Heatstroke in Dogs | Symptoms, Preventing & Treating Heat Stroke

Heatstrokes in dogs - Vista Vets

Heatstroke in dogs

As temperatures rise during the summer, we’re able to get out and enjoy the longer days and beautiful weather with our dogs. 

As humans, we know we need a cold drink or to find some shade when we’re getting too hot, but dogs aren’t as self-aware. It’s also instinctive for dogs to hide any sign of weakness, and even if they’re struggling – they can’t tell us.

Heatstrokes in dogs - Vista Vets

When can heatstroke happen? Is it a problem in the UK?

Heatstroke (also known as hyperthermia) describes a body temperature that has risen above normal limits. In this case, we’re looking at temperatures elevated by environmental factors rather than illness. Heatstroke can happen in relatively mild temperatures from around 21 degrees Celsius and higher. 

If a dog’s body temperature exceeds 41.2c, it can even lead to organ failure, so it’s essential we know what to look out for.

Dogs who have been exercising vigorously in heat, are overweight, have underlying health problems or suffer from breathing difficulties, such as flat-faced breeds, are often the first to suffer. It’s also well publicised that leaving dogs in cars – even with windows open and water available – can quickly cause problems, even on a cooler day. 

Unlike us, dogs can’t sweat to control their body temperature but pant instead. Muzzled dogs can often suffer from heatstroke quite quickly as their ability to pant is restricted, so it’s essential to pay extra attention in these situations. 

What are the signs to look out for?

A dog suffering from heatstroke will usually begin to show several of these symptoms:
  • Faster breathing and panting
  • Dry mouth and dry, discoloured gums, alternatively drooling and foaming at the mouth
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tiredness
  • Confusion
  • Occasionally seizures

Heatstroke is an immediate medical emergency, and if you think your dog might be displaying these symptoms, you need to act quickly to reduce their body temperature safely. The quicker they can be cooled down, the better their chance of a full recovery, but be careful not to use very cold water or ice packs as this is too much of a shock.

What can you do?

Some things you can try are:
  • Pouring cool water over them, concentrating on their head, stomach, armpits and anywhere else with less fur.
  •  Applying cool cloths to the areas above, changing them often, so they remain cold. Don’t cover them in one cool towel or cloth as this could elevate their temperature further
  •  If you’re at home, put them on a towel in the bath and give them a cool shower
  •  Find a ventilated spot
  •  Offer them water
  • Speak to them calmly and reassure them that everything is ok

If you remain concerned or if they had heatstroke for a while before recovering, call us and we will of course see them.

Heatstrokes in dogs - Vista Vets

How can I avoid my dog getting heat stroke?

Here are our top tips for warmer times:
  • Exercise your dog when it’s cooler – either morning or evening are ideal
  • Take water and a bowl with you if you’re travelling in the car or walking somewhere without water bowls
  • Avoid hot pavements and sand
  • Never leave your dog in a car when the sun is out
  • Keep your dog a healthy weight
  • If they have a thick coat, consider having them clipped during warmer months
  • Watch how enthusiastically they’re running around. If it’s vigorous and a hot day, keep it short
  • Find shade when you can or limit the amount of time you’re out
  • Encourage them to swim if you’re near water and they like it. A hose pipe in the garden can also be fun!
  • If you have a brachycephalic (flat-faced) dog, a harness is often a better option than a lead as it doesn’t restrict their panting

Worried your dog has heatstroke?

If you remain concerned or if they had heatstroke for a while before recovering, call us and we will of course see them as soon as possible.

£15 Microchipping in June | National Microchipping Month!

June is National microchipping month!

With the law for cats changing in 2024 and still so many pets not microchipped, we have decided that an offer is needed!

So… for the rest of June ONLY, microchipping is just £15!

This is a huge saving of £6 per microchip as they are usually £21.

Increase the chances of your pet being reunited with you quickly by getting them microchipped; it takes just minutes and can be done by one of our lovely Registered Veterinary Nurses.

Just this weekend, we reunited a cat that had been missing for 3 years, his family were over the moon, this would never have been possible without him being microchipped.


Claim your £15 Microchip

To claim your £15 microchip, book before the end of June by calling 01376 786732, or book online by clicking the button below:

Top 8 Reasons You Should Neuter Your Pet

What is neutering?

Neutering is a surgical way to stop reproduction. In males it’s called castration and in females it’s called spaying. 

During castration both testicles are removed. This prevents fertility and also reduces the amount of the male hormone testosterone. 

When a female is spayed, the ovaries and uterus are removed which makes the female unable to become pregnant.  

Both operations are carried out under a general anaesthetic and are very safe. Painkillers are given during and after surgery and you will be able to take some home to use in the days following surgery.  Most pets are up and about a few hours after surgery and recover quickly. 

There are many reasons to protect your pet, the community and the population by neutering, but the 8 top reasons to do so are: 

1. Population control

There are already far too many cats and dogs to go round. It’s hard to gauge exact figures but it it’s estimated that 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats enter shelters across the UK each year.

Out of all the abandoned animals, only 10% have been neutered, and few are microchipped or have ID. Don’t think that breeding from pedigrees stops abandonment either.  25% off shelter residents are specific breeds.

