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

Dog friendly days out in Wiltshire and Somerset this December

The run-up to Christmas is usually a busy time spent out and about shopping for gifts & decorations and seeing friends & family. But does this mean your dog has to spend more time home alone? Dogs thrive on attention and time with their favourite human companions. A bored and lonely dog can develop behavioural issues like destroying your belongings, excessive barking, and soiling indoors.

The solution? Dog friendly days out!

This way, you can spend time with your dog AND tick off your pre-Christmas to-do-list at the same time. Our Portway team have listed some ideas for dog friendly places below; it’s a good idea to check the website and reviews to ensure they are dog friendly before setting off.

You can help other dog owners in and around Mells, Rode, and Westbury, by sharing your favourite dog friendly days out on Instagram and tagging us in.

Garston Vets’ top ideas for places you can take your dog:

  • Cafés, restaurants & pubs – With so many dog-friendly options in Wiltshire and Somerset, why not persuade your friends to meet you at one of them so your dog can hang out too? Remember though, six hours sat under a table in a rowdy pub while you drink and talk with your friends isn’t ideal either. We suggest reading some reviews first to see if the establishment is a good fit for you all.
  • Pet shops – Pottering around your local pet shop is a great way to make both you and your dog happy. While you’re buying pet products for your dog and as presents for your pet-loving friends, your dog can be basking in the heavenly smells a pet shop has to offer.
  • Garden centres – Many garden centres these days are dog friendly and of course free to visit. You can often get some lovely Christmas gifts there and enjoy some tea & cake. Your dog will enjoy wandering around, taking in the interesting sights and smells.
  • Markets & shops – Some fantastic Christmas gifts can be purchased at outdoor markets. Dogs are normally welcome but be careful if they are wary of large crowds. Plus, we bet there are more dog-friendly shops in Wiltshire and Somerset than you might think, where you can take your pal for a walk while you shop.
  • Dog parks & countryside walks – Catch up with friends and family by going for a dog walk. Everyone gets some fresh air and exercise, and your dog gets to be by your side.
  • Dog friendly attractions – You may be surprised how many places you can find to take your dog by searching for ‘dog friendly days out near me’. Perfect for that festive fix!
  • Dog friendly holidays – If you’re planning a Christmas break, check out the wide variety of dog friendly accommodation on websites like Airbnb and research local dog friendly attractions before you visit too.

To ensure you are welcomed back to these places time and time again, our team recommends:

  1. Cleaning up and disposing of your dog’s poops.
  2. Keeping your dog on a lead (unless you see a sign saying otherwise) and under control.
  3. Being courteous to business owners and other visitors by not letting your dog eat or urinate on any goods, furniture, or decorations.

We hope you enjoy some fun times with your canine companion this Christmas. Don’t forget to tag garston_veterinary_group in your dog friendly places photos.

If your dog has been spending more time home alone lately and you notice any unusual behaviours, book a Vet appointment with our team.

Christmas 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

Garston Vets explain how to desensitise your dog to fireworks


Fireworks are now a common feature at birthdays and weddings, as well as a key part of many seasonal celebrations like Bonfire Night. Add that to the fact that an estimated 3.2 million households got a pet during lockdown, then the coming weeks could be problematic. As November approaches, there will be many pet owners in Frome, Melksham, Trowbridge, Warminster and Westbury, who could be soon dealing with dogs scared by loud noises for the first time this year.

One of the easiest ways to help stressed dogs (and other pets) is to think about using pheromone diffusers in your home. There are also other medicinal options available for animals that show significant noise anxiety.

Make an appointment to discuss ways to help your pet with firework anxiety

However, as the ‘Firework Season’ approaches, responsible dog owners should, at the very least, be creating a ‘den’ (a safe place) for their dog with familiar smelling blankets and toys (adding your own unwashed clothing can be comforting). Making sure all windows and doors are shut when it gets noisy outside is a good idea too.

