Winter Grooming

Grooming your pet is just as important in winter as it is during the rest of the year – it’s not just about looking good, but promoting good health and comfort. Every pet’s coat is different, so it is important to make sure you understand how to look after them properly. If you are not sure, speak to your vet before the cool weather sets in. Grooming your pet for winter doesn’t need to be an ordeal, it can be an extremely simple and comfortable activity with these squeaky-clean tips!

Bathing:

Bathing guidelines are a little different, depending on your pet. When it comes to cats, most don’t really need (or enjoy!) a bath. Dogs on the other hand, typically need more frequent bathing. Of course, there are special circumstances when you may need to bathe your pet more or less:

  • If they are recovering from an injury or procedure and cannot clean themselves efficiently you may need to bathe your pet.
  • Some hairless cats require frequent bathing, speak to your vet for advice.
  • They may need an unscheduled bath if their coat has become matted, stuck with something that cannot be cleaned naturally or even just rolled in something smelly.
  • If your pet has dry skin or other skin conditions, they may benefit from less (or more) frequent bathing.

When you do have to bathe your pet, keep in mind a few important tips:

  • Never use human shampoo and conditioner! The pH levels are different to what your pet needs and can cause skin irritations. Make sure you buy a specific kitten, cat, puppy, or dog shampoo.
  • Check the temperature – pets can’t tolerate the same water temperatures adult humans can. Make sure the water is comfortably warm but not hot or cold – imagine you are running a bath for a newborn baby. Use the tip of your elbow to check the temperature.
  • Make sure to dry your pet properly after a bath. Whether this is with a hairdryer or towel, it is important to make sure your pet dries thoroughly. Leaving your pet’s coat wet can lead to problematic skin conditions, matted fur and can also cause hypothermia in cold weather. If your pet prefers to air dry after a quick towel rub, make sure you bathe them early on a warm day so they have plenty of time to dry in the sun.
  • Remember to keep an eye on your hair dryer's temperature if you use one – these can get HOT!

Brushing:

Brushing your pet’s coat is extremely important for removing knots to prevent mats from forming. A smooth, well brushed coat is key to properly insulating and keeping your pet clean in winter. Some dog and cat breeds have double (and even triple!) coats, so getting rid of tangles needs to be a priority! Try to brush your pet every couple of days (depending on their coat).

Footcare:

Our pets need paw-dicures too! Here are some easy tips for looking after your pet’s feet:

  • Keep your pet’s nails trimmed – this will prevent painful cracked or curling nails and more serious long-term foot and leg damage.
  • Take your dog outside to walk on hard and rough surfaces like concrete – the rough surface will act as a file and help to wear their nails down naturally.
  • Trim your cat’s claws during winter – if they spend more time indoors when it is cold outside, they might be more prone to scratch household furniture and other indoor pets!
  • Keep the fur in between your pet’s toes trimmed neatly. If this becomes wet through walking, it may be slow to dry, encouraging bacterial growth that causes skin irritations and other issues (not to mention, it will become smelly!).

Dry Skin

Just like us, our pet’s skin can become dry in winter too. This can be for a number of reasons (incl. parasites, cool weather or allergies) and may be treated with moisturisers, dietary supplements, regular grooming and if needed, medication (check with us before starting your pet on any treatment). It is important to check your pet closely for signs of dry or irritated skin:

  • Itchiness (look for excessive scratching),
  • Dandruff, scabby and flaky skin,
  • Cracked paws,
  • Hair loss,
  • Increased oiliness,
  • An unpleasant odour.

No matter how big or small your pet is, proper winter grooming will keep them happy, healthy, comfortable and looking fantastic over the cooler months!
Have a chat with your local vet about grooming and any concerns you may have.


Obesity & Weight loss

The internet is full of cute, funny photos and videos of ‘chonky’ pets – but a fat cat or pudgy pup is no laughing matter. Much the same as humans, overweight and obese animals are susceptible to a range of dangerous and uncomfortable health conditions, and ultimately can lead to a shortened life.

Obesity is one of the most common nutritional disorders our vets see in cats and dogs. In Australia and New Zealand, nearly half of all pet dogs and approximately a third of pet cats are overweight! Some common ailments caused by being overweight include:

• Diabetes
• Cardiovascular disease (heart disease)
• Degenerative joint and orthopedic disease (including arthritis)
• Joint stress or musculoskeletal pain
• Respiratory problems
• Cancer and tumours
• Skin problems
• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Reproductive disorders
• Decreased quality of life
• Shorter life expectancy

What causes pets to become overweight?

