Rabbits and Fireworks

Keep your Rabbit happy on Bonfire Night and beyond with our top tips…

  • Give your rabbit lots of extra bedding so they can burrow down in it and get cosy. You could put a cardboard box full of hay, with holes cut in for easy access and exit, in their hutch to give them an extra place to hide.
  • Bring your rabbits’ hutch or cage indoors. A quiet room is best, but an unused garage or shed is a good alternative if you can’t bring them into your house.
  • If you can’t bring your pets inside, turn their enclosure around so it faces a wall or fence instead of the open garden. This will help to stifle the sound and prevent them from seeing the flashes of light. Cover their hutch with thick blankets or a duvet to block out the sound of the bangs and the sight of the fireworks, but make sure your pet still has enough ventilation.
  • If you have a house rabbit or you are able to bring your pet inside, draw the curtains or black out the windows to block out the flashes of light in the night sky.
  • Close the windows to muffle the sound from outside. Switching the TV or radio on might help too, but make sure it’s not too loud – especially if your rabbit isn’t used to noises from the television.
  • Rabbits are social animals so keep them with the companion they’re familiar with to limit the stress of firework phobia.

Tim Pearson, MRCVS end of year message

Dear clients

Thank you so much for being a part of our Orchard House Vets family in 2019.

We have such wonderful clients and a particular thanks to those who brought us gifts and Christmas cards over the last few weeks! During the busy holidays we always reflect on the year gone by. For us, it has been another busy year and 2020 promises to be more of the same. We have exciting developments in the pipeline, so watch this space!

We wish you, your pets and your family a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year!

Kind regards

Tim Pearson, MRCVS, Director.

Hexham Christmas Opening Hours

Festive opening hours

December 23rd      8.30am to 6.30pm

December 24th     8.30am to 1pm

December 25th    Closed (Emergencies only)

December 26th    Closed (Emergencies only)

December 27th    8.30am to 6.30pm

December 28th   9am to 1pm

December 29th   Closed (Emergencies only)

December 30th   8.30am to 6.30pm

December 31st    8.30am to 5pm

January 1st          Closed (Emergencies only)


Stocksfield Christmas Opening Hours

Festive opening hours

December 23rd      8.30am to 6.30pm

December 24th     8.30am to 1pm

December 25th    Closed (Emergencies only)

December 26th    Closed (Emergencies only)

December 27th    8.30am to 6.30pm

December 28th   12pm to 3.30pm

December 29th   Closed (Emergencies only)

December 30th   8.30am to 6.30pm

December 31st    8.30am to 5pm

January 1st          Closed (Emergencies only)

Bellingham Christmas Opening Hours

Festive opening hours

December 23rd      8.30am to 6.00pm

December 24th     8.30am to 1pm

December 25th    Closed (Emergencies only)

December 26th    Closed (Emergencies only)

December 27th    8.30am to 6.00pm

December 28th   Closed (Emergencies only)

December 29th   Closed (Emergencies only)

December 30th   8.30am to 6.00pm

December 31st    8.30am to 5pm

January 1st          Closed (Emergencies only)

Border Terriers

Cat week

It is Cat week at Orchard House Vets!

How much do you know about cats? Read our 100 Cat facts below!