2. Helps females live a longer and healthier life

Spaying helps prevent nasty womb infections such as pyometra, which is seen quite often in un-neutered females and can be fatal. It also hugely reduces the risk of breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50% of dogs and 90% of cats. Recent studies (Hart et al, 2020) suggest best neutering ages based on different breeds due to varied pros and cons, therefore, please discuss the right timing for your dog’s spay with our nurses or vets by contacting the practice. In cats, we recommend neutering females at around 5-6 months of age. 

3. Your female won’t go in to heat 

While cycles can vary, female cats can usually go into heat for four to five days every three weeks in breeding season. They become desperate for a mate, act in strange ways, make howling noises and urinate more frequently wherever they find themselves. Keeping them in during this time makes no difference either – they will still howl, wee and scratch to get out. It can be so dramatic that seasons are often mistaken for some immensely painful and debilitating illness by owners who don’t know what’s going on with their pet. 

When a female dog is in season she becomes the most desirable thing an entire dog has ever seen. The odour makes them highly traceable, and even keeping them inside has resulted in male dogs pushing down fences and howling at doors just to get to them. It can be messy too as they produce a bloody, sticky discharge for three weeks or more. 

Many unneutered female dogs have a false pregnancy after a season and, although this is natural, it can cause behavioural and even medical problems.

4. It’s cost effective

Your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is far less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. 

You’ll also save money on your insurance premiums if your pet is neutered, and you’ll not incur any of the costs associated with illness and disease resulting from remaining entire. Even insured pets who get sick still have an excess to pay each time, and many won’t be covered for a recurring infection or after the first year if they’re left with a chronic problem. 

As unneutered pets are more aggressive, there are also battle wounds to consider. When hormones rage, cats and dogs don’t hold back. An unneutered dog is more likely to be the target of aggression from another dog, too, even if they don’t initiate the conflict.  

5. It stops them roaming 

An intact male will do just about anything to mate and will be very frustrated by being restricted. The urge is almost overwhelming and they will find ingenious ways to escape from house and garden, and dogs will disappear on walks. Once he’s free to roam, dogs risk injury in traffic and both cats and dogs will fight with other males (and unwilling females).

6. Neutering prevents testicular cancer in males

Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.

7. Reduces unwanted behavior and aggression

Your neutered male may be better behaved and be generally more sociable and nicer to have around.

Unneutered dogs and cats are more likely to mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house whereas neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families and aren’t bothered about marking their territory. Once furniture or carpets have been ‘marked’ in this way, it’s almost impossible to eradicate the smell which is unpleasant to have in the house, but also marks this area as a toilet for your pet making them highly likely to re-offend!

Some aggression problems may be avoided by early neutering too. Surgery will reduce the amount of testosterone in your male’s system, although it won’t eliminate the hormone completely so if your pet has learnt behaviours resulting from hormones before being neutered and these have become habitual, then changes might be slow to happen or lessened which is another good reason to neuter as soon as it’s possible. 

An unneutered dog is likely to try and scratch their particular itch themselves by mounting, and this is often at inconvenient times and on inconvenient objects such as your favourite cushion, child or leg. 

8. Neutering does not cause obesity

Neutering in itself won’t make your pet fat, but you might need to decrease the amount of food you give them and/or increase the amount of exercise – this is due to the reduced energy expenditure from hormonal activity in the body. 

Your pet will remain the shape they are as long as you keep an eye on their food intake. There are also pet foods specially formulated for the nutritional and calorific needs of neutered pets that are worth investigating.

Remember that if you’re a member of our Vista Pet Club, you get a discount on neutering your pet.

Your small monthly payments include discounts on numerous products and procedures, including neutering. As well as, vaccinations, home delivery of parasite treatment and much more.

You can join the plan and start benefitting (and saving!) today

Useful Guide to Feeding Cats and Kittens

Making sure your cat has the best diet goes a long way to keeping them healthy and happy for the longest time possible.

If your cat comes to you as a kitten, it’s important that they have access to the best nutrition you can afford during this key developmental stage, as this puts the foundations down for a healthy adulthood.

As they grow up, keep an eye on their weight and tweak their diet accordingly to make sure they stay healthy.

Whatever their age or condition, always ensure they have access to water. Without water, your cat could become severely ill very quickly. Note: Cow’s milk is not a substitute for water and can really upset their stomachs.

Feeding your kitten

When your kitten first comes home, it’s best to stick with the food they arrived with for a week or so. There will already be lots of change for them to get used to, so wait until they’ve made themselves at home before you start gradually changing over to your chosen food. Always avoid sudden or frequent changes of diet as this can result in diarrhoea, and this applies to cats of any age, so start mixing increasing amounts of new food with old over 5 to 7 days until they’re just eating the new food.

Always use kitten food for a young growing cat. We recommend Hills Vet Essentials range of complete cat foods as it has many positive attributes for your cat’s health and works out very economically per meal. 

Kittens should have dry kitten food available at all times, with two small kitten meat meals daily if you wish, though these are not essential. Eating little and often is fine for cats, but not for dogs.

They will also need their food and water to be served away from their litter tray as otherwise, they might not be interested in either. 

