Be prepared to help pets de-stress, urge Warwickshire Vets

Pet lovers are being urged to be well prepared for what veterinary experts have highlighted as a time of year which can be difficult to keep animals calm.

Noisy celebrations such as Halloween, Bonfire Night, Diwali, Christmas and New Year are all identified as occasions which can cause stress for pets.

Help is at hand, though, as Avonvale Veterinary Centres in Warwickshire is running a “Comfort your Pet” campaign which is aimed at raising awareness of the challenges of the upcoming party season, while also providing advice, guidance and offers on treatment.

Kieran O’Halloran, of Avonvale Veterinary Centres, explained: “This is the most challenging time of year for pet owners as there are so many potential triggers of stress in animals coming up over the next few months.

“There are the bangs of fireworks, the noisy and hectic festive season – including unfamiliar faces and smells – and, of course, there’s the possibility of autumn thunderstorms and the earlier dark evenings.

“All of these can cause stress in our pets and while some owners will seek guidance and advice, we also know there are many others who just suffer through this period with their pets not knowing that help is available.

“The aim of our campaign is to raise awareness of the potential problems ahead, promote the numerous precautions and highlight the effective treatments which are available in a bid to ensure people are well informed and well prepared to cope with any potential problems.

“We’ll be handing out leaflets full of advice and guidance and providing offers on stress relieving treatments such as Feliway and Adaptil diffusers and collars, which help comfort pets and keep them calm.”

The comprehensive measures are all part of the far-reaching, proactive campaign by Avonvale Veterinary Centres which begins on Monday, September 30 and runs all the way through to Sunday, January 5, 2020.

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

Warwickshire vet helps tackle stray cat epidemic in Cyprus

avonvets in cyprus

Veterinary surgeon Sarah Ives at the Paphiako

A Warwickshire veterinary surgeon has spoken of her experience working to tackle the “massive problem” with stray animals on the popular holiday island of Cyprus.

Sarah Ives spent a week at the Paphiakos and CCP Animal Welfare shelter, near Paphos, where she neutered up to five cats and dogs a day, as well as carrying out medicine work and operations.

The dedicated vet, 25, who joined Avonvale Veterinary Centres’ Heathcote practice six weeks ago, carried out the volunteering in her own time.

Sarah visited the sanctuary on the Mediterranean island with friend and fellow vet Natasha Jameson, who works for Vets4Pets in Oxfordshire.

kitten in care of avonvets in cyprus

CCP Animal Welfare shelter in Cyprus

She said: “Sadly, there is a massive problem with stray cats and dogs in Cyprus. They are treated more as pests, particularly cats.

“Dogs are often bred for hunting season and when that’s over they are just abandoned. It is very sad.”

The need for good-quality animal care on the island was highlighted by the variety of work which Sarah was asked to carry out.

This also included medicating animals and even removing an eye from another animal.

dog in avonvets care in cyprus

CCP Animal Welfare shelter in Cyprus

Speaking about her work at the sanctuary, Sarah added: “It’s the second time I’ve visited – the last trip was just after I finished university, two years ago.

“It is a trap, neuter and release scheme which is aimed at helping with the problem of stray cats in the area.

They take in all sorts of animals though, so I ended up neutering some dogs too!

“There were four of us there – Natasha, myself and two final year students from the Royal Veterinary College.

Between us, we were neutering around 25 animals a day.”

Both Sarah and Natasha adopted a dog from Paphiakos and CCP Animal Welfare when they first visited two years ago.

For more information on the centre, visit


 puppy-in-a-shelter cats-in-a-shelter-cyprus

Posted in General News, Warwick News | Tagged ,

Avonvale Vets celebrating 10 years of offering hydro help with one of its water babies

A leading Warwickshire vet is set to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a facility which has made a real splash with its doggy patients.

To mark the anniversary of the hydrotherapy unit at its Wellesbourne branch, Avonvale Veterinary Centres invited a very special guest to come and celebrate.

olly the superstar

Olly was presented with a certificate at his 200th hydrotherapy session

Olly, aged 12, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel, has been going to the unit for treatment since 2015 and recently enjoyed his 200th session.

