Microchipping Cats to become Mandatory in the UK by June 2024

Microchipping Cats

In recent years, microchipping has emerged as a revolutionary tool in the world of pet identification. In this country, we’re renowned for our lo-ve of cats, and we’ve taken a significant step forward by making microchipping compulsory for all cats from 10th June 2024. This blog explores the benefits of microchipping cats and explains why this practice has become a crucial component of responsible pet guardianship.

All owners must have their cat microchipped by 10 June 2024 and owners found not to have microchipped their cat will have 21 days to have one implanted, or may face a fine of up to £500.

...until Microchipping Becomes Compulsory in the UK

Why Microchip Your Cat?

Lost and Found: A Lifesaver for Cats

One of the most distressing experiences for any pet owner is having their beloved feline friend go missing. Traditional identification methods like collars and tags can easily be lost or removed, leaving cats without any form of identification. Microchipping offers a permanent solution by implanting a tiny electronic chip under the skin, typically between the shoulder blades. This chip contains a unique identification number that can be scanned by vet practices, animal shelters, or animal wardens. This technology has proved instrumental in reuniting countless lost cats with their worried owners, saving lives and alleviating emotional distress.

Ensuring Responsible Ownership and Reducing Stray Population

Microchipping supports responsible pet guardianship by promoting accountability. By making it compulsory, the UK government aims to reduce the number of stray and abandoned cats. Microchips provide crucial information about the cat’s guardian, allowing authorities to trace back to the responsible individual. This not only discourages negligence but also acts as a deterrent against animal cruelty and abandonment. By fostering a sense of responsibility among cat guardians, the initiative aims to create a safer and more compassionate environment for feline companions.

Medical Benefits: Tailored Care for Cats

Microchips can store vital medical information, such as vaccination records, temperature, medical conditions, and prescribed medications. This data can be accessed by vets, enabling them to provide prompt and appropriate treatment. During emergencies, when a cat’s owner might not be readily available, this information proves invaluable in delivering timely and potentially life-saving care. Additionally, microchipping aids in the prevention of fraudulent ownership claims, ensuring that cats receive the necessary medical attention from their genuine owners.

Prevention of Illegal Activities

Sadly, theft and illegal trading of pets are issues that persist today. Microchipping serves as a deterrent to potential pet thieves, as it provides an easily identifiable marker of guardianship. In the event that a stolen cat is found, scanning its microchip will reveal the true owner and help reunite them with their feline companion. Furthermore, the microchipping requirement provides law enforcement agencies with a valuable tool to tackle illicit pet trade, safeguarding the welfare of cats and curbing illegal activities.

The decision to make microchipping compulsory for cats in the UK is a progressive step towards enhancing responsible pet guardianship and safeguarding the welfare of feline companions. Microchips provide a reliable, permanent form of identification that significantly increases the chances of lost cats being reunited with their owners. Additionally, they offer medical benefits, act as a deterrent against illegal activities, and aid in population control by reducing the number of stray cats. Embracing this technology allows us to create a safer and more compassionate environment for our furry friends.

So, if you haven’t already, consider microchipping your cat today. By doing so, you contribute to the well-being of your pet and play an active role in building a more responsible and caring community of cat guardians.

To book your cat in for a microchip, please call 01305 267083, or consider becoming a member of the The Castle Club.

10% Discount on Cat Microchipping

Members of the Castle Club get a 10% discount on microchipping included in their plan. While also benefitting from a wide range of services such as annual vaccinations, regular health checks, year-round parasite prevention and much more. Your cat’s first month costs just £19.30, that’s cheaper than a microchip! See all the benefits and join online below:

Pet-Friendly Summer Garden Safety: Avoid Toxic Hazards

As summer approaches, many pet owners look forward to spending quality time in their gardens with their beloved pets. However, it’s crucial to be aware of potential hazards that can lurk in our gardens, especially toxic plants, and take necessary precautions to keep our pets safe. 

This blog aims to provide essential summer garden safety tips to ensure your pets enjoy a hazard-free and enjoyable time outdoors. 

Summer Garden Safety for Pets - Avoiding Toxic Plants & Hazards
Identify and Remove Toxic Plants 

Several common garden plants can be toxic to pets if ingested. It’s essential to identify these plants and remove them from areas accessible to your furry companions.  

Some common examples include:  

  • Lilies 
  • Azaleas 
  • Rhododendrons 
  • Tulips 
  • Daffodils 
  • Sago palms 

Although the listed above are the most common dangers, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. In order to verify exactly which plants are toxic in your garden, it may require further research, and the ASPCA offers a great resource to search for specific plants toxicity here.

Create a Pet-Friendly Zone  

Designate a pet-friendly area in your garden where your pets can roam and play safely. This area should be free from toxic plants, pesticides, fertilizers, and other potential hazards. Ensure it is securely fenced to prevent pets from wandering off and protect them from outside dangers. 

Use Pet-Safe Pesticides and Fertilisers 

If you must use pesticides or fertilisers in your garden, opt for pet-safe and environmentally friendly products. Avoid using chemicals known to be toxic to animals, as pets can ingest them by licking their paws or fur. Always follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and keep pets away from treated areas until the products have dried or settled. 

Secure Potential Escape Routes 

Check your garden for any escape routes your pets might find, such as loose fences, gaps in hedges, or broken gates. Fix these issues promptly to prevent your pets from escaping and getting lost or injured. 

Summer Garden Safety for Pets - Avoiding Toxic Plants & Hazards
Provide Shade and Fresh Water 

During hot summer days, pets need a shaded area in the garden to seek relief from the sun’s heat. Create a shady spot with a canopy, umbrella, or trees. Additionally, always ensure your pets have access to fresh, clean water to stay hydrated. Keep multiple water sources around the garden, especially if you have a large outdoor space. 

Watch out for Heatstroke 

Pets can quickly succumb to heatstroke in the scorching summer months. Cats are usually good at looking after themselves if they have the freedom to come and go, but for other pets, such as dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs, avoid leaving them in the garden for extended periods during the hottest parts of the day.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs include excessive panting, lethargy, drooling, and difficulty breathing.

If you suspect heatstroke, move your pet to a cool area, offer water, and seek veterinary assistance immediately. 

Summer Garden Safety for Pets - Avoiding Toxic Plants & Hazards
Beware of Ponds and Pools 

While water features can add beauty to your garden, they can also pose a danger to pets. Ensure that ponds and pools have secure barriers or covers to prevent accidental drowning. Pets should always be supervised when near water to avoid any mishaps. 

Be aware of natural predators 

Gardens are a natural space and, as such, are also a haven for wild animals and birds. Ensure your pet is kept safe from foxes, angry or hungry birds and other creatures that might view them as lunch or threats. 

With these summer garden safety tips, you can create a pet-friendly oasis where your pets can enjoy the outdoors without unnecessary risks. By removing toxic plants, securing potential hazards, providing shade and water, and being mindful of heatstroke and water features, you can ensure your pets have a safe and enjoyable summer in the garden. Remember, a little precaution goes a long way in keeping our pets healthy and happy! 

Worried your pet has consumed or in contact with something dangerous?
If you have any concerns about your pet, if you think they've ingested something they shouldn't have, or might be suffering from heatstroke or any other issue, please get in touch with us as soon as possible by calling 01305 267083

Why Dental Health Is Key to Your Pet’s Health

Do I need to look after my pet’s teeth?

Yes! Your pet isn’t able to perform the simple oral care tasks that we as humans know are essential for dental health such as tooth brushing. They need to visit us regularly for dental treatment in the same way we should visit a dentist.

Poor dental health can result in long term (chronic) pain for pets. Infections in the mouth can also cause infections elsewhere in the body as bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel elsewhere, and can be responsible for heart, kidney, liver and lung infections. 

Our pets are very good at hiding any pain they feel, and the way they show this – tiredness, aggression, slowing down – can often be mistaken for the normal aging process, so it’s really important that we keep an eye on what’s going on in their mouths to prevent not only pain, but also to stop any issues from occurring before they go on to cause permanent damage.

If you have your pet from a young age it really helps to get them used to having their mouths looked at right from the start. Once a week gently encourage them to let you in for a quick look, and reward them with lots of fuss for being obliging. Teeth brushing can be introduced then too.

What are the signs of a dental problem in my pet?

One of the most common signs – and is often a reason owners bring their pet in for a dental check up – is bad breath. If your pet is willing you should look inside their mouth to see if there are any visible signs of infection or decay, but it’s often easier if your vet and a trained helper do this for you!

Another visible sign that your pet needs some help is tartar. This is a hard brown substance that can be seen where the teeth join the gum, and it then builds up from there. It’s caused by plaque on the teeth going hard (mineralising). Tartar causes gum inflammation (gingivitis) and a red and sore mouth that bleeds easily. This then leads on to dental disease, infection and a destruction of the tooth and tissues around it. The tooth will then become loose and possibly fall out or need to be removed surgically.

Signs that your pet might have disease at this stage might be eating in a different way – slowly, with their head on one side, eating on one side of the mouth only or refusing biscuits. They might also lose weight and generally show signs that they aren’t thriving.  Cats can exhibit this through deterioration in the quality of their coat where they stop grooming themselves as efficiently to prevent mouth pain.

If you suspect any dental problems, you must see your vet to stop whatever deterioration is occurring as soon as possible. Situations only get more serious for the pet, and more complicated and expensive.

How can I remove Tartar and Plaque from my pet’s teeth?

To remove any buildup of plaque or tartar from your pet’s teeth, and prevent further damage or disease, the best option is to book a dental descale and polish with your vet. The vet will use an ultrasonic descaling instrument, combined with specialist hand tools to remove the plaque and tartar from the teeth. Once the tartar has been removed, the surface of the tooth is then polished using a high-speed polishing tool. Polishing offers some cosmetic benefits like brighter teeth, but most importantly it also smooths away any rough areas on the tooth to help prevent plaque from building up in the future.

What happens when I bring my pet in for a dental examination?

The vet will talk to you about the general health of your pet as well as performing an oral examination. This is to assess signs of secondary problems caused by any dental issues picked up during the check up, and to ensure they are well enough for a general anaesthetic should any work need to be carried out.

The vet will look for tartar and any gum redness, swelling and infection. If this is identified then dental disease will also be checked for as well as any gum recession or overgrowing, which are common secondary problems to gingivitis. Gum swelling is sometimes also due to a lump forming which is either benign (and more common in some particular breeds), or a more serious tumour.

Cats have specific problems which will be checked for. Unfortunately it is very common for them to develop erosions of their teeth – called lesions – and these can be very painful and hard for an owner to detect. They are caused by the cat’s own immune system attacking the enamel of the teeth and causing holes in them.  

Pets can develop cavities in their molars in the same way we can, and these can cause infection and be really painful. Tooth fractures are also common. These are easy to spot if some tooth is missing, but if there’s a crack that extends to the nerve pulp then this is only visible by xray, and will be causing significant pain.

Less common problems include milk teeth not falling out, or falling out late resulting in adult teeth growing through in the wrong place, and misaligned jaws which whilst often purely cosmetic can cause problems if they result in teeth digging in to the palate.

What can I do at home to keep my pet’s teeth healthy?

One simple way you can help your pet is through their diet. In their natural state where they hunt and kill, their teeth are naturally cleaned by chewing on bones and hard body parts. For this reason cats who like the odd mouse or rabbit as a supplement to their diet sometimes have better teeth than those animals who chose not to hunt.  That said, as this is no longer their natural way of eating our domesticated animals would struggle if you were to introduce bones to their diet. Cooked bones can splinter and cause serious problems in their mouths, throats and guts, and raw bones can result in stomach upsets and enamel chipping as well as splintering.

There are some dental chews available for dogs that can be effective at plaque removal, although these don’t work if your dog has already developed tartar and dental disease. They can also be quite rich, so only give them occasionally and make sure they aren’t too big for your pet. You don’t want to replace dental concerns with diarrhoea!

For domestic animals, a biscuit diet is best as chewing on these can help safely replicate the benefits of gnawing on bones and tissue. Wet food also tends to stick to teeth which can cause plaque and subsequently tartar.

There are some pet foods specifically designed to encourage oral health, so do speak to us if you’d like to know more. It’s also always advisable to change your pet’s diet gradually.

Tooth brushing is the most effective way to prevent dental problems as long as it’s started before any conditions occur. You will need to use a pet toothpaste as ours would be harmful to them, and they also prefer a meaty flavour! You can use baby toothbrush – either a standard one or one that you put on your finger.

If your pet already has some inflammation or other dental problems, then wait until the treatment has been completed and their mouth is no longer sore before resuming or starting brushing.

As always, if you have any questions regarding your pet’s dental health, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the practice by calling 01305 267083
Save 10% on all routine dental treatment

Members of the Castle Club save 10% on all routine dental treamtents and get unlimited access to advice and guidance on dental health. The club includes many further benefits designed to keep your pet healthy and happy all year.

7 ways to help your petrified pet get over their fear of the vets

Fear and anxiety are cited as the number one barrier to people accessing the vet services their pet needs. In fact, it’s a much bigger health risk to our pets than even common problems such as dental disease, obesity and pain.

You – as much as us – want to give your pet the best care possible.

In an ideal world, this involves seeing a vet for a routine annual check-up and vaccinations, popping in every few months to collect worm and flea treatments and to discuss any concerns, ad-hoc visits for dental and nail clips, and whatever else is required to keep your pet in tip-top condition.

But sometimes fear and stress about a visit to the vets can make it feel not worth the hassle for them or you.

Feeling terrified of the cat carrier, the smell of the practice, or people in scrubs is not pleasant, and if your pet is stressed, the chances are you will be feeling it with them. Even if you CAN get your pet through the door and into the consulting room, consultations are often trickier as your pet is less willing to be handled and examined, and routine care such as nail clips, anal gland care and blood tests can be virtually impossible.

Some things can therefore be overlooked and remain undetected, putting your pet at risk of ill health that could have been prevented. Diseases that need constant monitoring, such as diabetes, suddenly become a lot trickier too.

So what can you do to help calm your pet and turn a dreaded event into something more positive?

Whether they’ve already had a tough experience at another practice or seems like irrational anxiety, talk to us, and we’ll come up with a plan to start to make things better for your frightened pet and you.

Depending on the severity of the anxiety, some tricks we suggest include:

  1. Carrying out a few mock examinations at home. Look in their ears, examine their teeth if you can play with their toes, stroke around their tail if they’ll let you just so they know it’s ok being touched and examined, and that they then get lots of fuss and treats for it.
  2. Leaving any pet carrying cases out for a few weeks in advance of an appointment so they can sniff them, go freely in and out, and not associate it with anything worse. You could occasionally pop a treat in there for them and make sure bedding smells of them and/or you.
  3. Doing something relaxing with your pet before you travel to the vets is often a good idea to calm both them and you. Play games, go for a walk, sit and have some cuddles… whatever you and your pet like doing together.
  4. Ask us about plug-ins and food supplements that might help in the days leading up to a visit. Some products are available that mimic the pheromones found in mother’s milk and can help calm your pet down both in advance and on the day.
  5. Maybe consider missing a meal or take them hungry, so you can reward them at each stage with a treat they’ll really appreciate. We’ve won a lot of dogs over with some doggy biscuits in our pockets!
  6. The smell is everything to dogs. Make the most of it and spray some lavender or other natural calming scents in the car and at home, and only any bedding you’ll take with you.
  7.  If your pet displays sign of anxiety during the visit, try not to make a fuss of them. It’s difficult not to offer what feels like reassurance when we see our pets distressed, but all this does is reinforce their nervousness because they’ll think you’re rewarding their behaviour, and there is actually something to be afraid of.

If you’d rather arrange a behavioural consultation before deciding how to tackle the issue, we can arrange that for you. We can come up with a step-by-step plan that will hopefully soon get us all to the point where we can get a cuddle from your pet every time they’re in for an appointment – or even just passing the practice. We all love our cuddles! And most importantly, they’ll be working towards a time when they allow us to take the very best care of them when they’re here.

I’ve just got a puppy/kitten. How can I make sure they don’t become scared of visits to the vet?!

We take the mental side of health as seriously as the physical, and we aim right from day one to make every visit enjoyable and reassuring for your pet. Once they have been held down for vaccination, wrangled to the floor to get a wormer in or to listen to their heart, they associate that fear with the people and the situation, and pets don’t forget these things! From day one we will cuddle your pets when they arrive, offer a treat bowl you can help yourself to, and treat them respectfully and gently.

We encourage all of our clients no matter what life stage they’re at to pop in whenever they want for a cuddle and a treat (for your pet – not you – unless you ask particularly nicely). Just coming in for a sit-down and some fuss for a while before leaving to continue their day shows your pet that nice things happen around us.

Get unlimited behavioural advice

Members of The Castle Club receive unlimited access to advice and guidance on behaviour, training, diet and more. Members also benefit from year-round protection from parasites, health checks, vaccination and more. It's a great way to budget for your pet's health care, and keep them happy and healthy.

How Worms Can Risk the Health of Your Pet and Your Family

How worms can risk the health of your pet

Where they come from and what to do

Even outwardly healthy looking animals can have worms, and they can cause suffering, illness and sometimes even death. Some of the diseases they carry can also be transmitted to humans, so it’s really important to worm regularly regardless of whether you think your pet has worms or not. 

What kind of worms can infect my cat or dog?

Roundworms and tapeworms are the most common threats. They can also have hookworms and whipworms, and these are more common in dogs than cats.

Lungworm is becoming a greater problem – although happily it only infects a small percentage of animals at the moment – and this is only transferred to your pet through ingesting a slug or snail. Lungworm tends to be a localised problem, so it’s worth talking to your vet to find out if this is a problem near you. 

How worms can risk the health of your pet

What kind of worms can infect my cat or dog?

  • You may see worms in faeces or vomit, or around your pet’s bottom.
  • Your pet might have lost weight recently
  • Their fur might have changed and become dry and coarse
  • They might have an increased appetite and have diarrhoea
  • They may appear weak
  • In severe cases, infected puppies and kittens can have a distended abdomen (also sometimes known as a pot belly)

The Castle Club makes it simple for you to look after your pet.

Get access to year-round worm, flea and tick treatments, and many further benefits designed to keep your pet healthy and happy all year.

How does my pet catch worms?

Your pet is exposed to worms in a number of ways and it’s almost impossible to prevent exposure.

Fleas can carry tapeworm eggs, so it’s essential that a continuous flea protection programme runs alongside a worming programme. 

Your pet may well come in to contact with other infected animals – wild animals or domesticated – who use the same outdoor areas as your pet. They might also inadvertently eat the larvae or eggs of worms in faeces or contaminated grass, and can also get them from eating raw meat. If you have a dog who enjoys the occasional carcass in a hedge or a juicy slug, or a cat who hunts, kills and eats, then they will probably be exposed to the worms these wild animals undoubtedly host.

Female roundworms can produce 200,000 eggs in just one day. These eggs are protected by a hard shell, and this means they can survive in soil for years.

Can I catch worms from my pet?!

Yes, unfortunately you can and the diseases they transmit can be very dangerous to humans, particularly from the roundworm. The eggs can hatch in the human intestine, then the immature worms can travel to various tissues in the body including eyes and brain. Serious infections can result in damage to these organs and can cause blindness.

Basic cleanliness measures such as washing hands before meals, leaving shoes at the door, and avoiding the faeces of animals whilst out (and bagging and binning those of your own!) should all help keep you safe.

How can I stop my pet getting worms?

A thorough and continuous worming programme from an early age is the best way to ensure your pet and your family are safe from worms.  It is also a good idea to make sure your pet’s water, food bowls and bedding are regularly cleaned and disinfected, using a disinfectant suitable for use around animals. 

My dog/cat is pregnant. Should I continue to worm them?

Pregnant cats and dogs who have worms pass them on to their puppies and kittens whilst they are still in the womb as the microscopic larvae migrate through the mothers tissues in to the womb. 

Roundworm larvae can also given to the puppy or kitten from the mother’s milk. They then travel to the intestine where they can grow up to five inches long, so worms can be a really serious issue for a tiny animal.  

Most wormers are only effective on adult worms existing in the intestinal tract, and wouldn’t kill off larvae lurking in other tissues ready to migrate to the womb during pregnancy. If you are planning on breeding from your animal it’s essential to make sure they are continuously wormed before pregnancy occurs.

How worms can risk the health of your pet

Always speak to your vet before administering any drugs such as wormers to pregnant animals so they can recommend a suitable product use during this time

The Castle Club makes it simple for you to look after your pet.

Get access to year-round worm, flea and tick treatments, and many further benefits designed to keep your pet healthy and happy all year.

Ticks: Disease Transmission, Symptoms and Removal Techniques

Ticks are external parasites, and globally they rival only mosquitos as carriers of disease. 

Their natural habitat is thick grass – fields, meadows, farmland and woods are all favourite locations. If you or your pet visit areas such as this, be extra vigilant.

Parasites live by feeding off a host, and as they move from one to another they quickly and easily pick up and spread diseases. Some of these diseases are not only dangerous to your pet, but also to the rest of your family (see below) so it’s really important to give your pet continuous year-round protection against ticks.  We offer a monthly treatment for fleas and ticks and you can save money on this if you’re a member of our VIP Club.

What do ticks look like and can I spot them whilst out?

Ticks change shape as they feed, starting off the size and shape of a small seed but growing to the size of a baked bean once they’ve fed from their host. They vary in colour as well as shape and size, but are often a dull brown or grey.

Whilst in their natural environment and are waiting for their next host to walk by (they often climb to the top of a blade of grass and wait for any passing animal or human) they’re so tiny that they’re unlikely to be spotted and avoided.

What diseases do ticks carry and can they cause other problems?

Problems range from itchiness and local infection to disease that can have lifelong consequences for your pet – and for your family if a tick decides to make you its host.

Ticks produce mucous that they use on the feeding site to help them stay on, and this can be really irritating for your pet. If they then scratch themselves in response to this and to get the tick off they can make themselves bleed, get an infection in the broken skin, and possibly scratch the tick off but leave part of it inside them that can then become infected. There have also been cases of anaemia in badly infested pets, and reports of some female ticks releasing a toxin that can result in paralysis. Thankfully there are so far very rare in this country. 

One of the biggest and most serious threats is Lyme disease which is caused by very resilient bacteria. The symptoms of this are arthritis, painful swollen joints and lameness.  In humans, the symptoms are often a rash, joint pain, fever, and headaches. As these are all common to many different diseases, diagnosis can sometimes take a while or be missed completely.  If this disease is left untreated, it can lead to an extremely serious debilitating chronic illness with permanent complications.

Are ticks a seasonal problem?

Ticks are often more active in spring and autumn when it’s warm and damp, but they can be found all year round. With a 75% increase in pets coming into the UK, we are now seeing the emergence of foreign ticks such as the kennel tick on recently travelled dogs, so it’s now even more important to protect your pet all year round.

I’ve found a tick! What should I do?

Regular grooming and vigilance should help you identify any unwelcome visitors. Always brush your pet against the hair growth as well as with to help you identify any embedded ticks, and carefully check awkward areas such as their ears, face and paw pads.

If you spot one, don’t panic, and don’t pull it straight off as embedded mouth parts can be left behind and cause further problems.  It’s also important not to do anything that makes the tick feel stress, as they can often regurgitate their meal back into the host along with any diseases they’re carrying. Traditional ways to remove them include burning them with a match or flame, pulling hard on them or covering them in Vaseline to suffocate them and all of these would cause stress to them that could further harm your pet.

How to safely remove a tick

Always have a ‘tick removal kit’ ready at home so you don’t have to spend time getting everything together if you do identify a tick. This kit should include a tick removal tool (available relatively cheaply from your vet or online, although you could use tweezers), gloves, a jar with a lid, rubbing alcohol and some antiseptic wipes.

  1. Put on your gloves. As ticks spread disease through the bloodstream they could infect you through any broken skin.
  2. Hold your pet and make sure they are calm. They’re going to have to remain still for a minute or so to allow you to remove the parasite. Get someone to hold the pet for you if you can.
  3. Place your removal tool or tweezers around the part of the tick closest to your pet’s body, being careful not to pinch your pet’s skin.
  4. Using a steady pressure, gently pull the tick out. Try not to move suddenly, pull too hard or twist too much as you don’t want the tick to regurgitate whatever is inside it back in to your pet, or for any of it to be left behind.
  5. Put the tick in the jar and examine it to check it’s still in once piece and nothing has been left inside your pet.
  6. Add some rubbing alcohol (vodka would do but it seems a waste!) to kill the tick. Keep it in the jar somewhere for a few days until you’re sure your pet is well. If you pet starts to display any symptoms such as a reluctance to move, fever, extreme tiredness, loss of appetite and swollen lymph nodes then bring both your pet and the tick to us straight away so we can check them over and be sure of the parasite that infected them.
  7. Disinfect the bite site with disinfecting wipes or some fresh rubbing alcohol. Keep an eye on the site and contact us if it becomes red or inflamed.

Can I stop my pet getting ticks, and if not isn’t it enough to just regularly check my pet?

When they first attach they are usually only the size of a sesame seed and are often hiding between toes and under ears. They can be almost impossible to spot until they’ve been on there for long enough to grow bigger, become irritating to your pet, and have potentially transmitted diseases.

There is no tick repellent, but treatment works in the same way as flea protection. The substance will penetrate the fatty, subcutaneous layer just under the pet’s skin and give the tick a dose of the anti-parasitic drug as soon as they first feed.  As ticks pass on disease within the first 24 hours of attaching to a host, it’s important to kill them off as soon as possible. The only reliable way of doing this is through a continuous protection programme.

We’ve specifically developed The Castle Club to make it simple for you to look after your pet. Get access to year-round flea, worm and tick treatments, and many further benefits designed to keep your pet healthy and happy all year.

The Itchy Issue of Fleas: A Risk for Your Pet and Your Family

The Itchy Issue of Fleas: A Risk for Your Pet and Your Family

Fleas – putting your family at risk all year round

Fleas are often considered to be a seasonal nuisance that are annoying for your pet, and annoying for you when you get nipped by one at home.  But they’re a more serious problem than this, are a year-long threat, and can cause serious distress to your pet and spread disease.  

Our centrally heated homes are the perfect year-round breeding ground for fleas who are attracted to the warm environment, so they aren’t just a spring and summer issue. Eggs can lay dormant in pet beds, carpets, rugs and upholstery for months before finding a host. In fact much of the life cycle of the flea takes place in the animal’s environment, not on the animal itself. Protecting your pet and your family requires this life-cycle to be broken by year round protection, and ideally by using a treatment that renders the eggs unable to hatch, so any that do transfer to the environment don’t start the cycle all over again.


Heavy infestations may lead to iron deficiency, anaemia and death, particularly in young animals. Other diseases caused by fleas include pruritis (itching), moist dermatitis and flea allergic dermatitis. Fleas also transmit tapeworms, feline infectious anaemia and bacteria that cause cat scratch fever and have also been implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome in humans.

Why ad-hoc treatments just don’t work

By the time you notice fleas on your pet, they have already bitten their host and injected their saliva in to their blood stream and started laying eggs. In the same way, ticks transmit disease within the first 24 hours of being attached to a host, so once they are discovered and removed it’s too late to stop this transmission.  The chances are that they will already have laid eggs before treatment, and these are sitting in a warm and cosy environment just waiting to hatch and infest your pet all over again. Even if you use a treatment that remains active for a month, it’s possible that some eggs and/or fleas will be lurking for longer than this period and will get to work once the treatment has worn off.

So, reactive and one-off treatments are both insufficient in preventing the spread of disease AND do nothing to prevent the initial attack or to break the life cycle. We recommend monthly treatments with an integrated product which not only kills any fleas that attack your pet, but also stops the development of eggs and therefore breaks the life-cycle. This approach will stop any initial infestation and protect your home, your pet and your family throughout the year. 

We’ve specifically developed The Castle Club to make it simple for you to look after your pet. Get access to annual flea and worming treatments and much more, all design to ensure your pet stays healthy.

Just discovered your pet has fleas?

1. Treat your pet

You will need to treat them with a product that kills the fleas and preferably one that contains a growth regulator to prevent eggs from hatching. Call us and we can let you know which products these are.

treat your pet - the itchy issue of fleas
2. Treat your environment

The house (and car) will need to be treated with an insecticide spray. A spray containing S-methoprene such as RIP (available at the practice) is the most effective mild insecticide for this and will kill live fleas and stop eggs hatching. If your infestation is or becomes more severe, you will need to contact your local pest control agency which will have insecticides not generally available to the general public and will be able to come out and treat your house.

treat your environment - the itchy issue of fleas
3. Vacuum soft furnishings, bedding and carpets thoroughly

This really helps remove any fleas, eggs or lavae that might be lurking or have been transferred around the house by feet or general movement.

Vacuum soft furnishings, bedding and carpets thoroughly - the itchy issue of fleas
2. Treat your environment

The house (and car) will need to be treated with an insecticide spray. A spray containing S-methoprene such as RIP (available at the practice) is the most effective mild insecticide for this and will kill live fleas and stop eggs hatching. If your infestation is or becomes more severe, you will need to contact your local pest control agency which will have insecticides not generally available to the general public and will be able to come out and treat your house. 

treat your environment - the itchy issue of fleas
4. Wash anything such as pet beds, rugs, blankets and cushions

Fleas and eggs are unlikely to survive a once round in the washing machine and it is another good way to make sure none have escaped treatment. (It’s still  important to treat first to kill as many as possible this way as movement and transfer is likely to make any unwelcome visitors spread around your home).

Wash anything such as pet beds, rugs, blankets and cushions - the itchy issue of fleas

Managing treatments

Monthly application of product involves some organisation – remembering the date to treat, when they were last treated and making sure you have to product to hand. To make this simpler (and cheaper!) for you, membership of the Castle Care Club ensures you have the product every month without fail. From the day you join you know when each month to treat, and can do so without having to order your treatment and wait for it to arrive which is time consuming, liable to fail if only through the weight of our busy lives, and can be costly. It also ensures that you and your family are protected year round.

We’ve specifically developed The Castle Club to make it simple for you to look after your pet. Get access to annual flea and worming treatments and much more, all design to ensure your pet stays healthy.

Pets and Fireworks | Top Tips To Help Pets Scared of Fireworks

Pets and Fireworks – Why Noise Annoys, and How Fears Can Turn Into Life-Limiting Phobias

Around 60% of our furry friends become agitated and afraid whilst fireworks are going off, so aside from being unpleasant for both them and your family, it’s little surprise that statistically more pets are reported missing on bonfire night than any other night during the year.

If the fear isn’t dealt with, it can quickly turn into a phobia. This is a lot more severe than anxiety and is defined as a persistent, excessive, and irrational fear response. It WILL NOT go away without help. Your dog isn’t going to grow out of it or get used to it and minor anxiety can quickly turn into a fear of thunder, then fear of sudden noise like people calling out in the street, or doors closing, and severely restrict their enjoyment of life – and yours. Scared dogs make difficult companions.

If you feel your pet would benefit from extra help, remember that Castle Club members benefit from unlimited behaviour and training advice, which includes help with anxious pets, training and anything else you may need. (Not a member yet? Click here to read the full list of year-round benefits)

No one knows why pets develop fears and phobias, but it is known that dogs who have separation anxiety often also develop a fear of noise, so if you have a nervous puppy be extra vigilant for the early signs of noise fear.

The signs are different in all animals but can often include:

  • Hiding (cats like to do this more than dogs)
  • Urinating and defecating around the house in otherwise house-trained animals
  • Chewing
  • Panting
  • Pacing
  • Trying to escape (digging, trying to get out through windows, running away)
  • Dribbling
  • Over-dependence on the owner
  • Loss of appetite
  • Ignoring commands
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Uncharacteristic barking or meowing

Although it sounds wrong, it is important to try NOT to comfort nervous pets whilst they’re showing signs of fear or anxiety as it both rewards a fearful response and reinforces their belief that there is something to be fearful of.  Animals will also pick up on your anxiety which can make the problem worse, so try to remain calm and relaxed and carry on as if nothing is happening. Never punish your pet for fearful behaviour either, as they will associate the fear they feel with punishment and it will justify their fear to them.


Keep this information handy

If you have a potentially anxious pet – although it is generally a sensible list to keep handy – you should have the following information readily available to you during firework season. Storing it on your phone is a good way to do this.

You should note down:

  • Your pet’s microchip number/microchip database (microchips are now a legal requirement in dogs)
  • Local dog warden’s number
  • Local police contact
  • A clear photograph of your pet
  • Access to missing pet websites

Be aware that fireworks night is not just a night! As the date falls on a weekday this year, events will take place on the weekends either side and fireworks are sold well in advance of November 5th until after News Year’s Eve. If your pet is sensitive to them you need to ACT NOW to save them several months of distress.

What can I do?!

Download our FREE guide!

You can download our handy guide on Firework Fears and Phobias where we detail what you can do to help your cats, dogs, rabbits and other small animals during the weeks before and the day of the event. It’s packed with good ideas and will help get your pet through this potentially stressful time.

If you think your pet suffers from more than just minor anxiety or would like to discuss any behavioural issues, book an appointment to come and chat to us about it. We can offer behavioural consultations, supplements and plug-ins to help calm them, and in really bad situations we can prescribe sedatives.

Don’t let your pet suffer unnecessary anxiety.


To find out more and book an appointment, call the practice on  01698 361 136



Castle Club members benefit from unlimited behaviour and training advice, which includes help with anxious pets, training and anything else you may need. (Not a member yet? Click here to read the full list of year-round benefits)

Pet Obesity | The Growing Issue of Overweight Pets

The weighty issue of the portly pet

Overweight pets – a growing trend

Our pets are mirroring the human obesity growth curve, and very overweight cats and dogs are becoming common. As in humans, being overweight can cause many health issues for our pets. These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis, joint and mobility problems
  • Increased frequency of joint injuries
  • High blood pressure
  • Skin and coat problems
  • Urinary disease
  • Heart disease
  • Shorter lifespan than fitter pets
  • Tendency to interact less with their families.

The term obesity is used to describe a condition that is more serious than just being overweight. When a dog or cat is classed as obese, it means that their fat has now reached the stage where their bodies struggle to maintain good health.


In 2018, results of an online survey* suggested that around 59% of dogs and 53% of cats throughout the world are obese. In fact, this rapidly increasing problem is now so significant that the World Small Animal Veterinary Association have officially classed canine obesity as a disease.

But it’s not always obvious to us…

This survey also showed that only 24% of owners thought their pet was overweight. This suggests pet owners not realising that their pet is obese has also become a big part of the problem. When you see your pet every day, and pets around you are slowly getting bigger too, a larger size becomes normal.


Why is obesity becoming more common?

The science behind overweight pets is usually as simple as it is in humans – more often than not a pet is obese because they’re eating more calories than they’re burning off.  There are occasions where genetics or other health factors play a part, and some breeds are more likely to gain fat than others. There might also be some medical reasons that are contributing, for example, undiagnosed joint pain restricting their movement, or an underactive thyroid slowing down their metabolism.

Before starting your pet on a diet or increased exercise schedule, you should book a FREE weight clinic check-up with one of us to make sure there aren’t any underlying medical issues.

Don’t forget that if you’re a member of The Castle Club you'll already have a full health check with a vet every year, and one six months later with a nurse. Plus, you can arrange for a weight check or weight clinic FREE OF CHARGE whenever you feel you need it.

Not already a member?
The Growing Trend of Overweight Pets
How do I know if my pet is overweight?

There are some visual checks you can do at home that will give you an idea of their condition:

  • You should be able to see their ribs under their coat, or if they have a thick coat, you should be able to feel them.
  • A clearly defined waist should be visible from the side and from above
  • When you look at them from the side, you shouldn’t be able to see a rounded or saggy belly
I think my pet is overweight. What should I do?

More pets are being fed complete diets in the form of biscuits, and this has resulted in well-nourished animals, as the nutritional quality of the food makes sure they get all they need. The downside of biscuits is that it’s easy for us to fill their bowl each day as that seems like the right amount to give them, and it’s often way too much.

To ensure they aren’t consuming more calories than they need, check the pet food packaging. Many pet foods come with a cup with a portion size printed on the side. If not, weigh the food using kitchen scales until you get an idea about how much they should have each day, then split that across their meals.

Take care with extra treats! For a small dog, one biscuit can be the additional calorie equivalent of a burger.

Below is a comparison of some common treats for pets in human terms:

Source: https://www.hillspet.co.uk/pet-care/nutrition-feeding/human-food-treat-translator

How much exercise should pets have?

Dogs need to be walked every day, although the amount of exercise they need varies depending on their breed, age, size and general health. Your dog should be either walking or running for between 30 minutes and two hours daily. Hunting and working breeds need the most exercise and plenty of time to run around and explore off the lead.

Cats will only do exactly what they want when they want. This includes active time, and they’ll control their own, although you can encourage them to want to move around by getting some irresistible-to-cats toys – lights that move around, balls to chase around tubes, feathers on sticks, and small cat toys are often enjoyed but try a few and see which ones result in a playful cat.


The best approach to weight management is to monitor and prevent excessive weight gain

As many of us know from personal experience, losing weight can be boring and difficult. It’s much easier to maintain weight by making tweaks to food intake and exercise when needed, and better for long-term health too.  It’s also good to have support, as denying your pet simples pleasures can be as hard for us as it is for them, even when we know we’re doing it because we love them. That’s where our weight clinics can help…

FREE weight clinics for our clients

Our pet weight clinic aims to improve the health and overall fitness of your pet. We do this by holding regular appointments with our friendly and non-judgemental nurses in which we weigh and measure your pet and discuss diet.

We will track your pet’s weight loss over time by measuring your pets neck, widest part of the chest and waist. We also weigh and body condition score to build up a full picture of their overall progress.

With your consent we also take pictures before, during and after weight loss as it’s not always easy to see the progress when you see them every day.

If you think this service would be useful for you or you’d just like to check that your pet is the right weight, call to make a free appointment on Dorchester (Poundbury) 01305 267083 or Weymouth 01305 81330

Don’t forget that if you’re a member of The Castle Club you'll already have a full health check with a vet every year, and one six months later with a nurse. Plus, you can arrange for a weight check or weight clinic FREE OF CHARGE whenever you feel you need it.

Not already a member?

*The survey was conducted online during January and February 2018.  The total sample size was 5,309 cat and dog owners who were responsible for their pet’s health and well-being (Brazil 1,068; China 1,036; Russian 1,111; United Kingdom 1,023 and United States 1,071).

Health Benefits of Veterinary Acupuncture for Pets

Did you know that pets, as well as people, can respond really well to acupuncture?

We’re delighted to now be able to offer this ancient Chinese therapy as a holistic supplement to traditional veterinary care. Veterinary acupuncture can be particularly useful when dealing with mobility issues, chronic pain conditions such as joint pain, and gastrointestinal issues. It’s an ideal treatment for older, geriatric pets who can find the therapy quiet calming, although it’s a useful complementary treatment for all life-stages.

Veterinary acupuncture is thought to work in a few different ways:
  • It can stimulate the release of the pain relieving and anti-inflammatory chemicals as well as relax muscles at the site of the needle insertion, causing both local and more generalised pain relief
  • Veterinary acupuncture can improve blood flow to tissue, increase oxygenation and remove metabolic waste and toxins
  • Unlike prescription drugs, there are no potential adverse side effects. It can also safely be used in conjunction with traditional vet medicine

Vet Alice Moore, who joined us in April, has been treating patients with acupuncture for a number of years.

“I find veterinary acupuncture to be useful in treating a whole range of conditions” says Alice. “Owners are often surprised that cats, dogs and rabbits all tolerate acupuncture really well and I have used it to treat back pain, arthritis, bladder problems and all sorts of lameness issues”

Alice Moore

Veterinary Surgeon

Here are some photos of Raz and Monty who are both being treated at our Dorchester clinic.

If you think your pet might benefit from veterinary acupuncture or are just interested to learn more, contact us on 01305 267083 or using Petsapp