Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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.

A Day In The Life Of… Samara, RVN at Barking

Veterinary Nursing Awareness Month is a time to celebrate the dedication and skill of our veterinary nurses. We are proud to have Samara at our Barking branch, who joined us in 2010 and qualified as an RVN (Registered Veterinary Nurse) in 2018. Sam is the feline advocate at the branch and has completed the ISFMCert in feline nursing. We caught up with Sam for a quick glimpse into A Day In The Life Of…

What is your morning routine?

On arrival, I care for our resident practice cat Tilly, clean and change her litter tray, and set her up ready for the day in reception where she generally sleeps on the desk and ignores us all! I then check the procedures list, prepare the kennels and paperwork such as consent forms and GA sheets and ensure the consulting room is fully equipped for consults. I then check through emails and PetsApps (our telemedicine platform) and reply in order of urgency and mark for the attention of the relevant team member. Once the practice is ready for the day, we open up and welcome clients in. During this time I will run admissions for the day’s routine procedures which involves a sit-down discussion and going through the consent forms, procedure, and any extras.

What is your afternoon routine?

My afternoons are either in theatre whereby I assist the vet with surgical procedures, placing intravenous catheters and prepping the patient for the procedure, monitoring anesthetics/sedation, or performing minor procedures such as dental descales and polishing and radiography. 

Or, they are filled with nurse consultations! These are generally post-operative checks, second vaccinations, blood pressure monitoring, subcutaneous fluid administrations, client education, ProActive Pets examinations (our preventative healthcare plan), weight clinics, and blood sampling. After all this comes evening consultations and discharges.

What are your responsibilities as an RVN?

As the Barking practice’s main RVN, my responsibilities vary but typically include overseeing the everyday running of the practice, ordering medications/consumables/equipment, training and mentoring junior staff members, running nurse clinics, giving dietary and nutrition to clients, monitoring anaesthesia/sedation, blood sampling, conducting minor procedures such as teeth cleaning, placing IV catheters and preparing patients for procedures. As an RVN, I am also responsible for overseeing the hygiene and sterility of the practice, the maintenance of clinical equipment and most importantly, the well-being of our patients. I have a certificate in feline nursing which allows me to assist new kitten owners give their kitten the best start in life. I also help by advising clients in cat behaviour/care and providing information on feline behaviourists where necessary.

What do you enjoy most about your role as an RVN?

Client interaction and consulting. I am currently undertaking a certificate in nurse consults, tying this with my certificate in feline nursing. This is the part of my job I thrive on and love to help and guide clients along the way to help maintain harmony at home and hopefully create a long-lasting happy relationship with their pet.

I have been at the Barking practice for almost 12 years and love every animal that comes through the door as if they are my own. I love watching them grow and develop and keeping the bond that only animals can provide.

We are very proud to employ so many great RVNs like Samara and, as it’s Vet Nurse Awareness Month you may see #VNAM and #OurProfessionMyResilience across social media, so, if you do, please click on them to see what vet nurses are up to. You see, we value our vet nurses for the care they bring to you, your pets, and the veterinary team. If you are interested in joining the Goddard Veterinary Group, please check out our opportunities online or learn more about our very own Nursing College!

Veterinary nurses – why they are invaluable!

Here at Goddard Veterinary Group, we are lucky enough to provide veterinary care to a large number of pets across our practices and veterinary hospitals. We have teams of amazing veterinary professionals working every hour of the day, every day of the year to cover all your pet’s needs – from flea prevention to emergency care.

You might think this means we are reliant on vets for all our patient care – if it’s an emergency surely the vet is the key person to employ? While the vet is the face you may see most often, and are obviously very important, the real power behind the scalpel is the Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN).

We are very proud to employ so many great RVNs and, as it’s Vet Nurse Awareness Month in May, we wanted to share all the great things about these cornerstones of the veterinary team. You may see #VNAM and #OurProfessionMyResilience and if you do, please click on them to see what vet nurses are up to. You see, we really value our vet nurses for the care they bring to you, your pets, and the veterinary team.

What’s in a name?

Before we go on to all the roles the vet nurse undertakes we just want to clarify what we mean when we say ‘vet nurse’ or ‘RVN’ we mean someone who is registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) as a veterinary nurse. Just as all our vets are on the MRCVS register all our vet nurses are on the RVN register.

This is very important as the registration for vet nurses is relatively recent – it only became a compulsory register in 2015 – replacing the previous List and Register that had run alongside each other since 2007.

The RCVS has also protected the title ‘Veterinary Nurse’ meaning that those in a veterinary practice cannot refer to anyone as a ‘Veterinary Nurse’ or ‘RVN’ if they are not on the register.

