The spring plants you didn’t realise were poisonous

Spring brings us warmer weather, blue skies, and blooming plants. However, it’s important to remember that some seasonal plants may be poisonous to our fur babies. Here are the most commonly found poisonous spring plants, and the signs of poisoning. 


Daffodils – Found in gardens or kept inside, if dogs ingest daffodils or consume the water they are kept in, this could cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and can make them fatigued. The same reaction can be seen in cats. 

Bluebells – These can be found in the woods, so keep your dog close during walks in these areas. If ingested these can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue and disorientation.  

Azaleas – These can be a beautiful addition to your garden, however even the smallest amount consumed by your dog could cause difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting. 

Tulips – If you’re planning to pick some up from the shop or grow them yourself, keep these away from your pup. Tulips can cause drooling, diarrhoea and vomiting. The same reaction can be seen in cats. 

Other poisonous plants include:

  • Buttercups
  • Crocuses
  • Cyclamen 
  • Elderberry
  • Foxglove
  • Hyacinth 
  • Lupin 


Lillies – These are the perfect seasonal flower, however even in a vase of water, they can be extremely poisonous to cats. The flowers, leaves and pollen can get stuck to your cat’s fur and consumed through grooming, this can cause vomiting and even kidney failure. 

Amaryllis – The stalks, flowers and bulbs of this beautiful plant, unfortunately, contain a toxin which can cause your cat to vomit, have a change in blood pressure and potentially have a seizure. 

Hyacinths – Commonly found blooming in a garden, consuming these can lead to your cat drooling, vomiting and having diarrhoea. 

Other poisonous plants include:

  • Chrysanthemums
  • Gladiolus
  • Crocus
  • Cyclamen
  • Foxglove
  • Widow’s thrill

There’s no need to worry as long as you keep these plants out of reach, and there are many pet-friendly plant options which can be used to spruce up the garden or your house this spring.

A road trip with your pet

Heading on a road trip with your pet can feel daunting. You want to ensure that your pet is comfortable and safe, whilst enjoying the journey. Here are our tips to prepare you for a stress-free trip.

The essentials

  • Plenty of water 
  • Food and extra treats 
  • A comfort item from home such as their bed or a blanket 
  • A collar with ID tags, your pet should also be chipped too. 
  • Their carrier or crate 
  • Animal first aid kit 

Dog essentials and tips


  • A harness that can be safely attached to a seatbelt 
  • Weather-appropriate clothing/accessories, e.g. a jacket for colder weather
  • Lots of poop bags 


  • Take plenty of breaks. This will allow your dog to use the toilet and stretch their legs.
  • Bring some chew treats or toys. Sitting for long periods of time can be challenging for active dogs, therefore providing them with some stimulants will keep them entertained.

Cat essentials and tips


  • Litterbox – this will reduce your stops 
  • Feline anxiety medication – just in case 


  • Pack litter and take minimal stops. Stopping a lot within a journey can cause more stress for your cat, so bring their litter tray for when they need the toilet and keep the pitstops to a limit.

Car tips and rules

  • Never leave your pet unattended in the car. This can lead to them panicking and if the outside temperature is warm, your car will heat up quickly, even with a cracked open window. 
  • Dogs should be restrained at all times, whether in their crate or by their lead. Dogs are much bigger than cats and if loose can become dangerous and a distraction whilst driving.
  • Create a space safe. Some animals won’t like to be kept in their crate for long periods, this is why you dedicate a space in the car for your pet. Adding blankets from home and some food and water will help direct your pet towards this. 

For one less thing to think about before your journey, use VetBox to ensure your pets is tick, flea and worm safe when you arrive at your destination! 

How to introduce a new pet to your other pets

Bringing another pet into your home is exciting, but sometimes other pets can get territorial or jealous. Here are some of our top tips for introducing a new pet to your current pet. 

