The Important Role of Dental Awareness

Would you ever want to see your pets experience any painful or serious disease? The overwhelming answer would be a simple NO. However, dental disease in our pets is one of the most underestimated causes of pain and discomfort, which can lead to a few missing teeth or more serious conditions! Amazingly dental disease is estimated to be present in 80% of dogs and cats over three years of age! What are the chances your pet is in that 80%?

Imagine having a toothache when you were once little; the pain is almost identical to what your pets are exposed to on a day-to-day basis, but unlike us, they are a little more stoical about it and often continue to eat and drink normally. Making it hard for us pet parents to know anything is wrong!

Genetics play a role in the disease, but it is mainly caused by a lack of mechanical action on the teeth. This allows bacteria to stick to the teeth and form plaque and then calculus.

Common symptoms

So how do we ‘know’? The following is a list of things us vets look for;

  • Bleeding or inflamed gums
  • Brown or yellow discolouration over the teeth (tartar)
  • Extremely loose or missing teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Blood tinged (unusual) or excessive saliva/drooling
  • Pus around the teeth
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth over the other
  • Not playing with toys like they used to e.g. tug toys

Some breeds are more predisposed to dental disease, with those with flatter faces such as Frenches, bulldogs and pugs, as well as those with smaller jaws, such as the small fluffy type breeds like miniatures and terriers, more commonly and severely affected. Though, the disease is preventable, or its severity reduce through things like the brushing of teeth (where tolerated!), specialist dental diets or at a minimum an exclusively dry food diet.

Treatment options

Whilst the above is good at prevention, professional dental cleaning/ treatments are generally required, and in some cases they will need to be performed as frequently as every 6-12 months – though that depends on the pet, with many pets needing them at least every 1-2 years. This level of care should hopefully avoid the loss or necessary extraction of many teeth as the pets age, as well as reduce the risk of complicating disease. Poor oral health can have a knock on impact on the heart and kidneys with serious implications, so prevention really is better than cure!

As pet owners, we can prevent our lovely pets from getting dental disease, and the condition can be treated and reversed - if detected early. When it comes to your pet’s oral health, regular visits to the vet clinic can ensure your pets smile lasts for years to come! Visit us for a dental check and chat about the best plan for your pet.


Understanding Rat Bait Toxicity

With winter upon us, many of us will be spending more time indoors. This can also be the case for unwanted rodents. Many of us use rat poison/bait to defeat these critters, but these poisons also pose a risk to our household pets if they happen to ingest rat bait directly or by eating a rodent who has consumed the bait. There are many steps you can take to ensure your pet is protected!

The effect of rat bait on your pet

Rat bait acts as an anticoagulant (prevents the blood from clotting) by depleting the body's supply of vitamin K. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin and is essential in forming clotting agents in the bloodstream. It can take between 1-5 days after ingestion to see the signs of toxicity, but once the symptoms become prevalent or you believe your pet may have ingested some bait, it is crucial to act fast!

What to do if your pet has ingested rat bait

It is extremely important to bring them straight to our clinic if you have seen your pet eat rat bait or notice the signs of rat bait toxicity. If you cannot visit, please ring us for advice on how to treat your pet immediately.

Some of the signs of rat bait toxicity may include:

  • Pale gums or haemorrhages on the gums
  • Lethargy
  • Bleeding from the nose, existing wounds or cuts
  • Blood in their urine or faeces
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea
  • Respiratory issues (coughing, breathing difficulties, rapid breathing)
  • Seizures or muscle tremors

The effects on pets who have consumed rat bait varies based on which rat bait was ingested, how long ago it was ingested and how much was eaten. In all circumstances, if you have a box of the rat bait, please bring this in with you (or a picture on your phone). Finding out the name and its active ingredients will assist with the treatment of your furry friend!

What are the treatment options?

Treatment of your furry friend is based on the severity of the toxicity and when it was ingested. Blood may need to be taken for clotting tests and assessment of anaemia.

Treatment may be as simple as giving a vitamin K treatment for 3-6 weeks or may require more intensive treatment such as blood transfusions and hospitalisation. In some cases, even with the most intensive treatment, if action is not quickly taken, some ingestion cases can be fatal.

Alternative options to rat bait

If you want to avoid using rat bait around your home, we recommend to:

  1. Use mouse or rat traps in places pets can't reach (this can be extremely difficult with cats!)
  2. Keep your pet on a lead around areas where rat bait is present
  3. Keep unwanted rodents out of your garden and home. Avoid leaving human or pet food lying around, keeping a secure lid on waste and compost bins, keeping outdoor areas clean and tidy, and removing items that could be a potential home or food supply.

