How to keep your pet cool this summer

cat on sunny day

keep dogs cool in summerIf you have a Dog……….

Dogs are not very good at keeping themselves cool so they will need your help. Ensure they have plenty of water, whether they are in the house or out on a walk. If you are at home keep the water in a heavy bowl so it can’t be easily knocked over

Don’t keep your dog in a car. You may think it’s ok to do this as you are leaving the window open, however, it’s not enough to keep the car cool. According to the RSPCA if it’s 22C outside, within an hour it can be 47C inside the car. Dogs die this way every year, please don’t let this happen to your dog.

Take your dog for a walk at cooler times of the day. Go in the morning and the evening instead.

If your dog is outside all day make sure there is plenty of shade as well as lots of water.

Regularly groom your dog. If you have a long haired breed, have the hair trimmed to help keep it cool.

Do you know the signs of heatstroke? Here is a checklist of what to look out for. Heavy panting, very red gums/tongue, excessive salivation, a rapid pulse, lack of co-ordination, lethargy, reluctance or inability to rise after collapsing, vomiting, diarrhoea and in extreme cases loss of consciousness.  If you see your dog displaying any of these symptoms ensure you take immediate action. Try to cool your dog down gradually as heatstroke can be fatal.  Douse your dog in cool water (not cold or iced water) and let it drink small amounts of cool water (again not cold or iced) until their breathing is more normal.  Then take your dog to the vets to be checked to make sure everything is ok.

cat on sunny dayIf you have a cat……….

Cats love the warm weather and are a lot better at keeping themselves cool. However, if it is excessively hot here are a few things you can do.

If you have a cat that likes to go outside, try not to let it out between 10am and 3pm so it avoids the hottest times of the day. If they are indoor cats keep blinds shut and curtains closed as this helps to keep the house cool.

Make sure your cat has access to plenty of water.

If you notice your cat is sleeping more it’s probably nothing to worry about. Cats are sensible and will nap more on a hot dayrather than spend their time running around. Maybe they are the more intelligent than dogs?

Pay attention to your cat’s feet. Cats and dogs have sweat glands in their paws. If you notice your cat is leaving wet paw prints it will need to have more water to replenish its fluids. You could try cooling your cat down by dipping its paws in water but it may not be pleased with you doing that.

If you see your cat panting, it doesn’t automatically mean it has heatstroke. Cats do pant but they rarely do it. However, if you think your cat is panting excessively check for other signs of heatstroke and take immediate action.

keep your rabbit coolIf you have a small furry pet……….

As always, make sure they have access to lots of clean water

Make sure you keep them clean.  When the weather is hot it results in more flies and maggots. This can lead to flystrike. This can fatally affect rabbits.

Keep your pet groomed and if it’s a long haired breed, have it trimmed to help keep it cool.

Keep hutches in the shade. It may mean you have to move it around during the day of you don’t have a permanently shaded spot.  Make sure the hutch is off the ground as this improves ventilation and can help to keep it cool.

Give small animals food that contains lots of water such as celery and apple. This will help keep them hydrated.

Spraying a water mist on larger animals such as rabbits is a good way to keep them cool.  Remember not to spray them in the face as they will not like it.

There are many other ways to keep your pet cool and a lot of them are common sense. A good way to look at it is if you are uncomfortable because of the heat there is a good chance your pet will be too.  If you need any extra information and advice please contact us  and we will be happy to have a chat.

What Is Catnip?

There are a few things that can put a big smile on my face.  A new Disney film being released at the cinema, opening the fridge and finding a whole cheesecake or having complete control of the TV remote for an evening. However, if I was a cat, catnip would probably do it for me.

What is catnip?

what is catnipCatnip (Nepeta cataria) also known as catswort, or catmint and is a perennial herb from the mint family.  Many cat owners will know that cats love catnip.  They will paw at it, rub themselves against it, roll with it, and lick and chew it.

Catnip contains a chemical called Nepetalactone.  This is released when catnip is crushed and one sniff of this can start a cat off. It doesn’t matter if it’s a large lion or a tiny tabby, it will affect them the same way.  It is thought the chemical is similar to certain cat pheromones, however this hasn’t been confirmed.

My cat doesn’t like catnip.

