Sunday, April 5, 2020
Animal Matters

White Cross Vets, which has practices is Hyde and Sale, is warning pet owners to look out for the symptoms of a deadly dog poison which is on the rise this summer, and is caused by ingesting toxic blue green algae.

Vet Mike Robinson from White Cross Vets in Hyde, which is part of the Independent Vetcare group, said: “There has been a significant increase in blue green algae cases this year across our practices – and its seems to be happening earlier than other years too – which may be due to the spells of very warm and very wet weather we have had. These cases are usually extremely rare, so it’s a big concern, as it can be deadly if not treated.”

Blue green algae blooms can appear as green or greenish-brown scum on the surface of water and can contain toxins that are very harmful to dogs. Even a small amount from a contaminated lake, river or pond can have a severe impact if a dog swallows it or even licks their fur after a swim.

Mike added: “It’s nasty and difficult to diagnose with 100% certainty – the only way to do that is with a post mortem – but the symptoms include everything from vomiting and diarrhoea, to drooling, disorientation, breathing trouble, seizures, blood in faeces, tremors, dizziness and a lack of muscle use. These can start to appear almost immediately, or develop over a few hours, depending on the type of toxin ingested. If left untreated, it can result in neurological problems, liver issues and death.”

Signs warning about the dangers of blue green algae are becoming more common and can be seen in several local parks and popular walking spots. Mike said: “The best advice is to keep your dog out of the water and on leads during walks near water and be vigilant. We would encourage owners to act fast if they suspect their dog has swallowed any contaminated water.

“Although vomiting helps get rid of the toxins from their stomach, we would also treat the dog with IV fluids to flush through toxins and give them an activated charcoal feed to bind any toxins left in the intestines.

“Fast treatment normally results in a full recovery, so we want to make sure dog owners know about the dangers and symptoms of this toxic algae.”

With the mercury rising and motorists now facing fines of up to £5,000 and invalidated car insurance for not securing dogs in cars, White Cross Vets has compiled a list of tips for anyone planning car journeys with their pet pooch over the summer holiday season.                                                                

This comes after research from, found almost two thirds of UK motorists were unaware that having an unrestrained pet travelling in a vehicle can result in a fine for careless driving.

White Cross Vets operates 20 practices, including Sale, Hyde and Walkden, and is part of the Independent Vetcare group. Mike Robinson, clinic director at White Cross Vets in Hyde, said: “Every year huge numbers of dog owners will holiday with their pets and during the summer months, you often see dogs travelling in cars with their heads poking out of the window.

“However, there are stringent laws surrounding unrestrained pets in cars, and these also relate to cats, rabbits and hamsters, as well as dogs. Rule 57 of The Highway Code states that dogs or other animals must be suitably restrained so they cannot distract the driver or injure themselves, or anyone else, if the vehicle stops quickly.

“People failing to drive with due care and attention could face a maximum fine of £5,000 and up to nine penalty points if the case goes to court, as well as invalidating the driver’s insurance policy.

Mike added: “There are lots of options available to restrain pets in cars, but most experts agree that using a cage or crate in the boot of the vehicle is the safest way to transport a dog. “Below is White Cross Vets’ list of tips for drivers embarking on long journeys with dogs this summer:

The Highway Code suggests using a seat belt harness, pet carrier, dog cage or dog guard, in order to restrain pets in cars.
Giving your dog plenty of exercise before setting off should make for a more relaxed journey.

Leave enough time for the dog’s breakfast to settle before setting off, which will reduce the chances of car sickness. For dogs that suffer with motion sickness, there are prescribed medications available.

A non-spill water bowl is a useful accessory to ensure your pet stays hydrated.
For nervous travellers, packing favourite toys or blankets will help to maintain familiarity.

Window shades are an effective way of keeping cars cool and blocking out direct sunlight when you’re travelling.

Never let your dog travel with its head out of the window – this can result in all types of severe accidents occurring.

Finally, never leave a dog in a hot car and always plan where and when to take breaks and what you’ll do at your destination.

For further information visit

A group of 60 vets, veterinary nurses and other team members from the White Cross Vets family have now walked a staggering 30,000 miles in just three months following the introduction of a healthy initiative by the company.

White Cross Vets, which is part of the Independent Vetcare group, started the challenge in February, incentivising its entire team by providing them with a £50 contribution towards a new Fitbit watch. The physical activity tracker is designed to help people become more active, eat a more well-rounded diet and sleep better.

So far the 60 people who have taken advantage of the initiative have formed 20 teams of three people, all of whom are competitively logging their steps. Each team member is averaging 11,000 steps per day with the teams from practices at Tividale in the West Midlands, Guiseley near Leeds, West Derby near Liverpool and Alvaston in Derby regularly taking the top spot in the team league table.

