How to get your cat or dog to take a pill

Have you found yourself pleading with your vet, saying “My dog won’t take pills”? If so, you’re not alone. Both dogs and cats are attracted to the smell and taste of many different things, but pill-flavoured pet food often isn’t one of them. Other dogs and cats are willing to ignore the pill entirely if it’s masked in food. To counter these common challenges, here are some tips for giving pills to dogs and cats.

Follow the directions

While some pet owners crush pills and mix them with their pet’s food, this should never be attempted without first asking your vet. Some formulations rely on the pill or capsule to remain intact to be effective and safe, while other medications are not to be given with food at all. Crushing a pill may also leave a medicinal smell in the room or on your hands that especially sensitive pets will notice.

Opt for pills with a pet-friendly taste

Many pills or tablets for pets now come in pet-friendly flavours, such as beef, chicken, or liver. Some pets will be more likely to take their medicine if they receive these tastier options. We use them on our own pets and can see first hand the benefits of flavoured tablets!

Gradually condition those who escape

Treat or no treat, some dogs and cats are reluctant to take pills and will run away when the time comes. At the first rattle of a foil pack, a pet may run away and hide in a space where even a cat couldn’t turn around. Then there’s the detective who skilfully separates food from medicine and holds it for a minute before spitting it out. Pursuing or restraining a distressed pet will only escalate the problem, so don’t go down this route.

End the pilling routine once and for all

Giving pills to your pet can become a struggle and/or result in missed doses. Some medicines, such as antibiotics that treat common bacterial skin infections, may not work as effectively if doses are given sporadically or incompletely.

The antidote to this challenge requires no food tricks, furniture moving, or undignified wrestling matches. Some veterinary medicines are formulated as chewable tablets, oral drops, or even injections (injections need to be administered in a clinic). This is especially helpful for administering antibiotics during a brief period of treatment.

In any case, always let us know if you have serious difficulty pilling your dog or cat so that they can work with you to find the best alternative solution.

Increase in ticks

We have recently seen an increase in the number of clients finding ticks on their pets!

A tick may appear initially like a spider that is brown in colour. When it feeds, it swells to around a pea size.

Ticks must be removed and we would only recommend trying this at home if you are confident in doing so as you must remove the whole tick and done incorrectly, it is quite easy to leave the head in your pet.

If you are a member of our Well Pet Club, our nursing team can remove a tick for you as it is covered in your plan! If you are not confident in the removal of a tick, always seek help from our team.

Ticks are well documented to spread disease and this is why we recommend regular prevenative treatment to help avoid any nasty situations! We have plenty of stock and can also check on your records when your pet last received a preventative treatment from us.

If you have any concerns, please email or call your nearest branch for advice.

Small Pug in a brown blanket.

Why does my dog excessively lick?

What is ‘excessive’ licking?

“Dogs lick, it’s what they do”. This remark is generally true and the action of licking whether it be for grooming or checking out surfaces in their environment is typically normal behaviour. However, just like anything in life, sometimes normal behaviours can stray into being inappropriate, especially when exaggerated or done too much. The same is true for dogs with licking and it is not unusual to see licking becoming excessive or abnormal for many different reasons.

Some animals will repeatedly lick at themselves in one location, multiple regions or all over their body with enough intensity or duration to result in the loss of fur to varying degrees. Frequently alongside the fur loss or in some instances before hair loss has become noticeable, dogs will start to develop skin lesions.

Alternatively, some dogs will lick at the air or surfaces in their environment which can include other pets or humans in the household. If done continuously, this behaviour could indicate a problem.

What causes excessive licking?

There are numerous potential causes of excessive licking in dogs. The most common causes are:

  1. Parasites

Parasites (fleas, lice, mites) are one of the most common causes of licking and scratching in domestic pets. Don’t rely on being able to see them with the naked eye. Although they can sometimes be seen, it is not uncommon for them to be missed, even fleas (using a flea comb and not finding any fleas is not a guarantee that fleas aren’t present). Some parasites can only be seen with specific testing and when observed down a microscope.

