Image What do I need to know about flat-faced dogs and cats?

What do I need to know about flat-faced dogs and cats?

Flat-faced dogs and cats, also known as brachycephalic breeds, are undeniably popular thanks to their endearing smooshy faces and charming characters. These animals are known for their great personalities and form affectionate bonds with their owners.

Unfortunately, the physical features that tend to draw people to these breeds, like their flat faces, can mean they’re at greater risk of developing particular health problems down the line.

If you’re considering bringing a brachycephalic breed into your family, or have one already, it’s important to be aware of the common health issues so that you can seek the necessary treatment where required.

What are the common brachycephalic breeds?

The term ‘brachycephalic’ comes from the Greek words meaning ‘short’ and ‘head’ and therefore describes animals whose faces appear flattened or squashed. Because of the unique shape of their heads, these breeds’ typically have narrow nostrils and smaller airways.

Some of the most popular brachycephalic breeds in the UK include:

  • Pugs
  • French Bulldogs
  • British Bulldogs
  • Boston Terriers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Shih Tzus
  • Boxers
  • British Shorthair Cats
  • Persian Cats
  • Exotic Shorthair Cats

Common problems and how we can help

Breathing problems

Flat-faced dogs and cats can experience difficulty breathing, which can be extremely distressing. The clinical term is known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) which refers to how their shortened heads can lead to restricted airflow.

These breeds have shorter muzzle bones in their skulls than animals with longer snouts, but often the soft tissue around the mouth, nose and throat is the same. This means the airway becomes narrowed or partially blocked as the tissue squeezes into a smaller space. Their windpipes and nostrils can also be deformed and narrow, so less oxygen can be taken in with each breath.

Symptoms to look out for include (but are not limited to):

  • Snorting and snoring (when at rest and during exercise)
  • Poor exercise tolerance
  • Poor heat tolerance
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Retching, regurgitation and vomiting

If you own a flat-faced breed, it’s important to keep an eye on their breathing during exercise and hot weather, as they struggle to effectively cool themselves down by panting. This puts them at greater risk of overheating and suffering from heatstroke.

How St Kitts Vets can support brachycephalic breeds with breathing problems

We’re proud to have a close relationship with the team of dedicated peripatetic referral surgeons at ProVetSurg, who have partnered with us to provide our clients with a cost-effective assessment and treatment pathway for animals suffering with BOAS.

Our process includes detailed pre-operative assessments to determine whether surgery is required, along with extensive plans to minimise the risk of complications should this route be recommended.

You can find out more about our BOAS surgery here.

Dental problems

Overlapping and overcrowding teeth is unfortunately expected with flat-faced breeds, which can increase the risk of decay and gum (periodontal) disease and cause severe pain, as well as lead to other serious health problems, such as heart disease.

This is because flat-faced breeds have the same amount of teeth as those with longer snouts, but not enough space to accommodate them. Research by the Royal Veterinary College found flat-faced breeds have 1.25 times the risk of dental disease compared with breeds with medium-length skulls.

Symptoms to look out for include (but are not limited to):

  • Bad breath
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Difficulty eating
  • Weight loss

How St Kitts Vets can support brachycephalic breeds with dental problems

Across our four practices, we are fully equipped with the equipment needed to diagnose and treat a range of dental conditions. Our facilities cover everything from dedicated dental suites and X-rays to descaling and polishing equipment.

Eye problems

With their flat faces and shallow eye sockets, Brachycephalic Ocular Syndrome (BOS) is a common concern amongst these breeds. Prominent and bulging eyes can mean their tear film doesn’t spread properly and they can easily develop eye ulcers, which can result in complications if left untreated.

Symptoms to look out for include (but are not limited to):

  • Redness or clouding of the eye
  • Eye watering
  • Excessive blinking/squinting
  • Rubbing at eyes with a paw
  • Excessively widened eyelids
  • Tear staining
  • Dry eyes
  • Eye trauma, such as ulceration
  • Damage to the surface of the eye, impacting sight
  • Entropion (where eyelids fold inwards and scratch the eyeball)

Meet Dotty, who was suffering from BOS

To help with Dotty’s eyes, a procedure called a medical canthoplasty was performed that makes the eye opening smaller and prevents any future problems. You can see what a huge difference the surgery has made for Dotty in her before and after below!