  1. Cats are believed to be the only mammals who don’t taste sweetness.
  2. Cats are nearsighted, but their peripheral vision and night vision are much better than that of humans.
  3. Cats are supposed to have 18 toes (five toes on each front paw; four toes on each back paw).
  4. Cats can jump up to six times their length.
  5. Cats’ claws all curve downward, which means that they can’t climb down trees head-first. Instead, they have to back down the trunk.
  6. Cats’ collarbones don’t connect to their other bones, as these bones are buried in their shoulder muscles.
  7. Cats have 230 bones, while humans only have 206.
  8. Cats have an extra organ that allows them to taste scents on the air, which is why your cat stares at you with her mouth open from time to time.
  9. Cats have whiskers on the backs of their front legs, as well.
  10. Cats have nearly twice the amount of neurons in their cerebral cortex as dogs.
  11. Cats have the largest eyes relative to their head size of any mammal.
  12. Cats make very little noise when they walk around. The thick, soft pads on their paws allow them to sneak up on their prey — or you!
  13. Cats’ rough tongues can lick a bone clean of any shred of meat.
  14. Cats use their long tails to balance themselves when they’re jumping or walking along narrow ledges.
  15. Cats use their whiskers to “feel” the world around them in an effort to determine which small spaces they can fit into. A cat’s whiskers are generally about the same width as its body. (This is why you should never, EVER cut their whiskers.)
  16. Cats walk like camels and giraffes: They move both of their right feet first, then move both of their left feet. No other animals walk this way.
  17. Male cats are more likely to be left-pawed, while female cats are more likely to be right-pawed.
  18. Though cats can notice the fast movements of their prey, it often seems to them that slow-moving objects are actually stagnant.
  19. Some cats are ambidextrous, but 40 percent are either left- or right-pawed.
  20. Some cats can swim.
  21. There are cats who have more than 18 toes. These extra-digit felines are referred to as being “polydactyl.”
  22. A cat’s average lifespan increased by a year over the span of time between 2002 and 2012, according to a study by Banfield Pet Hospital.
  23. Cats typically sleep for 12 to 16 hours a day.
  24. Cats are crepuscular, which means that they’re most active at dawn and dusk.
  25. Cats are fastidious creatures about their “bathroom.” If you have more than one cat, you should have one litter box for each.
  26. Cats can spend up to a third of their waking hours grooming.
  27. Cats live longer when they stay indoors.
  28. Cats’ purring may be a self-soothing behavior, since they make this noise when they’re ill or distressed, as well as when they’re happy.
  29. Cats will refuse an unpalatable food to the point of starvation.
  30. Despite popular belief, many cats are actually lactose intolerant.
  31. Female cats have the ability to get pregnant when they are only 4 months old!
  32. Grapes and raisins, as well as onions, garlic, and chives, are all extremely harmful foods for cats. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure — although the reasoning behind that isn’t clear. Meanwhile, onions, garlic, and chives wreak havoc on your cat’s gastrointestinal system and can cause anemia.
  33. If you keep your cat active during the day, he will sleep better at night. If you’re not free-feeding your cat, you can also help her get a good night’s sleep by providing her with a substantial evening meal.
  34. It’s believed that catnip produces an effect similar to LSD or marijuana in cats. The effects of nepetalactone — the chemical in catnip that can makes cats crazy — wears off within 15 minutes, and won’t surface again for a few hours, even if your cat remains in sniffing distance.
  35. Kittens can be spayed or neutered when they are only eight weeks old. If possible, these procedures should be performed in the first 5 months of your cat’s life.
  36. Male cats who have been fixed need fewer calories to maintain their weight.
  37. Spaying and neutering can extend a cat’s life. The Banfield Pet Hospital study found that neutered males live an average of 62 percent longer than unneutered cats and spayed females live an average of 39 percent longer than unspayed cats.
  38. Your cat’s grooming process stimulates blood flow to his skin, regulates his body temperature and helps him relax.
  39. A cat with a question-mark-shaped tail is asking, “Want to play?”
  40. According to Wilde, a slow blink is a “kitty kiss.” This movement shows contentment and trust.
  41. Cats have a unique “vocabulary” with their owner — each cat has a different set of vocalizations, purrs and behaviors.
  42. Cats have up to 100 different vocalizations — dogs only have 10.
  43. Cats find it threatening when you make direct eye contact with them.
  44. Cats mark you as their territory when they rub their faces and bodies against you, as they have scent glands in those areas.
  45. Cats may yawn as a way to end a confrontation with another animal. Think of it as their “talk to the hand” gesture.
  46. Hissing is defensive, not aggressive, says Wilde. “It’s an expression of fear, stress or discomfort of a threatened cat communicating ‘stay away,'” she says.
  47. If cats are fighting, the cat that’s hissing is the more vulnerable one, says Wilde.
  48. If your cat approaches you with a straight, almost vibrating tail, this means that she is extremely happy to see you.
