Russell Hall Blog: Stuck in paradise

Russell Hall, Clinical Director at Avonvale Veterinary Centres, continues his journey sailing around the world with his family – Kate, Hugo and Felix. Read his latest update below:

“Just like everyone else in the world, the last 3 months have been very different for us. After the rigours of sailing the Atlantic, we had a fantastic time sailing between the islands of the Eastern Caribbean. We were often in a mini convoy of boats (including several family boats) we have met on the way. We enjoyed barbecues on deserted islands, snorkelling coral reefs- all the things you expect to do on a paradise island. We reached Antigua in late February, just as Coronavirus started to affect the world.

Some of the boats we were with prepared to head north to start their journey back home across the Atlantic. Others were planning their journeys further west to Panama and on to the biggest section of ocean in the world – The Pacific. That is where we are planning to head.

But borders were beginning to close, flights were being cancelled – how do we continue our voyage? Where should we go next? Where would we be safe?

We opted to leave Antigua and head to Bonaire, a little known island off the coast of Venezuela. It was the most sensible choice for us as Bonaire is out of the Caribbean hurricane zone and in the right direction for our onward journey. The 675 mile journey took us past Monserrat so we detoured and sailed within a few hundred yards of the active volcanoes. You can still clearly see the island’s old capital buried in several metres of ash with church towers and the old town hall poking though. You can smell the sulphur and steam still rises from vents in the rocky landscape. We didn’t stay long as there is a five mile exclusion zone.

We arrived at Bonaire on Saturday evening, 4 ½ days after leaving Antigua. The border closed on Monday morning; we had just made it in time! In those few days the world, it seemed, had changed. From being a relatively minor news item, Coronavirus had now struck with a vengeance

Once safe in Bonaire, inaction seemed the best action so we sat tight for nearly 3 months. But what a place to be stuck! Bonaire is a Dutch territory, in a similar way to the Falkland Islands being a British territory. Like many of the Caribbean Islands, Bonaire formed from volcanoes millions of years ago. The mostly cactus covered Bonaire has a colourful history, especially since the Dutch arrived in the sixteenth century. Slavery was a part of its salt mining and plantation-farming history, it served as a refuelling base in the Second World War and is now a wildlife and marine reserve. With all these activities it was a great place for home schooling.

After 11 weeks in Bonaire it was time to leave. Our next planned stop was Colombia but they’d closed their border and, like many South American countries, medical systems were struggling to cope with the large numbers of people falling ill. We opted to head directly for Bocas del Toro in Panama, Central America. Panama currently allow entry after a 14 day quarantine period at anchor off the coast. We faced a week’s long journey through the roughest part of the Caribbean Sea followed by two weeks at anchor before touching land. This meant several trips to the shops to stock up on fresh food and pasta sauce.

We’re now on day five of the passage to Panama. Last night we went through the biggest electrical storm we’ve ever seen. Thunder rattled the rigging, lightning hit the water all around us and the rain was so heavy it made an Indian monsoon seem like a small drizzle. It lasted for six hours and was the first time we’ve felt really alone; very few commercial vessels, and no other yachts, were within hundreds of miles of us. All we could do was pray we didn’t get a direct lightning strike – that would be a disaster.

We were lucky, we came through relatively unscathed. Water has leaked into loads of odd places and lightning has damaged the electronics at the top of the mast. The job list has now extended to include mending lightning-damaged electronics whilst 20 metres in the air, with no relevant spare parts. Something to do whilst in quarantine I suppose and, to be honest, probably a lot easier than home schooling!

Coronavirus has had a huge impact on the live-a-board sailing community. When we told people we were going to move our family onto a boat to sail the world, people warned us about being overtaken by rogue waves, boarded by pirates and the difficulties of home schooling; someone even said we should watch out in case bare foot living turned our children’s feet into those usually seen on a hobbit! But a global pandemic? No one mentioned a pandemic.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, we are all facing challenges and obstacles in our daily lives. We are all living a voyage.”

You can follow the family’s travels on

Posted in General News |

Diabetes Week – 8 to 14 June 2020

Know the facts, reduce the risk

Did you know that, just like us, our pets can develop diabetes? The early symptoms of diabetes can be difficult to spot but there are a few signs to look out for. As we enter Diabetes Week, we’d like to raise awareness about what causes diabetes, the early signs to look out for and the treatment options available.

