Helpful Tips

Diseases we vaccinate against



What is it?

It’s a very contagious virus that affects the intestines. Although all unvaccinated dogs are susceptible, very young and old dogs can be worst affected. This disease can be fatal.

Signs and symptoms?

  • Diarrhoea (bloody, foul smelling)
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy (low energy, tired)
  • Reduced appetite

How does it spread?

By contact with infected individuals or items that have been in contact with an infected individual. It is a tough virus and it can live in the environment for a long time. Any contaminated items should be thoroughly disinfected. Dogs can still carry and spread the virus up to 6 weeks after recovering.

Treatment and prevention?

Keeping your dog up to date with vaccinations is the best way to prevent this disease.

There is no specific treatment, intensive nursing and medicines can be given to help support the dog as it’s body fights back against the virus. This supportive treatment will likely include:

Careful feeding

A drip for fluid therapy


Other medication

Kept in isolation



What is it?

It is a nasty bacterial disease that affects the liver, kidneys, eyes and nervous system.

Signs and symptoms?

  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Jaundice
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness

How does it spread?

The bacteria can be spread through contaminated water or from contact with urine from an infected animal. Rats and mice found near waterways are common carriers of the disease. It can also infect people, this is termed ‘Weil’s Disease’.  Dogs can also potentially shed the bacteria and therefore pose a risk to humans in their household as this disease is a zoonosis.

Treatment and prevention?

If it is a mild case, antibiotics and a fluid drip can be administered to help the dog fight the disease.

In more serious cases, leptospirosis can cause sudden death.

A yearly vaccination will give your dog the best protection from leptospirosis. There are different types to cover different strains, so check with your vet as to which one would be recommended.



What is it?

Distemper is a virus that can spread and attack different parts of the body including the intestines, heart and immune system.

Signs and symptoms?

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Tremors, fits and seizures
  • Hardening of paw-pads
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite

How does it spread?

The disease spreads easily between unvaccinated individuals through the air and bodily fluids. Young dogs are more susceptible.

Treatment and prevention?

There is no treatment for distemper and it can be fatal in the early stages. Vets will offer treatment to support the dog fight the virus.

Vaccinations will keep a dog safe and prevent it contracting distemper.


Infectious Hepatitis (Adenovirus)

What is it?

Infectious hepatitis is caused by a serious virus that targets the liver as well as other organs. Young and unvaccinated dogs are most at risk of contracting the disease. The virus is tough and can survive in the environment for months and shed in a dog’s urine for over 6 months after recovery.

Signs and symptoms?

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Fits and seizures
  • Pale or yellow gums
  • How does it spread?
  • The disease spreads through contact with an infected dog’s bodily fluids (urine, saliva) or from the environment.

Treatment and prevention?

There is no cure, but similarly to the above: hospitalisation, medicines and intense nursing will be given to help support the dog when fighting off the disease.

Keeping up to date with vaccinations is the best prevention measure.


Kennel Cough

What is it?

Kennel Cough is a very contagious condition cause by a few different pathogens. It is rarely serious but does irritate the throat causing a nasty hacking cough. Young puppies and older dogs may experience a more serious illness as it may develop into pneumonia.

Signs and symptoms?

  • A cough (can be made worse with excitement or exercise)
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Most dogs seem well enough in themselves apart from the cough.

How does it spread?

It spreads easily through the air from dog to dog, not just in kennels but in any environment where multiple dogs gather. It can live in the environment for weeks and can be spread through contaminated objects (toys, food bowls). Dogs can still spread the disease a few weeks after recovery.

Treatment and prevention?

Kennel cough generally gets better on it’s own but the vet may recommend some medication to make the dog feel more comfortable (cough medicines, antiinflammatories). Antibiotics are rarely indicated except in certain circumstances. Keep infected dogs away from other dogs and avoid using a collar or lead that may irritate the windpipe.

The vaccination is not generally part of the core vaccinations for dogs but is commonly given on request. Kennels and day-care will often request it to be given 2-3 weeks before a stay. The vaccine is not fully preventative but greatly reduces the risk of catching kennel cough and reduces the severity of symptoms.





Infectious Enteritis (Feline parvo or panleucopenia)

What is it?

Feline infectious enteritis is a very serious disease caused by a virus that is similar to parvovirus in dogs. It attacks the intestines and sometimes the heart muscle.  Kittens are more affected than adult cats and it can cause them to have brain damage (Wobbly Kitten Syndrome)

Signs and symptoms?

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

How does it spread?

The disease spreads through contact with an infected individual or contaminated environment or object.

Treatment and prevention?

There is no specific treatment for the disease and sadly it is often fatal. Intensive nursing including fluid therapy and treating any secondary infections with antibiotics is recommended.

Vaccination is the best prevention for this disease.


Feline Leukaemia (FeLV)

What is it?

