Nurses Carry on Qualifying

Heath Vets is proud of its excellent veterinary nurse team. We have been investing regularly in college places for team members to study and qualify as Veterinary Nurses. The Diploma in Veterinary Nursing is awarded by the RCVS – The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons – and takes the form of a two year course. The course works on a “day release” basis, meaning that students work full-time at a veterinary practice and document their practical work for submission to college, where they follow an in –depth series of specialist modules. The classes include anatomy & physiology, pharmacology, radiography, legislation and take place at various colleges.

Veterinary nurse Louise Thomas qualified first, three years ago. She was joined in January this year by Kayley Alexander, who studied at Abbeydale in Monmouth. Naomi Harries and Karen Penhale are the latest staff to go on the course in Pencoed College, Bridgend and hope to qualify soon (Good luck, both!)

Karen says “I joined Heath Vets eight years ago, initially as a receptionist. I was delighted to be offered the opportunity to develop my career by studying.” And Kayley was elated to qualify in January after ten and a half years at Heath Vets. She laughs: “I have always wanted to have a career with animals. When I was a child I used to play vets – I remember pretending to inject soft toys with a pen and using toilet paper as a bandage!”

The course is comprehensive – and it needs to be. The six-strong nurse team at Heath Vets look after every pet, every day. While vets are performing operations and consultations, the nurses take care of all pets ensuring that the correct medication and diet are observed and on a more personal note, making sure that animals are happy and comfortable.

“We think of ourselves as advocates for the animals and we speak for them.” says Kayley.

Heath Vets is launching nurse clinics in the next few months. Appointments will be available with the nurse team for all routine preventative care as well as nail clippings, checking anal glands and other day to day requirements. The nurse team will also launch a special “senior clinic”, for older pets, too.  Clinics will take place every day and will operate on a pre-booked basis, initially at the Rhiwbina surgery.

Watch this space for the launch date of the nurse clinics or like our Facebook page to keep in the loop with all things Heath Vets.

Is catnip is dangerous for cats and especially small kittens?

Great question from one of our clients:

Catnip (Nepata cataria) is a common garden flower. It produces an essential oil called ‘nepetalactone’ and some cats react to this by getting ‘high’. The oil is taken in by sniffing, but cats will chew the plant and roll in it; this is believed to release more of the oil to inhale. Not all cats are sensitive to the effect – half of them don’t react at all, and kittens under 3-4 months never do. The sensitivity of old cats is also reduced. For susceptible cats, the effect usually makes them very frisky and playful, but sometimes they can appear sedated. However, the effect lasts only a few minutes (15 max) and cannot be repeated for at least an hour. There are no reports of cats ‘overdosing’ and becoming ill, and it is not addictive. Since it doesn’t affect cats under 3 months at all, it is unlikely that your little kitten will even notice its presence. If she should, just enjoy watching her fun!

A question about Parvo

My wife is paranoid that our two year old Staffie is going to pick up parvovirus from the local park. Is it something that can be transmitted in this way and what are the symptoms that we’d need to look out for if it did pick up this disease?

Parvovirus is a deadly dog virus that causes severe bloody vomiting and diarrhoea, which, if untreated, is usually fatal. With careful and intensive treatment, most adult dogs recover from the illness and it leaves no lasting problems; in puppies the prognosis is not so good, and about 20% of them will die in spite of treatment. The virus is spread via faeces. After becoming infected, the dog incubates the disease for several days before showing symptoms, but already during that time virus is being excreted in the normal-looking faeces, so it is not just diarrhoea faeces which could be infected. The virus can survive on the ground for years after the faeces in which it arrived has gone, so areas like public parks, where lots of dogs defecate, can, over the years, acquire a significant burden of infection. Fortunately, there are very effective and safe vaccines against parvo, which are part of the routine injections that all dogs should have every year. So as long as your Staffie has his jabs every year, there should be no risk of him catching this nasty virus.

Action Petz

What’s it all about?

Visit the Action Petz Website to watch a great video all about the park.

Action Petz indoor dog play park and training centre is the first of its kind in the UK! We aim to make your pooches dreams come true! Action Petz…. Where dogs can run free, play, jump, learn, socialise and have the time of their lives in a completely secure indoor park. We absolutely promise that you won’t get rained on in our park and as for mud! Well there isn’t any, a big bonus in our book! For those fine weather days, there is also an outdoor dog play area. There is no need to book but please remember your dogs vaccination record on your first visit.

Along with alleviating the worry of your dog running off or even going missing, our goal is also to provide a fantastic place for you humans to come and socialise with like minded dog lovers whilst relaxing and enjoying delicious refreshments in our comfy and stylish cafe.

At Action Petz we are also passionate about supporting the fantastic work of animal rescue charities and there will always be a focus on rehabilitating and helping dogs without permanent homes.

Therefore the centre is completely free for dogs living in rescue centres or foster placements.

About the Park

The UK’s first of its kind! Other countries have been successfully providing indoor dog friendly parks for many years. There are several reasons why Action Petz Indoor Play Park was started; one being that as long standing dog owners and lifelong dog lovers, we believe that all dogs should get the opportunity to run free off the lead. Unfortunately we are aware that there are many reasons why dogs do not always get this rite of passage. We believe that lots of dogs are just not getting sufficient exercise to keep them happy, calm and well behaved!

Action Petz solution is a purpose built 14,000sq ft indoor arena that is lavished in high quality artificial grass, park benches, plants and trees and more tunnels, jumps and play apparatus that your dog could shake a stick at. There is ample room to run, play and socialise, all in a completely secure arena. We encourage all dogs to toilet outside in a specified area but in the event of any little toileting accidents, cleaning will take place straight away to keep the park fresh and clean. The entire play park will also be professionally deep cleaned on a weekly basis.