Feeding your cat

Keep an eye on your adult cat’s weight and make sure their diet meets their needs. You can buy high-calorie food for active and skinny cats, food for hairy cats who suffer from hairballs, and food for overweight cats too if you need to.

Cats have a higher protein requirement than many other mammals and need protein from meat to maintain a strong heart, good eyesight, and a healthy reproductive system. They also have several other species-specific nutrient requirements, so must be fed cat food as opposed to dog food or plain meat.

Home-cooked cat food is difficult to offer as a full-time diet as getting the proteins, vitamins and mineral balance your cat needs to thrive right all the time is tricky and could cause a nutrient deficiency.

Vitamin supplements should not be needed if you’re feeding your cat a good quality cat food unless we’ve recommended otherwise. Supplements could cause a dietary imbalance which could cause harm.

Use separate feeding equipment for your cat and make sure that clean, fresh water is always available. It is commonly assumed that cats need a variety in their diet but this is not the case and often leads to upsets. A cat will eat the same food happily day after day for many years. They like a wide and shallow bowl so that their whiskers do not touch the side of the bowl when eating or drinking.

If you have several cats on different diets, it’s worth looking into food bowls that open just in response to a particular microchip being near them. These can make life so much easier as they make sure food can always be left down for each cat, but that there is no chance they’ll eat inappropriate food.

Changing dietary needs

Kittens have very different nutritional requirements to adult cats and will need food specifically developed for that life stage.

Most adult cats are normal, and the majority of foods are supplied for this life stage. However, there are several circumstances when adult foods are not suitable:

Under/overweight: If your cat’s condition needs changing, you can buy food that provides them with more or less calories. These can be a useful tool in weight management, but make sure you get the portion size right and don’t just fill their bowl. There should be portion advice on the packaging, but if you have any queries about what’s right, do call or pop in and we’ll be able to advise.

Older cats: have requirements that are different again and appropriate preparations are available.

Pregnancy and lactation: also bring changing dietary needs and food for these circumstances can be discussed with Vista Vets.

Medical conditions:  There are foods available for various conditions including kidney problems, heart disease, kidney problems and bladder stones. If you cat needs one of these we will let you know which one whilst discussion their continuing care.

Some brands provide diets for all life stages including Hills, and it’s easy to change to the relevant product of the same brand as your cat ages.

All Vaccines, Parasite Treatment, Health Checks & much more, covered.
The Vista Pet Club offers you an easy way to remember and budget for vaccinations and parasite control and includes a complete health examination with your vet each year. As a member, you can also benefit from a discount on dental products and many other routine care treatments, so it is a brilliant gift to your pet and you.

Start of Life

Puppy and Kitten Pack

New addition to the family?

Our Start of Life pack saves you money on important treatments for a new pet, and gives your new kitten everything they need for the best start in life!

A Useful Guide To Feeding Your Puppy and Dog

Feeding your puppy or dog a good diet is key to a long and healthy life. Both nutritional content and portion control have a big impact on doggy health, and it’s much better to get this right for your dog from the beginning of their life with you.

It’s essential to make sure your dog is well nourished as this can prevent a lot of health issues, but the weight is also very important. As many of us know, losing excess weight is no fun! And it’s the same for dogs. Keeping an eye on condition and making tweaks here and there by balancing food intake with exercise is a much better way to maintain ideal weight.

Getting it right from the start

When you bring a new puppy home, you should continue feeding them the food they had been eating in their old home. If this food isn’t ideal and you want to change, you can start to switch it over but make sure this transition is gradual or you’ll risk upsetting their stomachs. Change over slowly by mixing the two foods together for 5-7 days.

There are a few diet choices around for puppies including wet, moist and dry foods. It’s up to you which you choose, but don’t offer variety as they might become picky eaters, and it can cause stomach upsets.

Puppies grow 20 times faster than adult dogs and so require a special diet to aid their physical development. A specially formulated growth food is recommended for the first year of age, which needs to be fed at evenly spaced intervals to avoid overstretching their small stomach. However, it’s important to note that larger breeds take longer to skeletally mature, and as a result, they may require puppy diets until around 18 months of age. Please check with your vet if you’re unsure about this.

Up to four months old

Three or four meals a day. You can feed to appetite as their growth and development is rapid, so give them as much in each meal as they want to eat then take it away if any is left uneaten. If food is left down all the time they might starting less at one time and grazing instead, which isn’t how they’re naturally programmed to eat, and can cause digestive problems.

Four to five months old

Three meals a day, still feeding to appetite 

Five months onwards

Two meals a day but portion controlled as growth has now slowed, and they will start putting on excess weight if allowed to eat as much as they like. It’s sometimes tricky to work out how much to feed them as they will still be growing and therefore their weight increases, so a good measure is to monitor their condition by feel. You should always be able to feel their ribs and their spine – if you can’t, they’re becoming overweight and you should feed them less. 

One year

Two meals a day

Which food is best? Dry, moist or wet?

Dry complete foods

Complete means that these biscuits theoretically contain all the nutrients a dog needs and can be the easiest choice to ensure you’re feeding your puppy or dog all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive, but quality varies. Supermarket brands are often the nutritional equivalent of a McDonalds diet and aren’t going to keep your dog in the best of health.

