Get Travel Vet’s 6-point cat checklist to do at home

Cats are notorious for being able to hide pain and illness very well. As cats ages faster than humans, a lot can happen in a short space of time but by monitoring your cat closely, you can help to identify any changes sooner and get them the help they need.

The team at The Travel Vet have some advice for cat owners on how to spot common cat health concerns at home in between annual and 6-monthly vet checks.

If you have any concerns about your cat’s health right now,

Book a cat check-up

Common cat health problems

Vet Emma Fisher lists common ailments that affect cats below:

  • Dental disease
  • Skin problems
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Joint disease/Osteoarthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Urinary problems
  • Cancer

Many of these ailments can affect cats at any stage in life, and some are more likely to affect them in their older years. Emma explains that equally you should not overlook any symptoms whatever age your pet is. Some of the most common symptoms of something changing can be:

  • Behaviour changes
  • Toileting changes
  • Appetite changes
  • Water intake changes
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Skin/coat changes

By regularly checking over your cat at home, you can help monitor for changes but also learn what is normal for them. Emma advises performing this 6-point cat checklist regularly at home to spot any irregularities:

6-point cat checklist

  1. Nose – clean, clear, and subtly moist
  2. Eyes – bright and clear; no discharge or redness around the eyes
  3. Mouth – healthy looking teeth with no breakages or tartar build up, and healthy pink gums
  4. Ears – clean and clear with no discharge, swelling, nasty smells, or constantly scratching
  5. Coat/skin – shiny healthy coat with no dandruff, parasites, bald patches, lumps, or bumps
  6. Weight – healthy lean weight; can feel rib cage but not see it; can see a defined waist

If you spot any changes on your cat that you are concerned about, it is best to get them checked by Emma or any of the Vets at our Spout Lane North surgery. The chances are it is something simple, but it is better to get it looked at and get your cat the treatment they need.

Book a cat check-up today

Travel Vet explain why rabbits need a companion

Rabbits are highly sociable animals and in the wild they live in large groups called colonies. Domestic rabbits also thrive – just like humans – when they have a friend. Without a companion, rabbits can quickly become sad and lonely whereas living with a companion can have a hugely positive impact on your bunny’s wellbeing.

Travel Vet’s team offer some thoughts below on how to ensure your rabbit has the right companion. We’re also keen to hear what you think about this topic so please let us know and ask questions on our Facebook page.

Talk to us on Facebook

Finding & introducing the right pal

Best place in Staines-upon-Thames to get a rabbit

It’s a good thing to welcome a rescue rabbit into your family and a rescue centre is the ideal place to find a companion for your pet. One bonus of this approach is that your new rabbit will probably be neutered and vaccinated already.

Pairing male and female rabbits

Getting two rabbits to live together is called bonding, mixing, or pairing. Usually, the best rabbit pairings are male and female, but two neutered male or female rabbits can also live harmoniously. It’s important that neutering is undertaken before the rabbits are matched. This is essential to avoid the rabbits having babies and will reduce the chances of them fighting with each other.

Managing the rabbit age gap

According to our Staines-upon-Thames Vet Nurses, the age of your rabbit’s new companion matters. Older rabbits may be less energetic and will prefer a friend of a similar age. For a younger rabbit, an equally exuberant mate will help them to feel comfortable with each other.

How to introduce a new rabbit

The process of introducing a new rabbit to your existing pet should be carefully considered as a new rabbit suddenly appearing can result in aggression. Minimise stress by putting the rabbits in adjacent enclosures so they can get used to each other’s scent. Once the rabbits are more familiar with the sight and smell of each other, they can be placed together for a brief period of time in a neutral area. Increase time spent together gradually and they’ll get used to each other and will be able to share a space. The aim is to build the relationship slowly so that friendship will blossom.

There are more ways you can help your rabbits bond and be happy. So, if your rabbit is alone and you have questions about getting a companion, why not post them on our Facebook page? We’ll answer them there, which will make it easy for you to share our advice with others.

