Celebrate Responsible Pet Ownership with National Pet Month 2024

April 1 – May 1 2024 is National Pet Month (NPM), a time dedicated to honouring our pets and promoting responsible pet ownership. Running until May 1st, 2024, this annual celebration shines a spotlight on the countless benefits that pets bring to our lives while raising awareness about the importance of caring for them properly.

In light of this DVBP would like to address pet behavioural problems.

When our animals exhibit behavioural problems, it can be distressing for both pet owners and the pets themselves. Fortunately, there are dedicated professionals like Dr Hannah Donovan and her team at Donovan Veterinary Behaviour Practice who specialise in diagnosing, treating, and managing behavioural disorders in animals.

At Donovan Veterinary Behaviour Practice, we understand the unique challenges that come with behavioural issues in pets. That’s why we offer a comprehensive service tailored to address each individual patient’s needs. As a referral-only practice, we work closely with veterinary practices to ensure that pets receive the care and attention they require.

One of the distinctive aspects of our practice is our use of virtual consultations conducted via live video links. This approach allows us to reach pet owners regardless of their location, providing convenience and accessibility while maintaining the quality of care.

Our team collaborates closely with pet owners to develop tailor-made behavioural modification programs designed to address specific concerns and achieve agreed-upon behavioural aims and outcomes. By taking into account the unique circumstances of each patient and their owners, we strive to create effective and sustainable solutions that improve the well-being of both pets and their families.

Whether your pet is struggling with separation anxiety, aggression, compulsive behaviours, or any other behavioural issue, you can trust Dr Hannah Donovan and the team at Donovan Veterinary Behaviour Practice to provide compassionate and effective care.

If you’re facing behavioural challenges with your pet, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Together, we can work towards a happier and healthier bond between you and your animals.

To find more information on our treatment plans click here

At Donovan Veterinary Behaviour Practice ‘we see it through their eyes’ because every pet deserves a happy and fulfilling life.

Navigating Pet Care: Tips for the Perfect Kennels, Cattery or Pet Sitter

Leaving our pets behind when we go away can be a daunting prospect. However, with the right preparation, we can ensure our animals are in good hands. 

There are different options available such as friend and family, pet sitters, kennels and catteries. At Donovan Veterinary Behaviour Practice, we understand the importance of finding suitable care for your pets, which is why we’ve compiled some helpful tips to guide you through the process.

Finding the perfect Kennel or Cattery 

Your pets’ comfort, safety, and wellbeing are of utmost importance, so it’s essential to consider several factors before making your decision. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:


  • Dogs often find comfort in their familiar belongings, such as their bed, toys, and blankets. Having these items with them can help reduce stress and anxiety during their stay.
  • Ensure your Dog will be walked at least once a day outside their kennel.
  • When evaluating kennels, enquire about the availability of private areas or quiet spaces where your pet can relax away from the hustle and bustle. Look for kennels that provide individualised accommodations, such as separate sleeping areas or cosy nooks, to ensure your pet feels secure and at ease.
  • The environment within the kennel plays a significant role in your pet’s comfort. Opt for kennels that are sound-absorbent and designed to minimise noise pollution. Metal kennels can often amplify sounds, including barking from other dogs, which may cause distress to your pet. Brick-built kennels often minimise sounds. 


  • Explore the possibility of leaving your cat with friends or family members who can provide personalised care in a familiar setting. Cats often prefer the comforts of home and may thrive better in a familiar environment surrounded by familiar faces. A pet-sitting service would be a good option for our feline friends.
  • When selecting a cattery, it’s essential to prioritise your cat’s comfort and safety. Look for catteries that hold certifications from reputable organisations such as the Pet Care Services Association (PCSA) and employ licensed caretakers. Additionally, take the time to read reviews and testimonials from other pet owners to ensure you’re choosing the best possible option for your furry companion.

Personalised Care: Every pet has unique needs and preferences, so it’s essential to choose a kennel or cattery that can accommodate individual requirements. Whether your pet requires special dietary considerations, medication administration, or extra attention, ensure that the staff are experienced and capable of providing personalised care.

Finding the Perfect Pet Sitter:

Start your search well in advance of your trip. Consider reaching out to friends, family, and local pet communities for recommendations. Alternatively, websites and apps dedicated to pet-sitting services can also be valuable resources.

