FAQs | Ash Tree Veterinary Centre
Healthcare Plan Sign Up

The Ash Tree Vets Healthcare Plan is a super way to help you budget monthly by direct debit and save money, whilst ensuring your pet receives the best in preventative health care.

Learn More


What is the Best Start Package?  

Our best start package is designed to ensure your new best friend has everything they need. It includes:

  • All of your puppy’s core vaccinations
  • Kennel Cough Vaccination
  • A free nose to tail health check with one of our vets
  • Their first dose of flea, tick and worming treatment
  • A free bag of food or food voucher
  • 4 weeks free pet insurance
  • Only £40 for Healthcare Plan members, or £80 if not




When can I come for my first appointment?

We recommend coming for your first appointment soon after getting your new puppy. This gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have, and get the best advice available from our experienced team.

When do I need to treat my puppy for fleas and worms?

All puppies should be wormed multiple times whist they are still with their mothers then again once in their new homes.

When you come for your appointment, our team will be ready to advise you on the latest, most effective and safe parasite control options, and our Best Start Package will include your puppies first dose of flea and worm control for no extra cost.

Do I need to vaccinate my puppy?

We highly recommend vaccinating all puppies to protect them against a range of life-threatening diseases, a lot of which are sadly still very common. To be fully effective, we advise giving vaccinations at eight and 12 weeks of age.

Some puppies may have already had a vaccination before you take them home. If this is the case, please bring their vaccination record to their first appointment.

What should I feed my puppy?

Puppies should be fed on a balanced and complete puppy food, formulated with their growing bodies in mind.

With over 1,500 different brands of dog food on the market in the UK it can be extremely difficult to choose one that is actually good for your dog. Ash Tree Vets highly recommend Royal Canin dog food, and are more than happy to talk to you about the pros and cons of a variety of diets.

When should I neuter (castrate or spay) my puppy?

This is a question we often get asked when we first see a puppy. The answer is dependent on each individual, and we take the opportunity to discuss it in more detail at a FREE Junior Health Check, which you will be invited to attend when your puppy is around five months old.

How should I help my puppy to settle in?

Settling your new puppy in and teaching them to be a good dog is not always as easy as we expect it to be! Ash Tree Vets have a very experienced team of Veterinary Nurses, all of which are dog owners themselves, who are on hand with advice to help get you started.

We also highly recommend attending a puppy training school.

What happens if my puppy does not have a microchip?

Since April 2016 it has been law that all dogs in the UK are microchipped before eight weeks of age and registered initially to the breeder, so your new puppy should already have a microchip when they come to you. The breeder should give you a “Transfer of ownership code” (or similar), to simplify the transfer of ownership details on their microchip. If it doesn’t, don’t worry we can help.  Our microchipping service is competitively priced, and only a fully qualified Veterinary Nurse or Veterinary Surgeon will implant your puppies microchip.; we only use the market leading microchips, and will register your pet’s details with Petlog, the UK’s largest microchip database, accessible 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In the distressing event that your dog does go missing, it is essential that you have the best possible chance of being re-united with them.


What is the Best Start Package?

Our best start package is designed to ensure your kitten has everything they need. It includes:

  • All of your kitten’s core vaccinations
  • A free nose to tail health check with one of our vets
  • Their first dose of flea, tick and worming treatment
  • 4 weeks free pet insurance


When can I come for my first appointment?

We recommend coming for your first appointment soon after getting your new kitten. This gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have, and get the best advice available from our experienced team.

When do I need to treat my kitten for fleas and worms?

We recommend all kittens are wormed from 2 weeks of age and definitely as soon as they move to their new homes. Flea prevention is often started at 9 weeks old but can be started sooner if required.
When you come for your appointment, we will advise you on the latest, most effective and safe parasite control options, and our Best Start Package will include your kittens first dose of flea and worm control for no extra cost.

Do I need to vaccinate my kitten?

We highly recommend vaccinating all kittens to protect them against a range of life-threatening diseases, a lot of which are sadly still very common. Kittens require 2 injections at 9 and 12 weeks old.

What should I feed my kitten?

Kittens should be fed on a balanced and complete kitten food, formulated with their growing bodies in mind.

With so many different brands of cat food on the market in the UK it can be extremely difficult to choose one that is actually good for your cat. Ash Tree Vets highly recommend Royal Canin cat food, and are more than happy to talk to you about the pros and cons of a variety of diets.

