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

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

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, 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.


Vets urge tortoise owners to microchip their pets

tortoise microchipping

tortoise microchippingWe’re urging tortoise owners to microchip their escape-prone pets in a bid to reduce the number which end up in rescue centres every year.

They may seem unlikely escapees, but hundreds of the reptiles go missing across the county every year. Tracking down the owners can then prove extremely difficult if the animals aren’t microchipped.

We had a recent visit from Susie the tortoise, who escaped twice from her home despite her owners trying to ‘tortoise-proof’ their garden.

Vet Chrissy Kleespies implanted a mini microchip – which is smaller than a grain of rice – in Susie’s leg, meaning she can now be identified should she find her way out again.

Emma Blackman, practice manager at our Basildon branch, is encouraging other owners to follow suit.

She said: “When Susie came in we suggested she should be chipped because she’d escaped a couple of times, despite the garden being tortoise-proofed.

“We hear lots of stories of tortoises being found in other people’s gardens, but because they’re not microchipped, they don’t know who they belong to.

“Microchipping them is important, especially if they spend a lot of time outside.”

Jane Williams, founder of tortoise husbandry and welfare specialists Tortoise South East, deals with dozens of calls each year from owners whose pets have gone missing.

Jane said the animals often turn up in unusual places, with one recently being found at the side of the busy A11 dual carriageway.

She said: “It’s very difficult for most people to identify their tortoises if they go missing, and without microchipping it is virtually impossible to prove one is yours.

“Every year we’re contacted by frantic owners who have lost their tortoise. They have a stronger attachment to them than you might imagine, as some have been passed down over two or three generations.

“We’ve had 15 or 20 tortoises come in this year and many of them have come from vets when owners can’t be traced.”

To help tackle the issue, we’re offering a tortoise health check and chip with Chrissy during September for £45.

Included in the fee is a 20-minute appointment, a health check, a chip (providing your tortoise is appropriate size) and advice on tortoise husbandry and hibernation.

For more information on microchipping, contact Cherrydown Vets on 01268 533636.

For more information on Tortoise South East, visit

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.

Snakes and adders are not a game!

adder snakes can be dangerous to pets

adder snakes can be dangerous to petsWith the summer upon us, we are urging pet owners to beware the threat of adders after treating a dog which had been bitten by one of the snakes while out for a walk with his owner.

Adders, which are the UK’s only native poisonous snake, hibernate over the winter and emerge during the spring, putting dogs at increased risk during the summer months when the weather is generally warmer.

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown, said: “This is the first adder bite case we have treated at our Basildon practice this year.

“Adders generally hibernate from October to April, waking up when the weather warms up and they can bask in the sun. Unfortunately, our patient unintentionally stumbled upon an adder while out for a walk and was bitten on one of his front legs.

“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 heart beat, 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. We treated the dog for shock and swelling, as well as administering anti-venom.”

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

Advice on adders:

  1. Your dog is most at risk of being bitten by an adder when the snakes are basking in the sun
  2. Dogs are most frequently bitten in the early afternoon when adders are most active after the midday heat
  3. If you see an adder in your garden, or when out for a walk, it is advisable to leave it alone. The adder is a protected species and it is illegal to harm or kill them
  4. If your dog is bitten by an adder, seek veterinary attention as soon as possible – using a tourniquet may cause infection or restrict circulation, causing further complications

Free hay and health checks for your rabbit

rabbit care

rabbit careHere at Cherrydown Vets, we are offering free hay and health checks with our nurses, for local pet bunnies during this year’s National Rabbit Week, which runs from June 17 to 25.

We are making the offer to encourage a greater awareness among rabbit owners of the importance of making sure their pets have plenty of hay in the diet. Every rabbit attending a health check will receive a free bag of hay.

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown, said: “Eighty-five to 90 per cent of a rabbit’s diet should be hay and they should eat approximately their body size in hay and fresh grass every day.

“Rabbits will not eat soiled hay, so their feeding hay needs to be kept separate from their bedding and should freely available at all times.

“Eating plenty of hay also helps ensure proper dental wear. Rabbit teeth grow constantly and chewing on hay keeps them worn down to the right level. In addition, rabbits need the long fibre that hay and grass provide to keep their intestines in good working order.”