When evaluating potential pet sitters, don’t hesitate to ask for references and conduct interviews to ensure they are the right fit for your pet’s needs. Look for someone who is experienced, reliable, and genuinely cares for animals.

Jade Andrews, a valued member of our team at Donovan Veterinary Behaviour Practice, also serves as a professional pet sitter. Has given some tips on finding a suitable pet sitter:

When exploring your options, especially if you have a pet that wouldn’t fare well in traditional kennels or catteries, opting for a pet sitter like Jade who offers in-home care could be the ideal solution.

To ensure a harmonious match, your potential pet sitter should conduct an initial meeting with your animal or even engage in settling-in sessions (which may involve a nominal fee).

Here are some key traits to look for in a pet sitter:

  • Compassion and Consciousness: Your pet sitter should exhibit genuine care and empathy towards animals.
  • Behaviour-Friendly Approach: The sitter must understand and respect your pet’s behavioural needs.
  • Treats as Positive Reinforcement: A willingness to use treats as a means of positive reinforcement can greatly enhance your pet’s experience.
  • Attentive to Your Requirements: The ideal pet sitter should be receptive to your specific instructions and preferences.
  • Effective Communication: Clear and prompt communication is paramount for peace of mind while you’re away.
  • Regular Updates: A reliable pet sitter will keep you updated with photos or videos of your animal’s contentment.
  • Respect for Your Home: Your pet sitter should leave your home as they found it.

It is also good to make sure you do the following too…

  • Schedule a meet-and-greet with the pet sitter to introduce them to your pet and discuss expectations.
  • Provide essential information such as veterinary contacts, feeding instructions, and emergency procedures.
  • Ensure your pet’s vaccinations and medications are up to date.
  • Leave familiar toys, bedding, and comforts to help your pet feel at ease in your absence.
  • Emergency contact numbers for friends and family
  • Check the pet sitter is fully insured and DBS checked

By prioritising these qualities and being prepared, you can ensure that your pet receives the best possible care and attention while you’re away.

Spring-time Dangers

It’s spring-time, we’re unfurling from our winter isolation and hibernation and beginning to plan in social gatherings and exploring the countryside. But beware… there are dangers lurking!

Spring-time Flowers & Bulbs

Curious pets (especially young ones) may be interested in the protruding spring plants and their bulbs that are beginning to make an appearance with the warmer weather and they may chew or eat the spring flowers. These include snowdrops, crocus, daffodils and tulips which may be growing in the garden or be available in the home as cut flowers. These can cause gastrointestinal upset and some animals may require treatment to control vomiting and replace lost fluids.

Hot Cross Buns and Simnel Cake

Grape toxicity is linked with kidney damage in dogs. Eating grapes and their dried fruits (currants, raisins and sultanas) can result in sudden kidney failure and even death in dogs. The toxic substance in grapes is unknown, but dogs cannot metabolize tannins, flavonoids, and monosaccharides from grapes. Traditional easter cakes such as hot cross buns and simnel cake contain raisins or sultanas. Ingestion of even a small quantity of dried fruit can cause severe kidney failure. For more information on Grape poisoning, visit the Animal Poison Helpline (https://www.animalpoisonline.co.uk/) 


As Easter approaches, some of us will be anticipating family gatherings which often involve tempting chocolate goodies and cakes, it’s hard to resist and it’s easy to forget that some things us humans enjoy so much are actually toxic to cats and dogs! Easter eggs and other chocolate products (and their wrappers) are often very attractive to pets. Please take care to keep your pets safe from chocolate and other spring-time dangers!

Chocolate contains a chemical called ‘theobromine’, which is toxic to dogs and cats. The darker and more bitter the chocolate the more theobromine it contains.

Dogs should not eat chocolate. If your dog has accidentally got hold of some, their risk will depend on their weight, the type of chocolate and the amount they have eaten.

What does theobromine do to dogs?

The half life of theobromine in dogs is about 18 hours. Theobromine primarily affects the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system, as well as having a diuretic effect. The first signs of poisoning in dogs include vomiting, haematemesis (vomiting blood), and polydipsia (increased thirst). In large enough amounts, theobromine can be fatal.

