Does Your Cat Have High Blood Pressure?

Did you know that cats can suffer from high blood pressure in a similar fashion to people?

Is your cat over 7 years old? Eleven human years are equivalent to one cat year so your cat can age very quickly! High blood pressure (Hypertension) is a common problem as cats get older. In studies, hypertension was diagnosed in more than 1 in 20 of apparently healthy older cats. Make sure that once your cat is over the age of 7 that he or she is getting checked annually against this silent killer. We can do this at your cat’s vaccination appointment or you can come in and request it separately.

Take the pressure

Taking a blood pressure reading for a cat is very similar to when your doctor or nurse takes your own. A small cuff will be placed around your cat’s leg or tail and depending the type of machine used the cuff will be inflated and deflated to determine the blood pressure reading. It only takes and few minutes, does not hurt and most cats do not object at all.

Having blood pressure measured.

Old cat problems

Older cats are more likely to develop kidney and thyroid disease, arthritis as well as high blood pressure. These problems are manageable and treatment will improve your cat’s quality and length of life. A quick visit to the vet can help identify problems like this and get life-saving treatment started as soon as possible.

Did you know that cats instinctively try to hide any discomfort they are feeling? This is because in the wild they are mostly solitary and need to protect themselves from other predators, so for protection they do not make it obvious that they are injured or unwell. Look out for any slight changes to your cat’s normal routine.

Signs of chronic illness in older cats can be very subtle but include;

  • Drinking more than usual
  • Eating less than usual
  • Is stiff or having difficulty jumping or getting in and out of the litter tray
  • Has lost any weight
  • Has any lumps and bumps
  • Is toileting in the house
  • Is less sociable than normal
  • Is less active than normal
  • Is more active than normal
  • Is vomiting
  • Seems disorientated or is unbalanced

The benefits of cat ownership

Owning a cat can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack by a third, it can help to lower our blood pressure so it is only fair to look after your cat’s blood pressure too!! Return the favour and bring your cat in for a routine blood pressure check. Not only is high blood pressure a silent killer in cats over 7 but it can also warn us of other diseases your cat might be at risk of.

What are the benefits of owning me (or rather me owning you)?

Make sure your cat enjoys his or her twilight years in comfort.

Visit the icatcare website for information about the effects of high blood pressure in cats

Platelet Enhancement Therapy – it’s a Cracker!

At Withy Grove we have started using Platelet Enhancement Therapy (V-PET) to help dogs with painful joints and ligaments. This therapy has been used all over the world but is now becoming more popular.

Our first patient was Cracker, a Labrador with sore arthritic elbows, wrists and toes. She had had various pain killers but we were struggling so our vet, Suanne, decided to give V-PET a go.

Cracker waiting for the exit door to be opened at the surgery.

What is it?

Platelets are in the bloodstream and they help with blood clotting and tissue repair. We know they contain over 5000 ‘growth factors’ which are used to enhance healing and repair so we can use these to help the body ‘heal itself’. By using your dog’s own platelets there are no side effects and no drugs involved, it is using nature to heal itself

What do we do?

We take a small sample of your pet’s own blood and filter out and concentrate the platelets from it. Then we re inject these platelets back into the sore joint or area.  The platelets are activated at the site of the injury, releasing the growth factors which then accelerate healing, regenerating tissue and helping new blood supply to come in too. The whole procedure is done on one day so your pet doesn’t have to come back. We usually use our therapeutic laser at the same time to further stimulate the body’s reaction.


The blood sample drawn up.






The instructions!







The sample being filtered before being injected back into the dog.

What are the results?

We have only done a small number of dogs but the results have been excellent with increased mobility and significant pain reduction in all the cases. The idea is to get your dog off medication but it can be used alongside conventional medicines and supplements too. We also have an in house Physiotherapist who can help your pet with exercises.

Ask us about Platelet Enhancement Therapy or pop in to pick up a leaflet – a natural choice for treating lameness in dogs!


