Pet Advice

How to best care for your pet

Here, you can find general advice on how to best care for your pet in a number of different situations. You can also get advice specifically related to kittens or puppies and how to ensure the best possible start to their life with you.


It is estimated that approximately 45% of dogs get stressed and fearful when fireworks are going off, yet many owners are unaware of how to help their pets with firework fears and the precautions that can be taken to help them cope with their fear of loud noises. Ideally, dogs with sound sensitivities should receive a long term behaviour modification plan, including desensitisation and counterconditioning, which should be started once the firework period is over (ideally in February/March time). However, many people either don’t realise that their dog gets stressed with fireworks, or they leave it too late to implement a plan like this, so below are a few tips to minimise the stress for your pets.

A Safe Place

It is important to prepare about a month or so in advance of the firework season if your dog or cat has a phobia of fireworks.

For dogs, building them a den in advance can provide them with a ‘safe place’ for them to go to when the fireworks start; this can be in an area that the dog already uses, for instance behind the sofa, and should be set up as far in advance of the fireworks as possible (the longer your dog has been using the den, the more safe he or she will feel in it). It should be dark and quiet and there should be a blanket for them to hide under or inside. Use the Adaptil® or Pet Remedy Spray® in the den to help to calm them.

Cats prefer to have an ‘escape hole’ high up to go and hide in - somewhere on top of a cupboard or cabinet will do. You can place a blanket up there and spray this with Feliway® spray or Pet Remedy® spray.


The use of pheromones can be extremely useful for both dogs and cats. Adaptil® is a synthetically produced pheromone which simulates the pheromone given off by the bitch a few days after birth and has the effect of giving the puppies some confidence to go and explore, whilst feeling safe and secure because they are with mum. It comes in a diffuser form, which can be plugged into a wall socket near your dog’s bed, or in a spray form which can be used to spray your dog’s bedding, or in a collar form which can be fitted to your dog’s neck to go wherever he or she goes. It is best to start using the Adaptil® consistently at least two weeks before the firework season begins; do not switch the plug on and off.
Feliway® is a synthetically made feline facial pheromone. It simulates the scent that cats leave behind when they rub themselves up against us and against the furniture and it gives them a sense of safety and security. It comes in a diffuser form, which should be plugged into a wall socket in the room they spend most of their time in, and in a spray form, which can be used to spray their bedding or baskets. It is best to start using the Feliway® at least one month before the firework season begins, but it can still have an effect if used closer to the event.

Herbal Remedies

There are various other alternative remedies that can be very helpful in minimising the stress your pet experiences during the firework season. These include skullcap and valerian (a herbal remedy, at a dose of one tablet per 5 kg body weight, given at least half an hour before fireworks are likely to start) and Nutracalm® (a mixture of naturally occurring sedatives that must be given 30-60 mins before the fireworks are expected).

There is also a spray called Pet Remedy® which can be used for all mammals and birds to reduce stress. The Thundershirt® can also be useful in some instances as it wraps tightly around your pet, giving them physical comfort.

All About The Routine

For dogs, if possible, make sure that you have walked them before dusk and put them in a blacked out room at sundown with toys or other familiar objects and preferably things for you to do as well, so they are not abandoned in the room.

For cats, feed them early in the evening when it is still light outside. If you have more than one cat, make sure there is a feeding station, water bowl and litter tray for each cat plus a spare one and separate these resources so that they are not next to each other.

  • Keep your pet inside at all times
  • Ensure their microchip is up to date (should they escape anyway)
  • Ensure that all doors, windows and cat flaps remain closed
  • Draw curtains and turn the TV or radio on
  • Distract your pet with new toys or chews
  • Act normal and do not try to comfort your pet if they are growling or scowling (this may reinforce their fear and behaviour)
  • Try not to leave your pet alone
  • If any previously mentioned defuser has been used, this should be left plugged in for a least a week after the fireworks 

It is easy to just ignore the problem as it only happens once or twice a year, but it is worth instigating a desensitisation programme once the season is over and you have control over the environment again; noise desensitisation CDs can help to achieve this.

Travels Abroad

Are you planning to take your pet away on holiday? Here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery, our vets are trained to deal with all aspects of overseas pet travel. We can certify government export certificates, issue private health certificates and issue pet passports. There are however various requirements for the pet passport scheme and there are lots of things to consider; one of the main aspects being the potential disease implications of international travel. Below are some details for the PETS scheme and links to the DEFRA PETS scheme website.

Which countries are included in the scheme?

Resident pets in the UK can travel to EU and non EU countries, including long haul destinations, and return to the UK under the Pet Travel Scheme without going into quarantine, provided all the regulations are adhered to. An updated list of the countries involved in the scheme can be obtained from the DEFRA website, or by calling the PETS helpline on 0370 214 1710.

Routes and travel

An approved route and travel company must be used. These are regularly updated, so you must check them before booking your return trip to the UK. Some companies have their own additional conditions of travel. Please note, you may not bring a pet into the UK under the PETS scheme from a private boat or plane.

