Hello friends of Holly Hedge! 

We hope you've had a wonderful month, the sun seems to be making a welcome comeback! We hope you enjoy this newsletter packed full of animal stories, important advice about cat food, and news.

We are as busy as ever, and have started to see a rise in the number of people wanting to surrender their dogs, just last week we received 10 phone calls in one day from people wanting to give up their dogs. Sadly many of these are dogs who have not had proper training due to the lockdowns, or are struggling with being left at home as their humans have returned to work. We anticipate these dogs will need time and patience here before finding their new homes, so we want to thank you all, our supporters and friends, for enabling us to be there for them. 

Without you all, we couldn't continue our lifechanging work, so thank you. 

Holly Hedge 

A Warning to Cat Owners - Cat Food Recalls

A warning to all cat owners! A number of dry cat food products have been recalled over safety concerns. If you feed your cats AVA, Applaws and Sainsbury’s own brand please read this and stop immediately, if not please share to help cat owners around the UK. 

A spokesperson for Fold Hill said: “We are voluntarily recalling the dry products we manufacture for the brands detailed. We are supporting an investigation by the food and veterinary authorities into a possible safety issue affecting cats.”

The Food Standards Agency says: “There is concern on the safety of the products listed above. There has been an increase in cases of pancytopenia in cats and there is a possible link to the cat food products listed.”

Pancytopenia is a very rare condition where the number of blood cells (red, white and platelets) rapidly decreases, causing serious illness including bone marrow failure. Common signs include lethargy and loss of appetite, although in some cases there are signs of spontaneous bleeding or bruising. 

According to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), there has been an in increase in fatal cases of the illness since May, and sadly around 400 cats have died. A spokesperson for the RVC said: “We can confirm that we are aware of a series of cases of fatal pancytopenia in cats in the UK.

“From the data shared, most cats show some non-specific signs for around two days before being seen by a vet. Common signs include lethargy and loss of appetite, although in some cases there are signs of spontaneous bleeding or bruising. We encourage owners to contact their veterinary practice if they are worried that their cat may be affected."

If you have been feeding your cat one of these brands, please stop immediately. We would recommend you call you vet and take your cat in for a blood test, as unfortunately by the time many cats show the above symptoms it is already too late for them to be saved. 

Please click here for a product recall list. and information on what to do if you have bought these items. 

The current official cat food recall list is as follows:
• Sainsburys hypoallergenic dry cat food
• AVA dry cat food
• Applaws dry cat food
• Wilko dry cat food

Many people have asked for a list of other brands manufactured at the same facility. Please note that as of yet these foods have not been offically linked to Pancytopenia, and may well not be affected. To protect ourselves legally we cannot mention the names of the brands, but we want you to be able to make your own decision with the most information available. 

We suggest that you please check your cat food for the affected factory code as a precautionary measure. The following code is for the Fold Hill factory GB218E5009

This code is often found next to the barcode. 
We hope all your furbabies stay safe. xx

An Update on Benny

We are delighted to bring you an update on Benny! Benny has been staying with two foster carers but came in to see our vet for a weigh in. 

Benny has lost quite a lot already, he is down from 43kgs to 38.2! Although this is an amazing weight loss, we have had to tell Benny to slow it down a little, as his body has been so heavy for so long he needs to lose the weight gradually. His goal weight before he has the surgery he needs is around the 27kg mark. This is to ensure that there isn't too much strain on his heart whilst he is under anaesthetic.

We feel a bit mean telling Benny he can't play with the ball just yet, especially as he just wants to go go go! We have to remind him that it's only temporary, we're in this for the long game of giving him many years of happiness. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated to his care and future surgeries, thank you so much.

His foster parents are doing a wonderful job, they told us that for the first 10 days of Benny being with them they slept downstairs with him so he wouldn't feel lonely. He understandably had some separation anxiety, but this has calmed down a little now he knows them and the space. We promise another update soon on this lovely boy.

