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.


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.


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.


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.