Paws for thought and protect pets at Christmas

With Christmas just around the corner, we thought we’d offer a little reminder of what festive items and foods could affect your animals – and avoid an emergency trip to surgery!

The festive period can present a minefield of potential issues for pets as homes are decorated and a range of food and drink is often accessible.

Among the items which present risks to pets at Christmas are ribbons on presents, tinsel, sharp tree needles, low-lying fairy lights, chestnuts and chocolates.

Drink, too, can be dangerous and a perennial Christmas favourite, Baileys Irish Cream, can prove particularly dispiriting for animals.

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown Vets, which has branches in Basildon, Wickford and Standford-Le-Hope, said: “Dogs will drink most forms of alcohol which has been left in glasses at Christmas parties or get-togethers, however, they do often seem to have a fondness for Baileys!

“The signs of ethanol intoxication are similar to those in humans – vomiting, depression, a lack of co-ordination, disorientation and drowsiness. Dogs in these conditions need warmth, rehydration and immediate nursing care.”

Other festive items which could cause harm to animals include plants such as mistletoe, poinsettia, holly and ivy which can all cause upset stomachs, while lilies can be very harmful to cats.

Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas can cause kidney failure in dogs, while other poisonous festive foods include macadamia nuts, onions and mouldy foods such as walnuts, bread and cheese.

Kevin said: “Christmas can often be a busy and quite chaotic time. You can help your pet cope with the chaos by keeping to their normal routine and if you are spending Christmas day with friend or family and your dog is going with you, take something which smells familiar to help them feel secure.

“In terms of household hazards, while tinsel and wrapping paper might be tempting for your pet to play with, just make sure they don’t eat it!”

Vets urge caution over puppy presents

French Bulldog

French BulldogA leading Essex vet is urging people planning on buying puppies as Christmas presents to think twice about where they buy any potential family additions from.

While supporting the old adage that a pet is for life and not just for Christmas, Kevin Wood, of Cherrydown Vets, which is based in Basildon, is also urging potential owners to be cautious about where, and from whom, they buy animals from, following recent reports which highlight the record numbers of illegal puppies being smuggled into the country.

It is thought thousands of puppies are being trafficked into the UK, often in appalling conditions, from central and eastern Europe in a bid to meet demand for Christmas.

Last year, 688 illegally imported dogs were brought into the country, while this year the Dogs Trust seized 100 young dogs in just one week from Folkestone and Dover ports.

“Generally, we would advise against getting a puppy for Christmas, as they need a period of quiet in order to settle into their new home and the festive period is quite often the opposite of that for many families,” said Kevin, clinical director at Cherrydown, which also has practices in Wickford and Stanford-Le-Hope.

“However, if you are planning on getting a puppy, it’s really important to check exactly who you are buying the dog from. Buying an illegally imported puppy could potentially cost thousands of pounds in quarantine and treatment, not to mention the emotional heartache if the puppy falls ill.

“These puppies often travel in pretty appalling conditions and arrive here in poor health, which can obviously lead to a number of potentially serious health issues down the line.”

Dogs being smuggled into the country by so-called ‘bootleg breeders’ include fashionable breeds such as pugs, dachshunds and French bulldogs.

Cherrydown vet raises more than £5,000 in emotional China trek

Amy Andrews

Amy AndrewsA vet surgeon from Cherrydown has raised more than £7,500 for the Alzheimer’s Society after completing an emotional trek across the Great Wall of China in tribute to her grandmother.

Amy Andrews took on the 70-kilometre fundraising mission with friend Lucy Willis after losing her grandmother Danny Rowe to Alzheimer’s last year.

Putting their best feet forward together with 42 other walkers, Amy and Lucy raised £5,500 as part of the group’s incredible £185,000 total for the charity.

After negotiating the rocky and muddy terrain of China’s ancient landmark, along with some tough living conditions which included bugs in beds, Amy said the experience was one she was proud to complete.

She said: “It was, for sure, the biggest challenge I’ve ever taken part in and there were some very low points but it was so lovely to all complete the challenge together and celebrate our huge achievement.