Vet Mike Robinson, from White Cross Vets in Hyde, said: “We spend a lot of the day on our feet but really had no idea about the distance that we clock up. There are about 2,000 steps in a mile so we are walking more than five miles every day! We are always encouraging our clients to make sure their pets have a healthy lifestyle, so it’s great to practise what we preach.

“As well as the steps we take throughout the day many of us are also committed to sports and exercise regimes outside work and that has helped us to reach the top of the leader board for a few weeks. You might even find some of us marching on the spot to boost our step-counts and heart rates, so the Fitbit challenge is definitely keeping us active.”

General manager, Jo Jobling, from White Cross Vets, said: “We understand the vital importance of both physical and mental wellbeing, and our Fitbit challenge is a great way for our teams from across our 19 practices to work together to achieve a worthwhile healthy goal, as well as creating some healthy competition with colleagues in other practices. We also have an individual steppers league table which was recently topped by one of our veterinary nurses, Katie Rose from our Tividale practice. It might have helped that she completed a half marathon over the weekend though!”

Last year, White Cross Vets was named as one of the UK’s best employers and a truly extraordinary place to work after securing a place in the prestigious ‘Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For’ league table for the sixth year in a row.

Other leading employment initiatives that the team benefits from include five fully paid donation days each year so they can volunteer to support meaningful causes, ranging from charities to schools and other local organisations in the areas where its practices operate.

Employees also receive a gift when they become new parents or adopt a child and can take ‘peternity leave’, which offers anyone with a new pet, two fully paid days off work to help the pet settle into their new home.  In addition, team members enjoy birthdays off with cakes, a health care scheme and subsidised gym memberships.


Picture caption from left to right – White Cross Vets Fitbit challenge Jade Till, Vicky Roberts, Jemma Taylor and dogs Tippi Roberts and Pip Wood.

An appeal to keep one of the area’s most iconic visitor attractions safe and beautiful this summer has been issued.

Dovestones in the Peak District National Park in Greenfield, Saddleworth, has experienced devastating effects.

Now, with warmer weather, staff from the RSPB who manage the site, along with landowners United Utilities, and partners the Peak District National Park, Life for a Life Memorial Forests, and Greater Manchester Police and Greater Manchester Fire Service, have launched a joint appeal to those planning a visit.

Miriam Biran, RSPB Visitor Experience Manager at Dovestones, explained: “It’s great to see folk out enjoying nature and all the health and well-being benefits that brings, but this is a plea to all visitors to observe and respect some simple countryside rules which protect the area and the wildlife which calls it home, while also leaving the site clean and tidy for others to enjoy.”

The message from the partners is simple and applies to all visitors to Dovestones:

  • No lighting fires
  • No BBQs anywhere on site
  • Take all litter home
  • Dogs must be on leads from April – July (and in certain areas from March – August).
  • Park responsibly, take notice of double yellow lines and follow instructions from the Dovestone marshals.

Miriam added: “There are good reasons for these rules being in place, they are not there to stop people from having fun. Everyone will remember the heart-breaking fires of last summer and we have already seen a number of these occurring this year. This is why no fires or BBQs are allowed on-site. The risk of them getting out of control is simply too high.

“Litter also causes problems – it is both unsightly and a danger to wildlife and livestock, as well as being a fire hazard. Glass in particular, along with discarded cigarette butts is a real fire threat.”

Sadly, some fires have been started deliberately by arsonists, so the partnership urges visitors to call the fire service on 999 immediately if smoke or flames are spotted, as the faster they are under control, the less damage they do to the landscape, wildlife and livestock.

Wildlife and livestock are also at risk if dogs are not kept under control. Dovestones welcomes dogs and their careful owners, but there are some simple ways to ensure the site is treated with respect.

Dogs must be on a lead from April-July to protect sheep with lambs which are especially vulnerable to dog attacks – and happen too frequently.

There are also a variety of birds which nest on the ground so dogs should be on leads in certain areas during nesting season from March-August. Dog excrement should be cleaned up and placed in bins.

On sunny weekends and holidays there are marshals on site, funded by Oldham Council, the RSPB, United Utilities, Peak District National Park and Life for a Life Memorial Forests, to help spread and enforce these messages.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have also recently trained up more volunteers to support with fire patrols around the Peak District National Park.

Miriam added: “If everyone sticks to these simple rules then Dovestones can remain a fantastic home to nature and a place for all to enjoy.”

Dovestone reservoir is owned by United Utilities and the water company works in partnership with the RSPB, who manage the estate.