Cats to cats 

  1. Let your new cat explore their surroundings first – To begin with, keep the cats in separate rooms. Set up one room just for the new cat to get comfortable in and adjust to your home. 
  1. The first interaction – Let the cats catch a quick look at each other through an open doorway or a window, or you could leave a blanket they’ve been lying on with the other cat so they can catch a scent. This will let both cats know there’s another cat present without overwhelming them immediately. 
  1. The official meeting – When you feel your new cat is settling, this is when you should let them meet your current cat. Open the door and let your new cat come out in their own time and let the cats come together when they’re ready. 
  1. If there’s an issue – It’s normal for cats not to be friends straight away so be patient. If there’s any sign of aggression, take your new cat back to their room and ease your cats into meeting another time. They will warm to each other eventually!

Dogs to dogs 

  1. Keep them separate – You should provide both dogs with their own safe space and try to keep them separate where possible so they can adjust to sharing a home with another dog. 
  1. Leased interactions – For the first couple of meetings it’s best to keep both dogs on leashes so you have more control over their engagement with each other
  1. Keeping a distance on walks – Where possible, try to take them on walks together but keep them separate. Over time and once your dogs are comfortable around each other, you can decrease the distance and let them walk together. 
  1. Reward positive behaviour – If either dog is calm and kind around the other, you should reward them with praise or treats. 
  1. If there’s an issue – If your dogs are getting stressed or aggressive, you should contact a dog trainer to help guide you through the process.

Dogs to Cats 

  1. Finding the right fit – Before adopting either animal, you should do your research on how well they match up with a dog/cat and how their breeds have socialised historically. This will help you choose the right fit. 
  1. Providing safe spaces – As with any other pet introduction, each pet should have its own safe place. You should also try to keep their outside time separate initially, just until they’re comfortable around one another. 
  1. Initial interactions – In the first few meetings between your dog and cat, you should use leases or gates to keep them separate. This will avoid any unpleasant contact. 
  1. Rewarding positive behaviour – Both pets should be rewarded with praise, attention or treats when being calm and friendly around the other animal
  1. If there’s an issue – You should contact a trainer, they can provide advice on reading body language and how to manage interactions. 

Is my pet overweight?

The dangers of pets being overweight include increased risk of diabetes, arthritis, and Cardiovascular disease, and unfortunately, statistics show that a large percentage of dogs and cats in the UK are overweight or obese. 

But why? What is it that’s contributing to our pets being an unhealthy weight? 

Read on to discover why so many pets are overweight, the major health risks of obesity, how you can determine if your pet’s weight is appropriate, and how we can fix it. 

How can I tell if my pet is overweight?

Most vets use a system called Body Condition Scoring to give an idea if your pet is an appropriate weight. While exact calculations can absolutely be done, evaluating BCS is a quick and easy way to decide whether or not there can be an improvement in your pet’s weight. 

BCS systems are typically done on a scale of 1-5 or 1-9. 1 means your pet is extremely thin, whereas 9 would indicate obesity. On the 1-5 scale, 3 is “ideal”, and on the 1-9 scale, 5 is “ideal”. That being said, I personally prefer to keep my patients SLIGHTLY under 3/5 or 5/9 for good health, especially large breed dogs.

Looking at your pet, you should be able to see a defined waistline when looking down over the top of your animal, and a nice upward tuck of the abdomen when looking from the side. When feeding your pet, you should easily be able to feel their ribs and tail base without pushing inwards, with a thin layer of fat over these structures. 

Hills Pet Nutrition and Nestle-Purina Pet Care have excellent resources for people that show pictures of body condition scoring charts in more detail. You can check out these charts here:

Why are so many dogs and cats overweight?

Often pet owners don’t realize that dogs and cats have different styles of metabolism than people. Their bodies process things in different ways and at different speeds. For example, feeding your dog a piece of cheese may seem insignificant, but depending on the size of your dog that amount of fat could be approximately equal to us eating three large cheeseburgers from Mcdonald’s. Treats are a common culprit. Vets are happy for you to give your dog treats, but we have to remember to keep the quantity small and to decrease their regular food amount to reflect the extra calories from the treats (while still keeping a balanced diet). 