There are a few ways our pets can gain excess weight, and whilst some breeds are more susceptible to weight-gain than others, most reasons come down to our willpower as a responsible pet parent! These causes can include:

• Feeding extra treats
• Feeding unhealthy treats
• Feeding an unbalanced diet
• Lack of exercise

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

Your pet might be overweight if:
• You experience difficulty when trying to feel their ribs
• You cannot see a defined ‘waist’
• You can see obvious fat deposits and rolls
• They are no longer grooming themselves efficiently, if at all
• They are reluctant to exercise or are disinterested
• They quickly become tired and refuse to continue exercise
• They have a ‘waddle’ to their walk – or other abnormal movement
• They are at a weight dramatically different from breed guidelines
• They are often panting – even without movement or exercise

Healthy treats and fun exercise

Avoid feeding your pet ‘junk food’ treats like jerky type strips and highly processed snacks that might be purchased in the supermarket. Human treats are also a big no-no – no matter how cute those begging eyes are. It is also important not to feed your pet treats here and there ‘just because’. Use treats as a reward for positive behaviours and training. Some healthier reward treats include:

• A small percentage of your pet’s daily feed allowance (kibble)
• Fresh foods like carrots, zucchini, berries, or beans for dogs
• Small amounts of cooked fish, catnip, or cat grass for cats
Some simple ways to include fun exercise in your pet’s day include:
• A walk
• Playing with your pet – inside or in the backyard
• Fetch (for cats and dogs!)
• Tug-o-war
• Swimming
• Climbing toys and spaces for cats
• Chasing laser toys
• Socialising with other animals your pet is comfortable with
• Nose-works – get your cat or dog moving by hiding healthy treats or interesting smells for them to sniff out

What can I do if I think my pet is overweight?

If you suspect your pet is overweight, it is important not to change their diet or exercise schedule drastically or quickly – this could exacerbate the problem. Book an appointment with your vet, and together you will create a plan to help your pet reach their optimal weight in a healthy and sustainable manner.


Easter Hazards

Easter can be an exciting time for both adults and children. While we prepare for Easter, it is essential to keep an eye on potential dangers for your furry friend.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine (a chemical compound found in the cacao plant), which can be fatal to our pets.

It is important to keep chocolate out of reach this Easter. If you are hiding chocolate eggs, keep your pets in a safe location away from the hunt and record where you have hidden the eggs.

If you do suspect your pet may have eaten some chocolate, call your local vet straight away, as symptoms can take up to three hours to show.
Some symptoms to look out for include:
• Vomiting,
• Diarrhoea,
• Increased urination,
• Restlessness,
• Hyperactivity,
• Twitching,
• And in severe cases, seizures.

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns are another treat to keep out of reach of our furry friends. Some hot cross buns contain chocolate which can be fatal to our pets. They can also contain raisins. Raisins, grapes, sultanas and currants have been shown to cause acute kidney failure in dogs. The exact reason is still not identified; therefore, we cannot determine how much is toxic or which pets will be affected. Some pets can eat a few grapes with no ill effects, whereas others may become severely ill with the same amount.
It is always better to be on the safe side; if you suspect your pet has eaten any, please call us immediately.
Initial signs can include:
• Vomiting,
• Diarrhoea.

Noises and crowds

New visitors, noises and smells can sometimes cause anxiety for your pet. To help minimise your pet's stress;

• Create a calm, quiet spot for your pet away from the noise.
• Exercise your pet before any guests arrive.

Decorations

Small and cute Easter decorations could become choking hazards for your pet or, if broken, can cause cuts to their mouths. Ensure all decorations are out of your pet's reach or too big for them to fit in their mouths. If your pet has swallowed or eaten any decorations, please call our team.