  49. Kneading — which some people refer to as “making biscuits” — is a sign of contentment and happiness. Cats knead their mothers when they are nursing to stimulate the let-down of milk.
  50. Meowing is a behaviour that cats developed exclusively to communicate with people.
  51. When a cat flops over and exposes his belly, it’s not always an invitation for a belly rub. A cat does this when he’s relaxed and showing trust.
  52. When cats hit you with retracted claws, they’re playing, not attacking.
  53. When dogs wag their tails, they may be expressing happiness. But this isn’t the case for cats! When your cat wags her tail, it’s her way of warning you that you are getting on her last nerve.
  54. When your cat sticks his butt in your face, he is doing so as a gesture of friendship.
  55. Whiskers are also good indicators of a cat’s mood. When a cat is scared, he put his whiskers back. But when a cat is in hunting mode, he puts his whiskers forward.
  56. Your cat drapes its tail over another cat, your dog, or you as a symbol of friendship.
  57. Cats are very fussy about their water bowls; some prefer to ignore their bowls entirely in favor of drinking from the sink faucet.
  58. Cats groom other cats — and sometimes people — in a ritual called allogrooming.
  59. Cats like to sleep on things that smell like their owners, such as their pillows and dirty laundry (ick!).
  60. Cats love to sleep in laundry baskets, too, because they’re basically hiding places with peep holes.
  61. Cats often attack your ankles when they’re bored.
  62. Certain cats go crazy for foods you wouldn’t expect, like olives, potato chips, and the hops in beer.
  63. For some reason, cats really dislike citrus scents.
  64. If you can’t find your cat, you should look in a box or a bag, as these are some of their favorite hiding spots!
  65. Male cats who try to get to a female in heat can show very bizarre behavior — for example, some have been known to slide down chimneys!
  66. Many cats like to lick their owner’s freshly washed hair.
  67. Some cats love the smell of chlorine.
  68. Thieving behaviour is not uncommon among cats. They will often grab objects like stuffed animals, feather dusters, and other things that remind them of prey.
  69. A green cat was born in Denmark in 1995. Some people believe that high levels of copper in the water pipes nearby may have given his fur a verdigris effect.
  70. It turns out that Abraham Lincoln was a crazy cat president! He had four cats that lived in the White House with him.
  71. Maria Assunta left her cat, Tomasso, her entire $13 million fortune when she died in 2011.
  72. President Bill Clinton’s cat, Socks, was a media darling during the Clinton administration and was said to receive more letters than the President himself.
  73. Stubbs, a 17-year-old orange tabby, is mayor of the historic district of Talkeetna, Alaska.
  74. A cat’s learning style is about the same as a 2- to 3-year-old child.
  75. A cat’s purr vibrates at a frequency of 25 to 150 hertz, which is the same frequency at which muscles and bones repair themselves.
  76. A group of kittens is called a “kindle.”
  77. A house cat could beat superstar runner Usain Bolt in the 200 meter dash.
  78. About half of the cats in the world respond to the scent of catnip.
  79. Cat breeders are called “catteries.”
  80. Cats can be toilet-trained.
  81. Cats can drink sea water in order to survive. (In case you’re wondering, we can’t.)
  82. Cats don’t have an incest taboo, so they may choose to mate with their brothers and sisters.
  83. Cats dream, just like people do.
  84. Cats have contributed to the extinction of 33 different species.
  85. Cats perceive people as big, hairless cats, says Wilde.
  86. Cats were first brought to the Americas in colonial times to get rid of rodents.
  87. Collective nouns for adult cats include “clowder,” “clutter,” “glaring,” and “pounce.”
  88. Each cat’s nose print is unique, much like human fingerprints.
  89. Every Scottish Fold cat in the world can trace its heritage back to the first one, which was found in Scotland in the 1960s, says Cheryl Hogan, a Scottish Fold breeder and the committee chair for the breed at The International Cat Association (TICA).
  90. It’s not uncommon to see cats in food stores in big cities as a form of free — and adorable — pest control.
  91. Kittens in the same litter can have more than one father. This is because the female cat releases multiple eggs over the course of a few days when she is in heat.
  92. Male cats are the most sensitive to catnip, while kittens under 3 months old have no response at all.
  93. Most world languages have a similar word to describe the “meow” sound.
  94. People often think that they’ve stumbled over a purebred as a stray or in a shelter, but Hogan says that this is very uncommon. “Ninety-nine times out of 100 what you have found on the street will not be purebred anything,” she says. “Very seldom do breeders sell kittens that are not already spayed or neutered,” as purebred cats need to meet very strict standards.
  95. Some 700 million feral cats live in the United States, and many shelters run trap-neuter-release programs to stem the population growth.
  96. Studies suggest that domesticated cats first appeared around 3600 B.C.
  97. The first known cat video was recorded in 1894.
  98. There are about 88 million pet cats in the United States, which makes them the most popular pet in the country!
  99. Two hundred feral cats prowl the park at Disneyland, doing their part to control rodents — the ones who don’t wear funny outfits and speak in squeaky voices.
  100. White cats with blue eyes are prone to deafness.

