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.


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.


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.