Veterinary Nurse Awareness Month

Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month

May is Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month. This campaign, led by the British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA), aims to raise awareness of the importance of the role of the veterinary nursing profession to the public.

Veterinary nurses are an integral part of the veterinary team at Orchard House Vets, and are vital for the smooth running of any veterinary practice.  As well as providing expert nursing care for poorly animals, veterinary nurses also play a significant role in supporting pet owners in keeping their pets healthy.  They carry out essential clinical work and are skilled in undertaking a range of diagnostic tests, treatments and minor surgical procedures, with veterinary support.  Registered Veterinary Nurses have the technical knowledge and hands-on expertise to care for animals with skill and empathy.

The title of Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN) can be used by nurses who have undergone extensive training and education. Once they’ve passed their final nursing exams, nurses are entered onto the VN register and are regulated by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS). They follow the Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Nurses, which includes requirements to undertake Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to keep their skills up to date.

At Orchard House Vets, we are extremely proud of our veterinary nurses. We have an amazing team who are dedicated to supporting our clients and their pets.  Even during this challenging time, some of our nurses are still working in-practice helping to support emergency and urgent cases.

Click here to meet our nursing team at Orchard House Vets.

To find out more about role of RVNs in veterinary practice, or if you are interested in finding out more about a career in veterinary nursing, visit the BVNA website at


In response to the UK Government extension of the Coronavirus “lock-down”, vets have had new guidance from The British Veterinary Association and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons regarding the patients we should now see as “urgent”.
We have been told that we can now start new Primary Vaccination courses in Cats, Dogs and Rabbits. We should also carry out the First annual vaccination (i.e. at 15 months old) in Cats, Dogs and Rabbits on time.
It has been recommended that dogs due Leptospirosis vaccination should be vaccinated and can have other core vaccinations (Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis) at the same time. Rabbits should be vaccinated for Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease as these are an immediate seasonal risk. Cats can receive annual booster vaccinations if approaching 15 months since their last vaccination. Rabies
vaccinations can also be given. In accordance with the guidance we will start sending you reminders for due vaccinations.
With most cases we are instructed to assess whether a pet should be seen during a telephone or video consultation. We want to ensure that pets are seen when they should be.
Sometimes we may be able prescribe medicines without a physical examination. Always telephone the practice for advice as to whether your pet should be seen.
There are still a few non-essential things that we are instructed not to do: six monthly healthy pet consultations, weight checks, routine nail clips, kennel cough vaccinations and puppy parties.
We will continue to use telephone and video consulting where we can, take payments over the phone and post out medicines to reduce the need for clients to come to the surgery in Hexham. And we are still offering weekly delivery of prescription foods etc. to clients who cannot get to the surgery.
Orchard House remain committed to maintaining the health and welfare of your pets, but we are working to social distancing guidance for our clients and staff to help protect our
NHS and save lives.
Stay safe.
Tim Pearson
Vet and Clinical Director

Cats and Coronavirus

This morning the President of the British Veterinary Association has recommended that cat owners keep their cats indoors all the time. There is a tiny risk that Covid-19 could be spread on a cat’s fur if an owner had the infection.

The BVA have released a statement since, which you can find here. The article clarifies that cats from an infected household should be kept indoors. The original article has caused much panic among cat owners and media headlines state all cats should be kept indoors. We urge you to read the BVA statement and read Tim’s advice below.

There is the risk that cats forced to stay indoors can get very stressed, leading to urinary tract and other illness.

Whilst the advice could be sensible in city cats which may be more “shared” between households, the risks in this area would be significantly lower.

The best advice is to wash your hands thoroughly after handling any pet, and don’t stroke other people’s cats or dogs.

The risk of catching Covid-19 is much much higher from other people, and from things people touch. Unless you own a bat or a pangolin, please don’t panic!

Stay safe.


COVID-19 update

Hello fellow lock-downers.

The Government have designated veterinary care as an essential service. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and British Veterinary Surgeons have given us some guidance on what patients we should and should not see here.

I thought that it might be useful to share this with our clients.

We are not permitted to see pets for booster vaccinations, Well Pet Club six-monthly health checks, nail clips, weight checks or non-urgent investigations. We have also been told not to start puppy or kitten vaccination courses but we can give second vaccinations where a course has been started.

