Four Seasons Holistic Veterinary Care is CLOSED from 7pm Thursday 21st June until 10am Monday 9th July.

We will not be answering calls, listening to voicemail messages, checking texts, looking at emails, or monitoring the Facebook page!

Please email health@holisticvetsussex for any non-urgent queries which will be dealt with from 10th July onwards.

For urgent pet health problems please contact your Primary Care Practice.

New Year’s Resolution!


We want to say sorry for not keeping on top of the blog as well as we should have done this year. We’ve been very busy with Vicky our vet breeding a litter of puppies as well as completing coursework for her behaviour qualification.


Goudhurst Vets, Bedgebury Road on Thursdays from 11.30. Call direct on 01580 211981. 

Companion Care Vets Eastbourne, Lottbridge Drove on Mondays and Fridays. Call direct on 01323 649315.

Home visits are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays within a 15mile radius of Ninfield (Battle, Bexhill, Hastings, St Leonards, Westfield, Fairlight for example). Call or text on 07958142959, or email health@holistcvetsussex.co.uk


Herbal Medicine; we use practitioner only tinctures and herbal tablets, as well as supplements from Nutravet. In most cases we produce bespoke combinations of herbs specifically designed for your pet. Herbal medicines can be used alongside conventional medicines to increase their effects, or to reduce side effects, or they can be used on their own where conventional medicines are unavailable or unsuitable.

Acupuncture: we use acupuncture extensively for musculoskeletal problems, from muscle sprains in working dogs, to arthritis in older animals. We have also had success in some spinal injury cases, and in pets with incontinence.

Physiotherapy; we frequently recommend that owners carry out exercises at home to help their pet’s mobility, sometimes we will also recommend treatment by canine therapists such as bowen therapists and hydrotherapists.

Behaviour; Vicky is a trained animal behaviourist and is happy to discuss prevention of problems in young animals, as well as helping owners understand and treat their pet’s behaviour problems. An understanding of the behavioural needs of pets also means we can help them cope with changes to their lifestyle caused by illness or injury.

Nutrition; we feel a good diet is the key to a healthy pet! We fully support those owners who want to raw feed, but can also help adapt other diets to improve health and behaviour.

Pupternity Leave


Just a short post today to let you know we will have very limited availability for appointments for the next 2 weeks as vet Vicky’s dog is expecting a litter!

Hugging Dogs


Really? Well, that’s the headline…but you know us, we like to get behind the headlines.


Researchers studied 250 photographs of dogs being hugged and concluded that 80% of them showed signs of being unhappy which has lead to hysterical headlines in the papers, online, on TV and radio, yet every post we’ve seen has pet owners fighting back, “but my dog loves cuddles”!

Most dogs do enjoy physical contact with humans. Many come to us for stroking and tummy rubs, push their heads under our hands, and try to climb up on our laps for cuddles. Stroking or grooming a dog can have positive effects on both parties, with both getting a hit of oxytocin – a hormone normally associated with bonding between mums and babies, or between lovers. The problem comes when a dog is restrained for cuddles against his wishes. A dog who has come to his owner for affection will be feeling quite different from one who has been unwillingly grabbed for a dog hug selfie! In this circumstance the dog may feel afraid and trapped and may show signs of distress. The same can happen if a dog is approached by strangers or children who try to stroke or cuddle. Dogs are not so different to humans…think how good a hug from a friend makes you feel, then think about how uncomfortable a hug from a total stranger in the street might feel!

How can you tell if your dog is comfortable with a hug? Your dogs has many subtle ways of telling you how he feels but they can be quite subtle. If he’s struggling and trying to get away that’s a pretty clear sign he doesn’t want a cuddle! If he is licking his lips, you can see the whites of his eyes, his mouth is closed with tight lips, and he seems to be looking away from you, he also doesn’t want a cuddle. Ignore these signs as your dog might feel he has to warn you with a growl, and if he’s still ignored he might snap at you. He won’t mean to bite first time, but humans are so slow…. Be especially careful to watch for these warning signs when children or friends are petting your dog, and never be afraid to step in and protect him from unwanted physical attention.

We don’t often post links tat take you away from our page, but this one has a nice slideshow about dog body language: http://www.doggonesafe.com/speak_dog


The ‘take home’ message is don’t stop touching your dog! But do learn to ‘listen’ to his body language and respect him when he doesn’t want a cuddle.

Fireworks and Thunderstorms


Autumn is a wonderful time of year, but it does mean the risk of firework displays and thunderstorms increases and many pets suffer behavioural problems because of them.


The first thing to understand is that you aren’t going to be able to desensitise your pet to fireworks in time for this year’s displays. In East Sussex there are organised displays most weekends from now until Christmas, then there will be New Year celebrations so we need to think about managing pets’ fear rather than curing it.


Find out when local displays are planned, and ask neighbours to let you know if they are planning to let off fireworks. Stick to your pet’s routine as much as you can, but try and walk dogs before dark, and try to get cats in, and cat flaps locked before dark. Bring small pets’ hutches inside if possible. Close the curtains early, have the lights on, and TV or Radio is a good idea. It is usually best if someone can stay with a pet during displays.


How you deal with your pet during fireworks depends very much on how they usually react. For pet that like to hide away give them opportunities to do that. Simply putting a bed behind the sofa, or a nice comfy box in a quiet corner may be just what they need. If your pet gets comfort from being cuddled then cuddle them! You aren’t rewarding the fear, but don’t force yourself on a pet who would rather hide away as this could add to his distress. Feeding a high carb meal a few hours before fireworks can make dogs drowsy, but don’t feed dogs which tend to get vomiting or diarrhoea when anxious as you don’t want to be letting them out during displays. Some dogs can be distracted by playing games, or working for a really good treat in a puzzle feeder.


