Christmas competition 2020

Thanks for entering our Christmas competition for 2020!

We have been overwhelmed with the generosity of our local businesses, who even in these most trying of times have still donated prizes to our competition. We cannot thank them enough.


Terms and conditions

All prizes are subject to booking with the venue stated in the prize. Prize winners will be contacted to organise a suitable date and time to collect. Due to Covid, we cannot allow clients inside our buildings but we can meet you outside our rear door. You must contact the premises to arrange your prize and please note their own terms and conditions, for example, some vouchers are not suitable for use in December.


Additional entry

If you would like to receive a second nomination then please sign up to our mailing list below. We use our mailing lists to keep clients up to date with events in the practice and any specific offers we have. We have offers every month so it is very worthwhile signing up!

Click here for an additional entry by signing up to our newsletter. 

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People with unusual face coverings.

What if my dog gets scared of face masks?


Life has changed dramatically both on a global scale and in our day to day lives over the past 3 months. Our pet’s lives have changed too. Many dogs are getting more exercise, health concerns previously unnoticed are being identified by pet parents, and our cats, well they just want their house back and you out of it. The increased exercise and focus on medical health is wonderful for our pet’s emotional health, but there is one change our fuzzy family may struggle to understand and that is the face mask.

The wearing of masks is a new normal. If we humans are still getting used to the appearance of the face mask in public, what do our pets thinks? Anything visually new or distracting can incite fear in our dog, cat, horse, pet bird, or other animal we socially interact with frequently.

Dogs may exhibit postures of fear, vocalize, move away, cower, or even growl. Cats may startle, run, vocalize, or hide. Our beloved pets’ level of confidence and security is in part linked to daily ritual. Changes in environment, caregiver, and appearance can be scary. We can help your pet adjust to that change and diminish the nervous behavior that a mask may cause.

For dogs, we want to start by showing your dog a mask and offering a treat reward. You can hold it up to your face then back to your lap while offering that favorite treat. If your pet exhibits nervous behavior, then slow the process down or even stop the training session. Eventually you want to be able to hold the mask to your face and remove it repeatedly. Follow this step until you are wearing a mask while petting your dog, with the goal of moving around your home and outdoors all while your pet is cool, calm, and collected.  Talking to them during this process can help reassure them that they still know you, even with the mask on.

Once your dog is used to this you can hit the streets. On walks have treats ready and your basic sit-stay training on point. If your pet is exhibiting nervous behavior when you encounter a mask wearer, put him or her in a sit, distract with a preferred treat, and allow that person to pass you. If possible, cross the street yourself before the sit and wait. Then with an energetic “good dog” proceed on your walk. This is the basic training tenant of all things that are big and scary for dogs.

For cats that may be more aggressively or fearfully reactive the training is similar. With cats, it may be more useful to start by wearing the mask. Periodically leave a high value treat near your cat while continuing your normal home routine. Let your cat investigate you. Do not force social interaction on your pet. Again, talking during this time will help the cat remember that it is still you under the new mask.

These are the very basic principles of desensitizing your pet to a visual stimulus. For a more thorough behavior plan contact us!


Christmas dangers for our pets

Christmas is a magical time but also a time that we need to be a little bit more alert to the dangers that the holiday can bring to our pets.


With households often full of chocolate (and food containing it) throughout the Christmas period, it is important to keep these out of reach of pets. Even if it is wrapped and under a tree, dogs can sniff them out and will gladly help themselves. Chocolate contains the stimulant theobromine which can cause seizures and heart rhythm abnormalities.

Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies

Raisins, sultanas and grapes are key ingredients to many favourite Christmas treats and these can also be deadly if eaten by dogs. Sultanas, raisins, and grapes can cause acute kidney injury, which can lead to kidney failure, if eaten by our four legged friends. As well as Christmas puddings, fruitcakes and mince pies, panettones and trifles are a Christmas-time canine risk.


With nut consumption peaking at Christmas times, there are associated risks for pets. The nuts and shells can be a choking hazard and can also cause intestinal problems. Macadamia nuts present an additional risk to dogs as ingestion has been associated with vomiting and weakness.


Bones from meat, poultry or fish present a dangerous threat to pets. Cooked bones are brittle and therefore can splinter when chewed. This can lead to the digestive tract being pierced or an obstruction. As well as not feeding scraps with cooked bones in, ensure pets do not tear open bin bags or scavenge bones from bins.


Sugar substitute sweeteners are not only used in tea and coffee but also in many tasty treats, such as cakes, biscuits, mints, jam and peanut butter. Most are non-toxic to pets but xylitol is one that is commonly used which can be life-threatening to dogs. Affected dogs present with low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) and this can loss of coordination, collapse and seizures within half an hour of consumption. Liver failure can follow.

Onion (including gravy)

Onions and products containing onions, such as gravy and stuffing, can cause gastrointestinal upset and lead to red blood cell damage and anaemia in cats and dogs. The related vegetables leeks, garlic and spring onions can also have the same effects.