Flowers

Some flowers are toxic to our pets. If you decorate with flowers or receive them as gifts, place them in a location your pet can't get to. Some flowers and plants to look out for include:

Common Poisonous House Plants

Common Name Botanical Name Poisonous Part
Bird of Paradise Strelizia regirae Fruit, seeds
Boston Ivy Parthenocissus quinquefolia All parts
Caladium Caladium All parts
Creeping Charlie Glecoma hederacea All parts
Dumbcane Dieffenbachia All parts
Emerald Duke Philodendron hastatum All parts
Glacier Ivy Hedera glacier Leaves, berries
Heartleaf Philadendron cordatum All parts
English Ivy Hedera helix Leaves, berries
Lily/Liliaceae Family Lilium All parts
Marble Queen Scindapsus aureus All parts
Majesty Philodendron hastatum All parts
Nephthytis, Arrowhead Vine Synogonium podophyllum albolineatum All parts
Parlor Ivy Philodendron cordatum All parts
Pothos Scindapsus aureus All parts
Red Princess Philodendron hastatum All parts
Saddleleaf Philodendron selloum All parts
Split leaf Philodendron Monstera deliciosa All parts
Umbrella Plant Cyperus alternifolius All parts

Common Poisonous Outdoor Plants

Common Name Botanical Name Poisonous Part
Apricot Prunus ameniaca Stem, bark, seed pits
Azalea Rhododendron occidentale All parts
Baneberry Actaea Spicata Berries, roots, foliage
Buchberry Lantana All parts
Castor Bean Ricinus communis Seeds, if chewed
Choke Cherry Prunus virginica Leaves, seed pits, stems, bark
Daffodil Narcissus Bulbs
Daphne Daphne mezereum Berries, bark, leaves
Foxglove Digitalis purpura Leaves, seeds, flowers
Hemlock Conium maculatum All parts, root and root stalk
Hens-and-Chicks Lantana All parts
Hyacinth Hyacinthus orientalis Bulbs, leaves, flowers
Hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla Leaves, buds
Jerusalem Cherry Solanim pseudocapscium All parts, unripe fruit
Jimson Weed Datura stramonium All parts
Jonquil Narcissus Bulbs
Lily-of-the-Valley Convallaria majalis All parts
Mandrake Podophyllum peltatum Roots, foliage, unripe fruit
Mistletoe Phoradendron Flavescens Berries
Morning Glory Ipomoea violaces Seeds
Nightshade Atropa belladonna All parts
Oleander Norium Oleander All parts, including dried leaves
Poinsettia Euphorbia pulcherrima Leaves, flowers
Pokeweed, Inkberry Phytolacca americana All parts
Red Sage Lantana camara Green berries
Rhododendron Rhododendron All parts
Rhubarb Rheum raponticum Leaves
Sweet Pea Lathyrus odoratus Seeds, pods
Tulip Tulipa Bulbs
Wisteria Wisteria Seeds, pods
Yew Taxus Needles, bark, seeds

If your pet has nibbled on any of your plants, please take a photo of the plant for later identification and reference, and call your local vet immediately.

We hope you enjoy a lovely Easter.


Arthritis

Ouch! Do you ever experience sore joints on a chilly morning?

Like humans, our furry best friends can experience aches and pains caused by arthritis. These pains can become more intense over the cooler months - let us teach you a little about this common condition, so you can keep an eye out for symptoms and how to look after your pet before they become too uncomfortable.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a broad term that relates to inflammation of the joints (knees, elbows, shoulders etc.). It is known for causing discomfort, stiffness, pain and can often worsen as your pet grows older. Arthritis can affect all sorts of pets – from a tiny mouse to a 1.8m tall horse! Many different kinds of arthritis can affect your pet; some of the most common types we see are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

What causes arthritis?

Depending on the type of arthritis your pet may be experiencing, the cause can vary greatly. Some of the more common causes we see include:

  • General 'wear and tear' – as your pet ages, their cartilage (a spongey, rubber-like material that covers the end of a bone, acting as a cushion) can start to break down.
  • Genetic – unfortunately, some types of arthritis can be passed down through family lines. It is important to be aware of this or talk to your Vet about genetic conditions if you are not sure!
  • Weight-gain – Carrying a few extra kilos can put additional stress on your pet's joints, especially when they are walking, running and jumping!

Arthritis symptoms to look out for

Arthritis affects every pet in different ways. Some of the most tell-tale signs your pet might be suffering are:

  • Limping or an unusual posture/stance when moving about
  • Stiffness, especially after exercise
  • A reluctance to move or stand up
  • Changed behaviour, such as a lack of interest in playing as usual or increased sleep
  • The inability to jump on furniture, climb stairs or jump into the car
  • Irritability or depression (lack of interest)
  • Growling or biting when touched
  • Visibly deformed or swollen joints

What to do if your pet is suffering from arthritis:

Visit your vet! There are so many treatments available today, thanks to modern medicine.
Depending on the severity and type of arthritis your pet is suffering, our team will tailor a treatment plan just to them! It is also important to check that your pet's arthritis isn't an indicator of a more sinister illness.