The recommendations may change if lock-down is prolonged beyond the initial 3 weeks. We can note on our records to contact you after the restrictions are lifted – please call or email if you would like to be on the list. We will contact owners of pets needing their vaccinations as soon as the restrictions are lifted.

For many cases we are advised to conduct telephone or video telemedicine consultations. We are, temporarily, permitted to prescribe medicines after such a “non-contact” consultation. Examples where this is appropriate include: mild trauma (such as a torn nail), skin and ear problems, post-operative checks, medication checks, small wounds, lameness or lumps. In some cases the vet will recommend that the pet should be seen and we will arrange for an examination at the Hexham surgery.

There are some cases where we will always want to physically examine and treat the pet. These cases include: severe trauma, seizures, significant bleeding, difficulty breathing, a persistent cough, retching, vomiting or diarrhoea associated with being unwell, straining to poo or wee, toxin ingestion, and ongoing treatment for Diabetes or Addison’s disease.

In short, if in doubt then please telephone the practice for advice. We would always prefer a telephone call than to not be asked for advice or not see a pet and have their health deteriorate.

Stay well… and we will help your pets stay well!

Tim Pearson, Vet and Clinical Director, Orchard House Vets

Dog and cat using a laptop.

Video Consultations

Starting 1st April 2020 we will be offering video consultations during COVID-19 for the vulnerable people in our community but also anyone who feels more comfortable having a consultation at home due to COVID-19 fears.

We have a FAQ and step by step guide on how to use this service. At the moment, we are asking clients to call us to arrange this service and to allow at least half an hour to book this appointment. Consulting times are 2pm to 3.15pm and that is Monday to Friday.


Can anyone use this service?

We are still only able to offer appointments for emergency or urgent appointments. A video consultation is a great way to visually examine your pet but of course there are limitations to what the vet can do. That is why we are recommending you call us so we can advise if a video consult is the best option.

Is this service free?

Our ambulance delivery service is completely free but unfortunately we cannot offer this video consulting service for free. We are charging our usual consultation price plus an additional fee to cover the cost of what we are charged. Consultations are 15 minutes and are £37.00.

How long does it take to register and how do I do it?

If we recommend a video consultation, we have steps below which we advise you read through for reference. It takes around 5 minutes in total and it is a combination of a telephone call and then email. In the first instance, you will be sent an email whilst on the phone to us prompting you to make an account. Once you have done this and confirmed, our team will leave you to finish your registration and they can make your appointment. Please see the guide below, it explains everything!

How to:

It couldn’t be simpler to sign up to our video consultations

Step 1 – call the practice to make your video consultation – a consultation time will be arranged between you and our team.

Step 2 – You will be asked your email address and pets name to register

Step 3 – Whilst on the phone to our team, check your email for the email to register

Step 4 – You will need to enter your name, phone number and create a password.

Step 5 – You will be sent a confirmation code via email which you must enter, as prompted.

At this point, please advise our team you have made your account. They will now leave you to it!

Step 6 – Complete your profile, you start by adding your pet!

Step 7 – You will need your pets name, date of birth, their species and their breed. You can even add a lovely photo!

By the time you have done this, our team will have booked your appointment with the vet!

Step 8 – Check your email for the booking confirmation from our vets

Step 9 – Confirm the booking through the link provided, you will then be prompted to pay.

Step 10 – Once payment is confirmed, you will be reminded 5 minutes before your consultation begins. Remember – you must be on a device with a camera and microphone. A smartphone or tablet is best but this can be done on a laptop.

Orchard House Vets van.

Essential medication and food delivery to high risk clients




We will be utilising our ambulance to provide a weekly delivery of essential pet medication and food to the most vulnerable clients in our community. We will be providing this service completely free of charge


Who does this service apply to?

We are ONLY offering this service to clients who are high risk or vulnerable and unable to leave the home. If you have family, friends or neighbours who may be able to collect your medication, please ask them to come to the surgery and call us on 01434 607677 when they arrive, staff will instruct them on what to do.


I am not high risk or vulnerable but am self isolating because I care for some who is, can I use this service?

Yes, following protocol and previously given information.


I am self isolating but not high risk, vulnerable or a key worker, can I use this service?