Olly seriously damaged his right knee in 2014 while chasing a squirrel and needed complex orthopaedic surgery.

Avonvale recommended hydrotherapy to his owner Alex Beaumont to help Olly regain and strengthen muscle in his injured leg.

Water buoyancy helps stabilise the body in a vertical position and encourages a normal walking pattern to strengthen muscles.

The temperature and level of the water can be controlled for each individual which allows thermal benefits – warm water assists with pain relief, while cooler water reduces inflammation.

Veterinary nurse Helen Reeve, who runs the hydrotherapy unit, which is also suitable for cats, said: “Not only is hydrotherapy good for physical health, it is also good for a dog’s mental health.

“For a dog who has undergone a major operation or who has arthritis and struggles with mobility, being in the water and being kept buoyant as they walk can be a huge relief and helps them regain both strength and confidence.

“Ten minutes on the hydro treadmill is the equivalent of a 40 minute walk. Dogs are supported by the water but they are still working hard, so it can also help increase their cardio abilities.

“Sometimes there will not be huge physical changes, but it’s often the little changes which can make a huge difference to the life of a dog, and its owners.

“It also makes a lot of dogs lose their fear of attending the vets. They no longer associate going with needles and examinations, they associate it with how wonderful they feel in the water.”

olly with his owner

Olly with his owner, Alex Beaumont, and Helen Reeve, who runs the hydrotherapy unit.

Olly has had numerous health issues over the years, including a spinal infection, and now has arthritis, but owner Alex says the hydrotherapy sessions are not only brilliant for his health but also a huge source of enjoyment.

She said: “Olly has had a lot of issues over the years and the hydro sessions have been wonderful for him. He just loves them.

“When hydrotherapy was first suggested by Avonvale I was initially reluctant as he had always been averse to going near water. He’d avoid going near a shallow puddle if he could, but now he pretty much drags me up the path to the vets.

“If I try and walk in a different direction we have a bit of a stand-off and he has a sulk.

“When he is there, he gets so much fuss, he revels in it. He’s a little dog who has been through a lot and a combination of the hydrotherapy and the way Helen and the rest of the Avonvale team treat him has done him the world of good.”

Posted in General News, Wellesbourne News | Tagged ,

Vets throw open their doors for anniversary celebrations

A leading Warwickshire vets will be throwing open its doors and inviting friends old and new to help celebrate the fifth anniversary of one of its branches.

Avonvale Veterinary Centres’ Stratford branch is celebrating its fifth birthday in September and is holding a special event to mark the occasion.


Vet Esther Daniell and senior vet Connor Carson are inviting people behind the scenes during the open evening.

The branch, which was the first surgery in the town to win accreditation from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in 2015, will be holding a celebratory open evening on Monday, September 30 from 6.30pm until 8pm.

Visitors can enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of the practice, look at the state-of-the-art equipment, and see how a surgery operates and cares for people’s pets.

There will also be an interactive quiz, games and a tombola to raise money for Avonvale’s chosen charity, Cats Protection, and younger visitors will get the chance to dress up as a vet.

Head vet Connor Carson said: “We are looking forward to welcoming people to our celebratory open evening, whether they are existing clients or new to the surgery.

“It has been a hugely successful five years for us and we can’t wait to mark our anniversary.

“The event will give people the perfect opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes of a vet practice and they will learn a lot of really interesting things during the course of the evening.

“Our interactive quiz also promises to be a lot of fun.”

Posted in General News, Stratford News | Tagged ,

Vet ready to show her pedal power for Team GB

ella-steel-avonvale-vetA sporting vet from Avonvale Veterinary Centre’s Southam branch will be putting the pedal to the metal when she represents Team GB in a world cycling championships in Poland.

Ella Steel has been selected to represent the British squad at the UCI Grand Fondo World Championships, which features amateurs and masters, and will race this Sunday, September 1.

The 35-year-old started training for a triathlon at vet school, and an interest in cycling grew as part of that.

Unfortunately, Ella injured her calf muscle while training for an Ironman duathlon a few years later and had to stop running, so cycling took over.

ella-steel-avonvets-cyclistShe did sportives – long distance cycling events – with her husband Adam until they had their son, Bronson, three years ago and started focusing on cycle racing as it was less time consuming, although, she admits, far more intense.
In May, s

he invested in a cycling coach through Dig Deep Coaching and says after that she saw her performance improve dramatically.

