COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – an update for our clients.

Garston Vets is a cat friendly practice

At Garston Vets, we understand how different the needs of our feline patients are to those of dogs. From getting in the car to being in a new environment with different sights, sounds, smells, and people, a visit to the vets can be somewhat stressful for the majority of cats. That is why we have put special measures in place that has allowed us to achieve the status of Cat Friendly Clinic from the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) – the veterinary division of the worldwide feline charity iCatCare.

What is a ‘Cat Friendly’ veterinary practice?

ISFM has recognised that cats have unique natures and needs and in 2012 created a Cat Friendly Clinic status. An accredited Cat Friendly practice has reached a higher standard of cat care in that the staff understand the needs of cats and have made visits to the practice more Cat Friendly.

What is a Cat Advocate?
A Cat advocate is a member of staff that ensures that a cat’s visit to the practice is as calm and stress free as possible. Each site at Garston has its own Cat Friendly nurse.

What are some of the things Garston Veterinary Group have done to make it a Cat friendly practice?

  • We have placed cat towers in reception to place your carriers on. Cats prefer to be up high, it also prevents dogs from approaching them. Towels are also provided to cover your basket to help your cat feel more relaxed and calm.
  • Cat only appointments are available at each site every week. No dogs are allowed in the waiting room (apart from in an emergency) This will create a calm and relaxed environment for stressed and anxious cats. Call our reception team to book one!
  • Cat only kennels. A quiet and relaxed kennel room for your cat to stay whilst staying with us. Hiding holes are provided for each cat in each kennel. Kennels are also placed so that each cat is not looking at another one.
  • Cat friendly nurses at each site to ensure Cat Friendly handling techniques and provide a wealth of knowledge to other staff members and our clients.


What is the benefit of bringing your cat to a cat friendly practice?

Reduced stress means cats are easier to handle and restrain so procedures can be completed more efficiently. You will also be reassured that your cat’s well being is our main priority.

What is the best way to bring your cat into our practice?

  • A top opening carrier. This makes it easier to getting your cat in and out. Your cat can stay in the base for its examination if necessary to feel safe.
  • Use a familiar smelling towel/blanket to help it feel calm.
  • Cover the basket for the journey and in the waiting room.
  • Only have 1 cat per basket, even with bonded cats (avoids defensive aggression)
  • Use Feliway spray, a synthetic feline pheromone.

Now some fun cat facts:

House cats share 95.6% of their genetic makeup with tigers. You read that right, TIGERS. They also share some of the same behaviour habits such as scent and urine marking, prey stalking and pouncing.

Cats can jump 5 times their own height. Now that’s impressive!

Most cats have 18 toes, 5 on their front paws and 4 on their back paws. However, some cats can be born with “extra toes”, a condition called polydactylism.

Cats have a whopping 32 muscles in each of their ears, allowing them to swivel their ears to hone in on the exact source of a noise. Additionally, cats can rotate their ears to 180 degrees!

Cats usually sleep around an average of 15 hours PER day. This means that a cat spends roughly 70% of their lives sleeping. Must be nice to be a cat!

Helping Wiltshire and Somerset tortoises wake up from hibernation safely

 

Wakey wakey, rise and shine you magnificent, shelled creatures! In this guide, the team from Garston Vets share key advice for helping Wiltshire and Somerset tortoises come out of their hibernation period in the safest and healthiest way.

Why not share this advice with other tortoise owners on your Facebook page? Click the share icon in this article or copy the URL in the address bar.

Contact us if your tortoise is unwell

How long do tortoises hibernate?

In the UK, many tortoises hibernate from around November to March. Hibernation is a natural part of their lifecycle and helps them stay healthy. Most of the year they live on a diet of greens and grass in their enclosure and in autumn they will eat more food to build up fat reserves, ready to hibernate through the winter.

Not all species of tortoise hibernate for the same length of time, or at all. Be sure to research your species as well as the best type of tortoise hibernation box and location. If they appear unwell or underweight, bring them for a Vet check-up before the ‘big sleep’.

Tortoise hibernation ‘recovery room’

When your tortoise is due to emerge from hibernation in the spring, UK temperatures do not get high enough for them to live outdoors. Therefore, for the duration of your tortoise’s recovery from hibernation and the remaining cooler months, you will need to provide an indoor home with sufficient lighting and heating.