Feline leukaemia is an infection caused by a virus and it can lead to the development of different tumours. Young, unvaccinated and unneutered cats are most at risk. Sadly 80-90% of infected cats die within 3-4 years.

Signs and symptoms?

  • Frequent infections
  • Weight loss
  • Anaemia
  • Cancers
  • Death

How does it spread?

The virus spreads from the infected individual’s bodily fluids when in close contact. This could be licking, biting or sharing bowls or litter trays.  Cats can also spread this disease to unborn kittens if pregnant.

Treatment and prevention?

There is no cure but early diagnosis and treatment for the symptoms is best.  Individuals with FeLV need to be kept indoors and as a single cat in the household. They require regular vet checks and detail to their care to help minimise the risk of picking up infections or spreading the infection.

Vaccination for leukaemia is not 100% effective but still offers a valuable level of protection especially for kittens. Once older, the vet will likely assess if further vaccinations need to be given based on risk of exposure (e.g a single house cat is low risk).


Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

What is it?

‘FIV’ is a virus that causes damage to white blood cells over time and is similar to HIV in people. It targets the immune system and causes progressive damage over time. Unneutered males are at the highest risk.

Signs and symptoms?

  • Initial mild signs including fever and swollen lymph nodes
  • Cats will be more susceptible to infections and disease which may get worse over time. This could include weight loss, skin disease, respiratory disease and intestinal disease among others.

How does it spread?

The virus spreads via the saliva and commonly spread through cat bites. It does not survive well in the environment and can be killed by disinfectants.

Treatment and prevention?

Infection is permanent but infected cats can still live a good life.  Secondary infections and diseases that develop can be managed and treated accordingly to provide infected cats with a good quality of life.

Unfortunately there is not a vaccine for FIV available in the UK currently; measures should be taken to help reduce the risk of infection.  It is wise to have male cats neutered to reduce the risk of catching FIV and spreading the disease. Those infected should be kept indoors and away from uninfected cats.


Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Disease (Cat Flu)

What is it?

Mostly cause by either feline calicivirus, feline herpes virus and feline chlamydia. The disease is fairly common in the cat population and it varies in the severity. Very young and old cats will likely be worst affected. The disease spreads quickly through environments where there are lots of cats together for example, catteries and rescue centres.

Signs and symptoms?

  • Sneezing
  • Discharge from eyes and nose
  • Conjunctivitis
  •  Fever
  • Depression
  • Secondary infection

How does it spread?

Cat flu spreads through the direct contact with the discharge from an infected cat, a carrier or anything that has been in contact with an infected individual. The pathogens can survive for a number of days in the environment.

Treatment and prevention?

Treatment will usually mean treating the symptoms and making the cat as comfortable as possible while they recover. They will need to be kept in an isolation cage and care taken to keep the virus contained (separate bowls/blankets, changing clothes, gloves and strict hygiene measures). Cats will often remain carriers once recovered from the symptoms and will still shed the virus intermittently through their life.

Vaccination will greatly reduce the risk of contracting this disease.






What is it?

Myxomatosis is a deadly disease caused by a virus. It is common in wild rabbits and can spread easily to pets. Symptoms of the virus can take up to 14 days to show and rabbits can be very good at hiding their pain.

Signs and symptoms?

  • Swollen eyes, face, ears and genitals
  • Running nose
  • Ulcers
  • Milky eyes
  • Lethargic
  • Fever

How does it spread?

The virus is spread through contact with an infected rabbit or from an insect bite.

Treatment and prevention?

If the rabbit is unvaccinated, it is unlikely they will survive and euthanasia often the kindest route. If vaccinated the as a much better chance of surviving (about 50:50) and intensive treatment can be given but recovery can be very long.   Vaccinations are therefore advised to minimise the risk of myxomatosis.


Viral Haemorrhagic Disease: Strains 1 & 2

What is it?

VHD is a quick acting virus which can cause the death of a rabbit in only a couple of days.

Signs and symptoms?

  • Internal bleeding
  • Nose bleed
  • Often no outward signs and what appears to be sudden death

How does it spread?

The virus spreads through direct contact with an infected individual. The environment, clothing or objects that have been in contact with infected urine or faeces can also spread the disease. The virus can survive for months.

Treatment and prevention?

Vaccination is the best prevention and is found to be highly effective. Also care taken to disinfect any clothing or objects that may be harbouring the virus.