Ebony and Benny's story has touched many people's hearts, and through the power of facebook we have been able to speak to people their owner knew. Mental health is a complicated thing, and something that many people are deeply private about, so it is not something we felt we could broadcast. Having spoken to people close to their owner they have expressed a deep sadness that he felt he couldn't ask for help.

By all accounts this was a kind man who cared about his community and his dogs, and had people known what was happening they would have wanted to support him however they could. They had no idea the situation had gotten as bad as it did for the three of them, and it is heartbreaking that everything was too much for him. A kind lady from his local Sainsbury's contacted us to say she was attending his funeral service, so we gave her Ebony's collar to be buried with him. This is another stark reminder that sometimes someone will say they are fine when they are really suffering.

Knowledge about mental health has improved greatly over the last few years, but there is still sadly a stigma attached to asking for help. We have so often had people come to us and say they are unable to cope. Sadly by the time it has reached that point often their pet has suffered too, and we want to change this. In animal welfare the perception used to be that all animals in shelters weren't loved, or weren't loved enough.

Whilst there are cruel, selfish, and thoughtless people out there, there are also people who deeply love their pets, but recognise they are no longer able to meet all their needs. Because of the shame attached to rehoming your pet, many people cling on to them until the situation reaches an awful peak. Surrendering your pet and saying goodbye is sometimes the greatest act of love. We are not talking about people who rehome their dog who they've kept shut in the bathroom for most of their life, who immediately get another puppy.

We're talking about people who may have felt that their pets were the only thing giving them hope, when they themselves were so depressed they can’t even brush their teeth or answer their phone.

We respect people who have prioritised the welfare of their animal over their love and attachment to them, and we hope this story might chip away at some of that stigma. After all, none of us want to see animals suffering, and if we can broaden our understanding a little and keep the conversation about mental health going, we truly believe we can prevent this.

Please give whatever you can to help us give the very best care we can to our rescues and wish Benny the best of luck on this long road ahead. We will keep you updated on this lovely boy's progress.
Thank you xx
Monty, a beautiful American Bulldog X is chest-deep in buttercups in our meadow. He is a white dog with tan splotches. His tail his held high, his ears are up and alert and he is carrying a rope toy in his mouth. He looks at the camera and is happy.

Could you give Monty his forever home? 

Smooshy-faced Monty is looking for his humans and promises to smother them with slobbery kisses! 

At just six years old, Monty came into Holly Hedge as his owner was unwell, and realised Monty needed much more than what he could give him. We have to commend Monty's previous owner for putting Monty's needs ahead of his own. 

As with many big dogs, Monty is a sensitive soul, and can take a moment to warm up to you. Once he does he really is just a barrel of love, and wants nothing more than to show you how loving he is. 

Monty loves his toys, loves people but can be reactive with other dogs. Because of this and his size we are looking for a home where he is the only pet and where someone has experience of having a big strong dog. 

If you think you could give Monty his forever home, please call our rehoming team on 01275 474 719 or email us on 

Volunteers, we need you!

We are very excited to be planning our Fun Day, Newfoundland Water Rescue, Fashion Show and Christmas Fayre, and hoping to see you all soon. But, for these events to be successful, we need an amazing team! 
If you wouldn't mind spending a few hours helping us on our Fun Day, we have an array of roles that need filling by happy people who love animals as much as we do.
These could be:
  • Welcoming people and collecting entrance fees 
  • Stewarding the car park 
  • Stewarding games for the dogs 
  • Selling cakes and biscuits for us on our cake stall 
  • Checking all water bowls for dogs are kept clean and filled throughout the day 
We've got so many ways you can get involved, so if this sounds like something you would love to do, please email Hannah on

Could you give Tiny her forever home?

This beautiful lady is called Tiny, and her story of how she came to Holly Hedge is a sad one. Tiny's owners decided they no longer wanted her, and so had put her outside and were no longer feeding her. A beautiful black and white cat looks out from her cat tree

Tiny had been living in Nottingham, so one of our amazing volunteers drove to pick her up and bring her to the Sanctuary. At 7 years old, Tiny was understandably confused and nervous in her new surroundings, and it took her a little while to feel safe. 

