bathroom where they sleep. Ensure that your puppy isn’t in their crate so long that they have an accident because they couldn’t hold it any longer. As always, make sure that being in the crate is a positive and comfortable experience for your puppy.

Reward Your Puppy for Going Potty Outside

Any time your puppy goes to the toilet outside, reward them with a treat and lots of praise! The more you reward a behaviour, the more your puppy will choose to do it. Combining positive reinforcement with proper management of their environment will lead to successful toilet training faster. Negative reinforcement for accidents is never appropriate and should not be used.

Keep Regular Feeding Times

Eating a meal or snack sends signals to your puppy’s digestive system that it needs to empty to make room for incoming food. This is called the gastrocolic reflex and is why puppies will often need to go potty after eating a meal. Keep your puppy on a set feeding schedule for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so you can anticipate when they will need to go to the toilet.

Consider whether you want your puppy to have access to water overnight in their crate. Unless your puppy has a medical condition requiring access to water at all times, you can remove their water an hour before bedtime. This ensures your puppy’s bladder is empty before going to sleep, reducing the chance that they’ll need to go in the middle of the night. Because water is essential to your puppy’s physical health, make sure they have access to it again first thing in the morning.

How Long Does it Take to Toilet Train a Puppy?

Every dog is different when it comes to training. Some puppies might be reliably housetrained by four to five months of age, while others might be closer to seven or eight months before getting the hang of it. In some cases, a medical issue might cause a setback in house training. Most importantly, the time it takes to toilet train your puppy depends on your consistent training and management.

When Should You Start Toilet Training a Puppy?

Begin training your puppy right away! The sooner your puppy learns the routine, the faster they will learn correct housetraining habits.

Making your cat’s journey to the vet less stressful

The only time most cats are put into their carrier is when they go to the veterinarian, so it’s no wonder they get freaked out as soon as their carrier comes out of the cupboard. A lot of the stress that cats experience related to the vet visit happens before they actually see the vet. With a little preparation, you can help to ensure your cat (and you) have a stress-free visit to the vet.

Before you go to the vet

Make the carrier less scary. Chances are, the only time your cat sees their carrier is when you’re about to take them to the vet. You can make the carrier less scary by setting it up like a safe place they can hang out in on a regular basis. To entice them into their carrier, make it a comfortable place they want to spend time by putting a blanket, a toy, and treats inside (this also gives them a familiar smell of home). You can also feed them inside the carrier to get them more acclimated to being in it. Just by seeing the carrier in their everyday environment, your cat will become more used to it and avoid the dread they feel when it mysteriously shows up out of the blue.

Keep your cat calm. Calming pheromones can help your cat calm themselves in their carrier. Simply spray a spritz or two in their carrier the night before the appointment and again on the day of the appointment to allow the pheromones to calm your cat.

Consider catnip. This herb can relax your cat, helping them associate a trip to the vet something a lot more fun. Catnip’s effects typically only last for 5–15 minutes, but it doesn’t affect all cats. Occasionally, cats will become agitated when they smell catnip, so it’s a good idea to give your cat a trial dose first to see how (and if) they react before you ever need it for a trip to the vet.

Get your cat used to being handled. Practice holding your cat and examining them from head to tail. This will help your cat feel less stressed when the vet or veterinary technician gives them an exam.

Bring your cat on car rides. It’s likely that the only time your cat rides in the car is on the way to the vet. You can try to disassociate car rides with a trip to the vet to reduce their stress. Some cats will never get used to car rides, but others just need a few minutes in the car or a couple drives around town that doesn’t end up at the vets to help calm their nerves.

Consider visiting a cat-friendly vet. Did you know that our Stocksfield and Bellingham surgeries are Cat Friendly Accredited practices? This means our wonderful staff are trained to keep cats calmer and the surgeries have dedicated waiting areas for you and your  cat!

At the vets

Keep your cat in their carrier. When you get to the vet and are in the waiting room, keep your cat in their carrier. Keep the carrier off the floor to make your cat feel more secure (and prevent curious dogs from peeking in and frightening your cat). With many people and animals in the same room, most cats will feel safer and less stressed in their carrier.

Schedule visits during “quiet” times. We fully understand how stressed cats can get by coming to the vets. We encourage our clients to not be shy and feel free to ask us for an appointment when it may be a little quieter, like our first appointment of the day, or maybe our last. We are here to help, never be afraid to ask!

Bring something from home. An item in their carrier like a blanket from home can help bring your cat comfort while waiting to be seen. If your cat needs to spend a night at the vet, make sure to bring an item from home like their favourite blanket or toy to help them settle easier.

Consider medications and supplements. If your cat has a history of being stressed when visiting the vet or is still stressed after trying the steps above, chat with your veterinarian prior to your next appointment. They may be able to recommend medications and/or supplements that can help reduce your cat’s anxiety and allow them to do better with their vet visits. If you feel like this may be of help, then make use of our promotion at the moment of 10% off Feliway!

Symptom checker

Laparoscopic keyhole spay 2021

“I would highly recommend this procedure for spaying your animals, as my dogs were almost back to normal with no signs of any pain within a couple of days.” – Miss Irving.

We are pleased to announce that we offer Laparoscopic keyhole spay clinics at our Hexham surgery. Our popular monthly service which began in 2020 made us realise how many of our wonderful clients would prefer a Laparoscopic keyhole spay rather than the traditional method.


The following dates are available:

February 3rd
March 3rd
April 7th
May 12th
June 2nd

A laparoscopic spay or neuter is an alternative to the traditional method. It is less invasive and allows faster recovery time.

To learn more about Laparoscopic keyhole spays please click here.

The cost for this procedure is £495.00 for any size of bitch. This includes a post-operative check up (worth £37.20) and is inclusive of medication (ie painkillers). If you are a Well Pet Club member, or indeed if you sign up to our Well Pet Club before your pet’s procedure, you will save 10% (£49.50).

If you are interested in your pet having a Laparoscopic keyhole spay, please book an appointment to see your vet or give your local surgery a call.

Alternatively, please email and we will answer any queries you may have.