How to tell if your pet is in pain

If you’ve ever had a pet in pain then you know that they seem to suffer in silence.  Unlike us, your pets can’t tell you when they’re in pain and oftentimes show few observable symptoms. We’ve put together a few things to keep an eye out for that may indicate that your furry family member is feeling discomfort.

Sometimes when a pet is in pain, you may see subtle changes in their behaviour. Cats may sleep more and resist jumping, dogs may be hesitant to go on a walk. Any changes in behaviour can be a sign of pain or other health issues and we recommend taking your furry family to see one of our veterinary team.

Signs of pain in dogs can include:

  • Anxious or submissive behaviour
  • Whimpering and howling
  • Aggressive behaviour such as growling or biting
  • Refusal to move or guarding behaviour
  • Loss of appetite

Sign of pain in cats can include:

  • Changes in defecation and urinary habits
  • Quietness or lack of agility
  • Excessive grooming seen as patches of hair loss
  • Guarding behaviour
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

If you notice any of the above changes in your furry family member, book in a visit to see one of our veterinarians to ensure your pet is happy and healthy!


Dog in blanket

Keeping your pet warm this winter

Dog in blanket
Give your pet extra bedding

As the months get cooler, we find our self rugging up more to keep warm. It’s important we do the same for our furry family members. We have some tips that you can use to help keep your pets toasty warm during the winter months.

Extra bedding

It’s important that our pets’ bed is cushioned, raised and away from cold drafts so they are kept warm while they sleep. If your pet resides outside, be sure to provide them with protection from the elements as well. No one wants to be cold and rained on while they sleep. If there bedding happens to get wet, replace it with fresh, dry blankets.

Pet-friendly hot water bottle

Many of us use an electric blanket to take the chill off our bed. Do the same for your pet on extremely cold nights with a hot water bottle. Be sure to fill the bottle up with warm water as hot water can be too hot.

Tackle the cold head on

I can be tempting to hibernate and avoid going outside, but going for a walk with your furry friend can help ease the winter blues. If you are reaching for a coat and scarf to go outside, it might be an idea to do the same for your pet.

Keep their coat healthy

As the seasons change, our pets begin to shed. Shedding is important for them to maintain appropriate body temperature. Keep your pet's coat healthy by feeding them foods that contain protein, omega-3 and vitamin A.

Older pets

For our older pets, it is important that they are kept warm and comfortable during the cooler months. If you notice them struggling to move, it could be age-related diseases such as arthritis. We recommend a check-up every six months if you begin to notice age-related issues.

If you are wanting more information on ways to keep your pet warm or have a senior pet that you would like to discuss, contact us today.


Cat snuggled in blanket

Pet seizures and how to respond

Cat snuggled in blanketJust like humans, our pets can also suffer from seizures. Whether caused by a pre-existing condition or seemingly out of the blue, it is important as a pet parent to understand the causes, signs and how to respond.

What is a seizure?

A seizure occurs when an abnormal amount of electrical activity occurs in the brain. This can happen suddenly and cause the body to shake tremendously. The severity and duration of a seizure can vary depending on the cause.

What causes seizures in pets?

It’s valuable to know what can cause seizures in our pets. Seizures are caused by a range of issues including:

  • Consuming poisons or toxins
  • Liver, kidney or other diseases that affect metabolic balance or cause toxin build up
  • Brain tumours
  • Brain trauma or injuries
  • Pre-existing conditions such as Epilepsy

Seizures are likely to occur when there is a change in the brain’s activity. This could be during increased excitement (eg. Feeding) or when your pet is waking up or falling asleep.

How do I know if my pet is having a seizure?

Signs that your pet is having a seizure include:

  • Collapsing
  • Jerking body movements
  • Muscle twitching and a paddling leg motion
  • Sudden unconsciousness
  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth
  • Involuntary urination or defecation

Before and after a seizure, some pets can look dazed, confused and become disorientated.

My pet has a seizure, what should I do?