“One of the Most Hazardous Times of the Year…” A song by most Veterinary Practices

“One of the most hazardous times of the year” A song by most veterinary practices

The festive season truly is a wonderful time of year; however, it can be a very confusing and hazardous time for our pets. Here are some tips and tricks to keep them safe over Christmas and the rest of Winter…

  • Decorations:

Many of us love to decorate our homes with all the trimmings, it is important to keep decorations out of reach of curious pets. Christmas trees can be very appealing to cats in particular (let’s face it, it looks like a giant cat toy…) as many will try to climb them, swat off baubles, and generally have a good time with them. If your feline friend is trying to climb the tree tethering it to the wall can be a good option. Watch them carefully to ensure they do not become tangled in any fairy lights and tinsel, if you have an avid tree climber avoid tinsel and fairy lights all together as cats can cause serious damage to themselves (or worse…) after becoming tangled. Instead of glass baubles buy some shatter proof plastic to avoid cut pads. Strongly encourage your pets to play with a variety of species appropriate toys instead, buying your cat a tall and sturdy cat tree, may encourage them to climb that instead of your tree, especially when coated in cat nip or apply some “Feliscratch” by Feliway to the posts.

Thin wires from light up decorations can be appealing to small furries, puppies and kittens… again tethering wires down along the ground or wall, can often minimise their appeal. However, some will be extremely determined…so spray them in a bitter apple spray, or cover them with a thick wire covering to reduce the risk of electric shocks.

Do not let your pet consume any tinsel, or ribbons/strings of tinsel as this can get caught in the digestive tract and cause a blockage. If you can see strands emerging from the bottom area (to put it nicely…) do not be tempted to pull it, as this could cause internal injuries. Instead, contact your vet immediately.

  • Food and treats:

At this time of year there are many delicious treats available however, most of them are very bad for our pets. Foods to watch out for: Mince pies, cakes (or anything that contains raisins & grapes), chocolates, Christmas pudding, sage and onion stuffing, onion gravy, bones from carcasses, and of course alcohol… Avoid feeding any left-over dinners as most human food can be very rich, this can often lead to vomiting and diarrhoea.

Be extra careful with gifts which may contain candy or chocolates. Many people make the mistake of wrapping boxes of chocolates and putting them under the tree, our animals have brilliant noses… They may unwrap and consume them before you have a chance to do so! Keep them out of reach and out of sight.

The RSPCA have wonderful advice and videos on making festive treats, and what is safe for your pets during the festive season:

  • Seasonal flowers & Trees

Many of which are beautiful but care must be taken to avoid poisonings. The oils in Fir trees , Spruces, and Pines can cause digestive upsets, do not let your animals chew on the needles or drink from tree water. Other flowers which can be highly toxic to cats are Lilies, Amaryllis, Poinsettia, Holly, Mistletoe, and Snowdrops.


  • Festive Parties

The festive season is a very exciting time for us, however, it can be a distressing time for your pets! Always provide a safe place for them to be able to retreat to where they will not be disturbed, away from guests and excitable children.  Such as a separate room, or crate, make sure you provide food, water and a warm bed.

Keep an eye on your pets for signs of stress, with dogs this includes; panting, excessive yawning, avoidance behaviour, licking lips, drooling, pinned back ears, physical shaking, raised lips and growling.

With cats: physical shaking, being very quiet, actively trying to hide, tail tucked close to their body, licking lips, pinned back ears, yowling, hissing and striking out.

All animals are creatures of habit, they develop their own routines and can become distressed when this is changed, or faced with a large group of people. Please keep this in mind when hosting parties, and ensure they have an “exit route” if needed. Bring in any outdoor animals to an area of the house they will be kept warm and away from fireworks, and loud music.

  • Some final winter advice:

– Keep dogs without a double coat warm on walks with a pet jacket, try to buy one with reflectors sown on so they are visible to traffic, and people that are passing by.

– Wash all paws after a walk, salt grit can be very irritating if left on skin.

– Keep dogs away from frozen open water as many will not realise the dangers and fall in if the ice is thin.  Take care on other slippery surfaces as they can fall and injure themselves.

– Take extreme care around antifreeze, it does smell and taste sweet to felines so they will drink it. Ensure any spillages are thoroughly cleaned up, and the bottle is kept out of reach. Antifreeze is highly toxic, if you suspect poisoning do not hesitate in seeking veterinary help, as they will deteriorate quickly. If fur is covered place on a buster collar to stop immediate grooming.

– Bring small furries into a secure shed, garage or indoor room (away from a radiator) to protect them from extreme cold. If you cannot bring them away from the cold outdoors, always provide fresh and dry bedding, or else it could freeze.  Insulate water bottles so they cannot freeze. Clean hutches regularly to stop damp, provide extra blankets, and shavings/hay/straw for extra insulation. Provide a heat pad such as a snuggle safe and monitor to ensure it is not chewed. Raise hutches/living quarters off the ground, to stop the base from becoming too cold or wet. Cover at night to keep in heat.


We wish you all a very Safe and Merry Christmas! From all at Emscote Vets xxx


‘Its a dog’s life!’

Getting a new puppy is a fun and exciting time. up until 16 weeks of age puppies retain the most information within their learning process.

The majority of puppies will have no fear at this stage of their life, so introducing them to as many new scenarios as possible is the best way to get them used to things that they may encounter in the outside world.

