Archive for the ‘Cats’ Category

Ten tips for keeping your pet safe this summer

We know you want to do all you can to keep your pet healthy, happy and safe this summer. There are a few things to think about to keep them from harm — we’ve listed our top ten tips below!

Tip number 1: Barbecues

  • Burns are common in both dogs and cats. Make sure your pet can’t get near the barbeque until it has cooled down.
  • Skewers and chicken bones in leftovers or in the bin are a big problem for dogs if they get to them. They may not even realise they have eaten them with the meat but they can do massive internal damage. To prevent this, make sure that skewers or chicken with bones aren’t left in your dog’s reach, or are put in a container. It’s also wise to take the bin out straight away to stop them from getting to any meat and skewers left in there. We know they’ll sniff them out otherwise, given the chance!

Tip number 2: Heatstroke

  • Hot cars are a common cause of heatstroke in dogs, which can be fatal. Never leave a dog in a car in hot weather, even if it is shady and you only intend to be 5 minutes. It isn’t worth the risk.
  • Shade and water is key at this time of year to prevent heatstroke. All of your pets should have this at all times in hot weather. If you are going out with your dog consider taking an umbrella and a pop-up water bowl so that they can rest in the shade and have a drink wherever you go.

Tip number 3: Hot pavements

Hot pavements can burn dogs’ paws. Ideally only take your dog out for a walk in the morning or evening when it is cooler. Also, you can try and walk on the grass instead. If you are unsure if it is too hot, follow the 7 second rule – you will soon know if it would burn their paws! Place the back of your hand on the pavement for 7 seconds, if it’s too hot for you – it’s too hot for them.

Tip number 4: Summer travels

It’s very important that when you are going away, your pet will be safe — if they’re coming with you or not!

  • If your pet is on regular medication, then make sure that you come to see us before you go away so you don’t run out.
  • If your pet is coming with you on holiday and you are travelling by car, then you need to schedule in lots of breaks (ideally at least once an hour) so that your pet can get out of the car, go to the toilet and just stretch their legs. Always make sure there is plenty of water for them to drink. Be prepared for travel sickness, many dogs and cats get travel sick. If they are beginning to look unwell then pull over at the next services to let them get some air and start to feel a little better. A long journey can be much more stressful than we can imagine, you can use pheromone sprays to reduce stress – get in touch with our team if you’d like more advice.
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Tip number 5: Staying in the cattery or kennels

Make sure your pet is fully vaccinated, flea treated and wormed before they go in, you don’t want them to come out sick or infested! If your dog is going to stay with a sitter, or dog walker it’s advised that your dog gets the kennel cough vaccine, which is a quick and painless spray up the nose.

Tip number 6: Going abroad with your pet

If you plan to take your pet abroad then you will need to come in and see us in advance of your trip. Pets must have an Animal Health Certificate to travel and to qualify they will need a rabies vaccination and wormer in advance of the trip. Our vets will also give you advice about travelling and others risks when abroad.

Tip number 7: Flystrike

Rabbit owners, this one’s for you! Flystrike is where flies lay eggs on moist areas (often the back end), which then hatch to become maggots. This is very painful, as the maggots eat their way into the poor rabbit’s flesh. Any rabbit in the summer is at risk of flystrike, especially those with a wet or dirty back end as this attracts the flies. If you notice your rabbit has flystrike, ring us straight away. To prevent this, you need to check your rabbit’s bottom every day and clean it up. This should stop the flies from being attracted to that area and means you can catch it early if there is any flystrike.

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Tip number 8: Fleas

Fleas are very common at this time of year and if you have a pet that goes outdoors then it is inevitable for them to get fleas. You can’t always see fleas on your pet when they have them, so it is always best to treat whether you can see them or not.

  • It is important that you treat your pet regularly (once a month normally but check the product you are using) and ideally with a prescription-strength product bought from us – that way you can be sure it is safe to use and is going to work!
  • If your pet already has fleas your house will also be infested. You will need to wash all bedding at a high temperature, hoover thoroughly including crevices in sofas and treating the house with insecticidal flea spray.

Tip number 9: Ticks

These little bloodsuckers carry some very nasty and potentially fatal diseases such as Lyme disease and, more recently, babesiosis. This is mostly a risk for dogs that go walking through long grass (don’t forget about those pesky grass seeds either!). To prevent diseases from ticks, you can regularly treat for ticks (you can get a combination product with the flea treatment) and check your dog over every time you come back from a walk. We can always give advice on tick removal and there are specific tick removal tools, this allows you to be sure you have removed it all and have not left the mouthparts in.