Hamilton has an F1 Fracture

Meet Hamilton, a seven year old black and white feline. He suffered (what was almost certainly) a car accident and fractured his tibia in two places. Spookily, Hamilton has the name of Lewis Hamilton and a mechanic at the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix this weekend also suffered a double tibial fracture.

X Ray and Surgery

Like many cats with severe fractures, Hamilton was limping but otherwise bright and happy. X ray, however, showed a double tibial fracture. This is a serious injury for any animal, but our Surgical Certificate holder, Suanne, repaired the break by using two plates and screws, one over each break, some wires around the fragments (called cerclage wires) and a pin down the centre of the bone to aid stability.
This all makes for an impressive looking X ray.

The fracture

The repair, view from the front

The repair, view from the side


Hamilton is recovering nicely, he has to be kept confined in a cage (we keep a few cages to loan out to cases like this) for a few weeks which he finds very frustrating. This is equivalent to a person being ‘signed off’ and advised to rest but once a cat feels OK they want to be out and about again and can’t understand why we won’t let them!
Once we are happy he is healing nicely, he will be allowed ‘room rest’ and then hopefully get back to a full and active life as soon as possible.

Road Accidents and Cats

If we let cats have free roaming outside then there is always a risk of being hit by a car. It is difficult to prevent this, you can keep your cat indoors all the time but some owners (and some cats!) find this unacceptable. Keeping your cat in at night helps too, at least in the day time drivers can see cats and try and avoid them. There may also be ways of altering your garden to make it difficult for a cat to access the road.

At the end of the day, it is a sad fact that if you want your cat to enjoy the freedom of outdoors and be around you when you are in the garden, then you have to weigh up the risks of road accidents (and other types of misadventure too – cats are naturally curious).

pets easter chocolate warning blog - easter eggs image

Easter Chocolate Warning

Remember to keep chocolate treats safely away from your pets’ reach this Easter, as findings released by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) reveal that in the North West 65% of vets saw at least one case of chocolate poisoning in pets over Easter holidays in 2017.


Chocolate can be highly poisonous to pets, with dogs most commonly affected. It contains theobromine, a naturally occurring chemical found in cocoa beans, which, while fine for humans, is harmful to dogs and other animals. The level of toxicity is dependent on the type of chocolate – dark chocolate and cocoa powder are most toxic – and the size of the dog, with smaller dogs and puppies being most at risk where the quantity consumed relative to bodyweight may be greater. Dogs with pre existing heart disease and dogs on some drugs can also be higher risk and there is a genetic risk increase in a small number of animals.

Although awareness about chocolate poisoning is increasing amongst pet owners, BVA’s figures show that the majority of vets still see urgent cases because chocolate treats have not been secured out of reach.

BVA Statement

British Veterinary Association President John Fishwick said:

“Easter is great fun for the whole family, but chocolate treats for humans can be poisonous for our pets. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and can easily sniff out chocolate, so make sure it is stored securely out of reach of inquisitive noses to avoid an emergency trip to the vet.

“If you suspect that your dog has eaten chocolate don’t delay in contacting your local vet. Your vet will want to know how much chocolate your dog has eaten and what type. If possible, keep any labels and have the weight of the dog to hand.”


The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within 12 hours, but can occur within 2 hours, and can last up to three days. First signs can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea and restlessness. These symptoms can then develop into hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia and rapid breathing. In severe cases, dogs can experience fits and heartbeat irregularities and some cases can result in coma or death.


Treatments vary, we can tell from the type of chocolate eaten and the size of the dog what the likely risk is. The best treatment if the chocolate has been eaten recently is to make the pet vomit up what they have had. We have an injection that does this very effectively. If we are too late for vomiting to be effective then we can use activated charcoal to decrease your pets ability to absorb the poison. On top of this we may need to put him or her on a drip and use medicines to control any effects on the heart.

For more information on pets and poisons download the free Animal Welfare Foundation ‘pets and poisons’ leaflet at

Have a great Easter weekend, but keep an eye on that chocolate!