  1. Remain calm. Try to gently slide your pet away from anything they could injure themselves on.
  2. Avoid their head and mouth. Dogs cannot choke on their own tongue, so don’t need their head supported or anything in their mouth. They may also bite you accidentally if they are touched.
  3. Keep time. Track how long the seizure lasts. If a seizure lasts more than a couple of minutes, it can cause the body to overheat. Keep your pet cool by placing a fan over them and putting cold water on their paws.
  4. Let your dog know that you are there by speaking softly. Again, avoid touching as they may bite.
  5. Contact your vet. Especially if the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or continues to have them. Prolonged seizures put your pet at risk of developing brain damage.

If you think your pet is having a seizure, please contact our clinic immediately.


Bored cat on bed

Signs your pet is bored

Have you ever wondered what your pet does when you’re not around? Many of us think they can keep themselves occupied all day. The reality is that when pets are alone and without stimuli, they can get bored and even develop behavioural issues.

How can you tell if your pet is bored?

Signs of boredom can include:

  • Over-eating: Pets can have the same instinct as humans - to eat when there is nothing to do. If you find your pet may be gaining excess weight, it could be a sign of boredom related eating behaviour.
  • Excessive barking: Barking can be a sign of many things, but if your pet becomes bored, they may bark excessively because they are unhappy.
  • Excessive grooming: If your pet is bored, they may groom themselves more than usual. When continued for a long period of time, this may cause irritation on your pet’s skin. Overgrooming is often seen as loss of the hair coat in areas that are easy for your pet to reach.
  • Getting into things they shouldn’t: As your pet is looking for a source of entertainment, they may begin looking in places like cupboards and rubbish bins.
  • Chewing on items other than toys: If your pet is bored and you are not around to monitor their behaviour, shoes can become chewed, pillows scratched, or furniture becomes a midday snack.

I think my pet is bored, what should I do?

If you have seen some of the signs listed above in your pet, we have 5 tips that you can use to help ease their boredom.

  1. Be an active pet parent when you’re at home

Ensure that you are designating time to interact with your pet. Play fetch with your dog, take them on walks regularly and provide your cat with mental stimulation through various toys and scratching posts

  1. Toys, toys, toys!

Provide your pet with plenty of toys that can keep them entertained for long periods of time. Toys can include puzzle treat or food dispensers. Mix it up and swap toys from day to day to keep them interesting.

  1. Keep the curtains open

Cats are naturally curious creatures. By giving them a window to look out of, they can watch the world fly by.

  1. Another furry friend.

Another solution to curing your pet’s boredom is to adopt a second pet. Most pets usually play well together.

If you think your pet is bored at home and becoming destructive, you can contact our clinic for further advice.


Dog in dog house with bone

Moving house with your pet

Many of us dread moving house, and even the thought of it can be a stressful experience. This can also be the case for our pets. Pets become attached to familiar spaces and can become territorial. It’s important to keep your pet comfortable before, during and after you move them to a new location.

Before the move

Before moving, we recommend:

  • Seeing your Veterinarian - especially if you are moving to a new area. Make sure that their vaccinations are up to date and if you are moving to a new location, you take a copy of your pet’s medical records too. We have clinics all over the country, so ask us to refer you to one of our colleagues.
  • Organising your pets’ space: Plan where it will go before your pet moves in. If they walk in and see a familiar space, it can help them feel at home and at ease.

During the move

This is the time that can cause the most angst for pets. If you know your pet may get anxious, Adaptil and Feliway are safe, non-drug options that can help relax your pet and settle them into their new space.

Your pet and pet belongings should be the last thing that gets packed, and the first thing unpacked.

Whilst on the road to your new house, be sure to stop for regular breaks (these may be more frequent for some pets) and that your pet can easily access water. If the move is too much for your pet, it might be an idea to put them in a boarding facility or let them stay with a friend.

After the move

Just like us, our pets are getting used to the new environment. Learning the new space around them and where everything is. Below are 3 things you can do to help your pet settle in.

  1. Be sure you show your pets where they can access their bed, food, water and their toilet.
  2. Stick to your normal routine. If you stick to your normal routine, your pet will notice this familiar behaviour and can feel more at ease.
  3. Give them love and attention. Be sure to play with your pet and help them feel loved during this process of change.