We advise that puppies are taken out to see and hear the different sounds of the world and to encounter different types of weather. If they are not old enough to walk because they have not completed their immunisations they can be carried through a town or to the local shops.

Down loading ‘Sounds Scary’ from the Dogs Trust website is a brilliant way to introduce sounds which we may not hear on a daily basis. Baby’s crying/screaming, trucks reversing are just a few examples. Playing firework sounds before November can really help. Playing them at a low level and increasing the volume is a great way of introducing them to a puppy in a controlled way. Playing these sounds now and again throughout the year during adulthood is also recommended so they do not forget that they exist.

If you have friends with a variety of animals, arrange a meeting with them so your puppy can meet other species in a controlled environment, ensuring that everyone’s safety is maintained (ie keep your puppy on a lead if meeting a cat). Please make sure that if your puppy is not fully vaccinated any other dogs they meet are up to date with their vaccines.

Meeting children is also important too so they can get used to the way a child would behave compared to an adult. Walking beside a friend who has a pushchair is also a positive introduction to equipment that has wheels and moves.

Ensuring that the whole family ‘sing from the same hymn sheet’ is really important to reduce the risk of miscommunication. Often we hear that a puppy/dog will listen to a command from only one member of the family. This maybe due to the tone of voice being different but at times different words are being used for the same command. One example is saying the word ‘off’ to a dog when wanting them to stop jumping up, when someone else is saying ‘down’ This is obviously very confusing for the dog which could lead to frustration from both the owner’s and the dog’s perspective.

Remember a puppy grows bigger (especially if you have a large breed dog). If there are going to be rules when they are an adult then those rules need to be implemented as a puppy. It is unfair for a dog to be allowed to jump on your lap when small and then to be told that they are unable too because we then can not cope when they have grown bigger.

It is important that puppy’s attend socialisation/ puppy classes as soon as they have had their vaccinations. It is an opportunity for you as owners to meet other people with puppies the same age and to ensure that you are teaching your puppy in the correct way. Giving a treat at the incorrect time when teaching a new command can actually slow the learning process down as it creates miscommunication with the puppy.

The dogs trust run classes as well as a website for information

Ensuring that our dogs understand what we are asking of them is just as important as us understanding our dogs. Historically people have been hurt because they have not understood their dogs body language.  ‘The ladder to aggression’ is a description of what dogs are saying to us through their body language and it is important that we respect what they are asking of us. Everyone that has a dog should be aware of these messages.


The Veterinary profession as a whole now understands the mental well-being of animals more today than we ever have done before. Research within this area will no doubt be a continual learning for such professionals as our knowledge grows.

Here at Emscote Vets our nurses take a real interest in the mental welfare of our patients and as a practice we are more pro active in taking such things into consideration to ease the animals anxiety levels, whether that be within the practice itself or just with the every day struggles that life throws at them.




Firework Advise

As the nights get longer it is important we start to prepare our pets for the season ahead. Fireworks will soon be available in the shops, and will start being set off from the end of October through till January.

Animals often find fireworks distressing due to their unpredictable nature. It is important to begin introducing the sounds of fireworks from an early age. Sound tracks can be purchased online, or via an app. Start by playing the sounds in the background on a low volume and carry on daily activities as normal. Increase the volume gradually and reward for good behaviour. Do not scold or punish fear type behaviour.

Set up a “den” area so that if your pet is feeling anxious, they have somewhere to feel safe. Try to set this area up far in advance so they can get used to it. A crate in a low traffic area of the room works quite well. Try to cover the top and sides with a blanket, leaving the door open at all times. Place in some soft padded bedding and toys. Spray the area with pet remedy or plug in a diffuser such as pet remedy/adaptil or feliway.  Encourage your pet to use the area by giving treats, or initially feeding them in there. Do not leave them locked in for a length of time, this can begin a negative association.

For cats you can set up a small crate or use their carrier as a safe basket (take the door off or leave it wide open). You can also place cat-igloo structures around the house.

Exercise your pet before it gets dark and fireworks start. Keep cats indoors during event nights and provide litter trays in different areas. For animals housed outdoors such as rabbits and guniea pigs, set up pens indoors or in a garage/shed. Provide wooden hiding boxes, with plenty of extra bedding as nesting material. Spray a blanket with pet remedy and place near.

Carry on normal behaviour in the house i.e watching television, listening to music. Keep calm, your animals are likely to pick up your anxiety if you become anxious. Do not scold or pander excessively to anxious behaviour as this may reinforce their fear.

You can also try supplements such as zylkene or yucalm for mild to moderate fear. These will ideally be started a few weeks in advance in order to take effect, and then carried on throughout the season. Proper planning is key. There are some very effective prescription medications, such as Sileo, for more severe cases of noise phobia.  A consultation with your vet will be needed in order to discuss what medication might be most appropriate for your pet.



Pesky Parasites

Despite the recent down-pours, parasites love the warmer temperatures during the summer and autumn months. We always advise owners to keep a close eye on their pets all year for signs of flea, ticks and worms and to give treatment regularly to prevent these creatures becoming a nuisance.