Not every cat does.  Apparently, research has shown about 50% of cats will react to cat nip and it is probably a genetic reason.  Some cats will just look and walk on by without batting an eyelid. My cat isn’t like that. She will go crazy with a bit of catnip.  If your cat isn’t a fan of catnip, its normal.


Is it addictive?

No it isn’t. However, bear in mind that if a cat eats lots of fresh catnip it can cause sickness and/or diarrhoea so beware of giving them too much of a good thing.

Can humans eat it and does it affect them the same way?

 In the past Catnip has been used to make tea, it has been used in herbal cigarette and even used as an ingredient in food. There was a time where it was used to treat a cold, settle a stomach or help people get to sleep. However, since modern medicine it has rarely been used. So yes, you could eat, drink or smoke it but it won’t have you rolling around on the floor like a happy cat.

what is catnip




Cat Flu

Feline Influenza or Cat Flu as it is more popularly known is similar to a human cold. It’s not usually serious if you have a healthy adult cat. However, it can fatal to young kittens, old cats and those that have an immunity problem such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (read our blog on FIV HERE)

Cat Flu is very common in unvaccinated cats and can easily spread. As the saying goes “prevention is far better than cure” so ensure you get your cat vaccinated.

What are the signs of Cat Flu?

 There are many symptoms to look out for, including

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Dribbling
  • Quiet/subdued behaviour
  • Loss of appetite
  • High temperature
  • Coughing
  • Loss of voice
  • Aching muscles/joints

What causes Cat Flu?

It’s usually caused by one of two types of virus (feline herpes virus or feline calicivirus) along with bacteria. Once the cat is infected they begin to shed virus particles in discharge from their eyes, nose and mouth. It can be caught from other cats with flu or healthy cats that carry the virus.  Also, as the virus can survive several days in the open, cats can catch it from infected food bowls or from other people who have come into contact with an infected cat.

Can Humans catch it from their cat?


Can Cat Flu be treated?

Currently there isn’t really a cure for Cat Flu. As already mentioned a healthy cat should able to fight this off. Young kittens, older cats and those with immunity issues may need veterinary attention.  If your cat gets the flu they will need lots of TLC to get better. There are somethings you will need to do to ensure they get well as soon as possible.

  • Make sure there is somewhere warm and comfortable for them to sleep
  • Ensure there is plenty of water available. They may not feel like drinking but encourage them to drink. It will help keep them hydrated and breakdown mucus in the nose and throat.
  • Make sure they eat little and often. However, they might not want to at first. Due to having the flu, their sense of smell and taste will decrease so try to feed them something that has a strong smell and taste such as sardines or pilchards to kick start their appetite. If you are struggling to feed and water your cat, take them to the vet. They will be able to offer alternative foods and may also prescribe anti-biotics to help fight off the flu.
  • Cats may feel stuffy and congested so if you are having a bath or shower, put them in the same room so the heat and steam will help with their breathing.
  • Make sure you keep an eye on them and if they take a turn for the worse take them to the vets as soon as possible
  • If you have other cats in the house keep them away from the infected cat and ensure you regularly wash your hands so you don’t spread the virus around.

Will my cat make a full recovery?

In most cases yes. However, some cats may be left with certain issues such as a persistent runny nose.  If your cat has had flu and you notice it hasn’t fully cleared up after two or three weeks take them to see a vet for a review.

Can I prevent my cat getting Cat Flu?

Ensuring your cat is vaccinated will be a massive help.  The cat flu vaccine is given as part of the annual vaccination programme and will help to protect your cat. Please note, the vaccination may not always prevent infection but it will significantly reduce the severity of the virus.

If you have any questions about this subject feel free to call the clinic or you can leave a question / send a private message on our Facebook page.

Hairballs – What you need to know

Picture the scene………You are lounging on the sofa reading a book or a magazine, the radio is on low playing your favourite tunes, you reach out and grab your cup of tea, and continue to enjoy the peace and chilled atmosphere. However………

This is ruined when you notice your cat jump up off the floor looking uncomfortable. Your cat crouches and extends its neck. For a few moments your cat wretches, hacks and gags then, to much relief, your cat produces something scary looking.  Right there on your floor. Bang goes your relaxing afternoon! The cat has produced a trichobezoar (pronounced trike-oh-bee-zohr) also known as a hairball/furball.  If you’re a cat owner, you have probably experienced something like that. Or even worse you have climbed out of bed and stepped on a cold, slimy hairball.  It can be quite distressing to see this happen, especially the first time. However, it is a normal event for most cats so it’s nothing to get unduly concerned about.

untitled-design-22What is a hairball?

