Important Information – Product Recall

Fold Hill Foods has taken precautionary action to recall several dry cat food diets due to safety concerns. This is a result of a concerning spike detected by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in the number of pancytopenia cases in cats throughout the UK.

What should I do?

If you have bought any of the products detailed in the food recall, you should not feed them to your cat. Instead, you should do the following.

  • Check if you have bought the affected products and batch code(s) / «use-by / best before» date(s). You can do this by taking a picture of the notice on the Fold Hill website or writing down the batch code(s) / «use-by / best before» date(s) for reference at home.
  • Return the product(s) to the store for a full refund (with or without a receipt).


What is pancytopenia?

In the blood, there are three types of cells:

  • red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the organs;
  • white blood cells, which fight infection; and
  • platelets, which help with coagulation or blood clotting.

Pancytopenia means that all these cell populations are lower than normal. Depending on the cell populations that are the most affected, different clinical signs can be detected (alone or in combination) but general signs are lethargy, bleeding (eg in urine, nosebleeds), and fever:

  • low red blood cells can cause anaemia, weakness, and lethargy;
  • low white blood cells can cause difficulties in fighting infection and fever; and
  • low platelets can cause bruises and bleeding.


What is the treatment?

Treatment and diagnosis will vary depending on the cause of pancytopenia, but it can be fatal if left untreated.


Product recall information          

The affected products include some of the ranges of AVA, sold exclusively at Pets at Home, Applaws, and Sainsbury’s cat food.

For a full list of products and the affected batch numbers issued by the Food Standards Agency, click here.

To read the statement from Fold Hills Food – the facility where these diets are made, click here.

More information can be found on the RVC website, here.

If you have any concerns, please contact us as soon as possible.

August bank holiday hours

The August bank holiday weekend is here…whether you are heading to the coast, off on a walking adventure, or taking it easy at home this bank holiday, we just wanted to let you that our opening hours may differ, should you need us:


Summer Bank Holiday – Monday 2nd August
08.45 – 18.00

Out of Hours service will be available by calling 01450 372038 as usual.


Thank you for your cooperation

We’re all ears when it comes to your rabbit

Every year we celebrate Rabbit Awareness Week, a week dedicated to our rabbits. This year is the 15th year of the celebration, where we will be hopping through the years, as we provide you with the best information about how to care for your rabbit and how adapting their care throughout their years will help your bunnies live happily and healthily into their golden years.

From baby bunnies to golden oldies, read below how you can help your rabbit throughout their lifetime, and of course, if you have any questions, please contact us or book your rabbit in for a health check.

To book an appointment, please call us on 01450 372038.

Below we have detailed the five freedoms required by your rabbit to ensure they live a happy and healthy life.


  • You should ensure that your rabbit always has access to fresh, clean drinking water
  • When providing food for your rabbit, fresh grass is the preferred choice, but when not available, hay is a good substitute that is available all year round and provides them with the nutrients they require
  • Hay provides lots of long-strand fibre, keeping your rabbit’s gut moving, and is the closest thing to a natural diet. Rabbits would naturally graze all day in the wild, so please ensure your rabbit has an unlimited supply
  • Complete rabbit food is also available but should not be a replacement for hay. Please use these as a nutritional supplement
  • There are many plants that rabbits can safely enjoy, including broccoli, parsley, spring greens, and dandelions. They also love the leaves from an apple or hazel tree. When feeding them plants, you should keep the portion sizes to a minimum
  • Fruits should be counted as a treat for your rabbit as they are high in sugar. Your rabbit may enjoy a grape, slice of apple, slice of orange, or carrots.

To book an appointment, please call us on 01450 372038.


Providing your rabbit with an ample amount of space to stretch, run, lie down, and binky is very important. Did you know that there are guidelines for minimum space requirements for housing rabbits whether they live inside or out?

The SSPCA advises that rabbits need the below as a minimum space requirement for two average-sized rabbits. But, of course, if you can provide more space, that is even better for your rabbit’s welfare.

A hutch should be permanently attached to a larger run to ensure they can exercise freely, such as rabbit friendly room indoors or a larger secure run outdoors.

It’s recommended it is at least 2m long x 60cm wide x 60 cm tall to house two paired rabbits, which they have access to at all times, so they can move freely and explore as they would if they were a wild rabbit.

