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


Parasites and your pet

The veterinarian at your local Best for Pet clinic will tailor a parasite control program for your pet depending on his or her lifestyle. They will recommend a range of products, and will select the most appropriate treatment to suit your pet. The following paragraphs provide general guidelines on parasite control.

Worms (Intestinal - Tummy)

Kittens are commonly born with worms which have been transferred from their mothers. It is important to clean up droppings regularly and maintain general hygiene. They should also receive regular doses of intestinal worming treatment, especially while they are young.

Gastrointestinal worms can affect dogs, cats and humans. Unlike fleas they are not easily seen on a pet. Worms can infect your dog in many ways, including uncooked pet meats, rodents, through the skin or by ingesting eggs via grooming or eating the wrong things. By worming your dog on a regular basis you can prevent infection of worms for the whole family. Worming preparations are calculated on weight, so feel free to use your clinic’s scales to check your pet’s weight.

Tapeworm treatment may be required more frequently for dogs going to regional areas or eating raw pet meat and offal.

Fleas

Somehow, fleas always seem to find their bothersome way onto our pet’s coats and are a major source of skin problems. They come from any environment where dogs and cats have previously been. Flea eggs are deposited and hatch over a period of time and jump onto the next passing ‘meal ticket' (dog, cat, or even us). Fortunately, there are now some excellent flea control products available which are safe and effective and easy to use. Your Best for Pet clinic can recommend the best product for your pet.

 

Remember, as a Best for Pet member you are eligible to receive 10% off parasite control for your furry friend.


Arthritis in Cats

We often hear about arthritis in our canine friends but much less so in cats. Arthritis or osteoarthritis (to give it its proper name) is a rapidly growing area in feline medicine.  Cats are very cunning at hiding illness and pain, as this is seen as a sign of weakness and could influence their survival in the wild. So often the signs of arthritis in a cat are very subtle indeed.

 

The cartilage cushions that line most of the joints in the body are gradually worn away and expose the underlying bone, which in turn causes the joint to become inflamed and painful.  Recent studies have shown that up to 90% of cats aged over 12 years are showing signs of osteoarthritis, thus indicating that it is a much under-diagnosed problem.

 

Causes of arthritis

  • breed predisposition eg Scottish Folds, Burmese, Maine Coons, Abyssinians
  • injury to the joint
  • obesity (tends to exacerbate the problem rather than cause it)
  • age

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Depending on the personality of your cat and the severity of the arthritis,                                                 you may notice some of the following signs:

  • Reduced ability to move- may present as an inability to get up or down from furniture and their beds meaning that they will sleep down lower or in different locations to previously.
  • Arthritic cats may have difficulty getting into and out of high-sided kitty litters and may start to have accidents when toileting.
  • Some cats have a noticeably stiff gait when walking.
  • Changes in grooming behaviour -may be too painful to groom and develop a matted or scurfy coat. They also could be over-grooming painful joints with self-trauma causing hair loss as well as inflamed and infected skin
  • Personality changes - can become less tolerant to being patted or held which results in them possibly becoming aggressive or hiding more
  • Changes in activity level - tend to be reluctant to go outside, play, hunt and explore which results in their claws becoming long from inactivity

 

 

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Managing Arthritis in cats

  1. Veterinary consultation and diagnostic x-rays

This is an excellent starting point in setting up a treatment plan for your cat.  It provides an opportunity to discuss with your Vet about your observations at home (remembering that cats put on a brave face in the clinic).  During this consultation your feline friend will receive a full body examination, as well as a blood and urine sample to check for any concurrent disease that may influence the medication chosen. X-rays can help to confirm the diagnosis.  Regular revisits are recommended to ensure your cat is responding well to the medication and is not experiencing any side effects.

 

  1. Weight control

Excess weight can place more pressure on painful joints, so getting rid of unwanted kilos is recommended.  Cats need to lose weight in a slow and controlled manner to prevent metabolic problems.  Please discuss the best way to do this with your vet or vet nurse.

 

  1. Joint support medication injections

These are a course of injections that help to re-coat the cartilage and increase the viscosity of the fluid in all the joints in the body.  Boosters are required at regular intervals to ensure continued efficacy.

 

  1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s)

NSAID’s are most commonly used once the health of the liver and kidneys are established in the initial consultation.  Sometimes an opioid medication will be prescribed.

 

  1. Nutriceuticals

These are a food or food products that provide health or medical benefits.  The main ones used in feline medicine are Joint Guard and Hills™ Prescription Diet feline j/d. They contain chondroitin and glucosamine supplements.