Ear problems

The shape of their heads means brachycephalic breeds often have narrowed ear canals. Their poorly ventilated deep skin folds around their ears can often lead to yeast infections too.

Symptoms to look out for include (but are not limited to):

  • Scratching or rubbing ears
  • Head shaking
  • Foul smelling discharge from the ears
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Sensitivity or pain
Skin issues

With plenty of skin folds and wrinkles, flat-faced dogs and cats are at higher risk of allergic skin disease, infections and chronic itching, which can cause great discomfort. In most cases, lifelong medication is required.

Symptoms to look out for include (but are not limited to):

  • Itchy skin
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Hair loss
  • Discharge or pus
  • Unusual odours
  • Hair loss
Spinal deformities

Flat-faced breeds with coiled or short tails, are at higher risk of spinal deformities. This can affect their ability to walk and cause paralysis of the back legs.

Symptoms to look out for include (but are not limited to):

  • Wobbliness
  • Weak back legs
  • Signs of muscle wastage
  • Pain
  • Changes in walking
  • Incontinence
Heart problems

We’ve looked at the breathing difficulties flat-faced breeds can face, but this can also put a strain on their hearts. Struggling to breathe results in a lack of oxygen in the bloodstream, which makes heart problems more likely.

Symptoms to look out for include (but are not limited to):

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Restlessness or distress
  • Reduced appetite
  • Swelling and fluid retention around the heart
  • Fainting or sudden collapse

How St Kitts Vets can support brachycephalic breeds with heart problems

Vet Steve Williams and the team at our Hartley Wintney practice have been providing cardiology services for patients for the last 10 years. Steve himself has a particular interest in veterinary cardiology and has undergone significant training in this area.

All our cardiology investigations are performed using modern specialist equipment, including high quality ECG, X-rays and ultrasound. We also have use of a state-of-the-art CT scanner at our Basingstoke practice.

You can find out more about our veterinary cardiology here.

Neurological problems

Brachycephalic breeds can suffer from neurological (brain) problems because of their compressed skull shape. One of the most common, and unfortunately painful conditions, is Syringomyelia, where cavities or cysts form in the spinal cord. It is most often seen in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

Symptoms to look out for include (but are not limited to):

  • Head tilting
  • Loss of balance
  • Seizures
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Behavioural changes

Unfortunately, owners of flat-faced breeds are likely to need to dedicate more time and effort in caring for their health than most other breeds. There are things you can do to improve their general wellbeing though, including controlling their weight and being mindful of things such as exercise in warm weather.

If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, please contact your local practice.

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image XL Bully ban: What you need to know

XL Bully ban: What you need to know

We understand that the recent announcement about the XL Bully ban has been very worrying – both for owners and the wider animal lover community.

To help you prepare for the new laws, we have put together a guide to the key requirements, exemptions and important dates that you need to be aware of.

If you’re an XL Bully owner and need support or have any questions, please get in touch with your local practice, who are always here to help.

What do we know so far?

At the end of October 2023, the UK government announced its ban of the XL Bully breed in response to a series of serious and, in some cases, fatal attacks. This means they have been listed under the Dangerous Dog Act 1991, alongside previously banned breeds including the Pit Bull Terrier, Japanese Tosa, Dogo Argentino and Fila Brasileiro.

To support owners in adapting to the new laws, the changes will come into force in three stages, which we will outline in our important dates section below.

Checking if your dog is an XL Bully

One of the most pressing questions currently for owners is how to know if a dog would be classified as an XL Bully ‘type’. The government has put together official guidance to help define this, with some of the characteristics mentioned including (but not limited to):

  • A large dog with a muscular body and blocky head
  • Adult males from 20in (51cm) in height, adult females from 19in (48cm)
  • Heavily-muscled body with a broad, deep chest and well sprung ribs
  • Large and broad head

For the full list of characteristics, read the government’s official guidance here.

If you remain unsure if you have an XL Bully, the guidance is to prepare for compliance with all new requirements for this dog type, including for puppies that may grow up to be an XL Bully dog. If you would like extra guidance please speak to a member of our highly qualified team.