When should I neuter (castrate or spay) my kitten?

Cats can re-produce from a very young age, so we highly recommend neutering between four and six months of age depending on each individual situation, to prevent any unwanted pregnancies in a young cats. Cats should always be neutered before you start letting them roam outside.

Siblings will mate with each other, so it is essential to neuter at least one of them before there is a chance of this happening.

Should I get my kitten microchipped

Yes and it is now a legal requirement to do so before they are 20 weeks old. Cats commonly go missing. They roam for miles and get lost, climb into vehicles and sometimes become involved in accidents. Microchipping is the only reliable way of tracing a cat’s owner when he or she is found and brought to a vet.

Pet Insurance

Does my pet need insurance?

There are significant advances in veterinary medicine that can even rival human medical care but these advances also come with a price tag.

Holding a pet insurance policy is an entirely personal decision

You are more likely to claim on your pet insurance than your car or household policies*.

Which insurance would you recommend?

It is important to be aware that not all pet insurance is the same. There are many providers on the market and they all vary considerably. We strongly encourage owners to choose a reputable pet insurance provider and a level of cover that will suit their financial needs in the event that they need to make a claim.

It is worth being aware that many policies limit either the amount of money that you can claim, or restrict the amount of time they will cover a condition for to just 12 months. The price you pay for your premium does not necessarily directly reflect the level of cover you get.

Can I claim and if so how?

Before making a claim it is important to check if your pet is covered. Some insurance providers offer a pre-authorisation service. For those that don’t it is worth talking to them about your policy and your pets medical history to help establish whether they’re likely to be covered.

If you have changed your insurance provider at anytime in your pet’s life, or have a policy that is limited by time or finance, then you may be less likely to be able to make a successful claim.

In the event that you would like to make a claim, we are here to guide you through the process.

You will need to obtain and fully complete a claim form from your insurance provider; some companies allow you to download a claim form online, others may send you one by post when requested. Some now operate digitally.

If you are insured with Petplan we can supply a claim form to you or you can start a claim via their website.

We aim to process any claim form within ten working days of receipt. If the policy holders section of your claim form is not completed then this will delay the process.

Can I make a Direct Claim?

Owners are usually asked to settle in full at the time of any treatment. However, with prior arrangement and mutual agreement, we are able to offer Direct Claims in some circumstances, meaning that your insurance company settle the claim directly to us; you simply pay your excess, any co-payment and for any non-claimable charges including a Direct Claim fee.

In order for us to be able to arrange a Direct Claim please contact the practice in advance of your pets appointment.

Please note:

It is the owner / policy holders responsibility to ensure the level of cover they have chosen is suitable for the treatment or procedure undertaken.

Owners will be responsible in full for any shortfall in your insurance payment.

If your insurance provider decline to settle a claim, or any part of the claim, you will be liable in full for the fees owed to the practice.

What happens if I do not have Pet Insurance?

For owners who do not have a Pet Insurance policy, or who’s policy is not adequate for their pet’s treatment, we would ask that any fees are settled in full at the time of consultation.


Cat and Dog Vaccinations, the facts

Should I vaccinate my pet?


Vaccinations are the only effective way to protect your pet against life threatening and sadly often fatal disease.

We strongly believe in not over-vaccinating any animal and therefore have strict vaccination protocols in place to ensure your pet is fully protected and safe.

Which disease are dogs vaccinated against?

The WSAVA core vaccines are against:

  • Parvovirus. Still widespread throughout the UK. This severe disease is often fatal, especially in young puppies.
  • Distemper. Historically this disease was irradicated in pet dogs, but sadly has now been reported again in the UK in unvaccinated dogs. This awful disease is potentially fatal, and the only way to protect your dog against it is by vaccination.
  • Infectious Hepatitis. Thankfully this disease is fairly uncommon in the UK, but it does still exist. As another potentially fatal disease, we routinely vaccinate against it.

Additional vaccinations we recommend

  • Leptospirosis. This disease is widespread and present in our area; any dog that is exercised outdoors is potentially at risk as it is transmitted by contact with the urine of any infected animals, often wildlife. Annual vaccination is the only way to protect against this fatal disease and this is what we recommend. It is also a zoonotic which means if your dog catches it, you can also catch it!
  • Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (Kennel Cough). This highly infectious disease is easily transmitted from one dog to another in any situation where dogs mix; parks, training classes, walks, doggy daycare and grooming parlours; it can even be passed through the air, or indirectly via contaminated objects.  This disease is extremely unpleasant, and can be life threatening in the young and old. We also highly recommend vaccinating against this disease if your dog has any underlying conditions affecting their heart or lungs, or if they are a brachycephalic breed, such as a Pug or Bulldog.

