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.


How to throw your pet a party (safely)!

It’s the time of year to get together with your family and friends and celebrate the holidays in the summer sun. The same goes for your pets! Arranging a party for your pets can be a world of fun, but there are some things to keep in mind to make sure every person and pet is safe.

The guest list

Make sure to invite dogs that your dog is already familiar with or that you know are calm in social situations. You might invite other dogs that frequent your dog park or dogs of friends and neighbors.

 

Picking the venue

You want to keep it simple with a familiar place for your dog and their friends. This could be a backyard, a dog park, or even some doggie daycare centres will let you hire out the space. If a friend or neighbor offers their yard, make sure you go over to check first that it is very well enclosed and there are no dangers for excited dogs like gardening tools.

 

Invitations

You might decide to do a digital invitation, create a Facebook event or just text your guests, either way you should include in the invitation that all dogs attending should be up to date with their vaccinations, flea and worm treatments and remind them there will be lots of dogs running around so to be cautious if they are bringing children.


Stock the bar

Make sure that you have lots of bowls filled with fresh and clean water. You will need to top them off throughout the day.

Supplying the entertainment

Get your guests to come prepared with dog toys so that the furry friends don’t get up to destructive mischief, like things to throw, chew or even a kiddie pool.

Lastly, the catering

There are many shops and online stores where you can buy pet-friendly foods, cakes and treats. If you are planning on making your own and are scouring the internet for recipes, remember that just because a recipe says it is for dogs, doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe. Here are some common ingredients to avoid:

  • Peanut butter. Lots of recipes online use peanut butter, but some peanut butters contain Xylitol which can be toxic to dogs. Be sure to check the ingredients before using.
  • Any bones whether they are cooked or uncooked.
  • Any milk or dairy products
  • Coconut Oil

Remember to ask your guests if their dogs have any food aversions or allergies!


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

So you're taking your dog on a tramp

With the weather heating up and restrictions easing, many families with furry family members are getting back into nature and taking their dogs out with them. This raises the question of how to safely take your dog on a tramp.

Plan ahead

Taking your dog on a tramp shouldn’t be a spur of the moment decision. There are a few things that need to be prepared in order for you pet to have an enjoyable time while staying safe. Before you decide on a tramping spot, make sure to check whether it is pet friendly and doesn’t cross over DOC land.

Assess if your dog is up for it

Not all dogs are made for long walks. Dogs that are too young or old lack the strength and stamina needed to accompany you on a tramp. Brachycephalic breeds such as pugs do not cope well in heat or with strenuous exercise and should stick to shorter walks and trails.

Obeying commands

Believe it or not there are rules and etiquette around bringing your dog on a tramp. At the bare minimum your dog should be able to listen to and obey commands such as sit and come even when they are faced with new and exciting stimuli.

Work up to it

If you have never taken your dog out on a trail before, start small and work your way up to assess whether they have the appropriate stamina and if they are obeying commands or if they need some further training.

What to pack

If you’ve done your research, assessed all the variables and your dog is trained and ready, here is a list of things to take along with you for the tramp:

  • Small serving of dry food
  • Water and a collapsible bowl
  • Doggy first aid kit
  • Poop bags
  • Foot care
  • Towel
  • Brush

You should also make sure their ID tag on their collar is up to date in case they get lost on the hike.

If you’re unsure if it’s okay to take your pet for a tramp, please consult your local Veterinarian.


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.


Where can my dog pick up fleas?

There are a lot of places and ways for your dog to pick up fleas this spring. We’ve listed them all here in one handy place.

Other animals
Your dog can pick up fleas through contact with other animals, and we don’t just mean other dogs. Fleas aren’t picky as to where they hang out and can transfer from other household animals like neighboring cats and even rabbits.

Dog parks
Dog parks can be a happy hunting ground for parasites like fleas. Some dog owners may not be aware that their dog has a flea infestation and bring them to a dog park to play with and run around other dogs. In this situation fleas can easily spread to other dogs in the park.

Dog Daycare/boarding kennels
Like a dog park, a pet parent may inadvertently cause the spread of fleas to other dogs by sending their infested dog to daycare. Most good daycare facilities will check that all their clients are regularly flea treated and wormed.

Backyard
As you now know, fleas can transfer from other animals who frequent your yard and leave flea eggs in the environment.

Your home
Poor flea control during the winter months can mean flea eggs are in your home waiting for the right conditions to hatch when the temperature warms up. Treatment all year round is vital to prevent this from happening.

If you are starting to think that your pet can get fleas anywhere – you are right! Your dog should be protected all year round regardless of if your dog is exclusively inside or not. You can discuss the many options available with one of our veterinary team to find the right solution to protect your pet.

 


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.