Important dates for owners

From 31 December 2023 it will be against the law to:

  • Sell an XL Bully dog
  • Abandon an XL Bully dog
  • Give away an XL Bully dog
  • Breed from an XL Bully dog
  • Have an XL Bully dog in public without a lead and muzzle

From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully dog in England and Wales unless you:

  • Are over 16 years old
  • Have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog (apply by 31st January 2024)
  • Microchip your dog
  • Keep your dog on a lead and muzzled when in public
  • Keep your dog in a secure place so it cannot escape
  • Neuter your dog (there will be a ‘proof of neutering form’ for vets to complete and return to Defra)
    – By 30th June 2024 if your dog is over 1 year old on 31st January 2024
    – By 31st December 2024 if your dog is under 1 year old on 31st January 2024
  • Take out insurance against your dog injuring other people

Training your dog to wear a muzzle and walk on a lead

The guidance recommends that owners should start to train their dogs to wear a muzzle when in public and to walk on a lead before 31st December 2023. It can be tempting to skip muzzle training, but this will likely scare your dog and make it an uncomfortable experience for them.

Choose a correctly fitting muzzle

The muzzle should allow your dog to breathe freely and comfortably.

Here are some top tips on getting the right fit:

  • There should be roughly 1cm space between your dog’s nose and the end of the muzzle – their nose shouldn’t touch the end of it
  • The straps shouldn’t be too tight – you should be able to slip one finger between the straps and your dog
  • Your dog shouldn’t be able to shake or pull the muzzle off

We find the best way to approach muzzle training is:

  • Get your dog used to the muzzle by putting some of their favourite food (such as cream cheese) in the bottom of it
  • Allow them to eat the treat a few times without fastening it
  • Initially fasten the muzzle and take it straight off, gradually build up to leaving it on for longer periods
  • Try holding the muzzle further away so your dog approaches it themselves
  • Vary the location and times of day you practise putting the muzzle on, as well as the length of time you leave it on for
  • Give your dog treats and take them for walks while wearing the muzzle, so they associate the muzzle with a positive experience
  • If your dog is anxious about wearing a muzzle, our qualified team is always happy to offer further advice

What should I do if I own an XL Bully?

If you own an XL Bully, continue caring for them as normal. We know that it’s a worrying time, but the best thing you can do for yourself and your dog is to not panic.

The licensing process will require them to be neutered and microchipped, so it’s important to make sure you are prepared for this in advance. When the ban comes into force, you’ll then need to apply for a Certificate of Exemption to keep your dog and comply with the rules around banned breeds.

We’re here for you

The teams at your local St Kitts Vets practice are on hand to provide support and help answer any questions you may have. We can also provide neutering and microchipping to ensure your dog is compliant before the new law comes into place. Please contact us to discuss booking an appointment.

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image Signs of eye problems in dogs

Signs of eye problems in dogs

To support TVM’s annual Pet Eye Health Awareness Week (18th – 24th September 2023), we thought it was the ideal opportunity to raise awareness of eye problems in dogs, so that you’re aware of the signs to look out for. Early diagnosis and treatment is key in most cases – it could prevent vision loss or help to detect an underlying medical condition.

Common symptoms of eye problems in dogs

  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Inflammation and swelling
  • Excessive squinting or blinking
  • Frequent pawing at eye
  • Discharge, weeping or excessive tearing
  • Dull, cloudy or a change in colour
  • Keeping one, or both eyes closed
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Disorientated – frequently bumping into things
  • Bulging eye
  • Lump in, or around the eye
  • Visible 3rd eyelid (also known as the haw)
  • Loss of vision, or a declining vision
  • Discomfort
  • Pain
  • Behavioural changes – withdrawn or aggressive linked to pain

If you notice a change in your dog’s eyes, contact your local vet for an appointment.

Common eye conditions


Cataracts occur when the lens inside the eye becomes cloudy. Over time, cataracts can reduce vision and, if left untreated, can often lead to blindness.

Cherry eye

Cherry eye is a condition where the gland inside the third eyelid protrudes. It looks like a small, red cherry in the corner of the eye, which causes inflammation and discomfort.

Dry eye

Dry eye is a condition that stops the eye producing enough tears. This can cause discomfort, redness, corneal damage and increase the risk of infections.