To ensure your dog gets what they need, choose a food designed for their life stage, size and condition and buy the best quality food you can afford. You often need less good-quality food than the cheaper varieties, so buying cheap is often a false economy anyway.

Some puppies aren’t used to eating dry foods, so if you choose biscuits but your puppy is resisting, make it more palatable to begin with by soaking it in a little water to soften it and bring out the flavours,  or mixing it with a little tinned food. You can gradually reduce this until they’re fully weaned and used to the biscuits.

Semi-moist and tinned foods

Again there are lots of choices when it comes to tinned food, and these also vary in quality.

Choose a specialist food that’s nutritionally complete, and the best you can afford. It will end up saving you money in the long term as your pet will be much stronger and healthier for it.

Home-made food

We don’t advise home cooked diets, as whilst the intentions are always good it’s really difficult to make sure they have the right nutritional content.

Puppies need the best diet possible as they grow, and even a slight imbalance can harm their development and mean they don’t put down the strongest cornerstones for their adult lives.


There are a wide variety of prepared and natural treats on the market which vary hugely in quality. Some commercial treats have lots of sugar, colourings, milk products and fat in them. Even ‘doggy chocs’ or ‘low fat yoghurt drops’ can contain sugars or lactose (milk sugar) so always check the ingredients label.

Good quality prepared treats have been developed with dogs dietary needs in mind. However, all treats should be given sparingly, never more than 15% of the total calorie intake.

If used regularly reduce the amount of main meal food your dog is receiving in order to avoid obesity. Some chew treats have proven ability to help prevent dental diseases, but again check the label to ensure you are getting a genuine product.

Real chocolate is poisonous to dogs and can cause liver damage and even be fatal, so never give your dog any chocolate, or leave any lying around for it to find and eat, especially at Christmas time.

Avoid giving your dog any sweet biscuits or sugary treats which are bad for its teeth as well as its waistline, and can cause sugar ‘highs’ and ‘lows’. Stick to prepared treats and desiccated liver tablets.

All Vaccines, Parasite Treatment, Health Checks & much more, covered.
The Vista Pet Club offers you an easy way to remember and budget for vaccinations and parasite control and includes your annual check-up. As a member, you can also benefit from a discount on food, nail clips and many other routine care treatments, so it is a brilliant gift to your pet and you.

Start of Life

Puppy and Kitten Pack

New addition to the family?

Our Start of Life pack saves you money on important treatments for a new pet, and gives your new puppy or kitten everything they need for the best start in life!

The Importance of Annual Blood Tests for Senior Cats and Dogs

Taking care of the older pet – annual blood tests and the importance of knowing what’s ‘normal’ for them

As our cats and dogs get older, they begin to experience the same health changes and challenges as ageing humans.

What’s considered senior?

Old age starts at around 8 years old in dogs, and they’re then categorised as geriatric from around 10 years old. In human years this is between 56 and 78. Each breed varies in the speed at which they age, with giant dogs becoming geriatric soonest.

Cats usually have a longer lifespan and become seniors at around 10 and geriatric at 14 years old. Cats can live half of their lives as seniors, so it’s essential – as with dogs – that we make this as comfortable and happy for them as possible.

So how can I take the best care of my senior cat or dog?

As our pets age, their bodies gradually deteriorate in the same way ours do. Unlike us, however, they can’t let us know when things aren’t right. In fact, as prey animals, they are highly skilled at hiding pain and illness in case it shows weakness, so we need to make sure we care for them in a way they can’t.

The best way to keep an eye on things is through annual check-ups that include a comprehensive blood test. This is designed to look for any key indicators of potential problems. Many of these aren’t conditions that will clear up over time – they’ll get worse, be more challenging and more costly to treat, cause pain, and potentially limit the length of their lives.

If we can identify those illnesses before it gets to the point where they can’t hide the pain anymore, we can often put a plan in place to manage that condition before it worsens.

So how can I take the best care of my senior cat or dog?

Organ deterioration means vital organs aren’t functioning as they should. These include kidney, heart, and liver disease as well as diabetes and other conditions that can often be ‘hidden’ by a pet who appears healthy.

The tests give us baseline values for your pet enabling us to monitor any changes over time that might indicate problems.

 A complete blood count that shows us information on different cell types in the blood. By looking at the shapes, sizes and numbers of red and white blood cells, as well as platelets and any abnormal cells, we can tell a lot about the ongoing health of your pet.

If we find an issue that can be easily treated, we often find it takes years off them, and they are bouncier, livelier, and happier as a result!

We all want to be the best pet guardians possible and do what’s right, but it can be hard to know what to do. We want to make this as easy as possible for you by offering these annual wellness checks so we can keep a careful eye on your pet as they age.

Our goal is always to keep pets healthy rather than wait to treat them when they get sick, and by doing that, we can ensure your furriest family members have the best chance of living the longest, happiest and healthiest lives with you as possible.

Remember that if you’re a member of our Vista Pet Club, they get a health check every year

Your small monthly payments INCLUDE a complete health check every year, treatments against fleas, ticks and worms throughout the year as well as 5% off an annual insurance premium with VetSure and a 10% discount on dental procedures should you need them.

