Taking your cat to the vets

A visit to the vet can be stressful for cats, and therefore stressful for you too!

A sturdy cat carrier is the safest way to transport your cat from home to the vet practice. Make sure it has strong handles and fastens securely. Try to make the carrier as cat-friendly as possible; use treats, toys, and a pheromone spray to calm and help your cat feel at ease. (Pheromone sprays mimic the scent that cats produce from glands on their face. Cats rub their face on objects to leave a scent which they later recognise as familiar and reassuring.) Encourage them to get in and out of the basket by themselves in the lead up to the appointment. That way it will be less daunting for them when you close the door for the journey.

Try to keep calm when you’re getting ready to visit us; your cat will pick up on your anxiety. Avonvale is on the International Society of Feline Medicine’s list of cat-friendly practices. Our staff have undergone extra training to help make your cat’s visit to us is as relaxed as possible. We have dedicated cat waiting areas for you and your cat which are quieter and away from dogs.

At present the practice has additional measures in place due to Covid-19. Follow directions for the safety of you, your pet, and the practice staff. Be sure to wear a face covering and use hand sanitiser. When using hand sanitiser, please ensure it’s dry before touching your feline friend as they may not like the smell of it.

Your vet will ask you questions about your cat’s health and ask you the reason for your visit before examining your cat thoroughly. If your cat needs further treatments or investigations, your vet will discuss the plan with you. It’s important to get your cat checked out at least annually, even if they seem in good health. This will enable us to pick up on subtle changes which might not be noticeable at home (such as weight loss) and allows us to treat your pet sooner.

If you have any questions, please ask us. We’re happy to explain any details about your pet’s diagnosis or treatment.

If your cat is showing signs of stress after their appointment, give them plenty of fuss and cuddles when you get home – if they want to, of course! We all know that cats can be strong minded and independent, so don’t force them to interact with you.

Are you a member of our Healthy Pet Club?

For an affordable monthly fee your cat will receive all the benefits listed on our membership page. You can now even register online, so why not sign up today!

Posted in General News |

Seven interesting dog facts for you to ponder

Here are seven fun canine facts we’ve ‘fetched’ just for you.

  1. Contrary to popular belief, dogs aren’t colour-blind. [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica]

Dogs aren’t colour-blind; they can see more than just black, white and grey. But the actual range of colours they recognise differs to us. Human eyes have three types of cones (cells that form the retina part of our eyes) so we see reds, blues and greens. Dogs are only able to see yellows and blues so have ‘dichromatic vision’.

  1. Human yawns are contagious for domestic dogs! It’s four times as likely to happen when it is the yawn of a person they know. [Source: Scientific American]

Dogs are among only a few of the species that display signs of contagious yawning. This exclusive list includes humans, chimpanzees, stump-tail macaques and gelada baboons.

  1. A Greyhound could beat a Cheetah in a long-distance race. [Source: Psychology Today]

Greyhounds are superb long-distance runners and can maintain a speed of 35 mph for up to seven miles. Cheetahs, while incredibly fast, can only sprint for around a fifth of a mile.

  1. A wet nose helps with scent detection. Your dog’s nose secretes a thin layer of mucous that helps to absorb scent chemicals. [Source: Vetstreet]

Dogs rely on scent to explore their surroundings. Their wet noses attract and hold scent particles making it easier for the dog’s olfactory (smelling) system to process. There are up to 300 million sensory receptors in a dog’s nasal cavity; humans only have 6 million.

  1. Petting a dog can lower your blood pressure. [Source: WebMD]

We all know that petting a dog feels good but did you know it can also lower your blood pressure? The petting action helps your body release relaxing hormones and reduces the level of cortisol (a stress hormone).

  1. Dogs have about 1700 taste buds! [Source: Woof Report]

Dogs have great taste because of the 1700 receptors (taste buds) on their tongue. In comparison, cats only have about 470.

  1. Dogs have at least 18 muscles in each ear! [Source: The Bark]

Up to 18 muscles control the ears of dogs while humans have only six. Dogs can tilt and rotate their ears to help direct sound into their ear canal. Most humans struggle with a basic ear wiggle!

Posted in General News |

Pet travel to Europe from 1 January 2021

If you’re planning on taking your pet to an EU Country after 1 January 2021, there’s some important information you need to know.