She had a build up of tartar and has had to have 3 teeth removed, and be neutered. We neuter at Holly Hedge not only to help cats live longer, fuller lives where they are less likely to get into fights and get diseases, and prevent unwanted litters of kittens. Neutering also prevents cats and dogs from pyrometra and some cancers. 

Since being with us we have found that she doesn't really get along with other cats, and whilst she fortunately doesn't have any injuries from living outside, we think coming into contact with many territorial cats whilst fending for herself as an unneutered female cat has been traumatic for her. 

Because of this we know Tiny's perfect forever home will be one where there aren't many other cats nearby. She has many happy years of life ahead of her, and deserves someone who will treat her like the queen she is. She is really coming out of her shell here and showing her truly lovely character, and we know this will only develop more in the home as she settles. If you could give Tiny the happy ending she deserves, please call us on 01275 474 719 or email us on
What is rawhide?
Rawhide is just that: the inner soft hide or skin of an animal. It is most commonly made from cows but, technically, can be made from any cleft-hoofed livestock. Depending on where it’s manufactured, the ingredients could include hide from cow, pig, sheep, horse or even water buffalo.

How is rawhide made?

Rawhide often begins its journey with a chemical bath to help “preserve” the product during transport. During processing, it is first soaked in an ash-lye solution to remove the hair and fat. Then it can be “cleaned” with water or bleach and/or hydrogen peroxide. Finally, it is either left 'natural' or smoked and other artificial flavors are added to entice your dog to chew for hours. 

Why do dogs love them so much?
Dogs seem to adore rawhide treats. But is it the treat itself or just the chewing that they love? 

The urge to chew serves many purposes for your dog. As a puppy, it is a way to explore their environment and is natural when teething. As adults, chewing is a scavenging instinct, to play and to satisfy the urge to gnaw as a means to clean their teeth. Some dogs chew more because they are rewarded with fuss, whether it’s positive or negative. For some dogs, chewing excessively is a coping mechanism when they are bored, anxious or stressed, as the repeated motion can give them comfort.

How do dogs consume rawhide?
Simply put, rawhide bones satisfy dogs’ urge to chew. They start dry and then the dog’s chewing action combined with its saliva slowly softens the treat. Over time, they should be able to tear off small pieces that can easily pass through their digestive tracts.

The dangers of these chew treats (aside from any chemicals) are that some dogs will try to consume their treat in record time. If your dog chews their treat too quickly, they can easily choke on a piece that is too large. Even if they can swallow a large chunk whole, this does not mean that it can pass through their system without doing damage or creating an obstruction. 

More and more we hear horror stories of beloved pets being too eager with their rawhide only to later require emergency surgery, often costing thousands of pounds, and sadly not all dogs survive.

So are rawhide bones worth it?

There are thousands of dogs who will enjoy a rawhide treat in their lifetime and never have an issue, and there are benefits of mental stimulation and plaque prevention to giving your dog something delicious to gnaw on. Some dogs fed unflavoured rawhide treats that are the correct size may never have an issue with them. There is no need to chastise yourself if you have always fed your dog rawhide, you can only act with the information you have at hand, and we are happy to say that there are safer alternatives out there, so if you choose to never purchase rawhide again your dog can still chew to their heart's content! 

Some more natural options include carrots, yak cheese chews, antlers and natural dried treats. Your local pet store or a raw food company often have lots of options and will be able to advise on the correct size for your dog. 
If your bakes are worthy of a Paul Hollywood handshake, then we need you! If you are able to help us raise funds by baking for our cake stall at our annual Fun Day, please email 
Many thanks! 

Did you know that we have an ebay shop? 
Our wonderful volunteer, Sarah lists lots of amazing goodies over on our ebay page! You can take a look by clicking the image above, or here.
New things added most weeks! So take a look now and then knowing that 100% of money raised comes to our rescues!
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To contact us please email: Call us on: 01275 474 719
Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary, Barrow Gurney, Wild Country Lane BS48 3SE 
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Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary · Wild Country Lane · Barrow Gurney · Bristol, BS48 3SE · United Kingdom