Eye infections or conjunctivitis

Eye infections can be caused by bacteria or viruses. If your dog regularly suffers from eye infections, it is possible there could be an underlying cause, such as dry eye, which will need investigating.

Eye ulcers

Eye ulcers are a wound on the eye’s surface. Treatment is required to help them heal as, if neglected, eye ulcers can lead to the loss of an eye.

Eyelash problems

It is not uncommon for dogs to have eyelashes that grow in the wrong direction, from the wrong place, or even to develop a whole extra row of them. Any eyelash that rubs on the surface of the eye will cause irritation.

Eyelid problems

Inward or outward turning eyelids, known as entropion and ectropion, respectively, can cause inflammation, pain and infections.


Glaucoma is characterised by increased pressure inside the eye. This painful condition can rapidly progress to blindness, if not promptly treated.

Lens luxation

Lens luxation refers to the displacement of the eye’s lens from its normal position. It can cause discomfort and if untreated, the loss of vision.

Masses and tumours

Masses and tumours can form behind, in or around the eye. It’s crucial to get any new lumps examined by your vet immediately.


Pannus is an inflammation which is caused by an immune system problem, which results in small lumps or growths to form on the surface of the eye, affecting the dog’s vision.


Uveitis is the inflammation of the iris, the coloured part of the eye, and the structures around it. This condition can cause discomfort and potentially lead to vision problems if left untreated.

If you have concerns about your dog’s eyes, contact your local St Kitts practice.

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image What to do if your dog is stung by a bee or wasp

What to do if your dog is stung by a bee or wasp

With summer days upon us, you can expect to see a hive of activity from bees and wasps, who thrive in the warmer weather. Although this is great for the ecosystem, it can cause problems if your beloved pet gets stung.

So let’s explore the signs and what to do if your dog is stung by a bee or a wasp.

Signs your dog has been stung

  • Whining
  • Swelling in a specific area
  • Localised pain or irritation
  • Holding up their affected area or biting it – for instance, their paw
  • Pawing the affected area – for example their throat, mouth or face

Being stung by a bee or a wasp can cause your dog some discomfort and distress, but the pain should ease and go away after a short period.

Signs of an allergic reaction

If your dog is allergic to the bee or wasp sting, it could result in a severe reaction, or even death, if left untreated. Symptoms include:

  • Pale gums
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Excessive swelling around the sting and surrounding area
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness or collapsing

What to do if your dog is stung by a bee or wasp

If you suspect an allergic reaction, contact your vet immediately

If your dog is showing any signs of an allergic reaction, you should contact your local branch immediately to arrange emergency treatment.

Always check with your vet before administering any over the counter antihistamines, as the wrong dose can be fatal. Your vet will advise on the right drug and quantity for your dog’s size and weight.

For milder symptoms

If your dog has been stung and the sting is still embedded in their skin, you may need to bring them in to your local vet to have it removed. Our team will be able to ensure the venom sac is removed correctly, to prevent further irritation.

After having the sting removed, it is likely that there will be some swelling and localised pain which can be alleviated back home with a cold damp cloth on to soothe the area.

Keep calm

It is likely that your dog will be feeling agitated, so try to keep them (and yourself!) cool and calm.

An allergic reaction may develop during the first few hours of your dog being stung, so remember to stay alert for any signs.

If you suspect your dog has been stung, contact your local St Kitts practice for expert advice and treatment:

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image Why dogs wag their tails

Why dogs wag their tails

Long or short, curly or straight, your dog’s tail is a communication tool that serves as an indicator of how they’re feeling. We often think of a waggy tail as a lovable trait and being a sign of happiness, and though this is often true, it isn’t always the case.

In this blog we’ll look at why dogs wag their tails, along with what some of the different wags may mean.

Communicating emotions

Dogs use their tails as a way of communicating their emotions with us and other dogs, in the same way we would use facial expressions and body language. Studies have shown that the pace and position of the dog’s wag conveys different emotions.

As the shape, size and way the tail moves will vary from breed to breed and individually, it’s a good idea to get your puppy mixing with different well-behaved adult dogs, so they can learn to communicate with each other and not become fearful of other breeds.