That said, if you’re looking for a longer-term solution to help your dog deal with sudden noises like fireworks, it might be worth considering desensitisation training for dogs. Here’s a quick guide to how that works.

Before you start, you will need these four things…

  1. A quiet space – You’ll need to introduce your dog to this calm place a few weeks before you begin the training.
  2. Example noises – Audio recordings of fireworks and other loud noises. You can get these in many places online.
  3. Treats – A selection of your pet’s favourite treats and toys.
  4. Time – This process takes two or three half hour (approx.) sessions over several weeks.

And this is the five-step process you should follow…

  1. Play the noise quietly – In their calm place, play the noises you are using at a low level so that your pet either doesn’t respond at all, or just turns towards the source. Do this for periods of up to 30 seconds.
  2. Reward good behaviour – After each reaction, give them a tiny piece of their favourite food, about the size of a pea.
  3. Slowly increase the noise – Once they stop reacting to the loud sounds and do other things while the sounds are playing, slowly (session by session) increase the volume. With each increase in volume give your dog up to 30 seconds to get used to the new level and continue to offer the treats after each noise.
  4. Vary the volume – After two or three sessions (assuming your dog is reacting well), start to vary the volume. There should be a general increasing trend, but make the volume lower as well as higher, as this will give you a longer lasting and generally more effective response.
  5. Take your time – Take it easy and don’t rush the process. Like all of the most effective training, it takes time and regular practice to get the response you want to loud noises. Repeating the training every now and then will help too.

So, there you have it, some excellent advice for dog owners new and old, to get your pets used to sudden loud noises and condition them to deal with ‘Bangs’ over time. As ever, if you need any help, you can always contact us to discuss your dog’s particular needs.

Garston Vets’ tips on reducing separation anxiety in dogs

With the end of the summer holidays combining with more people returning to work, many dogs are going to miss the extra attention and companionship they’ve enjoyed. Suddenly they’re alone and this change can create a lot of stress.

To help ease the transition, the Garston Veterinary Group team would like to suggest their 6 top tips tips on reducing separation anxiety in dogs. Read them then talk to us if you’d like more information on any of our advice. Also, if you have any tips, please do share them on our Facebook page as it would be great to hear what works for you.

Share your tips on Facebook

Our top six tips on reducing separation anxiety in dogs:

Watch for the signs – If your dog has separation anxiety, you (or your neighbours) may observe one or more of the following:

  • Barking and howling whilst you are out – neighbours will often tell you
  • Destructive behaviour – chewing household objects or generally making a mess
  • Toileting inside – urinating and defecating in the home
  • Panting and shaking – restless, stressed and anxious behaviour


If you see any of these behaviours, consider the following:

  1. Walk your dog before going out – If your dog has been exercised, they’re more likely to rest and relax once left alone.
  2. Leave your dog some enrichment activity – Giving your dog a food or other enrichment puzzle can give them something to do, to distract them as you leave.
  3. Don’t make a fuss when you leave – Avoid touching, talking and eye contact when you depart and return. This way your dog won’t see your comings and goings as a big deal.
  4. Stay calm at all times – Be an assertive pack leader, so your dog feels reassured. If your dog has been naughty while you’re out, don’t get angry.
  5. Ignore your dog – On arriving home, ignore your dog and behave calmly, until they also become relaxed and calm themselves. This shows that you, the pack leader, are not stressed and will not react to their attention-seeking behaviour.
  6. Use a pheromone diffuser – A dog-appeasing pheromone diffuser (often known as a DAP diffuser) can be plugged in around the house to help calm your dog naturally. If you’d like to know more, ask our head nurse Sarah or anyone else in our team.

Ask us about DAP collars

If you’re struggling to get the results you want, remember that we’re always here to help. Just pop into our practice or give us a call on 01373 452225, and we’ll see how we can help.


Come and see us at the Frome Dog Show on the 11th September

Garston Veterinary Group will be running a Fun Dog Show at the Frome Agricultural and Cheese Show on Saturday 11th September 2021.