Treatments we can suggest range from dietary supplements, special diets, weight reduction plans for overweight pets, muscle massages, specialised strengthening exercises, laser treatments, acupuncture, anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical treatments and other pain relief. We can also give you some excellent advice about making your home more comfortable for your pet (think comfy bedding, stopping cold drafts, non-skid flooring and ramps!).

Arthritis can be efficiently managed with the help of your Vet – let's work together to make sure your best friend is enjoying life to the fullest! If you're worried about your pet or think they are showing signs of arthritis discomfort, please call you local vet to organise a consultation.

 


Hot Weather & Heatstroke

We all love spending quality time with our pets on a hot summer’s day. However, we need to stay vigilant in summer, as the warmer weather can expose our pets to several dangers.

One of these dangers is heatstroke. Heatstroke, or hyperthermia, occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises rapidly. It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment.

There are several causes for heatstroke, including:

  • Being left in a hot car,
  • Being left outdoors during extreme heat,
  • Not having enough shade and water when outdoors,
  • Exercising in hot weather.
  • It is important to know the signs of heatstroke - even if you avoid all the above.

Your pet may show some or all of the below symptoms:

  • Excessive panting,
  • Restlessness,
  • Drooling excessively,
  • Becoming unstable on their feet,
  • Their gums turn a bluish-purple or bright red colour.

If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, you must take them to a vet immediately.
Make sure to cool your pet while you are on your way to see us.
The most effective way to cool your pet is by using a fan or air-conditioning. You can also use a damp towel or a spray bottle filled with water to cool them lightly. It is important not to submerge your pet in ice-cold water, as this could be detrimental to their recovery.

Other warm-weather tips:

  • In hot weather, it is also essential to keep your pet’s feet in mind – if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it is too hot for your pets! Keep them inside, walk in the shade, or use pet socks/shoes if it's not possible to keep them off hot surfaces.
  • Always ensure there are plenty of cool places with shade and fresh water for your pet to access on hot days. Never leave them unattended in a car, even if the windows are down.
  • Before the weather gets too warm, book your pet in for a groom to remove any unnecessary shedding hair, and a trim where suitable. Do not shave your pet’s coat yourself – some breeds require their coats to help regulate body temperature.
  • Brachycephalic dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke and can develop serious health issues quickly due to their inability to pant efficiently. If you own a brachycephalic dog (a dog with a flattened face, such as a French or English bulldog, Pug, Boston terrier, Pekinese, Boxer, etc.), please be very mindful of their whereabouts on a hot day, and keep an eye out for any of these symptoms.

If you think your pet is suffering heatstroke, or you want to know more about how to prevent it, call your vet clinic today!


Christmas & New Year’s Hazards

The silly season is an exciting time of year, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations giving us plenty of reasons to let loose and celebrate. With an increase of visitors, noises, tasty treats, shiny new toys, and interesting smells, this time of year can be overwhelming for our pets.

Here are some recommendations to make sure your furry friends are safe and happy during this festive time.

  • Make sure your pet has access to a quiet, calm, and secluded spot to hide away if needed
  • Exercise your pets before any guests arrive or before any particularly noisy events (i.e., fireworks displays) if you can – a pet with pent up energy can easily become anxious
  • Keep Christmas decorations and wrapping items (paper, tape, ribbon, discarded plastic, etc.) out of your pet’s reach. If ingested, these items can cause serious health problems, including intestinal blockages that may require surgical removal
  • Many plants and flowers used for Christmas decorations are toxic to pets – be sure to keep these out of reach
  • Many foods we see at celebrations are toxic to pets and can even be fatal. Make sure your pet does not have access to:
    o Chocolate
    o Christmas pudding
    o Salty foods (chips, pretzels, crackers, etc.)
    o Lollies & artificial sweeteners
    o Grapes, sultanas, raisins, and currants
    o Alcohol
    o Cherry pits (and other stone fruit pits)
    o Macadamias
    o Corn cobs
    o Avocado
    o Cooked bones

Fireworks can be terrifying for pets. Here is a list of tips for preparing your pet for fireworks displays:

