Valentines reminder

Chocolate poisoning in dogs continues to be amongst the most common toxicities we see each year. With it being Valentine’s Day, it must be remembered that chocolate-based treats and gifts can be toxic to our pets.

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, the dried and partially fermented seeds of Theobroma cacao native to the deep tropical region of Central America. The toxic constituent, theobromine, is a related to caffeine.  Chocolate also contains a small amount of caffeine.

The amount of theobromine in chocolate products varies considerably due to natural differences in cocoa beans as well as the ingredients of products. There may also be some genetic susceptibility to theobromine toxicity in certain breeds. White chocolate is very low in theobromine and therefore considered non-toxic.

In dogs, the most common clinical signs include vomiting, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, weeing a lot and bloating. Theobromine intoxication will also stimulate the myocardium and CNS stimulation – resulting in tremors, high heart  rate and a fever. There is also the risk of pancreatitis following ingestion of chocolate products that contain a large amount of sugar and fat.

Treatment is largely supportive with particular emphasis on the management of cardiovascular and neurological effects, as well as rehydration. The prognosis is generally good and most dogs make a full recovery within 48-72 hours.  There have been very few fatal cases reported (about 5 in 1000).

Chocolate is also toxic to cats, rodents and rabbits, but there are limited case reports, therefore a toxic dose is yet to be established. Cats seem less inclined to eat chocolate, although, nationally, there are a few cases each year where significant clinical effects are seen.

If your dog (or other pet) has eaten more than a small amount of dark or continental chocolate, call us for advice as soon as possible.

On Valentine’s Day, you may be lucky enough to receive a bouquet of flowers from a loved one. Some of these flowers can be hazardous to pets.

A flower of particular concern is the Lily. Lillium species can cause kidney failure in cats.  All parts of the plant are toxic, including the pollen. Ingestion of less than one leaf may cause severe poisoning. In one case, a cat developed severe clinical signs after playing in a box in which the owner had received a delivery of lilies. This cat was reportedly only exposed to the residual pollen inside the box. Treatment is essential in all cases, with focus on the prevention of kidney failure and the skin should be washed thoroughly to remove any residual pollen on the coat.  Kidney failure following lily exposure has not been observed in other animals, however, ingestion of plant material may cause some upset stomach problems.

Other flowers that may be found in bouquets are stated below:

  • Eating Roses (yes, it happens) will often cause gastrointestinal signs including vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain are expected in cats and dogs.
  • There are numerous species of tulip commonly available as cut flowers or as bulbs for growing in gardens and parks. The bulbs are particularly irritant. Ingestion may lead to drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, flatulence and abdominal pain.
  • Daffodils contain alkaloids, found in all parts of the plant. These components have irritant, emetic and purgative actions. Mild gastrointestinal irritation is most common. More severe cases have shown dehydration, collapse, hypothermia, low blood pressure, slow heart rate and high blood sugar, although such cases are very rare.

Hydrangea commonly causes vomiting, as well as, abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, lethargy and depression. Dermatitis has been reported in humans who regularly handle the plants, but it has not been reported in animal exposed.

Ending on a positive note, Happy Valentine’s Day to all our loved pets – just stay off the chocolates and flowers and stick to pet treats…

PetPlan UK awards

We have been nominated for the UK Veterinary Practice of the Year and Jill has been nominated for vet of the year.

Thank you to all who voted for us in the Petplan veterinary awards!
It is always nice to have recognition for the care we provide.

Orchard House has been a finalist 3 times previously, but we’ve always been runners-up. Hopefully this is our year!
No more “always the bridesmaid, never the bride”….

A brown hen.

DEFRA information on Avian flu

The Government Chief Vet has declared a Prevention Zone introducing enhanced biosecurity requirements for poultry and captive birds, helping protect them from a strain of avian flu circulating in mainland Europe. The zone covers England and will remain in place for 30 days.Please refer to the government website.

Fault on the phoneline

We are currently experiencing a fault with our Hexham phone number, making it unavailable. We have reported it and an engineer is working to resolve the fault.

In the meantime, should you need to call us, please ring our Stocksfield number on 01661 843259.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

Last updated 8am 7/12/16

Does your pet deserve a treat?

Why not pop into our Hexham surgery where you will find a host of toys and accessories ‘purrfect’ for your pampered pooch or feline friend. We also have a range of dental and grooming products as well as odour eliminating candles, ideal for when your dog has had a splash in the river on a summer evening.

Make the most of our introductory offer and get 10% off any purchase until 31st August 2016.