Common problems:

  • Feeding too much food. 
  • Feeding food that is inappropriate for the pet’s life stage or lifestyle. 
  • Feeding too many treats, including human food. 
  • Not enough exercise/activity. 
  • Undiagnosed underlying diseases.

The dangers of your pet being overweight 

Vets hear a lot of pet owners making comments about their overweight pets being “cute” or “well-loved”.  We also hear that being overweight “isn’t a big deal” or they’ve “always been like that”. While we 100% know and love that pet owners want the best for their pets, we have to be clear that being overweight is dangerous for your pet’s health. 

Here are some conditions that pets are at increased risk of by being overweight:

  • Arthritis, joint pain/inflammation
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) 
  • Diabetes 
  • Respiratory difficulty/exercise intolerance

What can I do if my pet is overweight?

Don’t fret, there are definitely things you can do to help improve your pet’s weight to keep them happy and healthy longer. Usually, vets recommend weight loss be done slowly and under veterinary direction. Here are some tips for safe weight management:

  • Ensure you are feeding a diet appropriate for your pet’s life stage.
    • For example, diets approved for “ALL LIFE STAGES” have to contain enough protein, fat, and carbohydrates for growing puppies and pregnant/nursing females. This typically is TOO much for average adult dogs, meaning adult dogs eating these types of diets may be overweight.
  • Be aware of the amount of food and treats you are feeding every day.
    • Do you know how many calories your pet is consuming? This can surprise owners.
  • Talk to a vet about if a “WEIGHT MANAGEMENT” diet is right for your pet.
    • Sometimes owners just need to feed a bit less food or give fewer treats. But there are some pets that benefit from either an over-the-counter or prescription weight management diet. 
  • Talk to a vet to discuss the potential for any underlying diseases that may contribute to weight issues.
    • Female large-breed dogs are a common demographic that may have reduced thyroid hormone production contributing to weight gain, just like some human women.
  • Regular exercise for pets is just as important as it is for us.

Top tip:

Your pets rely on you to help keep them at a healthy weight, leading to a happy and long life!

Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS

What to do if your pet is scared of strangers

The fear and anxiety our pets might have around strangers is not uncommon, and can be caused by several factors. Today we’re unpacking why your pet is anxious, signs to look out for and how you can help. 

Reasons for your pet being anxious 


Dogs – Certain breeds of dogs might be more skittish or timid. These breeds include: Yorkshire Terriers, Greyhounds, Dalmatians, Beagles, and more. 

Cats –  Cats have different and unique personalities, some may be outgoing and energetic, whilst others might be more shy and nervous. 

Lack of socialisation – If your pet didn’t have a lot of contact with strangers as a puppy or kitten, they can develop a fear that they carry through their life.

To learn more about socialisation we have blogs about kittens and puppies on our blog

Dogs and cats that have been mistreated previously 

Signs your pet is anxious or scared 


  • Barking or growling 
  • Snapping 
  • Hiding 
  • Running away 


  • Tail wagging 
  • Hiding 
  • Running away 
  • Trying to appear smaller 
  • Arched back 
  • Hissing 

How to help your pet

Stay relaxed and patient 


If you’re out on a walk and you feel your dog getting anxious, your instinct might be to tighten the lead. It’s important to stay relaxed and soothe your dog to ensure the environment is friendly and calm. 

If your dog is scared of strangers, do not force them to engage as this could lead to your dog getting agitated and acting out. 


It might feel frustrating when you don’t see any improvement in your cat’s fear of strangers, but you have to be patient. Let your cat come out of their shell in their own time and don’t force any interaction they won’t feel comfortable with. 