We feel this is important as it provides the same level of protection as seeing a vet when seeing a vet nurse and as they do so much for your pets we know that peace of mind will be important to you. When we say vet nurse, we mean VET NURSE!

Different roles

As we mentioned earlier, you may find vet nurses appearing in a variety of roles across our vet practices. We like to make sure our vet nurses can follow their passion and expand their skills so you may find them undertaking roles in:


  • “scrubbed in” to support the vet
  • Assisting with anaesthesia

Medical care

This list can be very long but vet nurses help with…

  • Administering medication
  • Feeding patients who can’t eat for themselves
  • Monitoring a patients progress after treatment

Puppy parties

  • Socialising new members of your family
  • Sharing helpful information on correct feeding
  • Advising on the importance of flea and worm treatments for young pets

Feline friendly

We’re proud to have our nurses push forward with making practices feline friendly

  • An accredited scheme, vet nurses make a real difference with helping your cat have a stress free vet visit

Nurse consults

A consultation is not just for seeing a vet. A space and time to speak to a vet nurse can help with:

  • Weight management
  • Behavioural help
  • Post-operative care

A vet nurse is not just for clinical work

Outside clinical work, we like to keep our vet nurses busy and you might find them training our student vet nurses, helping with case administration, and managing teams.

We hope you will agree that we are right to be proud of our vet nurses and we know that they bring an added value to the care of your pets. They bring the “added value” to our vet teams and to your pet care that is often hard to quantify.

This May, if you’re in one of our practices you’ll most likely meet one of our vet nurses and it would make their day if you asked about their valued role in your pet’s care.

Don’t forget to tag us on Facebook or Instagram when visiting!

Goddard Veterinary Group at the London Vet Show 2021

Have you heard of the London Vet Show? It’s one of the top veterinary conferences in the UK (maybe in the world), and we’re really proud to be exhibiting there! We believe that our family-focused approach to caring for your pets is as important today as it ever was. It remains at the heart of everything we do today, and we really want to showcase our ethos to the veterinary profession as a whole.

What is the London Vet Show?

The London Vet Show (or LVS) is Europe’s most important general veterinary conference and exhibition. Organised by the British Veterinary Association and the Royal Veterinary College (London vet school), the conference side brings together experts from all over the world to discuss advances in pet health, care and medicine, as well as farm animal and horse health, surgical and medical techniques, practice management and business. It’s a real one-stop-shop for vets and veterinary practices!

But of course that’s not all, as there will be over 450 exhibitors, showcasing equipment, medications, resources, techniques, educational establishments and veterinary practices.

All in all, there are nearly 6000 veterinary professionals expected to attend, leading to massive opportunities to share “best practice”, new ideas and traditional ideals. We think it’s just the place for us, in other words!

Why will we be there?

To showcase our ideals

In a world of identikit corporate practices, we’re proud to be the biggest family-owned veterinary group in the UK. We believe in the traditional model of veterinary practice – strong and long-lasting relationships between staff, patients, and animal owners, backed up with the very best medicine and surgery available today. This is a model that we believe works for you, the owner, and for your pets, our patients, and we want to shout about it!

To learn how to do things even better

All vets and nurses are obliged to carry out “Continuing Professional Development” (CPD, or lifelong learning) because the art and science of veterinary medicine are constantly advancing. By attending conferences like this, our vets and nurses can get state-of-the art updates from world experts, and bring it back into practice to support you and your pets. Even if it wasn’t required, we’d be there to learn!

To attract the best and the brightest

You may not realise this, but there’s a shortage of qualified vets in the UK. Practices across the country, and especially here in London, struggle to find enough vets to see all their patients in a timely manner. Now, while this isn’t a particular problem for us (our reputation goes before us!), we always want to keep an eye out for veterinary professionals who share our ideals and would be an asset to our team. By exhibiting at the LVS, we get to stand out from other practices and attract them! If you’re keen to see what vacancies we currently have, click here

Because we’re an educational establishment too!

We’re proud to run our own veterinary nursing college, training the next generation of vet nurses in accordance with “best practice” and our enduring values. As such, education is central to our identity as a practice, a group, and a business. However, in many veterinary practices there is a constant turnover of vet nurses, and with the role rapidly expanding, vet nurse education is currently at a premium. By exhibiting, we get to showcase a new model of vet nurse training – just as rigorous as in more traditional establishments, but tightly linked to the needs of nurses (and vets, and practices, and owners, but above all our patients – your pets) in the real world. This innovative model stands us in really good stead, and allows us to produce cohorts of veterinary nurses ready to step right into our branch practices, or even our flagship hospitals. Rather than having to translate “book knowledge” into “real world” skills, our nurses have learnt both together, and integrated them throughout the course, working within the systems that have made Goddard Vet Group the success it is.