Requirements of the PETS scheme

On 1st January 2012, the rules for the Pet Passport Scheme and animals entering the UK changed. Under the new rules

  • Animals must be microchipped
  • They must have a rabies vaccination (three weeks before re-entering the UK)
  • Animals originating from abroad must be blood tested and wait three months from the rabies blood test before entering the UK
  • Animals must have the tapeworm treatment five days to 24 hours before re-entering the UK (the relevant section of the Pet Passport must be signed by the veterinarian administering the treatment and the time and date must be entered in the passport)

Some useful pointers (ticks)

The lack of tick treatment upon entering the UK means we are more likely to see more ticks coming into the UK from abroad. We therefore think that it is imperative that you treat your pets against ticks before, during and after a visit abroad. You should then continue to treat your pet against ticks all year round.

Some useful pointers (rabies)

Without testing your pet’s blood for the rabies antibody, we cannot tell if they actually have adequate levels of immunity should he or she come into contact with rabies. While the risk of rabies in much of Western Europe is relatively low, there are a substantial number of countries in the EU and on the EU list where there is still a problem with rabies in wildlife reservoirs in countries such as Italy, Poland, Baltic States, Russia, USA and many others. You can find more information on rabies high risk countries on the Health Protection Agency website (

Rabies has even been found in vaccinated dogs. If you decide to take your vaccinated pet to an area where they could be exposed to rabies, you have a 5% chance that your pet could fail to respond to their rabies vaccination. This will not only put your pet at risk, but you and your family too. If you are planning to go to a high risk country, multiple doses of rabies vaccine, rabies serology and, if necessary, rabies boosting shortly before travel is advisable.

The WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association) latest guidelines advise giving a booster one year after the initial rabies vaccination and then giving the booster every three years, unless you are taking your pet to an area where rabies is endemic, in which case it is advised to follow the local rules and recommendations.

Avoidable Diseases

Leishmaniosis: This is an intracellular protozoan parasite, transmitted by sand flies (Phlebotomus and Lutzomyia). Infected dogs can act as a reservoir for infection for other dogs. Infection causes weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes and can lead to symptoms that mimic autoimmune disease, affecting most body systems, notably the skin. Prevention is achieved by decreasing exposure to sand flies (fly repellent such as a Scalibor collar, avoid being outside between dusk and dawn). Note that this disease can also affect humans.

Babesiosis: This is an intracellular protozoan parasite, transmitted by ticks. Infection causes high fever, weakness, anorexia, haemolytic anaemia and, eventually, jaundice and death. Prevention involves aggressive tick control. Treatment should be given seven days before travel, and repeated at the correct interval during travel. In addition, a daily ‘tick watch’ should be performed - do not touch the ticks, use a tick hook (available at our reception) and destroy the tick.

Ehrlichiosis: A bacterial infection transmitted by ticks: the bacterium infects white blood cells and platelets and can lead to severe bleeding disorders. Prevention as for Babesiosis.

Heartworm: Prevent by treating with Nexgard Spectra, Veloxa or Milbemax before and during travel.

Useful information sources

PETS helpline: 0370 241 1710 (8.30am - 5.00pm weekdays)
DEFRA website

Remember to ALWAYS check with the authorities in your country of destination to make sure they have no additional requirements. Also protect your pet against diseases present in your country of destination.


Surgery can be a scary thought, but there is no need to worry. Your pet will receive first class veterinary care. The following information is designed to help answer some of the questions you may have regarding the general anaesthetic which will be administered to your pet. Your pet will have an appointment on the day of the operation with either a vet or a nurse. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask. You will be asked to read and sign a consent form.


Your pet will be given an anaesthetic. Veterinary patients are rarely cooperative enough to lie still for certain procedures which may be performed conscious in human patients. Therefore, general anaesthesia or heavy sedation is often required in animals. A suitable anaesthetic or sedation regime for your pet will be calculated by your veterinary surgeon. Although modern sedative and anaesthetic agents are very safe, all anaesthetics do carry a small risk to the life of the animal. This is usually minimal, but any concerns should be discussed with your veterinary surgeon. Have a look at the following and follow the advice carefully.

Cats, dogs and ferrets

  • Your pet should be fully starved. Please ensure that your pet receives its last meal before midnight the night before its procedure. After this time, all food sources must be removed
  • Allow access to water throughout the night prior to the anaesthetic. On the morning of your pet’s procedure, they must not be allowed to eat or drink (unless otherwise instructed by the vet)

It is vital that you inform the vet or nurse if you suspect that your pet may have had access to food.

Dogs: Ensure that your dog is taken for a short, lead-only walk in the morning so that its bowels and bladder may be emptied.
Cats: Ensure that your cat is kept in (with a litter tray) on the night prior to the anaesthetic to prevent access to any food.
Ferrets: Ensure that your ferret is kept away from any food sources from midnight.