Prepare your guests

If you’re planning on having visitors at your house, make sure to let them know in advance that your pet is scared of strangers. Ask them to not pick up your cat or try to pet your dog, instead let your pet come to them. 

If you notice any of the signs listed above, remove your pet from the situation and consider putting your pet into a safe and comfortable space to calm down. 



Finding a suitable dog trainer can help you understand your dog better and learn how to manage situations where they are fearful. 

The trainer can also recommend different methods to help you manage your dog’s fear of strangers, such as a wire basket muzzle. 


You can train your cat to be around strangers with behaviour modification, such as overlearning and positive reinforcement.

Easing your cat into interactions by creating distance between them and your visitor, and slowly instigating a meeting, will help ease your cat’s nerves. You can reward their behaviour with treats and play-time. 

Common Pet Toxins

There are many things in your home that are safe for you, but extremely toxic for your pets. In today’s blog we’re tackling some of the most commonly reported toxicities in dogs and cats that pet owners should be aware of.


  • Chocolate:  Contains the compound theobromine, which can cause GI upset, restlessness/agitation, high heart rate, muscle tremors, and seizures. 
  • Grapes & Raisins: We are still uncertain of the exact toxic compound and therefore toxic dose in cases of pet consumption. What we do know is grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure and possibly death for dogs if not addressed in a timely manner.
  • Onions & Garlic: Foods in the allium family contain the compound thiosulfate, which is known to cause hemolytic anemia in dogs. This is where the body attacks its own red blood cells causing anemia that often requires a blood transfusion.

Household products: 

  • Household human medications, such as: Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Naproxen, Acetaminophen/Paracetamol, Vitamin D, ADHD medication, Antidepressants 
  • Household pet medications, swallowed in large quantities: Pain medications/NSAIDS such as Galliprant or Carprofen, Incontinence medications such as PPA/phenylpropanolamine, Parasite preventatives such as Nexgard, Credelio, or Bravecto 
  • Cleaning products: Household cleaners such as those containing bleach can be extremely toxic if consumed. This is because many contain caustic substances which can eat away at the mucosal tissue along the gut resulting in tissue death and bleeding. 
  • Anti-freeze: Many brands of car antifreeze solution contain the compound ethylene glycol, an alcohol type compound that can cause kidney failure and death.
  • Essential oils: Particularly tea tree, lavender, mint, and eucalyptus have been shown to cause a variety of issues in cats. This can occur via direct contact to skin, ingesting the oils, or inhaling them.


  • House plants, such as: Sago palm: contains the compound cycasin which can cause liver failure in dogs, Plants containing insoluble calcium oxalates (philodendron, calla lily, elephants ear, Chinese evergreen) can cause significant irritation and damage to a dog’s GI mucosa
  • Lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis species): Lilies from the above classes have the potential to cause fatal kidney failure in cats, it’s the pollen to be careful of as this can get anywhere. However, Not all lilies are toxic! As mentioned, lilies from the Lilium and Hemerocallis families are known to be the problem.

Signs your pet has ingested a toxin 


Gastrointestinal symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, hypersalivation, difficulty breathing

Kidney failure: Change of urination frequency – increased or decreased, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, drinking excessive amounts of water

Liver failure: Vomiting, diarrhea, yellow gums, collapsing 

Internal bleeding: Coughing up blood, vomiting blood, collapsing, heart racing, pale gums


Gastrointestinal symptoms: Vomiting, hypersalivation, lethargy or weakness, difficulty breathing

Other symptoms of cat poisoning include: Coughing, skin inflammation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, collapsing,  loss of appetite, drinking excessive amounts of water, heart racing, change of urination frequency – increased or decreased

What to do if your pet has ingested a toxin 

If you think your pet has been poisoned, you should contact your vet immediately. If you can, try to figure out what toxin your pet has been exposed to and how much, this will help your vet treat your pet correctly and efficiently. 