Rabbits produce a special type of poo – caecotrophs – which they eat. Feeding them plenty of hay means that this poo tastes as it should and encourages rabbits to eat it which is vital for their general health.

“Not eating enough hay can cause dental disease, which can lead to tooth root abscesses and dental spurs injuring the tongue and cheeks,” said Kevin. “It can also cause gut stasis, a potentially life-threatening condition where the intestines stop working.”

He also warned about the dangers of providing rabbits with a museli-type diet. As well as leading to the problems caused by a lack of hay, they have shown to be severely detrimental to rabbits’ health by increasing the risk of obesity, dental disease, reducing water intake which can lead to urinary problems, an imbalance of vitamins and minerals due to selective feeding and slowing intestinal movement and increasing risk of gut stasis.

Switching a rabbit from a muesli to a hay and pellet-based food should be done gradually over 14 to 28 days.

To book a free rabbit healthcheck call Cherrydown Vets on 01268 533636 or e-mail

Hamster Lavender loses leg after cooker calamity

hamster broken leg

hamster careWhen the Weeks family brought little Lavender, a four-month-old Syrian hamster, into our out-of-hours service, it was obvious she had caused herself some damage.

The family had been left baffled when Lavender was not in her cage and had apparently gone missing from their Wickford home.

However, after a hunt for the newest member of the family – which included leaving treats out to entice the friendly rodent out of hiding – the Weeks were alerted to a squeaking noise coming from behind the kitchen oven late at night and discovered Lavender was trapped.

The family immediately contacted our out-of-hours service and vet surgeon Amy Andrews assessed Lavender, before carrying out an extremely rare operation to amputate her severely damaged hind leg – in the process saving her life.

Lavender, who has recovered remarkably well, is now getting used to life with three legs but the accident doesn’t seem to have diminished her appetite for exploring.

Owner Michelle Weeks said: “We noticed she was missing first thing in the morning and had searched all over the place, leaving treats out, but it was about 10pm when we heard a noise from behind the oven and found her trapped.

“My son had to lift the oven for me to get behind and get her out. It was obvious she was hurt as her leg was facing the other way but you wouldn’t know it from her demeanour as she didn’t make a sound.

“We took her to Cherrydown’s out of hours service and they explained the risks of the operation but it was an easy decision for us. Lavender is only a few months old and my daughter Lily adores her so we said to go ahead.

“She has made a great recovery and has soon got used to life with three legs. She is still all over the place, although we have closed off the top two tiers of her cage so she is just on the ground floor for now!”

Vet Amy said due to the unusual nature of the operation the theatre was full of vets and nurses.

She said: “Receiving an emergency out-of-hours call for a hamster is quite a rarity. When Lavender arrived, it was clear her injury was very serious.

hamster broken leg“Lavender’s owners had to make the choice of either taking the high risk of a general anaesthetic to amputate her fractured leg or make the sad decision to put her out of her pain.

“Just giving a general anaesthetic to such a small pet can be very risky but Lavender woke up quickly and went from strength to strength over the next couple of days, learning to manage with three legs.”

To aid Lavender’s recovery our vet nurse Bridie Currie made her a specially-designed tiny lavender-coloured buster collar.

Positive response required for blood donors

Here at Cherrydown, we are urging pet owners to sign their dogs up to become potentially life-saving blood donors.

Just as with humans, dogs often need blood transfusions when undergoing medical treatment and we are issuing a plea to owners in Essex to register their pets in a bid to boost current low stocks.

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

Kevin Wood, clinical director at Cherrydown, said: “Without blood donors, veterinary surgeons can’t undertake important and often life-saving operations, so we really do urge dog owners to find out more about how they and their pets can help.

“Dogs may feel a small scratch but, after this, the whole process is painless and pets always get a lot of cuddles and attention from our nurses, who are with them throughout.

“The amount of blood taken is small, so as not to cause an adverse effect on their own health and, after donating, a small dressing will be applied which can be removed after about an hour.”

Donating blood takes about 20 minutes and we offer a £35 credit to owners’ accounts – as well as a fresh chicken treat for dogs.

Anyone interested in finding out more should call us on 01268 533636 or email