Understanding dogs’ tail gestures

Dog owners should stay alert and sensitive to their dog’s tail wagging behaviour to understand their needs, as they could be happy and excited, unsure and anxious, or feeling threatened and aggressive. It’s also important to take into consideration what is happening around them and get to know any potential triggers for your dog.

What do dogs’ tail gestures mean?

Natural position

A natural position, without wagging, indicates your dog is feeling relaxed. The natural tail position will depend on your dog’s breed, but for most dogs it will be hanging down near their heels.

Sweeping tail

A broad, smooth, sweeping tail, that is not tucked or high, means the dog is feeling relaxed and comfortable.

Helicopter tail

When your dog moves their tail in a circular motion (known as a helicopter tail), it usually means they are feeling excited, sociable and pleased to see you, or another dog.

Fast paced wag

A dog that is wagging their tail fast will often indicate they are happy or excited. You may spot them taking a playful stance, or doing an entire body wiggle which says your dog is extremely happy and ready for interaction.

If their tail is erect and fast wagging, be cautious, as their excitable behaviour may be unpredictable.

Stiff tail

If their tail is high in the air and rigid, be wary as this dog tail sign can indicate aggression in dogs. If your dog, or one you meet, starts to display any of these behaviours it’s usually best to give them as much space as possible and wait for them to calm down before interacting with them.

Other signs to look out for are: tail tucked under, paw raising, looking away, growling, flashing teeth, snapping and biting.

Tucked tail

A tucked tail, or a tail that is clamped between your dog’s legs means they are worried or frightened and feel the need to protect themselves. They may need some space.

Side to side wag

Some dogs move their tails from side to side rapidly when focussing on a scent. This movement isn’t to communicate with others, it’s more like a sign of extreme concentration.

Backwards and gentle wag

This dog tail sign says that they’re curious and may be a little unsure of a situation. You may see this if they’ve come across something they’ve never seen before.

Straight tail

A curious dog who’s interested in its environment will often hold its tail out straight.

Difference between wagging left or right

Interestingly, Live Science research has shown if your dog’s tail wags slightly to the right, it’s generally positive and a wag of recognition that indicates they know the person or dog.  

Whereas, if it’s wagging to the left it’s generally negative, indicating fear, stress or anxiety. This is because the left hemisphere of the brain, associated with positive feelings, controls the right side of the body.

Know the signs

As we’ve seen, a waggy tail doesn’t simply mean a dog is always happy or friendly.

It’s important to pick up on any worrying signs, and pay attention to your dog’s whole body, including the tail, to understand what they are communicating, to give space or support as required.

If you have small children with you, always make sure you ask another dog owner’s permission before petting, to prevent a nasty bite. 

If you have any concerns about your pet, or would like more specific advice, contact your local St Kitts practice:

St Kitts Vets Hartley Wintney: 01252 844044
St Kitts Vets Basingstoke: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image Exercising your puppy: How much is too much?

Exercising your puppy: How much is too much?

Exercising your puppy is an essential part of their growth and development. Not only does it help them stay physically fit, but it provides mental stimulation to help them socialise with other dogs and people, encourages confidence and is a chance to reward good behaviour.

However, there is such a thing as too much exercise! In this blog, we’ll explore the problems caused by too much exercise and provide top tips for exercising your puppy in a healthy way.

Recommended exercise

There are plenty of great ways to let your puppy burn off some energy and remain active and healthy, including play time! We recommend:

Short sessions

The length of time you should spend walking your puppy will depend on their size, breed, age and energy levels – but for all puppies it’s important to limit exercising to short sessions.

We advise starting off with short walks around the block and gradually increasing the distance as they build up their stamina and fitness levels slowly.

It’s best to consult your vet for specific recommendations for your puppy.


Tug of war and retrieving games will provide plenty of physical and mental stimulation, as well as help to strengthen your bond with your puppy.

Using a food dispensing toy or Kong, is also another great form of exercise, with the added benefit of making meal times fun.

Frequent breaks

It’s important to make sure your puppy takes frequent breaks and be sure to offer plenty of praise and treats for good behaviour.

Exercising when unvaccinated

It’s important to remember, whilst your puppy is not fully vaccinated, exercising should be done at home to prevent picking up any nasty bugs, just make sure your garden is puppy-proofed!