  • Keep pets indoors when possible. The walls and roof will help to soften the noise and will also contain them safely.
  • Prepare your pet for loud noises during the day by putting on the TV or radio. Turn the volume up progressively throughout the day, so when the fireworks display commences, the existing noise will create a distraction
  • Avoid fussing over your pet. Carry on as normal, as this will reassure your pet nothing is wrong. You can use treats and games to distract them and encourage calm behaviour.
  • Ensure your pet’s microchip and identification tag details are up to date. Unfortunately, many pets escape during fireworks displays and can be found very far from home.
  • Pheromone diffusers could help to calm your pet. Talk to our team about Feliway for cats or Adaptil for dogs.
  • Some pet owners choose to use medications to assist in keeping particularly anxious pets calm. This is not something our team can organise for you without prior consultation, so please book in advance.

Our appointments during the festive season fill up very quickly, so be sure to organise an appointment as soon as possible.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t, has injured themselves, or you would like more advice on keeping them safe over the Christmas and New Year’s period, please give your vet clinic a call.


Skin allergies in dogs and cats

By Dr Danielle Page BVSc Hill’s Pet Nutrition

What are the most common skin allergies in pets?

The most common skin allergies in dogs and cats are to things in their environment such as dust mites, pollens and grasses. These skin allergies manifest as itching and scratching, causing red, inflamed and damaged skin, a condition which is called atopy, or atopic dermatitis. Another common allergy is to fleas, which, predictably enough, is called flea allergy dermatitis. These are the big two skin allergies seen in dogs and cats throughout Australia and New Zealand and we typically see them seasonally - but some (such as dust mites) can be seen all year round. Allergies to food, while also a possibility for causing skin reactions, are actually much less common than atopic dermatitis and flea allergy dermatitis, making up only 10-15% of all skin allergies¹ and typically occur all year round.

This may surprise many pet owners, given all the focus food allergies are given in the media! It may also come as a surprise that, despite common belief, grains are rarely the cause of food allergies and most often the allergy is to an animal protein with beef, dairy and chicken being the most common allergens in dogs and beef, dairy and fish for cats.

What are environmental allergies?

The reason some animals suffer from environmental allergies is that they have a defective skin barrier which is an inherited disorder. Allergens, such as pollens pass through the skin (unlike in us where we inhale the allergens and typically get hayfever) which causes an allergic reaction. Moisture can also be lost through this defective barrier, causing the skin to be dry. This in turn makes the pet feel itchy and they scratch and lick their skin, causing further damage. An analogy you may want to think about is treated/oiled wood on a deck vs an untreated, undressed deck which represents a defective skin barrier.

While any breed can suffer from environmental allergies, there are some breeds which are more likely to have skin problems such as Golden and Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, English bulldogs, Boxers, Pugs, Boston terriers, Shih tzus, Miniature Schnauzers, and my first dog (which suffered badly from environmental allergies): West Highland white terriers².

More about food allergies

For pets to be allergic to a food they must have eaten it previously in order to become sensitised to it. When the food is eaten repeatedly their immune system mounts an allergic response. A pet may have eaten the same food for months or years and then develop an allergy to it. A pet can develop an allergy to any protein fed commonly.

Food sensitivities or intolerances are quite different to food allergies in that they don’t involve the pet’s immune system. Collectively, food allergies and food intolerances are called adverse food reactions, and may result in gastrointestinal problems or skin problems, or both. Gastrointestinal signs may include loose stools, increased stool frequency, flatulence and sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea. Skin signs can mimic many other types of skin disease and can include itchiness around the face and paws, ear infections and can also be generalised over the entire body.

How are adverse reactions to food diagnosed?

Unfortunately there is no blood or skin test to rule food allergy in or out. The only way to make a diagnosis is to do a food elimination trial, which involves feeding a diet made up exclusively of ingredients the pet hasn’t eaten before. In addition to looking at all the ingredients in the regular food, all treats or flavoured medications/wormers, etc. a pet may have consumed (particularly within the previous 6 months) need to be taken into account. Your veterinarian will advise what is the best food for your pet to be on during the diet trial.

Hill’s new diet for managing both environmental and food sensitivities in dogs

Hill’s latest skin care diet, Prescription Diet Derm Complete, is a breakthrough for Hill’s in the management of skin conditions in dogs, because it has been clinically tested to help manage both food and environmental sensitivities.