Ella qualified for the world championships during the Tour of Cambridgeshire in July by finishing in the top 25 per cent of her age group, the 35 to 39 category.

She said: “It’s incredibly exciting to be representing Team GB. When I put on the kit for the first time, wearing the Union Jack, it was such a proud moment.

cycling-vet-avonvale-vets“I am very nervous. It’s a much longer race than the others I’ve done this season and of course there’s the extra pressure to perform well when you have the honour of representing your country.”

Ella, who lives in Bishop’s Itchington, trains five or six times a week. On weeknights she does two or three interval sessions, often on her indoor trainer, then does longer rides or races at weekends. On average she does eight to 10 hours a week on the bike.

She said: “It’s been hard work fitting the training in around a 40-hour week, especially with our son Bron and our dog Cosworth to look after too.

“Thankfully, my husband Adam has been incredibly supportive and taken all the slack when it comes to Bron’s teatimes and bedtimes so I can sweat it out in the garage.

“Everyone at Avonvale has also been so supportive and really encouraging.”

For more information on Avonvale Veterinary Centres, which has branches in Warwick, Kenilworth, Stratford, Heathcote, Wellesbourne, Southam and Cubbington, visit or search for Avonvale Veterinary Centres on Facebook.

Posted in General News, Southam News | Tagged ,

The Long and the Short of it…

Spot the difference…….










(Images taken from University of Cambridge BOAS research group website)

These images are both CT scans of dog heads. The dog on the left is a Labrador Retriever and the dog on the right is a Pug. Both dogs have the same anatomical structures except the Pug has them packaged in a much more compact skull. Pugs are just one type of dog classed as a brachycephalic breed. The term ‘brachycephalic’ literally means ‘short head’. French bulldogs, Bulldogs, Boxers and Shih-tzus are also considered to be brachycephalic breeds.

The black areas on the scan pictures represent air within the skull making it possible to compare the airways of these two dogs. When dogs inhale, air is sucked into the nostrils and flows over the nasal turbinate bones. It then passes through the naso-pharynx (throat) and continues into the trachea (windpipe) before reaching the lungs. The scan of the Labrador’s skull shows the airways are relatively wide and unrestricted. The scan of the Pug’s skull shows a much shorter nose with a narrower airway which becomes almost completely constricted around the throat.

Trends in the popularity of specific dog breeds are not uncommon in the UK. According to The Kennel Club, Labradors were the most popular breed in the UK for nearly 30 years before being nudged into second place in 2018 by French Bulldogs. The popularity of all brachycephalic breeds has soared in recent years. Images of these dogs have been widely used in many advertising campaigns promoting products ranging from insurance to mobile phones.

The more demand there is for these dogs the more intensely they are bred and this can lead to a higher rate of breed-related health problems. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a condition affecting a large number of these animals. Some dogs have severely deformed airways which can lead to serious breathing problems.

The main physical features seen in dogs suffering from BOAS include: narrowed nostrils, excessive soft tissue inside the larynx, an over-long soft palate,a narrowed trachea.

Dogs suffering from BOAS display symptoms that include: noisy breathing and snoring, reduced exercise tolerance (including collapse in severe cases), sleep apnoea, swallowing problems, reverse sneezing.

Environmental factors can contribute to the severity of the disease. Hot weather is particularly difficult for brachycephalic dogs; they can overheat very quickly and may develop life threatening hyperthermia. Dogs who are overweight carry excessive fat around their throats which can exacerbate the symptoms of BOAS.

The severity of BOAS varies between individuals; a grading system has been produced by Cambridge University to help identify dogs in danger of developing life threatening breathing difficulties.  Brachycephalic dogs who score Grade 0 are entirely unaffected and can breathe normally. Dogs who fall into the Grade 3 category are severely affected and will require surgical intervention in order to lead a normal life.

The Kennel Club is funding a research project led by the University of Cambridge into BOAS as there are concerns that unless responsible breeding programs are introduced the number of dogs suffering from BOAS will continue to rise.

