Post-operative client feedback


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Rainbow dog paw.

COVID-19 update

We have now opened our Stocksfield surgery! We will be open from 8.30am to 5pm on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday but do of course have strict measures in place for both your safety and that of our team. Please call ahead of your journey to the surgery and you will be advised of the safety measures to follow.
We hope to be announcing very soon that our Bellingham practice will be opening with the new safety measures in place so please check back for updates!
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 our surgeries. 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

RCVS Practice Standards Scheme

We are delighted to announce that each of our three branches have been awarded PSS accreditation by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeries. We ask our senior vet Jill Crawford the importance of this award.

How does a veterinary practice become PSS accredited?
The RCVS have a set of standards which we have to meet. They cover every single area of the practice, in considerable depth. There are 17 sections, each with multiple standards within it. Preparation is key, and takes several months prior to the actual inspection day. Additionally the practice can be ‘spot checked’ with only 24 hours advance notice, so it is important that those standards are maintained consistently.

Why is being PSS accredited so important?
We joined the scheme in 2007, shortly after it was launched, because we felt it was important that people should have the reassurance that an external inspection can bring. In some ways it’s like OFSTED for vets, although not yet compulsory! We think it’s a good way of showing that everything is done to the highest standards, ‘behind the scenes’ so to speak. It can be a very stressful time bringing your family pet to the vets and we hope it reassures pet owners to know that a practice has been rigorously inspected. It also ensures that all our staff are aware of the standards which are required, whether they’ve been with us for years, or have just joined the Orchard House ‘family’.

What does it mean to the practice and to our clients that we are PSS accredited?
It’s quite a nerve racking experience preparing for the inspection, as we want to make a good impression, and every member of staff is involved, both our clinical team of vets and veterinary nurses and our admin team of receptionists, branch co-ordinators and practice manager. I think it really draws us all together to ensure we work well as a team. For our clients, I hope, it helps them to feel that their pet is coming to a practice where all the staff are working to the highest professional standards.


2019 Star Of The Year

Orchard House Vets Star Of The Year 2019

Every pet under our care is a star in our eyes, however this year we wanted to award a “star of the year” for 2019, and Wilbur instantly came to mind.

Gentle giant, Wilbur, came to see Tim Pearson, MRCVS in 2018 with a slight limp. Tim had a high suspicion that it wasn’t just a strain or sprain. X rays showed a slight “smudge” on the bone of his forearm. Wilbur had a three dimensional X ray, a CT, and was diagnosed with a bone cancer. Jonathan Deacon at Moorview Referrals used a 3D-modelled titanium alloy bone to replace the bone in Wilbur’s forearm. Twelve months later Wilbur is still in remission. Early diagnosis and cutting edge orthopaedic surgery have given him an extra years of happy life with his family.

At the beginning of the year, Wilbur also starred in Graham’s video for the national veterinary awards, he was in the practice for 2 hours being filmed from every angle, which given his giant size, was many angles! We fondly remember when the videographers asked what a Pyrenean Mountain Dog was and summing up our description as “ah, like a fluffy labrador”. You can image the look of surprise on their faces when a 65kg “fluffy Labrador” walked through the door!

At the awards ceremony, when Wilbur appeared on screen, a room full of Veterinary surgeons, Registered Veterinary Nurses and Veterinary support staff all gasped in amazement over his beauty and of course his size! We, as a practice, were incredibly grateful for Wilbur’s mum to take time out of her day to bring him in, and of course for Wilbur to be so patient.

He is such a deserving Orchard House Vets “Star of the year” and we wish him a happy and healthy 2020!


12 Day(ngers) of Christmas – Day 12


On the 12th day of Christmas, my owner happily gave to me …

Which Christmas leftovers can I give my dog?

Providing your Dog is healthy and is not allergic to the following foods, these are safe to give them a titbit of at Christmas:

  • Turkey meat (no skin or bones)
  • Salmon (fillets or cooked in spring water are preferable to smoked salmon)
  • Lamb meat (no bones)
  • Scrambled egg
  • Green beans
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Parsnips
  • Carrot
  • Peas
  • Swede
  • Mash potato (best without additional butter)
  • New potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yogurt (but check the ingredients and don’t feed if xylitol is listed as this is toxic to dogs)


On the 12th day of Christmas, my owner happily gave to me …

Providing your Cat is healthy and not allergic to the following foods, these are safe to give them a little bit at Christmas:

  • Skinless Chicken (The best!)
  • Cooked or steamed
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Green Beans
  • Tuna
  • Salmon



On the 12th day of Christmas, my owner happily gave to me …

Weeds such as dandelions always go down well, and a handful of fresh grass sprinkled in with their hay is delicious too.

Ideally, just give them a nibble more of their favourite food or suitable snacks! Very small quantities of fruits are okay too.