Helping your tortoise wake up from hibernation

The best way to help your tortoise wake up safely is to do it gradually. A shock to the system will not be good for their wellbeing. Follow these steps:

  1. Place your tortoise hibernation box in a warm room to allow their body temperature to acclimatise.
  2. Once your pet is awake and moving around (this can take up to two days), you will need to move them to their vivarium where you can regulate a warmer temperature via the heat lamp – start at 22-24 degrees Celsius (the UV light must be on too).
  3. After a couple of days of movement, your tortoise will need a lukewarm bath every day for 10 days to rehydrate – read more about this below – always provide drinking water too.
  4. Every other day during this period, you should increase the vivarium temperature by one degree until 26-28 degrees Celsius is achieved.

Tortoise bath time!

Your tortoise will be dehydrated after several weeks of hibernation. Hydration is more important than food in the initial stages of waking up and drinking will help to flush out the toxins that have built up. A bath will rehydrate them quicker than simply offering them water to drink from a bowl. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Use an empty ice-cream tub or a bowl – fill it with lukewarm water up to your tortoise’s mouth so they can dunk their head under and drink without being fully submerged
  • Place your tortoise in the container on the floor for about 10 minutes – they may take themselves out of it earlier
  • After a week, continue to make a tub of water available in your tortoise’s enclosure
  • Remember to tip the contents down the drain rather than the sink and don’t use it for anything else (for hygiene regularly clean the tub separately from other items with reptile-safe disinfectant

Feeding your tortoise after hibernation

Once your tortoise is hydrated you can start to offer food. Try offering fresh tomato as it will rehydrate as well as feed them. Vitamin supplements can be added but follow the instructions carefully. If your tortoise won’t eat after a week, you should contact our Vets for advice. Your pet may have been hibernating for too long, has a health condition, or their post-hibernation temperature is too low.

Looking after your tortoise’s health

Your tortoise will be especially vulnerable after waking up due to weight loss and dehydration. Therefore, you should look out for these issues as in many cases rapid veterinary treatment will be needed. Check your tortoise regularly for eyesight issues (including cloudiness and blindness), frostbite and gangrene on the legs, swellings, and green urine.

Finally, here are some top tortoise hibernation tips:

Top tip #1 – If you hear your tortoise moving about or scratching during hibernation, they have probably woken up due to it being too warm. Hibernation temperatures should stay between 3 – 7 degrees Celsius.

Top tip #2 – If your tortoise does wake up early and starts moving around, metabolic processes will be awakening too. Putting a tortoise back into hibernation can be dangerous for them.

Top tip #3 – If your tortoise poops during hibernation, it is probably ok so long as it’s not runny – this could cause dehydration. Urinating during hibernation can cause severe dehydration so you should wake your pet up if they do this.

Don’t forget to share this article on your Facebook profile to help other tortoise owners in your area.

Contact us for more advice

Easter poisons for pets and our surgery opening hours over the long bank holiday weekend

In celebration of Easter and all the yummy treats that come with it, our team have pulled together a list of the most common Easter pet poisons to beware of. March is actually Pet Poison Prevention Month, so we hope this list will help you keep your faithful companions safe this Easter!

In the event of an emergency, call Garston Vets on 01373 452225.

See all our contact information

 

Common Easter Pet Poisons

It is easy for pets to be tempted by treats, food, and drinks at this time of year – many of which will do them harm. Here are some of the main offenders below – be sure to share this list with your pet-loving friends on Facebook or Instagram.

 

1. Easter chocolate

How much chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats depends on a wide variety of factors. Chocolate contains the chemical theobromine, which is the poisonous ingredient, and should never be given to pets. Depending on the size of your pet and the amount of chocolate eaten, the effects can vary from vomiting and diarrhoea to seizures. Keep chocolate Easter eggs and Easter cakes where your pets cannot get to them. If you are doing an Easter egg hunt, it is best to keep your pets away from the area until you are 100% certain all of the eggs and treats have been removed. If you suspect your pet has eaten chocolate, call us on 01373 452225 straight away.