As the name suggests it’s a ball of hair. Actually, not all of them look like a ball. Some can look like small ,brown soggy sausages.  When cats groom they can ingest their own loose hair. Normally, it passes through the gastrointestinal (digestive) tract and comes out in the stool. However, some hair may remain in the stomach and form into a hairball.  At some point the hairball will irritate the cats stomach and it will cough it up.

Is it harmful to my cat?

Generally no. Whilst it might seem unpleasant it’s normal behaviour and shouldn’t happen too often.     However, if you notice your cat coughing up hairballs on a regular basis or they are making the hacking sounds and nothing is coming up then it might be worth a trip to the vets to see if there is a problem.

Are furballs a sign of other problems in my cat?

Irritable skin or psychological disorders can cause a cat to over groom and take in excessive quantities of hair. In cats with a disease of the gastrointestinal tract which causes an obstruction or motility problem (abnormal intestinal contractions, such as spasms and intestinal paralysis) hairballs may cause frequent blockages. If you notice any changes in your cat take them to your vet who will be able to check them for other issues.

Can I prevent my cat getting hairballs?

Regular grooming can be a big help as their will be less hair for them to swallow. This is also important if you have a long haired cat. If it is a more regular issue, there are treatments available which can help to make sure the hair comes out in the faeces. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best course to take.

hair ball

If you have any questions about your pet’s health feel free to call us at the clinic or you can leave a question on our Facebook page and one our members of staff will get back to you.

Blue Green Algae – What you need to know

Blue Green Algae

iStock_000057909916_Large (1)In the news recently there were reports of several dogs dying in Dartford, with many other dogs found to be very ill.  The common link was a particular lake they may have drank water from. At the time vets were unsure what could have caused the problem and the lake was closed to the public by the Environment Agency so tests could be made.  It is now thought that poisonous blue-green algae may have caused the death of the dogs.

What is blue-green algae?

The blue-green algae are microscopic bacteria and can be found in freshwater lakes, streams and ponds. They produce toxins that can affect animals and humans who drink the water or swim in it.  Blooms of algae normally occur when the weather is hot so you would expect to see it mid to late summer. However, as the British weather is unpredictable blooms could appear sooner if we have had a warm Spring.

What does blue-green algae look like?

As the name suggests the water will look fairly green but in worse cases it can look like pea soup or as if someone has painted a thick coat of green paint on top of the water

What are the symptoms and can it be treated?

The common symptoms are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Blood in stool
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Shock
  • Excessive secretions
  • Neurological signs such as muscle tremors, paralysis
  • Difficulty breathing

Whether or not it can be treated depends on how quickly the animal is brought to us. Water is absorbed by the body quickly including the toxins. The faster you get to a vet the better chance the dog has of survival. However, even if they do pull through there could be further health repercussions for the rest of their lives


Sometimes it can be obvious there is blue-green algae on the water, however there will be bodies of water that look clean but are either just starting to bloom or the algae is dying off.  It is advisable not to let your dog swim or drink from unknown water sources. Also, be careful with lakes/ponds/streams that you know and have let your dog swim in or drink from before. If they have been for a swim, we suggest you wash them thoroughly afterwards and keep an eye on their health. If there are any changes, no matter how small take them to a vet as soon as possible.

If you have any questions about this subject feel free to either call the clinic on 01268 533636 or leave a comment on our Facebook page. Someone will get back to you asap.

What is FIV? Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

iStock_000064268055_SmallFIV or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a lentivirus (lentivirus means slow virus. Lente is Latin for slow) that affects cats all over the world. Approximately 2.5% to 4.4% of the cats in the world have contracted the virus.

What is FIV?

FIV is very similar to the human version of HIV.  The virus destroys the number of white blood cells in the body and makes the cat less able to fight infections.  Currently there is not a cure for this so if your cat is diagnosed with FIV they will have it for the rest of their life.  However, if your cat is diagnosed, it doesn’t mean they should be put down. Cats with FIV can have long lives if cared for properly.  Even though it is similar to HIV the virus can’t be passed on to humans.