Dogs who are affected by BOAS may lead a better quality of life if they undergo surgery to widen their nostrils and reduce the amount of soft tissue obstructing their airways.

At Avonvale we support responsible breeding and therefore feel it is important to highlight BOAS as a potential concern associated with brachycephalic breeds. We see many brachycephalic patients and enjoy getting to know these fascinating dogs with huge personalities; they can make wonderful family pets.

Before buying a puppy it is worth doing a bit of research to ensure that breeders have considered BOAS and are only producing puppies who are not affected by this syndrome. It is a good idea to view both parents and also any offspring from previous litters.

If you would like any more information about BOAS or are worried about your dog please contact us at any of our surgeries.










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

Inka the lab ‘nose’ how to sniff out of trouble


Vet Victoria Collingwood used the otoscope to spot the seed.

A leading Warwickshire vet has described the grass seed she removed from a Labrador retriever’s nose as the biggest she has ever found in her career!

The large grass seed was removed from six-year-old Inka by Victoria Collingwood at Avonvale Veterinary Centres’ Stratford branch.

Inka had been out for a walk, in and out of hedgerows, when her owners noticed she was sneezing a lot and rubbing her face on the ground, so took her to Avonvale.

Despite nothing immediately visible up her nostril, her owners told Victoria they believed a grass seed was the problem as they had only recently experienced a seed issue with their other pet dog.

Inka was given a local anaesthetic up her nose and Victoria used an otoscope – which is more commonly used to check in the ear – to look further up the nostril.


The large grass seed which was removed from Inka’s nostril.

A large seed was discovered wedged about four to five centimetres up her nose.

Victoria said: “It really was quite far up, but once it had been located, we had little difficulty removing it with forceps.

Inka was a little star throughout the whole procedure.

She is a model patient.

“This was certainly the biggest seed I have ever found up a nose in my career so far!

“This case was unusual due to the size of the seed involved but, for dogs, problems associated with grass seeds are incredibly common at this time of year.

“Due to the seed’s shape they travel easily into the body and can get stuck.


Inka was described as a “model patient”.


“It’s important for owners to check their dogs after a walk and remove any seeds they find caught in the fur, paying particular attention to the feet and between the toes. Keeping the fur short around the feet can also help.

“If you believe your dog may have a grass seed caught somewhere, of they develop a swelling, or are unusually irritated or upset, then contact your vet as soon as possible.”

Inka’s owner Toni Senior, from Ullington, near Bidford on Avon, said: “The idea that it was a grass seed immediately sprung to our minds as our other Lab recently got one stuck in their eye.

“Luckily Inka was not too upset about having the seed removed.

“She is a dog that loves attention and cuddles and because of the wonderful way Avonvale have always treated her, she is willing to do anything they ask of her.

She behaves beautifully when there.”

Posted in General News | Tagged ,

Warwickshire Vets Toast ‘Double’ Anniversary

Top Warwickshire vets Andrea and Simon Davies are toasting a remarkable double – their 20th wedding and work anniversaries!

The happy couple married in 1999 and later that year moved to the Leamington Spa area to start work as young vets at Avonvale Veterinary Centres.

Andrea & Simon on their wedding day

Andrea & Simon on their wedding day

It’s certainly been a successful and eventful 20 years on both fronts. Simon is now clinical director at Avonvale’s flagship practice in Warwick, which is a first opinion veterinary centre and pet hospital, while Andrea is a senior veterinary surgeon at Avonvale’s Southam clinic.

The pet-loving pair, who live in Heathcote, also now have three children, Luke, 17, Oliver, 15, and Lauren, 10.

Simon admits Andrea was the trail-blazer, revealing: “Just after we were married, she was working as a locum for Avonvale at their Wellesbourne clinic and they were so impressed with her they offered her a full-time job.

“Andrea immediately asked if they’d take me on too – and they did! We’ve not looked back since.

“We moved to the Leamington area and honestly thought we might be here for a couple of years or so.

“Twenty years on we are still here, still working with Avonvale and we’ve no plans to move on – this is home now.”

Andrea also made the first move in the relationship stakes, when they were veterinary students at Bristol University in 1991.