If you are ever concerned about moving with your pet, ask one of our team for advice.

If you have recently moved, be sure to let your local Vet know and update your records. Also, don’t forget to update your pets microchip details as well.


Dog and two cats in a nice home

The problem with the pancreas

Dog and two cats in a nice home
Avoid giving your pets treats and foods that are high in fat

As pet parents we can often forget that our furry family members aren’t just small versions of ourselves when it comes to food! While they may like a piece of bacon as a tasty treat or reward for good behaviour, foods that are high in fat – like bacon – are not as easily managed by our pet’s digestive system.

What is the Pancreas?

The Pancreas is an enzyme-producing gland that is part of an animal’s digestive system.  The Pancreas is essential in aiding proper digestion and maintaining blood glucose levels and can cause serious issues if not functioning properly.

What causes Pancreatitis?

When we allow our pets to indulge in foods that are high in fat, such as pork, beef or lamb, it can cause inflammation in the pancreas. Obesity can also increase the risk of your pet developing pancreatitis.

Symptoms of Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis can develop rapidly in both dogs and cats and if left untreated can sometimes cause permanent damage, peritonitis and even death.

The common symptoms include:

  • Anorexia/no appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness/Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea

Diagnosing Pancreatitis

There are a range of clinical processes used to diagnose pancreatitis in your pet. Blood tests, x-rays and ultrasound are the key means of collecting supportive information for a diagnosis. Pancreatitis often needs to be treated at the veterinary clinic, including potential hospitalization, as your pet will require intravenous fluids, pain medications to manage the pain associated with this disease, anti-nausea and antiemetics and sometimes antibiotics.

How to avoid pancreatitis in pets

Avoid giving your pets treats and foods that are high in fat, as well as maintaining a healthy weight for your pet. If you are unsure about which foods are best, stick to the pet food recommended by our Veterinarians.


Cat inside litter box with lid

Your ultimate guide to the litter box

We’ve put together all the do’s, don’ts, tips and tricks that come with keeping your cat’s litter box clean, and your cat comfortable and happy.

Cat litter tray with Silicone Crystal Pellets
Silicone Crystal Pellets

Pick of the litter

You may have realised in your journey to a perfect litter box that there are many different types of litter to choose from including:

  • Clumping litter – this litter absorbs moisture for quick and easy removal of affected litter but can leave the area around the tray messy with litter.
  • Non-clumping litter – while not as easy to identify and remove soiled litter, it is less likely to leave a trail of litter outside the box
  • Fragranced litter – can help to reduce the litter box odour, however your cat may be sensitive to the smell and this can deter them from using the litter box
  • Recycled paper pellets – highly absorbent and eco-friendly, however these will need to be changed more often than other pellets
  • Silicone crystal pellets – very absorbent and great at keeping in the odour, but can be dangerous if ingested by your cat

The choice of litter at the end of the day will very likely come down to your cat’s own preference and involves a bit of trial and error to begin with.

Think inside the box

When picking the tray itself there are commonly two types – ones with lids and ones without. Covered litter trays are more appealing as they stop spillage and any mess around the tray, the downside is that your cat may not like it. Most cats prefer to use a box without a lid. You can always start out with a covered tray if that’s what you choose, your cat will let you know very quickly if a cover is not the way to go.

Cat litter tray and scooper
Cleaning Cat Litter Tray

To line or not to line?

The purpose of the liner is to protect the tray itself while theoretically making it easier to throw away the litter when you are changing it over. Some things to think about:

  • Cat’s usually dig in the litter before doing their business, which means they could scratch and make holes in the liner
  • If the liner isn’t the right size then urine can build up at the sides of the box.
  • Your cat may not like the presence of the liner itself

Again, this will be a matter of trial and error and what works for you and your cat.

Nailing the set up

The rule is that there should be at least one litter box per cat in each household. So, if you have multiple cat’s, you will need a litter box for each of them, and ideally one extra.