Is my cat at risk of catching FIV?

Two friendly cats on spring

If your cat is allowed to roam outside, then they will have a higher risk of contracting it. Male, un-neutered cats are the highest risk due to territorial fighting.  The virus is found in blood and saliva.  It is generally passed on after being bitten during a fight.  Also, while mating, a male might hold hold the scruff of the female’s neck with his teeth and bite her, passing the virus onto her. However, this is less common.  Currently these is no evidence to show the virus can be passed on via intercourse. Generally, being bitten is how a cat will contract it. If a female with FIV gives birth to kittens, at least ¼ of the litter will have the virus passed on to them via the placenta or by drinking infected milk.

If you want to eliminate the risk of your cat catching FIV you would have to keep them indoors at all times. However, you will need to ensure you keep them mentally stimulated. Going from the great outdoors to being permanently inside may have an effect on them.   Ensuring your cats are spayed/neutered is another way to lower the risk, especially with males. They are less likely to roam get into fights if they have been neutered.

What happens to my cat once infected?

Once your cat is infected the virus will travel to the regional lymph nodes, then will travel to other lymph nodes around the body. They may show symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fever, anaemia and malaise (a general feeling of discomfort).  There is a possibility you won’t notice they are ill.  As mentioned, this is a slow virus so the infected cat could continue to lead a healthy life for several years. However, over time their immune system will weaken and they will find it harder and harder to fight off infections and other viruses.

When signs of immunodeficiency appear cats can show a range of symptoms such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Poor coat condition
  • Anemia
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Gingivitis and stomatitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Chronic or recurrent infections of the eyes, skin, urinary tract and respiratory tract
  • Cancer

Please note: Symptoms may vary from cat to cat.

Can my cat be cured?

As already mentioned, there is no cure for FIV. However, with the right care your cat can lead a fairly normal, long life. Your cat may need some or all of the following:

Regular check ups at the vets
Ensure they take their flea and worm treatments
At the first sign of illness take them to the vet
Feed them on high quality food (your vet will be able to advise on the type of food)
Ensure they are fully vaccinated
High calorie supplements (again your vet will advise you on these)
Possible blood transfusions in the later stages

I have more than one cat. Do I have to keep them apart?

iStock_000072018089_SmallIdeally, all FIV cats should be isolated or rehomed where they won’t come into contact with other cats.  However, many owners choose to keep them. The risk of passing on the virus is low as cats in the same home are less likely to fight and shed blood. If all the cats have been spayed/neutered there will be a low risk of aggressive behavior. You will need to be a bit more careful. As the virus can be found in the saliva, don’t feed your cats from the same bowl and disinfect feeding bowls and litter trays after use to ensure you destroy any trace of the virus. It’s worth noting too that the virus can’t survive in the open air so as soon as it is outside of the body it will not survive very long so can’t infect others.

Hopefully, this blog has answered some of the main questions about FIV. Should you have further questions about this subject please call us at the clinic or you can leave your question on our Facebook page


Feline Acne (Cat Acne)

Do you know cats can get acne? No? You are not alone. A lot of people are surprised to learn this. It is assumed acne is just something teenagers get, but just like people, cats can get it too. Feline Acne (cat acne) is a problem that can happen at any time, any age, any sex and with any breed of cat. 

Issues with cat acne usually involves blackheads with possible inflammation around the chin and surrounding areas. In many cases the problem is mild and doesn’t cause too much of a problem. However, in more severe cases the cat may suffer with pus filled spots, infected glands, hair loss and scarring. 

Cat Acne – What to look for

Generally, cat acne will appear on the chin. This is because it  is the site of sebaceous glands which produce an oily secretion.  These glands are important as they are used for territorial marking. When acne starts to appear you will notice blackheads on the lips and chin of the cat. This is due to the blockages of the gland. You will need to keep an eye on these as if they become infected the spots will become worse. 

What causes Cat Acne?

It’s unknown, however, there are several possible causes:

Poor grooming



Suppressed immune system

Abnormal sebum production

Bacterial overload (from dirty bowls)

Acne can also be secondary to a fungal or viral infection

It was thought plastic bowls may have been a cause, however, it is more likely to be a build up of bacteria on the bowl which may be the problem. It’s best to use glass, metal or ceramic dishes and ensure they are regularly washed. 

