Cherrydown’s fearless four go nuclear for charity

Fearless staff at Cherrydown Vets in Essex managed to raise a bomb for charity with a sponsored ‘nuclear’ obstacle race.

Cherrydown’s operations support manager Emma Blackman and vets Kim Woods, Amy Andrews and Laura Axten all took part in the daunting Nuclear Races challenge and raised £700 for Dogs on the Street London, which offers free health checks and provisions to the pets of homeless people in the capital.

The four females faced the formidable task of tackling 70 obstacles during the seven-kilometre race at the award-winning Nuclear Races course at Kelvedon Hatch, near Brentwood, getting to the end in just under three-and-a-half hours.

To get to the finish, the quartet had to wade through mud and water and clamber up, under and through some forbidding challenges with names like Blast Wall, Batterram, Cobra Attack, Cage Rage and Death Slide.

Emma said: “It was only when someone sent me a link to the Nuclear Races website that I realised what I’d really volunteered to put myself through.

“I’m a runner and I’ve run 5K and 10k events before and I’m currently training for a marathon but this was something else.

“We were bruised and battered, had mud in places we didn’t think mud could go, faced our fear of heights jumping into lakes, zip lined into water, crawled through mud and dragged each other up on ropes.”

The big consolation is that all the mud, sweat and tears was in aid of a very good cause which is close to the Cherrydown team’s hearts.

Emma added: “DOTS is a terrific charity doing great work with the pets of the homeless. They currently run mobile and static veterinary services in London, Kent, Oxfordshire, Dorset, Bedfordshire and Scotland.

“It’s all run by volunteers which we support at Cherrydown by volunteering ourselves and by donating products.

“It means the homeless can bring their dogs to us for a free health check and for things like vaccinations and treatment for flea control and worms. If it’s anything more serious then we book them into local vets for treatment and DOTS covers the cost.

“We also hand out leads, collars, harnesses and plenty of food to help the dogs stay safe and well-nourished so it’s a very worthwhile project.”

If you’d like to donate to the Cherrydown Team’s fund-raising appeal go to:

Cherrydown invests in new life-saving equipment

Lisa Pitt with Emilia

Lisa Pitt with EmiliaA leading Essex vets has invested £6,000 in new life-saving patient monitors for its flagship practice in Basildon.

The equipment installed at Cherrydown Vets is used to track at-risk animals to provide a more in-depth analysis of their condition.

The monitors, which are normally only seen in animal hospitals, provide real-time blood pressure readings and electrocardiogram (ECG) tests, to check patients’ hearts are working correctly.

In addition, Cherrydown is also spending £5,000 on a new dental suite and imaging equipment, as part of an ongoing campaign to promote good oral health in dogs and cats.

The suite will include the facility to carry out x-ray imaging of animals’ teeth, to provide a clearer picture of their overall oral health.

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown Vets, said: “This is an exciting investment in two very important areas of care.

“The imaging equipment is particularly useful in vulnerable cases and means we will pick up any problems much more quickly, as you can watch things as they unfold on a screen.

“It’s an advanced piece of equipment for a first opinion vets and is all part of our continuing commitment to providing the best care possible to our clients.

“In addition, our recent dental campaign has proved to be a success and this investment is an extension of that. It can be easy to overlook your pet’s oral health and this new equipment will go a long way towards ensuring it’s a priority for our clients.”

Essex dog walkers urged to beware adders

Adder coiled on the woodland floor

A Basildon vet is urging pet owners to be on their guard after treating a dog badly hurt following an adder bite.

Amy Andrews, vet surgeon at Cherrydown Vets, which is based in Basildon and has practices in Wickford and Stanford Le Hope, issued the warning after treating Toby, a four-year-old Jack Russell.

Toby was out for a walk with his owner in Stanford marshes when he was bitten by an adder, resulting in significant pain and serious swelling.

He was taken to Cherrydown, where Amy treated him and administered anti-venom to calm the swelling after an initial 48-hour period.

Adders, which are the UK’s only native poisonous snake, hibernate over the winter and emerge during the spring. Due to the unseasonably cold weather in March and April, they are now starting the make an appearance slightly later than usual, putting dogs at increased risks.

Cherrydown, which offers 24-hour emergency care, is now stocking costly anti-venom but Amy is urging dog owners to be careful where they let their pets roam during the warmer weather.

She said: “This is the first adder bite case I have treated this year. Adders generally hibernate from October to April, waking up when the weather warms up and they can bask in the sun.

“Unfortunately, Toby unintentionally stumbled upon an adder while out for a walk and was bitten on one of his front legs. Luckily for him, it wasn’t on his face, which could have been much more serious.

“After administering the anti-venom, Toby’s now doing well. His swelling has gone down and his bloods and ECG were fine, so he can go back to enjoying his walks – just hopefully keeping clear of any more adders!

“Adders only tend to bite in self-defence, for instance when they are stepped on accidentally or disturbed by an inquisitive dog, but when they do, bites can be dangerous as they can induce lameness, vomiting and changes to the heartbeat, blood pressure and breathing rate.

“Visually, bites typically result in swelling which is dark in colour and which can quickly become severe. If your dog has been bitten by an adder you should seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.”

Statistics show most adder bite cases survive, with one study suggesting less than one in 20 treated dogs died as a result of a bite.

Vet reports rise in number of surrendered animals

Would-be pet owners are being urged to make sure they’re getting the right kind of dog for their needs following a spate of animals being surrendered at an Essex vets.

Cherrydown Vets, which is based in Basildon, took in two dogs earlier this year after they were handed in by their owners.

One was an eight-month-old cockapoo, which had not been trained, and the second was an 11-month-old Border Collie. In both cases, the animals were reported to be aggressive.

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown Vets, said it wasn’t uncommon for animals to be brought to them in this way.

Kevin, who is based at Cherrydown’s 24-hour Basildon practice, said: “These two cases demonstrate how important it is for people to pick the right breed of animals for their individual circumstances, and be sure they’re able to meet their care needs.

“It is a big commitment to take on a companion animal – particularly in the case of Border Collies, as they are extremely intelligent dogs and need a lot of stimulation and exercise to thrive.

“However, it’s also important not to be judgemental in a situation like this – and we aren’t. People feel they need to give up their pets for a variety of reasons and the main thing we must consider is the animal’s welfare.

“When dogs are left with us in this way, either our staff take them home to look after them or we work with a rescue centre to ensure they are rehomed.

We will always make sure they have a good home to go to.”

Kevin said anyone with questions or concerns about the type of dog which would be suitable for them can contact any of Cherrydown’s practices in Basildon, Wickford or Stanford-le-Hope for advice.

Love our service? Tell your friends!

Love our service? Tell your friends!

Love our service? Tell your friends!

Refer a friend to Cherrydown – receive a £10* credit on your account.

A large number of our clients come to us via referrals.

As a thank you to our existing clients,  we are now offering £10* credit to your account when you refer a friends as a new client to see our team.

Simply fill in your details on our Refer A Friend card before passing it on to your friends to bring in to our branches when they visit us.

Download your card here


We have cards available in our branches so next time you are visiting us, ask a member of the team for your Refer A Friend card.

*Your account will be credited with£10 once the new client has completed their treatment and paid their account in full.

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

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


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