To take part registration is at the Garston Vets stand (113 – opposite the dog show ring) from 9am on show day.

More details can be found on the attached poster.

Dog show classes are:

Dog show class 1
12-12.30pm: Prettiest lady
Enter your prettiest girls. Any age and breed welcome.

Dog show class 2
12.30-1pm: Most handsome gentleman
Enter your handsome lads. Any age and breed welcome.

Dog show class 3
1-1.30pm: Most charismatic puppy (under 1 year)
Enter your gorgeous puppies. Any breed welcome must be under 1 year of age.

Dog show class 4
1.30-2pm: dog’s got talent (best trick)
Enter your pooch and show us their best tricks. Any age and breed welcome.

Dog show class 5
3.00-3.30: Temptation alley
Can your dog navigate the temptation course? We’re looking for maximum self-control! Any age and breed welcome.

Dog show class 6
3.30-4.00pm: Friendliest dog
Enter your friendly doggo’s to meet our judge with a chance to win! Any age and breed welcome.

For all classes: £2.50 per entry. Every entrant receives a rosette with a prize for 1st place.

All money raised will be donated to why… we hear you. Visit their Facebook page for more details.

In addition we will be running dog demos throughout the day from 9am until 5pm. See poster for more details.



A simple monthly chew to protect your dog from fleas, ticks, lungworm and roundworm

At Garston Vets we have reviewed our flea, tick and worm products to ensure that we offer the most complete and simplest protection for your pet.

For this reason, we have made the decision to change our recommended parasite product for dogs.

We now recommend a simple, monthly product that protects against the 4 key parasite threats (fleas, ticks, lungworm and roundworm) in a single, monthly, tasty chew.

Why have we changed our recommended product? . .You now only need to give your dog this chew once a month. No other products are needed to protect against the 4 main parasite threats, making it easy for you to protect your dog and your family. Using a chew means that your dog can be stroked and cuddled straight away, plus swimming or bathing won’t affect the treatment working. The chew is tasty and can be given without food, in fact many dogs will take it as a treat! This means you can be confident that the full dose has always been given. We are sure that your dog will love this treatment just as much as you’ll love the convenience!

All canine Wellness Plan members will automatically receive this product, unless we feel that there is a more suitable alternative for the patient.

How to make your dog’s day at Garston Veterinary Group

Dogs have been loving their visits to Garston Veterinary Group for over 100 years. We know this because of all the wagging tails, loving licks, and return visits. We’re pretty sure we know why… See if you and your dog agree with our list below.

Bring your dog to visit us

Six reasons why we think dogs love coming to visit us:

  1. Dog treats, obviously! – What vet visit would be complete, or satisfying, without a tasty dog treat, or two? We’ve always got plenty of dog treats on tap. Tell us if they don’t like a particular flavour and we will do our best to find something they will enjoy!
  2. Other doggy & human friends – We find most dogs love to mingle. A trip to our practice is a much-loved social experience with lots of dogs & people to meet. Even in the carpark during Covid-19 restrictions!
  3. Vets & nurses who speak ‘Dog’ – Our experienced team is always happy to get down to a dog’s level (Dachshunds included) on the floor to bond, play, reassure, and just because they know it makes dogs feel special. We have been doing this even more since Covid-19 regulations prevented clients coming into the surgery, as we know how worried you are about not being able to be their chaperone.
  4. Dog friendly advice and merchandise – We love sharing our canine knowledge and experience with owners, plus we have a great range of soft toys and healthcare products available for you to purchase to help your dog go home feeling positive about their visit to the vets.
  5. Massages…sorry, we mean health checks! – A thorough nose-to-tail health check can feel as good as a doggy massage, plus, being checked for health issues can only be a good thing.
  6. Comfortable kennels and overnight stays at our small animal hospital in Frome – When dogs stay with us, they get their own kennel with comfortable bedding to relax in. They also get lots of love and attention from our team around the clock. Even if it’s 2am, our night nurse is wide awake and caring for our patients to make sure that they get everything they need, including comfort walks in our grassed paddock.