If you notice blackheads or spots around the lips and chin area or any other change in skin condition its always best to get a vet to check it as it could be something other than acne.  Problems such as allergies, ringworm or a yeast infection can show similar symptoms.  In most cases the vet will be able to look at and tell what the problem is. However, there may be occasions  where they will take a skin scraping or perform a biopsy to rule out more serious issues. Once the issue has been diagnosed the correct treatment can be applied

As always, if you have any questions about this subject feel free to call us at the clinic or leave a message on our Facebook page. 

Just for fun – Cute cats and dogs

Just for a change, instead of a blog, we are adding a few videos that we found on YouTube which might make you smile and go “aaaaahhhhh”

Keep an eye out as we may add a few more of these types of videos each month.  Hope you enjoy them 🙂

Via Funny Animals Channel

Via AwwCuteNow

Via Fun Videos 247

Excellent Customer Service

bizawardOn Friday 9th May 2014 several of the Cherrydown Vets team went to the Cliffs Pavilions in Southend as we were finalists in the Excellent Customer Service category at the Essex Countywide Business Awards.  From the hundreds of entries it was whittled down to only eight businesses.  We were up against some tough competition from other companies in Essex and, unfortunately, we didn’t win. However, we are extremely proud to have made the finals and get recognised for the work we do. We continuously strive to ensure our customers experience only the best service from beginning to end. Whether it’s a phone call to our clinic, a face to face visit with a vet or a nurse, an email or a conversation via our Facebook page we want to make sure you get the best at all times. We hold monthly staff and managerial meetings to discuss how we can improve the service we offer and we regularly ask for feedback and suggestions from our customers as they are best placed to come up with helpful ideas. dog listening with big earOver the past 12 months we have implemented many ideas which we believe have helped us become one of the most trusted vets in the area.  Also, in the past year we have had over 10,950 people visit us with their pets so we are obviously doing things right. However, we won’t rest on our laurels.  No matter how good we are there are still things that can be done to improve the customer experience. We would like to hear your ideas and suggestions about our practice, not just the Basildon branch but also our Wickford and Stanford le Hope clinics.  What would you improve or change? All suggestions are welcome and will be discussed during our monthly meetings. Your opinions count so please send us your suggestions and ideas to As always, if you have any questions please call us at the clinic, email us or leave a comment on our Facebook page. group

Maine Coons

It’s been a while since we wrote a blog about cats and after seeing how much interest was shown in one of our patients recently we thought we would write a blog about the breed.

Blue,(pictured below) a Maine Coon, came in to see us. He was very popular in the clinic and when we shared the pictures on our Facebook page we had lots of comments and interaction.  It’s not often people see a cat like this so it always attracts attention

blue maine

Maine Coons are also known as the American Longhair.  It’s a breed of cat that has a distinctive look and is one the oldest breeds in North America, specifically native to the state of Maine.  The origins of the cat are not known but there are many theories. One theory suggests Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, tried to escape to America and amongst her prize possessions she took her Turkish Angora cats.   Unfortunately Marie Antoinette never made the journey but her cats did.  They arrived in Maine, America and bred with other short haired breeds.

Other theories include semi-feral cats mating with Racoons (not genetically possible) or domestic cats mating with wild Bobcats.

Source Via
Source Via

Maine Coons are big cats and have the nicknamed “gentle giant”.  Even though they are bigger than the average cat they are still as playful and inquisitive.  Maine Coon Cats are intelligent, trainable, described as “dog like”. They will offer you hours of enjoyment with their antics but can at times be intrusive. Without question they want to be part of everything and your privacy may require a closed door between you and your cat. Most Maine Coon Cats have a fondness of water, to be in it, watch it, wash their food in it, or just plain play in it, so don’t be surprised if you have an uninvited guest in your shower or help with washing the dishes.

Healthwise these cats are a pretty hardy breed. However, as in many cats, there could be potential issues such as

  • Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Arthritis
  • Polycystic kidney disease

If you have one of these cats we would love you to share pictures of them on our Facebook page as we don’t get to see many of them.  Also, if you have any questions regarding cat health either call the clinic or leave a non-urgent question on our Facebook page.