“The conditions we stayed in were very challenging, with bugs in beds, long drops, lamb’s stomach for breakfast and some very cold, basic hostels.

“In terms of the walk itself, there was so much variation between the different sections, with some much harder than others. ‘Heaven’s Ladder’ was a particularly challenging part, with 302 narrow steps to climb.

“But I’m just so pleased I managed to complete it and really grateful to everyone who donated in some form. I hope the phenomenal £185,000 we all managed to raise for the Alzheimer’s Society will make a real difference to the lives of people suffering with the condition.”

As part of their fundraising efforts, Amy and Lucy organised and hosted a charity ball at the Arlington Rooms, in Essex, which included an auction and raffle, while members of the public and Cherrydown clients contributed £300 towards the cause from bucket collections.

Donations are still being taken at any of Cherrydown’s three vet practices in Basildon, Wickford and Stanford-Le-Hope, or by visiting Amy’s Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/amyandlucyagainstalzheimers.

From paw print to small print

French Bulldog

Cherrydown is urging pet owners to check their insurance after several incidences in which life-threatening operations to remove peculiar objects from animals were not covered by policies.

We have faced numerous cases over the past 12 months or so, in which pet owners found their animal’s veterinary care was not covered by their insurance, having originally thought it was.

The practice has operated on a number of animals, predominantly dogs, who have swallowed common household objects and food waste such as tin foil, hair curlers, toys and even corn-on-the-cob.

Owners were told their insurance policies would not cover the costs of the treatments due to the limitations and exceptions found in the fine print of their current policies.

The practice is concerned that pet owners are unaware of the guidelines in place and recommend checking the small print of the insurance particulars.

Sarah Watt, practice manager at the Basildon branch, said: “Not all insurance is equal and it is important to consider what you are paying for and whether it fully meets your needs.

“It’s not like car insurance – changing your provider every year is not recommended because what’s covered and what’s not can vary quite considerably from one insurer to another.

“We had a case of a pet being brought in with a recurring urine infection, which the owners had claimed against previously on a previous policy, but because they’d changed insurers, the new provider wouldn’t cover it.

“With all policies, it’s important to read the small print very carefully.”

In addition, some policies now cap the amount of veterinary care they will cover and others will not pay for future claims once the limit is reached or the first year is up.

Cherrydown Vets also has practices in Wickford and Stanford-Le-Hope. For more information, call 01268 533 636.

Ensure pets don’t lose sparkle amid firework fears

Fireworks

FireworksVets are advising pet owners on how to prevent their animals becoming stressed and unsettled as fireworks season gets under way.

Kevin Wood, clinical director of Cherrydown Vets in Basildon, has warned this time of year can be a nightmare for terrified pets who become spooked as fireworks are used ever more frequently, not only for the traditional November 5 bonfire night, but also in celebration of Diwali, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

“Unfortunately, some animals can react extremely badly, becoming so frenzied that they can injure themselves or even their owners, which can obviously result in serious consequences,” said Kevin.

“The vast majority of stressed pets can be treated without any need to resort to medication, such as the use of desensitising CDs which get animals used to the noise of fireworks and plug-in pheromones.”

Kevin also recommends a host of other tips to help pets cope with the commotion of fireworks season, including closing curtains before dusk and ensuring dogs and cats are inside when any celebrations are taking place.

He said: “There are a lot of things pet owners can do to help their animals, such as taking dogs for walks on a lead in the early evening and distracting animals with active play, television and music.

“However my top recommendation for owners is to remain calm. While it may be tempting to comfort a spooked cat or dog, this can actually be counter-productive. Both ‘mollycoddling’ and punishing a frightened pet could reinforce negative behaviour. If owners appear to be unaffected, pets will follow this example.”

Cherrydown is offering a free nurse clinic for advice on keeping pets safe during fireworks season.  For more information,  call 01268 533 636.