Make your dog’s day with a visit to Garston Veterinary Group. If for nothing else, a weigh-in with doggy fuss and treats will get that tail wagging!

We’d love to see a photo of your dog enjoying their visit – why not share one on our Facebook or Instagram page?

Lyme disease, kennel cough and other summer dog diseases

Canine infectious diseases can be hard to avoid during summer as they spread where there are large concentrations of dogs. This could be at the park, on dog-friendly holidays, in boarding kennels, day care, and at dog shows.

Pet owners should know how to spot the symptoms of common canine diseases, but also how to prevent them. Vaccinating your dog annually reduces the risk of contracting most harmful diseases not only for your dog, but for other dogs as well.

If you’re not sure when your dog was last vaccinated, and you’re registered with us, please give us a call and we can check and book them in.

The facts about five dog diseases that are common in summer:

Kennel cough (canine tracheobronchitis)

  • Airborne, highly contagious and infectious.
  • Can be picked up anywhere infected dogs have been, not just in kennels.
  • Symptoms of kennel cough: a dry hacking/honking cough, retching, nasal discharge, and lack of appetite in some dogs.
  • Can progress to secondary pneumonia with a high temperature and lethargy – can be fatal.

Canine parainfluenza:

  • Contagious respiratory virus in dogs that often leads to kennel cough.
  • Spread via contact with an infected dog, shared food and water bowls, and bedding.
  • Symptoms of canine parainfluenza: a cough, temperature/fever, nasal discharge, appetite loss, lacking energy.
  • Sometimes mistaken for canine influenza, which is a different virus and less common.


  • Unvaccinated dogs (especially puppies) can catch parvovirus from an infected dog, their faeces, and anything they’ve touched e.g., lead, bowl, bedding, human hands, clothes, other objects. The virus can live outside of the body for up to a year.
  • Symptoms of parvovirus: attacks the intestines causing vomiting, reduced appetite, diarrhoea (foul smelling, bloody & watery), extreme lethargy, fever (hot or cold to touch).
  • Can be fatal if left untreated, and sometimes fatal even if prompt treatment is sought.

Canine Coronavirus Infection (CCoV) – not related to COVID-19:

  • Highly infectious virus, attacks part of the small intestine causing gastrointestinal issues.
  • CCoV can remain in the body and be shed in faeces for up to 6 months. It can survive in the environment for a couple of days. Transmission is via exposure to an infected dog’s faeces.
  • Stress and poor hygiene can make a dog susceptible to CCoV.
  • It can be most problematic for puppies and dogs with other infections like parvovirus.
  • Symptoms of CCoV: sometimes none, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, depression, fever, appetite loss. CCoV can be fatal.

Lyme disease isn’t contagious, but it is the most common tick-borne disease in the UK. Lyme disease can be contracted by dogs, humans and other pets when bitten by an infected tick. Ticks are always around, mostly in grassy and heathland areas, but are most active in warmer months. It’s important to check for ticks after walks and keep an eye out for common symptoms: fever, lethargy, appetite loss, lameness, and joint swelling. Lyme disease can progress and become debilitating.

To combat these diseases there are two things that dog owners should do: 1) know the symptoms, and 2) learn how to prevent them in the first place.

Thankfully, you can protect your dog from the above diseases by keeping them up to date with vaccinations, and parasite treatments for ticks.

If your dog is registered with us, please call our team can check if they are up to date with parasite control. To help you, both vaccinations and parasite control are included in our Wellness Planjust ask our team for information.

As a side note, according to the RSPCA, imports of puppies doubled in the previous year last summer thanks to the ‘lockdown puppy trend’. Do you know someone who adopted a new pet in the last 12 months? You can help their dog and the wider dog population by encouraging them to check up on vaccinations too.

Garston Vets’ tips for moving house with your dog

Moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do in life, even more so if you have a dog. Unsurprisingly, it’s not much fun for them either. But what if there was a way to ease the stress?