You can join the plan and start benefitting (and saving!) today

7 Promises You Should Make to Your New Puppy or Kitten

Welcoming a new puppy or kitten into the family is always exciting. You’ve picked your ideal pet, you have all the stuff, and you’ve got them insured, so now it’s settling in and enjoying all those cuddles and games as you get to know each other. Much like bringing a human baby home, you’ll never forget these times.

As wonderful as this time is, we know that alongside the cuddles, the responsibility of a new family member can sometimes feel overwhelming. This new fluffy bundle of joy will depend on the care you give them for the rest of their lives. Children are very vocal about their needs and let you know when things are wrong, but cats and dogs aren’t always so good at that! 

It’s always a good idea to start the way you mean to go on, so we’ve noted the 7 most important promises to make to your puppy or kitten as soon as you bring them home. By making this standard practice from the start, you will be able to ensure your pet, and therefore the family they are now part of, stay in the best of health and that you all have the happiest, longest of lives together. 

The promises you should make to your new family member will form the proper habits right from the start. These good habits will result in the healthiest, happiest, most well-behaved pet possible:

1. Teach your pet good behaviour right from the start

We’ve all heard stories of dogs pulling at leads, stealing food from picnics, jumping up at people, running off and needing to be hunted down for hours on end, whilst the owner has their heart in their mouths thinking of all the roads they could have come across. 

These things aren’t just inconvenient for the owner but also dangerous and limiting for the dog. They don’t want to be shut in a room every time visitors arrive or put on a lead for an entire walk. It’s not best for them and isn’t a fun or relaxing life for the humans around them. 

There is an old saying ‘As the twig is bent, so grows the tree” that recognises and describes how early influences have a permanent effect. Enrolling in puppy classes makes them wonderfully sociable animals and reduces aggression. It also teaches obedience that keeps your pet safe, while keeping you and your family happy and proud for their whole lifetime.  

At home, ensure you start doing things in a family-friendly way right from the start. If you don’t want a fully grown dog on your bed every night, start them off sleeping where you want them to right from day one. There are many online articles about different methods, such as crate training, that can help you, and as always, you can chat with us about it any time. 

Don’t offer them titbits as you’re eating dinner if you don’t want a lifetime of begging whilst you’re eating. What’s cute and almost irresistible behaviour as a puppy often isn’t as cute once they’re an adult.

Whilst there aren’t classes for cats, they also need to be told what the rules are right from the start. Reward good behaviour with cat treats, and use techniques such as a small water pistol or an air puffer to discourage them from climbing on kitchen worktops and scratching furniture.  

2. Vaccinate and keep up with boosters

Vaccination is essential for your pet’s ongoing health and for the health of every other animal they come into contact with. Being unvaccinated or letting vaccination boosters lapse leaves them at high risk of some very nasty diseases and causes localised re-emergence and spread of potentially fatal illnesses, ones that science has found a way to stop.

Vaccines are only developed for very nasty diseases, so it makes sense to stop them before they take hold. Many of the diseases cause symptoms that can be mistaken for other things such as tiredness, mild fever and a general loss of appetite, so by the time they are noted as warning signs, and the animal is taken to the vet, it can be too late for treatment other than palliative care. 

Many animals are initially vaccinated but then fail to go for boosters. It’s not that people don’t care, but it’s sometimes hard to remember the window the boosters need to happen in, and the cost NEVER comes at an ideal time!

To make it easier to remember to do and to budget for, we offer a monthly healthcare plan that means by paying a small amount each month, the cost of your vaccinations (and year-round parasite control) has already been covered by the time they’re due. We’ll remind you to come in at the right time and even give your pet a free health check at the same time.  

You’ll probably find that your pet insurance is cheaper if your pet is vaccinated and this is maintained too. If you decide not to vaccinate, check that your policy covers treated diseases commonly vaccinated against. 

From our blog:

3. Exercise your pet as much as they need to keep them strong, healthy and happy

Cats are relatively straightforward, and even an indoor cat can be given a good workout by being encouraged to chase balls of paper around or by waving a laser pointer at a wall.

A dog’s exercise needs are based on their age, breed, size and general health, but on average, your dog should spend between 30 minutes and 2 hours being active every day. Working, hunting and herding dogs such as Labradors, Hounds, some Terriers, Pointers, and Collies will need the most off-lead exercise. Behaviour training is vital for these groups, or you could find they disappear off and don’t pay attention to where they are until they’re very lost!

Exercise is as vital for their mental health as it is physical. Bored dogs are unhappy dogs, so the chance to run, sniff and explore daily is essential to their well-being. 

From our blog:

4. Make sure they have sufficient nutrition to grow a strong body and keep it that way.

Your pet needs a well-balanced diet to grow to its full potential and keep healthy. Their diet needs to be suitable for their age, lifestyle and health status, so do talk to us about the best choices.

How much to feed them will depend on their weight, breed and activity levels, but there should be guides on the packaging. If you aren’t sure about their weight, give us a call and we’ll happily arrange a suitable time to discuss nutritional needs and weigh your pet free of charge (we might need to bribe your cat with a treat!).

Cheap pet food is generally bulked up with fibre with no nutritional content and is equivalent to feeding them junk food, so if you can avoid it, do. Feeding pets your own human food isn’t a good idea either, as it doesn’t provide them with the nutrition they need and often contains high levels of salt and sugar. 

