Pet-friendly businesses in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 16:32 15 July 2019

Classic dog drying coats from Ruff and Tumble

Classic dog drying coats from Ruff and Tumble


With half the UK adult population owning a pet, it’s little surprise that pet friendly businesses are booming – especially here in Norfolk

Louise Rayment-Dyble, head vet and co-founder at All Creatures Healthcare, Horsford, grew up surrounded by exotic wildlife at her parent's small zoo in Bedfordshire. She set up her practice in 2009 and around half her patients are exotics.

"We regularly treat lizards, snakes, tortoises, parrots, birds of prey and small mammals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets. We also treat fish and amphibians.

"Our most unusual case was doing dental work on a tiny puffer fish under a general anaesthetic. Our patients can range in size from a 30kg giant Sulcata tortoise to a 5g crested gecko.

"We have performed a caesarean on a tiny monkey, put an obese skunk on a diet, treated a penguin for arthritis, spayed a tortoise, removed a metal nail from the stomach of a duck, made a prosthetic beak for a cockatoo and routinely treat toothache in guinea pigs and vaccinate pet ferrets."

She says there has been a growth in the number of people owning exotic pets but that it is essential to do your homework and get advice first.

"Something that looks really cool, like a chameleon, needs a special vivarium, high humidity and the right diet and supplements so if you don't get that right they won't survive. Don't impulse buy - that beautiful macaw might look nice in your house and talk and entertain your guests, but it might live 20-plus years, it will be really noisy - and I mean dawn shrieking - its beak can chew through your nice curtains and furniture and if it gets stressed, unhappy or lonely it might pull all its feathers out."

Treatment for exotic pets often requires a different approach to conventional animals "If we need to operate on a tortoise, first we need to cut through the shell with a DIY type cutting tool as it's solid bone. After the surgery, we need to use stainless steel wires and resins to repair the hole - it's more challenging than just cutting and stitching!"


You are planning a holiday but who will look after your beloved dog?

For some people, this can be enough to put them off taking a break. But what if you knew your dog was going to be enjoying a holiday at a home-from-home where their normal routine and behaviour is totally catered for?

That's the ethos behind PetStay, which matches specially chosen carers with clients' dogs. Sophia Guymer is the Norfolk PetStay franchise owner and currently has 19 carers on her books across the county and would love to recruit more.

Sophia, who was previously a vet, says the ideal carer is someone who has had dogs most of their life and is used to lots of different breeds. They should own their own home and have an enclosed, safe garden.

"They have to be at home during the day. So retired people who love their freedom and going on holiday but enjoy having a dog around the house, are ideal," says Sophia. "Some of them are older people who don't want to go through the pain of losing a dog again but would love to have one in the house. They have to understand the owners and that it is stressful for them to leave their dog while they are away."

Sophia - who also runs Pet Emergency Training Norfolk, covering skills like giving CPR to a dog and how to treat bee stings and burns - also inspects their homes and gets to know the carers so that she can ensure a great match with the dogs.

"It isn't just about location," she explains. "We have some people who live in the same village as a carer but are matched with a carer elsewhere who is more suitable for their dog's requirements.

"The carer ensures that the dog has its normal routine, their own food and their own bed. They keep to its usual walking routine and when it goes to bed.

"We want the dog owner to know that their dog is having as good a time as they are on their holiday."

For information about becoming a PetStay carer or booking in your dog, see or call Sophia on 07861 957551


Fun on the farm

Former journalist Kathryn Cross had long wanted to run her own business on the family farm with husband David, but it wasn't until she was approached by a dog owner looking for exercise space that an idea began to take root. Last year she opened her canine business hub Centre Paws at Barnards Farm near Wymondham, creating a one-stop destination for dog lovers.

"We were contacted by someone who wanted somewhere safe and enclosed to exercise her dogs, and we realised there was some demand for this. So we created a secure exercise field; We thought we might get 10 dogs a week - now we have over 100."

When people started asking on the Facebook page where they could find a dog-friendly café to visit afterwards, the idea for Centre Paws started to grow.

"The idea to open a café in our old barns began to take shape, then a local dog groomer who was looking for new premises contacted us and was keen to join us, and everything started to come together. We felt the barns would either fall down and be lost forever or we could do something positive with them."

The business has just celebrated its first birthday and the site includes the Blackberry Tea Rooms - named after her five-year-old Labrador, grooming business Scruffy2Fluffy, DB dog training with Jayne Widdess, farm walks, and the exercise field. Kathryn also hosts regular community events, and has plenty of plans to expand.

"We've had retail pop-ups before, which we are keen to develop, and people told us they would love to come and stay here, so this summer we are opening up Walnut Tree Meadow, offering a small number of glamping and camping pitches, enabling people to bring their dogs on holiday with them."

Kathryn and David, and their four sons, live on the farm along with their four dogs and it is very much a family affair.

"We are incredibly lucky to live on a farm like this, but it is even nicer to share it and for others to appreciate how beautiful the Norfolk countryside is."


No more wet dogs!

Alison Priestly loved walking her dogs on Norfolk's beaches but was frustrated by the lack of products available to help dry them off after a wet walk. So she created the ultimate dog drying coat - high-quality and super-absorbent - her coats not only help wet dogs dry off in minutes, they are warm, comfortable and look smart.

Perfect for using after wet walks, bath times and hydrotherapy, they are made from double thickness cotton towelling. Alison's Norfolk-based business also sells bed covers, sofa throws and aprons.


Norfolk treats

Handmade and baked in a barn at Flitcham, near King's Lynn, Pooch's dog and cat treats are locally-sourced, eco-friendly, low in fat, with no preservatives, flavourings or colourings. Meat comes from Norfolk butchers and the Sandringham and Holkham estates.

Latest from the EDP Norfolk Magazine