Ask your questions on Facebook

How to safely transport guinea pigs

Guinea pigs, like all small furries, are not natural travellers. Taking them away from home can be stressful for everyone. So, if you need to get your guinea pig from A to B this summer, why not follow our Vet Emma’s advice on minimising stress and maximising the chances of a successful trip for you and your pets?

Emma’s Small Furry travel tick list:

1.Get a suitable pet carrier

Your furry pal is going to need a place to rest, hide, and maybe even play. Get a highly rated pet carrier and make sure it’s big enough for them to move around in, but small enough so they don’t get thrown around. It’s got to be chew proof too.

2. Get them used to it

Don’t wait until the day and just put them in and go. Your pets will be much less stressed if you get them used to their travel carrier by letting them play around in it for a week or two before you travel. You could also start with short journeys around the block to see how they handle it and if you need to make any changes to their setup.

3. Plan ahead

Before you travel, have a think about the trip. Do you have enough food & water? Can you travel at a cooler/quieter time of day? How will you clean up any mess? Can you take a route that doesn’t have speed bumps or involve a fast road? Taking a few minutes to think these things through will make the trip less stressful.

4. Stick together

If your pet has a pal, then make sure you take them both on the journey. They will naturally lend each other support.

5. Taking your pet on public transport

If you’re planning on using public transport, first check their rules of carriage, then do a few practice-runs at quiet times. Finally, make sure you travel when it’s cool.

There you go, for the very few times you’ll be moving your guinea pig, you now have all the basic info you need to make the journey less stressful for everyone.

The advice above is good for most small furries. However, if you do feel like you need species specific advice, please call our team at Travel Vet on 01753 316081 and we can talk through your pet’s specific needs.

Reasons to microchip your cat besides the new UK law

You have probably heard the old saying about cats and curiosity being a dangerous combination, so how do you give them any kind of safety net as they embark on a life of adventure? Identification, that’s how.

June is National Microchipping Month, so whether you have an indoor or outdoor cat, read on to discover why all cats in Middlesex need a microchip, by law, in 2022.

Book a cat microchip

Find your lost cat

While some cats probably shudder at the thought of leaving their favourite sofa, let alone the back garden, other cats can wander for miles. What all cats have in common though, is the ability to get picked up by a helpful passer-by or an animal warden for looking lost and taken to a veterinary practice or rescue centre.

Most cats don’t wear a collar and ID tag so without any form of identification, reuniting the two of you could be impossible. When the owner cannot be found, cats are typically put up for rehoming.

The team at Travel Vet recommend cat microchipping as the best way of ensuring your feline friend can be quickly reunited with you. Contact us to book a cat microchip appointment.

New cat microchip law UK

‘Lost & found’ isn’t the only reason our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary team recommend cat microchipping.

DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) has announced that cat microchipping will become compulsory in the UK in 2022 as part of a larger animal welfare action plan. The move is aimed at making more cats identifiable, in turn helping with issues such as cat thefts, strays, and deceased cats left by the road following traffic accidents.

This new law, which will carry a fine of £500 for non-compliance, is welcomed by many cat charities including Cats Matter and Cats Protection.

As part of the legislative changes, all cats over 20 weeks of age (unless there is an animal health or welfare reason certified by a Vet) must be microchipped by law. This coincides with the typical age kittens can be neutered from, so both procedures can be done by our team here at Travel Vet before your kitten ventures outside. If your cat is already neutered, microchipping only takes a few minutes. Call us for more information on 01753 316081.

What does cat microchipping involve?

Microchips are tiny electronic devices, no bigger than a grain of rice, which are injected under the skin on the back of a cat’s neck. The procedure is quick and perfectly safe.

Your cat’s microchip carries your unique registration number, which links to a database where all your contact information is stored. One of our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary surgeons or nurses, and staff at some animal shelters, can scan the microchip and access the database to get your details.

It is likely to also be an offence to not keep your contact details up to date on the database, as it is with dogs. And why wouldn’t you? Out of date contact details are no use to your cat!