Shadow comes into the limelight

As you are probably aware, we do a lot of work for various local animal charities. One of these is the Preston branch of Cats Protection (CP). Any cats they are taking on to rehome come to us where they have a full health check, blood tests, neutering (if not already done) and anything else they need to start their new life as fit and healthy as possible.

Shadow and Pagan

Recently, we had two cats brought in, Shadow and Pagan. Shadow had his right foreleg missing from the elbow down and a lump on his abdomen. We initially thought he might have had an accident which had caused these injuries but when we anaesthetised him we could see his heart beat (and feel it) through his abdomen. This is very unusual so we decided to do some X rays.


X Rays

Radiography showed that his front leg is a genetic malformation which he had had from birth, you can see the bones of the leg (circled in orange) are very different from the other leg (which is in front of the abnormal one).

His heart is enlarged but he has a deformity in his sternum (circled in blue) and the swelling on his abdomen (purple) is a fat hernia which contacts directly with the heart so we can see (and feel) the heart beating. You can also see his microchip in the top of the image.

Shadow’s chest, plain X ray

Shadow’s chest, marked

The future

We had not seen before such a strange combination of genetic variations. Shadow seemed healthy and happy with his sister, Pagan, so no treatment was required and he will now move on to a new home.

Every day we see things that are a different from what we have seen before, there are always new challenges ahead. Shadow illustrates this very well and surprised all of us when we took the X rays!

Can you see through our X rays?

Like most veterinary clinics, we offer X rays for our patients. They allow us to see ‘inside’ our patients to help us diagnose and treat them. As you might expect, there are numerous laws and regulations regarding their use.


Firstly, we have to have a Radiation Protection Advisor (RPA). This is an independent, qualified and regulated person who oversees our whole setup and who we can go to for advice.  Inside the practice we have  Radiation Protection Supervisor (RPS) – in our case it is Michael – who is responsible for the day to day use of our machine.


Radiation is a bit like sunbathing, the more you absorb the greater the risk of harm.. Everyone absorbs radiation every day. This ‘background radiation’ is in rocks (granite has a relatively high amount), buildings, food (1.5% of the potassium in a banana is radioactive!), medical sources (scans and X rays) and cosmic radiation. These levels are very small. For our X ray machine we have to follow the As Low As Reasonably Practicable (ALARP) guideline. The biggest risk to staff isn’t directly from the X ray beam, but as it passes through the patient, some of it is ‘scattered’ around the room and this is where most of any dose we might pick up comes from.


In an X ray unit there are three ways of decreasing exposure to staff (and pets);

Time – shortest exposures and as few as possible. Digital X rays and careful set up helps this too. Digital X rays allow us to modify the image after we have taken it (within limits) thus avoiding possibly having to take another exposure. Digital X rays also allow us to e mail them to get expert analysis if required.

Distance – the further away the lower the dose. We have to have a ‘Controlled Area’ around our machine which we restrict access to when radiographs are being taken.

Shielding – lead screens and aprons etc Our apron has to be tested every year and properly stored and maintained.

Digital X rays allow us to analyse and share.


We have to train and supervise our staff, provide safe practices, provide risk assessments and Health and Safety training and keep updating and re-inforcing all of it. We have to have contingency plans in case of any accidents or equipment problems. Unlike in people who will stand in the appropriate position, our patients do not so we use sedation or anaesthesia. It is forbidden for anyone to hold a pet whilst it is being X rayed, even with lead gloves on. We have a selection of sandbags, troughs and ropes to position our patients.

We have a variety of positioning aids, here modelled by Snoopy


We have to monitor the exposure our staff get by using the little dose meters you may see on our uniforms. Staff have to wear these at work but not take them home! We also have to monitor the general radiation around our X ray room. and keep records. There is also a requirement for us to record and log every exposure we take.

Like so much in life, there is a lot of regulation involved but it benefits patients and staff alike.

Special Offer – Rock Solid Flea and Tick Protection- 4 treatments for the price of 3!