If you suspect your pet has eaten rat bait, please contact us and immediately bring your pet into our clinic. If you have any questions about rat bait toxicity, please speak to our vet clinic team.


How To Keep Your Pet Active During Winter?

When the winter season arrives, we can find ourselves locked inside for days to ensure that we remain warm and dry. Exercising for both you and your pets can become unpleasant, especially in stormy areas.

Exercising ensures that your pet remains healthy while reducing any behavioural problems such as excessive licking, chewing, digging, or barking. Leaving out regular exercise for your pet can result in obesity, mental health problems and joint inflammation.

Tips for keeping your pets active

The first tip for ensuring that your pet remains active is to introduce the concept of indoor fetch. Playing fetch with your dog can be a viable option for motivating your dog to participate in fun, cardiovascular activity. If you have a decent amount of room in a section of your house, fetch is the perfect game during this winter season. Be careful to avoid slippery floor surfaces and areas where they may cause accidents with furniture or people!

Learning new tricks can provide an excellent activity for your pet. Tricks such as rolling over, catching soft toys/balls in their mouths, or balancing treats/toys on their noses are all activities that ensure physical and mental exercise. Changing toys out daily for variety and environmental enrichment can also be a rewarding change of scene for your pet. You can also try using cat scratching posts which cats love to sharpen their claws and to stretch their legs.

During the warmer days of winter, on-leash and off-leash walking can also provide excellent cardiovascular exercise for you and your pet. On-leash allows you to structure the walk and keeps you in control of any situation, where off-leash walking can provide your pet with more exciting walks and let them expose to their surroundings.

There are many ways to stimulate your pet’s mind and body without venturing into the winter weather. Simply offering meals in a feeding toy rather than just a food bowl can be very advantageous as studies have shown that dogs enjoy their food more when they have to work for it.

It is crucial to recognise the negative impact of the winter season and its effects on the overall well-being of your pet. As a pet owner, you need to ensure that your pets remain active during winter to reduce any physical and mental impacts. You can also visit the clinic for more information and guidance on how to keep your pet’ active during winter from one of our veterinary team!


Top Tips for Taking Your Cat to the Vet

The key to making your cat's trip to the vet, or any trip in their carry cage, a stress-free one is creating a positive association with their cage, carrier or cat box. Here are some simple steps to help make your cat's excursions more pleasant for you and your feline friend.

1)Regular preventative check-ups when COVID eases.

A trip to the vet doesn’t always have to be about needles. Get your cat used to visiting the vet and practice regular care such as brushing, nail trimming and teeth brushing at home.

In addition to annual vaccinations, your cat will also benefit from a free dental check, a weigh-in or an overall health check. These additional check ups are especially important for older pets (which in cat terms is over 7 years of age).

 

Reward your cat with treats and positive attention when you get home.

2) Choose the right cat carrier.  

If your cat is particularly stressed, a top loading carrier means some of the examination duties we can be performed on your cat whilst they remain in their carrier.

Don’t tip your cat out of the cage – allow them to walk out by themselves or remove them gently from the carrier.

3) Practice at home. 

Include your cat's carry cage as part of your household furniture in a spare room or in the laundry.

Leave the cage door open so your cat can investigate it or even play in it allowing him/her to develop a positive association with the cag. (This season is an ideal time to get your cat accustomed to their carrier

4) Create a safe place. 

Feeding your cat meals and treats in his/her carrier creates a positive association and reduces anxiety associated with the cage.

Put your cat's favourite bed in the cage to create a safe and familiar environment for your cat.

In the car, drape a blanket or towel over the carrier to reduce motion sickness and help your cat feel safe.

5) Smells

Avoid strong smelling chemicals such as bleach or ammonia-based products - not only do cats dislike the smell, they may think another cat has marked the territory! Clean the cat carrier with soap and water, or water with a small amount of white vinegar added.

You can also spray the cage and bedding with Feliway 'happy pheromone' spray at least 30 minutes before using the carrier to create a reassuring environment and help reduce stress.


5 Myths about proper puppy training

We are welcoming lots of new puppies into our clinic recently, and with new puppies comes the task of training. We’ve put together five of the most common training myths that may be causing more harm than good to your new puppy.