The facts

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that regulates the body’s glucose (sugar) levels. Animals need insulin to move glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Once inside the cells, glucose converts to energy which the body uses to function normally. Your pet might become diabetic if their pancreas doesn’t make enough insulin or their body can’t use the insulin produced.

Spotting the signs

Here are some of the early signs of diabetes to look out for. There are other conditions that could cause these signs too so it’s always important to speak to your vet if you’re worried about your pet’s health. The symptoms of diabetes include:

  • Drinking more often
  • Passing urine more frequently or in larger amounts
  • Increase or loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sleeping more or being less active
  • A urinary tract infection.

Can diabetes be treated?

There isn’t a cure for diabetes but there are treatments available to manage it very effectively.  Each animal needs a unique treatment plan and your vet will work closely with you to stabilise your pet’s diabetes.

Treatment can include:

  • A balanced, high fibre diet
  • A regular feeding and exercise routine
  • Insulin injections (our veterinary team will teach you how to give these).

Keeping your pet at a healthy bodyweight is an important way to help manage diabetes. Avoid feeding table scraps and make regular exercise a part of their daily routine. Vary walking routes to keep exercise interesting and play fun games at home. Cats can be encouraged to exercise with scratching posts or mats, toys and interactive feeding games.

If you’re currently self-isolating or unable to leave the house, click here for some tips on how to exercise your pet during lockdown.

If you’re concerned about your pet and would like some further advice about diabetes, please contact us.

Posted in General News |

Looking after your pet rabbit in the current environment

Having been in lockdown, and with schools closed for almost ten weeks, there has been a surge in parents getting rabbits for their children. The general docile nature of rabbits makes it seem like they can be looked after by young children with minimal supervision. However, there are many things to consider before welcoming a rabbit to the family as their care can be more complex than imagined.

Rabbits require as much attention as any other pet, including a healthy diet, regular handling, routine monitoring, social interaction, and medical care from veterinary surgeons. They are highly social animals that crave contact and interaction with their human guardians. Rabbits are much happier living in pairs and will become very lonely if kept on their own.

Whether you are a new rabbit owner or have had your beloved pet for many years, there are several steps you can take to ensure they are protected in the current environment.

Veterinary care for your rabbit

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) have advised veterinary practices to change how they work, and many routine procedures are being delayed. This is to conserve essential supplies, protect the health of veterinary staff and our clients, and to avoid further spread of COVID-19.

If your rabbit has not had their vaccinations yet, they will be at higher risk of developing diseases. Please speak to your vet about how you can get care for your pet.

Here are some actions you can take to look after your rabbit during this period:

  • As the weather gets warmer, the number of biting insects in your local area may increase. Keep your rabbit safe from fleas, ticks, mosquitos, and midges because biting insects are the primary vector of both Myxomatosis and Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RVHD1 and 2) which can be fatal for your pet.
  • Look out for flystrike during the hot summer months. Flystrike is caused by flies that are attracted to damp fur, urine, faeces, and the odour of the rabbit’s scent. The flies will land on the rabbit, typically around the rabbit’s rear end and lay eggs.
  • Practice good hygiene. When you interact with your rabbits, thoroughly wash your hands before and after handling them or any of their food and toys. There is currently no evidence that rabbits can spread COVID-19 to or from humans.
  • Since you are spending more time at home, it might be tempting to give your rabbits’ a variety of foods but to minimise the danger of gut problems, do not make substantial changes to their diets. If you are self-isolating, you might not be able to get your usual supplies but try to ensure that you maintain normal diets where possible. Good hay remains the mainstay of a healthy rabbit diet.
  • If your rabbit is housed with other rabbits, and they are not neutered yet, discuss the best options with your vet. It is advised to spay all female rabbits to prevent reproductive tract cancers.
  • Monitor the claws of your rabbit. Keep them trim, to avoid them catching and breaking them. If you do not have the necessary tools, contact your vet for guidance.