Parasite protection can be confusing, there are different worms; roundworms, tapeworms and lungworms for example, and different external parasites, fleas, ticks and assorted mites. Amongst these there are different subsets of fleas, ticks, worms etc. Some of them transmit other diseases, for instance fleas can spread tapeworms and ticks can spread diseases such as Lyme Disease which is infectious to humans. On top of this different pets’ lifestyles will change their risk. Cats that hunt, for example, are much more likely to get worms and fleas than cats that stay at home. Fleas can also infest the home so any treatment may need to cover this aspect too.

More Variables

We also have to consider the age of the pet. Both cats and dogs are born with worms they get from their mothers in the womb and from the milk and this can happen even if the mother is regularly wormed. So kittens and puppies are wormed more frequently than adults and usually there is little chance of them picking up fleas, ticks or tapeworms so we don’t treat for any of these. Yet another factor is the humans around the pet. Children have a very small risk of being infected by dog roundworms which can occasionally lead to blindness so dogs around children need to be wormed for roundworms at least every 4 weeks.

The list goes on, your pet’s weight is important. All the parasite treatments have a weight range they work in and if you don’t use the appropriate product it may not be effective, At Withy Grove we can weight your pet accurately, you don’t need an appointment for this, just turn up and one of the nurses will help you weigh your cat or dog.

The best care for your pet

So, we try and match the best and most effective treatment to the lifestyle of your pet. You can’t really over treat for parasites (within reason, of course), but treatments that are not necessary should be avoided. There is also some evidence that some of the spot ons used on dogs can get washed off into streams and can add to pollution levels.

Our special offer

This spring we are giving you four treatments for the cost of three. This offer only applies to two products, a pill for dogs and a spot on for cats (we can’t name them in a public forum like this blog owing to advertising restrictions, but give us a ring if you want more details).


The pill we recommend treats for ALL species of fleas and ticks your dog is likely to come into contact with. We can combine it with a worm pill to give you full cover against parasites.


This is a spot on, it gives probably the best available cover against fleas, also helping treat any that have got into your home also treating tick infections AND round worms for a full 4 weeks. Depending on your cat’s lifestyle, he or she may also need cover against tapeworms which we can provide with either another pill or a spot on.

4 months treatment for the price of 3, get in touch with us today!


Parvovirus – an update

Parvovirus is still common around Preston, we see cases on a regular basis. This is a distressing and often fatal disease so information about treating it and, more importantly, prevention is vital.


Parvovirus is (not surprisingly) caused by a virus, or to be more precise, several variants of a virus. It is a worldwide problem, the most serious strain is called CPV2 and this also has various variants which differ in distribution and seriousness. There is evidence that the virus is still developing new strains so we have to keep our vaccines up to date to ensure protection. CPV1 usually causes just mild diarrhoea.


These include;

  • Sudden onset diarrhoea and vomiting. Diarrhoea is often bloody.
  • Raised temperature.
  • Depression and dehydration.
  • Death, particularly in young dogs. (Puppies 3-8 weeks old, and occasionally older dogs, can just die suddenly with no signs at all as the virus damages the heart muscle).


We have an in-house (faeces) sample test at Withy Grove which gives us a diagnosis in minutes.


Parvovirus is a very resistant virus. It can survive high temperatures, drying out, acids and can live for years in the environment. It is killed by many (but not all) disinfectants. Ask us for advice about what is best to use. There is evidence that cats can act as a reservoir of infection (one of the theories is that canine parvovirus actually began as a mutation of the cat parvovirus). Infection is by ingestion of virus from faeces or the environment. Infection is much more likely from the environment than from contact with an infected dog. This infection is usually via food or water contaminated by faeces containing the virus. Incubation period is from 2-6 days.

Disease Progression

The virus strips the lining from the gut wall which can then allow secondary bacterial infection to take hold. The virus can cross the placenta in pregnant bitches which can cause abortion or foetal infection. Massive amounts of virus are excreted in the faeces and after recovery this excretion can continue for up to 8 weeks so the dog is a source of infection to others). Damage to the gut wall can mean it takes months for a dog to fully recover.


