Saturday, 23 September 2017

Vets Now - Keeping our pets safe in an emergency

I was contacted by Vets Now over the summer and they told me all about a massive campaign they were running to help pet owners enjoy the summer months safe in the knowledge that they felt prepared to deal with a pet emergency if one should occur. This came from some research that discovered that 85 per cent of pet owners don’t know what to do in an emergency, which is worryingly high. So I wanted to help them raise awareness on ways we can keep our pets safe during the summer months and beyond.

If you’ve been around here for a while, you will probably know that my pets are a big part of my family’s lives and mine. We have two cats, Jaffa and Xena, and two dogs, Alfie and Freddie. They really are a part of the family. I’ve had animals in my life from a young age, as I got my first hamster, Ginger, when I was about seven. Since then, we’ve had a few more hamsters, guinea pigs and then the pets we have today. Their health and wellbeing is always top priority and we make regular use of our local vets. But what happens when the local vets is closed? I don’t know if it’s just our cats and dogs, but if they’re going to get ill or have an accident, they usually do it either on a weekend, evening or a Bank Holiday! And this is where Vets Now comes to the rescue. Their practices are open to look after our animals whenever regular vet practices are closed. And because they only work out of hours, their vets and nurses are experts in dealing with critical and emergency cases.

We’ve had first hand experience of using our local Vets Now practice in Farnham over the years. My cat, Jaffa, was quite poorly when he was a kitten, so he’s stayed at the Vets Now clinic a number of times overnight. We have also had to use them with our Golden Retriever, Alfie, who was attacked by another dog on a Bank Holiday Monday. It was an incredibly distressing experience, but the staff at Vets Now were so kind and helpful putting us at ease and patching Alfie up. They really are lifesavers, so if you have pets, it’s really worth knowing where your closest clinic is.

As I said, Vets Now ran a campaign over the summer to raise awareness of how to keep your dog safe during the warmer months. They put together this info graphic document, which lists 15 summer dangers that could make your dog ill. But these aren’t necessarily limited to just over the summer. We took Alfie and Freddie to a local country park recently for a walk around the lake, and the following dangers from the document came to mind that we needed to be aware of. The informative piece also includes useful tips for how to avoid these dangers because often, prevention is better than cure.

Blue-Green Algae

Danger: A bacteria forms on top of lakes and ponds but often can’t be seen with the naked eye. Although this particular bacterium is most common during warm, dry spells, there are plenty of other things in lakes that would be dangerous for dogs. Swallowing even a few mouthfuls of blue-green algae can be fatal for our furry friends.

How to avoid: Don’t let your dog near water that may contain blue-green algae as the wind often blows blooms to the edges. You can often find out if there are any dangers in local lakes and rivers by checking the website of the organisation who maintains it.


Danger: Dogs who come across toads will often try to lick, bite or pick them up. Toads respond by releasing poisonous venom from glands on their skin. This can be lethal if not treated immediately. Toads aren’t the only problem – other animals can be found wherever you might walk your dogs, including snakes, deer, rabbits, mice and even other dogs. Although not necessarily poisonous, these animals can still cause problems for dogs that may try to chase them or play with them. As you read above, even other people’s dogs can cause injury to your own dog.

How to avoid: If you live in an area where toads are common, keep a close eye on potential water sources for your dog as there may be toads living in them. Also, unless your dog has an impeccable recall, keep them on a lead so you can quickly pull them away and keep them close if you spot another animal. You could use a long line so they can still have a run around but be easy to bring back if need be.


Danger: Dogs often ingest sand by accident through digging or repeatedly picking up sandy balls and toys. You don’t necessarily need to be at the beach for sand to be a problem, as you can also find it around lakes or on sandy paths in woodland. It can cause a blockage in the intestine, which is called sand impaction.

How to avoid: Limit games of fetch on sandy terrains and make sure you have plenty of fresh water on hand to keep your dog hydrated.

Fish Hooks

Danger: Dogs are often tempted to swallow the shiny lure and tasty bait that’s attached to fishhooks. Where I live there are a lot of fishing lakes, so we need to be really careful when walking near water. Fishhooks can cause nasty injuries if embedded in the mouth, stomach or paws.

How to avoid: Fishhooks are often discarded by fisherman so be on your guard in areas where fishing is popular.

Plants and flowers

Danger: Several flowers and plants are potentially toxic to dogs, so this is a danger that you should check even your back garden for. Flowers including poppies, clematis, peonies, foxgloves, geraniums and yews are just a few of the plants that can harm dogs.

How to avoid: If you’re not sure whether your plants are safe, keep a close eye on your dog around them. You can always Google the plant to double check.

As well as putting together this document, Vets Now also scoured the country to put together a comprehensive guide of dog-friendly days out on the coast. We’re lucky to have a lot of beautiful countryside walks on our doorstep, so we don’t often take the dogs further afield, but it’s really good to know that there are plenty of dog-friendly beaches we could visit if we wanted to. From vast expanses of sand in northern Scotland to picturesque pebble shores on the south coast of England, the pages in the guide contain 50 amazing places for you, your family and your dog to visit. It also includes insider tips on where you can enjoy a drink, some food and even a short break in places where your dog will be as welcome as you are. And to put your mind at ease, they have only chosen beaches:

·      Within an hour’s drive of a Vets Now pet emergency clinic or hospital
·      Where parking and access is good
·      Where a daytime vet is based nearby
·      Where the water quality has been deemed high

There are so many more dangers around the home, garden and further afield, but this post would end up very long if I tried to list all of them! And even without any physical dangers, of course, our pets can still become unwell on their own. So the most important thing is to have a good understanding of some of the most common dangers, to be able to recognise when your pet is unwell or hurt and to have the contact details of your nearest emergency vet on your mobile, so you know exactly what to do should your dog (or any other animal) have an accident or become unwell when your regular vet is closed.

Do you know what to do if your pet has an emergency? Do you feel reassured knowing there are emergency clinics all over the country? And will you be visiting any of the beaches in the guide?!


  1. This is a really important post, I'm glad you shared it! I never ever knew that those flowers would be a danger to dogs, it's crazy that even when you think you'd know how to look out for your pooch, something as simple as the poppies in your garden could potentially harm them!

    Definitely sharing this with my family members who have pets!

    Issy | MissIsGoode

    1. Thanks Issy I'm really glad you've found it helpful and informative. It's crazy how such common things can harm our furry friends xx