Before your dog, cat or ferret can travel for the first time after this date, you’ll need to start taking the following steps four months before you’re planning to travel …

  1. Arrange for your dog, cat or ferret to be microchipped.
  2. Vaccinate your dog, cat or ferret against rabies – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before they can be vaccinated.
  3. Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its primary rabies vaccination (from a current series of vaccinations). Your vet may recommend a booster rabies vaccination before this test.
  4. Your pet’s blood sample will be sent to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
  5. You will then need to wait three months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you can travel.
  6. The vet will give you a copy of the test results and enter the day the blood sample was taken in an animal health certificate (AHC).


Unfortunately, you won’t be able to travel with your pet until you have a valid animal health certificate.

If the blood test result is unsuccessful, your pet will need a repeat vaccination and another blood test taken after a further wait of 30 days.

As long as you keep your pet’s rabies vaccination up to date, you will not need to repeat blood tests for further trips to the EU. However, you will need to get an AHC from your vet within 10 days each time you travel.

It is possible that as things progress, not all of this will be necessary but please ensure you give yourself enough time.

For more information or to make an appointment to start the process, please contact your local practice.

More information can be found here on the GOV.UK website

Posted in General News |

Barbecues and your pets – things to consider  

Picture the scene…you’re in your garden, the sun is shining, maybe you have friends and family round to visit, and the charcoals are just about ready for you to start cooking al fresco. The last thing you want is an emergency vet visit with your beloved pet.

If you’re planning a barbecue this weekend, here are some of things to consider to keep your pet safe.

Your pet could get burnt by brushing past the barbecue, by a falling hot coal or by eating food directly from the cooking surface. Make sure they can’t access the cooking area.

Choking or obstructions
Discarded bones, skewers and corn on the cob can all be of danger to pets if swallowed. Other items such as tin foil may contain tempting cooking juices which can cause issues if ingested. Ensure rubbish is properly disposed of in a container that pet noses can’t find.

Upset tummy
Animal tummies aren’t designed to digest human food therefore burgers and hot dogs can cause your pet to develop vomiting or diarrhoea. Too much human food also piles on those pounds.

Alcohol ingestion
If alcoholic beverages are left around, your pet may be tempted to investigate. Alcohol is toxic to cats and dogs; causing vomiting, disorientation, high body temperature, restlessness, excessive panting, muscle tremors and seizures. Keeping drinks out of reach is advised.

If you’re having a great time it can be easy to get distracted. Make sure your pet has access to fresh water and shade while you’re enjoying yourself. If you choose to keep them indoors away from the hustle and bustle of the party, open a window a small amount to allow a breeze into the space, or put on a cooling fan.

If you do have any barbecue mishaps, we’re here to help, therefore please get in touch for advice.

Posted in General News |

Taking your dog out in public

Daily walks form an important part of our dog’s routine; a chance for them to stretch their legs (and ours!). As it’s something we do every day, we may not always be aware of some of the rules and restrictions in place when we wander through the park or woodland.

It’s always best to research your local authority’s website to understand the laws in place for your area. Below are a few general points to keep in mind when out in public with your dog:

1.  Cleaning up after your dog

We’ve all been unfortunate enough to tread in another dog’s mess; always clean up after your dog so pathways are clean for other users. Dog faeces might contain parasites which, if ingested, can make humans and livestock unwell. Make sure you practice scrupulous hand hygiene when you’re cleaning up after any dog. Although certain public areas might not legally require you to clean up after your dog (such as woodland or heathland), it’s a good idea to get into the habit of doing so every time. Not only are you protecting the environment, you’ll also avoid being issued with a fixed penalty fine.

2. Being mindful of livestock

When out walking your dog in the countryside, there’s a good chance you’ll come across a range of livestock. It’s important to keep your dog on a short lead when farm animals are close by. Dogs may become anxious and bark at, or attempt to chase them. Previously calm dogs might behave out of character and cause serious injury to farm animals. Cows or sheep protecting their young can become extremely aggressive if they feel threatened; they could seriously hurt you and your dog. Did you know it’s actually a criminal offence to allow a dog to worry sheep as they can become very poorly if stressed?

3. Walking with your dog on a lead

There are many other situations where you should keep your dog on a lead including: certain park areas, sports pitches, children’s playgrounds. Rules and restrictions for dog owners are normally displayed at the park entrance, or on the local authority’s website. Criminal punishments are severe if your dog injures another person or causes them to feel fearful about being attacked by your dog.