Help your cat cope with fireworks

Fireworks can be a very scary event for your cat, can you imagine the noise and bright flashes and not understanding what they are? We have made some tips on how to help your cat during fireworks.

Keep your cat indoors at night time during fireworks

Even if you are not having fireworks yourself, you cannot predict if others in your neighbourhood might be. Keeping your cat indoors will avoid them being caught out when fireworks start. When keeping cats indoors be sure to provide litter trays for them.


Feliway is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, or ‘happy marker’ that cats leave behind when they rub their face on people, furniture, doorways and other objects in the home. It is a sign they feel comfortable in their home environment. Feliway can be used to help during stressful times, such as fireworks, or even moving home. Combine Feliway with the below tips and you should significantly help your cat to be calmer.

Escape-proof your house

Close all doors, windows and block off cat flaps to stop your cat escaping outside during fireworks. Cats can squeeze into surprisingly tight spots, so block off any dangerous or unsuitable areas they may go into.

Create a safe hiding place

If your cat normally hides in a specific place, make sure they have access and encourage them to use the space with treats and toys. A box lined with blankets and with the opening slightly covered is ideal. They will feel safer the higher up they can go, so placing the box on a top shelf or cupboard will help, ensuring it’s safe.

Do not shut them in a confined area

It is very important not to shut your cat in a confined area as they could injure themselves trying to escape. Allow access to all safe areas of the house.

Cover the windows

It isn’t only the sound of fireworks that worries cats; the flashes can upset them too. It is important to cover windows and draw the curtains to block out any sudden bursts of light.

Turn on the radio

To reduce the impact of the sudden sound of fireworks, keep a radio or television on.

Act normal around your cat

Cats are very perceptive and if they notice you’re behaving unusually (like following them around or being overly affectionate) they’ll sense something is up. If they see that the fireworks have no effect on you, this may help decrease their anxiety.

Avoid picking them up

If your cat is distressed avoid trying to interact with them or picking them up as increased stress levels can provoke sudden aggression. Cats also take a long time to calm down, so leave them until morning to settle before interacting with them again.

Buy them a treat

Wherever your cat decides to settle for the night, a new toy or treats can be a great distraction from the noise. There are also products on the market that can help cats to cope with stressful events.

Make sure your cat’s microchip is up to date

Cats flee if they are scared. Make sure your cat can be identified should they run away by ensuring they are microchipped and the details contained are up to date.