The mainstay of treatment is keeping the dog alive and assisting his or her immune system. This involves aggressive fluid therapy (in isolation of course to prevent infection spreading), drugs to help kill the virus, antibiotics against secondary infection, pain killers and medicines to control the vomiting and diarrhoea. We have isolation facilities and the nurses are trained in how to care for your dog and keep the isolation effective. Treatment can be costly and sometimes the disease is fatal whatever we do. Pet insurance covers treatment costs.


VACCINATION!! The parvovirus vaccination is very effective and protection lasts for some years (at Withy Grove our vaccination protocol boosts parvovirus protection every 3 years). Any antibodies in the mothers milk will stop a vaccine working so it is vital that the last puppy vaccination is given after 10 weeks of age when these antibodies will have all gone. Prompt cleaning with a disinfectant that is effectives and removing faeces and vomit as quickly as possible helps.

Parvovirus is a very important infection, the virus can change over time so revaccination with up to date strains is vital as is making certain all dogs are vaccinated. If the percentage of dogs vaccinated falls then the chance of our canine friends catching this distressing disease increases. Contact us to discuss this further.

Does your dog enjoy a trip to the vets?

One of the day to day issues we have to think about is that a lot of dogs just don’t like coming to the vets!

A survey of owners found that 38% said their dog hated trips to the vets and 26% said they got stressed thinking about taking their canine friend!

Obviously, if your dog is ill then we need to see it, it is easier for us at the surgery where we have all the kit we need, and trained staff, rather than doing a house visit. So we all have to make visits as stress free as possible for dogs and owners alike. Dogs learn easily so if they have had a previous bad veterinary experience it re-enforces unease.

Anxious Canines

You can leave your anxious canine in the car until we’re ready to see you, just come in and tell reception you’ve arrived. We can see your dog outside the surgery, at the side of the building for example. You can request an appointment at the beginning or end of surgery when there should be few other animals around. Bringing more than one person with each dog helps, dogs draw reassurance from ‘their’ pack. It also allows one person to care for the dog whilst another deals with our staff.

Dogs want to co-operate but they have a basic drive to succeed and survive which can override co-operation. They also like to have a choice, not always the case at the vets!


If a dog feels threatened, it has four responses, usually done in order;

‘Freeze’ to hope the threat passes.

‘Communicate’ to ‘make friends’ with the threat.

‘Avoid’ the threat (this isn’t possible in a vets!).

‘Actively Avoid’ the threat. This involves running away (difficult in a vets) or in extreme cases, aggression. If aggression works (i.e. it makes the vet go away) then a dog remembers this as a success!

Dogs that are excited when they come to the vets (straight from daycare for example), or in pain (a reason for coming to the vets) tend to react worse. This is one reason why sometimes we don’t examine a dog on the first visit, just give pain relief then see the next day.

Your dog might be very well behaved away from the vets but when he or she is here they may struggle to cope as their training is no longer appropriate. Dogs in a vets may release ‘alarm’ pheromones which are designed to survive all weathers so can be difficult to clean away. There are new smells (disinfectants etc), new sounds (often ones we can’t hear)and new social situations. With this lot it is no wonder your pet can be distressed!

Nerves and anxiety are genetic so we can help to breed them out . Puppies under 6 weeks old don’t have a ‘fight or flight’ reflex (they would be protected by their mum in the wild) so it is an ideal time to introduce them to new situations which they then accept as they get older

Some dogs won’t take treats from a vet, but if told to sit by the owner they then will as they have been given reassurance and guidance.


Every time a vet or nurse handles your dog we shape their behaviour. We have to recognise signs of distress in our patients and work to allay them as much as possible. We offer a complimentary health check for any new pet and free puppy parties which let your pet experience the surgery in a situation where nothing ‘bad’ happens.

We try and make all visits as enjoyable as possible, please tell us if you think there are ways we can improve.

cat on car roof

Remember, Remember the 5th of November (and other days too!)