Finally, make the best of this period by spending some quality time with your rabbit. Should you require any specific advice for your rabbit during this period, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Posted in General News |

Preparing your pet for life after lockdown

How do you feel about the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions? Relieved? Anxious? If we could ask our pets the same question, we’re fairly certain their answers would put them in one of two camps; those who are looking forward to the peace and quiet and those dreading not being with us 24/7.

If your pet falls into the first category, they’ll probably resume their daily napping-schedule quite happily. The pets (mostly dogs) who might struggle are those who rely heavily on contact with us in order to feel secure. Young dogs and puppies, who have never been left at home, might also feel anxious when their ‘pack’ (your family) start going back to school and work.

What is separation anxiety?

Most dogs learn at an early age that, when we leave the house, we’ll always return. Knowing this helps them to feel secure when they’re alone. Some dogs take longer than others to learn, and they feel anxious when they spend time away from us.

Dogs who are scared of being left alone might express their anxiety by misbehaving. Some become destructive and chew household items or furniture; others become very vocal and bark or whine continuously until we return home – which will be distressing for them, and probably your neighbours too; and some may even go to the toilet inside the house – which is out of character for them. Your dog may show one or even all of these symptoms.

There are a few things we can do now to prepare our pets for the end of lockdown. These ideas might also help dogs who struggled with separation anxiety before the lockdown began.

Encourage independence

We can teach our pets to feel secure when we’re out by gradually spending longer periods of time away from them when we’re at home. This is especially important for dogs who like to physically touch or be near to us at all times…. our four-legged shadows!

  • Spend time in a different room to your dog and gradually increase the length of time you’re apart. Don’t fuss your dog when you leave or when you return. By staying calm, you’re signalling to your dog that it’s no big deal for them to spend time alone.
  • Encourage your dog to explore your garden, or outside space, alone.
  • Make sure your dog takes naps in his/ her own bed and not always next to you on the sofa.
  • If you always leave your dog in the same room or area, use these spaces during daily family life. Your dog will be less worried about being left in a familiar space.
  • Introduce interesting toys (such as food-filled chews) to your dog when you’re at home. Lengthen the time your dog has access to these ‘special’ toys while you gradually move away to other parts of your home. The benefits of this are twofold; your dog’s focus is directed away from you, and the action of chewing is something that relaxes most dogs.

Build resilience

If your dog is particularly attached to one person, it’s a good idea to share the load of their daily care. This helps your dog to feel secure even when their favourite pack member isn’t at home. Ask other family members to become involved with your dog’s feeding, walking, snuggling and playtimes.

Your dog will gradually learn to feel safe with whoever they’re spending time with.

How else can we help our dogs adapt to life after lockdown?


If you plan to increase your dog’s daily exercise after the lockdown has ended, make sure you do so gradually. We’ll all be trying to lose our lockdown-pounds and increasing the amount of exercise we do is a great way to achieve this. Make sure you and your dog take things slowly to avoid injuring body parts which haven’t been used for a while!


If you have a puppy or young dog, introduce them to places that you couldn’t visit during the lockdown period. The more smells, sights, and sounds your dog experiences as a youngster, the less they’ll fear as an adult dog.

Please contact us to ensure your puppy has received the vaccinations and preventative healthcare they need to keep them safe when they start going out.

And what about cats?

For the vast majority of adult cats, their life during lockdown was probably not massively different from their usual routine. They may have felt inconvenienced by more attention from their humans, but many cats avoided this by seeking out new sunbathing/ hiding/ sleeping places!

If your cat has lived indoors during the lockdown, it’s worth checking they’re up to date with their preventative healthcare before they go outside again. We can provide you with your cat’s usual flea and worm treatments so please let us know if you’ve run out. As soon as we can, we’ll resume all vaccinations, so we’ll contact you when your cat is due for a check-up and booster.

For new kitten parents, please arrange for us to vaccinate, neuter and microchip your new addition before letting them go outside. Because of the lockdown, your kitten might be older than usual before this happens. It’s especially difficult keeping young cats indoors during the summer months so we’ll do all we can to ensure they’re ready for the butterfly-chasing season!

All pets

It will take all of us some time to get used to our daily routines again after lockdown has ended. If your pets have enjoyed lie-ins and late nights, it’s helpful to resume your usual routine before you go back to work. Your pet will feel more secure, knowing what time dinner is served!

