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.


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.

 


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

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 heal