 Top tips:

  • It is important to note that the space must be across a single level, so raised hutches within the space will not count towards the minimum space requirement
  • If you can provide free-range space, that is even better, but please ensure roaming is supervised
  • Most importantly, the bigger the space, the more room they will have to exercise and keep in shape!

Rabbits are naturally nervous as they are prey animals, so it is important that their enclosure or housing has a safe spot so that if they feel unsure, they can escape when worried. The sleeping area should contain dust-free straw or other rabbit-friendly bedding. Away from the sleeping area, a dedicated toilet spot should be created for your rabbit. The toileting area should be lined with newspaper, straw, or a paper-based litter that doesn’t expand.

Rabbits also require enrichment in the form of tunnels and platforms so that they can perform normal behaviours that they would in the wild, such as:

  • Running
  • Digging/Burrowing
  • Jumping
  • Hiding somewhere
  • Foraging/Grazing
  • Stretching up on their back legs
  • Lying fully out with their bodies
  • Binkying

Rabbits prefer to find small pieces of food hidden rather than have their food in one bowl.

Foraging ideas:

  • Use a treat ball to feed them
  • Willow tunnels, paper tunnels, or cardboard toilet rolls stuffed with hay and fresh herbs
  • Willow, hazel, apple, and blackthorn branches are tasty treats
  • Make a turf tray – fill a litter tray with turf from a garden centre.To ensure your rabbit’s set-up is well equipped, we advise that you have the following:
  • Food bowl or puzzle type feeders (feeding balls)
  • Water bowl
  • Litter tray
  • Hay rack
  • Bedding
  • Boredom breakers
  • Suitable base materials (sawdust/straw) or non-slip flooring
  • Hiding places (cardboard boxes/tunnels)

Remember to spot clean your rabbit’s housing once a day – removing soiled materials and un-eaten food. Use a rabbit-safe disinfectant and then carry out a full clean at least once a week.

(Please note that during summer months, we recommend spot cleaning is increased to twice a day due to the risk of flystrike)

To book an appointment, please call us on 01450 372038.


As prey animals, rabbits hide pain and illness well. Therefore, it is very important for your rabbit to have a check-up at least once a year to detect any underlying issues or detect and potential problems early on.

To keep your rabbit fit and healthy, we recommend carrying out the following checks at home:

Eyes: Ensure your rabbit’s eyes are clear, shiny, and free from discharge

Ears: Ensure your rabbit’s ears are free from discharge and no mites are present

Mouth: Ensure your rabbit’s mouth is free from drooling and there is no swelling present around the cheek areas

Skin and coat: Ensure your rabbit is appropriately groomed, looking out for any fur that may be matted and bald patches as well as mites. (If matted fur is present, a vet visit would be necessary as rabbit skin is extremely delicate and a home groom may cut the skin)

Nails: Ensure your rabbit’s nails are not overgrowing or curling

Bottom: Ensure your rabbit bottom is free from faeces and urine staining. If faeces are present, these should be gently washed away and the area needs to be dried thoroughly. Rabbits with faeces on their bottoms are more at risk of flystrike

The most common health problems seen in rabbits include:

Dental disease

Rabbit’s teeth continue to erupt throughout their lives. This allows them to grind down course feed substances such as grass and plants in the wild. Many domestic rabbits are fed a mixture of hay and commercially available diets. Commercially available diets are lower in fibre and higher in protein, fat, and energy. This means that rabbits quickly achieve their nutritional requirements, unlike in the wild when they would need to graze all day and forage to meet the same energy intake from food. This can not only lead to obesity and boredom, but it can also lead to dental disease due to lack of wear of the teeth. In addition, less time grinding and a lower intake of indigestible fibre can lead to the formation of molar spurs, which if severe and allowed to progress, can cause tongue and cheek lacerations.

If the front teeth (incisors) are too long, these can be shortened – this is usually performed on a conscious rabbit, but this depends on temperament.

If there is malalignment of the incisors (meaning that they don’t contact each other when closed), then shortening the teeth may provide a temporary fix, but the removal of the affected incisors may be more appropriate to prevent the need for regular burring- this is something your vet would advise you on.