Our cats and dogs are part of the family so we want to keep them as safe as possible. When it comes to household toxins it can be concerning, but as long as you keep them out of reach or locked away you shouldn’t have to worry. 

Looking after your pet during NYE fireworks

New Year’s Eve calls for a celebration with loved ones to ring in the new year, and for many of us this includes fireworks. Beyond the beauty of fireworks for us, the loud bangs and flashes of lights can be frightening for our pets. Here are some tips from us on how to minimise your pet’s stress on the night: 

Calming sounds and videos 

  • Spotify and Apple Music – If you search for “firework calming” you’ll be met with a  great selection of desensitising playlists for animals.  
  • YouTube – This is another great tool to use during fireworks , if you search for “calming music for animals fireworks”, a variety of videos will come up, including some that are up to 20 hours long so you don’t have to worry about the video stopping at the wrong time. 
  • White noise machine – these devices offer many different settings to choose and lets you select a suitable volume. 
  • Putting on the TV during fireworks – This can also be helpful in masking the loud bangs. 

Providing a safe place 

A lot of animals will want to burrow and hide away when they feel frightened so as owners, we should make a place where they feel safe to do this. 

  • Finding a spot – Pick a room that you know your pet will feel comfortable in, perhaps a bedroom or spare room and set their bed up in here. 
  • Utilising their bed – Fill their bed with a blanket and even some cushions to make it as cosy as possible. You could also use a blanket to make a fort around your pet’s bed, this can help them feel even safer. 
  • Closing the curtains – This will help block out the flashes of light from fireworks 
  • Leave them be – Though it might be tempting to lure your pets out of their safe place once you know the fireworks have stopped, but you should let them come out when they’re ready 

Outside time 

Pets need their outside time for exercise and going to the toilet, so if you’re unsure whether to let them out at all during New Years Eve, you definitely should.

  • Going out earlier in the day. If your cat goes out exploring at night time or you normally take your dog for a walk later in the day, we recommend you try to schedule these times earlier to avoid fireworks going off while your pets are outside.  
  • Providing a litter tray. If your cat usually uses the toilet outside, we recommend introducing a litter tray for nights like New Years Eve so they have somewhere to go to the toilet if they’re too scared to venture out. 
  • Making sure your pets are microchipped and has a tag on their collar, with your contact information on it. If your pet does get out during the fireworks and runs off in a panic, it’s important you have taken these measures so they can be returned to you if they get lost. 

It’s important for you to remain calm if your pet is stressed, shouting at your pet if they’re acting out because of the fireworks will not help the situation, and can frighten your pet further. Follow these tips and be a good support system for your pet, and you won’t have to worry too much come New Years Eve. 

Making sure your Christmas is pet-safe

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

The best things about Christmas are often decorating the house, eating good food and hosting loved ones. 

However, there are certain dangers to our pets that come with the festive period. Read on for tips for how to keep your pets safe this Christmas. 

Christmas decorations that could be harmful 

Christmas Trees

For cats especially, Christmas trees look like the perfect climbing frame but unfortunately they can be hazardous. Getting a real tree can make your home look and smell so festive, however the needles can get stuck in your pew paw’s and if swallowed, stuck in their throat. On the other hand, artificial trees can be just as dangerous with the plastic needles and small pieces that can break off. 

However, this isn’t a sign to not put up a Christmas tree this year, more of a warning to try to keep your pets away from the tree, or keep an eye on them when they do go near it. Try to place your tree out of reach from pets and regularly brush up around the tree to collect the bits that may have fallen off. 

Baubles, ornaments and lights 

Baubles and ornaments you hang on your tree or place around your house, could look like toys and a game to play for your pet. If your pet knocks these decorations off your tree or another surface and they break, the shards could get into their paws and cause injury, and if your pet ingests them they could choke, or worse. 

We suggest keeping hanging baubles on your tree out of reach and making sure they’re attached tightly to the branches. Ornaments on other surfaces could be ‘glued’ into place using blu tack or double sided tape. 