Although there is no specific antidote, supportive management includes induction of vomiting and administration of activated charcoal, oxygen, and intravenous fluids. The lethal dose of theobromine is reported to be 100-500 mg/kg of body weight in dogs.

What to do if your dog does eat chocolate?

You should monitor them closely and seek veterinary attention if they show any symptoms. Symptoms usually start within six to 12 hours, but could appear within one hour. If your dog has eaten chocolate, contact your veterinarian, an emergency veterinarian, or the Animal Poison Helpline (https://www.animalpoisonline.co.uk/)

What to do if your pet has hold of something dangerous

Your instinct might be to simply pry open their mouth and take away the item. Firstly, this technique can be dangerous as it puts you at risk of being bitten and could make the dog swallow or choke on the item. It can also increase the chance that the dog will become more possessive over items in their mouth in the future — it’s a recipe for resource guarding.

Secondly, don’t chase them around in an effort to get it back. Dogs love to play the ‘keep away’ game and chasing after the item increases its value in your dog’s mind. Some dogs will even swallow items if they think you’re about to take it away, which could cause them to choke or create an obstruction in their digestive tract. Instead, try one of these distraction techniques:

  • Bend down and pretend you’ve found something ABSOLUTELY AMAZING on the ground. “Ooh and aaah” over it, maybe even pretend it’s something yummy and pretend to eat it. Dogs will often wonder what it is and come over and join you in investigating, dropping the item from their mouth in the process.
  • Calmly walk into your kitchen, or whichever room where you store the dog treats or food. Make lots of noise while you open up the bag. Your dog will most likely follow you and know what’s happening once they hear that bag crinkle. Once they drop the item, toss the treat or piece of kibble in their food bowl. Quietly reclaim the item while they eat their treat and put it out of their reach.
  • Grab one of your dog’s toys and make a big deal about playing with it, squeaking it and tossing it around. Your excitement over the toy should entice your dog to come over and want to play with you, dropping the other item on the way.
  • In an emergency situation, and only if your dog is likely to respond, ring the doorbell to encourage your dog to drop what they’ve got and leave the room as this may give you enough time to control the situation.

These suggestions are for situations that need an instant response and we would recommend that you regularly work on more positive teaching methods for your dog such as the ‘drop’ and ‘leave it’ responses in preparation for such situations. Find out more about the one-to-one training sessions we offer at Donovan Veterinary Behaviour Practice.

Your pets don’t need to miss out

There are varieties of ‘pet chocolate’ available but be aware that although these won’t contain theobromine, they can still cause obesity. Whether you decide to give your pet a playful treat or a tasty treat, they’ll be happy! We’ve selected a number of toys to keep your Dogs and Cats entertained and away from your Easter eggs so everyone can be happy – visit our Links section to find out more.

Raising Awareness of Dog Theft

Photo of dog outside a shop

Today, Thursday the 14th of March is Dog Theft Awareness Day and we would like to shed some light on pet theft and how we can avoid it.

According to a Government report from 2021, a staggering 2,000 dogs are stolen in the UK every year in England and Wales alone.

This week, our mission is to arm pet owners with knowledge and tips to combat this distressing trend and safeguard their beloved companions from falling prey to such crimes.

Here are some practical tips to enhance your dog’s safety:

  • Microchip Your Dog: Ensure your animal is microchipped, and always keep the registration information updated, especially if you relocate or change contact details. (microchipping in dogs over 8 weeks of age has been compulsory in England, Scotland and Wales since 6 April 2016)
  • Vary Walking Routes: Mix up your dog walking routine. Avoid predictable patterns by exploring different routes each day (if this works for you and your dog), reducing the likelihood of being targeted.
  • Secure Your Property: Maintain secure fencing around your gardens, and never leave your dog unattended outdoors. Prevent opportunistic theft by minimising chances for someone to snatch your pet. Consider having cameras in your home.
  • Avoid Leaving Your Dog Alone unattended somewhere in public: Refrain from leaving your dog tied up outside shops or in your vehicle. Keeping them close reduces the risk of theft and ensures their safety.

pawsLet’s spread awareness about dog theft prevention. Together, we can make a difference and keep our beloved companions safe from harm.

Donovan Veterinary Behaviour Practice © 2019-2024

Website Designed by Choose Purple Ltd
Main photographer BJP Photography Ltd