Walking your dog safely in autumn and winter

The nights are getting darker and there’s a chill in the air, but your dog still needs regular walks in order to stay fit and healthy. Here are some suggestions to keep both you and your pet safe whilst exercising during the coming months.

Make yourself visible

Lack of daylight sees an increase in traffic accidents, and that includes those involving pedestrians too. Consider wearing a high vis jacket or reflective strips on shoes so that you’re more visible to motorists and invest in a reflective collar or harness and lead for your dog.

Dress appropriately

Autumn weather can be changeable – setting out in the early evening sun can mean getting home in the cold and dark. Wear layers and comfortable shoes. If your dog is a short-haired breed, they may benefit from a winter coat. We’re happy to advise if you need further information.

Be contactable and alert

It’s always a good idea to be able to quickly and easily contact someone in case you need assistance – whether for yourself or your dog – when you’re out walking alone. Ensure your phone is charged before you leave home. Be aware of your surroundings so you can listen for traffic, or other dogs; avoiding headphones and music.

Check underfoot

Look out for items on the floor which could be dangerous to your dog – broken glass underneath leaves, acorns or conkers which can cause illness when ingested, and holes or obstacles which could injure you or your pet. Stick to known routes and footpaths.

Cardiomyopathy in cats

There are a number of different heart diseases that can affect our cats; however, cardiomyopathy is the most common. But what is it and how do you know if your cat has it? We explore further below:

What is cardiomyopathy?

The term cardiomyopathy covers any disease that affects the heart muscle. There are different types of cardiomyopathies and they are classified according to the effect they have on the function of the heart muscle. The main ones are:

  • hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM)- most common form caused by increased thickness of the heart’s muscular wall, reducing blood volume and preventing heart muscle from relaxing between beats
  • dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM)- where the heart enlarges and the muscular wall becomes thinner, with the heart muscle unable to contract effectively
  • restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM) – heart chambers are unable to fill normally due to the inelastic and stiff nature of the heart’s wall caused by fibrosis
  • intermediate cardiomyopathy (ICM) – where there are changes that are consistent with more than one of the disease classifications – e.g, signs of both hypertrophic and dilatation exist.

What are the signs a cat may have cardiomyopathy?

Symptoms of heart disease may not display easily. Therefore, it is important to ensure that your cat has regular check-ups with us so that any early signs of heart disease can be detected and treated accordingly. We may be able to pick up on:

  • a heart murmur (listening to your cat’s heart using a stethoscope)
  • a gallop rhythm (where an additional third beat is heard with each contraction cycle)
  • increase or decrease in heart rate.

There may be other signs that could indicate the onset of heart disease in your cat, including:

  • breathing difficulties/rapid breathing
  • cold extremities, suggesting poor circulation
  • signs of fainting (although relatively uncommon).

If in any doubt, it is always best to get your cat seen by us. On detection of a heart murmur, there may be further tests required to confirm the diagnosis.

If you have any concerns about your cat, please get in touch or book an appointment. More information about cardiomyopathy can be found on the International Cat Care website, here.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) in dogs


There are many different heart conditions that can affect our dogs; however, mitral valve disease (MVD) is by far the most common. But what is MVD, and how do you know if your dog has it?

We explore further below:

What is mitral valve disease (MVD)?
Also referred to as degenerative valve disease, MVD involves the degeneration of the heart valve separating the two chambers on the left side of the heart. As a chronic progressive disease, it will worsen over time.

The heart has four valves, one of these being the mitral valve. The purpose of the valves is to control the flow of blood around the heart each time it beats. When the heart beats, the valves allow blood to pass through then close to stop any blood leaking back into the initial chamber. MVD causes the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle to thicken, resulting in the valve not being able to close properly and blood leaking back through as a result. This leak is heard as a heart murmur.

The knock-on effect is that greater pressure is put on the heart to work harder and pump the blood around the body. The heart also enlarges due to the need to pump harder to compensate for the loss caused by the initial backflow (‘regurgitation’). The heart may be able to cope with this over a long period; however, at a certain point, the pressure becomes so high that blood accumulates in the blood vessels of the lungs causing fluid to leak into the lungs – the result is congestive heart failure.

