Tips to get your pets happily through the holidays

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s easy to forget that our pets can also get stressed and feel anxious. Here are some tips to get your pets happily through the holiday season.

Having the family over

A crowded house and unfamiliar guests can cause stress to both cats and dogs. Make sure your pets have a safe, quiet space where they can get away from any guests and loud noises. If your pet is particularly anxious, try to stagger the guest’s arrival so they don’t arrive all at once. It’s also best to have a conversation with any children (and the occasional adult) present about pets needing their own space and not feeding them any scraps.

Sharing the Christmas Leftovers

While it is nice to include our pets in family occasions, be careful not to feed your dog leftovers from Christmas lunch or dinner. Both cooked and uncooked meat can cause canine pancreatitis. Cooked bones are also dangerous, as they are very brittle and can easily get stuck in your dog’s esophagus or stomach. You should also avoid feeding your dog chocolate or Christmas pudding as both have ingredients that are toxic to dogs. If you want to treat your dog, choose a dog-friendly snack.

Decorations and wrapped gifts

Dogs are notorious for ripping open presents well before Christmas day.  This can be not only frustrating for pet owners, but it can also be dangerous to pets, exposing them to substances and food that is harmful to them. If your dog is likely to be attracted to presents under the Christmas tree, you may need to hold off putting them out until Christmas Eve.

Power cords and Christmas lights

A playful dog or cat can chew right through to the wires of electrical cords within minutes. To keep your pets safe around your Christmas lights, keep cords tidy and out of sight. Most hardware stores sell cord tidies to help with this.

Signs that your dog is stressed:

  • Pacing
  • Whining
  • Excessive Licking
  • Tucking their tail between their legs
  • Urinating inside

If you notice these signs in your dog, put them in a quiet and safe space. Avoid giving them any treats as you don’t want to reinforce the behavior.

Signs that your cat is stressed:

  • Hiding
  • Hissing
  • Urinating outside their litter tray
  • Decreased appetite

If you notice these signs in your cat, move them to a safe and quiet space. You may also use calming tools such as Feliway diffusers to keep your cat calm.

If you are worried about your pet’s stress levels this holiday season, make an appointment with one of our veterinary team to discuss treatment options.


Is your pet bushfire ready?

Does your bushfire escape plan include your pets? Here are some things to think about while you are planning ahead this bush fire season.

Bushfire Relocation Kit

In NZ’s increasingly dry summers, bushfires are a threat we should be prepared for. A relocation kit is made in preparation for either a quick departure, or if you are moving your pet to a safe location on high fire risk days. The kit for your pet should be packed and in an easy to reach location through the bushfire season. The pack should include:

  • Food and water
  • A bowl for each pet
  • A second collar and lead
  • A carrier for cats and smaller pets
  • Bedding and a woollen blanket
  • A pet first-aid kit – seek your vet's advice
  • A favourite toy
  • Any medications, along with a written list of what they are
  • Your pet's medical history, including proof of vaccination
  • Your vet's contact details

It is also important to ensure that your pet has up to date identification in case you get separated. While tags are helpful, they are easily lost. Microchipping is the most reliable way of ensuring that if you become separated or need to leave your pet in a shelter, they are returned to you successfully.

If you choose to stay in your home

If you choose to say in your home on high risk days, keep your pets inside and secure with plenty of water. You can also place ice blocks in their water bowl to help keep them cool. Ensure you have towels or woollen blanket that are easy to reach if you need to protect your pet.

Pet injuries after a fire

If your pet has suffered burned injuries during a fire, it is important they are treated as soon as it is safe to do so. Make sure you know where your closest vet clinic or animal shelter is located.

Signs of dehydration

On high-risk days pets are more susceptible to dehydration and heat stress. If you notice any of the following signs, please contact your local veterinarian:

  • Excessive panting
  • Salivating
  • Agitation
  • Red gums

Dog-sniffing-plant

Flowers and Plants that are toxic for your pet

It’s spring and there are lots of flowers in bloom. Take some time to familiarise yourself with a few of the flowers and plants that may be toxic to your pet.

There are many flowers and plants that can be toxic to your pets. Below we have listed some of the more common ones, for a more extensive list of plants unsafe for your pets, please visit https://www.rspcavic.org/cats-toxic-plants.

 

Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe Vera

Although Aloe Vera is considered to have some medicinal properties, it can be toxic for pets to ingest. The toxic compounds in aloe are saponins, which are toxic to cats, dogs, birds and lizards.

 

Lilies

The entire Lily plant is extremely toxic to pets, particularly cats, and may only need to have minimal amounts of contact to cause toxicity. Ingesting any part of the plant can cause kidney failure in a relatively small period of time. Owners should make sure their cats never have access to lilies of any kind. While most types of lilies are toxic, the most toxic types of lilies are:

Asiatic lily (including hybrids)
Daylily
Easter lily
Oriental lily
Rubrum lily
Wood lily
Stargazer lily
Tiger lily
Japanese Show lily

 

Hydrangeas

Another common garden flower, hydrangeas contain cyanogenic glycosides and the entire plant and flower is considered toxic. Hydrangeas can also be known as Hortensia, Hills of Snow and Seven Bark.

 

Ivy

Many types of Ivy including Devil’s Ivy and English Ivy post a threat to your pet’s health if ingested. This plant has numerous aliases including Branching Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy, Sweetheart Ivy and California Ivy.

 

Bird of Paradise

Bird of Paradise is a very common garden flower that’s leaves can cause a toxic reaction if ingested. The leaves contain hydrocyanic acid, which is non-toxic to humans but can be harmful to pets.

 

Signs that your pet has ingested a poisonous plant

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms that may indicate your pet has ingested something harmful:
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Dehydration or excessive thirst
• Incoordination
If you have seen or suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic plant, please contact your veterinarian immediately.


Battle the spring itch

A lot of pets can be prone to skin allergies in the springtime due to spring flowers, warmer weather and the high pollen count.  It may be difficult for your pet to find relief from the constant itch! The first thing you should do for an itchy pet is veto bring them in to see one of our veterinary team, but there are some things around the house you can do to help ease the itch as well.

Change their bedding

By changing and cleaning their bedding regularly, you can make sure that you are getting rid of any irritants that could be making their itch worse.

Finding the right food

You wouldn’t think that food could help your pet’s skin – but it can! Ask our team about specially formulated food to help reduce the springtime itch.

Keep up to date on parasite protection

The last thing an already itchy pet needs is to get fleas! Parasites can increase itchiness and lead to other health complications. With spring being the peak time for parasites, make sure your pet is up to date with their parasite protection.

Regular grooming

Making sure your pet is getting a regular brush and wash. Brushing is especially helpful after a walk or being out in the garden or dog park to remove any little irritants that can cause your pet to scratch.

Now you are armed with some great techniques to battle the spring itch and keep your pet healthy and scratch free.


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.