4. Maintaining a safe distance

This isn’t something we’ve needed to consciously consider before but maintaining social distancing is necessary on your daily dog walk. Be mindful of others when you plan your route and keep your dog under control at all times.

You can find more advice about UK dog laws, including when out in a public place at

Posted in General News |

Camping with your dog

Have your holiday plans this summer taken on a different look and feel? Are you swapping sunbeds and sand for…well, a field? Camping and caravanning is the holiday trend for summer 2020. Many campsites are fully prepared to safely cater for families over the coming months and the great news is, many are happy to welcome our dogs too!

If this is the first time you’ve camped with your dog, this checklist might be a useful reminder about what to pack.


Keep things simple and take your dog’s usual food with you. Avoid feeding your dog barbecue or picnic scraps as they could cause your dog to vomit or have diarrhoea.


Both tents and caravans can get chilly at night so it’s a good idea to pack extra layers for your dog. An insulated camping mat covered with a couple of blankets makes an ideal dog bed. The ground can feel hard and uncomfortable, especially if your dog has arthritis, so the more padding the better. Cushions from deckchairs could double up as your dog’s bed.


The temperature inside a tent can change rapidly; it can be freezing during the night and stiflingly hot during the day. Make a dog shade by attaching an awning or a porch to the outside of your tent or caravan. Some dogs love to lie on a cooling mat; these provide an easily transportable cool surface for your dog.


Just as you would at home, take plenty of water and a small bowl with you when you head out for the day with your dog.


Campsites usually ask you to keep your dog on a lead and be considerate of other campers. Metal stakes are widely available specifically for this purpose. They anchor into the ground and provide a secure place to tether your dog safely away from cars, bikes and children.

Dog identification tags can tarnish over time; check your dog’s tag is easy to read and your phone number is up to date.

 Vaccinations and parasite control

Give us a call if your dog’s vaccinations aren’t up to date; we can advise you whether it’s OK to wait or get you booked in before you go. Make sure your dog has been wormed recently too as there are often many dogs sharing the same toileting facilities (usually a designated field).


If your dog has long term medication, make sure you have enough for your trip. Let us know if you need to order more and we’ll check you have everything you need.


If you’re travelling out of the area, it’s useful to find the phone number of a local vet. Hopefully you won’t need them but if your dog does become unwell, it’s one less thing to worry about. If you do need to see a vet while you’re away, we can email them with any clinical information they need to help them treat your dog.


Take the details of your dog’s policy with you; this will save time and give you peace of mind if you do need a vet while you’re away.


Camping with your dog might be the start of a whole new way of holidaying for your family?! It could also convince you to start booking next year’s beach holiday ASAP- either way it’s likely to be an experience you won’t forget in a hurry!

If you need any advice about holidaying with your dog, please give us a call.

Posted in General News |

Grass seed dangers to cats and dogs

Grass seeds are a common problem during the spring and summer months and can easily brush off the tops of long grass stems onto your pet’s body whilst they explore the outdoors. The seeds have pointed ends and are exceptionally sharp. They become trapped in your pet’s fur and, due to their shape, they can only travel in one direction, meaning they can often penetrate skin or move into ears.

If left untreated, grass seeds can cause a variety of problems from minor irritation to conditions that require surgery. They carry bacteria which can cause an infection if the skin of your pet is affected.

An untreated infection may spread, or the seed can cause severe internal damage as it travels through the body. Unfortunately, if the seed breaches the skin, surgery is often required to find the grass seed, along with the use of antibiotics and antifungals for treatment.


Your pet could experience different symptoms depending on what part of the body is affected. Look out for swelling, hair matting and irritation, however additional signs can include scratching, head shaking or discharge from the eyes or nose. The table below provides more detail on the main symptoms and potential damage caused by grass seeds:

Prevention is the best cure

Try to keep your pet away from long grassy areas since the seeds can catch onto their coat, skin or toes very easily. When you take your pet outdoors for a walk, check their fur for any grass seeds when you get home. The typical areas to check are eyes, ears, nose, armpits and their toes – as this is where the seeds often get lodged. Keep long-haired dogs clipped and well-groomed, especially around their feet and ears.