Don’t delay, book your cat’s microchipping today

At Travel Vet, we recommend that owners get ahead of this new law and get their cat microchipped as soon as possible. The unthinkable could happen today and a microchip could make all the difference in reuniting you with your cat.

Arrange your cat’s microchipping today

A rabbit microchip? Staines-upon-Thames Vets have this advice

You are probably familiar with dogs and cats being microchipped, but what about rabbits? With it being National Microchipping Month in June, our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary team are here to tell you everything you need to know about microchipping rabbits.

Contact us about rabbit microchipping

Is your rabbit secure in your home and garden? You would hope so, but rabbits are inquisitive creatures and their curiosity can get them into trouble.

What would you do if your rabbit got lost? Rabbits do not typically wear a collar & ID tag so with no identification, anyone finding your pet would not know who or where to return them to. This is why microchipping rabbits is a good idea.

What is rabbit microchipping?

Microchips are tiny electronic devices that contain all the data needed to trace you if someone finds your lost pet. A microchip is about the same size as a grain of rice. It is implanted just under the skin (usually between the shoulder blades) via an injection. Microchips are designed to last for life and should cause no bother to your pet. If an animal is deemed large enough, our team at Travel Vet can microchip them – ask us about microchipping your rabbit.

How is microchipping helpful?

A microchip stores a unique code, which is matched to the owner’s details on a central online database. Travel Vet and other veterinary practices, as well as some animal rescue centres, have special microchip scanners to reveal the code. If you do not keep your contact details up to  date on the central database, it may not be possible to reunite you with your rabbit.

Benefits of rabbit microchipping

Microchipping is currently the most effective way to reunite pets with their owners if they are brought into a vet practice or animal shelter without an ID tag – this could be due to a successful escape attempt or if a stolen pet is recovered. With no way to identify the owner,  pets are typically put up for rehoming.

Pet theft isn’t just a dog and cat owner issue. Since the start of COVID, pet thefts across a variety of species have risen. In 2021, Darius – the world’s largest rabbit – was stolen from his garden hutch in Worcestershire. Read the BBC news story about Darius here.

The Government Department of Environmental Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) published a Pet Theft Taskforce policy paper in September last year, which outlined measures being taken to tackle the rising number of pet thefts. One of the proposed measures is to have vet  practices scan all new pets at their first appointment.  You can read the full DEFRA report here.

The bottom line is, without any form of identification, pets have little to no chance of being reunited with their owners should the worst happen. Rabbit microchipping is a low-cost, simple way to give your pet rabbit a traceable form of identification and give you peace of mind.

Get your rabbit microchipped

Lifesaving guinea pig advice from Travel Vet

Like any pet, guinea pigs can have health problems that require urgent veterinary attention. As part of National Pet Month, which promotes responsible pet ownership, the clinical team at Travel Vet have put together a list of emergency conditions and lifesaving advice for guinea pig owners.

This is not a comprehensive list; it is better to err on the side of caution and phone our Staines-upon-Thames veterinary surgery for advice if you notice anything of concern with your guinea pig. Any non-descript symptoms such as lethargy, depression, and a decrease in appetite should always be acted on.

Call us if you need us on 01753 316081.

See our location & contact information

Life-threatening guinea pig health problems

Gut Stasis

Gut stasis in guinea pigs is a very serious, life-threatening condition caused by other stressful or painful conditions. Common factors include a sudden change in diet or a lack of fibre, an obstruction in the gut, dental disease, traumatic injury, dehydration, boredom, or loneliness. The gut comes to a standstill and the normal passage of food through the gut does not occur.

Symptoms of gut statis include not eating, passing less or no droppings, a bloated or painful abdomen and not wanting to move. This list is not exhaustive, so you should phone our veterinary surgery straight away if you have any concerns on 01753 316081. Treatment can include medication to help the gut to move again (unless there is an obstruction in the gut), often pain relief too, alongside fluid therapy and syringe feeding. While this can help to get the gut moving again, any underlying health problems that contributed to the gut stasis will need to be addressed.

