Separation Anxiety

You've likely been spending lots of time at home during the pandemic, and no doubt your dog has enjoyed this quality time with you. If like many, you've welcomed a new furry family member into your home during this period, they'll be very used to having you around most of the time. This poses a challenge for our pets when they start spending more time alone. Some dogs may take these new changes to their routine fine. But for other pets, it could bring about separation anxiety, which can be very distressing for dogs and owners alike.

Separation anxiety is one of the most common yet most underdiagnosed behavioural problems in dogs. The clinical signs of excessive barking, howling, destruction, self-mutilation, urination, and defecation can significantly affect both dogs and owners. Luckily, veterinarians understand separation anxiety, and there are treatment options available to manage this condition and improve the quality of life for your special furry family member.

Separation anxiety is distress experienced on separation from you as the owner(s). Anxiety is the "anticipation of future danger or misfortune" – Dr K Seksel. Dogs are social animals, and it is normal for a puppy to become attached to their litter and then subsequently to the human family that becomes their home.

Some dogs do not adjust to being without their owners and develop separation distress. Some dogs may become destructive or vocalise if under-stimulated and not provided with the appropriate physical exercise and mental stimulation. However, signs of separation anxiety become apparent when they are linked to the owner's departures or absence, when they cannot gain access to them and when they cannot adjust to their absences over time. These dogs are anxious and are not "acting out" or trying to spite their owners; they are having a difficult time and need help.

Pay attention to your dog's behaviour before you leave the house. Some possible signs to look for are:

• Signs of distress, especially when your dog sees cues that you are leaving like picking up keys, putting on shoes or applying make-up
• Following you around unusually
• Pacing
• Try desperately to go with you
• Reacting to noises unusually
• House soiling
• Panting and drooling
• Freezing
• Barking
• Scratching
• Other signs of distress

Some possible signs of separation anxiety while you're away from your dog include coming home to:

• Digging in the garden
• Destructive behaviours around the house
• Trying to escape
• Reports from neighbours of repetitive barking, whining or howling
• House soiling

If you notice any of these signs of separation anxiety, please speak to your veterinarian. Depending on the case, they may refer you to a veterinarian with further qualifications in behaviour or a veterinary behaviour specialist. Go prepared for your Vet consult with a thorough understanding of your dog's history, routine, and any changes to their routine that could be causing the anxiety.

Things your Vet may recommend to address your pet's separation anxiety:

• The use of calming pheromones, like Adaptil diffusers, sprays or collars
• Encouraging independence through positive reinforcement exercises
• Creating a structured and predictable routine for your dog
• Make departures and arrivals low-key (calmly speaking to your dog, but not ignoring them completely)
• Offering your dog food puzzles, long-lasting chews, and feeding devices to give your dog something to enjoy while you're away
• A focus on physical exercise and mental stimulation – a tired dog will be more likely to relax while when you're gone
• Desensitisation and counterconditioning to cues that hint you are leaving the home
• Enriching their environment – leave the radio on to make the house feel less quiet and empty. Make sure they have access to their favourite bed and toys.
• Medication or supplements to address the underlying anxiety

It is essential that a puppy or dog can cope with being left alone. In our busy lives, it's unrealistic to be with them 24/7, so separation anxiety needs to be addressed with your veterinarian. It may be a journey to help your distressed friend to find comfort on their own, but there are options available to help. If you suspect your pet may be suffering from separation anxiety, please give your local vet a call.


Hot Weather & Heatstroke

We all love spending quality time with our pets on a hot summer’s day. However, we need to stay vigilant in summer, as the warmer weather can expose our pets to several dangers.

One of these dangers is heatstroke. Heatstroke, or hyperthermia, occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises rapidly. It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment.

There are several causes for heatstroke, including:

  • Being left in a hot car,
  • Being left outdoors during extreme heat,
  • Not having enough shade and water when outdoors,
  • Exercising in hot weather.
  • It is important to know the signs of heatstroke - even if you avoid all the above.

Your pet may show some or all of the below symptoms:

  • Excessive panting,
  • Restlessness,
  • Drooling excessively,
  • Becoming unstable on their feet,
  • Their gums turn a bluish-purple or bright red colour.

If your pet is showing any of the above symptoms, you must take them to a vet immediately.
Make sure to cool your pet while you are on your way to see us.
The most effective way to cool your pet is by using a fan or air-conditioning. You can also use a damp towel or a spray bottle filled with water to cool them lightly. It is important not to submerge your pet in ice-cold water, as this could be detrimental to their recovery.

Other warm-weather tips:

  • In hot weather, it is also essential to keep your pet’s feet in mind – if the pavement is too hot for your bare feet, it is too hot for your pets! Keep them inside, walk in the shade, or use pet socks/shoes if it's not possible to keep them off hot surfaces.
  • Always ensure there are plenty of cool places with shade and fresh water for your pet to access on hot days. Never leave them unattended in a car, even if the windows are down.
  • Before the weather gets too warm, book your pet in for a groom to remove any unnecessary shedding hair, and a trim where suitable. Do not shave your pet’s coat yourself – some breeds require their coats to help regulate body temperature.
  • Brachycephalic dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke and can develop serious health issues quickly due to their inability to pant efficiently. If you own a brachycephalic dog (a dog with a flattened face, such as a French or English bulldog, Pug, Boston terrier, Pekinese, Boxer, etc.), please be very mindful of their whereabouts on a hot day, and keep an eye out for any of these symptoms.

