Maggie’s feeling lighter

Maggie is a 5 year old guinea pig who was brought into our Stratford surgery, to see vet Katie, as she had been a bit quiet and not eating as much as normal. She has also developed a bald patch on her back where she has been chewing out her fur.

Katie examined her and found that she has a large mass in her stomach. This was likely to be either a cyst on her ovary or a tumour. As Guinea pigs are prey species they often hide signs of illness or pain and so it can be difficult to tell when something is up. We decided to operate to find out which it was. Luckily for Maggie is was a cyst, one huge one on her left ovary and a smaller one on her right ovary. We removed both and woke her up from anaesthetic.

Maggie went home and she quickly returned to her normal self. She is now eating normally and back to enjoying life.



Posted in General News |

Flea and tick awareness

As the weather starts to get warmer, we all begin to enjoy the great outdoors with our pets. The change of season sees our animals become more playful as they soak up the sights and smells of spring and spend longer outdoors.

With that in mind, now is the perfect time to check you’re up to date with your pet’s vaccinations and parasite treatment. Are your pet’s vaccinations all current? When was the last time your pet had flea and worming treatment?

Book in for your Free Spring Wellbeing Check with a member of our nursing team. They will be able to give advice on how to identify the signs of normal health and wellbeing, while also pointing out signs of any problems which are likely to occur at this time of year.

To book a check up, find your nearest practice at

Posted in General News |

How to become a Veterinary Nurse

Are you interested in becoming a Veterinary Nurse but not sure how? One of our students nurses, Jaz, has told us of her experiences and route to becoming a registered Veterinary Nurse.

Hi I’m Jaz, a student vet nurse at the Stratford surgery of Avonvale Veterinary Centres. After working with horses until the age of 25 and with a Bsc (Hons) in Equine Science under my belt, I felt it was time for a career change. I have always loved all animals from a young age and so I felt veterinary nursing may be the career for me.

I set about finding out how to train as a veterinary nurse and found there are two main routes. The first option was a 3 or 4 year Bsc (Hons) in Veterinary Nursing alongside placement days for practical clinical skills. The second option was to undertake a Level 3 Diploma in Veterinary Nursing which involved 4 days working in practice and 1 day a week at college over 2 ½ years. Due to already undertaking a degree, and my eagerness to get into practice and start learning hands on, I decided to take the Diploma route. We have a mixture here at Avonvale of students taking both routes.

I’m currently two years into my training and the end is in sight! Along the way I have undertaken case study assignments helping to link together theory and clinical skills, as well as written exams. I am assigned a clinical coach in practice and together we have been busy completing my Nursing Progress Log which is a computer based log of core tasks that a student needs to be competent at in order to finish their degree or diploma. Training ‘on the job’ is a way in which I feel I learn the best and I have found I particularly enjoy anaesthesia and in-patient care.

Ahead lie some final written exams and OSCE practical exams, after which I will finally be able to trade in my stripy student tunic for a bottle green registered veterinary nurse tunic!

Posted in General News | Tagged , , , , ,

Heston the Hedgehog

Just as the winter weather was setting in a member of the public bought a small hedgehog into our Stratford upon Avon surgery. He had been found in the middle of a car park during daylight hours. At just 97g he would not have survived the winter.Denni, one of our nurses, took him in. Over winter she kept him warm and well fed. His favourite food was meal worms but as these have little nutritional value they were rationed to encourage him to eat his healthier hedgehog mix. Over the winter he has grown big and strong, now weighing in at a healthy 700g.

As spring arrived, Heston was ready to be released. For safety reasons Heston was unable to be released back to where he was found. Thanks to Kyra at Hedgehog Friendly Town, Heston was released in a safe and hedgehog friendly environment.

Hedgehog Friendly Town work hard fostering hedgehogs and finding safe release sites. It is important to find out if other hedgehogs live in the area before releasing more on that site. If there are no resident hedgehogs already, there is probably a good reason for this and so an alternative site is found.

Unfortunately the hedgehog population is currently under threat. Here are a few ways you can help hedgehogs in your area.

  1. Leave areas of wilderness in your garden where hedgehogs can snuffle for insects. Place a small hedgehog house to provide a safe place for them to hibernate during winter. A small hole in your fence will allow visiting hedgehogs to pass through. In the past people used to mark visiting hedgehogs with a little paint so they know if they return but the paint may be harmful and also makes it easier for predators to spot them.
  2. Leave out a water bowl for them to drink from. Dusk is a good time to scatter food for them to eat. Avoid bread and milk as hedgehogs are lactose intolerant and these foods will make them ill. They like eating dog and cat food – wet or dry. They also like a few meal worms. Autumn and winter is a good time to leave out food for struggling hedgehogs.
  3. Kyra and Heston on the release day

    Hedgehogs are nocturnal. If you see a hedgehog during the day then it may need help. Using gardening gloves or a thick towel, carefully pick him up and take him to a wildlife rescue centre. Hedgehogs are also good at getting stuck in litter so pick up litter and if you do see a hedgehog in trouble, please transport him to a veterinary centre or wildlife rescue centre.

  4. If you are planning on having a bonfire, please always check for hedgehogs before lighting it. Unfortunately hedgehogs sometimes move into the heap before you light it and are then severely injured by the flames or worse.We would like to wish Heston and his fellow hedgehogs all the best for the future. It is also important to check for hedgehogs before using strimmers on long grass or vegetation.


Posted in General News, Stratford News | Tagged , , ,

Life’s a peach for Marley

Marley was brought in to our Wellesbourne surgery because his owner was worried he was vomiting and off his food.

