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Avoiding pet poisons



We are proud to offer a 24 hour emergency service at Young Veterinary Partnership.  Unfortunately some clients have to use our emergency service when their pet is poisoned.  Whilst this is a situation we hope you won’t have to go through with your precious pet, poisons that are harmful to pets are commonly found in everyday household substances and products. We hope this newsletter will help you to understand some of the common poisons and explain what you should do in an emergency to minimise the risk to your pet.

There are a few keys things we may ask over the phone which help us to assess the immediate situation.

  • When do you think the toxin was ingested/in contact with your pet? Some specific toxins may have an anti-toxin which we can administer.
  • What was it? Bring any packaging with you if you can.
  • Make a note of any clinical signs such as vomiting, diarrhoea, shaking, seizures, drooling, altered mentation (behaving strangely), burns/ulcers in the mouth, pain, increased thirst, heavy breathing or difficulty breathing.

Poisonous foods:

Raisins, Grapes, Onions, Chocolate, Alcohol, Leeks, Garlic.

Poisonous Plants:

Lillies, Rododendron , Azalea, Marijuana, Pointsetta, Yew, Deadly nightshade.

Other Poisons:

Rat poison, Paracetemol/Ibuprofen (paracetamol is IMMEDIATELY FATAL to cats), Chewing gum (zylitol), Anti-freeze (ethylene glycol), Permethrin (poisonous in cats and at high quantities in dogs – often found on supermarket anti-flea products), Weed killers / herbicides (Paraquat/doquat), Blue-green Algae, Batteries, Lead, Insecticides (Organophosphates), Slug bait (Metaldehyde), Psoriasis creams (Vitamin D analogues), Bleach, Strong detergents.

What we can do:

If the toxin was ingested up to 2-3hrs ago we can administer a small injection which will make your pet vomit. This stops any further toxin being absorbed into the stomach and intestines. After this we may try to feed your pet some adsorbents such as activated charcoal.  Adsorbents bind to any toxin left in the stomach and prevent any further digestion. If the toxin was on your pet’s skin we may instruct you to wash your pet with some warm mild shampoo.

Depending on how much toxin your pet has ingested we may do blood tests and keep your pet with us overnight on a drip. This helps to support the vital organs whilst the toxin is being broken down. We may also need to monitor your pet intensively for a few days whilst the toxin clears.

We hope this dispels some of the myths around poisons and explains how we can help.  We have extensive experience in dealing with cases of poison and we are here 24 hours a day to care for your pet.


Posted in cats, dogs, toxins.

How to stop cats and kittens scratching furniture

car scratching


People often think that when a cat scratches furniture it is doing so to sharpen its claws. In actual fact they are scenting the furniture using scent glands in their pads, as well as leaving a visual mark that they have been there. This is a normal cat behaviour, and would usually be done on trees in an outdoor situation. When they are kept indoors they tend to go through the same process, but unfortunately they may pick your best furniture to do so !


It is always easier to teach good habits when they are young, so we suggest starting teaching them good habits as early as possible. If your older cat already has a problem then we have a few tips to try to help improve the situation.


How to stop kittens scratching furniture


  • Place a few scratching posts in the areas of the house that they use most, particularly in areas they like to sleep and play.


  • Encourage them to use the scratching post by using dangle toys near the post or using catnip to scent the post. You can also use praise and cat treats when they use the scratching post.


  • Don’t force them to use the post as this may have the opposite effect.


How to stop cats with a habit of scratching furniture


  • Put a scratching post next to the damaged furniture. Make sure it is of  a texture that the cat likes- some prefer loose weaved material, some prefer knobbly textures.


  • Cover  or move the damaged furniture, so the cat can’t get to it.  If covering you could use thick plastic, or another material that your cat won’t like the feel of.


  • Make sure that scratching posts are in prominent areas that the cat likes to be in.


  • Feliway is a cat pheromone (scent) spray  that may help reduce scratching particularly in multi-cat households where stress may be a factor. You can purchase this from the surgery, and spray it onto the furniture daily for a month.




Posted in cats, kittens.

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Getting a Rabbit- what do I need to know ?

rabbit vaccination



Getting a Rabbit:

  • Rabbits are becoming increasingly popular as pets for both children and adults in the UK. They are very sociable animals and should be kept in pairs if possible. Animals from the same litter will normally get on well, but any pair that are newly introduced must be monitored closely. Female rabbits will tolerate each other, but un-castrated male rabbits will fight. It is not recommended to keep rabbits and guinea pigs together, as both have very different requirements.
  • The average rabbit will live for 5 – 10 years, so they are a big commitment.