What do we vaccinate cats against?

  • Cat Flu. This extremely unpleasant and highly infectious disease is widespread among the UK cat population; and can be fatal in young kittens. Regular vaccinations are the only way to keep your cat protected.
  • Infectious enteritis (Panleucopenia). Although fairly uncommon in the UK, this severe disease is often fatal, so protecting your cat by vaccinating them is always recommended.
  • Feline leukaemia. This widespread disease can be very severe if contracted, and can prove potentially fatal unless protected by vaccination.

Can my dog have a blood test to see if my pet needs vaccinating?

A blood test is available to check antibody titre levels against Distemper, Hepatitis and Parvovirus. We only use the gold standard laboratory test rather than the quicker and cheaper in house methods you may see advertised elsewhere as these are often very inaccurate.

Unfortunately here is no blood test available that will effectively tell you if your dog has effective immunity against Leptospirosis or Kennel Cough, so the only way to ensure they’re protected against these diseases is by vaccination.

Are there any risks?

The most common side effect following vaccinations is a mild and transient sting at the site of the injection. The risk of side effects following vaccinations are characterised as “rare” by regulatory authorities. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate said the incidence of adverse reactions to Nobivac L4 is 0.064 per cent. Or, in other words, for every 10,000 doses administered, the VMD has received reports of six reactions. We are constantly monitoring the scientific updates looking at risk of side effects versus benefits of vaccinations and the current advice is the benefit greatly exceeds the risks.


We offer our services to everyone who may need them.

Alternative formats

Our documentation can be provided in alternative formats. Please contact the practice and we will be more than happy to help.

Disabled access

We have a large carpark onsite with a wide ramp leading to our front door. Our waiting area and consultation rooms have been designed to allow good disabled access. If you may require assistance upon arrival please inform a member of the team when booking your appointment.

Neurodiversity and learning differences

We understand that it can be an upsetting and worrying time for anyone if your pet is unwell. We always aim to provide a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for all our clients. If you have any specific needs we would welcome you to express them to us in advance of your appointment, or during your visit.

Cat and Dog Parasites

Pet Parasites: Fleas, worms, and ticks

What are fleas?

Tiny dark brown, wingless insects which can jump up to 165 times their own length and are easily spread by contact from one animal to another. fleas feed on the blood of our pets. They cling onto fur with their claws and bite the skin with a needle-like mouth. For young puppies and kittens, this blood loss can cause anaemia which is potentially life-threatening. In adult dogs and cats (and humans!) the main problem is the flea bite, which leads to irritation and skin allergy problems. A single flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day and these fall into the environment such as your pet’s bedding or the carpet which should also be treated. These larvae then develop into adults that will jump onto your pet where they will bite, feed and so the cycle continues.

How do you know if your pet has fleas?

The best way to check for fleas is to check for “flea dirt” which are brown/black specks seen in your pet’s coat (‘flea dirt’ is really dried specks of blood extracted by the flea). Comb through your pet’s coat onto a wet piece of kitchen roll or paper. If the specks turn red/brown, then you know your pet has fleas. Don’t wait for your pet to itch or scratch before thinking about flea treatment. There are many products available to prevent or treat fleas but some are better than others! Prescription Only Products are always the safest and most effective, our vets can prescribe effective treatments that when used regularly, will prevent flea infestation.

What are ticks?

Ticks are hard bodied parasites that measure 2.4mm-3.6mm (up to 11mm fully engorged) that feed on our pet’s blood. They are red/brown in colour and turn grey once engorged. They transmit diseases such as Lyme Disease, Babesiosis and tick borne fever. To learn more about ticks, see what Chris Packham has to say:

What to do if you find a tick?

It is important to dispose of any ticks you find hygienically and be careful not to release the live tick back into the environment, as it could re-attach itself to your pet or your family!