Rock salt (grit)

The substance used to de-ice roads and pavements commonly called grit contains sodium chloride (salt), which can be hazardous to pets. If dogs and cats get it on their paws or fur their inclination will be to lick or chew it off, but this poses a risk. Ingestion of salt by pets can result in a high blood sodium concentration and this can lead to vomiting, lethargy, convulsions and kidney damage. If your pet has been walking on grit, then it is a good idea to wipe their feet and clean any exposed fur (such as on their legs or tummy). Dogs might also consume it by drinking puddles of melted snow.

Tinsel and ribbons

Given the chance, cats and kittens will play with ribbons used to wrap presents. These can be swallowed and become entangled in the cat’s intestines, causing life-threatening blockages. Playing with tinsel can cause the same problems in cats and other animals, including ferrets.

Christmas trees, baubles and fairy lights

Many cats and kittens will feel compelled to climb Christmas trees, endangering themselves. It is advisable to ensure trees are securely based so that they are less likely to be felled by a curious cat. Limiting access to rooms containing a tree when unsupervised is a good idea. Pet ingestion of pine needles can cause stomach upsets and intestinal problems.

Baubles are of particular fascination to cats. Glass baubles can shatter, creating sharp shards dangerous to animals and children. Dogs have been known to chew baubles and other decorations. This can lead to lacerations in the mouth or intestinal blockages.

Fairy lights pose the possibility of pets getting tangled up in wires, which can cause an animal to panic and injure themselves. If swallowed, bulbs can pose threats to pets.

Edible decorations are always going to be of interest to pets, and even placing them out of their eye-line won’t stop them from investigating further.

Other plants

Some plants brought into the house at Christmas, including holly, ivy and mistletoe, can be toxic to pets and lead to vomiting. If you do have them around the house it is best to keep them out of reach.


A dog might take an interest in a toy long after a child has discarded it. Small parts can be swallowed and cause intestinal blockages and larger toys may be chewed up and lead to the same problem, as well as mouth lacerations. Keep an eye on where children leave new toys and put them out of reach from pets. Puppies and younger dogs are far more prone to eat first and ask questions later, even if it is not food.


With lots of new toys and gadgets around, there are likely to be more batteries around the home than normally. If chewed and swallowed they can cause an obstruction, chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning. Even small coin-shaped disc batteries are a threat to dogs as they can damage the oesophagus.

If you think your pet has ingested any of the things mentioned above, contact your local vet immediately.


Grey and white Cat in a wicker basket.

Does my cat suffer with anxiety?

Just like us humans, cats can also suffer with anxiety. They will experience anxiety if they perceive a situation as dangerous (regardless of whether it actually is or not). Although they can’t tell us, there are a few telltale signs they may show to indicate that they may be suffering with stress and anxiety.

How would I know?

Typical symptoms of anxiety or stress can include:

  • Destructive behaviour like clawing at the curtains or scratching the furniture
  • Overgrooming themselves, sometimes to the point of causing bald patches or sore skin (“OCD” or repetitive type behaviours)
  • Toileting outside of their litter tray, or urine spraying
  • Hiding away and withdrawing
  • Being easily startled or fleeing
  • Aggression
  • Medical Vocalising or miaowing more
  • Problems such as cystitis

It’s important to work out when your cat began to show symptoms of anxiety. This will help when identifying the best technique to help them.

What causes anxiety?

Again similar to people, cats can suffer with anxiety as a result of big changes to their routine or environment. An obvious example of this is moving house or staying in a cattery, where their entire environment has changed. The introduction of a new baby or another pet, noisy building work being done or a change in job meaning you’re spending more or less time with your pet can also be potential triggers. Changes can be outside the home making the cause harder to identify. Such as a new cat in your cat’s territory due to bullying or competition.

Some cats may be more predisposed to anxiety than others. Particularly if they have missed certain experiences and socialisation as a kitten. If left untreated, anxiety can become a serious problem. It’s unlikely to get better on its own and fearful behaviours can become more pronounced over time.

How can we deal with feline anxiety?

Firstly, if you’ve noticed any changes to your pet’s behaviour, you should always get them checked over by your vet as the symptoms of anxiety can also be signs of other illnesses. Your vet will be able to perform a thorough clinical examination and ensure there are no underlying conditions. Once they’ve ruled out other health issues they may diagnose your cat with feline anxiety and may recommend certain calming techniques or in some cases, medication.

The most important step is to identify the cause of their anxiety, as often a simple change in their environment or routine can be really helpful.

  • If your cat has separation anxiety, then creating a stimulating environment to keep your cat distracted when you’re out of the house can be helpful. Activity puzzle feeders are great for this, as well as toys and perches with stimulating views.
  • If you’ve introduced a new pet to the household, then a gradual acclimatization process will be necessary. It’s very likely your cat will need time to adjust to sharing their space, as well as sharing the attention that you give to them. You will need to ensure your pet has time and space away from the new pet if they need it, including perching places where they can get up high. Baby gates can be useful to give them a safe space.
  • If there’s a new cat on the block, then using a microchip cat flap can ensure no unwanted visitors can get in the house. Shutting the curtains to stop your cat seeing or feeling threatened by a new cat outside.
  • Certain cat calming products, such as Feliway are available in both spray and plug-in diffuser formats. They work by releasing pheromones which mimic natural cat pheromones which help to calm them. They can’t be relied on as a solution on their own but can be helpful alongside environmental modification.