Respiratory problems

If you notice your guinea pig has breathing problems, you should phone our Staines-upon-Thames surgery immediately. They might be breathing more quickly or more laboriously than usual, possibly alongside a discharge from their nose, sneezing, a loss of appetite, and lethargy (amongst other symptoms). Our Vets will carry out a clinical examination and may do further diagnostic tests. There are several things that can cause respiratory problems in guinea pigs including pneumonia, which can be fatal, so early diagnosis and treatment are vital.


Like any pet, guinea pigs can suffer from injuries due to trauma. The cause of trauma can be unknown, or due to falling, being dropped by accident when handled, fighting with other guinea pigs, or attacks from larger pets. If you witness any trauma occurring, or you see any signs of injury such as wounds or lameness, you will need prompt guinea pig health care from our Vets – contact us.


If you have a female guinea pig that you know to be pregnant, or think may be pregnant, it is advisable to monitor her carefully throughout the pregnancy – especially when she is close to giving birth. This is particularly true if she is over seven months of age and has not given birth previously; her pubic symphysis will have fused and so the birth canal will be too narrow for a natural birth. Therefore, a C-section will be needed to ensure the safety of your guinea pig and her pups. There are other potential complications with giving birth so it would be prudent to have a conversation with one of our Vets in advance about what to look out for.

As we mentioned earlier, this is not an exhaustive list of guinea pig health problems and like any pet, acute illnesses can occur at any time – poisoning from plants or food is definitely one to watch out for. The best advice that Travel Vet’s clinical team can give guinea pig owners, is to stay vigilant and if you notice anything unusual or concerning, call us.

Call us on 01753 316081.

How to treat common cat emergencies

Cats are very inquisitive creatures and often get themselves into trouble as a result. Head Vet Emma Fisher and the team at Travel Vet know this only too well having seen many cat emergencies over the years.

It is always better to be prepared for cat emergencies – pop our number in your phone if you don’t have it already. You may want to give it to your neighbours, family, friends, and your holiday cat sitter too if you have one.

Here’s our number: 01753 316081

See all our contact information

Dealing with Common Cat Emergencies

According to Emma, some of the most common cat emergencies include:

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Wounds / bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Poisoning
  • Seizures
  • Heatstroke
  • Stings

Below is some more information on each cat health problem and what you need to do in the event of an accident.

Cats and road traffic accidents

With many cats spending lots of time outdoors in Middlesex, road traffic accidents are always a possibility. Injuries can range from a gentle knock that gives the cat a mild concussion, to more severe broken bones, wounds, or impact to their organs. It is important to ensure that you follow DR ABC’S advice:

  • Danger – keep safe from the environment or your pet; a scared dog or any other animal may lash out
  • Response – check if your dog is responsive by calling their name
  • Airway – is their airway clear?
  • Breathing – are they breathing?
  • Circulation – do they have a pulse or heartbeat?
  • Send – send someone to go and find help

If there is an obvious bleed, you can use clean material and pressure to slow blood loss – read more about this below. Never try to ‘set’ or straighten a broken bone yourself. It is important that any cat suspected of being hit by a vehicle is checked over by a Vet to ensure there is no internal damage or risk of shock from the trauma. Call Travel Vet on 01753 316081.

Blood loss

Wounds or any bleeds should be treated as a first-aid measure to reduce the amount of blood loss. If they are bleeding use a wound pad, a clean towel, or bandaging to press on the wound to help reduce the amount of blood loss and get them to a Vet straight away. Contact your Vet first to let them prepare for your cat’s arrival and injury needs.


Burns often occur when cats jump onto hot cooking surfaces; they can also come from freshly tarred roads, surfaces treated with bleach or other chemicals, electrical sources, or being scalded by hot liquids. If your cat has a burn (not chemical), run cold water over it for a minimum of 5 minutes before getting them to the Vet – try placing a damp cloth over the burn and adding cold water, or immersing the burned area in cold water – be careful as most cats don’t like water. Do not apply any creams to the burn and ensure your cat is kept warm and calm to avoid shock. For chemical burns, wear gloves, goggles, and other safety gear and contact our Vets for first aid advice.