 

  1. Home comforts/ environment change

Some things that you can do at home to assist your cat mayinclude:

  • providing your cat with soft bedding
  • a quiet and non-drafty places to sleep
  • self-warming beds or wheat bags
  • low sided kitty litters for easy access and to prevent toileting accidents
  • placing steps near favourite furniture and beds to aid in getting up and down
  • extra grooming of coats and nails

 

If your cat is showing any of the above signs or you are concerned, please make and appointment with your veterinarian to discuss a diagnostic and treatment plan. 

 

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Winter Blues - Keeping your pet safe and healthy

Winter is definitely coming! Are your pets a bit more reluctant to go outside? Having a bit more difficulty rising out of bed in the morning?

With the change in weather and temperatures dropping we have to ensure we are looking after our four legged family members. We need to pay particular attention to those pets who have entered their senior years and those who live outside.

 

Do I have to go outside?

If your pet spends the majority of their time outside then proper outdoor housing is a must. There are fantastic ranges of kennels for dogs and enclosures for cats that offer water, rain, frost and wind protection. Make sure the housing is placed away from the seasonal elements in a position where they feel secure and cozy.

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Whether inside or outside make sure your pets bedding is raised off the floor and away from cold drafts including the door ways of kennels. Fill an outside kennel with warm dry blankets that are washed regularly.

 

 

Feed me, Feed me!

You'll probably notice your pet's appetite will increase during winter. This is especially true in outside pets that will require more energy to keep warm. Keep a close eye on your pet's weight ensuring they are nourished, but not overfed from too many winter snacks.

 

Keep me warm

Particularly cold winters days can be uncomfortable for slim, younger or older dogs. Try placing a hot water bottle (with warm not hot water) into your pet's kennel. This will soon make a comfortable place to rest. A caution for pets who love to chew, only use warm water and if you have any doubts there are other options such as heating discs and pads. Ask us for more information.

 

pexels-photo (1)Get my lead!

There's nothing like a walk in the park and some aerobic exercise to get rid of the winter blues. Rug up and head out for your pet's favourite activity. Not only will your dog love you for it, you'll be feeling fantastic in no time too.

 

Older Pets

If your pet is struggling to get out of bed then it could be a sign of arthritis or an age related disease. The cold weather often makes these problems worse. We recommend 6 monthly senior check-ups particularly if your pet is showing signs of ageing. Typically, most of these symptoms can be controlled through simple diet changes and/or medications.

 

Tips for Senior Pets:
  • Create a warm haven where your older pet can curl up and avoid draughty areas.
  • Elevate their bed up off the cold floor. Particularly concrete and hard surfaces.
  • Provide thick warm bedding and use heating products where possible.
  • Maintain your pet's joint mobility by providing regular exercise

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If you believe your pet is in pain please seek veterinary advice. Advancements in veterinary medicine make treatment for the ailments of age related disease possible.

 

Click to find your nearest Best for Pet clinic 

 


The Importance Of Good Dental Hygiene For Cats and Dogs

Over 85% of dogs and cats over 4 years old have some form of periodontal (dental) disease. Dental disease causes bad breath (halitosis) and pain, it is also a source of infection and can make your pet seriously ill.

Dental disease is preventable in the vast majority of cases and in most cases, easy to achieve at home. There are many different methods to keep your pet's teeth "pearly white" and these should be started while they are puppies and kittens. While dental disease may seem like a relatively minor issue, you would be surprised at the damaging effects advanced dental disease can have on our favourite furry friends.

For adult cats and dogs with existing dental disease, a dental treatment with a scale and polish under general anaesthetic is often necessary to get their mouth back into top condition. This will allow us to start prevention with a clean mouth and hoping to prevent, or slow down dental disease developing again in the future.

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What is Dental disease?

A fairly common disease, dental disease is categorized over 4 different stages with a fairly common strand called Gum Disease. Stage 1 is very early and very mild build of tartar, which is caused by a build up of bacteria, saliva and food particles, and can progress into more severe tartar build up, signs of plaque and also the beginnings of gingivitis (inflammation of the gum line) at stage 2. The first 2 stages of dental disease are in most cases, manageable and even reversible through the introduction of appropriate dental supplements, dental related foods and a scale and polish under anaesthetic as required. As we move in to stage 3 and 4, the build up of tartar to be cleared is more severe and can cause multiple physical and behaviour issues and may require an anaesthetic to clean the teeth using an ultrasonic-scaler, by hand and most likely extractions of some of their teeth.

If you’re worried that your pet may have dental disease, some common signs include:

  • Bad breath
  • Behavioural changes (e.g. lethargy, increased aggression)
  • Discoloured teeth
  • Favouring one side of the mouth while eating
  • Loose teeth/receding gums
  • Excessive drooling, sometimes red tinged
  • Dropping of food from the mouth when eating, or reluctant to chew
  •  Inappetence
  • Sensitivity when touching the mouth/face

In order to prevent your animal from getting dental disease, early prevention is the key.