How severe is MVD?
We already know that MVD is a chronic and progressive disease, with the worsening effects outlined above, but that doesn’t mean that all dogs with the disease go on to develop heart failure. The various stages of the condition have been classified as below:

STAGE A – Breeds prone to MVD with no current symptoms or murmur
STAGE B1 – A murmur is present but there are no symptoms and no evidence of heart changes on imaging
STAGE B2 – A murmur is present with signs of enlarged heart but no heart failure
STAGE C – Showing signs of heart failure such as coughing, breathing problems, exercise intolerance, or collapse.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of MVD may not display easily and in some cases, affected dogs can live their entire lives without showing any signs of the disease. The main symptom for diagnosing MVD is the presence of a heart murmur – this will only be picked up during a routine examination by one of our vets where they can listen to your dog’s heart.

There may be other signs that could indicate the onset of MVD, including:

  • coughing (after lying down or sleeping, and often worse at night)
  • slowing down on walks or displaying low energy in general
  • breathing quicker than usual, with breathlessness and/or panting
  • weight loss
  • fainting or collapsing.

If in any doubt, it is always best to get your dog seen by us. On detection of a heart murmur, further tests may be required to confirm the diagnosis.

Are certain breeds of dogs at higher risk?
MVD can affect any dog, but it is most common in small to medium sized breeds, and dogs that are middle-aged to senior. When it comes to individual breeds, it is once again more common in the:

  • Cavalier King Charles spaniel
  • Dachshund
  • Papillon
  • Poodle
  • Chihuahua
  • Shih-Tzu


Can MVD be cured?
As it currently stands, there is no cure for the condition. But the advances in modern medicine mean that if the condition is caught early, there is a good chance that dogs can lead happy lives using a combination of drugs to both control the disease and prolong life. Valve replacement surgery is possible in a small number of cases.

If you have any concerns about your dog, please get in touch or book an appointment

Preparing your pet for a change in season

As we move from one season to another in Teddington, we think about the number of layers we need to wear and whether we need to alter our daily routine to cope with the changes. Whilst we consider the alterations we need to make; it is important to ensure that we also prepare our pets for the season ahead.

Below are five things to consider as we head into autumn and winter:

Even though the nights are drawing in and there’s a chill in the air, it is important to still exercise our dogs to ensure they stay fit and healthy. However, older dogs and puppies can be more sensitive to the colder weather so it may be worth keeping them inside more and looking at other ways to keep them active (e.g. interactive toys). If you still venture out for your regular walk, ensure that your dog is suitably prepared for the season, whether that be a warm coat for the cold or a reflective collar for those darker nights.

The change in season could also bring about a change in your pet’s nutrition. Food portions may need to be altered to align with their exercise regime to control their calorie intake and body weight.

Your pet’s fur and coat acts like that ‘winter coat’ we put on to keep ourselves warm; therefore, ensuring it is kept in good condition is crucial. In addition, having clean fur helps to hold air just like when you layer clothes!

When returning from a walk, a handy tip can be to have a bowl of warm water and some towels available so that you can wipe your dogs’ paws, as this helps to remove any mud, salt or other substances they may have picked up whilst out, that can be an irritant or make them unwell.

With the temperature starting to drop as we transition through the seasons, we can experience colder nights and the occasional frosty mornings. As such, there is an increase in the use of chemicals such as antifreeze, coolant, and screen wash – all of which can be poisonous to your pet if ingested. Always ensure they are kept out of reach from inquisitive animals and clear up any spills promptly!

Many of the points above relate to your pet being outside; however, it is equally important to ensure that you are prepared for seasonal changes inside the home. Be mindful that certain floor types that are tiled or uncarpeted can become cold, creating an uncomfortable environment for your pet to sleep on. Ensure they have a nice warm bed to cosy up into for sleep, away from the cold floors and any drafts and avoid using portable heaters to provide that extra warmth as this can pose a hazard to your pet.

Please contact us for details.

Vet4Life September 2021 Update

Whilst visiting us, we’re here to provide you and your pets with the best experience, in the safest way.

Our practice(s), as always, have extensive hygiene measures in place. We are still encouraging social distancing, face coverings and contactless payments. However, we are very happy to be welcoming you into our consulting rooms and reception areas.

Thank you for your continued understanding.

We look forward to seeing you soon. Please contact us if required.