He was given symptomatic treatment to stop his vomiting but when he didn’t improve, vet Emily did an ultrasound scan of his abdomen to check for any underlying problems. One area of Marley’s intestine looked distended and there was some abnormal fluid in his abdomen. This made Emily suspect there may be a blockage, and she recommended surgery to look for the cause.

Marley was found to have a peach stone blocking his intestine which was the cause of his vomiting. Once the stone was removed, Marley recovered really well and went home a couple of days later.

We often send animals home with a buster collar after surgery to stop them lickin their wounds and causing problems with healing. Marley hated his collar, so we gave him a medical pet shirt which covered his wound and kept it clean. Here is Marley when he came in for a post-op check up looking much happier in his special shirt.

Posted in General News | Tagged , , ,

No eggs-cuses for chocolate toxicity over Easter

Don’t under estimate the temptation of chocolate for dogs and keep it well out of reach especially at Easter. It’s not just a dodgy tummy that we worry about.

Chocolate contains theobromine which a dog cannot digest and so it becomes toxic to them. Theobromine affects the liver and in large quantities can be fatal. The higher the cocoa content of chocolate the higher the risk of liver problems so dark chocolate is more potent than milk chocolate.

Any chocolate can have toxic effects depending upon the size of your dog and the quantity they have consumed. If you think your dog has managed to eat any easter eggs do contact us for advice. The most important information we will ask for is the weight of your dog, the type of chocolate and the amount eaten.

If your pet does eat something it shouldn’t have, give us a call. Our 24 hour emergency service will be operating as usual throughout the Easter weekend so you will be able to contact an Avonvale vet at any time if your pet needs urgent medical attention.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice |

Buddy’s off the hook

This is 15 year old Buddy who came in to see vet Mark at Southam for his check up after an unfortunate encounter with a fish hook and line at the weekend.

On Sunday morning, Buddy sneaked into the garage and helped himself to some fishing bait. Unfortunately, the tasty morsel happened to be attached to a hook and several feet of fishing line. The hook becamelodged in his oesophagus, between his throat and heart. With Buddy safely asleep and an hour or so of delicate manipulation using a flexible scope and graspers, Mark managed to remove the hook.

All is now well, but some terriers never learn… vet Russell removed a hook from Buddy’s stomach using the scope in the same month 8 years ago!!

Posted in General News, Southam News | Tagged , , ,

Alabama Rot


You may have heard a lot of talk about Alabama Rot recently following a suspected confirmed case of the disease in Claverdon, Warwickshire. This blog will give you some further information on the condition.

What is it? 

Alabama rot is a skin and kidney disease of dogs. Dogs of any age or breed can be affected. It is an extremely rare condition that has affected only a small number of dogs in the UK. The cause of Alabama rot is unknown although there appears to be a link with dogs walked in some woodland areas. Although we don’t know the exact cause, we know that Alabama rot cannot spread to other dogs or to people from an affected dog.

What signs would I see?

You might see a lump or patch of red skin often on the legs of your dog. Sometimes the skin can have an ulcer or open sore. The signs of kidney disease can be a reduced appetite or your dog being unusually quiet or tired. These signs can be seen with a number of other illnesses and are not necessarily an indication of Alabama rot.

Can I prevent it? 

Because the cause is unknown there are no recommendations for how we can prevent the disease occurring. It has been suggested to bathe any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk; however, at this stage it is not known if this is necessary or of any benefit. Cases have been reported in many different areas in the UK and there is no current advice for dog owners to avoid any particular locations. No environmental cause for this disease has been proven.

What should I do if I am concerned?

If you notice any other the signs mentioned- unexplained skin lesions, particularly if your dog is also unwell- then please contact us as soon as possible. Your vet can carry out some tests that will help to identify the cause.

It is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected. Most skin lesions will not be caused by this disease and most cases of kidney failure will have another cause.

Posted in General News |


Myomatosis is a disease that affects rabbit. It causes puffy, fluid filled swellings. They can get “sleepy eyes”, swollen lips and swellings around their rear ends. In some the swelling is so severe that it can cause blindness. Most rabbits will then stop eating and drinking and can develop breathing problems.

It is spread by blood sucking insects, such as mosquitoes and fleas, and also by direct contact between rabbits. Most infected rabbits die within 12 days.

There is no treatment for this disease but fortunately we are able to help protect rabbits by vaccinating them. A vaccine once a year can help keep them safe. Call us today to book your rabbit in for a health check and vaccination.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice | Tagged , , ,

Tips for healthy teeth


  • Regular tooth brushing is the best way of keeping your pet’s teeth clean. Both dogs and cats will generally allow tooth brushing once they are used to the idea but it may take a few weeks to establish a regular routine. It’s very important to use a pet toothpaste as human toothpaste can be dangerous for pets
  • Diet can be very important in preventing tartar build-up on teeth. Try to feed your pet good quality dry foods rather than soft foods, as the latter tend to stick to the teeth, allowing the rapid build-up of tartar. Some diets are especially formulated to help keep teeth in the best possible condition. If you are considering changing your pet’s diet, please speak to our vets and nurses for advice.
  • Start early as some pets can be a little shy of their mouth being opened. A gentle mouth examination should be part of your general puppy training (along with looking in the ears and looking at the feet – all sensitive areas) to get your pet used to this type of handling. Our nursing team will show you how to do this when you attend routine puppy checks or one of our puppy parties.
  • Regular check-ups with your veterinary practice are essential for your pet’s oral health.

Throughout March we are offering free dental checks with a qualified veterinary nurse who can check your pets teeth, give you advice on preventative dental care and provide you with a complimentary finger brush to help you get started.

If your pet requires further treatment, we are offering a 20% off dental treatment during March.

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice |