Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Tick Bites: When to worry, and how to prevent them

Ticks are widespread in the UK. They are actually arachnids rather than insects and, like spiders, adult ticks have 8 legs and vary tenfold in size from 1 millimetre to 1 centimetre. Ticks hatch from eggs and develop into larvae, then nymphs, and finally into adults. At each stage ticks have to attach onto and feed from an animal (their host), to develop into the next stage. The younger stages of ticks, like larvae, prefer to feed on small animals like birds and rodents. However, the older stages can attach onto and feed on larger mammals, such as dogs and cats, and also humans. For this reason, these unwelcome hitchhikers are something you should be aware of.

How do animals get ticks?

Whilst they could be found in some gardens, particularly in more rural areas, ticks are most commonly found in vegetation in areas such as woodland, meadows and moors.  When they are looking for a new host to attach to, they are described as ‘questing’ and will wait on low branches and leaves to attach to any animal brushing past.

Is there a particular time of year that my pet is likely to be affected?

Ticks are most active in spring and early summer, and then again in early autumn. They are generally dormant in cold weather. However, with global temperatures on the rise, they are likely to be active for a greater proportion of the year.

Why should I worry about ticks biting my pet?

The majority of the time, tick bites will not harm your pet. Rarely, bacterial infections or abscesses will develop at the site of a bite. This is more likely to occur if a tick has been improperly removed, with part of the tick being left in the skin. However, the main reason for wanting to prevent tick bites in dogs is that they have the potential to act as vectors (spreaders) of infectious disease.

What diseases can be spread by ticks?

In the UK the most common disease that ticks transmit is Lyme disease, caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Dogs that are bitten by an infected tick do not always become ill. We know this because many dogs in the UK have antibodies in their blood to the bacterium, suggesting they have been exposed, without ever showing signs of being unwell. However, some dogs do become ill, and this can occur weeks to months after being bitten. Signs of Lyme disease in dogs can include painful swollen joints, a fever and lethargy. It can also go on to cause glomerulonephritis, a condition affecting the kidneys.

Lyme disease can also affect humans, often showing as a characteristic ‘bulls-eye’ rash in the area of the bite. This rash is not generally seen in dogs.  Humans can initially suffer from a flu-like illness, but can also be affected by heart rhythm abnormalities, neurological problems and arthritis. In some people, this can become a long-term illness.  Whilst there is no evidence humans can be directly infected by dogs carrying Lyme disease, dogs could bring infected ticks into your home and garden.

Babesia is another parasite that can be transmitted by ticks to your dog. It can cause damage and destruction of red blood cells in the bloodstream, sometimes causing severe anaemia (low red blood cell count), as well as bleeding disorders and organ failure, and can be fatal. Until fairly recently, Babesiosis was a disease only seen in the UK in dogs that had travelled from continental Europe. However, in recent years, several cases of Babesiosis have been seen in dogs in the South East of England that have never travelled abroad, sparking concern that this infection is now beginning to establish in ticks in this country.

Dogs and humans can also contract a disease called Ehrlichiosis from ticks, though this is also rare in the UK.

How can I prevent my pet from getting ticks?

It is important to check your dog daily for ticks and remove any that are found, particularly at times of the year when ticks are most active and when your dog has been walked in areas that are high risk. Be sure to check them all over, including their feet, groin and armpits. Cats can also be affected by ticks but are quite good at grooming them off. If your cat gets ticks, they are most likely to be found on areas of the body they cannot clean so easily, such as on the head.

There are a variety of preventative tick treatments available that will repel ticks, kill them once they have attached, or both. Infected ticks do not spread infections such as Lyme disease until they have been attached to the host for around 48 hours. Effective tick treatments will kill ticks much quicker than this, meaning they are killed before they can transmit disease to your pet. Many of these treatments also prevent flea and other parasite infestations. Our practice staff would be happy to discuss with you what treatment would be best suited to use for your pet as part of their routine parasite prevention, so please do get in touch!

What should I do if I find a tick on my pet?

The easiest way to remove a tick is by twisting it off using a special tick remover. Properly removing a tick in this way reduces the risk of leaving the tick’s mouthparts still attached.  Ticks should never be removed by squeezing or pulling, nor by being burnt.

If you are unsure or worried that your pet has a tick, book an appointment with your local Goddard vet.

Spring Dangers & Threats to Your Pet

Spring is an exciting time of the year. The weather is improving and the prospect of enjoying time outdoors with your pet is becoming more of a reality after months indoors. 

It is important for all pet owners to know the potential dangers springtime can bring to their pets and the best ways to avoid harmful accidents. Read some of our helpful tips on keeping your furry friend away from danger. 

Outdoor Pet Dangers

There are many items that can be found in your garden during spring that can be highly toxic and in some cases deadly, to your pet – even in the smallest of quantities. 

Lily Plant

Any part of the lily plant can cause kidney failure in cats, so think twice about having them in your home if you are a cat owner.

Plant Bulbs

Many plant bulbs can be toxic to pets if chewed or eaten so be careful if planting them this Spring. We would much prefer to see some photos of your blooming garden than a necessary trip to one of our practices with your pet. 

Slug Pellets

Slug pellets containing metaldehyde are extremely toxic – ingestion of even small amounts will cause severe seizures.


While seemingly less likely than the other outdoor threats, Adders need to be considered by all pet owners whether in their gardens or out on walks. As the weather gets warmer, Adders wake up from their winter hibernation. Our overly inquisitive pets can encounter the UK’s only venomous native snake in many different scenarios and can attract a nasty bite if you aren’t too careful. 


One of the most problems you will come across as a pet owner is Ticks. As our pets begin to go outside more in the spring it is easy for them to pick up tics in woodland, vegetation or even your garden. As spring is the most common time of the year for ticks, they are worth watching out for. 

easter treats and foods harmful to pets

Food Dangers For Pets


Probably one of the most well-known dangers to pets from food. Chocolate is a common pet poison – the higher the cocoa content, the more danger it poses! As chocolate becomes plentiful around Easter be wary of your pets inquisitive nature to hunt out treats. Make sure it is stored away properly and children know it can harm pets. 

Raisins, currants and sultanas

Similar to chocolate, raisins, currants and sultanas can be found in a variety of Easter treats. These can cause kidney failure in dogs. While there is no defined dose that will prove deadly to your canine member of the family, it is important to ensure their contact with any dried fruit is significantly limited. 

Xylitol (E967)

The sweetener can be found in many confectionery items and causes a dangerous drop in blood sugar levels (and occasionally liver failure) in dogs.

Mouldy Food

If garden composting this Spring, keep pets away from mouldy food which can cause seizures and liver problems if ingested.

Other Dangers

Spring is not the only time of the year our pets are in danger. There are different threats to their health and safety throughout the year. Read our handy guide to keeping your pets safe at Christmas

It is also important to keep your pet’s health under consideration as the weather gets warmer into the summer months. Look at our tips for keeping your dog cool in the warmest part of the year. 

SPEED to help pets against toxic

There are many things around the house that are poisonous to our pet friends, use our Poisons Guide if you think your pet has eaten something poisonous that is not listed above, or get in touch immediately with your local Goddard vet.


Purrfect recovery for Puds the cat after road accident

Puds may used up one of her nine lives when she was badly injured in a road accident but has since made a miraculous recovery, thanks to the care she received at our New Addington practice in Croydon.

Six-year-old Puds was rushed to our Salcot Crescent practice by her worried owner after she was found bleeding and with serious injuries to her face.

Sadly, after examining Puds, we could see she had fractured her jaw and her lips, and the skin on the lower part of her face had become detached from the bone due to the force of impact she suffered.

Puds underwent emergency surgery to stabilise the broken bone and repair the skin damage before she was transferred our sister practice, Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital in Wimbledon, for her jaw to be wired in place. While at Stone Lion, Puds was also fitted with a feeding tube, as her injuries were so severe she was unable to eat normally.

She returned to New Addington for check-ups to ensure her recovery was progressing well and to have the wire and feeding tube removed once the fracture had healed.

New Addington Vet Paolo Koch carried out the emergency surgery on Puds and said the cat was in a lot of pain and distress when she was brought into the practice.

Paolo said: “Puds had experienced a serious trauma and had significant injuries to her face. The team stabilised her quickly and gave her pain relief, then we carried out X-rays and blood tests to find out the full extent of her injuries.

“As well as the soft tissue injuries to her mouth, X-rays showed she had fractured her jaw, but luckily there were no internal injuries and her limbs were not broken, which was very positive. Some of her front teeth were damaged, and as a result we removed two of them.

“I carefully repaired the injuries to her lips and skin, and realigned Puds’ jaw so wire could be fitted when she was transferred to Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital.

“Puds has made a great recovery and I’m really pleased with how her injuries have healed. The wire and feeding tube have now been removed and she’s happy and eating well. Luckily her owner did the right thing by bringing her to us straight away, so she was able to have the correct treatment as soon as possible.

“Although we can’t be sure exactly what happened, Puds’ injuries do correspond to a collision with a car, and the claws on her back legs showed scuffing where she may have been dragged along on concrete or tarmac.”

Puds is now back at home in Forestdale with her owner Danielle Banfield, who said her beloved pet is back to her old self.

Danielle said: “I knew straight away something was wrong when Puds didn’t wake me up as usual, because she always comes upstairs in the morning and will jump on the bed and miaow or pat my face with her paw. I went downstairs and found her cowering in a corner of the living room, covered in blood. It looked horrific, like the lower part of her face was hanging off, and I took her to the vets straight away.

“Paolo and the team at New Addington were amazing and I can’t thank them enough for the care they gave to Puds. As well as repairing her injuries they were so kind and caring and even though she was badly hurt I knew she was in safe hands. They were also really accommodating when Puds managed to eat some food a few hours before our appointment to remove the wire, which meant she couldn’t have an anaesthetic, and we were able to go the next day instead.

“Puds also spent a couple of nights in Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital and they were brilliant, too. They kept me up to date and were so caring when I was there.

“Puds has helped me through some difficult times and means the world to me, and I’m so grateful to the veterinary teams at both practices for what they did for her. I can’t sing their praises enough.”

We’re so pleased Puds is on the mend after her traumatic experience and share our thanks to both our New Addington practice and Stone Lion Hospital teams for their quick intervention. 

We have 44 practices and three 24-hour hospitals in and around Greater London, for more information on our practices, visit our online practice finder.

What is a Healthy Cat Weight?

Maintaining a Healthy Cat Weight

Ensuring your furry friend maintains a healthy cat weight is crucial for their overall health and happiness. Much like us humans, cats can suffer from health issues if they’re too thin or too plump. It can be a bit tricky to gauge a cat’s ideal weight due to its body size and shape, especially when its fur (which is abundant in most breeds) hides their physique.

Interestingly, there’s a noticeable gap between what owners perceive as a healthy cat weight and the reality of the situation. Some owners might think their cats are a tad skinny, when in fact, they might be carrying a few extra pounds. It’s an understandable oversight if you’re not sure what signs to look for.

Risks of Obesity in Cats

Being overweight isn’t just about aesthetics for cats; it’s a genuine health concern. Chubby cats face an increased risk of various health complications, from conditions like diabetes and pancreatitis, often linked to fatty diets, to arthritis and beyond. Excess weight can also pave the way for skin issues and even elevate the risk of skin cancer.

A cat carrying extra weight might show reduced mobility and a diminished zest for play. This can affect their overall quality of life and general contentment. Recognising these potential issues early is vital, as many of them can be avoided with the right care.

Monitoring Your Cat’s Weight

Keeping a regular check on your cat’s weight is undeniably essential for their health. It helps in spotting any significant weight fluctuations that might hint at health concerns or underlying illnesses. By being vigilant about their weight, you can ensure they stay within a healthy range, minimising the chances of weight-associated health issues.

Knowing the ideal cat weight for your specific cat also aids in feeding them just the right amount, avoiding overfeeding. Routine weight assessments, coupled with occasional vet visits, offer a comprehensive view of your cat’s health, ensuring that they enjoy a lengthy, healthy, and vibrant life. You can register your cat with us for check-ups if you are concerned about its weight, or have any other concerns to do with your cats health. We have plenty of practices in the London area if you need to bring your pet in for an examination.