  • The ideal device for tick removal is a specially designed hook with a narrow slot, which needs to be slid with care under the tick at skin level so as to grip the tick. You can purchase these form the practice.
  • Secure the hook in place around the mouthparts of the tick, ensuring that it is not entangled in the hair. The hook is then rotated around its axis several times until the attachment is freed. The loose tick will then be easily detached and removed without putting either the tick or skin under tension
  • When attempting to remove a tick, avoid handling the parasite directly without gloves – remember ticks carry unpleasant infections!

How do I prevent ticks?

As always prevention is better than cure so please ask a member of staff about the most up to date tick prevention treatments available.

What are roundworms (dogs and cats)?

Roundworms are large white worms, with cylindrical bodies. The adult roundworm lives in the small intestine and feeds on the gut contents. Dogs and cats of any age can get roundworms but they are most likely to have roundworms when they are very young. Worms are often passed from a mother to her puppies or kittens before birth or shortly after, through her milk. They can also be spread between animals by ingestion of worm eggs from the faeces of an infected animal or by ingesting an intermediate host – such as rodents or birds.

Does my pet have roundworm?

The majority of puppies are born with roundworms. There are often no visible signs of roundworm, however, a pot belly, poor growth, diarrhoea or poor coat could be indicators.
Regular worming is the best way to protect your pet against roundworm, our vets can prescribe a tablet or spot-on treatment.

What are Tapeworms (dogs and cats)?

Tapeworms look like long, flat ribbons and can be up to half a metre in length. Adult tapeworms live in the small intestine and once mature release segments containing eggs.

Dogs and cats contract tapeworm by ingesting an infected intermediate host. Fleas are one of the intermediate hosts for the most common tapeworm of dogs and cats, so even indoor cats could become infected by ingesting fleas.

Does my pet have tapeworm?

Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by finding segments (that may look like grains of rice or seeds) on the rear end of your pet or in your pet’s faeces. It is common however for pets not to show any outward signs. Tapeworm segments in your pet’s faeces can cause irritation resulting in them licking their back end excessively and they may ‘scoot’ across the ground. Signs such as vomiting or diarrhoea can also occur. A variety of products are available to treat and prevent tapeworm. Some animals may need tapeworm treatment more often if they frequently hunt or scavenge. For the best advice on the type of de-worming preparation most suitable for your pet speak to a member of our team.

What is lungworm?

Lungworm is a parasite that can cause serious health problems in dogs and can even be fatal if left untreated. As an adult worm, it lives in the heart and blood vessels that supply the lungs. Dogs catch lungworm through eating slugs and snails which carry the larvae of the parasite and it can even be spread through the slug or snail slime. While most dogs do not routinely eat slugs and snails for pleasure, they may do so by accident e.g. when drinking from a puddle, licking grass or generally just having a sniff around. On the other hand, some dogs do enjoy munching on these garden pests and although not every snail or slug carries the parasite, if your pet regularly eats snails/slugs then there is a risk of them picking up lungworm at some point. The current risk in our area is considered to be low.

How do I know if my pet has lungworm?

Signs can be varied, but can include; coughing, tiring easily, weight loss, poor appetite, vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive bleeding from minor wounds, seizures and even death.

What can I do to protect my dog from lungworm?

Once diagnosed and treated, most dogs can make a full recovery but the key to successful treatment is taking action early. The best way to avoid your pet getting lungworm in the first place is to speak with your vet about preventative solutions. Our vets can prescribe spot-on or tablet treatment. By treating regularly, you can prevent your dog from getting an established lungworm infection.

Pet Travel

(Dogs, Cats and Ferrets)

Can I still travel to the EU with my pet?

Dogs, Cats and Ferrets can all travel to the EU with an Animal Health Certificate.

How old does my pet need to be to apply for an Animal Health Certificate?

The process begins at 12 weeks for the rabies vaccination, but you can’t receive and Animal Health certificate until 3 weeks after the injection. Your Animal Health certificate needs to be issued within 10 days of travelling.

Which countries can I travel to?

The Animal health Certificate is used to travel freely within Europe for 4 months from issue. For a full list of countries see DEFRA’s website PETS helpline on 0870 241 1710.

Ireland now also has a requirement for an Animal Health Certificate.

Please be aware that some countries also carry extra restrictions so we would always advise contacting DEFRA to check up to date rules before you travel.

You can take your pets to non EU countries by following their import and export guidelines, also provided by DEFRA. If your pet requires a flight we would strongly recommend using a third company carrier company such as Air Pets or PetAir.

How do I apply for an Animal Health Certificate?

