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.


The Importance Of Good Dental Hygiene For Cats and Dogs

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

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

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

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What is Dental disease?

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

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

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

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

 

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Some great tips include:

Brushing your pet's teeth

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

 

Dental diets

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

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

Treats and chews

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

Dental toys

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

 

Veterinary Dental Treatment

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

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