Cat poisoning

There are many different poisons that can harm cats with some of the most common being antifreeze, rat poison, paracetamol, and lily plants. If your cat has potentially been poisoned move the item away from them immediately. Always call your Vet straight away and be ready to take your cat there quickly so that treatment can commence without haste. Do not try to make your cat sick as this can make things worse. If they have rolled in something such as oil or have lily pollen on their fur, put a buster collar or shirt over them so that they can’t lick and ingest the poison and try to wipe it off with a damp cloth.


Cats can have seizures for many different reasons. If you ever see your cat having a seizure do not pick them up or put anything over the top of them. Turn off any stimulants such as TVs or Radios. Make the room dark and remove anything they may hurt themselves on. Time the seizure and contact our Veterinary team.

Heatstroke and your cat

Heatstroke is common in the summer months, particularly if your cat has managed to become trapped somewhere it is very hot, like a shed or greenhouse. If they are exposed to intense prolonged heat use tepid running water to help cool them down. Do not put any damp towels over them, keep them in a cool area, ensure they have access to plenty of water, and phone the Vet – 01753 316081.

Treating insect stings

Again, because of cats’ inquisitive nature, they often end up getting stung. If this has happened, pull (or scrape using a credit card) the sting out and apply either bicarbonate of soda to a bee sting or diluted vinegar to a wasp sting. The area may be very swollen and inflamed so apply an ice pack. If the sting is anywhere near your cat’s eyes, mouth, or throat contact our Vets as any swelling here could potentially close airways.

You will never stop cats from being adventurous and unfortunately, having accidents. Our Vet Emma recommends the best thing you can do is to be prepared – know how to apply basic first aid techniques as described above and always have our number to hand.

Call us in an emergency on 01753 316081.

Why all dog owners in Middlesex need a pet first aid kit

Preparation can mean the difference between life and death in first aid scenarios, according to our Vet, Emma Fisher. This is why the team at Travel Vet are recommending that all dog owners in Middlesex get themselves a pet first aid kit.

First though, check out our First Aid Tips for Dog Adventures – a guide to recognising conditions that need first aid and immediate veterinary care. Download it via the button below and save it on your phone. You could share it with friends & family by email or on Facebook too.

Download our Dog First Aid Guide

Whilst as owners we should aim to get our pet veterinary care as quickly as possible in an emergency, there are often scenarios where this is problematic. Imagine that your location or circumstances prevent you from getting to the clinic quickly, or your dog’s injury is life threatening and needs an interim measure to protect them before they can travel.

Emma advises that having a pet first aid kit to hand is crucial in being able to offer vital support when it is needed most. It also gives you piece of mind that you have the tools available to help your pet in the first instance.

Pet first aid supplies – what should your kit contain?

There are many different types of pet first aid kits. How comprehensive yours need to be will depend on what you are doing or where you are. If you are fairly local, you may carry a smaller kit compared to being on a holiday away from local amenities.

Useful pet first aid supplies include:

1.Bandages – different types (first aid courses can teach how to bandage properly)

2.Blunt-ended scissors

3.Wound wash – saline preferable

4.Cotton wool


6.Tick removal tools

7.Wound dressing

8.Self-adhesive tape

9.Vinyl gloves / alcohol gel for sanitising hands

10.Foil blanket


12.Antiseptic wipes

13.A blanket to use as a stretcher

14.Any medication your pet receives

15.Details for your local Vets – here are ours

16.Details for local vets for the area you are visiting

Having this equipment to hand means you are well prepared for the most common emergencies – download our dog first aid tips to learn what these might be.

Why some of the above items are so important

Emma explains that different types of bandages can help to stop bleeds, slow down blood loss, or protect a wound whilst transporting your pet. Tweezers can help you remove thorns or stings; never remove any big items that could be going through an artery, and use a special tick removal tool for dog ticks. Gloves and alcohol gel will help to ensure you are clean when cleaning wounds with the saline.

When it comes to blankets, Emma shares why you need two types in your pet first aid kit. Foil blankets are useful for helping to keep your pet warm and preventing shock after a trauma. Using a blanket as a stretcher is also very important for any injuries to the spine or limbs. If you can carry your pet on a stretcher, they will be more supported and comfortable then carrying them in your arms.