She recalled: “It was in the Halls of Residence at Bristol University and I walked over to Simon and asked him if he liked Abba.

“He smiled and said ‘Yes’ and that’s how it all started.”

Andrea & Simon today

Andrea & Simon today

Nowadays they’re busy looking to the future with Avonvale, which has sites in Warwick, Kenilworth, Stratford, Heathcote, Southam, Wellesbourne and Cubbington, continuing to invest in industry-leading facilities, equipment and staff.

Andrea added: “There’s definitely benefits for us both working for the same company. Lots of what we do overlaps, we obviously know the same people and working at different sites means we are not under each other’s feet the whole time.”

Simon said: “The children are growing up fast, there’s universities, big exams and senior schools to think about these days so we are busy at home and at work – but that’s the way we like it.”

Posted in General News, Leamington News, Warwick News | Tagged , ,

Leading Warwickshire vets throwing open its doors

A leading Warwickshire vet is throwing open the doors to one of its branches so the public can discover more about veterinary care.

Avonvale Veterinary Centres will be holding an open evening at its Wellesbourne branch, in Warwick Road, on Thursday, August 8 from 7pm.

Deborah Newman, senior vet, said: “Not only is the event open to all our existing clients, but we would also welcome any members of the public who want to come along and see what services we can offer to them and their pets.

“They will be given an insight into how a veterinary practice operates as we will have a mock surgery set up. They will also be able to see the prep room and theatre.

“As well as a tour of the facilities, there will be a series of displays focusing on things such as dental x-rays and coping with pets and parasites.”
Veterinary staff will be on hand throughout the event to answer any questions visitors have.

For those with a sweet tooth, cakes are also being prepared by staff to raise money for Cat’s Protection, Avonvale’s chosen charity.

deborah newman from avonvale vets

Senior vet Deborah Newman is inviting the public to the open evening at the Wellesbourne branch.

Posted in General News, Warwick News | Tagged ,

Bella’s having a ball after life-changing operation

bella the pug at avonvale veterinary centre

Bella the pug is now much happier after her operation.

A pug dog is enjoying a new lease of life after a leading Warwickshire vet carried out an operation which dramatically improved her breathing problems.

Like many pugs and other flat faced dogs, Bella, who is six, suffered from Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS).

The breed has all of the anatomy of a longer nosed dog condensed into their flat noses, so there can be very little room for air to get in and out.

Bella was given a general anaesthetic and Katie Wain, clinical director of Avonvale Veterinary Centres, operated to remove part of her soft pallet, to solve the issue.

The case has prompted Katie to issue advice to owners of flat faced dogs. She said it is not normal for them to breathe noisily and if they are doing this, owners should take them to see a vet.

katie and bella at avonvale veterinary  surgery

Bella with Katie Wain, clinical director at Avonvale Veterinary Centres

Katie said: “I found her soft palate was too long and was flapping and blocking her airway so I shortened this to stop it happening.

“She also had really tiny nostrils which I made bigger.

“Immediately after the op you could hear a difference in her breathing. We kept her in overnight so we could monitor her and she was sent home the following day.

“Now, nine months later, and her owners simply can’t believe the difference in her. She is a much brighter and happier dog.”

David Barnes, who takes care of Bella during the week while his daughter Charlotte is at work, said: “The change in Bella was almost instantaneous. Before her op, she really struggled, particularly on hot days.

“She would get breathless when we took her for walks, she would snore really loudly and her inability to breath properly used to wake her up at night. It was so upsetting.

“She is now a different dog. She is just so happy. She is no longer distressed at night by sleep apnea, caused by gasping for breath”.

Bella is already a bit of a legend as last year, David released a book about his and Bella’s life together. Money made through sales of “Paws for Thought” is being donated to Pug and French Bull Dog Rescue and Rehoming Foundation, in Wales.

Katie has some advice to pug owners. She said: “People should be aware that BOAS is a problem that often occurs in this breed of dog.

“Many people think their noisy breathing is normal but it really isn’t. A normal dog shouldn’t make a noise when breathing, this is a sign that something is blocking the airway.”

She said another issue with pugs is that they are very prone to heat stroke, so owners should be wary with the summer approaching.

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