To get your puppy used to new surroundings, smells and other people and dogs, you can carry them, or take trips in the car.

Avoid high impact, strenuous activities

Your puppy is still developing, so you need to avoid strenuous activities, such as long walks, or any sustained exercise, like running or cycling, until they are fully grown.

High impact exercise such as jumping, twisting and skidding is a big no-no too. Puppies under 3 months should also not be attempting to climb or use stair, so we recommend fixing a stair gate by the bottom step if this could be a problem in your home.

Problems caused by too much exercise

Risk of joint and bone damage

Too much exercise or high impact activities whilst your puppy is young could risk permanent damage to their joints and bones, which can lead to conditions such as arthritis and hip dysplasia.

Puppies’ joints need sufficient time for their growth plates to fuse before they are ready for high intensity exercise and high impact activities. This varies by breed; most dogs are fully grown by one year, but larger breeds such as Greyhounds, Labradors, Dobermans and Great Danes can take up to 2 years to reach full size.

Some breeds are also at higher risk of joint problems, like hip dysplasia, so should be exercised sensibly to prevent issues. It’s also important to feed your puppy healthy and appropriate meal sizes, to avoid them putting on weight, which will put more pressure on their joints.

Speak to your vet for advice if you are worried about your puppy’s joints.


Puppies are generally bouncy and full of enthusiasm, so it may be hard to spot signs that they are becoming tired or doing damage to their bones and joints. This is why it’s important to keep exercise sessions short and encourage regular breaks.

As your pup grows and gets older, the duration of the walks can be increased. Consult your vet for specific recommendations for your puppy.


There’s a fine balance between too much exercise and not enough. Limiting your puppy’s exercise too much could cause boredom, frustration and lead to behavioural problems.

But equally, puppies’ attention spans are short and they can become bored with lengthy exercise sessions.

Sore paws

Puppies have soft paws and it takes time for their pads to toughen up.

Overexercising your puppy will result in sore paws, so to prevent this keep sessions short and vary the surfaces you exercise your puppy on.

If you would like more specific advice about exercising your puppy, please get in touch with your local St Kitts practice.

St Kitts Veterinary Centre: 01252 844044
Basingstoke Veterinary Centre: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image 10 facts about dogs you might not know

10 facts about dogs you might not know

Dogs have been ‘man’s best friend’ for hundreds of years, but did you know there’s far more to them than meets the eye? We spoke with the team at St Kitts to find out some of their favourite facts about dogs – some of which may surprise you!

1. Some dogs can sniff out medical problems

The area of cells in the brain that detect different smells is about 40 times larger in dogs than it is in humans, which means they can pick up on so many more scents than we ever could. Because their sense of smell is so good, some pooches can be trained to detect medical conditions or alert their owners if they need more medication.

2. Your dog could be left or right-pawed

Studies have shown that like us, most dogs have a preferred hand (well, paw). You can figure out if your dog is left or right-pawed by giving them their favourite toy and seeing which paw they use to help them first.

3. Greyhounds can reach speeds of 45mph

Greyhounds are the fastest breed of dog in the world, thanks to their long legs, flexible spine, large heart and fast-twitch muscles. Like a cheetah, they run in a “double suspension gallop”, which means each hind leg follows the foreleg and all four feet leave the ground.

4. They’re as smart as a two-year-old

With the ability to learn over 100 words and gestures, a dog’s level of intelligence puts them on par with a two-year-old – though they’re much easier to train!

5. Looking into their eyes can help you bond

Research has shown that a dog gazing into our eyes, and us looking into theirs, contributes to the release of oxytocin (otherwise known as the “love” hormone) on both sides.

6. Labradors remain a firm favourite

The Labrador Retriever consistently appears near the top of the list of the most popular breeds every year. In 2021, a huge 61,559 were registered in the UK alone!

7. They can hear part of a Beatles song that we can’t

Paul McCartney confirmed that the band added a frequency to their “A Day in the Life” track that only dogs can hear. His advice is: “If you ever play ‘Sgt Pepper’ [the album] watch your dog.”

8. 15-30% of Dalmatians are deaf in one ear

According to UFAW, between 15-30% of Dalmatians are deaf in one ear, while 5% are deaf in both. It’s caused by something called the “extreme piebald gene”, which is responsible for their white coat and their blue eyes (in some of them).