 

2. Raisins & currants

These are commonly found in hot cross buns and scones and along with most other dried fruit are extremely toxic to pets. While many pet owners understand the danger chocolate can pose, hot cross buns are another springtime treat that can be potentially harmful to animals. Raisins, sultanas and currants are all toxic to pets, causing vomiting, diarrhoea and, in some cases, kidney failure. Keep these foods out of reach and avoid putting leftovers out for birds as they could end up on the ground where you pets could eat them.

 

3. Daffodils

These striking yellow flowers are synonymous with Easter so it is important to know that daffodils are toxic to cats and dogs when ingested, especially the bulbs. Our nurse Gemma suggests removing or relocating daffodil bulbs to somewhere your pets cannot access them if they enjoy eating everything in the garden.

 

4. Lilies

Easter lilies, tiger lilies, and many other plants from this family are extremely dangerous for pets, especially cats. Pets can be poisoned by ingesting any part of the plant, drinking water from the vase, and even getting pollen on their fur. Poisoning from lilies can be life-threatening so it is wise to avoid them if you have pets. If your pet has a lily emergency, call us quickly on the number above.

 

5. Garden hazards

Like many pet owners, you are probably planning to do some gardening this Easter weekend. Make sure that herbicides, pesticides, and fertilisers are kept well out of your pets’ reach. Our small animal partner John recommends shopping around for pet-safe options. If you are cutting the lawn this Easter, make sure your pets do not eat the fresh grass cuttings as they can make them very unwell.

This list is not exhaustive so the general rule of thumb when it comes to Easter pet poisons is to keep harmful substances, human foods, and poisonous plants well out of reach. If you suspect your pet has eaten or come into contact with anything suspect, it is important not to wait for symptoms to show.

 

Easter at Garston Veterinary Group

Easter surgery opening hours

Thursday 14th April 2022 – Normal opening hours

Good Friday 15th April 2022 – Emergency team

Saturday 16th April 2022 – Normal opening hours

Easter Sunday 17th April 2022 – Emergency team

Easter Monday 18th April 2022 – Emergency team

Tuesday 19th April 2022 – Normal opening hours

Please remember to place food and repeat prescription orders by Tuesday 12th April 2022

 

Easter emergency team

As a client of Garston Vets you can feel confident that we are always available to deal with any pet emergency that may arise, day or night, including Easter and Christmas.

We are one of the few practices in Somerset & Wiltshire that operate our own out of hours emergency service on-site at our accredited small animal hospital at Garston House in Frome.

Our hospital is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, looking after sick and injured patients or those requiring post-operative observational care – your pets are never left alone. It is the same cohesive team of vets and nurses that look after your animals out-of-hours as you will meet during the day at any of our practices. Our computerised patient records from all our surgeries are securely linked via internet servers, so we have access to all your pets clinical records whatever time of the day.

 

If you have a pet emergency please call us on 01373 452225

Why rabbit vaccinations are so important.

With spring just around the corner, you will likely be flinging the windows open by your rabbit’s hutch or moving it back outside. You may even treat them to more time in the garden. Before you do, it is wise to make sure your rabbit’s vaccinations are up to date.

At Garston Vets, we want to be sure rabbit owners are aware of the deadly diseases that can affect their pets and how to protect them.

Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease can strike even if your pets live well away from other rabbits. These diseases sadly have high mortality rates. Fortunately, rabbit vaccinations are available to protect your pets. So why not get in touch with our team to check if your rabbit vaccines are up to date, or to book a booster right away?

Protect your pet now

Why rabbits need vaccinating

Read the key facts about these horrible rabbit diseases below.

Myxomatosis

  • Domestic rabbits do not need to be in contact with wild rabbits to catch it
  • It spreads quickly and is passed through fleas, mosquitos, midges, and mites
  • Symptoms include nasal and eye discharge, eye inflammation leading to blindness, swelling, redness/ulcers, problems breathing, appetite loss, and lethargy
  • Even with the best possible veterinary treatment, very few pet rabbits survive Myxomatosis so vaccination is essential

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD)

  • VHD often occurs in outbreaks, spreading rapidly from rabbit to rabbit
  • Your rabbit does not need to be in contact with other rabbits to catch it as the virus can be carried in feed, on bedding, by wild birds and insects, and on the feet of rabbit owners who have been walking in an infected area
  • There are two strains – VHD-1 has a higher mortality rate (almost 100%) but VHD-2 can also affect younger rabbits under 6 weeks old that may not succumb to VHD-1
  • Symptoms of VHD-1 include respiratory distress, fever, appetite loss, lethargy, convulsions, paralysis, and bleeding from the nose before death. Signs of VHD-2 can be vague.
  • VHD is easily preventable with vaccines

Which vaccinations do rabbits need & when?