Make sure to choose a spot with some privacy, but not in a place where your cat feels like they are trapped and can’t escape from threats. Avoid high foot traffic, noisy areas and keep it a good distance away from the food and water bowls.  Once you’ve found the spot, keep it there consistently and avoid moving the box to other areas.

If you are using a liner, put the liner down first and make sure it is covering all the edges. When filling it with litter, it is recommended to start with 2 – 3” of litter in the tray. You may find you need more or less depending on the habits of your cat. Generally, cats prefer a deep litter layer.

Two cats in a litter tray
Only one cat per tray

Best cleaning habits

To achieve proper litter box maintenance, you should scoop out any waste on a daily basis. To do this you will need a scoop and gloves. Use the scoop to remove the areas of litter that have been soiled and any solid chunks – this is where clumping litter comes in handy. Dispose of the waste and replace the lost litter with fresh litter. Doing this daily will stop any odours from forming and will encourage your cat to use the tray. If it gets too dirty your cat won’t want to use it and it can cause reluctance to urinate or defecate, neither of which are a good idea in cats.

Once a week you should give the tray a full cleaning. To do this you need to remove all of the litter and wash the tray with soapy warm water and rinse thoroughly. Once dry, fill up the tray again and put it back in it’s proper place.

Troubleshooting the tray

If you find that your cat isn’t using the litter box, there could be a number of reasons and solutions.

  • You need to clean the tray more often
  • The litter box may be too small for your cat
  • The box is not in a spot where your cat feels comfortable or may be too close to their food and water bowls
  • If you use a liner or a cover, try it without one
  • The litter level may be too shallow or deep
  • Your cat may not like the type of litter you choose

Work your way through theses issues one by one to see if your cat starts to use the litter box once you make a change.

There could also be an explanation unrelated to the litter box as to why your cat isn’t using it. If you suspect this is the case, you can bring your cat in to see one of our veterinarians or veterinary nurses for further advice.


dog and cat eating from bowl

Maintaining a healthy weight for your pet: your questions answered

Helping your furry family member to maintain a healthy weight not only improves their quality of life but significantly reduces the risk of serious conditions associated with obesity. To help you keep your pet on track, we’ve answered some common questions on weight and nutrition.

What's a healthy weight for my pet?

Just as in humans, a healthy weight is not the same number for each pet. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration such as breed, age, gender and overall health. The best way to determine the ideal weight for your best is to discuss with our team.

Dog weight scale Cat weight scale

…But my pet’s always been overweight.

There are some specific factors that could make your furry family member predisposed to weight gain, and therefore maintaining a healthy weight is even more important. There are several breeds of dog that are more likely to gain weight than others, including Beagles, Pugs, Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Scottish Terriers and Saint Bernards. Female dogs are also more likely to gain weight, and if your dog has been de-sexed they are more likely still; the frequency of obesity in de-sexed male and female dogs can be twice that of entire dogs.

For cats, some factors which may make your cat more likely to struggle with weight gain and obesity are:

  • Breed and sex
  • Aged between five and 10 years old, when their activity begins to decline
  • Fed very frequently and more than the recommended portion (or fed ad lib.)
Sad overweight dog
Pet owners need to be strict with their dog's diet

How do I maintain my pet’s weight?

Rigorously maintaining good eating practices is the most effective way to maintain your pet’s healthy weight.

  • Feed your pet at the same place, time and with the same bowl every time
  • Don’t feed them scraps
  • Don’t give in to begging
  • Swap their treats for kibble taken from their daily allowance of food
  • Weigh them once a month and have regular veterinary check-ups

How does being overweight or obese affect my pet?

When your pet is overweight or obese, it is increasingly likely to store the food it consumes as fat, rather than using it up. This happens because they are increasingly inactive and the energy your pet is expending is less than the energy it's taking in. This extra fat can begin to affect the function of specific organs – such as the liver – or ‘coats’ others, like arteries. The extra weight also puts pressure on your pet’s joints, leading to arthritis and degenerative joint disease.

What are the risks if my pet is overweight or obese?

In general, obesity can reduce your pet’s quality of life and life expectancy; it’s harder for it to play and move around, and surgical procedures or check-ups become more difficult. There are some other issues that can arise from obesity.