9. Their nose prints are unique

We share a lot more with our furry friends than you may think! Much like human fingerprints, each pooch’s nose has a one-of-a-kind pattern of creases and ridges.

10. They can see in colour

Despite the staying power of the belief that dogs live in a black and white world, scientists have demonstrated that this isn’t true. They can see shades of blue, yellow and grey, but reds, greens and oranges are missing from their spectrum. If you find that your dog often prefers blue and yellow toys, this is probably why!

For more advice on your dog, or for any other concerns you may have, please get in touch with your local St Kitts practice.

St Kitts Veterinary Centre: 01252 844044
Basingstoke Veterinary Centre: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image St Kitts Veterinary Group raise over £286 for Canine Partners

St Kitts Veterinary Group raise over £286 for Canine Partners

This summer, you may have spotted some of our team spending their warm and sunny weekends at the fetes that were held across our local area. On our stalls we had lots of goodies up for grabs as part of our raffles to help us raise money for Canine Partners – an amazing charity that pairs specially trained assistance dogs with people who have physical disabilities.

Thanks to a brilliant team effort and the generosity of all of you, our wonderful local friends, we were able to raise over £286! We recently welcomed Lynda Mellor from the charity to Crookham Park, to collect the money that had been raised.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all staff who helped prepare for the fetes beforehand and helped out on the big days. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Where will the money go?

Canine Partners rely solely on donations to help continue their incredible work. We first learned of the charity when our Hartley Wintney clinic met Canine Partner, Tia. As a working dog, the charity take special care in ensuring that Tia had regular health checks, including a full ‘MOT’ a couple of times a year (which she passed with flying colours every time!).

Tia enabled her ‘partner’ to lead an independent life, helping with many tasks around the home and travelling far and wide – including studying for a Masters Degree at Exeter University before heading to Scotland. This miraculous transformation from house bound to independence is only possible with Tia’s gentle care and assistance.

More recently, we’ve had the pleasure of seeing the lovely Hartley grow up. He’s a Labrador X Golden Retriever cross, born in September 2021, and will soon complete his first year of training with a volunteer Puppy Parent under the guidance of a Puppy Instructor from the charity.

Each partnership costs £30,000 from selection as a puppy, right through to the dog’s retirement. When Hartley passes his specialist training around September 2023, he’ll be partnered with one of the many people waiting for a working assistance dog.

All your kind donations are supporting Hartley on his journey!

If you’d like to find our more about the charity, visit

Image Steps to ease your pet’s anxiety for their next visit to the vet

Steps to ease your pet’s anxiety for their next visit to the vet

For some pets (and their owners), a trip to the vet can be daunting; conjuring up a mixture of emotions, from feeling anxious and nervous, to stressed. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

In this blog, we’ve put together some top tips to ease your pet’s anxiety, so your next trip is as calm and stress-free as possible:

Before your vet visit

Get your pet comfortable with being handled

A good place to start is getting your pet used to being handled, so it doesn’t come as a shock at their appointment.

It’s worth performing mock examinations at home, inspecting their paws, teeth and ears on a daily basis. As well as touching their legs, head, chest and lifting their tail. Giving them a massage and lots of positive reinforcement can help to make it an enjoyable experience.

Once your pet is comfortable with you handling them, ask family members or friends to do the same, to help them get used to different people.

Gradually introduce the crate

If you’ll be using a crate to transport your pet to the vets, start introducing them to it early on to minimise any anxiety.

Leave the crate in a safe place, like your living room or bedroom, with the door open and toys or treats inside, so your pet can enter the crate freely.

It may take days or weeks until they are comfortable and confident to enter willingly. Make sure it is a positive experience, so don’t force them into the crate, or leave it until the day of the vet’s visit.

Take regular car journeys

Try to take your pet out in the car to visit different locations, so they don’t just associate getting in the car with a trip to the vets.

Routine trips to the vet

To make the trip to the vets easier, it’s beneficial to familiarise your pet with the setting – from the smells, to the experience of being with other animals and staff. A good way to do this is to attend regularly for non-invasive, routine check-ups, like getting your pet weighed. You can even ask your local St Kitts practice if you can pop in to get your pet used to the environment, when it’s not too busy.