Lights around the house and the Christmas tree can be tempting to chew for your pet, loose wires could also look like something else to play with, which is definitely not safe. 

Try to switch lights off properly when not in use and keep out of reach where possible. 

Christmas food to keep away from your pets 

When handing round sweet treats such as mince pies and Quality Streets, or serving Christmas dinner to family and friends, you should keep in mind what may be poisonous or harmful to your pets:

  • Chocolate 
  • Puddings 
  • Mince pies 
  • Onions
  • Alcohol 
  • Nuts 
  • Bones from animal carasses 

We don’t want to make our pets ill, especially around Christmas, so remember to not leave food out within your pet’s reach. If you want to safely treat your pet around the holidays buy treats specifically for animals. 

If your pets are anxious around lots of people 

Some pets feel anxious around lots of people or people they’re not familiar with. We don’t want to stop you from inviting people into your home around the holidays, so there are few things you can do to make your pet feel more comfortable. 

  • Make sure they have a safe place they can go to away from your guests. Perhaps putting their bed and some blankets into a bedroom or a spare-room.
  • Let your pet come to you, don’t force your pet to meet new people, especially all at once. If they want to come and say ‘hello’ let them do this in their own time. 

Stick to your pet’s routine 

Although Christmas parties and Christmas Day are usually out of routine for us, it shouldn’t be for your pets, this can lead to stressing out your fur-babies. Try to feed them at the same time as usual and any outside time, including going for a walk, or toilet time is also kept the same. 

Christmas is a time for giving back, and we think the best way to do this with your pets is to ensure they’re safe and healthy. That’s why VetBox provides an affordable and trustworthy monthly subscription to keep your pets safe during Christmas and beyond. 

Kittens: Socialisation & Behaviour

A new kitten is one of the cutest and most unpredictable additions to a household. It’s an exciting time for families to be bringing in a furry member, but it can be overwhelming too! We wish we had an hour to sit down with every family that comes in to go over some truly important kitten topics, but unfortunately that reality is not often possible. Because of this, having resources for owners to read/keep has become a must. We’ve included top tips and considerations for socialisation/behavior here for new kitten owners.