If you’d like further information about any aspect of caring for your pet after the lockdown has ended, please call us for a chat.

Posted in Pet health care advice |

Much loved pointer recovers from horrific chest injury

A family dog who suffered a horrific chest wound the size of an A4 piece of paper is back to full health, thanks to her quick-thinking owners and Avonvale vets

Betty the pointer

Betty, a four-year-old German shorthaired pointer, tore her skin across the entire width of her chest on a sharp log while on her daily walk in fields near her home in Leamington Spa.

Owners Jeremy and Emily Lim acted quickly to stem the bleeding, with Jeremy using his t-shirt as a makeshift bandage and his snood to hold it in place.

The couple managed to lift 30kg Betty into their car, after carrying her through three fields and take her to Avonvale Veterinary Centres, in Heathcote, where vet Naomi Bradford carried out emergency surgery to close the enormous wound.

Betty is now back home and recovering well with Jeremy, Emily and their children

Betty in recovery at Avonvale Vets

Describing the incident, Jeremy said: “Midway through our walk, Betty ran through an opening in a hedge. I noticed a log moving as she leapt over it and passed through the gap in the hedge.

“She quickly returned through the hole in the hedge and came back to us. My wife exclaimed that something looked wrong with her and I thought she had a black bin bag attached to her chest which was flapping around.

“Quickly I realised it wasn’t a bin bag but rather a large patch of her black fur and flesh that had been ripped from her chest, about the size of an A4 piece of paper!

“My wife kneeled down and held the torn skin to Betty’s chest to reduce the bleeding. There was a lot of blood.

“The last thing we wanted was for our much loved, good-natured family dog to die in the field on her morning walk and knew how upset our two young daughters would be. We did everything we could to keep her alive and get her to the vets as quickly as possible.

“While my wife held the flesh to Betty’s chest, I took off my jumper and t-shirt. I tore the t-shirt down one seam and made a tight wrap, binding the wound by tying it around Betty’s chest.  Fortunately, I was also wearing a snood which I used to form a sleeve around her chest to bind it all together.

“We are very grateful to Avonvale for helping Betty in her time of need – in particular, Naomi Bradford, who carried out the surgery and has been monitoring Betty’s recovery. But we would like to thank the entire staff for their efforts, as I know it takes a team to make it all work.”

Naomi said: “This was a gory story with a happy ending! The sharp log tore Betty’s skin across the entire width of her chest, elbow to elbow.

“We had to perform emergency surgery to close this enormous wound and the procedure was a complete success. We’re delighted to say Betty is recovering well – she’s been really brave.”

Posted in General News |

How owning a pet can be good for your mental health

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK, so we wanted to explore the connection between pet ownership and mental health.

Thankfully, in more recent times, the conversation about mental health is more open and honest than ever. Members of the Royal family have spoken out about their own mental health issues and act as patrons to dedicated charities; celebrities and public figures talk about their struggles; and the medical profession is more educated and understanding than before.

We hear advice on how to keep our mental health strong, and how to deal with negative mental health experiences in terms of physical behaviour, but what about external factors? Here, we’re looking at how owning a pet can have a positive effect on your mental health.


A well-known cause of low mood and depression is loneliness. The companionship provided by a pet can help to reduce feelings of loneliness by having ‘someone’ to talk to, or to give and receive cuddles. In extreme cases, pets have been attributed with saving people’s lives’ by giving them a focus and something to live for. Pets are great listeners and never talk back, are grateful for attention and always appreciative when you feed them! They give unconditional love, which can be essential for people who feel alone.


Studies have shown that stroking a pet can regulate breathing, lower blood pressure, relax muscle tension and slow heart rates; all signs of anxiety and stress. It can release serotonin and dopamine – happy hormones – which relax us and improve our mood.

Structure and focus

Pets don’t care if you’re tired, miserable or don’t want to get out of bed – they need feeding, walking, and general looking after. Owning a pet can give the structure needed to get through the day when you’re feeling troubled. Caring for a pet can also remind us that we need to care for ourselves too.

Exercise and fresh air

If exercise is good for mental health, then owning a dog might be the push needed to get out and about. Dogs require regular exercise and generally love walkies, which encourages their owners to take them out even when they may not themselves feel like it. Owning a dog is a big responsibility, which needs to be thought about before making a commitment, but it’s a great way to stick to daily exercise all year round.