There are many different species of flea including dog fleas, cat fleas, rabbit fleas and even human fleas! Many species can infest more than one host species.

Understanding the flea lifecycle can help us get rid of these pests effectively!

Life Cycle of the flea


Female fleas can produce up to 50 eggs in a day – that’s 1,500 in her lifetime!

Eggs are deposited on your pet’s coat and where your pet sleeps

This stage lasts for about 1-6 days



The flea then goes through a couple of moults and maturing stages

They do this in carpets and dark crevices and feed off animal matter and flea faeces

This takes 5-11 days



They then form a hardened shell or cocoon made from dust and dirt

They are IMMUNE from all flea treatments at this stage!

They can lay dormant in carpets for up to a year if undisturbed, but a warm and moist climate encourages them to hatch out as adult fleas (8-12 days).



Adults are 1.5-4mm in length and very good at jumping.

They feed by sucking blood from the host animal.

They use their saliva to stop the blood from clotting and pets can often experience an allergic reaction to this saliva.


Did you know… only about 5% of a flea infestation is adult fleas on your pet, whereas 95% is in your home as eggs, larvae and pupae?!




This means that in order to prevent and manage a flea infestation, both ‘on animal’ AND environmental protection MUST be used (Dechra 2017). Although flea products get to work quickly and kill off adult fleas within days, it can take several applications and months to get on top of a flea infestation. It is therefore recommended to treat for fleas each month and year round to stop them getting established.

Flea products bought at super markets and large pet stores are found not to be as effective as the prescription products you can purchase at the vets. The incorrect strength or type can have devastating effects for your pet. The vets will be able to offer the most suitable product for your pet and one that you are happy to administer (spot-on, tablet, collar). Always follow administration instructions carefully.




There are many different types of worms but here are the ones most commonly seen in pets:

  • Roundworms:
    • Most puppies are born with these are they are contracted from their mothers.
    • Live in the small intestine.
    • Spaghetti-like appearance
    • Can be passed on from parents or pick them up out and about.
    • Signs: In puppies and kittens, pot-belly, poor growth and occasional diarrhoea. In adult dogs and cats, poor coat condition, vomiting and diarrhoea.
    • Sometimes, you might notice entire live worms in your pet’s sick or poo.
  • Tapeworms:
    • Live in the small intestine.
    • Signs: excessively licking their rear end, worm segments (look a bit like grains of rice) seen around the tail and bottom. Weight loss despite good appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea.
  • Lungworms: 
    • Lives in the blood vessels
    • Potentially fatal
    • Dogs can become infected through eating slugs or snails, or by eating contaminated grass from snail trails, which can get on toys too.
    • Lungworm can make dogs seriously unwell so it’s best to try and prevent them from getting infected.
    • Cats can also get lungworm through ingesting infected birds, frogs, rodents or by drinking contaminated water.


If left untreated worms can cause serious health problems and they can also spread to humans especially young children.

Here at Emscote we always offer free parasite checks with a nurse so you can rest assured your pet has exceptional parasite protection on board.



Ticks are small creatures that live in grassy areas and forests. These little parasites require a host to feed off and will attach to any mammal that happens to walk by. Once attached to the host they take a blood meal.

Ticks are also good at spreading nasty infectious diseases such as Lyme disease. This affects nerve and muscle cells and can be fatal. Lyme disease is zoonotic meaning it can spread to humans.

Ticks are big enough to see on your pet and will feel like a small bump on your pet’s skin. Run your hands through your pet’s fur regularly especially after dog walks to check for any lumps or bumps. If you come across a tick or you are not sure, it’s best to have it checked out so it can be removed as soon as possible. Bring your pet down for a free nurse check to remove any found. Ticks need to be removed carefully as to not squash the body and leave the mouth parts in the skin, the best method is by twisting. A ‘Tick hook’ can be purchased from the vets so you are able to remove ticks safely at home or when you are out and about.


If you have any questions about parasites, the treatments we offer or to book in for a parasite check with a nurse please get in touch.


References/ Further Reading:

Dechra. 2017. The Life Cycle of the Flea. Available from: [Accessed 14th August 2019].

PDSA, Fleas:

RSPCA, Fleas:

Kennel Club, Ticks:

Lyme Disease UK

PDSA, Lungworm:$ja=tsid:|cid:1403862223|agid:58293350622|tid:dsa-19959388920|crid:305764053098|nw:g|rnd:15990894971177528305|dvc:c|adp:1t1|mt:b|loc:1007201&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlqW-1v-x5AIVybTtCh0fnArgEAAYASAAEgKJRPD_BwE



Encouraging Wildlife into the Garden

Supporting Wildlife

British wildlife in the UK is on the decline, this is due to various reasons such as climate change and lack of natural resources due to human developments. Fortunately, we can create mini wildlife havens in our gardens, with a few small changes we can help the struggling wildlife around us.