  • Having a well adjusted kitten takes time and training.
    • Kittens are cute and small, but it’s important to remember that kittens don’t magically grow up to be well behaved and easy going. There are many new experiences that kittens will go through that shape the type of cat they eventually become. While it is easy to assume all kittens are mellow and welcoming, some kittens are timid and fearful. Behavioral problems are one of the number one reasons why cats are relinquished to shelters or requested to be put to sleep. Taking initiative early on can make all the difference.  If you have a kitten at home, you have an opportunity to help them jump through the hoops towards becoming a well adjusted cat.
  • Kittens experience their primary “learning” and “socialisation” period up to about 12-16 weeks of age, sometimes even younger. 
    • This means that the optimal window for teaching them how to acclimatize to new situations is before they hit this age. This often surprises owners, but I like to turn this into a plus. This gives us the chance to help kittens become great cats.
  • Vaccinations vs. Socialization: When is my kitten considered protected?
    • The answer is, it depends. This question arises because we know the primary socialisation period is prior to 12-16 weeks of age, but kittens have not completed their initial vaccine series to receive disease protection until that age or later. Our answer is to pick safe socialization opportunities, as we should ideally not wait to introduce new experiences. 
    • Allowing your kitten to have supervised time with other cats or dogs indoors that are vaccinated, on parasite prevention, and are good with other cats is a great chance for socialisation. Make sure to watch your kittens’ response to other pets and stop the interaction if they are becoming overwhelmed/scared. We want to foster positive associations with new friends.
    • We recommend holding off on letting your kitten outdoors until their initial vaccination series is completed, to ensure they are protected. Additionally I encourage owners to wait to slowly introduce their cat to being outdoors until they are larger (i.e. closer to 10 -12 months of age) so that they are grown and able to protect themselves/retreat should a threat arise.
  • Short and sweet is key.
    • Keeping new experiences short and positive allows for kittens to avoid becoming overwhelmed or stressed. 10-15 minutes can often be enough at one time, though repetition over time is also important. Positive reinforcement for positive behaviors/responses are much easier for kittens to remember and associate with future behaviors. For example, a positive experience with treats and praise is much more likely to lead to repeating that behavior in the future. 
  • Remember that kittens will often be nervous in new situations.
    • We need to keep in mind that everything is new to kittens and these things may be scary. Trying to avoid triggers can be helpful to creating a positive experience. For example, ensuring your kitten has a safe place to hide if they are nervous can be beneficial, like a carrier or a room that is gated off from other animals/people. Don’t forget treats and toys! Sounds can also be scary, so exposure to things like cars, vacuums, lawn mowers, washing machines, hair dryers, etc. are useful.
  • Vary the exposure.
    • The more types of situations and handling your kitten gets exposed to, the easier it will be for them to associate a positivity with new situations. 
    • We recommended touching your kittens head, feet, mouths, tummies, etc. to get them used to and not startled by human contact. This makes it less likely for them to react later on, and easier for both owners/vets to handle the cat as an adult. Prime example here – trimming their nails 🙂 
    • This also comes into play with children. Children are often unpredictable in terms of sounds, smells, and behaviors which can be challenging for kittens to comprehend. Getting kittens used to children is a good way to curb a common cat fear later on in life. It is also essential to teach your children appropriate behavior around kittens/cats! Cats and children should never be left unsupervised. 
    • Similarly, kittens should not be left unsupervised with other cats/dogs. Starting by letting them see/smell each other without contact is ideal (through a baby gate or a screened door), then slowly working towards time together. Dogs should be kept on a lead until kittens are more used to them and dogs can respect their boundaries. These scenarios should always be supervised until both pets are comfortable. This may take weeks in some scenarios, but the diligence and patience is well worth the results. 
  • Don’t forget to make the vet less scary too!
    • There are several things we can do to make the vet less scary, including getting cats used to their carriers and the car early in their lives. We encourage pet owners to leave their cats carrier out for 5-7 days prior to any trips in it, so that it is not associated with fear. Your cat can get used to the carrier with plenty of time before having to go in it. Keeping treats, toys, and blankets in the carrier also helps make it more welcoming and less scary. Pheromone sprays for stress such as Feliway can also be used to decrease your kitty’s anxiety. I often spray the carrier inside, as well as spray a towel that I put over the carrier while the cat is being transported. Taking your cat in it’s carrier in the car on short trips without going to the vet first can be helpful, so the car is also not automatically associated with the vet. Trips to the vet solely for treats and a pet (no medical care) is also another way to associate positivity with the vet!
  • Consider training non-negotiables to help make a ROUTINE.
    • The best training protocols rely on creating one that works for you and your kitten then sticking to it. Consistency helps reinforce concepts you are trying to teach, and also helps them retain these faster. This may include feeding times and styles, what surfaces your cat is “allowed” to be on, encouragement in using a scratching post (rather than your couch), nail trimming, etc. This takes some of the uncertainty out of learning for kittens and can relieve stress in new situations. 


Positive rewards for positive behavior/interactions, routine, and consistency win the game here. Exposing your pet to a variety of safe new environments, people, and animals while they are growing is essential to helping them grow into a well adjusted adult cat. 

Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM MRCVS

Fleas 101

Health risks crash course

“I’ve never seen a flea, so my pet doesn’t have fleas.” As vets we’ve heard this many times and wish it was true. Unfortunately, just because you can’t see fleas, doesn’t mean your pet is flea-free. 

Not only do fleas cause a huge amount of discomfort for your pets…there are other health-factors to take into consideration. That’s why consistent flea prevention is so important. This blog will cover all the main health risks that fleas pose for your pets, and also to you and your family. 