You can make moving house with your dog a calmer and more enjoyable experience for you both, if you prepare in advance.

Take a look at the top tips in our moving house checklist.

Prepare your dog for moving house – checklist:

  1. Bring moving boxes into your home ahead of time and let your dog get used to them. Bubble wrap is a health hazard for dogs so be sure to keep that out of reach.
  2. Dogs pick up on human emotions so if you’re stressed, it’s likely your dog will be too. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, perhaps you could ask a friend for help or try meditation?
  3. Plugin diffusers for pets promote calmness by omitting natural pheromones. Installing these a few weeks before can help your dog to relax, ready for the big day. We stock these.
  4. Packing is a busy process, so remember to carve out some playtime for your dog to keep them happy. Try to avoid packing with your dog in the room as this can be unsettling.
  5. Keep their routine the same i.e. walks, meal times and other activities as best you can. Reassure them, but be careful not to overfuss as they’ll think something is wrong.
  6. Book a dog health check to ensure they’re in good shape to handle the upheaval and journey. Moving house with a puppy or senior dog? Be sure to pay extra attention to their wellness.
  7. If you’re moving house with a nervous dog there are medications that could help. Ask us about these.
  8. On moving day, see if a friend or pet sitter can look after your dog at their home. If not, you can make the day go more smoothly by thinking about your dog’s basic needs:

a) Food – Keep food handy and avoid car sickness by giving lighter meals.

b) Water – Take your dog’s bowl and some water everywhere with you.

c) Toilet – Stop for regular breaks so your dog can do what they need to.

d) Exercise – Walk your dog before you set off & take exercise breaks during the day.

e) Comfort – Never leave your dog in a vehicle on a hot day, even if cloudy.

f) Safety – Use a safety harness & seatbelt in the back seat, or a secured dog crate.

g) Wellness – Keep an eye on your dog’s health and happiness today.

Good luck! If you need any further advice on how to move house with a dog, our team will be happy to help so do get in touch.

One final tip, remember tp update your dog’s microchip details with your new address on the day you move.

Learn how to remove a tick from your dog safely

Whatever you do, don’t yank that pesky tick straight out of your dog! It might seem like the obvious thing to do especially if your dog is agitated, but pulling a tick straight out can cause the head to detach, which can lead to more irritation and increases the risk of disease transmission.

This may sound horrible, but it’s a common problem during spring and summer. Our head nurse, Sarah Church explains.

Download tick guide

What you need to know about ticks:

  • Ticks mostly live in woodland, long grasses and fields, more so where sheep or deer graze. Although most prevalent in spring and summer, they can be problematic throughout the year in some areas.
  • Ticks can vary but are typically small, oval & flat. Unfed they’re about the size of a sesame seed and can swell to coffee bean size after a feast of blood.
  • They latch onto pets (and people) by inserting their mouthparts into the skin to suck blood. Many produce a sticky glue-like substance to stay attached.
  • A tick bite can cause irritation, as well as anaemia and temporary paralysis in rare cases. Ticks can also spread lyme disease, which affects humans too. Left untreated, lyme disease can lead to a serious, debilitating chronic illness with complications for life. Headaches are a common initial symptom in humans.

How to tell if your dog has been bitten by a tick:

After walks, check your dog all over for ticks (they’ll feel like small bumps), especially under the tummy, armpits, ears, head, neck, groin and feet. Your dog might:

  • be excessively scratching or biting at an area, or shaking their head
  • have an initial ‘bullseye’ rash around the bite site
  • have intermittent lameness
  • show fever or lethargy

To remove a tick safely you’ll need a tick removal tool that’s been specially designed to help you perform the necessary motion needed to get it out in one piece. These tools typically come in a pack of two sizes and can be purchased from most vet practices, pet stores, and some online retailers. Sarah recommends having a set in your pet first aid kit, and even your handbag and car.

The longer the tick is in your pet, the bigger the risk of disease transmission. If you’re struggling to get it out yourself, contact our nursing team for advice. 

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