Determining the Ideal Cat Weight for Your Cat

Variations in Weight by Breed

In order to ensure that your cat maintains a healthy cat weight, it’s crucial to grasp the factors that can influence their weight, such as breed, age, and gender. While weight ranges can offer a general guideline, it’s essential to seek tailored advice from professionals who cater to your cat’s unique needs.

For instance, a cat might typically weigh between 3-6kg, but this can differ between males and females, and breed. Mixed breed cats can be a tad more complex, as they might not align perfectly with standard weight categories. Hence, it’s vital to remember that these weight ranges serve as a guide, and it’s always best to get expert advice tailored to your specific feline.

Signs of an Overweight Cat

Identifying an overweight cat can sometimes be a bit of a puzzle, especially when their fur conceals their true physique. However, there are tell-tale signs to be on the lookout for. A cat carrying extra weight might lack a defined waist and have a more rounded belly. If, when they stand, there’s a noticeable layer of fat dangling from their belly, it’s a clear sign of them being overweight. Struggling to feel their ribs because of a fatty layer or spotting significant fat deposits along their spine are also indicators that your cat might be a bit on the heavier side.

Your vet will give your cat a “body condition score” out of 9. A score between 4-5 indicates a normal weight, while 6-9 is overweight to obese.

An underweight cat with a score of 1-3 can indicate an underlying illness, and your vet may recommend further investigations. Weight loss is not normal in older cats.

How to Assess Your Cat’s Weight at Home

While it’s paramount to have your cat’s weight evaluated by a vet, keeping tabs on it at home is equally vital for their well-being. The Body Conditioning System is a handy tool, that offers a visual guide to help you assess your cat’s physique. By examining aspects like the prominence and tactile feel of their ribs or spotting a discernible waist, you can deduce if they’re undernourished, a tad plump, or just about right.

Moreover, weighing your cat at home can shed light on any notable weight shifts. But, as any cat owner knows, getting them to stay put on scales can be a little challenging. Strategies like cradling your cat whilst on the scale or employing a carrier might aid in securing a more accurate weight check.

Steps to Achieve a Healthy Cat Weight

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for your cat requires a mixture of proper nutrition, regular exercise, and understanding their unique behaviours. While it might seem straightforward, ensuring your cat remains within a healthy cat weight range requires consistent effort. If you aren’t careful, your cat can easily gain weight or lose weight from being overfed or lose weight due to an undetected illness. Weight loss is not a normal sign of old age in cats but is associated with treatable conditions that are more common in our senior cats.

Dietary Adjustments for Weight Management

Effectively managing your cat’s weight often starts with their diet. If you spot a bit of weight gain in your feline friend, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate their food portions. You might think about slightly cutting back on their food or opting for a diet crafted especially for cats that are a tad less active or carrying a few extra pounds.

Such diets usually pack in fewer calories compared to regular adult cat foods, yet they don’t skimp on the essential nutrients. And don’t forget about those treats! It’s vital to monitor the number of treats you’re dishing out, as they can sneak in extra calories without the needed nutrition. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s always wise to have a chat with your vet to craft a diet that’s just right for your cat.

Cats should eat little and often to satisfy their hunger and their hunting instincts. Please see for more information on how we should feed our cats to reduce overeating and begging.

Importance of Exercising You Cat

Keeping your cat active plays a pivotal role in ensuring it stays at a healthy cat weight. An active cat isn’t just in better shape, but they’re also more content. Regular play sessions can help them shed those extra calories and tone their muscles.

Alongside this, sprucing up their environment with climbing setups and scratching posts can spur their natural behaviours, keeping them on the move. Always remember, a cat’s natural curiosity and zest for play can be channeled to boost physical activity, which in turn, helps in keeping their weight in check.

Understanding the Natural Behaviour of Cats

Cats, by their very nature, are inquisitive and lively beings. Their inherent behaviours, such as hunting, climbing, and exploring, play a pivotal role in their mental and physical health. By acknowledging and catering to these behaviours, we can effectively assist in their weight management.