Learn how to identify and reduce worry, anxiety and stress in your pet

Just like humans, our pets can experience worry, anxiety and stress in and around Teddington. Since we know how these emotions make us feel, we certainly want to help alleviate our pet’s distress where we can. However, our pets cannot voice their feelings, so how can we tell they are experiencing these emotions? The signs in pets are often subtle.

Do you know the most common events that your pet may find stressful?

  • Addition of new members to your household, such as another pet or a baby
  • Moving house
  • Loud noises such as fireworks or thunderstorms
  • Drastic changes to their routine
  • Trips to the kennels, cattery or vet

What does worry, anxiety and stress look like in pets?

  • Hyperactivity or stillness
  • Drooling
  • Urination or defaecation
  • Baring of teeth, lunging or biting
  • Excessive sniffing
  • Changes in appetite
  • Excessive grooming
  • Cowering or hiding away
  • Tense muscles
  • Raised hackles
  • Tight lips
  • Panting
  • Yawning
  • Flattened ears
  • Lowered tail that may be wagging in a short arc

Stressed dogs can startle easily, jumping at the slightest noise or movement. Some shake and shiver excessively or drool. They may use self-calming techniques, such as yawning, lip licking, excessive grooming or spinning. Dogs may become uncharacteristically aggressive, start growling or snapping.

As for cats, you will need to look for more subtle signs, such as overgrooming, increased vocalisation or hiding. If your cat is not using a litter box or your dog is urinating inside your home, these could be signs of stress. For many pets, stressors can lead to a relapse on previous training because they solely focus on their source of anxiety and stress. For cats, stress can cause feline idiopathic cystitis (FIC), which is bladder inflammation. Inflammation in the bladder causes the need to urinate more frequently and often will result in urinating in places other than the litter box.

Short term stress and anxiety can change your pet’s interest in food because chemicals such as adrenaline and noradrenaline are released, which causes an increase in breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.

When this happens, appetite is reduced (fight or flight response).

If you think your pet is experiencing the above, please talk to us. To book an appointment online, click here.

What impact does it have?

Chronic worry, anxiety and stress can negatively impact your pet’s immune system, making it more likely for them to get sick from a range of illnesses and slow their healing process. Stress hormones cause a decrease in the production of some white blood cells that create antibodies and fight off bacteria and viruses.

How can we overcome worry, anxiety and stress in pets?

There is no single answer that can overcome all issues. Often, it is a mixture of strategies that work best. We have detailed some tips below.

  • Find a new mentally stimulating outdoor exercise with your dog. Playing with your cat is essential in reducing their anxiety and stress, even if they spend all their time indoors.
  • Interact with your pet to stimulate their mind. Using a toy which you can both engage with will also help form a stronger relationship with your pet. Consider something you could throw, drag or swing to get their attention and maintain their interest.
  • Introduce new toys and rotate existing ones; there are lots of interactive indoor and outdoor toys available for both cats and dogs. By rotating new and old toys, you will keep your pet interested in what they are playing with. Whether a hide and seek mouse game or an IQ treat-dispensing puzzle, there is bound to be something available for your pet.
  • Give your pets places to escape for a break, especially if you have a lot going on in your home. Designate their favourite spot as a place where others don’t bother them. This will help your pet build their resilience and ability to cope with unusually high levels of social interaction.
  • A safe place to go during a storm and firework season is essential. When pets are afraid, they go where they feel the safest: the closet; under the covers in the bed; or a crate. Background noise such as a television, fans or soft music can help block out other sounds. Music therapy can help calm pets.
  • Canine and feline pheromone products can help relax your pet in strange or stressful situations. They are available as a spray or a plug-in diffuser, like an air freshener. They are best used for a few days before fireworks start and help to encourage your pet to relax.

There is lots of evidence that a mentally and physically stimulated pet is happier and healthier. By knowing your pet and observing changes in their behaviour, you will spot whether their mental wellbeing is being impacted.

If you have tried several of the techniques we’ve suggested and are concerned your pet is exhibiting signs of distress, contact your vet who will be able to offer more advice. After ensuring that your pet’s behaviour does not have a medical basis, we may refer you to a veterinary behaviourist to evaluate stress-related issues. We may also prescribe anxiety-reducing medications if appropriate.