If you think your pet is suffering heatstroke, or you want to know more about how to prevent it, call your vet clinic today!


Christmas & New Year’s Hazards

The silly season is an exciting time of year, with Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations giving us plenty of reasons to let loose and celebrate. With an increase of visitors, noises, tasty treats, shiny new toys, and interesting smells, this time of year can be overwhelming for our pets.

Here are some recommendations to make sure your furry friends are safe and happy during this festive time.

  • Make sure your pet has access to a quiet, calm, and secluded spot to hide away if needed
  • Exercise your pets before any guests arrive or before any particularly noisy events (i.e., fireworks displays) if you can – a pet with pent up energy can easily become anxious
  • Keep Christmas decorations and wrapping items (paper, tape, ribbon, discarded plastic, etc.) out of your pet’s reach. If ingested, these items can cause serious health problems, including intestinal blockages that may require surgical removal
  • Many plants and flowers used for Christmas decorations are toxic to pets – be sure to keep these out of reach
  • Many foods we see at celebrations are toxic to pets and can even be fatal. Make sure your pet does not have access to:
    o Chocolate
    o Christmas pudding
    o Salty foods (chips, pretzels, crackers, etc.)
    o Lollies & artificial sweeteners
    o Grapes, sultanas, raisins, and currants
    o Alcohol
    o Cherry pits (and other stone fruit pits)
    o Macadamias
    o Corn cobs
    o Avocado
    o Cooked bones

Fireworks can be terrifying for pets. Here is a list of tips for preparing your pet for fireworks displays:

  • Keep pets indoors when possible. The walls and roof will help to soften the noise and will also contain them safely.
  • Prepare your pet for loud noises during the day by putting on the TV or radio. Turn the volume up progressively throughout the day, so when the fireworks display commences, the existing noise will create a distraction
  • Avoid fussing over your pet. Carry on as normal, as this will reassure your pet nothing is wrong. You can use treats and games to distract them and encourage calm behaviour.
  • Ensure your pet’s microchip and identification tag details are up to date. Unfortunately, many pets escape during fireworks displays and can be found very far from home.
  • Pheromone diffusers could help to calm your pet. Talk to our team about Feliway for cats or Adaptil for dogs.
  • Some pet owners choose to use medications to assist in keeping particularly anxious pets calm. This is not something our team can organise for you without prior consultation, so please book in advance.

Our appointments during the festive season fill up very quickly, so be sure to organise an appointment as soon as possible.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t, has injured themselves, or you would like more advice on keeping them safe over the Christmas and New Year’s period, please give your vet clinic a call.


Waterside Safety

Some pets love to get involved in fun water activities when the weather heats up.

Whether you are going to the beach, a river, a lake, on a boat, or just staying at home by the pool, these waterside safety tips will help you, and your pet enjoy the warm weather safely.

Look out for oysters!

Their sharp shells can cause deep cuts to skin and paws that can be incredibly painful for your pet, requiring stitches and potentially antibiotics to ward off any nasty infections.

Prevent scavenging

There are some wonderfully smelly things your pet might find by the water that can be very dangerous if ingested, including dead fish and other animals (some can be toxic!), discarded fishing items, rubbish, and more. If you see any of these items lying around, please pick them up and dispose of them properly to save other pets or native animals from finding them.

Fishing hooks & line

Leftover, poorly discarded bait & gutted fish can cause gastrointestinal upsets such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Often, these tasty morsels may also include a fishing hook or line, which has a high potential of significant medical problems if ingested. Fishhooks can become stuck in the oesophagus (food pipe) or stomach. This will usually require the hooks to be removed endoscopically or surgically.

Carry fresh water

Prevent your pet from drinking salt or stagnant water and offer them fresh water to avoid them getting sick. Excess salt will lead to dehydration and can cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Stagnant water can host all sorts of nasties, like waterborne diseases and parasites.

Seaweed & Kelp

Do not let your pet play with or eat seaweed and kelp. Ingested seaweed and kelp can lead to intestinal blockages, which can be fatal if not surgically removed in severe cases.

Shoreside critters

There are many animals and plants that live around water – some toxic. Ingesting, licking, being bitten, or stung by one of these organisms will not only be painful but present problems for your furry friend.

Algae

Algal blooms are common in stagnant water, especially over the warmer months when the conditions are just right. Blue-green algae, and many other types, are toxic to cats and dogs when ingested.

Life jackets

If there is a chance your pet could end up in deep water on a day out, investing in a life jacket may prove to be very beneficial.

Wash your pet

Make sure to wash your pet after playing in the water. Washing off salty water and river water is essential to ensure there are no nasties in your pet’s coat or irritating their skin.

Beware of pools

Pool covers present a very serious danger - if your pet falls in, they may become trapped and could drown. Pets can often struggle to get out of the pool if they fall in, also leading to drowning. Never leave your pets unsupervised around the pool.

 

Speak to your vet if you have questions or concerns about any of the above hazards.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t or has suffered an injury by the water, give your vet a call right away for help!


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.


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.


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!


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