Water should always be available to them, and the occasional healthy treat does no harm either! We sell a range of these, including dental chews, or you can look online for ‘homemade healthy dog treat’ recipes. 

5. Protect them and your family from parasites all year round

Fleas, worms and ticks are nuisances affecting many pets, not just cats and dogs. They are often passed to offspring from the mother and can be picked up in the environment very quickly. 

The first time we see your new pet, we will talk to you about the options for getting rid of any existing parasites and correctly dosing them as they grow to ensure they have continuous protection against parasites.

It was historically thought that fleas were a seasonal issue, but now central heating exists; they are a year-round problem, and care should always be taken to ensure there isn’t a gap in your pet’s protection. Eggs can live for several months in the right conditions, and if these fall on carpets in the house, they can leave you and your pet infested.

Parasites are an itchy nuisance but can also cause serious health issues and be carriers of severe diseases, some of which can even be passed to humans, so ensure you’re protected from the start. 

From our blog:

6. Get your pet checked at least once a year at the vet

Pets are not good at telling us if something is hurting, such as their teeth or joints. Many changes can also occur during the first tender years, and everything is better (and cheaper!) caught early. It also doesn’t harm getting them used to being thoroughly checked over. 

We will usually do this at the same time as the annual vaccination boosters, but if you’d like to discuss anything related to your pet’s health, then we’re available throughout the rest of the year!

7. Good grooming and getting pets used to being touched

Giving your pet a good brush is lovely for them and you, but it’s so much more important than just keeping their coat in tip-top condition. Getting up close and personal allows you to notice things like any ticks that have attached, any skin changes, and also to find any sensitive areas that need an eye kept on them. Make sure you use a suitable brush and use your fingers to investigate behind the ears, around the mouth and between the toes.

Looking in their mouth from an early age is a great way to stay aware of their dental health. We can show you how to brush their teeth and keep them healthy, making them a lot less fearful of touch when we come to check them over. 

Brushing teeth is generally easier said than done with cats, but start them young, and they can be quite happy to be touched and groomed and will sometimes let you look in their mouths, especially if they’re rewarded with a spoonful of tuna for being so tolerant.

From our blog:
All Vaccines, Parasite Treatment, Health Checks & much more, covered.
The Vista Pet Club offers you an easy way to remember and budget for vaccinations and parasite control and includes your annual check-up. As a member, you can also benefit from a discount on food, nail clips and many other routine care treatments, so it is a brilliant gift to your pet and you.

Start of Life

Puppy and Kitten Pack

New addition to the family?

Our Start of Life pack saves you money on important treatments for a new pet, and gives your new puppy or kitten everything they need for the best start in life!

The Painful Risks of Not Vaccinating Your Pets

Diseases that you pet can be vaccinated against can have devastating effects.  For most of the viruses that affect pets today there is still no treatment other than treating symptoms, so prevention is the only route to prevent suffering and – potentially – death.  Exposure to infection isn’t just a random encounter with an unfortunate infected pet either – some diseases such as canine parvovirus can live in the environment for up to nine months, and some can even be transferred to humans.

Providing the parents have been vaccinated, puppies and kittens are usually born with a natural protection to infections. The immunity is passed on through the mother’s milk and lasts for a couple of weeks, but after that their immature immune system is open to infection unless vaccinated.

A vaccine is designed to stimulate your pet’s immune system by brief exposure to the disease. Their immune system will then have a faster and stronger reaction to the disease as it has a ‘memory’ of it, and they can then successfully beat the disease and get it out of their system.

Currently, we recommend yearly boosters for many of these diseases to ensure that your pet’s immune system is always vigilant and prepared for disease. As well as having this annual ‘booster’ vaccination, they will also have a thorough clinical examination that can alert us to problems ranging from bad teeth to heart disease.

Diseases we vaccinate your dog against are:
Canine parvovirus

This is often a fatal disease and causes severe diarrhoea and vomiting. Dogs become severely dehydrated, and their immune system is damaged so that they can’t fight infection. It is a very tough virus and even standard disinfectants can’t kill it once it’s in the environment.


Canine distemper virus

This is another nasty disease that causes vomiting, diarrhoea, pneumonia, brain disease and death. Fortunately, vaccination means that this is no longer a common disease and we need to keep it that way.



This infectious bacterial disease is generally caught by dogs drinking water exposed to rat urine, and can be passed on to humans. The bacteria spread through the body via the bloodstream. The disease can cause severe damage to the liver and kidneys and can be fatal.

Younger animals with less developed immune systems usually suffer the most severe complications, and it is often children who are most at risk of contracting the disease from an infected pet.


Infectious canine hepatitis ICH

This acute infection (which can’t be transmitted to us) can cause severe damage to the liver and kidneys and is often fatal. It is caught through faeces and bodily fluids from an infected animal, and then travels through the mucous membrane in the nose and mouth before growing in the tonsils. The infection then travels to the liver and kidneys. Treatment is symptomatic, which means there’s no cure and therefore vaccination defence is essential.



This is a viral infection that is often spread around dogs living in close proximity or where many dogs often visit. It can be spread by a variety of means including coughing and sneezing, but also on shared bedding, bowls and toys etc. the symptoms are generally flu like, and dogs will often develop a dry persistent cough. The prognosis for infected dogs depends on varying factors such as age and general condition, and whether damage from the disease causes any secondary conditions.