In short, no. We are reserving this only for those who are at most risk. This service is manned by only one member of staff who has volunteered their free time to do this for us. We recommend those self isolating that are not high risk to use the Royal Mail, as long as the post office remains open we will be able to post your medication. For food items, we would recommend asking family or a friend. If you have no other option, please call us and explain your situation and we will try our very best for you but at this moment in time we have to prioritise emergency appointments, surgeries and the highest risk clients.


I am a key worker, can I use this service?



I am one of the eligible reasons for delivery stated above. How do I organise delivery?

Please email us providing your full name, pets name, full address and a contact number. Please include your requested food or medication. A member of our team will give you a call back and you will be “screened” by our wonderful staff who will ask a few questions to see if we can deliver for you or if posting your items may be more suitable. They will confirm everything for you but please be patient, we have very limited staff who are working non stop. Please ensure you place your order no later than 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon.


I am not eligible for delivery, what are my options and how do I order?

Please email to place your medication or food order. If you wish for this to be posted to you, please include this in your email. You will be charged postage and currently we recommend you allow 7 days for medication to reach you. We aim to post first class within 24 hours of your request. If you are able to collect your items from the surgery, please call us to advise you are coming to collect your medication or food, if you have not paid then at this point you will be asked to. Please then call when you are in our car park. We will bring your item out to you.


Can I thank your “delivery drivers”?

Please do feel free to give a wave at the window, give us an email or if you are on social media, leave a review or message mentioning them, this is the best way to communicate as we can pass your message on! We would strongly advise against any contact for both your safety and our staff.


Who will be delivering my items?

Hexham and Stocksfield clients, your delivery driver is our Assistant Practice Manager – Graham Skelton.
Bellingham clients, your delivery driver is our Registered Veterinary Nurse and Bellingham resident – Nalda Ferguson.
Graham will be using our practice ambulance but Nalda be using a Blue RAV 4 so please be aware this will be Nalda pulling up outside your home!


Do I have to pay before delivery?

Yes. Delivery is free but you must pay for your medication or food before we deliver. You will not be able to pay when placing your order as the vet must dispense your medication, you should be able to pay for food when ordering. A member of the team will call you back for payment or as soon as they possibly can.


What precautions are Orchard House Vets taking and what information should I know?

We are following government guidelines and advise you do the same. Ensure no-one comes to greet our staff, ensure pets are inside your home or secure from our staff. Please do not leave any kind items like chocolates or cards for our staff, as grateful as we are, these could become a health risk to our staff. (Feel free to keep them in reserve for a later date!) Our staff will be wearing appropriate PPE for each delivery. All medications and food will be kept separate and after each delivery, our staff will take the correct precautions before the next delivery.


Can I order in bulk?

Under RCVS guidelines, we have legal limitations on how much we can dispense to one client and this will be explained when you order your medication. Whilst food can be bulk bought, we need to ensure all our clients have access to food so will limit where we feel we must.

Finally – we are so grateful for the overwhelming amount of support we have received in these ever changing, unpredictable times. Whilst we never turn chocolate away please kindly do not try to say thank you this way for the time being. If you would like to show your appreciation, we would ask you leave reviews for others so they know what we have done for you and what we are about. We are on all platforms but Facebook and Google are the most popular choices! Thank you for your understanding and we encourage clients to email us on if you have any non urgent queries or a query regarding delivery.

Covid-19 important statement


Due to the latest government advice, we will now only be able to offer acute emergency care and telephone appointments at our Hexham surgery. Our Stocksfield and Bellingham surgeries will be closed effective immediately. This is a heart breaking decision for us to make but a necessary decision.

Medication can be collected until MIDDAY on the 24th March at our Bellingham and Stocksfield branches. Medication can be collected during our opening hours of 8.30am – 5pm at our Hexham surgery but please be aware of very strict measures taking place, instructions can be found on the doors of our surgery. We will be locking the entrance to the practice and ask clients to call us on arrival with your name and medication.

We are working hard through the night to put in place safe ways for clients who need essential medications to collect them from our Hexham surgery. We will update you on this as soon as a plan is put in place.

Our out of hours veterinary service is still available but reserved for emergencies only and we will brief any client who do need our out of hours service on how to safely proceed.

We will be following government guidelines and as always do our absolute upmost to care for you and your pets during these extremely difficult times.

Awards winners.

