Spring cleaning hazards

Springtime is the perfect time to shake off those winter blues and freshen up our homes for the busier, warmer months ahead. While we are clearing out and cleaning up, some of the products and tools we use potentially threaten our pets if not handled properly!

Check out some of the issues that can occur for our furry and feathered friends when they come into contact with common household cleaning chemicals:

  • Ensure that any cleaning products you use are out of reach of your pets and stored securely, so they don’t end up accidentally ingesting any poisons. Also, be aware of where you’ve cleaned with a harsh chemical – sometimes, when dry, the residue might taste appealing to your pet.
  • Do not use aerosol sprays around pets, especially birds! Move the animals to another room altogether to avoid them breathing in any chemicals or particles.
  • Ensure that pet’s food and water supply is also clear of any chemicals you may be spraying – droplets and particles can easily contaminate food and water, leading to ingestion later on.
  • When disposing of chemicals or their container, be sure your pet cannot access the rubbish bin.
  • Bottle caps, elastic bands, plastic bags, sponges, and other scrubbing implements can become choking hazards, should they fall into the wrong paws! Make sure these are stored safely and out of reach of your pet.
  • When airing out your home for a clean, make sure that all window and door screens are secure and that your indoor pet cannot sneak out unnoticed!
  • Mops, sponges, and brooms can appear like a fun, interesting new toy for a playful puppy or curious kitten! Be sure to keep your fur-baby away from these to avoid any loose bristles being eaten.

If you suspect your pet has ingested or inhaled any cleaning poisons, call your nearest vet clinic immediately.

The following symptoms are signs your pet could be poisoned and seriously ill:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive sneezing and/or coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures

If you have any questions or concerns, please call your local vet clinic immediately.


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.

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.


Bee stings

With springtime upon us, we can expect to see more blossoming trees and flowers popping up all over the garden – and with that comes bees. Your dog or cat might think a bee is a harmless new friend, providing a bit of excitement and fun with a game of chase! Often this can result in your pet receiving a bee sting to the face, mouth, or paws.

Has my pet been stung?

It will be very clear almost immediately if your pet has been stung. Keep an eye out for:

  • A sudden or continuing cry from your pet, indicating pain and discomfort
  • Your pet running around in circles or otherwise erratically
  • Licking, chewing, or pawing the same spot repeatedly
  • Unusual swelling
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pale gums

In some extreme cases, pets can experience severe reactions and experience vomiting, collapse, hives, profound swelling, and difficulty breathing. If your pet has been stung by more than one bee or in the mouth or throat, their reaction is more likely to be severe, and they can potentially experience anaphylactic shock. It is essential to act fast.

What should I do if my pet has been stung?

Stay calm! Panicking will only increase your pet’s stress.

The stinger will continue to release venom until it has been removed, causing pain and discomfort.

If you have noticed any of the above-mentioned severe reactions, give us a call and make your way in to see us immediately.

If your pet is having a mild reaction and experiencing discomfort only:

  • Try to locate the site of the sting
  • If you can find it, remove the stinger gently with tweezers

Once you are sure the stinger has been removed:

  • Apply cool water via washing the site or pressing it gently with a wet cloth.
  • Keep an eye on your pet for any developing symptoms, and ensure they are well hydrated.

If your pet appears uncomfortable or develops a more severe reaction after removing the sting, please give your vet clinic a call for further advice.


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.


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.


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!


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!