Kennel Cough

If your dog will be spending some time in kennels they may also be given a kennel cough vaccine. This vaccine is usually given intra-nasally (into a nostril) and – alongside the parainfluenza vaccine – protects against flu and kennel cough.

Diseases we vaccinate your cat against are:
Feline infectious enteritis

This is caused by infection by something called feline parvovirus (FPV), which is also sometimes known as feline panleukopenia as it results in a low white blood cell count. It’s one of the biggest disease dangers to cats, and is often very quickly fatal. This disease can live in the environment for years, and can’t be killed by disinfectant so vaccination is ESSENTIAL.


Feline flu (feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus)

These two vaccines are given together as between them they make up the upper respiratory tract disease known as feline flu. There are no antiviral drugs to treat this disease, and it can cause serious damage and in some cases be fatal – especially in kittens and in those with underlying medical conditions. Even mild cases can result in permanent damage to the cat’s eyes,  and often blindness.


Feline leukaemia virus

This is an incurable viral disease that is often fatal. It can be very hard to detect initially as symptoms can be vague and mild, then as the year’s progress there are more serious consequences as white blood cells are damaged.

The immune system is compromised and infected cats are much less able to fight off common conditions. Frequent infections are common as is weight loss, fever, lethargy, and diarrhoea. Anaemia is also common, and cats become lethargic, weak and have a pale tongue and gums. Cancers of the white blood cells often develop and a fifth of cats with the feline leukaemia virus die from cancer if they haven’t already died of symptoms or of one of the many infections they pick up.

Pets travelling abroad may require additional vaccination, and you will need to discuss any travel plans with your vet well in advance.

Never miss another vaccination

Members of the Vista Pet Club have vaccinations included each year. It’s a great way to remove the risk of late or forgotten vaccination, and alongside the other benefits designed to offer all-around health protection to your pet.

Exercising Your Pet: Tips to Make Sure Your Cat or Dog Gets Exercise

Running around, moving, and exploring is an instinctive part of a cat and dog’s life, and is fundamental to their physical – and mental – wellbeing. It keeps them in shape, maintains muscle tone and regular activity means they’re less likely to suffer from behavioural issues, obesity, and arthritis. 

But how do we know if our pets are getting enough exercise? And how do you even START exercising a cat?

Exercising Dogs

When it comes to dogs, the amount of daily exercise they need depends largely on their size and breed, age, and health. Within these categories there are also personality variations – just like humans, some dogs are more energetic than others and have more excitement to burn off!

As a rule, dogs should be able to run and play freely for between 30 minutes to two hours, spread across two walks a day. Smaller breeds such as chihuahuas and miniature dachshunds need the least with Retrievers, Labradors and Weimaraner’s (generally working dogs) needing the most. Flat-faced breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs need as much exercise as other dogs but can sometimes struggle to breathe due to the shape of their face. If this is the case, you could try shorter but more frequent, less intensive sessions.

Exercising Puppies

Puppies – no matter what breed – need to slowly build up to their exercise requirements to protect their joints. As your dog becomes a senior, the same might need to happen in reverse as you keep a careful eye on their joint health and stamina.  Just go at their pace and don’t force them to exercise for longer than they’re comfortable doing so. 

Exercising Cats

Cats are a different animal! They do usually look after their own needs, but if you have an indoor cat or if they would benefit from shedding a few pounds or working on mobility, then a twenty-minute interactive play session once a day is an excellent starting point. You can gradually increase the frequency of these if they’re tolerated, and they can do wonders.

What counts as exercise for dogs?

It doesn’t have to be a walk with your dog around your usual haunts which can get a bit dull for both you AND your dog. Routine exercise times are good as it makes it habitual, but keeping things varied is a great way to keep them mentally as well as physically stimulated. A few great things to chuck into mental and physical mix are:

  • Swimming
  • Agility – you could join a local club or try setting up your own course in the garden or park!
  • Running or cycling – the dog running alongside you. Cycling is not a canine strong point
  • Training
  • Play

What counts as exercise for cats?

For cats, anything that plays to their instincts to stalk, pounce and chase is good. They will be more likely to engage with this type of play, and it will bring out their hunting skills. Anything counts as exercise if it’s an outlet for their predatory instincts, and will help keep them fit, healthy and mentally stimulated. This mental element of play is key to preventing depression and boredom, and as in humans these can lead to other health and behavioural problems further down the line.

Ideas for cat-centred exercise play include:

  • Cat trees that have spots where they can bat at hanging toys, climb through holes, sit on raised platforms and posts they can scratch, which helps tone the muscles in their shoulders and back.
  • Laser toys that are hand-held or floor based. Cats love chasing a light around! Just make sure it’s built for purpose and sold with this use in mind
  • Catnip toys are great for hunting games. These can be led by your cat or they can be tied onto a stick with string and waved around in front of them
  • Puzzles where a ball is chased through a tunnel with their paws
  • Feeding mazes
  • Empty boxes they can jump in and out of
  • You can even buy cat treadmills now! But these are quite expensive, and cats are by nature very fickle and will do exactly what they want to do and nothing else. So, check the returns policy on more costly solutions

What if my pet has physical or behavioural issues?