Top tips to ensure your pet stays safe during fireworks season:

  • Always keep cats and dogs inside when fireworks are let off
  • Close all windows and doors, draw curtains and seal up cat flaps
  • Let your pet pace around, whine, mew and hide if they want to. Don’t try to coax them out – they are trying to find safety and should not be disturbed
  • Hutches and cages should, if possible, be taken into a quiet room indoors or into a garage or shed
  • Give your small pet extra bedding to burrow into so it feels safe

Cherrydown Vets launches Pet Health Club

pet health club

pet health clubCherrydown Vets is launching its own Pet Health Club to provide a convenient and affordable way for clients to protect their pets against diseases and discomfort.

The service launches on Wednesday, October 18 and entitles clients to preferential rates and discounts on their pet’s care.

Anyone who joins will be able to spread their regular pet care costs with a fixed monthly fee which guarantees a saving of 10 per cent on all regular services.

Other benefits include a full vaccination course, annual boosters, tick and flea control, six-month health checks and microchipping for your pet.

Prices start at £12 per month for cats and £12.99 per month for dogs, with minimum savings ranging between £78 and £92 for the first year of the plan.

Emma Blackman, practice manager at Cherrydown’s Basildon branch, said: “Our new Pet Health Club will help spread costs for the things you know you are going to need while also reducing the cost of the unexpected.

“The plan also provides reassurance for owners whose pets have limited insurance policies, and help them make their money go further.

“Everything is covered right down to nail clipping – you can just pop in for a mini-pedicure!

“The service has something to offer for all of our clients and we’d be delighted to discuss its benefits, either in person or over the phone.”

You can register your interest for the Pet Health Club at www.cherrydownvets.co.uk/pet-care/pet-health-club, or by calling 01268 533 636.

Saving Grace

dogs can be bitten by foxes

staffie bitten by foxSaving Grace: Vet’s warning over the curious incident of the dog and the fox

Grace the Staffie almost learned the hard way how curiosity killed the cat, when she poked her inquisitive nose into a fox’s lair.

The vet who treated the seven-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier that received deep wounds around her face, ears and eyes after coming face to face with the resident fox is now urging dog owners to be more vigilant when they are off their leads.

Zane Jacobs was exercising his Grace and her brother Diesel, in parkland near his home in East Tilbury at the time of the incident

He took Grace to Cherrydown Vets’ Basildon branch, where Amy Andrews treated her wounds which resulted in Grace having part of her ear removed, but she has since made a full recovery.

Amy said: “It appears that Grace had put her head down the entrance to a fox’s den and was savaged by the occupant.

“When I saw her, her face was dripping with blood but, despite that, she was an absolute sweetheart and very loving as I treated her, even when I had to remove part of her ear.

“However, her experience serves as a warning to dog owners to be on the alert when exercising their pets off the lead. Dogs are naturally inquisitive and will stick their heads down any interesting hole or burrow without being aware of the potential dangers of doing so.

“If your pet does get bitten it’s important to take them to a vet to be treated as soon as possible so their injuries do not become infected.”

Zane said Grace was back to her normal, enthusiastic self within three days of the incident.

 

Call for canine cameraderie to help boost blood donors

 A leading Essex vet is calling for some canine camaraderie to help swell the numbers of dog blood donors at its practices.

Cherrydown Vets, which is based in Basildon and has surgeries in Wickford and Stanford Le Hope, is appealing for dog owners to register their pets as potentially life-saving blood donors.

An ideal donor dog has a calm temperament, is fully vaccinated, over 25kg in weight and under eight years old.

Dylan, a Labrador who celebrates his fourth birthday in August, donated a full bag of blood on his recent visit.

Like all dogs who donate, Dylan got a tasty treat afterwards to help replace the nutrients in their bodies – the dog equivalent of tea and biscuits.

Emma Blackman, practice manager at Cherrydown’s Basildon base, said: “We need donor dogs for the times when we’re carrying out major surgery and there may be a danger of some blood loss.

“Veterinary care has moved on so much and there is so much more we can do for our pets nowadays, so having enough donor blood is vital for us.

“We’re a 24/7 emergency vets, so donors could be helping dogs involved in road traffic accidents and other critical situations.

“Dylan is one of our very brave donors. He was very well behaved and was delighted with his treat afterwards!”

Donating blood takes about 20 minutes and Cherrydown offers a £35 credit to owners’ accounts.