If you need help with any behavioural issues, please talk with us. To book an appointment online, click here.

Preparing your pets for firework season

Preparing your pets and keeping them safe and calm on bonfire night and other seasonal events.

Fireworks are used throughout the year in Teddington to mark significant seasonal celebrations including Bonfire Night, Halloween, New Year’s Eve and Diwali.

Whilst they are enjoyable for humans to watch, pets can often get scared of the loud bangs and bright flashes. Preparing your pet early can make a significant difference and will help your pet cope throughout the seasonal events – start preparing now!

There are several precautions we can put in place to help our pets and to ease their stress when fireworks light up the skies:

1. Purchase a pheromone adaptor

Placed throughout the home, a pheromone spray, and/ or adaptor, can help ease your pet’s anxiety and stress. A pheromone is a natural chemical which triggers a social response in members of the same species and often promotes a calming effect.

Please ask your vet for advice on the best one to suit your pet.

2. Provide hiding places within your home

Ensure there are plenty of hiding places around the house for your pet, particularly for cats, e.g.:

  • Top of the cupboard – make sure it is safe and there’s an ample amount of room for them to rest
  • Underneath a bed – make a small space, whilst ensuring it is safe
  • A raised shelf – clear a space on a bookshelf or on top of a chest of draws
  • Inside of a box – you may have an old box in the garage or loft which you can dig out

3. Stay at home with your pets

Staying in with your pet will help calm their fears. Your presence and attention will comfort them and distract them from the background noise. If a pet is left alone and becomes stressed, they could become destructive or panic and injure themselves.

4. Ensure your pet has access to freshwater

You should ensure your pet has access to freshwater. Anxious dogs can pant more than normal, resulting in a greater thirst.

5. Make sure your pet is microchipped

It is important to ensure your pet is microchipped as, if spooked, they could run away. If your pet is already microchipped make sure your contact details are up to date so that you can be reunited if the worst happens.

6. Close curtains, blinds, windows, and keep doors closed

Loud bangs and bright flashes can scare pets. By keeping your windows, doors and blinds closed, sounds can be can dampened. Also, if you have a cat and they are in the house, don’t forget to lock their cat flap to stop them getting outside.

7. Walk your dog early

If you usually take your dog out in the evening, or for a late-night stroll, you should avoid being out when fireworks start – switching up your routine ahead of forthcoming events, so it’s not a sudden change, will support this. You should also ensure they are kept on a lead, as startled dogs can run off without warning.

8. Consider bringing small animals inside

Loud noises can be stressful for small animals, particularly if they are living in hutches outside. If you have a rabbit or guinea pig, you should consider moving their hutches inside. This could be into the house, shed or garage space. If you are unable to bring them inside, you should consider covering their hutch in some blankets and a waterproof sheet to dampen the noise. If you are covering their hutch, please remember to leave a suitable gap for ventilation.

9. Provide bedding for your pet to snuggle in

If you have a small pet, in a hutch, put some additional bedding in with them so that they can burrow into it and hide.

10. Don’t punish “bad behaviour”

You should not punish bad behaviour if your pet is scared. Instead, you should stay calm and demonstrate to your pet that there isn’t anything to worry about. This will help restore normal behaviour.

For further information, visit the RSPCA website: visit: www.rspca.org.uk/fireworks

Top tips to calm your anxious and stressed pet

Like humans, pets often suffer from everyday stress that can lead to issues that can cause them to become anxious or stressed. Unfortunately, while humans have some means at their disposal to deal with such issues, pets aren’t so lucky. So here are some effective ways to help reduce and relieve anxiety and stress in pets in Teddington.

Physical and mental exercise

Lack of mental stimulation or physical activity can create stress. There are lots of interactive toys available for both cats and dogs. By rotating new and old toys, you will keep your pet interested in what they’re playing with. Whether a hide and seek mouse game or an IQ treat-dispensing puzzle – there’s bound to be something available for your pet.

Pheromone diffusers

When dogs or cats lactate, they produce a pheromone that intensifies the bond between mother and pup or kitten. This pheromone has a calming and soothing effect and can be manufactured into an easy-to-use product. You can get products that contain the facial pheromones that cats rub over people and objects to mark them as familiar or safe. Cat pheromone products come in a diffuser form and dog pheromone products come as diffusers, sprays or collars. Pheromones can help treat anxiety in cats and dogs of all ages. In addition, it is odourless to humans, so you don’t need to worry about strange scents in your home.