Book your appointment for a quiet time of day

If your pet is particularly anxious and it worsens around other animals or humans, it’s a good idea to try and book your appointment for a quieter time of day. It will also mean less waiting time, which will help to reduce stress levels.

On the day of your visit

Bring treats

It’s good to come armed with plenty of your pet’s favourite treats to reward calm behaviour. This positive reinforcement works best after they’ve had their checks and treatments, but can be given for entering the crate willingly, being well-behaved on the journey and waiting nicely, to help alleviate any stress from the situation.

Keep calm

Your pet can pick up on any anxious behaviour, so keeping your body language and voice calm will help to reassure your pet.

Try to avoid stressful situations too; leaving plenty of time to get to your appointment is a simple way to reduce stress on the day.

Provide comfort

Packing a toy, their usual blanket or bed, will provide a familiar smell of home, which can be soothing for your pet, especially if they are having a longer stay.

Take a distraction

Bringing your pet’s favourite toy can help to distract them during the appointment, especially if they are having a procedure done, like a temperature check.

Wait outside or in the car

If your pet finds being at the vets stressful, turn it into a positive experience by taking them outside to play and have fun together – just ask to be called when it’s your turn.

Having distance from other anxious animals will help to keep your pet calm, so instead of waiting inside for your pet’s prescription or medication, head outside to play again and keep the experience positive.

You can book an appointment online for your local St Kitts practice or, alternatively, give one of our branches a call to speak with the team.

St Kitts Veterinary Centre: 01252 844044
Basingstoke Veterinary Centre: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799

Image How to prepare your pet for fireworks

How to prepare your pet for fireworks

Although firework displays can be enjoyable for us, the unexpected loud bangs and flashes of light can be very scary for our pets.

With events such as Diwali and Guy Fawkes Night just around the corner, we’ve put together some of the best ways to help prepare your pet for fireworks.

Create a safe space

This can be done long before firework night. Simply transform a quiet area of your home into a safe place for your pet to retreat into and feel in control. Fill it with their favourite toys, so your pet associates it with positive experiences.

This area should bring them comfort when they are feeling anxious or scared, and should be left accessible to your pet even when you are not at home.

Hiding places

Cats may prefer to hide under furniture or in a quiet corner. It’s important not to try and coax them out, as this will add to their stress, just leave them feeling safe in a secure place.

Smaller animals will benefit from having lots of extra bedding so they can burrow down.

Keep pets indoors at night

It’s estimated 45% of dogs in the UK show signs of fear when they hear fireworks, so it is best to keep dog walks to the daytime. When you know there are going to be fireworks, keep your pet inside to prevent them from getting spooked.

You should move your pet to their safe place before the fireworks begin, kitting it out with toys and anything you need so you can comfortably stay with them.

If you have small animals who normally live outside, you’ll need to plan ahead and get them used to coming indoors first. Partially cover their cages, pens and aviaries with blankets so that one area is well sound-proofed and your pet is still able to look out.

Don’t react to sounds

Your pet will observe how you react to the firework sounds, so it’s best to remain calm and reassuring. Playing with your pet, if they want to play, will be a good way to distract them.

Muffle the sounds

One of the best ways to limit the effect of the fireworks is to mask the sounds, so try playing music or switching on the TV. Closing the windows and curtains will help to limit the sounds entering into your home, while blackout blinds are ideal to block out flashes of light.

Try anti-anxiety products

If your pet struggles with loud noises and flashing lights during this time of year, you could try an anti-anxiety product to help them, including calming sprays, tablets, drops or diffusers.

There are a range of options available, but we typically recommend these to our clients:

  • DAP
  • Feliway
  • Pet Remedy
  • Nutracalm

All the above products are available in our clinics without an appointment.

Ideally, supplements need to be used a few weeks in advance to work their best, so remember introduce them early on in preparation.

Our lovely team of nurses are on hand to offer advice, so if you are concerned about your pet or have any questions, contact your local St Kitts practice to book an appointment.

St Kitts Veterinary Centre: 01252 844044
Basingstoke Veterinary Centre: 01256 844944
Crookham Park Veterinary Centre: 01252 913990
Firgrove Veterinary Centre: 01252 877799