Be more social

Owning a pet can help people become more social too. Many dog owners love to exchange pleasantries or stop for a chat on their daily walk. But all pets provide a commonality with friends and strangers; it gives us something to talk about and share stories about. With the love of pets on social media, isolated people can develop new friendships and relationships by sharing their pets photographs and joining in conversations on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please reach out to a registered charity or medical professional for help, support and advice.

Posted in General News |

75th VE Day Anniversary – Animals in War

On this VE Day, it will be 75 years since the guns fell silent at the end of the war in Europe. The 75th anniversary will provide us with an opportunity to reflect on the bravery and sacrifice of people from all walks of life. It is equally important to consider the role animals played and how they were touched by war.

Domestic pets

As they do today, pets played a significant role in people’s lives during the war. When refugees escaped from Europe, sometimes they only managed to escape with their pets.

With millions of people joining the war effort, charities such as the Blue Cross stepped up by looking after the pets of service members. Despite facing great danger during the war, the charity and volunteers across the UK continued to care for and treat animals. By 1945, they were treating 210,000 animals a year!

Pets also saved countless lives during the war. Here are just a few examples of pets who become heroes:

  • When a bomb was dropped through the roof of her house, Juliana, a Great Dane, saved her owner’s life by extinguishing it with her urine. She was awarded her first Blue Cross medal for her actions. Juliana was celebrated as a hero for a second time in 1944 when she again helped to save the lives of her owners. After a fire started in their shoe shop, she alerted her owners’ family to the imminent danger. For this courageous action, she was awarded a second medal.
  • A little dog by the name of Fluff worked valiantly to save her owners. Fluff was buried with her owners in the rubble of their house after a German bomb landed on it. By continuous scratching, Fluff made a hole big enough to get out, which also acted as an airway for the trapped people. She stood outside the hole and barked until rescuers arrived.
  • The home of Peggy, a ferocious terrier, was blown up by a German bomb. Her female owner and a baby were trapped under the debris of the house. The dog worked furiously with her paws until she had made a hole through which the child could breathe. All three were saved and continued to live a happy life.


Dogs also played a direct role in the war. Dogs were trained to protect, patrol, find land mines, and even parachute behind German lines. Brian, a two-year-old Collie Cross, was one of the most-famous “paradogs” and was awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal for his service. During the D-Day Landings, Brian and several other animals joined the conflict in France and beyond.


Horses have had a long-established role in war. In WWI, nearly a million horses were sent to France between 1914 and 1918, and only 62,000 returned. In WW2, soldiers of the Yeomanry regiments were shipped from Britain to multiple battlefronts with their horses. In 1942, when the Yeomanry were given tanks, the animals became redundant. Thanks to efforts of a charity called Brooke Hospital, now simply known as Brooke, these war horses were provided with a second home. Read more about their work with horses by clicking here.

During the Blitz, citizens and charities worked to save horses impacted by German air force bombing. Among the many stories of heroism during this dark period, volunteers and staff members of the Blue Cross worked to rescue 11 horses trapped in a bombed building in the heart of London. Even though bombs were falling within their vicinity, they managed to save 8 of these horses.

The human-animal bond

The human-animal bond persists through war and peace. Volunteers and charities looked after animals despite a considerable risk of personal harm, and many pets actively safeguarded their owners.

As we look back on VE day, let us be sure to remember and appreciate the important role animals played and continue to play in our life.

Posted in General News |

Deaf awareness week – the important role of dogs

We love dogs; they’re amazing companions – fun, loving and they bring us lots of joy! For some people however, their dog is more than just a pet, they’re a lifeline. Most of us are familiar with Guide Dogs – who are bred and trained to help people with visual impairments navigate their way around – but did you know that Hearing Dogs also exist to support people who are deaf?

As it’s Deaf Awareness Week, we have looked deeper into the essential role dogs play in the lives of deaf people.

Through many years of experience, the teams behind breeding hearing dogs in the UK have settled on four perfect breeds they feel are best suited to carrying out the role and changing the lives of deaf people. Those breeds are Labradors, Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Poodles and mixed breed Cockapoos, due to their personality traits of being gentle whilst active and alert.