They can only be issued for non commercial travel. Make an appointment at the practice and we will run through the current requirements:

  • Microchip
  • Rabies Vaccination (can be done on the same day as the microchip)
  • Wait 21 days from Rabies Vaccination before travelling
  • Appointment to issue an Animal Health Certificate within 10 days of leaving the country



Can I still use my pet passport?

No, you cannot use a UK issued Pet Passport. You may still be able to travel using an EU Pet Passport but please contact us for more information.

Do I need to get my pet checked before coming back to the UK?

24-120hrs before re-entering the UK, whilst abroad, your pet (DOGS ONLY) must be treated for tapeworms by a vet and have his/her Animal Health Certificate stamped.

Does my pet need a blood test for rabies?

The current guidelines state that a pet does not need a rabies blood test to return to the UK or enter the EU from the UK.

Should I be aware of any other disease on holiday?


Leishmaniasis is an infectious disease transmitted by sand-flies. Sand-flies are blood sucking insects mainly found in Mediterranean coastal areas. Disease is spread when the flies bite in order to feed. Symptoms include skin infections, weight loss, liver and kidney disease and possibly death. Symptoms can develop up-to six years following a trip abroad.

Heartworm(Dirofilaria Immitis)

This is primarily a disease of dogs and is transmitted by mosquitoes. It is widespread around the world, but especially in Southern Europe. The immature worms are passed into the dog’s bloodstream via mosquito bites where they migrate to the major blood vessels and heart and can cause serious heart and lung problems.


This is transmitted by certain ticks. These ticks are common in southern and central Europe and are now spreading further north. When ticks feed, saliva is injected into the host together with the Babesia organisms, which invade and multiply in red blood cells. Affected animals develop fever, anaemia, weakness, lethargy, weight loss and red or dark brown urine. Without treatment death can occur.


This is another disease spread by ticks and is widespread in southern Europe. Symptoms of this disease vary widely and may include fever, swollen glands, bleeding into the eyes, from the nose and into the skin. It can be diagnosed by a blood test and if caught in the early stages can be treated.

What are the best ways to prevent parasites spreading disease aborad?

Region of travel Risk Factors Preventative technique
Northern Europe/Alps Ticks Credelio tablet (start 1 week before departure)
Southern Europe/Warm climates Ticks



Credelio Tablet (start 1 week before departure)

Scalibor collar  (start 1 month before departure)

Avoid taking your pet out  in the evenings/night time when biting insects are most prevalent

Firework Fear

Many of our pets become stressed around fireworks night, just the thought of it brings panic to their owners! The perceived threat and accompanying fear is very real to your dog and cat. As with many things prevention via desensitisation as a puppy or kitten is better than cure but what can we do if the fear has set in?

Top tips for dogs on fireworks night

  • Walk your dog during the day before it gets dark and way before fireworks are due to start. Ideally give them a longer walk than usual so that they are physically and mentally tired and therefore more likely to be relaxed once fireworks start.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed to block out the flashing lights and also to muffle the sound of the fireworks.
  • Put the TV or radio on in the background to block out the noise as much as possible. However do not have the TV or radio turned up too loud as this could also stress your dog.

Top tips for cats on fireworks night

  • Keep curtains and blinds closed to block out the flashing lights and also to muffle the sound of the fireworks.
  • Put the TV or radio on in the background to block out the noise as much as possible. However do not have the TV or radio turned up too loud as this could also stress your cat.
  • Provide your cat with a cardboard box or similar and ideally place this up high as cats like a high vantage point as it helps them to feel safe.

My dog keeps trying to hide behind the sofa, should I coax him out?

If your dog wants to hide, let him! It has been proven that dogs that have a hiding place recover from a fearful experience much more quickly than those dogs that had nowhere to hide. Create a den by using a dog crate covered with a blanket or towel and put some tasty treats or new toy in there to allow him to explore.

Are there any calming supplements you could recommend?

Yes we recommend various products depending on the nature of your pet’s reactions. These include Adaptil, Feliway, Pet Remedy, Calming diets, Zylkene and Calmex. Always speak to us first to find out which is most appropriate for your pet.

Can I sedate my dog during fireworks night as he is wrecking the house?

No. It has been shown that sedating a dog can make them worse in future. Often they are aware of the fear but are less able to react. Outwardly they can appear calm but inwardly they can be still be terrified leading to further problems in the future. We can however provide a prescription medication that can reduce noise anxiety so please contact us if you would like more information.