Tip number 10: Suncream

In the summer months, the UV rays from the sun can be a problem for our pets, just like us. There is a form of skin cancer that can be caused by too many UV rays, especially in our white (or pink nosed) pets. You can buy pet-friendly sun cream at most pet supermarkets and this only really needs to be applied to the nose and ears (especially important in cats).

How to Fit an Elizabethan Collar to Your Cat

Buster collars are a common sight to see with pets leaving a veterinary practice and are used most often following a surgical procedure. In this guide, Goddard’s very own Sam Green will demonstrate how to assemble and fit a buster collar to a cat with the assistance of Doda.

What is a Buster Collar?

A Buster Collar, also known as an Elizabethan Collar, is a protective shield worn around the neck of a pet to prevent biting or licking at a surgical wound that could cause the removal of stitches or infections. Buster Collars are most commonly plastic but can be bought as inflatables for additional comfort.

Why Does My Cat Need A Buster Collar?

Following any surgical procedure, your cat’s natural reaction will be to attempt to lick and clean the wound left behind. This is an instinctive reaction, but one that can be harmful to the recovery of your pet. By licking or nibbling at the area it is possible to dislodge stitches added by the vet or to cause infections in the wound. Both of these will cause negative reactions and delay the healing process from the procedure.

Assembling A Buster Collar

After a surgical procedure, you will be given a buster collar for your pet. Collars are available in a range of sizes with smaller ones often an ideal size for a cat. To assemble the collar you will need a stretchy bandage or length of fabric, alternatively, you can connect the collar to your cat’s quick-release collar.

When the collar is assembled it can be gently slid over your cat’s head and into place. This can be a good time to offer a treat as a way to reinforce this as a positive experience. Ensure the collar is fitted appropriately for your cat but that it also allows free movement and is not too tight that it may be excessively uncomfortable.

Bring the bandage to the back of your cat’s neck and tie a loose bow to fix the collar into place Just like a collar, it is recommended that at least a two-finger gap is left to make it comfortable for your pet.

How Long Should the Collar Stay On?

Buster Collars should remain on until all stitches have dissolved or been removed by a vet. During this period your cat should remain indoors to avoid unnecessary activity that lengthens the recovery period or re-opens the wound.

If you are unsure if the time is right to take off your pet’s buster collar, contact your local Goddard Veterinary Practice to get the advice of a veterinarian.

Your kitten’s first vaccination appointment

We’re delighted to welcome you and your kitten for their first vaccination appointment and health check. We thought it would be useful to give you an idea as to what to expect at your appointment so you can prepare any questions you would like to raise with your vet in advance. If you have any questions before then though, you are welcome to either phone us in practice or drop our central clinical team a line on 020 8506 9944 who will be delighted to help.

Bringing your kitten to your appointment

Please bring your kitten in a clean cat carrier that your kitten is familiar with an absorbent lining and some bedding that smells of your kitten and home. For hints and tricks to making travel and vet visits more comfortable for your cat, see our blog below.


What will happen at the appointment?

1. Full health assessment

After welcoming you both, your vet will first ask you some questions and make full clinical examination of your kitten. 

They will ask you details about their eating and toilet habits as well as how active they are in order to better understand how your kitten developing and to help identify any areas of concern.

2. Vaccinating your kitten

If your kitten has not yet had its first vaccine…

  • Your vet will administer your kitten’s first vaccination.  This will protect against four important diseases: Feline Calicivirus, Feline Herpes Virus, Feline Panleucopenia Virus and Feline Leukaemia Virus.
  • Your kitten will be given two vaccine doses, the second of which will be three to four weeks after the first. Kittens will need to be at least 12 weeks old at the time of the second vaccine.
  • Due to the high cat population density in London, we recommend that kittens are kept indoors until they are old enough to be neutered (around four months of age) and until four weeks after their second vaccination when they will have maximum protection.

If your kitten has already had its first vaccine elsewhere…

    • We use Nobivac® vaccinations.  Please let us know before your appointment, by emailing us a copy of the vaccination certificate if your kitten has had its first vaccination elsewhere.  The brand of vaccination and the timing of that vaccination will influence when we need to see you, and what vaccinations your kitten will need.

Yearly boosters

    • A yearly booster will be needed to ensure protection against these diseases is maintained. We’ll remind you via email or text when your kitten’s annual booster jab and health check is due.

Will it hurt?