There are sectioned off areas for small, young or shy dogs and at quieter times and by prior arrangement we can cater for dogs that need special care and attention such as dogs that need behavioural training and/or rehabilitation.

During fine weather we encourage use of the secure outdoor area where there will be paddling pools and outdoor toys and even ice-creams for dogs and humans!

The serious bit…. Action Petz would like to mention that owners are fully responsible for their dogs whilst using the play park. Any aggressive dog behaviour will be taken very seriously and dealt with in a professional manner. All dogs must be in good health, vaccinated (Vaccination record is required on first visit), wormed and flead. Dogs are not required to be desexed but bitches in season are not permitted into the park. All users of the dog park must be registered with Action Petz which we can facilitate on your first visit. Please take a look at our prices page to see which type of park membership would suit you and your dog’s needs the best.

Fireworks and pets

Fireworks – How to Prepare

Keep pets inside:

Don’t let them outside when fireworks are likely or during a display. Take dogs out for toilet purposes before it gets dark and then keep them in.

Shut all the doors, windows and the cat flap; provide extra litter trays if your cat is not used to being shut in. Remember, a firework going off when they’re outside can lead to them developing a general fear of going out. Feed your dog a good meal in the mid afternoon and give him a supply of carbohydrate (such as pasta) three hours later with added vitamin B6. This can help by giving him a full stomach during the evening. This diet also increases the body’s natural calming chemicals in the brain. If necessary do not feed him at any other time during the day to ensure a good appetite.

If your dog is prone to diarrhoea when scared or at other times, or has other medical conditions necessitating a special diet, please consult us and we will give specific advice regarding this strategy.

Fireworks – Reducing the Impact

Provide a den or hiding place:

Animals naturally hide when they’re scared and it can help to provide a ”safe place” which they can squeeze into, like an under stairs cupboard or an indoor kennel with blankets over the top and inside. An ideal place is somewhere near the centre of the house, or somewhere they have already hidden.

Muffle the sound of fireworks – Close curtains, shut outside doors and windows, and have your pet as near to the centre of the house as possible. Blacking out the room removes the potentially additional problems of flashing lights, flares etc., which can become predictors of the noises that your dog or cat is scared of.

Distract your pet: Put on the TV or play music with drumbeats to help mask the sound of fireworks. It doesn’t necessarily have to be loud as long as there is a constant distracting rhythm to the music which will prevent your dog from concentrating on the noises outside.

Engage in an activity with your pet to distract him or provide plenty of familiar toys, but change these frequently so there is lots of new stimulation to interest your dog at this time.

Fireworks – Your own Behaviour Matters

Don”t make the situation worse by your own behaviour:

Try to arrange that you are with your dog so that he doesn’t have the additional problem of being isolated at this time. Remember dogs are very social creatures. However, resist the temptation to reassure your dog or use physical contact such as cuddling to make him feel better. Close physical interaction can inadvertently reinforce the fear. Ignore these noises yourself and try to involve your dog in some form of active game (such as juggling your dog’s toys) so he can choose to join in but only if he wants to.

Stay calm yourself:

Most pets can sense when their owners are worried, and this increases their stress. Let them hide in the den, and leave them there until the fireworks have finished and they come out. You can give your pet lots of fuss once they emerge. Don’t get angry or punish your pet.

Although your pet’s behaviour may be annoying, it is happening because they are scared and getting cross will only make them worse. Don’t try to take your pet out of its hiding place – this increases their stress and could lead to aggression. Be prepared for unusual behaviour – Fear can make your pet behave out of character. For example, if they anticipate that going into the garden predicts a loud noise, they may hide or show aggression to avoid going outside.

Fireworks – Treatment Options

Devices which release natural calming chemicals that help to reassure your dog are now available.

For dogs, they are called “Adaptil”, and for cats they are “Feliway”.

Adaptil is a synthetic copy of a natural canine appeasing pheromone, produced by bitches to make puppies feel safe. It has been used by behaviourists, vets and animal charities for the last 10 years to help dogs cope with a range of stressful situations, firework fear being one of them.

Feliway is a synthetic version of the cat facial pheromone used by cats to mark their territory as a safe and secure place. Over many years it has proved its value in reducing stress-related cat behaviours such as urine spraying and vertical scratching.

Adaptil and Feliway are available in a plug-in diffuser which should be positioned where the pet spends most of its resting time, starting at least a week before fireworks time. They’re also available as a short-acting spray to use directly in the den or bed to increase the pheromone level when the stress is highest, and Adaptil also comes as a collar.

Zylkene is a natural product derived from milk. It has a calming and tranquilising effect similar to the effect of a milk drink on a puppy. Since its launch in April 2008, Zylkene has been used in many common situations which cause stress in our pets, including firework fear. Vets, behaviourists, nurses and pet owners have all found Zylkene to be a valuable asset in managing stress. Zylkene is very easy to give: it comes as a milk-based (and therefore palatable) powder in a capsule. Just open the capsule and sprinkle the powder on some food, just once a day. It is very safe, has no side-effects and is non-addictive. Treatment should be started a 2-3 days before the fireworks, and continue a few days after.


Medication may be useful in some cases but must only be given under veterinary supervision. Remember, drugs should ideally be given so they take effect BEFORE any noise starts or panic sets in. This is usually at least an hour ahead of the events. An alternative approach uses a combination of drugs given over the whole firework period, starting about two weeks before. If you think your pet will need drugs to help them cope, make an appointment to see the vet to get everything sorted out well in advance of Bonfire night.