What should I feed my rabbit?

The digestive system of the rabbit has more in common with a horse than with dogs or cats. Rabbits need a high fibre diet, and hay and grass should make up the vast majority of their food. These foods most closely resemble what they would have in the wild, and are essential for gut and dental health. Good quality grass or grass hay is the best source, but check that it is free from dust, mould, and grass seeds which might get into their eyes (meadow hay is ideal, but there are also other types of hay – alfalfa, oat, botanical, orchard grass to name a few. Oxbow Animal Health produces a good range).

Do they need supplements to grass and hay?

Feed small quantities of fresh leafy greens only as they can cause diarrhoea, a mix is best i.e. kale, savoy cabbage, spinach, carrot tops, mint, parsely. Carrot and apple should only be offered as an occasional treat. Pelleted rabbit food can also be offered as a supplement. This is better than the muesli style food as it prevents rabbits selecting only the parts they want. Pellets should ideally be grass based and provide a high amount of fibre with no added sugars or colours. If you need any advice regarding diet please feel free to contact us.

Does my rabbit eat it’s own faeces?

Rabbits eat continually throughout the day and there therefore continually digesting food and producing faeces. Rabbits produce two types of faeces; the small dry round pellets that you often see and softer formed pellets that are called caecotrophs. The caecotroph is eaten directly from the bottom and passes through the digestive system for a second time so that the body can make use of the nutrients. In a healthy rabbit you should not see a caecotroph. If you find that your rabbit gets a sticky bottom or you see sticky patches in their house it is not normal and they should be checked by your vet.

If your rabbit stops eating or passing faeces for more than 12 hrs then CALL US!!

Does my rabbit need vaccinations?

Myxomatosis – Myxomatosis is a viral disease that is often fatal, although milder forms sometimes occur. It is spread by biting insects such as fleas, mites and mosquitoes, and by contact with an infected (often a wild) rabbit. Vaccination, as with all vaccines, does not guarantee total protection, although vaccinated rabbits are more likely to survive the illness. We recommend yearly vaccination from 6 weeks.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (VHD) – Viral haemorrhagic disease, although less common, is also usually a killer disease. The virus survives well in the environment and is easily spread between rabbits, by insects or via indirect contact with infected people, clothing, shoes and other objects. All rabbits, even indoor ones, need annual vaccination, and you need to reduce their chance of coming into contact with the virus. There is combined vaccination available for VHD and Myxomatosis that needs to be given yearly. A second virus, VHD2 has recently emerged in the UK. It is now recommended to included VHD2 in your rabbit’s annual vaccination programme and is included alongside maxi and VHD1 for members of our Healthcare Plan. For more details on the risk of VHD2, see FAQs below.

When does my rabbit need to see a vet?

If your rabbit is quieter than normal, is sitting still and hunched up, does not want to move about, he/she can go downhill VERY quickly so you should call us for advice or to make an appointment. Other things to look out for are;

  • Difficulty eating or not eating at all
  • Teeth grinding
  • A swollen tummy
  • Dribbling or a wet chin
  • Lumps around the face
  • Diarrhoea or mucousy dark faeces in their cage or run
  • Absence of faeces
  • A swollen tummy
  • Difficulties in breathing
  • Straining to urinate or blood in the urine
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Maggots are seen

Please note this list is not exhaustive, and that if you are at all concerned about your rabbit please contact us.

What is Fly Strike?

“Fly kills rabbit!” Not a tabloid sensation – sadly, this is often all too true. In the warmer months, all rabbits – even indoor rabbits – are at risk from attack by maggots. These eat into the flesh, causing severe damage and releasing toxins, which may produce shock, severe illness and death. Maggots on your rabbit are an emergency, so contact us immediately. Sadly, in severe cases, euthanasia may be necessary. Fly strike can be prevented by checking your pets daily, not letting them get overweight, checking for dirty bottoms and keeping the hutch/run cleaned out regularly. There are bedding and spot on treatments available that can help reduce the chance of fly stike but treatments should not replace vigilance.

What are the Daily Checks I should perform on my rabbit?

Nails – If the nails are long and curving, you can trim them but avoid the pink bit (called the quick) in the middle. This hurts and will bleed if it is cut. Ask the vet to show you how to do it. Make sure your rabbit is getting enough exercise.