  • Bees and butterflies

Bees pollinate up to two-thirds of the World’s plants, however numbers are in rapid decline for a number of reasons such as pesticides, global warming and lack of nectar rich plants. There are over 270 species of bee in the UK many of them are endangered. There are different ways we can help the bees, and surprisingly we do not need massive gardens to do so! Planting some nectar rich plants in the garden (or in containers). Try to plant mostly single flower plants as double flowers are often too elaborate, many new hybrids are without male and female parts, or lacking in nectar and pollen, so bees and butterflies often ignore them.

Some nectar rich flowers include: lavender, alliums, buddleia, catmint, foxgloves, honeysuckle, penstemons, snapdragons, bluebell, bugle, crab apple, daffodil, flowering cherry, currant, forget-me-nots, hawthorn, pulmonaria, rhododendron, rosemary, thrift and viburnum, aquilegia, astilbe, campanula, comfrey, delphinium, fennel, hardy geranium, potentilla, stachys, teasel, thyme, verbascum, angelica, aster, cardoon, cornflower, dahlia (single-flowered), eryngium, fuchsia, globe thistle, heather, ivy, scabious, sedum, verbena bonariensis…. To name a few.

Setting up some “bee hotels” around the garden, will aid numbers due to habitat loss. These can be fixed to fences or “bee pots” can be put on the ground, with a small amount of insulating material, i.e hay.

Take a bee keeping course and keep a hive!

To help other insects provide a small space in the garden with some decaying logs, or other “bug hotels” which can be purchased offline.

  • Hedgehogs

Due to vast urbanisation hedgehog numbers are in vast decline and are now a rarity in many British gardens, providing a “hedgehog gap highway” in fencing can help them on their quest for food. Hedgehogs mainly feed on slugs, snails, worms and other insects, unfortunately many gardeners use pesticides or slug pellets which in turn poison hedgehogs. Encouraging hedgehogs into your garden is a natural slug control 😊 Providing an area for them to nest and hibernate will also help numbers. Before cutting long grass or lighting a bonfire, please check for sleeping hedgehogs, many are lost due to strimmer injuries, or being burnt.

Many people do not know that hedgehogs are lactose intolerant so please do not leave milk outside for them to drink, a bowl of water will not only hydrate them but keep them from getting sick.

  • Small birds

The numbers of small native birds in the UK have been rapidly in decline over the years. Plant trees which produce small fruits later in the seasons.

Providing a small bird feeder with various seeds, fat balls and mealworms, will help attract them to the garden and in turn they will help keep pest insects at bay. Providing food in a caged feeder can help stop squirrels and larger birds consuming all the feed. A small tray underneath the feed can help stop it falling to the ground, which could attract rats and mice. Please remember to provide fresh drinking water through out the year, as well as a small bird bath. Regularly clean these areas to help control bacteria build up, and diseases.

If you start providing food and water for small birds, please continue to do so as they will develop a routine, and will rely on your support, and may build nesting sites near the area. Do not become too discouraged if you notice the birds are not coming to your feeders at first, chances are they will be assessing the area for any dangers, which could take them a few days to weeks, but eventually you will notice them at the feed.

If you have other animals after brushing, place their fur on washing lines or in branches of trees, and small birds will take it to insulate their nests. Providing nesting boxes for small birds on the sides of garages, trees or the side of your house (well out of the way of curious felines), will greatly aid numbers due to habitat loss.


  • Ladybirds and other insects

Ladybirds are in major decline at the moment, they are a very useful insect to have in the garden, they will eat aphids (therefore, a natural pest control! Just remove ants by hand as they will “farm” aphids, due to drinking the sap from stems that aphids feed on), provide logs and “bug hotels” for them to nest in. Many other insects will benefit from rotting logs in the garden.

  • Frogs, newts and frogs

Having a pond in the garden is very useful for introducing wildlife into the garden! A pond will also attract dragonflies and other insects. Just ensure your pond is full of oxygenating plants will not only help keep it clear, and reduce algae but could help wildlife thrive. Always provide a shallow entry and exit point, to aid any animals that manage to fall in (such as hedgehogs and other small animals)! Having a shallow area will attract small birds, and it’s always a delight to see them having a bath 😊

Other wildlife:

Ducks: it’s always a fun day out, but feeding ducks bread is controversial and can be very bad for them and the surrounding environment! It has low  nutritional value…not only does uneaten bread attract vermin and other predators, it encourages an overgrow of harmful algae blooms and to the growth of cyanobacteria. Due to bread growing mould, and being consumed it can slowly poison them,  there are some experts who say it also causes bones, and feathers to grow too quickly causing flying issues. If you want to feed the ducks lettuce, cabbage, kale and pea shoots are a much better and healthier option. 😊

  • Mother and ducklings: if you happen to find them wondering in your path, please do not try to pick up the ducklings as mum will often get frightened and fly off. She will often come back if the ducklings are not around humans.