    • In the majority of cases kittens will not even notice the injection.  Sometimes it may cause a sting or discomfort at the time of injection that will make your kitten wriggle or cry out.  You may notice a small swelling at the site of injection and this can occasionally be hard or painful to touch for 3 days.

3. Healthcare Advice

At your appointment your vet or nurse will talk with you about a number of common healthcare- related considerations to help you make the best choices for your kitten. These will include:

Parasite Control

  • If your kitten has already had flea or worming treatment given by the breeder or yourself, please bring details of what product was used and when it was given, to your appointment. 
  • Kittens are very susceptible to the effects of worm and flea infections and adult cats also require regular worm and flea control to prevent serious illness, poor health and to keep your family safe. 
  • At the appointment your vet will assess your kitten’s health, weight and lifestyle and will recommend a regular program of both treatment and prevention.
  • The most effective parasite treatments are often only available by veterinary prescription. We don’t recommend over-the-counter products or online products bought without a veterinary assessment and weight check.


  • We advise neutering of kittens from 4 months of age, and once your kitten is fully vaccinated.

  • Queens (the girls): In females, the procedure is called Spaying. This involves a general anaesthetic and a clipped patch surrounding a small incision (perhaps 1cm long) on one flank through which the ovaries and uterus are removed.
  • Toms (the boys): For tomcats, the procedure is called castration, and involves surgical removal of both testicles. Once under anaesthetic, the vet will pluck the hair from his scrotum (“ball sack”) and then make two small incisions in it, one on each side.


  • We advise microchipping of kittens at either time of vaccination or at time of neutering. There is currently no legal requirement for cats to be microchipped, but this is due to come into force in the near future. If your kitten has already been microchipped by your breeder, please make sure you contact the microchip company to have the registered contact details changed to your details.

ProActive Pets

  • Goddard Vet Group offers its own preventative healthcare plan which means you can save money on the cost of routine vaccinations and flea and worm treatments as well as spreading payments for them throughout the year by direct debit.
  • As well as saving at least 21% on the costs of vaccines and parasite control, you’ll also benefit from extra discounts on pet food, neutering, dental treatments and over-the-counter purchases at your practice.  It also includes the cost of microchipping.
  • Ask us when you come into your appointment should you wish to join or to find out how much more you could save.  You can sign up in practice on the day of your kitten’s vaccination to take advantage of an immediate 30% discount.  You may of course decide to join at any time you wish, though discounts will only apply from the date that you start your membership.


  • We recommend that you consider pet insurance to cover unexpected sickness or injury which can be costly. (This is different to preventative healthcare which is not insurance).
  • If you’ve not already organised pet insurance, ask us at your appointment about setting up an initial 4 weeks of free cover once the vet has assessed your kitten to be fit and healthy and free from pre-existing conditions.
  • Should you wish, we can pass your details to a pet insurance provider to provide your kitten with an immediate temporary four-week insurance policy.
  • The company can provide information about its policies which you are under no obligation to take up. Activating this free insurance can help cover the cost of unexpected veterinary treatment during this period and give you peace of mind whilst you decide which, if any, policy or insurance company is best for you.


  • We would advise a good quality complete kitten food such as the Royal Canin range which is stocked in our practice.  If your breeder has given you food, and you would like to change to a recommended food, then you should do so gradually, over the course of about seven days.  Be careful with the treats that you are giving as some may not be suitable for kittens and can cause diarrhoea.
  • Do not give your kitten human food.
  • We recommend feeding a mix of wet and dry food.  Cats should eat little and often. 
  • It is important that they always have access to clean, fresh water and they prefer water to not be located next to their food so leave bowls of water around the house for easy access.

Understanding your cat and everyday care

  • Thanks to the hard work of committed cat lovers and feline specialists around the world we now have a much better understanding of cats, their behaviour and their environmental and healthcare needs than we did even just a few years ago.
  • is an excellent source of information to you get you started on providing a safe and happy home for your new kitten and we are our proud that all Goddard Veterinary Group practices are members its sister organisation the International Society of Feline Medicine. 
  • Whilst your kitten is young it is the best time to get him/ her used to being handled. Dental problems or problems with their coat commonly affect cats later in life, so starting care early on can certainly be beneficial.
  • The following link gives more information on how to look after your cat’s everyday health, including tooth brushing.


  • For video consultations and online chat from the comfort of your own home, why not download Petsapp to your Apple or Android device and connect with us?
  • You can then message us, send photos and videos, make payments via Android and Apple Pay or by debit or credit card, order pet food and parasite control, request repeat prescriptions and, if necessary, arrange a video consultation with our vet or nurse.

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.


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.