Coat and ears – Check the coat for scurf, dandruff, or itchy sores, and look in the ears for crusty wax. Fleas are not a big problem, but rabbits can get dog and cat fleas so get a suitable product from the vet if you have other animals. They can also get ringworm, which is a fungal infection, and infestations of microscopic creatures known as mites. Some types of mite live in the ears, causing severe irritation. In all cases, prompt veterinary treatment is needed.

Toilet troubles – Check your rabbit’s faeces daily. If there are changes in colour, consistency or amount, consult your vet. Rabbit urine varies in colour, from pale yellow to red, depending on the diet, and it can be cloudy. If it suddenly turns red, consult your vet who can test whether blood is present. If your rabbit’s fur is wet with urine, your pet is straining as if constipated, or has lost normal toilet training, see your vet – there may be problems.

Weight – A podgy belly or large dewlap often indicates your rabbit is overweight and at risk from flystrike, so bring him or her in for a weight check at the surgery. A prominent backbone may indicate your rabbit has dental problems or another disease so should be checked over by us.

What is Viral Haemorrhagic Disease 2 (VHD2) and should I vaccinate against it?

VHD2 is a variant of VHD. This new strain is also very infectious and can cause liver disease and sudden death.  The vaccination used against Myxomatosis and VHD is not protective against VHD2 so your rabbit will need a second vaccine to protect it.  It is advisable to leave 2 weeks between the vaccines so the rabbit can respond and develop immunity from the first vaccination before it is given the second.

Further information can be found at:


Everyday Care for your Chickens

As with any animal, chickens need a good diet, fresh water, plenty of space to exhibit natural behaviour, adequate shelter and clean, dry housing. It is also very important to regularly handle your birds and check them for signs of parasites, abnormalities, weight loss or illness.

What should you feed a pet chicken?

Chickens should be fed good quality mash or pellets and clean, fresh drinking water. It is useful to have several feeding/watering stations if you have a number of birds. You can supplement their diet with some mixed corn and offer other treats such as corn on the cob, spring greens, mealworms etc. Do not give bread to chickens as this can cause problems with their crop. They also need a bowl of mixed grit and oyster-shell to help them digest their food and produce good quality eggshells. It is a good idea to use a tonic in their drinking water to help them get all the vitamins and minerals they need and to encourage healthy egg production. This is especially important at times of stress such as moulting, recovering from illness or when new hens are introduced to the flock. Healthy hens are happy hens!

How do you prevent bullying?

If bullying occurs, it can help to increase space and activity levels. Chickens which are being bullied will be able to escape from the bully if they are in a larger area. It is important to ensure the bullied chicken is able to get to food and water so provide extra feeders and drinkers if necessary. Providing distractions will give the bully something else to do. Hanging up cabbages for the chickens to jump and peck at can help. If the bullying is severe, the bully hen can be separated to allow the bullied chicken time to become more confident with the less aggressive birds. However, if not severe, do not separate the birds as this can sometimes lead to further problems when they are reunited. If blood is drawn, clean the area and apply an antiseptic spray. Vaseline can be applied to the combs of hens which are being bullied so that the bullies cannot get a good grip when they peck.

What is Feather pecking?

Feather pecking (whether their own or others) can be a sign of boredom, parasites or other irritation such as new feather growth. Check all birds for parasites and increase activity levels as for bullying. A vitamin and mineral tonic can help with new feather growth. Anti-pecking sprays are available but may not help if the cause is not treated.

If parasites are suspected contact us.

Do chickens get worms?

Chickens should be routinely wormed 3 – 4 times a year using an effective wormer such as Flubenvet. Flubenvet is simple to use, it is a powder which is mixed into food and given to the birds for a week. It is effective against many types of worm including gapeworm, hairworm and roundworm. There is no withdrawal period whilst using Flubenvet so it is safe to eat the eggs whilst your hens are being treated. Please pre-order this from our surgery.

How do I know if our chicken have lice?

Lice are visible to the naked eye so it should be easy to check if your chickens have them. They live on the birds and can usually be seen under the wings and around the vent (bottom). You may also see louse eggs on the feathers. Lice cause irritation, feather loss, poor egg production and anaemia (a pale comb and wattles can be a sign). Treat your chickens with a louse / mite powder if you see any signs. Chickens can be louse powdered monthly for prevention of louse infestation. Severe infestations may need stronger treatment so contact us if you are at all unsure.

What are red mites?