And this is something else we want to shout about! We think this interlinking between education and practice is essential for producing effective and skilled nurses, and we’re really proud of it.

Can I find out more?

Of course — visit the London Vet Show website for more information! And, if you are attending the show yourself, pop along to meet the team on Stand A40!


Can I Share Food With My Pet?

Our pets love to share our food. The act of hand feeding itself is a reward because of the attention. Also, the foods we offer often have high-fat content, making them super tasty. Having their own food in a bowl is much less attractive than a higher calorie feast that has been making the kitchen smell amazing while it cooks. Fat makes food more palatable and as we need more calories, our food is often much more tempting than theirs! The focus in human nutrition is to move away from pre-prepared foods and cook from scratch. Fresh ingredients with as much variety as possible (eating a rainbow every day) are hard work but yields long term health benefits. So, as we improve our own diet, we may feel that it would be better to feed our pets in this way rather than open a can or bag.

Unfortunately, it’s not as straightforward as that. We know a lot about our calorie requirements, which nutrients we need, in what proportions and what vitamins and minerals are essential, but these are all different for our pets. All these parts of formulating a complete and balanced diet to promote health and long life are unique. If we feed a diet deficient in a specific nutrient this is likely to cause illness. For example, both cats and dogs need a protein called taurine in their diet, they cannot make it from other proteins as humans can. So, a human diet is likely to cause a taurine deficiency. Unfortunately, taurine deficiency, which used to occur more commonly before pet foods were generally fed, is now on the rise again in animals fed unbalanced diets. It is a devastating deficiency as it causes heart disease resulting in heart failure. Early cases can be rectified and then heart disease managed, it can often improve on a balanced diet. Taurine deficiency can also cause serious eye problems.

A balanced diet also varies within a single species depending on what age the pet is. An adult animal will be a lot better at compensating whereas a younger pet needs specific nutrients in exact ratios which feed the growth of muscle and bone. A trend to feed meat only without any other ingredients sometimes means that a growing animal does not have enough calcium to form strong healthy bones. Although diseases like rickets are in the past for humans, we see it in young animals fed on diets without enough calcium. These puppies and kittens develop deformed limbs or fractures of their back or limbs.

These are just two examples of the problems that can arise from a diet that is not designed for the animal concerned. In this blog, we will briefly review the differing diet requirements of pets. However, if you have any concerns about the diet or health of your pet, come and see us. Together we can discuss all the needs and requirements of your individual pet and find a diet that optimises their health and enjoyment.

Calorie requirements vary between species. We may need roughly 1500-2000 calories daily, but a cat needs only 250-350 a day and a small dog under 400. So, the volume of food and calorie density is important. Obesity is very common in our pets. This results in joint disease, osteoarthritis as they age and can lead to diabetes, and liver disease in cats. When we are investigating diets, it can be best to feed a low-calorie density food, so they feel full, especially if we are going to add in the odd treat. Sometimes our pets can’t get as much exercise. For example, if the weather is terrible our cat won’t go outside and exercise as usual, or if we have surgery and can’t walk our dog. In this case, we need to reduce the calories they eat for a short time.

Protein is an important part of any diet. Cats need twice the amount of protein in their diet that we or dogs do. They are called obligate carnivores as they need animal protein in their diet to supply all the amino acids they need. Vegetarian diets can be formulated for dogs, but it is important that the diet includes a source of every one of the amino acids they need. The proportion of amino acids varies with age – for example, a growing pup needs much more arginine than an adult dog, to avoid liver problems. Fat is essential in the diet for certain fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins which aid health and organ function. Carbohydrates need to be carefully considered in cat diets, some cats put on a lot of weight on high carbohydrate diets.

As cats are desert-adapted species, they have a low drive to drink. This can sometimes mean that they don’t feel thirsty and can become dehydrated or their urine becomes very concentrated. Some cats need some wet food in their diet to combat this. Otherwise, they can develop bladder stones. Many cats enjoy fresh water, and some will drink more if they have a water fountain.

Our small furry pets, rabbits, guinea pigs and rats love the odd high-calorie treat from us, but their dietary requirements are so different that we must take care not to make treats more than 10-20% of their diets. For rabbits and guinea pigs, it is important that the bulk of their calories comes from fibrous food so that their constantly growing teeth are kept in check. The small furry species have very small calorie requirements so can put on weight very easily, which prevents them grooming and can lead to skin problems.

We are always keen to provide the best preventative health care for your pet or pets and are always here to discuss their diet as part of keeping them well and happy. We can work together to choose the right diet that will contribute to a long and healthy life.