Pets can experience stressful episodes in the same way we do. Fireworks are an obvious example but moving house, going to a kennels or cattery, building work etc can be stressful to our pets. Cats and dogs like their home life to be ‘the same’ much like ourselves!

How to Spot Signs of Stress in Your Pet

You know your pet better than anybody and will often notice changes in behaviour in traumatic situations, such as Bonfire Night.

Symptoms to look out for include:


  • Trembling and shaking
  • Clinging to owners
  • Barking excessively
  • Cowering and hiding behind furniture
  • Trying to run away
  • Soiling the house
  • Pacing and panting
  • Refusing to eat


  • Cowering and hiding behind or on top of furniture
  • Trying to run away
  • Soiling the house
  • Refusing to eat

Noise Anxiety

Specifically on Bonfire Night your pet may have ‘Noise Anxiety’.

This is anxiety to sudden or sustained loud noises such as fireworks, thunderstorms, parties, gunfire, engine noises and construction work. The reaction can be to the first time the noise is heard or repeated exposure which can make the situation worse each time.

Anxiety is a reaction to an anticipated danger. Anxiety includes physiological signs (e.g. increased respiratory and heart rates, trembling or paralysis, increased salivation or sweating, gastrointestinal disturbances) and behavioural sign which may include changes in activity (e.g. immobility, pacing, circling, restlessness); changes in distances to supportive stimuli (e.g. remaining close to a person); or changes in appetite.

Fear is an emotional response caused by a specific stimulus (e.g. an object, noise, social situation) that a pet perceives as a threat or danger

Even low levels of triggering stimuli almost always provoke an immediate behavioural response which may take the form of a panic attack.

Regardless of the triggering stimulus, the perception of fear and anxiety is equally negative for the dog (or cat) that experiences it and, if it does not have an adequate coping mechanism, its welfare may be compromised.


What Can You Do?

As we approach bonfire night, if you know your pet gets stressed you need to start thinking about what to do now.

There is a wide range of advice available, some things you can manage at home;

  • Make your pet a safe, warm den
  • Keep curtains closed and family present.
  • Soundproof the room as much as possible
  • Have the TV or radio on.
  • There are desensitizing programs that expose your pet to gradually increasing noise in a controlled and comfortable way, this again has to be started some weeks before Bonfire Night.
  • Have your pet microchipped in case he or she does run away.

There are also other ways to manage the noise of fireworks (and stress generally);

  • You can use calming pheromones for cats (Feliway) and dogs (DAP), these can be plug in diffusers (like air fresheners), impregnated collars, or sprays. These products need to be started several weeks before they are needed.
  • There are calming medicines, some can be provided without having to see your pet, these also need to be given for a few days before November 5th for best effect.
  • Stronger sedative medicines are very effective but we need to see your pet and discuss their use with you. These are generally just given on the night.
  • There is also a calming diet which can be fed instead of your pet’s normal food during the stressful period.
  • We have a noise desensitizing gel which you apply to your dogs gums. Again you give for a few days prior to the night.
  • Tellington TTouch, a kind and respectful way of working with dogs which can be used to help them overcome a variety of health and behavioural issues such as; fear & shyness, noise sensitivity, excessive barking, excitability. nervousness, leash pulling, car sickness and jumping up.

TTouch recognises an inextricable link between posture and behaviour and uses body work, ground work exercises and specific equipment to release tension and to promote a feeling of calm and well being. This in turn helps dogs develop self confidence and self control and enables them to move beyond their instinctive and, often fearful, responses.

It helps to increase trust and understanding between both the dog and owner and benefits both the giver and the receiver giving us a greater appreciation for our animal companions.

TTouch workshops are run at Mucky Paws Pet Shop, the next one is on Sunday 22nd October. Places are limited, if you are interested contact: Mucky Paws Pet Shop & Mutz Cutz Grooming – 01772 339794

As you can see, there are several steps you can take to help your pets over this stressful time. Every pet and situation is different so it is important to plan ahead so please contact us now to discuss any of the above.