12 Day(ngers) of Christmas – Day 11


On the 11th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 

Other hazards

Silica gel

Silica gel comes in small sachets and is often found in the packaging of new shoes, handbags, cameras or electrical equipment which we unwrap over Christmas. Although it is labelled “Do not Eat” it is considered to be of low toxicity.


Although candles, even scented ones, are considered to be of low toxicity, ingestion could potentially block the intestine or cause choking.


When eaten, potpourri can cause significant gastrointestinal effects in dogs. These may last several days even after the material has passed through the gut.


Nicotine is toxic to dogs, and cigarette butts are especially dangerous – so it’s important not to leave any ashtrays in reach of dogs over Christmas, or dropped on the floor where they may eat them. Nicotine replacement patches and e-cigarette refills can also pose a risk. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, excess saliva and hypertension.



On the 11th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 


Ingestion of batteries is common at this time of year.  If the battery is chewed and pierced it can cause chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning. If swallowed whole it can also lead to an obstruction.

All batteries are potentially toxic so if you suspect your cat has chewed or swallowed one speak to your vet



On the 11th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 

Chocolate and sweets

It’s important to keep chocolate out of reach of your rabbit. If your rabbit only eats a small piece then you could be lucky and no harm may come of it. But if your rabbit eats a large amount of chocolate, then this could be quite serious and result in an emergency visit to the vets. Sugary sweets are also bad for rabbits and if left out may cause harm, alongside this if the wrappers are eaten they can cause issues.

12 Day(ngers) of Christmas – Day 10


On the 10th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 

Christmas decorations

Decorations made of plastic, paper or foil are of low toxicity although may obstruct the stomach. Glass decorations could pose a risk if chewed or swallowed.

Wrapping or crepe paper

Ingestion may cause staining in the mouth which may look alarming, but the toxicity is considered to be low. But if your dog eats a large amount, it may cause an obstruction to the stomach.



On the 10th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 


Cats are extremely sensitive to paracetamol toxicity. The feline toxic dose is 50 to 100 mg/kg. One regular strength tablet may be toxic to a cat, and a second ingested 24 hours later may be lethal. The signs of toxicity are brown gums, difficulty breathing, blood in the urine, jaundice and swelling.



On the 10th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 


Hypothermia is a risk for rabbits in winter. It occurs when the body temperature falls below normal (38.5-40°C). This can be even more dangerous than a fever. Rabbits suffering from hypothermia will become lethargic and their extremities, such as their ears and paws, will look pale and feel cool to the touch.

12 Day(ngers) of Christmas – Day 9


On the 9th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 

Christmas trees

A mild stomach upset can be caused if dogs eat pine needles, but the sharp tips can cause more damage internally.



On the 9th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 


Alcohol can seriously damage a cats liver, even as little as a teaspoon can lead to complications! Alcohol is one of the most common complications seen in cat at Christmas time, so please be aware of your cat when the wine is cracked open!



On the 9th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 


If your rabbit starts taking an interest in your Christmas decorations or ornaments its best to move these out of reach. They are often made of materials that can be easily ingested which can cause gastrointestinal problems. Even some of the more natural looking materials can be harmful as they can be treated with fire retardant materials.

Place them on a shelf out of reach or on a table able before. Once your rabbits curiosity is sparked its likely they will keep returning no matter how many times you say NO!

12 Day(ngers) of Christmas – Day 8


On the 8th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me … 

Christmas plants


Although toxicity of the poinsettia has often been exaggerated, it can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach with overproduction of saliva and sometimes vomiting.

A range of plants can present a danger to dogs


The plant is considered to be of low toxicity, but ingestion of holly berries may result in a stomach upset.


Ingestion of European mistletoe berries may result in an upset stomach. The American species of the plant is far more dangerous.


The ivy that tends to be used in wreaths and decorations is Hedera helix (not Toxicodendron radicans, the American poison ivy). But the Hedera species can still cause a tummy upset when ingested. Where there is significant or prolonged skin contact, Hedera species can also cause both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis.



On the 8th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me… 


The ingredients of some human foods are toxic. Onions and garlic can sometimes be poisonous, whether cooked or raw – so don’t let your cat lick up gravy. Raisins, grapes and chocolate also pose a threat. Avoid feeding these at all, even in small quantities. Alcohol can be dangerous in small quantities so wipe up any spillages promptly.



On the 8th day of Christmas, my owner accidentally gave to me… 

Extra family in the home

A big changes at Christmas can be people visiting your home who may not be used to house rabbits. It may be best to ask guests to take their shoes off as they may not be used to how rabbits tend to get under food and can easily be stepped on. If you have children staying, encourage them not to race around where your rabbit can roam. Uninitiated guests may not be used to how good rabbits are at chewing things so it’s important to give them somewhere to leave shoes, coats or handbags where they can’t be got at. Be careful to keep an eye on laptop or phone charger leads that may appear.