Claiming on your Pet Insurance

Orchard House Pet Insurance Policy.

Effective from 1st August 2016.

Claiming on your pet insurance policy should be simple and straightforward.  The following information is intended to help make the process as smooth as possible.

When claiming on your pet insurance please be aware:

We have to disclose a full medical history to the insurance company on their request.

Insurance companies will charge separate excesses for each condition per policy year.

  • It is best to process an insurance claim as quickly as possible. It may not be necessary to wait until all treatment has been completed before starting the process. Continuation claims can be submitted for future treatment.
  • If a condition has been noted on your pets’ record, the insurance company may rule it to be a ‘pre-exisiting’ condition even if no treatment was advised or undertaken. Pre-existing conditions are usually excluded from claims under the policy conditions.

Submitting a claim to your insurance company (non-direct claim):

  • Bring in a claim form. You may have one at home, or you may have to contact the insurance company. Many companies now have claim forms that you can download from their website.
  • You will find there are different sections on the form for you, (the owner) and for us (the veterinary practice) to complete. Please ensure that you have filled in all the relevant sections before bringing the form to the surgery. If you are unsure about any part of it, we will be happy to advise you. Make sure that the policyholder signs the form.
  • Payment for all treatment, products and services should be made in full to Orchard House Veterinary Centres.
  • We will complete the section for the veterinary practice, provide all the supporting receipts. After it has been checked over by the vet in charge of your pet’s case, it will be emailed or posted by us to the insurance company.
  • You will receive payment directly from the insurance company.

If you are authorised to make a direct claim, follow the above steps, and please note the following terms and conditions apply:

1. Direct claims have to be authorised by the Practice Manager, Assistant Practice Manager or Practice Principle.
2. We are unable to process new direct claims for accounts under £200.00
3. The excess, any percentage excess as well as products and services not covered by the insurance are payable on the day of treatment. If the excess is not known, you will be asked to pay a £100 excess. If the excess is less, the difference will be refunded to you, minus any exclusions the insurance company make, if it is more, you will be liable to pay the difference within 30 days.
4. An administrative fee of £14.50 is due for every new direct claim.
5. We do not process direct claims with Equine and Livestock, Animal Friends or those insurance providers underwritten by them.
6. In the event of the claim being declined you will be liable to pay all outstanding balances within 30 days of notification from the insurance company.
7. If your policy does not cover the full amount of the fees you will be liable to pay the balance within 30 days of the claim being processed.
8. We have to disclose a full medical history to the insurance company on their request.

Please note: Insurance companies will charge a separate excess for each condition per policy year.

Which insurance companies can we do direct claims for, and which do we not?

We can do direct claims for:

Allianz Insurance Plc
Animal Care Options
Pet ID
Scottish Pet

Royal and Sun Alliance Insurance Plc
John Lewis
More Than

Ultimate Insurance Co Ltd
Kwik Fit
Legal and General
Paws and Claws
Purely Pets
Vet Savers

Zenith Insurance Plc
Protect Your Bubble
Pets at Home
Sun Life

Acromas Insurance Company Limited

Agria International Forsakring AB
Kennel Club
Vet UK

Atlas Insurance PCC Limited

Aviva Insurance Limited
NCI (Lifetime Policies)

Cranbrook Underwriting (for and on behalf of QIC Europe)
Healthy Pets
NCI (Time Limited Policy)
Vets Medicover

Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Ltd

Pinnacle Insurance Plc
American Express
Post Office

UK Insurance Ltd
Direct Line
Virgin Money

Insurance companies we cannot do direct claims for:

Advent Underwriting Ltd
Pet Protect

Alpha Insurance A/S

Livestock Insurance Company Ltd

Red Sands Insurance Company (Europe) Ltd
Animal Friends

For more information, contact Hannah Shrimpton, Acting Practice Manager at Hexham on 01434 607677.

Golden Labrador.

New tick-borne disease in dogs – canine babesiosis

In the last few weeks there have been confirmed cases of canine babesiosis in dogs living in Essex, which have never travelled to Europe. Thankfully in the North East there have been no confirmed cases, however we would urge all dog owners to ensure their dog is up to date with all parasite control, especially tick prevention.

What are the symptoms of canine babesiosis?

Symptoms of babesiosis can range from mild to severe and can include lethargy, lack of appetite, fever, anaemia and pale gums. If your dog has any symptoms and has ticks we would advise you to contact us to make an appointment.