Rabbits, guinea pigs and small furries

  • Do not starve them! It is extremely important that these species have food available up to the point of anaesthetising them
  • If your pet has any favourites, please bring them with you, as sometimes these treats will encourage them to start eating immediately after their anaesthetic
  • Bring your pet’s companion in to keep them company - this is far less stressful for them both
  • Bring small furries in their cages as this will be less stressful for them (if their cage is very large, please call the surgery for advice in advance)

The morning of your pet’s anaesthetic

  • You will most likely be given a specific time to bring in your pet to the surgery. If not, please arrive between 8.30am and 9.30am
  • If your pet takes any regular medication then please check with the surgery beforehand as to whether you should give this on the morning of admission
  • You will be seen by the admitting nurse or vet that morning. At admission you will be asked to read and sign a consent form for the procedure
  • The consent form explains that there is always a potential risk involved with any anaesthetic or sedative, however here at Twickenham Veterinary Surgery we use human standard anaesthetics which are very safe and the risks involved are minimal
  • You will also be asked to leave a contact telephone number: please ensure that you leave a telephone number that you can be contacted immediately between 10am and 4pm
  • Please read the consent form carefully at admission. The person signing the consent form must be over the age of 18

You may request an estimate for the procedure, either prior to or at the time of admission. However, please be aware that this is an estimate only and that further costs may be incurred should complications arise or should a procedure be more complex than first thought. We will make every attempt to contact you should a procedure look likely to exceed the estimate by more than 20%.

After admission

Once your pet has been admitted to the surgery, they will be weighed and an injection of pre-med will be given. This is a sedative injection which contains pain relief as well. Your pet will then be settled into their kennel for the day. All patients are housed in their own kennel and dogs, cats and small furries have their own wards.
Please be aware that your pet will have shaved areas where anaesthesia and surgery have been performed.

Your pet will be anaesthetised by the veterinary surgeon performing the procedure and the anaesthetic will be monitored closely by one or more nurses, overseen by the veterinary surgeon. After their procedure, your pet will be returned to their kennel to recover, where they will be offered a drink of water and food if necessary.

We will advise you at admission when to contact the surgery to check on your pet’s progress. In most cases, if you have not heard from us by 3pm, then please telephone the surgery. You will be given a time to collect your pet. Then, the discharge nurse will go through any after-care instructions with you.

If your pet is insured, please bring a signed claim form and stamp addressed envelope with you. The majority of our patients return home bright and bouncy the same day.


Your pet will receive first class care before, during and after their surgery. You will have a discharge appointment with one of the nurses when picking up your pet after a surgical procedure. During this appointment, the nurse will give you specific instructions regarding the after-care of your pet. If you have any questions regarding the advice you have been given, please do not hesitate to contact the surgery. The following gives general advice on post-operative care.

Dogs and cats

There are some things you should know about caring for your pet once they are home from surgery. Your pet may be quite tired and sleepy after a general anaesthetic, but should be quite lively by the morning. Please phone the surgery for advice if you are concerned.


After you have settled your pet back at home, feed them about half of what would be their normal daily food. Make sure they have plenty of water available. Do not be too concerned if they are not hungry. If they do not eat in the morning, phone for advice.


If your pet has stitches, it is important that they do not lick or pull at them. They may need to wear a buster/Elizabethan collar to prevent them from doing this. They are often not happy with wearing one of these collars but it is important that they do.

In general, stitches are removed after 10 days. You can book this appointment when you collect your pet. Keep a close watch on your pet’s wound. If you are concerned about any swelling or discharge, please phone for advice.

Cats with stitches should be kept in the house for at least 48 hours after returning home. Dogs with stitches should only have exercise on a lead until the stitches are removed.


After some procedures, it may be necessary to restrict exercise. The vet will tell you if this is the case. Please ask for advice if you are not certain.


It is important that your pet finishes their course of medication. If you are having difficulties administering it, please contact the surgery and our nuses will be happy to help.


If your pet has a bandage, please make sure you keep it dry. Most bandages will need changing within two or three days. The vet will inform you when to come in for a bandage change.

Rabbits and small furries

Your pet should be quite lively, despite having had an anaesthetic. Call us for advice if you are concerned about their demeanour.


Small mammals, including rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats and mice, need to eat at a fairly constant rate throughout the day. We offer them food and water right up to the time of the anaesthetic and straight after recovery. It is very important that they eat well in the hours and days following an anaesthetic. Feed them their usual diet and observe their intake carefully. If you think they may not be eating, please call us for advice.


It is important that your pet does not lick or bite at wounds and stitches. This may cause them to break open and need further attention. If you are concerned about this, or if there is a swelling or discharge from a wound, please call for advice.


Your pet should be producing normal amounts and consistency of faeces. This is a very important sign that your pet’s digestive system is working well. If there is a reduction or absence of faeces in your pet’s cage, please call for advice.


After some operations, it may be necessary to keep your pet separate from others for a period of time. Please ask for advice when you collect your pet.


It is important that your pet finishes its course of medication. If you are having problems administering it, please let the surgery know and our nurses will be happy to help you out.