Safe space

Most pets like to have a safe space to go to when they feel anxious or stressed. Your pet’s safe space could be a place where they can have some privacy and serenity along with a few of their favourite toys. You can also use a pheromone dispenser on or around their safe space. Cats like to get up high where they can observe their environment, especially when they are frightened. Provide your cat with a few different options, including open resting spaces such as windowsills as well as enclosed resting spaces.

Calming music

Spotify has launched a ‘My Dog’s Favourite Podcast’ – which has hours of ‘soothing sounds and friendly chat’, which is an ‘aural treat’ for your dog. Classical music is soothing not only for humans but also for cats, according to the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, produced by the International Society of Feline Medicine, the veterinary branch of International Cat Care. The soft sounds can calm down some cats and lead to relaxed breathing and a well-balanced heartbeat – with some dogs as well.

Avoid drastic changes in your routine

Cats thrive on routine and benefit from regular mealtimes, playtimes, and bedtimes. However, changes in your cat’s schedule or environment can create stress and anxiety and may trigger inappropriate urination. A routine will let your dog know what to expect each day and when to expect it. Establishing a toileting routine will help to avoid feelings of discomfort or anxiety for them and nasty clean-ups for you.

Check for health and behavioural issues

Pets often conceal health issues because of how they have evolved over several millennia. Anxiety and stress could be caused by an underlying health issue. It’s crucial that you speak to your vet to see if this can be ruled out as a possible cause. You may also want to consider meeting with an accredited veterinary behaviourist to help you put together a specific plan to adjust your pet’s underlying emotional response.

Please keep in mind that sometimes you may need to implement a mixture of strategies. The solution may not be quick or easy, but you can help your pet be happier and worry-free with dedication and the right professional assistance.

Please contact one of our South West London offices in Teddington, Surbiton or Shepperton

Have a worry-free experience when taking your cat to the vet

We know regular veterinary visits benefit our cats – but taking them for an appointment in Teddington can pose a challenge if not done correctly. Cats by nature are independent, territorial and need to feel in control. So – all these things can make trips to the vets eventful for both you and your cat.

Preparation for your cat’s vet visit

A trip to the vets takes cats completely out of their comfort zone as they experience confinement in a carrier followed by unfamiliar motion, sights, smells and sounds. All these will increase a cat’s anxiety levels and place it into a high state of alert.

Fortunately, you can do a few things to make the experience less challenging for you, your cat, and our veterinary team.

From an early age, you should get your cat accustomed to being handled. One of the most common things your vet or nurse will do during any visit is perform a routine physical exam of your pet. The best approach is gentle, little and often handling. Always stop if your cat shows any signs of unease. The more your cat is used to this, the more likely it is that being handled by our veterinary and nursing teams will be well tolerated.

Travelling to the vet means getting your cat familiar with carrier use. When choosing a carrier, it should be sturdy, easy to clean, secure and should be easily accessible. Open top carriers can be easier for this reason.

In the first instance, place the carrier in a room where your cat is comfortable, put some familiar bedding in it and allow your cat to get used to it being there. You may wish to use a pheromone spray for cats on the bedding to reduce any anxiety or place some treats within the carrier. It is also advisable to place a light covering over carriers to increase the feeling of security.

On the day of the appointment, please do not feed your cat a large meal before leaving for the vet, as the travel could induce nausea, causing your cat to be sick in their carrier. It’s fine to offer a few treats as positive reinforcement when preparing them for their journey (as long as you haven’t been asked to withhold food before a procedure). We may sometimes use treats at our practice to reward your cat and improve their experience with us.

At the veterinary practice

 When your cat is ready to go to the vet, please avoid rushing. Pick up your carrier in a secure manner, held close to you to reduce excess motion. The handle on a carrier should only be used to lift the carrier when empty! Cats usually need time to get used to the veterinary clinic and to calm down – this should not be a problem and our team will take the time needed.

At the veterinary practice, keep the cat carrier covered to avoid visual contact with others. We try to keep our waiting room as tranquil as possible, but the presence of other pets and unfamiliar scents can increase anxiety in cats. Ask the clinic staff to place your cat in a quiet area or room. Wherever possible, keep your cat carrier placed off the ground as cats feel safer when in an elevated position as they can then scout their surroundings more easily.