The most effective way of ruling parasites out is treating all household pets with a vet prescribed anti-parasitic treatment at the recommended interval. Remember, not all products you can buy are made equally and often then don’t cover all the possible parasites that can be a problem; cheap products are a false economy and you may just find yourself spending more money in the long run. Speak to your vet for what they recommend.

  1. Allergies

Allergic skin disease is very common in dogs and cats. This can be an environmental allergy i.e. an allergy to something your dog comes into contact with in their environment, including certain pollens, dust mites, cleaning products etc. Some environmental allergies can vary in severity between animals and can be worse at different times during the year. For example, irritation caused by outdoor allergens tend to be seen more frequently in the spring/summer months (as with human hay fever).

Alternatively, allergies may be associated with your pet’s diet. Some animals will develop skin irritation associated with something they are eating (common dietary allergies include chicken, beef, lamb, wheat), and can sometimes be seen with associated GI signs (bloating, diarrhoea etc).

A common misconception is that allergies are something you are born with. In reality the most common time for them to develop in dogs is between 6 months and 3 years of age. However, we do see issues arising outside of this timeframe too. Allergies can be complex and involve multiple different allergens (e.g. Atopic Dermatitis).

  1. Pain

In some instances, animals will focus on excessively licking at a particular part of their body indicating they are sore or painful in this area. For example, dogs may lick at an area such as over a joint affected by arthritis, or lick at their paw if they have a thorn stuck in it or some other wound. Licking typically won’t resolve until the offending cause is treated.

  1. Dry skin

Just as humans can suffer with dandruff, so too can dogs. Dandruff is essentially due to dry skin and left to exacerbate it can cause skin irritation for dogs. The origin of dry skin can be associated with a dog’s diet, inappropriate shampoo choices that dry their skin, too frequent bathing, certain parasites and hormonal issues to name a few. Dealing with the underlying cause of the dry skin will help to resolve the licking.

  1. Skin infections

Skin infections will often cause a dog to lick. However typically skin infections are secondary to other issues such as allergies or self-trauma. If the infection is more than superficial, removing the underlying issue may not be sufficient to resolve the problem. Instead, specific management such as topical cleaning, ointments or in some cases oral antibiotics may be needed.

  1. Anal gland issues

The anal glands are a pair of glands on the inside of either side of your dog’s anus. They contain secretions involved in scent marking. In some animals the anal glands can become excessively full (impacted) or infected, which can be intensely painful and irritating. As a result, some dogs will lick at their anus (or sides if they are unable to reach their anus). They may also scoot their bottom along the floor and a fishy smell may be noted. This can be a condition exacerbated in animals with underlying skin allergies.

  1. Nausea

Some animals will lick their lips or ‘lip smack’ if they are feeling nauseous or after vomiting. Causes of nausea/vomiting are a whole different and long blog post! But never-the-less, if you find your dog doing this specific licking behaviour, it’s best you contact your vet for advice.

  1. Behavioural

For some dogs the act of excessive licking can be seen to develop as a response to stress, anxiety or boredom. This type of licking isn’t always isolated to licking themselves. Dogs may be observed licking other surfaces in their environment, other pets, or humans. A good discussion with your vet about home set-up, husbandry and changes may highlight possible issues. Often an effort will be made to exclude other causes of licking first as they tend to be more frequent. Management of behavioural issues may ultimately require seeking the assistance of a trained behaviourist to assess your specific needs.

The possible secondary skin infections that can occur from not addressing the behaviour issues can further increase your pet’s stress levels.

  1. Dental/oral disease

Dogs may lick their lips (particularly after eating) if they have painful teeth or other oral disease (affecting their gums, tongue or other areas inside their mouth). The best way of assessing this is to have your vet do a dental check. However, remember licking of lips isn’t the only indicator for dental disease, so just because your dog isn’t licking his lips doesn’t mean there aren’t issues there to be addressed.

Why is it a problem?

While there are a number of potential causes of excessive licking. The end result of your dog continuing to lick themselves is the same regardless of the cause. If your pet continues to lick at itself, this will result in skin inflammation. Further increasing the level of irritation in the skin which in turn will elicit more licking. This perpetual loop will continue without intervention. Inflamed skin can result in overgrowth of bacteria/yeasts present on your pet’s skin, resulting in secondary skin infections. If left untreated, it can result in chronic skin damage and even permanent damage to hair follicles, meaning that hair may never regrow even if the licking is eventually stopped.