Derm Complete contains nutrients such as omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids to help strengthen the skin barrier, as well as an optimal blend of vitamins and minerals to help nourish the skin and coat. Derm Complete also contains Hill’s proprietary blend of ingredients and nutrients, including phytonutrients from fruits and vegetables to help support skin function in dogs with environmental sensitivities.

Derm Complete can also help manage food sensitivities because it contains a single source of protein, egg, which rarely causes adverse food reactions in dogs, making it a great long term solution for dogs with food or environmental sensitivities, or both.

Skin conditions can have a wide range of causes and require veterinary expertise for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Be sure to consult your veterinarian about your pet's individual health and treatment options.

 

¹Mueller RS, Olivry T, Prélaud P. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. BMC Vet Res. 2016;12:9.
²Miller WH, Griffin CE, Campbell KL, eds. Hypersensitivity Disorders. In: Muller and Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology 7 th ed. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2013:372


Bee stings

With springtime upon us, we can expect to see more blossoming trees and flowers popping up all over the garden – and with that comes bees. Your dog or cat might think a bee is a harmless new friend, providing a bit of excitement and fun with a game of chase! Often this can result in your pet receiving a bee sting to the face, mouth, or paws.

Has my pet been stung?

It will be very clear almost immediately if your pet has been stung. Keep an eye out for:

  • A sudden or continuing cry from your pet, indicating pain and discomfort
  • Your pet running around in circles or otherwise erratically
  • Licking, chewing, or pawing the same spot repeatedly
  • Unusual swelling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pale gums

In some extreme cases, pets can experience severe reactions and experience vomiting, collapse, hives, profound swelling, and difficulty breathing. If your pet has been stung by more than one bee or in the mouth or throat, their reaction is more likely to be severe, and they can potentially experience anaphylactic shock. It is essential to act fast.

What should I do if my pet has been stung?

Stay calm! Panicking will only increase your pet’s stress.

The stinger will continue to release venom until it has been removed, causing pain and discomfort.

If you have noticed any of the above-mentioned severe reactions, give us a call and make your way in to see us immediately.

If your pet is having a mild reaction and experiencing discomfort only:

  • Try to locate the site of the sting
  • If you can find it, remove the stinger gently with tweezers

Once you are sure the stinger has been removed:

  • Apply cool water via washing the site or pressing it gently with a wet cloth.
  • Keep an eye on your pet for any developing symptoms, and ensure they are well hydrated.

If your pet appears uncomfortable or develops a more severe reaction after removing the sting, please give your vet clinic a call for further advice.


Parasites

As the weather warms up, we start to see more parasite problems for all sorts of pets.

Here are some of the more common parasites we come across, as well as some information on the problems they cause and how to get rid of them.

Fleas

Fleas are relatively easy to spot, and if not, your pet will let you know! Look out for these clues:

  • Your pet might constantly be scratching or chewing and become quite irritable.
  • You might notice red, sore-looking bumps or blisters on your pet’s skin.
  • If you look close enough, you might see ‘flea dirt’ – this is a flea waste product that looks like tiny little flecks of pepper.
  • Sometimes, you can even see the fleas moving around themselves – tiny little brown or black wingless insects, with an incredible jump!

Flea bites are not only uncomfortable and frustrating for your pets, but they can also lead to serious wound infections, anaemia, tapeworms, and dermatitis.

Moving swiftly is the key to flea treatment! You will need to treat:

  • Every pet in your household
  • Pet bedding
  • Carpet
  • Furniture
  • Any other soft furnishings a flea or its eggs might be hiding

If you have any questions or require parasite product advice, organise an appointment with your vet.

Ticks

Ticks can be found in every state of Australia. There are many different species of ticks, and some pose a significant threat to the wellbeing of our pets. The most common species that affect our pets are the paralysis tick, the bush tick, the cattle tick, and the brown dog tick.

  • Paralysis ticks are particularly dangerous, as they deliver a neurotoxin into our pet’s bloodstream as they feed, leading to severe paralysis of the muscles – including the heart, proving fatal.
  • Brown dog ticks are not deadly themselves but can cause dermatitis and anaemia, as well as carry some nasty diseases, including Ehrlichiosis, which has only recently been discovered in more northern parts of Australia, and is spreading to some southern parts.

The best practice is to regularly check your dog for ticks after being outside – run your fingers through their coats to feel for any unusual lumps on their skin. Be sure to check over your pets’ entire body, especially:

  • Around their head and ears
  • Inside their ears
  • In their mouths
  • Under their tail
  • Between their toes
  • Underneath their collar

Ticks are sneaky and can easily latch on to many different areas on your pet.