Paws For Thought – Spring Petcare Roundup

White dog sat in a fieldSpring is here at last! 

At least, it’s close enough around the corner for us to get excited by the prospect of brighter weather and longer walks in the woods with our four-legged friends.

As the days get longer, the sap rises and the leaves get greener, we reckon it’s the perfect time for a roundup blog with exciting news on seasonal pet health issues, surgery services and special events and campaigns which will make March 2020 a month to remember.

Let’s get cracking! 

Pet Theft Awareness Week (14 – 21 March)

Each year, Pet Theft Awareness Week aims to spread the word on the budgie burglars, rabbit raiders, canine crooks and feline fraudsters that spread misery by pilfering pets from their happy homes.

Held between 14-21 March, this year’s campaign materials make for miserable reading, but they’re worth taking note of if you don’t want to see your beloved animal swiped, stuffed in a swag bag and sold on to someone who doesn’t know how to love or care for them appropriately. 

Pet theft is more common than you might think – figures from the police reveal 5-6 dogs are stolen every day in England and Wales. And this is just the tip of the iceberg, because figures for ‘Theft by Finding’ are never included in official statistics and this could compound the problem even further. 

Remember that pet theft is a martini crime – it can happen anytime, anyplace, anywhere and dogs and other animals are stolen from gardens, houses, parks, kennels, outside shops and cars 24/7. Nowhere is safe and thieves are shameless. 

Furthermore, any breed can be targeted, but designer toy breeds and gun dogs are particularly attractive to sticky-fingered criminals. Incredibly, thieves even steal entire litters of puppies – causing untold heartbreak to the mother and her human carers.

Reward or ransom for return can be demanded, but most dogs are sold on to unsuspecting new owners, with some being used for breeding and worse, dog fighting. 

And although compulsory microchips mean dog owners can be traced, these devices aren’t in dogs GPS trackers. You can buy specific collars with integrated GPS which reveals your pet’s activity, but the following tips could stop your pet falling into the wrong hands in the first place – when it comes to pet theft, prevention is better than cure.

  • Don’t leave your dog outside a shop or supermarket
  • Don’t let your dog out of sight when it’s exercising
  • Never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle
  • Make sure your garden, house and outside kennels are secure.
  • Regularly check gates and security lighting
  • Be careful who can see your pet’s photos on social media – make your account settings as private as possible.
  • Change your routine regularly – unpredictability makes you and your pet tougher for crooks to track.

Follow these tips and you can look forward to keeping your pet at the heart of your family for years to come – forewarned is forearmed!

National puppy dayVet is hugging a puppy

Wet noses, fab furry coats and cheeky personalities combine to possibly make puppies the most adorable denizens of the domestic animal kingdom.

So National Puppy Day on March 23rd is the perfect excuse (as if you need one) to celebrate everything that’s amazing about the junior canine in your family.

But did you know that we offer FREE puppy health checks? They’re always conducted by one of our vets and you’ll also be offered 4 weeks free pet insurance with Pet Plan. 

We’re also always happy to enrol you in our Well Pet Club, which spreads the cost of your pet’s booster vaccination, preventative health care and nurse clinics (nail clips, anal glands), as well as exclusive member benefits.

Did you know?

Did you know that we can check your pet’s microchip details for you? 

We offer this super service completely free and it only takes 5 minutes. 

Here’s how it works:

  • We scan your pet, enter their details into the national identibase and confirm that

 your details are correct. This ensures that our internal records match with those held by authorities.

  • Call us, email or pop in while you’re passing and ask if we can squeeze in a pet scan there and then or arrange one ASAP. If your pet was to go missing and your details were wrong, it is significantly more difficult to find you – this is a stitch in time that prevents untold heartache.

Having the following info on your mobile can fast-track finding your missing pet:

  • A clear photo of your pet, showing any distinguishing markings.
  • Your pet’s microchip number (If you don’t know this, just ask! As we’ve explained, scanning is swift and simple).
  • Local Animal Warden’s phone number.
  • Your vet’s phone number
  • Your dog’s microchip database phone number.

We’re not in the scaremongering business at Orchard House Vets – we’re sharing this advice with our customers because it’s our business to care about animals as much as you do. 

And if there’s anything we’ve missed, please let us know – we encourage all of our client community to share ideas and tips and we’ll publish the best in our blog.