The partnership aims to encourage public access and recreation, while protecting water quality and wildlife for future generations.



RESEARCH carried out by White Cross Vets in Hyde, has revealed the most popular names for cats and dogs, as well as offering a fascinating insight into how these compare to pet names from more than 80 years ago. 

The practice researched the names of all the pets they saw in 2018 and compared them to the hand written ledgers from when White Cross Vets opened its first practice in West Yorkshire in 1937.  The data revealed that Bella, Alfie, Charlie, Lola, Poppy, Molly, Daisy and Oscar are all currently in the top 10 for both dogs and cats.

By comparison, none of these names ranked amongst the most popular monikers in White Cross Vets’ ledgers dating back to 1937.  At that time, Susie, Sally, Judy, Penny, Candy, Sam, Betty, Simon, Wendy and Bridget, made up the top 10 cat and dog names registered with White Cross Vets.

More recently White Cross Vets, which is part of leading veterinary services provider Independent Vetcare, has also seen a surge of pets named after TV and film characters including Elsa from Frozen, Baloo from The Jungle Book and Peppa, inspired by the cartoon pig.

The number of cats and dogs sharing names with Game of Thrones characters, including Khaleesi, Sansa, Brienne and Tyrion, is also into double figures, along with 16 pets called Olive, which is the name of David Beckham’s Cocker Spaniel.

Mike Robinson, from White Cross Vets in Hyde, said: “Pets are such an important part of the family, so choosing a name for them is a big and very personal decision.  The most common names in our research reveal a leaning towards giving pets human names.  It’s fascinating that this has gone full circle and was also a trend in the late 1930s, before names such as Fido, Patch, Sooty, Duke and Fluffy became popular with cats and dogs.”

The lists below show the top 10 most popular names for dogs and cats currently registered with White Cross Vets.

For more information about White Cross Vets visit






Are you fed up with your job? Facing a life change? Would love to work with animals?

Digs for Dogs, a leading home boarding and dog walking service, are bringing an amazing opportunity for dog lovers across Tameside to run their own business, after already proving a huge success in the borough.

As a franchise network, Digs for Dogs is offering a fantastic opportunity for a start-up dog walking business, suited to people who are looking for a flexible role to fit in with their lifestyle. The franchise would complement a highly successful Home Boarding business in Ashton-Under-Lynne run by Philippa Cooper.

Digs for Dogs was launched in Lancashire in 2012 and has gone from strength to strength. As demand for the service has increased, the company has grown beyond its Bury roots, spreading across Greater Manchester.

Digs for Dogs is now looking to expand its offering and has identified Tameside as the perfect area to give dog lovers the chance to set up their own business venture – and spend all day with their canine companions.

Debbie Pomfret, Managing Director of Digs for Dogs explains:

“We’re absolutely delighted to be able bring this amazing opportunity to Tameside. With our existing Home Boarding Franchise in Ashton, we know the area has many dog owners and a real need for this service. Digs for Dogs is a proven, successful business model and our franchisees can grow their business as big as they like, with exceptional support from the Head Office Team.

“Our franchisees come from a variety of backgrounds, from students to high-flyers who are desperate to leave the corporate world to spend more time with their loved ones. Overall, we are looking for people who are passionate about dogs as well as being enthusiastic, sociable and warm hearted, with the ambition to grow a successful business. It’s our vision to be the UK’s leading provider of pet services, and this is a fantastic opportunity for people across Tameside to be part of that.”

For the more information on becoming a Digs for Dogs Franchisee, please call 01204 895 355.



On Saturday 13th APRIL 2019, you can come face to face with a life sized dinosaur who’ll be lurking in the shops and stalls on the Hyde Town Centre Jurassic trail.

Organised by members of Hyde’s Town Team, together with Hyde Markets and The Clarendon Centre, and generously supported by Philip Harris – the UK’s leading science equipment supplier to schools and Colleges, together with assistance from The Tameside Reporter, this event has been created as part of a programme of events, designed to actively promote the Hyde Town Centre shopping experience through a wide range of tactics that help increase awareness of the varied range of retail outlets in the town centre and to encourage patronage of both the local indoor and outdoor markets stalls.

The huge dinosaur will be stalking the town, plus, visitors and shoppers can find out more about dinosaurs and their long lost relatives inside The Clarendon Centre at their fossil finding event.

Also on the day, children have been invited to show off their model making skills by entering their model dinosaurs in the Town Team/Tameside Reporter competition, where the winning entry will win a voucher for £100 courtesy of Philip Harris – making Hyde Town Centre on the 13th April the ideal playground for young palaeontologists.