Keeping details of both your Vet practice and a local Vet if you adventuring far from home, will mean you are not frantically searching for the details of an emergency Vet.

Learn your DR ABCS

Whenever faced with an emergency always remember DR ABCS:

·Danger – keep safe from the environment or your pet; a scared dog or any other animal may lash out

·Response – check if your dog is responsive by calling their name

·Airway – is their airway clear?

·Breathing – are they breathing?

·Circulation – do they have a pulse or heartbeat?

·Send – send someone to go and find help

Always ensure wherever you go, no matter how close to home you are, that you carry your pet first aid kit. Also, remember to replace items you have used – there is nothing worse than needing something in an emergency and it not being in your kit!

Emma’s final piece of advice for dog owners in Middlesex, is to learn how to recognise common dog health emergencies – download & share our helpful guide below.

Download our Dog First Aid Guide

Helping Middlesex tortoises wake up from hibernation safely


Wakey wakey, rise and shine you magnificent, shelled creatures! In this guide, the team from Travel Vet share key advice for helping Middlesex tortoises come out of their hibernation period in the safest and healthiest way.

Why not share this advice with other tortoise owners on your Facebook page? Click the share icon in this article or copy the URL in the address bar.

Contact us if your tortoise is unwell

How long do tortoises hibernate?

In the UK, many tortoises hibernate from around November to March. Hibernation is a natural part of their lifecycle and helps them stay healthy. Most of the year they live on a diet of greens and grass in their enclosure and in autumn they will eat more food to build up fat reserves, ready to hibernate through the winter.

Head Vet Emma Fisher, advises that not all species of tortoise hibernate for the same length of time, or at all. Be sure to research your species as well as the best type of tortoise hibernation box and location. If they appear unwell or underweight, bring them for a Vet check-up before the ‘big sleep’.

Tortoise hibernation ‘recovery room’

When your tortoise is due to emerge from hibernation in the spring, UK temperatures do not get high enough for them to live outdoors. Therefore, for the duration of your tortoise’s recovery from hibernation and the remaining cooler months, you will need to provide an indoor home with sufficient lighting and heating.

Helping your tortoise wake up from hibernation

The best way to help your tortoise wake up safely is to do it gradually. A shock to the system will not be good for their wellbeing. Follow these steps:

  1. Place your tortoise hibernation box in a warm room to allow their body temperature to acclimatise.
  2. Once your pet is awake and moving around (this can take up to two days), you will need to move them to their vivarium where you can regulate a warmer temperature via the heat lamp – start at 22-24 degrees Celsius (the UV light must be on too).
  3. After a couple of days of movement, your tortoise will need a lukewarm bath every day for 10 days to rehydrate – read more about this below – always provide drinking water too.
  4. Every other day during this period, you should increase the vivarium temperature by one degree until 26-28 degrees Celsius is achieved.

Tortoise bath time!

Your tortoise will be dehydrated after several weeks of hibernation. Hydration is more important than food in the initial stages of waking up and drinking will help to flush out the toxins that have built up. A bath will rehydrate them quicker than simply offering them water to drink from a bowl. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Use an empty ice-cream tub or a bowl – fill it with lukewarm water up to your tortoise’s mouth so they can dunk their head under and drink without being fully submerged
  • Place your tortoise in the container on the floor for about 10 minutes – they may take themselves out of it earlier
  • After a week, continue to make a tub of water available in your tortoise’s enclosure
  • Remember to tip the contents down the drain rather than the sink and don’t use it for anything else (for hygiene regularly clean the tub separately from other items with reptile-safe disinfectant

Feeding your tortoise after hibernation

Once your tortoise is hydrated you can start to offer food. Try offering fresh tomato as it will rehydrate as well as feed them. Vitamin supplements can be added but follow the instructions carefully. If your tortoise won’t eat after a week, you should contact our Vets for advice. Your pet may have been hibernating for too long, has a health condition, or their post-hibernation temperature is too low.