Don’t forget that some of the causes of licking have effects on your dog beyond just the skin and the licking. If the underlying issues are not addressed it can leave your dog with significant risks to their ongoing health.

What is the treatment?

You can now appreciate there is potentially a lot more to your dog licking excessively than you may have initially considered. The treatment is going to be specific to your dog and what the underlying issue is identified as being. The first step is making an appointment with your vet to discuss the problem. They will take a thorough history and fully assess your pet. Some problems can be identified quickly. However, be patient as further visits and investigation (including examination of samples under the microscope, bloods, allergy testing) may be needed to identify the ultimate cause. Treatments can be one off for some conditions and longer-term for other issues.


Easter dangers for our pets

Importance of dental care

Guinea Pig Awareness

Guinea pigs are a popular choice of pet for young teens or older children. They are a bit bigger than a hamster and require more responsibility. The temperament of a Guinea pig makes them ideal companions but they do require quite a bit of specific care!


How long do Guinea pigs live?

Generally live five to seven years

Do they bite?
They rarely bite but any animal with teeth can bite!

What size are they?
They are smaller than rabbits but bigger than hamsters

At what age should a child own a Guinea Pig?
They are great starter pets for older kids who have properly learned how to handle them

Facts about Guinea pigs
They are known to squeak as a display of delight when their favorite person enters the room
They love to hide when playing
They need a hiding place (such as a cave) for resting and sleeping
They have teeth that grow continuously
They are gentle members of the rodent family
They are neophobic
They are dependent on what is fed to them in the first several weeks of their lives
They are not pigs
They are not from New Guinea
They need plenty of handling

It is extremely important for your pet to get used to you and to being handled. You can begin to win them over by feeding them small treats while being held. When holding, have one hand support the bottom while the other one is covering the back.


Feed your pet twice a day (morning and evening). Pellets will probably make up most of your guinea pig’s diet. A healthy diet would consist of pellets made from veggies, plants, and seeds. Fresh fruit and vegetables are great to give your pet daily, including peas, pears, carrots, cucumbers, and corn.


In the initial few days of their life, feed them a wide variety of food, including vegetables, fruit (fresh), grass hay, and pellets. However, don’t overdo it on the pellets, as they need a balanced diet! Fresh water should be available at all times and changed regularly. Guinea pigs cannot produce Vitamin C so to help them get enough of this nutrient, give a quarter of an orange, or strawberries.
Have your guinea pig get regular check-ups at the vet. By doing this, you will have a better chance of catching any potential illness. Nails should be clipped regularly also and if you are not comfortable doing this, please book an appointment with a nurse or vet to do so.

Brush your guinea pig on a regular routine basis, and long-haired guinea pigs should be brushed DAILY.
Give a twig or small branch to gnaw on. If giving wood, make sure it hasn’t been chemically treated.

Things to watch out for include: Diarrhea, coughing, sneezing, lethargy.


Before letting your guinea pig roam inside a room, check the room thoroughly for any crevices or openings which may used for escape as you wouldn’t want him to get hurt or lost! Supervise them closely when they are on the roam because they like to chew and may try to chew on an electrical wire!


Have a roomy cage, with at least four square feet for each guinea pig. The cage must have a solid bottom (NOT WIRE) and do not use a glass aquarium (poor ventilation). Keep the cage away from extreme temperatures and keep it away from drafts. The preferred environment for guinea pigs is between 60 and 80 degrees F.
Have rocks or bricks for climbing and have cardboard tubes or plastic pipes for play toys. Do not use cedar or pine chips (dangerous to your pet because of the oils they have in them).


Use hardwood or Aspen shavings, and grass hay to line the bottom of the cage and don’t forget that each day you must remove droppings, stale food, and soiled bedding. Make sure the interior is dry before putting in fresh bedding.
Once a week (at a minimum), clean the cage thoroughly. Use warm water when scrubbing the bottom.


This is the basic guide to owning a Guinea Pig! If you have any questions or concerns then please get in touch with us!

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!