Like Guide Dogs, hearing dogs are bred specifically into the programme, with the intention of becoming working dogs and being matched with a person in need. Their training includes learning to respond to common (and not so common!) sounds like alarm clocks, doorbells, fire alarms and even text messages on mobile phones! These are all noises that a deaf person wouldn’t hear, and that could be potentially dangerous or even life threatening if they were missed.

Hearing dogs learn through reward-based training. When dogs display behaviour in line with what’s expected of them in their ‘job’ they get lots of fuss, treats and cuddles. When they don’t display the correct behaviour they’re simply ignored. Hearing dogs in training are never punished for the ‘wrong’ behaviour. This results in calmer, happier dogs, who go on to be dedicated and relaxed companions. Once matched up with an owner, the dog’s training will be further tailored to meet that person’s needs.

Hearing loss can occur from birth or later in life and can be very isolating and lonely. As well as providing essential listening skills for their owners, hearing dogs can bring companionship, confidence and independence. Hearing dogs can be matched with people of all ages, from children and teenagers through to older people. Parents can also benefit from being alerted to cries from their children if they fall or have a bad dream.

To find out more about hearing dogs, including how they are trained, and to read real life stories from people of all ages, visit

At Avonvale, we’re committed to providing an inclusive, accessible service to everyone in our community. The style of our consultations are different at the moment due to the lockdown restrictions but we hope to resume face-to face consultations soon. If you are deaf, or have hearing loss, and would benefit from any of the following, please let us know. We could:

  • Give you a longer appointment slot
  • Use a quieter consultation room
  • Make sure our vets and nurses speak clearly and face you at all times
  • Write notes for you to take home

If there are any other adjustments we could make to help you get the most out of your visit, please let us know.

Posted in General News |

Protect your pet from the sun

As we head into the summer months, and temperatures start rising, we need to protect all family members (however furry they are) from the effects of the sun. Just like us, animals can develop sunburn, scorch their feet (paws) on hot pavements, become dehydrated or develop potentially fatal heatstroke.

Animals develop heatstroke if their core body temperature becomes dangerously high (hyper thermic) and they lose their ability to cool down. All pets are susceptible to developing heatstroke but some are more at risk than others. It’s a serious illness that requires urgent veterinary treatment.

Dogs and cats are more likely to get heatstroke if they’re overweight, have thick fur or are brachycephalic (have a short nose which can restrict their breathing). Here are some of the signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats to look out for:

  • Faster breathing or panting
  • Bright pink/purple tongue and gums
  • Weakness and collapse
  • Vomiting (being sick) and diarrhoea
  • Having a seizure (fit)
  • Stumbling around
  • Muscle tremors (shaking or twitching muscles)

Rabbits and guinea pigs
are at particular risk of developing heatstroke as their bodies are inefficient at reducing their own core temperature. They are more likely to develop it if they have long hair, are pregnant, overweight, or live in a hutch which is in direct sunlight.

As prey species, rabbits and guinea pigs often hide any signs of illness or distress as this makes them more vulnerable to their predators. It’s important to check your pets regularly to make sure they’re not masking signs of heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke in rabbits and guinea pigs include:

  • Salivating (drooling)
  • Drowsiness
  • Panting
  • Bright pink/purple tongue, gums or ears
  • Muscle tremors (shaking or twitching muscles)

If you think your pet has heatstroke, please call us immediately for emergency advice and treatment.

To help protect your pets during spells of warm weather, there are a few simple things you can do at home.


Ensure your pet always has access to fresh water. Like us humans, our pets become dehydrated if they don’t drink enough. Offer your pet plenty of water in a cool shaded area. You can freeze treats and add these to their bowl to encourage them to drink more. Avoid giving freezing cold water or ice cubes; these can cause your dog’s body to go into shock.

Don’t underestimate the power of the paddling pool to cool the entire family down! (So long as you’re happy to share with your four-legged friends!)