Looking after your tortoise’s health

Your tortoise will be especially vulnerable after waking up due to weight loss and dehydration. Therefore, you should look out for these issues as in many cases rapid veterinary treatment will be needed. Check your tortoise regularly for eyesight issues (including cloudiness and blindness), frostbite and gangrene on the legs, swellings, and green urine.

Finally, here are some top tortoise hibernation tips from Travel Vet’s team:

Top tip #1 – If you hear your tortoise moving about or scratching during hibernation, they have probably woken up due to it being too warm. Hibernation temperatures should stay between 3 – 7 degrees Celsius.

Top tip #2 – If your tortoise does wake up early and starts moving around, metabolic processes will be awakening too. Putting a tortoise back into hibernation can be dangerous for them.

Top tip #3 – If your tortoise poops during hibernation, it is probably ok so long as it’s not runny – this could cause dehydration. Urinating during hibernation can cause severe dehydration so you should wake your pet up if they do this.

Don’t forget to share this article on your Facebook profile to help other tortoise owners in your area.

Contact us for more advice

Cats, dogs and bee stings – what you need to know


Cats and dogs are naturally inquisitive animals. This has many benefits but can also get them into trouble! A common problem in the spring and summer months is Bee or Wasp stings. Our Head Vet Emma Fisher, has some advice for Middlesex owners of cats and dogs on this topic.

To help you tell the difference between bees, wasps, and hornets, our Staines-upon-Thames vet nurses have put together a handy guide for you to download.

Download our Insect Guide

Why do bees sting cats and dogs?

Often in the warmer months we spend more time outdoors and naturally our animals will then spend more time nosing at the flowers. This is typically how cats and dogs get stung as their inquisitive noses disturb the bees and wasps collecting pollen. Trying to catch a buzzing insect can also seem like a fun game…until they get stung!

Signs that your cat or dog has been stung

In most cases, owners will not actually see the stinging occur. Instead, you may see your pet suddenly shaking or pawing at their head or body, or they have a swollen face all of a sudden.

Typical bee and wasp sting symptoms include:

  • Swelling (often around the muzzle where they have been sticking their nose in)
  • Constantly licking either at a specific area or their lips if the sting is inside the mouth
  • Redness around the area where the sting went in
  • Pawing at the area
  • Vocalising more than usual

Severe symptoms could include:

  • Breathing difficulties, especially in brachycephalic breeds if the sting is around the throat area
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Allergic reaction such as anaphylactic shock (although this would be very rare)

How to treat a bee or wasp sting on a cat or dog

Unless you saw the stinging occur, it will be difficult to tell if your pet was stung by a wasp or a bee. Either way, you can use our first aid tips below.

First, you want to make sure the sting is removed. Our Staines-upon-Thames vet nurses suggest using something flat like a credit card to scrape the sting off your pet’s skin and dispose of it. Avoid using tweezers to pull the sting out as they could squeeze venom into your pet.

Second, if you do know whether it was a bee or a wasp, you could apply the correct substance to soothe the pain;

  • Wasp = vinegar/lemon juice
  • Bee = bicarbonate of soda & water paste

Do you know the difference between a bee and a wasp? Download our Know Your Insects Guide

If you do not know the culprit, or after you have used the above first aid advice, you can then apply a cold pack to the swelling.

When to call a Vet

If you are at all concerned, especially if the swelling is causing further distress to your pet or is likely to affect an airway, you should always ring a Vet for advice. Our Spout Lane North veterinary team are here to help, just give us a call on 01753 316081.

Some pets may need pain medication, which can be prescribed by one of our Vets too.

Middlesex pet owners sometimes ask if they can use antihistamines to help with the reaction; these can only be prescribed by the Vet to ensure the correct dosage is given, and because some ingredients could possibly be fatal in some brands.

Just to be safe this season, why not print our Know Your Insect guide and stick it on your fridge to help you spot the differences between bees, wasps, and hornets?

Get our Insect Guide

Remember to share this advice with your pet-loving friends on Facebook!

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