You can protect your pet against Myxomatosis and VHD with annual rabbit vaccinations from just five weeks old. In some circumstances, our veterinary surgeons may advise more frequent vaccinations.

If your rabbit has been vaccinated and you cannot remember when their booster is due, get in touch and we can check.

A rabbit vaccination appointment also gives you the perfect opportunity to talk to our experienced team about your rabbit’s health in general.

Contact us to book a rabbit vaccination

Our vets share preventative care must-haves for dogs

At Garston Vets we know only too well that prevention is better than cure when it comes to harmful dog diseases and health conditions. We see these ailments every year at our practice, many of which could have been prevented.

In this article, our experienced veterinary surgeons have collated their top preventative healthcare ‘must-haves’ for all dogs.

Before we dig in, if you are ready to get your dog’s preventative healthcare routine on the right track, get in touch and our team can talk you through the best combination of treatments.

Contact us

Four important preventative healthcare needs

Dog Vaccinations

Annual dog vaccinations not only protect your dog, but also help stop the spread of extremely harmful yet preventable canine diseases. It is important to keep up to date with the dog vaccination schedule recommended by your vet to give your pet optimum protection against:

  • parvovirus, distemper, and hepatitis – all highly contagious and often deadly
  • leptospirosis – a bacterial infection from contaminated water and soil
  • kennel cough – highly contagious, can be picked up anywhere, not just in boarding kennels

To find out more about vaccinations click here.

Parasite Control

It is true that some parasites are more prevalent during warmer months however worms, fleas, and ticks pose a threat all year round – therefore an ongoing preventative plan is essential. As well as being irritating, parasites can carry nasty diseases and cause harm to your dog, your human family, and other pets too. Lungworm is particularly concerning as it can be fatal in dogs.

Neutering

The obvious reason to neuter your dog is to stop unwanted pregnancies. However, there are many more benefits of dog neutering including:

  • Prevention of testicular cancer and pyometra (uterine infection)
  • Reduced risk of mammary and prostate cancers
  • Can stop/reduce some hormone-related behaviors (wandering to find a mate, territorial marking, sexual aggression and boisterousness)
  • Prevents phantom pregnancies and seasons, which can be stressful
  • Can make pets easier to live with

Talk to us about the right time to neuter your dog or click here to find out more about laparoscopic bitch spays.

Dental & Health Checks

Getting your dog’s dental and general health checked every 6 – 12 months is key to helping them stay in tip top condition for longer. With 7 years to every human year, a lot can happen in a short time for your dog. Your dog will receive a full annual health check at their annual vaccination appointment. This allows us to spot any issues early and begin the necessary treatment as soon as possible. If you’re concerned about your dogs teeth and their booster isn’t due, why not book in for a free dental check with one of our nurses?

If you would like to discuss any of the above topics, or you would like to spread the cost of your pet’s annual preventative healthcare into affordable monthly payments with the Garston Wellness plan, why not Contact us.

Enrichment tips for locked up hens

On 29th November 2021, new housing measures were brought in to protect poultry and captive birds across Wiltshire and Somerset and the rest of the UK from avian influenza. The new housing measures made it a legal requirement for all owners to keep their birds indoors. The requirements will be updated from time to time, so if you want the latest check out the relevant pages from DEFRA on GOV.UK

Get the latest from DEFRA

Lack of essential enrichment

For free-range birds, especially those who are used to time outdoors, suddenly finding themselves limited to indoor spaces can deprive them of normal outlets for their social and emotional needs.

To help combat this, the team at Garston Veterinary Group in Wiltshire and Somerset thought it would be useful to highlight a few basic enrichment techniques you can use. Especially if any of your birds have started to exhibit behaviours that indicate they are suffering. These behaviours include:

  • Feather picking
  • Aggression or bullying
  • Egg eating
  • Cannibalism

Enrichment can prevent these behaviours by mimicking the birds’ natural environment.