  • The most important part of a rabbit’s diet is hay, alongside fresh grass. Rabbits should be allowed to eat as much hay and grass as they like. Rabbit teeth grow continuously throughout their life, and so hay is vitally important to keep them worn down. Rabbits that are not fed enough hay will often encounter problems with overgrown teeth later in life, which can be very difficult to resolve.
  • Rabbits can also be fed green leafy foods and vegetables, such as cabbage, chard, parsley, watercress, broccoli, basil, carrot, brambles, and dandelions. All of these foods should be washed before being fed to your rabbit. Fruits should be avoided as they are very sugary.
  • Rabbits can also be fed a pre-packaged rabbit food in the form of pellets or muesli. This is the least important part of the diet, and only a small handful should be given daily. Pelleted rabbit foods are better than mueslies, as the rabbit cannot pick and choose what to eat out of the bowl!
  • Always ensure fresh water is available.


  • Rabbits can be neutered from 4 months of age. In female rabbits, this prevents uterine tumours and can greatly reduce the chances of mammary tumours developing. It also stops any unwanted pregnancies. In male rabbits, castration prevents aggressive behaviour and inappropriate mounting of objects.


  • Rabbits should be vaccinated against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD). Even rabbits who live indoors should be vaccinated, as the viruses can be spread via contact with flies, and biting insects. Rabbits can be vaccinated from 5 weeks of age. Vaccinations should be repeated annually to ensure protection is maintained.


  • Rabbits will naturally eat some of their faeces (called caecotrophs) daily. These are the soft pellets that are normally passed at night so you may not see them. However, if a rabbit suffers from certain conditions such as obesity, arthritis, etc, it will be unable to reach around to it’s rear end to collect them. This can lead to a build up of sticky faeces, which will attract flies. If the flies lay eggs onto the rabbit’s coat, the developing maggots will eat away at the rabbit’s skin. This is an extremely painful condition called flystrike and needs prompt treatment from your vet. It is therefore important to check a rabbit’s rear end everyday for faeces and to bathe away anything that becomes stuck.
  • We recommend protecting rabbits from flystrike by using an insecticide twice yearly, which can be picked up from the surgery in May and July.



Posted in rabbits.

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TB in cats

You may have seen the recent articles about TB (tuberculosis) in cats, and people.This is a very rare occurrence, and the recent reports relate to an outbreak last year  in 9 cats in Newbury, Berkshire. The symptoms in the cats were varied, but included weeping infected wounds, pneumonia, loss of appetite and enlarged lymph glands. It is thought that the cats became infected from wildlife carrying the disease.  TB is spread by a bacteria (Mycobacterium bovis), which mainly affects cattle and badgers, which is why all milk is now pasteurised to remove the possibility of picking up TB from cow’s milk.  It appears that in this outbreak people became infected from their cats which makes it a zoonotic disease  (a zoonosis is a disease passed from an animal to a person), which is very unusual.

The risk of your cat being infected by TB is extremely low, but if your cat has non healing wounds, skin nodules or  has lost their appetite, you should make an appointment with the vet.

Click here for a BBC article about the outbreak.


Posted in cats, infectious disease.

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How to train your kitten to play without biting

ninja kittens


Kittens and adult cats are much less likely to bite and scratch us if they have been socialised and handled well when young.

Kittens have two very important periods of socialisation when they learn normal behaviour, towards other cats and people. The first period is 2-7 weeks of age when handling by various people in a positive manner will increase the likelyhood of them having a friendly approach in future interactions with people.

Kittens continue to learn by social play  from the age of 7 weeks, and this peaks at around 9-14 weeks of age,  and so when most people first take home their new kitten around 8 weeks of age, they are still in this important socialization period.

You should not play with your kitten using your hands or feet, and you should not use rough play, whatever the age of the kitten. Instead we recommend the use of a “fishing rod” toy or something similar that induces chasing behaviour e.g. a ping-pong ball. If  your kitten displays pouncing, chasing or biting of human fingers and toes, then they should be ignored.  Kittens like attention so will realise they have done something wrong if you ignore them.  If you are holding your kitten when they bite  or scratch you, then put them down immediately and ignore them.  A few moments later a toy can be provided.  Once your kitten has finished playing and is tired out, you can then stroke and make a fuss of them.


Posted in kittens.

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