Dinosaur are fascinating to kids and seeing one ‘close up and personal makes learning about Natural History fun and interesting. Bring your children along were they can discover and learn all about some of the amazing dinosaurs that once roamed the earth.





In the show’s 127-year history the annual Dog Show CRUFTS has seen many milestones, from the show being postponed during the First and Second World Wars, to its first televised showing to the nation by the BBC in 1950.

This year, there were 27,000 dogs taking part, with just under 21,000 in breed judging, leading towards the Best in Show finale.

That of course was over three weeks ago, but yet another milestone reached at the show was the success of the ‘Northern Rally Obedience Team’ which is still very much in the minds of the members of NAABTS and The Greenfield Dog Training Club.

This is the third year running that the popular and ever growing Rally Obedience has featured at Crufts and each year the Northern Rally Team has moved up in the loadings, and this year they reached their highest achievement when they came 2nd..

The award for 2nd place was for the whole team rather than individuals. However the single award for Best Rally Obedience Bitch for 2018 went to – Welsh Sheepdog, Nanhoron Gloria’s Ginger owned by Denise Byrne, who also showed her other Welsh Sheepdog bitch, Nanhoron Elsi Peabody on the Northern team.

Another club member, Chris Schwartz also worked a superb round with a tiny Schnauzer called Bisley.

Proud owner Denise said, “We all received rosettes and a medal making it a day to remember for all of us. Also one of our dogs from NAABTS won Dog of the Year (Bitch) in Rally Obedience, amassing the most points at the top level (Level 6) in 2018.

Denise concluded, “I am extremely happy and still a bit shocked. Both my dogs put it together on the day and produced really good rounds, but I’m made up and enormously pleased for the whole team!”



A cat lover is calling for a change in the law so that owners can find out when their pets are killed or injured in road accidents like dog owners do.

Helena Abrahams, from Bury, said currently cats could be thrown into landfill without the owner’s knowledge.

Her online petition, calling for cats to achieve equality with dogs, has collected more than 74,000 signatures.

The Government says it is good practice for dogs and cats to be scanned for microchips following an accident.

Dogs must be micro chipped and drivers are legally obliged to report any accident involving a dog.

However, Ms Abraham’s petition urges a new law to insist that cats injured or killed in a crash should be checked for a microchip.

Her campaign Gizmo’s Legacy is named after her own pet who was killed by a car and cremated without her knowledge. “She was thrown away like a piece of rubbish,” said Ms Abrahams. And ‘Left on landfill’

She added: “If she had her chip scanned I would have had my baby back and I could have cremated her like all of my other cats.”

Ms Abrahams continued: “People have witnessed cats being thrown into the back of refuse trucks. I don’t want a pet being left on landfill sites.

“I am absolutely furious because to scan a cat takes seconds and these scanners are very cheap,” she said.

Emmerdale actress Samantha Giles aka Bernice White on the ITV soap, is also backing the campaign and said: “It is very, very important that the owners find out when their cat goes missing.”

The Government said: “It is already good practice for local authorities and Highways England to scan any cat or dog found on our streets so that the owner can be informed.”



After a heavily talked about TV show named the Staffordshire Bull Terrier as the UK’s favourite dog breed, White Cross Vets in Hyde has revealed how they have actually been hugely popular for more than a decade, a trend that had largely gone unnoticed until the programme aired.

ITV’s Britain’s Favourite Dogs, which was hosted by Ben Fogle and Sara Cox, polled 10,000 Brits to create a ranking of the top 100 dog breeds in the UK. The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, often referred to as the Staffie, came out top, followed by the Cockapoo in second place and the Labrador Retriever in third.

Figures from White Cross Vets confirms that Staffie puppies are one of the most common breeds the veterinary group has seen across its 19 practices in the last 12 months, along with French Bull Dogs. However, White Cross Vets also sees more Staffies than any other breed, aged over 10 years old, suggesting they were equally as popular a decade ago.

Mike Robinson from White Cross Vets in Hyde, said: “In the past Staffies have had a mixed reputation due to them being part of the Pit bull family, which led to accusations that they are an aggressive breed. However, although they might react when provoked, in the right hands they are generally extremely friendly and loving dogs. Anyone who owns one knows what fantastic pets they are and it’s great to see them being portrayed in such a positive light by this programme.

“The reality is that their popularity is nothing new. We have more Staffies, aged 10 and over, registered across our 19 practices than any other breed and we’d expect to see them continuing to grow in popularity now they’ve found TV fame. We’re delighted that after years of being the underdog, they’re finally managing to shake off their poor reputation.”

For further information about White Cross Vets, visit