There are many products available from vets, pet shops and on-line which claim to help calm pets during stressful events. Pheremone collars, sprays and plug-ins can certainly help but should be started a week or more before you need them. Other products contain herbs, vitamins, minerals, or amino acids which have been shown to calm animals. Some act faster than others so take advice from a pet health professional on which are most suited to your needs.


Hopefully the days of vets dishing out yellow ACP tablets for firework fear are over. There are several drugs which can be used alone or in combination to help with fear of fireworks, but they must be prescribed carefully due to medical and behavioural side effects, and because some (like ACP) can actually make the experience worse for the dog. Don’t leave it until the last minute to book an appointment if you think your pet needs drugs to help him through the firework season.


It is possible to reduce a pet’s reaction to fireworks, but the process is quite slow and could be set back if there was an unexpected display during training so I usually advise desensitisation starts in the spring and summer. I will describe the process for dogs, but it will work for other pets too. The basic idea is to play a recording of firework noise while the dog does something fun- like eating or playing. Start on a very quiet setting, then increase the volume day by day if the dog doesn’t react. Eventually you should be able to start the firework recording at any time or place with minimal reaction (or an expectant look!) from the dog. Of course fireworks also involve flashes which are hard to replicate, and there may be noises from live fireworks which recordings don’t catch, but most dogs become less afraid after a careful desensitisation programme.

Even better is to try and prevent the problem ever occurring by playing firework (and other) noises to puppies before they leave home! When buying a puppy, especially from a breed known to have a high risk of noise sensitivity such as collies, look for a breeder who has played their pups a variety of ‘scary’ noises while they played and ate.


The same management techniques and training strategies can be used for dogs who are afraid of storms. The difficulty comes in the greater unpredictability of when storms will happen which can make avoiding them, or preparing for them harder. There are also changes in atmospheric pressure which a dog may learn is a sign of impending storm. But pheremone treatments have been shown to help even with thunderstorms.

We hope you and your pets enjoy the autumn, and please contact us if you would like help with this or any other behaviour issue. Always seek professional advice before tackling a behaviour problem.






Please be advised that we will be closed for a long overdue holiday from 16th to 26th May.

For non-urgent enquiries text or email and we will deal with your request on 26th May.

For urgent matters please contact your primary care vet.




As a practice which uses herbs to improve animal health and wellbeing it shouldn’t be surprising that we also care about the environment.

We choose herbs from suppliers that grow or gather ethically, and avoid using herbs which are rare and must be collected from the wild. The companies we use also ship their products by sea, rather than air, to reduce their carbon footprint.


Where safe and possible we re-use bottles and tubs to supply herbs. You may also notice most of the padded envelopes we use are re-used too. This helps reduce waste and costs to our clients.

If you are able to return empty medicine pots and bottles we would be very grateful, if you can’t then please re-use or recycle them yourselves.


Just to let you know we’re closed until 25th February.

For herb orders and non-urgent appointments please email or leave a text message but don’t expect a reply until 25th. For urgent matters please contact your primary care vet.




Garlic is one of our favourite herbs, in fact it’s a whole medicine cupboard all by itself!

Garlic contains volatile oils and sulphurous compounds (which give it it’s pungent smell) as well as vitamins and flavonoids (anti-oxidants).

These active compounds have many effects including antimicrobial, antithrombotic (stop blood clots), expectorant, antioxidant, hypolipidaemic (reduce fat in the blood), hypotensive (reduce blood pressure), anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic and spermatogenic (increase sperm production).

Garlic has been used extensively in both human and animal medicine around the world. It is even written that the Romans would prepare huge vats of garlic and water to douse the wounds of their soldiers returning from battle! (And of course it wards off vampires…)


All the onion family are to some extent toxic to dogs and cats but garlic can be used in moderation. Take extra care if using garlic for cats as they are more sensitive than dogs.

Chronic overdose of garlic can cause problems with the blood including anaemia. Because it may reduce blood clotting garlic should be stopped before any planned surgery.


We feel that half to one clove of garlic (about 3-4g fresh garlic) is safe for a 20-25kg dog and about 0.5g for an average cat. We recommend giving it on 5 days out of 7.

We feel that the benefits of using fresh garlic far outweigh the aroma as processing and drying the garlic can lead the loss of volatile oils.



The Holistic approach to Veterinary Care takes a very broad view of the animal including it’s diet lifestyle and habits before making a diagnosis or recommending a treatment plan. Holistic consultations are usually slightly longer than conventional ones to allow time to gather all the relevant information from the owner and the pet. But even a great and thorough history make not give us all the answers we need and sometimes owners are taken aback that we may recommend conventional diagnostic tests before making a decision.


When consulting at Companion Care Eastbourne or Goudhurst Vets we may be able to do blood testing or skin work ups on the day of your consultation. When home visiting or for radiographs we will recommend you visit your Primary Care Practice.


All Vets face the problem that their patients can’t describe their symptoms so we have to rely on what we and owners can observe. In many orthopaedic pain management cases it isn’t essential to know what is the underlying cause of the pain and we can treat the muscle using acupuncture and select herbs to suit the animals needs. But if we suspect a disease which can be better treated surgically (for example a luxating patella (knee-cap) or cruciate ligament injury) or when manipulation could make a problem worse (for example a spinal problem) we need to gather more information.

When treating a skin problem most of them end up looking the same after the dog or cat has had a good old scratch; we will get no-where giving herbs for allergic skin disease if the dog has mange and will struggle to control skin infection if there is an underlying disease such as hypothyroidism or cushings.

Holistic Vets don’t have crystal balls to allow us to diagnose problems though sometimes our wider focus lets us pick up things a conventional vet may not consider but sometimes we’re still going to have to fall back on conventional diagnostic tests.