A general anaesthetic will be required to facilitate a thorough examination and treatment if there is spurring (sharp edges) of the back-cheek teeth (molars).

Gut stasis

Gut stasis is a digestive issue where the system slows down or stops. As a result, gas and toxins can build up, and this can prove to be fatal.

Monitoring your rabbit’s food intake and faecal output will help you detect if this is present.


Obesity is a huge problem in pet rabbits. Two of the main causes are insufficient exercise and a poor diet of muesli or too many high sugar treats.

Remember that pellets or nuggets should make up ONLY 5% of their overall diet – with hay being 85%! So, only one egg cup twice a day of pelleted feed is required.

Obese rabbits suffer from several health issues, including not being able to clean themselves or reach their bottom to eat their caecotrophs – which puts them at greater risk of flystrike as well as putting extra weight strain on their joints.


Over the spring and summer months, the risk of flystrike increases amongst the rabbit population. Flystrike occurs when a particular type of fly lays its eggs on or around the rear end, which hatch into maggots. These maggots then start to eat the flesh of the rabbit, with often fatal results.

Due to rapid development, the best prevention is keeping your rabbit clean and in good health, feeding them an appropriate diet, carefully checking their bottoms, and applying preventative treatments during the peak season. Please contact us quickly for further help and advice if you have any suspicions.

Typical signs of flystrike include:

  • Not drinking or eating
  • Lethargic and noticeably quiet
  • A strong smell from their living area
  • Digging into a small corner of their living area
  • Open sores or visible maggots on the skin


If your rabbit’s faeces are watery or jelly-like, this is very serious in rabbits and can be fatal, especially in elderly or young rabbits. We recommend getting in touch with us immediately if this is the case.

Blood in the urine (haematuria)

If blood is present in the rabbit’s urine, small blood spotting would be noticed. If your rabbit otherwise seems fit and healthy, this could be your rabbit’s diet staining the urine if all the colour is the same. If any straining or difficulty is noticed, or blood spotting, please contact us as soon as possible. We would also suggest taking out bedding materials and placing a white towel or leaving the housing free from materials so you can fully assess the urine colour, consistency and amount.

To book an appointment, please call us on 01450 372038.


Rabbit’s value companionship over food!

Rabbits are extremely sociable creatures and not having a companion can lead to boredom. Rabbits feel safer with the same species as opposed to a guinea pig. Rabbits that are neutered are more successfully bonded together. Different neutered sexes tend to be the best fit, although some same-sex bondings can occur. We would always recommend that you let a good rescue do the pairing for you, especially if you have not tried to pair up rabbits before – it can be quite a challenge!


Rabbits are usually neutered around four months of age. Castration involves removing the testes of a male rabbit, and spaying removes the uterus and ovaries of a female. It is worth noting that sperm can reside in the genital tract for up to six weeks, so it’s best to keep your rabbit away from un-neutered females during this time. Rabbits are extremely social creatures; neutering helps pair or bond rabbits, making them much happier.

Rabbit neutering benefits:

  • Eliminates prostatic and testicular cancer
  • Helps owners to litter train rabbits
  • Reduces aggressive behaviours, especially in males
  • Eliminates womb infections in females
  • Eliminates uterine cancer in females
  • No risk of unwanted pregnancies
  • Reduces spraying
  • Promotes successful bonding of rabbits


We recommend that rabbits are vaccinated against myxomatosis and viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD).

Previously this would have been administered through two separate injections; however, our new rabbit vaccine means that your pet can be protected against myxomatosis and both strains of VHD with just a single injection.

Hop to our practice for a rabbit health check and for more information.  

To make an appointment over the phone, please call the practice on 01450 372038 

Hawick Vets advice on the importance of microchipping your pet

Keeping our pets safe is important to all of us as pet owners. They trust us with their care and protection and microchipping can help with keeping them safe. A microchip identifies your pet as belonging to you. It contains a unique reference number that links to your details as an owner, stored on a central database. By scanning this microchip, this data is then accessible for the person scanning your pet.