The advantages of enrichment

Multiple studies suggest that enrichment for housed birds like chickens can result in improved reproductive performance, healthier, and more productive animals. Keeping birds healthy means you not only fulfil your moral obligations, but if you are a commercial operator, you could also be helping your bottom line and fully complying with relevant welfare regulations.

Types of bird enrichment

Enrichment comes in several forms under headings that include:

Social enrichment

Chickens are social animals so it’s important they can interact with other chickens. If this isn’t possible, then you should take steps to mimic the presence of other birds.

Physical enrichment

This is about creating a housing environment your birds can interact with by adding structures, ramps, bales, or perches. Also, it’s helpful to provide substrates for digging and dust bathing.

Nutritional enrichment

Chickens are natural foragers so you can usefully create challenge and interest in the way they get their food. Adding food to piles of (safe) leaves or hanging heads of cabbage from the coop ceiling will make them work harder to feed. This all mimics their normal outdoor environment.

Visual enrichment

We’re not sure that giving them a TV is on the cards but hanging old CDs around their living space or adding mirrors from time to time may add interest. Removing these elements and then replacing them prevents your flock from becoming bored.

Olfactory, auditory, and tactile enrichment

This helps stimulate all their senses, as would be the case if they were outside. Adding smells like vanilla or naturally occurring plants (again only safe ones), playing gentle music, and adding footballs, and even swings (to mimic swinging branches) are all techniques you might like to drop into their living space.

The novelty bonus

The fact is that if a person or animal is moved from their normal, random outside existence to a more routine (boring) life of incarceration, then the stress of a newly imposed confinement can be eased by adding novel elements. Don’t just throw a few hay bales into the shed and leave it at that though.

Rotate enrichment techniques and experiment to see what your birds like. Any costs associated with these practices are likely to be paid back and then some. This is because you’re left with happier, more fulfilled, and more productive birds thanks to your provision of the physical and mental stimulation they need.

Christmas Opening Hours at Garston Veterinary Group

Seasonal surgery opening hours

Christmas Eve 24th December – 8am – 5pm

Christmas Day 25th December – Emergency team

Boxing Day 26th December – Emergency team

Bank Holiday Monday 27th December – Emergency team

Bank Holiday Tuesday 28th December – Emergency team

Wednesday 29th December – Normal opening hours

Thursday 30th December – Normal opening hours

New Years Eve 31st December – 8am – 5pm

New Years Day 1st January – Emergency team

Sunday 2nd January – Emergency team

Monday 3rd January – Emergency team

Tuesday 4th January – Normal opening hours

Please remember to place food and repeat prescription orders by Tuesday 21st December 2021

Emergency Care

As a client of Garston Vets you can feel confident that we are always available to deal with any pet emergency that may arise, day or night, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.

We are one of the few practices in Somerset & Wiltshire that operate our own out of hours emergency service on-site at our accredited small animal hospital at Garston House in Frome.

Our hospital is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, looking after sick and injured patients or those requiring post-operative observational care – your pets are never left alone. It is the same cohesive team of vets and nurses that look after your animals out-of-hours as you will meet during the day at any of our practices. Our computerised patient records from all our surgeries are securely linked via internet servers, so we have access to all your pets clinical records whatever time of the day.

If you have a pet emergency please call us on 01373 452225

Getting your rabbit pre-winter ready

Rabbits are experts at hiding illness, so daily and weekly checks at home should be backed up with regular visits to see one of our nurses. Whilst the exact frequency of your furry friend’s vet visits will depend on a number of factors, we normally remind owners in spring and autumn. Ideally, we’ll get to see your rabbit at least once a year and just before winter is an ideal time to make sure they’re prepared for the colder months ahead.

Typical vet visits for your rabbit may involve annual vaccinations and dental check-ups, but it’s useful to remind owners what they should be looking for in between vet visits.

Below is a list of the essential areas we check when you bring your pet rabbit to our surgeries. We’re sharing this because rabbits are generally pretty good at keeping themselves clean, so if you spot anything mentioned in this list, it really is worth bringing them in.