First let’s cover the big one and the major reason why many owners end up at the vets. Live fleas are ITCHY! Flea bites are uncomfortable and cause itchiness in our furry family members and potentially, the rest of the family. Fleas aren’t picky about where their meal comes from (blood) and will bite any warm body near them, meaning you and your family are fair game for these parasites. Animals will obsessively lick, bite, chew and can even become extremely stressed when infested with fleas. Not to mention they’ll be keeping you up at night doing so. 

Now that we’ve covered the most common reason owners reach for flea prevention, it’s even more important we cover the health issues that can create an even bigger problem.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

A step above your average itchy flea bite is referred to as flea allergy dermatitis (FAD). Some pets have an immune hypersensitivity or allergy to flea saliva, and when bitten a more severe local reaction will occur. Affected animals will lick and chew themselves in response to a bite to the point of hair loss, severe redness and even secondary bacterial or yeast infections. These pets absolutely should be treated regularly for fleas to decrease the chances of experiencing these types of outbreaks, as they are often painful. Pets that suffer from FAD often need to seek veterinary care for topical and/or oral medications like antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, sprays, and shampoos to help treat the skin. 

Environmental flea infestation

Just because you can’t see fleas doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Live adult fleas are small and quick! Adults can be seen with the naked eye, are dark brown in colour and only a few millimetres in length. They like to jump around but also burrow deep within the fur to plan their next “blood meal” (bite). Eggs however, can’t be seen so easily and are produced in large quantities which can remain on your pet, or are shed into the environment. These eggs mature into larvae which are both persistent and resistant. They love to hide in carpet, bedding, furniture, etc. Adults will emerge weeks down the road and begin the life cycle again. As vets we often find live fleas or flea poo on many pets when owners insist their pet doesn’t have fleas. Fleas prefer moderate weather, however it takes several days of sub-freezing temperatures for the flea life cycle to be interrupted. This means that in a moderate climate like the UK, year round prevention is necessary. It’s also common for vets to recommend prevention year round regardless of weather because of other parasites that are also prevented by flea treatments, such as ticks. 

Due to their short life cycle, affinity for moderate temperatures and ability to persist in the environment – regular flea prevention is all the more important. 

Flea borne diseases

If you aren’t disgusted enough already, unfortunately there’s more. Fleas can carry other diseases that can cause your pet (or you) to become ill. Historically, fleas have been the culprit to harbouring and spreading the bacterias guilty of causing plague and typhus in humans. Additionally, fleas are also the transmitter of the bacteria Bartonella, better known as cat scratch fever. Bartonella may cause infected cats to become unwell and can be spread to humans by a cat scratch. Mycoplasma haemophilus is another bacteria spread through fleas, and is a major concern for cats that spend time outdoors. This nasty bacteria can cause cats’ red blood cells to be recognised as foreign and destroyed, leading to potentially life threatening anaemia. Fleas also commonly carry the egg of the tapeworm Dipylidium, which if swallowed by your pet or humans will lead to development of the tapeworm along the intestinal tract.


When it comes down to it, not only are fleas annoying, they also pose a health risk to you and your pets. For this reason, vets encourage pet owners to be proactive in preventing fleas year round. There are many products on the market which can be overwhelming for owners. Which is right for your pet? Why are there so many? Why do I need a prescription when I can buy some over the counter? In general, preventative treatments containing medication are going to be the most effective. Unfortunately “all natural products” will not achieve the results we desire in most cases. 

VetBox subscriptions are tailored to your pet by our team of qualified vets and the treatments are sent automatically in the post each month. Fill out our quick online sign-up form to find the best treatment for your dog or cat. For pets with specific requirements, our vets can tailor their subscription even further so please get in touch to discuss. 

Dr. Kirsten Ronngren, DVM – MRCVS