  • Beat the heat and take your dog out for walks during the coolest parts of the day; head out in the early mornings and late evenings.
  • Try to avoid strenuous exercise during hot weather. You might consider staying at home altogether during particularly warm spells, especially if your dog is overweight, elderly or has breathing difficulties. It’s safer for your dog to miss a few walks than it is to exercise in extremely hot weather.
  • Test the pavement with your hand; if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws!
  • Take drinking water and a small bowl with you on walks. If your dog shows signs of heatstroke while you’re out, take them to a shaded area, offer them water and dampen their fur. Call us, or your nearest vet, immediately for advice.

Time out

 It’s important that your pet has access to a cool, shaded rest area in your house or their hutch.  Ensure the area has an ample amount of airflow and remains well ventilated throughout the day. Some pets enjoy lying on a cooling mat which is designed to stay cool, however warm the room temperature is.

If your rabbit or guinea pig lives in a hutch, move it into a shaded area (or even a cool area in your house), during hot weather.

Sun Cream

 Just like us, our dogs and cats can get sunburnt if they are exposed to high levels of UV radiation (the harmful part of sunlight). Protect your pet with a pet-safe sun cream; focus on applying it to areas of pale skin covered by white, or thinning hair such as their ears and noses. If you’d like advice on which sun cream is the right one for your pet, please call us.

Cars, Caravans and Conservatories

  • Never leave your pet in a car, caravan or conservatory as inside temperatures, even on a cloudy day, can rocket to dangerously high levels within a few minutes.
  • If your dog travels with you in your car, ensure there’s a constant stream of fresh air circulating through the vehicle, either from an open window, or air conditioning. If you see a distressed dog in a car, the RSPCA, along with other animal welfare organisations, recommend you call 999 immediately.

Cooling tips for rabbits and guinea pigs

  • Try wrapping a frozen bottle of water in a towel; rabbits and guinea pigs enjoy lying against these to stay cool.
  • Move hutches and runs to a cool, shaded area.
  • Dampen fresh vegetables with water before feeding them to your pet; this increases their water intake.
  • If your pet shows signs of heatstroke, wrap them in a damp towel and call us immediately for advice.

By taking a few simple precautions, you and your pets can safely enjoy the summer together. (And if it’s a typical British summer that will be all three days of it!)

Posted in General News |

Local Dog Walking during lockdown

Most dogs look forward to getting out of the house for their daily walk and now, more than ever, this is an important part of our routines. To make sure you (and your pet!) get the most out of ‘walkies’ we have put together some handy tips:

  1. Using the lead

The Government’s advice is to stay 2m apart which is tricky if your dog insists on meeting and greeting everyone you see on your walk! It’s a good idea to keep your dog on a lead when other people are nearby. If your dog finds it difficult to walk on a lead, try holding treats in your hand to give your dog something else to focus on. Some dogs enjoy carrying their favourite toy in their mouth while out walking; hopefully this isn’t a life-sized cuddly bear!

  1. Keeping the walk fun

To keep walks interesting for your dog, you could play fun training games using a long lead and their favourite treat or toy. Basic recall is an important skill for your dog to learn as it helps you control your dog when you meet other people and need to observe social distancing rules.

  1. Maximise opportunities for a walk

Government restrictions currently allow you to leave the house for one form of exercise a day. If your dog is usually walked more than once, and there are other adults in your household, you can share out the walks and fresh air!

  1. Going off the beaten track

It’s tempting to explore different walks and find quieter routes with fewer people and dogs. If you cross farmland, it’s important to observe the countryside code; stick to footpaths, close gates behind you and keep your dog away from livestock. Help protect farmers from coronavirus by using hand gel, or wearing gloves, when you open and close gates.

Be mindful that it’s tick season; if your walks take you near undergrowth or through wooded areas, make sure you check your dog and remove any ticks you find. There are special tools available to help you do this safely. We can provide you with products that repel ticks so please contact us if you’d like further advice.

But what if you’re walking someone else’s dog while they’re in isolation? There are also some other points to consider:

  • Agree beforehand with the dog’s owner when you’ll collect their dog and how long the walk will last to avoid any confusion.
  • Work out how to collect and return their dog so you can both still obey social distancing guidelines.
  • Where possible use a different lead; wash it in soap and water after you’ve used it.
  • Wash your hands before leaving home and again when you return.

More information on the above can be found on both the RSPCA and Dogs Trust websites.

Posted in General News |