If you are concerned that your pet may have picked up a grass seed please get in touch with us at the earliest opportunity so that we can advise you on what to do.

Posted in General News |

Avonvale’s Paws the Show

Don’t miss this fantastic op-paw-tunity for you and your pet! Enter Avonvale’s first ever virtual pet show and be in with a chance of winning one of five £25 Love2shop vouchers! Our competition opens on the 6th July with a different category each day.

The classes are:

Monday 6th July – Pet that looks most like their owner
Do you have a doppelganger-dog or a mirror-image-moggy? Post a picture of you both and we’ll see if we can tell you apart!

Tuesday 7th July – Golden oldies
Time for your more senior pets to strike a pose and show the newbies how it’s done!

Wednesday 8th July – Strangest sleeping habits
Whether it’s a nap on the neighbour’s fence or an upside down doze, we’d love to see how your pet prefers to snooze.

Thursday 9th July- Best animal moustache
Show us your pet’s handlebars, horseshoes and walruses!

Friday 10th July – Just juniors
Let’s ‘up’ the cuteness factor for this category; could your youngster be Avonvale’s next top model?!

An esteemed panel of Avonvale experts will pick a photo from each category and we’ll announce the winners the following week. Time to start snapping and we look forward to seeing your entries!

Full terms and conditions

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Avonvale Vets COVID-19 (Coronavirus) 30th June Update

We can now offer a full range of services for our patients, while still adhering to COVID-19 social distancing rules. All services we offer will depend on a risk assessment which considers the safety of our clients and teams along with the welfare of your pet.

As a Practice, we have been preparing for how we will work in the ‘new normal’. We will be providing the same high-quality services, with the same friendly, caring people; just delivered in a slightly different way.

We are working in smaller teams to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and therefore lead times for appointments may be a little longer than usual. Please bear with us at this time – we will do our best to make your appointment as smooth as possible.

Guidance for attending your appointment:

To keep everyone safe, a small number of clients may be able to come into the practice. When you book an appointment, we will confirm the arrangement for when you arrive and will advise on how we’re maintaining social distancing.  This will include measures such as:

  • Remaining 2m apart
  • Advising that clients wear face coverings where possible
  • Asking that all clients use hand sanitiser when entering and leaving the practice
  • Screens will be positioned at our reception desks and our teams will be wearing masks and visors

We will also be taking payment via remote payment links or over the phone, where payment at reception is not possible.

We have made these changes as the health and wellbeing of our patients, clients and staff is our number-one priority.

Thank you for your continued understanding during this time. We remain committed to delivering the best care for your pet and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Posted in General News |

Top 10 summer pet-hazards

Here are a few ways to help make sure you and your pets have a super, safe time together this summer.


Heatstroke and dehydration
Animals develop heatstroke if their core body-temperature rises above normal levels (hyperthermia) and they lose their ability to cool down. Animals can’t get rid of excess heat through sweating and their fur coats (which are great for insulation in the winter) make it difficult for them to lose heat through their skin.

The symptoms of heatstroke and dehydration are:

  • Dry pale gums
  • Bright red tongue
  • Excessive panting
  • Agitated (restless)behaviour
  • Drooling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting

To reduce the risk of your pet developing heatstroke, allow free access to clean, fresh drinking water. Exercise your dog during the coolest part of the day; try and get out early in the morning or late evening. Carry water and a small bowl on longer walks.

Be extra cautious if your dog is: brachycephalic (has a short-nose), elderly, overweight or has dark fur. These factors increase your dog’s risk of developing heatstroke.

If you suspect your dog has heatstroke, or is dehydrated, move into the shade and offer small amounts of water to drink. Use cool water to dampen your dog’s coat- avoid very cold water as this can cause shock. Use a cool, damp towel to cover your dog. Call us, or your nearest vet, immediately and ask for your dog to be checked as a matter of urgency.


Ticks are commonly found in woodland and grassland which is used to graze livestock. These small parasites are blood feeders; they attach to an animal’s skin to feed. As they feed their egg-shaped bodies expand and turn a dark browny-red colour.

If you find a tick, and are confident to do so, remove it immediately with a tick-removal hook. These handy tools are available from your local practice. Avoid squeezing the tick’s body or leaving the head behind as this can cause an infection. Please call us if you’d like help removing a tick from your pet. We can also advise you about the most suitable tick-repellent product to use on your pet.