Once in the consulting room, ask our team if it is ok to open the carrier and let the cat exit the carrier on its own to explore the examination area. Use strokes or treats to help them relax. Our team will always take a few minutes to chat with you before the physical check-up in a routine consult. This gives your cat a chance to acquaint themself with the surroundings and get used to the new sights, sounds and smells of the clinic before the vet or nurses begins an examination.

Bringing your cat back home

The exit from the practice should be done with as much care as your arrival. A rushed trip back home with a lot of unnecessary movement can be equally traumatising to your cat. However, you can give your cat extra cuddles and treats when you arrive home for being a brave kitty!

We look forward to seeing you and your cat soon

Hopefully, by applying a combination of the above tips, your next visit to our veterinary practice will be as worry-free as possible. To find more information, please visit the resources available on the International Cat Care website.


Please contact us in one of our practices for further information.

Preparing your pet for home life changes

The end of the summer holidays brings with it another change in home life for our pets in Teddington. When considering this change, we could put them in one of two camps: those looking forward to the peace and quiet and those dreading not being with us 24/7.

If your pet falls into the first category, they’ll probably resume their daily napping-schedule quite happily. The pets (mostly dogs) who might struggle are those who rely heavily on contact with us in order to feel secure. Young dogs and puppies, who have never been left at home, might also feel anxious when children go back to school or you return to work.

What is separation anxiety?

Most dogs learn at an early age that when we leave the house, we’ll always return. Knowing this helps them to feel secure when they’re alone. Some dogs can be more susceptible to separation anxiety than others.

Some dogs when left alone might express their anxiety by behaving inappropriately, some may become destructive and chew household items or furniture; others become very vocal and bark or whine continuously until we return home. Not only is this distressing for our dogs but it’s annoying for our neighbours too!

There are a few things we can do now to prepare our pets for these significant changes in home life.

Encourage independence

We can teach our pets to feel secure when we’re out by gradually spending longer periods of time away from them when we’re at home. You can try the following:

  • Spend time in a different room to your dog and gradually increase the length of time you’re apart. Don’t fuss your dog when you leave or when you return. By staying calm you’re signalling to your dog that it’s no big deal for them to spend time alone.
  • Encourage your dog to explore your garden, or outside space, alone.
  • Make sure your dog takes naps in their own bed and not always next to you.
  • If you always leave your dog in the same room or area, use these spaces during daily family life. Your dog will be less worried about being left in a familiar space.
  • Introduce interesting toys (such as food-filled chews) to your dog when you’re at home. Lengthen the time your dog has access to these ‘special’ toys while you gradually move away to other parts of your home. The benefits of this are twofold; your dog’s focus is directed away from you and the action of chewing is something that relaxes most dogs.

Build resilience

If your dog is particularly attached to one person, it’s a good idea to share the load of their daily care. This helps your dog to feel secure even when their favourite person isn’t at home. Ask other family members to become involved with your dog’s feeding, walking, snuggling and playtimes.

Your dog will gradually learn to feel safe with whoever they’re spending time with.


If you have a puppy or young dog, introduce them to places that you may not have visited before. The more smells, sights and sounds your dog experiences as a youngster, the less they’ll fear as an adult dog.

Please contact us to ensure your puppy has received the vaccinations and preventative healthcare they need, to keep them safe when they start going out.

How can we help cats?

For the vast majority of adult cats, their life during periods such as summer holidays probably isn’t massively different to their usual routine. They may feel more inconvenienced by extra attention from their humans, but many cats will avoid this by seeking out new sunbathing, hiding, and sleeping places!

If your cat has spent more time indoors, it’s worth checking they’re up to date with their preventative healthcare before they go outside again. We can provide you with your cat’s usual flea and worm treatments, so please let us know if you’ve run out. We’ll also contact you when your cat is due for a check-up and booster.

All pets

It will take all of us some time to get used to changes to our daily routine. If your pets have enjoyed lie-ins and late nights recently, it’s helpful to resume your usual routine before you go back to work and school.

If you’d like further information about any aspect of preparing your pet for home life changes, please contact us for a chat.