Small changes to any garden (no matter how big or small!) will help attract a wide range of wildlife, just remember provide the facilities and the wildlife will come! 😉


Some useful websites:



Rabbit Awareness

Emscote Vets celebrates RAW! (Rabbit Awareness Week 1st – 9th June)

At Emscote vets we know what wonderful pets rabbits make and how hard our clients work to keep their bunnies in top shape.  Rabbit awareness week is aimed at protecting the health and well being of pet rabbits.  One of the simplest ways this can be done is by neutering and regularly vaccinating your rabbit.  Special attention to diet, housing, companionship and behaviour is equally important.

Thankfully the days of keeping pet rabbits in small hutches are far behind us!

Rabbits need space, they should be able to play, jump and run – the more binkys they can pack in the day the better!

Rabbits also need roughage! In short they need a diet high in fibre and low in carbohydrates. Good quality fresh hay and grass are good sources of fibre and should make up 85% of their diet. Pellets should only make up 5% of the diet eg a 2.5 kg rabbit needs no more than two egg cup fulls or 60 grams a day.  Carrots and fruit are high in sugar and should be avoided unless used as training treats in small quantities.

Rabbits are very sociable and should be kept in neutered pairs or bonded groups.  Mutual grooming also has health benefits, removing parasites and cleaning hard to reach places like the face and ears.

Remember, as rabbits are a prey species they will often hide signs of ill health so it’s important to be familiar with your rabbits normal behaviour and body language. Any changes in behaviour, appetite and stools should always be reported to your vet.

Noella’s giant rabbit, Walter has recently been bonded with the very attentive Camille. Here is some footage of them enjoying free access to the garden from their palace.  They make good lawn mowers as you can see!

Noellas bunnies

We would love to see photos or footage of your bunnies getting up to mischief too!

For more information on rabbit welfare, please check the RAW site:  


Seasonal Advice over Easter

Easter is a very fun time of year for all of us, as it means Spring is definitely here! For our furry companions it can carry some hazards. Here are a few tips to keep your companions safe during the festivities.

Tips for Animal owners

  • Chocolate – it may be a delicious treat for us humans but chocolate is very hazardous for dogs and cats! Especially dark & milk chocolate, these contain high levels of theobromine; it does not metobalise quickly, therefore builds up to toxic levels in their system.
  • Flower bulbs – many of them are toxic please research them, and keep them out of reach as curiosity can kill! (daffodils are a favourite to dig up!) All parts of the Lily plant is especially toxic for cats!
  • Hot cross buns & other raisin filled treats – Raisins are highly toxic for dogs, keep them away!


During this time of year many of us start a Spring clean, it is important to remember to keep all cleaning chemicals, and gardening fertilisers away from curious cats and dogs. If spreading fertilisers on your grass and plants just remember to water in well and keep your animals off it for 24 hours. Keep pets away from freshly painted fences, as this can cause irritation.


As the weather begins to get warmer, there is an increase in the amount of fleas, ticks, mite and worms that are around so it is important to ensure your treating your animals regularly. If your dog or cat is due their annual booster consider joining our Pet Health Club, not only does it help to spread the cost of your products, it will save you some money. Please contact the surgery for more information or click the link on our website to read about it:


Let’s talk about Weight!

We know obesity is becoming a growing concern for humans, but what about our animals?

Obesity has definitely been on the rise and is quickly becoming Vets’ biggest health and welfare concern for UK pets (BVA 2018).

A PFMA study recently revealed around half of cats and dogs, and a third of rabbits to be overweight!

Studies have shown that obesity can cause serious health problems as well as making existing problems worse. This consequently reduces the length and quality of your pet’s life (RSPCA 2019; German, Woods, and Holden et al 2018).

Statistically obese dogs are living TWO YEARS LESS!


Heath conditions common with overweight and obese animals include:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoarthritis and joint problems
  • Respiratory distress
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatty liver in cats (hepatic lipidosis)
  • Cancers
  • Cystitis

And complications such as:

  • Increased anaesthetic risk
  • Decreased immune function
  • Problems giving birth


Becoming overweight or obese:

If we take in more calories than we burn, we gain weight as the extra is stored as fat.

It is the same for our pets.

The most common cause of obesity is, not surprisingly, overfeeding and under-exercising. Many people feel they are being kind to their pets by feeding bigger food portions and offering treats.

This unintentionally, leads to their pet’s poor health and limits their lifespan!

Human food is also given as a treat by many. It needs to be considered that one human biscuit can equate to a lot more when given to an animal due to their small body size (BVA 2018). Human foods can also be high in fat and potentially toxic (e.g. chocolate for dogs)

It is important to stick to a good quality diet and feed your pet for their recommended and ideal weight (check the quantities on the back of the packet).