Detecting ticks

You should check your pet’s skin on its head first; around the mouth ears, behind the ears and neck, and then work your way down its forelegs and the rest of its body searching for any lumps on the skin surface.

Removing ticks

When attempting to remove ticks it is essential you remove the whole tick, ticks should be removed using a proper tick remover such as the ‘O’Tom Tick Twister’.  If you are unsure of how to do this, please call the surgery to organise an appointment with one of our Veterinary Nurses.

How to protect your dog from Ticks and tick-borne disease

To reduce the risk associated with ticks on dogs, we have innovative and convenient treatments that are only available on prescription. The options include oral tablets, spot-on treatment, sprays and collars; these modern techniques are much more effective than traditional over-the-counter tick treatment.

For best advice on how to protect your dog from ticks, please call us today on 01434 607677 for Hexham or 01661 843259 for Stocksfield.

A portion of chips.

Dogs love chips!

From 6th April 2016 it will be required by law for all dogs kept in England and Wales to be microchipped. If your dog has no microchip, we would strongly advise that you get one, call us today to make an appointment.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a microchip?

A microchip is the size of a grain of rice; each has a unique number which is stored together with the registered keeper’s details on a national database. This information can be used to reunite lost dogs if they go missing. As the Registered Keeper, you will also be able to prove ownership in case of theft or dispute.

Is it invasive for a dog to have a microchip?

No, the procedure of implanting a microchip is very quick, straight forward and similar to the dog having an injection. Carried out by one of our vets; it only takes a few minutes and will last for a lifetime. This will not cause the dog any adverse symptoms.

How old should puppies be to have a microchip?

Puppies should be a minimum of 6 weeks of age when they have a microchip, but they have to be registered on the approved database by the age of 8 weeks.

Are any dogs exempt from having a microchip?

There are no exemptions with regards to age of a dog and they will only be legally exempt if a vet certifies that they cannot be microchipped because it would pose a risk to the dogs health.

Is there a fine if my dog is not microchipped?

Yes, under the legislation, your dog is only microchipped once the chip has been implanted and your details have been registered and approved on the database. Without this, you would be liable to a £500 fine.

Will the microchipping of dogs be government controlled?

The legislation will be enforced by local authorities, police, community support officers and any other person the Secretary of State may authorise to act as an enforcer of the regulations.

If my contact details change as the registered owner what should I do?

As the registered owner of the dog, you have to ensure that you update your details on the database the microchip is registered to. Under the legislation, your dog is only recognised as being microchipped once the chip has been implanted and your details have been registered on the approved database. Without this, you would be liable to a £500 fine.

We are offering all existing clients a £5 discount to get their dogs microchipped during our microchip clinics on Tuesday’s throughout February.

To book an appointment to get your dog microchipped call your local Orchard House Veterinary Centre today: Hexham on 01434 607677 or Stocksfield on 01661 843259.

Healthy Pet Club

We like to make looking after your pet’s health of our patients as affordable as possible.

Orchard House Pet Health Club offers Members to pet healthcare from just £12.95 per month. It’s easy to join. Just ask one of our team.

Healthy Pet Club offers…

Full annual vaccinations

  • A discount of 20% on kennel cough vaccination
  • Worming and flea control for 12 months
  • Health Checks every 6 months (one to be included with vaccination)
  • A reduction of 10% on neutering, diets, microchipping, rabies vaccination and tick treatment.


Using Direct Debit, the prices per month are….

Dogs Cats Rabbits
Up to 20kg £12.95 £13.95 £9.00
20-40kg £13.95
Over 40kg £15.50

Own more than 1 pet? Then receive a £1 discount off the monthly payment for each additional pet. Direct Debit payments are received on or about the 14th of each month.

Accidental Injury Cover

For just £2.75 per month per pet, our accidental injury insurance policy provides cover up to £2,500 subject to a £75 excess. Annual cover is provided up to £5,000.

Additional Benefit…Extended Payment Scheme

Spread the cost of larger bills of over £400 over 3 months. Just ask one of our Vets.

Puppy Club

Start your puppy off on the right paw!

We run regular Puppy Parties allowing young dogs to meet and interact with other puppies and their owners; an important part of bringing up a sociable and well balanced pet.

One of our Veterinary Nurses – Catherine, Christine, Nalda or Laura – are always on hand to answer questions on health, training and general welfare.

Behaviour and Training

Most behaviour problems in dogs can be controlled by proper training. Our Vets and Nurses all have knowledge of pet behaviour and are always very willing to help.

They can also provide information about local training classes.  If necessary they can refer you to a local behaviourist.