 

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Some great tips include:

Brushing your pet's teeth

Yes you read it correctly, brushing their teeth! This is the gold standard of preventative dental care for your pet. Think about how yucky your own teeth feel after a day without brushing, so imagine the effect it has on your pet’s teeth after weeks/months/years without brushing. When brushing, it’s important to use a soft toothbrush and make sure that animal specific toothpaste is used. Slow circles on the teeth and soft brushing along the gum line are the correct ways. If you are starting on a middle aged or elderly dog or cat they will not be used to this activity, so take it slow and make sure the experience is always a positive one (reward with treats!). We suggest you consult with the team at your local clinic about how best to introduce brushing into your pet's routine.

 

Dental diets

A wide range of dental specific diets are available to you at your nearest Veterinary clinic. These specific food products available with essential nutrients while including the required dental benefits to keep your animal’s teeth healthy.

Hills t/d is one option of prescription dental dry food available for both cats and dogs. It is designed to keep pets teeth clean, while still providing them with a complete balanced diet. Each piece of kibble is larger than usual, specifically designed to encourage and stimulate chewing. It also has a special fibre matrix within each biscuit which aids in the breakdown of plaque.

Treats and chews

Including everything from Greenies, Prozym sticks, hard rubber, nylon chews and raw hide, treat your pets to treats and chews that will help to naturally get rid of any unwanted plaque. The chewing action aids in the removal of plaque via physical rubbing and the spread of protective saliva. These should not be relied on solely for dental prevention. Talk to the team at your local Best for Pet clinic about the best option for your pet.

Dental toys

There are some toys available which are again great at encouraging your dog to chew. Some of these toys include the Kong and Gumabone. Toys are a useful addition to a dental hygiene program, however they should not be relied on solely.

 

Veterinary Dental Treatment

In the majority of pet's lives, there comes a time when their teeth may require veterinary treatment over and above their regular examinations. A dental treatment involves a general anaesthetic and a full dental examination, including charting and scaling, both ultrasonically and by hand, and then finishing with a polish. A very similar procedure used by your own dentist.

If you have any questions about preventative tips or queries on your animal’s dental health, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our friendly Best for Pet Veterinary teams today.

 


Caring for your Senior Pet

For many pet lovers, watching our companions grow older is a comforting, rewarding experience. Hard to believe the same bundle of energy tearing around the yard so many years ago is now the calm and kind old friend curled at our feet.

Old age itself is not a disease but we are aware that certain diseases can be age related. Older pets need more extensive examinations, more often. This is why we recommend having senior check-ups for your older pets.

A properly formulated diet will have a significant impact on the health of a senior pet and our health care teams are trained to advise you on the best nutrition for your companion.

The approach to your senior pet is that of a pet care partnership combining your observations at home with an examination. Typically most of the diseases we are keeping an eye out for in senior pets are controllable with simple diet changes and/or medications.

 

What to look out for

As your pet's owner, you are in the best position to look out for the early warning signs of aging and age related diseases. Here are some of the signs that can indicate change and require action:

  • Change in appetite
  • Discomfort on rising or after exercise
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Loss of housetraining6737182_s
  • Excessive drinking and/or urination
  • Bad breath, plaque, or bleeding gums
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Persistent cough
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Appearance of lumps and bumps

 

What we can do for your pet

At the senior check-up vets are identifying subtle changes in body function. If there are abnormalities detected in initial testing, further investigation or more frequent testing may be recommended.

What should your Senior Check Include?

  • Wellness overview - a chance for you to tell your veterinarian any changes of behaviour or physical appearance you have noticed. Use our checklist as a reminder of the changes you should be looking out for.
  • Hands on physical examination - your veterinarian will palpate or feel your pet's musculoskeletal system, abdomen, and head and neck areas for abnormalities. A stethoscope will be used to listen to your pet's heart and lungs. Your pet's eyes, ears, and mouth will also be checked for age-related problems, such as cataracts, dental problems, and ear canal disorders.
  • Diagnostic tests - such as blood work, urinalysis and possibly x-rays (based on your veterinarian's recommendations).

 

Ongoing monitoring allows your veterinarian to ensure they have the correct combination of treatment in place for your pet. As well as assisting you to provide the best lifestyle and home environment possible.

The aim of the Senior Program is to make the life of your furry companion long and healthy. We take pleasure in helping you to achieve this.

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For additional questions or to book your Senior Pet in for a health check please contact your local Best for Pet veterinarian.

http://bestforpet.com.au/our-clinics/