Seven essential things for your rabbit health check list

  1. EyesYour rabbit’s eyes should be clear, bright, and free of discharge. Pull up the eyelid and the eye tissue should be pink. If it’s red or pale, or there is discharge from the eyes, call us.
  2. EarsThe inside of your rabbit’s ears should be clean and clear of wax/dirt. Check inside the ear with a penlight. Ask us to show you how to clean your rabbit’s ears on your next visit.
  3. NoseThis is really simple; your rabbit’s nose should be free of any discharge whatsoever. If you do see discharge from the nose, call us.
  4. TeethThese are really important. Check your rabbit’s teeth by carefully pulling the upper and lower lips back. You should see the upper front teeth aligning with the lowers and a slight overbite. If the teeth are too long or the bite isn’t good, we may need to trim them, and we’ll probably need to talk to you about their diet.
  5. FeetThe most common problem with a rabbit’s feet is sore hocks or heels. If you see foot sores, especially open sores, call us.
  6. NailsNails shouldn’t be too long. If they are, then it’s a simple job to clip them at home. Ask us to show you how to safely clip your rabbit’s nails on your next visit.
  7. Fur & SkinYour rabbit’s coat should be soft, shiny, and free of matted hair. If you back-brush the coat with your hand, the skin should be clear of dust and flakes.

 

As well as the essential list above, if you bring your rabbit in for a pre-winter health check-up we’ll be looking at areas such as their mobility, and talking to you about their eating and toileting behaviours. If you’re not sure when they were last seen, or, if you know it was over a year ago due to the disruption in 2020/21, then please do book an appointment.

Six actions cat owners across Wiltshire and Somerset should take to prepare for fireworks season

 

In a survey conducted by the PDSA, 40% of pet owners said their pets feared fireworks. The fact is, fireworks are not just limited to the weekends around Bonfire Night (November 5th) anymore.

Our ‘Cat Friendly Advocates’ here at Garston Vets have put together some seasonal advice for cat owners across Wiltshire and Somerset on how to help their pets cope with the now year-round risks posed by loud and sudden noises.

If none of the ‘natural’ measures recommended below do the trick, you should talk to us about other options like pheromone sprays and diffusers for cats. These remedies can help even the most nervous cats.

Enquire about pheromone sprays for cats

The problem with sudden noises, like fireworks, is that they put your cat into ‘fight or flight’ mode. More often than not this means they bolt off, increasing their chances of getting lost or injured. These behaviours are more prevalent at times of the year when sudden noises are everywhere, but they can actually be triggered at any time.

Use the tick list below and follow our advice to maximise the chances of your cat surviving a sudden noise scare in one piece.

Four things to do when you know it’s going to be noisy

  • Encourage earlier meal times. We recommend introducing earlier mealtimes for your cat around the middle to end of October as it starts to get dark earlier. This should get them into the routine of coming back into the house before it’s dark and the noises start.
  • Keep your cat indoors when it’s dark & noisy. When you know it’s going to be noisy, keeping them indoors at night reduces the risk of them getting injured if they bolt. Restrictions like this can be stressful for cats so you should let them back out to roam when it’s safe.
  • Do not try to coax your cat out of hiding. If your cat has been spooked by the noise and is hiding, leave them where they are. A searching hand will not be welcome and it’s better to let cats ‘sit it out’ where they feel safe.
  • Give them a treat. A stuffed chew-toy or a puzzle-ball can keep cats occupied for hours. Any novel stimulation can help take their mind off noise, which can significantly reduce stress.

Two actions to help cats with noise phobias year-round

  • Tag and microchip. Ensuring your cat is both microchipped and wears an identity tag, makes it much easier for you to be reunited if the noise has caused them to run to un-familiar surroundings.
  • Create a safe space. A natural reaction when any animal is scared is for them to retreat to their ‘den’. You should provide a safe, comfortable, and quiet space for every pet – including cats.

If all else fails – consider cat pheromones

Just as with dogs, pheromone diffusers can be used to help calm even the most stressed cat when things get really bad. Diffusers can take a couple of weeks to take effect so it’s important to start using them in advance of known noisy periods, or as soon as you notice your cat becoming anxious.

If the natural steps listed above don’t quite do the trick, contact our practice on 01373 452225 to discuss your cat’s particular needs.

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