Bee or wasp stings
Pets are often keen to ‘investigate’ bees and wasps which often results in a sting. The sting site might become swollen and itchy but it’s very rare for animals to develop a severe allergic (anaphylactic) reaction. Common symptoms of stings include:

  • Drooling
  • Whining
  • Swelling
  • Pawing at the face, or mouth
  • Biting at the site of the sting
  • Holding up their stung paw
  • Hives (small bumps along the skin near to the sting)

Uncommonly, stings near the nose or mouth can affect an animal’s breathing; call us for advice if you’re concerned about your pet.


Keep your pet’s fur short and well-groomed to help prevent heatstroke. Remove any matted fur, especially around their bottom, to eliminate the risk of flystrike. Flies can lay eggs in the fur which then hatch; these maggots eat into surrounding skin causing painful, open wounds.

Fur acts as a great sunblock but less hairy areas of your pet’s body can still become sunburnt. Dogs and cats with paler fur are more prone to sunburn.


Barbecues and alfresco dining
There’s nothing more enjoyable than cooking up a barbecue feast and enjoying your favourite tipple outdoors, just be careful your pet doesn’t join in! Be mindful of hazards including toxic food and drink, hot surfaces and sharp kebab skewers.

Some food and drink that should be kept out of reach of your pet include:

  • Food containing bones
  • Food containing seeds
  • Grapes
  • Raw garlic
  • Raw onion
  • Raisins
  • Corn on the cob
  • Chocolate
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Coffee/coffee beans
  • Teas/tea bags


Swimming pools, sea, rivers, and lakes
Not all dogs are good swimmers so be cautious near open water, especially deep water with strong currents. If your dog gets into difficulty, don’t put yourself at risk attempting a rescue. Sadly, people drown each year trying to rescue their pet.

If you’re introducing your dog to water, consider using a dog-flotation device. You could let them get their paws wet in a paddling pool before moving onto deeper water. Rinse your dog’s fur after a dip to remove salt, chlorine or bacteria.

Keep a look out for blue-green algae as this is toxic to dogs. Don’t let your dog swim in, or drink water, which you suspect is contaminated. Contact us straight away if your dog has been in contact with algae.


Hot pavements and artificial grass
Hot pavements can burn your pet’s paws. If it’s too hot for you to stand on with bare feet, it’s too hot for your pet. Try the seven-second rule; if you can place the back of your hand on the surface for seven seconds or more, then it’s safe for your pet to walk on. If your hand gets too hot, it’s too hot for your pet.

To prevent your pet from burning his/ her paws, try the following:

  • Walk in the cooler hours of the day – early morning or late evening
  • If you’re out in the midday heat, try and walk on the grass where possible
  • Clean and check your dog’s paws regularly


Fertiliser and pesticides
Many fertilisers cause gastric (stomach) irritation if your pet eats them. It’s usually dogs who are affected because of their scavenging nature. The symptoms of fertiliser toxicity include: diarrhoea, vomiting, salivating (drooling) and a painful abdomen.

Pesticides can cause muscle tremors (shaking) and even seizures (fits). If you notice a farmer spraying his/her fields then consider an alternative route for a few days and rinse your dog’s paws well when you get home.


Flowers and Plants
Many plants and flowers are toxic if eaten by our pets. Depending on the plant, your pet might develop a range of symptoms from an upset stomach to more serious conditions such as kidney failure.

The most common harmful plants are:


  • Elder:The whole plant, including the elderberries, are poisonous for both cats and dogs.
  • Lilies:Contain a toxin that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, collapsing, fits, heart problems and renal failure (cats).
  • Foxglove: Both the seeds and the leaves of a foxglove plant contain a toxin which can cause heart problems, sickness, diarrhoea, fits and collapse.
  • Geranium: The whole geranium plant is poisonous to both dogs and cats.
  • Hydrangea: Parts of a hydrangea plant contain cyanide which is toxic to both dogs and cats.


Never leave your dog in the car on a hot day, even for a few minutes. Heatstroke develops quickly and can be fatal.  Passers-by are encouraged to dial 999 if they notice a dog trapped inside a car. The police will act to release the dog – even if that means damaging the vehicle.


If you’re concerned about your pet and would like further advice, please contact us. We’re always here to help, however warm it gets!

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