Halloween and your pet

Costumes, trick-or-treaters, and jack-o-lanterns — all signs point to Halloween! But before the first trick-or-treaters come to your door and you dress your pet up, make sure that they are ready for the holiday. This year is clouded in uncertainty because of Covid-19 but we always find it is better to over prepare!

Be wary of strangers

If you want to take your dog along for trick or treating, make sure they’re properly socialized and would actually enjoy being a part of the fun. Many dogs get very nervous when approached by unfamiliar people or excited children and adding Halloween masks and costumes to the mix can set your dog up for a biting incident. Some dogs could become fearful and anxious and try to run away.

Staying safe and secure

Halloween can be stressful for many pets because of the non-stop door knocking and doorbell ringing, trick-or-treat yelling kids, strange costumes, and the constant opening and closing of the door.

  • Create a safe space. The noises associated with trick or treating (such as doorbells, knocking, and loud children) can be stressful for your pets. If your pet is anxious when someone knocks or rings the doorbell, set up a secure room away from all the noise where they can hang out. Put on calming music to block the sound of the doorbell and put out their food and water, favorite toys, or a yummy chew. And don’t forget a clean litter box for the cats!
  • Medication. Medication can help give your dog relief from their noise aversion symptoms.
  • Prevent door dashing. You don’t want your dog to get spooked and run out the front door while you’re handing out candy. Put up gates to prevent your pet from rushing up to trick-or-treaters or dashing out the door. Or put your pet on a leash and keep that leash in hand when you’re opening the door to hand out candy.

Keep sweets and treats out of reach

Halloween treats are delicious for humans but can be dangerous for pets. It’s best to keep all treats out of reach of pets, especially chocolate and treats containing the sugar-free ingredient, xylitol. Keep the bowl of sweets out of reach of your pet in between trick-or-treaters and hang your child’s bag of goodies up high when they get home.

Pet suffocation happens much too often, so make sure to keep any treat bags away from your pet and cut them along all the edges (so it lays flat) before throwing them away. Lots of animals want to investigate bags because they smell like food or candy, but that can be dangerous quickly!

For information on what to do in the event of your pet eating sweets or chocolate – please click here.

Be fire safe

Did you know that about 1,000 fires are started each year unintentionally by pets? Their fluffy tails or excited jumping can knock candles over and harm them or your home. Stay safe and use glow sticks or LED candles in your pumpkins and as decorations this year.

With some simple planning and easy management techniques, you and your pet can stay safe and have fun this Halloween!

Brexit and pet travel

How to prepare for travel with your pet to any EU country after the Brexit Transition Period has finished on Jan 1st 2021.

Brexit has seemingly been temporarily forgotten due to Covid-19 but with the deadline approaching, you must prepare for pet travel in the EU and be aware of what you need to do.

When the UK leaves the EU, it will become a third country. In the EU Pet Travel Scheme, there are 3 categorisations of third country:

  • Unlisted
  • Part 1 listed
  • Part 2 listed

Pet travel requirements will change depending on what category of third country the UK becomes on the day the UK leaves the EU. Third countries can apply to the European Commission to be listed. The UK is likely to be treated as an unlisted country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme if it leaves the EU without a deal.

Pet Travel if the UK is an UNLISTED country.
A current EU pet passport issued in the UK will not be valid for travel to the EU.

You’ll need to take the following steps:
You must have your dog, cat or ferret microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before it can travel.

  • Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its last rabies vaccination. Your vet may recommend a booster rabies vaccination before this test.
  • Your vet must send the blood sample to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
  • The results of the blood test must show a rabies antibody level of at least 0.5 IU/ml.
  • You must wait 3 months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you travel.
  • The vet must give you a copy of the test results and enter the day the blood sample was taken in an animal health certificate.

You might find that the blood test result is not successful despite your pet being up to date with its rabies vaccinations. If this happens you’ll need a repeat vaccination and blood test taken at least 30 days after the repeat vaccination.

Dogs travelling from the UK to EU listed tapeworm free countries (Finland, Ireland and Malta) should be treated for tapeworm before travel.

You will not be able to travel with your pet if you have not completed these steps.

You will also need to obtain a new Animal Health Certificate (AHC)
You will also take your pet to an official vet no more than 10 days before travel to get an animal health certificate.

You must take proof of:

  • your pet’s vaccination history
  • your pet’s microchipping date
  • a successful rabies antibody blood test result
  • tapeworm treatment if travelling to Finland, Ireland or Malta
  • Your pet’s animal health certificate will be valid for:

10 days after the date of issue for entry into the EU onward travel within the EU for 4 months after the date of issue re-entry to the UK for 4 months after the date of issue.

On arrival in the EU, pet owners travelling with pets will need to enter through a designated Travellers’ point of entry (TPE). At the TPE, you may need to present proof of microchip, rabies vaccination, successful blood test results and tapeworm treatment (if required) with your pet’s health certificate.

For more information please refer to official government guidance.