Putting your pet’s nose in their accidents

Unfortunately, this is one of the most common myths and also the most harmful when training. When your puppy has an accident inside and you push their nose into it, they aren’t capable of understanding why they are being punished. This can make it even harder to house train your pet and may make them afraid of you.

Puppies don't differentiate between good attention and bad attention, so reprimanding them for accidents is unlikely to produce the response you desire. Instead, focus on rewarding them for the behaviour you want.

 

Repeating words over and over

When training a puppy to sit or stay, we often repeat the command over and over again until we get the result we want. In the long run, you want your puppy to obey commands instantaneously; repeating commands can train your dog to only sit when it hears the command “sit, sit, sit”.

 

Treats are better than praise when training

Both praise and treats produce equal results. It is best to balance out food rewards and positive reinforcement rewards from the very beginning when training your dog. You can also employ toys as rewards.

 

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

Somewhere along the line this common phrase latched on and many believe it to be fact. However, no matter the age of the dog they can always been trained out of their bad habits.

 

Playing tug of war increases aggression

Playing tug of war the right way in a controlled environment does not increase aggression in dogs. You should only play tug of war with specific tug toys, and the play should always be initiated by you and not your pet.

If you would like more advice on training your new puppy, book in a consultation with us today.


Obesity and weight loss

Obesity is one of the most common nutritional disorders seen in both cats and dogs. Animals that are overweight are predisposed to a range of health problems.

These health problems can 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

So, what causes obesity?

We love our pets a lot, but sometimes we can love them too much. By giving in to those adorable begging eyes and giving them extra treats, we are potentially causing them harm. Overeating and lack of exercise are the leading causes of obesity and ones that we luckily have control over.

There can also be medical factors that could contribute to your furry friend weight issues; it is therefore important to talk to one of our vets before you embark on your pet’s weight loss journey.

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

There are a few signs that your pet might be overweight, these can include:
• Difficulty feeling your pet's ribs
• Little to no waist
• A reluctance to exercise
• A waddle to their walk

Oh no! I think my pet is overweight. What do I do now?

Our team is here to help both you and your pet, book in an appointment with one of our vets to discuss a tailored weight loss plan. This may include a change in diet and exercise routine


Learn about proper pet nutrition

As obesity in pets continues to be a common problem, the world of pet food is as confusing as ever. From different brands to new and interesting treats, it can be difficult and stressful to make the decision on what the best food is for your fur child.

A balanced diet is key

A balanced formulated diet begins with high-quality meats, that contain the 40 essential nutrients that your pet needs for a wholesome diet. Through having a balanced diet, this will help your pet’s digestion and ensure the nutrients are correct for your pet depending on its life stage and activity levels. Premium pet foods use high-quality ingredients to ensure your pet is getting the best nutrition possible.

Balanced nutrients are vital in ensuring your pet is energised and healthy. A balanced diet should also accompany a regular exercise regime. Just to make sure the calories do not find a happy home around their belly and start to tip the scales!

Nutrients included in high-quality diets are:

  • Carbohydrates: Helping to power the brain and nervous system, carbohydrates can be found in things like rice, oats and corn.
  • Lipids: These are found in fats from meat and plant oils. While providing energy, they also help to keep their skin and coat as healthy and luscious as ever.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: These are a great source of magnesium for muscles, iron for healthy blood, calcium for strong bones and vital vitamins. Vitamins help with blood clotting and keeping healthy vision. The additives to look out for here include vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and grains.
  • Proteins: The benefits of proteins include strong and healthy muscles, skin and coat. Red meat, fish and chicken all contain protein sources.

The best way to plan your pet’s diet

The best option is creating the perfect diet with your vet team. Our vet team can help recommend a diet that meets your pet’s needs. We will consider your pet’s breed, age, weight and lifestyle, while keeping the food delicious so your pet will enjoy eating it! There are also differences in the nutrient requirements between species. It is important to know the ingredients and diet choices that you should familiarise yourself with, especially the correct nutrients needed in a balanced diet.

Speaking to our vet team about your pet’s diet will ensure you are purchasing the correct food and giving your pet an appropriate portion. Nutritional plans are also beneficial and help to manage your pet’s weight. Plus, all of our Best for Pet Members receive 10% off on food and merchandise. Having delicious and nutritious food for your pet is the best way to get their tail wagging for mealtime!


Is your pet suffering from separation anxiety?