Using kitchen scales is the most accurate way to measure and should be done every time. A measuring cup or ‘handfuls’ should be avoided as measurements can vary widely and a few extra kibble a day can soon amount to substantial weight gain. Any treats given should be deducted from this daily allowance of food as otherwise its additional calories.

Who’s most affected? :

A neutered individual requires fewer calories as their metabolism slows down. It is therefore important to watch their weight and how much they are eating so to ensure they stay at an optimal weight.

Young and old animals are less likely to be overweight and it is during adulthood they tend to require less energy and are therefore more prone to gaining weight.

How to check:

In order to check if your pet is obese it is a good idea to work out their ‘Body Condition Score’.

These run from 1-9 or 1-5 depending on which type is used. The smallest number indicates being severely underweight and the larger number indicates severely overweight or obese. We use the Royal Canin charts in our weight clinics:  but PFMA’s Size-o-meters are straightforward for using at home:

An animal of ideal weight:

  • Ribs should be easily felt but not seen or under a thick layer of fat.
  • Waist should be visible.


How to help your pet lose weight:

  1. Seek advice from a vet or nurse: We can advise on their ideal weight, give guidance on reducing food allowances or recommend a suitable weight loss diet.
  2. Avoid treats (some low calorie treats are ok in moderation)
  3. Using fuss or a favourite toy to reward pets instead of food
  4. Boost exercise – longer walks, playing with toys: PFMA recommends ‘exercise of at least 30 minutes twice daily for adult dogs, forty minutes daily for cats (particularly indoor cats) and four hours daily for rabbits – although the level of exercise required for any pet will also depend on its age, breed and health’.


If you are concerned about your pet’s weight, please speak to a member or staff today.

Our nurses run free 30min weight clinics to assess your pet and discuss how to best to help them towards a healthier life.




British Veterinary Association (BVA)., 2018. Pet obesity epidemic is top welfare concern for vets. Available from:, (Accessed 5th April 2019).

German A. J., Woods G. R. T., Holden S. L., Brewnnan L. And Burke C., 2018. Dangerous trends in pet obesity. Veterinary Record [online], (Accessed: 5th April 2019).

The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association (PFMA)., 2017. Vet Survey shows a rise in Dog and Cat Obesity – PFMA launches new Obesity Poster ‘Get Hands on with your Pet’ Available from:—,  (Accessed 5th April 2019).

Royal Canin (2018)., Pet Obesity. Available from: (Accessed: 5th April 2019)

Royal Society for the Protection from Cruelty to Animals (2019)., Pet Obesity. Available from:, (Accessed: 5th April 2019).


Springtime and our bunny friends

Spring has hopped into our lives again and how wonderful that feels. With Easter just around the corner it brings to mind the welfare of our rabbits and as a veterinary practice and as owners we want to continue to do the best we can for their welfare.

Rabbits need space to be able to stand up right on their hind legs and to have space to move around adequately . We have in the past discussed that most cages that are available on the market are too small and for this reason many owners are becoming extremely creative.

Using a shed and installing a cat flap allowing the rabbits the freedom to enter the garden when they wish is a very cost effective way of providing a very good size shelter. Being able to set the cat flap to lock closed at certain times like we do for our cats gives us the peace of mind that they are secure if we arrive home later in the evening. Some people also install plastic piping underground from their rabbits’ shelter area to other areas around the garden and even into the house. Obviously this involves more work and can cost more to organize. The environment provided may have to be re thought depending on the rabbit’s character.

Karoline’s bunnies are forever escaping. They love to dig huge tunnels so for this reason it would not be practical to give them free run of the garden when no one is there to supervise. So the project that Karoline is starting this year is a walk-in enclosure with a built in trench which will be filled with soil. This gives the rabbits the freedom to behave naturally while keeping them safe when unattended. We will let you see the finished product in the summer.

As well as providing the correct space and living condition for rabbits we need to be providing stimulation for them ensuring their minds are kept active for their mental well-being.

Karoline also recently attended a farm park with her son and was very impressed with the facilities that were made available for rabbits and guinea pigs. New ideas where brought away which we would like to share with you.

  1. Giving fresh hay for their diets is better provided off the ground so it does not get contaminated with urine and faeces. At the farm they hung plastic storage baskets from the ceiling. The rabbits could pull the hay through the holes which they appeared to have great fun at doing as it was a challenge to reach the basket. Half curved wire plant baskets had also been screwed to the walls to provide hay, which keeps it clean and dry.Tunnels had been provided from the inner tubing of carpets.  Smaller tubes had hay and dandilion leaves inside them, which provided great entertainment , along with footballs and toys that are available for smaller dogs.  Feeding puzzles can be used to give dry food which stimulates them more than just being fed from a bowl.
  2. More information can be found on the Rabbit Welfare Assiociation and Fund (RWAF) regarding the care we can provide for our rabbits and the importance of keeping them in pairs for company.


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