Red Mites feed on blood from chickens and can cause anaemia, feather loss, poor egg production and irritation to both birds and owners. Although very small, Red Mites are visible to the naked eye and are either grey or red/black in colour depending on whether they have recently fed. They live in cracks and crevices of wooden poultry houses during the day and come out at night to feed on roosting hens. If the infestation is very bad or there are no cracks for them to live in, they will live on the birds. Along with regularly checking your birds, it is vital to check cracks and crevices in nest boxes and housing (especially around the ends and underside of perches) for signs. It is useful to check in the dark with a torch as this is when the mites are most active and will be searching for a meal – you will be able to see them crawling along perches and on the legs of your chickens.

Red Mites need to be dealt with in two ways; treat all of the birds with a mite powder, and treat the chicken houses/sheds too. Severe infestations may need several treatments of both birds and house to be totally eradicated. If not treated, Red Mites can cause death.

What is Scaly leg?

Scaly leg is a condition caused by tiny mites that live under the scales on the legs of chickens. The legs will be itchy and painful and you will see crusting and the scales lifting. If not treated, infections and deformation of the legs can occur. Treatment is simple with a spray which treats the mites and helps provide a barrier to prevent further infestations.

Your chicken needs to see a Vet as soon as possible for the following...

Impacted crop – If long grass or thick food (such as bread) is eaten, the crop may become blocked and unable to empty. It will be hard and will not go down overnight.

Sour crop – An infection in the crop which can occur following impaction or from drinking foul water. The crop will not go down overnight and is soft and fluid-filled. There is a very distinctive smell from the mouth. 

Egg peritonitis – Caused when a yolk travels into the abdomen instead of down the oviduct to be laid as an egg. Symptoms are lethargy, a dirty vent and a hard, swollen abdomen. Hens often stand upright in a penguin like position. They can waddle when walking. 

Prolapse – Caused by straining to pass a very large, malformed or soft egg. Internal tissue can be seen protruding from the vent. It is important to isolate the hen from other birds as they will peck the prolapsed tissue. This is an emergency and needs treatment as soon as possible. 


Diarrhoea, discharge from eyes, mouth or nose, hunched position, lameness, lethargy, lumps, bumps or swellings, not eating, pale or blue/purple tinged comb, sneezing, wheezing or coughing and unexplained weight loss.

If you have any concerns about your chickens then please call the surgery on   01638 554477 for advice or to make an appointment.

And just for fun...


When it’s time to say goodbye…

When you have made the difficult decision to have your beloved pet put to sleep, you may have some questions such as, can the vet visit us at home?  What happens afterwards?

We would like to answer some of these questions and go through the process so you always feel prepared.

How do I know when it's the right time?

Firstly, if you are unsure whether it is ‘time’ please contact the surgery to speak with a member of staff. We are always happy to talk every aspect through with you, we understand it is a very difficult decision and will make sure to take the time to listen and give our advice. The bluecross offer a support facility, click here to take a look. 

Some people find it easier to use our online booking facility rather than speaking to a member of staff. Please click here if you would prefer to do so.

What does euthanasia involve?

Our sympathetic and experienced vets and will make sure your pet ends their life in a painless and dignified manner. The procedure involves putting a needle into their front leg and giving them an injection into their vein. Your pet will then drift off into a very deep sleep before everything then comes to stop. It is a very quick and totally painless process. If your pet normally becomes stressed at the vets we can give them some light sedation first to help ensure the process is totally stress free for them. A nurse and vet will carry out the procedure but you are welcome to stay with your pet throughout, there is no pressure either way.

What will happen to my pet afterwards?

You can take your pet home for private burial if you wish, alternatively we can arrange for them to be cremated.

There is the option to have your pet’s ashes returned so you can either keep them or scatter them in a special place, and some keep-sake tribute items are also available upon special request.

All pets euthanased at Ash Tree go to the Suffolk Pet Crematorium. This is locally based in a peaceful farm setting. Your are very welcome to visit the crematorium by prior arrangement.


Can my pet be put to sleep at home?

With notice we will always try to accommodate this if you would prefer this option. We understand it can be stressful bringing your pet to the practice.

If you would prefer a home visit please call us in advance to discuss the options.

I am struggling to cope with the loss of my pet...

Please don’t worry, you’re not alone.

We are here to help and there are other experts on hand to offer support.

You can contact the Blue Cross or Our Special Friends to start to talk it through.