Lots of people have added a new fur baby to their families over the past few months during the pandemic. It was the perfect time to stay home and train them and make sure they got the best start to life. Now that we are slowly returning to normal and your pet is alone more often, you may notice some signs that your furry family member is struggling to adjust to the changes.

Signs of separation anxiety in your pet

Chewing and other destructive behaviour

You may notice that your furry family is being more destructive than usual. They may be chewing things around the house, digging in the back yard or destroying furniture. While this can just be a normal part of your pet growing up, if they tend to only show this destructive behaviour when no one else is around, it may be a sign of separation anxiety.

Urinating and defecating inside

Another warning sign of separation anxiety for both cats and dogs is if they are intentionally doing their business where they know they are not supposed to - right in front of your eyes.

Escaping

A dog with separation anxiety might try to escape from their confinement, whether it be the backyard, a crate or inside the house.

Excessive grooming

For cats specifically, you may notice they are excessively grooming resulting in hair loss or sores.

Recurring cystitis

This is also a warning sign for separation anxiety in cats. Recurring inflammation of the bladder leads to symptoms such as straining to urinate, bloody urine and relieving themselves in unusual places.

Treating separation anxiety

The good news is there are many ways that our veterinary team can help you and your furry family member adjust to their new lifestyle. This can include:

  • Behaviour modification
  • Crate training
  • Increased exercise
  • Stimulating toys
  • Pheromone therapy
  • Medication

If you suspect your pet is suffering from separation anxiety, make an appointment with your vet today. If you are a Best for Pet member, your consultation will be at no extra cost!


2021 Pet Parent Checklist

The new year is a great time for resolutions and new goals, it is also a great time to make sure your pet is set for the year ahead. 2020 was a challenging year for everybody and as we go back to normal, our pets may find the change difficult. Here is a handy checklist to make sure your pet is set for 2021.

Does your pet have an up-to-date ID tag?

Bored pets are more likely to escape. If your pet escapes on an impromptu adventure and is found by a stranger, having an up-to-date ID tag with your current information can ensure your pet is returned safely to you.

Is your pet microchipped?

Similarly, if your pet is found without an owner or ID tag and is handed into your local vet clinic or council, a valid microchip is needed to confirm the identity of its owner and notify them.

Is your pet registered with the council?

The benefits of registering your pet are the ease of reuniting pets with their owners. The registration fees paid goes to maintenance and patrols of off-leash parks and fenced dog parks, school education visits and other pet related council initiatives.

Book them in for an annual wellness check

Booking your pet in for their annual wellness check at the beginning of the year will make it easy to remember when they are due. Annual wellness checks are important as they help to detect and protect your pet from diseases and other health problems before they become bigger issues. Often times, our pet’s can be sick without showing any symptoms at all, which is why it is good to bring them in annually to ensure they are healthy and happy.

Start a schedule of flea and worming treatment

One of the most important parts of being a pet parent is making sure your furry family member is up to date on their flea and worming treatment.

Book in their annual booster vaccinations

Up-to-date vaccinations are crucial to maintaining your pet’s health and lifestyle. We recommended that you schedule at least one yearly veterinary appointment for your pet. This can be done during their annual wellness check.

 


Preparing your pet for New Years Eve fireworks

If your dog panics during storms, it’s likely he or she will also be terrified of fireworks, which can spell trouble on New Year’s Eve. Unlike storms, however, fireworks are usually scheduled and predictable, which means you can prepare your dog in advance.

Why are dogs scared of fireworks?

Not only are they loud, but the noise can trigger a dog’s fight-or-flight response. This can prompt your dog to hide, bark, run away or show other signs of anxiety such as whining and pacing.

Before the fireworks

  • Take your dog out for a long walk earlier in the day
  • Make sure all your pets tags and microchips are up to date in case they run away
  • Feed your dog a good meal to help keep him or her settled.
  • Bring your dog inside before the noise begins so you know they are in a safe space and can’t run away.
  • Play gentle music or background noise (such as TV) for at least an hour prior to the fireworks. This will get them used to the environment before the fireworks.

During the fireworks

  • Keep an eye on them and don’t leave them alone
  • As the noise begins, gradually increase the volume of the music or TV until it has blocked out most of the sound.
  • Becoming angry and punishing them will make the situation worse and will increase your pet’s stress. This is because changing your behaviour or increasing the attention you have given them, tells them there is something unusual about this situation and reinforces their anxiety.

If you know your dog has very bad anxiety around fireworks, make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss other forms of treatment.