Diabetes

Obese pets can be more at risk of diabetes. Often, the diabetes can be reversed once any extra weight is lost (particularly in cats), as the accumulated fat which is directly responsible for a failure to regulate glucose is no longer present.

Arthritis

Obesity in pets is one of the leading causes of arthritis in cats and dogs as the excess weight can put unnecessary strain on the joints – particularly in older pets.

How do I exercise my cat?

While giving your dog exercise can be as easy as taking them for a walk, the way to exercise a cat can be less obvious.

Ensure that you have regular playtime with your cat, particularly if they live indoors. Indoor cats need, on average, a third fewer calories than outdoor cats due to their lower energy expenditure, so playing with them is a good way to increase their movement and reduce the likelihood of gaining weight.

Two minutes of playtime twice a day, gradually increasing as they get more active, is an excellent start. Give them toys they can play with by themselves, or food toys which encourage them to play with an object to get a few kibbles as a reward.

Which food is best for my overweight pet?

There are many specific types of wight management food that is designed to assist in your journey to help your furry family member lose weight. It is best to consult one of our Veterinarians on the best choice of food for you and your pet.


Cat in a yellow cat carrier

Preparing your pet for a visit to the vet

Taking your pet to the vet can be stressful for both you and your furry family member. But don’t fret, there are a few things you can do to make the experience as smooth as possible.

Taking your pet to the vet Inforgraphic

Treats

Bring lots of your pet’s favourite treats to reward them and keep them happy.

Toys

Bring along one of your furry family member’s familiar items to help them relax and stay calm.

Carriers

Use a carrier for cats and small dogs (if necessary). Make sure there are a few treats in the carrier for them. You can even spray a towel or blanket in a calming pheromone such as Adaptil (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) and either drape it over the carrier or put it inside – this will help to promote relaxation.

Food

Try not to feed your pet close to their appointments. This can prevent nausea while travelling and make the treats more appealing.

Bathroom

Give them a chance to relieve themselves before you head off for your appointment

Go for a walk

Take your dog for a walk before your appointment to exhaust some of their energy.

Talk to them

Talking to your pet while in the waiting room can help to soothe them, especially for cat’s in their carriers.

Rewards

When you get home from your appointment, make sure you reward your furry family member with their favourite food, treat or activity.


Senior dog in sunny park

Keeping seniors safe this summer

All pet parents need to be aware of the dangers of a hot summer to the pet. However, when it comes to our senior pets, the hot weather may present a more serious risk to their health. Your senior furry family member will thank you for taking the time to go through these summer senior tips!

Senior dog in sunny parkIf your senior pet still likes to go for walks, take them early morning or when the sun is setting to avoid the heat. Before heading out for a walk use the ‘Five Second Rule’ – put your hand to the ground outside for five seconds, if it’s too hot for your hand then it’s too hot for your pet’s paws.

Be careful when travelling with your pet in the car, make sure the windows are open or the air conditioner is on. And as all pet parents should know - NEVER leave your pet in a parked vehicle.

Place your pets’ water outside in a shady spot, and make sure they have plenty of it! If you don’t have a large enough bowl, fill up more smaller bowls. Adding some ice cubes to the water can help keep it cooler for longer.

Buy a plastic clam/shell pool to fill with water and place outside in the shade. This works amazingly when your pet needs to cool off!

Pets don’t sweat like we do – they pant instead, which lowers their body temperature. If your pet is having some trouble cooling down, effective but not sudden cooling is key. Try covering them with wet towels or spraying them gently with cool water. Adding some ice packs under their mat or blankets and even making some frozen treats can help. Brachycephalic breeds (those with a short nose like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers etc) can’t cool themselves as effectively through panting. If you see them panting cool them immediately with wet towels or spray some cool water on them.

Signs to keep an eye out for

If you notice any of these signs you should bring your senior pet to one of our vets immediately.

  • Excessive panting and saliva
  • Purple or red gums
  • Distress and collapsing
  • Dizziness
  • Bright red tongue

Time to enjoy this wonderful warm weather in the most safe and relaxing way possible!