Help your dog cope with fireworks

Bonfire night for many is a great night. The roaring fire, toffee apples and of course the colourful, loud fireworks.  However, for our pets bonfire night can be very scary with 80% of pet owners owning a dog that shows a fear response to fireworks.

We recommend trying the below tips, especially in puppies who may be experiencing their first firework season. These tips will help dogs of all ages, if you have any concerns please just contact us!

•    Adaptil – Dog appeasing pheromone comes as a plug in device or a collar which releases a calming scent into the air which only a dog can smell.  The plug-in should be placed in the room in which your dog spends most time, switched on 24 hours a day and started about 2 weeks prior to fireworks. **NOTE – our surgeries have a promotion until 21st December for free travel spray when you buy a Diffuser or Collar**

•    Desensitisation – In the long term your dog needs to learn to be less afraid of loud noises. The ‘Sounds scary’ CD is now available which simulates the random and unpredictable noises of fireworks. The CD program should be started several weeks before November 5th and will help make the next firework season less stressful.

•    Create a safe, comfortable and quiet area for your dog.  This can be as simple as a blanket over the back of chair, or the cupboard under the stairs, just remember to allow your pet to come and go to this area, do not lock them in.  If your dog prefers to hide under the table or bed then allow this, do not coax him out.  Do this a few weeks in advance to give your dog time to adjust and familiarise themselves. Train your dog to associate this area with positive experiences e.g. playing games, treats etc.

•   Some dogs will bolt if out on walks when fireworks go off so make sure he is wearing an ID tag or, better still, have him microchipped.

•    If behavioural modifications have not worked for your pet, medications are available in the form of tranquillisers, but these should be used as a last resort and in more serious cases.  At least one trial dose must be administered to the animals at a quiet non-stressful time in order to assess the response to treatment. Occasionally some dogs may show aggression when treated with tranquillisers, this phenomenon is ‘aggression disinhibition’, this is why a trial dose is extremely important.
If firework night is upon you, here are some suggestions to help ease this stressful period:

  • Keep them in the house during the worst period.
  • Make sure you dog is well fed as this will help make him sleepy and relaxed.
  • Draw the curtains/blinds to keep out visual reminders of flashing lights.
  • Try to remain calm and relaxed yourself to convey the message that there is nothing to worry about.
  • Have some familiar calming music or the TV on to help block out some of the noise.
  • Take your dog for his work earlier in the evening to make sure he has been to the toilet before fireworks start. Try to tire you dog out ready for the evenings.
  • Do not pat/stroke in an attempt to soothe your dog if he is showing signs of stress.  This is an inadvertent positive reward for the behaviour that you don’t want!  Do not punish fearful behaviour either, as this will only intensify the fear. Take care to only reward the non-fearful behaviour that you want.

National Veterinary Awards 2020

It is that time of year again! The National Veterinary Awards nominations are once again open!

Last year we were the first practice in the UK to have two finalists in the same category. Unfortunately we did not win the grand prize, but if you think we as a practice or an individual member of our team deserve to win then please vote for us! The quality and detail of your nomination is key and below you can find out how to vote!

Categories and who you can vote for (any, or all!):

Practice of the year – Orchard House Vets Hexham, Orchard House Vets Stocksfield, Orchard House Vets Bellingham.
Vet of the year – Tim Pearson, Jill Crawford, Shona Mckay, Rachel Brown, Alex Hirst, Dick Thompson.
Practice Manager of the year – Claire Finnigan
Nurse of the year – Catherine waters, Christine Fairbairn, Emily Harrison, Amanda Jacques, Darren Tones, Carl Huscroft-Bell.
Support staff of the year – Cris Paterson, Penny Hamman, Graham Skelton, Zoe Pickering, Katie Bell, Natalie Bowe. Georgia March

Please click here to nominate and thank you so much for your consideration! We hope after a record breaking year we can go one better and win!