One practical approach is the introduction of feeding puzzles. These gadgets tap into their hunting instincts, requiring them to exert effort for their meals. This approach not only mentally engages them but also ensures they expend calories in the process. By keenly observing our feline friends and grasping their likes and dislikes, we can introduce activities that resonate with their innate behaviours, ensuring they’re always active and happy.


Top tips to keep pets safe this winter

If it’s cold for you, it’s cold for your pet – that’s the key message from the British Veterinary Association (BVA)* as it urges pet owners to take extra precautions to ensure dogs, cats and other small pets are kept safe from hidden and potentially fatal hazards as snow flurries and icy conditions are forecast in many parts of the country.

As with humans, pets can fall ill upon exposure to extremely cold temperatures for extended periods. To avoid this, vets advise that dogs are walked for shorter periods of time than usual, but more frequently if required, and to consider putting a coat on old dogs or those with thin fur to keep them warm. Keep older cats inside during an extremely cold spell and ensure that even healthy young cats have easy access to shelter and warmth.


When walking your dog in ice and snow, do not let it off the lead and avoid walking in areas where ponds or lakes may have frozen over – animals often don’t understand the difference between solid ground and ice and can fall through. In this situation, vets urge owners to call the emergency services for professional help rather than going in after their pet. Although distressing, it is never worth risking your own life as well as your dog’s. It’s also important to wipe your dog’s paws and belly on returning home from a snowy walk to remove any ice or salt, and to regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes.


Cats are especially at risk of poisoning from antifreeze, which can be fatal for them even in small amounts, especially if veterinary treatment is not sought immediately after ingestion. Store and use antifreeze products carefully, clean any spillages thoroughly, and contact your vet immediately if your cat develops symptoms of antifreeze poisoning, such as vomiting, depression, lack of coordination, seizures and difficulty breathing.

Small Pets

Small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs that usually live outdoors are vulnerable to the cold and damp despite their furry coats. Owners with outdoor hutches and runs should make sure that their pets’ living space is well-protected from snow, frost and winter rain and kept dry. Give rabbits and guinea pigs extra bedding to keep warm and check their water bottle or bowl regularly, as these can freeze when the temperature drops.

Here are some other top tips to keep pets safe this winter:

  • Provide a warm, draught-free shelter: Make sure your pet’s bed is in a draught-free, warm spot off the floor in the house. For outdoor pets, the hutch or run should be in a sheltered position, away from wind, rain and snow at least 10 cm off the ground.
  • Take precautions during and after walks: Dogs need to be exercised; however, during the colder months, try to walk your dog for shorter periods. Wipe your dog’s paws and belly on returning home from a snowy walk to remove any ice or salt, and to regularly check for cracks in paw-pads or for redness between the toes.
  • Avoid antifreeze poisoning: Wiping your pets’ paws can prevent them from ingesting toxins that they may have stood in whilst outside. Antifreeze in particular is highly toxic for cats even in small amounts, with almost one in six vets (17%) reporting treating cats for antifreeze poisoning over the 2018 winter season. Apart from use in car radiators, some cases that vets saw were thought to be from ingesting diluted antifreeze used in ornamental water features to protect the pumps.
  • Temperature control for small pets: Keep the temperature of rabbit and guinea pig homes between 10?C and 20?C for rabbits (the lower temperature assumes rabbits are healthy and kept with other rabbits, with lots of bedding for warmth) and 5?C to 20?C for guinea pigs, avoiding too many fluctuations in temperature.
  • Provide extra bedding for rabbits and guinea pigs: Make sure your rabbits and guinea pigs have extra bedding to keep warm during colder weather – line hutches with plenty of newspaper, provide lots of hay and cover with an old duvet/blanket/tarpaulin. If the weather becomes very severe, consider moving outdoor pets inside to a well-ventilated space with light and room to exercise – but never place them inside a garage in use, as vehicle exhaust fumes are harmful to rabbits and guinea pigs.

If you would like some more advice on how to keep your pet safe this winter, contact your local Goddard vet.

*The BVA is the largest membership community for the veterinary profession in the UK. They represent the views of over 18,000 vets and vet students on animal health and welfare, and veterinary policy issues to government, parliamentarians and key influencers in the UK and EU.