If your dog or cat has an injury or has been unwell, then rest is important to recovery, and they will benefit from less daily exercise during this time. It’s important that they don’t become bored though, so try to find other ways to keep them stimulated. Gentle dog walks on a lead so they can still sniff around, hunting for their food or food mazes for cats or dogs, and indoor games with toys are all good ways to entertain them. If your dog likes swimming, then this can be a great option as it’s low impact.

Keep it safe as well as healthy! 5 top tips for safe exercising:

1. Watch the weather.

If it’s very hot, take your dog out during the cooler hours to reduce the risk of heatstroke, and take water and a bowl with you. During the winter be aware of how cold your dog gets and put them in a high-visibility collar or jacket on dull and dark days.

2. Keep an eye on their fitness.

If they’re struggling in ways they didn’t used to, pop in for a check-up with a vet just to make sure there aren’t any underlying issues. Always go at their pace and don’t rush into intense exercise faster than they can cope with. As with us, fitness takes time and work to improve!

3. Play with toys that are pet-safe.

Mouth and throat injuries caused by splintering sticks and animal bones are very common, and small balls can be a choking hazard. Make sure the toy they’re playing with is suitable for your pet and for their size. We sell a range of toys in the practice and are always happy to advise on fun things suitable for your pet’s needs.

4. Keep up-to-date with vaccinations and parasite control.

Diseases that we routinely vaccinate against are still around in this country, and not everyone vaccinate. These diseases are protected against for a reason – because they can cause life-long problems and sometimes death. Viruses and bacteria can survive for a long time in the right conditions, so it’s important that you keep your pets safe. Worms, ticks and fleas can also be picked up whilst out and brought into the house by us, so not even house cats are safe. These parasites are much easier to prevent than deal with!

5. Be a good citizen.

Always take a lead and poo bags when you take your dog out. If dogs need to be on a lead in certain areas, there will be a reason for it such as livestock, traffic or family-friendly designated areas. When in an area where dogs can roam free, but you spot a dog with a lead on or vest, put yours on a lead too. This isn’t just polite but also avoids confrontation, upset or fighting with a potentially aggressive counterpart. Clear up the poop.

Not only are you likely to face a hefty fine if caught leaving it, no one wants to step in poo and have it stuck to their shoes/car/carpets, or have their child fall face-first into it. Yes, it biodegrades, but so do good poo-bags these days.

If you’d like to discuss any health, behavioural or dietary issues with us then click here to book an appointment.

Mental Health in Dogs | Post-Lockdown Mental Health Issues in Dogs

Did you know that lockdown affected the mental health of our dogs as well?

New research by Guide Dogs has revealed that 74% of the nation’s dogs show signs of having poor mental health, with 18% showing symptoms as often as weekly. Only a third of the dog owners are able to spot the signs of poor canine mental health and just a quarter admit they did not even realise that dogs could suffer from poor mental health.

Our own vet Dr. Peter Brigant recently had the opportunity to discuss mental health in dogs on ITV news.

This was a great opportunity to raise awareness about an issue which is rarely discussed, but we see all too often these days. Watch the video below:

So how do I recognise these behavioural changes in dogs?

Some behaviour can be quite obvious, and can be easily identified as:

  • Excessive barking
  • Hyperactivity
  • Obsessive fur biting
  • Tail-chasing
  • Aggression

Some of these behaviours can eventually turn cohabitation with our four-legged friends into a frustrating experience.

On the other hand, some symptoms are harder to spot:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in activity levels

These kinds of behaviour can sometimes be harder to consider as a cause for concern, and any kind of slight change in behaviour means mental health issues can become easily overlooked.

My dog is acting strangely! What can I do?

There are many forms of mental health problems and therefore the exact reasons why your dog is having behavioural problems would differ from case to case.

Speak to your vet
The general approach is to rule out the possibility that the change in the behaviour is not caused by physical health issues and therefore it is advisable to consult the abnormal behaviour with the vet. If simple behavioural techniques are not helping we would then advise and refer to a canine behavioural specialist.

Try Canine Enrichment Activities

We know that most of the dogs’ mental issues have origin in our stereotypical lifestyle in which our furry friend takes undivided part. Simply, dogs get bored very easily and are always looking for something to interest them.

Canine enrichment activities, such as food-based puzzle toys, LickiMats, forging games, sensory activities and steady walks with lots of sniffing opportunities, could be the key to boosting a dog’s mood.

On average, UK dog owners spend between 46 – 60 minutes per day looking to keep their dogs stimulated. However, the age and energy level decide the amount of stimulation a dog needs, but all owners should do canine enrichment activities little and often and think about quality, not quantity. Variety is key; doing something a bit different each day or mixing things up throughout the week is much more interesting for a dog. Dogs can thrive when given new tasks and opportunities to engage.

Integrating a mix of canine enrichment activities into your dog’s day-to-day life is the best way to help stimulate their senses, encourage them to practice natural behaviours, and improve their wellbeing. As well as being a lot of fun for you and your dog.

Questions about your dog's behaviour?
As always, if you have any questions regarding your dog's behaviour, please do not hesitate to contact Vista Vets and we'll do all we can to help.

01376 786 732