If you come across a tick, be sure to give us a call to organise its removal as soon as possible – it is vital to act quickly and we will ensure to remove all of the tick – even a small part leftover can continue to cause problems for your furry friend.

Keeping your dog protected year-round from ticks is key - we recommend tick prevention treatments like spot-on drops or tick collars. Speak to us today for our recommendation and prevent your pet from any unnecessary discomfort and illness.

Mosquitoes

Dogs, cats, rodents. and birds make for easy targets and tasty snacks for mosquitoes. While the mosquito bite itself is more annoying than threatening, mosquitoes can spread heartworm and other potentially fatal parasites to your pets.

We recommend making sure there is no stagnant or still water around the backyard – this is where mosquito larvae grow. If possible, bring your pets indoors between dusk and dawn, or make sure they have a safe, meshed area to sleep in. Pet safe mosquito and insect repellents are available that may be used. Speak to us if you have any concerns about mozzies in your area.

Intestinal worms

Many different worms can affect our pets! Some species are not exclusive to cats and dogs, but rodents, birds, and reptiles too. Some more common worms we see are:

  • Roundworm
  • Hookworm
  • Tapeworm
  • Whipworm
  • Heartworm

These worms can be transmitted in several ways, including:

  • Coming into contact with (or eating) soil, grass, or faeces containing larvae or eggs,
  • Coming into direct contact with an infected animal
  • Transmitted in-utero or through milk fed to babies
  • Via insects, such as mosquitoes and fleas

Symptoms associated with worm infestations can include:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Bloody stools
  • Anaemia
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Visible worms – either in stools or around the anus
  • Lung disease

Prevention is the best cure - by administering regular preventatives which are available in various forms and combinations with other parasite control products. Ask your clinic for advice on the best preventative for your pet. If your pet is unwell, please book a consultation.

Giardia

Giardia is a lesser-known parasite that is surprisingly common. It is a microscopic protozoan that can infect humans, dogs, and cats.

Giardia contaminates bodies of water – it can be ingested by your pet when drinking or having a swim, this is why we see cases of giardia infection more often in the warmer months. Signs your pet may be infected include:

  • Chronic diarrhoea
  • Reduced activity
  • Sudden or inexplicable weight loss
  • Bloody stools

Giardia is not usually life-threatening, but it is important to treat as your pet will feel unwell.

Give your local vet team a call or book an appointment if you think your pet may have giardia, it can be easily treated with after diagnosis.

 

If you have any concerns about parasites and your pet, please organise a consultation to discuss these with your vet.


Spring cleaning hazards

Springtime is the perfect time to shake off those winter blues and freshen up our homes for the busier, warmer months ahead. While we are clearing out and cleaning up, some of the products and tools we use potentially threaten our pets if not handled properly!

Check out some of the issues that can occur for our furry and feathered friends when they come into contact with common household cleaning chemicals:

  • Ensure that any cleaning products you use are out of reach of your pets and stored securely, so they don’t end up accidentally ingesting any poisons. Also, be aware of where you’ve cleaned with a harsh chemical – sometimes, when dry, the residue might taste appealing to your pet.
  • Do not use aerosol sprays around pets, especially birds! Move the animals to another room altogether to avoid them breathing in any chemicals or particles.
  • Ensure that pet’s food and water supply is also clear of any chemicals you may be spraying – droplets and particles can easily contaminate food and water, leading to ingestion later on.
  • When disposing of chemicals or their container, be sure your pet cannot access the rubbish bin.
  • Bottle caps, elastic bands, plastic bags, sponges, and other scrubbing implements can become choking hazards, should they fall into the wrong paws! Make sure these are stored safely and out of reach of your pet.
  • When airing out your home for a clean, make sure that all window and door screens are secure and that your indoor pet cannot sneak out unnoticed!
  • Mops, sponges, and brooms can appear like a fun, interesting new toy for a playful puppy or curious kitten! Be sure to keep your fur-baby away from these to avoid any loose bristles being eaten.

If you suspect your pet has ingested or inhaled any cleaning poisons, call your nearest vet clinic immediately.

The following symptoms are signs your pet could be poisoned and seriously ill:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive sneezing and/or coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

If you have any questions or concerns, please call your local vet clinic immediately.