Flea and Ticks

April isn’t just about Easter eggs and cute bunnies – unfortunately it’s also when we see a spike in flea and tick activity. Dog with a tick.

But luckily for you and your pet, we provide the very best flea and tick treatment – and with our Well Pet Club, you can spread the cost over 12 months.

Fleas can lay up to 1,500 eggs in their short lifetime (which ranges from 14 days to 12 months), they enter your house various ways and don’t even have to directly attach to your pet – they can simply be attached to your clothes!

Ticks are also rife at this time of year and we have already seen a number of pets presenting with them.

If you’re a member of our Well Pet Club and see a tick on your pet, pop into the surgery and a nurse will remove this for you in two shakes of a lamb’s tail – yet another great membership perk.

Ticks can cause serious health problems – it’s well documented by organisations like RSPCA that they can cause Lyme disease and that’s why it’s so important to keep up to date with preventative treatments.

National veterinary awards.

National Veterinary Awards

You may remember last year that our Student Vet Nurse Zoe Pickering and our Assistant Practice Manager Graham Skelton were both finalists in the prestigious national veterinary awards.

We’ll soon hear if we have any finalists for 2020 but regardless, we are overwhelmed at the number of nominations we have received this year – 20 in all, which beats our previous practice record of 19.

Thank you so much for your nominations and fingers, toes and paws crossed that we can report more finalists for 2020 soon!

Final thought

Remember that you can book a pet care appointment online – if you’re on the move, it’s often more convenient than calling and takes a few seconds to complete.

Whew! That’s all the news from the pet health frontline here at the moment, but we can’t wait to catch up with you all again soon.

Need to chat about any pet health issues? Contact Us today!

Dog covering it's nose with it's paw.

Coronavirus in dogs

Don’t panic Captain Mainwaring!

This is just a brief message to reassure you that the alarmist headlines in some of the newspapers this weekend are just that, alarmist. There is no evidence that dogs transmit the Covid-19 virus.
A dog in Hong Kong belonging to an owner with the infection had the virus in its nose and mouth. It had no symptoms. It probably licked up or sniffed its owner’s sneeze – you know what dogs are like!
For proper, informed information on Covid-19 and your pets, go to the WHO website or WSAVA. 
Be informed. Feel free to telephone the practice if you have any concerns. And wash those hands!
Tim Pearson, MRCVS

Vomiting Bug

There have been reports of a vicious vomiting bug in the UK and our Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Jill Crawford, discusses everything you need to know.

What is this vomiting bug?

You may read in the press about a particularly severe vomiting bug which is being seen in the UK currently. Vets at Liverpool University are working hard to try to identify the cause, and vets in practice are able to send samples to them, under certain terms and conditions.

My dog is vomiting, how can I tell if it’s this and not something else?

If you have a dog which vomits for a prolonged period (over 24 hours) we advise you to phone the surgery to make an appointment. It is reported that the affected dogs are vomiting in spells of 4 to 8 times over 10 minutes and throughout the day. The vomiting may stop overnight but then start again in the morning with the same ferocity. However we would always recommend any prolonged spells of vomiting or diarrhoea be checked by a vet.

Are there other symptoms?

The symptoms are severe vomiting, which is prolonged , a loss of appetite which can persist for several days and a ‘gravy like’ diarrhoea.

What can I do if my dog is affected?

Treatment will depend on many factors relating to the individual but in some cases may involve fluid therapy, blood tests and other medication to control the vomiting.
Not all vomiting dogs will have this condition, and there is no known risk to people. If you have a dog which vomits for a prolonged period (over 24 hours,) we advise you to phone the surgery to make an appointment, and if feasible, keep your dog in the car until your appointment is called to avoid spreading it to other pets. If that’s not possible, let our staff know so they can let you wait in a separate area.

How many cases have been reported?

So far 474 cases have been reported to SAVSNET. The main locations are throughout England and Wales, however a few cases have been noted in Northern Ireland and a few in Scotland.

How serious is it? Could my dog die?

Most of the 474 reported cases have made a full recovery but 4 dogs have died. Do be aware that SAVSNET can be sure if the 4 dogs died because of this bug so whilst we exercise caution, we do not recommend panic, this is just for our clients attention to be vigilant.