You may be concerned that microchipping is an intrusive process, but the chip is tiny – the size of a grain of rice – and the procedure takes seconds; it doesn’t require an anaesthetic or sedation. It’s usually inserted under the skin in the scruff of the neck and under the skin around the neck for horses. Once it’s there, you (or your pet) won’t even notice it.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to use the microchip, because your pet will live a safe, happy, and long life with you. But there may be circumstances where you’ll be glad it’s there, such as:

If your pet gets lost

It’s easily done – even the most careful of owners are at risk of their pet running away: whether it’s a dog that runs across the open fields; a rabbit that escapes; a horse that bolts; or a cat who gets stuck in a neighbour’s shed. When your pet is found, it will likely be taken to a local vet practice or a charity rescue home. One quick scan of the microchip and a phone call later, your pet is back where they belong – with you!

If your pet is stolen

It’s an unfortunate reality that some pets – especially purebreds with high value – are stolen to order and resold. Without a microchip, you wouldn’t be able to trace them. Databases can also mark your pet as ‘stolen’ so when a practice, kennels, or other place scans their microchip they can search to see if they have been reported as lost or stolen.

 If your pet is involved in an accident

Outdoor pets, especially cats, are prone to injury, whether that’s fighting with another animal or being involved in an accident. Injured pets found by members of the public are usually taken to a local vet practice who will treat the animal while also trying to track down the owner. If your pet is microchipped and the details are up to date, you’ll be able to get your pet back on the road to recovery. They’ll certainly be glad to see you while they’re licking their wounds!

Things to consider about microchipping

  • It’s a legal requirement for all dogs to be microchipped in England, Wales, and Scotland
  • It may also become compulsory for cats in the UK to be microchipped
  • Microchip details must be kept up to date with new addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses
  • It’s illegal for breeders to sell puppies over eight weeks old that are not microchipped and on a registered database

If you want to know more about getting your pet microchipped, get in touch with Hawick Vets and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. There is also some information available on the government website which you may find useful:

Hawick Vets discuss kennel cough myths and facts

The very name ‘kennel cough’ suggests that dogs are only at risk of contracting this airborne disease if you put them into boarding kennels, while you go on holiday for example. It’s for this reason that many pet owners don’t get their dog vaccinated; they don’t see the disease as a risk. Hawick Vets look at some myths and facts about kennel cough.

MYTH “I don’t put my dog into kennels, so they won’t catch kennel cough”

The correct name for kennel cough is actually acute infectious tracheobronchitis – an infectious cough of the upper airways in dogs. It can be more virulent in boarding kennels, due to the large number of dogs being homed together, which is why it is referred to as kennel cough, but in truth any dog who mixes with other dogs is at risk of contracting the disease.

FACT “The boarding kennel won’t accept my dog without a vaccination”

Boarding kennels have a responsibility to prevent the spread of diseases amongst their furry guests, which is why most will insist on proof of a kennel cough vaccination. Oral and nasal vaccines take effect with differing timescales, so ensure you talk to your vet about what is right for you and your pet, and ensure you leave sufficient time before checking your dog in at the kennels.

MYTH “My dog can’t catch kennel cough as they’ve been vaccinated”

Much like vaccinations in humans, the kennel cough vaccine doesn’t eliminate the risk completely, but it will significantly reduce the risk of your dog catching the disease and boost their chances of recovery if they do catch it. Similarly, as with all vaccines, the more dogs that are vaccinated, the lower the chance of the disease being spread.

FACT “Kennel cough can spread in multiple ways”

Kennel cough is highly contagious and can be spread through the air – it’s a mixed viral and bacterial disease, so when an infected dog barks or coughs the aerosols produced are infectious. Obviously, direct contact is also a risk – e.g. dogs sharing toys or touching noses during play and shared water and food bowls can be a source of contamination too.

MYTH and FACT “My dog is fit and healthy, they’d recover easily if they caught kennel cough”

Puppies and elderly dogs are more at risk of complications and severe illness as a result of kennel cough, however, dogs with pre-existing medical conditions (which you may not be aware of) are too. Kennel cough is an unpleasant disease and can often interrupt sleep even when dogs are mildly affected. Many dogs will recover naturally, but if they seem uncomfortable or unwell, please seek veterinary advice. As a responsible pet owner, we would recommend protecting your own dog and therefore help protect others too.

Get in touch to discuss your dog’s kennel cough vaccination or to book an appointment.